Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Picnic

Breakfast in the Open by Carl Larsson 1919

“I’ll affect you slowly as if you were having a picnic in a dream. 
There will be no ants.  It won’t rain.” 

― Richard Brautigan

"Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic." 

. "Society is the picnic certain individuals leave early, the party they fail to enjoy, the musical comedy they find not worth the price of admission."
 Joyce Carol Oates

Pierrot's Repast: Deburau as Pierrot Gormand by Auguste Bouquet c. 1830.

Midweek Motif ~ Picnic

When I was young, picnics involved food and parks with lakes to swim in and trails to walk in along cliffs with great views.  I loved them.  But lately, I only hear the word "picnic" in metaphor— something is or is not "a picnic"— meaning "easy."  I don't remember picnics being easy to prepare, but I remember feeling holiday in the air. Now, picnics for me are either solitary outdoor eating during walks or mass potluck church outings. What about you? Do you now or have you ever picnicked?

Your Challenge:  
Take us to a picnic in a new poem.

from Rubaiyat: "A Book of Verses underneath the Bough"

Related Poem Content Details

. . . . 
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, 
A Jug of Wine, A Loaf of Bread—and Thou 
Beside me singing in the Wilderness— 
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow! 
. . . . 
(Only quatrain 11; read the entire poem HERE.)

            by Rita Dove

The Day? Memorial.
After the grill
Dad appears with his masterpiece –
swirled snow, gelled light.
We cheer.  The recipe’s
a secret and he fights
a smile, his cap turned up
so the bib resembles a duck.

That morning we galloped
through the grassed-over mounds
and named each stone
for a lost milk tooth.  Each dollop
of sherbet, later,
is a miracle,
Read the Rest HERE.

I Ask My Mother to Sing

Related Poem Content Details

She begins, and my grandmother joins her. 
Mother and daughter sing like young girls. 
If my father were alive, he would play 
his accordion and sway like a boat.

I’ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace, 
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch 
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers 
running away in the grass.
. . . . 
Read the rest HERE.

* * * * 

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others 
in the spirit of the community.

 (Next week Susan's Midweek Motif will be ~ Parenthood 
(Parents, Guardians, Significant Adults in the Lives of Children)

Monday, May 23, 2016


We have a very special treat for you this week, my friends. A clue: I see a white rabbit looking at his watch, and rushing about. It is tea-time, four o’clock, and I see two figures coming towards us, one tall, one short. The little one has a blue frock and white pinafore on………oh, look! It is Jae Rose, who writes at  the blog of the same name, whom we last spoke to in 2014, and this time she has brought Alice along with her. I am sure she and Alice will have a few wise words for us. The table is set prettily, with beautiful cups and saucers, the teapot is especially for Alice, and there are many sweet things on the table, because we know this little girl has a very sweet tooth.

Alice in Wonderland teapot 
at Peter's of Kensington  link

Sherry: Jae Rose, what would you like to tell us about you, since our interview in October of 2014? We see how you and Alice are doing in your poems every week, and you have a large family of loving fans out here who follow your progress. Are you happy with your writing, and its steady fan-base through the years?

Jae Rose: Hi Sherry,  thank you for asking us back. It is always a pleasure to share tea and a chat. I am very thankful for my blog family. I think it is fair to say that my blog family and my sister are the kindest, caring, most patient people in my life, who keep me going through the darkest of times. I am always amazed that people stick with me and my words, even when it becomes quite dark and painful. 

             (Me and my sister Skyping!

Sherry: Thank God for your sister. And we all love you, too, Jae Rose. We need to read your poems every week.  Is that a little tree suspended from the ceiling?

Jae Rose: It’s lavender!
It has been a difficult couple of years. A lot has happened and nothing has happened. Since we last chatted, I was formally diagnosed with autism. In a way it explained a lot and made some kind of sense, but with it came a heaviness of ‘what now’ - there is after all no treatment or cure for being me - and there are many days when I wish there was.
Sherry: While I know your life is difficult, Jae Rose, please know that we all celebrate you! Thank you for letting us know, so we can better support you.
Jae Rose: The outside world can feel very overwhelming. I find it very hard to switch off from the small details and bigger questions. When things are very bad, I can’t find the space inside to be still or silent. Maybe that is one reason why we spend a lot of time on the bathroom floor. It is cool, empty and enclosed. 
Very few people in the ‘real’ world are aware of my writing and how important it is for me. I like to keep it that way. It feels like a safe place where I can play, speak, cry and have a sense of emotional freedom I don’t often enjoy beyond the page.
Sherry: Thank heaven for that release. And I am glad you share those thoughts with us. We are much the richer for it.
Jae Rose: I suppose the way I think must effect how I write. Mostly I think things evolve with time and practice.
I think I write in quite a visual way, and rhythm and the sound of words are important, too. 
If I ever read back,  I can see how absurd our little world can be. If I can’t leave the house, I open the fridge and find some sort of story - jello...butter...the hum of the refrigerator engine...all nonsense really.
Sherry: That results in the most magical poetry, my friend. I never thought of looking in my fridge, but I doubt the results would be as spectacular as yours. Smiles.

Jae Rose: I don’t think I could write without the prompt words. They provide a structured but flexible way of opening up the brain.

 *Illustration* (Tove Jansson - Alice in Wonderland)*

Where do I fit in? asks Alice.

I think you are perhaps the childlike position I often feel trapped in. Except you are far bolder than me. I wish I could take you outside and you could help me say out loud what I am really thinking - and feeling. 

Perhaps we are similar - stuck at (almost) eight. Sometimes we have a wilful but limited understanding of the world. That makes us frustrated and crotchety because we can feel stuck underground. Unable to grow up and move on in a way.

If only it was just a dream, says Alice. 
Indeed. I do admire your self-confidence though, Alice. 

Sherry: Thank you, Alice, for weighing in. We have come to love you every bit as much as Jae Rose. I sense, in your poems, Jae, that Alice often speaks your deepest inner knowing. She is likely your true wise self speaking. I always listen carefully to what she is saying and, from that, I can guess how you might be feeling on a given day. It is interesting that Alice most often has a hopeful and very wise observation to make, when she speaks.
Jae Rose: As a girl or woman with autism, I think we have different emotional skills. Perhaps we compensate (or are taught), more than boys or men, not to appear even more different or ‘weird’.  Perhaps as you gain confidence in an area of life that you enjoy and value, like writing, you can let go of having to fit in. At least in one place. 

Sherry: Poets often  feel they don’t fit in, I suspect. It is good we can express our true selves through our poems.

Jae Rose: I have a great respect for Temple Grandin. I find her writing hard to read but in the movie adaptation of her life her mother tells her ‘Remember, Temple, different, not less’ - it is hard to absorb that so late in life, but I hope one day I, too, will be able to believe that. 
Sherry: All of your friends hope that too, Jae Rose. “Less” is not a word anyone in our community would use to describe you. We are dazzled by your gifts.
How has blogging impacted your life and your work?  
Jae Rose: The blogosphere keeps me writing, and it keeps me going. To be able to have a voice and, more importantly, to be heard is so important, and I never underestimate it or take it for granted. 

Sherry: Me neither, kiddo.

Jae Rose: Talking out loud can be hard for me and yet I am finding a way to explore things in a safe space. And learn from others too. I think that’s the best thing about blogging. It’s more of a conversation than a static form of writing. And I have met some inspirational people and writers.
It is sometimes a struggle to sit still and do it, but no matter what comes out I think it is part of something that years down the line might make sense. A penny dropping, as Alice might say. 
Sherry: When I look back at my earlier work, I am always struck by what my unconscious knew back then that my conscious mind was not yet aware of. When did you begin writing poetry?
Jae Rose: The blog has been going since 2009. I am never sure how to define what I write. I pay more attention over word choices and rhythm, but generally speaking I wouldn’t ever claim to write poetry. 

Sherry: Whoa! Really?

Jae Rose: I think there has been shift in some ways. I listen to Alice more. Whatever part of me she is. The conversations do almost come subconsciously and often by surprise. Perhaps she is a little conduit from my synapses to my typing fingers - poor Alice.  
Sherry: I love that idea. And Alice can handle it. What do you love about poetry?
Jae Rose: I think my answer remains the same on that one - it can be whatever you want it to be. It is a voice and a connection to the world. 

My little sparkle boy

Sherry: Tell us about your boys, Mousie and Bear. Do these little fellows make you smile? They are so adorable!

Mousie and Bear

Jae Rose: They are funny little critters. They like the odd treat and cuddle but, generally speaking, prefer their own space. Maybe they love me when I rattle the snack box; otherwise they are bit petulant and wilful. Now who does that remind us of?
Sherry: Alice is a force of nature! Bound to influence the critters! 

(note: Sadly, my friends, Mousie passed over the rainbow bridge after we completed this interview. But Bear is still doing well.)

Jae Rose, you live in Devon which looks, on Google, like a place of beauty, on the ocean. Do you have a favourite spot there? 

Jae Rose: Geographically, Devon is a pretty place, but I would like to move. Somewhere bigger with a decent library and more than one coffee shop, where I can sit and maybe take a notebook and pencil. 


I do enjoy finding little trails of creativity around the places I walk - little bits of graffiti and shapes and patterns. 

Wooden toadstool (they turned this stump 
into a toadstool after having to take down the tree)

Sherry: You have selected three very beautiful poems to share with us. Reading them, your voice comes through so clearly, along with your love for Alice, your poetic friend and companion. Let’s take a look at “Taste”.

We drink sour milk
In the middle of the night
Nothing takes the taste away
Not bleach or flowers or birthday cake
Sad and lonely sits gently on our tongue
As it always has
As it always will
Help is a unicorn
She giggles and burps
You really are a martyr to the cause
I limp
Find the cold floor
Wait for the pillow
And the fall
This is the sound of us coming apart
Purple is magic
Red despair
Blue is life
Just like me
She claps her hands
I marvel at the ceiling
We have stared at a million times before 
Who am I Alice
She swallows the last drop
Holds my hand
Whoever you want to be silly
Just like me
I made you up
I was always here
I came when you let me in
My silent witness
My invisible friend
We drink sour milk
In the middle of the night
Nothing takes the taste away
Not bleach or flowers or birthday cake
Sad and lonely sits gently on our tongue
As it always has
As it always will.
Copyright Jae Rose February 24, 2016

Sherry: I cannot imagine a bleaker taste than sour milk. “Sad and lonely sits gently on our tongue” is such an affecting line. The loneliness is palpable. I hope your many online friends help mitigate that loneliness. 

Jae Rose: They do for sure - thank you.
It’s strange I don’t often read back but I can see how my writing is definitely a diary of how things were and what was going on. Yes, I think this one is about loneliness. Of trying to fill your tummy but that not being the space that will ever make you feel full or warm and loved. The way I live and the things I do leave me very isolated and trapped, and that can feel scary. Especially as you get older and your sense of invincibility disappears.

Sherry: I resonate with how our invincibility diminishes with every decade. By the end, we're as vulnerable as when we started out. Smiles.

Next is “Leaps and Bounds”, which speaks to the blindness of the bureaucratic system. 

You've come on leaps and bounds
They say
Did they not notice we died
She whispers
How could they
They never knew we were alive
She rolls over
Well it’s all pretend anyway
A kind of myth
Ink on paper
Truth on skin
A phrase
A start
A crisp attack
As if we can turn the volume down on silent
It’s perfectly wise to feel anger and rage
Do you feel hungry
We chase the sun
Yearning a full
Still, we can dream up
As much pretty as we like
She taps her nose
Crawls under the bed
Finds the basket
In which we keep
The remains of what is missing
It is nice
Swimming over the jagged edges of sorrow
Bliss she smiles
Just the two of us
Wrapped up and free
What I do not say is
Next time
I will not phone it in
She leans into me
Remember that terror you cannot name
I know what she is called
We curl up on the floor
Sleep under the mirror
All in good time
She says
Holding my hand
I love her
My little story book pilgrim
My friend.

Copyright Jae Rose February 20, 2016

Alice illustration by Iain McCaig

Sherry: “How could they / They never knew we were alive” really strikes me in the heart, Jae. To think you are such a beautiful being, unseen by those who are supposed to support you. “Swimming over the jagged edges of sorrow” is such an affecting line.  I love Alice, and am so moved by your closing lines: “My little storybook pilgrim. My friend.” Thank God for Alice, when live humans can be so disappointing.
Jae Rose: This one was remembering something I was told before leaving a locked psychiatric unit. I was sectioned for a year and never felt so alone and misunderstood, even though I was locked up with people and constantly monitored. I was in that particular unit for six months and they still got my name wrong up until the day I left. And yet that is what one of them said as I left.
Sherry: It amazes me how un-tuned-in so many in the “helping"  professions can be. They are trying to be positive and hopeful. But it would be kinder to be real.
Jae Rose: By the end of that year I felt I had died in a way. To be observed. Manhandled. Nameless for so long strips you of any hope and any internal world. I think you need to feel safe in order to enjoy your imagination, as well as it being an escape in dire times. 
Sherry: Yes, feeling safe is a basic need. Would you like to tell us a little about what Alice means to you? How long has she been with you? (I personally see her as your inner child, and also your inner wisdom, as it is always Alice who speaks your deepest knowing.) We all love Alice.
Jae Rose: I think Alice is all of those things - and I suspect more - which I’ve yet to discover.  Actually she ‘appeared’ after that year, and doesn’t come with me if I’m hauled off to hospital. I wonder if she only feels free when we are in our own world, too. Even though we have our difficulties, we at least strive to hold onto some sense of humanity and dignity. Believe me, it makes a swift exit when you can’t even pee alone.
Sherry: Such indignities you have experienced, my friend. I am sorry. Let’s take a peek at your third selection, shall we?

We are a mixed puzzle
A book
A phone
A long lost hat
The car sleeps under the black stray cat
How do we know
We are
Because we have a heart beat
She whispers
Two little girls in a dunking tub
I have to check
Time must not dangle 
So many rules
She sighs
If I was a gem
How precious would I be
She asks
Lying on her side
Hair drizzling over baby bird elbows
I don’t have the backbone to answer
You are cobalt blue
She squeals
My favourite colour
Forever and ever 
I hug the wall
This is me sober
Want to see me fall
No one came Alice
Only the people in grey suits
Who wrote our story
With a company pen 
They got it all wrong
Of course
She smooths her hair
Tried to make us cheap
And nasty
We are
A picture 
Of a picture
On a wall
On a wall
A distant star
Circling the moon
But still shining
She says
We drop
Like a penny in the night
He used razor wire
To staunch the flow of blood
How perfectly silly
She says
The silver warms against my skin
See a penny pick up
A shilling is even better luck
Is that the phone or the moon
We are in a state aren’t we
We are feeling
We are
We are 
I hug the wall
This is me sober
Want to see me fall.
Copyright Jae Rose February 10, 2016

Sherry: “A distant star circling the moon and still shining” – such a beautiful image. As you keep shining, week after week, in your poems, my friend.
Jae Rose: Thank you Sherry - It’s hard to feel shiny at times. I think this one was another lost in the system moment. Feeling puzzled and being seen as a problem, not a person. Although not one that is worth being solved or soothed.

Sherry: I wish you much strength, to hold onto your self-worth in such situations. It has been wonderful having this little visit with you and Alice today, Jae Rose. We are so happy to have you here among us. It is a privilege to read your work. Is there anything you would like to say to Poets United?

Jae Rose: Thank you very much for inviting us back. I always appreciate people visiting and leaving such kind comments. Let’s hope there are many more blog adventures ahead. And tea and cake. Of course.
Sherry: You touch our hearts, Jae Rose. Thank you, very humbly, for trusting us with your poetry, and your thoughts. What you have shared with us here is golden. It is treasure. Thank you to you and Alice for your words week by week, from your heart to ours, as we all make our bumpy passages through this life, and yet still find its shimmering beauty.

It goes without saying that I knew you would love this feature especially much, my friends. Sigh. I hate to leave Wonderland, but suppose we must, as the White Rabbit is expostulating and gesticulating at his stopwatch. Do come back and see who we talk to next. (It will be a tough act to follow.) Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Poetry Pantry #303

Artistic Photographs of Macau
by Luk Lei

(Luk says: "These next 5 are the artistic shots I am currently developing.  They are double exposure shots that I have designed to contrast and envelope places and sights in Macau.")

Ascension - This photo is a double exposure of a staircase in the Sao Lorenzo district of Macau and St. Paul's Ruins.  The regligious motifs around Macau are rich and plentiful and felt the 2 locations complemented each other well, As if one is stepping into the heavens while the tourist represent our self absorbed ways.

City Lights - This double exposure is the combination of lanterns in Senado Square and the Monkey King display, which appears to be floating away on a cloud.  This combines local tradition with it's gaudy and wonderful display.

Nature Engulfs - In a city like Macau where population density is very high and homes are stacked one on the other,  Getting any nature is nearly a miracle to observe.  This large tree proved to be the best subject to engulf the fog ridden city.

Nature Gives - Another Urban garden double exposure.  This time a palm tree is filling the content of a historical structure.

This combines 2 common public services in Macau - The bus and the multitude of small library's found through out Macau. While great services do exhist here, sometimes it can be lonely packed inside these locations.

Greetings, Friends!  I hope you enjoy the second series of photos by Luk Lei.  I really enjoyed the artistry in the photos.  If you did not see Sherry's interview of Luk, be sure to look back at last Monday's article in which he was featured!

This past week for Midweek Motif Susan's prompt was 'bullying,' and there were lots of good poems shared in response to this serious, but very timely, topic.  Take a look!  Rosemary's feature for "The Living Dead" was the poem "There Will be No Peace" by W.H. Auden.  There was an interesting story behind that poem.  Do check back if you haven't read it.

This Monday Sherry has a wonderful chat with one of the most loyal participants here at Poets United.  None other than Jae Rose (And Alice too!).  It is a chat you don't want to miss.

Wednesday Susan's prompt for Midweek Motif is "Picnic."  Yes, it is beginning to be that time of year, isn't it?

Well, with no further delay, let's share poetry.  Link your one poem below. Stop in to comments and say hello; and read some poetry!  It is important to visit other poets, as that is an integral part of our community.  See you all on the trail.