Sunday, December 10, 2017

Poetry Pantry #382

Vaalannkurkku Railway Bridge - Finland

Greetings, Friends.   I found the photo above on Wikimedia Commons.  I thought it was beautiful and suggested this wintry time of year.

We had another interesting week at Poets United.  Many of you wrote for Susan's Narcissism / Vanity prompt. This coming week Sumana will be prompting us to write to the prompt - Celebration.

Friday Rosemary shared the poem "Afterthought" by the Australian poet Tony Foley!  It really is a meaningful poem, one I think many can identify with.

Don't miss Sherry's feature on Monday.  She is featuring one of the original poets of Poets United.  It is great to see her back once again sharing her poetry.

Just a heads up to everyone:  Poets United will be taking a holiday break in December.  We will have a Poetry Pantry next Sunday,  December 17.  Then we will have about two weeks off to give us all a bit of a break.  Smiles.  We will resume again on December 31, the last day of the year, for those who are interested in ending the year with a sharing of poetry!

With no further delay, let's share poetry!  Link your poem below.  Stop in the comments and say hello! And visit the poems of those who link.  I look forward to seeing you on the trail.

Friday, December 8, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This


No poem is capable of expressing life,
no lyrical phrases adequate to the task,
no bleak aphorisms suited to the tears,
no adjectives alive to expressions of joy,
no metric rhythm sufficient.
So we have to try another angle,
weep like babes torn from a mother,
laugh like kids playing hopscotch in the street,
frown like scholars pondering Sartre,
make love as if death is ruffling your sheets.
See how simple it becomes?
Love and Death dance around
autumn blown leaves,
soft lips brush your cheek
as doors close on starlings.

But, and there's always a but,
you peer around the corner of
desire and find only mist,
then touch the stars and cry
for lost words.

– Tony Foley

Tony Foley is an Australian poet, a friend of mine, and married to another friend I've known even longer, poet and musician Whitefeather Light. They live in Melbourne (where I once lived too) and we keep in touch on facebook.

The bio at his blog says:

I've knocked around with lots of different jobs from cab driver to forklift driver, postal clerk to pollster, but since 1989 have worked in an academic library. I've performed in plays - mostly in character roles with a Russian theatre company. In performance poetry I've been feature reader at many venues around Melbourne including The Perseverance Hotel, La Mama Poetica, Montsalvat Poetry Festival, Victorian Writers' Centre, Dan O'Connell Hotel, Westword, and even been a wandering poet at the Melbourne Wine and Food festival (that was one weird gig). I've had few poems published here and there but don't really care much about chasing publication, mostly I've contributed a piece when invited. I've been filmed for community television and been interviewed on community radio. Oh, I love reading, but that's pretty normal for a librarian.

As a book lover and former librarian, I'd have to agree with that last! 

(The places he mentions are among the most notable poetry performance venues in Melbourne.)

I think most of us must have known those times he talks about, when the words seem inadequate to express the richness and depth of life itself. Of course, he does a wonderful job, here, of expressing that dilemma (smile) and creating a beautiful poem while he's at it. May all our poems 'fail' so successfully!

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Narcissus (Vanity/Narcissism)

Range of Narcissus cultivars
“The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one's narcissism. ” Erich FrommThe Art of Loving 
Vanity is as ill at ease under indifference as tenderness is under a love which it cannot return.  George Eliot 
“. . . . 'But... was Narcissus beautiful?' the lake asked. . . .   
'I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.'”  Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist
File:Dante Gabriel Rossetti - "Persephone".jpg

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - "Persephone".jpg

Midweek Motif ~
Narcissus (Vanity / Narcissisum)
The narcissus is one of December's birth flowers.  According to Greek myth, it is the flower that grew when the vain young man Narcissus drowned in the lake in which he admired his own reflection.  There's more to the story--Echo, goddesses, love,  and, related to it is the story of Persephone and Demeter, a pomegranatedeath, winter and summer.  Picking a narcissus flower separated Persephone from her peers, and Hades kidnapped her.  Her story associates her with the life cycle of plants.  

Do any of these stories have meaning to you? 
If not, hold with the beautiful flower itself.

Your Challenge: Write a new poem in response to the themes of one of the images included in this prompt.  (You may also provide images of your own that relate to narcissus and/or vanity).  


Persephone, Falling
One narcissus among the ordinary beautiful
flowers, one unlike all the others!  She pulled,
stooped to pull harder—
when, sprung out of the earth
on his glittering terrible
carriage, he claimed his due.
It is finished.  No one heard her.
No one!  She had strayed from the herd.

(Remember: go straight to school.
This is important, stop fooling around!
Don’t answer to strangers.  Stick
with your playmates.  Keep your eyes down.)
This is how easily the pit
opens.  This is how one foot sinks into the ground.
(In Mother Love by Rita Dove. © 1995, W.W. Norton & Company.  Used with permission.)

Echo And Narcissus, John William Waterhouse (1903)

Encircled by her arms as by a shell,
she hears her being murmur,
while forever he endures
the outrage of his too pure image...

Wistfully following their example,
nature re-enters herself;
contemplating its own sap, the flower
becomes too soft, and the boulder hardens...

It's the return of all desire that enters
toward all life embracing itself from afar...
Where does it fall? Under the dwindling
surface, does it hope to renew a center? 
Image result for Sylvia Plath mirror
Sylvia Plath | Source
by Sylvia Plath I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see I swallow immediately Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike. I am not cruel, only truthful- The eye of the little god, four cornered. Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers. Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, Searching my reaches for what she really is. Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon. I see her back, and reflect it faithfully. She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands. I am important to her. She comes and goes. Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness. In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
Jan Vermeulen Vanitas Still Life.jpg
Ecclesiastes 1:2, Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity.  Still Life by Jan Vermeulen (1653)

My song has put off her adornments.
She has no pride of dress and decoration. 
Ornaments would mar our union;
they would come between thee and me; 
their jingling would drown thy whispers.
My poet’s vanity dies in shame before thy sight. 
O master poet, I have sat down at thy feet. 
Only let me make my life simple and straight, 
like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and
visit others in the spirit of the community— 
(Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be Celebration. )

Monday, December 4, 2017

Poems of the Week ~ by Mary, Kerry and Myrna

This week, my friends, we are featuring three lovely poems by Mary, of In the Corner of My Eye, Kerry, of  Skylover: Collected Works, and Myrna, of   Daily Spirit . Each poem is a statement of simple values, resonating with the comfort of those small joys that make up our lives. With the external news so consistently bad, I hope you enjoy these moments of profound simplicity and peace, that recharge our batteries and remind us of all that is good, and immediate, and ours.

The grass still grows
 trees take root
birds warble
and dreams take hold

The wind still whistles
butterflies dance
coyotes howl
and spirits soar

The waterfall still tumbles
penguins dive
monkeys climb
and hearts sing

And life still continues
overcomes disregard
nature perseveres
despite human misdeed

Sherry: I love the reassurance in these lines, Mary, that somehow, no matter what is going on, nature and her cycles continue on, in spite of us.

Mary: I wrote this poem when I was in search of hope, which seems in short supply right now. In order to find hope, I decided the best thing is to contemplate beauty in the sights and sounds of nature and to realize that, despite human failings and foibles, nature will persevere.  And, even in the worst of times, if we look around us we will see that ‘grass still grows.'

Sherry: You succeeded very well, Mary. In much the same vein, Kerry recently wrote a beautiful poem about small daily joys. Let's take a look.


Some days, the best I can hope for is a simple brew
sipped from a rose-patterned cup
in a sunny kitchen
with a dog panting nearby
fresh from rolling on the grass
dusty but sweet-smelling
and the flash of a kingfisher through the window
one that perched long enough for me to tell him,
“Oh, you beauty” before he flew away.

Sherry: Sigh. These are the very best moments of all. 

Kerry: Thanks, Sherry. It is such a little poem, written on the fly, so to speak. I really don't have much to say about the process, except that was pretty much my morning.

Sherry: And a beautiful, peaceful morning it was. It is a joy to read. Thank you for this note of brightness and beauty, my friend.

We have another morning moment from our friend, Myrna, another poet who reminds us often to be grateful for all that is good in our lives, in the middle of so much that is distressing in the larger world.

The orange moon at dawn
Was like dripping ripe fruit
Which I visually tasted
As I watched it sink 
Into someone else's night
Winking at morning's sun
Becoming bright
Like a salute or a blessing
An intimate au revoir 
Between light and light

How privileged I was
To witness this exchange
A present from the gods of love
Showing me affection
In that tiny drop of eternity
Into which I can still dive
Backstroke swimming through time
In my mind

Sherry: I am so grateful that those gods of love continue giving us such gifts of beauty and wonder, no matter what. There is so much breathtaking beauty, everywhere! Myrna, this is so lovely. 

Myrna: Usually dawn awakens me and I immediately go to the front of the house to watch as the sun brightens my mountains.   But this day I couldn't sleep and I got up earlier.  I went instead to my back yard in time to see sky's beautiful spectacle.  The moon was descending over the valley as the blue of the sky became lighter.  The moon's color was unusually orange.  I was mesmerized.  I didn't even try to photograph the scene, which was as much a vision as it was an almost ecstatic experience.  There I stood, paralyzed, engraving the morning to my memory.  Mother Nature was showing off the power of her beauty.  It was one of those moments one can't fully explain.  I was so totally present.

I tried to paint the scene, but my amateur skills didn't come close to depicting what I saw.  Then I wrote this poem.  My words are insufficient, but I did my best to describe that unforgettable morning treat.

Sherry: You described it so well, we see the scene ourselves as we read. This is just gorgeous, Myrna. I like that you engraved it on your memory rather than trying for a photo. Photos don't always capture the totality of what we are seeing. Thank you so much for this poem.

Our thanks and appreciation to these three fine poets, for lifting our hearts, and for showing us there is still so much beauty, so much to be grateful for, in our lives and in the world.

Do come back, my friends, to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Poetry Pantry #381


Happy Sunday, Friends!  How quickly time goes.  Hard to believe we are already in the month of December.  I can remember when the year began, and (in the blink of an eye) the year is winding down.

Thanks to those who took part in this past week's activities at Poets United.   The week began with Sherry's update with Ayala.  Then Susan presented us with the prompt 'Bittersweet' at Midweek Motif.  Then Rosemary's I Wish I'd Written This - "We Have Come To Be Danced" by the dynamic poet Jewel Mathieson.  If you have missed something from this past week, there is still time to take a look.

Hope you will all return on Monday to read the new feature Sherry has prepared with the poems of three very familiar poets.  Wednesday Susan's prompt for Midweek Motif is 'Vanity / Narcissus.'

Just a heads up to everyone:  Poets United will be taking a holiday break in December.  We will have a Poetry Pantry on December 17.  Then we will have about two weeks off to give us all a bit of a break.  Smiles.  We will resume again on December 31, the last day of the year, for those who are interested in ending the year with a sharing of poetry!

With no further delay, let's share poetry!  Link your poem below.  Stop in the comments and say hello! And visit the poems of those who link.  I look forward to seeing you on the trail.

Friday, December 1, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This

We Have Come to Be Danced

We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
but the claw our way back into the belly
of the sacred, sensual animal dance
the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
the holding the precious moment in the palms
of our hands and feet dance
We have come to be danced
not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
but the wring the sadness from our skin dance
the blow the chip off our shoulder dance
the slap the apology from our posture dance
We have come to be danced
not the monkey see, monkey do dance
one, two dance like you
one two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
tearing scabs & scars open dance
the rub the rhythm raw against our souls dance
We have come to be danced
not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle
but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
the strip us from our casings, return our wings
sharpen our claws & tongues dance
the shed dead cells and slip into
the luminous skin of love dance
We have come to be danced
not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance
the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
the mother may I?
yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance
the everyone can come to our heaven dance
We have come to be danced
where the kingdoms collide
in the cathedral of flesh
to burn back into the light
to unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
to root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced

– Jewel Mathieson

Forgive me if you know this poem already; I see it is all over the net. I saw it for the first time when someone shared it on facebook. I think it is one that no-one could help but respond to, it's so full of verve and passion. Luckily, even if you have seen it before, I'm sure you won't be able to help thrilling to it all over again.

As if that's not enough, now try hearing the poet present it on YouTube, and really get your socks knocked off! There are some others who love it and recite it very well, but no-one matches the author's controlled ferocity! At first I thought it was a bit too much, but soon I was absorbed in it and taken over by it. There's nothing to be done but surrender oneself wholly.

She has an artist page on facebook, which gives us the information:

I'm a breast cancer survivor, dancer, award-winning storyteller, poetry slam champion & an internationally published poet. I've been teaching movement for over 20 years, with an emphasis in the 5Rhythms™ practice of Gabrielle Roth.

(Gabrielle Roth's work is ground-breaking. I still cherish the memory of reading her first book, Maps to Ecstasy. If you don't know about her, catch up quick on Wikipedia.)

Jewel Mathieson's facebook page is called 
Jewel Mathieson 5Rhythms WordDance or you can search for her  @jeweldancerpoet. (There is another artist called Jewel Mathieson, who is not this one.)

For a special treat, at this Jewel Mathieson's page, click on 'My Band' in the menu at top left to find a number of other vibrant, and vibrantly performed poems, with a background of music.

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Bittersweet

True Bittersweet: Solanum dulcamara, photo by Sten Porse

“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. 
Bitter. Sweet. Alive.” 

“Our sweetest songs are those of saddest thought.” 

“Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavour, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.” 

Image: fall berries of bittersweet vine.
From The SpruceAmerican Bittersweet Plants vs. Invasive Oriental Vines 

By Updated 10/17/17  

(Very Interesting Reading about 3 types of bittersweet!)

Midweek Motif ~ Bittersweet

I met the beautiful bittersweet in shades of orange on an oak tree while on a walk with my grandmother.  I gasped!   She said (perhaps erroneously), that it was a parasite, living on the life-blood of another.  I found the word parasite to be negative, and wondered at how something so pretty could have an ugly side.  Well, there you have it (! ) both noun and adjective: Bittersweet.  

Your Challenge: Write a brand new poem with a bittersweet mood and theme.  

Celastrus orbiculatus
Oriental Bittersweet

How it is fickle, leaving one alone to wander

the halls of the skull with the fluorescents
softly flickering. It rests on the head

like a bird nest, woven of twigs and tinsel
and awkward as soon as one stops to look.
That pile of fallen leaves drifting from

the brain to the fingertip burned on the stove, 

to the grooves in that man’s voice 
as he coos to his dog, blowing into the leaves 

of books with moonlit opossums
and Chevrolets easing down the roads 
of one’s bones. And now it plucks a single 

tulip from the pixelated blizzard: yet 

itself is a swarm, a pulse with no
indigenous form, the brain’s lunar halo. 

Our compacted galaxy, its constellations 
trembling like flies caught in a spider web, 
until we die, and then the flies

buzz away—while another accidental 

coherence counts to three to pass the time 
or notes the berries on the bittersweet vine

strewn in the spruces, red pebbles dropped
in the brain’s gray pool. How it folds itself 
like a map to fit in a pocket, how it unfolds 

a fraying map from the pocket of the day.

Source: Poetry (February 2012) and the Poetry Foundation
  (Posted with the poet's permission.)

Buried Love

I have come to bury Love
 Beneath a tree,
In the forest tall and black
 Where none can see.

I shall put no flowers at his head,
 Nor stone at his feet,
For the mouth I loved so much
 Was bittersweet.

I shall go no more to his grave,
 For the woods are cold.
I shall gather as much of joy
 As my hands can hold.

I shall stay all day in the sun
 Where the wide winds blow, --
But oh, I shall cry at night
 When none will know.

Bittersweet - Jalaluddin Rumi Poem read by Madonna - Lyrics

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 Vanity / Narcissus. )