Monday, April 30, 2018

POEMS OF THE WEEK - MEN'S VOICES: ERIC, BJORN, AND NICHOLAS

This week, let's listen to the voices of some of the men in our community. We selected poems by Eric, of Erbiage, Bjorn, of Bjorn Rudberg's Writings, and Nicholas V., of  intelliblog. Take a break, pour yourself a cup of tea, and settle in. We hope you enjoy.






there is a me in here
…                         (somewhere)
between the mind, the ego, the inner child
those are the bricks. i’m looking for the house
                    *****               *****
Sherry: I was very taken by this poem, Eric, recognizing that you are on the seeker's journey. I love, "i'm looking for the house." I suspect it is close by, behind a few bushes. Smiles.
Eric: There has been so much growth in my life in the last two years, and it really has been wonderful and a tremendous blessing.  One of the difficult pieces of this though is I'm really not liking who I was.  I used to have an opinion of myself that was not shared by very many people. This was painful to realize but it does explain a great deal.  It’s so easy to get lost in that. 
My wife's counseling practice incorporates a Mind-Body-Spirit framework, but all these things, they are just elements.  The self includes all of these things, that little voice in my head that says I'm not good enough etc., but the self is more than the sum of these parts, the way a pile of bricks becomes a house.
This is probably way too much for a tiny little poem, it came out kind of stream-of-consciousness.  

Sherry: I love your explanation. We all have that voice in our heads that says we aren't good enough. Our life's work is to silence it. Thank you for sharing, Eric. 

Sherry: Bjorn recently wrote a poem that seems to answer Eric's first poem rather beautifully. Let’s take a peek.









You crave a house;
a garden with a stately oak,
a library
a place to rest.

Walls you build with thoughts,
and windows form from dreams,
the roof is tiled with friendship;
so keep your gates unlocked.

In winter you need warmth
that only love can give.
while summers could be
sea-breezed far away.

But if your fancy is
for mansions, moats and turrets
you have to leach the land,
cut the trees,
dredge the bluffs
and crush the dreams of others.

Your house should wear its moccasins —
never boots. 



Bjorn: I wrote this poem based on a prompt on houses. I often try to find another meaning than what’s obvious at first. I see “developments” of housing, how we as humans absorb nature and expanding. The area per person is constantly increasing, and fills out our small properties. I feel that there are no limits to the needs of humans for space, and we do not mind trampling the toes of others.

At the same time a house is a wonderful place. We need it for warmth and company, we need it to meet our guests. I dream of houses that blend and are part of nature. I want houses that invites nature in summer, and shuts the cold wind out in winter.  

I also feel that we need houses that we are ready to leave. We should not grow roots unless it’s needed. Maybe houses should have the soft soles of Moccasins rather than making deep footprints like the boots of mansions. 

Sherry: I so agree about the heavy footprint monster houses leave on the landscape. I much prefer small cabins and cottages, tucked among the trees, not set on a scraped-clean lot - enough space, no need for thousands of square feet. I love this poem, Bjorn. Thank you so much.

A short while ago, Nicholas wrote a bittersweet poem we enjoyed very much. Let's read:








The wine you offered, Love,
Was ruby-red, sweet muscat;
A fine vintage with a rich bouquet,
A velvet taste that lingered on the palate,
But the aftertaste, so bitter!

The kiss I took from you, Love,
Was fragrant, fruity, dulcet:
From lips so red, and smiling,
A kiss so freely given, remembered evermore,
And yet the aftertaste, so bitter!

Your softly-spoken words, Love,
Honeyed, soothing, like balsam!
My ears unstopped, to hear, to listen,
Words full of harmony, like music
But their echoes, a cacophony.

The soft caresses, Love,
We gave each other liberally,
Cloud-soft, candied, pleasant,
Soothed away all pain, healed all wounds;
And yet, they left deep aching scars in their wake.

You are a sweet bitterness, Love,
You enchain us all with gossamer,
You wound with feathers and you heal with thorns;
You nourish us with mellow poison
And we starve when we have surfeit of it.

Love, you’re contrary, and your steadfastedness
Betrays all trust, punctures all boats of hope;
You lift us up to heaven, only to dash us down to Tartarus,
You give us strength, only with silken threads
To captivate and weaken us, making of us in our death, immortals.



Sherry: Love does all of those things, brings us the sweetest of joys, and the depths of sorrow. But we wouldn't be without it! This poem resonates with me, Nicholas.

Nicholas: My poem “Sweet Bitterness” looks at the contrariness that love is: Feelings pleasant and heady and heavenly mixed as it were with those of melancholy, disconsolation and hellishness. If one is in love, there is the sweetness of honey, but also the sting of the bee. Love raises us up to the sky but in the same instant may cast us down into the darkest of abysses.

Sherry: That it does. Thank you for sharing it. 

There we have it, folks: houses, moccasins and the bittersweetness of love. And us, enjoying it all. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Poetry Pantry #401

Waikiki Beach - Diamond Head in the background

Surf boards for rent on Waikiki

Sunset over Waikiki

A night view from where we stayed...showing
fireworks being shot off from a boat offshore
at Waikiki


A view of Honolulu - with Diamond Head
in the background

Another beautiful beach (not Waikiki)

This beach is sometimes used for snorkeling. Sigh.
Unfortunately ALL of the coral is dead, so there
is not much to see.  Coral all around the world is dying,
thanks to humans!




Greetings, Friends.  I hope you have enjoyed the photos above.  I just got back from some time on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.  We stayed right at Waikiki Beach, which is absolutely beautiful.

Thanks to Sherry for taking care of the Pantry last week.  And, scroll one post back and see Sherry's I Wish I Had Written This post from Friday.  Just as Rosemary most often features Australian poets, Sherry has featured a Canadian poet who wrote a wonderful poem called "The Language of Birds."  Do take a look.

On Monday Sherry is featuring poetry from three of our male poets.  I think you will enjoy these poems.

Wednesday Susan's Midweek Motif is "Barter / Trade."  Feel free to get a head start on your writing if you feel inspired.

Now with no further delay, let's share poetry.  Link your one poe


Friday, April 27, 2018

I Wish I'd Written This


The Language of Birds
After Galway Kinnell


If one were to interpret the language of birds
one might begin by confessing a fear
of heights, remembering days atop
the hemlock and the uneasy alliance of
thin branch beneath feet; and one would
have to study landings, carefully, for many,
many years before attempting to fall
with arms wide open from some great height.
If one were to interpret the language of birds.

If one were to interpret the language of birds
one would have to throw open the doors
and let them all in: warbler, wren, the swift river swallow,
and it would be necessary to make a bed
in the girders beneath the silver train bridge
and in the rafters of the abandoned barn
where the farmer hanged himself
and the swallows sang him all night from flesh.
If one were to interpret the language of birds.

In order to interpret the language of birds
one must ask what the crow knows of death,
what the red-winged blackbird knows of the reed
in the marsh where the world begins, again,
each morning, and one must rise out of bed
although the desire to do so is gone and the grey light
falling through the window touches, briefly,
a sadness that lives inside all that one is,
in order to interpret the language of birds.

If one were to interpret the language of birds
it would be necessary to steal from other songs
the one true song – the few notes sung
to please the jailor – and in singing feel
bones begin to thin and throat lengthen
and like the Baal Shem Tov  one would hear
their entreaties and know their songs
as the first griefs ever sung.
If one were to interpret the language of birds.

Eve Joseph
















A fervent bird-lover myself, this poem really speaks to me, especially the lines about birds’ warblings perhaps being the first grief songs ever sung. By my age, one accumulates a significant weight of the “sadness that lives inside all one is.”

Eve Joseph is a Canadian poet who grew up in North Vancouver, B.C., and who worked on freight trains and travelled widely in her youth. She and her family now reside in Victoria, on Vancouver Island. 

Her first book, The Startled Heart (2004), was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. The book from which the above poem was taken, The Secret Signature of Things (2010), was shortlisted for the Victoria Butler Prize and the Dorothy Livesay Award. She received the 2010 P. K. Page Founder’s Award for poetry and the 2010 Malahat Creative Nonfiction Prize.

Ms. Joseph is a hospice worker, drawing from her experiences to write her non-fiction book on death and dying: In the Slender Margin: The Intimate Strangeness of Dying (2014), which won the Hubert Evans nonfiction award.  Her nonfiction has been short-listed for CBC Literary Awards, and was named the Globe Books 100: Best Canadian non-fiction 2014.

Her new book of poems, Quarrels, is coming out in May of this year. I can’t wait! Information on all Ms. Joseph's books can be found here.




When I contacted Eve to tell her we were featuring her work, she offered us a sneak peek at a prose poem from Quarrels, and I jumped at the chance to share it. Let's take a look:

*****

MY GRANDFATHER LAY MOTIONLESS BENEATH A CHENILLE BEDSPREAD.
His upturned hands drifting like little boats. He was coming and going through the open window, a little further each time. Chestnuts, spiked like medieval maces, lay on the ground in what looked to be the aftermath of a long and arduous battle. Death is inside the bones, wrote Neruda, like a barking where there are no dogs. I kept my distance. Behind me, my father was on his knees by the hospital bed. I couldn’t tell if he was praying. On the wall, his shadow leaned slightly forward. As if wanting to comfort but hesitating to intrude. 

*****


Eve says her stroke in 2013 “changed my view of myself.” She wrote a wonderful essay about it in the Globe and Mail, which you may find of interest. Her website is here.

Let’s look at one more poem from The Startled Heart:


A starling with no feet
eats at my table: a few crumbs, dried cranberries.

Where does it get me,
my foolish pity?

Intentional or not, you stepped
in death's way.

A bone-white edge, the near perfect
fit of broken things.

Too late for lessons now. A blackbird spoke
because you asked.

It's hope that does me in: the place
the voice breaks.

What's left? A kind of grace:
a perilous landing.


As we can see, this poet knows much about death and dying, which is also to know a great deal about life and living. We hope you enjoyed these offerings.


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, April 25, 2018

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Summer



     
“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy” — Anton Chekov


SOURCE


“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” — John Lubbock, The Use Of life




Midweek Motif ~ Summer


Write a Summer poem today.

In cold countries summer is a brief and enjoyable time and in a country like India it’s endless torture.

Yet Mother Nature knows well how and with what to fill in summer time. So do our poets J


Sonnet 18
by William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
   So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 


Tis The Last Rose Of Summer
by Thomas Moore

Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone:
No flower of her kindred,
No rose-bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh. 


I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead. 


So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love's shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie wither'd,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone? 


Summer Stars
by Carl Sandburg

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming. 


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 ~ Barter / Trade)


Monday, April 23, 2018

BLOG OF THE WEEK: AN UPDATE WITH MAMA ZEN


This week, my friends, we are catching up with Kelli, the incomparable Mama Zen, who writes at another damn poetry blog, (though it is anything but!) We are looking forward to hearing what she's been up to, reading some of her fine poems, and enjoying some photos that will give us a sense of her location on the planet. Pull your chairs in close. This is going to be wonderful!






Sherry: Kelli, our last update was in 2016. Bring us up to date, won’t you? How is your Grandma doing? How is Baby Puppy? Is she writing herself, these days? (I am still waiting to interview her one day. Smiles.) And how are you, as you mark three years since the death of your mother at the too-young age of 62?

Kelli: So good to be with you again, Sherry.

The family is doing well.  At 85, my Grannie is still able to run circles around most people half her age (including me!).  We're trying to get her to slow down a bit, maybe hire out some of the yard work and such, but I don't know if she is going to have it.



My Grannie and I at an Oklahoma City Thunder game.
She's as Thunder crazy as I am, so this is our thing.


Baby Puppy is the most naturally gifted writer I have ever seen.  Pure raw talent.  It truly awes me. 

Sherry: I am not at all surprised, given her talented mother!

Kelli: We home school, now, so we have access to more rigorous classes and more areas of study than were available in traditional school.  But, it's hard work.  For both of us.

Sherry: A wonderful option for a creative person. And safer, too.

Kelli: As for me, it's been difficult.  Frankly, I just went numb for a while.  But, I'm at peace with my mother's passing. That fact alone is at least some evidence of God.

Sherry: I'm glad to hear that, Kelli. Sometimes when we go through hard times, our writing slows for a while. Louise Erdrich calls this a “time of gestation.” How is your writing going?

Kelli: "Time of gestation." I like that, and I certainly hope that it's true.  It sounds much prettier than "banging my head bloody against the wall." I seem to be going through a slow period when it comes to my writing.  It's painful, but maybe it's necessary.  Refilling the well and all that.

Sherry: Well, the poems we are reading are consistently amazing, in my humble opinion. What do you love about poetry? How do you feel those times when a poem turns out exactly the way you want?

Kelli: I don't think that I've ever had a moment when a poem has turned out exactly the way I wanted.  I'm not sure I would recognize a moment like that if it happened.  I have had some moments when I finished a poem and felt a little less ordinary than I am.  Poetry has that kind of magic.  That's what I love about it.

Sherry: Wow. That astonishes me. So many of your poems take my breath away. And you are anything but ordinary! Do you have a favourite poet?



Mama Zen at (cos)play dressed as Roxy Lalonde,
but that's not important. The important thing is the Trans Am
I'm leaning against. Recognize it? That's the Smokey and the Bandit car!


Kelli: Yes, but I'm not monogamous.  I like playing the field.  Right now, I'm dating Nikki Giovanni.  Recently, I had flings with John Berryman and Walt Whitman.  But I always come back to Shakespeare.

Sherry: When you look back, are there any clues in childhood that you would become a poet? 

Kelli: I don't know if you would call it a clue, but books were a huge part of my childhood.  I read everything that I could get my hands on.  And I had a very vivid imagination.

Sherry: Ah, the foundation of most poets, I suspect. When did you start writing?

Kelli: I started writing in earnest when I was about 14.  I was a living stereotype!  Dressed in black from head to toe, blue black hair dye and nail polish, motorcycle boots, and a tattered notebook of poems detailing my teenage angst.  But I didn't think of myself as a poet.  I was a songwriter.

Sherry: I can see you! Smiles. Is there one person you feel had a significant influence on you in your life, and/or as a creative person?

Kelli: I can think of a few people.  My grandfather was the greatest storyteller I've ever known.  He rooted me deep in the Oklahoma red dirt, and I think it shows in my poetry.




My favorite kind of Oklahoma landscape


Sherry: I love it when that red dirt seeps into your poems. Two of your recent poems that I really really love are “Getting Old” and “Blessed”. Let’s include them here. Would you tell us a bit about each poem?



My bad witch
is fat
and contented.
She picks her teeth
with my good
witches bones.
Gray springs free
from my braid, but I've made

peace with the griefs
that I own.
I'm a Buddha that bakes and drives carpool.
I'm a shrew with hands full of hell.
The ways of the world can't shock me anymore,
but I still astonish myself.


Kelli:  I'm afraid that I don't really have a good story for this one.  I think this was a poem that I wrote for the New Year.  Sort of a personal celebration.

Sherry: I love her picking her teeth with her good witch bones! Delightful!



I'm the taste on the lion's tongue.
Wild mother
of wilder young.
Sun, salt
sugar, sweat,
breasts -
blessed.


Kelli:  Ah, this one I have a story for!

A couple of years ago, my family and I toured a tiger rescue.  At one point during the tour, we were able to interact with the tiger cubs.  While I was sitting in the enclosure, one of the tiger cubs bounced up to me and began licking my hands.  A young woman (a tourist from India; I have to mention that because she had the most gorgeous, lilting accent) watched the cub for a moment, then said, "You're blessed."  Her tone was this mixture of matter-of-factness and awe; it gave me shivers.  It felt like a sign to me.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible that tiger cubs just like sunscreen.


My husband and I with my little cub friend.
He's actually a Liger - a tiger-lion mix.


Sherry: Oh, he is so adorable!!! It was a sign, I have no doubt! Animals sense a person's spirit. I always trust when they like someone...and when they don't. I love this poem so much. And I would so adore patting a tiger cub. Sigh.

Would you like to pick another? (Cant get enough, lol! I really love “Workhorse”, for one……..)

Kelli: Well, since I do take requests . . .      


Give me the weight; my back is strong.
I've done time in the traces, it's where I belong.
There is solace in knowing just what I am -
a workhorse plodding slow.
Plodding slow
and plodding home.

Look at my hands to see my true face.
They work wonders without waste.
This may not be the story I intended to write,
but this is the language of my life.

So what's one more brand new year unfolding -
I've got the same sweat on my brow.
I've bargained my penance and starved for forgiveness;
I'm fat with forgetting now.

A workhorse at the plow.
Fat with forgetting now.


Sherry: I adore "I'm fat with forgetting now." This is just brilliant, Kelli. I think we can all relate to "this may not be the story I intended to write". But it's our lives; it's what we have. Do you have any writing goals for 2018?


A view of my neighbourhood from the walking path


Kelli: For about the first 30 minutes or so of 2018, I had a few writing goals, but I ended up changing my mind.  I don't want to ask more of poetry than it can give, or burden it with expectations.

Sherry: Oh, I love that: not asking more than poetry can give. That is likely how we keep our work fresh, not flogging it. What activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?

Kelli:  I'm an avid reader; if I have any downtime, you can bet I have a book in my hand.  I'm crazy ridiculous about professional basketball.  And, naps!  I love naps.




My vegetable garden in summer

Sherry: Thank you so much, Kelli, for this visit. It's always good to catch up with you. I love the photos of your part of the world. Say "hi!" to Baby Puppy for us! Maybe she will share a poem with us one of these days?

Wasn't this a lovely visit, my friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!