Sunday, December 8, 2019

Pantry of Poetry and Prose #7

Hello word weavers and word lovers! Welcome to Poetry United's seventh week hosting the pantry of poetry and prose. Hopefully some of the lucky energy of that number will rub off on us all this week.

This last week Susan brought us some Changes in the Midweek Motif. On Wild Fridays, Rosemary celebrated Susan and Sumana for their contributions to Poets United. What will this week bring us? Get ready to write poetry about "A/The Moment" with Sumana.

Now's the time where you get to hit us with one of your word wonders.The pantry is open to old and new pieces of poetry, prose, fiction, or nonfiction. But keep prose pieces to 369 words or under, please. Thanks and enjoy the word magic.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Wild Fridays: Poems of the Week

Celebrating Susan and Sumana

– who have been our Midweek Motif hosts for so long. It's sad to see them step down from that role which they have filled so beautifully, with so much thought and so much heart. Changes in both their lives came coincidentally at about the same time, bringing a need to refocus their energies elsewhere. They generously decided to stay on until the end of the year, after Mary and Sherry's retirement, giving the new team more time to settle in. And they assure us that, although they won't be hosting any more, they will still be writing and posting.

How much I've always enjoyed the poems of each of these poets – equally thoughtful, spiritual and life-affirming, yet different in style. 

They also, of course, experience marked differences in geography and culture, yet have worked together as a team-within-a-team, preparing and hosting the Midweek Motif prompts with ongoing behind-the-scenes collaboration – another example of how Poets United (the staff and the wider community) has been able to create a harmonious common ground for us all.

Choosing one favourite poem from each of these poets would have been impossible, because there are so many I could include! I picked these first two (both posted to their blogs earlier this year) partly because, in showing their individual yet shared love of life, even in its smallest details, they also exemplify aspects of their different societies and lifestyles.

Here is Sumana longing for rain:

– Sumana Roy

I miss your visual splendour-
your kohl-eye, telling stories-
your swift pirouettes in the wind-
your enthralling foot-work-
did your ghungroos (anklet) have hundred bells
like the Kathak dancers?
Wasn’t I mesmerized hearing the dance steps
on glossy, green leaves; on metal shades?
the touch of those graceful hands
blossomed Kadam flowers-
your odhni (veil) of cloud
seemed infinite-
where are you my pretty, danseuse?
Have we killed you
like the colonial British trying to smother
the Kathak dance
calling its practitioners ‘nautch girls’; harlots
in contemptuous fun?
In our desert homes
we are missing you sorely-

Sumana added in a note:
[Whatever I try to write now it leads to the rain-less days we are living here. So my Kathak dancer is the monsoon here.]

Sumana, we here in Australia can very much relate to such a longing, as we have been suffering a serious drought for a number of years. I know other places around the world, including parts of America, are in a similar plight. I hope your plea may act as  a prayer!

Then we see Susan enjoying both friendship and solitude:

After an Evening with Friends  
– Susan Chast

After fudge and cream on brownies, after
the last delicious kiss goodnight,
after the train deposits you
a mere half mile away—
you walk. The door opens
and closes. Then, 
do you, too, sigh,

perk up, rally to spend
time with yourself at last,
to catch up on quiet and joy?
Home’s divine solitude settles
like gold dust, surrounds like Bach cello suites.

Susan, you take us straight into both feelings with marvellous economy of well-chosen words! I feel with you the pleasures of such an evening of good food with congenial friends, then the bliss of 'home's divine solitude'. Having lived alone for the past seven years, maintaining an active social life yet also relishing my periods of solitude, I can say a big 'Yes!' to both verses. 

Perhaps the overriding quality I receive from Sumana's poetry is gentleness; from Susan's integrity. For me these are their signature characteristics – but of course no-one can be categorised by just one quality; I don't mean to suggest the poems are not varied.

I see both, also, as women of great resilience.

Here is Susan coping with the 'writer's slump' we all experience from time to time, yet using it – with great wisdom – to reconnect with the source of inspiration, in faith that it is indeed so:

What a Writing Slump Is

A hole I slide into, below
the surface of consciousness, I say—

But my body protests:
It’s a hole you want to dig but can’t.
You’re slumping, and haven’t the strength
to wield a shovel to break through
the surface of consciousness.
The hard ground won’t receive the seed. 

No, I reply, trust me:
The seed is there with fledgling roots, 
but the hole is too deep for the stem to reach 
the edge where I could translate through arms, 
eyes and hands into the light.  Instead of floating 
over the hole, notebook and keyboard—I am
inside, as close to the seedling as possible. 

I slide into the hole, below
the surface of consciousness, I say—
and slump there for a long long time.

And Sumana lifting herself up via the words of the famous Indian poet Tagore, whom she so loves and admires (some of whose work she has translated):


Your words are the buzz-song
of a bee–
dripping sweetness unto
my tattered soul–
I have morphed into
a thousand honeycomb
holding your nectar–
the world isn't all honey–
when it stings I sing your forever song
to be lifted up, to fly
with my newly grown wings–

Susan replies:

Rosemary, thank you for choosing my poem “After an Evening with Friends” for this sweet feature with Sumana.  You, she, and Poets United have been with me many of these luscious evenings.  And then, “What a Writing Slump is”! I am not slumping now, but I know the hole, seeds and roots intimately. 

I love Poets United.  I loved working with the old team and look forward to changes the new team will bring.  Based on what you have already done, I know PU will continue to nourish poets and writers in exciting ways.  Poets United nourished me at a time when my confidence in blogging my poems was flagging.  Then you, Mary, and Sherry wholeheartedly invited me to join the team after Kim Nelson's year.  The new weekly Midweek Motif built on Kim's success.  And just when I was feeling overwhelmed, Mary suggested that I share Midweek Motif with Sumana Roy.  I soon became enchanted with her poetry and choices, and we became partners here.  I felt my life blessed ever since.  (Truly, Sumana. Poems like your Respect from 2017 live in my home. And I want to use your Tagore translations forever!) 

Now, I hope to put my creative time into writing. In addition, I've come out of retirement to substitute teach, and I am co-leading a spiritual nurture program through my Quaker meeting. I expect to join the poets who blog here quite often. Throughout the years, your poetry and commentary have been good company. 

And Sumana says:

I feel so honored to be featured with Susan in your Poems of the Week, here at Poets United, Rosemary. Thank you so much. Yes, it’s been a wonderful journey with you all. I enjoyed my every moment being here. Thematic prompts always motivate me to write my lines and it was so amazing to see all the insightful responses from the poets from all over the world to such prompts. And such a dream team of partners! I can’t thank Mary enough for offering me to be a part of the Midweek Motifs with Susan. Aah…those behind-the-scene chats with Susan for Midweek motifs! And who can ever forget all those sun-shine words from all of you during my cloudy days! I am ever so grateful to each of you for being with me during my hard hours.

Wish you all my best.

And thank you once again Rosemary for selecting the poem Dance. This poem is definitely a sigh of exasperation only an Indian summer and a forgetful Monsoon could bring about. 

I am so very obsessed with Tagore! And what a delight you’ve chosen this poem also for this feature. It’s a little tribute to my poet who has become a shelter to me specially after those stormy nights. At present I am reading a memoir of Tagore in Bengali. Name of the book is : Swarger Kachhakachhi by Maitreyee Devi. Meaning of the book title is ‘Close to Heaven’. No title could be more appropriate.

Though now most of my time is occupied with extreme traveling I still have managed some space for reading and diving once again into the translation of Tagore’s songs.


I'm sure you'll all be glad (but not surprised) to know that these two exceptional poets, who have become our dear friends through their many months of hosting Midweek Motif, will still be very much engaged with poetry, and that we may continue to see them here sharing their wise and beautiful words.

Material shared in this post is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Changes

Autumn in Lodhi Garden, New Delhi
I am crooning a Tagore song as I write this prompt ‘Changes’ together with Susan: 

“Fallen leaves, I’m one of you dear.
With much laughter and many a tear
Phagun* chanted the farewell song into my core.”

(*Phagun / Phalgun is one of the last months
of the Bengali calendar.)

This year now rolls into its last month. There is an aroma of change everywhere; in every sphere of life. So it is in our dearest home Poets United. Mary and Sherry left in October, and both Susan and I are taking leave of Midweek Motif this December:

“The poetry of earth is ceasing never:   
On a lone winter evening, when the frost    
    Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills   
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,   
  And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,   
    The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.”

Our last prompt will be 18 December 2019, though we will continue to write and blog our poetry.   We will write more about this change in Rosemary's feature this Friday.  So stay tuned, and stay in tune, too, for your new Wednesday prompt hosts in January 2020.
Much love, Sumana and Susan        

Midweek Motif  ~ Changes
We try to learn to appreciate change, as it cannot be avoided.  We would have to set life in bronze or stone or amber to preserve it.  Would it then be alive?  Can we then celebrate change, or at least find the words to recognize its power?   Adrienne Rich wrote in "Images for Godard":
 the mind of the poet is changing
the moment of change is the only poem.
 What do you think?

Here are more poems to inspire you as you find the poetry in change:  

Want the change
by Rainer Maria Rilke
English version by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.

What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.

Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.

Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.

The Journey

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.

Roselva says the only thing that doesn’t change
is train tracks. She’s sure of it.
The train changes, or the weeds that grow up spidery
by the side, but not the tracks.
I’ve watched one for three years, she says,
and it doesn’t curve, doesn’t break, doesn’t grow.

Peter isn’t sure. He saw an abandoned track
near Sabinas, Mexico, and says a track without a train
is a changed track. The metal wasn’t shiny anymore.
The wood was split and some of the ties were gone.

Every Tuesday on Morales Street
butchers crack the necks of a hundred hens.
The widow in the tilted house
spices her soup with cinnamon.
Ask her what doesn’t change.

Stars explode.
The rose curls up as if there is fire in the petals.
The cat who knew me is buried under the bush.

The train whistle still wails its ancient sound
but when it goes away, shrinking back
from the walls of the brain,
it takes something different with it every time.

Image result for change quotes

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 ~  A / The Moment.)

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Pantry of Poetry and Prose #6

December greetings, poets and storytellers! Yes, December. Can you believe it? My joints can feel it deeply, but… the rest of me is still wondering what happened to November (and the rest of 2019).

Well, I have no idea where last month went, but its last Friday was taken by Rosemary’s Moonlight Musings: Process and Product. If you’ve yet to read it, do go back and take a look-see. Next week, for December’s first Midweek Motif, Sumana and Susan invite us to explore Change.

Speaking of change that affected (and continues to affect) a lot of souls, 64 years ago (on December 1, 1955), Rosa Parks refused to sit on the back of a bus—where Alabama law said she, and anyone with too much honey in their skin, belonged. Rosa said enough! and changed the world. If you need a bit of inspiration, let your words celebrate Rosa Parks.

It’s Sunday at Poets United, so the pantry is open to both poetry and prose (stories, articles, essays… in 369 words or fewer). Your entry can be old or new, the writing choice is yours. And the reading pleasure is all ours.


Feed the direct link to your entry to Mr. Linky. Delight in the words of other poets and storytellers. And have the best of all days.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Wild Fridays: Moonlight Musings

Process and Product

I was having a facebook chat with Jasmine Logan (whom I featured here recently) when she accidentally sent me a photo of a whiteboard she was working on, mapping out a new poem. (She only meant to snap it for her own records.) When I say mapping, I mean mind-mapping.

I've known of this technique since first encountering it decades ago in the book 'Writing the Natural Way' by Gabriel Lusser Rico. She called it clustering. Here is an example from her book:

Since then it's taken off, been used for many different purposes besides writing, and is taught in schools. It's decades since I tried it as a writing tool, and then only briefly. I did the exercises in Rico's book, and they worked, but somehow the method didn't stick. 

I guess that's because, when you've been making poems since age seven, by the time you're an adult you tend to fall back on what's already working. (Much as, having learned to two-finger type when I was nine, I never learned to touch-type later. Every time I tried, I became impatient and went back to what I already did quite well enough for my needs.) 

Nevertheless I exclaimed to Jasmine, 'I love the way you work!' It looked so active and immediate.

I find process fascinating – especially the fact that we can have very different processes, yet all of them can produce excellent poems.

For me, poetry tends to occur as phrases, lines, even whole verses already formed. This happens whether they just bubble up into my consciousness, apparently from nowhere, or whether I decide to write on a particular topic (be that a prompt, or something else that engages me). So I start with what comes into my head, and go from there. Those original words usually do form the beginning of the poem, but sometimes they turn out to be at the end of it or somewhere in the middle, and sometimes they don't stay in the finished poem at all. 

I'm like the late Australian poet Judith Rodriguez, who was famously quoted as saying, 'How can I know what a poem will say until I've written it?' Even when I work to a prompt, I don't know where it will take me until I get there. 

I've been intrigued to discover that some of my poet friends work quite differently from that. They start with an idea of what they want to write about, and also have a pretty clear idea of what they wish to say on that topic. At least some of them then explore it in prose until it's expressed coherently, and only then begin to shape it into verse. Some very good poets work like that. It puzzles me, but I can't deny that for them it's an effective technique.

Then of course there are many other aspects to process. Some people need quiet in order to create. Noise doesn't bother me; I can tune it out. Some people like specific rituals to help them get into a creative frame of mind; others (including me) dive right in. Some find that listening to music somehow helps the words to flow. (Classical music seems to be what works best for them, I observe. Which may be one reason I don't do that, as I prefer other kinds of music which might not be so conducive. Blues could work; not so sure about heavy metal.) 

Some write best first thing in the morning, others late at night.

There are those who like to do a lot of thinking before they put pen to paper – even, in some cases, to go for a walk before they start writing, or to sit and meditate. And of course there are plenty of us now who don't put pen to paper any more, but fingers to keys. 

There are fiction writers who save newspaper cuttings to get inspiration for plots and characters. There are poets who fill notebooks with lists of words that appeal to them. There are people who go out to cafés to write; others who must have their own desk in their own room; others again whose most productive spot is the kitchen table. 

All methods work, but only some of them work for a particular individual. What do you favour?

Please tell me in the comments. 
I'd love to know your thoughts, and read your descriptions of your own processes.


I'm currently (at the time of preparing this post) reading Patti Smith's latest book, Year of the Monkey, and just came to the part where she describes herself and her late friend Sam Shepherd, towards the end of his life, working together on revising a manuscript, '... me reading and transcribing, Sam writing out loud in real time.'

She says: 'There are several changes and new passages which he verbalizes to avoid the struggle of writing by hand.' 

He's in a wheelchair at the time she writes of, and can no longer play his cherished Gibson guitar.

She says: 'Some time ago he told me that one must write in absolute solitude, but necessity has shifted his process.'

That would be a good place, aesthetically and philosophically, at which to end this. But wait, there's more! It's an important more.

'Sam adjusts and seems invigorated by the prospect of focusing on something new.'

Over to you! 

Material shared in this post is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Longing

    “Every person has a longing to be significant; to make a contribution; to be part of something noble and purposeful.”— John C. Maxwell


“Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I am gazing at a distant star. It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago. May be the star doesn’t even exist anymore. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.”— Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

       Midweek Motif ~ Longing

Longing is an all-embracing emotion. Intentionally or unwittingly we incorporate ‘longing’ in whatever we do. It’s our driving force.

When I look around I find young people desperately longing for freedom, stability; some ambitious ones running after wealth and fame; older ones with an eye for the happy bygone days now yearn for fulfillment; some long for joy, wellbeing and peace; in the face of adversity many simply long to escape; everyone wants to belong somewhere.

Longing to write in an almost impossible condition had prison- literature flourish in many countries. The famous Turkish poet, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, director and memoirist Nâzım Hikmet Ran was repeatedly arrested for his political beliefs and spent much of his adult life in prison or in exile. This much for those who long for creativity, words.

I cannot resist sharing one of Ran’s poem I Come and Stand at Every Door.

[It’s a plea for peace from a seven-year-old girl, ten years after she has perished in the atomic bomb attack at Hiroshima, Wikipedia] :

I come and stand at every door
But no one hears my silent tread
I knock and yet remain unseen
For I am dead, for I am dead.

I'm only seven although I died
In Hiroshima long ago
I'm seven now as I was then
When children die they do not grow.

My hair was scorched by swirling flame
My eyes grew dim, my eyes grew blind
Death came and turned my bones to dust
And that was scattered by the wind.

I need no fruit, I need no rice I
need no sweet, nor even bread
I ask for nothing for myself
For I am dead, for I am dead.

All that I ask is that for peace
You fight today, you fight today
So that the children of this world
May live and grow and laugh and play.

What do you long for?

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

(Next week Poets United Midweek Motif is Changes hosted by Susan & Sumana)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Pantry of Poetry and Prose #5

Espresso Chai Pumpkin Pie, Pinterest

If I were to make receipts for every good thing you had ever given me, there would be not a tree left standing on earth, nor oil in the ground from which to make ink. Angela Abraham

Hello everyone! Happy Thanksgiving to you all in advance! This is Sanaa and I am back with another exciting Pantry of Poetry and Prose this Sunday.

This week Susan lifted our spirits with her Midweek Motif, "Awakening," to which there were several amazing responses! I, myself was lured into writing and pouring my heart out.

Rosemary introduced an exciting new feature, "Wild Fridays: Roving the Web," where she shared links to good stuff for writers! Do scroll back and check it out in case you have missed it!

For now, I invite you to share your entry, as Poets United welcomes both poetry and prose (i.e. stories, articles, essays) feel free to link anything new or old and relish in the work of others. Also, if you opt to share prose then please keep it to 369 words or fewer.

 Optional: For those of you whose muse desires something, here is a stunning poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Remember to give credit if you decide to write inspired by it. 

Pierre Bamin, Unsplash
 Next Wednesday Sumana's Midweek Motif will be ~ Longing

And now, without further ado, let us dive into the Pantry! Looking forward to grabbing a cup of delicious hot chocolate and reading you all! See you on the trail!🥧