Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ The Wall

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”— Isaac Newton


“Graffiti is usually a protest — ink on walls – or has a reason for being naughty or aggressive.” — Cy Twombly

       Midweek Motif ~ The Wall

How do you react when you encounter a wall? Are you happy or do you feel left out? Does it look like an obstacle, a barrier or is it more like a symbol of safety and strength?

The wall has been a part of human civilization, either to keep things within or to wall out unwanted elements.

You are to write about The Wall; visible, invisible; real or imaginary; and even historic walls like the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall will do.

It might also be about your garden fence if you have one.

A couple of wall poems for you:

Mending Wall
by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."

by Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

Yet all this comes down when the jobs done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.

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 ~ Balance)

Monday, September 24, 2018


This week, my friends, we are  chatting with Chrissa Sandlin, a Texas poet who blogs at  MOON POOLS AND MERMAIDS , and one of our newer members. I am so looking forward to getting to know her better, so draw your chairs in close, and let's dive right in!

Sherry: Chrissa, tell us a bit about yourself and your life – and please introduce us to your dogs. (Many of us are  dog lovers! Smiles.)

Chrissa: I’d love to say that I wandered in from the excavation of a nearby fairyland amusement park…but there are pics to prove that I was pretty much born and raised in Texas. I grew up in a small town (Lake Jackson) not far from the Gulf Coast. I managed to make it to Houston (for college) and we (husband James, pup #1 Merlin, and pup #2 Varda) now live a little north of the city. 

Merlin is a Papillion/Eskie mix (peskies, for the win!)  

Varda is a retriever mix with rottweiler coloring. 

Sherry: They look wonderful...... and happy! You are lucky to have two. Dogs are the best!

Chrissa: They’re pretty much my personal nap gurus and definitely indoor, suburban dogs. Merlin ended up being the Muppet-y one, the one who likes to bark & bounce & pretend blankets of all kinds are monsters out to get him. Not saying he’s responsible for all the holes in the blankets…but he’s pretty much the face you see peering out, so draw your own conclusions.

As one of the people caught in the undertow of layoffs several years ago, during what I refer to as my Year of Living In a Country Song (lost my job, our first two dogs, and my husband’s car), I’ve moved through the detritus of temp jobs to a steady person-at-the-house-to-do-stuff position. Writing is part of that. I’m really fortunate to be able to go to a nearby park & ramble & write al fresco. When it’s not rocket hot, I’ll take a glass of iced coffee and sit at one of the picnic tables and handwrite rough drafts or edit existing ones. 

Sherry: It sounds ideal!  Is there something, looking back, that you think influenced your becoming a writer? 

Chrissa: Reading is what first put the idea of writing in my head. I was the kid who had the book in the car, at the dinner table, stuffed under my desk in class, etc. At some point, it just seemed that every book was about other places and I couldn’t believe that no one had written about all the amazing stuff that existed around me. (There weren’t any “local author” sections in the bookstores I encountered growing up). Looking at the Spanish moss on the oaks out the window during class in junior high cemented the idea that someone should write about the wonderful and the terrible there in that moment. And that the gym teacher was definitely a spy of some kind because really, who thinks aerobics is a GOOD idea? It was the 80s…

Sherry: Smiles. I share your sentiments on aerobics. When did you begin writing poetry? What do you love about it?

Chrissa: Junior high was when I began writing, separate from assignments. What I loved then and what I still love now about reading poetry is the compression of form that emphasizes rhythm and the snapshot quality of the subject matter. It can be like thumbing through an album of idea, emotion, and experience—sometimes more abstract than a photo but more immersive, at the same time.

Sherry: That is a good description. What came first, poetry or prose? Which is your favourite?

Chrissa: Prose probably came first. My grandmother had an old typewriter that I could set up on a small footstool and type out stories. I’m a mood reader—unless I have a specific goal in mind I’ll reach for either and my favorite would probably be a mixture of prose and poetry, something like The Lord of the Rings.

Sherry: Ha, I typed for many years on my grandpa's old Underwood. What is your writing process? Do you do a lot of revision of your poems?

Chrissa: Revision is my least favorite part of writing; my brain is ready to slip to the next shiny new project. I like to handwrite out rough drafts, using these as a form of journal/research/draft, including any notes from books I’m reading and brief indications of where I am when writing. These brief journal bits act as a warm up and are really the only kind of journaling I’ve ever been able to stick with. I like reading everything out loud to the dogs while revising. They like sleeping and cracking an eye when I stop talking. Snack time?

Sherry: This picture of your dogs cracks me up. This is why I love dogs so much! Would you share three poems with us, and tell us a bit about each one?

Chrissa: The first of these is a poem written for a non-image prompt (write a poem about something in the room) and while it didn’t come out in the form I was hoping for, it reads to me like a lyric and that just makes me smile. I am not musical. 


Dream, slow line sliding
Power liner on a baffled lid
Wet edge of the rainbow mining
Shattered light of thunder’s skid.

The second is a poem that sprung from walking around a nearby mall until I was exhausted and then staring up at the skylights under a cloudy sky. I’d like to use it in a story at some point—it feels like the kernel of one. 


Nana does. Mommy does.
A toddler snuggled against the vinyl slats and floppy bags
On the mall bench near me. I looked up to see the underside of the rain.
I can’t walk the rain.
Fifteen minutes from opening, can lights off in the liquid morning
The woman smiled over the bags at the girl, then at me.
Just a few minutes.
If you look up at the right angle, their faces are cut
From the transition places, cloud edges, opening times
Hold my hand.
I keep my eyes on Sephora glowing like Paradise behind a gate
As the light above splatters into a glass-bottomed shower.

The last one plays around with the idea of the elements (fire, water, earth, etc.) and was sparked by a picture of an astronaut and hearing about the possible discovery of a body of water on Mars.


Go to the shore on the planet of cold fire
Walk in the sand like air, crystallized
Until the stars spark between your toes.
Go to the shore on the planet of salt
We have wept an ocean blind
Say the comets as they fall sunward
Go to the shore by the humming sea
Write your name in neon dikes
So cold your face burns constellations
Go to the shore and fly yourself
Through ice, through grief, through thought
In the sea on the planet whose face you wear

Sherry: I find your writing very interesting, Chrissa. Your voice is unique. I especially love your third poem, and "We have wept an ocean blind." Very cool.

Recently, you posted a poem I would love to include here, if I may.


On my back on the carpet, post-yoga, contemplating
That I should not have forgotten that my last use
Of that DVD was three months ago
Breathing as per the instructions and staring
Up into the limbs of the Norfolk pine
In a pot high enough on the shelves by the window
To almost reach the's like a real tree
My brain is happy to note...breathe...breathe...
Three months? Not that long ago, really
And I made it through the entire DVD
At least I held whatever poses I could manage
Throughout and I'm floating on a sheen
And that really dusty...and...

It's like a puppeteer from behind the curtain
Gives it lips, eyes, the shape of a dragon's head
And it speaks.

Go to the road and walk the road
Until you find a shop that sells my teeth
And buy them and bring them
And place them in my mouth that I may eat
For I tired of that squirrel on the fence

We're both tired of the squirrel
Which sets the dogs barking and they'
Hundreds of other squirrels (probably) in the trees
Where the houses give ways to a weedy forest...
I'm still breathing deep breaths per the DVD
Which is still playing music that might,
If one retrogrades it with a certain suburban tint
Be considered fay...if you imagine a bored elf
Telling her aesthetician how heritage is too quaint
But it's fun to shop Under the Hill in the summer
When all the festivals are put on for the tourists.

Then the Norfolk pine growls
Which is not a thing I thought dragons did.

And so I get up and put on socks and sneakers
Because I think (maybe) the squirrel's out there now
And the dogs don't notice because they're hiding
In the bedroom because there's a dragon in here
With me (thanks guys) and if I scare away the squirrel
I can just pretend yoga puts me to sleep.

The back door, though, opens onto a highway.
Right through our lawn and weeds and the neighbor's
Ill-kept crepe myrtles and lawn all the way
To a town that never existed on the other side
Of the neighborhood. So I go.

I walk down the road and it's cool and wide
And it never smells of asphalt because the weeds
Are lush and I find the shop in that town although
I didn't bring my wallet...instead, we barter
For sunflowers, bluebonnets, black-eyed Susans and mallows
Which I pick until my hands are green and sticky
And my shirt is a seedbed and I exchange them for teeth.

I walk back uphill with my bag, toward a fence
In the distance bordered by those mourning myrtles
When there's a buzz and a voice says "Hey, buddy"
And a giant yellow jacket comes up and tells me
He's heard of giants rampaging through the pollen fields
And he hates to ask but would that be me?
With my shirt full of seeds and my hands sticking to the bag...
Because he's willing--flipping up some kind of seed badge--
To let it go with a warning and I'm naive enough
To think he means verbal.

Which is why I'm standing here watching a dragon
Stare at me from the squirrel's favorite ledge
On the back fence while my left bicep
Throbs a venomous tattoo of a yellow-jacket
With biceps and a glare guarding a sunflower
While the dogs bark furiously at the dragon
From behind my calves.

Meanwhile, the DVD is telling us all
To breathe.

Sherry: I love this poem! I smiled all the way through your adventures with  the talking dragon, dogs and bee. This was so much fun to read!

When did you begin blogging, Chrissa, and what impact has blogging had on your writing?

Chrissa: I started blogging probably ten years ago, off and on, at the suggestion of a writer’s group to which I belonged at the time. I definitely blog more when I’m part of a group than not and find that having a regular schedule keeps me more aware of my writing schedule for other projects. 

Sherry: Blogging keeps me writing more, too. Do you have a favourite poet?

Chrissa: My favorite poets would have to be Emily Dickinson & Edna St. Vincent Millay, both of whom were introduced to me by my mom. 😊

Sherry: Favourite book ever?

Chrissa: I’m going to go with Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series—they are short and are like potato chips:  reading one means I’m reading the next and the next…

Sherry: What pursuits do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?

Chrissa: I’m a rambler. I enjoy walking around malls and through parks and around museums—Texas tends to reward indoor walking more than outdoor during much of the year. There’s also reading and scrapbooking for the indoor and holiday times and trying to grow pumpkins. So far, I’ve managed a half summer of vines but no pumpkins.

Sherry: There may still be pumpkins! Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Chrissa: This is a great community and getting the chance to spend a Sunday with poets & their poems in so many different places is amazing. Coffee and poetry and quiet are a little bit of grace & perfection at the end of the week.

I can tell that much time and effort and love goes into maintaining this site and providing us with weekly surprises & inspirations and for this, I am truly grateful.

Sherry: We are so happy you found us, Chrissa. We look forward to enjoying much more of your work.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Poetry Pantry #421

Greetings, Poets!  Glad to see you again. It is interesting that in this week's The Living Dead Rosemary shared some spring poems, and here I am sharing an autumn photo. Aren't we lucky to be able to share poetry from people all over the world?

Monday Sherry will share an interview with one of our newer poets.  It always is nice to get to know new people, isn't it?

Next Wednesday Sumana's prompt is "the wall."  Hmmm,  I know what that invokes for me, but there really are so many possibilities.

Now I hope you all have a poem ready to share.  Link it below.  Then visit the poems of others who link.  Come back often and see who else has linked.  Look forward to seeing you on the trail.