Friday, January 30, 2015

I Wish I'd Written This

fragile flowers
by Ron Kleiman

walking through the countryside
marveling at the beauty
of the newly emerged flowers
it was 1944
on a death march
surrounded by German soldiers
when we lose our sense of wonder
we die

Clearly there are different ways of dying, and there are ways in which an enemy cannot kill one's spirit.

Ron posted this poem on facebook on Wednesday, and said of it: 'In remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz I'm re posting this poem I wrote 3 years ago. It was inspired by a survivor who I was quite close to.'

I'm sure I don't need to explain why I wish I'd written it, nor why I immediately asked if I could use it this week.

The fact that Ron is Jewish makes this tender piece, and his sharing of it at this time, all the more poignant. Not Jewish myself, I think we need only our common humanity to be able to relate to this, even if not at the deeply personal level that experience would bring to it.

I know Ron through poetry, his own and that of his daughter Leigh Spencer, who has already been featured in this column. I arranged this post with little time to spare, and have been busy away from my computer, therefore I haven't researched his background, though I'm sure he would have answered any questions I asked — so I'll just tell you what I already know.

I know that he grew up in Brooklyn, and now lives in New Jersey. He's obviously lived there a long time, as it's where Leigh says she grew up. I know that he has a degree in Business Administration, worked at Metro Flag Co, and is now retired. I know that he enjoys paddling up the Hudson River in his kayak.

I know him for thoughtful, well-crafted, often witty poems; and I know him as an encouraging supporter and astute critic of other poets' work online. He's been helpful to me, for one, on a number of occasions. Unfortunately I don't know of anywhere you can see more of his work, except on facebook.

Above all, I know that family is very important to Ron. Long and happily married to his second wife, he's a loving, and reciprocally adored father and grandfather. From their public exchanges online, it's very clear that he and Leigh are great pals as well as father and daughter. So I've chosen a photo of him in father role, looking handsome at the wedding of Leigh's younger sister, Paula.

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ The Role of Humor in Our Lives

“If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.” 

“And the little prince broke into a lovely peal of laughter, which irritated me very much.  I like my misfortunes to be taken seriously.” 

“. . .  laughter is serious. More complicated, more serious than tears.” 

Cyklisci dk ubt
"Cycliing in Denmark" by Tomasz Sienicki (tsca, mail: tomasz.sienicki at


Midweek Motif ~ 
The Role of Humor in Our Lives

Closer to prank or parody?  
Closer to joking or satire? 
Yours or someone else's?
Laughter or groans?

Your Challenge:  
Let your poem give us an experience of the role of humor in a life.  Be funny if you wish, but it is not required.

Jerry Seinfeld Julia Louis-Dreyfus2.jpg
Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the 1997 Emmy Awards

from Charles Bukowski's 

. . . . 

don't feel sorry for me
because I am alone

for even 
at the most terrible
is my 

. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE at Hello Poetry dot Com.)        

The Laughter Of Women

                By  Lisel Mueller  
The laughter of women sets fire
to the Halls of Injustice
and the false evidence burns
to a beautiful white lightness

It rattles the Chambers of Congress
and forces the windows wide open
so the fatuous speeches can fly out

The laughter of women wipes the mist
from the spectacles of the old;
it infects them with a happy flu
and they laugh as if they were young again
. . . . 

(Read the rest HERE at Poem Hunter dot Com)


For those who are new to Poets United:  
  1. Post your new humor poem on your site, and then link it here.
  2. If you use a picture include its link.  
  3. Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
  4. Leave a comment here.
  5. Visit and comment on our poems.
(Our next Midweek Motif is Cancer.)

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Monday, January 26, 2015


Today, my poet friends, we are visiting the beautiful state of Maine, to talk to the young poet, Kenn Merchant, who writes at KmercPoetry. Kenn is one of our newer members, so I really enjoyed visiting with him. Grab a latte, and come sit by the screen, so we can get to know Kenn better.

Sherry: Kenn, I'm so happy to be visiting with you! Would you give us a little glimpse of the poet at home? Your family, and where you live?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Poetry Pantry #236

Photos from Korea - Totomai

Greetings, Friends!  Good to see you this Sunday.  Can you believe January is almost over?  Before long it will be spring here in the Northern Hemisphere.  Smiles.

This week we are featuring more photos taken by Totomai Martinez.  This week they are photos from Korea.  Totomai told me that he often travels to Korea for work!  Again, what beautiful photos.  If you go to Totomai's web page, you will see that he also has a photography book out.  Congratulations, Totomai!!

I hope those of you who post a poem will also stop in and make a comment.  It is nice even if you stop by with a 'hi' and tell us about the weather in your part of the world.   Or, if you are in the midst of winter maybe you can tell us what keeps you enthused as you endure the long winter.   And, hey, who will you support for the Super Bowl?

Be sure to watch Sherry's interview on Monday, Susan's Midweek Motif on Wednesday, and Rosemary's feature on Friday.  You never know what you will find when you check out Poets United. And, if you are not following it already on Facebook, you might want to do so.  That is where you can often find out first what's happening!

Link your one poem with Mr. Linky below.  Visit other poets.  And have a good week!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Living Dead

Honouring our poetic ancestors

Nostalgia and Regret
(Ora che sale il giorno)
By Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-1968)

Now the day breaks
night is done and the moon
slowly dissolved in serene air
sets in the canals.
September is so alive in this country
of plains, the meadows are green
as in the southern valleys in spring.
I have left my companions,
I have hidden my heart behind ancient walls,
to be alone, to remember.
Since you are further off than the moon,
now the day breaks
and the horses’ hooves beat on the stones.

Excerpt From: Salvatore Quasimodo: Selected Poems. iBooks. Translated by A. S. Kline © 2012  
All Rights Reserved. This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. (Download here.)

Sicilian-born Quasimodo was the 1959 Nobel laureate in Literature, and one of the most renowned Italian poets of the 20th Century. He was also a professor of literature and a translator — though he began as an engineering student, and worked a a technical draftsman in his youth. Fortunately for us, from 1938 he was able to focus on writing.

I've loved his poetry a long time, and used to own the Penguin edition, but it was stolen from me decades ago. I was delighted to find this Kline translation available for free download, however it seems to be a slimmer volume than the one I had. The Penguin volume also had a different translator, and is now expensive, as are his other books at Amazon. And unfortunately there are only a few of his poems at PoemHunter.

He was known as a 'Hermetic' poet, which Wikipedia describes as '
a form of obscure and difficult poetry ... wherein the language and imagery are subjective, and where the suggestive power of the sound of words is as important as their meaning.' 

The reasoning behind this is also explained:

'Hermetic poetry opposes verbal manipulation and the ease of mass communication, which began taking place during Europe's dictatorial years, with the increasing brain-washing propaganda of the nazi-fascist regimes. Poetry therefore retreats into itself and assumes the task of returning sense to words, giving them back their semantic meaning, using them only when strictly necessary.'

It's a different way of thinking from that most common today, where we like our poetry to be engaged with life and all the issues of the day, but it is an understandable reaction from poets who lived through two World Wars. 

Quasimodo was concerned to express a melancholy view of life, and the poem I've chosen is an example. But the sad can be beautiful. In any case, in this poem hope and the promise of Spring shine through.

In later life, we are told, he departed from the Hermetic, but was still always seeking a unique poetic language. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Fashion

“I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, 
the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. 
They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity - 
all I hope for in my clothes.” 
― Yves Saint-Laurent

“My role in all of this is very simple. I make clothing like armor. 
My clothing protects you from unwelcome eyes.” 

“I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions.” 
― Lillian Hellman


Midweek Motif ~ Fashion

Where do each of us intersect with fashion:  haute couture or ready-to-wear? new or used clothing? shoes? hats? jewelry? eyeglass-ware?  bags?  cars?  elsewhere? nowhere?

As designer, photographer, perveyer, buyer or audience?

Do you have a favorite designer?

Your Challenge:  Write a poem that explores fashion in your unique way.
New Fashioned Girls (Flapper Magazine, 1922)
from Old Magazine Articles

Couture by Mark Doty, 1953


Peony silks,
            in wax-light:
                        that petal-sheen,

gold or apricot or rose
            candled into-
                        what to call it,

lumina, aurora, aureole?
            About gowns,
                        the Old Masters,

were they ever wrong?
            This penitent Magdalen’s
                        wrapped in a yellow

. . . .  (Read the rest HERE at

For a Daughter Who Leaves by Janice Mirikitani

“More than gems in my comb box shaped by the
God of the Sea, I prize you, my daughter. . .”
Lady Otomo, 8th century, Japan

A woman weaves
her daughter’s wedding
slippers that will carry
her steps into a new life.
The mother weeps alone
into her jeweled sewing box
slips red thread
around its spool,
her daughter’s first silk jacket
the same she used to stitch
embroidered with turtles
that would bring luck, long life.

. . . .   (read the rest HERE at

For those who are new to Poets United:  
  1. Post your new fashion poem on your site, and then link it here.
  2. If you use a picture include its link.  
  3. Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
  4. Leave a comment here.
  5. Visit and comment on our poems.
(Our next Midweek Motif is the role of humor in our lives.)

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Monday, January 19, 2015


Some weeks ago, in one of her emails, Susie Clevenger, who writes so brilliantly at Confessions of a Laundry Goddess, joked wryly, "How does one write, when your brain is scrambled egg, and life keeps hitting your family with a hammer?" My antenna perked up, at a potential Chat, since we all go through hard patches in life and, somehow, write our way through. 

I thought this was a topic worth exploring, that many poets will relate to. Susie graciously agreed to go under the microscope. She said she didn't mind sharing her family's story, because it might help someone else. So pour yourself a tall mug of tea, and join us by the fire, as together we try to figure out how and why we continue to write, through the most difficult of times.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Poetry Pantry #235

Photos of Japan
by Scott Hastie

Mount Fuji, Japan

Zen Garden at the Silvet Temple in Kyoto
Tori Gates at Fushimi Inara Shrine

Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

Young Women's Night Out

Young Woman Outside a Geisha House in Gion

Hi Everyone,

Good to see you all again this Sunday, and I hope everyone has been having a good week.  It is nice, here in the Northern Hemisphere, to see the days slowly becoming longer again.  Some of us here in the United States are quite excited about football games that are going on this Sunday afternoon (July 18).  I know I will be biting my fingernails as I watch the Green Bay Packers play the Seattle Seahawks today.  Smiles.  I think during the long winter we need something here to keep us enthused.  One of those things where I live is football.  For those of you in other states/countries, what keeps YOU enthused through the long winter (or summer, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere)?  Perhaps, share in comments!

This week I am sharing photos taken by Scott Hastie on a recent trip to Japan!  Thank you, Scott.  Looks like a great trip.  In upcoming weeks we will again have photos by Totomai Martinez and Bjorn Rudberg, as well as another set from Scott, but I am still open to other photo additions as well.  Keep that in mind, and let me know if you have something.  Scenery or landscape or city views...or?

Now....enjoy the Pantry.  Link your one poem below.  Be sure to stop in and leave us a comment.  Visit other poets.  The Pantry will stay open until 12 noon (Central Time) on Monday.  Looking forward to seeing what you share.

Friday, January 16, 2015

I Wish I'd Written This

Poetic Licence
By Clarissa McFairy

What is poetic licence;
is it a badge that gives one entry
into any room
of Calliope's great mansion
or is it reserved for special occasions
when the Muse of Epic Poetry
throws wild parties,
where Imagination kisses the hand
of Poetry
and twirls her around the dance floor
on silver-spun shoes
to be kicked off later
on the chaise longue of love
where poetic licence
is the undoing of a clip
that sends moonlit tresses
tumbling onto a pillow

For many in the Southern Hemisphere summer, it's still holiday time, and not so far away from it elsewhere, so I though I'd kick off the 2015 'I Wish' with something light-hearted and festive. I saw this poem in an online writing group which Clarissa and I are both in, and fell for it at once.  It was only later that I discovered what a very interesting person this poet is!  As follows:

Clarissa McFairy aka Clare van der Gaast is a South African journalist/columnist whose hobbies include writing short stories and poetry for anthologies, at home and abroad. She writes poems under her pen name, Clarissa McFairy. Many have appeared in anthologies of the international poetry salon, Vox Poetica. Her poem La Mia Musa was a Vox Poetica 2012 Best of the Net nominee. She delights in writing for the on-line group, Small Stones, Writing our Way Home, which is about capturing a mindful moment in a “small stone” rather than a boulder. “For me, it is like capturing a butterfly of a moment and setting it free in poetry.” She says she writes as the muse grabs her and whirls her around the dance floor of life. She has a passion for languages, and French especially is music to her ears. She also writes poems in French and has turned two into songs.

Clarissa wears three hats, one for writing, one for painting (mermaids) and one (bathing cap) for swimming. Her favourite quotation, which she feels is true of swimming and poetry, is from Sealskin Trousers, a short story by Eric Linklater. This is about a couple who meet on a rocky ledge leading down to the sea, an “oceanic gazebo”, where they read. The woman goes there one day to meet him, and finds a half man half seal there instead. He gives her a huge fright when he plummets into the water to catch a crab … here is what the seal/man tells her :

“We have some advantages over human beings, you know. Human beings have to carry their own weight about, and they don’t know how blissful it is to be unconscious of weight: to be wave-borne, to float on the idle sea, to leap without effort in a curving wave, and look up at the dazzle of the sky through a smother of white water, or dive so easily to the calmness far below and take a haddock from the weed-beds in a sudden rush of appetite.” Clarissa says she, personally, has never done that, but it bedazzles her every time she reads it! And puts her off Woolies (Woolworths) fast-food boxes.

I am now keen to experience more of her writings. I see she is included in the book, Vox Poetica Inspirations: images & words collection 3on Amazon.  And if you Google 'Clare van der Gaast', you''ll come across her publications in journals. Try this link (and scroll down) for another wickedly amusing piece, this time on ekphrastic poetry.

Happy holidays, folks, if you have any left; otherwise may your work be joyful! 

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Famous, Infamous, or Un-birthdays

“I mean, what is an un-birthday present?"

"A present given when it isn't your birthday, of course."
Alice considered a little. "I like birthday presents best," she said at last.

"You don't know what you're talking about!" cried Humpty Dumpty. 

"How many days are there in a year?"

"Three hundred and sixty-five," said Alice.

"And how many birthdays have you?  One.” 

Midweek Motif ~ Birthdays
(Famous, Infamous, or Un-)

When I decided on this motif, I was thinking of Dr. MLK Jr's Birthday tomorrow, the 15th of January (though in the USA it is celebrated next Monday to make a long weekend).  When I lived in Virginia, I was astonished to see this birthday shared with that of Confederate General Robert E. Lee whose birthday is the 19th of January.  The 19th is also my grandmother's birthday who lived from 1901-2003.  And it's one of my un-birthdays.  And so what?  What is so special about birthdays?

Your Challenge:  
Create a Special Birthday Poem.

Marilyn Monroe: Happy Birthday Mr President

     by Samuel Johnson  (1709 - 1784 / Lichfield / England)

LONG-EXPECTED one and twenty 
Ling'ring year at last has flown, 
Pomp and pleasure, pride and plenty 
Great Sir John, are all your own. 

Loosen'd from the minor's tether, 
Free to mortgage or to sell, 
Wild as wind, and light as feather 
Bid the slaves of thrift farewell. 

Call the Bettys, Kates, and Jenneys 
Ev'ry name that laughs at care, 
Lavish of your Grandsire's guineas, 
Show the spirit of an heir. 
. . . .   (Read the rest HERE at

A Birthday

5 Dec 1830 – 29 Dec 1894 / London)

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me. 


For those who are new to Poets United:  
  1. Post your new music poem on your site, and then link it here.
  2. If you use a picture include its link.  
  3. Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
  4. Leave a comment here.
  5. Visit and comment on our poems.
(Our next Midweek Motif is Fashion, as in Christian Dior.)

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