Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Recovery/Healing

"And someday . . .
If the darkness knocks on your door
Remember her, remember me
We will be running as we have before
Running for answers, running for more"

*** *** ***

Midweek Motif ~ 

It will surprise no one that my first motif after back surgery is Recovery.  My lumbar spine is now fusedfour of the five vertebraeand the pain in my legs is GONE!   Thank you, thank you for all your good wishes!  

I am particularly grateful to poet Michael Ryan who has given me permission to use his amazing poem "A Thank-You Note."

Life is precious.

I think about how precious when I look at the news of wars, refugees and broken environments; when I see marvelous new inventions and creative ideas about interacting with all living things; when friends heal into more life or sometimes into death.

Your Challenge is to write a poem 
that heals or has a motif of recovery. 

*** *** ***

A Thank-You Note

                                                                                                          For John Skoyles
My daughter made drawings with the pens you sent,
line drawings that suggest the things they represent,
different from any drawings she — at ten — had done,
closer to real art, implying what the mind fills in.
For her mother she made a flower fragile on its stem;
for me, a lion, calm, contained, but not a handsome one.
She drew a lion for me once before, on a get-well card,
and wrote I must be brave even when it’s hard.
Such love is healing — as you know, my friend,
especially when it comes unbidden from our children
despite the flaws they see so vividly in us.
Who can love you as your child does?
Your son so ill, the brutal chemo, his looming loss
owning you now — yet you would be this generous
to think of my child. With the pens you sent
she has made I hope a healing instrument.
(Source: Poetry (July/August 2013), used with permission.)

Homage Kenneth Koch
If I were doing my Laundry I’d wash my dirty Iran
I’d throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap, scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in the jungle,
I’d wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico,   
Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska,   
Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly Cesium out of Love Canal
Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain Sludge out of the 
Mediterranean basin & make it azure again . . . 
(Read the rest HERE at the Poetry Foundation)

Motion Picture Footage From "An Inconvenient Truth"

            *** *** *** ***  
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 ~ Teacher, One who Teaches)

Monday, September 28, 2015


This week, we are making a return visit to     to the talented and vivacious De Jackson, who writes at Whimsygizmo's Blog. De lives in Henderson, Nevada, which is just outside Las Vegas. We last spoke with her in an interview in 2012, so I thought it might be time to make a trip to the hot and dusty desert, to see how she is faring these days. From the sound of things, everything is going wonderfully in Henderson!

Me and my hubby in Utah last June

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Poetry Pantry #271

Photos by De Jackson

North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Breathing in Blue

Love on the Rocks



Good Sunday, Poets!  Welcome to yet another Poetry Pantry.

Today we have photos taken by De Jackson!  Stop back tomorrow and learn more about the photographer, as her blog is being featured for Sherry's Blog of the Week!  Shhhh...don't tell anyone I told.  (Smiles.)

And on Wednesday for Midweek Motif, we welcome Susan Back.  Yeahhh!!  Her prompt this week is a well-timed one, I think.  It is "Recovery: love is healing."

Take a look back one day to Rosemary's I Wish I'd Written This, where she shares "Carpe Diem" by Agnellius and Daniel Serebryany.  Rosemary prepares such informative and interesting articles each week.

If you have Facebook, do think about following Poets United on Facebook.  That way you are informed of each new feature.

With no further delay, hope that you will enjoy the Pantry today.  We always enjoy it if you leave  a short comment when you post.   Do be sure to visit the links of others as well.  It is sort of like knocking on the doors of others, I think.  When we leave a comment, we let someone know that we enjoy having them among us.  The blogosphere IS quite a neighborhood, isn't it?

Do have a good day & a poetic week!  Thank you for making Poets United such a successful site!  See you as I make my rounds!  And I hope to see you at the other Poets United features this week.

Friday, September 25, 2015

I Wish I'd Written This

Carpe Diem 

By Agnellius & Daniel Serebryany 

The arch of heaven will beam pearl-light 

opal will hide behind the ends of earth 

the universe and God in friendly splendour 

will dip into silver the shining of the mirrors... 

...all will be brought together to a single source... 

the last semidarkness... there are no fallen wings... 

the lips will cling to bottomless Crystal – 
there is no reflection, only pure Light ... 

Translated from Russian by VD

It was on MySpace years ago that they first contacted me to ask advice about the English translations of their work, which I was happy to try and help with. Then we were on LiveJournal together for a while, and eventually facebook.

They were always reticent about themselves. They were a group of Russian poets and artists, they told me. 'VD' is presumably another of them. They politely and unequivocally declined to give me any personal details for this article.

I, as many of you will have gathered by now, am Pagan. These Russians are passionately Christian, in a mixture of fiercely apocalyptic and delicately mystical ways. We are well aware of our differences, though we have never discussed them. None of us is hiding anything in that aspect of our lives. In their case, their religion is the subject matter of their poetry and paintings. We simply never referred to it, but talked poetics, and there we were very aligned. 

Some of their work I would not have wished to have written because the content was too far from my own thinking. Others, though, were so beautiful that I'd love to have been capable of writing them – such as this one.  It seems to me very 'judgment day', yet to go beyond this specific theology as the ultimate expression of union with God. And the painting beautifully reflects it.

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Midweek Motif ~ Choice

Wikimedia Commons
(Look at the words - made me laugh - choices indeed!)

There are some things in life about which a person has no choice -- such things as parents, birthplace, early school experiences, etc.   As time goes on, one has more and more choices. And this leads to what I would like you to think about this week.  Let's reflect on / write about the subject of CHOICE.

One choice we have is  HOW WE WILL LEARN.  This could be school - related, or the way we learn on our own.  How someone uses this choice has a great influence on a person's life.     And somewhat related is a CHOICE OF VOCATION. (Would you do it differently if you could go back in time?)

Wikimedia Commons

Another choice involves RELATIONSHIPS: Friends, mentors, life partners, etc. Who do you decide to spend time with?     Think about choice of ACTIVITIES:  What do you choose to do with your time? Then there are choices involving PERSONAL HEALTH:  Food, exercise, physical exams, etc.

Wikimedia Commons

Another choice is WHERE ONE LIVES: Did you choose to stay in your home town?  Move to another city not too far away from where you were born?  Or did you move cross country or even to another country?  How about LIFE do you choose them?  And then there is the choice one makes regarding one's SPIRITUAL JOURNEY.  What path do you take?   And how about the CHOICE NOT TO MAKE A CHOICE?  Or reflect on FREEDOM OF CHOICE generally in today's world?

Here are links to a few well-known poems on choice if you'd be interested in examples.  I think you will enjoy them!

Choices - by Nikki Giovanni

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening - by Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken - by Robert Frost

The Choice - by William Butler Yeats

Choice - by J.V. Cunningham

 There are really SO many directions you could go.  It is YOUR choice!  Also, be sure to link back to Midweek Motif.

(Next week Susan is back, and her Motif will be Recovery: "love is healing.")

Monday, September 21, 2015

Blog of the Week ~ An Update with Panchali

My friends, each week you likely visit Panchali, who writes at pancholibochi, in the Poetry Pantry, or at Midweek Motif. Panchali is one of our long-standing members. We last interviewed her in 2013, ( a truly fascinating interview, full of customs, traditions, and wonderful photographs). It occurred to me that far too much time has gone by, and we need to pop back over to Kolkata, India, to get up to speed on all that is happening in our friend's life, which is always busy and interesting. A cup of chai, a grin and a wag of the tail from the beautiful Mawgli, and we are all set to begin. For certain, this will be interesting!

Sherry: Panchali, our interview in 2013 was such a wonderful visit. But reading your About page recently, I found I missed knowing some amazing things about you. I am so happy we can do an update and rectify that, LOL!

Panchali: Hello everyone!! Thank you, Sherry, for giving me this platform once again. I had never given any consideration to the importance of the “About Me” page on the blog space till I read this. Details were typed in a random manner without much thought. Maybe I’ll need to update it again*:) happy

Sherry: Do tell us how your family is doing. You describe yourself as “the mother of canines, cockatiels and fish”. How is everyone? Has your family grown any larger?

Panchali: “I sustain myself with the love of family.” ―I think that’s Maya Angelou. Nurturing a happy family is one of the things I got around to quite easily….so those words resonate with me.

Family isn’t always consists of members who foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belongingness. My pets are part of me, like my human child… (I never bother to rationalize it, though!) We co-exist, love each other. I have the blessing to feel the beautiful connections with animals, Sherry…!!

In the immortal words of Louis C.K., bringing home a pet is a "countdown to sorrow." And, when the inevitable happens it's very very sad. My two cockatiels, both about seven years old, died suddenly within a span of nine months in 2013.  Heavy …heavy… sigh!! I still mourn…and grieve.

Sherry: You know how much I resonate with your feelings for animals, my friend

Panchali: In January, 2014 we shifted home. From South-west fringe of the city to the North-east corner. Along came the entire family: six gold fish, 4 sharks and my sunny boy Mawgli. Relocating them was an experience. The scene around was full of chatter and laughter. I must write about it one day.  J

Sherry: I always love to see the beautiful Mawgli, when he pops up on facebook!  It sounds like a busy move, full of chatter and laughter. And how is your beloved "dotti"? I know you and she are very close. 

Panchali: An emphatic, YES!! ... when you say, I am close to my daughter...(oh, that’s my pet subject…LOL). Her workplace being nearby, she moved near our condominium with her husband recently. As a result, her after-office visits have improved numerically and I am so happy. Sometimes, my son-in-law joins in too. I’m blessed to have the best son-in-law on the planet. I’ll never be able to claim I’m perfect, but I am so grateful to have been saved…

Oh, we are still ‘four’ of us... the new bundle is taking a bit too long to arrive. :D

Sherry: It's lovely they now live closer to you, and visits are easier to manage. On your About page, I was very impressed to discover you have a Masters of Philosophy in Existentialism. Wow.  Tell us a bit about your interest in this topic, and what you take away from your studies. How do your spiritual/philosophical beliefs help you bear the sorrow you see all around you, in this world that is so out of balance? 

Panchali: Philosophic thought is an inescapable part of human existence. Almost everyone has been puzzled from time to time by many essentially philosophic questions about life, death etc. Immediately after I left High school, my brush with philosophy started from the undergraduate course. After my Bachelors, I kept my date with philosophy for my masters and then for the Pre-PhD credits. Year after year, I turned a new page with an increasing interest and never felt disappointed...From speculative metaphysics, I went on to analysis and finally to existentialism! That was the journey. 

Sherry: A very depthful journey.

Panchali: Philosophy of non-cognitive man, but "man" nonetheless , was gradually influenced by Darwin , Marx and Freud. Man was no longer a fallen angel but a descendant of the apes ; the paradoxes of his life became stark contradictions in society. This was hugely appealing to our growing up minds. My outlook of life,  to an extent , has been influenced by this philosophy, which talks about man and man alone….

Sherry: I can imagine so. I was even more amazed to discover you have a Masters in Hindustani Classical (Vocal) Music, and were a disciple of the renowned classical musician Pandit Vinay Chandra Maudgalya. I am seriously impressed. Tell us a little about your musical journey, my friend.  Do you still sing? 

Panchali: Hindustani classical music is a very complex and beautiful tradition of music that goes back over 3,500 years. Ancient Indians were deeply impressed by the spiritual power of music, and it was out of this that Indian classical music was born.

In Hindustani classical music, once you have learned the basic notes, you are introduced to ragas (which are like musical themes), and then you are encouraged to start improvising and making your own melodies within the structure of that particular theme. Today, I am nowhere near the level of talent it takes to become a performing artist, but I can still make some musical murmurings, and that gives me an inexhaustible source of delight.

My love affair with music started very early in life. Bengali children grow up learning music ... Likewise, I was initiated to Music by my father. Later went under the wing of Pt. Vinay Chandra Maudgalya, in 1975…later on, I became a “B” grade artiste of AIR Delhi. Yes, I have given a few ‘light classical recitals’ in Delhi Doordarshan as well. As a teenager, growing up in India in the mid-70s, we didn't have coloured televisions. There was only one television channel those days called Doordarshan. It was broadcast in black & white. No one owned color TVs or VCRs. So, I have no samples of the broadcasts/telecasts whatsoever. 

Sherry: I would have loved to include one here. But we can imagine! 

I note you have volunteered with the Action for Community Empowerment organization. You say you have seen a very suffering side of life, and that when you sit to write “those faces haunt me.” Tell us a bit about this work, Panchali, what you have seen and how it has impacted your heart. 

Panchali: Life abounds around us with almost daily accounts of meaningless violence, poverty and discrimination, and more often than not women and children are the victims, and more often than not citizens, as individuals, remain indifferent. It is a fact that woman is victimized and subjugated by the male community everywhere. And while exploring the cracks of these dark caves, I came across some real horrifying facts…it was like:

The curtains rose....
And a demented view
of the world flared up--
It made me
ashamed to be human!

I always had been a vocal protester against discrimination and abuse in public life. One day, I realised that it would be worthwhile to be a part of a group. Opportunity came after my marriage. My husband worked for a public sector organisation under the federal government. There was a formal platform which provided opportunity to work among woman and children: empowerment through education, vocational support and public health. I recall with satisfaction my happy and long hours in the Adult Literacy Centre and Women's Empowerment Centres for women. I also recall my association with a blind school where I apprenticed for a few weeks. 

Sherry: That is very meaningful work. Bless you for doing it. Your feelings around social justice issues often show up in your poetry. I would love to include one of your poems about this work, Panchali.

Panchali: Of all the discrimination in our society, child labour works among the worst. While there are legislations on the subject, enforcement is inadequate, for the laws in force do not take cognizance of the economic compulsion of child labor.

After seeing a small boy breaking stones in a construction site, I wrote this poem in 2010.


At dusk,
after a long day’s work
a boy stood up on his two feet
   nudged his way into me.
 I focused on his face,
             Eyed it uneasily
    Black, beady eyes staring at me
Blazed hate,     his bruised fingers lit slanders
       Hungry mouth belched
           Spasms of the righteousness
-ah, human insufficiency, I cringed:
             So shameful   so appalling.

His face streaked with dirt 
    broke into a smile-
I was caught in love
stuffed paltry coins in his hand
His smile saddened
     He slumped on the bench near me
         ...unsure with coins
Finally,     returned them.
I tried to talk… ;
Forgiveness seemed too far.
Not words,
    but his movements punched me
           ---in precarious undertones
He slowly prompted:
“I need necessities. Build a happy world for me."

A low rumble insinuated into my mind
Not all people are gallant enough
           to speak for justice.. 
I realized,
A benevolent NGO was fighting
         for his dignity and justice...
I drew in a deep breath
      very slowly,….deeply…and mumbled:
“Here we go... such deprivation cannot go on forever!”

Sherry: Oh, my goodness! This poem. The child. "Build a happy world for me." We need to build him a much better world. 

I also really loved your poem for the endangered Ridley turtle and would like to include it........would you like to say a bit about what inspired this poem? 

Panchali: My growing up process during 1970s exposed me to the Chipko Movement - a sustained resistance by the Himalayan peasants against clear-cutting of forests, and it saved thousands of trees from being felled.  

We realized that 'environmentalism' is meant not only to protect endangered species, but to resolve natural resource-conflicts as well. In 1980s and 19990s...we witnessed the popular effort to protect the natural breeding-ground of Olive Ridleys on the Eastern Sea coast of India. Turtle consumption was banned and successfully enforced. My love and affection for the animal kingdom and flora was, perhaps, an outcome of all these.

Ah, silence too deep to unscroll
    On these polluted shores… 
Battling shadows, lights and noise
Wonder, how long can a small creature
hum and heave and gasp?
Or, fight to stay alive....
when the blood pulse a mating call!?
This is a pathetic death that manhood spills
The rule of Life speaks to me...
…. where there is Life, there is Death too!!
 Someone dies for someone to live. Ah!
Who will solve this Existential Paradox of Life?

I see the wreckage of the 'Olive Ridley turtle'
lying on the sand-muddied shore
at the edge of bay of bengal...
On this grave... the sun falls every morning
chunk by chunk,
              making the sea fly high and low... 
Foaming poison-
                                         the water rips and breaks in the dark...
The red wave of turtles 
        lumber out of the surf on these balmy nights,
         and enter the human domain
           looking for a spot to nest;
.....meaningless human disturbances 
sing the blues; disturb the mating mood
The speed of life stumbles
deep filth fills the body in itch....and slowly decay
This is the Industrial Age's gift to these mortals

Let's not waste time asking...
'Can’t these little turtles
Borrow a small passage from humans
To lay their eggs without human interference,
when we have the earth for both of us!'

I stifle a sob,
place my hand on the wet turtle...
Wheeze a while on the dry sand
Lament loudly: We know the earth's a woman
Let there be some charitable
disposition on the part of human beings.
I, as a mother know
 that to give life,
….is the gift of god. 
Let fortune drip 
                         before it leaves 
the human eye for good.


But, I am no activist. For all I care is life, that I led with my k9 babies--Bibi, Misha, Bozo, Mick, and Mawgli  ( my eleven years old fur-baby who is still a warm puppy*:x lovestruck). And then Tweeky, Tusky and Shanku, the hermit, (a turtle picked up from my rain-splashed garden), and of course, my sharks and gold fish.   I am also blessed with sixty+ potted plants which are with me from 1993.

I came across these poignant lines from Milan Kundera: “ Mankind’s moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards who are at its mercy: animals”

Sherry: I absolutely agree, and we are not doing well. Is there a third poem you would like to include here? And tell us a bit about it?

Panchali: In the flurry of modern-day life, our ears get used to the background noise- a period of silence can be oddly deafening and very comforting too. Personally, I love such moments of complete silence. I love the opportunity it provides for quiet, contemplative reflection…

This poem was written on Mary’s prompt in 2013. I would love to share the poem again with the poets here.

Walk into an anechoic chamber
Settle in the swivel chair
Exclude all external sounds
‘Tune to the Sounds of Silence’
 And then…
                            How the sounds …
           To a dangerous pitch
Often buried in the depths of noise
                                  ..Fill up the senses
                               Swell …
To the point of
 Cacophonies stitch the senses…
                 And it strays the awareness
The soft rustle of leaf on leaf
                 Whispering trees,
                                        Oscillating time-piece,
                falling flowers against weight of air
The steam rising from a pot of tea.....
                             Invade the ears

                                         ….mind hovers around inanities 
Its an intimate moment, meditative
                                      Go ahead, touch them
                    They are overflowing...

Sherry: So beautiful, Panchali. I love capturing those lovely moments. What other activities do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

Panchali: Gone are the days when a woman only used to look after the kids & home. Due to internet evolution now there are many business ideas for homemakers as well.

Hand Painting

I always had a flair for good colours and eye for good fabric; so, I decided to get into a saree business with my own label- Raag Raagini. I knew nothing about designing when I started off in 2012. All I knew was that, I wanted to design the kind of sarees that I loved wearing.

I am a self-taught designer, and have become a “designer” in my own right. I’m still nervous about each piece as I have been with my first one; I personally handcraft each saree based on the trends. I keep it simple and just play along the six yard fabric…

Krishna the Flute Player
mural painting on six yard canvas

Sherry: Your work is vibrant, colorful and so original, Panchali. These are just Stunning. Gorgeous. What a treat to see them. Kids, check out Raag Raagini on facebook. So many beautiful things to see!

Panchali: I am passionate about music and grab any opportunity to go to classical music concerts. I love vacations; it is what keeps me sane amidst my busy life. Each country is beautiful in its own way but I am a wildlife person, so my favourite destination is Forest…

Sherry: A busy, happy and fulfilling life. It sounds so wonderful!  In closing, is there anything you'd like to say to Poets United?

Panchali:  Yes! I like to say thank you to the Poets United Team for making this beautiful community where we can share our thoughts with one another.

Thank you, everyone for   supporting a small-time blogger, a struggling yet striving poet like me. You folks give me enough motivation to continue my pursuit of writing…. It's truly an honour to be among you all. This is more than I wished in a lifetime.

And a special word of thanks to you, Sherry for this finely tuned interview. May God bless you, my friend.

Hasn't this been a wonderful visit, my friends? So varied, interesting and inspiring. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

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