Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Conquest

 “Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one — himself."
― Gautama Buddha

“ 'When you have seen the errors in which you live, you will understand 

the good that we have done you by coming to your land 
by order of his Majesty the King of Spain.' ” 
― Jared DiamondGuns, Germs, and Steel

“There's no such thing as a limited victory. Every victory leaves another resentment, another defeated and humiliated people. 
Another place to guard and defend and fear.” 
― Jeanette WintersonThe Passion

Augustus of Prima Porta, 1st century
Midweek Motif ~ Conquest

As we leave August behind, we leave a month named in honor of the Roman Emperor Augustus because it was the time of year in which he conquered Egypt, et al. 


According to Wikipedia:

The right of conquest is the right of a conqueror to territory taken by force of arms. It was traditionally a principle of international law that has gradually given way in modern times until its proscription after World War II when the crime of war of aggression was first codified in the Nuremberg Principles and then finally, in 1974, as a United Nations resolution 3314.
Brief Cloud Biography

Your Challenge: Write a new narrative poem on a glorious, inglorious, or mixed conquest.

Monday, August 29, 2016


I love the poems we are bringing to you today, kids, because they feature human and non-human creatures, and the theme is love. What could be better than love and animals? Our poets today are well-known and loved by us all:  Hannah Gosselin, who writes at Metaphors and Smiles, Elizabeth Crawford, of Soul's Music and 1sojournal, and Mama Zen, at another damn poetry blog. Pull your chairs in close, and clean your specs. You won't want to miss a single word.

Our first delightful poem is by Hannah. You'll love this. Watch for the doggy smile at the end.

Of Big-Small Happenings – Lady-bugs and Black-holes

Spring speaks in chartreuse hues again
sings a crimson song
maple leaves beginning.

Somewhere scientists record big things
shape and sound of two black-holes colliding
gravitational waves from 1.3 billion years ago.

Concentric circles were sent
wave-rippling across immense pond of uni-verse
the one-poem exclaims its presence

and here blue stars have erupted afield.
Forget-me-nots have arrived
I wonder what they would ask us to remember?

Today I recall lady-bugs
that green-breathing day
air was filled with flight

black-spotted redwings on blue sky
and on beautiful brindle coat.
So much joy in that moment

me and my dog in the grass
smiling with our eyes
laughing in our hearts.

Copyright © Hannah Gosselin and Metaphors and Smiles, 2011-16
Written in memory of my dog Jade (5-16-13), the sweetest girl ever.

Sherry: Such a beautiful girl, she was.  I love "smiling with our eyes, laughing in our hearts." Dog lovers among us will recognize this kind of love, such a deep bond, with our fur companions. It is so hard to lose them, but the memories of the joy they brought us make us smile forever after.  I love this poem, Hannah. Tell us about it.

Hannah: Lady-bugs and Black-holes is about those time-stopping, small-big moments. It's about how, when one is within that space, it feels like everything is just right. For me, one such event occurred while I was at home with my dog in the yard. Ladybugs filled the air....sunlight glimmered on wings and the atmosphere was alive with the just-rightness of it all. I planted forget-me-nots where Jade rests, and every year they return and I remember.

Sherry: Dear Jade. She was a sweetheart. Thank you, Hannah, for sharing this tender moment. Now let's take a look at Elizabeth's poem about love, which  involves a somewhat larger animal.

image from the public domain

Love Is An Elephant

Sometimes standing right there
in the middle of the living room
being ignored at all costs.
Able to survive in driest of climates
with a long trunk that sucks up, stores
memories like water so vital to life
and utterly refreshing.
Huge ears fragile enough to be moved
by any passing breeze, yet able to hear
the softest sigh at greatest distances.
Heaviness that can crush boulders, turn
rocks of resistance into pebbles of relief.
Big feet that leave an enduring path
back to itself and far beyond the same.
Tough wrinkled hide quick to protect,
defend a heart beating with life and living,
yet allow it freedom to become slow
languid with loving.
Above all of these, an ability to remember,
to weep with deepest sorrow, to grieve
the losses, both large and small,
and still continue to breathe.
Elizabeth Crawford  4/21/16
Sherry: I love this description of love, which is all of the things you have described so beautifully. Tell us more, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: 'Love is an Elephant' was written during April and NaPoWriMo. I find when I do a poem a day that the poems often sort of bleed from one to another. That was even stronger this past April because I was also writing prompts. I would prepare the prompts the evening before and post them. They were, for the most part, six word wordles, but I occasionally dropped other prompts into that process. The poem from that day had been a letter to my Mother who passed away 6 years ago. We had a strained relationship while I was growing up and the letter addressed that issue. I was thinking about how love can often be a complex set of issues, not easily defined.

With that in mind, when I got to the prompt site, I simply created a prompt that asked writers to finish the phrase "Love is __________." While I was actually typing out the prompt phrase the word "elephant" came into my mind and I sort of grinned at the idea. Most of the individuals who read my poetry, know that a young woman, an incest victim, lived with me for ten years. She wasn't the only one. Another young woman lived with us for almost a year. She collected small figurines of elephants, leaving two of them with me when she decided to go home. By then, the first stanza of the poem had popped into my head. I typed it into a note and left it there.

The next morning I looked at it and thought I'd skip it because it seemed a bit far-fetched.  But then put the words 'elephants and love' into my address bar and asked for images for that topic. Found the image that I used for the poem because it started triggering several more ideas. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Sherry: Or her-story!  I really loved this poem, Elizabeth.
Next we have a sizzling love poem by Kelli Simpson, whom we know as Mama Zen. This one sets the heart a-flutter, even old, shriveled-up, elephantine hearts like mine, LOL.

A Beat Of Butterfly Wings

Your shirt slides
to the floor -
a beat of butterfly
wings. In Florence,
David shatters. In Tibet,
a poet dreams. A Montana
bird turns stone, falls, and is found
by a blonde locked girl.
Here, I am still as stone myself,
as your shirt
slides to the floor.

We each reach
for the infinite other
closing the distance
from star to star.
The sky kisses
the open mouthed sea;
far is near and near is far.
You kiss me; I taste
salt on your tongue,
salt and something more -
the silvery skin of a butterfly's wing
as my shirt
slides to the floor.

Kelli Simpson  5/28/2016

Sherry: Wow, Kelli, the reader catches her breath as those shirts slide to the floor. I especially love "the sky kisses the open mouthed sea." So good!

Kelli: What I remember about this one is that it was determined to rhyme whether I wanted it to or not. Oh, I fought it for a while (you should see the rough draft!), but I finally had to admit defeat. A poem wants what it wants; sometimes the poet just has to get out of the way.

Sherry: Yes, especially when the poem speaks its truth so perfectly. Thanks, Kelli, for this breathtaking poem.

Thanks to each of you talented ladies for your thoughts on love. I know our readers will  enjoy your offerings. Do come back, my friends,  and see who we talk to next . Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Poetry Pantry #317

Photos of Ireland (1)
by Steve King

Statuary on Abbey Street.  The actual title of these is "Talking Heads," 
but they seem to be ignoring each other.

Bullet holes are prominent in the columns of the General Post Office, 
which was the nationalist headquarters during the 1916 Rising.

The Famine Memorial along the Liffey Quay.

A tomb in Christchurch Cathedral.  I guess this parishioner fell asleep 
during one of the sermons.

The lovely Ha’penny Bridge, spanning the Liffey.

Statue of Oscar Wilde.  He reposes here directly 
across the street from his boyhood home.

A pulpit and desk used by Johnathan Swift at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  
Swift was Dean there for many years.

This week and next we are featuring photos of Ireland taken by Steve King.  The words of description are his as well.  Thanks, Steve, for some very interesting photographs.

Hope everyone had a chance to read Rosemary's feature "Moonlight Musing" and the wonderful article of her guest host Helen Patrice.

Monday Sherry is sharing poems by three of our poets on a theme I think we all like to think about!

This next week Susan's theme for Midweek Motif will be "conquest."    So many different ways to work with that theme!  We look forward to reading what you come up with.

And now let's share poetry.  Link your poem below, stop in with a comment, and visit other poets who link.

Have a great poetic week.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Moonlight Musings

By Helen Patrice

That's right, we have a guest writer today. 

Helen Patrice is a poet, fiction writer, and author of feature articles for various magazines – and my friend. (You may recall seeing her poetry here in 'I Wish I'd Written This'. If not, look here and scroll down.) I read Helen's Live Journal blog and thought this recent post too good not to share with you all. She kindly gave permission.

Writing in Puddles
Copyright © Helen Patrice 2016

Lately, my morning pages (thank you Julia Cameron, and THE ARTIST'S WAY) have been about critical awareness, I think. I've been listening to books by Brené Brown, and in I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ME, she talks about critical awareness, critical thinking, and shame.
So, I've been exploring, in tiny doses, how I talk to myself about writing, and how I treat myself.
What a harsh task master I am. I may as well be that asshat on the Roman warship in 'Ben Hur', the one who says to Hur: "Row well, and live, 41." The one who, to test Hur, orders battle speed, and ramming speed, as rower slaves die, have heart attacks, and fall from their oars in exhaustion, all while Charlton Heston gives the Roman general filthy looks, and keeps rowing.
"Write well, and live, Helen."
That's how I've treated myself from age 10-52.

Just this morning, I was nagging myself about 'writing to do', and bemoaning that I thought of something I formerly loved unto ramming speed as 'work'. A self-pompous thing. Oh yes, I WORK at my writing. My writing is my life's WORK. I put my bum on seat, and do the WORK.
You know what, I don't even like work that much. Never have, never will. In my early twenties, my only-half-joking goal was to be a kept woman. Now that I'm a kept woman, I tell everyone, and most especially myself that my writing is my work. Just so I can justify not working at anything else while my friends are still employed.

So, I asked myself to reframe the image of being chained to the oars, of trudging off in a grey suit to an office.
I came up with jumping in puddles. Each of my writing projects and ideas is a puddle, and I can choose on any given day which one to leap into and splash about.
That immediately made it feel light, and like play.
I remember being six years old, and being the only one to dare jumping in puddles at school during afternoon playlunch. Sure, the teacher cracked the shits when she saw that I had soaked shoes and socks. I didn't care. My shoes and socks didn't feel wet, I wasn't cold.
And while everyone else had stood on the sidelines, I'd jumped and splashed, dared on by all of them.
We'd been told to keep out of the puddles, like good little children.
But those puddles were deliciously dark, and splashy, and clean, just after rain. 

I am also reminded of the book 'The Magicians'. In it, the protagonist gets to his version of Narnia through an enchanted pool of water. Other pools lead to other worlds. There is an inbetween place where the pools are.
Daily, I go to the inbetween place, choose my pool, and jump in. I rise in the land of memoir, short story, flash fiction, autobiography, blog, poetry, travel writing, or something else entirely.
I'm learning to obey those tiny urges that crop up in morning pages. The small little 'oh, I should write about that', as I grumble my way through three pages of dumping out my brain.
Sometimes, the urge comes to nothing, but sometimes, just sometimes, there's the splash of something, the single drop of water that will become a puddle I can jump into.


I hope you enjoyed Helen's musings.

How do you approach your poetry? As work, play or a mixture of both? I veer between the two. I think I do better, though, when I am playing.

Do you write 'morning pages'? I read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way a long time ago. I worked my way through it – it is designed as a 12-week course – and from time to time I return to the practice of morning pages, which is one of its key components. The idea is 'brain drain' – to get rid of the crowd of surface thoughts, and to bypass our internal Censors while we're at it, so as to bring us into our creative space. 

Inspired by this post of Helen's, I recently took up the habit again. I do it sitting in the garden after breakfast, with my cat nearby. I follow the morning pages with a 'small stone' (a short piece of mindful writing focused on the external world). It all makes a lovely way to start my day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Blessings

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matthew 5 : 8


"That we are not much sicker and much madder than we are is due exclusively to that most blessed and blessing of all natural graces, sleep."--- Aldous Huxley

"The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think."--- Maya Angelou 

"Every blessing ignored becomes a curse."--- Paulo Coelho

                  Midweek Motif ~ Blessings

Blessing is a gift of bliss, affirmation, hope and inspiration bestowed upon a person.

Let’s find out who showers Blessings even in these days of guilt, abuse, greed, misery, crimes and cares.  

Sometimes we are at the receiving end and sometimes giving.

Capture your Blessings in your lines today.

The Negro Mother

By Langston Hughes

 Children, I come back today 

To tell you a story of the long dark way
That I had to climb, that I had to know 

In order that the race might live and grow.

Look at my face -- dark as the night -- 

Yet shining like the sun with love's true light.

I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea 

Carrying in my body the seed of the free.

I am the woman who worked in the field 

Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield.

 I am the one who labored as a slave,
Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave -- 

Children sold away from me, I'm husband sold, too.

 No safety , no love, no respect was I due.

Three hundred years in the deepest South: 

But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth .

God put a dream like steel in my soul.

Now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal.

Now, through my children, young and free, 

I realized the blessing deed to me.

                                 (The rest is here)


By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
We walk on starry fields of white  And do not see the daisies;  For blessings common in our sight  We rarely offer praises.  We sigh for some supreme delight  To crown our lives with splendor,  And quite ignore our daily store  Of pleasures sweet and tender. Our cares are bold and push their way  Upon our thought and feeling.  They hang about us all the day,  Our time from pleasure stealing.  So unobtrusive many a joy  We pass by and forget it,  But worry strives to own our lives  And conquers if we let it. There's not a day in all the year  But holds some hidden pleasure,  And looking back, joys oft appear  To brim the past's wide measure. But blessings are like friends, I hold,  Who love and labor near us.  We ought to raise our notes of praise  While living hearts can hear us. Full many a blessing wears the guise  Of worry or of trouble.  Farseeing is the soul and wise  Who knows the mask is double.  But he who has the faith and strength  To thank his God for sorrow  Has found a joy without alloy  To gladden every morrow. We ought to make the moments notes  Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;  The hours and days a silent phrase  Of music we are living.  And so the theme should swell and grow  As weeks and months pass o'er us,  And rise sublime at this good time,  A grand Thanksgiving chorus. 

No. 5

By Boris Chichibabin
(Translated by Richard McKane)
May the lord grant you that from root to crown
the parting may be a gathering point without disaster.
For those who leave—a parting greeting.
For those who stay—brotherhood and sisterhood.
Remember our winter snows
in the hot foreign lands.
The train whistles for those going away.
Retribution for those who stay.
Both good and evil fate
are apportioned rationally.
I understand those who leave,
I know those who stay.
The limit of the soul is Old Russia’s pain,
bells chiming to each other the origins,
(I don’t argue with those who leave,
I remain with those who stay.)
Give us who live with snowstorms and ice,
you who do not judge and forgetful,
love to those who leave,
hope to those who stay.
He who is weak, and he who is stern
each chooses between:
the sword and work of leaving,
the hope or remaining.
But according to the covenant of Sabaoth
at the end of this very road,
there is Sinai for those who leave,
and Golgotha for those who stay…

I am tired of making snap judgments,
of measuring the immeasurable with the temporal.
Sadness to those who leave.
Faithfulness to those who stay.
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 ~ Conquest )

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