Monday, December 19, 2016

Happy Holidays, Friends!

Our staff, Mary, Sherry, Susan, Rosemary, and Sumana,
would like to wish you all the blessings of the season,
however you spend this time of year,
and whatever celebrations you may or may not observe.

We are taking a wee break to recharge,
and will return with the first Poetry Pantry
on New Year's Day, January 1, 2017.
A brand new year of writing poems.

We would like to thank you for your participation
and presence in our community.
We would not be here without you!
Many thanks, and see you soon!

We leave you with a wintery tune
to see you through December.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Poetry Pantry #333


Greetings, Poets!  As most of you already know, this is the last Poetry Pantry of 2016.  It has been a good year, hasn't it?

I hope you all read the conversation between Sherry and Elizabeth Crawford last Monday & enjoyed Sumana's "music prompt" on Wednesday and Rosemary's delightful featuring of Buddah Moskowicz' poem "How to Live Forever."  There is always something going on here, and we do appreciate those of you who consider Poets United a poetry home.

After sharing poetry with one another today and tomorrow, do come back to view Sherry's holiday post which will be the interim post until the new year.  We think you will enjoy it!!

With no delay, link your poem below. Stop in and say hello in comments.  Visit the poems of others who have shared their work.

Now everyone have a great break.  See you here once again, two weeks from today,  on Sunday, January 1, 2017!

Friday, December 16, 2016

I Wish I'd Written This

How to Live Forever

 By Buddah Moskowitz

not every experiment works.

We try and learn from the stuff
that doesn’t work as well.

Not everyone can discover penicillin,
you know.

even though you still
have not unlocked
the mystery of mortality
you amused  yourself,
and that’s something.

The captain said
“the reward is in the doing,

and if that’s not the truth,
then you
better find something else
to do.”

Whatever you’ve got
in front of you,
lowly and modest
though it be,

experience it,
live it,
inhale it,
jump in it
and splash about
and from that

make something
that will outlast you:

the best would be
if you made
your life
a glorious gift,

freely given
to everyone.

It would be
so beautiful,

that your love would
outlast you,
outlive you,

and that’s’ how
you live

Buddah Moskowitz, whose blog is called I Hate Poetry, nevertheless manages to produce poems that other people don’t hate a bit. He often follows the prompts at dVerse, so you may be familiar with his work already. You may even have seen this recent piece. In fact I know several of our PU people, including me, have commented already – but I think this wise and lovely message deserves a wider audience. And, with the holiday season almost upon us (at least in the Western world) I thought it would be nice to present something positive.

This poet prefers to be known only by his pseudonym, and by his blog profile pic of Michelangelo's David run to fat, which always makes me smile. But he has supplied some information:

"Buddah Moskowitz has been writing "poetry" since 1978 and hopes to someday write well enough to lose the ironic quotation marks.  He writes mostly as a form of therapy and tries to be amusing and accessible in his works.
His favorite form is the "poemonologue" – writing designed to be performed in character, which builds on his love of theatre, stand-up comedy and performance art.  
When he isn't writing, he works in higher education and co-teaches the Family-to-Family education courses for the National Alliance on Mental Illness with his beloved bride.
His dream is to perform his poemonologues on Broadway, preferably on-stage, inside a theatre."

Self-deprecating he may be, but there is nevertheless a serious commitment to his writing revealed in that statement, and in the fact that he keeps on doing it. 

If you haven't discovered him yet, there are lots more gems at his blog.

Meanwhile, thank you Buddah, for giving us such excellent instructions how to live forever!

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Music

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”—Plato

               Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Music

“Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect I’m afraid…
And every single time,
the happiness in the tune convinces me that I’m not afraid.”

This is how Rodgers and Hammerstein lyrics illustrate wonders of Music.

What is this life with no rhythm, melodies or harmonies?

Music itself is a universal language connecting all and Music is everywhere. We only need to lend our ears to SEE music!

Music is our motif today. You might also focus on any musical instrument, any special song or composer.

Music Swims Back To Me
By Anne Sexton

Wait Mister. Which way is home? 
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.
There are no sign posts in this room,
four ladies, over eighty,
in diapers every one of them.
La la la, Oh music swims back to me
and I can feel the tune they played
the night they left me
in this private institution on a hill.

Imagine it. A radio playing
and everyone here was crazy.
I liked it and danced in a circle.
Music pours over the sense
and in a funny way
music sees more than I.
I mean it remembers better;
remembers the first night here.
It was the strangled cold of November;
even the stars were strapped in the sky
and that moon too bright
forking through the bars to stick me
with a singing in the head.
I have forgotten all the rest.

They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.
and there are no signs to tell the way,
just the radio beating to itself
and the song that remembers
more than I. Oh, la la la,
this music swims back to me.
The night I came I danced a circle
and was not afraid.

I Know The Music
By Wilfred Owen

All sounds have been as music to my listening:
Pacific lamentations of slow bells,
The crunch of boots on blue snow rosy-glistening,
Shuffle of autumn leaves; and all farewells:

Bugles that sadden all the evening air,
And country bells clamouring their last appeals
Before [the] music of the evening prayer;
Bridges, sonorous under carriage wheels.

Gurgle of sluicing surge through hollow rocks,
The gluttonous lapping of the waves on weeds,
Whisper of grass; the myriad-tinkling flocks,
The warbling drawl of flutes and shepherds' reeds.

The orchestral noises of October nights
Blowing ( ) symphonetic storms
Of startled clarions ( )
Drums, rumbling and rolling thunderous and ( ).

Thrilling of throstles in the keen blue dawn,
Bees fumbling and fuming over sainfoin-fields.

 Music When Soft Voices Die
 By P. B. Shelley

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on. 

By Rainer Maria Rilke

Take me by the hand;
it's so easy for you, Angel,
for you are the road
even while being immobile.

You see, I'm scared no one
here will look for me again;
I couldn't make use of
whatever was given,

so they abandoned me.
At first the solitude
charmed me like a prelude,
but so much music wounded me.

(Translated by A. Poulin) 

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—
               ( Susan’s Midweek Motif on 01/04/2017 will be ~ Vision)

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Chat With Elizabeth Crawford: A Poet's Task in a "Post-Truth" World

 In the turmoil that followed the United State’s election, Elizabeth Crawford, who posts at Soul’s Music and 1sojournal, issued a Creativity Challenge: to express our feelings about the state of the world, and to try to add some light to the dark forces swirling around us. In my distress, I found this a valuable outlet for my emotions, and my deepest convictions. During the course of that challenge, Elizabeth wrote some very powerful poems. She and I chatted by email and, as so often happens, in this way the foundation of this chat was laid.

In news reports that the president-elect plans to limit journalists access to the White House, the well known journalist, Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent for CNN, issued a statement, expressing her  concerns about recent  comments made by the president-elect about the press, which she considers “a threat to the very relevance and usefulness of our profession.”

Ms. Amanpour stressed how important it is, now more than ever, to not lose our nerve, to write our truth, to stand up for what we believe, in a climate that she considers hostile to journalists.

Oxford Dictionary recently declared “post-truth” its word of the year. We are living in a post-truth world. What is our place, as poets, in that world? Do we hold to the truths we believe most relevant? Do we remain quiet and politically correct? Accept the unacceptable, in the name of a prickly peace and  enforced “unity”? Do we speak up, even against the tide, when lies are presented as fact, and sway multitudes?

I filed those thoughts away for this chat, as we consider our rights and freedoms, the things we hold dear, the issues we care about the most, all of which are about to take a 180 degree turn under a new administration. What is our personal way forward, as writers and poets and lovers of freedom, when repression is heading our way?

[Disclaimer: We recognize that many of our readers may feel completely the opposite about the recent election, and we respect their right to differ, and suggest if this topic might upset you, please feel most welcome to skip it. I do know many others of us feel unsettled, worried, afraid and concerned, and to those we hope to shed some light and, hopefully, a path forward.]

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Poetry Pantry #332


Good Sunday, friends.   Well, we are moving along in December.   Just a reminder that we will be having Poetry Pantry today, our regular schedule this week, and Poetry Pantry on December 18.  Then we will be taking a two week holiday break and return again on January 1 with our first Poetry Pantry of 2017.

Thanks to all of you who took part in Poetry United this past week. Sherry, I just want to commend you for the wonderful article you wrote and shared last Monday.  I think losing a pet is something that touches the heart and soul of all of us.

Nice to read so many interesting takes on the Susan's Midweek Motif - "aviation."  I think Susan is really great at thinking of unique topics for people to write on!   This next week I hope many will also write on Sumana's Midweek Motif - "music." It definitely is a musical time of year!

Fascinating poem and article Friday by Rosemary.  She featured the poet Paul Celan & his poem : "I Can Still See You."  It is a poem not to miss by a poet you will want to check out.

Return on Monday for Sherry's wonderful chat with Elizabeth Crawford, a regular participant around Poets United.   This chat will be on a very relevant topic for today:  "A Poet's Task in a Post-Truth World."     (I know I, for the most part, really used to steer clear of the political arena in poetry.  But at the moment I often can't help myself.  I will definitely be returning to read Elizabeth's take on the subject.)

With no delay, let's share poetry.  Link your poem below.  Stop in and say hello.  Visit the poems of others who share.  Come back tomorrow as well, as people will be sharing until midday (US Central Time) Sunday!

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Living Dead

~ Honouring our poetic ancestors ~

I Can Still See You
By Paul Celan (1920-1970)

I can still see you: an Echo,
to be touched with Feeler-
Words, on the Parting-

Your face softly shies away,
when all at once there is
lamp-like brightness
in me, at the Point,
where most painfully one says Never.

I knew little of Paul Celan and his work until a friend posted something of his on facebook and I was moved to investigate further. I had always thought he was French, because of the name, and also because I had imagined him to be a surrealist poet and connected him in my mind with Andre Breton and co. But in some hasty research for this post I discovered that he was not a surrealist, and that he was Romanian by birth and also wrote in German, his mother's language.

He did eventually settle in France, married there, and became a French citizen. That was after some horrendous experiences during World War II, because he was Jewish.

A succinct account of his life says:

Paul Antschel (changed to Ancel, then Celan in 1947) was Jewish, born in Bukovina. Celan studied medicine at Tours. In the summer of 1942 his parents were shipped to a concentration camp in Transnistria, where his father died of typhus, and his mother was shot in the neck and killed. Celan was conscripted to road-labour in Moldavia until 1944. In 1945 he was in Bucharest and traveled via Vienna to Paris in 1947. He became a lecturer at the École Normale Supérieure and married Gisèle Lestrange. Deeply troubled by the Holocaust and his parents’ deaths, he committed suicide, by drowning in the Seine.

More details are in the Wikipedia article about him, which also quotes him as saying:

Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss. But it had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech. It went through. It gave me no words for what was happening, but went through it. Went through and could resurface, 'enriched' by it all.

After the War, he wrote in German. Some commentators think he felt it as a kind of triumph to write about the horrors experienced under Nazi Germany in the German language. Others feel that German was too limited a language for his innate lyricism.

He may not have been a surrealist, but his work is often considered difficult to understand, even allowing for the fact that many of us read it in translation, not the original. As witness this statement by one of his translators:

'' in order to experience the poetics of Paul Celan as rendered in English, one must understand that no one translation will ever be adequate enough. Though each translator successfully identifies elements of Celan’s discomfort, no single one fully encompasses all three. 
A reader wishing to fully intake Celan’s words in English must become a comparative reader, a critical reader, and most importantly a reader 
who understands that perhaps one of Celan’s most discomforting elements is that he didn’t always wish to be understood. '' 

[Goodrich, J., Rhyme or Reason? : Successfully Translating the Poetry of Paul Celan,2008] 

At Poetry Foundation there’s a fascinating discussion of Celan’s language – and poetic language in general – by the celebrated Ilya Kaminsky, who seems to question the accessibility so many of us strive for.  Perhaps it’s fair to say, at least, that some poems (some works of art in any form) are worth persevering in the attempt to understand, and may be all the more rewarding for that perseverance.

To me, in much of Celan's work it is not so much that the language is unclear, but that where it leads is mysterious, not fully explained. This is perhaps because of what is described at Poetry Foundation:

As his career continued, Celan worked to “purge his poems of readymade contexts - whether historical, traditional or explicitly religious. The late poems still abound in allusions - private, hermeneutic, esoteric - but increasingly each poem becomes and creates its own context and the context within which Celan's other poems must be read.” 

The poem above is not difficult, however, and I think it's very lovely.

You can find a free download of 25 poems here, or browse them online. (This is where I found the succinct account of his life quoted above.) There is a different collection at PoemHunter.

And you can find many books by and about him at his Amazon page, including poetry in the original German, and  bilingual editions with English translations.

And now, because the one I chose is short, here is another short one for you. I find this one a little harder to fathom. But with some poems, perhaps the only thing to do is surrender and let the images wash over you.

This Evening Also

more fully,
since snow fell even on this
sun-drifted, sun-drenched sea,
blossoms the ice in those baskets
you carry into town.

you demand in return,
for the last
rose back at home
this evening also wants to be fed
out of the trickling hour. 

Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Aviation

Civil aircraft. Photo: ICAO
Civil aircraft. Photo: ICAO

“Working Together to Ensure 

No Country is Left Behind”

(Theme of International Civil Aviation Day for 2015-2019)
“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who... looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space... on the infinite highway of the air.” ― Wilbur Wright

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.” ― Henry David Thoreau

Amelia Earhart"Aviation, this young modern giant, exemplifies the possible relationship of women and the creations of science. Although women have not taken full advantage of its use and benefits, air travel is as available to them as to men."--Amelia Earhart

“Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”― Amelia Earhart

Midweek Motif ~ Aviation

Today's motif may feel like a complete change of subject, 
but it can be as political or non-political as you make it.

7 December is International Civil Aviation Day. Interesting that it is the same day as the USA National Pearl Harbor Remembrance. Do the two uses of aviation~for war and for peace~balance each other out? 

I rarely fly.  I've been finding flying increasingly uncomfortable from airport security and wait time to take off, flight service and landing. But still, flying to a remote location for vacation is a privilege that carries romance as well as discomfort and danger.

Our Challenge: Compose a new poem from the point of view of someone looking out the window of a flying machine.

Laurie Anderson's "From the Air"

Related Poem Content Details

(At What Used to Be Called Idlewild)
The line didn’t move, though there were not 
many people in it. In a half-hearted light 
the lone agent dealt patiently, noiselessly, endlessly 
with a large dazed family ranging 
from twin toddlers in strollers to an old lady 
in a bent wheelchair. Their baggage 
was all in cardboard boxes. The plane was delayed, 
the rumor went through the line. We shrugged, 
in our hopeless overcoats. Aviation 
had never seemed a very natural idea. 
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE at the Poetry Foundation.)

excerpt from New York to San Fran

Related Poem Content Details

. . . . 
Once more wingtip lifting to the sun
& whine of dynamos in the
stunned ear,
and shafts of light on the page
in the airplane cabin — 
Once more the cities of cloud
advancing over New York — ­
Once more the houses parked like used
cars in myriad row lots — 

I plug in the Jetarama Theater
sterilized Earphones — ­
it’s wagner!
the ride of the valkyries!
We’re above the clouds! The
Sunlight flashes on a giant bay!
Earth is below! The horns of
Siegfried sound gigantic in my ear — 
The banks of silver clouds 
like mountain ranges

I spread my giant green map
on the air-table — 
The Hudson curved below to the
floor-drop of the World,
Mountain range after mountain range,
Thunder after thunder,
Cumulus above cumulus,
World after world reborn,
in the ears 
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE at the Poetry Foundation.)


BY Amelia Earhart

Courage is the price that Life exacts

     for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not
Knows no release from little things:
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
     The sound of wings.
How can life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare
The soul's dominion? Each time we
make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the resistless day,
And count it fair. 

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community.  AND: please put a link to this prompt with your poem.  

(Next week Sumana's Midweek Motif will be Music. )

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