Monday, June 26, 2017

A Chat With Robin About Humans, Whales, and the Great Barrier Reef

Some weeks ago now, Robin Kimber, whom we know affectionately as Old Egg, who writes so charmingly at Robin's Nest, wrote a poem reflecting on how the world has changed since we were young. I think many of us feel the same way, looking back on simpler times, when there was a certain societal expectation of behavioral norms, that seems to be lacking today. I asked him if he might reflect a bit on his poem, and his feelings writing it. I bring it to you today, for your thoughtful consideration.





SAND THROUGH MY FINGERS

Little did I think playing on the beach
A child many years before
Those sand castles, moats and dams that I built
Were mountains in days of yore

As the sea washed over my little toes
I knew not what came before
That my ancestors had crawled up on this beach
A new place to live they saw

For as I hopped and skipped without a thought
As I grew each year by year
We had once feared wild beasts and birds around
Pets now that I hold dear

Did they stay close or forsake Mother Sea?
To find a safe place to hide
Live in a cave or construct a wood hut
Safe from predators abide

Mankind has struggled many years thus far
Now to reach this point in time
But found it best to fight in bloody wars
And to trash this Earth sublime

As the sand through my fingers now does run
A tear runs down my face
This paradise in which we once lived
Has been made hell in its place



Sherry: It does seem a very different world today from the one we knew as children. I often wonder if today's children feel about life the way we did, when life was safe and stable and calm. I do hope they have the same pleasures and hopefulness and dreams that we did. 


Robin: When I wrote my ‘Looking back’ poem a few weeks ago, I was getting frustrated with the Australian government for supporting international mineral magnates to come and drill for oil in off South Australia’s shores, and mine for coal in Queensland, which had the likelihood of affecting not only the unique fauna in the neighborhood but would also seriously endanger the ocean's inhabitants and the unique Great Barrier Reef of the coast of the state of Queensland. 


video


The Reef is already suffering due to global warming, causing it to bleach, but the proposal was to provide a deep shipping channel to the ports so the coal could be easily transported abroad.  





Australia doesn’t really need it, with the feasibility of all our energy being sourced through renewable means, such as Wind and Solar generation in the near future.

Sherry: I have been concerned for the Reef, too, Robin. They must be protected, and helped back to health.  I am also inspired by your country's efforts to switch to clean energy. 

Robin: Oil may also be found in the Great Australian Bight, which is the massive bay that stretches hundreds of miles from Western Australia to South Australia. It is a sanctuary for Southern Right Whales to come in wintertime to escape the frozen Antarctica, and for females to give birth in safety. 


news.com.au photo


Because there are very few sites for harbours for hundreds of kilometres, it is a safe haven for other sea life too. Strict fishing limits are imposed on both commercial and recreational fishermen there to ensure the fish stock numbers are kept viable. Clearly having a huge exploration effort for oil in the Bight would affect not only the wildlife but Australians as well, together with the tourist industry that this unique environment attracts.

Sherry: It is the same struggle everywhere, addressing the need to protect wild ecosystems, against the voracious demands of the multinationals, whose bottom line is always money, at the expense of all else. 

Robin: In the poem I wrote, I tried to convey how the innocence of mankind has been lost over the millennia. We have developed the ability to do almost anything on Earth and beyond with the aid of education, cooperation, scientific discoveries and our inventiveness, but we still cannot feed the starving, we cannot preserve the precious forests that give us air to breathe, we pollute the atmosphere and cause an acceleration of global warming and still fight each other like savages, as we don’t want to share or we dislike the way that others worship their gods, thinking that we are the only ones that are right.

Sherry: I feel the same way, Robin. I resonate very much with your poem "What's Happening?" and would like to include it here, since it continues this lamentation.


What's happening to our world?
As we now cringe in mortal fear
Are terrified of rulers vain
That will destroy all we hold dear

Happiness is so hard to find
Despite our Earth's once rich domain
Too many greedy and cruel in charge
Some of our leaders seem insane

With forests felled and icecaps gone
Wild animals search for a home
Our waste strewn across all the Earth
Our rivers filled with toxic foam

What's happening in our world
Please let there be a hopeful light
To see a future for all kids
I fervently pray that I'm right


Sherry: I do, too, my friend. I have always been determined that the transformation of human consciousness would occur in time, that humans could not possibly be so short-sighted as to put money before planetary survival. With the election of the U.S. president, I admit to falling into utter discouragement. The planet doesn't have four more years to ignore climate change.

But I am noticing his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord has galvanized and strengthened most people and countries of the world, including cities and states in the U.S.,  to work all the harder to make the switch to clean energy. So, in a way, his approach has backfired quite nicely.

Robin: This Earth we live on will continue with or without us changing slowly or dramatically, if we are foolish. But mankind sees only money in the bank, not trees in blossom, see castles of their making rather than the health of all living things. We think we are so big and important but we can’t see we are upsetting the balance of nature and are hastening a disaster that may well be catastrophic.

Sherry: It is astonishing to me, when we have all the information, see the poles melting,  coastal areas already flooding, that we are still so slow to act. We are the only species so greedy and heedless that we destroy our own habitat (and that of every other living thing).



A Southern Right Whale, breaching
copyright Doc White / naturepl.com


Robin: Southern Right Whales as well as seals and sea-lions can often be seen all along South Australia’s and other states coastlines. Now that it is winter, we can expect a whale sighting any day now at Victor Harbor, a former whaling port where they like to come for a rest.

Sherry: Our whales on the west coast of the island are here too, migrating up to Alaska from Baja. Some of them will stay all season in our area, becoming accustomed to the tour boats. Each year, there is a "friendly," who sometimes approaches a boat and allows itself to be seen close up, looking in at the people with its big, ancient eye. More rarely, one allows itself to be patted, a gift and an amazement. I always think that "whoosh" they make sounds like the voice of God. Their breath is very ancient too. It smells of ocean bottoms and things long gone.

Robin: Curiously there’s a rule here that you shouldn’t approach too close to a whale when they are in-shore just in case they suddenly notice you and make a sudden movement causing your boat to capsize!

Sherry: We have that rule too. Boats must stay a good distance away and may not chase or pursue whales. We do not want to disturb them. When we spot them, we stop the boat, turn off the motor and drift. I find that whales approach the rubber zodiacs more often as, in them, we are drifting silently, at almost the same level. I remember one diving right beside my boat once. It thrilled me to my toes!

A not-very-shy Tofino whale
freshtrackscanada.com


Robin: My wife and I looked over a cliff on the Bight (between South Australia and Western Australia) and there must have been over twenty whales placidly making themselves at home and there were young ones there too. 




In the Barrier Reef's tranquil waters, people swim miles from shore, (which I have done!), but I didn’t stay in too long. I didn’t want a shark to sniff me out!

Sherry: It must have been amazing! Robin, I have enjoyed this interesting chat so much! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and reflections with us. You have given us much to think about.

Well, my friends, there you have it: humans, whales, the great barrier reef, climate change and clean energy, a conversation  for our times. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It may be you!


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Poetry Pantry #359

Lake Michigan Photos - Early Saturday Morning





Greetings, Poets!  There is a wonderful farmers' market along Lake Michigan's shores.  The photos above were taken yesterday morning!  There really is something very special about this lake....

Friday Rosemary shared Shay Simmons' (aka Fireblossom) poem "For Young Poets."  Whether you are young or older, don't miss this poem.  I bet some of you will wish you had written it as well!

Monday, be sure to visit Poets United for Sherry's wonderful and informative interview of Robin, who we all know as "Old Egg."  It is a feature NOT to miss.

On Wednesday, Sumana's theme for Midweek Motif is "War and Peace."  Oh wow, so many different directions one can go with that theme!!

With no delay, let's share poetry. Link your poem below.  Say hello in the comments.  Visit other poets who link.  Have a poetic week!

Friday, June 23, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This

For Young Poets

First, stop banging away at silence 
like you would with a snow shovel against the ice.
A poem is not a dancing dog,
summoned to perform on its tiptoes at parties.

Put away all spirituous beverages.
Those who write while pitching in a sea of booze
do so in spite of such idiocy, not because of it.
If you haven't the imagination to see things differently without such props,
then become a mail carrier or a bus driver.

Read.
Read Lorca and rip your hair out til you're bald.
Read Neruda and flail, little fledgling on the cliff-side!
Read Plath, tuck your children safely in their room and then
to the kitchen with you to contemplate why cowards can't be poets;
at least not for long.

All you wild spastics shouting at the coffee bar,
waving pages and thinking volume and auctioneer-speak make poetry?
Sit down. Have someone duct tape your cake hole shut.
Think about what you haven't done, until you're ready to join us.

Now, to purge.
Write several great long hunks of unreadable shit,
staggering along on broken syntax,
with words strung together willy-nilly like last year's holiday lights,
all the similar-colored ones in a row, and half of them burned out.
Write haiku about a yew tree or a cherry blossom.
Get your paper plate-eyed friends to declare it all "brilliant!"
Then throw it away and we can get started.

Light candles.
They won't help you to write, but I like them.
Lock the door and don't answer it;
your husband will find his favorite golf shirt on his own,
and your children are already ruined anyway.
Let's do this thing.

The hard part is already done!
The lonely rejections and upheavals of childhood,
the sexual confusions and self-destructive rebellions of youth,
they're over with.
The burials, the pointless treks, the lovers who laughed and left,
the beetle of doubt and otherness digging its burrow behind your heart--
all of this is long complete.

Now, just stare out of the window at the sorrowful blue of the sky,
and the silver beauty of the impossibly distant moon.
Bite your knuckle if you have to, but stillness is best,
even to the point of drooling and apparent catatonia.
"What are you doing?" you'll be asked.
Working. Slaving. Making art.
Understand this, give yourself permission for this,
even as the dishes fester in the sink and the baby cries;
The seeds of greatness will germinate inside the still soil of you, The Poet.

It's not an easy road,
but there is soul and pride to it.
Your poems will be your own particular inverse garments to wear,
heart and guts to the world.
You have joined the cabal of those who possess a true talent:
unicycle riders have their uncanny balance,
lesbians their tongues,
demons their blackness;
now you have your poetry and people to admire you and say,
"It's nice",
"This is what you were doing?"
and "Huh." 

Or,
you could still apply to Beauty College.
It's up to you.

– Shay Caroline Simmons



No apologies if you've read this one already very recently, because I know you'll love reading it again. And if you haven't, oh what a treat I've just given you! Shay recently posted it to her blog and linked it to The Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

It blew all her readers away, and several said they wished they had written it. I wished that too, and rapidly secured her permission to say so publicly here. Some people said it should be disseminated in schools, blazoned on college walls, and so on. Well, I'm doing my bit!

I have featured Shay here before, and so has Sherry. If you'd like to know more about her, this link will take you to my article, which also links to Sherry's feature as well as to Shay's Amazon page. If you don't already follow her blog, it is Shay's Word Garden where she posts as Fireblossom. All her poetry is wonderful, and I think it all deserves to be read as widely as possible.




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, June 21, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Yoga



“Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.” — Patanjali

SOURCE


“The meaning of our self is not to be found in its separateness from God and others, but in the ceaseless realization of yoga, of union; not on the side of the canvas where it is blank but on the side where the picture is being painted.”— Rabindranath Tagore
                        


                               Midweek Motif ~ Yoga



I was thinking if we could give a little thought to ‘Yoga’ in our poems on this International Day of Yoga which is celebrated annually on 21 June since its inception in 2015.

Yoga is ‘slower, fewer and deeper breath’; to the practitioners a panacea for modern, hectic life.

You may be contemplative, humorous or sarcastic. It would be lovely if you could include the word ‘yoga’ in your lines. You may even dwell on the literal meaning of the word ‘Yoga’ which is ‘Union’. And a personal experience would be an added bonus.

Here I am including excerpts of some poems that reflect the perfection, awareness, compassion, surrender etc that yoga intends to gift its devoted followers:


From WildGeese by Mary Oliver:

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
Love what it loves.”


From The laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski:

“your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission,
be on the watch.”


From Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye:

“Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between region of kindness”


From BlackwaterWoods by Mary Oliver:

“To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”



Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—

            
                (Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be ~ War & Peace)
                              

Monday, June 19, 2017

POEMS OF THE WEEK - WENDY, MYRNA AND ELIZABETH

This week, my friends, we have poems of inspiration from Wendy of Words and Words and WhatnotMyrna, of Daily Spiritand Elizabeth, of Soul's Music. The poems seem to share  a theme of digging down deep to hold onto peace and hope, in the midst of the turbulence around us. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Wendy recently wrote a poem that spoke to me. As much as we love and fear for Mother Earth, it is in her wild places, by her lakes and rivers and forests, that we are most likely to restore our peacefulness. Let's read.






P.M. Bourke photo




Again, last night, I dreamt that I was falling – as I often have, throughout the slumbers of my life – though lately, such dreams, have lost their ability to bother me … much. I suppose if you experience anything enough times, over a long period – and live – it loses some of the power it once had, to alarm.

In other aspects of my life, as well, I seem to be developing – in my senior years – a different relationship with fear. As the panoramic vista of the valley of the shadow begins to come into view – albeit, off in the distance (though clearly there is no getting around it) a trepidatious acceptance has started to settle upon me. Though I know (all too well) that, tragically, life can end at any age, the expectation is that human life spans will follow a predictable pattern. Having had the good fortune to stick to that pattern, I am grateful that I have been blessed with (what my Mother used to refer to as) a 'good run’. I like to think I’ve struck a pretty decent bargain for myself … a kind of just-let-me-roll a fair way beyond my threescore years and ten – and I’ll be good to go. I am curious to see if that bargain holds.

This acceptance of the inevitable, may always have been a feature of deepening age … though, the scale of the turbulence and destruction of the times that we live in probably makes coming to terms with our mortality considerably harder than it was for our ancestors. They had planted their seeds (figuratively and/or literally) on a beautiful earth and those seeds would flourish, long after they had passed. Today we – all of humankind – are leaving this planet with far less optimistic prospects. And that – for most of us – is not a nice feeling – and not the way we would choose to leave it … if we had a choice. In effect, we will go to our deaths in fear … in fear, for our beautiful planet. … and all that lives upon it.

That is my – greatest – fear … and I know it is a deeply felt concern that many of you share. I fear for the children of this world. What a world we are leaving to those innocent little souls. I am afraid for their future, and I am afraid for the planet that we are in the process of destroying.

When I was a very young child, a shocking scene from a war torn country came into our living room via the nightly news. And when I asked my Mother what was going to happen to the people that had been filmed, she said: “Life finds a way”.

And so, I turn, again and again, to the sky and the sea and the forests and such places … that are life affirming, and to such people … who are active and engaged in initiatives to heal this earth. I do what I can, to try and make a difference. And I live in the hope that … life will find a way.

this place of giant stones
that time and river transform –
in the vastness of this earth …
so many miracles
waiting to happen

We have come to a place where, those of us, who love this earth … live … and die … in the hope … of miracles.


Sherry: I resonate with the feeling of acceptance, of inevitability. A deep resignation is coming over me, who has for so long believed in the transformation of human consciousness, that light will triumph over darkness. Like you, I find my peace and strength in the wild places, that so want to live, to survive, as does Mother Bear and Sister Wolf. As do the struggling peoples of the world.

I share your hope for miracles. And I love your mother's quote: "Life will find a way."  With or without us, she will. 

Wendy: “This Place of Giant Stones” came out of my very strong concerns about the damage that is being done to our planet earth – primarily over the last one hundred years, through human-caused (anthropogenic) climate change. 

In 2007, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a panel of 2,500 scientists in 130 countries overseen by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization) warned that millions of human lives and nearly a third of the planet's wildlife and plant species could be wiped out if global temperatures rise as little as 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius.  The panel predicted a rise of between 1.8 and 4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, if measures are not put in place to reverse the current trend.

That stunning prediction was issued 10 years ago.  Since then, very little – in terms of what is required to stem this looming disaster – has been enacted.  I find that terrifying:  not for myself (I have lived my life); I find it terrifying for the children of this earth and for all life on this planet. 

I think, people of conscience, have always been predisposed to extend their vision beyond day-to-day concerns.  But the issue of global warming brings a whole new urgency to awareness and active engagement, simply because it is an issue that cannot be ignored.  We all must do our part to try and heal this planet.  As a writer, I write of my concerns … and the impending dire, consequential end result of climate change – is a big concern. 

Personally, as a poet, I find that the haibun and prose/tanka forms, work well as poetic vehicles when writing to extrospective issues (some might say:  universal issues)  – and I have found myself turning to that prose-poem format more and more, lately.  Perhaps it’s a sign of the times.  

Sherry: I share your worry, Wendy. With the new regime in the U.S., I am newly alarmed. The planet doesn't have four more years to neglect climate change.  Those predictions are very sobering. We are feeling the affects already, in many places. 

Thank you for this powerful poem, and for sharing your knowledge and your concern. 

Myrna wrote a poem that really spoke to me. With all the No's on the nightly news, Myrna found an Inner Yes. I think her poem will help us to find ours, too. Let's read:





RUNNING TOWARDS HOPE

I'm giving up
No longer will I persist
Expending energy like fumes
From an old bus
Dark smoke polluting my lungs
In stead my heart will
Positively beat
A different drum
Whose noise rises
Above
the tunes of doom
That I fear

No longer will I focus on what
May be inside black holes
I'll turn my cheek the other way
Only looking where the moon is bright
Enough to illuminate my night
Though I know it is the night
That may reign
In hearts like coal
Waiting to burn
Us, who resist
The blindness of dark power

I will say NO to thoughts
Of peril, feelings of helplessness
That haunt my emotions
I'll let my shadow cling
Trying to defy the sun
While I keep running
Reaching for the brilliance
Of my YES


Sherry: We must reach for the brilliance of that YES! Wonderful, Myrna.

Myrna: "Running Towards Hope" came about after a dinner out with friends.  After we talked about our lives, the inevitable discussion arose.  We are all concerned about the condition of the world, One of my friends spoke about the importance of not succumbing to the weight of the world's problems.  She talked about need to keep our energies in high vibration so that we not only resist negative forces but overcome them.


She spoke of how we need to maintain our spirits high so that we vibrate at higher frequencies.  Then she asked what we all do to rise above the grief when we are feeling low.  There were many responses.  Some refrain from watching the news, others seek the company of children, others meditate.  I realized that at one time or other I also did all these things.  But nowadays I usually elevate my mood by going outside, walking, spending time with nature.   I also get a lot of joy from drawing and painting too but I get the biggest burst of high energy, happiness?, when I write a poem that I especially like.  I know I am not yet at that place of joy, of being able to escape the effects of  what goes on in this world, but I'm trying to take my friend's advice and run towards hope. Though I clearly see the negative, I will try to stay positive.

Sherry: And I will, too, Myrna. Your friend is right. We need now, more than ever, to be beaming positive into the world, to assist the transformation of consciousness, to not let the dark side win. Thank you for this beautiful and wise poem. It is inspiring.

Elizabeth's poem is about turning to one's inner resources for strength - as well as to our online friends, who know our hearts so well. Let's take a peek:






something about a grain of sand
and how the part is a manifestation of the whole
___Thotpurge
I see the pity in your eyes
when you find me here
always in these rooms
alone in a world, I seldom
enter.
Joke about being a Hermit
and, although you smile,
it is softly thinned by nodding
glint of darkness and
disapproval.
You are aware of the gap
and curvature at base of spine
that continues to shorten
my stature, while slowing gait
of others who walk alongside.
Yet, I accept that you don’t
understand, how easily I slip
into this chair, type a few words
and am instantly in touch
with a world beyond your ken.
Because my ‘friends’ are people
who love words, I have tasted
exotic spices of India, smelled
pale orange roses of Australia,
and walked the beaches
of British Columbia with a wild
black wolf, at my side.
You shake your head sadly, say,
“You need to get out.” And never
know how, each day, I travel
further than you have ever dreamed
of being.
Elizabeth Crawford  4/24/2017

Sherry: I am a hermit, too, Elizabeth, so I really resonate with this poem. And with the online community being our connection to other poets, and to the wider world, and that being more than enough. I especially love your closing lines. It is true, we travel farther than our real-life people ever dream. I love this poem. 

Elizabeth:  This poem came very quickly. On the spur of the moment, I decided to use the idea of “Inspiration” for the April PAD Challenge. Specifically, where I find it. Which meant many of my poems for the month were inspired by lines, or words, I found in other online poets’ work. 

When I read the line from Thotpurge's Unfaithful Eye, I immediately began hearing echoes of other words thrown at me through the years, by family and friends.

My Mother: "You are still young enough to find a nice man to take care of you." My response: "Can’t find what I’m not looking for."

Older Sister: "Are you sure you are not a lesbian?" My response, after hysterical, raucous laughter: "Yes, I’m sure."

Both friends and family: "But, why would you do something you don’t get paid for?" My response: "Because I love doing it and find the deepest satisfaction in that process?"

The poem itself is a deeply personal response to someone I love and cherish, someone who believes that the time I spend on the computer, writing, is akin to the nerds who turn away from living and get lost in gaming and such. And although this individual knows all about my physical disabilities, and loves me, she is dedicated to getting me out and about, believing that will cure all of my ‘ills’.

After writing it, I finally remembered a piece of scripture that helped me to understand a bit of where it came from:

New Living Translation
"Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye."

Which brought me back, full circle, to Thotpurge’s "grain of sand." And also reminded me that a Prophet (for me that means Poet), is never totally embraced in his/her own home town, or space. 

Sherry: I love the equation of Prophet = Poet! And I laughed almost as hard as you did, at your family conversations. We poets are such a conundrum to our families. Smiles.

Thank you, Wendy, Myrna and Elizabeth, for this thoughtful sharing of how you each draw from your depths the resources that get you through and keep you strong. I feel newly encouraged by your words. I hope our readers do as well.

Isn't it wonderful to read the wisdom of three such strong women, my friends? I love it! Do come back, my friends, to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Poetry Pantry #358

source

"The sculptures of two mythical giant demons, Thotsakan (the green one) and Sahatsadecha (the white one), guarding the eastern gate of the ubosot (main chapel) of Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamaha Wihan, Bangkok Yai District, Bangkok"
Greetings once again, friends.  Are you ready to share and read some poetry today?  Let's just do it!

Hope you have read Rosemary's "I Wish I'd Written This" where she shared the poem 'Dawn Bursey' written by her friend Helen Patrice.  I think many of us have been influenced by a librarian when we were children.   The prose poem she shared tweaked memories of my own, and perhaps it will tweak yours too.

Monday Sherry is featuring the poems of three of our most prolific women poets.  I know you will enjoy this feature.

Next week's Midweek Motif is YOGA.  Should be interesting to see the poems we write.

With no delay, let's share poetry.  Looking forward to reading what you write and seeing your comments below!  Enjoy a very 'poetic' day!

Friday, June 16, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This

Dawn Bursey
(Prose Poem)



Your mild brown hair in a pageboy cut, that you grew out slowly over four years, but never decided on what 70's style suited you next.
Your blue eyes wide, the skin around them older than the rest of you, from books you'd read that no one else on staff had heard of.
Your cheese sandwich every day, and a carton of milk.
You placed books you knew I'd like jutting out from the library bookshelves.
You helped me choose a book prize for being Most Improved Grade 4 Student, and steered me past the cartoons to a book on nature. I read it to this day. You tapped the picture of the bear and cubs. You knew my totem before I did, by a good twenty years.
You read my first stories and said they were good. You said to keep going. You said to keep going.
I kept going.

I file you here, in the library of mind and page, bookmarked and stamped 'Out'. For by now, you would be dead, never knowing you lit a fuse.

– Helen Patrice



'Child  reading in large chair.' Image from public domain


This would have been a school librarian, obviously. I was employed as the other kind, a municipal librarian, many years ago, beginning as a children's librarian. As a child it was the local municipal library which was most magical for me, though I made a lot of use of the school library too. 

I am eternally grateful to my parents for encouraging my use of libraries. They were keen readers and library users themselves – but also, it occurs to me now, they just couldn't have kept up with my reading if they'd had to supply all the books.

I'm also grateful to the head librarian (Walter Sutherland, Launceston City Library, Tasmania; let's honour his name) who granted my parents' request to let me use the adult library before I was officially old enough, when I ran out of things to read in the children's library.

And that's what this poem is about, more than the library itself – the librarian who unobtrusively encouraged a child's passion for reading, to be fully appreciated for it much later. There were various adults who did that for me, very much including parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. Above all, I recall specific teachers, all the way through from kindergarten to the final year of High School, who fulfilled a similar role to the librarian in this poem. 

How valuable such mentors are, and how good to celebrate them!

So who is Dawn Bursey?  Well, she is the subject of this poem, and not the author as I first posted!

I originally said:

I see poems online and grab them for my PU columns, so I have a stash – although I also slot in anything topical while it still is. As you've observed, as a courtesy I ask living poets' permission to use their work and their photo, and for some biographical details for interest. But this poem in my files has no information except the author's name, and when I Google search her now I can't find her. I can find the name, but clearly not attached to this poet. 

This surprises me, in view of the reference to her 'first stories' and the assertion that she kept on, which suggest some public, adult authorship, as does the very existence of this poem. But there it is.

So I'm sorry: although I can post this legitimately 'for study and review', I can't supply any details about its author. 
If anyone happens to know her, or how to contact her, I'd appreciate a heads-up. It would have been nice to let her know how her prose poem resonates with another passionate reader – but then, I expect many others have already told her so. I'm sure it will resonate with the passionate readers here at Poets United too.


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Now the mystery is cleared up. Read on:

An alert reader on facebook has pointed out:


As to the identity of the author, in your own 2012 interview with Helen Patrice, she says: "By the end of primary school, I was showing my stories to the librarian, Dawn Bursey, who bless her, encouraged me."

OMG!!! I realised this must have been one of Helen's poems, ABOUT the said Dawn Bursey, not by her. When I checked, she confirmed this. Luckily she is more amused than upset by my error.

Helen's a close friend and we sometimes send each other our poems by email. 'Prose poem' must have been the description on this, and 'Dawn Bursey' the title. I must have saved it for future reference some years ago, and by the time I posted it here had forgotten it was Helen's. 

As you see, I have now corrected this post. And if you'd like to know more about Helen, look for the tag on her name on the left-hand side bar for times she's been featured here before, or check out my 2012 interview.


There's a lesson here for me, to be more careful when saving stuff, even if I think I'll never forget the details. And a lesson for us all – ALWAYS sign your work, even when only emailing it privately to a friend. My art teacher Val Anderson taught me that, long ago. 'Claim your work,' she would say to all her students. 'Own it.' It applies just as well to writings as paintings.

However  this is not Helen's fault but mine. Apologies to her and you, and many thanks to 'thylacine'.




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.