Friday, June 29, 2018

Moonlight Musings

Why is it so difficult to write erotica?

And if it isn't, please tell me your secret!

Sometimes I envy the graphic artists, who don't need words. Rodin's The Kiss – here shown in the large marble version rather than the small bronze often photographed – was considered scandalous in its day for being so, well, graphic.

I'm not at all inhibited in my speech, and I firmly believe no subject should be taboo to a writer, but if I try to put sex scenes on the page, I can't figure out how to do it without sounding either crude or ridiculous.

I'm better at it in verse than prose, I must admit. It's easier when I can use metaphor.  For example this one (a notorious poem in its day, which I'm still proud of – but a rarity for me).

I actually belong to a facebook group called Erotic Haiku, though I post there fairly seldom because I don't often write anything applicable. Many of the others who post there are quite explicit. Personally, I don't always find this a turn-on, but rather stating the obvious. Judging by comments, plenty of others do think the explicit is hot. My efforts tend more to the subtle and understated. Such as these. There are probably readers who would not find anything so restrained a turn-on.

So I can manage it now and  then, in my own way, but I'd never be able to make a career out of it – unlike one of my friends, who used to write porn fiction for a living. 'Just create a couple of characters,' she says, 'put them in a location and a situation, think about things you like in bed – and away you go.' She makes it sound so easy! Doesn't work for me. I do know how to fantasise. My difficulty is putting it into words which adequately convey the thoughts. 

I'm not the only one. These musings came about because I recently edited a whole book of erotic love poems by a woman who wanted to celebrate the passionate love between herself and her lover. The trouble was that she was not only trying to depict the sexuality but simultaneously to put into words their transcendent love. She ended up using abstracts to try and describe the ineffable. The writing tended to tell, not show. It neither moved nor aroused this reader.

I think the only way one can write of the ineffable – something which, by definition, is inexpressible in words – is to ground it in sensual imagery. Shakespeare talks of a summer's day – of the flowers, and the strength of the wind. Byron writes of the night and the stars; Burns of 'a red, red rose' and 'a melody that's sweetly sung in tune'.

Those famous examples, however, are more romantic than erotic. One present-day poet whom I think brilliant at erotica is Mary Grace Guevara from the dVerse team, writing as Scarlet at her blog Scarlet Verses. I am in awe of the way she writes poem after poem on sexual love, and manages to make each one not only truly erotic, but new. She does use metaphors; also lots of references to actual human bodies and their interactions – always hot but never crude.

Our own Sanaa (blogging at A Dash of Sunny) with her love of lush, sensual, musical words, is wonderful at poems which are both romantic and passionate. Bjorn is another who creates amazing poems of love and desire (as well as amazing poems on all sorts of other topics) at Bjorn Rudberg's Writings. Another who comes to mind is the fabulous Magaly Guerrero, at her blog of the same name, who manages to say the most lubricious things without a trace of obscenity (as in four-letter words) – but lots of heat.

I know that many more of you, my fellow-poets at Poets United, can write erotica. I recently read and enjoyed your 'Lust' poems for Midweek Motif. (I myself cheated and wrote of a different kind of lust.) 

So how do you tackle such topics? Is metaphor best? Do you prefer the subtle or the bold? Do you too find it challenging? If not – or even more, perhaps, if you do – what advice would you give to an aspiring writer of erotica?

The photo of the Rodin is in the Public Domain.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ When I Think About Myself

“This above all; to thine own self be true.”— Shakespeare


“I am very much aware of my own double self. The well-known one is very under control; everything is planned and very secure. The unknown one can be very unpleasant. I think this side is responsible for all the creative work — he is in touch with the child. He is not rational; he is impulsive and extremely emotional.”—Ingmar Bergman

Midweek Motif ~ When I think About Myself

Let’s begin today with Maya Angelou’s poem When I Think About Myself:

When I think about myself,
I almost laugh myself to death,
My life has been one great big joke,
A dance that's walked
A song that's spoke,
I laugh so hard I almost choke
When I think about myself.

Sixty years in these folks' world
The child I works for calls me girl
I say 'Yes ma'am' for working's sake.
Too proud to bend
Too poor to break,
I laugh until my stomach ache,
When I think about myself.

My folks can make me split my side,
I laughed so hard I nearly died,
The tales they tell, sound just like lying,
They grow the fruit,
But eat the rind,
I laugh until I start to crying,
When I think about my folks. 

Do you find time to think about yourself? Even if you don’t you have to do it Now for this week’s Motif’s sake J We want a self-portrait poem this week.
What thoughts rise up when you think of yourself? Is it about the long path you’ve been walking that has almost shaped you? Is it about the small but meaningful and significant moments that have changed you? Is it about the thousand ‘yous’ that’s living within you?

The list can go on and on. Think over and write your lines:

I Am
by John Clare

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest- that I loved the best-
Are strange- nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below- above the vaulted sky. 

My Own Heart Let Me More Have Pity On
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst's all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room, let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
's not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather - as skis
Betweenpie mountains - lights a lovely mile.

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 ~ Lady Liberty)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Poem of the Week ~ Celebrating Taos with Annell Livingston

This morning, I have one very beautiful poem for you to enjoy, written by Annell Livingston who blogs at AnnellAnnell: Words of a Painter. Annell wrote so beautifully about the spectacular landscape she lives in in Taos, New Mexico, that I thought we might savor this poem, and Annell's thoughts about it, all on its own. Annell is sharing some beautiful photos of the land outside her studio window as well. Let's enjoy.

Taos Mountain

“To remember is to go back to the heart, to make whole.”  
--Anonymous Quote

Adobe churches, houses, walls
Made from earth
Bricks of mud
Smoothed by hand

An old windmill spins
Speaks a rhythmic “clatter”
In hot desert winds

White clouds with underbellies of grey
Shaped like cotton candy at the fair
Stacked on horizon in cerulean blue sky
Similar to bundles of cotton bales at the gin
Clouds wait for Miss O’Keeffe
To return to her studio to paint them

Ravens and crows, magpies and such
Birds of prey: eagles and hawks
Soar above like a kite
Eagle eye you can’t escape

Lavender, pink, sage green, indigo, burnt sienna
Horizon, sand, earth, sage brush, mountains
Colors I call home

Mountains, mesas, canyons,
The Rio Grand, “Leopard Hills”,
Volcanic rock, boulders

Mesquite, pinion, tumble weed, cholla cactus, red willow, cotton woods
Fruit trees, apples, wild plums


May 19, 2018

Sherry: This poem is glorious, my friend. The place names sing, these places of your heart. I can feel the heat, the sand, see the old adobe on the mesa. The colour of the light in your photos is spectacular! An artist's delight!

How did this poem come to you, the words that so vividly describe the landscape that you love?

Annell: I drove to Santa Fe, on a Saturday, to pick up paintings from the gallery.  It was a quick trip, down and back.  I was listening to the radio, and there was a person talking who was from Jamaica; he said he was a Rastafarian, and he was explaining about that.  He began to talk about the word, “Remember,” and I was aware of its beauty of sound.  He said this quote, “To remember is to go back to the heart, to make whole.”  I have looked for that, but couldn’t find it, so I am calling it an anonymous quote.  The person speaking on the radio was anonymous, as is often the case, when listening to the radio, you don’t always get in on the beginning, and know who is talking, then you arrive at your destination, and you turn off the car. It is only later you begin to think about what you heard, and realize it was an anonymous conversation. But I thought that I would like to use what he said about, “remember.”

Later, on my way home, again, my mind was blank.  I had no ideas.  I think it was Kerry who told me she liked “list” poems.  So I thought I would make a list poem, something I have never done.  

Alone in the car, I could say the words.  Listen, and then write about them.  New Mexico is known for its adobe churches, houses and walls, made from the earth, into bricks of mud, and in the older adobe it must be resurfaced each year, and this is done by hand.

I saw a windmill, spinning in the dusty dry desert wind, and I wanted to say how it sounds.  There is a certain rhythm and often a sound like a clatter, I thought about it being the language of the windmill.

It is a most beautiful drive coming up to Taos, from Santa Fe.  The sky a clear cerulean blue, the clouds were in rectangle shapes, and seemed to be stacked like bricks on the horizon. It reminded me of cotton bales stacked near the tracks or in the gin.  There were other clouds shaped like cotton candy with grey underbellies.  Then I thought of the painting Georgia painted of clouds…and I thought maybe they were waiting for her to return to the studio to paint them.

There were birds flying in the air, ravens, crows. (I did not see eagles that day, but have on other trips to Santa Fe.)  But a most beautiful hawk, which seemed to be floating like a kite.

Then I listed to myself the colors I saw.   Earth and sky near the horizon was pink.   So much of what is green is sage green in varying values and shades of sage green.   The mountains indigo.  Much of the earth and houses, sienna.

Much of what you see are: mountains, mesas, canyons, The Rio Grand, “Leopard Hills.”  (Leopard Hills are seen near Santa Fe.) Volcanic rock, and  boulders.

I continued with my list, and to say the words aloud, savoring each word.  Mesquite, pinion, tumble weed, cholla cactus, red willow, cotton woods, fruit trees, apples, wild plum.   (To tell the truth, I don’t even know if Mesquite grows in New Mexico, but it does in Texas, and I love that word.)  I hoped the reader of my poem would also like to savor each word.  Saying it out loud.  Allowing the sound to enter him.

Just outside Espanola, I saw a road sign which read Velarde, Embudo, Taos.  As I read the sign, and said the words out loud,  I loved each word, and added them to my list.

When I got home, I began to rearrange the words in my list, and decided it was a poem.  (Kinda like fishing, you never know if it is a fish or not, maybe just caught on a log.)

And that is the story of my poem.

Sherry: How I love the story. I, too, enjoyed savouring the words on my tongue. They are so beautiful, and convey the wonders of the desert to the reader.

Annell, I wonder, having lived on the ocean in your earlier years, how did coming to the desert feel to you when you arrived there? Over the years, how did it become home? 

Annell: When my Husband drowned, it seemed necessary for me to seek a new life. My Husband loved to fish, and we had a house at the bay.  I wanted to leave the Gulf coast, so I came to the desert, in the shadow of the mountain.  

Everything was different, and I needed what I saw to be different.  A new life; I wanted to leave sorrow behind in the rear view mirror.  It was hard for my friends to see me grieve. I needed somewhere to howl at the moon, and I found my place on the mesa.  No one knew me, no one cared, no one noticed that I howled at night.  So, I was at home on the mesa, under a star filled sky, and moon light night.  I no longer heard the waves lapping at my toes, nor the sea gulls diving and crying.  The desert is a quiet home, the coyotes walked through my yard as if it was theirs, and of course it was.  

Because Taos is in the mountains, the weather was cool, and I found I could become a hermit and do my work without interruption.  I was constantly fed by what I saw, sunrises in the morning, and sunsets at night.  

Sherry:  And what spectacular sunsets! Wow! Right out your back door! Thank you for sharing how you came to the desert, Annell. You were so brave, making such a change, but it was the right one for you.

Annell: Millions of years ago, this land was all underwater, and it is like that today. Unless the wind is blowing, it is as if life is trapped in resin.  Nothing moves, and all is quiet on the mesa.  For a long time, painting was all that I could do, and writing…now I am here, and it seems it is where I belong, like the sage brush that holds the sandy dirt to the earth. Without the sage brush, the dirt would all blow away.

You asked about the difference between the gulf and the desert.  Actually, looking out across the sage brush is very much like looking out across the waves.

I have tried to be as honest as I can. When I write, it is straight from the heart. 

Sherry: And we receive what you have expressed with respect and appreciation, my friend. I have often heard there are similarities between ocean and desert. I can see there must be. In fact, I also see similarities between your desert and the Okanagan, where I grew up and raised my kids. Especially in the above photo.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, your very beautiful poem, and gorgeous photos with us today. What a feast of the senses it has been!

Sigh. Wasn't this a lovely interlude, my friends? We do hope you enjoyed it. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Poetry Pantry #408

New York City -

Photos by Vandana Sharma

Statue of Liberty - "Lady Liberty"

Ever busy Times Square

New York City from Empire State Building

World Trade Center Memorial

Annie Moore statue - first immigrant
who came through Ellis Island

Thank you, Vandana, for sharing your photos of New York City with us today.  The photo of the Statue of Liberty makes me sigh a little bit.  I hope that Lady Liberty welcomes immigrants to our country for a long time to come.   You must have had a wonderful trip, Vandana.  It is always nice to be able to experience another country..

Oh, and in the Northern Hemisphere, summer has finally arrived.  Smiles.

Susan's Midweek Motif topic (human) this past week certainly turned out to be an appropriate one for the week and inspired a lot of interesting responses.  Next week Sumana's prompt will be:  What I Think about Myself. I will have to give that one some thought.

I hope everyone has had a chance to read Sherry's I Wish I'd Written This feature  - the poem "These are Some of the Things You Missed" by Christine Lowther, a very good Canadian poet who just happens to be a neighbor of Sherry's.

Monday, do return to read the latest Poem of the Week.  Sherry makes such great choices, doesn't she?

With no delay, let's share a poem.  Link your poem below.  Stop in and say hello.  Visit other poets who link.  Enjoy being part of the community.  See you on the trail.

Friday, June 22, 2018

I Wish I'd Written This

Some of the Many Things You Missed

It’s the springtide of the moon
full and heavy float the moon jellies
to hands’ reach, the glass lace
of their tentacles scarcely moving…
Pat Lowther

the bay is full of jellyfish that don’t sting
pulsating full-bellied yet diaphanous moon jellies
blue-tinged with four pink gonads
their only colour not brains but genitals

why moon  were they named just for being pale
did they remind someone of that pockmarked face
did they appear to the namer as small craters convulsing

they look more like petticoats ballooning down a staircase
or shower caps or miniature parachutes
the size of a thimble or a dinner plate
always only a few until one year there comes a bloom

a moon jelly bloom when they’re everywhere impossible to avoid
shredding them with the boat’s propeller
not looking back picturing them torn into fragments
like so many pieces of floating toilet paper

every day i return home to hundreds of jellies
dimpling the water’s surface like rain
were i to brave the cold water, dive among them
they’d slide away, oblivious
slooping around my limbs pulsations barely pausing
my kicks and strokes tumbling them about
in their birthright of slow chaos

i wish they’d crowd their cool soft bodies up to mine
wish i could say i’ve been swarmed by moon jellies
wish I could say i’ve been to a moon jelly love-in
ecstatic in the slippery translucent animals

last night i saw them gathered under their fully waxed namesake
embers of moonlight-on-jelly breaking black water
lighting up the bay
their surface-bobbing like visual morse code

the same pattern i’d seen when raindrops
fell onto a dark ocean
their tiny splashes sparking to life

the pulsing creatures ascended
to a meeting of worlds:
water   salt   jelly   air
darkness    moonlight    outer space
all these years & finally i can say
i have seen the moon jelly ritual
jellies gathering to kiss air
kiss the moon
become moonlight

Christine Lowther

Marlene Cummings photo

We have another Tofino poet for you this month, my friends. Christine Lowther is a noted Canadian writer of poetry and prose,  and is a fellow member of the Clayoquot Writers Group.  I would love to be able to put my love of and reverence for nature into words as eloquently as Christine does. Her poetry is imbued with her deep love of the natural world. She lives in close connection with the wild, on her floathouse a short boat ride away from Tofino. This is the setting of her poem, as she dives off her dock to swim among the jellyfish.

Linda Baril photo

Chris has lived in Clayoquot Sound since 1992. Her mother is the noted poet, Pat Lowther, whom Chris lost as a result of spousal homicide when she was seven years old. This traumatic event lies at the heart of some of her deepest work, notably her first poetry collection: New Power. Her most recent nonfiction book, Born Out of This, charts her journey from this terrible loss, through foster homes, punk rock, and lifelong activism, to the life she has created in the heart of nature on her floathouse in the Sound.

I find similarities in  the writings of mother and daughter. Each has a distinct and unique voice. Both love the wild; this love  illuminates  their writing. Pat Lowther's work still lives, and is quoted and respected  many years after her death. I believe her daughter's work will also stand the test of time.

Chris's writing sings through the soul. She truly "sees" the small and large beauties of the natural world and, when she writes about them, we see them, too, with appreciative and awakened eyes. Chris was arrested at the blockades in 1992, standing for the trees. She still advocates on their behalf as Tofino struggles with the thorny conflicting issues of development and preservation. Her activism and the conscientious, respectful way she lives on Mother Earth inspires me. She is one of my heroes.

Chris was co-editor of two anthologies, Writing the West Coast: In Love With Place, and Living Artfully: Reflections on the Far West Coast, and has three poetry collections New Power, Half-Blood Poems and My Nature. Her most recent book is the memoir, Born Out of  This.

Christine's website can be found here, and more information about her books can be found  on the site. Her author page is at

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 20, 2018

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Human

Image result for human beings quote

"Listen and tell, thrums the grave heart of humans.
Listen well love, for it’s pitch dark down here."
― Hailey Leithauser (See full poem below)

“I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in the kindness of human beings. I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and angels.” 
 Midweek Motif ~ Human

I am human. I am only human.  
 I am sadly human.  Happily, I am human.

When you describe something as "human," 
what do you mean?  

(Click "What is a Human Being?" for a slideshow.)

Your Challenge: Write a new poem giving what is human its place in the natural world, the solar system, galaxy, and/or universe.

Cruelty has a Human Heart 
And Jealousy a Human Face 
Terror the Human Form Divine 
And Secrecy, the Human Dress 

The Human Dress, is forged Iron 
The Human Form, a fiery Forge. 
The Human Face, a Furnace seal'd 
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge.


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


The heart of a bear is a cloud-shuttered
mountain. The heart of a mountain’s a kiln.
The white heart of a moth has nineteen white
chambers. The heart of a swan is a swan.

The heart of a wasp is a prick of plush.
The heart of a skunk is a mink. The heart
of an owl is part blood and part chalice.
The fey mouse heart rides a dawdy dust-cart.

The heart of a kestrel hides a house wren
at nest. The heart of lark is a czar.
The heart of a scorpion is swidden

and spark. The heart of a shark is a gear.
Listen and tell, thrums the grave heart of humans.
Listen well love, for it’s pitch dark down here.

(Used with the poet's permission. First published in PoetryOctober 2015)

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

(Next week Sumana’s Motif will be ~ "When I think about myself.")

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