Friday, August 31, 2018



you fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Coalition is now a movement in itself,
in response to political trends targeting women and minority groups:
"Fighting to keep fiction from becoming reality"

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ What if . . . ?

“Every novel begins with the speculative question, 
What if "X" happened? That's how you start.” 

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Erin Hanson Poetry

Midweek Motif ~ What it . . . ?

"What if  . . . ?" is a wondering question.  It could be speculation,  anticipation or regret.

On the one hand, it leads me to science fiction and fantasy.  On the other, it leads me to strategize like a chess player, a teacher or a writer.

Where does it lead you?

Your Challenge: Write a new poem that poses "What if" questions.  You need not use the exact words.  You need not provide answers.

"What if "- Reba McEntire

by e.e.cummings

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer’s lie;

bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seem
(blow friend to fiend:blow space to time)
—when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays
screaming hills with sleet and snow:

strangles valleys by ropes of thing
and stifles forests in white ago?
Blow hope to terror;blow seeing to blind
(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
—whose hearts are mountains,roots are trees,
it’s they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
bites this universe in two,

peels forever out of his grave
and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
Blow soon to never and never to twice
(blow life to isn’t:blow death to was)
—all nothing’s only our hugest home;
the most who die,the more we live

by Ellen Bass

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line’s crease.
When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.
A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They’d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.
How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

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 ~ Charity.)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Poems of the Week ~ Then and Now, by Wendy, Mary and Rosemary

This week, we have bouquets of beautiful memories, both joyful and poignant, as all memories tend to be, for you to enjoy. Our poets are Wendy Bourke, who writes at Words and Words and Whatnot, our very own Mary, of In the Corner of My Eye, and Rosemary Nissen-Wade, our beloved Passionate Crone, who blogs at Enheduanna’s Daughter.

Wendy Now

Wendy Then

What though the radiance
which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

- William Wordsworth

These stunning lines*, penned several centuries ago by William Wordsworth, have long reverberated, deeply, with me and thus are some of my favorite lines of poetry.  As I grow older, I find they speak to me with more redolence than ever, as much of my own poetry cascades in a similar direction.  I find myself harkening back to 'the hour of splendour in the grass' ... processing the effect of that metaphorical 'hour' upon the life that followed ... and coming to terms with the promise of youth:  the dawning of the age of Aquarius, that has yet to dawn.   These ruminations were the genesis of my poem:

eons ago … when flora infused moments … with a blithe defining spirit that wafted round the last of childhood's summers … the smell of fresh mowed grass and earth and garden-green and sweet peas … was mine

on this scorcher of a day – held, as I am – in slabs of gray concrete, buffeted
by electrically spun breezes, that – which was mine – comes to me, again … bittersweet … by virtue of its long-away … and yet … it returns, on a breath

there were bouquets of commitment and vases of amends and corsages of
achievement … there were buttercups of affection and sunflower fields but … even so, the essence of that halcyon sublimity arrives once more, as new-as-now

there were hard lessons to swallow down – bad fish to starving men – there was
rage against tyranny, might and money … there was  beauty and compassion and justice … there was love … occasionally, there was a hope or a dream

sweet peas,  a-rambling in tendrils, entwined, on a staff of strings – colourful
notes to an opening prelude – in sips of cold water and good music and the spell of a great book … in the sunny comfort and enthrall of home's backyard

the joy of finding oneself at the dawn of connectedness to a stirring soul … when
childish things fall away and our eyes are opened, with thrilling clarity, to all that is there … for me:  THAT SUMMER … ah yes, I remember it well … it is, mine, still

My parents grew sweet peas on a stringed trellis they put up in late spring, at the edge of the family garden.   The fragrance of sweet peas (for those who may not be familiar with the flower) is lovely and delicate and yet, so omnipresent, as to scent many of my childhood memories of summer days, in my backyard.  The last summers of grade school, before I went on to high school, were defining summers for me.  Without a rigid school or work agenda, I was free to do whatever made me feel good.  When I wasn't swimming or biking or playing baseball with friends, I spent a lot of time in that backyard.

Sometimes I would listen to my transistor radio.  The 60's was an incredible time for music.  Musicians protested; they sang of injustice; they questioned; they embraced sensuality.  Often these songs had the effect of making the listener feel GR-R-R-EAT!!!

I was never without a book, usually read on a blanket placed atop aromatic green grass.  One summer I went through every Trixie Belden:  Girl Detective Book, in the series.  By the next summer I was into tomes like:  Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.   If I couldn't be bothered making Kool-Aid, I generally settled for a glass of ice water that I sipped through the tunes and pages of those enchanted hours. 

The universe was full of possibilities, and opportunities to make the world a better place were EVERYWHERE.  The thought of what lay ahead was exhilarating.  I was not alone in this heady coming-of-age, rite of passage.   All around me, friends were 'piling on' with conversations about new recording artists and emerging political movements and the War in Vietnam - as more and more American boys crossed the border 30 miles from town and never went back.

Many poems shared by fellow poets, at Poets United make reference to that glorious time-of-life and speak to the nuances of the emotional tug of a backwards glance to bygone youth. 

Perhaps all generations, are doomed to have their lofty expectations fall short.  I often wonder, though, if the social movements of the 60's didn't set up the 'Boomers' for a particularly hard crash landing back to brutal reality.   That - and the fact that qualities which were universally disdained for centuries - primarily:  greed - have become acceptable - even laudable ... to say nothing of electable.  I don't think anyone saw that coming.

At one time, realistic people acknowledged that life is complicated.  It isn't always black and white ... it is often grey.   However, the acknowledgment that solving problems is not straight-forward has become so tainted by greed, and the accompanying lack of empathy that greed runs on - issues often play out in terms of a horrible choice versus a slightly less horrible choice ... possibly.   Choices such as:

- Vote for an enviro-damaging job to feed your family or kill the planet for your grandchildren.
- Stay and be killed in Syria or risk your life, and the lives of loved ones, trying to get out.

I summed up my frustration in my poem with the line: 'bad fish to starving men'.  Though not new, I feel that such impossible scenarios, are far more the norm - everywhere - than in the past. 

Wordsworth ends his piece with the line 'In the faith that looks through death, In years that bring the philosophic mind'. While it is true I will always have THAT SUMMER  - the summer of my splendour in the grass - and the wonderful memory of that exuberant time, I wait - given the state of the earth I will be leaving behind - for the philosophic mind to confer upon me a measure of hope for this planet.  

[* The Poem that has come to be known as Splendour in the Grass, is a portion of the much larger Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, published in 1807.]  

Sherry: I so resonate with this poem, Wendy. That time of "splendour in the grass" takes me back, too, to the shining hours of my youth, when life lay ahead like a golden dream. Books and music were part of my every day, as well. 

We did believe, back then, that we would change the world. Until all of our leaders were assassinated, one by one. I was struck by your line "bad fish to starving men" - such a powerfully affecting line. I, too, am having a hard time hanging onto hope. And yet, we must, for we have grandchildren who want and need to live.

When I look back, those glorious times were full of flowers, too, those of my grandma's garden. She always had sweet peas. Sigh. I love your poem, and your memories. Thank you so much for sharing.

Mary, with her mother

Every Memorial Day weekend we journeyed to the greenhouse
to pick out flats of petunias, geraniums, and marigolds
to plant around our home and also for the gravestones
of the two cemeteries where my parents’ deceased were buried.

Stooping over the soil with her shovel, hand digging holes,
Mother artfully arranged geraniums, marigolds, and petunias
and an occasional coleus in her front yard flower beds.

As a child, I often found my mother standing with her garden hose,
watering her flowers before the rise of the strong morning sun.
I knew not to disturb her then, as this was her time.

Time passed. My mother could no longer care for flowerbeds.
Her eyesight dimmed year after year, blindness was inevitable.
Instead she planted flowers in large pots on the front porch.
It was important for her to grow flowers.

Then one day when my mother was almost blind
she awoke to find her flower pots stolen.
Gone were the plants that had been her pride,
the only reminder of her gardens of yesteryear.

The thieves stole more than flowers from my mother,
they stole her desire to grow them.  She never had flowers again.
They had been all that was left for her to nurture.
Nothing more to care for is a very sad thing.

Sherry: How sad that someone took that pleasure from her, Mary. I so love this poem, full of memories of those tender years. I can see her, watering her garden, enjoying those brief peaceful moments. I love the photo, too.

Mary: When I remember things about my (long-deceased) mother, I realize that many of my memories involve flowers.  She loved them!  As a child sometimes, I would wake up and wonder where my mother was.  I would find her outside early, standing with a hose watering her flowers.  In addition to taking care of flowers, she took care of the very, very small garden we planted each year.  She loved planting things and taking care of them as they grew. This gave her so much joy.

It was sad for my mother when she was losing her sight.  She could no longer go outside and take care of plantings in the yard, but she could care for planters (with varied plants) which she kept on our front porch.  Not as extensive as a garden, but living things for her to nurture, and watch grow. It was so very sad when she woke up one morning and discovered someone had stolen these planters with flowers overnight.  We could hardly believe this, as these planters and plants were really not very valuable — except to my mother.  Who would do this?  I still wonder.  And it still makes me sad to remember how devastated my mother was after this thievery.

I often think of my mother when I stand outside with either a sprinkling can or a hose watering flowers.  I think if my mother could see me at these times she would smile to see me, following her example, being a caretaker of plants.  And THAT gives me a good feeling!

Sherry: So lovely, Mary. Every morning in summer, in my childhood, I was wakened by the slap of the hose against the side of the cottage, as my grandma watered everything down against the heat. When I think of her, it is always with flowers, too.

I, too, am now reduced to flowers in pots on my balcony. But it gives me such pleasure to have something growing. I was such a gardener when I was younger.

I so enjoyed your poem, and your thoughts about it. Thank you so much.

In closing, we leave you with this very sweet poem of remembrance penned by Rosemary. 

Rosemary has always been
passionately alive!

I walk out my door some days
into a feeling of Andrew,
my late-life husband:
things we did together,
places we saw ... the same
exact mix of sunlight and breeze.

Or I go to my little boys,
down the back yard
on a good drying day,
playing under the clothesline.
Me pegging, and watching them.
Their white singlets and nappies.

Not often my own childhood –
here is so much warmer – but
sometimes the way the winter sun
glints on the river, or the rare
pockets of fog in the hills,
a smell of coming rain....

Sherry: This is so lovely: feeling Andrew near, the memory of those little boys, while you hung nappies on the line. Sigh. Lovely memories. Life is so full of them! To keep the heart full to brimming. Rosemary, how I love this photo of you when you were small: you have kept that vibrant life force all your life. It is lovely to behold. Tell us about your poem.

Rosemary: There's really not a lot to say about this. It just happened one day, out of nowhere, expressing what I was feeling at the time I was feeling it.

I suppose I am at a time of life where I tend to do some looking back. Luckily I have also reached a stage where happy memories outweigh the painful. I can remember my husband Andrew now with more pleasure in our time together than pain at his passing, and the good things about my own childhood and my children's rather than the problems.

And of course, it was some particularly pleasant weather which caused me to recall the specific moments in the first two verses, and then led me to reflect that such triggers are rarer with regard to my own childhood. I grew up in Tasmania, which is pretty cold, and now live in the sub-tropics. But, because I live in a town very like the one I grew up in, scenically, our winters here can sometimes flash me back.

It was indeed a very sweet moment or two. Sweet weather, sweet memories.

Sherry: Very sweet, my friend, and thank you for sharing them.

Such a lovely nostalgic bouquet of blooms and memories, my friends, wasn't it? Thank you so much, Wendy, Mary and Rosemary, for sharing these lovely poems, and thank you, our loyal readers for stopping by to read them. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It could be you!  (But, a hint: next week we have a very special feature for you: Robin Kimber will be sharing with us his memories of his boyhood in London during World War II. It is special, and not to be missed.)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Poetry Pantry #417

Aurora Borealis in Sweden

Greetings, Poets!  Hard to believe that it is almost the end of summer; and children will be heading back to school soon, if they haven't already.  Where does time go?

Here we are again sharing poetry.  Today I shared another photo from Wikimedia Commons.  I have never seen an Aurora Borealis and may never have an opportunity, but what beauty!

Thinking of beauty, Rosemary just shared the poem "The Beautiful Changes" by Richard Wilbur for her The Living Dead this week.  We do need to contemplate the beauty in our world, I think.  Thinking of beauty, many of you participated in Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif this past week:  The World is a Beautiful Place!   And it surely is.

Monday, be sure to check back, as Sherry is featuring poems written by three of us!  Ha, myself included.  I am proud to be featured by Sherry alongside two other such fine poets!

Next week Susan's Midweek Motif is "What if....?"  That surely leaves it wide open, doesn't it?  Smiles.

Now without further delay, let's share poetry.  Link your one poem below.  Stop in and say hello.  Visit the poems of others who post!

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Living Dead

~ Honouring our poetic ancestors ~

The Beautiful Changes

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides   
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you   
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed   
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;   
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves   
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says   
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes   
In such kind ways,   
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose   
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

– Richard Wilbur (1921-2017)

I had been thinking I should acquaint myself better with the poetry of Richard Wilbur. Then tonight I felt like finding a gentle, lovely poem to offset the nastier things that are going on in the world. I also thought that as I didn't find the time to write to the Midweek Motif prompt about the beauty of the world, it would be nice to present something fitting in my Friday post. As you see, all these threads came together – beautifully.

This appears to me a most delicate love poem as well. While it seems to be, and is, a celebration of the way Nature changes from one kind of beauty to another, doesn't it also say that the beloved grows only into a new kind of beauty with age?

He celebrates the beauties of Nature in this short YouTube interview-cum-reading, too:

(Patience! It seems to load slowly if at all. Read on and come back here, if you don't see it at once. Or else go direct to YouTube.) 

I was surprised to find that Wilbur died only last year, not even 12 months ago yet, having reached a great age himself.

A distinguished American poet and translator, he received numerous prestigious literary awards including two Pulitzers, and was the second Poet Laureate of the United States.

Known for his elegant language and meticulous craft, his work was out of vogue for a while, considered by many too formal and lacking depth of feeling. Reading it now, I think the feeling is there! He is now, again, being better appreciated.

An article in Poetry Foundation says more about this, and about his translations, particularly from Moliere, his books for children, and other prose works.

The obituary in The Guardian gives a succinct but thorough account of his life and work.  Wikipedia goes into even more detail.

And of course you can find his books on his Amazon page. I think his work is lovely, and will be reading more.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ The World Is A Beautiful Place

 “The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”— Milton


“Mathematics has beauty and romance. It’s not a boring place to be, the mathematical world. It’s an extraordinary place; it’s worth spending time there.”— Marcus du Sautoy

Midweek Motif ~ The World Is A Beautiful Place

The world is a beautiful place is the title and the first line of one of the poems of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Whether the world is truly beautiful or not so depends on an individual’s perspectives of the world. It’s an open ended line.

Either support or invalidate it. Be sarcastic if you please J

The world might refer to the planet of ours. It might be our own home or a place we love. A person might become our world or books. When everything is going right anything has the chance of becoming our world.

What if when it’s not so?

Our Motif for today is: The World Is A Beautiful Place:

The World Is A Beautiful Place
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind happiness
not always being
so very much fun
if you don't mind a touch of hell
now and then
just when everything is fine
because even in heaven
they don't sing
all the time

The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind some people dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn't half bad

if it isn't you

Oh the world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't much mind
a few dead minds
in the higher places
or a bomb or two
now and then
in your upturned faces
or such other improprieties
as our Name Brand society
is prey to
with its men of distinction
and its men of extinction
and its priests
and other patrolmen

and its various segregations
and congressional investigations
and other constipations
that our fool flesh
is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as 
making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
and singing low songs and having inspirations
and walking around
looking at everything
and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
and even thinking
and kissing people and
making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
on picnics

in the middle of the summer
and just generally
'living it up' 
but then right in the middle of it 
comes the smiling


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 ~ "What if?")

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