Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Money (for World Savings/Thrift Day)

World Saving Day
World Savings Day was created and is still organized by banks.  Why save at home when you could establish a bank to"put your money to work"?

Image result for Sparefroh Austria
International Saving Day Austria

Midweek Motif ~  Money  
(for World Savings/Thrift Day)

In the USA, World Savings and Halloween share the same date.  This year, we're "talking money."

Money.  How did it become so important? Little coins and paper bills, numbers in websites, global economies, lotteries, "haves and have nots," etc. 

Here are a few quotes to consider:  

     “Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget,
 and I'll tell you what you value.” ― Joe Biden

     “Why people take drugs baffles me to no end. Especially when  they can't afford them.” ― Terry McMillan

     "A penny saved is a penny earned." ― Benjamin Franklin

     "There are two major modes for dealing with money in life: circulation and congestion. Circulation is paying bills, tithing, giving to charity. Congestion is hoarding, saving for a rainy day, being stingy. It's no coincidence that one word for money is currency; it comes from the word current, which means flow."  ― Beliefnet, "10 Spiritual Ways to think About Money"

     “I learn over and over again, that we can't spend, save, or budget money when we have too little money to begin with.” ― Susan Chast

Your Challenge: Write a new poem with money as its focus.  Dwell on what money is and does, reveal it.

File:Brooklyn Museum - Comme Sisyphe - Honoré Daumier.jpg
Comme Sisyphe - Honoré Daumier

Velocity of Money

by Allen Ginsberg

I’m delighted by the velocity of money as it whistles through the windows of Lower East Side
Delighted by skyscrapers rising the old grungy apartments falling on 84th Street
Delighted by inflation that drives me out on the street
After all what good’s the family farm, why eat turkey by thousands every Thanksgiving?
Why not have Star Wars? Why have the same old America?!?
George Washington wasn’t good enough! Tom Paine pain in the neck,
Whitman what a jerk!
I’m delighted by double digit interest rates in the Capitalist world
I always was a communist, now we’ll win an usury makes the walls thinner, books thicker & dumber
Usury makes my poetry more valuable
my manuscripts worth their weight in useless gold -
Now everybody’s atheist like me, nothing’s sacred
buy and sell your grandmother, eat up old age homes,
Peddle babies on the street, pretty boys for sale on Times Square -
You can shoot heroin, I can sniff cocaine,
macho men can fite on the Nicaraguan border and get paid with paper!
The velocity’s what counts as the National Debt gets higher
Everybody running after the rising dollar
Crowds of joggers down broadway past City Hall on the way to the Fed
Nobody reads Dostoyevsky books so they’ll have to give a passing ear
to my fragmented ravings in between President’s speeches
Nothing’s happening but the collapse of the Economy
so I can go back to sleep till the landlord wins his eviction suit in court.


We sat in the neon light
on a cool evening of a summer day
drinking beer and eating salad.
You told me your story
similar to those of many others:

All your savings are gone,

the managers, the secretaries, the supervisors,

the police in charge of passports

all having received a handsome share.
Now you have nothing left there,
your color TV and refrigerator were sold
to get the cash for the plane ticket.
“But I was lucky,” you assured me.
“Many people have spent fortunes
and still cannot leave the country.”
. . . .

(Read the rest HERE.)



I dreamed I grew a money tree
outside in my yard.
My job was to care for it
and I worked very hard.

I saw that it was watered.
It grew so straight and tall
and when the money ripened
I picked it in the fall.

The flowers were green dollar bills, 

the seeds inside were coins, 
and others grew and glittered
where all the branches joined.

On windy days I stood below

and held a great big bucket.
Other days I climbed right up
to find one ripe and pluck it.

People say that money

doesn't really grow on trees.
I know. I only wish it did
just like in my dreams.


When all birds else do of their music fail,
Money's the still-sweet-singing nightingale! 

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 ~ Reading Fiction.)

Monday, October 29, 2018


We have a very special visit today, my friends, to one of Poets United's earliest members, Shaista Tayabali, who blogs at Lupus In Flight. As the name of her blog indicates, Shaista lives with lupus. But it is not her illness that defines her; it is her radiant spirit, which truly does fly above. Shaista lives with her beautiful artist parents in Cambridge, England. She is well-known to all who  cross her path at Addenbrooke's Hospital, whose halls she graces often; she has been interviewed by the BBC more than once. When Shaista's book of poems came out, I asked her if we might feature her, and announce its publication. Happily, she said yes. Prepare to be inspired.

Sherry: Shaista, it is so good to be chatting with you again. We last  spoke in 2017, and we understand since then you have completed not one, but two books, a memoir and, recently, a lovely book of poetry, “Something Beautiful Travels Far”. I have a copy, and it truly is something beautiful, your words traveling to me across the Pond.

Tell us about your poetry book first, won’t you?

Available here
Kindle Edition available here

Shaista : Sherry! Blue Eyes! Thank you for doing a second interview with me – it’s the closest we get to having a proper conversation.

The poetry book… I’ve been sharing my poems on my blog since 2009 – in fact, my poems were the reason for creating my blog in the first place, but then it became a home for all sorts of anecdotes about my hospital life and family life… my little village shenanigans across the pond from you… but two years ago I decided I wanted to put out a physical collection. 

I put together a host of poems, and then I asked a poet friend of mine what she thought. She advised me to wait, send my poems out individually some more, so I followed her advice… until this year when I decided I couldn’t wait anymore for a poetry press to find a collection of my work acceptable, so I have become my own poetry press for now! There is nothing new in writers and poets printing their own work as you know. Leonard Woolf did it for Virginia; Eliot, Twain, Atwood, Poe… all put out their own collections of words from time to time.

I have a kindle edition available for those who cannot buy the print edition, and lately I’ve been illustrating copies for those friends who bought the book but wanted it autographed. If I can manage to include illustrations in a future edition, I will. My parents are both artists, and the gene is hard to shake off! I find myself wanting to paint and draw more than ever. One of my literary heroes is Beatrix Potter, and I often think about how people described her incredible originality as ‘those little books’. Those little books continue to bring such joy! And joy is a good enough reason to keep at our art.

Sherry: I am so happy your book is out! An illustrated version sounds wonderful! 

What I love most about your poetry – and your blog posts – is that, while you live with a debilitating illness, you radiate such joy in life. Your compassionate heart shines forth in your posts, as you interact with people you meet, on the hospital ward and off. How do you manage to stay so positive, my friend?

Shaista: I have been on a chemotherapy type drug called Rituximab since 2009, the same year I began my blog; Ritux is also described as monoclonal antibody therapy, and it has been the most effective treatment for the version of systemic lupus I have. But as I just mentioned, it is cytotoxic, and highly immunosuppressive, so picking up infections is too easily done, and then too hard to treat because my body has become fairly resistant to the usual antibiotics. 

When I’m in hospital I am determined to humanise my own experience, so I don’t suffer more than necessary. It can be a very lonely place in spite of the hubbub of nurses and doctors, and it can rob you entirely of your sense of self. You are a number, a case, a diagnosis. You might arrive without your clothes, hairbrush, glasses. No books to read, no entertainment, and no one who knows the worth of your soul. I go in to hospital prepared to counter all of those things. And poetry is probably my most powerful arsenal. People often speak of me being a warrior, and use the language of battlegrounds and fighting. So then why not speak of poetry as my weapon, or the pen, at least, as the sword I wield.

Sherry: Your pen definitely wields considerable power! Do keep wielding it! I admire your determination to humanise your experience. 

I love all of your poems, and blog posts, needless to say. I am a big fan of the way you see the world. There are two poems from your book that I especially love. Your poem “Shaista” describes you so well. (Our newer members may not know that your name is pronounced “Shy-sta”, and that you are known by your family as “Shy-Star”, which suits you so well.) Let’s take a look:

That is a proud name."

I am proud of my name.

It is the Rajput name
for warriors
It is the Persian name
for poets.

Am I not then Shaista
the Warrior-Poet?

I am standing on the battleground
listing a little
Sword and pen at the ready
Blood and words aplenty

But I long for sakura
snow pink petals of my cherry tree
Oh brief, beautiful one, wrap yourself around me
So I can be
Shaista, the free.

Sherry: You are indeed a warrior-poet! Oh, this is achingly lovely. I also really liked your “Night of the Blood Moon”. Let’s read:

I went to the place where the wild things are
last night, on the trail of the blood moon;
I followed stardust and scalpel stones
to the place beside the runes.

I held my palms, out,
for all the readers to see,
to make what they could of the threads that bind me
behind the smudging
     and the tearing
     and the rearranging
of my soul.

The blood moon passed over
I was bathed in blood
I paid in pain of a different sort
from a different source;

from the place where the wild things are
to the place where the unspeakables are
to the place where the silent are

Sherry: I love the places where the wild things are. Tell us a bit about this poem?

Shaista: Thank you – I always find it interesting which poems appeal to people. My dearest friend Mary, to whom my collection of poems is dedicated, loves Girl,Interrupted’ and my father of course loves the first poem in the book – ‘Crocuses’ – because it’s all about him!

Sherry: Those are both brilliant! If I could, I would include the entire book here! Smiles. 

Shaista: ‘Night of the Blood Moon’ was a result of some images posted on a poetry prompt website featuring the portrait photography of Phyllis Galembo, professor of fine art at Albany University in New York, celebrating the ritual of masquerade from Nigeria, Haiti, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin. The carnival characters she photographs are rooted in African religion and spirituality, and among the materials plundered for their costumes are lizard excrement, sugar syrup, tar, coal dust, leaves, cowry shells, sisal. The images struck a memory chord of the drawings from Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. 

I had also been wanting to write about the blood moon phenomenon (have you ever seen the blood moon in Tofino?), which had coincided with Passover… it’s quite fun being a poet – you can thread (or plunder) all sorts of seemingly disparate ideas, concepts, objects into the union of a single narrative. I want to do what William Stafford did - write a poem every day - but I don’t. I tend to wait until I can connect ideas, moments, images. Ekphrasia, the Greeks called it!

Sherry: These inspirations came together wonderfully in your poem. I missed the blood moon but occasionally, when I have a Keeper to drive me to the beach at night, for I can't drive in the dark, I get to see a lovely moon rise above the sea.

I know you have been trying to decide where to submit your memoir. Would you tell us a bit about the story you tell in this book? (I have read it and it is as wonderful and inspiring as I expected it to be. I am certain the right publisher would leap at the chance to publish it.)

Shaista : Well, that’s a kind way of putting it! I know you are always so supportive of my work – and I have always been grateful for your unfailing belief in me. Do you remember sending me a carved stone into which you taped a tiny piece of paper, with the words ‘Shaista, Believe!’ on it? I love that stone! 

I am struggling to find an agent willing to take a chance on a tale of living with lupus and glaucoma. Some books take longer than others to find the right home and mine is among those - difficult to place, harder to sell. It is a book I have worked on for many years, honing it, turning it from a personal recounting towards a more universal direction - that of living what appears to be a failed or imperfect life – we are not supposed to be chronically ill, society has no idea what to do with us – and still finding joy, beauty, happiness, contentment. It is a kind of coming of age tale… not the cut off age of 18 or 21, but rather moving towards 40, and refusing to be made invisible, or rendered voiceless.

Also, there are a lot of absurdities in a life like mine. So hopefully the book is funny too. Maybe not a roaring comedy, but my consciousness about these oddities is an intrinsic part of why I do smile and laugh as much as I do!

Sherry: Not a failed life at all, but a transcendent one, no small achievement! All of who you are is so much more than your illness, my friend. But I know your challenges are very hard to deal with. So I think we must sneak Mary's favourite poem in, since it illustrates so well what we have been speaking of.

Patient #13915 etc etc

The gleaming pebble 
of my sparkly days
Rubs itself raw,
and ruinous
Here, on the Stroke Unit
I am just another Case
of Girl, Interrupted

I have lost my face
along the waterways
of little deaths
and unbearable truths.

I have lost my place
Lost the fluidity of my grace.

Sigh. A well-described reminder of the reality you live with, though you smile so bravely. 

I know that one great blessing in your life is your extraordinary parents, both artists, whom I admire so much. Let's take a peek at the poem “Happy”, which you penned for them.

What does happy look like to you?
They fill the shelves with How To Be Happy,
but it's a sale.
What if you could be happy
without the sale?

What does happy look like to me?
My parents at the bottom of the garden,
Dad investigating his old domain;
He used to be the one who
cleared the ivy, tidied the hedges,
raked the weeds and watered the green -

Time took his eyes away,
but not the pride.
Nothing half remembered about that.
Arm in arm, they take a turn
about each bed, each nook, each curve;
Mum describes the changing years

in patterns of leaves,
trading the memory of colour
with his cane; but her hands
still tell most of the stories -
he accepts this was always her way.

Golden fields beyond their figures;
my mother's laughter, the evening chorus.
Wood pigeons salute their love.

Sherry: I salute their love, too. How wonderful they are, and how beautiful your poem.

You took a couple of amazing trips this past year, as well. Would you tell us a bit about your trip to Italy (!!!) and your recent trip home to Bombay, for the first time in 21 years?

Shaista: I was hospitalised four times last year with various forms of sepsis, including an infection that ought to have stayed localised but instead entered my bloodstream. I ended up with PICC lines twice, which means a tube is inserted inside the body for daily self injections. Yup, not much fun. 

So in comparison, this year has been miraculous. First, a three day whirlwind trip in June with my younger sister-in-law Theresa – I surprised her with Napoli, Positano and Capri. A lot of walking, like we couldn’t walk normally type of excessive walking (Positano, your steps are unbelievable!) – and eating (pizza from Da Michele – the place made famous by Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love when she unzips her jeans to make more space?) Best. Pizza. Ever. Cheese on double cheese on cheese…

I thought that would be it as I had been incredibly fortunate to travel at all. So when it came time to celebrate my 40th birthday I thought I’d keep it local, just go to the seaside on a watercolour retreat…. But this same sister decided that was not a good enough plan. So she consulted with all my siblings and then my older sister-in-law Angelina casually asked me if I’d come out to India. So casually, I decided why not?

Bombay was extraordinary after 21 years, like a dream. I was only there a few days, but I lived every second as deeply as I could. Friends I hadn’t seen in all those years, foods I hadn’t eaten, places I hadn’t visited since my diagnosis in August 1997. I fit Bombay in between Bangalore and Singapore, and we spent a few days in Indonesia too, so all in all, I may have used up all my birthday wishes of many years combined, and a few miracles too.

Sherry: I live vicariously if, indeed, I live at all, and I think your travels made me as happy as they made you. I so enjoy the photos on your blog, of all your adventures.

How are you doing now, Shaista? What plans and dreams do you have for the year ahead?

Shaista: I’ve talked about all sorts of hospital stuff, but not my eyes. I’ve had a bunch of operations on my eyes for glaucoma – a trabeculectomy bleb, a Molteno tube - but the one I had in September 2013 really destroyed my peace of mind. It’s called a Baerveldt shunt and it sits attached to my iris. So every time my pupils move, I experience various stages of discomfort. 

All my dreams and hopes and plans rest on the fulcrum of what my eyes and body are capable of. Sometimes they allow me the freedom to do as I please, and much of the time they don’t. 

Sherry: That is very grave news, my friend, as we poets and artists need our eyes. I imagine the shunt must be very uncomfortable. I pray your eyes continue to serve you.

Shaista: I want to work on my quarter finished novel. I want to start teaching again. I want to put together another collection of poetry. I want to travel. I want to be present for the lives of those I love. I want to be a good, better friend. I ought to learn to cook, to drive. I must exercise more. I want to keep illustrating, to work on bigger canvases, create a mural. I want to come visit you in Tofino!

But I’ll take what I’ve been given so far, and store it away in the treasure box of things to be grateful for.

Sherry: Gratitude is your signature quality, my friend. I want you to come to Tofino, too. You nearly did, once! So close. Next time. 

Thank you for this  lovely visit, and for sharing your radiant spirit with us. I believe there is a publisher out there who as yet doesn't realize there is a best selling memoir sitting on a desk in Cambridge with his or her name on it. Shaista, Believe!

I am sure you loved this visit as much as I did, my friends. Does this girl not shine? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Poetry Pantry #426

Life is often like an escalator; sometimes
on the way up and sometimes down.

A Bit of Play with Light

One of the Above Lights Up Close

Top of a Trash Container in the Mall

Playing a bit with focus - this is intentionally out of focus

Greetings, Friends.  I am not saying that the above photos are masterpieces.  Far from it.  I took  a 1 1/2 hour class at the Apple store on mall photography with the I-Phone. I learned a few things, but these photos were just experiments! Have some of you also used your cell phone cameras just for fun?

Hope you all had a good week.  I had / am having a busy week. I will do the majority of my commenting on poetry a while after the pantry is up.  Lots of things happening here.

Hope you enjoyed Sherry's feature last Sunday - three of our wonderful male poets were featured.  If you haven't read it, there is still time to scroll back and read poetry by Hank, Frank, and Lee San!

For Midweek Motif last week, Sumana had us writing about winter, and this next Wednesday Susan will be prompting us to write about Money (for world savings / thrift day).

Sherry's I Wish I Had Written This on Friday was very moving.  She featured the poem "What Do I Remember About the Evacuation?" by Joy Kogawa.  Scroll back if you haven't read it.  It gave ME chills.

Monday Sherry features a blog of the week by a very inspiring poet.  Don't miss it.

Now with no further delay, let's share poetry.  Link your poem below.  Say hello in the comments.  Visit the poems of others who link.  Enjoy~

Friday, October 26, 2018

I Wish I'd Written This


I remember my father telling Tim and me
About the mountains and the train
And the excitement of going on a trip.
What do I remember of the evacuation?
I remember my mother wrapping
A blanket around me and my
Pretending to fall asleep so she would be happy
Although I was so excited I couldn't sleep
(I hear there were people herded
Into the Hastings Park like cattle.
Families were made to move in two hours
Abandoning everything, leaving pets
And possessions at gun point.
I hear families were broken up
Men were forced to work. I heard
It whispered late at night
That there was suffering) and
I missed my dolls.
What do I remember of the evacuation?
I remember Miss Foster and Miss Tucker
Who still live in Vancouver
And who did what they could
And loved the children and who gave me
A puzzle to play with on the train.
And I remember the mountains and I was
Six years old and I swear I saw a giant
Gulliver of Gulliver's Travels scanning the horizon
And when I told my mother she believed it too
And I remember how careful my parents were
Not to bruise us with bitterness
And I remember the puzzle of Lorraine Life
Who said "Don't insult me" when I
Proudly wrote my name in Japanese
And Tim flew the Union Jack
When the war was over but Lorraine
And her friends spat on us anyway
and I prayed to the God who loves
All the children in his sight
That I might be white.

Copyright © 1985 Joy Kogawa.  All rights reserved.

Waiting to be sent
to an internment camp inland
in British Columbia

Joy Kogawa / CBC photo

Oh, the heartbreaking last line of that poem! I wish that no child ever had to feel that way! Joy Kogawa, born in 1935 in Vancouver, B.C.,  is a beloved Canadian writer. She is better known for her fiction than her poetry, but her story is so remarkable, as told in the poem above, that I wanted to share her with you.

Ms Kogawa was published first as a poet. But the work that launched her career is her first novel, Obasan,  the story of a seven year old Japanese-Canadian girl who was sent with her family to an internment camp during World War II, the work closely mirroring her own experience. Obasan has been declared one of the most important books in Canadian history by the Literary Review of Canada. It was adapted into a children's book, Naomi's Road,  and an opera, which toured B.C. schools in  1986.

Obasan was followed by Itsuka, reflecting Ms Kogawa's real life activism in seeking redress for Japanese Canadians;  The Rain Ascends, tackling the thorny subject of sexual abuse of children; and her most recent work, the long-awaited memoir of her spiritual pilgrimage, Gently to Nagasaki.

Of interest is the story of her childhood home in Vancouver, that was stripped from her family by the government when the family was interned. All property, businesses and assets of Japanese Canadians were confiscated, "to cover the costs of their internment".

In 2005, Ms Kogawa learned the house was for sale, and was going to be demolished. The Save Kogawa House Society was formed to purchase it just in time. It now operates as a cultural treasure, preserving Ms Kogawa's story, and educating today's children about the events of yesterday, so that dismal chapter of our history is never forgotten.

I had the privilege of staying in that house when my friend, the author Christine Lowther, was there as writer-in-residence two years ago.  I was awed to sleep in the author's childhood bed. The cherry tree she wrote of in Obasan is still there, outside her bedroom window. Here is a peek at the house:

In a tv interview, when asked about the amazing journey that began with her most-loved work, Obasan, Ms. Kogawa said it has been "miraculous."

Of writing, she has said, "Poetry is a kind of gasp, and there it is, a spark on the page. Fiction, on the other hand, is swamp fire." I so adore that description!

Joy Kogawa is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of B.C. 
Her website is at

She is a beautiful writer, and person, of gentle heart, and I can't recommend her work highly enough.

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

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