Sunday, December 22, 2019

Pantry of Poetry and Prose #9: Goodbye 2019

Greetings, word lovers. I hope this week finds you healthy, happy, and looking forward to the New Year. In my home, we are enjoying our Winter Solstice traditions—cooking together, exchanging gifts, watching Star Wars *cough*, and wishing everyone the best 2020.

2019 has been a year of changes and endings, as Rosemary shows us in “Wild Fridays: Deaths and Entrances”. If you’ve yet to read it, do go back and take a look-see. The post doesn’t only reflect on this year’s happenings, but it also offers glimpses of what’s to come (i.e. we are planning to do some housekeeping, mostly de-cluttering, organizing, labeling… You will see!).

Did you participate in “Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Year’s End”, or was I the only one who missed it? *sigh* Well, if you share my slightly delinquent status, today is a great day to revisit Susan’s topic.

So, dear poets, storytellers, worshipers of words... our pantry is open for poetry and prose (stories, articles, essays… in 369 words or fewer). Share an old piece or a new one, your choice (our delight).

Note: When we return, on January 5th, this blog will look different (colors, layout, fonts and such…). Our love for words will remain unchanged.

Nature crafts the best art.

Please, add the direct link to your entry to Mr. Linky. Visit other lovers of words. Enjoy the Holiday Season (and every day after that).

Friday, December 20, 2019

Wild Fridays: Deaths and Entrances

This is the Death card from the Voyager™ Tarot (my favourite deck to read with professionally) along with the beautiful image on the backs of these cards, which is a cross-section of our DNA. (Death, it seems, might be encoded into our DNA ... inevitable. Or is it merely change?)

This is not the traditional skeleton figure of most Tarots (wielding a scythe or riding a white horse, depending on the deck) but it does show images suggesting profound grief, finality, and even a hint of terror.

However the Death card doesn't refer to physical mortality; it uses that concept in a symbolic sense to denote the death of an old way of life or an old way of being. Furthermore, the message of the Death card is Rebirth, Transformation. Any drastic change is liable to occasion grief, even when it is self-chosen. We must respect that grief, but we're not supposed to get stuck and wallow in it; we're supposed to come out the other side, into something new. Carrying on the symbolism: we're supposed to be reborn.

And so farewell, 2019

As we come to the end of this year at Poets United, we find ourselves facing the ending of some things about the way we have been, as well as the new beginnings that must follow. We contemplate all this with some grief for what is over, the realisation that such changes are inevitable, and the prospect of an exciting new future.

Above all, of course, we mourn the departure of four of our staff members. I've been researching our early posts for the little History segment I've recently included (see links at top of page). I've been here a long time but wasn't quite in on the beginning, so even though I greatly value Mary and Sherry's contribution to this community, I hadn't realised the full extent of it. Robert Lloyd, who founded Poets United, credited them with being the backbone of it when he was creating and developing it. When he had to leave his own creation after only a couple of years, he left it in their capable hands. It's they who are responsible for Poets United being the wonderful home it has been for us all over the ensuing years. 

I came on staff shortly before Robert left. Mary and Sherry made this newbie very welcome and were unfailingly supportive ever after. I've come to realise that they have gone out of their way to encourage many members of our community who needed a bit of personal reassurance. (If you're a new poet starting out, or one who has worked mostly solitary before, jumping in here can feel daunting.)

Then Susan and a little later Sumana joined our staff, completely aligned with the values we already had, and adding their own unique flavours to the mix. 

All these women have looked after us very well! The fact that each is a wonderful poet in her own individual style points to the diversity and inclusivity of this community – as well as its nurturing effect on our skills, allowing us to grow in our craft. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

I look back now and think, 'How DID they manage to keep going so long?' And doing such a wonderful job while they were at it! Much as we'll miss their guidance, we can't grudge them time to focus more on their own lives and writings.

It was fortuitous that Magaly and Sanaa had recently come on board, bringing enthusiastic new energy. Then we twisted Rommy's arm (very gently ... well actually we didn't even have to) and she joined us. All the staff, including those retiring, were unanimous that she was the right choice. 

Onwards in 2020

In another sense, we're not losing anyone. Our retiring staff members are not resigning from the community as a whole. We'll look forward to seeing them around, just not in the same capacity.

We've been discussing various options as to who does what in future, and decided I'll stick to the Wild Fridays (where you never know beforehand which topic I'll come up with on any particular Friday) while Magaly will look after us on Sundays and Sanaa and Rommy will take it in turns to come up with the Wednesday prompts. It's always been the case that the Poets United team members have each other's backs; so if any of us has an emergency and can't do one of our regular days, we'll yell for help and one of the others will step in.


Our sister site, 'imaginary garden with real toads', was also started by Robert Lloyd and then handed over in 2011 to Kerry O'Connor, who has run it so brilliantly ever since, with the help of several other wonderful poets. I and many others have loved their very creative prompts and the high calibre of poetry to be found there. 

Coincidentally that too is now coming to an end – not merely a change of staff but a discontinuation. Kerry has announced that the final post there will be on 30th December. 'All good things ...' as they say. I'm sure many will be feeling sad about that, me for one. I always enjoyed playing there as well as here. Many of you have done the same.

Fortunately the site will remain online as an archive. And what a wonderful resource it will be! It has already been a place I've liked to explore when stuck for inspiration. I'm very glad I'll still be able to do that for years to come.

(Following their good example, we're going to be getting our own archives into order in the near future, so they may always be revisited.)

Meanwhile ...

We here haven't quite bowed out of 2019 yet. Magaly has a final Poetry Pantry for you this coming Sunday. Then it's holiday time until January 5th, the first Sunday of the New Year, when we welcome you back again.

Don't be surprised if you see some changes then to the way we look. We've been using this version of Blogger for a long time – and it includes some aspects that aren't even part of Blogger itself, but were brought over from a Yahoo group which our founder Robb Lloyd once administered (the precursor to this community). It's been getting rather clunky behind the scenes; time to update. We have plans to make it sleeker and more pleasing to the eye, while at the same time more navigable: more user-friendly for both staff and participants.


How ironic that at this point some of us (I for one) have been having trouble with the last Midweek Motif, unable to leave comments or access people's linked poems. I know several of you have been experiencing similar frustrations. 

I fared a little better on my tablet than my laptop. On the tablet 
I can at least access and read everyone's poems. I still can't leave comments at the PU blog, nor on your poems if you're using Blogger. However, I have been able to comment on Wordpress blogs – so it's evidently a Blogger issue. 

Neither Magaly nor I could find a problem with the html coding, the first place either of us thought to look, nor with Settings etc. We believe it's to do with some updating which we're aware that Blogger is carrying out at the moment, and will shortly be resolved.

Thanks for your patience, folks. Hang in there! 

Note: Deaths and Entrances is the title of a book of poems by Dylan Thomas, published in 1946, focusing on the conjunction of birth and death. (The title poem and others reference World War II, which had recently ended.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Year's End

"A year of ending and beginning, a year of loss and finding and all of you were with me through the storm. I drink your health, your wealth, your fortune for long years to come, and I hope for many more days in which we can gather like this. ~ C.J. Cherryh, Fortress of Eagles

Capricorn zodiac sign, Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, India.jpg
Capricorn zodiac sign, Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, India. 18th century CE.
Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~ Oprah Winfrey

Midweek Motif ~ Year's End

I nearly left out the apostrophe to speak of Years Ends, but decided to stick with 2019, this year's end, full of trouble and joy, suspense and certainty.  

Perhaps you will use your new poem to record the details.  Perhaps you will use it to spread cheer and blessings.  Perhaps you will write an ode to rest, and its role in creativity.  

Your Challenge: Let's write to each other in this new poem about the end of 2019.

File:Bouquet de roses Suzanne Valadon.jpg
Bouquet de roses by Suzanne Valadon (1936)

 Year's End
  by Ted Kooser

Now the seasons are closing their files
on each of us, the heavy drawers
full of certificates rolling back
into the tree trunks, a few old papers
flocking away. Someone we loved
has fallen from our thoughts,
making a little, glittering splash
like a bicycle pushed by a breeze.
Otherwise, not much has happened;
we fell in love again, finding
that one red feather on the wind.

I’ve hit the bottom
of my bag of discretion:
year’s end.
English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

Year’s end,
all corners
of this floating world, swept.

  The Year (1910)                        

          by Ella Wheeler Wilcox                                   

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,   
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   
only the things I didn’t do   
crackle after the blazing dies.

"Songs to aging children come / This is one"

Lyrics are HERE

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

Best wishes for this year's end and the new years to come!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Pantry of Poetry and Prose #8

Chelsea Cake Photography, Pinterest
“It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.” – K.T. Jong 

I woke to a plethora of birthday wishes and with a huge smile on my face. Thank you so much everyone for making my day so special! This is Sanaa and I am back with another exciting Pantry of Poetry and Prose this Sunday.

This week, Sumana gave us the opportunity to pour our hearts out with her Midweek Motif, "A/The Moment," to which there were several great responses! 

Rosemary delighted us with "Wild Fridays: Roving the Web," where she shared various links and posts to enjoy during the holidays. Do scroll back and check it out in case you have missed it! 

For now, I invite you to share your entry, as Poets United welcomes both poetry and prose (i.e. stories, articles, essays) feel free to link anything new or old and relish in the works of others. Also, if you opt to share prose then please keep it to 369 words or fewer.

Optional: For those of you whose muse desires something, here is a beautiful poem by Ezra Pound, remember to give credit if you decide to write inspired by it.

Pierre Bamin, Unsplash
Next week Susan's Midweek Motif will be ~ The Year's End

And now, without further ado, let us dive into the Pantry! Looking forward to reading you all with a steaming mug of coffee. See you on the trail! 🍰☕

Friday, December 13, 2019

Wild Fridays: Roving the Web

 Advance notice – we're going on vacation! (Not immediately, but soon.) 

What that looks like may depend on where one lives.

(First image Public Domain, second mine.)

As usual, we'll take two weeks off over Christmas and New Year.  The Pantry on Sunday the 22nd will be our last post for this year. We'll start 2020 with a new Pantry, on Sunday January 5th.

I hope you'll all be too busy enjoying yourselves to have withdrawal symptoms. But just in case, here are some things that might amuse you during the break:


My friend Helen Patrice, whom I've featured here a few times, is both poet and storyteller. She has written poems, short stories, novels, articles and memoir, a lot of them published. At her Blog of a Witch, this recent post includes a number of good tips for starting a story and keeping on going with it. Though she refers to prose in this instance, many of them could apply equally well to poetry. You can either skip over the personal stuff they're embedded in, or read it all for the entertainment value. (I always find Helen very readable.)

Many of you are already familiar with Carpe Diem, the site where Dutch haiku poet 'Chevrefeuille' keeps coming up with innovative new ways to approach the writing of haiku and related forms (though he doesn't tamper with the actual form). He provides prompts, and the opportunity to link our responses. I dip in and out of this site, sometimes forgetting all about it – but if I'm stuck, it's a very good place to go for inspiration. Bonus: I always find a few Poets United friends participating too.

Good reading

As I have shared in some previous posts, I like my quick fix of daily poetry in the email inbox – from the sites below in particular.

The first two also take submissions. I keep meaning to send something! If you are not such a procrastinator as me, you might like to give it a try. Or just enjoy reading: a sweet start to the day. (Sometimes familiar names pop up at either of these sites; just recently I was delighted to encounter a one sentence poem by a certain Ron. Lavalette.)  

TINYWORDS haiku and other small poems

One Sentence Poems 


Knopf Poetry also offers a poem a day, but only during the April poetry month – but you could sign up for that now, while you think of it (and I think to suggest it). They are always wonderful, sometimes include free broadsheets to download and/or sound recordings to listen to, as well as referring you to the poet's latest books. Of course, once you click on the site, you can have a good browse right there, right now, of the many poems already shared.

The Morning Porch/Patio A blog of sentences by one Dave Bonta, observing the world around him over his morning coffee, particularly the natural world. I find these snippets entertaining in all sorts of ways. They originate as twitter posts, therefore are 140 characters or fewer (regardless of the fact that twitter has now upped its limit to 280). Some people use them as prompts, so if you're having withdrawal symptoms, there's an idea. This used to be called just The Morning Porch – based in his rural home in America (Pennsylvania) – but he now spends part of the year in England, mainly in London, as he is married to a British woman.

Attending to other aspects of life

(While you've got some extra time to do that.)

Zen Habits is a famous blog by Leo Babauta, on mindfulness and simplifying one's life. He began this years ago, and so many people found it useful that he has now written books on the principles, and also shares them on facebook and twitter, and even offers some courses in acquiring new habits. You can jump in at the latest post, or go back and explore the archives. It's all good value. Do I put all his good advice into practice myself? Well no, but he's easy to read, makes good sense, and some of it sticks.

Dear Earth: free e-course from Satya Robyn (the woman who invented the 'small stones' way of mindful writing). This is a gentle 28-day way to 'make space for grounding and creativity', 'come into a closer relationship with our beautiful earth', and, if you choose, find out more about the environmental crisis and what you might do about it. But it won't tell you what to do. Satya believes 'change is only sustainable when we allow ourselves to be transformed from the inside out, slowly and gently'. 
Or, if you prefer, you might skip the course and just enjoy reading Satya's own Love Letters to the Planet.


But we're not quite on holidays yet, so do stick around for the treats still in store right here before the year ends: one more Midweek Motif, one more Wild Friday, and one more Pantry of Poetry and Prose. (And maybe we'll whet your appetites with some hints of what's to come in 2020.)

Material shared here is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.

Note: I've had to belatedly remove the photo of feet toasting by a fire 
when it suddenly acquired a 'Copyright' mark across it, and replace it with a different fireside image of my own. I thought I'd bought its use but apparently only for a very limited time. I'm annoyed this wasn't made clearer, especially as it was initially listed as Public Domain, but....

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