Monday, February 25, 2019


Today we are listening to the men in our community, as they share their poems and thoughts on the state of the world, how it weighs on our hearts, and what keeps us going in spite of it all. Definitely topics we can relate to; as poets, we seem keenly aware of, not just the beauty of the world, but its darkness. Perhaps our poems can shed a little light into the dark corners and lighten the way just a little. We can hope. Let's listen to Bjorn RudbergOllie the Tired Monk, Michael (grapeling), and Marcoantonio, whose words run in counterpoint to the daily news.

The taste of fear is open, pure and red —
a lump of meat, its poppies lost and flown
from cries in mud, in trenches darkly bled.
We harvested our fear from fields we’d sown
with honey dripping from our leaders’ tongue.
The scent of fear is blood and broken bones.
We fought with tears and cried with broken lungs,
we bulwarked, starved, believed it’s more than right,
to maim our foes, the newborns and their young.
The sound of fear is sweat of starlit nights,
we waited as the forest grew inside,
it spread with rotting hands and ropes wound tight
   around our necks the night we lost our pride
   when life was soiled and all we knew had died.

This sonnet is one that I have been working with through several different versions. The original version was written for Real Toads as a sonnet challenge, and when we started our form project at dVerse. In this particular one, I worked with Terza Rima rhyme scheme inside a Shakespearean sonnet. The idea on the poem is a subject on the evil in every one of us; lately I have watched many documentaries about the big wars in Europe and I fear that war will come back one day. I think the war itself is less interesting but more how human being changes, how ordinary men can do the most horrific things, and how war, fear and hatred will make humans do things we would not be capable of during peace.

Sherry: I suppose if soldiers thought of the other side as being human, they could not fight at all. I am most struck by the lines "when life was soiled and all we knew had died." It is no wonder soldiers come home with inner wounds. They have experienced hell. Thank you for this thoughtful poem, Bjorn.

Michael recently wrote a poem that offers us a positive reflection, amidst all the gloom of wars, climate change, crazed leaders, and despairing refugees. We need his words of hope!

The World Is Not Going

the world is not going
to hell anymore
than the sun is burning
out: tomorrow
will burn just the same as today.
I’ve neglected the garden;
it hasn’t missed me. Dirt accepts
wet or dry equally, it’s only living
things that notice the difference
but still, I noticed today’s rain
continually high-fiving the Meyer lemon
which bowed in return, as though smiling,
yellow rind glistening like an old man’s stained teeth
or mine in the window.
What is a half century
if fifty revolutions is a myth:
the entire solar system swirling
in spirals around a star racing through space
so maybe the world is going
after all

Sherry: We live in hope! Mother Earth tries her best, in spite of our mistreatment, to carry out her cycles. What gives me comfort is that she can heal, if we give her half a chance. Where did this poem come from, Michael?

Michael: My impending half century at the time was the foundation. 

This poem was posted in reply to Grace's prompt at toads about David Huerta, and having now revisited it, I see that in the poems she highlighted he wrote of fruit. I suspect his lemon, coupled with the scrawny Meyer bush outside my then-bedroom window, inspired the one here. Perhaps I had witnessed a then-rare rain buffet the winter rind.

Rereading Grace's notes, she observed that Huerta's poetry invites the reader to participate in constructing the meaning of the poem, a precept I admire - after all, it could be that. 

I've always been curious about the concept of time, relativity, space, and how we feeble humans so often insist there are great cycles, but how cosmology shows us we spin through space and time without ever really tracing the same path again.

Or maybe it was none of that, just idle musings. Spinning into another year older makes the mind wander, doesn't it?

Sherry: It certainly does. Thank you so much, Michael.

I always love it when Ollie, the Tired Monk (and one of our first members at Poets United) pops up on the blogroll. No matter what is happening on earth, the Tired Monk can be seen in his tattered robes, sweeping, shoveling, chopping wood, with his temple dog beside him. That gives me great comfort.

scattered bits n'fragments


deep temple dog tired
tired of wars
n' wars on words

tired of fighting
pushing on the last few
fading monks
to move
just move


coffee pot
bottom burned black
       needs scrubbing
morning of wet monk


energy drink cans
scattered up the ditches
or squashed flat
and paved over
in the pre-frost rush


this violin
is a fiddle in these hands
sawing  - mingling
with Americana chords
lifting n'healing
yer broken heart

         *****     *****
Sherry: I, too, feel that bone-deep weariness. Regular people are so tired of all the sparring, the rhetoric, the damage that is being done. I love the tune you play to help heal all the broken hearts, my friend. Heaven knows we can use a good tune!

     *****    *****

A Question  

you really the tired monk?

bone weary tired

beat burdened
but still ready
to serve

propped up
by temple dog walks
a few warm holy songs
maybe a slug of highland healing
bit of Drambuie warding
off this winter cough

held up by these monk robes


Sherry: This strikes a chord, as I see hard-won gains being stripped away, injustice everywhere, climate change melting the planet....I try to hang on to optimism and hope. But some days ... just.

Ollie: Being a monk these days is such a blessing.  There is much work to be done, and many to serve.  Some days my more human parts break down.  This piece is a meditation on what keeps me moving forward in this world: a little music, my temple dogs, and maybe a nip of single malt.  Today I felt like the only thing holding me up were my old battered monk robes.  

Sherry: I have those days, too, without the support of monk robes. But my cane helps! Thank you for this poem, Ollie. Your poems always make me smile. I can see the Tired Monk, bravely battling the snowdrifts in eastern Canada.

Marcoantonio, another early member at Poets United, wrote a very perceptive poem on these topics, which I am happy he agreed to share with us. Let's take a look:

devastation of storms and floods appear 
then come the hell of fires and words are
said from a tongue of sharpen blades not for 
the sake of pain for loss or sorrow but for the sake
of their own tomorrow 

the flower does not blame the wind
for its loss of petals, the rain for
their wilting, the sun for being parched
with too much heat or for the night
stealing the day

in selfishness and greed there is
no good that comes but a sadness
and lament avails for the souls departed
and all who is left are the lonely and  
the cold hearted

Marco: My piece reflects the present conditions of how our country, the U.S.A., is being devastated by Hurricanes and Forest fires, and how our present resident of the White House has little empathy for the specific states affected - either because one is basically 'brown' people, and the other, because it was and is a state that is not supportive of his continued 'megalomania', narcissistic, racist, xenophobic, self-serving ego.

Sherry: Plain words, Marco, and I share your frustration at the widespread social injustices that are occurring. In your poem, I am most struck by the line "the flower does not blame the wind for its loss of petals." That is very beautiful.

Thank you so much, gentlemen, for your poems, which illuminate so well the state of our hearts at the present state of the world. Shall we overcome? I hope so, for the sake of the young.

Do come back, my friends, and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Thank you for your wonderful poems, gentlemen. We are heartened by your words. Ollie, I love your viewpoint, for there is much work to do, much kindness needed in today's world. I will try to substitute kindness and serving for frustration and grief. Might need to borrow your robes, from time to time. Smiles.

  2. The poems and interviews gave me much to think about this evening. Thank you, gentlemen and thank you, Sherry.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing my words in such great company... it's a true honor... :-)

    1. Thank you for your poetry, Bjorn, which we are privileged to enjoy week by week........and for this poem, in particular, as the drums of war beat on around the world, against clear evidence that wars accomplish only terrible suffering on all sides.

    2. Bjorn, we are honored ALWAYS to have your words!

  4. Thank you. Your words edify me Sherry. Feeling the weight these days. This forum does indeed lighten the burden. Great selections from my poet brothers!

    1. Yes, we feel the weight. Thankfully, we also share words that remind us there is much do your poems, Brother Ollie!

    2. So very nice to see you, Ollie!

  5. What a pleasure to read each amazing poets words....each different yet a thread weaves through them. It sparks deep musing and emotional work as we grapple with life and a world in turmoil too much these days...thank you all for these insightful pieces! And thank you Sherry....

  6. Thank you so much for these--they brightened my day in an otherwise grey week--and thank you Sherry!

  7. You are more than welcome, my friends. I love putting these features together. We gather our words and hearts together and dream a better world into being.......we live in hope!

  8. I just loved this feature, Sherry. You collected some wonderful poems, my friend.

    Bjorn, there is indeed evil in every one of us - in some it is more obvious than others (smiles). And so true that only the living can fear. I guess that puts things in perspective.

    Michael, I really like your perspective. We have to keep the positive alive in us, as if we lose the positive what do we have! I am glad to read we aren't going to hell any more. That makes my heart sing.

    Ollie, I always enjoy your bits of philosophy when you appear! Such sharp observations. Yup, sometimes one needs those monk robes to hold us up!! Nice to see you here, Ollie. I have lots of good memories of earlier poetic times.

    Marco, you are another poet whose work I so enjoy. And so true that the flower does not blame the wind for loss of its petals. I guess this speaks to humanity too. So much depth in your words. And I really like that photo of you that Sherry shared.

    Great Monday feature once again!

  9. Wonderful poems, albeit willing to confront sad realities. Somehow, the mere existence of such good poetry makes everything seem a little better. I don't think that's merely a facile reaction; I think excellent and truthful poems can shift our energy, and the total sum of energy in our world, towards the good.

    1. That is a reassuring thought, Rosemary. Added to the many many people working very hard in their areas of interest: climate change, the women on the rise in politics, women's rights, human rights, non governmental organizations. I must remember, there are many, many people working hard and putting good energy into the world. And that DOES impact total global energy, for sure. Thanks, Rosemary!

  10. This is an incredible exchange of astute and impactful insights and critical concerns. I thought that the direction you took this interview in was inspired, Sherry - and made for a fascinating read. The poetry is stunning and truly important and the narrative is thoughtful and edifying. Thank you for this compelling collaboraton, Poets.

    1. So happy you liked it, Wendy. Your poems do the same work. What a lovely group of poets w have here!

  11. It is always a pleasure, Wendy. I am so happy you enjoyed it.

  12. Thank you Sherry, and good to read the brethren. Times like this - it's good to know there are lights in the darkness ~

    1. That is one thing poets do - bring light in the darkness. Thank you for participating, Michael. We so need and appreciate your words in the blogosphere.

  13. All the poems are so relevant. Thank you poets. Thanks Sherry for the feature.

  14. Some amazing poets and a lot of food for thought Thanks to all working on this intriguing feature

  15. Thank you so much for featuring these gentlemen, Sherry! A fine poet each and every one of them.. whose footsteps I followed in the beginning and still!❤️

    1. Yes, Ollie and Marco are two of our earliest members, in 2010. Hard to believe it is now nine years later, and we are all still writing. Yay!

  16. Thank you Sherry for being on alert to find poems such as these, so pertinent to today's realities, and yet so beautiful. I appreciate being exposed to these male voices, who obviously love this earth and are sensitive to it's troubles.

    1. I pounce like a cat on poems that I know will work well together. Smiles.

  17. Thank you for this feature and the messages these 3 poets bring. I believe they see with clear eyes the devastation happening around us and on our planet. It scares me as there will be more floods, fires and climate changes that seem to be out of control. Unless, we take action in some small way. Mother Earth grows weary and if she erupts many will feel the wrath. Will there be a safe place for any of us?

    The poems featured speak of the characters of the poets. These are men who think and feel and share their thoughts.

    Thank you!

    1. So well said, Truedessa. Men who think and feel and I love that, and how I admire them! We need very big changes that do not seem to be coming. It is very scary indeed. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  18. I so enjoy all of these poets and their poetry. So glad to have seen this today. Thank you Sherry for such a wonderful feature, and relevant subject.

  19. Enjoyed reading these poets... what a lovely collection of timely and concerned poems. Thanks all!

  20. Four very unique male voices, and four great poems.
    What a treat, Sherry! :)

  21. Thank you for sharing your lovely poems. It inspire a lot of readers. Continue to write more. :)

  22. One of the things I love most (and appreciate) about poetry is how it allows us to explore the most difficult of topics and feelings, while letting us stay in a relatively safe place. The way Bjorn, Ollie, Michael, and Marcoantonio approach the darkness of the world (and the bright, too) in very different ways, but I enjoy all of them. The offered poems show why.

    Thank you for this, Sherry.


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