Monday, April 29, 2019


The end of April marks the end of an era at our sister site, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. Another founding member, Shay Simmons, is retiring from the Garden, though thankfully she will still be around, and writing her amazing poems. I thought, this week, that it is fitting to feature her, and to thank her for her work in the Garden, as well as for her amazing poetry, which is like no one else's. Shay shows us the sky's the limit, when it comes to poetry. She demonstrates how sky-high and far-reaching a poem can be. Let's read one of her recent works; this poem took my breath away.

Blue horses came out of the sea last night.
Their hooves made shapes in the sand which spoke 
in Arabian symbols and scents.
They wandered into town on the
cobbled streets and stood
under lanterns lit by nuns made of fog.

You came close, then,
having approached for a million years.
You came close enough to dance
and we danced
like mayflies caught in a globe of disappearing dreams.

Blue horses came out of the sea last night,
muscular and graceful, uncaring
whether I loved you, though I did.
I have a refracted vase
where I saved what I saw in your eyes
that made me love you,
that made the sea roll sleepily
and the stars play wooden flutes, then go silent.

Blue horses came out of the sea last night, and though
it has happened often before,
we made them forget their way,
become lost,
and cry for the pastures they carry in their minds.
Forever now, we will follow their symbols and scents,
each of us separately,
blindly, carrying bridles we made from sand.

Sherry: No one writes love poems like you do, Shay. This is gorgeous! Those blue horses, coming out of the sea, crying for the pastures they carry in their minds. Sigh. That actually hurts my heart with its beauty. 

Shay: I had been listening to Leonard Cohen's second album, and particularly a song called "It Seems So Long Ago, Nancy". It made me want to stop what I was doing and write something, though "Blue Horses" owes more to Lorca than to Cohen. Someday I may develop my own style;-)

Sherry: Right. You need to work on that! LOL. When did you begin writing, Shay?

Shay: I started writing as a child, little short stories. I started with poetry in high school and had my first glossy publication at eighteen. But I went twenty years and never wrote any poetry, before coming back to it in 2006.

Sherry: We are so glad you came back to it! What do you love about poetry?

Shay: I love that it takes me where I couldn't otherwise go. I also love the sheer beauty of the words, and the sort of sideways way that poetry approaches its subject. Poetry is so much richer than prose -- that's why I am always barking about what is poetry and what isn't. Poetry is images, word ballet, emotion, truth. I love it.

Sherry: So well said. I love it, too. Another recent poem I'd like us to take a look at is "Triolet on Parting". Let's check it out.

The earth in motion, turns sun high, turns sun west.
We love, we leave, the blackbird and the marshland reed.
What is stone, what is wind? What is burned, what is blessed?
The earth in motion, turns sun high, turns sun west.
The bed and window, street and station, all our palimpsest.
Each in skin, each in summer; each in plenty, each in need.
The earth in motion, turns sun high, turns sun west.
We love, we leave, the blackbird and the marshland reed. 

Sherry: Sigh. "We love, we leave......" It hurts! 

Shay: With "Triolet on Parting", I wanted to write something really special, because it was my last time hosting at Toads. Someone else had posted a triolet, a form I love, and so I did also. I wanted to write something both global and personal. When I was done, I was unusually satisfied with it. In fact, I love it. Put it on my gravestone. It contains all I have learned about anything.

Sherry: Wow. How wonderful is that?! When you posted it on facebook, you said "I don't think I know how to write any better than this." As one who reads you daily and finds every poem of yours written at the top of your game, what is it about a poem like this that tells you it is one of your best?

Shay: I usually know. I get in a zone when I write, and when I snap out of it - OR, after I've made 50,000 revisions - I kind of go, Woww, did I just write that? I know when it's unusually good. And also when I haven't quite gotten it. Though there are a few times when I don't know, and I have to see what people think.

Shay with a young friend

Sherry: Thank you, Shay, for this visit, and for the almost-decade of all you have given to Real Toads, to the online poetry community, and to your readers, since 2010. I am glad you will still be around, and writing. We will still be reading. You can run, but you can't hide. We will find you!

Do come back, friends, and see who we talk to next. Next Monday will be Telling Tales with Magaly. After that, we have some special poems and poets lined up for you.


  1. Thanks so much for the beautiful feature, Sherry. Whatever I am paying you, it isn't nearly enough! ;-)

  2. Au contraire - you over-pay me in poems, so I owe you about a kazillion dollars, lol.

  3. I'm a big fan of Shay's writing and enjoy the challenges she sets us at the Imaginary Garden, which I'll miss. I'll have plenty of new Fireblossom poems to look forward to. Thanks Shay and Sherry!

  4. I have been in awe of Shay's poetry from the first one I read probably back in 2008 or earlier. Each one is amazing and I mean every single one!! If I had to pick one person that rocked the poetry world, I would have to put her as the leader of the band! I love so many talented bloggers here at Poets United, and Imaginary Gardens, but truly I am not lying when I say, Shay's talent is truly amazing! I loved getting to read this awesome interview, and see the thought process and feeling behind the poetry. Thank you Shay for letting us peer into your world and writing....and thank you Sherry for another wonderful interview!

  5. I agree, Carrie. Shay is in a class by herself. Every single poem knocks my socks off. I will miss Fireblossom Friday. Sigh.

    1. Nicely put, she is in a class all by herself! I am always swept away with each and every one! Thank you again for all you do Sherry, bringing us wonderful glimpses into the poet's world.

  6. Shay, you have no idea how much you have blessed my life. I have had the privilege of reading your work and it's encouraged me to expand how I write my view of the world through poetry. Keep being you..Keep allowing us to have access to your words. You are a gift.

    Sherry, thank you so much for this interview!

  7. Thank you, Sherry. I dearly love both of these poems and it was a delight to re-read them here. Some things, one can't imagine ever tiring of!

    And thank you, Shay, for poems which always surprise and thrill me. I agree whole-heartedly with what the others have said. Your poetry is dazzling and unique; it turns my head inside out, pierces my heart and rejoices my spirit. Long may it be so!

  8. What a wonderful share. Beautiful poems. I read 'Blue Horses' aloud to my husband. I just knew he'd love it - and he did.

    I know what you mean, Shay, about knowing when a poem that you've written is unusually good. I remember reading, years ago, that addicts (regardless of the compulsion) are forever chasing the perfect high. They seldom find it, but it is the remembrance that fuels the behavior. I kind of feel that way about chasing after a really good poem … scribbling off a lot of so-so pieces in the hopes that the next one will be a really good one. For me, I absolutely know it, when it finds me: that thrill of satisfaction and slightly amazed 'Wow, did I just write that' feeling - when it all comes together - cannot be beat. I guess that makes me an incurable poem addict. ~ ha ~

    Great job on this, Poets!

  9. Thank you so much, everyone, for all of the very kind comments.

  10. Thank you, Shay, for the pleasure of reading all of your wonderful poems. And for allowing me to feature your beautiful "Blue Horses", who will go on crying for lost pastures in my heart, along with all the wolf howls.

  11. Hi Shay, What a pleasure to read your work. I remember thinking..the first time I came across your poetry...that "This is a master of words". I love your ability create such brave, crisp and sassy poetry- definitely high quality stuff. I certainly put your writings up therewith noteworthy examples. It's been a true don't go far. Cheers...Viv

  12. That is perfect, Vivian: a Master of words. That she is.

  13. I'm late commenting, but so glad I came by. What beautiful poems. Clearly, Shay is a master, someone with raw, natural, innate talent. Thanks so much for featuring her Sherry.

  14. Shay iz a true genius of poetry. And I am proud to bursting tjat she is a friend. Her talent is beyond the end of the galaxy

    1. I love that - beyond the end of the galaxy. Smiles.

  15. Dear Sherry Thank you for this wonderful introduction to an amazing writer. The poems shared here are touching gripping with unique imagery.Emotions are well captured and expressed. Enjoyed reading/Wishing the best of luck

  16. Lovely to see you, Anjum. Thanks for stopping by.

  17. Happy you enjoyed it. Thank you for visiting.


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