Monday, June 10, 2019


I am so pleased, today, to feature a long-time member of Poets United,  MAGICAL MYSTICAL TEACHER ~ Tales From Here and There. I have asked MMT a few times if we might feature her, as she has linked so faithfully with us for so many years. When I told her I was leaving instructions for my successor, after my death, to continue asking, she threw in the towel and agreed to be featured. Smiles. She made my WEEK. Let's not waste another minute!

Sherry: I am so happy we are doing this!  I know from your site that you are special education teacher, that you write wonderfully, and that you take beautiful photos of the desert in Arizona, Southern California and Mexico. So I assume you live in that general area of the United States. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you? 

MMT: Actually, I’m a native of the Midwest. I was born in Kansas, and have lived in a dozen different states. You might say I have itchy feet! That’s what my dad, a Methodist minister for most of his life, always said of himself. When I was a child, the bishop of the church moved our family about every two years. Twenty years is the longest I’ve ever lived in one state: Pennsylvania. But I am so “over” snow that the Southwest, where it rarely snows, is much more to my liking. 

Yuma County, Arizona
                                                             Magical Mystical Teacher

Sherry: What is most rewarding about your work as a special education teacher?

MMT: The most rewarding thing now is that I’m retired! I had hoped to teach one more year, but at the end of the 2017-18 school year, the position that I was offered was so abhorrent to me that I refused to sign the contract. I still keep in touch with a few of my former students, and two of them have invited me to their wedding.

Yuma Conservation Garden,
                                                                    Yuma, Arizona
                                                              Magical Mystical Teacher

Sherry: That is so nice. Retirement rocks! You'll love it. When did you begin writing poetry? What do you love about it?

MMT: I wrote poetry in childhood, and I wish that some of those early attempts had survived our family’s many moves. I wrote poetry sporadically as a young adult. Then the floodgates opened when my father died eleven years ago. I had to find a way to cope with his death, so I established a daily regimen of writing haiku. Why haiku? Because in my grief, short poems were all I could manage. And haiku has proved to be a lifeline for me. Wherever I am, I write.

Sherry: Grief very often does open the floodgates. We poets are fortunate to have that outlet, for the intense emotions that follow such a loss. Haiku are amazing, as they can offer a world of imagery and emotion in so few syllables. It takes great skill, I think, to write them properly.

I was blown away by your response to Magaly's first prose prompt: the piece you wrote about your father It was incredibly moving. Have you always written prose as well as poetry? Which is your first love? You are very good at both.

MMT: First love? Words, however they come! I do write mostly poetry, but once in a while only prose will do. I have a young adult novel in progress that I have really enjoyed working on. One of the characters is Enzo the gardener. He is being held captive by a dragon, and he is in despair:

Enzo put his head in his hands and began to weep softly. He knew he would never see his beloved garden again. Weeds would overtake the flowerbeds, vines would strangle the fig trees, and where peaches and plums and apples and pears once flourished, brambles would gain a thorny foothold. Gardens and orchards need tending, or they run wild. The Garden in the sacred place was no exception. Without a gardener—without Enzo—the Garden would become an untamed jungle.

Want to read more? I’ll let you know when the book is in print!

The Sonoran Desert, Southern Arizona
Magical Mystical Teacher

Sherry: Well, we can't wait for that! How wonderful! 

Are there three poems you would like to share with us? And tell us a little about each?

MMT: I’m a firm believer in NOT dissecting poems, so my motto is what the American poet Archibald MacLeish says in “Ars Poetica”: “A poem should not mean/But be.” Wherever you go in the Sonoran Desert, you’ll encounter doves, so I write about them a lot. Here are three haiku about doves, and without commentaries. Readers can make of them what they will:

Winter afternoon—
a dove lays down her last song
on a dusty path.

Summer afternoon—
a dove on a barren branch
repeats the same note.

Summer afternoon—
into the long emptiness
a mourning dove calls.

            *   *   *

Sherry: So beautiful. Mourning doves make their way into my poems, too. What other activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?

Sunrise, Sonoran Desert,
Magical Mystical Teacher

MMT: Well, if you’ve seen the photographs in my blog, you know that I often walk through the desert with my camera in hand. I’m also a voracious reader, especially of murder mysteries. And now that I no longer have lesson plans to prepare, I’m getting back into gardening.

Sherry: I love your photos! You have been a faithful poster at Poets United for many years and we so appreciate your loyalty. We’re so happy you are here among us.  Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

MMT: Every once in a while I’m like Enzo the gardener—despairing, because of the horrible state of politics in the United States, and because of wars, racism, global warming, and a hundred other horrors.

But I keep picking up my pen or tapping on my keyboard, comforted by the thought (and I trust it’s not a false comfort) that poetry—and art of all kinds—will be the salvation of the world. Even a poor poem can somehow prompt readers into new insights about themselves and the world in which they live. Even a child’s crayon drawing on a refrigerator has the power to uplift, inspire, and restore hope to those who are in despair. Your poems matter. Keep writing.

Sherry: They do matter. Thank you, MMT, for this wonderful visit, your beautiful poems and photographs, and for your wise words. And thanks for keeping on coming back to Poets United.

Well, my friends, wasn't this a delight? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Ha! Finally I have featured Magical Mystical Teacher. My work here is done. Smiles. (Just kidding! I'll keep coming back.)

    1. This would be a terrible finale to your illustrious career. PLEASE keep interviewing more poets, Sherry! (And thanks for your persistence.)

    2. Cackle.......yes, I will. No worries! I am tired but, so far, not Terminally So.

  2. Hello... such a great thing to finally learn a bit more about MMT... out paths crossed first when I was writing daily haiku as well, and I was always so curious about the pictures from the desert. I spent 8 months in Mesa many years ago, and the desert still have a place in my heart.

  3. Wonderful interview, Sherry and MMT. Thank you both! I too am glad to learn a bit more about you, MMT. You have been sharing your words here a long time. I can imagine, after being in the Midwest, that you really enjoy the winters there. Our Midwestern winters seem to have become less tolerable for me as well. Such beautiful photos and haiku as well.

  4. I so admire your beautiful desert photos. To me, deserts have much the same mystique as the seashore........each so beautiful, and ancient.

  5. The desert offers so much inspiration and I thank you for sharing your poetry with us.

    Sherry can be persistence and we do love her features :)

  6. Oh, what a lovely interview! I have been an admirer of MMT for a long time – both the excellent verses and fabulous photos. (And I'm with you about disliking the cold.) The wonderful dove haiku are self-explanatory, I think, not intellectually so much as sensually, needing no further analysis. Oh, to write haiku like that! Thank you, Sherry, for finally getting her to agree. And MMT, I wish you a splendid, vibrant retirement!

  7. It's good to get to know you a little better, MMT. I love the doves trilogy above, and always enjoy your work with the midweek motifs. Happy retirement!

  8. I have delighted in your haiku for many years MMT and tried to be a faithful contributor to "Sunday's Whirligig" since you started that filling a gap for those that like to be tempted (tested) in using 12 selected number words in their poetry or short stories. However what attracts me most is the feel of the desert in you poetry and pictures. I am sure you will enjoy you retirement as much as I do mine!

  9. I am so happy you are enjoying this feature, my friends. I was so happy to put it together. Yes, i am persistent. Smiles.

  10. What a delight!! Ha, I absolutely agree with your views about retirement, MMT. Really enjoyed the conversation, haiku and photos. Thank you Sherry for the lovely post.

  11. Oh, Sherry and Maggie, what a wonderful post!!!

  12. MMT, bless you for saying yes and making us all so happy! Smiles.

  13. What a lovely visit … a pleasure to read. Thank you, Poets.

  14. Want to thank you both. Sherry for your persistence, and MMT for finally saying yes. Love the quote about how a poem should simply be. Have always admired your photos and your craft with words. May you and they continue for a long, long time to come.


  15. I have always enjoyed the photos and haiku from MMT i used to have her blog on my side menu in my old blog format. Its nice to read a little more about the poet, having read her poems for so long
    Thanks Sherry and MMT for this close up

    much ❤🕊❤love

  16. Such a lovely interaction! It's always been a pleasure to read your haiku and admire those amazing pictures.
    Thanks, MMT and Sherry, for this wonderful conversation. :-)

  17. Sherry, thanks for sharing some of MMT’s life with us. I tremendously admire her photography, and haiku. Thanks to you, MMT, for allowing this interview.

  18. This was wonderful so thank you both...MMT I was also a special education teacher and administrator until I retired 5 yrs ago. And I studied at ASU in Tempe. I have family in AZ I visit. A beautiful place the desert.

  19. Thanks Sherry and MMT I love your poem MMT and always enjoy visiting you. Your photography is amazing as well. Oh and thank you to have been a special needs teacher. I have a son with learning disabilities and his special needs teachers meant the world to me.

  20. Sherry, Your super-convincing approach to getting MMT to share with us made me laugh--you rock!

    MMT, I hope you enjoy you retirement very much, but how terrible that the contract was so bad. This is happening so much these days to so many experienced educators, it's... infuriating and sad, everyone loses so much (especially the students).

    Enzo's tale sounds like a story I would love to read. So, I shall keep my eye sharp. And yay! for getting back to gardening!

  21. Oh, what a lovely interview, Sherry. I love your haiku poems, MMT! Have a great retirement life ahead...👍


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