Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ not-so-old-fashioned “Hobbies”

Greetings! and welcome to Poets United Midweek Motif. Susan took a wee break, so I’m filling in today. She sends you her love and promises to be back (to tempt our muses) on the first week of August.

Today’s prompt, not-so-old-fashioned “Hobbies”, was inspired by my reaction to a pamphlet (from an organization that shan’t be named). The document in question calls gardening, baking, sewing, dancing and poetry writing “old-fashioned hobbies”. After I was done being outraged (gardening and poetry writing aren’t hobbies, thanks very much!), I thought that it might be nice to write poems about hobbies or life-giving activities, which some might consider old-fashioned *cough*. 

So, dear poets, I invite you to write a new poem using not-so-old-fashioned hobbies, such as gardening or baking or sewing or dancing or candle making or poetry writing… or, well, pretty much any activity you do regularly (which brings you pleasure) as a foundation.
Three glimpses from poems around the web:

from “The Song of the Shirt”, by Thomas Hood (this version appears at the beginning of The Poison Thread: A Novel, by Laura Purcell).

Oh, Men, with Sisters dear!
Oh, Men, with Mothers and Wives!
It is not the linen you’re wearing out,
But the human creatures’ lives!
Stitch – stitch – stitch,
In poverty, hunger and dirt,
Sewing at once, with a double thread,
A Shroud as well as a Shirt.

But why do I talk of Death?
That Phantom of grisly bone,
I hardly fear its terrible shape,
It seems so like my own –

from “Digging Potatoes, Sebago, Maine”, by Amy E. King

Your blade emerges
     with a mob of them, tawny freckled knobs,
     an earthworm curling over one like a tentacle.
     I always want to clean them with my tongue,
     to taste in this dark mud, in its sparkled scatter
     of mica and stone chips, its soft genealogy
     of birch bark and fiddleheads …

from “Embroidery”, Louise Hayley

Over and under
The white disappears
The lines take shape and
A picture appears

Add the direct link to your new poem to Mr. Linky. Enjoy yourselves. Delight in the poetry of others (and tell them about it).

When Susan returns (August 7th!), her Midweek Motif will be: Safety.


Monday, July 29, 2019


Today we are pleased to feature the very busy Vivian Zems, a mother, a dentist, a songwriter, and poet who lives in London, in the UK, and who blogs at Smell the Coffee. Vivian not only launched her book Lift Off! in April; she also produced a book of the poems she wrote during April in a second book, Verses of April. I don't think that has ever been done before. Let's dive in, and find out how she managed such a feat!

Sherry: Vivian, congratulations on the recent release of your TWO poetry books, Lift Off! and Verses of April. Both of these books swiftly rose to Number 1 in the Amazon Best Seller categories of Poetry/Anthologies and Literature and Short Fiction Reads. This leaves me breathless. How are you feeling these days? (Smiles.)

Vivian: Yes, indeed! Both  Verses of April and Lift Off! briefly got to the #1 Amazon Bestseller position. And for a moment in time were both #1 and #2. I was thrilled beyond words!

Sherry: Congratulations! I was impressed that you produced the book Verses of April during the month of April itself. A feat I am not sure has happened before in the history of National Poetry Month. How did you manage this, during the white-heat writing of a poem-a-day?

Vivian: I actually ran the writing and publishing of Verses of April as a social experiment, and gave updates on my Facebook Author Page. I wanted to find out if it was possible to complete the book in 26 days…and I managed it in the nick of time. I’d learned from my previous marketing mistakes and applied my new lessons to  both books. Incidentally, I’ve made Lift Off! permanently FREE.

Sherry: How wonderful! That is lovely. You have another poetry book, as well, titled Waxing Lyrical, that came out in 2018. And three previous books, which we talked about during our last chat. Wow.

As you are living arguably the busiest years of your life, I think what we all want to know is: how do you do it? Do you have a regular time set aside for writing, in the demands of working and family life? Or is it sheer determination?

Vivian: I wish I had a more stringent routine, but as it stands, I get up at 5 a.m. every morning and make sure I’m the first one in to work. I get some writing done then. After work, it’s another 90 minutes in the car - on my phone - before I head home. The problem with peering into my phone for so long is that I now need spectacles!

Sherry: Well, we are all left in awe, at all you accomplish. Let's look at a few of your poems, and sample the goodies awaiting us in your books.

 Soul Search - from Lift Off!

This poem reflects how the journey of self-discovery can take the author down a myriad of paths. The speaker is thinking that the choice they have is either to find the answer in a bottle or, better still, puzzle it out with reasoning.

Dewey Love - from Verses of April

This was quiet observation on my way to my car- on a crisp April morning.

Two Great Creatures - from Waxing Lyrical

This poem was from my first-ever collection. I still read the book and smile/cringe. Nevertheless, this piece was about my two sons with their questionable fashion sense..and yet, very warm hearts.

Day 10 of National Poetry Month

Sherry: I love the way you present your poems so artistically, Vivian.  I am not sure you have much spare time but, when you do, what do you like to do?

Vivian: You’ve got me there! My life is very much all used up between work, writing and keeping house. However, to unwind, I’d probably watch Netflix, visit friends, and of course play with our woof, Zeus.

Sherry: I love the beautiful Zeus, whom we have met before. What is his and your favourite pastime? And how is the family?

Vivian: We’re doing well. Everyone is busy with school/work/life. Zeus’ pastime is at odds with ours. It’s hide and seek; he hides our possessions and sits back while we scurry around looking for them! He virtually runs the entire household- including making our holiday plans. He’s apparently chosen a beach on the UK coast for our next vacation!(smiles).

Sherry: There is no creature happier than a dog on the beach! 

Vivian, it has been such a pleasure, visiting with you. Again, congratulations on your recent book success. We are thrilled to have you at Poets United, and look forward to many more of your wonderful poems (and books!) Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?
Vivian: Thanks Sherry! I’d just like to say that being part of this collective has boosted my confidence and improved my writing. However, I still feel like I have a long way to go, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my poetry with you and everyone else here.

And we are happy for the sharing, Vivian. Do come back, poet friends, and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It could be you!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Poetry Pantry #488


We had another fine week at Poets United, with another one shaping up ahead. On Friday, I featured a Vancouver Island poet, Margo Button, whose story is close to my heart. The feature included two riveting poems from her book The Unhinging of Wings. This poet and I have something rather devastating in common. Margo Button's son was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his early twenties, mine at seventeen. Sadly, Margo's son did not survive his illness. I know these poems will touch your heart as they did mine. It is worth scrolling back; they are not to be missed.

On Monday, we are chatting with Vivian Zems, a very busy poet who brought out not one but two new books in April, one of which was poems written in April. I am wildly impressed and had to ask her how she did it! I'm sure you'll enjoy catching up with her. On Wednesday Magaly is guest hosting Midweek Motif with the intriguing prompt: "not-so-old-fashioned hobbies." I suspect we will read about some interesting and unexpected hobbies on Wednesday. And next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will be Magaly's Pantry of Prose, on the theme of "Stitches". That sounds like fun.

As it is Sunday, let's top up our coffees and see what goodies we have in the Pantry. Thanks for being here. We couldn't do this without you!

Friday, July 26, 2019


Glass Cages

I think of you this morning when a dove
hurtles into the window. Brief image

of himself as other before he crumples
against glass that looks like open sky.

An unhinging of wings. Invisible
shattering. Pearly drift of feathers

across the patio. Two doves flutter
back and forth in constant cortege

while he patiently attends his dying.
His cries, camouflaged so softly.

Margo Button

This sad and beautiful poem is from a slim book titled The Unhinging of Wings, which Vancouver Island poet Margo Button wrote about her beloved son Randall Button. Randall slipped into schizophrenia at twenty, though he wasn't diagnosed until much later. He ultimately committed suicide at 26, a devastating blow to a mother's heart.

Each poem in this beautiful volume speaks of his mother’s grief as she watched her son slipping away, and of her ultimate grievous loss. Her heartbreak is written so beautifully, as only a poet can do.

Online, I found this quote from the poet: “What happened to Randall is that his wings came off…He never had a chance to fulfil his life. For me and my family, it was as if we had come apart too.”*

Here is the last poem in the volume:

Holy Doors

I come home in spring – the bitter season
of your dying. The last trace
of winter’s ordeal – a residue of salt
on the window, deadfall on the lawn.

On this point of land where you carved out
your pain, the pregnant earth
is longing again. You have slipped from me

through holy doors – your embrace
less fierce now. A slack tide lingers wistfully
in the cove, expectant like still morning.

In lacunas of time, I look for your radiance
in the haloes of clouds. I listen
for your voice in the towhee’s song.

        Randall Button ~ 1967 - 1994

So beautiful. So sad. Yet with the hint of the radiance of a spirit released into peacefulness at last. As I, too, have a brilliant son who was stricken with schizophrenia at seventeen, this volume is especially dear to me. I have read the poems many times through the years, the words of a mother who has walked a similar path to mine, though I am fortunate in that my son, while suffering, is still alive.

Margo Button won the Dorothy Livesay Prize for Poetry for The Unhinging of Wings. It was followed by The Shadows Fall Behind, which explores her anger at her son’s death, and the journey to some semblance of equilibrium when she adopted a South American child. 

She has two other books, Heron Cliff and The Elder’s Palace.

The poet is a former high school teacher, who taught French and Spanish in Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon and Canada. She lives in Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island, and in Peurto Vallarta, Mexico.

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.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Dance

“Never give a sword to a man who cannot dance.”— Confucius


“Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame.”— W.B. Yeats

       Midweek Motif ~ Dance

As I was thinking about this Dance motif some lines of Leonard Cohen sang out loud in my mind:

          “Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
     Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
    Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
                              Dance me to the end of love
                              Dance me to the end of love….”

The whole universe is in a dance mode. It would be interesting to see where you find that rhythm and beat to capture it in your lines.

It might be in the flow of a river; in rolling of waves; in raindrops; in the rhythm of seasons, day and night; in the flight of a bird; in birth; in death; in a stage performance.

There are numerous forms / types of dance. It would be lovely to read about them if you choose one of them to write about; or about the life of any well-known dancer.

And why not about dance costumes, props, masks and shoes?

Give today’s motif a unique interpretation of your like:

A few poems to share with you: 

The Dance
by William Carlos Williams

In Brueghel's great picture, The Kermess,
the dancers go round, they go round and
around, the squeal and the blare and the
tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles
tipping their bellies (round as the thick-
sided glasses whose wash they impound)
their hips and their bellies off balance
to turn them. Kicking and rolling
about the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those
shanks must be sound to bear up under such
rollicking measures, prance as they dance
in Brueghel's great picture, The Kermess.


by Emily Dickinson

I cannot dance upon my Toes—
No Man instructed me—
But oftentimes, among my mind,
A Glee possesseth me,

That had I Ballet knowledge—
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe—
Or lay a Prima, mad,

And though I had no Gown of Gauze—
No Ringlet, to my Hair,
Nor hopped to Audiences—like Birds,
One Claw upon the Air,

Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,
Nor rolled on wheels of snow
Till I was out of sight, in sound,
The House encore me so—

Nor any know I know the Art
I mention—easy—Here—
Nor any Placard boast me—
It's full as Opera— 

Here is another link to a poem by Langston Hughes:

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

(Next week Magaly's Midweek Motif will be ~ not-so-old-fashioned 'Hobbies')

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