Monday, September 16, 2019


We have a special feature today, friends. Fireblossom (aka Shay Simmons) and Mama Zen (aka Kelli Simpson) are weighing in on poetry and blogging. Pour yourself something tall and cool (or stubby and hot) and draw your chairs in close. These poets know how to Use Their Words, and we don't want to miss a single one.

Proof For The Postulation Of An Old Poet

The generosity of madmen
--whether born or made so--
is like a pitcher overturned, 
sweetness wasted in the sharing.

I'm not about to mistake straitjackets for haute couture;
I am as hard and closed as a policeman's nightstick.

Still, you can lay naked in the spring grass,
holding a hymnal and a caramel.
Pretend yourself a parrot, all colors.
I will still be the crow from whom the night borrows its darkness.

When you have gone, I will play ancient games
with dying cicadas.
The years will fold themselves into pastries
the crumbs of which I horde and never drop.

Go, parrot. And this time
do not leave open my coat of poems
with sleeves like shaded roads, and wool like forgotten noons.
But if you do, I will have been right in my manic certainty

that you would make me cry in the end.

Sherry: Oh my goodness! The "coat of poems"! "Wool like forgotten noons!" I don't know how you do it. I am just so very glad you do, and that we get to read you. Tell us, Poet, your thoughts on poetry.

Shay: Poetry to me means being fearlessly honest, including and especially about difficult subjects. It means passion and energy and brevity. By that last I mean saying what you have to say in a succinct and powerful way, not losing or diffusing your point with meandering fluff. (I re-read my first solo book and think, oy, where was an editor when I needed one?) 

I get ideas from almost anything. It's like....I'll be watching a movie and something will send my imagination into a big long tangential invention of my own and by the time I blink and come back, I have to rewind because I daydreamed through the last 15 minutes of the movie. A word, an image, a song, anything can send me off to the races. 

When I know I've gotten it just right--which isn't that often--it's a fantastic feeling. This will sound horribly immodest, but when that happens, I think, "Damn, I'm good!" It's a great feeling. And that confidence, that ego, are what make me feel like I can say something difficult well the next time. Fear paralyzes writers. I have become fearless in my old age. (I also realize that there are a thousand things I am NOT good at. But I am good at this one thing.) 

Sherry: To your followers, it seems like you get it just right every time, and we are astonished by that fact. And so impressed!

What is your take on blogging? Has the online poetry world impacted your work?

Shay: Blogging has been wonderful for my love of poetry and for writing my own. Poets like Hedgewitch and Mama Zen push me and always have. I read something fantastic that they have written and I am 1) thrilled for them and 2) eager to try to match it. I'm not competitive with the writers I admire most. I love their successes as much as my own. I'm just saying they spur me to greater efforts. Also, blogging has made me friends who I never would have met otherwise. I don't think poetry blogging has the same energy as it once did, though. I am not as into it as I used to be, but I do keep my hand in. 

Sherry: I don't think blogging has the energy it once did either - but we are ten years more tired too........I loved those heady days! I will always look back on those years with gratitude, when the world of online poetry opened its doors to me.

I like what you say about not feeling competitive with the poets whose work you admire most. I feel the same way (about your work, for example.) It would be like trying to compete with a star, rather than enjoying its beauty and perfection in the sky. I just glory in their (and your) talent. 

Thank you for this chat, Shay. Online poetry, as you say, introduced me to friends all over the world I never would have met otherwise. My life has been so much richer for it.

Let's see what Mama Zen has to say, shall we?

Snoopy - who cracks me up!

The Buck

The buck, throat cut,
bleeds out about six.
Half-hidden in nightfall,
I redden a stick

and dampen the doorway -
a Sunday school lesson

pass over
pass over
pass over.

Sherry: Yes, may bad things pass over our homes and our lives, though it feels like the whole planet is in peril these days.

Would you share your thoughts about poetry with us? Your poem definitely shows the power words have to impact our minds and hearts.

Kelli: Have you ever heard of the Supreme Court obscenity test? In a ruling in the '60s, Judge Potter Stewart wasn't able to define obscenity, but claimed to know it when he saw it.  That's kind of how I feel about poetry.  I can't really tell you what it is, or what makes it what it is, but I know it when I see it and, more importantly, when I feel it.

Sherry: And the reader, too, knows it when she sees (and feels) it. As in your poem, shared here. Great explanation, Kelli.
Kelli: Without the online poetry world, I'm not sure that I would be writing poetry now.  I had written poems and songs in my teens and twenties, but I had given it up to pursue other things.  It was the wonderful poets that I met online who inspired and encouraged me to pick up the pen again.

At the moment, I'm taking a break from blogging.  I'm homeschooling and doing some political activism, so I don't really have the time to interact the way I would want to if I were posting.  I'm still writing, though, so I hope to be able to return soon.  And, I miss you guys!

Sherry: Homeschooling and political activism are important, Kelli. We are glad you are still writing, and it is wonderful to know we can look forward to your return. Thank you for saying yes to this short visit. We are so happy to hear from you! We miss you!

Kelli: Thank you, Sherry.  And thank you, everyone, for all of your kindnesses over the years.

We hope you enjoyed this exchange, friends. Next week, Marian Kent and Susie Clevenger will similarly share their thoughts on poetry and blogging. Be sure not to miss it!


  1. Hi friends, we hope you enjoy this feature. I am stoked Shay and Kelli said yes! Smiles. Hope your week is starting well and that your poems are unfolding brilliantly.

  2. This was a true delight! Shay and Kelli are both amazing poets, and I might add "truly damn good!" I so love both the poems featured, and hearing both their words on what they are feeling and thinking was wonderful. An awesome feature today Sherry. Thank you so much for all you do!

  3. It was a pleasure, Carrie. So happy you liked it.

  4. What a luscious surprise. Its been a long time since I've read poetry by either of you, Shay and Kelli. I feel lifted onto the plain where every word matters. In "Proof . . . "despite all generosity, playfulness, and tolerance, dear Poet, I'm moved by the "manic certainty" of tears. And in "the Buck" I felt present at the ancient ritual. May it have power.

  5. Susan, you have said it as prfectly as it can be said. That certainty of tears got me, too. And the portent of that ancien ritual. It feels like blood is on many doorways these days. May all bad things pass over.

  6. Hello, group. I'm always honored to be included in one of Sherry's wonderful articles. This Zen person seems pretty good; I'll have to check her out. :-P

    1. LOL - it's a winner, when I can feature both of you at the same time. Makes my day!

  7. What a wonderful article. I truly love Shay's honesty and her sensitivity. Thank you for this.

    1. I like that she takes an idea and totally rides it into the stratosphere. I never knew how far a poem could travel, till I read Shay's poems. And Mama Zen has her own very distinct voice too. We miss you, Kelli! Happy you are continuing to write. You have a gift!

  8. I enjoyed this share very much! I absolutely relate to everything expressed here … and love the way that Shay and Kelli articulated their thoughts on poetry and blogging. I particularly found that Kelli's comment: 'I can't really tell you what it is, or what makes it what it is, but I know it when I see it and, more importantly, when I feel it' … sure hit home with me. So true!!! Great job on this, Shay, Kelli and Sherry.

  9. We know it when we see it, and read it, for sure. Lovely to see you, Wendy!

  10. Oh, how wonderful! Two of the online poets whose work I most love and admire, with such stunning examples of their never-failing brilliance and originality. And yes, in both cases, that comes not only from talent but also authenticity. Loved what you both said about poetry, and about the poetry-blogging community. Thank you so much, Sherry, for this.

  11. Thank you, all of you. You guys are the best!

  12. We are so happy to hear from you, kiddo. We miss you!

  13. We're certainly very fortunate to be granted the opportunity to have these personal insights into poetry / blogging from two such highly talented artists. Thank you both for sharing, and a huge thanks to Sherry for making such encounters possible. Both of the poems presented here -- and especially that bloody buck piece -- totally blew me away and reminded me how fortunate I (ie we) are to be hanging out together.

    1. Being able to share poetry with other poets has been the joy of my life these past ten years, Ron. So happy you are finding that, too.

  14. What a wonderful interview. A true celebration of what it means to write poetry and share via blogging

  15. Btw I am loving that picture of Snoop stylin' with the specs!

  16. I enjoyed the honesty, depth and talent of these two poets. I'm not certain what 'makes' a poem, but after reading their poetry I have no doubt that I have recognized a true poem.

    I hope poetry blogging continues for many years to come. Though I don't participate as often as I used to, it remains such an important part of my creative life. I thank you Sherry and all the other leaders at PU for keeping this community alive.

  17. Myrna, we are so happy you are here among us!!!

  18. Another wonderful feature. I have read their poetry many times over the years and it has always been amazing.

    I feel blogging has changed in the years that I have been participating. I consider myself to be blessed to be in such
    wonderful company. I think we need to keep poetry going as it speaks to us in a special way.

    Thanking all in the community for your support over the years. Much appreciated!

  19. Another great feature. These 2 fire-brands are amazing. I've always found their poetry- though different styles-sizzling. I only hope to be a match some day!

  20. Shay and Kelli are two women that I admire - thank you and I'm so glad to hear Kelli plans on coming back. Homeschooling is a huge task - I used to Homeschool three of mine for a few years - I never regretted it.

  21. Oh I do love Fireblossom and Mama Zen. Shay and Kelli, your work has always awed and delighted me. You are Poets I wish I could be. The power of your talent encourages me to explore and stretch the boundaries of my own work. Thank you Sherry for pairing and sharing the work and wisdom of two extraordinary women/poets.

  22. This is really special, a quick snapshot of two very deep souls. I'm feeling really happy and satisfied just spending a little time here this morning.

  23. Two extremely talented poets, whose work is never short of amazing. Both write from the heart, and I am thrilled to be writing along with them. Thanks, Sherry.


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