Sunday, June 25, 2017

Poetry Pantry #359

Lake Michigan Photos - Early Saturday Morning





Greetings, Poets!  There is a wonderful farmers' market along Lake Michigan's shores.  The photos above were taken yesterday morning!  There really is something very special about this lake....

Friday Rosemary shared Shay Simmons' (aka Fireblossom) poem "For Young Poets."  Whether you are young or older, don't miss this poem.  I bet some of you will wish you had written it as well!

Monday, be sure to visit Poets United for Sherry's wonderful and informative interview of Robin, who we all know as "Old Egg."  It is a feature NOT to miss.

On Wednesday, Sumana's theme for Midweek Motif is "War and Peace."  Oh wow, so many different directions one can go with that theme!!

With no delay, let's share poetry. Link your poem below.  Say hello in the comments.  Visit other poets who link.  Have a poetic week!

Friday, June 23, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This

For Young Poets

First, stop banging away at silence 
like you would with a snow shovel against the ice.
A poem is not a dancing dog,
summoned to perform on its tiptoes at parties.

Put away all spirituous beverages.
Those who write while pitching in a sea of booze
do so in spite of such idiocy, not because of it.
If you haven't the imagination to see things differently without such props,
then become a mail carrier or a bus driver.

Read.
Read Lorca and rip your hair out til you're bald.
Read Neruda and flail, little fledgling on the cliff-side!
Read Plath, tuck your children safely in their room and then
to the kitchen with you to contemplate why cowards can't be poets;
at least not for long.

All you wild spastics shouting at the coffee bar,
waving pages and thinking volume and auctioneer-speak make poetry?
Sit down. Have someone duct tape your cake hole shut.
Think about what you haven't done, until you're ready to join us.

Now, to purge.
Write several great long hunks of unreadable shit,
staggering along on broken syntax,
with words strung together willy-nilly like last year's holiday lights,
all the similar-colored ones in a row, and half of them burned out.
Write haiku about a yew tree or a cherry blossom.
Get your paper plate-eyed friends to declare it all "brilliant!"
Then throw it away and we can get started.

Light candles.
They won't help you to write, but I like them.
Lock the door and don't answer it;
your husband will find his favorite golf shirt on his own,
and your children are already ruined anyway.
Let's do this thing.

The hard part is already done!
The lonely rejections and upheavals of childhood,
the sexual confusions and self-destructive rebellions of youth,
they're over with.
The burials, the pointless treks, the lovers who laughed and left,
the beetle of doubt and otherness digging its burrow behind your heart--
all of this is long complete.

Now, just stare out of the window at the sorrowful blue of the sky,
and the silver beauty of the impossibly distant moon.
Bite your knuckle if you have to, but stillness is best,
even to the point of drooling and apparent catatonia.
"What are you doing?" you'll be asked.
Working. Slaving. Making art.
Understand this, give yourself permission for this,
even as the dishes fester in the sink and the baby cries;
The seeds of greatness will germinate inside the still soil of you, The Poet.

It's not an easy road,
but there is soul and pride to it.
Your poems will be your own particular inverse garments to wear,
heart and guts to the world.
You have joined the cabal of those who possess a true talent:
unicycle riders have their uncanny balance,
lesbians their tongues,
demons their blackness;
now you have your poetry and people to admire you and say,
"It's nice",
"This is what you were doing?"
and "Huh." 

Or,
you could still apply to Beauty College.
It's up to you.

– Shay Caroline Simmons



No apologies if you've read this one already very recently, because I know you'll love reading it again. And if you haven't, oh what a treat I've just given you! Shay recently posted it to her blog and linked it to The Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

It blew all her readers away, and several said they wished they had written it. I wished that too, and rapidly secured her permission to say so publicly here. Some people said it should be disseminated in schools, blazoned on college walls, and so on. Well, I'm doing my bit!

I have featured Shay here before, and so has Sherry. If you'd like to know more about her, this link will take you to my article, which also links to Sherry's feature as well as to Shay's Amazon page. If you don't already follow her blog, it is Shay's Word Garden where she posts as Fireblossom. All her poetry is wonderful, and I think it all deserves to be read as widely as possible.




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, June 21, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Yoga



“Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.” — Patanjali

SOURCE


“The meaning of our self is not to be found in its separateness from God and others, but in the ceaseless realization of yoga, of union; not on the side of the canvas where it is blank but on the side where the picture is being painted.”— Rabindranath Tagore
                        


                               Midweek Motif ~ Yoga



I was thinking if we could give a little thought to ‘Yoga’ in our poems on this International Day of Yoga which is celebrated annually on 21 June since its inception in 2015.

Yoga is ‘slower, fewer and deeper breath’; to the practitioners a panacea for modern, hectic life.

You may be contemplative, humorous or sarcastic. It would be lovely if you could include the word ‘yoga’ in your lines. You may even dwell on the literal meaning of the word ‘Yoga’ which is ‘Union’. And a personal experience would be an added bonus.

Here I am including excerpts of some poems that reflect the perfection, awareness, compassion, surrender etc that yoga intends to gift its devoted followers:


From WildGeese by Mary Oliver:

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
Love what it loves.”


From The laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski:

“your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission,
be on the watch.”


From Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye:

“Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between region of kindness”


From BlackwaterWoods by Mary Oliver:

“To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”



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

            
                (Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be ~ War & Peace)
                              

Monday, June 19, 2017

POEMS OF THE WEEK - WENDY, MYRNA AND ELIZABETH

This week, my friends, we have poems of inspiration from Wendy of Words and Words and WhatnotMyrna, of Daily Spiritand Elizabeth, of Soul's Music. The poems seem to share  a theme of digging down deep to hold onto peace and hope, in the midst of the turbulence around us. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Wendy recently wrote a poem that spoke to me. As much as we love and fear for Mother Earth, it is in her wild places, by her lakes and rivers and forests, that we are most likely to restore our peacefulness. Let's read.






P.M. Bourke photo




Again, last night, I dreamt that I was falling – as I often have, throughout the slumbers of my life – though lately, such dreams, have lost their ability to bother me … much. I suppose if you experience anything enough times, over a long period – and live – it loses some of the power it once had, to alarm.

In other aspects of my life, as well, I seem to be developing – in my senior years – a different relationship with fear. As the panoramic vista of the valley of the shadow begins to come into view – albeit, off in the distance (though clearly there is no getting around it) a trepidatious acceptance has started to settle upon me. Though I know (all too well) that, tragically, life can end at any age, the expectation is that human life spans will follow a predictable pattern. Having had the good fortune to stick to that pattern, I am grateful that I have been blessed with (what my Mother used to refer to as) a 'good run’. I like to think I’ve struck a pretty decent bargain for myself … a kind of just-let-me-roll a fair way beyond my threescore years and ten – and I’ll be good to go. I am curious to see if that bargain holds.

This acceptance of the inevitable, may always have been a feature of deepening age … though, the scale of the turbulence and destruction of the times that we live in probably makes coming to terms with our mortality considerably harder than it was for our ancestors. They had planted their seeds (figuratively and/or literally) on a beautiful earth and those seeds would flourish, long after they had passed. Today we – all of humankind – are leaving this planet with far less optimistic prospects. And that – for most of us – is not a nice feeling – and not the way we would choose to leave it … if we had a choice. In effect, we will go to our deaths in fear … in fear, for our beautiful planet. … and all that lives upon it.

That is my – greatest – fear … and I know it is a deeply felt concern that many of you share. I fear for the children of this world. What a world we are leaving to those innocent little souls. I am afraid for their future, and I am afraid for the planet that we are in the process of destroying.

When I was a very young child, a shocking scene from a war torn country came into our living room via the nightly news. And when I asked my Mother what was going to happen to the people that had been filmed, she said: “Life finds a way”.

And so, I turn, again and again, to the sky and the sea and the forests and such places … that are life affirming, and to such people … who are active and engaged in initiatives to heal this earth. I do what I can, to try and make a difference. And I live in the hope that … life will find a way.

this place of giant stones
that time and river transform –
in the vastness of this earth …
so many miracles
waiting to happen

We have come to a place where, those of us, who love this earth … live … and die … in the hope … of miracles.


Sherry: I resonate with the feeling of acceptance, of inevitability. A deep resignation is coming over me, who has for so long believed in the transformation of human consciousness, that light will triumph over darkness. Like you, I find my peace and strength in the wild places, that so want to live, to survive, as does Mother Bear and Sister Wolf. As do the struggling peoples of the world.

I share your hope for miracles. And I love your mother's quote: "Life will find a way."  With or without us, she will. 

Wendy: “This Place of Giant Stones” came out of my very strong concerns about the damage that is being done to our planet earth – primarily over the last one hundred years, through human-caused (anthropogenic) climate change. 

In 2007, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a panel of 2,500 scientists in 130 countries overseen by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization) warned that millions of human lives and nearly a third of the planet's wildlife and plant species could be wiped out if global temperatures rise as little as 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius.  The panel predicted a rise of between 1.8 and 4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, if measures are not put in place to reverse the current trend.

That stunning prediction was issued 10 years ago.  Since then, very little – in terms of what is required to stem this looming disaster – has been enacted.  I find that terrifying:  not for myself (I have lived my life); I find it terrifying for the children of this earth and for all life on this planet. 

I think, people of conscience, have always been predisposed to extend their vision beyond day-to-day concerns.  But the issue of global warming brings a whole new urgency to awareness and active engagement, simply because it is an issue that cannot be ignored.  We all must do our part to try and heal this planet.  As a writer, I write of my concerns … and the impending dire, consequential end result of climate change – is a big concern. 

Personally, as a poet, I find that the haibun and prose/tanka forms, work well as poetic vehicles when writing to extrospective issues (some might say:  universal issues)  – and I have found myself turning to that prose-poem format more and more, lately.  Perhaps it’s a sign of the times.  

Sherry: I share your worry, Wendy. With the new regime in the U.S., I am newly alarmed. The planet doesn't have four more years to neglect climate change.  Those predictions are very sobering. We are feeling the affects already, in many places. 

Thank you for this powerful poem, and for sharing your knowledge and your concern. 

Myrna wrote a poem that really spoke to me. With all the No's on the nightly news, Myrna found an Inner Yes. I think her poem will help us to find ours, too. Let's read:





RUNNING TOWARDS HOPE

I'm giving up
No longer will I persist
Expending energy like fumes
From an old bus
Dark smoke polluting my lungs
In stead my heart will
Positively beat
A different drum
Whose noise rises
Above
the tunes of doom
That I fear

No longer will I focus on what
May be inside black holes
I'll turn my cheek the other way
Only looking where the moon is bright
Enough to illuminate my night
Though I know it is the night
That may reign
In hearts like coal
Waiting to burn
Us, who resist
The blindness of dark power

I will say NO to thoughts
Of peril, feelings of helplessness
That haunt my emotions
I'll let my shadow cling
Trying to defy the sun
While I keep running
Reaching for the brilliance
Of my YES


Sherry: We must reach for the brilliance of that YES! Wonderful, Myrna.

Myrna: "Running Towards Hope" came about after a dinner out with friends.  After we talked about our lives, the inevitable discussion arose.  We are all concerned about the condition of the world, One of my friends spoke about the importance of not succumbing to the weight of the world's problems.  She talked about need to keep our energies in high vibration so that we not only resist negative forces but overcome them.


She spoke of how we need to maintain our spirits high so that we vibrate at higher frequencies.  Then she asked what we all do to rise above the grief when we are feeling low.  There were many responses.  Some refrain from watching the news, others seek the company of children, others meditate.  I realized that at one time or other I also did all these things.  But nowadays I usually elevate my mood by going outside, walking, spending time with nature.   I also get a lot of joy from drawing and painting too but I get the biggest burst of high energy, happiness?, when I write a poem that I especially like.  I know I am not yet at that place of joy, of being able to escape the effects of  what goes on in this world, but I'm trying to take my friend's advice and run towards hope. Though I clearly see the negative, I will try to stay positive.

Sherry: And I will, too, Myrna. Your friend is right. We need now, more than ever, to be beaming positive into the world, to assist the transformation of consciousness, to not let the dark side win. Thank you for this beautiful and wise poem. It is inspiring.

Elizabeth's poem is about turning to one's inner resources for strength - as well as to our online friends, who know our hearts so well. Let's take a peek:






something about a grain of sand
and how the part is a manifestation of the whole
___Thotpurge
I see the pity in your eyes
when you find me here
always in these rooms
alone in a world, I seldom
enter.
Joke about being a Hermit
and, although you smile,
it is softly thinned by nodding
glint of darkness and
disapproval.
You are aware of the gap
and curvature at base of spine
that continues to shorten
my stature, while slowing gait
of others who walk alongside.
Yet, I accept that you don’t
understand, how easily I slip
into this chair, type a few words
and am instantly in touch
with a world beyond your ken.
Because my ‘friends’ are people
who love words, I have tasted
exotic spices of India, smelled
pale orange roses of Australia,
and walked the beaches
of British Columbia with a wild
black wolf, at my side.
You shake your head sadly, say,
“You need to get out.” And never
know how, each day, I travel
further than you have ever dreamed
of being.
Elizabeth Crawford  4/24/2017

Sherry: I am a hermit, too, Elizabeth, so I really resonate with this poem. And with the online community being our connection to other poets, and to the wider world, and that being more than enough. I especially love your closing lines. It is true, we travel farther than our real-life people ever dream. I love this poem. 

Elizabeth:  This poem came very quickly. On the spur of the moment, I decided to use the idea of “Inspiration” for the April PAD Challenge. Specifically, where I find it. Which meant many of my poems for the month were inspired by lines, or words, I found in other online poets’ work. 

When I read the line from Thotpurge's Unfaithful Eye, I immediately began hearing echoes of other words thrown at me through the years, by family and friends.

My Mother: "You are still young enough to find a nice man to take care of you." My response: "Can’t find what I’m not looking for."

Older Sister: "Are you sure you are not a lesbian?" My response, after hysterical, raucous laughter: "Yes, I’m sure."

Both friends and family: "But, why would you do something you don’t get paid for?" My response: "Because I love doing it and find the deepest satisfaction in that process?"

The poem itself is a deeply personal response to someone I love and cherish, someone who believes that the time I spend on the computer, writing, is akin to the nerds who turn away from living and get lost in gaming and such. And although this individual knows all about my physical disabilities, and loves me, she is dedicated to getting me out and about, believing that will cure all of my ‘ills’.

After writing it, I finally remembered a piece of scripture that helped me to understand a bit of where it came from:

New Living Translation
"Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye."

Which brought me back, full circle, to Thotpurge’s "grain of sand." And also reminded me that a Prophet (for me that means Poet), is never totally embraced in his/her own home town, or space. 

Sherry: I love the equation of Prophet = Poet! And I laughed almost as hard as you did, at your family conversations. We poets are such a conundrum to our families. Smiles.

Thank you, Wendy, Myrna and Elizabeth, for this thoughtful sharing of how you each draw from your depths the resources that get you through and keep you strong. I feel newly encouraged by your words. I hope our readers do as well.

Isn't it wonderful to read the wisdom of three such strong women, my friends? I love it! Do come back, my friends, to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Poetry Pantry #358

source

"The sculptures of two mythical giant demons, Thotsakan (the green one) and Sahatsadecha (the white one), guarding the eastern gate of the ubosot (main chapel) of Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamaha Wihan, Bangkok Yai District, Bangkok"
Greetings once again, friends.  Are you ready to share and read some poetry today?  Let's just do it!

Hope you have read Rosemary's "I Wish I'd Written This" where she shared the poem 'Dawn Bursey' written by her friend Helen Patrice.  I think many of us have been influenced by a librarian when we were children.   The prose poem she shared tweaked memories of my own, and perhaps it will tweak yours too.

Monday Sherry is featuring the poems of three of our most prolific women poets.  I know you will enjoy this feature.

Next week's Midweek Motif is YOGA.  Should be interesting to see the poems we write.

With no delay, let's share poetry.  Looking forward to reading what you write and seeing your comments below!  Enjoy a very 'poetic' day!

Friday, June 16, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This

Dawn Bursey
(Prose Poem)



Your mild brown hair in a pageboy cut, that you grew out slowly over four years, but never decided on what 70's style suited you next.
Your blue eyes wide, the skin around them older than the rest of you, from books you'd read that no one else on staff had heard of.
Your cheese sandwich every day, and a carton of milk.
You placed books you knew I'd like jutting out from the library bookshelves.
You helped me choose a book prize for being Most Improved Grade 4 Student, and steered me past the cartoons to a book on nature. I read it to this day. You tapped the picture of the bear and cubs. You knew my totem before I did, by a good twenty years.
You read my first stories and said they were good. You said to keep going. You said to keep going.
I kept going.

I file you here, in the library of mind and page, bookmarked and stamped 'Out'. For by now, you would be dead, never knowing you lit a fuse.

– Helen Patrice



'Child  reading in large chair.' Image from public domain


This would have been a school librarian, obviously. I was employed as the other kind, a municipal librarian, many years ago, beginning as a children's librarian. As a child it was the local municipal library which was most magical for me, though I made a lot of use of the school library too. 

I am eternally grateful to my parents for encouraging my use of libraries. They were keen readers and library users themselves – but also, it occurs to me now, they just couldn't have kept up with my reading if they'd had to supply all the books.

I'm also grateful to the head librarian (Walter Sutherland, Launceston City Library, Tasmania; let's honour his name) who granted my parents' request to let me use the adult library before I was officially old enough, when I ran out of things to read in the children's library.

And that's what this poem is about, more than the library itself – the librarian who unobtrusively encouraged a child's passion for reading, to be fully appreciated for it much later. There were various adults who did that for me, very much including parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. Above all, I recall specific teachers, all the way through from kindergarten to the final year of High School, who fulfilled a similar role to the librarian in this poem. 

How valuable such mentors are, and how good to celebrate them!

So who is Dawn Bursey?  Well, she is the subject of this poem, and not the author as I first posted!

I originally said:

I see poems online and grab them for my PU columns, so I have a stash – although I also slot in anything topical while it still is. As you've observed, as a courtesy I ask living poets' permission to use their work and their photo, and for some biographical details for interest. But this poem in my files has no information except the author's name, and when I Google search her now I can't find her. I can find the name, but clearly not attached to this poet. 

This surprises me, in view of the reference to her 'first stories' and the assertion that she kept on, which suggest some public, adult authorship, as does the very existence of this poem. But there it is.

So I'm sorry: although I can post this legitimately 'for study and review', I can't supply any details about its author. 
If anyone happens to know her, or how to contact her, I'd appreciate a heads-up. It would have been nice to let her know how her prose poem resonates with another passionate reader – but then, I expect many others have already told her so. I'm sure it will resonate with the passionate readers here at Poets United too.


********************

Now the mystery is cleared up. Read on:

An alert reader on facebook has pointed out:


As to the identity of the author, in your own 2012 interview with Helen Patrice, she says: "By the end of primary school, I was showing my stories to the librarian, Dawn Bursey, who bless her, encouraged me."

OMG!!! I realised this must have been one of Helen's poems, ABOUT the said Dawn Bursey, not by her. When I checked, she confirmed this. Luckily she is more amused than upset by my error.

Helen's a close friend and we sometimes send each other our poems by email. 'Prose poem' must have been the description on this, and 'Dawn Bursey' the title. I must have saved it for future reference some years ago, and by the time I posted it here had forgotten it was Helen's. 

As you see, I have now corrected this post. And if you'd like to know more about Helen, look for the tag on her name on the left-hand side bar for times she's been featured here before, or check out my 2012 interview.


There's a lesson here for me, to be more careful when saving stuff, even if I think I'll never forget the details. And a lesson for us all – ALWAYS sign your work, even when only emailing it privately to a friend. My art teacher Val Anderson taught me that, long ago. 'Claim your work,' she would say to all her students. 'Own it.' It applies just as well to writings as paintings.

However  this is not Helen's fault but mine. Apologies to her and you, and many thanks to 'thylacine'.




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, June 14, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Seeking the Extraordinary in the Ordinary


“There isn’t any such thing as an ordinary life” — L.M. Montogomery, Emily Climbs

Walnut Leaf under microscope


“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.”—William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching.


       Midweek Motif ~ Seeking the                Extraordinary In the Ordinary

I believe that life for writers would be very monotonous if they did not find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

They seek the remarkable in the warp and woof of everyday life to give the readers a ‘living experience’ of the incredible. They delve deep and cater with artfulness.

We are doing just that today: Seeking the Extraordinary in the Ordinary.


All you need to do is open your eyes to anything /anyone within your view and mull over the various possibilities it /he / she might have or bring to you; and spill words out of the experience.

A few poems:



1) Stone / by Charles Simic

2) The Chairs That No One Sits In / by Billy Collins

3) An OrdinaryDay / by NormanMacCaig



Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—
                (Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Yoga)
                                                     

Monday, June 12, 2017

POEMS OF THE WEEK ~ STAFF PICKS

It occurred to me, looking around for poems to feature, that it might be time to offer some poems by staff. Recently, Mary, Susan, Sumana and Rosemary posted poems that, together, follow a theme dear to my heart - love and concern for Mother Earth. So I gathered them together in a posey, and offer them to you, with our thanks and appreciation for sticking with us so faithfully, week after week, and month after month. We wouldn't be here, without each one of you.







When I have no happiness,
the sunrise is my joy.
When I have no time,
I throw away my watch.

When I have no friends,
I walk with my dogs.
When I cannot sleep,
solitude is my rest.

When I lose my youth
I conjure myself sage.
When I have no voice,
poetry gives me words.

When I have no love, my
granddaughter gives a hug.
When I have no dreams
I learn to enjoy the dark.

When I have no faith
I act as if I do.
When I have no peace
I rest in my God.


Sherry: In these turbulent times, it is the simple cornerstones of our lives that give us ground on which to stand. I love this poem, Mary.

Mary: "My Song for Today" was first written in 2011, and as I look back on 2011, I realize that it was such a different world then than it is today.

It is amazing the changes a few years can bring. In 2011 the poem was written in past tense.  In 2017 I changed it to present tense which, most of the time, I prefer to write in anyway. In 2011 the poem's purpose was to reflect back on  some of  the ways I attained a positive perspective during difficult times.  In the 2017 revision, the poem in present tense instead gives me incentive / motivation to attain a positive perspective, despite our changed world.  Written as it is now inspires me to live this poem, and to think more positively than I ordinarily might. (Smiles)

Sherry: It does the same for me!

Susan's poem  really speaks to our love and pain for Mother Earth, and our wish to help her and her creatures.







Life is like a mountain hike: the pathway
both old and new, the heart that beats and blends
strata of rock, pebbles, flora and flesh.

Life is like a glacial hike: crevasses
turning to craters, cliffs, catastrophe
under our feet, heartbeat frozen between.

We are the mountain, we are the glacier
where ever we walk, city or sea shore
and so I claim the flowers and the weeds.

I woke this morning with joyful spirit:
a well the tweets dropped in with refugees—
Honduran mother and child—deported.

Certainly death awaits them in this new
slaughter of the innocents.  And we are
innkeepers offering not even caves.

We are this mountain.  We walk this glacier.
Hearts with the depth and warmth of this planet
can vanish into solitude and freeze.

Tears stream down my face and I plot
to take the pathway back with my people.
If we cannot, heaven cannot save us.

Life is like a mountain hike: the pathway
both old and new. Our feet walk for the earth.
Our hands create both with and for our God.  


Sherry: How I love this poem! The mountain hike, the crevasses we can fall into and disappear. And that we are mountain and glacier both. I so resonate with waking up with joy, then turning on the news. "And we are the innkeepers offering not even caves." I share your tears. "If we cannot - (change/care/transform) - truly "Heaven cannot save us." I am glad for the hope and activism in your last lines.

Susan: Exactly, Sherry. I had written half my poem the night before, happy, and determined to show it in my writing for a change. I had the mountain stuck in my head from the boogie-woogie hymn "Life is Like a Mountain Highway". Such happiness! But then in the morning, I heard the news. And the "blissful shore" disappeared. In the Nativity story, I have tended to identify with the refugees, but suddenly I got that we were those who locked our doors. Happiness is stark contrast to horror, and vice versa, so that feeling one allows us to feel the other even more. That's "the well". In the same way Hospitality and action contrast Isolation and inaction. (I should have used that word instead of Solitude -- I love Solitude. Hmm. I feel a revision coming on!) We have a choice to act for the greatest partnership  we know: Earth and God. Thanks for picking this poem to include with amazing poems by the wonderful PU staff.


Sherry: What a wonderful explanation - and poem! - this is. Thank you so much for sharing both with us.

Sumana recently wrote a most gorgeous poem, of nature and the lessons the earth has to teach we humans, if we listen.









I walk in the footsteps of Nature.
I am a She and believe She too is a She.
Her rivers run through my veins
so my feet tap unwittingly
to the rhythm of rain;
to the songs of rainbow;
I have embraced the Flame of Life.
In the thunderstorm days
I had learnt forbearance from Her.
I have seen how She is robbed of Her treasure;
She is abused, pummeled and battered
in the hands of greedy marauders
yet she breathes Her blessings into the sky
in the words of star-full nights
sunsets, sunrise.
Taking cue from Her
I’ve come to terms
with the child snatcher Death
and turned my sighs into words.


Sherry: How I love the way you turn your sighs into words, my friend!

Sumana: "One must be patient like Mother Earth. What inequities are being perpetrated on Her! Yet She quietly endures them all."- Sarada Devi

The poem is based on this quote. 

'She' is the female creative energy with infinite power that is wonderfully manifested in our Mother Earth. Her inherent beauty lies in her forbearance. She is an open book, a muse and inspiration Herself. She is darkness and She is light. Similarly any 'She' is the symbol of fortitude and a potent force. What matters most is how 'She' wields the power: sublimation or devastation. One must also keep in mind, when limit is crossed, Mother Earth will not forgive, neither would any 'She'.

I used imagery relating to energy, playfulness, beauty, devastation, sorrow and hope.

Sherry: And the result is a magnificent poem, Sumana. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Rosemary hit a note that resonates in her recent poem, looking back through the sands of time. Let's read.








One more grain of sand

rolls through the hourglass;

his voice long stilled, and even I

am not that girl who once….

He was so much of his time!

And so, of course, was I. No wonder

I loved his poetry, its haunting

melancholic nuances, the longing

for beauty and freedom and a world

of perfect love – we children

of the flowers … now I read

predictions of war, and I think

we were not so wrong to want

magic and poetry and a dream

of love and peace. Were we?



Sherry: No, we were not wrong. 

Rosemary: This poem is only semi-autobiographical; and while the main theme is clear to readers, some details have been misunderstood. Some I fudged on purpose, but others which I meant to be clear were missed. E.g. I thought everyone would pick up on 'flower children', but because I worded it a little differently to avoid the cliché, it went over some heads. They thought I was talking about actual children. 

I forget how old I am! Some references such as that one, which are self-evident to me, are not in the forefront of the general consciousness any more. Also it probably didn't help that I referred to my younger self as a 'girl'. I didn't mean child but very young woman. That's probably politically incorrect terminology now.

I was trying to capture the flavour of an era. Implying that I myself was a flower child is one of the not-quite-true details, employed intentionally. (Poetic licence!) I was in fact a little older than most of them, and at that time was living a much more conventional life as a young wife and mother. But I was very much in sympathy with most of their ideals (though not so much the 'turn on, tune in, drop out' ethos).

Sherry: Me, too. I was also a young wife and mother back in those heady days, living a more conventional existence on 3rd than the smiling hippies along 4th Avenue in Vancouver. But my heart was right there with them. My inner being recognized that long before my conscious mind caught up. (Which was a shock to my very conservative husband!)

Rosemary: At my blog, Susan asked who the 'he' in the poem was. At the time I wrote it, I was revisiting the work of one of my favourite poets, Australian Michael Dransfield (who died young, and whom I never met) and noticing from this perspective how much he was of his time. Not that the poetry isn't lasting, but it does also express a sixties to early seventies zeitgeist.

At the same time, I didn't want it to matter to my poem who the 'he' was. Could have been any one of a number of poets, or even song-writers. Indeed, my brief summary of 'his' poetic preoccupations leaves out much of Dransfield's subject matter and over-simplifies the rest. So Dransfield isn't really the 'he' in the poem, but things in his work suggested to me a certain kind of poetic consciousness, and even style, which was prevalent at the time (again omitting the drug culture aspects, both from Dransfield's writing and my fictional 'he').

That era is now regarded as having a youthful naiveté. Hence the wistful tone of the final question. The speaker of the poem sounds as though her certainty in those old ideals has been shaken. The writer of the poem stands firmer on them than ever!

Sherry: As do I, my friend. Thank you for this moving contribution to the conversation.

I was nonplussed as to which of my poems to include here. Having written so many agonized poems about our destruction of the planet, I wanted to add a note of hope, to join my fellow poets in offering a loving and positive message in times that feel so dire. Then I remembered this one.







I'm standing on the rim of the world,
at the far edge of far, 
next stop Japan.

I am thinking of you.

The news is bad.
It is very bad.

But the view is beautiful
from here.

I send you
a small postcard
of hope.

Believe in the essential goodness
of humankind.

Believe in Mother Earth
who, like us,
wants to live.

I stand on the edge
of the edge of the world.
I send you this
small postcard
of hope.


All of my life, hope has been my mantra. I refused to believe that the transformation of consciousness would not arrive in time. Never did I believe greed, power, corruption, and corporate control would overcome humanity's will to survive. Yet it seems it has. When the news cannot get much worse, for Mother Earth and for us as a species, (and for all the other species dependent on our good governance for their own survival), one small corner of my soul refuses to surrender, to give in to despair. For surely, surely, we cannot be blind enough to seal our interconnected fate by closing our eyes to the reality of what we are doing to our planetary home.

People on the march give us hope, and a voice. I sent you this small postcard, from the edge of hope, to encourage you, and myself at the same time, to continue the fight to defend Mother Earth from those to whom she is only a billion dollar paycheque.

Well, my friends, I don't know whether we have succeeded in fostering hope. My last comment nearly sent me into despair! But we can only try, with the same will to survive that Mother Earth and all her creatures share. Thank you to my fellow staff members, for their wonderful contributions to this feature. And for keeping Poets United going for all of us who love it, with your dedication and hard work. Each one of you helps shore up what is left of my poor old tired heart. Smiles.

We hope you take away something good from this exchange. We welcome your responses in the comments below. And do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!