"Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness."
Khalil Gibran

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Resting Place

The end of choice, the last of hope; and all
Here to confess that something has gone wrong.
Philip Larkin


Iosias Sepultus in Mausoleum Patrum
Salvador Dali


It begins with a death. Preferably in the 15th century but any year will do. Even this year of our Lord. Cue a train of mourners – two abreast – they have apparelled themselves in momentary grief and clutch, perhaps, a symbolic rose apiece. For props, two stone angels leering from twin alcoves – inexplicably one wears a sly grin. Naturally, the overcast sky provides pathetic fallacy. An oaken door, bulleted with iron rivets, on a creaky hinge. Double doors would be better. They swing inward and this is where you come in. No expense was spared for your conveyance – four onyx horses wearing plumes or a long automobile in muted black. Bystanders cross themselves. Six men of equal height bear the palled form of what once was you. This is your room now, behind the barricade. The living step back, take a bow. A scattering of petals they have cast aside on the marble stairs is the only reminder of blood in the entire scene. 

Are you nearby, waiting for me in the wings? 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Weekend Mini-Challenge in the Imaginary Garden is hosted by Kim, who has provided us with Philip Larkin's poem, The Building, as inspiration.

Shared at Poetry Pantry # 363.


Friday, July 21, 2017

The Escape

Nap ~ Jose de Almada Negreiros (1939)
Fair Use


There’s a swing hanging lopsided from a cherry tree
in the front garden, and she still likes to dangle there
though her legs are too long and the branch above creaks.

She is often reminded this is her father’s house, his rules
and ‘no child of mine will run wild in the streets’
but there are beautiful boys with kind brown eyes

and they beckon with the promise to adore her.
Her new breasts were made to pillow a lover’s cheek
and the heart beneath to tempt its first breakage

but her daddy won’t let her out the gate to find her way
around corners so she dreams as she swings her legs
calculates the cost of a kiss and plans her escape.


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A little slice of life inspired by the video "Watch the Corners" by Dinosaur Jr ~ Music with Marian in the Imaginary Garden.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On the 99th Anniversary of Mandela’s Birth

Clouds, Pretoria
Pieter Wenning
Public Domain


being a non-partisan patriot i read the news
and suffer the dubious agony of all my predictions
coming true but one doesn’t have to be a soothsayer

to read the marks of blood carelessly splashed
across the walls of parliament: this is not the south
africa of mandela we’ve lately been told so why

do we still speak in shocked tones when new revelations
of graft are leaked like pus from an overdue boil
when good women are silenced with threats of death

and the incorruptible offer their necks for the axe
our land is after all the unaborted child of colonialism
and blame can always be laid at the foot of a statue

or hurled as abuse at the journos with their fake news
while the stalwarts grind their teeth and allies hedge their bets
so long as we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater


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As a person, I prefer to skirt around the issue of politics but as a poet, the day arrives when it is worse to remain silent than to speak. Mandela Day is that day for me.

I hope the message has something of a universal theme but for those who may be interested, here is one f the headlines of the day:

"In case I do not make it..." ANC MP, Makhosi Khoza's message to Jacob Zuma.




Sunday, July 16, 2017

An Apocalyptic Conclusion

And however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have already ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us.
The Uninhabitable Earth: David Wallace-Wells

Ice Floes Under Midnight Sun
William Bradford 1869



How easily I can recall that July
when we revelled in yellow warmth –
no fire in the grate, perhaps an extra blanket
thrown across a knee and soon discarded.

That was the winter the Antarctic calved
the biggest iceberg ever – no matter
it was tilted away from the sun – we thought
how cool to have seen that in our lifetimes.

Oh, of course the pundits howled
and bandied phrases like planetary clock
blamed us for mass extinction despite
our best efforts to save the rhino.

We were unimpressed by the hype –
even presidents thought it a joke
as they exchanged lucrative handshakes
with the oil barons and admired new pipelines.

Yes, those were the days, halcyon
I’d call them now that time has unwound –
we castaways can only curse this perfect summer
desperate for any Ararat rising from the boiling sea.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the occasion of the birth of A68 (Giant Iceberg Splits from Antarctic BBC.com)

This weekend's prompt in the Garden has us Imagining a Changing Earth. Brendan has laid down the gauntlet: "I suspect the only way we can visualize something like this is through the collective of individual attempts..." And this, then, is my attempt to imagine what should be impossible given all the forewarning.

The last time it snowed in my home town in July was 22 years ago (bearing in mind my southern hemisphere perspective where all our cold fronts arise in the Antarctic). Now the temperature seldom drops below 22C (72F). While this makes for an endless number of pleasant days, it does not rain in this season, so the vegetation is parched and conditions perfect for uncontrollable wildfires (Hell and High Water as Knysna Battles Fires HeraldLive.com). I see how the warmer weather is affecting the migration patterns of birds and the cycles of deciduous trees which produce new leaves long before Spring.





Thursday, July 13, 2017

News of My Demise

Because I could not stop for Death -
He kindly stopped for me -
Emily Dickinson


By the Deathbed Fever
Edvard Munch (1893)


Everyone wanted in on my death –
those I used to call my friends
and strangers in the street
even my dentist said this is a small town.

How they crowded around my bed –
bringing grapes and chocolates
eager for a sight of blood
to be first with the news of my demise.

As for me, I just lay there under the sheet –
wondering how long this would take
hugging my body goodbye
apologizing for the inconvenience of my departure.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fireblossom Friday: Bang, You're Dead

Monday, July 10, 2017

This Is Now

is a river at its source separate from the sea, i ask
the question, you say, reflects the answer you seek
when love answers love, joy replaces questions
Shabbir Banoobhai

Copyright belongs to Magaly Guerrero



What will you have to show for this life, I ask myself
and wait for the answer only time can furnish
but I don’t have years to waste. This is now.

Memories are stored like dried herbs, still pungent
when crushed in my palm but dry and good only
to season the meat of today when all else is gone. This.

Here I lie upon the silken blanket as sunlight strokes
the curve of my naked shoulder, lights up my hair,
purrs around my breasts and I call for my love. Now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further inspiration from Fragile, Natural, Wild with Magaly, and written for The Tuesday Platform.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Like a Poppy Turns

by your own definition
i drink too deeply
the blood of roses
Shabbir Banoobhai

© Robert Draves



how could you understand
my love of fragile things –
this need to nurture
each bruised petal & broken wing?

I haven’t the words to say
how my heart grows in healing
how it dies a little to see
things crushed or fallen

you cannot know that i
have a crimson soul –
it opens like a poppy turns to the sun
and loves every short-lived thing


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fragile, Natural, Wild is hosted by Magaly in The Imaginary Garden.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Treeful of Birds

Red-billed Quelea
Source


Red beaks gleam
in the shallow sunlight
of this morning –
my tree full of finches
brown as leaves
now fallen
quivering
their feathers
tucking the night away
under their wings.

In numbers, they alight
like little flowers
blooming –
include me in conversation
their talk of birdseed
and where to find it
until I relent
flinging crushed corn
and millet beneath the tree
retreat to watch
as they float to earth
these tiny fragments of dusk.


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Get Listed! is hosted by Grapeling in the Imaginary Garden.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Penumbra

Star of the Hero
Nicholas Roerich (1936)



This existence is penumbral
not quite full shadow
nor white light
but we learn to wake
and sleep
count the days
scratch our names
on stones
and persist in a tender regard
for boundaries.

The primitive depiction
of naked ancestors
squatting in caves
as inarticulate beings
prone to fight
or flight
answers the question
we fear to ask
as we hide behind
collective unconscious.

The wheel is no measure
of civilised thinking
not much of a jump
from rolling rocks
downhill bemused by
momentum
when fear persists
and turns
quickly to blood
and fine philosophy
burns out
against a backdrop
of human history.

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I have dipped into Hedgewitch's Get Listed! word pool once again for this poem for The Tuesday Platform.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Aubade at Break of Day

It's all the same to morning what it dawns on--
Michael Longley.

Sleeping Woman
Tamara de Lempicka (1935)
Fair Use


Do you know how much I long for you at dawn?
Oh, that burning of my eyelids reminds me
why it is called break of day.
Yes, something is broken.

Sometimes, before I submit to sight and sound
I touch my fingertips to lips for proof
of life, an inkling of breath,
a taste of your name.

A bed is like a grave, and we embrace the death
it promises, the dissociated state
where forgetting is real
and living deflected.

Yet, I know you are in the world, some where
and for this reason alone I quieten
the irrational impulse to check
for shards at my feet.

It is only the light that lies divided on the rug.
I swing my legs over the edge to stand up,
as you too must cross the threshold
of your own new day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Play It Again Toads!
I have written the Aubade using words from Hedgewitch's list.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Unspiralled

© Karin Gustafson



Too many nights now, I have curled
into myself like a somnolent sea creature
with a thick, creamy shell –  an inward spiralling
that bears little resemblance to flight.

I have not sought out the stars
from my ocean bed, nor paid attention
to phases of the moon – a willingness to sink
into the confines of my own dark harbour.

But you will not consign me to the tide.
You sing me awake in lost hours, set me loose
from my anchor chains – a lifting free of self
to fly toward dawn on jet black wings.


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Karin Gustafson  is hosting Flight of Write in The Imaginary Garden and has kindly shared her art to accompany our words.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sonnet 38 ~ "I do not want to tell another man"

© Charles Schultz
Fair Use



I do not want to tell another man
I love him, only to see my words ground
to dust over time, while I can taste
them still, fresh as a kiss on my tongue.

To what avail? My belief in words
as a kind of cement has eroded –
every monument to man’s folly
will fall, given time and prevailing winds.

And this is the thing, no words
can warm my feet at night –
not even those I recall spoken
on warmer mornings than frosty June.

I know, hugging oneself to sleep is no substitute
but better than holding on to one who’s already gone.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fashion Me Your Words To Fold is hosted by Gillena in The Imaginary Garden.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Swans

Swans
M.C. Escher (1956)



Let us skim the surface of reality
like a pair of swans
and call it poetry

Or instead of giving it away,
two waterbirds, with necks bent
like the delicate handles of white china jugs.

No ripples.
No plumbing of the doubtful depths beneath
for our several personal atrocities

Just this almost silent glide
and a swishing turn by the reeds, poise,
because the secret lies in contemplation rather than deed.

And don’t forget to admire the mirrored underside of clouds
like pulsing throats waiting to be slit open,
and for rain to fingertip the silvery skin

And call it poetry.


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Today's challenge in the Imaginary Garden: Literary Excursions ~ Metafiction




Friday, June 9, 2017

Conversation with a Cab-Driver

There were many who went in huddled procession,
They knew not whither;
But, at any rate, success or calamity
Would attend all in equality.
Stephen Crane

The Chariot
Giorgio de Chirico
Fair Use


The charioteer climbed down
from his cab to contemplate his wheel,
stuck in a rut.
He carried a single passenger – the World –
who leant from his seat to offer wisdom:
“Those with their eyes fixed only
on a destination, fail to understand the journey.”
But the driver spat in the gutter
and cursed his Fate.
“I was not born to stand still.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Words Count with Mama Zen

I drew a tarot card yesterday and today - The Chariot and The World - and, although both readings seemed exceedingly inept in my current circumstances, I could not resist a return to my Tales of Tarot.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Abandoned

Image via Pinterest



The lights stay on all night
in the deserted hospital wing
despite the autumn leaves spilled
through unlatched windows
and the tubes, which dangle from
dead machines besides empty beds.
To wake in such a place
with no memory, no name
and no-one to answer the ringless bell…
is to know what awaits beyond the veil.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Flash 55 PLUS! : Ghost Town.

I am happy to report that my recent stay in hospital was not like this at all, but there were times when a lay awake deep in the night, when a sense of abandonment crept in.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Epitaph

Caught between sky and earth,
Poor stupid animal,
Stripped naked to the wall,
He saw the blundered birth
Of daemons beyond sound.
Sick of the dark, he rose
For love, and now he goes
Back to the broken ground.
James Wright


All Rights Reserved
Photograph colourized by
Frederic Duriez


XXX

It is the day, we bid farewell to
at its death, and its corpse
we carry from this battleground
with simple benediction.
Once we welcomed the light
but not when it rolled
and broke upon this strand
of the maimed and shone
too brightly on the flotsam
of the wrack without care.
This day must be interred
with all the other nameless
fallen days, and we who live
salute, recall each particular
grain we ever breathed of sun.


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Björn is out host for the final day of NaPoWriMo, with his prompt Particle-Wave Dualism.
It seems a fitting day for an epitaph, thus I have returned to the theme of war, and the photographic genius of Frederic Duriez.

Since the images have automatic links at the Source to be shared on multiple social platforms, I have selected one for this post. If the owner of the image objects to the manner and purpose for which it is displayed, please contact the Blog author.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Valediction

if I was dead,
and my eyes,
blind at the roots of flowers,
wept into nothing,

I swear your love
would raise me
out of my grave,
in my flesh and blood
Carol Ann Duffy


Night Fires
Agnes Lawrence Pelton
Fair Use


XXIX

If I had known,
the day before you left,
that the cold fires of dawn
would never be as warm,

nor that birdsong
would not be written
for me alone, but that I
would hear it as a stranger;

if I had known
you were never to return
with the turning tide
to the harbour of my bed,

nor to reply when
the winds followed you,
calling in my lonely voice
with its plea to come home;

if I had known
the hour of my loss,
I might have died
slowly upon the last kiss,

or saved my tears
and stoked the night fires
with your name, until love
was burnt to ashes.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sailing away with Brendan's Penultimatums in the Imaginary Garden.

I am bringing together a few of the April prompts in this piece, with a quote from Carol Ann Duffy's poem If I Was Dead and the artwork of Agnes Lawrence Pelton.
And I echo Brendan's words on the penultimate day of NaPoWriMo:
It whispers in one ear, You're done now, while at the same time exclaiming in the other: But what a journey it was ... I have learnt so much and may still have a few tales to tell.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Conversation with Death

A man feared that he might find an assassin;
Another that he might find a victim.
One was more wise than the other.
Stephen Crane

Source Unknown


XXVIII

And Death came down from his tower
when the Devil knocked
at the western gate, for he
had come bearing a gift:
a child, shackled at the waist
and in chains. The spectre said:
“Children die in my sleep.
History grinds their bones to grit.
What is this one to me?”
The demon warrior inclined
his horned head to the boy,
“This youth is a torment to me.
Long had I stalked him, thought him
unsuspecting a prey but once I
captured and bound him,
I found he had ensnared me.
Only you can set me free.”
Then Death stepped closer
to the gifted child, perceiving
an effluvium of corruption
and demanded his name be spoken.
“I am the World,” the boy smiled.
“Bow to your Master, for without me,
there is no Devil nor Death.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rommy invites us to pay a visit to the Boogeyman in the Imaginary Garden today.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Conversation with Gaia

She was physically forgotten
Then she slipped into my pocket
With my car keys
She said you've taken me for granted
Because I please you
Wearing these diamonds
Paul Simon

Source UNknown

XXVII

She was waiting for me, in the fork
of the road; her strange, dark eyes
contained the constellations; her womb,
the universe awaiting birth.
She held her right palm up and fixed
her starry gaze upon my face.
“Tell me who you are,” I spoke.
“Why do you stand in my way?”
Then I saw the rains released
in her tears. “I was the Empress.
Diamonds sprang from my heels
and cobbled these paths.”
But I looked at her bare feet,
saw only dust and splinters
of the broken wheel.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Marian is hosting today's prompt #27, Writing Shoes, in the Imaginary Garden.
I could not pass up the Paul Simon song Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, especially because it features South African choral group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo which originates in my home town.
Last year was Dr Joseph Shabalala's 75th birthday celebration and the choir of Ladysmith High School (where I teach) performed his song Homeless at the event. I include a LINK to a very short video clip, which unfortunately does not show the entire performance.. but I love it because many of the children you see singing are my students.





Wednesday, April 26, 2017

All is Still

All that’s needed is yearning, fate & you.
BrendanOran's Well

Karin Gustafson
All Rights Reserved


XXVI

When leaves fall in the Autumn nights,
they are silently cushioned by dew,
untrampled, laid down as gently
as your hand upon my cheek
or my head upon your familiar chest
in the dark bedroom quiet,
the solace of windy days, busy
under damp, hard-bitten skies.

Ah, Love, I hear the whispered song
your heart sings to me; the rise
and fall of your breathing
is the rhythm by which I live.
Like the river’s flow, the bending
reeds, I know my true course.


All is Still
Grandma Moses
Fair Use



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Karin Gustafson shares her artworks and insight into Outsider Art in the Imaginary Garden today.
My title is taken from the painting of outsider artist, Grandma Moses who began to paint at the age of 78.

One of the first poems I read in this month of poetry writing was Invitation to Voyage by Brendan of Oran's Well. The line I have quoted for this poem, struck me with its sense of purpose, as the heart of poetic expression, and I commented: "This is the line to set me up for all of April’s poems. It shall be my theme and guiding star when waters are rough and plain sailing uncertain." Now at almost the end of April, I return to it with my thanks to all who have made this incredible journey alongside me.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dead Star

Your heart is a drum,
but no one marches
to its staccato

hitch   hitch   hitching itself
to a long dead star.

Kelli Simpson

Challenge
Agnes Lawrence Pelton (1940)



XXV

We think of ourselves
as sentient
beings made in godly form
given a garden
a choice

to build up
or take down

to dance
or battle it out

We praise our nobility
of intellect
as something elevated
received rather
than earned

so we can sing
or call to arms

we can eulogise
or design Armageddon

We are not animals
but men
of the Earth we don’t deserve
already circling
a dying star.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My poem today takes a note from the prompt set by Gillena on Sunday, which asks that we respond to another poet's poem, even one written by one of our fellow poets in The Imaginary Garden.
Earlier this month, I read the poem Invisible by Kelli Simspon a.k.a. Mama Zen. Even as I read it, I knew it had taken me to a completely different place than was perhaps intended, so I have returned to that thought as my inspiration for this poem, which is coupled with the painting by Agnes Lawrence Pelton for The Tuesday Platform

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sonnet 35 ~ The Rain May Weep

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide
Edna St Vincent Millay

Young Woman on the Shore
Edvard Munch (1896)


XXIV

Their lies have filled a world of books with words
Replete with platitudes – the poets praise
The broken heart, as if it weren’t absurd
To think it noble: love and lose the day.
I build no monument to loss, nor will
I cast aside the pain, but keep each trace
Of him inside, beloved, untouched until
The turning of the tide reveals my fate.
I say, the rain may weep; I have no tears
For knowledge that a love once given me
Has fallen silent – inconsolable fears
Have power over passion – mine I keep.
Time is also mine, to use as I please
I’ll let sorrow fade by the least degree.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This day, 23 April, being the official birthday of William Shakespeare, I thought a sonnet might be in order.
Here I respond to the heart-wrenching Sonnet II by Edna St Vincent Millay for Gillena's Fashion Me Your Words prompt in The Imaginary Garden.


Landscape ~ A Villanelle

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
Sylvia Plath


XXIII

The artist, his brush and a landscape
With bridge; yonder a town, a church steeple.
We observe, as strange vision takes shape


Landscape with Bridge


In the foreground, a black cow seems misplaced
Or lost, left to wander the sheep hill
By the artistic brush, and a new landscape


Landscape with Cow


With farmer, alone, shouldering a spade
For his own grave, ashen soil left untilled;
We observe his brutal vision take shape


Landscape with Farmer


Under gun-metal clouds, an iron lake,
A dam wall, and dark smudges for people
Daubed by the artist’s brush in his landscape.


The Dam


A factory appears to be a mistake,
Hidden by trees, and one lonely disciple
Is observed as surreal vision takes shape,


Landscape with factory


Until we come at last to the tollhouse glade
Left to contemplate these scenes of upheaval:
A fashion of artist, brush and landscape
He observed, and disturbed visions took shape.


The Toll House


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I began this villanelle, rather ambitiously, last week in an attempt to combine the poetic form with the artwork of Henri Rousseau, whose painting style was unlike that of any other primitive painter. He was ridiculed during his lifetime, but believed wholly in his skill: in his opinion, Picasso and he were the only two great living artists. He is now considered a self-trained genius by art historians.

I had quite a bit of trouble trying to translate my interpretation of his landscapes into some semblance of poetry, but felt I had gone too far with it to give up, and this being poetry writing month, I have decided to simply put the end result out there, with a little of Rousseau's aplomb.

Linking to Poetry Pantry #350


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tanka (Each Window)

"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.”
Buddha

Mi Young Lee


XXII

Each window opens
on a different daytime
a singular view –

Tragedy to one
who locks the door from inside.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A tiny tanka for Susie's Bits of Inspiration featuring the piece by artist, Mi Young Lee.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Choke

This time, I have left my body behind me, crying
In its dark thorns.
James Wright

Man Ray (1926)


XXI

Oh, I have words alright
clogging my throat
my tongue burning;
I live with the choke
of them wanting to be
coughed up and spat out.

But my lips,
I have sewn shut
by hand,
nasty stitches
threatening to tear
and bleed.

Just don’t ask me
what I am thinking
or how I feel today.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A bitter little 55-worder for Magaly's prompt I have no mouth and I must scream.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Crows

"Truth," said a traveller,
"Is a rock, a mighty fortress;
Often have I been to it,
Even to its highest tower,
From whence the world looks black."
Stephen Crane

Ivan Bilibin (1910)*


XX

A pair of crows owns the parkade,
the one downtown, with the right front
corner collapsed down three floors.
The perfect place for the veritable nest
in which their hatchlings wait, ugly,
hungry heads wobbling, beaks wide to the sky.
The crows throw shadows
like chunky crucifixes
which slide along the edge of city walls
and deserted sidewalks.
There is something of the battlefield, here.
but all bones have been picked clean.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Fireblossom Friday has us cooking with crow.

*Illustration for poem "Two Crow" by Alexander Pushkin

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No Cut-Throat Rose

Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips
Carol Ann Duffy

Abstraction White Rose
Georgia O'Keefe (1927)
Fair Use


XIX

This love is no rose
throat cut
bleeding sap from severed stem
and every thorn peeled away.

This love brooks no sentiment
but dark humour
collusion
a symbiosis of intelligent lust
to aid in decomposition.

This love is not written
on the moon
reeking of rhymed verse
and objectification.

This love stifles every word
that tries to speak itself
into being
no need to justify the intimate
pulse, the hungry lips.

This love is neither
truth nor
falsity, no illusory song
for fools to dance to.

I give you this love
as a stranger might hand
a dying man
a drink of water at his place
of execution. A matter of instinct.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Poems Through the Eyes of Carol Ann Duffy is our Wednesday prompt hosted by Sanaa Rizvi in the Imaginary Garden.


Monday, April 17, 2017

The Good Life

I am ready to carry you
away from the execution line, yes,
this is real, no joke.
Dennis Etzel Jnr

World War 1 photograph colourised by
Frédéric Duriez (Daily Mail)



XVIII

You are waiting for the parade, for a singular view of the barrel-chested General with his double row of brass buttons and luxuriant moustache. You notice your fingernails – or rather the way each is rimmed with clotted blood or rust or red earth. Not easy to be certain. But you pick at them, one nail under the other. Best to practise a clean salute. The wait is longer than you expected. The triumphal procession through empty villages must not lose a modicum of pomp, even when the top dogs must pick their way over the bridges you blasted last month. So you rest a knee against the sandbags and enjoy the weak sunshine, oblivious to the scant rainbow over your shoulder. No need to contemplate defeat when slaughter has become synonymous with ‘the good life’.
Best you stifle that yawn.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Izy Gruye is hosting the prompt Over // Under // Through in the Imaginary Garden.

Lines quoted from This Removed Utopia We Called Kansas by Dennis Etzel Jnr, featured on Nice Cage Issue 03

Picture Credit:
French lines on the right bank of the Seille being held by the 150th Infantry Regiment, 5th Battalion in Port-sur-Seille, Meurthe-et-Moselle, in March 1918, in one of many First World War images colourised by graphic artist Frédéric Duriez. Used here under Fair Use Principles. If the owner or publisher of the image objects to its appearing on this blog, please contact the owner.  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Untitled (Streetlights & Rain)

and those who would gladly die for love lang deid-
a skull for a bonnie head-
and love itself a metaphor, rose, red.
Carol Ann Duffy


Shadows Twilight
Gosta Adrian Nilsson (1929)



XVII

All the streetlights are out,
the city drowns under a dank pall
of inky rain clouds;

squalls pelt the deserted
car parks and off-ramps, no voice
but the tinkle on broken glass…

Though I cannot see your face,
my fingers are threaded through yours,
barely alive in a suburb of ghosts

and I would gladly die for love.



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Micro Poetry ~ Streetlight Rain

and linking up with Poetry Pantry #349.

Easter Sunday, 4 am

But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
Edna St Vincent Millay


Rainy Night at Maekawa
Hasui Kawase (1932)
Fair Use


XVI

Easter Sunday, 4 am.

The last rain of Summer whittles away pain's remembrance, fitfully.













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An American Sentence, as invented by Allen Ginsberg, for Micro Poetry ~ Streetlight Rain in the Imaginary Garden.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Eclipse

I won’t be diminished, eclipsed or hidden.
You’re going to see my light.
Christina Grimmie

Fornasetti



XV

Restless after dark
In the green city, alone
Where no torch burns the shadows~
Cupping the moon in my palm,
I am the eclipse.


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A tanka suggested by the song Invisible by Christina Grimmie, which is featured on Music with Marian in the Imaginary Garden.

This is my 15th poem of the month, which means I have met my personal challenge... Anything else I write will be bonus.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Conversations with Water

Water swallows up the earth, extinguishes the flame, ascends on high, and by stretching forth as clouds challenges the heavens for their own, and the same falling down, becomes the cause of all things that grow in the earth.
Pliny

Artist Unknown


XIV

Three old men sat on a bridge
contemplating the water’s direction of flow.
The magician spoke: “It is from this
elemental purification,
that our emotional reality is revealed.
Let us fill our cups.”
The second man stroked his gnarled beard
and remarked, “Let us follow
the course of least resistance,” and returned
to his hermitage.
But the disgraced president
drew out a blue fish on a handline,
for he had baited a hidden hook
with the other men’s worms.


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Michael is hosting Get Listed ~ April Ain't Fooling in the Imaginary Garden.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Conversation with a Hanging Man

Behold, the grave of a wicked man,
And near it, a stern spirit.
Stephen Crane

The Hanged Man (Tarot)
Artist Unknown

XIII

I sat at the feet of a hanged man once,
and asked of him, “Did you die
for equality?” but his eyes were glazed
with dust from the road.
“Was it for dignity?” but I saw
that wild animals had gnawed his feet.
Strange that I felt at one
with his studied silence, the bewildering
simplicity of his demise.
“Tell me it was not for love,
but for laughter, friend.”
Now his rictus grin disrupts my dreams.


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For Izy's Out of Standard prompt in the Imaginary Garden, I have returned to the tarot card conversations, which began HERE on April 1st.
My chosen protest sign is taken from the many currently on display during the rolling mass action in South Africa this month.

Source: Sullivan Photography SA

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Green Light

10 April 2017
No poem today, folks. Just this perfect moment and my daughter's choice of song of the day. I will be back to writing tomorrow.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Horizon Blue

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all;
but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

All Rights Reserved
Frederic Duriez
(Framed by blog author)


XII

Light was muted then,
tamped down by soiled clouds
hanging low over
conquered ground, but still we wore
our horizon blue
and ate thin soup from jars
at Bois des Buttes,
or gnawed the sawdust bread
left behind in blitzed towns.

In the trenches, we felt full
of life, even surrounded by the bodies
at Verdun; the earthworks
became our mother in a reversal of birth
but something of comfort
to lean against in the dark,
shelter a struck match,
cushion a cheek in sleep
until day called us
to our deaths.

The land died with us,
trees became charcoal though still
many stood scratching the sky
to tears while the skin of fields lay peeled
or gouged  to bleeding lumps of flesh.
But the rivers ran on, and we washed
our clothes at Sainte Menehould
while one kept watch on the bridge.
Waiting for the sun.


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With constant talk of the World War 3 to be heard these days, as hostile super-powers size one another up, I was so moved by this collection of photos colourized by graphic artist, Frédéric Duriez. 'The horrors of the First World War trenches have been brought to life...'  Read more: HERE

Poetry Pantry #348 is hosted by Mary.

April 9, 2017 marks the centenary of The Battle of Arras. Thanks to Kim, the Cheeseseller's Wife.

Since the images have automatic links to be shared on multiple social platforms, I have selected one for this post. If the owner of the image objects to the manner and purpose for which it is displayed, please contact the Blog author.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Conversations with Birds

Be still and listen to the voices that belong
To the streambanks and the trees and the open fields.
There are songs and sayings that belong to this place,
By which it speaks for itself and no other.
Wendell Berry


Woodpeckers (1950)



VIII

Birds of my garden,
Why do you fly through my door
To perch upon kitchen sink?
You bring me news of
Morning rain, empty seed bowl.


Long-necks (1950)



IX

It is Autumn now
And long-necked storks will gather
To confer of the journey,
Beaks delving in the
Bowl of my thoughts like chopsticks.


Owl (1960)



X

Night-visitor on
Moonlit wings, do you bring word
From my beloved?
Will he return home
Before the trees lose their leaves?


May (1960)



XI

While moon is rising,
Whitening the tall grasses,
I sleep fitfully.
I am dreaming your low voice;
Trust in tomorrow.


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All prints are the work of Japanese artist, Kaoru Kawano, and are displayed here under Fair Use Principles.
My series of tanka was written after revisiting the feature articles of Dr Hisashi Nakamura.

Sherry Blue Sky is hosting the prompt, Hope and the Places that Heal You in the Imaginary Garden.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Truth to Power

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
John McCrae


War or the Ride of Discord
Henri Rousseau (1894)

VII

Lay weapons down, and join the peace.
Own this day, this flag and these streets
We are a chain, each link a hand:
A divided nation can stand
Together in communal grief.

Our fathers’ struggle does not cease,
When sons are given to caprice.
Their voices echo across the land:
Lay weapons down.

We cannot rewind the timepiece
Of history, but prevent repeat:
We have seen atrocity firsthand,
Oppression, freedom of speech banned
Thus we lay truth at power’s feet.
Lay weapons down.


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This poem comes with Footnotes.

Today, I am breaking with my free verse themes to return to the classical form of Rondeau, which seems most apt for impassioned statement. Two noteworthy examples of the form are In Flanders Fields by John McCrae and We Wear the Mask, by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, both shown on this PAGE.

We seem to be living in a world converted to an arena of war, with missiles flying right and left, and many analysts believe we are headed irrevocably back to the 20th century phenomenon of World War.

Source


Here in South Africa, the death of Apartheid struggle veteran, Ahmed Kathrada, has galvanised the nation to take a stand against a political move towards kleptocracy by our incumbent president, Jacob Zuma.
April 7, 2017 marks the advent of rolling mass action, rallying under the slogan #SAunites.
The scenes unfold on this News24 Feed.

With this poem, I lend my voice to the movement.
Kerry Says ~ Let's Paint a Picture

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April Fools

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago
Is full of whispers, full of sighs
Edna St Vincent Malay

April Fool
Raphael Kirchner


VI

We came together
April Fools
and not a meeting so much
by chance
nor, for the matter,
design. A confluence,
I shall call it.

Do you see two rivers
like hands,
palm to palm, joined as if in prayer?
But this is water flowing into water
and a swifter current
drags all away.

You spoke first.
And every small thing
the poets have said about April
left metaphor behind and came true.
I wished I had such words
for you but offered instead my hand
with the trust of a child.


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Poets United: Susan is hosting the Midweek Motif: April.

Dreaming with Stacie in The Imaginary Garden features Children's Poetry.



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Curvature

The universe has three dimensions of space and one of time and putting them together we get four dimensional spacetime. The curvature that leads to gravity is not a curving of space, it's a curving in spacetime.
Jon Hurwitz 
Source

Moonlight, 1895
Edvard Munch


V

What care I
for the curvature of spacetime
or gravity?
I leave that to the scientists
and speak my layman’s terms:
for I have seen the curve
of earth and beyond that space
which we call sky, for being blue;
and the curve of your spine, I have felt
as I hung like a moon
heavy with reflected light.
I learn the joy
of gravity when you lay
your head upon my breastbone;
my heart will beat the measure as time
slips away.


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Physics with Bjorn brings in Day 5 of Poetry Writing Month.