Monday, April 30, 2012

Open Link Monday

Calling all toads to the garden...

Image source:

Welcome to the imaginary garden where all are welcome to share their unique creativity in the form of poetry. I look forward to the Open Link each week, because I know that many crazy talented poets will bring out their best, often a glimmering gem which has been hidden away in the archives.

With this in mind I have been digging around in my own memory and have linked the Bee Gees 1969 classic hit, featured in the movie Melody, for tomorrow is The First of May.  I hope it is the start of a productive month of writing for all online poets who walk this way.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Sunday Challenge ~ Featuring Mama Zen

I feel like this is the moment I draw the rabbit out of the hat to the collective gasp of my astounded audience...  Oh, yeah! I got Mama Zen!

The Avatar 

Mama Zen is a fellow Toad with a camera. When she's not posting at Another Damn Poetry Blog or The Zen of Motherhood, she likes to take pictures. "Occasionally, a few of them turn out to be in focus..."

© Mama Zen Photography

When Angels Sleep
                         by Mama Zen

Snuggled deep within a cloud of soft and snowy white,
the angel says her bedtime prayers, then whispers, sweet, “Goodnight.”
She gently rests her tired head upon her angel wings.
With a sigh and closing eyes, she soon begins to dream.

Her golden curls tumble down
across a peaceful brow
that knows no cares or worries
and rarely wears a frown.

Her long black lashes flutter
as she giggles in her sleep.
And I can’t help but sneak a kiss
upon her rosy cheek.

She snuggles closer to me.
I whisper, “Love you true.”
When angels sleep, when angels dream,
they look a lot like you.


MZ has selected several of her photographs for our poetic inspiration. Each one is copyrighted to her, so please remember to acknowledge the name of the artist if you upload an image to your blog.  Please do not select another image from MZ's blog without her express permission.

© Mama Zen Photography

I refused to even touch a camera until after I gave birth. I was afraid that I would break it! After having a baby, however, everything became a photo op. Plus, digital makes it so easy.

© Mama Zen Photography

As for creative process . . . I point, I shoot, and I sometimes get lucky. I don't have the technical skills or knowledge to "set up" a shot. And, I certainly can't talk camera specs. But, I know what I like when I see it.

© Mama Zen Photography

And, the "seeing" is the best part. Since I started taking pictures, I notice more of the beautiful, the ugly, and the flat out weird that surrounds me. That's a greater gift than any in-focus picture.

© Mama Zen Photography

The Sunday Challenge is posted on Saturday at noon CST to allow extra time for the creative process, so please do not link up old work which kind of fits the image. Members will only respond to poetry written specifically for this prompt: this is in the spirit of our Real Toads project to create opportunities for poets to be newly inspired. Management reserves the right to remove unrelated links.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fireblossom Friday #6: Much(a) The Artistic!

Hello my little blooms from the Imaginary Garden. Today I want to celebrate the art of Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939). Czech it out, Mucha was born in Moravia, about which I know next to nothing, but I like to think that, in his day, the place was alive with Gypsys and beautiful half-swooning women.

His style is called Art Nouveau, and during his lifetime, his art often graced advertisements and show posters. Today, after a century and more, it still is.

Although not all his paintings are in his famous style, he is best known for his 19th century beauties, reclining in natural or mythic settings, with their long hair putting modern volumizers to shame. 

What I'd like for you to do is to write a poem inspired by any of these works by Mucha, or any other you care to use, as long as it's a Mucha. His art can be found easily by searching "Mucha art" at Google images or any other browser. Then post your poem, link back here to this post and sign the linky so that we can all come and see what you've written! Have fun! I'm going to leave old Alphonse himself here to watch over things.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Speed Dating Heaven (Grace)

Herotomost here and I know, right off the bat I have all of you taking a deep breath and muttering under your breath that she's married...I'm married...what the hell does he think he's doing? Just because she has a blog titled “Sweet Lust” (yum), doesn't give him the right to assume that she wants any kind of a date with second rate hack of a poet. Well here's what I know:

  1. Calm down!!!!!! Its just an interview, we are not officially dating....her husband would sooooo kick my ass and though probably deserving of an ass kicking for a multitude of things, not looking for one at the moment.
  1. Yes...yes...I love that fact that her Sweet Lust blog has a bunch of me some nakedness...but I will try and keep it professional and not let my boyness get the best of me.
  1. Sherry Blue sky did such a great job interviewing her before ( ) and asked such a great and very complete set of can I compete. So the speed dating thing is a quickfire way for all of us to see in an instant whether we really want to go any farther with this intuition tells me that we will....not because the interview is so effing off the hook, but because the subject is unbelievably talented and very generous with her time, prompts and reviews.

So that being said....let the speed date portion of the interview begin....she was asked for a one or two word answer to the following questions:

Broccoli or Cauliflower? Broccoli

Shameless or Game of Thrones? Games of Thrones

Movie or Picnic? Picnic

Gina Gershon or Eva Mendez? Eva Mendez

Steinbeck or Hemmingway? Steinbeck

Top or bottom (Bunk!!!!!! For goodness sake pull your heads outta the gutter!)? Bottom

Hagar or Roth? Roth

Concert or Museum?Concert

Princess Bride or Matrix?Matrix

Breakfast or Dinner? Dinner

Whewwww!!! that we have all the tools we need to make a decision, I should give you the chance to tell me whether we should continue on....I should...but yeah, thats not gonna happen. This is my show, I am the one that yells action, I give out the raises, I do the hiring and firing, y'all are dreaming if you think I'm giving up my authoritay! My answer is a great big, hard to lift, slippery when wet, can't get a good hand hold, YES!!!!! So onward and upward.

Formal intro.....I would like you to meet Grace, AKA Heaven (our little slice of Heaven for sure). She hails from Ontario, Canada or thereabouts, she has two blogs that I am aware of, “Sweet Lust” ) and “Everyday Amazing”( ) . If you have spent any time at all on these blogs or hanging around this Toads website and many already know that she is a stunning writer and wonderful personality. So, I know that I can't avoid all previously asked interview questions, but, I hope the ones I picked are good enough to keep your interest...and I really hope they kept Heaven's interest.....I really want to do her justice because she is very deserving. Here we go.

C: I don't want to disappoint anyone by not talking about the Sweet Lust blog first, Kerry expects me to...she thinks I am at best twelve years old, but look at the professionalism here with this make up your own mind. I have had many discussions about how hard it is for man or woman to write about love, passion and intimacy without it seeming forced, cheesy, trite or over wrought. It takes a special writer to approach it with delicate, yet passionate fingers and you seem to be one of those people without a doubt. How do you keep the writing intimate and sensual and hot while keeping it real enough to make the spark believable and all consuming?

G: Less is more as they say in writing haiku. I (try to) apply this when I am writing about love and intimacy. Give just a hint and the rest I leave to the imagination of the readers. Seduction is a mind's game after all.

To make my words sensual, I use the senses of touch, smell and taste often so my reader can imagine and feel my words. I also try to keep it simple so that anyone with intimate experience can understand what I am trying to say.

C: I have one favor to ask...while perusing the poetry on Sweet Lust....I had the oddest feeling come over me. A I needed a cold shower. I really think you need to put some sort of cold shower button on your blog space....I hardly think that I am the only one that has had this odd Ok enough of that, one of the poems that I dearly loved while going through was “Muse".
( )I am a sucker for lines that kill, and this one has the line “He smelled your rage in my hair” BAM!!!!!!! That is a potent line. Do you have a line or other lines that still make you tingle when you read them? Can you give us an example of one you think is exceptional?

G: Cold shower button…ha..ha... a good suggestion Corey.

This is a difficult question as an exceptional line depends on the reader. One of the better lines that I like is from The Nightmare )

"i wallow in my sweat, impaled by my sins"

C: That is definitely a great line. On your blog home page, you have a profile statement that says you are new to writing, and I know you recently had a one year blogging anniversary. Congrats...and here's to a hundred more! I for one think your writing has been wonderful since I started reading it, not that long ago really. You also ask if "we" think its getting better...well, since its already good for me and I am pretty sure that most would concur that it is amazing and getting better by the day, I want to know if you feel like you are getting better? Do you feel fulfilled and growing or frustrated and bogged?

G: I wrote that introduction a year ago but reading it now, it is still relevant. Compared to others with published works and credits, I am a novice in both writing and blogging. My educational background and work experience are in business, not literature nor poetry. But I am an eager student, always open to try out poetry forms, and experimenting with shapes and words. The poetry communities I have joined like Real Toads and D’verse are like a school to me…teaching me to improve my craft and gaining confidence in my writing. Despite the lovely words that I receive, I have a realistic assessment of my writing skills. So, yes , I feel very much fulfilled in my writing these days.

C: " Not the first time" I came across this poem on Sweet Lust and immediately loved it for its salty smell of romance dipped in lust and backed with a choir singing the sounds of new love. Deliciously written.What is one of your favorite poems? This is a selfish request often made by interviewers (hedge) so that we can try and read your mind and unearth the impetus for your writing. Or not...but that sounded pretty good. Really want to know what makes you the most proud...pick several if you like, I'll wait.

G: I believe that my best work is still coming. But I am proud of my work in a poetry form as it shows my versatility and openness to write in different ways. Here are some of them:

For Free style, I like my spring poem inspired by Pablo Neruda: What I want to do with you

In my other blog, Everyday Amazing, I write a lot of haiku. I have learned to write a cascading haiku like this one here:

C: On to your other blog “Everyday Amazing” and I want everyone to know (and anyone that usually reads these already knows) it is equally as stunning as Sweet Lust with a different lilt to it. Why two blogs? Your previous interview with Sherry indicated that Sweet Lust was an alter ego of sorts and that Everyday Amazing is to remember to stay optimistic...great message by the way. Is it important to you to keep these two schools of thought separate?

G: Not everyone knows that I have another blog, where I pen under my real name, Grace. It is a secret..ha..ha.

When I started with Everyday Amazing, it was a journal of my everyday thoughts and events in my life. I wanted it to be inspirational so I will be spurred to write every day. When I became comfortable with blogging, I wanted to write in a different way and direction. I took a hiatus from it and concentrated in building up the persona of Heaven. She is a side of me that I want to express, remember and hold on to. Eventually, I discovered my love for Japanese poetry and decided to reopen my Everyday Amazing to further deepen my skill in writing short poems. Nowadays, the blog is composed mostly of haiku linked up with haiku communities, and occasionally I write about my reflections of my everyday life.

 C: Sorry for giving up the suck. The poem that was up when I opened Everday Amazing today was "The obligation to have none" Very austere and Zen like in its message and a peek into the mind of what seems to be a proud mother. When you approach it in a Zen like atmosphere or is if a bit more unorganized. Does it pour forth smoothly or do you have to dig like an archaeologist to get the feel? I love to try and visualize others that wrong?

G: Pictures are important to me when I am writing. All of my posts have pictures to help me crystallize the words and make it a visual treat for my readers. Nowadays the words come out quicker when I am writing because, between the two blogs, I am writing almost everyday.

Short, simple words are the best for haiku and micro poetry. After a few months of immersing myself with the form, and joining daily challenges, I have gotten the hang of it that I can think of haiku lines in just minutes. Reading the work of other haiku writers also helped me in framing the words very quickly.

C: I love your have a very astute talent for writing those, better than most. I also love the message s and information you convey with the haiku. Do you enjoy form or free better? Long or short? You seem to have something that fits every category, so maybe you don't have a preference?

G: Thank you for the compliments. I enjoy the discipline of writing them, and sharing them in my Haiku Community. I enjoy the challenge of writing in poetry forms but nothing too complicated like a sonnet or sestina. I had a hard time with rhyming patterns before, but now I am getting better at it. Practice and more practice is the way to do it. At this point, I don't have a preference of writing style.

C: You write a bit of prose I see as well and exceptionally I might add. Do you like prose or poetry better? What is your favorite piece of prose that you have written?

G: Prose is my weakest form. I can’t write a straight chapter, without lapsing into some poetic expressions. I think it’s called prose poetry. I wrote a few for Romantic Friday Writers as an experiment like Christmas Star.

One of my goals is to write dark themes, specially in prose format. I get inspired when I read yours, Corey. You are a natural in this form.

For myself, I still have a long way to go in achieving this but I have started writing short stories. When the Haiku Challenge is done by end of April, I will be switching to prose format to make me write longer.

C: Alright I am going to wrap this up with a couple personal questions....stuff everyone asks but stuff that we all share in common as writers so its always interesting.

What does your family think of your writing? Are they Supportive?

G: Yes, they are.

C: Do you write on vacation?

G: I try not to but I keep a paper and pen handy in case my muse comes.

C: Does anyone at work know you write? What do they think?

G: My writing is my creative expression, an outlet for me, outside of work. Some close friends know I write but they don't read my blogs. At this point, I don’t need to advertise myself as I don’t have a published book. I write for my pleasure.

C: If you could have dinner with any writer in the world...who would it be?

G: I enjoy Pablo Neruda's poems so I would like to meet him. Another one I would like to meet is M. Basho as I like haiku.

C: If Kerry emailed and asked you to be the High Queen of Toads for two weeks, would you kick me out of the member roll?

G: No way, I enjoy your work Corey. You are very talented. And I enjoy listening to your music in your blog ~

Heaven.....thanks you so much for putting up with my shenanigans. This has been great fun and I really hope you enjoyed it a least as much as a root canal. I look forward to reading you for as long as you are writing and sharing....and a great big thank you for the sharing part.  It tastes better when you share.

Check out Sweet lust and Everyday Amazing often definitely will not be sorry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ella's Edge

Ripples by *opticnerver

Hi everyone! Today I am going to share another exercise from the book, "Writing Poetry from the Inside Out"  . We are going to try an exercise involving our inner and outer worlds. The author  Sandford Lyne shares more than his own experiences and prompts. He shares other poets views.  He mentions Ralph Waldo Emerson and his essay, "Circles".  Emerson writes that the beauty of a circle is that another greater circle can always be drawn on envisioned around it, and that adding circle upon circle can go on infinitely and perhaps forever.  You can see a stone being thrown in a pond and how the ripples expand outward.  "Emerson saw all this as symbolic of our consciousness and its growth; inevitably, there is no shore, no limit to our knowing."  Bottom line it is all about expanding our awareness.  Writing helps our circles grow, reading and sharing does, too. 


The Phantoms of the Brain by ~richworks

Here is our exercise:
On a piece of paper draw a line down the middle. On the left side write the word INNER and on the right side write OUTER. Now we are going to gather words and phrases.  Write something inner that is going on with you on the left side. It can be simple, I'm angry, sad, stressed...Write any feelings it can be today or yesterday, or last week.  On the right side jot down and describe what captures your attention in the outer word.  If you can go outside or look at a window. Observe the weather, the trees, the sky, do you see a bird?  Collect ideas, thoughts from what you "see" in your inner and outer worlds.
Only write down what captures your interest.  Here is the author's paper:

INNER:                                                                                         OUTER:

judge lies                                                                                      fields of flowers
Senate hearings                                                                            autumn sun   blue sky
panel power                                                                                 the forms and shapes of things
sexual harassment                                                              

                                                                                                      I walk a hill between woods

Whom to believe, both
prominent and
accomplished jurists                                                                     each perfect thing I see

how to know what
really happened                                                                            self-blazing flowers


sun sets daily.. love never by ~sinanTR

The day the author jotted these notes down was when the hearing of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill was being televised.   It was a case of alleged sexual harassment of Hill by Thomas.  A difficult case to witness.  The author was thinking about this case when he went for a walk and collected his thoughts.  He thought about these two being the only people on earth that knew the truth.  How the Senate hearings were simply another mirror or projection.   Here is his poem:


I walk
till elevation comes.

The field of flowers
tell no lies,

nor harasses one bloom another
with its incumbent power.

None hold an office;
none are impaneled to judge.

Each is en-sunned
with its own mysterious angel

of color and form
to make a field of flowers,

harmonious, far-flung,
and free. 

The author explains he didn't see a conclusion about this case, but that he needed altitude. He was disturbed by the case, but this was his disturbance that lead to this poem. He collected his inner and outer thoughts to regain his balance.  

"Your job is to find and express how you see things...  This exercise helps you capture a moment in time. Yes, you can embellish, but it is about following the thread that connects your inner world to your outer and see what you can create."  He mentions his favorite inner, outer poem by poet Mary Oliver.   

Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?

There are things you can't reach. But
you can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

And it can keep you busy as anything else, and
The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little
out of the water and back in; the gold finches sing
from the unreachable top of the tree.                       

I look; morning to night I am never done with
Looking I mean not just standing around, but
standing around as though with your arms open.

And thinking; maybe something will come, some
shining coil of wind,                                              
 or a few leaves from any old tree-                           
they are all in this too.                                             

And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world              

At least, closer.                             

And, cordially.                              

Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping
Like goldfinches, little dolls of gold                     
fluttering around the corner of the sky                  
    of God, the blue air.                                                    

              ~Mary Oliver                           

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back to Love: Laurie's personal challenge poem

Hey everyone, this is Ruth, baton-tapped by Kerry into challenging fellow Toad Laurie Kolp to build us a poem that's different in some way from how she usually writes - and because she has written so much and in so many forms (I really think there's nothing she couldn't do), I asked her to give us something more, a turnaround, another view. You're going to love what she came up with:

Back to Love


All you need is love ~ John Lennon

What has this world come to?
We walk around like soldiers on land mines
tiptoe through department stores
stare at front doors of restaurants
prepared to draw in a moment’s flash
the weapon we must carry to live.
We hold tighter to our babies
send our kids off to school
in angst, with awareness
of bullies and misbehavior
cheaters, liars, thieves;  
inconsequential consequences
because there are none anymore
just more, more, more
I’ll buy you more!
Shut up, here it is-
cram this iPad in your mouth and leave me alone!
No, we prepare our beloved children-
precious gifts we have been given-
for the possibility
that a peer might pull a gun out and shoot
-bam! bam! you’re dead!-
for no other reason than
he or she can.
Anybody and everybody can
shoot dead the one who pisses them off
the one who says no, sets boundaries
in this materialistic world
where God has become unimportant
a misdemeanor
an old wives tale
a source of offense
for nonbelievers
preaching freedom
to deny His existence:
Take down the Ten Commandments!
Do away with prayer in school!
I watch the nation
crumble away like an ant pile dIStuRbed
a flurry of red ants (on FIRE) seeking, what? 
in this “land of opportunity”
once coveted world-wide
now falling apart-
not from global warming
or doomsday predictions
alien takeovers, UFOs
but because something’s missing
in our lives.
What is love but a gentle breeze?
A splash of fresh air
cooling in the stillness of doubt.
Morning’s first breath
a whisper in one’s heart
when answers do not come.
A pause, an intuition
that all will be okay
because we love, WE LOVE!
God is love.
Let’s love.
©Laurie Kolp


So what do you think, Toads? Did Laurie meet the challenge or what?! I marvel at how with one gentle breeze of a line she changed war into peace, gave hopelessness hope. I love it, Laurie! Thank you so much for accepting and responding to the challenge in this wonderful fashion.