Friday, May 31, 2013

Hungry Eyes...

Haunted Hearts...

Greetings Garden Dwellers, it’s me, Hannah...with something fresh to entice your poetic muses.

I find my mind is drawn to magical, natural wonders in our world.

This is the first of twenty-two incredible places that we’ll vicariously visit through each others imaginings via our well crafted words.

Tunnel of Love in Kleven Ukraine

(Image Via Photobucket: vivianandrea22)

And for your viewing enjoyment...

I hope that your hungry eyes will find inspiration here and that your poetic hearts will be haunted to write something new for this challenge.

Also, if the title, (of post or place), strikes your fancy write from that perspective...if it’s the trees or the tracks that are striking to you, go from there...if you’d like to bring in facts about the actual location, feel free to gather and sprinkle those amid your musings...

In other inspired and let it flow!

Be sure to roam around and visit your blogging friends...I’m excited to see where our imaginations will carry us!

Thank you and smiles to you all. :)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Words Count With Mama Zen

Image via Pinterest

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I took a childbirth class.  Among other things, it taught various techniques to deal with pain and anxiety, most of which left me howling for an epidural.  There was one, however, that really worked for me.

Imagine yourself in the safest place you've ever known.  Let yourself sink into the details.  Feel the texture, the temperature.  See the angle of the light.  Breathe deep . . .

And, tell me about it in 53 words or less.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Toad's Favourite Poem (Margaret)

"Cutting the Rice" by Alice R. Huger Smith, early 1930's
It is my turn, Margaret Bednar, to share a favorite poem and what a challenge this is for me as I am fairly new to poetry.  So instead of selecting an old favorite I go to time and again, I will share a poet who has currently captured my attention and heart.  (FYI:  A "modern" poet I have enjoyed getting to know is Linda Pastan - her style couldn't be more different than the three men I mention below)

The paintings on this post were done by a Charleston artist, Alice R. Huger Smith (1876-1958).  Her artwork can be viewed at the Gibbes Museum in Charleston, SC.   I believe painting and poetry are closely linked, and upon researching for this post I found a blog sharing a poem written by Alice R. Huger Smith entitled "Piscatorial Sport".  

The watercolor paintings I have posted here are on display at the Charleston Museum.  Photography is allowed and I think this means it is OK to post them here.  

Recently I have visited numerous southern plantations and have the Civil War, the South, and slavery on my mind.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Walt Whitman all wrote poetry on the unjustness of slavery.  Whitman wrote beautifully on Lincoln and the Civil War,  Longfellow wrote many as well and one I particularly like is "The Slave's Dream", which I almost chose. 

I did choose Whittier's "The Farewell" - of a Virginia slave mother to her daughters sold into southern bondage.
Slave cabin from Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC
The Farewell
John Greenleaf Whittier - 1838

    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone.
Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings,
Where the noisome insect stings,
Where the fever demon strews
Poison with the falling dews,
Where the sickly sunbeams glare
Through the hot and misty air;
    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
    From Virginia's hills and waters;
    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    Gone, gone -- sold and gone
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone.
There no mother's eye is near them,
There no mother's ear can hear them;
Never, when the torturing lash
Seams their back with many a gash,
Shall a mother's kindness bless them,
Or a mother's arms caress them.
    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
    From Virginia's hills and waters;
    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone.
Oh, when weary, sad, and slow,
From the fields at night they go,
Faint with toil, and racked with pain,
To their cheerless homes again,
There no brother's voice shall greet them,
There no father's welcome meet them.
    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
    From Virginia's hills and waters;
    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone.
 From the tree whose shadow lay
On their childhood's place of play;
From the cool spring where they drank;
Rock, and hill, and rivulet bank;
From the solemn house of prayer,
And the holy counsels there;
    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
    From Virginia's hills and waters;
    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone.
Toiling through the weary day,
And at night the spoiler's prey.
Oh, that they had earlier died,
Sleeping calmly, side by side,
Where the tyrant's power is o'er,
And the fetter galls no more!
    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
    From Virginia's hills and waters;
    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone.
By the holy love He beareth;
By the bruised reed He spareth;
Oh, may He, to whom alone
All their cruel wrongs are known,
Still their hope and refuge prove,
With a more than mother's love.
    Gone, gone, -- sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
    From Virginia's hills and waters;
    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

"Fields Prepared for the Planting" by Alice R. Huger Smith, early 1930's

Monday, May 27, 2013

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

My warm greetings to all toads, followers and friends. It is that time of the week when we all get together to share our poetry and hang out for a while in this happy space. Please take the time to leave a comment once you have linked up the poem of your choice, and visit with a few of the poets whose work is also linked here. In a small forum such as Real Toads, it is very evident if one among us does not bother to read anyone else's poetry. We do not use this opportunity to gather as many comments as possible, but to offer continued support for our fellow writers. Your observations and reviews are very helpful as feedback to a poet who strives to get the most out of his or her art. Above all, enjoy this Monday - may it be a happy day for all.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sunday Mini-Challenge

Hi Toads, Ella here.  I have a surprise for you-a friend of mine who frequents my blog mentioned she loves photography.   I was intrigued and discovered more of her wonderful photos at Deviantart.  She is a true talent-a visual poet!  I thought how fabulous it would be to have her share some of her art with us.   I asked her if she would be interested in seeing her visual eye inspire poetry.  She was thrilled and said yes!    Let me introduce my friend L. Diane Wolfe.  Diane is a professional speaker, author and photographer.

 Painted Faerie

 Diane tell me how your fascination with visual poetry/photography began? 

My fascination with photography began with my father. He was an excellent photographer, self-taught as he was in all things he did. He died when I was eleven, so I never got to learn from him. But I received my first camera a year later and my obsession began.

 The Edge

 Diane how did your view developed?  Sorry, about the pun. 

I took photography in high school and was on the yearbook staff. After several years of job and career hopping, I landed a position in the photo department of a military contract company.  It refueled my desire to be a professional photographer, and I eventually purchased my own darkroom setup.  

 Tiny Puddles

So, your hobby became your career?  Tell me more...
Over the course of 23 years and thousands of rolls of film, I started making money as a photographer. For many years I did stock photography, and my photos were featured in Homes Illustrated and Cat Fancy. I started doing portraits and weddings, and I even shot an album cover. Eventually other things took over my life (such as writing) but I continued to take artistic shots for my own enjoyment.

Elephant Frozen In Time

 Amazing-you have a natural talent!   Wait album cover?  Anyone we might know?!   Wow...    What is your favorite medium?

The album cover was for a local bluegrass band.  I knew two of the members through other business dealings and they asked me to photograph one of their concerts for an album cover.  Ironically, the image they selected was for one I took of the band members scattered in seats after the concert was over. It was a sharp B&W shot.  

Black and white photography has always been my favorite. Textures, shapes, and patterns tend to pop out at me before colors. It can be dramatic or soft and responds best to contrast. I do enjoy color, too, and watch for those moments of contrasting colors. And I am drawn to water in all its forms, and a babbling brook or fountain can provide hundreds of unique possibilities.

        Stallions Dreams        

I too love B&W photos.  What do you love most about being behind the lens?  

I’m a visual person, and my photos are how I view the world. I hope others appreciate the view, too.

The Mist

I promise, we will!  Thank you so much Diane, for being part of our Sunday Mini challenge.  I know your art will inspire wonderful poetry~

L. Diane Wolfe
Professional Speaker, Author, & Photographer

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fireblossom Friday -- Location, Location, Location!

It's me, Fireblossom, with another Fireblossom Friday Challenge for you! 

This time, I want you to write a poem in which the physical setting is integral to the poem. 

You might choose a natural setting,

or a man-made one;

a beautiful setting,

or a not so beautiful one,

just make sure that the "where" of the poem is a vital part of it.

Write an original poem adhering to these simple instructions and sign the linky so that we can all come visit your special space. That's it! Have fun!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Get Listed ~ Elephants Dance in Fancy Pants

ManicDDaily, a/k/a, Karin Gustafson here visiting With Real Toads from a semi-blog break.

"Elephants Dance in Fancy Pants" 
© Karin Gustafson

When Kerry asked me to come up with a Real Toads word list, I must confess to resistance.  On the one hand, lists of words compiled by another person CAN get a poet out of the worn knees and stretched-out seats of typical usages. On the other, the words can feel arbitrary, forcing the poet into expressions that just don’t jive with their passions. But Kerry is too great a person and poet for me to refuse her anything!  So, for the last few weeks, I have been thinking (make that, worrying) about the concept of both poetic lists and words.

"Toad Bestowed" 
© Karin Gustafson

For what it’s worth -- and to buy a few more minutes before actually setting forth a list-- here are some of those thoughts: 

Lists: I do, in fact, often make word lists when I write a poem, particularly a formal poem such as a sonnet or villanelle.  These lists, jotted done on the spot, are rhymes with the end words of my first couple of lines.  When I make these lists, I try not even to think about the context of the poem, but just to brainstorm rhymes, to come up with all possibilities.  This allows me to come up with combinations that would never have occurred to me if I’d stayed in the box of what I originally thought the poem was about.  It’s a way, for me, not just to find more interesting rhymes but also to open up the poem. 

Now, words!  Obviously, they are the building blocks, the meat (or, if you are vegetarian like me, the grain) of poetry!  To my mind, when the words used are overly vague, abstract (naming emotions rather than conveying them), commonplace, they can feel like mush.  They can turn a poem into a kind of pablum, something that’s swallowed without the slightest chew, but also without very definite taste. (Maybe just a syrupy sweetness.)

On the other hand, a poem jammed with shiny vocabulary can make me feel as if my mental mouth is being stuffed with marbles.  This type of poem can feel like a choking hazard, as well as a danger to my teeth.  (By shiny vocabulary, I mean very long words, excessively latinate words, compound words, words that feel unnecessarily arcane. It’s perfectly wonderful to use arcane words--especially if they are aimed towards an  otherwise inexpressible meaning, but overuse of the arcane can feel oddly superficial and grandiose, i.e. a little goes a long way.)  

I’m not saying here that word usage should be safe--but simply that it should be particular--with words chosen (ideally) with a certain precision, because they mean what you say, because they are visually vivid or active, because they are musical (or possibly anti-musical); because they are referential, multi-layered, full of echoes, or maybe because they are startlingly original.  Fun.  I guess the idea is you want words that have the energy and particular limbs to carry the freight of your poem.  Weak words just can’t carry that much. 

All of which makes me very nervous at the idea of compiling a list of them! 

So, here goes.  Below are some words that I’ve chosen (i) simply because they seemed vivid or particularly multipurpose, or (ii) because they are used in poems (I will not mention here) that stick to my memory (and so I thought of them as memorable poetic words).  The challenge is to use at least three words - please feel free to use any form of the word or even a homonym.  

"Cat ON a Hat" 
© Karin Gustafson

An ancillary challenge is to also use rhymes with at least one or more of the words below.  So that your poem would include a few of the words below AND words that rhyme with those words.  (This is only for those of you who like rhyming, and want to try a more formal poem.  I have tried to choose words that lend themselves to rhyming.  If you want to cheat you can use the rhymes of a word from this list, and OTHER words here.) 

Finally, please do not feel compelled, for the sake of the exercise, to use any word that does not speak to you.  


Good luck!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fireblossom--My (Second) Favorite Poem

Hi, Toads! It's my privilege to present my favorite poem, but I am going to fudge just a bit, because My Favorite Poem has had its own stand-alone page at my blog for ages, and also, I recently wrote about it on my blog, so I think featuring Emily Dickinson's "I Cannot Live With You" yet again would be a bit much.

Soooo, I am very pleased to present my second favorite poem, Alfred Tennyson's "The Lady Of Shalott." To me, Tennyson, along with Longfellow, is the master of making words sound marvelous to the ear. Even if one did not speak a word of English, hearing "The Lady of Shalott" read aloud would be a very pleasing experience indeed. Add to that Tennyson's affinity for Arthurian subjects and the absorbing, haunting tale of the Lady herself, and you can't do much better.

There are actually two versions of this poem, one written in 1833 and the other in 1842. This is the later version, which I think has a much better, more pleasing ending. 

I have a replica of the J.W. Waterhouse painting of The Lady of Shalott on my living room wall, and it is the same one I have placed at the beginning of this post. To top the whole thing off, I give you Loreena McKennitt's memorable musical rendition, at the end of this post. I hope you will enjoy Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" as much as I always have.

     Part I.

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
   To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
   The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
   Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
   The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veil'd
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
   Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
   The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
   Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers "'Tis the fairy
   Lady of Shalott."

      Part II.

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
   To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
   The Lady of Shalott.

And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
   Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
   Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
   Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
   The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
   And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half-sick of shadows," said
   The Lady of Shalott.

      Part III.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
   Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A redcross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
   Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle-bells rang merrily
   As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
   Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
   As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
   Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
   As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
   Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
   She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
   The Lady of Shalott.

      Part IV.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale-yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
   Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
   The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse--
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance--
With a glassy countenance
   Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
   The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right--
The leaves upon her falling light--
Thro' the noises of the night
   She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
   The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,
   Turn'd to tower'd Camelot;
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
   The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
A corse between the houses high,
   Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
   The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross'd themselves for fear,
   All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
   The Lady of Shalott."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden ...

summer lake photo:  summer_lake_02.jpg
Photobucket ~ Armoniasy's Media

Warm greetings to all! I am hoping that as it gets colder in my part of the world, it is getting hotter in yours and you will soon be enjoying the benefits of summertime. Whatever the weather, it is Monday in the garden and that means a day of reading some amazing poetry.
If you have something brand new to share today, or a poem written earlier in the week, or even something from your archives, we would love to get the chance to see it. As always, we at Real Toads encourage you to visit and comment on the work of other poets who use this site.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sunday Mini-Challenge: Rictameter

Hello to all the toads and pond dwellers !  Today we are going to tackle a nine-line poem, called the rictameter.   The first 5 lines are very similar to a cinquain.   The rictameter pattern of syllables per line goes like this:  2,4,6,8,10,8,6,4,2.    Also, the first and last lines must be the same.

A tree
It stands alone
In the heart of a field
Unheeded by the world around
Its roots an inverse network of branches
That anchors it to the cool earth
No tapestry has form
Or hue like this

A tree

Picture © Grace

Created in the early 1990s by two cousins, Jason D. Wilkins and Richard W. Lunsford, Jr., for a poetry contest that was held as a weekly practice of their self-invented order, The Brotherhood of the Amarantos Mystery. The order was inspired by the Robin Williams movie Dead Poets Society.
The first examples of the rictameter form to be made public were submissions made by Jason Wilkins to the website in 2000. 

As your lips are
Pressed to mine as velvet
Soft and full with rounded sweetness
Two gentle petals alive with the night
Misted in the summer beauty
Of rains that shower love
'Pon your lips of

Copyright © 2000 Jason Wilkins

Placed in your view
So close but out of reach
Torturous to all your senses
For they each cry aloud to possess it
Their desires forever unquenched
For the things some want most
They cannot have
Copyright © 2000 Jason Wilkins

The challenge today is to write a new poem, following the pattern of the rictameter. Please remember to share your link with Real Toads and visit and comment on the work of others.

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 an image. 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 but invites you to share a poem of your choice on Open Link Monday.

I look forward to reading your words ~  Happy Sunday to all ~

Grace (aka Heaven)