Thursday, October 31, 2013

BlogBlast 4 Peace

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Mimi Lennox recently contacted me to invite all poets of the Imaginary Garden to join millions of bloggers around the world in the Blog4Peace drive on Monday, 4 November. Here follows an extract from her letter.

Hello Peace Bloggers!

It is hard to believe that we are about to embark on the 10th launch (8th year) of BlogBlast For Peace aka Blog4Peace! We started in 2006 with a handful of my beautiful blogging buddies. Now we've grown into thousands of little blue peace globes spinning across six continents and 182 countries. We are approaching 20,000 on the Facebook page!  Blogging for peace has become a personal tradition for so many of us. We've proven that our words and images are powerful. Our world is a mess. We need to speak up for peace now more than ever. 

 This year's theme is "What Do I Want My World To Look Like?" When I honestly answered that question for myself, the answers were surprisingly simple and basic. What do you want your world to look like? Tell us about it on your blogs and pages November 4th.  Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go HERE and find a blank sheet of internet blog paper known as a peace globe template. I'm going to make sure my neighbors in all corners of the world hear and see the words "Dona nobis pacem" loud and clear everyday and especially on Nov 4. I'm going to think about my own life and how I want to live it. I want to make sure that on the inside of me there is no malice, no vengeance, no revenge, no desire to humiliate or harm friend or foe. No plan to return hate for hate. Then and only then can I go about advocating peace in someone else. I am going to post my thoughts on Nov 4 with all of you and we will celebrate the change in makes in each of us and across the world. Because I know it will. And others will choose to join in because you choose to examine your thinking and decide to raise a voice for peace. How do I know? Because peace bloggers are awesome (!!!) and our words are powerfulOne voice. One subject. One day. 

Since November 4 falls on our Open Link Monday, I am giving notice that it will be devoted to the BlogBlast for Peace. If you would like to participate, please prepare to share poems which have been written either to Mimi Lennox's theme: "What Do I Want My World To Look Like?" or to the theme of Peace in general.  For more information about Blog4Peace click HERE.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Out of Standard: To Monster with Love

Greetings Garden Dwellers.  Welcome back to Out of Standard, where I will set before you a challenge to defy the conventions of a particular theme.  I will call upon you to write out of the standard and find new places in the everyday.  Let’s move onward to October’s challenge...


With Halloween...or All Hallow’s Eve to those observing the old-timey traditions...just within reach, I thought it a good opportunity to embrace the monster, or at least shake its hand slowly, nod respectfully in its general direction, and back away in a friendly manner.

The Challenge:
In his short story, Snow, Glass, Apples, Neil Gaiman told the story of the wicked queen from Snow White, portraying her (quite successfully) as a heroine struggling to gain her rightful Kingdom back from her monstrous step daughter and her necrophiliac suitor.

For your challenge today, my muddy buddies, I am asking that you to write a poem about the ICONIC monster which scares you the most and cast them in a flattering or sympathetic light.

My one rule will be that you choose an iconic monster: by which I mean a monster whom is recognizable to more than four people (okay, so I am swinging a bit loose with that definition, but you get the point!).

Like every challenge, your poem must by newly written for this challenge and not one which you have previously written which conveniently fits the theme.   

So go on, my lovelies...and us back something shiny and new!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Toad's Favo(u)rite Poem in October

Dylan Thomas is one of my all-time favourite poets. With more than half his collected work written during his late teens, he was a brilliantly gifted man of high passion and intensity, and this is clearly evident in his poetry. His language sings, his imagery is uniquely individual and his mastery of grammatical structure leaves me astounded every time I read one of his famous poems aloud. He described his technique in a letter:
Thomas describes his technique in a letter: "I make one image—though 'make' is not the right word; I let, perhaps, an image be 'made' emotionally in me and then apply to it what intellectual & critical forces I possess—let it breed another, let that image contradict the first, make, of the third image bred out of the other two together, a fourth contradictory image, and let them all, within my imposed formal limits, conflict."

There are several poems I could have chosen for this post, among them Fern Hill and And death shall have no dominion, but I have selected my favourite favourite: Poem in October, in which he contemplates his October 27 birthday. It was first published in Deaths and Entrances in 1946. The complete poem can be read on the Poetry Foundation page, linked above, or you may like to listen to it being read by Dylan Thomas in the audio clip below, while I share a few excerpts here.

The poem begins with this stanza:

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood   
      And the mussel pooled and the heron
                  Priested shore
            The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall   
            Myself to set foot
                  That second
      In the still sleeping town and set forth.

 What strikes me, is the way the poet has introduced the reader to the setting of the poem through the sense of sound, rather than sight: 'Woke to hearing'. I also admire the turn of phrase he employs in the lines: 'And the mussel pooled and the heron/ Priested shore' where 'mussel pooled' and 'heron priested' become the descriptives of the 'shore'. The link between the heron as priest and the water praying infuses the whole scene with a sense of natural spirituality. 

Try reading these lines aloud to yourself (take a deep breath for all the run-on lines); feel the words and sounds roll from your lips and sing in your ears.

      A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling   
      Blackbirds and the sun of October
            On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly   
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened   
            To the rain wringing
                  Wind blow cold
      In the wood faraway under me.

This, to me, is what poetry should be:

And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother   
            Through the parables
                  Of sun light
      And the legends of the green chapels

      And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.   
      These were the woods the river and sea
                  Where a boy
            In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy   
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden ...

photo credit: `James Wheeler via photopin cc

Warm greetings to all poets visiting the garden today! It is hard to believe that it is the beginning of the last week in October. I'm sure our friends in the US and Canada are looking forward to a fun-filled Halloween. Do you have any Gothic tales, dark imagery or ghost stories to share with us today? Please link them up if you do, but this is by no means prescriptive. We welcome any poem of your choice, old or new.

I wish you all a very happy week and hope that everyone will enjoy time spent in the imaginary garden, where it's all about POETRY.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mini-Challenge: Masks

my younger son at age 2

It's already Christmas in some stores - a total rip for we who favor the autumnal, and perhaps more pagan, annual ritual of Halloween. 

Last week I laid down in an aisle hosting Halloween candy and costumes alongside Christmas decorations and little baby Jesi, just to get a sense of the confusion that wee tykes might get from the layers of commercialism assaulting their tender eyes, ears, and bellies, but then security came by - or at least, someone wearing an ill-fitting blue suit and an aluminum badge, carrying a flashlight despite the high fluorescent lights - and told me I was scaring the customers, and besides, he had just cleaned up a little "accident" on the carpet and I really didn't want to be laying down just there, if you know what I mean.

Slightly damp, I complied - it wouldn't do to scare customers unless they've actually paid cold, hard cash for a piece of plastic and fabric made by some 8 year old in Bangladesh - and directly before me, in all their redolent glory, were several masks. They had that new plastic smell - you know the one, when you've surreptitiously tried on a kid's mask and the temples pinch, and the nose doesn't fit so you can't breathe, and the lips and mouth hole are ridiculously ill-suited for anything but attempting unsuccessfully to whistle - that slightly carcinogenic aroma.

Of course there was Batman, that tortured soul, practically the patron saint of Halloween. Spiderman. Some tiaras for princesses. A stylized witch - as if the princesses I've met weren't far more sinister and unwelcoming than some of the really cool crones I've been fortunate enough to encounter. Frankenstein, who most people ignore ever since plastic surgeons make more money than God and, well, I live in Orange County, California, and some people here have year-round masks surgically attached.

That got me to thinking about masks, and a comment that HedgeWitch once made on one of my posts, about masks (and mirrors being "almost as fascinating"). Thanks for the ear-worm, Joy - it noodles around all the bleeping time. Mirrors? Masks? What a rabbit hole...

So this week's mini-challenge is to write about masks. It can be theme related to Halloween, or not. Heck, or mirrors, if that's preferable to you, but throw me a sop and include a mask reference if you do.

Here's a W.B. Yeats poem, The Mask, in the public domain, linked at the website Famous Poets and Poems. He's one of my favorites (The Second Coming helped establish my world view back in college, but that's a story for another day.)

The Mask by William Butler Yeats
'Put off that mask of burning gold
With emerald eyes.'
'O no, my dear, you make so bold
To find if hearts be wild and wise,
And yet not cold.'

'I would but find what's there to find,
Love or deceit.'
'It was the mask engaged your mind,
And after set your heart to beat,
Not what's behind.'

'But lest you are my enemy,
I must enquire.'
'O no, my dear, let all that be;
What matter, so there is but fire
In you, in me?'

And here's an excerpt from Charles Bukowski's poem, His Wife, The Painter, linked at Poetry Soup in its entirety.

About church: the trouble with a mask is it 
never changes.

Were I an academic and this were class, I might ask - so does it change? If so, how? Why or why not? But I'm not.

And of course, please post your poem in Mr. Linky, and please reference a link back in your post to the prompt here at IGWRT, and most certainly, please do visit your fellow mask bearers and wearers, leaving comments as you see fit. I've linked early so that y'all can have more time to weave your spells.

Thanks again to Kerry, our gracious host, for this opportunity.

- Michael, aka grapeling

Friday, October 25, 2013

Detroit or Buffalo

Friends, today here in the Imaginary Garden, we are taking inspiration from real-life rock heroes THE STONE COYOTES.

Here’s a concise history of the Stone Coyotes from their website:
Barbara Keith began her career at the Café Wha? in Greenwich Village, following in the footsteps of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Cosby and many others who got their start in that hallowed dive. She was soon recording for MGM/Verve, A&M, and Warner Brothers. Her songs have been covered by such diverse artists as Tanya Tucker, Barbra Streisand, The Dillards, Melanie, Hank Snow, Lowell George--and now Patty Loveless, who covered “The Bramble and the Rose” on her Mountain Soul II album. Her husband Doug Tibbles had a whole other life before drumming. A native of Los Angeles, he was a TV writer for such shows as The Munsters, Bewitched, Andy Griffith, My Three Sons, Family Affair, and many more. Unhappy with show business in general, Barbara gave back her major label advance, Doug quit his one-day-old job as story editor for Happy Days, and they went underground. Doug took up drums and son John took up bass at age eleven. Reclusive by choice, the band moved from L.A. to Western Massachusetts to write and woodshed. They began playing the occasional show while recording in their cellar. When best selling author Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight) walked in the Troubadour in L.A. one night looking for inspiration for his sequel to Get Shorty, he discovered The Stone Coyotes. They became the model for Chili Palmer’s next adventure, Be Cool. Leonard said, “It was music I could understand… straight ahead rock and roll with a twang. And there are good stories going on in the songs.” He included their lyrics in the book and dedicated it to them. He and the band made a string of appearances together around the country with a Words and Music Tour--from New York’s Mercury Lounge to L.A.’s Viper Room. Recently the band's music has been heard in 8 episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter. Their newest album is A Wild Bird Flying.
Texas women (Susie, I’m looking at you)? Though Stone Coyotes are from here in western Massachusetts, they are most popular in Texas, so let us know if you know them, and if not, GO SEE THEM. I’m excited to see them when they play here in a couple weeks. We plan to take our kids (as really, my goal is to get them all excited about the idea of becoming a touring family rock band like the Stone Coyotes--watch out, world!)

The song I’m highlighting for us to focus on today is an old one that Barbara Keith first recorded in 1972 and has been covered by many artists: “Detroit or Buffalo.” Though this performance is a bit more subdued--as usually Barbara plays electric guitar and the shows are strong rock shows (here’s a longer video of a whole show for those who are interested)--the mood and message of "Detroit or Buffalo" perseveres, and you can see why this song is so often played by others. Maybe some of you know this song. Enjoy!

You can hear the beautiful original recording from Barbara Keith’s 1972 record here, and the lyrics are here.

As an aside, I only recently learned that Barbara Keith wrote “The Bramble and the Rose,” a classic duet that I know from a recording by Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer (listen here). This is another song that’s been covered by many artists and I bet some of you know it as well.

Okay, watch, listen, love, and write! I look forward to reading your (new, please) poems… meanwhile, I’ll be taking this train to the end of the line.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kerry's Wednesday Challenge ~ The Language of Flowers

Ophelia: There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray
              love, remember. And there is pansies; that's for
              There's fennel for you, and columbines
              There's rue for you, and here's some
              for me: we call it herb of Grace a' Sundays.
              You may wear your rue with a difference. There's
              a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they
              withered all when my father died....                                 Hamlet, William Shakespeare

photo credit: Mammaoca2008 via photopin cc
The term "Language of Flowers" came into use in the first decade of the 19th Century, but the tradition of assigning meanings to individual flower types is an ancient one. It is not confined to European society either, with evidence that it was also dates back to early Chinese dynasties. Read more about the history of floral meanings at

photo credit: Denis Collette...!!! via photopin cc
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green...                                          
The Garden of Love, William Blake

Flowers have been a constant source of inspiration to poets throughout the ages. William Blake immediately comes to mind, with his Ah! Sunflower from Songs of Innocence, and The Sick Rose from Songs of Experience. For an interesting essay on these and others of Blake's flower poems, click HERE.

photo credit: mystuart via photopin cc
A study conducted by the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis makes the following observation:
"The main types of such a language seem to be metaphorical (flowers mirroring inner human life and modeling the art of living, beauty, naturalness, durability and authenticity); symbolic (specific flowers as signs of certain meanings); magical (flowers as bearers of special forces) and mystical (flowers as mediators of incomprehensible feelings of being alive and ego-less, united with reality)"

Our challenge today is to turn to flowers for inspiration, not simply as beautiful objects, but as symbols of deeper emotions and human qualities, or as magical ingredients. The Language of Flowers website provides a comprehensive list of flowers and their meanings HERE. It is always preferable to write a new poem in keeping with the challenge aspect of this Wednesday prompt.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Toad's Favo(u)rite~Richard Brautigan

Cover of In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan; my scan

Hello, toads and toadettes, hedgewitch here. It's my turn to provide a favourite poem/poet, and this time it will be 20th Century American poet and writer Richard Brautigan (1935-1984.) Almost all his poetry is quite short, so I've selected several examples.

Brautigan wrote during the middle to end of the Beat era and the full onslaught of the 60's counterculture years with black humor and directness. His bio page at, puts it this way: "Although Brautigan, whose work largely defies classification, is not properly considered a Beat writer, he shared the Beats' aversion to middle class values, commercialism, and conformity."

Brautigan had a difficult life, and wasn't with us long, but his poetry and short novels--which to me are long prose-poems--remain full of wry acceptance, hope and a sense of the flashing, absolute clarity that comes and goes, but always leaves something we need behind. Many of his collected poems can be found in The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, first published in 1968 and still in print. He may be best known for his novella Trout Fishing in America, but his short poetry has a sad, childlike and clean feel well worth a read or reread. 

For those who'd like more on Brautigan, an excellent archive of facts, sidenotes and details as well as a bibliography of all his published works can be found at

Below are a few examples that are among my favourite poems:

Karma Repair Kit, Items 1-4

Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.

Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it. 


© Copyright 1967 by Richard Brautigan,
from  All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace
"Permission is granted to reprint any of these poems in magazines,
books and newspapers if they are given away free. " per

Hinged to Forgetfulness Like a Door

Hinged to forgetfulness
like a door,
she slowly closed out of
and she was the woman I loved,
but too many times she slept like
a mechanical deer in my caresses,
and I ached in the metal silence
of her dreams. 


© joyannjones

It was Your Idea to go to Bed with Her

Snowflaked as if by an invisible polar bear
---unlucky bastard,
you're sitting on the fender of her kisses
while she drives the car down into the
perfect center of ice.

~ both © 1970 by Richard Brautigan, from my purchased copy of Rommel Drives on Deep Into Egypt, Dell Publishing Co. Inc.

Lastly, for our resident victim of extreme haiku aversion--we all know who she is--I've included this one:

Haiku Ambulance

A piece of green pepper
off the wooden salad bowl:
   so what?

© Richard Brautigan, from The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster.

Finally, for those who like the spoken word, here's a video set to Brautigan reading one of his poems, Gee You're So Beautiful It's Starting To Rain:

All poems and photographs reproduced in accordance with Fair Use principles.