Monday, September 29, 2014

Open Link Monday

What to my wondering eyes should appear, but no Open Link, so I'm throwing this out onto the pond before I leave for work! Sorry for the brevity!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Play it Again, Toads! #9

Welcome to the 9th "Play it Again, Toads!" and a video of my son singing a clip of "Railroad Growlin'" (a song he wrote) and photos of my most recent summer vacation …

And that's what we are doing here.  Revisiting and or replaying any of the archived Imaginary Garden's  challenges.  Choose your own (the archive is on the sidebar 2011-2014) or select from the three I have highlighted below.

You may use the photos (or video) on this post or use your own - but please combine them with an archived challenge.

(a clip from) Railroad Growlin' written and performed by William Bednar:

Original poems only and link your specific post to Mr. Linky below.  Make it clear which challenge you are resurrecting by including a link.  Thank you, and I look forward to reading your poems.  

1)   Poetic Exerciese (or Chakras) with Ella  HERE

2)  Do You Believe in Magic?  from Fireblossom Friday - HERE

3)  The Secret Life of Bees (Imagined by Susie Clevenger)  HERE 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Trolling The Cosmos for Breadcrumbs........

Swamp by Polyraspad

Herotomost here Toads, trying to do a good deed in exchange for my bad deed of forgetting my Friday Challenge last Friday.  Shay asked if I could fill in this week and after much begging and gnashing of teeth, Kerry relented but, then quickly indicated that it does not solve the issue of my probation for missing my post. She also indicated that I must still wear the manacles and leather chaps through the remainder of the month....not sure what the leather chaps are about but hey, do the crime...yeah, yeah.

So here it goes...picture a Louisiana swamp, not a roadside swamp.  I am talking a back woods, have to fight alligators and water moccasins and giant spiders, while poling your skiff across murky green-brown water.  The smell of decay so thick that when you blow your nose, mushrooms cover the paisley pattern of your handkerchief. What the hell are you doing here? This no place for a writer of your caliber.  No place for someone with your delicate sensibilities.  No place for a Toad that belongs writing poetry in the Garden of the Gods.  It so happens, that while having a plate of crawfish and a couple of high balls at Shreveport's finest dining establishment, you over a heard a young woman sobbing while talking to an old man at a corner table.  You cocked your ear and heard a story of misery and woe from the woman and a tale of a perpetually young boy of 12 who knows the Universal Truth, from the old man. You overheard directions and warnings, the exchanging of coin and a trail of endless thank you's as the woman rushed out the door. You turned to grab your bag from the back of the chair, intending on joining the old man to get more details on just what this man believes is the secret to life, the universal truth, but when you turned back he was gone.  With what little description you gleaned and armed with a sense that this would make the greatest story ever, you man (or woman) up and go in search of the Universal Truth.

Deep in the swamp you come across a dilapidated wooden structure, a shack on stilts.  On the porch is what looks to be this twelve year old boy.  You climb from your skiff and make your way on to the porch.  As you approach, you look into the brown eyes of the boy and your heart stops beating in your chest.  You hook gazes with the boy whose eyes are empty and full at the same time. When you look deeper you can see the universe spinning in each eye, stars forming, planets winking out, the cries of an infinite number of organic life forms.  You snap out of your trance long enough to ask him the question......"What is the Universal Truth?"

Wall Art - Isla Holbox Mexico

And he says......

Oh, this is your part dear Toads....please put it the form of an ancient Aboriginal stone carving.  Not!!!!! You know you can use any form that you would like....poem, short, flash, incomplete sentence, billboard.  But I want to know what the boy says, can it be true?  Is it just hyperbola, is he Tony Robbins son?  Who knows...oh wait, you do.  Muster what you can and thanks for being patient and reading through this little scenario, I am sure it will produce some great writing.  Off to Vegas for a wedding, will read throughout the weekend as I can. Love you all and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bits Of Inspiration ~ Prisoner Of Words

Here I am in a garden where words flow free. Where poets explore creativity, go out of their comfort zones, and yet there are P.O.W.'s (Prisoners Of Words) among us. I know I am one. I have poems I have written, thoughts that play in my head, words I should speak trapped as caged birds. They have wings, yet "I" keep them from flying.

The following excerpt is from the poem, P.O.W., which is the work of the talented, singer, songwriter, musician, Alicia Keys.


I'm a prisoner
Of words unsaid
Just lonely feelings
Locked away in my head
I trap myself further
Every time I stay quiet
I should start to speak
But I stop and stay silent
And now I've made
My own hard bed
Inside a prison of words unsaid

I am a P.O.W.
Not a prisoner of war
A prisoner of words
Like a soldier
I'm a fighter
Yet only a puppet
Mostly I only say
What you wanna hear
Could you take it if I came clear?
Or would you rather see me
Stoned on a drug of complacency and compromise
I guess that's what I am
Scraping this cold earth
For a piece of myself
For peace in myself
(You can read the rest of the poem here.)

The challenge today is to write from that inner voice you silence. Perhaps you are better known for your darker poems, but you have this happy space in your head just bubbling for expression. Write it out. Or perhaps there is something you've wanted to speak out about, yet you haven't. Write it out. Maybe you have wanted people to actually hear you say those words you've held so close, create an audio or visual poetry reading. Pen a new poem for the challenge, post it on Mr. Linky and visit your fellow poets to read/listen to their work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Personal Challenge: Love, Death And Carnivals

Circus arriving in Seligman, Missouri, late 19th century

Greetings dear toads, toadettes and assorted followers. Hedgewitch here, responding to my first personal challenge, which comes boldly from one of our newer members, the ever-effervescent
Magaly Guerrero. This is the gauntlet she flung down for me:

"If you choose to accept this personal challenge, I would love to read a poem set on a carnival or circus during the Autumn Equinox. You can focus on whatever you like, as long as it happens in the setting and time I mentioned."

Well, of course I chose to accept, and I immediately wrote a love poem full of masks and feathers set at the famous Carnaval do Brasil in Rio De Janeiro. Then I realized that particular festivity takes place, like our Mardi Gras, shortly before Lent. Which is not the Autumn Equinox, when night and day are of equal length, taking place, as a matter of fact, today. So....back to the drawing board.

I followed many twisting pathways down the haunted lanes of the internet before I arrived at the grisly tale below, about two lovers who met at a carnival in September and ran away together the following summer, their lives and their untimely ends, based very loosely on an unsolved Territorial murder from 1905. A fuller explanation of the facts I have wreaked havoc upon follows the poem, and there are yet more on my blog , but first let me thank Magaly for the challenge, and my dear friend Shay (Fireblossom) without whose often dark and always bewitching poetry and short stories of lesbian love I would never have found my 'solution.' 

I hope you all enjoy this little slice of grim.


Dead Woman's Crossing

When the moon was a witchboat small and tossing
in the fade-time where night can see day as her twin,
down the rough blacktop to Dead Woman's Crossing
came the carnival rolling on a dustbowl wind.
They spindled the midway, freakshow and toss-ring,
before they spiked twenty ripe melons with gin
for Harvest Home in the dark of September,      
so the marks can do what they won't remember.

There was Jacko the clown, stringy as a rat,
Ma's name and a snake his tattoo valentine,
Rudy the barker in a ten dollar hat,
talking apple butter, smiling turpentine.
The Doll from Philly worked the striped gypsy-tent;
her brown eyes had just the right mad dog shine.
Then night seemed to give a coyote-moon cough
that shook her gold earrings, and Katie showed up

with her deathrattle tale of carnival past,
how she, the schoolteacher, met the Fallen Dove
Miss Fannie, too red-haired, too ruined, too fast,
on a September midway, bent moon above;
how love like a cloudburst caught her at last      
a kiss-whisper in place of the stone cold shove,
a granite fist traded for a velvet hand
and a five dollar ring for her wedding band.

The Dove blew out of Texas like a broken branch            
running  from Jesus, Daddy Jim and the law.
When she hit Mrs. Hamm's Saloon and Hog Ranch
she knew she had almost no time left at all
but still more than Katie, hellbound for a ditch,
face pale through the water where the black crows caw.
Thru plugged ears Doll could hear the walking night moan,
thru shut eyes see the bridge where Katie talked on:

The heat lightning flickered as midnight slammed shut,
Katie in a nightmare where she was the wheat
waiting dry in the dirt for the thresher's cut;
too many whiskey hard times in tangled sheets,
one scar too many from a cheap White Owl blunt
while the tumbleweeds wrote her name in the street.
She put on her bonnet, she packed up her grip,
met the Dove smiling with her child on her hip.

They sat down stiff as strangers on the noon train,
the nights and the men left behind in the dust.
They got off at Clinton in the quick July rain
with the last of the wheat burning red as rust.
When the moon was a witchboat sailing the plains,
as diamond eyes came home to lily-white trust
in the carnival night, storm in the willow,
the teacher slept sweet with her red-haired pillow.

The next day at midday, two girls and a child      
left town in a buggy to laugh and laugh last.
Fannie screamed like a bobcat, the wind went wild
when Katie's man came up through the tall sawgrass.
The Dove saw the buck-knife draw a cutthroat smile;
all she knew was to make the scared horse run fast
from the man who had Katie back, all his, dead.
All the Dove had was poison and a red dirt bed.

When the moon's a hook, a witchboat, a sickle
when the last of the wheat stands brown in the ground
while Orion runs after Hecate the fickle
above the dwindling lights of a dying town,
the Dove does her dance to a penny whistle
and a dead woman calls her child with that sound.
The next fall, when Doll's carnival topped the ridge
it rolled without stopping past Dead Woman's bridge.

 ~September 2014


Process notes: The bare bones of this story are true, if extremely conflicting, anecdotal and incomplete. Katie De Witt James was a schoolteacher seen boarding a train in Custer City, Oklahoma Territory, with her fourteen month old daughter in July of 1905. She had just filed for divorce from her husband Martin James on grounds of cruelty, and was supposedly going to stay with relatives in the small town of Ripley, about a hundred and twenty miles away. She never arrived.

Instead, she left the train in Clinton, a town only about fifteen miles further on, with a reputed prostitute named Fannie Norton, who also went by the sobriquet of 'Mrs. Ham' (which I decided to use in a wordplay on the frontier practice of referring to a brothel as a 'hog ranch.') Katie spent the night with Fannie at Fannie's brother-in-law's house, and the following day the two women and child rode out in a rented buggy to the countryside near Weatherford, the location of the creek and bridge in the poem, saying they would be back in a few hours. Fannie returned, after dropping off a baby in blood-stained clothes with a passing farm boy, but Katie never did.

After not hearing from his daughter for some weeks, Katie's father hired a detective to find out what happened to her. He traced her movements, and finally tracked Fannie down in Shawnee, where  Fannie vehemently denied killing Katie, saying Katie had 'met a man' then dissolving into incoherent tears. Later that night, Fannie took poison, killing herself. The divorce never went through, and Katie's husband, fitted up with an unbreakable alibi, and with suspicion diverted to Fannie, filed for custody of their daughter, inherited Katie's estate, which he subsequently sold, and left the Territory.

After Katie's body was found at the end of August  by two men fishing along the creek, with a bullet through her skull, her head severed from her body and a 'five dollar gold ring' on her hand, the tales began. The ghost of Katie is said to haunt the bridge and creek, calling for her daughter, and the sound of buggy wheels on wooden boards is often reported there, despite the old wooden bridge being washed out and replaced with a concrete one in 1980.

I totally made up the part about the two women meeting at a carnival in September and falling in love, though I think it explains some of the baffling aspects of this story, like why Katie might have left the train long before her planned destination with a supposed stranger, and a prostitute at that. Logic leads one to think  Katie may have been killed by someone who stood to lose everything if she lived, but benefited greatly by her death, someone who might easily have followed her, then later cobbled together an alibi. Her husband. But that is something only Katie and Fannie would know.

Regardless, the carnival doesn't stop there any more, toads. Thanks for bearing with me, and with this long, long September story.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

photo credit: zbigphotography (1M+ views) via photopin cc

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
 ― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Dear friends, I wish you all a very productive week - whether it be at work or home, writing or just being at one with self and loved ones. Life seems to be pushing me along at a superhuman pace these days, and I am trying to maintain some semblance of calm in a tumultuous climate.

Please link up a poem of your choice today, and remember that all feedback is most welcome. I will do my best to visit and read but I apologize in advance if my response is tardy as my work deadlines have arrived.

Peace, Love, Harmony.