Friday, October 31, 2014

Fireblossom Friday

Happy Halloween, Toads and Pond followers! Fireblossom here. Today is, of course, Halloween, and so the easy thing, the brainless thing, would be to say, "write something spooky!" But, I bet you expect more than that from me.

Silly people!

Write something spooky for Halloween! It'll be sweeeeet.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bits Of Inspiration ~ Nightingale

Hello everyone. October is winding down and I will avoid the Halloween theme. Instead I have chosen Nightingale. First let me share a little about the bird of night.

Common nightingales are so named because they frequently sing at night as well as during the day. The name has been used for more than 1,000 years, being highly recognizable even in its Anglo-Saxon form – 'nightingale'. It means 'night songstress'. Early writers assumed the female sang when it is in fact the male. The song is loud, with an impressive range of whistles, trills and gurgles. Its song is particularly noticeable at night because few other birds are singing. This is why its name includes "night" in several languages. Only unpaired males sing regularly at night, and nocturnal song is likely to serve to attract a mate. Singing at dawn, during the hour before sunrise, is assumed to be important in defending the bird's territory. Nightingales sing even more loudly in urban or near-urban environments, in order to overcome the background noise. The most characteristic feature of the song is a loud whistling crescendo, absent from the song of thrush nightingale. It has a frog-like alarm call. Wikipedia

Here are a few poems about the nightingale. 

O NIGHTINGALE that on yon blooming spray 
Warblest at eve, when all the woods are still, 
While the jolly Hours lead on propitious May.       

Up this green woodland-ride let’s softly rove,
And list the nightingale - she dwells just here.
Hush ! let the wood-gate softly clap, for fear
The noise might drive her from her home of love

Ode To ANightingale ~ John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

Percy Bysshe Shelley referred to poets as nightingales:
 “A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.”

Even today you can see how the bird inspires music as Demi Lovato sings her Nightingale song.

Can you be my nightingale?
Sing to me
I know you're there
You could be my sanity
Bring me peace
Sing me to sleep
Say you'll be my nightingale

What is your nightingale song? Please write a new poem for the challenge; add it to Mr. Linky and  then visit your fellow poets to read what poetry the winged bird inspired them to write.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Open Link Monday with Magaly

Greetings wicked darling Toads…

This is a very busy month around my household. My Piano Man (the sweetest part of my heart) is a classical theater musician and conductor who usually plays several shows at the same time. In any other month this is just the norm—he does his music… I do my writing… we dance and kiss when we are lucky enough to meet in the middle while we are both awake.

October is different, and this October seems wilder. We are earthy witchy souls, in our home, so this is when we welcome the New Year. I have a gazillion of medical appointments. I’m also publishing a short story collection at the end of the month. We all know how stressful this can be. October also marks the beginning of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which implies rehearsal madness for my dear heart and scheduling chaos for both of us.

I’m telling you all this, so you won’t be too surprised when I take forever and a day to visit your wonderful word yum. I will make it there, dear Toads, but it will probably take me a bit.

 our jack-o’-lantern enjoys dressing up

As always, Open Link Monday is for the sharing of diverse poetic works, regardless of theme, format or publication date. Have fun and be deliciously spooky…It’s almost Halloween after all. *cackles*

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Play it Again, Toads #10

Welcome to the 10th "Play it Again, Toads!"  Time to revisit and replay archived challenges.  Choose your own (see sidebar 2011-2014) or select from the three I have highlighted below.   Please, original  poems for this challenge and link your specific post to Mr. Linky at the bottom of the page.  Make it clear which challenge you are resurrecting by including a link.  Thank you, and I look forward to reading your poems.

He's here because - well - he's cute
1)  Dance the Night Away, the Waltz Wave Form presented by Kerry O'Connor

2)  Hallow's Edge presented by Ella

3)  Dylan Thomas - presented by Kerry O'Connor. This was for a "Toad's Favo(u)rite Poem, but I thought it might be fun to explore writing a poem using the technique described in this post.

- - - - -

If you like, you may use my photos - if you do, please combine them with an archived challenge.   The photos are of a Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain Farm - located just beneath Humpback Mountain.   By sighting the mountain's large rocky outcrop, early teamsters traveling the old Howardsville Turnpike gauged their progress.

This was originally a Land Grant tract dispensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia to induce pioneers to settle and establish the border of the Western Frontier.   Often rich bottom land was either not available or too expensive.  A mountain plot could yield a diversity of crops that made it possible to sustain a balanced, if sometimes thin, diet.  Hard work and cooperation substituted for wealth in making this land productive enough to support families and communities.  Life usually centered around two things:  religion, and the growth and harvesting of crops.  Every fall neighbors came together to assist one another in harvesting corn and apples, in gather and butchering hogs to send to market, and joining the social activities after the work was done.

herb garden out the cabin's back door and chicken coop 
Sears Roebuck Catalogue

Barn and to the right a "bear proof pigpen" for razorback hogs

Friday, October 24, 2014

Its ma thing.........

Hey Toads, Happy Friday!!!!!!!! Herotomost here, been getting ready for our annual Halloween party.  It would be easy enough to come up with a Halloween themed Friday Challenge but I am about sick of Halloween after decorating for three So forgive me...especially you Kerry, darling, light of my life because I am going to get nostalgic.  I know, romance....nostalgia....just like the title of the challenge, it's ma thing.

For this challenge I want you to think back to your childhood.  I want you to think about all the things that you were into. My sister was into horses, then band, then boys, then music and boys.  I was into KISS (posters all over my wall), I was into writing (unfortunately never really got any I was into well, thats about it, maybe music. My niece who is growing up to look and sound just like my sister just won a contest to sing the national anthem at the National Finals Rodeo.  Pretty big deal since it was a national contest. She's into singing and music, much like my sister was.  Its hard to come up with things that you are as excited about as you get older.  But those few things that turned your crank when you were young were so consuming, so intoxicating.

So, I want you to think back to what your big thing was at some point during your life.  Think about how you felt, good, bad, overwhelmed, relaxed, fulfilled, sad.  Whatever filled your heart and head for good and bad reasons....I want you to write me something that encompasses that feeling.  As always, it can be a poem, short story, a slogan, a technical manual, a catch phrase on a sticker, whatever.  Form is of no consequence on planet Herotomsost.  But please do look back and feel those feelings, hear those sounds, smell those smells.  Show me what you were into and tell me....It was ma thing!

Happy Halloween Toads, love you all, behave or all resemble adults.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get Listed for October - Ghost Stories

fair use: image here

The northern hemisphere tumbles into Autumn; Winter slinks nearer. Harvests are in. Frost will soon limn trees into skeletal silhouettes.

Liminality is a social ritual spanning a number of pre-Christian cultures, and pre-dates Halloween.

"El Día de Muertos - The Day of the Dead - celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to a pre-Columbian past. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors had been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years. In the pre-Hispanic era skulls were commonly kept as trophies and displayed during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2."

"Samhain (pronounced /ˈsɑːwɪn/ sah-win or /ˈsaʊ.ɪn/ sow-in[1] Irish pronunciation: [sˠaunʲ]) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is nearly halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice."

(both from Wikipedia)

Halloween is all about skimpy outfits, er, trick or treat, ok, Christmas light strands repurposed with orange bulbs, well - ghosts and witches and monsters and politicians.

So in the spirit of spirits, gather around the embers of a dying fire and tell your spookiest ghost story, using at least 3 words (or reasonable derivatives) from this list.

fairy, portal, sacrifice, feast, smoke, winter, slaughter, spirit, veil, ritual, trick, disguise

As a reminder, please write your new pen, post it to your blog, and link to Real Toads using Mr. Linky below. Then, come back later - perhaps after midnight - to read and comment on your fellow poet's own pens.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From free to form - Personal Challenge for Björn

Hi there, dear amphibians of a virtual garden, here is Björn, a quite recent tadpole, unaware of consequences of signing up I got an email from the renowned and most skilled poet Hedgewitch. I had missed this slight drawback from signing up to be a toad, but at least one of you will have to expect an email from me the next few days. As many of you might have noticed I share the rare interest of actually write poem to form and meter.

The challenge was fairly straightforward: to take a piece of free-verse of mine that I think could gain from being elaborated to a form poetry such as a pantoum, sonnet, villanelle or terza rima. Often I write my  form poetry because they help me get inspired with the progression of the poem, the rhymes for instance help me to push the story ahead (a little bit like found poetry). On the other hand when I write free verse I’m often inspired to start with, so form come secondary. Therefore this was more of challenge than I thought to start with.

A while ago Marian wrote a prompt on the music of David Hidalgo. I saw some of the music as a kind of death-dance where the dawn was the end, and I used a refrain there “this night of sanguine hips” and thought that this would work in a villanelle. I thought I wanted to keep the dance in my poem so I went with tetrameter instead of pentameter to make it more in line with the origin of the rural dances that are supposedly the origin of the villanelle. I have reworked this a lot more than I usually do with my  form poetry but I hope it works for you.

This glowing night of sanguine hips

In glowing nights of sanguine hips,
we shed our last maracas tears;
and sway away when sun has slipped.

From burning cheeks, mascara drips,
but doom of dawn is not yet near,
this glowing night of sanguine hips.

With graveyard dust on blood-filled lips,
we’re dancing with the utmost care;
and sway away when sun has slipped.

We’re blessed by songs in sooty scripts
within this shroud the light is dear,
in glowing nights of sanguine hips.

Cause 6 feet under, worms will grip
our corazon of moonlit years.
We sway away when sun has slipped.

You gently let your eyelids zip,
to quench the dread of concrete fears.
Our final night of sanguine hips,
sashay below when sun has slipped.

There is no link-up today, but if you feel inspired to write something from this, put it on the comment section or link it up on an open link challenge.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Open Link Monday

Welcome to The Imaginary Garden ... It's Pumpkin Time!

photo credit: W J (Bill) Harrison via photopin cc
Greetings to all! The month of October is fast reaching its conclusion, and I am sure our friends from the Northern Hemisphere are beginning to feel the chill that will follow harvest-time. The one thing I really miss out on in my upside-down seasonal world, is the ritual of the pumpkin... and Halloween! It always looks like a fun celebration to be a part of. It seems that pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes!

photo credit: La Chachalaca Fotografía via photopin cc</ 

And so on to poetry...

Please link up a poem of your choice - whether old or new, written for pleasure or prompt - all poetry is welcome today. Take the time to visit the blogs of your fellow poets for a rewarding time spent in the garden.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sunday Mini-Challenge: In Other Words

Greetings to all Toads and friends, who are joining me today for the weekend challenge. Ordinarily, I would be presenting you with a form challenge in the third week of the month, but I have decided it is time for a change. Our mini-challenge for the next few months will be based on titles of well-known (or obscure) novels. The two books I have chosen for the first prompt of this kind are:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon.

Published 2003


A Grain of Wheat, a novel by Kenyan novelist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Published 1967

Our Challenge:

Select either of the titles and substitute your own words in the place of those indicated below, and write a new poem under the title you have created.

1. The ____ Incident of the ____ in the ____-Time

2. A ____ of Wheat

3. A Grain of ____

Link your poem up, and visit the other participants' blogs to see what innovative words and ideas they have chosen. Have fun!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Artistic Interpretations with Margaret - Poetic Marble

"Reproof"  Marble @1878 by Edward R. Thaxter
Welcome to Artistic Interpretations with Margaret.  This past summer I traveled to Washington D. C. and visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM).  I have selected six marble statues for your inspiration.  I have offered a bit of background for a few of the images - you may choose to use the information or perhaps you will be inspired in a completely different direction.

Please, link your new poem to Mr. Linky below.  Friday is often a hectic day, so please feel free to submit late and remember, Monday is "Open Link" here in the Garden.

I had three hours to wet my appetite at the SAAM - there is NO way one can truly take in a venue like this in one day.  Or at least I can't.   I have promised myself a few return visits to this city of museums - and the most amazing thing to me is they are free admittance.

"Puck" Marble @1856 by Harriet Hosmer
Puck is the mischievous character from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

"Greek Slave" Marble @1873 by Hiram Powers
"Greek Slave" was among the most popular full-length statures of the 19th century.  The figure depicts a Greek woman who has been captured and chained by Turkish warriors.  The statue referred directly to the Greek struggle for independence during the 1820's, but also evoked the issue of slavery in America.  "Greek Slave" was the first nude statue to be widely accepted by the American public.  By emphasizing that the slave was stripped by her captors and not naked by choice, Powers gave the public permission to view the statue without fear of embarrassment.

"Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii" Marble @1854
by Randolph Rogers
Nydia, the blind flower seller, was a popular character from the 1834 novel "Last Days of Pompeii" by English playwright and novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  Rogers depicted her wandering through the wreckage of Pompeii as the erupting volcano Mount Vesuvius destroys the city.  Her staff and acute sense of hearing guide her around the destruction.  Nydia, a slave, listens intently for the voice of her aristocratic master with whom she has fallen in love.

"Eve Tempted" Marble @1877 by Hiram Powers
"Diana" Marble 1853 by Hiram Powers

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Out of Standard - The "Z" Word

Image courtesy of Wikicommons.

Greetings Garden Dwellers!
Welcome back to Out of Standard, where I will call upon you to write out of the standard and find new places in the everyday.  It is in that spirit in which I present October’s challenge...


Ten years ago, the film Shaun of the Dead was unleashed on the world, and wiggled it’s way into my heart.  For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a buddy film which happens to comically depict a Zombie Revolution in Britain.  I do highly recommend it, but you need not have seen the film to partake in this challenge.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Shaun of the Dead, I am going to call upon you to imagine a world where the Zombie Revolution is upon us, and you have holed up in a bunker, which you cannot leave.  The tone, setting, companions, munitions are all up you!  Write from that place and see where it takes you!

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 now, my muddy buddies, and bring us back something shiny and new. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Open Link Monday with Magaly

Anacaona, by Auld/Powhatan

I have Anacaona in my mind… Not sure who the lady is? Well, you probably aren’t the only one. But worry not, my dear Toads, Lord Tennyson said some pretty wonderful things about her (follow the link to learn a bit more):

Naked, and dark-limb’d, and gay,
Bathing in the slumbrous coves,
In the cocoa-shadow’d coves,
Of sunbright Xaraguay,
Who was so happy as Anacaona,
The beauty of Espagnola,
The golden flower of Hayti?

Today, I wish that all those words were based on truth; for if they were, then the Taíno chief would have had a good life before she was murdered in the aftermath of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery.”

Mondays are for freedom, so go ahead and share one of your poems. Visit fellow word lovers. I, too, shall fly by your cyber-gardens and see what’s growing.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sunday's Mini-Challenge: Eugenio Montale

Hi toads & friends of the Garden ~  I am happy to introduce you to Eugenio Montale.

Eugenio Montale (12 October 1896 – 12 September 1981) was an Italian poet, prose writer, editor and translator, and recipient of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is widely considered the greatest Italian lyric poet since Giacomo Leopardi

He was born into a family of businessmen in Genoa on October 12, 1896. During World War I, he served as an infantry officer on the Austrian front. Orginially Montale had trained to be an opera singer, but when his voice teacher died in 1923, he gave up singing and concentrated his efforts on writing. After his first book, Ossi di seppia (Cuttlefish Bones), appeared in 1925, Montale was received by critics as a profoundly original and experimental poet. His style mixed archaic words with scientific terms and idioms from the vernacular. He was dismissed from his directorship of the Gabinetto Vieusseux research library in 1938 for refusing to join the Fascist party. He withdrew from public life and began translating English writers such as ShakespeareT. S. Eliot,Herman Melville, and Eugene O’Neill. In 1939, Le occasioni(The Occasions) appeared, his most innovative book, followed by La bufera e altro (The Storm and Other Things, 1956). It was this trio of books that won Montale the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975 and established him as a founder of the hermeneutic school of Italian poetry.
In 1948 he moved from Florence to Milan where he became chief literary critic for Italy’s primary newspaper, Corriere della Sera. In addition to writing poems, Montale was also a prolific essayist, writer of stories and travel sketches, distinguished music critic, translator, and amateur painter. After a long break from writing poetry, Montale published four collections during the last ten years of his life: Satura (Miscellany, 1971), Diario del ‘71 e del ‘72 (Diary of 1971 and 1972, 1973), Quaderno di quattro anni (Notebook of Four Years, 1977), and Altri versi e poesi disperse (Other and Uncollected Poems, 1981). Eugenio Montale died in Milan in 1981 at the age of 85.

To Rest In The Shade

(Meriggiare pallido e assorto)

To rest in the shade, pale and thoughtful,
by a sun-hot garden wall
listening among thorns and brushwood
to the cry of blackbirds, the hiss of snakes.

In cracks in the soil or amongst the vetch
to spy on the files of red ants
now scattering now intertwining
at the top of miniscule mountains.

To observe among the leaves the distant
quivering scales of the sea,
while the tremulous cries rise
from cicadas on the naked hills.

And walking in the dazzling sun
to feel with a saddened wonder
how all of life and its travails
is in this following a wall
topped by bright shards of glass.

Perhaps One Morning Walking

(Forse un mattino andando in un’aria di vetro)

Perhaps one morning walking in dry glassy air,
I will turn, I will see the miracle complete:
nothingness at my shoulder, the void behind
me, with a drunkard’s terror.

Then, as on a screen, trees houses hills
will advance swiftly in familiar illusion,
But it will be too late; and I will return, silently,
to men who do not look back, with my secret.

Another Effect Of The Moon

(La trama del carrubo che si profila)

The form of the carob tree that looms
naked against the somnolent blue,
the sound of voices, the process
of silver fingers over the doorsteps,
the feather that gets entangled, on the jetty
a trampling of feet that dies away,
and the felucca already falling back in flight
its abandoned sail in tatters. 

The Well

(Cigola la carrucola del pozzo)

The pulley of the well-shaft creaks,
water rises to the light and dissolves you.
A memory trembles in the refilled pail,
an image smiles in its pure circle.
Touch your face to evanescent lips:
the past wavers, grows old,
belongs to another…
Ah, how the wheel groans
already, returns you to the dark depths,
vision, a distance divides us.

You can browse more of his translated work here.

Our challenge is to write a new poem or prose poem in response to Eugenio Montale's words.   Some examples of responses include affirming what the speaker said or using his title or line of verse as a jumping board for your own writing.   The prompt is wide open so feel free to explore where your muse takes you.   I look forward to reading your work ~   Happy weekend to all ~ Grace

Friday, October 10, 2014

I See How You Are

We spent some time with Donna the Buffalo back in the spring, when Jeb Puryear made us all feel better with his song Working On That. But there are two tremendous songwriters in this fantastic band--and I thought you all really needed to hear from Tara Nevins as well. An extremely talented multi-instrumentalist who offers fiddle, accordion, and rubboard to the Cajun-inspired songs of Donna the Buffalo, she usually plays guitar on her own songs, like this one. I just love this stripped-down version, kind of a throwback to the Everly Brothers, maybe.

Looking forward to reading your (new) poems inspired by Tara Nevins, Donna the Buffalo, disappointment, not knowing where to start, troubled hearts, rhinestones, life out on the front porch, or whatever else this lovely tune might bring to mind.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Kerry Says ~ If Only They Could Talk

Ever wonder what the mockingbird thought as it witness the unfolding events in Maycomb, Alabama?

photo credit: Vicki's Nature via photopin cc
(Text added)
How about Don Quixote's horse?

photo credit: TheGiantVermin via photopin cc
(Text added)
In Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse, Henry N. Beard presents Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy:

"To go outside, and there perchance to stay
Or to remain within: that is the question:
Whether 'tis better for a cat to suffer
The cuffs and buffets of inclement weather
That Nature rains on those who roam abroad,
Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet,
And so by dozing melt the solid hours
That clog the clock's bright gears with sullen time
And stall the dinner bell. To sit, to stare
Outdoors, and by a stare to seem to state
A wish to venture forth without delay,
Then when the portal's opened up, to stand
As if transfixed by doubt. To prowl; to sleep;
To choose not knowing when we may once more
Our readmittance gain: aye, there's the hairball... (Continue reading HERE)

Our Challenge is to reimagine an iconic literary character or monologue as presented from the point of view of a close animal companion (or one that just happens to be passing by). Alternately, you may like to write a poem about yourself from your pet's perspective. Have fun with this idea - the only stipulation is that the narrative voice of the poem be non-human.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden ...

photo credit: Denis Collette...!!! via photopin cc
I thought that for this OLM, we would draw inspiration from poets born in October.

Dylan Thomas, born 27 October 1914, reminds the reader of the insidious passage of time in these memorable lines from Fern Hill:

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising...     (Click HERE for a reading)

Sylvia Plath, born 27 October 1932, boldly considers her own mortality in the poem Lady Lazarus:

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Is an art, like everything else... (Click HERE for a reading)

e.e. cummings, born 14 October 1894, shows, rather than tells the reader the essence of love, in somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond:

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)  Click HERE for a reading.

Such poetry is, to me, a gift and a legacy of all that is good about humanity: 'everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes'. Do you have a poem that you would like to share with us today? Please link up a piece of your choice and join us in reading and responding to the best of online poetry.