Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Get Listed: Final for 2014

Lots of rituals this time of year.

Here's one more: thank you to Chief Toad, Kerry O'Connor, and to all the toad dwellers and visitors, for making this site both challenging and welcome.

And now, the final word list for 2014.

music, few, grip, feather, glove, steam, embrace, rise, fall, water, shadow, bed

If you wish, write of the year gone, or up ahead, or really whatever strikes your fancy. I'm a bit less enamored of ritual as I get older.

As a reminder: select three or more words (or reasonable variants) from this list for your poem, post it to your blog, then link the pen itself to Mr. Linky below.

Then please visit again to read your fellow's work, comment if you would (we all do enjoy the feedback)... and best wishes for 2015.


~ M (grapeling)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tales from the Minneapolis Jukebox - A Personal Challenge

Hey Toads Herotomost here!  Hope this finds everyone having had an awesome Christmas and getting ready for an even better New Year.  Sooo... I am here because Izzy gave me her last challenge.  She graciously asked if I would accept...are you kidding!  As most of you know I have been around the blogosphere for a while and have camped out with some outstanding writers and individuals.  The only reason I found my way to this site was because of Kerry and once here, people like the incomparable Isadora Gruye just sealed the deal for hanging in the garden.  Its been love at first read since our Writers Café days. I came a hairs breadth from meeting her last summer (yay for me, probably not as much for her) but alas, it was not to be.

For this challenge, she gave me a list of You Tube links of songs from local artists in her neck of the woods and asked me to write about one of them.  The list was really cool and I found myself listening again and again and tracking down other works by each of the artists.  I chose to write about the band Actual Wolf.  First off its a cool name, second she described them as "folk meets asphalt"...gotta love that and third the song and the video were just too cool for school.  Not sure I did this justice, I am a little rusty as of late, but it was fun pulling something together. 

IG, it has been a pleasure knowing you and a pleasure being asked to play in one of your challenges. Thanks for the friendship and I hope your 2015 is the best ever!

It's Where Songs Come From....
I wrote this after seeing an actual wolf
I was searching for treasure in Alberta
Like it’s the dragon’s lair, I beg to differ honey
But I did realize there are things scarier than you leaving me
And this song isn’t so much about anything
It just represents a point of disembarkation
And you don’t have to get it

We Interrupt this drivel for station identification…

     “Where do you get your Song’s?”



     “That’s the sort of question a third grader might ask?”

     “I think your fan’s would like to know.”

     “Let me tell you something David……my fan’s don’t ask me stupid questions. All they really want is to hang out, be a part, get a little close, OK man.”


     “Listen, if you really want to know where I get my songs then open your damned ears, I’m only gonna say this once. Count this down, David.”

     “Its Maggie’s dingy thong showing every time she sits down. It’s my grandmother blowing smoke rings with her pipe.  It’s Eddie Vedder in the mother fucking rafters.  It’s Dolly Parton and her shitty coat.  It’s mom making heart for us kids because she’s making liver for dad and we hate liver.  The only thing is David, heart is no damned consolation to a kid. It’s thinking about how cool it would be to walk on the moon.  It’s smoking a cigarette after the show with Justin Furstenfeld.  It’s shelling out your last hundred bucks to go see the Avett Brothers. Do you see what I’m saying David?  It’s that stupid look on your face right now.”


    “Of course you don’t get what I’m saying David.  You are not an actual wolf.  All you got to do is sit down and fucking listen man…just listen.”

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming…

She wrote that after lying with an actual wolf
After the proselytizing was done, she was convincing
One word can be a savior, a salve, a poultice for the soul
Which word depends on how far down that road she’s been
You can take her out and sniff your territory together
But when the snow starts blowing and the wind cuts
It will be nothing compared to the bite she takes out of your ass

Who’s the actual wolf now

Monday, December 29, 2014

Open Link Monday ~ The Grand Finale

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

Photographer: Kenji Shibata on Bored Panda

Greetings to all poets and friends on the last Open Link Monday of 2014, and the last presentation of our open forum for sharing poetry in this weekly slot. As of the new year, our Open Link will become The Tuesday Platform, alternately hosted by Marian Kent and Kerry O'Connor. Please remember to visit us on Tuesday, January 6.  

Kenji Shibata
(As above)

This is one of several changes to our line-up in 2015. The Wednesday and Friday Challenges will give way to a once weekly challenge, which will be posted at 12 noon on Thursdays for Friday. This will afford us all extra time for preparation, and allow two days for posting and feedback. This does not mean that any of your favourite hosts or prompts have been lost; they will simply appear at longer intervals, with an 11 week turn-around. For a sneak peek at the line-up January - March, please visit the "New Schedule 2015" Tab at the top of the Home page. The weekend Mini-Challenge will remain unchanged.

Kenji Shibata
(As Above)

The final week of the year brings, for me, a sense of relief, as well as anticipation. It is a good time for retrospection, but also forward planning. With that in mind, please select a poem of your own choice to share with us today.

I take this opportunity to thank all contributors and participants who have made the Imaginary Garden their own. It is indeed a great privilege to read and interact with the high calibre of writers, poets and people who share their gifts so freely.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Play it Again, Toads! #12

 Welcome to the 12th "Play it Again, Toads!" where we revisit the archived challenges of the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.  Choose your own from the archives on the sidebar 2011-2014) or select from three I highlight below.

You may use the images I offer here - if so, please use the photos with an archived challenge.  The images are from last year's December trip through the Appalachian Mountains of rural Tennessee.  The day was drizzling rain off and on and I was taking the images through the passenger window while my husband was driving.

Original poems only and link your specific post to Mr. Linky below.  Make it clear which challenge you are resurrecting by including a link.  Also remember to visit the other poets as this is what makes sharing poetry so fun.  Thank you and I look forward to reading your poems.

1.  A Word with Laurie - "Ecstasy - in five minutes or less" Imagined by Laurie Kolp

2.  A Gift of Wisdom from Maya Angelou - Kerry O'Connor posted this on Christmas day, 2012.  I thought it so beautiful, I decided to include it here and offer it as a jumping off point as poetic inspiration.

3.  Calling all Angels - Imagined by Fireblossom

Friday, December 26, 2014

Artistic Interpretations "Simply Beautiful"

Photo:  M.Bednar

Artists and poets often consider at least one of the following:  light, composition, moment, time, palette, wonder.  The Holiday season is often a time to reflect upon love, peace, grace - a time to step away from the hard realities that often besiege us daily (whether it be personal or through the ever present 24/7 news) and find inspiration and solace in that which is simply beautiful.

I received an amazing book for Christmas - National Geographic "Simply Beautiful Photographs" by Annie Griffiths.  Google it or click on the images link and you get some idea of how stunning this book is.

For this month's Artistic Interpretations challenge, you may use one of my images or link an image from the above book (we do not have permission to use the photos)  I have also selected a few quotes scattered throughout the above mentioned book and offered them for poetic inspiration as well.  (My accompanying photographs I in no way think do justice to the words but are humbly offered.)

Mr. Linky is provided at the bottom of this page.  Friday is often a hectic day, so feel free to submit late and remember Monday is "Open Link" here in the Garden.


"From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Beauty if not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."  Kahlil Gibran

Photo:  M. Bednar


"Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation."  Oscar Wilde

"Art consists of limitation.  The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame."  G. K. Chesterson

Photo:  M. Bednar


"Of which beauty will you speak?  There are many…"  Eugene Delacroix

"Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future."  Oliver Wendell Holmes

Photo:  M. Bednar


"What was any art but a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself - life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose."  Willa Cather

"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."  Henry Miller

M. Bednar


"I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors.  I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns."  Winston Churchill

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."  Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

"Spring comes:  the flowers learn their colored shapes."  Maria Konopnicka

Photo:  M. Bednar


"There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect."  G. K. Chesterton

"I think the world really boils down to two types of people - those who see shapes in cloud formations, and those who just see clouds."  Danzae Pace

Photo:  M. Bednar

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Out of Standard: Humbug Origins

Scrooge. Image courtesy of WikiCommons.

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 today's challenge...

Humbug: Origins

Ebenezer Scrooge made "Bah Humbug" famous in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carroll. But the phrase existed before Dickens' time. According to the 1911 Classic Encyclopedia, Humbug dates back to the mid-1700s and is synonymous with a hoax or a sham. When Scrooge used it in A Christmas Carol, he was commenting that Christmas was a hoax or deception. In fact, this is not the only literary use of the phrase, as the venerable Wizard of Oz declares himself to be “just a humbug.” And through time, many have forgotten that the phrase meant anything at all, simply associating it was a bad attitude about Christmas. 

The Prompt

Use "humbug" in poem not related to winter, christmas, or holidays.  Extra points for adding the "Bah" to it!  

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, December 22, 2014

Open Link Monday with Magaly

My last Monday co-hosting at The Garden…

This is such a wonderful community; full of writers who find the best words to inspire each other. I love adding my bits to all the prompts, and get a tad anxious when my time runs too short. Starting January, my days will be even fuller with hospitals, doctors and (I hope) with healing.

I shall continue to participate on Open Link Monday. This is not goodbye… I’m just hopping to the side, so someone else can have the lily pad full-time. Now share a poem of your choosing. Visit other word lovers. And have a merry Monday, dear Toads!   

I took this picture some time before I knew about The Garden… But every time I see the wee frog, I think of this blog.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Sunday Mini-Challenge ~ In Other Words

The Christmas Special Edition!

Our word substitution mini-challenge for the month of December, must inevitably turn to the titles of well-loved Christmas tales. However, this would not be the Imaginary Garden if there were not a dash of the unconventional. The object of this exercise is to consider the role of words in titles and how nuance and meaning can be changed by the slightest adjustments.

John Updike and Tim Burton are way ahead of us in substituting words into the titles of favourite carols.

Although I am not familiar with the following title, Christopher Moore seems to have been rather innovative in his approach to the traditional Christmas Tale.

If you prefer the quirky and humorous or would like to explore the underside of the festive season, then choose from the titles above and substitute your own nouns and adjectives, or select your own Christmas title (something well-known) and work your magic on it.

  • The Twelve _________ of Christmas
  • The ________ Before Christmas
  • The ________ Angel

However, if your would like something more traditional, then use the title of O. Henry's beloved tale.

  • The Gift of the _________
  • The _________ of the Magi

These titles were sourced HERE, and there are more to choose from on that site.

For those who are celebrating Hanukkah, here is a range of titles from Goodreads

If the spirit moves you to participate in this challenge, I hope you will have a lot of fun with it. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Broken Hearts & Auto Parts

Special greetings, Toads! Today we are following Kevn Kinney on a tour of the American South.

Kevn Kinney is a songwriter and troubadour hailing from Atlanta, Georgia (by way of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he grew up). He is best known as the lead singer and guitarist for the band Drivin N Cryin. Kevn Kinney writes poignant story-songs about life and love, often sharing the stage with a cast of other musician characters you might know.

It’s worth listening to this version of "Broken Hearts and Auto Parts" all the way through, as Kevn gets a truly classic story in at the end. This song is the title track from his 2002 album; the studio version is great, as it (and the whole record) features harmony vocals from Sarah Lee Guthrie. But I love this capture of Kevn’s live performance.

Toads, your challenge is to look back over the past twelve months and write a poem completing this sentence: “It’s [blank] and [blank] this year.” You don’t have to use that line in your poem, but please channel its spirit and bring on a story(-ies). Write about heartbreak, automobiles, expensive dates, advice from your father, or whatever else comes to mind as you reflect on this year that is coming to a close. As always, please link up something new for this prompt, and I look forward to reading!

As Kevn says: "When in doubt, just be yourself."


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kerry Says ~ Ah, Mephistopheles!

"No Elizabethan play, outside the Shakespeare collection, has raised more controversy than Doctor Faustus.”

"Sorrow of Mephistopheles"
Candra on

As we near the end of 2014, I realize with some dismay what an Annus Horribilis it has been in terms of threats to global peace, local and international tragedies relating to disease and deaths: accidental, criminal and suicidal. Terms such as ISIS and Boko Haram  have taken their places in our vocabularies along with others, such as Ebola, Flights Mh370 and M17. Places, such as Gaza, Ukraine and Ferguson, Missouri, have gained in notoriety. In a year which commemorated the centenary of World War 1 and 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, we may wonder how far we have advanced socially in the last century.

All Images sourced from
various online news publications.
Copyright belongs to individual photographers.

It often falls to the poets, novelists, playwrights - the writers - to become the voice of their times, to describe the untenable, and highlight what is most uncomfortable, even unforgivable, in the historical present. The words of Mephistopheles, a character in The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, a play by Christopher Marlowe (published post-humously in 1604), based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge, ring true today:

"Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
 In one self place, for where we are is hell,
 And where hell is must we ever be." — Christopher Marlowe

Title page of 1620 Edition
Fair Use

Some scholars believe that Marlowe developed the story of the Faust legend from a popular 1592 translation, commonly called The English Faust Book. There is thought to have been an earlier, lost, German edition of 1587, which itself may have been influenced by even earlier, equally unpreserved pamphlets in Latin. Suffice it to say, that the tale itself speaks not of any one author, but of human experience, hubris and downfall, with themes hearkening back to the myth of the Fall: a source of hidden knowledge, a temptation, a price to be paid, a world of sin.
OUR CHALLENGE:  Mix these ideas together, with your own knowledge and experience of the year 2014, and see what poetry may be the result.

Where possible, the sources of images have been acknowledged. If a photo or picture appears on this post, which you own, and want to have removed, please contact the blog editor.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden!

Begonia is a begonia is a begonia is a begonia.

With apologies to Gertrude Stein, this Flower Carpet in Brussels is rather amazing!

Good Monday morning, poets and poetry lovers. Please link up and share a poem with us, and visit to read the writing of others. Monday's open link is the bedrock of our garden, and we are pleased to welcome you here.

Have a great week, everyone. Hope you all have the chance to slow down and reflect in a busy time.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sunday's Mini-challenge: James Wright

Hi everyone ! I am happy to introduce you to James Wright. He is frequently referred to as one of America's finest contemporary poets. He was admired by critics and fellow poets alike for his willingness and ability to experiment with language and style, as well as for his thematic concerns. 

On December 13, 1927, James was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio. His father worked for fifty years at a glass factory, and his mother left school at fourteen to work in a laundry; neither attended school beyond the eighth grade. While in high school in 1943 Wright suffered a nervous breakdown and missed a year of school. When he graduated in 1946, a year late, he joined the army and was stationed in Japan during the American occupation. He then attended Kenyon College on the G.I. Bill, and studied under John Crowe Ransom. He graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1952, then married another Martins Ferry native, Liberty Kardules. The two traveled to Austria, where, on a Fulbright Fellowship, Wright studied the works of Theodor Storm and Georg Trakl at the University of Vienna. He returned to the U.S. and earned master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Washington, studying with Theodore Roethkeand Stanley Kunitz. He went on to teach at The University of Minnesota, Macalester College, and New York City’s Hunter College.

The poverty and human suffering Wright witnessed as a child profoundly influenced his writing and he used his poetry as a mode to discuss his political and social concerns. He modeled his work after Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost, whose engagement with profound human issues and emotions he admired. The subjects of Wright’s earlier books, The Green Wall (winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets award, 1957) and Saint Judas (1959), include men and women who have lost love or have been marginalized from society for such reasons as poverty and sexual orientation, and they invite the reader to step in and experience the pain of their isolation. Wright possessed the ability to reinvent his writing style at will, moving easily from stage to stage. His earlier work adheres to conventional systems of meter and stanza, while his later work exhibits more open, looser forms, as with The Branch Will Not Break (1963). James Wright was elected a fellow of the Academy of American Poets in 1971, and the following year his Collected Poems received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He died in New York City on Martch 25, 1980.

Here are three poems:


The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.   
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
There they are, the moon's young, trying
Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
Or move.
I listen.
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.

Butterfly Fish

Not five seconds ago, I saw him flutter so quick
And tremble with so mighty a trembling,
He was gone.
He left this clear depth of coral
Between his moments.
Now, he is here, back,
Slow and lazy.
He knows already he is so alive he can leave me alone,
Peering down, holding his empty mountains.
Happy in easy luxury, he grazes up his tall corals,
Slim as a stallion, serene on his far-off hillside,
His other world where I cannot see
His secret face.
By James Wright [From This Journey: Poems by James Wright (Vintage Books, Random House, New York, New York: 1982]

To the Muse

It is all right. All they do
Is go in by dividing
One rib from another. I wouldn’t   
Lie to you. It hurts
Like nothing I know. All they do   
Is burn their way in with a wire.
It forks in and out a little like the tongue   
Of that frightened garter snake we caught   
At Cloverfield, you and me, Jenny   
So long ago.

I would lie to you
If I could.
But the only way I can get you to come up   
Out of the suckhole, the south face
Of the Powhatan pit, is to tell you   
What you know:

You come up after dark, you poise alone   
With me on the shore.   
I lead you back to this world.

Three lady doctors in Wheeling open
Their offices at night.
I don’t have to call them, they are always there.   
But they only have to put the knife once   
Under your breast.
Then they hang their contraption.
And you bear it.

It’s awkward a while. Still, it lets you   
Walk about on tiptoe if you don’t   
Jiggle the needle.
It might stab your heart, you see.
The blade hangs in your lung and the tube   
Keeps it draining.
That way they only have to stab you   
Once. Oh Jenny.

I wish to God I had made this world, this scurvy   
And disastrous place. I
Didn’t, I can’t bear it
Either, I don’t blame you, sleeping down there   
Face down in the unbelievable silk of spring,   
Muse of black sand,

I don’t blame you, I know
The place where you lie.
I admit everything. But look at me.   
How can I live without you?
Come up to me, love,
Out of the river, or I will
Come down to you.
You can read more of his works here.

Our challenge is to write a new poem or prose poem in response to James Wright'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 (aka Heaven)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Transforming Friday with Nature's Wonders

Hello toads and poets - today we're going to muse on Lake Hillier, Australia!

Lake Hillier is a lake on Middle Island, the largest of the islands and islets that make up the Recherche ArchipelagoWestern Australia

You guessed its intriguing draw...the remarkable pink color is cause for pause! 

Lake Hillier is a bubble-gum-pink and it's literally just a few steps away from a “normal” colored Southern Ocean.

Scientists speculate that it’s color is caused by a reaction of sea salt and sodium bicarbonate (which you know as baking soda), and/or caused by red halophilic bacteria in the salt crusts.

This clip, (while slightly on the obnoxious side), is mildly entertaining in its dry-humor and highly informative in its scientific explanation about the phenomenon of this natural wonder. If you can tolerate it - its worth the three minutes...I think. :)

Explore this location and allow your poetic heart to swim in rosy water awhile...submerge and surface with any aspect of this place that inspires you. 

It could be as far-fetched as a giant's discarded glob of chewing gum, one could employ metaphor or delve into the microscopic realm of the red halophilic bacteria...point being, the challenge is open for the poet's choosing. 

Please, write something new and specifically for this post, link up and visit the others listed and feel free to join late...we'll be sure to check back for new links to read! 

Thank you so much for writing and I hope everyone has a wonderful and peaceful weekend. 

:)'s  Hannah

Images featured are borrowed from web, "free images."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Words Count With Mama Zen

homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, and may differ in spelling. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of "rise"), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or to, two, and too.                                                                                                                                                  ---Wikipedia

Today, we're playing with homophones.  Any topic, any form, but your piece must include at least one pair of homophones . . . and, be 75 words or less.

Have fun!