Saturday, February 28, 2015



The first Sunday of a new month is upon us again, and it is time for Flash 55. The rules of this prompt have not changed: Write a piece of poetry or prose on a subject of your choice in precisely 55 WORDS.


Yellow Butterfly and Rose
Digital Painting by Abie Davis
The Minion Factory

The optional extra for this challenge is to add a single colour to your poem.
I have included Oscar Wilde's Symphony in Yellow as an example of how a colour can be central to the lyrical description:

An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly,
And, here and there, a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.

The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the Temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Time (The Revelator)

From Gillian Welch’s website: "Gill and Dave met at Berklee College of Music; Gillian was studying songwriting, while Dave studied guitar; they met at an audition for a country band. Together, they moved to Nashville, TN where most of their work together has been produced. Since then they have influenced and inspired new generations of country and folk singers, songwriters and players. They have earned the slavish admiration of many of the most lauded and loved voices of the Americana milieu now living – and some who have since deceased (rest their souls). They’ve had their songs recorded by the likes of Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, and Solomon Burke. Gill and Dave’s body of work is deeply rooted in the world it has sought to portray in song: the American South." 

Read the rest of their bio HERE.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

Open Air Stage, Corvara in Badia, Italy

"Whether you are a writer or an actor or a stage manager, you are trying to express the complications of life through a shared enterprise. That's what theatre was, always. And live performance shares that with an audience in a specific compact: the play is unfinished unless it has an audience, and they are as important as everyone else."  Lee Hall (Brainy Quotes)

Greetings to all bards, minstrels and itinerant poets! As always we extend a warm welcome to you, and invite you to take a turn upon our stage. This forum is for the sharing of poetry without parameters - the choice is yours. Please take a turn as a member of the audience as your interest and commentary is greatly appreciated. The Imaginary Garden with Real Toads IS a 'shared enterprise' for its members and friends.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Passage - A Personal Challenge from Manicdaily (the Outlawyer), Karin Gustafson

Good morning Monday to all the Toads in all the corners of the Garden on this fabulous Monday.  Herotomost here.  Arm yourself with a cup of coffee (maybe with a little Bailey's) and sit down for a minute before the hectic work week begins and give yourself a little treat.

It was my turn to put up the Personal Challenge here at Toads and I chose Karin Gustafson!!! But, like most of the stuff I do, I procrastinated a bit and it came down to finally getting a hold of Karin while I was on my annual trip to Mexico. So as I was emailing her from my sunny spot beachside, she was in New York battling the crisp, cold New York weather.  It hardly seemed fair. But, as you know, Karin is an ever-present personality in our little garden community and always has a kind word for those who try to express their life, love, joy, desperation and frustration in words and hope that they find common cause with the anyone else in the universe.

Because of our polar opposite positions in the world at the time I presented her with the following prompt.  I told her she was in her room in New York and there was a curious door that appeared to go nowhere, but when she finally opened the door, she saw that it was a portal to a tropical sunny place, one of her choosing and to use that juxtaposition to write a piece about the differences, the similarities, the vibe etc.  of instantly traveling between both places.

I have to say, not that I was surprised at all, that Karin nailed it. As you will see below she painted a picture not only of physical location but one of emotional connection to the "what if" nature of the challenge.

I greatly appreciate Karin taking me up on the challenge and applaud the effort she has put in,  If you get the chance (and I am sure most have, visit her blogs and have a look a the wonderful writing and illustrations she has, she is an amazing artist, seems like an amazing person and her new nickname may have to be Ms. Murder, because she always kills it!!!!!!

Thanks Karin!!!!!!!!


The passageway to warmth
is as wide as it need be--
the breadth of your body, the breath
of your body--
sighs sized to stretch us both
into foreshortened
a night narrow
as two spoons.

But when, feeling lone,  
the brain becomes
a dislocated bone,
when crevices
hutch stone, darkness thickens
and even walls pass judgment,
one confuses

Some mistake
an unlit oven
for possible passage (the speckle
of its inner midnight misread
as splotches of star),
consider cuts channels, purge
as release, oblivion
a coveted tease--

when--I have to believe--
if time could just
be waited upon, warmth might alight
in windowed panes,
great trapezoids of sun winnowed
from the meanest cracks,
brightnesses to bring us back
into blink and dazzle,
a radiance that lets us wear
its raiment as our own, quickening
whatever lists into its frame and, too,
what simply looks on. 

Manicddaily, Karin Gustafson, here (somehow also known as Outlawyer, due to a momentary blip years ago--agh--Google never forgets!)  

Yes, I may just call it a draft, since I’m still changing this, and frankly, am not sure it shouldn’t simply end with the first stanza, simply as a kind of love poem.    

Many thanks to Corey for thinking of me to do a challenge, and for coming up with this one in particular, which led me to write a couple of different poems, and was an especially appealing topic in frozen New York. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Play It Again, Toads! #14

Pine Warbler
Welcome to the 14th "Play it Again, Toads!" where we revisit archived challenges of this amazing Imaginary Garden.  Choose your own from the archives on the sidebar (2011-2015) or select from three I've highlighted below.

You may use my photography I offer here - if so, please use the photo with an archived challenge.  These images are of my backyard birds who have been enjoying my suet feeders and photographed on our (so far) only day of snow fall.

Original poems only and link your specific post to Mr. Linky below.  Make it clear which challenge you are resurrecting by including a link.   Sharing poetry and commenting on the other poetic endeavors is what makes this a fun place to be.  So please don't forget to return a few times and check out what is written.

1.  Imagined by Grace O'Malley - "Format Challenge - Haiku"

2.  "Kerry's Wednesday Challenge - Open Letters"

3.  Fireblossom Friday - "Rhyme Royal & W. T. Benda"

Downy Woodpecker

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Thursday, February 19, 2015

get listed for February: Absent

Abandoned, near Barker's Dam, Joshua Tree National Park

Been traveling.

In the last month I've flipped the page to 50, and travelled (were I a crow) over 10,500 miles, successively: home, Miami (work), home, Tucson and Palm Springs (friends), home, New Orleans (work), home, and Joshua Tree (son's 16th birthday). Now home for another 5 weeks, before Atlanta calls (work).

King of Smores. Age 16.

Hence, radio silence.

Met some interesting folk along the way, got stuck in Houston when United Airlines blah blah blah, saw some very cool rocks, gained 10 pounds (have you had a beignet?), sat in the desert to utter, utter quiet, when one can hear blood pumping, birds mutually sing from across a mesa, and wonder where the background hum of vehicular traffic went and how we ever let the skies lighten to blank the stars and cars dampen birdsong and roads be built to cross the desert - ironic, since that's how I got there.

(By the by - if it's on your bucket list, get to Joshua Tree National Park sooner rather than later. Climate change and decreasing rainfall spell a grim future; current estimates are that the park will be barren of its namesake by mid-century - extinct by drought. Of course, Miami and Nola might well be under water by then, too. Pack light; it's warm there.)

So, this is breakfast in Houston.

Beignets. At NOLA airport!

Saw the Ganymede moons floating near Jupiter magnified 280x through a telescope at an observatory outside 29 Palms; flying beads from a float in the French Quarter; geodes 3 meters tall at the Tucson gem show; dancing girls at a street restaurant in South Beach; but not my own bed on a Saturday night for a month, and I'm glad that's where I'll be this weekend.

If it were anywhere but New Orleans, this would be creepy.

Did I mention dinosaurs? Hwy 62.

Campsite 101, Hidden Cove, Joshua Tree

This month's get listed word choices arose from pondering while sitting in a flying bus at 35,000 feet. I got to thinking how close yet how far some words are, and started thinking of pairs that share a root, as it were, but not necessarily a sense. So not tense/intense, which are closely related, but... well, these:

miss / remiss
deem / redeem
wager / dowager
pulse / repulse
file / defile
peat / repeat
sent / absent

Your challenge is to select at least 2 of these pairs - or come up with a pair of pairs of your own, words that share common spelling but not common meaning - and weave them into a *new* poem, however you please.

As a reminder, please post the link directly to your pen (and not just to your blog page) in Mr. Linky below, and then revisit often in the coming days to read (and hopefully comment on) your fellow poets' work.

I'll be around later in the week; if it takes a bit to compose your piece, feel free to link up to The Tuesday Platform next week.

Looking forward to rejoining the garden, for a bit. Thanks for coming by.

~ M

Babyface Nelson, the Hotel Congress, Tucson

(note - all images copyright 2015 by author)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

Ice Festival in Northampton, Massachusetts (photo by Don Treeger for the Springfield Republican)

LOVE, friends, love! All you need is….

I figured some of us probably can relate to this frozen feeling, and others who are experiencing epic heat waves might find this image refreshing. Love to you all!

Welcome to the Tuesday Platform, the weekly open stage for sharing poems in the Imaginary Garden. Please link up a poem, old or new, and spend some time this week visiting the offerings of our fellow writers. We look forward to reading your work.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sunday Mini-Challenge--(Hopefully) Promising Prompt

Hi Toads! I sit here on the eve of Valentine’s Day contemplating what it actually means to pour those little chalky hearts out of their cloudy plastic bag, and give someone a teeny dusty purple one, red-inked, “I’m Yours.”

(Textual analysis that, as is typical, involves reading commentary, not hearts.) 

After much textual analysis, I have decided that all those candy phrases--"be mine," "I'm yours," "Cutie Pie," are promises of a sort, however delible the ink may be:  a vow to be yours, a vow to accept you as mine, a promise to think of the recipient as cute.  (For at least a day or two.)

As I write this, the mountains where I live are laden with snow. 

And it's already dark out.  

Don't worry--I don't truly live in a nest, but it may hold promise for some.

Which leads me to the prompt, so beautifully illustrated by the end of Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”: 

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Promises!  Given.  Exacted.  Kept.  Broken.  Slept on.  (Or through.) 

Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to write something born out of a promise. This can be a promise of yours or of someone else, or of some remembered or imagined someone else.  Or of a remembered or imagined you!  

Maybe write about the promises of vampire elephants.

Or non-vampire elephants. 

Please do not feel bound to write a Valentine’s poem, or a poem that relates to love.  You can if you wish simply write about an experience or day or object that seems particularly promising, or unpromising; a poem, if you will, about anticipation or disappointment.  

And now because Shay likes them, here's one more elephant, who has a big heart but also looks a little disappointed to me.  (Valentine's Day perhaps not great for all!)  Originally done as a print on glass-- 

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to Kerry O'Connor who's done so very much to make me, Manicddaily, a/k/a Karin Gustafson, a/k/a Outlawyer, feel welcome--and whose work and online presence have really helped me keep my own work going.  Thanks also to all of you. 

 (And lastly, for those who don't know me--the pics are mine.  Sometime I am going to post a prompt with pictures to write about--I wasn't considering any of these are particularly promising in that area, but you are certainly free to use them, with attribution.) 

Please link below.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Kerry Says ~ Is Love a Tender Thing?

Romeo and Juliet
William Shakespeare
It falls to me, this year, to provide the Valentine's Day prompt... an easy task perhaps, and we could all set out to write a 'love poem', leaving cynicism behind, or challenge ourselves to explore heartbreak without sentimentality.

Illustration by E. Nesbit
for Children's Stories from Shakespeare
(Raphael Tuck c 1900)

If you do an on-line search of "Quotes on love by William Shakespeare", you will find an almost unending supply sourced from his plays and sonnets - ample inspiration for any creative writing prompt but I have selected the one that asks what I believe to be a quintessential question: Is love a tender thing? Certainly, humans spend an exhaustive amount of emotional energy in the pursuit of love and happiness, which we believe are synonymous. However, William Shakespeare reminds his reader that we often pay a high price to achieve something which is, at best, ephemeral. In attempting to fulfill the principle to love one's enemy, one may find that love is the enemy. But the converse is also true. Our fellow poet, Brendan, (Oran's Well) left a very perceptive comment on my blog last Saturday. He said: Love is a deadly enough fray without those big guns. None of us asked for this mess, but to fail to love in a time of ruin somehow makes its victory even worse...

I put it to you then. This challenge could be to write to the theme: Love Thy Enemy or Love is The Enemy or Love, Despite Your Enemy.

This prompt is posted at noon on Thursday to allow extra time for the creative process. It will remain at the top of the Home page until noon on Saturday, so later entries are welcomed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

The Minack Theatre
This stage is carved out of the granite cliffs
of Porthcurno, Cornwall

“It's about that applause I want to speak to you. I want you to remember that when you've done a little dance or a song or sketch, the applause which you get is not only because you yourself have done your best, but because each of those men is seeing in you someone he loves at home, and because of you is able to forget for a little while ...” ― Noel Streatfeild, Theater Shoes

Welcome once again, dear friends, to The Tuesday Platform in the Imaginary Garden. Here is your opportunity to present your work in a supportive and artistic environment, and to become a member of the audience yourself, as you read the work of fellow poets. Our stage is a rare and precious thing.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sunday's Mini-challenge: Carilda Olivar Labra

Hello toads and visitors to the garden !   I am happy to introduce you to another poet, Carilda Olivar Labra, who is known as one of the most influential Cuban poets. Although her poetry is philosophical and social, Carilda considers that her great theme is love, that which she has felt straight from the heart. 

Carilda was born in 1922 in Matanzas, Cuba, in a Colonial home now under preservation by the state. She graduated with a degree in civil law from the University of Havana and went home to practice law for some years in the city of her birth. She also taught as a professor of Fine Arts there.

Her debut collection in l943, Lyric Prelude (Preludio lirico) immediately established her as an important poetic voice. At the South of My Throat made her famous: the coveted National Prize for poetry came to her in l950 as a result of the popular and notorious book, At the South of My Throat (Al sur de mi garganta) 1949. In honor of the tri-centennial of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in a contest sponsored by The Latin American Society in Washington D.C., in 1950, she had also received the national Cuban First Prize for her poems. Her work was highly praised by Gabriela Mistral, the Chilean poet and first Latin-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945. In 1958, Labra published Feverish memory (Memoria de la fiebre) which added to her notoriety as a blatantly erotic woman. The book concerned a theme which has dominated her poetry--that of lost love--as it was written after the unfortunate and untimely death of her second husband.

She was a pioneer of woman's independence in her homeland. She has emerged today as one of Cuba's leading poets. She was a brave pioneer writer of the plight of the Cuban people under cruel colonialism. Such works as Song to the Flag (Canto a la Bandera, 1950); Song to Marti (Canto a Marti, 1953); Song to Matanzas (Canto a Matanzas, 1956) display such sentiments. Today, in Spain a foundation offers "The Carilda Oliver Prize for Poetry," and a documentary of her life has been produced. She has travelled throughout Spain, Eastern Europe, South America and the United States giving recitals and interviews.

Declaration of Love
--written during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October, 1963

I ask if I'm wise
when I awaken
the danger between his thighs,
or if I'm wrong
when my kisses prepare only a trench
in his throat.

I know that war is probable;
especially today
because a red geranium has blossomed open.

Please, don't point your weapons
at the sky:
the sparrows are terrorized,
and it's springtime,
it's raining, the meadows are ruminating.
you'll melt the moon, only night light of the poor.

It's not that I'm afraid,
or a coward,
I'd do everything for my homeland;
but don't argue so much over your nuclear missiles,
because something horrible is happening:
and I haven't had time enough to love. 

Eve's Discourse

Today, I brutally greet you
with a grunt
or a kick.
Where are you hiding,
where have you fled with your wild box
full of hearts,
and your stream of gunpowder?
Where are you now;
in the ditch where all dreams are finally tossed,
or in the jungle's spidery web
where fatherless children dangle?

I miss you,
you know I do--
as myself
or the miracles that never happen--
you know I do?
I'd like to entice you with a joy I've never known,
an imprudent affair.

Continue reading here. 

And her well-known love poem is:  I go crazy, my love, I go crazy 

I go crazy, my love, I go crazy
when I go in your mouth, delayed;
and almost without wanting, almost for nothing
I touch you with the point of my breast.

I touch you with the tip of my breast
and with my abandoned solitude;
and perhaps without being enamored;
I go crazy, my love, I go crazy.

And my luck of the prized fruit
burns in your salacious and turbid hand
like a bad promise of venom;
though I want to kiss you kneeling,
When I go in your mouth, delayed
I go crazy, my love, I go crazy.

Our challenge is to write a new poem or prose poem in response to Carilda's words. Some examples of responses include affirming what the speaker said or using her title or line of verse as a jumping board for your own writing.   If you want to pen a love poem, that's fine with me too as the prompt is wide open.  I look forward to reading your work ~ Happy weekend to all ~ Grace (aka Heaven)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Your Poetic Eye: Kumulipo

 Sorry, Toads I have been missing in action, I have been dwelling in paint samples and organization.  For years, we have told my mother see is more than welcome to live with us.  My husband actually said it first.   I think the New England weather is finally getting  the best of her.   So,  I have been busy redecorating.  There is a lot of mixed emotions by both my mom and I during this transition, but I am confident we will make it work. 

   My horoscope recently said I needed to dwell in Kumulipo.

"The "Kumulipo" is an old Hawaiian prayer chant that poetically describes the creation of the world. The word literally means "beginning-in-deep-darkness." Here darkness doesn't connote gloom and evil. Rather, it's about the inscrutability of the embryonic state; the obscure chaos that reigns before germination."   

I feel this way sometimes before I create art, poetry and any format of writing.  We all can relate to the blank page, but there is this state of the unknown, the rich dark soil-as the light comes forth-the spark, the idea, before the birth. 

Wikipedia:  "The Kumulipo is divided into sixteen , sections. The first seven  fall under the section of  (darkness), the age of spirit. The Earth may or may not exist, but the events described do not take place in a physical universe. The words show the development of life as it goes through similar stages as a human child. All plants and animals of sea and land, earth and sky, male and female are created.[6] Eventually, it leads to early mammals."

Below are a  few lines of the Kumulipo:  There are 2102 lines-if you are curious.  I want to address how we create our own worlds with poetry.   What is your before process like?  Do  drink coffee, exercise, read, highlight words, doodle, does music kiss your third eye, perhaps a walk on a favorite pine needle path or maybe sunlight tickles your muse or maybe moonlight makes you howl?

 I want a poem that shares your embryonic state before the birth of your poem.  It can be where your ideas usually find light- anyway you connect your poetic eye to words.    I think to bring your poetry out of the dark abyss, perhaps we need another element to induce our birth.    I want you to take the place where you were born-the state, the providence, the country-whatever you prefer and add the richness of this area to your poem.  For example I was born in Maine-so perhaps I will add White tassel pines, the salty sea or the my state bird, the Chickadee.

O ke au i kahuli wela ka honua
O ke au i kahuli lole ka lani
O ke au i kukaʻiaka ka la
O ke au o Makali'i ka po

In English:

At the time when the earth became hot
At the time when the heavens turned about
At the time when the sun was darkened
To cause the moon to shine[3]

Since this is your birth, where your poetry is born-you get to select the form. 
I only ask a nod to your birthplace, be added to your poem. 

I look forward to traveling to where poetry first breathed life into your world. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to The Tuesday Platform!

Bodnant Garden, Wales

It’s Tuesday! C’mon in, the platform is yours. We Toads invite you (yes, you!) to share your poetry with us.

Long or short, old or new, it’s up to you. Remember that links in the Garden do not expire, so feel free to link up on Wednesday or later in the week. And please do take some time during the week to read the work of other participants. We all value feedback on our work from other writers; it is how we grow, even in snow-weary winter.  

So, bring us your words! We look forward to reading your poems.