Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

How happy I am to be hosting our open link Tuesday on the final day of June, in the first week of my Winter vacation. (On this upside down planet birds only fly South because it is Summertime in December.) I am looking forward to utilizing some of my free time for writing, and spending more time reading and commenting too.

The Tuesday Platform is your opportunity to write prompt free or share a less recent poem from your archives. Link up and pay a visit to the blogs of your friends and fellow poets.  

Please enjoy this reading of Bluebird by Charles Bukowski, set to music by Symphany 7.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Play it Again, Toads! #18

Welcome to the 18th Play it Again, Toads! where we revisit archived challenges of the Imaginary Garden.   Choose your own challenge from the archives (right sidebar 2011-2015) or select from three I've spotlighted below.

You may use my photos here for inspiration with an archived challenge.

You may rework old poems or submit original poems.  Link your specific post to Mr. Linky below and be sure to make it clear which challenge you are resurrecting by including a link.   Also, be neighborly and visit the other wonderful poets.

1.  Imagined by Ella  - Writing from the Inside Out 

2.  Imagined by Grapeling - Get Listed July 2014 - (also has amazing photos)

3.  Imagined by Kerry - Wednesday Challenge (Very) Old School

I apologize for posting this challenge late on this Saturday afternoon.  Please feel free to post late as I hope you are all out enjoying the weather and the weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Words Count With Mama Zen

Greetings, Toads!

Today, we're going to get conservative . . . with our words.  A recent study by British researchers identified 23 "ultraconserved words" that have remained relatively unchanged since the Ice Age.  All of those 23 are cognates (words that have the same meaning and sound in different languages) in at least four of the seven Eurasiatic language families.  Translation: that's the 700 languages spoken from the British Isles to western China and from the Arctic to Southern India.  Though many researchers remain skeptical, this seems to be compelling evidence of a 15,000 year old mother tongue.

So, want to do a little writing in the mother tongue?  Pick a few words from the "ultraconserved words" list and write a poem of 60 words or less.

Here's the list:

to give
man / male
to hear
to pull
to flow
to spit

As you can see, some of the words are pretty boring.  Still, if they were good enough for the cave women . . .

Have fun!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm
by Wallace Stevens

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Please share a poem with us today--new or old--and spend some time reading the work of others. We welcome you to reflect, to share, to enjoy the fellowship of a ragged and earnest world-wide group of writers connected in this space.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sunday Mini-Challenge - Ode to the Quotidian

Hey Toads!  

Manicddaily, Karin Gustafson here,to tell you that I don’t much believe in muses.  Or, maybe it’s truer to say that I have absolute faith in them.  

Meaning that I tend to think a muse, i.e. inspiration is here, there, everywhere, all the time, and any trouble I may have in locating her/him/it is due far more to my absence of attention than to any muse having gone missing. 

Meaning that I think there’s a poem (at least an ode) available in pretty much anything, if considered closely.  (Note that I personally am not always capable of this close consideration!) 

One of my favorite “od-ists” to just about anything is Pablo Neruda.  Neruda wrote three collections of odes; they cover topics from the quotidian to the sublime--or maybe he just makes the quotidian--that is, day-to-day stuff-- seem sublime.  One of my favorites is one of his most homely--”Ode to My Socks” in which he rhapsodizes about his heavenly socks as something he is tempted to feed like a pair of tropical birds, with seed and pink melon. 

So, in this mid-June, when, in the Northern hemisphere, you may not even be wearing socks (though you may be eating pink melon) and when, in the Southern hemisphere, you may have donned wool socks "as soft as rabbits," I ask you to think of something simple, something down to earth or day to day--what, for example, your eye passes over as you look over (right now) from your computer screen--and find a poem or ode in it. 

Note that the poem/ode can start with something relatively "lowly", but then scale whatever heights or fancies you wish.  In other words, your ode can, but, need need simply describe the object or experience that is its inspiration; it can just use object or experience as a place for lift-off (if you like).

If the quotidian doesn’t work for you, then feel free to focus upon the “ode” part of this project and keep to a more elevated plane right from the start.  I am thinking here of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale or Ode on a Grecian Urn.  

Classic odes are lyrical, and may follow a traditional rhyme scheme.  Feel free to use a structured format, but do not feel obligated to do so. 

Also, I include below some photos/drawings of quotidian sorts of things--use as you like, but please do give appropriate attribution. (Karin Gustafson).  (BTW, the green vegetables are brussel sprouts on their stalk.)  

Finally, sorry to be a bit rushed--am preparing for my daughter's wedding this upcoming week (which will be at our house!)  A lot to do!  I will definitely visit everyone, but may be slow.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fireblossom Friday: Picture This

Hello amphibians and various pond life. Fireblossom here with another Fireblossom Friday. Today's challenge is to complete the title I give you part of, and then to write a poem to go with it, of course. I know, details details. Without further delay, here is your title:

Pictures of _________

You may complete the title with a single word, two or more words, or no further words at all. However your title must be "Pictures of" (plus whatever you add.)

There are a lot of possibilities. You could write about someone looking at photographs, or taking them. You could write about pictures in someone's mind, or in their memory. The words themselves could be the pictures. Pictures could also be drawings or projections.

Fine print: Your poem must be a NEW poem written especially for this challenge. Don't give me that old "here is my poem for five different prompts" routine. Oh, and need I even say it? No haiku! Have fun and link up! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

"I had a lover's quarrel with the world."
- The epitaph on Robert Frost's grave.

Welcome to The Imaginary Garden's Tuesday Platform. I hope you will find the time to listen to one of the most influential poets of the 20th Century read several of his poems. I am always struck by Frost's ability to tie the natural world to human experience and to hear his gentle readings is a great privilege.

Please join us today in sharing a poem of your choice on this Open Link. Your support and encouragement is always greatly appreciated.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sunday's Mini-Challenge: Marilyn Chin

Hi everyone!  For our featured poet series, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the poetry of Marilyn Chin. 

She was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Oregon, in the U.S. Northwest. A noted anthologist, translator and educator as well as a poet and novelist, Chin’s work distills her experiences both as an Asian American and as a politically attuned woman. Her poetry is noted for its direct and often confrontational attitude. “The pains of cultural assimilation infuse her…poems,” wrote Contemporary Women Poets essayist Anne-Elizabeth Green, noting that in the collections Dwarf Bamboo(1987) and The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty (1994) “Chin struggles passionately and eloquently in the pull between the country left behind and America—the troubled landscape that is now home.” 
Photo credit: Niki Berg

Chin’s exploration of cultural assimilation often carries harsh political overtones. In her poem “How I Got That Name: An Essay on Assimilation,” from The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty, she writes of her father’s seduction by Western culture and values: a “petty thug,” he “obsessed with a bombshell blonde/transliterated ‘Mei Ling’ to ‘Marilyn,’“ thus dooming his dark-haired daughter to bear for life the name of “some tragic white woman/swollen with gin and Nembutal.” Other poems reflect upon the scars borne by diverse Asian Americans, including women whose value as human beings has been reduced to their novelty as sex objects. She also deals with the fate of second-generation Asian Americans in poems like “I’m Ten, Have Lots of Friends, and Don’t Care,” included in her first collection of poems, Dwarf Bamboo. 

Marilyn Chin has won numerous awards and fellowships, including the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, multiple Pushcart Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, the Paterson Prize and further fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Widely anthologized, her work was featured on Bill Moyers’s PBS series The Language of Life. Chin co-directs the MFA program at the University of San Diego, where she also teaches in the departments of English and Comparative Literature.

“Altar (#3)” from “Broken Chord Sequence”

Why cry over dried flowers?
They’re meant to be straw.
Why cry over miniature roses?
They’re meant to be small.
Why cry over Buddha’s hand citron?
Why cry over the hidden flower?
Why cry over Mother’s burnt forehead?
Her votive deathglow, her finest hour.

Chinese Quatrains (The Woman in Tomb 44)
The aeroplane is shaped like a bird
Or a giant mechanical penis
My father escorts my mother
From girlhood to unhappiness

A dragonfly has iridescent wings
Shorn, it’s a lowly pismire
Plucked of arms and legs
A throbbing red pepperpod

Baby, she’s a girl
Pinkly propped as a doll
Baby, she’s a pearl
An ulcer in the oyster of God

Cry little baby clam cry
The steam has opened your eyes
Your secret darkly hidden
The razor is sharpening the knife

Continue reading here

Twenty Five Haiku
A hundred red fire ants scouring, scouring the white peony
Fallen plum blossoms return to the branch, you sleep, then
                 harden again

Continue reading the rest of the haiku  here.     Some additional poems are also here.

The challenge is write a new poem or prose poem inspired by the title, verse or style by Marilyn Chin.   I look forward to reading your work. Please visit and comment on the work of others.   And Happy Weekend to all !   Grace (aka Heaven)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Cavern of My Thoughts


The walk was as lovely as any I had been on. Late summer in the mountains had always been my favorite time of year.  Olfactory endings firing like miniature muskets with the scent of juniper, spruce and a plethora of wild flowers, paintbrush, columbine, the works.  The afternoon air was heavy with humidity as the occasional billow of clouds gave way to darker, unpredictable banks, heavy with the promise of a furious rain storm or worse yet, curtains of dime size hail.

     I climbed, crawled, skipped, scrabbled and clawed my way across the rough terrain, at least six miles from my camp.  Nature always leaves a residue of fear in your heart and mind regardless of how seasoned you are.  It's the one thing that could save your life, heightened senses, the farther you go, the more animal like you become as long as you remain in control.

     On this day, it was the hail. Starting as the usual dime size, but quickly growing to golf balls in girth with the occasional baseball thrown in for good measure. This was a situation that was as dangerous as any encounter, with any bear. I ran for cover in a stand of firs not finding the shelter I had hoped for from the larger hail.  I darted toward a precipice, the actual rock outcropping that was called the Mogollon Rim, high cliffs that delineated the very edge of the Colorado Plateau.  Here there were boulders, I thought I might find an overhang or tangle of fallen trees to hide under to escape the damnable rabble falling from the sky at a frenetic pace now.  Welts were rising on the bare skin of my arms as I tried to cover my head to the best of my ability.

     As my eyes scanned my surroundings for salvation, they happened upon a small cave in the side of the rim. I raced for the opening, slipping in the mud and more rolling than diving into the mouth of the cave. I usually left such places alone.  In Arizona, caves were sure fire ways to have a face to face with a rattle snake or five, shacked up for coolness or for warmth depending on the weather and the time of year. But, this was an exception, battling a snake seemed like a better fate than being knock unconscious by a giant ice ball wile the subsequent hail stampeded you like the hooves of migrating caribou into the sodden ground.

The cave was quite large, almost standing room near the mouth.  It went about ten feet back and then doglegged to the right.  I pulled a lighter from my pocket for light and saw that I appeared to be the only living thing in the cave.  It was dry and not as creepy as I would have thought it to be had I not saw for myself.  I sat down near the back and proceeded to wait out the storm.  I could hear as the hail turned to a torrential downpour. As my breathing slowed, my thoughts turned to.....

Hey, Hey, Hey  my beautiful Toads!!!!! Herotomost here, seems like forever since I have done a prompt. Probably good since I almost forget to do it every single time it is my turn.

Anywho...on with the prompt.  I know you are saying to yourself, holy crap, I had to read all of that just to get to the prompt....I am so outty! Hold on for just a second, geeezzzz, there is no reason to get all shitty and resentful. I'll get right to it. For today's prompt, I want you to imagine you are in the scenario that I painted above.  Say you were in there for an hour or two, you get settled in, there is no sound and almost complete darkness.  What would you think about in a situation like this. Long lost loves,? Did I leave the camp stove on? Did Lard Ass really get into the pie eating competition for free? Maybe its philosophical in nature, or maybe so practical it would make me feel like taking you out to a drag show just to liven up your life a little, doesn't matter.  Take those thoughts and put them into a little ditty.  Poem, story, prescription, recipe whatever.  As always form is of no consequence in my prompts.

There you have it.  Long winded as always.  As always if, you hate the prompt, feel free to write whatever you want as long as you write or skip it if the prompt offends your delicate sensibilites.

Thanks to you all, I love you and hope you all are having a great start to your summer!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

National Peony Garden in Luoyang, China

Welcome to The Tuesday Platform!

We hope that you have some blossoms to share with us in the Imaginary Garden. Speaking for myself, I feel that my time is so much out of my control, it's a miracle every time I manage to scratch out a few words. I hope you all are tending to your gardens better than I am these days.

Please share a poem, old or new, and remember to visit the gardens of friends as well. You never know what might be blooming on any given day. Remember, too, that links in the Garden do not expire, so feel free to link up on Wednesday or later in the week. Sharing and reading helps us to grow.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Quote of the Day (2 June 2015)

The first Sunday of June is upon us, 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.



The optional extra for this Mini-Challenge is to visit the BrainyQuote site and choose one of the Quotes of the Day as inspiration for your poem.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bits Of Inspiration ~ Floral Explosion

Hello from the wetlands of Texas. Today I want to talk about flower petals, millions of them. In 2013 an international advertising company, McCann, flooded an area near the Irazú Volcano in Costa Rica with 3.5 tons of petals in an advertising campaign for Sony's 4K Ultra HD TV.

Photos: McCann

In case you are wondering I am not endorsing or selling Sony TV's. I am providing inspiration. The sheer visual beauty of the images is breathtaking, but just imagine addressing the sense of smell or touch as well. Can you imagine surfing through velvet brilliance or the sky smelling of orchids? Interpretation is wide open on this. I have also included some quotes about flowers to assist your muse.

“By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.”                                                                                             Rabindranath Tagore

“If our destiny stems from our name, then I weep for the flower named Wilt.”                                                                                                   Jarod Kintz, 

“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for a moment.”  ― Georgia O'Keeffe

“I morphed from a fly to a flower to a butterfly, which is like a combination flower and fly. I thought I was in love, but I was merely asleep.” 
― Jarod Kintz, Xazaqazax

 Please create a new piece for the challenge, add it to Mr. Linky, and visit your fellow poets to read what grew from floral inspiration.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome all, to the Imaginary Garden's Open Platform. Today, I invite you to listen to Ode to Nightingale by John Keats, one of the finest lyrical poets of English literary history. It is read to perfection by Benedict Cumberbatch (although, I am certain he would read a shopping list to perfection too).

Post post-modern poetry seem far removed from the work of the 19th Century Romantic poets, but their skill and knowledge of poetic devices remains a constant source of inspiration, and their work is nothing short of art.

Please join us, by sharing a poem of your choice, and taking the time to read and comment on the work of others. It should be noted that the Tuesday Platform is open until midday on Thursday, so 'late' entries are welcome, as are returning readers.