Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

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

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. Like this Warhol butterfly!

We look forward to reading your poems.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Butterfly effect

You have probably heard the name butterfly effect, but do you know that it originated from meteorology and chaos theory? It’s a metaphor to describe how difficult it is to predict a very complex system from an initial state. Thus the soft flaps of a butterfly’s wings in Beijing could snowball into the difference between suffering a hurricane or a warm day sipping mint julep in a porch swing in Florida. Any tiny disturbance can have disastrous and even opposite consequences. So it’s just as likely that when you wave goodbye to a loved one on a train station  in Paris the movement of the air save the coast of Bangladesh for being drenched. It’s not that you break causality, but cause and effect are impossible to trace.

Copyright Björn Rudberg

For those of you who prefer to have it explained in poetry, here is a link to a poem by David Hernandez.

A metaphor as strong as this has of course been widened into popular culture. As an example there is a movie called “Sliding Doors”, in which Gwyneth Paltrow plays Helen who, in two parallel stories starting from the pivot point of missing the tube or not. I will not tell you the details, but after a while the two different narratives plays into two very different realities..

Or think about yourself. Think about your genes. Many of us are the cause of seemingly random events that lead to our parents getting together, married and got children. You the result of a butterfly. Imagine that one of those random events would not have happened. Your father might have missed the bus and being ten minutes late he would have danced with someone else that warm evening in May when your parents met while your mother hooked up with someone else. We are often not aware of all the moments of alternate realities we go through each day. That every moment is actually a small crossroad.

There is plenty of literature, that show how history can change. What if Hitler would have become a well-known painter?  or what if … ? There are a whole genre of literature spent on alternate possibilities.

You can also argue that everything matters, every little cause can have dire consequences.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

So today I would like you to think about a random event in your own life, maybe something that just happened (or didn’t). If you feel unable to do that you can find an event in history or you might even invent your own and see how big effects can come from just a small cause. Find your butterfly and change the world to something else.

Or if you feel unable, just write a poem about butterflies. (sigh!).

When you’re ready, put it on your blog, link up (referring back to this prompt), enjoy and read the other link-ups.

Have fun writing, go around and visit, indulge in the effect of those wings.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fireblossom Friday: A Touch of Gray

Hello Toads and pond visitors. Fireblossom here with another Fireblossom Friday. Let's start with a quote from a song by the Grateful Dead:

"Every silver lining's got a touch of gray"

Even good things can have a tinge of regret to them. Consider: Mary is a popular girl. Both John and Jim have proposed. She says yes to John and everything's fine. She's happy mostly, but sometimes she wonders what life might have been like with Jim. Well, here's the answer. SOME things would have been better, but most things would not have been. She made the better choice. Still, there are those days when she feels restless. There it is, that touch of gray.

This notion of a touch of gray in an otherwise good situation could be applied to a job, to children, to one's location, to almost anything. Next time you come across that famous poem about two roads diverging in a wood, remember that--unlike what we're often told--there usually is no "right" path, just one that's better than the other. They are just different, and despite the charms of one road, there will always be a wistful feeling for the one that wasn't taken. Choose differently and the wistfulness only increases.

Your challenge is to write about something that is basically good, or satisfying, or positive, but that nonetheless contains some element of gray. To paraphrase the Monty Python sketch, where is the ambiguity? In your poems, dear poets, in your poems.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden ...

Greetings to all friends, followers, poets. If you have poetry to share in a creative environment, then you are in the right place.  I am sharing this incredible short movie (15 minutes). It fills me with joy to see the art of story-telling is flourishing - there is so much to inspired in this one.

Please link up a poem of your choice (old or new, prompted or not) and take some time to read and enjoy the wealth of poetry this site is home to.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Play It Again, Toads

Hi Friends, Margaret is very busy this week, so I am filling in to bring you her wonderful feature: Play It Again, Toads. I had fun looking back through all of the wonderful possibilities, and found three I think we will have a lot of fun with. Let's dive in!

Street Poem by Susie Clevenger

First up is Susie's Taking It To the Streets, to create some street poetry that is uplifting, like her wonderful example above.

Artist Rachel Pentergrass
Photo by Margaret Bednar

Or you might enjoy Margaret's Dolls, Revisited, from Artistic Interpretations by Margaret, taking inspiration from some marvelous dolls created by her daughter and her daughter's classmates. Choose one and tell us a story.

painting by Gerda Wegener

Another possibility is Shay's prompt at Fireblossom Friday: The Art of Gerda Wegener. Choose one of the gorgeous paintings, and take it as far as you like, remembering that Gerda's favorite model was Lili, formerly Gerda's husband, Einer, who became Lili during their marriage. (If you have seen The Danish Girl, Gerda's art will really speak to you.)

You may also browse the sidebar archive (2011 to 2016), and choose something else, if you prefer. Just let us know which prompt you are writing to.

Have fun! Then link your new poem, and take some time to enjoy the work of our fellow poets.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Get Listed: May Edition, featuring George Carlin

"Cuz nobody gives you a list..."

"It's always somebody else's list..."

George Carlin, 7 Dirty Words

So your prompt, if you should so choose: incorporate 3 or more of George's dirty words into a new pen.

If that isn't quite up your alley (hmmm... "suggestive", as George might say), then how about at least 3 of these:

lucid, acid, gravel, rave, lisp, rasp, heel, wile, pent, rant, lope, hoop

Or mix and match.

Please post the link to your pen in Mr. Linky below, and please visit the other contributors to leave a few choice words on theirs.

Thanks for playing...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

To John Clare
      by John Clare

Well, honest John, how fare you now at home?
The spring is come, and birds are building nests;
The old cock-robin to the sty is come,
With olive feathers and its ruddy breast;
And the old cock, with wattles and red comb,
Struts with the hens, and seems to like some best,
Then crows, and looks about for little crumbs,
Swept out by little folks an hour ago;
The pigs sleep in the sty; the bookman comes—
The little boy lets home-close nesting go,
And pockets tops and taws, where daisies blow,
To look at the new number just laid down,
With lots of pictures, and good stories too,
And Jack the Giant-killer's high renown.

Well, honest poets, how fare you? Hath spring arrived in the Garden, or autumn? Welcome to the Tuesday Platform, where your host has of late been swimming in romantic poetry. Please feel welcome to join me in the pond, and to share your own poem here, romantic or otherwise. Meanwhile, I shall be watching for the bookman--

Share * Read * Comment * Enjoy

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Weekend Mini-Challenge - Trying "No More"

There are certain poems that just stick with me; even my half-sleep mumbles bits of lines.  One of these is “So We’ll Go Nor More a Roving,” by Lord Byron (George Gordon). 

So We'll Go No More a Roving

So, we'll go no more a roving 
   So late into the night, 
Though the heart be still as loving, 
   And the moon be still as bright. 

For the sword outwears its sheath, 
   And the soul wears out the breast, 
And the heart must pause to breathe, 
   And love itself have rest. 

Though the night was made for loving, 
   And the day returns too soon, 
Yet we'll go no more a roving 
   By the light of the moon.

What I especially love about the poem is its simplicity and its music.   Well, what I especially love is its simple and musical capture of something universal--change/loss--and its willingness to simply sing the change/loss without over-explanation (although the middle stanza does give you a sense that roving may continue without the "we.")

“No more” is a common concept in poetry; it can refer to loss, but also to vindication, release.

Above is a wonderful rendition of “Hit the Road, Jack!” by Ray Charles and his back-up singers; below the first stanza of an earlier prototype by Shakespeare from Much Ado About Nothing:

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh nor more;
    Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea and one on shore,
    To one thing constant never;
        Then sigh not so,
        But let them go,
    And be you blithe and bonny;
Converting all your sounds of woe
    Into. Hey nonny, nonny.

(Shakespeare also has a more somber "no more" in Hamlet--"to die; to sleep;/No more....")

The idea of "no more" is also present in many war poems and protest poems.  (I just found this one by Phillip Larkin, MCMXIV.)

And, of course, "no more" can refer to quantity--Whitman uses the idea in a very interesting way in the beginning of "Song of Myself:"

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

(And don't forget Poe's Raven.)

Your task today, poets, if you choose to accept it--is to spend a little time thinking about “no more.”  You do not need to use the actual words in your poem--although you certainly can--just write something that springs from the idea, whether nostalgically, eligiacally, gleefully, viciously-- 

A supplemental aspect of the prompt is to use some kind of rhyme or meter like Byron or Shakespeare that might allow you to "sing" your "no more. " (In other words, you could write your "no more" in four, using quatrains, like Byron.)  But this rhyming  aspect is absolutely alternative--don't feel any requirement.

And for the requisite little animal drawing--here is a picture from a little book I'm doing about a dog named Seemore, who would rather rove beneath a cheese than moon.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kerry Says ~ Let's Visit the Family

Here, I am not suggesting we crack open our ancient family albums (although you are welcome to if that sounds like an interesting place to start) but encouraging us to pay a visit to to a Word Family.


According to Oxford Learner Dictionaries, a word family has two definitions:

1) a group of related words that are formed from the same word a word family consisting of “help,” “helper,” and “helpful”

2) a group of words with particular features in common “Cat” and “hat” are in the same word family.

To these, I want to add another related idea of the word family, such as one finds in a Thesaurus, namely synonyms and antonyms ( Those more or less fortunate cousins and prodigal siblings).

Take, for example, the word BELIEF.
A list of synonyms abounds: credence, credit, assurance, faith, trust, presumption, conviction and so on.
The Thesaurus then offers its antonym, DOUBT, with a range of related words and phrases: miscreance, infidelity, skepticism, suspicion, question, demur, dispute.

It is my belief that all writing begins (and often ends) with a mastery of words. Let us see this as an opportunity to explore the words and the way they work in our poems today, whether you choose the families of words that can be used as rhymes, derivatives of words which can be played with in many ways or a keyword, along with its synonyms and antonyms. The theme of the poem itself is of your own choosing, as is the length, form and style of your piece.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to The Imaginary Garden...

Today, I am sharing an Oscar nominated short film, which is perfect for an imaginary garden with real toads!

This is our open invitation to share a poem of your choice, either new or from your archives, and to hang out for a while, reading and being a part of this great extended family of poets.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Sunday Mini-Challenge: Harrows and Hallows

St. Oran's Chapel, Iona abbey graveyard

Yes, the road curves rainbow-wards to Oz—sometimes even in a delicious yellow streak—but always along the way it dips suddenly down and round and whoop, there it is, Ms. Wicked Witch of the West’s dreadful rook of a castle, its black gate opened wide like a wound. And you were so sure that if you took the left fork in the road, you could not have ended up here…

Sometimes the only way ahead is by dying, and the only way out of Hell is by travelling all the way through it.

Most of human consciousness, I think, is an angst against that certain passage we all make, and it conflates many smaller miseries into death-like events: the grief of losing loved ones. The fear sacrificing something necessary for growth. Even the orgasmic release into a Beloved is a death (“I dye,” the lover sighed). En route through all of these way-stations we learn lessons and morals for passage. (It’s called growing up.)

As a rule from time immemorial (the dawn of human consciousness, I suppose), the doors to actual death are closed to the living. But some have traveled there and returned to tell of it.

It is said that when St. Oran —my tuletary saint, as many of you know—was buried in the footers of the Iona Abbey in 563 AD in sacrifice to an angry sea god, Oran travelled for three days in nights into the Land of the North, seeking the god. On each next island’s shore, he found a note: Not Here. Even on the rockiest, most difficult island he received the same news (in that case, a note was reeled down attached to a string.) Of course, the joke is that divinity was with him all the way; if he would only stop questing for the god he thought he was looking for, he might have found him everywhere.

That was basically the news he told St. Columba when his head was unearthed on All Hallows so Columba could look a last time into the face of his friend. Oran’s eyes popped open and the mouth spoke the dreaded words: “All you say and think of God and man and heaven and earth is wrong! In fact, the way you think it is is not the way it is at all!” Horrified, Columba had his monks re-bury the infernal mouth (“Mud! Mud back over Oran’s mouth lest he blab no more” is a saying that mothers in the Herbrides still say to children who have become too talkative) and resumed the grand apostolic mission of History.

Yet here’s the really interesting part of that tale: Columba made Oran the tuletary saint of the abbey’s graveyard, prophesying that “no man may access the angels of Iona but through Oran.” There’s even a St. Oran’s chapel in Releig Odhrain. In that way, the harrowing journey became the hallowed door to Paradise.

Yes, there are ways through our hells … and there is a wisdom gained from the passage that we couldn’t have learned any other way. But no one goes whistling into those places.

Travels to the underworld are harrowing. The sense I use of harrow— from Greek kroipion or sickle, meaning the tutor of death—isn’t even found in Wikipedia, though I did find out there that as a noun, harrow is an agricultural tool consisting of many discs, tines or spikes dragged across the soil.  That is suggestive of the verb harrow, which means to disturb keenly or painfully; distress the mind, feelings, etc.

We have the harrowing of Hell by Christ, who descended after crucifixion to the realm of the dead to preach the word to the Jews and pagans and rescue all of us from death. (I’m not sure that was what the dead were hoping for, and as they still remain unquiet, restless, their mouths refusing to close.)

When harrowing a hell, it’s helpful to not go too naked. One can easily burn or freeze there, or guiled off the path. John Hollander once said that Dante found his way through Inferno sticking close to his spiritual mentor Virgil—or, more literally, proceeding “wrapped in the verses.”

(Another bit of wisdom for nekyias I’ve heard around AA is that when you’re going through Hell, don’t stop—for us, that means, keep writing through those early bad drafts.)

The wake of which marks the passage to the bourne from which no traveler returns is sacred; “hallow” comes from the Old English adjective halig, and se halga means “holy man.” What makes a saint holy is the hallowed glow of his or her harrow.  The Voyage of Saint Brendan follows the saint as he travels island to island in search of Paradise; it meanders as precisely as the labyrinth inlaid of the floor of Chartres Cathedral (and is worth writing down.)

Holy wells arose where saints were decapitated—St. Kenelm’s in Kent and St. Osyth in Exeter. (My Oran’s Well has a singing head floating around in it.) The burn of the bourne teaches us that pain is ALWAYS present in spiritual growth: only after hard labors is there birth. (The depth of wells, too, is hallowed, perhaps because of the harrowing inner depths they descend to.)

The memory of a saint’s passage reverbs with holiness; that’s why we have so many Lives of the Saints. They are myths made mortal, dreams writ literally into a life, the bow or bios of a sanctified direction told as a long voyage to Paradise.

Our way here as writers was harrowed—and hallowed— long ago. A book copied by Saint Columba is in the book-bag of a youth who falls off his horse into the waters of the River Boyne and drowned. Twenty days later when the body is recovered, the book-bag is opened and lo, though all the other books have rotted away, the one “written by the sacred fingers of St. Columba … was as dry and wholly uninjured as if it had been enclosed in a desk.” (From Adomnan’s Life of St. Columba, itself one of the earliest surviving works of its kind.) Saint Comgall visits a couple and when the woman says she is barren, he asks for ink and when she produces it, he bids her drink it. She does and is cured. When St. Molaissi of Devenish Island encounters fellow monks on the highway, one asks to see the book in his satchel; the man is so impressed by what he reads that he wishes to copy the book but has no pen. The saint lifts his arms to heaven and a passing bird obligingly sheds a feather. Experience harrows what inspiration hallows.

For this challenge, write about something that is both harrowing and hallowed. Rough up an experience with that dreadful harrow then look at it in the opposite way, the lair of death become golden stair. Given the impending holiday, many of you might think of mothering / motherhood as an example of this to explore in your contribution. Or maybe there’s a place in your day or local geography which is both harrowing and hallowed. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one passing slowly into myth. Or some other dark time in your life which has taught you some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned.

Who knows what music and mystery we’ll find in our Infernos!

Dante and Virgil, Baron Henri de Triqueti, 1862, Museum of Fina Arts, Boston 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Transforming with Nature's Wonders

Hello, it's Hannah here with an opportunity to write poetry through the eyes of Nature...

Today I bring you the art and work of environmentalist artist Andy Goldsworthy.

“My art is an attempt to reach beyond the surface appearance. I want to see growth in wood, time in stone, nature in a city, and I do not mean its parks but a deeper understanding that a city is nature too-the ground upon which it is built, the stone with which it is made.”

“As with all my work, whether it's a leaf on a rock or ice on a rock, I'm trying to get beneath the surface appearance of things. Working the surface of a stone is an attempt to understand the internal energy of the stone.” AndyGoldsworthy (for more quotes)

Please take a moment to view as little or as much as you'd like or have time for of this amazing film, Rivers and Tides.

Your efforts toward this might lean in the direction of creating your own nature art and then experience the art through words as well. I have a post to share as an example of this, Sea-Salt Soaked Quartz Meditation.

You may write about anything that you've found inspiring here. Please offer something new and visit others as well. 

Thank you, for sharing your comments and poems. I look forward to your work!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Tuesday Platform

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!

I found this website and thought some (all?) of you might enjoy it: NOTEBOOK STORIES 

Do you use a notebook? Do you write poems in pen and ink, or on a computer or other device, or some combination? Are you particular about pens? I carry a notebook around with me all the time, and am just about due for a new one, which maybe is why I was looking at photos of notebooks on the internet.

Scribble away!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Flash 55 PLUS!

Greetings to all poets and friends!
It is time for the Flash 55 Challenge in the month of May. 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.



For the OPTIONAL EXTRA part of this challenge, I invite you to consider the prefix IN- and what it does when added to a word.
Select any such word that is to your liking and include (see what I did there?) it in your piece. Here's a page from Wordfind.com to help you out.