Saturday, September 30, 2017

Physics with Björn: Order in Chaos

One thing I remember from my past in Physics we as graduate students is how sensitive we were to trends. If something new was found we threw everything aside and started to read everything about something new that everyone was digging into. One it was high temperature superconductivity (truly amazing) and another time it was cold fusion (or confusion). Who can have believe that there is trendiness among the nerdiest.

Or maybe were just like kids playing soccer; everybody following the ball.

Anyway, when I started out the subject a la mode was chaos theory, and I thought that this should be our little physics prompt today.

Chaos theory is really a branch of mathematics; it’s basically defined as situations where the end result or the solution is very sensitive from where you start. In reality it means that almost anything can happen in such mathematics. One famous metaphor for this is the butterfly effect.

Butterflies by M.C. Escher

What was found in the early 80s was that there are certain universal laws that you can find in most such complex solutions. Or simply put there is certain order in chaos, (at least for some short time).

There are many physical problems that you cannot solve exactly. Detailed prediction is impossible just because of it’s vast complexity. We all know that weather cannot be predicted in detail beyond a certain time.

Neither can we cannot predict the path a paper-boat will follow in a turbulent stream.

Yet we can follow in detail how a hurricane comes closer, and if we look into a stream the eddies can look quite stable, and we can guess a likely path for the paper boat.

What is common between chaotic system is that the basic physical laws are very easy. The equations are simple and well known, but due to the complexity the system can behave chaotic (unpredictable). Complexity arises in many cases for example that we have many interacting parts (the molecules in the atmosphere for instance).

In such system we can switch from one seemingly stable state to another very quickly. Eddies form and disappears, there is a tromb approaching.

In the heydays  there were even those who tried applying the universal laws of chaos to financial systems (imagine what this can do to stock markets), with the argument that stockprices are set by many individual operators acting on very simple laws (sell/buy), and we certainly have seen rapid switches when bubbles burst.

The reason that chaos theory become popular in the early 80s was the advance of computer science. Scientist could solve complex problems we never could have done before, and looking into the solutions patterns started to appear. We could find beautiful formations, fractal geometries and night in front of the computer could beat a trip on acid.
This is just a few things I could say about chaos theory, and I will leave you with a few concepts that you can use for your (new) poem:

Chaos and order, disasters and turbulence.
Weather reports or eddies in a stream.
Fractal geometry and bubble economy.

Or anything else you might think of… maybe chaos can be used as a metaphor for something else.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Midweek Challenge-- Thinking of the Little Things

It’s become a truism (and a tired one) to talk of what a hard year it’s been, even for those in the world of blogging poetry.  Still, it affects us.  In the face of so much threat and bombast, sturm und drang, it can simply be hard to feel that anything nuanced or thoughtful or small (yet longer than 150 characters) has much a voice. This has sometimes brought me, and I’m sure many others interested in poetry, to a despair often coupled with the question, “why bother?”  

The only answer I can come up with: that, for many, writing, poeticizing, making art, is part of who you are.  Which means that the question also is why bother to be your fullest self?  And the answer for me, is that I am simply happier when I give the effort a bit of a shot. 

Still, even if you think you SHOULD make the effort to “bother,” that is, to go on giving writing poetry a shot, how do you actually do it?  How can you get yourself to get back into some kind of swing when you have fallen onto rocky ground!

For me, the answer is to focus on the little things, the moment-to-moment that is actually the “stuff” of living, the hum that makes up each day. I tend to the think that focus--which can sometimes help people get through major personal losses--can also help one’s wounded writing. 

By little things, I mean--a cup of tea drunk out in the sun, a flower that has bloomed later and longer than expected, marmalade.  (If you happen to like marmalade.) 

The “little things” can also be big things---a new baby, an act of kindness, a smile, the shape your body makes in the bed after you’ve lain in it all night. 

Because, of course, the little can also contain the huge.  As William Blake wrote in The Auguries of Innocence

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand 
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour”

Perhaps my favorite poet of small things is Pablo Neruda. (By the way, I am pretty sure that I’ve written about this very subject and about Neruda as a prompt before, but it still works for me so I hope it works for you! )

Neruda wrote a large variety of Odes--(Ode to Artichokes, Ode to the Smell of Wood, Ode to Broken Things) , one of the most famous being Ode to My Socks. which finishes with the lines

“The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.:

So, today, pretend for a moment that you are at a loss for something to write.  If you are me, you won’t have to pretend very hard.  Others of you may have to stave off one of your go-to themes. Then, think of a little thing, which may, of course, actually be colossal--or not--it may just be a little thing--and write an ode to it.  

Your ode can take whatever shape you wish, and it doesn’t have to include the word Ode in the title or poem.  (However, please try to do something new for the prompt.) 

And now, sorry for the pitch, but I have a new book out, which was one I have been sitting on for months, too depressed to just call done!  It is definitely about a little thing that is colossal--that is the love between dog and girl.  It’s called Doggone!  Or Sally & Seemore and the Escape from Flufferdom. Check it out!  And finally, sorry to be a little late posting!  And all the pics, such as they are, are mine.  Thanks so much for your patience!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Virgo's Beatitudes

Today's in tandem poem is written by Angie Walker and Susie Clevenger. Angie and I came late to the pairing and virtually had no background on one another other than our poetry shared through the garden. After a few questions about ideas and the mutual agreement it would be without rhyme (big sigh of relief on my part) we found inspiration from a quote by Henry Rollins. We were quite amazed how quickly it came together. It appears September's Virgo was happy to be our muse. 

"We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer's wreckage. We will welcome summer's ghost." ~ Henry Rollins

there should be romance
in the ghost leaves of summer,
their drought scarred palms lifted
to capture Aphrodite's sigh

suspended from the umber pause
between changing seasons, Virgo
speaks beatitudes from her book
of sun inked memoirs

blessed be
the dreamers,
the visionaries
who pull light from blind mist,
conjurers with ink and paint,
bold stargazers of the night walk

blessed be
the poetry lovers
who steal pink skies
and stop sleuthing them
when it's no longer July forever
noses back to grindstone for at least 3 weeks

blessed be
the blood September can't stop letting
while she re-members
her bodiful heedless ventures,
her saturated sweetnesses,
seamless heat, sea to foam

blessed be
the exalted mother May I's,
the steamy air of Aphrodite
with pomegranates jewels
positioned on her tongue just
so it comes as a relief to get plucked

blessed be
don't you think at all?
behold the gods
in their Grecian white robes
and concur they look much less
like whores in brighter bridal months?

blessed be
a cousin's view
through the back door glass
of broken light where St. Michael
keeps on reciting what he's recited so well
through corsets with full-on lips

blessed be
the give-up of playful rain,
the build-up to "give up
on all other worlds
except for the one to which,
and for which you know you belong"

blessed be
the marked apparitions,
the calendar numbers circled in red
underlined and scribbled beneath,
"protect my soul 'neath thy wing,
with the shade of thy wing protect."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

Greetings to all poets, wayfarers and friends. I sometimes wonder whether it's us who choose poetry or is it poetry that eventually warms up to us. But what I do know is that once we begin our journey it never lets us down. 

If you have any thoughts to share, ideas you wish to release into the wild or a world view to express, then you have come to the right place. Please share a poem of your liking and enjoy the company of your fellow scribes. 

Remember to stop by tomorrow for our Toads in Tandem feature post. Susie and Angie have banded together to bring us a collaborative poem to celebrate the creative space of the Garden we call home.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Weekend Mini Challenge: Boats

Welcome to the Weekend Mini Challenge with Kim from!

When I was a child, the only boats I knew were the pedal boats in the local park and those in songs, like ‘The Skye Boat Song’:

The Skye Boat Song


Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing,
Onward, the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that's born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air,
Baffled our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.


Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean's a royal bed.
Rock'd in the deep Flora will keep
Watch o'er your weary head.


Burned are our homes, exile and death,
Scattered the loyal man.
Yet ere the sword, cool in the sheath,
Charlie will come again.


This song is about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape, when Flora Macdonald took him, disguised as a serving maid, from Uist to Skye in a small boat.

Even on our annual days out at the seaside, I had never seen or been on a boat. That is until I went on a school trip to the Isle of Wight and we had a tour of the HMS Victory before getting on the ferry. 

The first time on a boat I felt seasick but later, when I was a teenager and moved to Germany, I took many ferries and started to enjoy all kinds of boat trips. When I moved back to England and moved to Twickenham by the River Thames, I used to take a small rowing boat ferry across to Ham. I now live on the Norfolk Broads, where I see boats every day. When my husband and I travel abroad, we tend to favour river tours of cities.

I love boats, which is why this weekend I’d like you to write about a boat. It could be a boat you’ve owned; one on which you’ve taken a trip; a famous boat; a dream boat – it’s up to you, as long as your poem is a new one and it has a boat in it.

Happy sailing!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fireblossom Friday : "The Distorted Lens"

Bertha Mason, the madwoman in the attic in "Jane Eyre."
Hello, poets. Fireblossom here with another Fireblossom Friday writing challenge for you. This time we're going to put our faces right up to the eyepiece and look at things through a distorted lens.

What happens if we can't trust our senses, or our mind's ability to interpret what they convey? Sometimes an illness or a brain injury can result in some very peculiar states of mind. Oliver Sacks reports about a man who believed that everyone in his life was an exact--yet false--duplicate of the people they pretended to be. It turned out that the pathways in his brain that connected facial recognition with emotional response had been compromised. As a result, this man saw faces he knew, but did not feel anything about them and so concluded that they had to be fakes.  

A stroke victim may lose "right" or "left" altogether, depending upon which side of the brain has been damaged. In her book "Left Neglected", Lisa Genova--author of "Still Alice"--writes about a (fictional) woman who has completely lost the notion of "left." Half the world ceases to exist for her.  

Mental illness can also certainly distort a person's understanding of the world around them. Such conditions as depression, paranoia, schizophrenia and dementia, not to mention alcoholism and drug addiction, can turn the world into a dark or absurd landscape.

So, your task is to write from the point of view of someone who is seeing reality through a distorted lens.  New poems only. No haiku because I have a deathly fear of Oriental forms. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Tuesday Platform

There is one rule for The Tuesday Platform: SHARE.

Share a poem with us.
Share some time reading poems this week.
Share your thoughts when moved to do so.

Easy! Enjoy!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Weekend Mini-Challenge: Juice

Recently my little house in Central Florida was bamboozled, flummoxed and baroccocoed by the passing of Hurricane Irma, a grand dame of massive wind and climate shame. The good news is that except for a bad night of rock 'n' roaring round the rafters of our house and a leaky upstairs deck door (fixed, finally, with a redneck repair of duct tape), we got through fine. Lots of branches down and, like millions of others up and down the state, no power for days.

The world changes without juice—contemporary human life is powered-up, online, air conditioned and refrigerated; such things define our suburban dailiness. No clocks, no microwave, no reading lamps, no Internet and only sparing use of cell phones and laptop, preserving precious percentages of remaining juice. No TV, no DVR, no Netflix or HBO on streaming. Without these essentials, the day reverts back to natural rhythms and definitions. Inside and outside lose most of their difference. Time slows. Night ends day and not much happens until the next coming day.

In a powered-down town, houses at night are afterthoughts and stars are amazing.

Last night, thirty seconds before my wife went over the edge wondering when those idiot lazy power crews would get their act together—mid-sentence, actually, of her extravagant diatribe against Those Who Control The Juice—right then, all the lights sprang to life and a resounding cheer sounded up and down our block. We left our half-eaten takeout dinner on the porch and rushed inside to turn on lights and a/c and TV. And just like that, the natural world was gone from suburbia. Hi ho back to binge-watching “Veep” on HBO Now and an upstairs bed no longer sweltering.

Hi ho here and hello to all of you out there. We were fortunate going just two days without power. Some parts of western Florida won't be seeing juice until the end of next week, and some of our Caribbean island neighbors who caught Irma at Defcon Cat Five won't have juice for weeks, maybe months. We live in a not-nice age of a fooled-with Mother Nature.

This has me thinking about power and what runs our lives. Every living organism is self-powered with animate cells, and yet we extend our power through social contact. Humans extend their juice much further through tools that range from hairstyles to electric grids to guns to Facebook to booze. We are addicted to diminishing powers and recover through dependence upon higher or deeper powers. Our muse or musing is empowering of what we create—great when it comes, dry as a empty well when it’s gone. There are strategies of conserving and furthering power, reservoirs for storing it and batteries for carrying it. There is a need to balance power with something else—love, say—and sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice one’s power for the greater good. And sometimes we can’t learn about the nature of juice until we’re fully deprived of it.

For this challenge, write a poem about power in your life and the world. Write about family or creativity or instinct, plugging in or playing unhooked, heavenly or earthly powers, the power of life or death, human powers versus nature's, etc. Then come back here to the pond and find a lily pad to plug into and let 'er rip. Visit other patrons of the pond and sample the hooch they've brewed. Extra points for keeping your poem mini (-ish, -esque, -mal, -finny, etc.).

The juice bar is now open, whattaya having?

(Note: the next day after I wrote this, our cable, Internet & TV went dark again, and we've been told it will be another week before connectedness. I can still get Internet access using my iPhone for a hotspot, but the signal's weak and glitchy. I will not have much chance to visit you today as I plan to spend much of it in south Orlando at my mother's where there is still no power. But I'll get around to your contributions eventually.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Of muse and me

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

Fair Use

Paper, pen, ideas.. and suddenly our mind goes blank! There are times when we get so caught up with life that we don't get enough time to write. The muse is a fickle fiend which needs to be tickled every now and then. So today I want you guys to go out and breathe in your surroundings. Sit back and relax in a nearby cafe and grab a cup of coffee or tea with a friend. As Francis Bacon wisely states; "Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable."

A Walk 

by Rainer Maria Rilke 

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it had inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Rushes in a Watery Place 

by Christina Rossetti 

Rushes in a watery place,
and reeds in a hollow;
a soaring skylark in the sky,
a darting swallow;
and where pale blossom used to hang
ripe fruit to follow.

Choose your own form or write in free verse, if preferred. I look forward to reading what you guys come up with. The link doesn't expire, so please feel free to write more than one poem. Please do visit others and remember to comment on their poems. Have fun!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Anima and Animus, from Dream to Flesh

If you could read the thoughts of your wickedest Dream, what would your Dream write about you? We pondered the question, with all the seriousness it deserved (we infiltrated our Dreams’ journals), and present to you the findings:

Whisking delicate
tea into a heady froth
to delight my love,
my bliss is found inside her
enjoyment of my strivings.

I read her soul bright
while feasting on all her dark.
She writes me real…
at midnight, her wild tongue dreams
me alive, tasting her mine.

She gifts me with flesh
substantial enough to touch
past imagined boundaries.
The only reality I want
is the one that she creates.

When morn devours night,
the moon and I yearn for her
soul dancing in mine:
Anima and Animus
as mind in flesh, me in her.

I wish my name on
your lips, under the sunlight,
a dream crafted real—
I will spell ink into flesh,
“Words be dreams and dreams be words.”

the process…
- At first, we were going to craft a poem inspired by the art of writing and the current socio-political madness. But the pain was much too deep and dark and, well… too much. So, we switched to a topic we both love and that often brings us much pleasure *cough*: dreams. We played around with the dream and dreamer shown in Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Circular Ruins”, danced with Jung’s Anima and Animus, and dressed the whole thing up in tanka
- We each wrote two stanzas—imagining our speakers exchanging adventures at a dream bar (dream bars are real, really). We wrote the last stanza together, on the phone, serenaded by much squealing. We hope you enjoy the result as much as we delighted in the process.

Magaly and Rommy *still squealing*

the song: “When I Dream at Night”, by Mark Anthony
the visual art: “Hidden Intentions”, by Ana Fagarazzi

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden...

Greetings to all poets, wayfarers and friends. The floor is open; the platform is yours! Please share a poem of your choice and enjoy the company of your fellow scribes. 

Remember to stop by tomorrow for our Toads in Tandem feature post. Magaly and Rommy have banded together to bring us a collaborative poem to celebrate the creativity of our Garden environment.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

My Dearest Book, I Wrote You a Poem…

Greetings, dear Toads, and welcome to another Weekend Mini-Challenge. Yesterday was International Literacy Day. I wish to mark the occasion by writing a poem… to a book. Not a poem about a book. Not a book review shaped as a poem.    

This week, I invite you to write a new poem dedicated to a novel or a poetry collection you love. You can use the poetic form of your choice, but your entry should contain 131 words or fewer. Please share the book title (some of us might want to read it).

In the poem, you can choose to tell your book anything you like: how you feel about its words, or what reading its words has done to you (for you), or how you miss it when you don’t read if for a while… The possibilities are endless.

Add the direct link to your new poem to Mr. Linky.
Visit other Toads. Delight in their book-loving poetry.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Words Count with Mama Zen

Image result for book of words

For a creative writing class, my offspring had to create a book of favorite words.  Knowing a good thing when I see it, I stole a few of them for this poetry prompt.

The Words:


Your Assignment:

Chose three words from the above list and compose a little bit of brilliance of sixty words or less. Bonus points if you title your poem "Book of Words."

Have fun!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden!

What name do I have for you?

A wonderful poem by John Ashbery--read it here: Just Walking Around
Please share your own poem with the Toads today.

Share * Read * Comment * Enjoy

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Play it Again, Toads!

This weekend we revisit archived challenges of the Imaginary Garden. This affords us the opportunity to catch up on a recent prompt we may have missed or allows us to explore the side bar (2011 - 2017).

The Youthful Poet's Dream
William Blake (1820)

Alternatively, select a prompt from the three I have highlighted below. I have not included a Flash 55 prompt. However, that is an Open Challenge on the first weekend of each month so any 55-worders are welcome.

1.  Fireblossom Fridays: Arrivals & Departures - December 2011

2.  Get Listed! - September 2014

3.  Sunday Mini-Challenge: Carilda Olivar Labra - February 2015

Feel free to write to more than one prompt. The link stays open and at the top of the home page until Tuesday.