Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Tuesday Platform

By Thought Catalog, Unsplash

Welcome to the Tuesday Platform, your unprompted free-range day for sharing poems in the Imaginary Garden. Please look up from your phone and link up a poem. Then be sure to visit the offerings of our fellow writers.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Weekend Mini Challenge: At the Seaside

Welcome to the Weekend Mini Challenge with Kim from Writing in North Norfolk.

Nobody seems to send postcards any more. I still have some that my grandmother collected over the years, ones she received from friends and relatives who went to the seaside on their summer holidays, even if only for a day trip! Many had views of the beach, pier and esplanades of various seaside towns, while others were of the saucy variety with jokes I couldn’t understand as a child and which would nowadays be considered politically incorrect!

I remember my grandmother taking my sister and me on coach trips to the south coast of England, to places like Margate, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Brighton, to name but a few. She’d buy us buckets, spades, windmills and the obligatory stick of rock. We’d change into swimming costumes behind a huge bright beach towel and then run to and from the sea with the buckets of water to fill the moats around our sandcastles. Once we built a car and a boat out of sand. Those days still glow in my memory, even the windy, rainy ones – and there were plenty of them.

Image result for L.S.Lowry at the seaside Pinterest
'At the Seaside' by L.S. Lowry - stock image found on Pinterest

I found a wonderful painting by L.S. Lowry which, for me, expresses the essence of old-fashioned seaside trips and holidays. I imagine there are similarities in seaside resorts around the world, but also huge differences.

For this week’s mini challenge I would like you to write a NEW poem in a form of your choice that paints a clear, possibly postcard, scene of the seaside you know or remember.  

Join our day trip by clicking on Mister Linky and filling in your name and url – not forgetting to click the small ‘privacy policy’ box. And please remember to read and comment on other toads’ poems – we do like to be beside the seaside!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Out of standard: Fear into farce

The world's largest duck visit's canal park. Image copyrighted -Isadora Gruye photography. 

Hiya Garden Dwellers,

Welcome back to the out of standard where I lay at your feet a challenge to shake you out of the ordinary. July’s prompt will ask a little more ….  

Fear into farce
So, we all have that one unfounded, completely unjustified fear. A nightmare scenario that we know will never ever…ever….ever really happen, but it plagues us nonetheless. It bubbles up when alone in the dark or when falling asleep at night. 

Mine? Badgers with switchblades. 

Your challenge: take your personal unfounded fear and write a poem about it taking a comedic stance. 

That's it. The platform is yours. The mic is warm.

Keep in mind
Like every challenge, your poem must by newly written 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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tuesday Platform

Hello poets and poetry lovers! Last month has been a whirlwind of activity for me and my family. We took a nice long vacation to Maine, possibly the last vacation we'll have together as a family for a while. That's because the eldest starts college in the fall. All that traveling meant a lot of family time in the car. Fortunately my daughter was prepared for the challenge. She started off each trip leading the family in a sing along of I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers, and sharing her latest musical obsession, the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman.

There's going to be quite a bit more traveling back and forth in my family's future, but I am happy to report that after examining what my schedule might look like in the fall I will have time to continue on with the Toads.

So do you have any joyous discoveries you've made so far this summer? Feel free to write about that, or whatever else hits your fancy (new or old is fine). Don't forget to see what your fellow poets have created this week. If you like something, don't keep it to yourself. Conversation and constructive feedback in the comments section is always welcome.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Weekend Challenge: A Little Night Music

Woodcut from Hypnerotomachia Poliphia, 1499 AD

For this challenge, let's write on dark water. Dream a little dream with me!

Dream and poem paired like winding code—one replicates the other's sense in a manner they both share but oddly, askant. Poetic truth is what we strain to recall inside a dream's mysterium, that glint and welcome of the deep drying fast upon our morning pillow.

How well do you know your dreams? An entire wing of the human library is thick with both exploration and explanation. At the far end of the Lascaux paleolithic cave, a bird-headed man swoons at the foot of a speared bison; shamans were chosen by their dreams and then painted the teeming underworld of them at the bottom of time.

The "bird-man" of Lascaux, ca. 20,000 BCE

An Egyptian book of dreams is recorded papyrus in the reign of Remeses II (around 1270 BC), with the dreams categorized as auspicious or not (those were writ in red). If a man saw himself in a dream burying an old man, it was good, meaning prosperity; but if a man saw himself in a dream making love to a woman, it was bad, meaning mourning. Temples open to all were established as dream incubators where votives purified themselves and then slept overnight, hoping for instruction from their god.

In 270 AD Artemidorous of Daldis authored the Oneirocritica, an interpretive theory of dreams with a compilation of dreams as evidence. He pointed to Apollo as the purifier and explicator of dreams. Understanding dreams meant holding them up to the light of day, the way the priests of the Apollonian temple at Delphi interpreted the night-songs of the Sibyl.

Christianity has been untrusting of the dream, its night world a-seethe with peril. The oily depth of soul was disdained for the airier, heaven-bound spirit.  The verb "to dream" is absent from the New Testament, and hermit saints kept vigils through the night to prevent dreams from leading them astray.

Descartes separated mind from world with the simple formula "I think, therefore I am," dividing off the world from its god and beauty. What is knowable and apprehensible is what is "real": To the ghost-world of the dream, superstition, fable, olden times.

In the modern era, psychology gave us amazing inroads into the dream, but the approach has remained scientific and rational. To Freud, dreams were both a defense against reality and an escape from it, their deeper meaning locked behind the dreamer's angst.

There is also, however, a darker way to approach dreams, one affiliated more with Hermes than Apollo. As the way of dreams is murky, so too the mind. There are plenty of night-deities, and dreams can be properly half-lit with the couplings of Aphrodite, the witchroads of Hekate, nightmare panics of Pan.

William Blake, "The Triple Hekate," 1795 AD

The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus (c. 535 - 475 BC) said there is a place in the mind akin to a sea's infinite abyss: "You could not find the ends of the soul though you travelled every way, so deep is its logos." (Fr. 49). But why go deep? In another fragment (54), Heraclitus writes: "Invisible connection is stronger than visible." The darkness of the dream is far more durable than anything we can say we know of them.

In 1499 AD the Hypnerotomachia Poliphia by Francesco Colonna was printed in Venice, an elaborate allegory of love pursued through a dreamlike landscape. (Some say the only poem is a love poem; perhaps before that it was a dream poem.) The Hypnerotomachia is writ in a very odd hybrid language with Greek and Latin roots but including many words from Italian as well as Arabic and Hebrew. Carl Jung was an admirer of the book, believing the dream images in it presaged his theory of the archetypes. It's also one of the most beautiful books ever printed, with fabulous typography and exquisite woodcuts—a classic dream book.  (Jung's own Red Book is another masterpiece of dreamsoak, blending paintings, conversations in monastic script and rumination.)

Page 154 from Jung's Red Book

Artists throughout history have taken constant inspiration from dreams—the list includes Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Man Ray's photos, Salvidor Dali's surrealist landscapes, Paul McCartney's song "Yesterday" and David Lynch's Blue Velvet. James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is probably the closes approximation of dream states in waking language. (Many have called it unreadable; it certainly is defiant of the linear page-turner.)

Poetry is the closest thing in language we have to dreaming. It has the technical apparatus for seeing in the dark, for listening to the edges, for singing with the wind. Take Shakespeare, from Midsummer Night's Dream:

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

Today's challenge is to offer just such a "local habitation and a name" to a dream, to dreaming, to dreams. Pull a page from your dream-book and view it with the lens of poetry. Bring poetry and dreaming close together (or show us paradoxically how far apart they still are). Gaston Bachelard, who knew a thing or two about poetic reverie, once wrote: "By listening to certain words as a child listens to the sea in a seashell, a word dreamer hears the murmur of a world of dreams." Write a poem in the manner of a dream, or dream in the manner of a poem. Walk in the footsteps of dream and tell us not only just where you went but how and when and what that was like.

Keep in mind that your dream is particular to your innerscape and will probably range from incoherent to uninteresting to others—unless there is something poetry that can unlock the door and enervate the ghost.

Say you don't remember your dreams? What is that landscape like? (I quote Nietzsche:  "We have no dreams at all or interesting ones. We should learn to be awake the same way--not at all or in an interesting manner.)

Here's to airy nothings!

Alien heptapod logogram from the 2016 movie "Arrival"

PS I am indebted to James Hillman's essay "Apollo, Dream, Reality" for pointing to the hidden rail of this prompt.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Get Listed: July Edition


Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone:
No flower of her kindred,
No rose-bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.(read full poem here)

- Thomas Moore

Greetings to all poets, wayfarers and friends. As Summer sets in I'm reminded of poems by the Irish Poet, Thomas Moore. His poem "The Last Rose Of Summer" is a favorite of mine. He wrote it in 1805, while staying at Jenkins-town Park in County Kilkenny, Ireland, where he was said to have been inspired by a specimen of Rosa 'Old Blush.'

For this 'Get Listed' edition I want you guys to come up with your own brief creation. Please keep your poems under 100 words. Choose one of the word groups (using all four words) that fits best with the mood/theme/personality of your poem.

    • consider                   breathe                anguish                 dreams                   thicken
    • pale                           rain                       deep                      softly                        path
    • sun                            loss                      mind                      rose                          ebony
    • leaves                       orchid                    sky                       image                       grass

    Choose your own form or write in free verse if preferred. I look forward to what you guys come up with. Make sure to check out our Red- Letter Day post which marks the anniversary of our blogsite below this prompt and leave your thoughts there. Lastly, please visit others and remember to comment on their poems. Have fun!🌹

    Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    Red-Letter Day ~ JULY 18

    JULY 18 is a most special day, here in the Imaginary Garden as it marks the anniversary of this blogsite which officially welcomed poets on this day in 2011.

    However, today is even more auspicious on a global scale, as it commemorates the centenary of Nelson Mandela's birth.

    Wire sculpture of Nelson Mandela
    taken with permission
    ~K. O'Connor~

    His birthday on July 18 is marked annually around the world, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation called this year for people to "take action and inspire change" in Mandela's name. (Barack) Obama will set the tone for the celebrations with a speech in Johannesburg on July 17 that aides say will be his most important public address since leaving the White House in 2017. "It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela's legacy around the world," his aide Benjamin Rhodes told the New York Times.
    Read the full article HERE.
    Visit the Nelson Mandela Website.

    To mark this special day, please share your thoughts in commentary or a poem inspired by the words of Madiba: ten of his most memorable quotes can be found HERE.

    The 13-minute video documentary of Mandela's life has been provided by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which has given the UN permission to use it.

    “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Long Walk to Freedom

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    The Tuesday Platform

    Erik Ringsmuth, Unsplash

    Behind the blameless trees

    Behind the blameless trees
    old fate slowly builds
    her mute countenance.
    Wrinkles grow there . . .
    What a bird shrieks here
    springs there like a gasp of warning
    from a soothsayer's hard mouth.

    And the soon-to-be lovers
    smile on each other, not yet knowing farewell,
    and round about them, like a constellation,
    their destiny casts
    its nightly spell.
    Still to come, it does not reach out to them,
    it remains
    a phantom
    floating in its heavenly course.  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

    Welcome to the Tuesday Platform, your unprompted free-range day for sharing poems in the Imaginary Garden. Please look up from your phone and link up a poem. Then be sure to visit the offerings of our fellow writers.

    Remember to stop by tomorrow as there will be a special open link, July 18, to commemorate the anniversary of our site: 2011 - 2018!


    Saturday, July 14, 2018

    Fussy Little Forms: Tricube

    Exhibit by Elena Tsigaridou

    Friends! This weekend in the Garden, let’s try a short form that’s less fussy and more adorable. It’s called the TRICUBE and the rules are super-simple:

         Each line contains three syllables,

         Each stanza contains three lines, and 
         Each poem contains three stanzas. 

    That’s it! Except to say that the fun, mathematical tricube was created by Phillip Larrea. Let’s try it. 

    Three… two… one… Go!

    Thursday, July 12, 2018

    Artistic Interpretations with Margaret

    Toril Fisher Fine Art
    Welcome to Artistic Interpretations.  My dear friend and gifted artist, Toril Fisher, has once again generously offered to allow us to use her paintings for our poetic endeavors.  Please credit her as the artist.  She has a Facebook page "Toril Fisher Fine Art".  She can also be found on Instagram under (@torilart) Toril Fisher.  She sells her artwork at numerous art fairs in the summer.  I own a number of her paintings and they are vibrant and full of life. 

    Perhaps you can place yourself within the painting... or have your poem take on the qualities of the animals Toril has so masterfully painted.  Maybe make up a story and take on a unique voice that is pure fiction.  Please interpret these images with a new piece of poetry written in any way you choose and link to Mr. Linky below.  

    I have been on another summer week-long break and return the day after this prompt is scheduled.  I will be around to visit as soon as I can.  I can't wait to read your artistic interpretations.   

    Toril Fisher Fine Art

    Toril Fisher Fine Art

    Toril Fisher Fine Art

    Toril Fisher Fine Art

    Toril Fisher Fine Art

    Toril Fisher Fine Art 

    Toril Fisher Fine Art

    A John Tully & Tori Fisher Collaboration

    Wednesday, July 11, 2018

    Chat - Shay and Toni

    Hello dear friends.  Shay and Toni here, having a chat!

    Toni:  an aside, Shay was surprised by my slow southern drawl!

    Shay:  I was! Happy to be here with the only person whose haiku I like. Your writing is as unique as you are. You're clearly drawn to Asian (or strictly Japanese?)styles and customs. it adds such a richness to what you write. What sparked your interest in these things?

    Toni:  When I was a wee lass our next door neighbor Jamie, was Professor of Eastern Studies, specifically Japanese. I was in and out of his house exploring all the incredible things he brought back,including a full Samurai armor. I began writing Japanese forms that summer.  We would sit on his front porch at times while he basically taught me his classes. His house man and valet would bring us glasses of lemonade while we talked and often joined us. He was actually Jamie's life partner but in those days, he posed as servant. Jamie taught me Japanese culture. Then later I began to explore and learn on my own.  Also when I was 11, I was bored and went to the kitchen where my grandmother and started whining. She told me to look after dinner (I started cooking with my father when I was 5) and she went to our library and came back with books:  Whitman, Dickinson, T.S. Eliot and said here, this will keep you busy for awhile. It kept me busy for two weeks and then I read them again. I also used the ladder in the library to get to the good stuff after that.  I started writing that summer.  Long, sad ponderous stuff!  What got you started writing, Shay?

    Shay: My father was a newspaperman and I grew up in a house full of books, mostly my father's, but also those my two much older brothers had left around. Later, at about 16 or 17, I bought a book of poetry by a man named Grover Lewis, called "I'll Be There In The Morning If I Live." I still have it, though it has to be handled carefully after all these years. I bought it at the Little Professor Book Store, and carried it to the lawn of the public library--it was summer--and read it cover to cover. The rest, followed from that; I've been writing ever since.

    My inspirations: Lewis, as I said (though no one knows him), Poe, Dickinson, Rossetti, Whitman, Ferlinghetti, Corso, Russell Edson, Tennyson, Longfellow, the last two for the sheer loveliness of how they make words sound. "The Lady Of Shallot" just blows me away, and I have the famous painting of her on my living room wall, forever in her boat among the lily pads. And of course, Lorca is a huge influence.

    I actually had a 20 year gap in my poetry writing. I wrote and got published maybe 3 dozen times between the ages of 18 and 26, wrote a dribbling of poems for a couple of years, then stopped entirely while I was married, raising a child, and working full time. Then in 2006 I saw an on line forum that had a poetry section and I got started again. Two years later I started Word Garden. The funny thing about being published is that it's a huge kick the first few times, then starts getting routine. My interest in getting published in 'zines is pretty much nil, though i have sent off a couple of things at the urging of friends. No response. I guess they don't like symbolist war haiku.

    Enough about me, girl.  Nature is a constant theme of yours which you portray vividly. What first drew you to the natural world? Does it have a healing property for you? What animals/birds do you love best?

    Toni:  Wow. Your father was a newspaper man.   I'll bet you truly enjoyed being raised by him.

    Shay: I did. He was a huge influence on me, and I was definitely a daddy's girl. 

    Toni:  Nature and mujo (change) is part of the Japanese culture. The seasons and changes are celebrated, observed. I learned as a child the nuances of these changes : the summer nights, soup in the winter, the bare trees against the sky. Jamie taught me a lot. I had a Japanese lover for several years who taught me a lot. He taught me kendo,  Japanese martial arts and how to use a katana. I keep up with the forms and exercises to this day.  I was drawn by Issa and Basho, their haiku and haibun.  I have had a few haiku published in such journals and an anthology but being published isn't the end-all be-all for me. I just write because I must.

    Shay: I will make it my business not to cross you! Please talk some more about nature's influence on you and your writing.

    Toni: We had a huge garden when I was growing up. I loved being in the garden and was often there, sitting in the dirt between rows of corn, reading. I loved dealing with the produce when it was mature - canning, pickling, freezing. Cooking family meals. I loved walking past the tomatoes and touching the plants and then smelling my hands. I was also an avid tree climber and still am. I have an oak tree I climb a couple of times a week and sit and be quiet, observing. Sometimes I read, sometimes I play my violin for the trees.  I was heavily influenced also by Whitman, Dickinson, Tennyson, Bukowski, T.S. Eliot, Basho, Issa. 

    Shay: Question 2 for you--where have you traveled and lived? 

    Toni: I have traveled to Japan several times and have stayed there for a few months at the time, England, Scotland, Ireland, most of the states in the US.  I even planted rice in Japan on one trip.  One of the most poignant trips I ever took was following the footsteps of Basho. That is the day I spent planting rice in a field with local women (https://kanzensakura.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/haibun-rice-planting) . I have lived and worked in Philadelphia, Southampton, NYC, DC. New Orleans, Tampa.

    Shay: I have lived almost all my life here in the Detroit area, but in my 20's I lived 6 years in San Antonio, Texas, and also for more than a year on the island of Luzon, Philippines. I lived in Denver for several weeks during that time, and have traveled all over the USA. Of course, Canada is right across the river from here and I love it there. I've also been to London, England. I've been to Mexico a couple of times. The places I loved best--however briefly or not--were Manila, Portland (Oregon), San Antonio, Austin, Montana (just gorgeous), and Vancouver Canada. I also like little old Windsor, Ontario. My unfavorite places were London (UK), Houston, and L.A. Too big, too sprawly, too busy. And yes, I loved the Filpino food. Sisig and pandesal! But balut is evil. Ugh!

    Toni, you and I are the long and short of it, I'm afraid, with me being 5-11 and you having told me you are under 5 feet tall (4'10"). Being tall has helped shape who I am; how has your stature affected your life or your writing?  

    Toni:  I never realized I was short until some of the kids began picking on me. My father taught me how to box, my grandfather taught me how to fight dirty. Another writer said he would never consider me small because of the force of my poetry and personality. Ha!  I climb shelves in the grocery to get what I need. Like a racoon or a squirrel.  

    Shay: I wouldn't disagree with him! And hey, you could always yell for me, if you'll get the bottom shelf for me. ;-)

    Toni:  Sounds like a plan to me!

    Toni: What makes you laugh?

    Shay: Well, as a good Gemini, I am of two minds about this. I love very low humor, like pratfalls and stuff, and that is part of my love of silent comedy. (I love silent films of all kinds, btw.) My father loved W C Fields and passed that on to me. "It's A Gift" just demolishes me into a giggling lump of mush. I also love dry humor, bon mots, zingers and the like.

    The Producers
    Toni: Being a Scorpio I  too love low humor, the Three Stooges for example. I also enjoy sly acerbic wit and love the Producers. I love winter and fall. I am a night person in the hot summer.  I love England and London, some of the friendliest folk in the world. I am particularly smitten with London 1870 - 1900. I love Tennyson. Dickinson and the other poets you mentioned. In our bedroom I have a picture of Ophelia floating among the lilies by Waterhouse!  Amazing.  We both are drawn to this character.

    Shay: I love that Ophelia painting and pretty much anything by Waterhouse. We'll have to disagree about London. (Toni smiles and thinks she could change Shay's mind - wink!)

    Toni:   I love traveling and finding out about what people eat.  That's how you get to know about people - what they eat! I also love wandering around their markets. You share their food and their culture.  When they cook you something, they tell you something about themselves.  Tell me about living in Luzon. Why did you live there?

    Shay: I was in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed there. Manila surprised me--it is in many ways just like any large city anywhere, but in other ways distinctly Asian. One thing I will never forget is that Marcos had had the ghettos painted pastel yellow. I mean, every stick, pastel yellow. It was bizarre. Other things I recall are how surprised I was to find a baseball stadium in Manila. They told me Babe Ruth once played there. I also saw the Manila American Cemetery. That's a serious, sobering place, much like the Alamo in my old adopted home town of San Antonio. In the Philippines  also visited a beach resort and was out in the water when I noticed I was surrounded by jellyfish. Oops. My friend and I were standing waiting for a boat with a bunch of locals, and when it came up to the dock, WHOOSH! everybody leaped on at once and my friend and I were left standing there with our mouths open. e could only look at each other and laugh. After that, we learned to be quick. I also recall the autobuses. People brought chickens and stuff on the bus. The windows were open and every time the bus would stop, kids would come up and they'd sell you sodas or whatever. These old buses would careen around the mountain roads, with no guard rails, and it was a little bit hair-raising. 

    Toni:  I'll bet!  Scary stuff but, broadening.  Travel is broadening and enriching.  Like that day I spent planting rice with women in Japan.  That changed my life.  Truly.  And you were in the Air Force!  What an adventure.  You know, I feel I need to talk about this for a minute because it has affected both of us deeply for different reasons - Tony Bourdain's suicide.  He and I are of an age and we both had similar experiences cooking the 70 and early 80's.  It was nothing but drugs and drinking in those days.  One day I burned out on cooking.  I had had it with the snooty jockeying around for position and the elitism that is so often found among chefs.  I walked out.  I got my knives together and walked.  I almost suicided that day, almost went home and hung myself.  Now all these years later, Tony Bourdain, for whatever reasons, hung himself.  I met him a couple of times and he was a true delight.  I almost suicided the day I walked away from professional cooking but I didn't. I burned out, he didn't and went on to become an icon. But I lived and he didn't. So I want to say to you all out there, if you are considering suiciding or harming yourself, please talk to someone, please call.  Suicide is never the answer.  800-273-TALK

    Toni: We have chatted so much.  I love your poetry.  It is so sharp and yet, at times it makes me weep with the emotion in it.  Not fakey lovey-dovey emotion but pure, real, raw emotion.  And at times it makes me nod to myself or laugh out loud.  Your poetry is as unique as you (as someone said about me, recently! grin).

    Shay: Really? Who? ;-) 
    Toni:  Well (she drawls slowly) somebody we both know and respect.