Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Conversation with Susie & Margaret

I, Margaret Bednar, feel honored to be a toad here in this magnificent garden.  I bet I could sit down for a cup of coffee with any one of you & we'd get to talking so much our coffee would grow cold!  I know it is the case with Susie Clevenger as we certainly had so much fun.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  I’m going to start brewing a new pot of coffee … does anyone take cream?


I remember reading you for the first time - it was the title of your blog that drew me in “Confessions of a Laundry Goddess”.  I thought to myself, this lady has a great sense of humor.  Yet, I noticed right away you have a dark side, one that holds nothing back.   Your “Woman Up” poem on your new blog “Blank Ink Howl” certainly is a banner of strength and wisdom.   I am a poet that draws from my experiences as a mother - and my poems are usually light and happy.  We often respond in opposite ways to poetic challenges and yet I am always thrilled and intrigued with your voice and artistry.  From your poetry, I conclude you had an abusive childhood in some way, also you were involved in a life-altering accident a few years ago, not to mention a daughter who has been facing a few life challenges of her own.  You seem like a ROCK.   All of these situations could shut a person down, but you seem to have risen and are stronger for it.  Would you say your poetic artistry has healed you, or at least been part of the healing process?  And how much does humor (your smiling face and wit tell me you must have a great appetite for laughter) play a part in your strength?  

Woman Up

A rusted padlock hangs
between my breast and ribs.
I lost the key a hundred
heartbreaks a go when
the tear swamp grew teeth
and tore a hole
in my starry eyes.

It wasn’t bitter that lost the key
or the clinging ribbons of lost love.
Reality stormed in like a bitch
who knows her truth and tore
the pink curtain from my daydreams.

She taught me to woman up, 
a few bruises on my spirit wouldn’t kill,
and building a wall around my heart
only makes me the prisoner.

The rusty open lock and I are friends.
When I struggle about letting
someone in, it reminds me
empty feeds too many ghosts.

Black Ink Howl

A song sings erased notes
until memory forgives
what it can no longer feel.

She sang of soldiers with open heart,
but damned the head who rattled a battle cry.

A stream of prophetic is never welcome
unless it is filtered through an approved tongue.

Not ready to make nice is a black ink howl
that can never be silenced while living in an open wound.


Before I get to my answers I wanted you to know I am thinking about you and your family and speaking prayers as I watch Florence head your direction. 

I am definitely light and dark as a writer. Writing has been therapeutic in so many ways and a huge part of my healing. I was sexually abused by a family member from age five until age ten. It is a long, difficult story of secrets and suicide attempts, but oddly enough it was also where humor became part of my coping mechanism. With all I was hiding I was never a shy, quiet child. In fact I was the talkative, inquisitive comedian of the family. Even with my daughter’s recent illness when we didn’t know if she would survive heart failure, kidney failure, extreme weight loss, and on and on we would rattle the room with jokes. Laughter is healing. It helps to give our family a little more strength to stand up, hold up beneath the weight of unanswerable.

I started Black Ink Howl in 2017 because I wanted to have a place where I could express my dark side. As you stated, Confessions of a Laundry Goddess, is a quirky title. It comes from my self proclaimed goddess-hood when my oldest daughter came home from school with a drawing that was supposed to represent mommy’s career. Well, as you’ve probably guessed, I was doing laundry. I had been posting all my poetry on the blog since I began it in 2009, but in 2017 not everything I was writing seemed to fit there so I started another blog. Black Ink Howl actually came from the title of a poem I wrote about the Dixie Chicks song, Not Ready to Make Nice. There are times when you take a stand not everyone will like it. Not every poem I write is my experience even though I write it in first person. I am an observer and an empath so I see and feel emotions from those around me, all of it translates into poetry. I am a talker. It is easy for me to start and carry on conversations, but when I write poetry I tend to condense it all into just a few words.

Now my turn to ask you a few questions, Margaret. “Palm a poem as if fragile even if the words are bold. Let them sink into your skin as if moonlight, let them flow through your veins until they become ordinary - for only then will we know they nourished.”

I saw this on your Of Verse, Poesy & Odes - My Poetic Journey blog. It is such a beautiful statement and one that will stay with me for a long time. Your writing always lifts my spirit. It often feels like I’ve been immersed in a painting or photograph. Your work invites me to see, hear, and feel the images you so creatively brush stroke into words. How do your other art forms affect your writing? Do you approach writing as you would a canvas? Your poem “Languid” is such a beautiful expression of serenity, the power of summer to take you into dreams and wish to never see it leave.  There’s a strong feeling also of being connected to nature. I notice it appears often in your poetry. When did the nature poet in you begin?

Thank you, Susie.  

I live northwest in the mountains (near App State University) and we missed most Hurricane Florence other than a day or two of rain and some light flooding from mountain run-off. 

It always thrills me when I receive compliments for my writing - I’m always surprised and feel like “really?”.  I am a member of a local poetry group and we select a poem each month to read out loud.  Really, I think “perform” is a better word - voice inflection and subtle nuances of body language are a joy to see when others read and I’m trying to pick up on that.  The “Palm a Poem” is a response to an Imaginary Garden of Real Toads prompt - I “condensed a poem” by Pablo Neruda’s “Sweetness, always”  - retained the essence but breathed my own self into the meaning of his words.  This is an example of a poem I would NEVER have written if not for the inspiration our Garden gives.

I’ve been writing poetry for several years now.  My first poem was written in September of 2010.  I’ve often thought of deleting all my old poems - they are rough and so… well, just hard for me to read.  But I have kept them, as I pair them with photographs I’ve taken and well, it is a journey and one I treasure.  My daughter told me the other day that as a little girl I inspired her with my drawings and paintings.  (she is studying to be an actor but she keeps a sketchbook). I was shocked as I have a few sketch books and paintings and that I don’t have out on display.  I started my blog as a place to post my photographs - to learn composition and perspective and find settings that I had an emotional attachment to so I could then use them for inspiration (plagiarism is a no-no).  Instead of drawing from these images, I expressed myself with poetry.  And this from someone who had never read poetry in her life other than Robert Louis Stevenson.

I love metaphor, assonance, alliteration, personification, internal rhyme, and point of view (narration)… and what I call “story telling” non-fiction and fiction.  Meter and rhythm I do consider and try my best.  I accept the challenge of form poetry, but it isn’t something I gravitate towards.  I TRY to describe rather than to explicitly say something.  When I sketch, I try to narrow it down to the important lines and then build my drawing; when painting I am impressionistic - and often allow myself to create my own colors and not be limited to what I see.  I guess it’s more about feeling.  Some of my favorite poems I’ve written are not based on my actual experience.  They are completely fictional characters that I have massaged into existence.  Recently I wrote “The Fisherman” (which isn’t my favorite example, just the most recent one) and many commented thinking it was about me.  I LOVE to “step into” a painting or photograph and write a “story poem”.  (Is there a better name for this?)  I took a photo as I walked my favorite walking path around Bass Lake.  A young lady was fly fishing and an older gentleman was nearby beside a huge tree.  As I walked around the trail (a stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway) I was already creating this story-poem.

I also love to stir memories and resurrect days from my childhood…”Sisterhood of 1976”  This one I approached I suppose as an artist would with a sketch - I wrote down key words and then, like with watercolor, I allowed the paint (words) to spread out on the paper of their own free will.  I remember this particular poem flowed out from my “brush" as if it was just waiting for a bit of water.

Sisterhood of 1976

"Growing apart doesn't change the fact
that for a long time we grew side by side;
our roots will always be tangled.  I'm glad of that."
-Ally Condie, "Matched" 

The only thing that disturbed
unending summer days
was Father's whistle come dusk.

Betwixt cereal spoon
rattling in the empty dish
and his sharp twill,

we urchins ran wild,
or as wild as we could imagine.
I remember getting lost

in cornfields, kicking pebbles
into the quarry, heads a bit dizzy
from the sheer drop.

Slyly pocketing change from places
off limits - gorging on forbidden
amounts of candy.  Experimenting
with matches, watching leaves,
twigs go up in smoke,
found cigarette butts, resurrected.

Running barefoot, forging trails,
putting ears to railroad tracks,
listening.  Counting time by the sun.
Each night we'd wash off
the day's adventures, secure
in our sisterhood of secrets.

I look back at our freedom, our rascality -
compare it to today's overprotected kids
and wonder which is better.

Margaret Bednar, May 20, 2014

I’m not sure why I write about nature, often fear I use it too much as a backdrop.  I just love being out of doors - as a child I was forced outside and traversed the 1970’s countryside basically from morning until sundown… upon bike or pony.  Such freedom.  Today I take many walks - not sure they qualify as exercise as I’m always stopping and taking photographs, looking for minute details, pondering poetry as I snap photos.  My family has learned to just walk ahead - I always catch up sooner or later. 

Margaret, I love this.  

It is always great to get into the mind of a creative person.You have so many avenues of artistic expression. I am an amateur photographer. It is hard to explain to someone that when I look at a leaf I also can hear its poetry. 


The power of “Woman Up” takes my breath away and “Black Ink Howl” sends shivers through me.  I am curious, what are your favorite “top five” poems you have written?  

One of my favorites of yours is “A Kiss, A Charm”.  

A Kiss, A Charm

I’m part Irish. 
The drinking sid
e roared 
in on a stereotype with
my maternal grandfather. 

I never met the man,
just heard him filtered
through his bottle and fists.

There was plenty of family tree
son of a bitchin’ mixed with
a switch to keep me from
drinking my way out on that limb.

A kiss, a charm, I escaped the harm,
but hard headed took root. 

I’m fourth leaf, chance brushed lucky.
Blarney’s a gift, a jigger’s a rift.
I drank my share, but always with care
that I didn’t dive deeper than no.

©Susie Clevenger 2018

Thank you so much Margaret. 

The poem A Kiss, A Charm is a reflection on my Irish ancestry. I never met my maternal grandfather, but from everything I’ve been told I doubt I would have liked him much. He was an abusive alcoholic. I do seem to have inherited his propensity for stubbornness though. Goodness, my favorite top five poems is a tough one, but here are my favorites at the moment, Until the HummingbirdWhere Butterflies PrayAnother Needle Into the Unknown, , Welcome to My Birdcage, and Feral Ink ). 

I think a reader of these five poems would wonder about the diverse voices in them, but I think my muse delights in sending such mixed inspiration and tone. It makes me giggle to think of someone trying to maneuver through the maze of my thoughts or wonder how the moon showed up on my grocery list.

Until the Hummingbird speaks to the organized disorder of my writing space. My husband won’t even touch anything because he is afraid if it is neat I won’t be able to find a thing. 

Where Butterflies Pray speaks of my connection to nature as a sanctuary. The place I can go to renew and feed my spirit. 

Another Needle into the Unknown was inspired by a biopsy Dawn had in April of 2017. It is a poem expressing how we use humor to cope in the constant land of question marks we find ourselves in with Dawn’s health issues. 

Welcome to My Birdcage frankly is just a celebration of my crazy. 

Feral Ink was inspired by a word list and the photo I used of Marlene Dietrich. Her attitude in the photo brought out the words I used. She has the look of this is who I am. Frankly I love the line, “in her chorus of hims”.


I must go and purchase all of your poetry (chap?) books.  I know I have Dirt Roads which I highly recommend.  That is something I have been meaning to gift myself with - books from all of our Garden Toads - I believe they are listed somewhere on our blog site and can be purchased on Amazon?  (Kerry - maybe inform us in the comment section?)

I am also curious what poet you read when you settle down with a book?  When I started reading poetry, I went to the “classics”, the oldies, and I must confess I was hard pressed to enjoy (most of) them. 


I often read Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson, but currently I’m reading Nathan Brown’s book, Karma Crisis. He was the main speaker at a poetry retreat I attended in April and I became fascinated with his work. He is the son of a Baptist preacher and I am the wife of a former Baptist deacon. I so understand his skepticism and part of his life’s journey.


Pinterest is an interesting site to find out more about a person.  I got lost in yours.  The beauty of jewelry, paintings, birdcages, porch swings, “abandoned”, rust fascination, quilts, antiques, cemetery, old homes…beauty of strings, shoe art, wineries! You have opened up new avenues for me to explore - you have so many boards!   Each one of these could be a stepping stone into poetry.  You have many sides and avenues of interest.  Of all your interests outside of poetry, what is your favorite?


Oh goodness, I do have a lot of Pinterest boards. There are so many things that fascinate me and there I can explore and build collections to return to for inspiration. Outside of poetry my second love is photography. I am strictly an amateur, but my love of lens and capture has a definite hold on me. I can get caught up in the intricacy of a flower petal, or the beautiful patina of a rusted nail. One of my favorite locations is old cemeteries. I have found the most amazing angel statuary on graves. Several have been life sized. It is a place where the past and present are joined by heavenly guardians who urge my spirit to embrace my history as well as consider the legacy I am creating as I walk through my own life.


I just found (how can this be?) your “Susie’s Sentences” and I am so mesmerized by your post of July 27, 2018 “I Rose Where I Fell”.  I see you dabbled in short stories - 150 words - from photos.  What an interesting exercise and one that you are good at.  Would you ever consider writing a book or do you have trouble sticking with something that would require so much time.  I don’t think I have the capability of sustaining that kind of creativity - I only seem to be able to do it in short bursts.  


The poem came from my experience of over committing myself to do work that was often unappreciated and physically exhausting. For so many years I would never say no to whatever was asked of me and it became so detrimental to my emotional and physical health I had to basically relearn and allow myself without guilt to put myself first.

Actually I have given a lot of thought to writing a novel at some point or a mixture of short stories and poetry. In fact I’ve written a short story titled, Lady Scarlet, that is going through its first edit for a book anthology titled, It’s Not All Rockets and Ray Guns. My story is a paranormal mystery set in the fictional town of St. Belviu, Louisiana. It is my first attempt at a story of any length so I have no delusions I’m the next Stephen King, but it feels good to put my toes in the water. I have been blessed to be a remote member of a writer’s group called, Authors Round Table. The anthology is a collection of stories written by members of the group. Here’s a small sampling of my story. “No one really knows who she is. People call her Lady Scarlet because of the faded red dress she wears. It’s rumored pieces of it are found in the ferns just above the water line. Tom Wilson claims he has a cigar box full of satin scraps he’s collected over the years. The stingy old gator man won’t let anyone get a peek inside to see if he’s tellin’ the truth.”


Seriously, I can’t wait to read Lady Scarlet and I think you are so lucky to be part of a thriving writer’s group.


You have a page titled, Simply Poetic Impressions, where you pair your photographs with poetry of those you admire. Your images and the poetry work so beautifully together. Does your photo draw you to the poetry or do you read a poem and it takes you to one of your photographs?


I haven’t given my “Simply Poetic Impressions” as much attention as I’d like.  I am often crunched for time, with three children still at home and three others I love to visit when I can.  But the idea started when I read a poem of Pablo Neruda's and I remembered a photo I had taken and I thought “what fun” to share favorite poems and match them with photography.  I only have over 120,000 photos on my iCloud.  I also know that certain poems are copy written so I am always unsure of what I can put up without getting into trouble.  I have “saved" a number of poems I LOVE to Pinterest - but many of these poems' blogs have been deleted or “hidden” from public view (a few from our own Garden) and I had wanted to ask to pair those with some of my photos.  I still might contact each individual and ask if I can have permission to do so.  It’s a way of having (some unpublished) favorite poems (and inspiration) at my fingertips.  


I am fascinated by your varied expressions of art. On your page, Art Happens, you share a few of your paintings and drawings.  In my mind I see an art studio for painting, a library for writing, a wall (or walls) dedicated as a gallery for your photography. Do you have designated space/spaces for creating?


I have created about five iBooks (Apple) with my photos and poems but a wall dedicated to or for my work - no.  I have my quilts on the beds and furniture, and one I will hang on the wall soon. I have a desk set up by two big book cases in my living room and I work from that desk on my huge (beloved) Apple desktop computer (I DO long for an iPad as I could take my poetry "to go”.)  I also have a desk in my bedroom set up for sewing.  Sometimes my dining room table becomes a workplace for my quilts and then I am happy to order food from restaurants.  We rent a very small house for our family of five and I have to be very neat and organized - which means putting things away and everything having its own place.  Relocating from a huge home with a designated “creative” space has been challenging. 


I see you have a blog titled, My Quilting Journey. Quilts are fascinating. Each one has a story in its pattern. Your poem, Heatwave, is captivating.  I love this visual “enjoy the ballet of grandmother's quilt as it lifts a corner, flutters gracefully as fever exhales”. I have never thought of a heatwave as beautiful, but your poem certainly puts me in that frame of mind. How long have you been quilting and who first taught you to quilt?


A fever oscillates across my skin
swigs stamina and strength from my bones,
yet offers no toast to acknowledge my hospitality.

I'm just "southern" enough
to graciously welcome unwanted guests,
find beauty in wilting leaves

bowing temporarily to a stronger force;

enjoy the ballet of grandmother's quilt
as it lifts a corner,
flutters gracefully as fever exhales;

imagine I'm a bartender
serving shots during happy hour,
carefully pour each living thing a drink -

temperance observed;

join the hens in a silent brooding,
thankful the border collie
rallies strength to scan for the devil;

look forward to the lick of night
when the visitor rests
and the yellow haze behind my eyelids

finally fades to black.

by Margaret Bednar


Thank you.  For me there is something very poetic about quilts. “Heatwave" is a poem I wrote from a video prompt.  I put away my old singer sewing machine about 20 years ago.  Two years ago I joined a local group of creative women who call themselves “The Stitching Sisters”.  We meet once a month for about three hours and knit and talk and share our projects.  I brought along my knitting at first, of which I have really progressed and am currently learning how to brioche knit.  Watching these women do their crafts, I was really drawn to the quilts.  I confess, I am now a hoarder and may be slightly obsessed with fabric.  I am making quilts for all my children and the first quilt I made I claimed as mine.  Sewing I can date back to 4-H and making skirts and such - my Mother helped guide me and probably had to finish a project or two.  I really was NOT inspired.  However, quilting is all together different.  The patterns, picking out the color combinations just fascinates me.  

I also adore a magazine “Quiltfolk”  It is pricey, but the magazine is touring every state at least once if not more and the history and stories inside are to die for.  I think one of their motives is “Discover the stories behind the stitches”.   It is published four times a year and I think the next magazine will cover part of Michigan - which is a state close to my heart.  This magazine has already inspired numerous quilt ideas I want to try. 

I still use my over 26 year old sewing machine but I have given my husband numerous hints that I am looking around for a replacement…  I think the first time I said that he thought I was referring to him!  


I loved every one of your poems you mention above.  I find them to be a deep breath in of “letting go”, facing fears, acknowledging the darkness but turning yourself at the end of each day towards the light.  They speak of strength from family, from nature, from humor and toughness.  Embracing a bit of disorder, not knowing all the answers; these are things many try and control.  I find your voice refreshing and inspirational - the line in “Feral Ink” … from every mistake she claimed as freedom.  is SO cool and true.   

I was wondering how much you share with your family.  Most of mine do not read my poetry.  Do you share with your daughters and husband or is it primarily your own thing?


My poetry is there for all my family to read if they choose, but I doubt many of it read it. My husband has an aunt who is one of my biggest readers, and supporters. She doesn’t own a computer, but she has all three of the books I’ve written. She is always asking me when the next book will be out. I do have one poetry collection that is in the works. I co-wrote it with Ben Ditmars. The title is Splinters. I share my work with my daughters, but there is much of it they haven’t read. Charlie reads every poem I write, and often I read them to him. He is so supportive of my work.


I grew up Catholic and I think it finds its way into my poems at times mostly in a positive light.  I”d like to think my adult view is not so simple as my belief as a child - but I think we can all say that.   Do you find your Baptist past reflective in your poetic voice or are your beliefs now quite divergent - and if so are they appreciative of the foundation or cyclical because of it.  


I wasn’t raised in the church. My early spiritual leanings were rooted in nature. I didn’t become active in a church until I joined a Southern Baptist Church in the late 1970’s. My beliefs are quite different than what they once were. I am an observer, a listener, an empath; so much of what I write comes from that. My poetry that has more of a spiritual feel is a reflection of my connection to nature. I have a prayer space in my bedroom in front of a window that looks out on a small wooded area behind my home.

OK, Susie, 

Now for a “fantasy” question.  If you could live anywhere in the world, not having to worry about cost or a making a living (pretend a long lost Uncle left you an endless fortune (sigh) … where would you and your family live?


Oh, I have mulled that question over and over. I think if I had endless money to find that place in the world it would require travel. First, I would travel to Mexico to see where the Monarch butterflies migrate to live out the winter.  I would love to spend time among them, to connect with wings and the power of home that spurs the insect to take a trip that is the equivalent to a human space flight that would take them on a journey of 2/3’rds the distance to the moon. From there it might be the English countryside, or Ireland, or Roman ruins where history still vibrates, and well, so many places. I think when I was finally so exhausted I had to stop it would be where I felt most at peace, probably in a small house with trees at my back door, open fields at my front door, and acres where wild things could roam.

I have two questions left for you.

You have six beautiful children who all are gifted in various art forms. Was art expression something you introduced to them or was it a natural reflection of your own art expression? 

What suggestions could you give to parents and grandparents who value the importance of art, but don’t know where to begin?


For medical reasons (nothing serious) I homeschooled my son kindergarten through 3rd grade.  My daughter was two years behind him and she joined in as well.  I taught them according to their interests - meaning William loved to act everything out and reciting (poetry of all things) came naturally to him.  Low and behold he is an actor today and a wonderful poet and writer.  We are holding our breath as he might be on Broadway soon… an actor’s life is always about securing the next job and we don’t want to jinx anything so I won’t say anything more (as of now)!  Chelsea always wanted to draw and did not take to reading (or math) right away.  I allowed her to color in the pages and draw while I read to her … and guess what she is today - an artist!  

I think spending SO much time creatively with my children for three years started artistic pathways for all of us.  We went to museums, historic places, lots of mini-vacations and we would see sights and then do homework in the evenings.  We spent a lot of time learning history in chronological order.  They created their own journals, drawing pictures, maps, creating stories - all bound in our own huge hand-made books.  Truly fun.  Fourth grade on up they were in public school, but the impressions, I believe, had been set.  And as nature has it, my other four children whom I did not homeschool, seemed to follow in their older siblings footsteps (we also enrolled them in an artistic based charter school).


What suggestions could you give to parents and grandparents who value the importance of art, but don’t know where to begin?

So, Susie, 

I had 5 children, ten years and under for a short period of time.  I had to find something that I could drop them all off AND be free, if possible.  That was community theatre for us.  They all embraced it and made great friends.  I never meant for all of them to somehow make it their careers.  My thought process was they would be interacting with people of various ages and one learns to memorize lines and become comfortable in front of an audience.  Lawyers need to be good actors (right?), and sales people need to be able to sell a product, and business people give presentations… so theatre, I believed would be a healthy thing.  

My advice, for what it’s worth, is to embrace family mini-vacations or day trips to museums, plays, festivals, musicals (dear to our hearts) and read books about the arts (all avenues) and don’t forget documentaries, etc when they are young.  Sing Broadway musicals in the car and then GO to a touring show - even if it is one every few years - they are costly but what a memory.   

I remember going to a very nice museum in Indianapolis when my children were quite small - and I joked and told the kids we were so important we had an escort when in actuality I think we made them a little nervous as my kids’ noses were quite close to some of the paintings (they didn’t touch… I was right on them, but I can see why the museum was concerned!

Margaret, it was such a joy to chat with you. I wish we could have been in the same room sharing a cup of coffee, but I feel this garden of poets is the next best thing. As toads we come from different states, different countries, different lives, yet find a deep bond through our love of poetry. Thank you so much for taking time to sit down with Margaret and I. We are truly blessed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tuesday's (Platform) Bliss

Welcome to Tuesday's Platform!

Another month wends itself to a close. Endings. Beginnings. Autumn. Spring.
So it is we walk, wander, run, scamper, scatter, skip - or fall down, for tiredness or relief, or perhaps even from the release of joyous celebrations.

Let us stop to catch our breaths, yes? And consider, perhaps - the meaning of Bliss.

How I Learned Bliss by Oliver de la Paz

I spied everything. The North Dakota license,
the “Baby on Board” signs, dead raccoons, and deer carcasses.
The Garfields clinging to car windows—the musky traces of old coffee.
I was single-minded in the buzz saw tour I took through
the flatlands of the country to get home. I just wanted to get there.
Never mind the antecedent. I had lost stations miles ago
and was living on cassettes and caffeine. Ahead, brushstrokes
of smoke from annual fires. Only ahead to the last days of summer
and to the dying theme of youth. How pitch-perfect
the tire-on-shoulder sound was to mask the hiss of the tape deck ribbons.
Everything. Perfect. As Wyoming collapses over the car
like a wave. And then another mile marker. Another.
How can I say this more clearly? It was like opening a heavy book,
letting the pages feather themselves and finding a dried flower.

 "How I Learned Bliss" from Requiem for the Orchard. Copyright © 2010 by Oliver de la Paz.


Right then, on to Tuesday.
Platform here friends and travelers at the Garden.
Choose a poem. New for old. Old for new. Whatever you wish to share.
Link up.
Then return in the next few days,  to dip and dive into what fellow poets have offered for our reading pleasure.
Comment and share some bliss.

📣And be sure to come back on Wednesday - October 31st - for the next scheduled chat, with Susie and Margaret. It promises to be a treat 🎃

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Don't Touch My Meez

Don't Touch My Meez

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

 Hello Toads! Toni here for this challenge.  It is my turn to give the prompt and I am pumped. I hope you all enjoy this. Years ago when I was a dish washer working my way up to fry cook, to line cook to sous chef and finally to chef, I learned a very important lesson which has gone with me all through my life - cooking and civilian: Mise en place (meez ahn plahz). I use this when ever I home cook, cook at the Food Bank, cook at the church. I use it when cleaning my house and writing poetry. Mise en place literally means: everything in its place.

I learned early to have my board at the restaurant ready to go: crocks for softened butter, chiffonaded herbs, chive sticks, diced veggies, bottles of oils, vinegars, wines - at the ready. I also had a supply of side towels stashed because you need those clean dry towels for wiping plates, picking up hell hot saute' pans, wiping your board clean.

.I had been a line cook for one rush hour when the chef left his station and slammed his hand down on my board - hard. It sounded like an explosion. We all jumped. He then held his hand up to my face brushing my nose with his hand. "You see this shit? This is what your brain is like on the inside." His hand had crumbs, bits of herbs, a smear of butter. He was right. I also learned not to rob my compatriots' meez either. The meez was sacred. I learned the lesson and kept my board clean for the 20 years I worked cooking. I still keep a supply of side towels tucked into my apron.

So what this is leading to is, what does your workplace look like at home? Where do you write your poetry? Do you do it in a comfy chair with a mug of something close to hand? Do you write in bed? The bathtub? Do you have a desk? Do you keep a pad by the bed for when you wake up out of the blue and have an inspiration to write down? LOL, if I did that, I can guarantee it would not be readable. My handwriting at the best of times is illegible.

Where Emily Dickinson Wrote her poems

I want you to write about where you write poetry - home, office, car, back porch. It can be any length or form. Just tell us about it. The scents, the sights, the music, the cat or the dog in close proximity, the kids interrupting your flow of thought, your thoughts over the first cup of coffee in the morning or the last cup of tea at night. I don't want to know the why, I want to know the where.

So wipe your boards clean, clear your mind and get to writing. I am looking forward to reading about your place of inspiration.  And please do visit the other folks who have posted.  They put out good work and deserve a pat on the back.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Creature Feature - Out of Standard

image copyrighted. Isadora Gruye photograph.

Greetings Garden Dwellers and welcome back to the Out of Standard.
Here I will call upon your highest poetic powers to go beyond the ordinary and conjure up something unexpected. Today's challenge.....

Creature Feature
Pictured above is Cut Face Cove. It's home to the most haunted shores in northern Minnesota.  Some claim ghosts of fishermen wail along to its lapping water. Other's speak of sea monsters. Some still insist on werewolves. Your job: conjure up a monster that lives here and write a poem about it. Here's the catch (this is suppose go beyond expected, right?)'ll have to follow the recipe below:

You monster must
1. Be dressed in something unexpected.
2. Have a favorite song to sooth it's rage.
3. Know only one word.
4. Be very afraid of something commonplace.

So go now, my muddy buddies and bring back something frightfully delightful.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Tuesday Platform


Late October 

the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
to black
for comfort.

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order to begin

There is something about poems by Maya Angelou that stir my soul and my muse from time to time. Greetings poets, wayfarers and friends, it's a beautiful day here and I am looking forward to reading poetry with a cup of coffee.

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 choice and enjoy the company of your fellow scribes. 


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Micro Poetry ~ Notebook Poetry

The object of this challenge has always been to write a poem of between one and twelve lines, in a form of your choice, but for the month of October, I would like to expand on this idea.
First, as it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am doubling the number of lines.


Back in August, I felt inspired to begin a new project, one that would take my poetry to a different platform. I did something, which for me, is quite out of my comfort zone... yes, I ventured into the world of social media and opened an Instagram account. Since then, I have been rediscovering some of my own poems, and I have fallen in love with "notebook" poetry. It has reminded me of how I first began to write my words down with a pen on paper, rather than as I do now, wholly in a word document. It had got to the point that a poem didn't gel for me unless I saw it developing on my monitor in Georgia font! Now I am taking my time, using a nib pen dipped in ink, and even illustrating a few pieces. This month is known as #inktober on Instagram where today's prompt is "Breakable".

I wondered if I might inspire others to return to the comfort of pen and paper. I do not expect you all to rush about looking for an ancient bottle of ink (like I did) but I would love to see a photo of your work written in your own handwriting, or some kind of graphic presentation of your poem.

This is not a stipulation of the prompt... merely a request. Let us all remember the joy of the process!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Get Listed: October Edition


Colors burst in wild explosions
Fiery, flaming shades of fall
All in accord with my pounding heart
Behold the autumn-weaver
In bronze and yellow dying
Colors unfold into dreams
In hordes of a thousand and one
The bleeding
Unwearing their masks to the last notes of summer
Their flutes and horns in nightly swarming
Colors burst within
Spare me those unending fires
Bestowed upon the flaming shades of fall."
Dark Tranquility, With the Flaming Shades of Fall  

Greetings poets, wayfarers and friends, as Autumn sets in I am reminded of the album Skydancer which is the debut studio album by Swedish melodic death metal band, Dark Tranquility. "With the Flaming Shades of Fall" is a particular favorite of mine. There is something incredibly distinct and nostalgic about the way this season carries the human spirit forward as we welcome change and prepare to start afresh with a clean slate.

For this "Get Listed" edition, I want you guys to come up with your own brief creation. Please keep your poem under 150 words. Choose any four words that fit best with the mood/theme/personality of your poem on a topic of your choice.
  • lucid                    fiery                  twilight               silhouette                     despair
  • touch                   plunge                frost                   goldcrest                      wind
  • sleep                   colour                 aspect                murmuring                   coffee
  • gravel                  leaf                    october                branch                          notes

Good luck sketching, honing, and naming your masterpiece. I look forward to what you guys come up with. Please do visit others and remember to comment on their poems. Have fun!🍁

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Tuesday Platform

William Allingham (1821 - 1889)
 A Day-Dream's Reflection 

Chequer'd with woven shadows as I lay
Among the grass, blinking the watery gleam,
I saw an Echo-Spirit in his bay
Most idly floating in the noontide beam.
Slow heaved his filmy skiff, and fell, with sway
Of ocean's giant pulsing, and the Dream,
Buoyed like the young moon on a level stream
Of greenish vapour at decline of day,
Swam airily, watching the distant flocks
Of sea-gulls, whilst a foot in careless sweep
Touched the clear-trembling cool with tiny shocks,
Faint-circling; till at last he dropt asleep,
Lull'd by the hush-song of the glittering deep,
Lap-lapping drowsily the heated rocks

Welcome to another Tuesday of sharing! This is where you can poem any thoughts or ideas for our eager eyes and ears. Please share a piece of your choice and don't forget to read and comment on the writings of your fellow scribes. I look forward to reading you and wish you all a wonderful day! 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Fussy Little Forms: Tritina

Hello, Toads! October being upon us, the first month of the last quarter of the calendar year. Which really has not much to do with the short poetry form I’m proposing that we try today, the TRITINA.

Tritina is the more compact step-sister of sestina and villanelle, two forms that I (you?) find difficult! But somehow in this shorter version it seems manageable. Could be I’m wrong, but let’s try anyway. Tritina was invented by the American poet Marie Ponsot, who says about strict poetry forms:

“The forms create an almost bodily pleasure in the poet. What you’re doing is trying to discover. They are not restrictive. They pull things out of you. They help you remember.”

I love this and feel the same--but it’s so good to be reminded as I’ve been a bit distant from my poems and my remembering lately.

So the rules of tritina are as follows. It is a ten-line poem with three tercets and a final line, featuring three repeating, non-rhyming line-end words, like this:  
The final line contains all 3 words as 1-2-3
The tritina does not have a required meter, but it is generally thought that tritina should have a consistent meter or rhythm throughout to emphasize the repetition and musical-refrain quality of the verse. The single end line is a conclusion, so tritina can be similar to a sonnet in that a turn can happen between lines 9 and 10.

Here is a wonderful example by David Yezzi: Tritina for Susannah

And here is a tritina by Marie Ponsot, so beautiful, called “Roundstone Cove.”

The wind rises. The sea snarls in the fog
far from the attentive beaches of childhood—
no picnic, no striped chairs, no sand, no sun.

Here even by day cliffs obstruct the sun;
moonlight miles out mocks this abyss of fog.
I walk big-bellied, lost in motherhood,

hunched in a shell of coat, a blindered hood.
Alone a long time, I remember sun—
poor magic effort to undo the fog.

Fog hoods me. But the hood of fog is sun.

--Marie Ponsot, from Springing, New and Selected Poems

Marie Ponsot, American poet, born 1921
Ready? Let’s try tritina! 1-2-3 and go!