Saturday, June 29, 2019

Chernobyl and our fears

Hello fellow friends of the pond, here is Björn with June's last prompt

The other day I wrote a poem imagining how it would feel like to die from radiation poisoning:


The sky was different
the day the birdsong ceased,
(as if they knew)
it carried in itself 
a tepid hue of sick blancmange,
That day my skin was drizzle-glazed
but yet
It had not bloomed 
in radiation rashes yet
my inner organs had not given up.

They came the morning after
to lock me up
to observe my symptoms
to learn how blood may boil.

I’m waiting 
in the company of two-way mirrors
from my only window, still, I  see
the staring moon,
a solemn gaze tonight 
that’s veiled behind 
a cataract of poisoned cumulus,

tonight I’ll cease.

but still I know 
that many more
will come to fill my void 
to melt like me.

Not an uplifting topic, but the recent series on Chernobyl made me remember those days when news was breaking
and we all had to look at the spring around us with different eyes.

As you might know, Sweden had one of the largest downfalls outside Sweden, and also non physicists had to learn
about words like Cesium, Becquerel and milli-Sievert. 

I particularly remember the drizzle falling on the morning of April 30 1986, I was still a graduate student back then,
and the knowledge of what had happened in the Soviet was just breaking mingled with the wonderful sense of spring
and the joy of returning daylight created an eerie atmosphere.

Looking back at the time I also realize how much it created change and breakdown in the Soviet Union. 

Today Chernobyl has become a tourist attraction, the nearby town Pripyat is both a time-capsule back to the old
Soviet, a stark post-apocalyptic place and a reminder how nature can reclaim what has been taken by humans.

I love the contradictions around this, at the same time Nuclear Power is needed for us to counter carbon emission
that is probably much more dangerous than the radiation pollution that has been emitted. 

Maybe the fact that death from radiation is so much more immediate, as well as its link to cancer and genetic
disorder which seems so much worse than the seemingly increase if death from natural causes that is tied to
the fossil fuel industry.

I am not expecting you to go fully activist on this prompt, but rather make your fear of the unknown deaths
that’s linked to breathing and eating. If you want to be specific and focus on Chernobyl and the breakdown
of Soviet Union that is also fine with me, but remember that the failure of the systems was the result of
corruption, which is not only a communist problem. It’s a human problem.

If you prefer to talk about the fear of a nuclear war that is also fine by me.

When you have written your new poem, please add it to the link. Visit and read the other poet’s contributions.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Guest Listed! with Fireblossom

Hello Toads! 
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, I'm baaaaack. Fireblossom here, the guest who just shows up without calling first, and I've brought a word list with me. The prompt is easy peasy lemon squeezy. Just pick at least three of the words from the list--or more if you wish--and create a poem which includes them. Extra credit: use one of the words in your title. Then link, share, read, step back, do-si-do and feel good about the whole thing. Here's some music to get you started.

Here is your word list, Toads. Get hopping ;-)

hokey pokey
fist pump

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Tuesday Platform

Greetings to all toads, poets and wayfarers! This is Kerry, standing in for Anmol who is currently moving to a home in a new city. He will be back in the Garden in July. I am sharing a recent illustration I did for a poem from my Skylover Collection, called Arms of Orion. I have been keeping myself occupied this way during my winter vacation. Always good to take time out for creativity!

Arms of Orion: Self Portrait
Kerry O'Connor
The poem can be read by following the linky to Skylover or on Instagram, where many of our fellow toads are to be found. Do pay a visit to their pages, where a whole lot of magic abounds!

@wordsbymagalyguerrero     @anmol.ha     @runawaysentence    @sanaarizvi01
@rommy_driks    @butterflysue70    @brudberg    @margaretbednar    @izygruye

Please feel free to share your own IG address in comments below - and let me know if I have omitted anyone of the toad clan! We are here to share in the joy and fellowship as well as poetry.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Weekend Mini-Challenge: Summer Solstice

Machu Picchu - Temple of the Sun on Summer Solstice

Hello All!  I have the happy pleasure of presenting you with a prompt on this day after Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year, the beginning of summer.  We used to pay more attention to nature, to the passing of the seasons, to the sun, moon, and stars, to be more mindful.  I don't mean in a save the earth kind of way, but a love the earth and her treasures kind of way.

Today on this day after summer solstice, I want you to mark the occasion - to pay attention to the sunrise and dawn, to mark the passing of the sun.  Ancient cultures did this - Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, Chaco Canyon for examples.  The sun pattern on Chichen Itza for the spring equinox looks like a serpent - "the return of the Sun Serpent.

In today's Chaco Canyon, the Ancestral Puebloan people, who were expert sky watchers, carved spiral designs into rock to track the seasons and the passage of time.  In this canyon is a petroglyph called the Sun Dagger because of the way the sun's wedge-shape beams strike it in midday during the summer and winter solstices.

If you did not celebrate the summer solstice or recognize it in some way, I would like you all to do that today.  Write me a poem about the solstice.  Write me a poem about paying attention to the small things, to the large things.  I have included a poem by Mary Oliver called The Summer Day.  Let it inspire you to watch the small things.

I want your feelings about this summer - the fresh berries you had on your cereal for breakfast, the cobbler you baked, the bees you watched pollinating the flowers, the minnows swimming in the creek, the way you watched the sunrise or set, the water on sand.  I want your stillness, your mindfulness, your reverence for this day. I want your joy about the beginning of summer and your vacation!

Please link your poem in Mr. Linky and do visit your fellow poets - all of them.  I will be reading and commenting on all of them.  Let's get in the habit of doing the same.  Remember: I do not want a save the earth Poem.   

The Summer Day - Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean -
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down -
who is gazing around with her enormous complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do now how to pay attention, how to fall down down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Kerry Says ~ Human-Landscape Interactions

I have long been fascinated with art and creative writing, not only as a means of self-expression, but also as a clue to certain psychological structures within the minds of both artist and audience.
Starry Night is, perhaps, an obvious example of this, which is why the painting has remained relevant.

Starry Night - Vincent Van Gogh

We, as the audience, 'see ourselves' in the way other people portray the world. Lately, I have been considering how that can also be applied to the way we perceive the actual world around us, the landscape or geography which we inhabit or which we feel drawn to. Do we recognize something of ourselves in favourite places?

In researching my idea, I read some interesting theories, which I share here to create some context for today's challenge.

"We wanted to explore how the surrounding landscape affects people, both in terms of their perceptions and their behavior," explains Scott Yabiku (ASU). "Since human behavior ultimately transforms the environment, the feedback people get from their surroundings is important to understand."

Human-landscape interactions, also often described as nature-society or human-environment interactions, is a topic examined by multiple disciplines.. Major theories that link culture and landscape address how environments affect the development of cultures, how cultural activities impact environments, and how interactions in both directions are processed through perceptions and cultural values that are also linked to identity. Source

In Book 1 of William Wordsworth's poem The Prelude, the poet 'describes stealing a boat and taking it for a row on Ullswater. The mixed feelings this act arouses lead to the young Wordsworth feeling pursued by the landscape – the mountains even haunt his dreams.'

I fixed my view
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,
The horizon's utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.
She was an elfin pinnace; lustily
I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
Went heaving through the water like a swan;
When, from behind that craggy steep till then
The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct
Upreared its head. I struck and struck again,
And growing still in stature the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars, and still,
For so it seemed, with purpose of its own
And measured motion like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned,
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree...   (An extract from The Prelude, Book 1, William Wordsworth)

My idea for today's challenge is that we select a natural place with which we are familiar, or select a picture/photograph of a scene which has some meaning to convey about our own ideology, philosophy, psychology and to write about it in a way to transform the descriptive into something more metaphoric or symbolic to the human condition. Thus our journey to this place is both an outward and inward reflection of experience.

The Japanese Bridge - Claude Monet
Take for example, this famous scene, and ask: What does the bridge suggest to you? Do willows trailing in a lily pond have added significance to your own memories?

I believe the challenge will be easier if you feel connected to a particular landscape, but I believe it could also work if you choose a mountain range, sea shore, forest setting, so long as it appeals to your way of thinking. Here I am sharing a poem I wrote back in 2010, recently handwritten in ink, which shows the link between melancholy and the immediate environment.


I hope that this challenge is broad enough to encourage participation. I do wish for it to be as open-ended as possible to invite various unique responses. So I leave you with the idea, but no distinctive 'rules' of engagement.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Tuesday Platform: Slow Down and Feel Groovy

Hello poets and poetry lovers! We're at that magical time of the year where people in my office are going off on their various summer adventures--after scrambling like lunatics to make sure no work gets neglected (or worse, gets dragged with them to the shore). I'm dreaming of the point in the summer when the family and I can get some much needed down time. But until then I'll be hustling as hard as the rest of my coworkers.

So since I'm stuck in high gear, I'd love to hear your words on the topic of slowing down if you feel like sharing them. But either way, the Tuesday Platform is always open to all kinds of poems, new or old. Just claim your spot on Mr. Linky below, and don't forget to show your fellow Toads a little love.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Weekend Mini-Challenge: Exquisite Corpse Poetry

Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative game played (traditionally) by several people. In the poetry version, each player writes a word on paper, conceals said word, and then gives the paper to the next player… so that she or he can add his or her contribution. 
borrowed from Wikipedia

For today’s prompt, I invite you to create a 3-to-13-line poem using the Exquisite Corpse Solitaire method. To play the game solo, we shall use 5 groups of 13 words (I’ve shared them at the end of this post), and List Randomizer (a form that allows users to arrange items in random order). Just follow this link to Random.Org.

Rules and Guidance, for Exquisite Corpse Poetry Solitaire:

1. Each line must contain the following (in the given order): adjective, noun, verb, adjective, noun.
2. You can change tense and number to help the found words fit your poem.
3. Use conjunctions, articles, and prepositions to connect your found words.
4. The found word groups must remain in their original lines (Don’t break your found groupings!).
5. Punctuation is a friend to the Exquisite Corpse Poetry Solitaire player.

Here is a wee example, using the words for this prompt:

the found words:
clean hand vex stocky year
dazzling month live long study
glamourous life arise plain place

the birthed poem:
Clean hands vex. Stocky years
dazzle months lived in the long study
of glamourous lives that arose in plain places.

13 Adjectives, group 1

13 Nouns, group 1

13 Verbs

13 Adjectives, group 2

13 Nouns, group 2

Do visit Poets.Org: Play Exquisite Corpse, for a much cooler example… and to read about how the game is played (with other people). I hope you have fun. I hope we can laugh and be surprised (pleasantly, I hope).

a wee note: I edited the guidance to add prepositions to 3.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Wordy Thursday with Wild Woman : Being a Woman in Times Like These

The noted Canadian writer of poetry and prose, Margaret Atwood, is the award-winning author of forty works, including fiction, poetry and critical essays.

Perhaps  her most famous work is  The Handmaid’s Tale,  written in 1985 and now considered prophetic, which was made into a popular television series. This work is a dystopian view of a regime that is extremely oppressive to women. A famous quote from the film speaks of “making things better,” tellingly explaining, “Better doesn’t mean better for everyone.” I’ll say.

The setting is near Boston in the U.S., with Canada portrayed as the only hope of escape. Not so far from today’s reality, in my opinion, though Canada has its problems, too. Recent U.S. legislation affecting women’s reproductive rights makes this projected vision of a dystopian future seem dangerously close.

The Handmaid’s Coalition was formed in 2017. Activists dressed in the signature red cloaks and white hats lobby and protest, serving as visual warnings that the rollback of womens’ hard-won rights and freedoms will send us back decades, creating unthinkably hard lives for women and girls. 

Your challenge :

To write from the viewpoint of a man or woman living in the times depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale.  It feels freaky, how close we are to entering this reality. But we won’t go quietly. Hell, no!

If you aren’t familiar with The Handmaid’s Tale, write from the point of view of a woman living in – or escaping from – oppression or abuse. Perhaps a woman in your family history - or you yourself -  has an amazing story.


Write from the point of view of a man whose familiar world is falling apart as his wife joins the womens’ movement. (He may be sympathetic or opposed.)

We do not intend this to become a political argument. Let's reflect, rather,  on  women's hard-won rights, how long women fought to gain them, and how easy, apparently, it is for them to be lost. 

Atwood’s website:

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Tuesday Platform

This Room And Everything In It

Lie still now
while I prepare for my future,
certain hard days ahead,
when I’ll need what I know so clearly this moment.

I am making use
of the one thing I learned
of all the things my father tried to teach me:
the art of memory.

I am letting this room
and everything in it
stand for my ideas about love
and its difficulties.

I’ll let your love-cries,
those spacious notes
of a moment ago,
stand for distance.

Your scent,
that scent
of spice and a wound,
I’ll let stand for mystery.

Your sunken belly
is the daily cup
of milk I drank
as a boy before morning prayer.
The sun on the face
of the wall
is God, the face
I can’t see, my soul,

and so on, each thing
standing for a separate idea,
and those ideas forming the constellation
of my greater idea.
And one day, when I need
to tell myself something intelligent
about love,

I’ll close my eyes
and recall this room and everything in it:
My body is estrangement.
This desire, perfection.
Your closed eyes my extinction.
Now I’ve forgotten my
idea. The book
on the windowsill, riffled by wind . . .
the even-numbered pages are
the past, the odd-
numbered pages, the future.
The sun is
God, your body is milk . . .

useless, useless . . .
your cries are song, my body’s not me . . .
no good . . . my idea
has evaporated . . . your hair is time, your thighs are song . . .
it had something to do
with death . . . it had something
to do with love. ~ Li Young Lee

Influenced by the classical Chinese poets Li Bo and Tu Fu, Lee’s poetry is noted for its use of silence and, according to Alex Lemon in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, its "near mysticism" which is nonetheless "fully engaged in life and memory while building and shaping the self from words."

Lee himself initially found it hard to communicate in English; it wasn't until studying at Pittsburgh University that he began writing his own poems under the guidance of the poet Gerald Stern who became an early admirer, providing the introduction to his first collection, Rose (1986).

In his praise Gerald wrote that he “was amazed by the large vision, the deep seriousness and the almost heroic ideal” of Lee’s poetry, adding that it was “reminiscent more of John Keats, Rainer Maria Rilke and perhaps Theodore Roethke than William Carlos Williams on the one hand or T.S. Eliot on the other.”

Welcome to the Tuesday Platform, the weekly open stage for sharing poems in the Imaginary Garden. Please link up a poem, old or new, and spend some time this week visiting the offerings of our fellow writers.