BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #48

We live in the shadows. For all our deepest darkest secrets reside therein. And it is not until we release a small bit of ourselves that we contrast the brilliance that works in conjunction with the dark. What is cast then is a peek at what we are, or have become. It offers us a chance to shine in ways that we could no otherwise do. These poems brought you out of your shadow. The were all brilliant representations of the prompt depicted. But we choose one apiece, so:

 

MARIE ELENA’S BLOOM:

So many beautiful love stories born of this photo.  I was particularly drawn to Mary Mansfield’s “Joy and the Magic Man.”  Three descriptive, moving stanzas tell a complete story, leaving me with a sense that these are real people who I might have known. Mary’s skillful use of subtle allegory and alliteration are quite effective.  Bravo, Mary.  I am pleased to offer you my “bloom.”

Joy and the Magic Man by Mary Mansfield

Over the years, Joy’s name
Seemed to fit her less and less,
Her spirit eroded by
A river of responsibilities,
Once supple skin scarred
By the acid touch of time,
Myopia pushing aside
The artistic visions of her youth.
She almost did not recognize him,
Black hair lightened into gray,
His slower steps assisted
By a cane that mirrored her own,
Nothing to gauge that he even saw her,
Much less remembered
The time when she was “his Joy,”
Back before she had developed
Any acumen at the craft of love.

He had been her Magic Man,
An alchemist whose tender touch
Turned her tears to drops of gold.
He sprinkled her life with wonder,
A belief that life was larger
Than she ever dreamed possible.
He taught her how to embrace freedom
In a sensuous dance of hearts
Uninterrupted by the outside world,
Two artists in love feeding
On the creative juices of the other,
Stoking a fire that overtook them,
Consuming and eventually leaving
Only smoldering embers discarded
In search of the next inspiration.

She set aside her brush
And oil paints long ago,
Arthritic hands and withered dreams
Unable to give shape to her visions,
But as she sweeps past him
On that cold January sidewalk
In her sensible shoes and sturdy coat,
Shadows of Joy and the Magic Man
Float in the fog of yesterday.

WALT’S SHADOW:

The piece feted below brings a new light to what we keep hidden. It touches us deeply and allows us to see a bit of us in the plight of others. This view of the shadow inherent in the aging process could serve as a reminder and lesson from which we glean wisdom. Patricia A. Hawkenson brought he light to bear on this photograph.

 

FOR CATHERINE by Patricia A. Hawkenson

She wishes she had enough power
to send healing energy
to the whole world
and make everyone
healthy and happy.

But she can’t even manage it
for herself.

She sees the sunlight
trying from the infinity
of space and time
trying to reach her flowers
as her sheltering eaves
block the bulbs
in darkness.

How the sun must cry
with her in frustration
as it lowers their heads
but only manage
to make the shadows longer
and they finally give in
to the darkness of the night.

Yet the morning sneaks in
with a whispered smile
and a sliver of white teeth
between lush lips
and kisses her flowers
until the eaves envy
grabs them back again
and again
and again.

Then she bends
to inhale the fragrant
remains of their struggle
and carry a single blossom
inside to remind her
of the potential that grows
in those tiny moments
when she allows herself
to push back her shadows
and step into her light.

 

Congratulations to Mary and Patricia for their selected works and to the rest of our poets for shining their beacons brightly!

WEB WEDNESDAY – mike Maher.

mike Maher.

Our last Web Wednesday featured an impressively gifted and engaging, hitherto unpublished poet whose formal education ended with Grade Eight.  This week, the pendulum swings the other way. mike Maher, Editor of Sea Giraffe Magazine, has quite the notable bio.  Here is an excerpt:

[mike’s] poetry, fiction, and personal essays have appeared in several publications, including Contemporary American Voices, The Smoking Poet, Paper Darts, Hippocampus Magazine, The Subterranean Literary Journal, and The Copperfield Review, among others. He has a BA in English from East Stroudsburg University, where he served as the Vice President and Forum Editor of The Stroud Courier, won the Jim Barniak Award for journalism two times, and won the Martha E. Martin Award for poetry, before graduating cum laude.

QUITE impressive, eh?

In part for the sake of introduction, and in part because I find it enormously charming and entertaining, the poem I chose to share with you first is a self portrait.  So, here is mike Maher.

A PORTRAIT

Three parts self centeredness, a dash of not answering the phone.
You can add a little salt to almost anything.
If I were a cartoon I’d be an octopus bartender
or a duck playing the piano,
something awkwardly practical.
20% wearing pairs of socks until they disintegrate.
Five tablespoons of overdue haircuts.
A sprinkle of ego,
the self conscious kind.
Chocolate sprinkles if you have them.
.5% wolf howl.
One part floatation device.
Four and a half teaspoons of belief.
Bake on low for twenty five years.
Smother it in loneliness.

© mike Maher.

Marie Elena:  I remember this poem, so it must have been written for a Poetic Asides prompt, and impressed me enough to “stick.”  It certainly makes one curious to know more, doesn’t it?  And speaking of curious, are you curious as to why he uses a lowercase “m” for his first name, and a “.” following his last name?  Well, I had to ask! So, mike?  What say you?

mike:  I write my name as “mike Maher.” for a number of reasons. The first reason is the lowercase “m,” which I write to take the emphasis away from my first name, mike, since it is one of the most common names in the world. The “.” is placed at the end of my name because I want my name to be a statement, not just an abstract thought floating around. Putting a period at the end gives it closure, punch. Using the lowercase “m” and the “.” together also gives me a way to brand the name as my own.

Marie Elena:  That certainly explains it.  It fascinates me whenever someone thinks of something in a way that would never occur to me.  Very cool, mike.

I see you have at least two books of poetry in the works right now.  What can you tell us about them, and what steps you are taking toward publication?

mike:  I do have two books in the works. The first is Machine Wash Only Greyness, and it is my first full length book of poetry. Surprisingly enough, it is completely finished. It’s currently being considered by a small publisher in the UK who, after seeing some of my work in a magazine, requested to see a full length from me. Nothing is set in stone, but things are looking good on that front.

The other book is a chapbook, Sometimes in Distant Parts. A few of these poems overlap in MWOG, but this serves as a shortlist or quick peak of my work. I believe in having both full length and shorter versions of your work available, and I included some of my favorites in SIDP.

Marie Elena:  Excellent!  Please do keep us informed on their progress.

Now, tell me about Sea Giraffe.

mikeSea Giraffe is an online literary magazine I launched last year. I have had some help along the way, but it has mainly been the result of my desire to read and share enjoyable work by authors I have encountered. The idea just came to me one day last year, and SG took off almost immediately. The end of 2011/beginning of 2012 was a bit of a lull for SG, but that is 99% my fault. I got tied up by hurricanes, a new job, moving twice, and, well, life. Sea Giraffe will be hopping busy again soon, though. I’m excited about it.

Marie Elena:  Hurricanes?

mike:  The hurricane was the least of the issues, and it was mainly a major inconvenience because of its timing. Tens of thousands of people in the Poconos lost power for more than a week, and it was right when I was getting ready to move.

Marie Elena:  Wow.  No fun at all.  Yet, I’m glad to hear it was more of an inconvenience than something that harmed you. So, you live in Pennsylvania’s Poconos?  I’m envious!  Does the beauty around you affect you poetically?

mike:  False! Haha, I actually don’t live in the Poconos anymore. I live in Philadelphia now. Parts of the Poconos are very frustrating, but yes, there is definitely still beauty to be found up there. It’s easy to find inspiration up there. The images in this poem are all inspired by that area:

To be or not to be, what’s the big diff?

How strange it is to arrive somewhere
wearing the same body but feeling as if you had new armor
or were looking out from behind the eyes of an unrecognizable salamander,
our lives cursed and blessed with moments
of self awareness and self realization.

It took 25 years to learn to difference between be and will be,
between living and living.
For some it takes even longer
or never occurs at all.
Who wouldn’t want to be a hummingbird
humming and birding near the feeder on the back deck,
or any one of the 16 Eastern Goldfinches eyeing the ceramic monkey
unconcerned about their financial security
or how they would go about their sobriety today?
We’re all alone and not alone.
The storm was so small
you could see both ends of it in the backyard,
its roar bigger than its puppy nip,
but hey, someone has to bring the thunder.

You don’t need a clue
or don’t need to look for them
because you are not entrusted with the mystery.
The darkened clouds come and go
but they do not darken the world.

© mike Maher.

Marie Elena: Thank you for sharing this poem, mike.  It speaks of the beauty and simplicity of your surroundings there, but also addresses your own quandaries.  Nicely done.

mike, I’ll be honest with you: much of what you write is rather, what would be the word?  Perhaps abstract … a style I often can’t grasp. Yet, I’m attracted to yours, and find it absolutely draws me in.  Does it come easily to you?  Is it something you studied?

mike:  My style of writing is my own form of surrealism. I discovered it in college when a professor of mine introduced me to the works of Dean Young, Tony Hoagland, and others, and I continue to find myself and my own style of poetry. I immediately identified with surrealism, and I keep falling deeper and deeper in love with it. The style is a kind of mix of deeply rooted metaphors, stream of consciousness, and concrete images to connect the two. While some of it comes off as abstract, you can often put the puzzle together after multiple reads, especially as you learn more about the author. The style seemed difficult, almost alien, to me at first, but I have really embraced it and think I am starting to find my own niche. I write some poems – especially the prompt pieces for Poetic Bloomings and Poetic Asides – in one sitting, while others take days, weeks, months, and several reads and rewrites.

The best part of some forms of surrealism is how you can read a poem one day and not entirely grasp everything it is saying, but you can read it a few months later and find that everything makes perfect sense and seems to do so clearly. Sometimes you have learned more about the author or found clues in other things he/she has written, but other times you just happen to be in a different state of mind while reading the poem, maybe one similar to the one the author was in while writing it. That, I think, is my favorite part of surrealism.

Marie Elena: “Surrealism.”  Yes, that’s it.  “The best part of some forms of surrealism is how you can read a poem one day and not entirely grasp everything it is saying, but you can read it a few months later and find that everything makes perfect sense and seems to do so clearly.”  Again, yes!  Thank you for this “light bulb” explanation, mike!

Having never formally studied poetry in a university setting, I’m curious as to how your studies changed and challenged your own writing.

mike: Going to college and studying poetry – and really all forms of literature – completely changed how I write. One poetry class in particular completely changed how I felt (and how I feel) about poetry. That class changed the definition of poetry for me, and it was the class where I really began the process of playing with new forms of poetry. One of the first poems my professor showed us was “True/False” from Dean Young’s elegy on toy piano. At first glance, it seems like a list of 100 nonsensical statements. But, after reading it several times and talking about it in class, I discovered a lot about the poem and the art of poetry.

Marie Elena: There are classes offered at the University of Toledo (where I work).  You’ve given me the itch to take a class or two.

Now:  “Shakespeare: 154 mike Maher.: 0”  ‘splain, please?  😉

mike:  It refers to the number of sonnets Shakespeare wrote (154) to the number I have written (0). I think sonnets, though I enjoy them for what they are, don’t really mesh well with the style of poetry I write. I often write in short spurts of stream of consciousness and gather instant inspiration, after quick brainstorming sessions. The end result is often, at least in my opinion, a somewhat choppy, high energy ride. I like to say my poems give the reader a feeling of falling down the stairs. As you might imagine, this style doesn’t necessarily mesh well with the careful rhyming schemes of sonnets. This is the poem I wrote soon after realizing the 154-0 score between Shakespeare and myself:

Little Sounds Americana

Shakespeare has me beat 154 to 0
and neither number is likely to change.
I’ve forgotten so much, even the parts I don’t remember.
I know when the squirrel is dangling
from the bird feeder because the chain clinks,
when it leaves because of the thud it makes jumping down to the deck,
but who am I to decide the feeder is for birds only,
no squirrels allowed?
Some neighborhoods make you
put up Christmas decorations.
Singers are given some artistic freedom
when reciting the national anthem
but it better end the same way
and be less than two minutes flat,
otherwise you get the hose.
It all seems so distinctive when it’s taken apart
the carbon footprints of city squirrels,
the 1,100 solar company employees laid off in one day,
the graffiti disguised as artwork on the steel indie film door
or is it art disguised as graffiti?
The forecast calls for rain
but rain doesn’t answer,
doesn’t even get out of bed that morning,
not wanting to be called or told what to do and when to do it.
It’s about time we started inventing new shapes,
almost isosceles trapezoid-rhombusgrams,
the mike Maher.-agon which has no ends
and is always on fire,
nothing equilateral.

© mike Maher.

Marie Elena: If I’ve ever seen that poem, I don’t recall it.  But it is typical of your style, which is vastly different from how my brain works, yet completely draws me in and enthralls me.

mike, you have referred to 2011 as a year of “deep valleys and high peaks.”  What can you tell us about that?

mike:  When it’s all over, 2011 may very well be the year I (or maybe others) look back on and identify as the turning point in my life. I hit a rock bottom that I didn’t know existed, but, much to my surprise and amazement, the people in my life picked me up and didn’t allow me to stay so low. While I dealt with some incredible adversity – the least of which not being an accident which would normally be reserved for a Die Hard movie – I also found out a ton about myself and the people in my life. There is the cliché about having to go where you went to get to where you are now, and 2011 is that place for me. It was an important year for me, but I was happy to say goodbye to it this past January.

Marie Elena:  You mention what sounds like it must have been a horrific accident, and hitting a rock bottom you didn’t even know exists.  I don’t want you to share details you’d rather not, but you sure do leave me wanting to know more.

mike: The accident was one that, if I hadn’t been there to witness it, I wouldn’t believe it happened. While driving home one night in January with a friend, I slid through an intersection while trying to stop at a stop sign, continued to slide up the driveway to a house across the street, and bumped into the garage. At first, there wasn’t a lot of damage (no damage to my car and only a dent in the garage panel). We got out of the car and spoke to a few people whose car had just slid into the curb while driving on the same icy street. As I turned to walk back to my car and knock on the person’s door, the house exploded. Literally. Luckily (and amazingly), no one was hurt, but it is not an experience I would wish on anyone.

That incident was certainly part of the rock bottom I experienced, but it wasn’t all of it. I struggled with depression, went through stretches when I would drink pretty much every day, and just became a person that I didn’t recognize anymore. I was at a personal, emotional, and spiritual low, and that accident was the grand finale of all of that.

Marie Elena: I’m so glad all of this became a sort of catalyst to channel you in a healthier direction.  It is also wonderful that you found you could count on the people in your life.  Along those lines, you write of loneliness rather often.  Do you consider yourself a lonely person?

mike:  You know, I don’t think I am really a lonely person, but I think sometimes I think I’m a lonely person (I promise if you read that sentence back it almost makes sense). However, I do go through periods where I experience deep feelings of loneliness. My mind tricks itself into thinking I am lonely, when in actuality I have some pretty incredible people in my life.

I also think loneliness is something which has been coming up in the works I have been reading lately, so that, combined with the natural seclusion process which usually occurs while writing, is leading to the appearance of loneliness in my recent work.

Marie Elena: Speaking of those in your life, tell me about Young Money.  Feel free to provide a picture or two, hint-hint!

mike: Young Money is my little firecracker of a puggle. He’s two years old and recently made the move with me to Philadelphia. His hobbies include sleeping under blankets, going to the park, sunning, and eating peanut butter. I couldn’t have asked for a better personality in a dog, and he’s very photogenic. The name is something that always raises people’s eyebrows. I call him ‘Money’ for short, and the name pretty much just came from me wanting to come up with something different. I wrote down about fifty names and slowly began crossing names off, before it came down to Young Money or The Great Gazoo. Young Money obviously made the final cut.

YOUNG MONEY. AWWWWW!!!

AT THE VET? 😦

SOMEbody's sleeping

Marie Elena: I am most definitely a dog person, and can relate to your love for Young Money.  Give him a pat on the head for me, will ya?  Tell him I’d much rather do it myself, but …

Now, you know what is coming … if we could know only one thing about you, what would you want it to be?

mike:  That I am not a typo, of course. Just kidding, but I stared at this question for a while without coming up with an answer I immediately felt comfortable with. Then, I came up with this: One of my favorite things about writing poetry is having people read your poetry and form their own opinions about it. With that said, here is a poem I wrote somewhat about myself using a fictional third person narrator:

mike Maher. is Not a Typo.

The modifier is dangling
from the last whisker of Keats
before his name was writ in water,
but what does mike Maher. need a modifier for, anyway?
mike Maher. is a modifier!
Hold him at an angle to authenticate the watermark.
Hold him to the light.
No, he is not a typo
but the unstoppable paroompahbah melody in his chest
is always out of tune with the irremovable crow squawks coming from his head
and so he is prone to dizziness, headaches.
See Joe Hallenbeck.
See Billy Bob Thornton in that movie where he’s bad at giving presents.
Refresh the page, please.
Just across the street, the latest matrix
for determining the human idea of happiness
has been sprayed on the side of the library.
Thanks, mike,
but we were all fine until you came long
and started talking about the parts of life
which are metaphors for other parts of life,
how every elevator represents trusting other humans,
every horse the crackpot half of Zeus,
the definition of things which are not.
No, mike,
the unstoppable force is within your own Pandoran ribs
and you had best keep it there!

© mike Maher.

Marie Elena: “mike Maher. is a modifier!”  Indeed!  Thanks again for letting me pry into the life and times, mike!  It has been great getting to know the man behind the words.  And in case we have never said it before, thanks also for gracing our site with your presence.  You bring a young, fresh, and (forgive me, but) hip voice that keeps me on my toes, and makes me smile.

POETIC BLOOMINGS AND APRIL NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

First, we are in the middle of Prompt #48 – IN THE SHADOWS. If you haven’t posted your work for this touching photo prompt as of yet, we encourage you to do so. Find it here: http://poeticbloomings.com/2012/03/25/in-the-shadows-prompt-48/

In another week we will be entering April and be inundated with the challenge of many challenges to celebrate National Poetry Month. Here at POETIC BLOOMINGS, we will continue with business as usual during the month of April. There is enough going on around the poetic blogosphere and we feel that adding another “challenge” would just muddy the poetic waters.

We would love to feature some of your poems written for the various challenges, so Marie and I will offer this page for such endeavors. Please post your work, but be sure to include the site/challenge for which it was written and the nature of the prompt, if there is one. Put your best work forward, and let us help. A little extra exposure for your poems wouldn’t hurt!

IN THE SHADOWS – PROMPT #48

Sometimes, a picture says it all.  No words are needed here.  Write the poem!

MARIE’S SHADOW DANCE:

HOSPICE

As you care for his needs,
Understand that this is
A feeble, powerless shadow
Of his former self.
Take a look at the photos;
Each a glimpse of a charming gentleman –
Vibrant and spontaneous,
Handsome, comical, and full of life,
Loved by the beautiful woman you see
In the photo he keeps near his heart –
The love he will dance with again
In a matter of days.

© Marie Elena Good – 3/25/12

WALT’S FLIGHT OF FANCY:

YOUNG AT HEART

They shuffle past, indifferent and unaware.
There along the way these souls, bent and gray –
minds off to distant places; a familiarity
of wrinkled faces setting to stir in memory
as they walk alone. He and she, steps calculated
in a choreography of their advanced years,
and still muffled ears hear the muted music
of a bygone day. Benny Goodman plays in the shadows
and they join again in a youthful and joyous dance.

© Walt Wojtanik – 3/25/12

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #47

Spring has sprung and it is a welcomed sight. The warmer weather in the Northeast has brought out the early blooms of the daffodils and tulip bulbs and the trees are beginning to green up. This season is tailor-made for poets, and our “garden” is all the more beautiful because of it.  So, as long as we’re blooming beautifully, let’s give out our acknowledgements:

 

MARIE’S BLOSSOM:

So much hope and beauty contained in the collective poetic mind here this week.  Once again, it was a difficult task to choose only one “bloom.”  What to do when more than one poem utterly enchants me?  *sigh*  I decided to award my Bloom to Marian J. Veverka for “Chicago Good Friday Afternoon.”  Her altogether poetic and unconventional description seized my imagination.  Oh, to write such an artistically splendid piece!

Chicago Good Friday Afternoon,  by Marian J. Veverka

A tide of traffic surges
beneath the elevated
where Spring is riding in.
She pokes her fingers down
into small damp yards
finds one skinny tree
dressed in garish pink
Shouting “I am the resurrection and the life!”
to anyone who stops
long enough to listen.

 

WALT’S BUDDING BEAUTY:

The best part of Spring is the gradual awakening of everything that had gone to “sleep” over the long Winter months. There is a newness in the air and the birth of new blooms brings a fresh outlook to the world around us. My choice of poems expresses this awakening quite exquisitely and earns my BEAUTIFUL BLOOM, This is SevenAcreSky‘s WHEN THEY SMILE.

WHEN THEY SMILE, by SevenAcreSky

I love it when the waking world
responds to me.
It hears me yawn
in my garden,
and sees my arms stretch wide,
and feels my back and neck bend back,
like a waking tree.

I love it when the morning
then yawns back,
while I inhale the steam
of a morning tea,
and visiting yesterdays plantings
I sip,
and the thirsty sky licks
its longing lips.

I’ve been longing for a drink
of greening dawn like this
all winter , when,
as deep as my dark garden dirt
I wanted things to live and grow
again.

I watch the dancing willow;
which song sways the tree?

My sweet peas tease the trellis.
Their tendrils caress the slats,
and I, too, feel the tickle
inside of me.

I love to hear grass
weeping for gladness
with tears of dew.

And I love it when my
baby zinnias smile at me,
and I smile at them,
too.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR BLOOM RECIPIENTS!

IN-FORM POET – PARALLELOGRAM DE CRYSTALLINE

Parallelogram de Crystalline is a poetry form created by Karan Naidu. This form consists of 4 verses of 3 lines each. The syllable count for each stanza is 3, 6, 9. In this style of poem, the beauty of a person is usually compared with nature and described in those terms…

MARIE’S OFFERING:

MY GOD, MY GOD

His beauty
shines like the very sun,
my eyes cannot fully take it in.

Withholding
His brilliance from no one,
His warmth springs forth to thaw the cold heart.

“Ebb and flow”
this phrasing un-embraced
by my God, whose love does not ebb, but

unrestrained,
His mercy has no bounds,
as the sea lacking Earth’s gravity.

© Marie Elena – 2012

 

WALT de CRYSTALLINE:

FLOURISHING FLORISTS

Impressive
works of worded wonder;
hearts and flowers come to touch our souls.

The poets,
hearts full of emotion,
overflowing in oceans of thought

completely,
they are sweetly given.
Loving blossoms bloom in our garden,

tenderly
grown to fill our vases
with verses; love’s beautiful bouquets.

© Walt Wojtanik – 2012

SPRING AHEAD – PROMPT #47


With Spring starting this week, we want you to put the stale old thoughts away and put a fresh, bright new outlook in your poems. Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal. It is when the first blooms appear to make this world a little easier on the eyes. Write a “new” poem. Be it a Spring poem, a rebirth, renewal or fresh poem, the arrival of Spring is right on schedule. Spring Ahead!

Marie Elena’s Ummm … What the heck is this, anyway?

(Kate, this one’s for you!)

SPRING BUNNIES

I love Spring,

and bunnies too!

And bunny stew?

And bunnies too!

How cruel of you!

Of me??

Of you!

 But, I love you!

I know you do!

But, bunny stew??

Yes, bunnies too.

What’s WRONG with you?!

What did I do?!

I thought that you

Loved bunnies, too

That’s true!  I do!

I just TOLD you!

 Told me?

Told you!

Now, let’s review:

I love Spring,

and bunnies, too.

SEE? BUNNY STEW!

How cruel of you!

*sigh*

Okay now, let’s start anew.

I love Spring,

And bunnies too…

That’s it! We’re through!

What did I do?!


(If I keep this up, my partner is going to kick me to the curb. 😉 )

 

WALT”S ODE TO THE EQUINOX:

‘TIS SPRING (The Bloomings of Our Souls)

‘Tis Spring, and our souls bloom with these words.
Budding brilliance planted deep within our hearts and minds.
Nurtured and tended with the awakenings of life.
A good life made more perfect by we gentle gardeners,
who encourage the growth of these gifts.
The growth of these friendships.
An eternal sunshine beams forth by the glowing of our gardener hearts.
This sunshine brightens our days
and illuminates our thoughts,
making our growth fertile,
and fruitful and productive.

‘Tis Spring and our souls bloom with
thoughts of these friendships.
Thoughts brought to light
like the first flowers of Spring
as they break the earth
and show their potential.
You as gardeners, care for me
and loosen the soil around me,
as I free your roots to branch out
and allow you to grow full of life.
Full of our verbal beauty.
And we give back to each other,
the “caregivers”, with a very bountiful harvest
of the bloomings of our souls.
We are the gardeners.
We bloom brilliantly together.

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #46

If we could reach back in time and make the corrections necessary to become successful, what would you say/do to achieve this level of competency?  Our poets were charged with the task of advising themselves on which paths to choose on the road to success. These are the BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS for those efforts:

MARIE’S CHOICE:

In my book, you are all already huge successes. Your “voices” hold beauty and wonder, and your willingness to make them heard is to be admired.

De Jackson’s unique voice, sincerity, word play, imagination, humor, phrasing, and down-to-earth outlook make themselves known every time she puts pen to paper.  De, in my opinion, there is nothing you pen that does not deserve accolades.  This time, it earned you a Beautiful Bloom.

Oh, and De?  Those poems from your heart? Someday they will heal the hearts of others. Those characters you love? Someday they will be beloved by some amazing little people.

Keep writing.

~DEAR DE~ by De Jackson

Dear De,

Okay, you.
Seriously.
Enough with the pessimism, and the procras
ti
na
tion
tendencies
and the self flagellation sessions and the hesi
tation.
Keep writing.
And every once in a teeny, tiny while, send something.
Somewhere. Doesn’t even matter where, at first. Just
press send, and then
Keep writing.
Ignore the voices in your head that say you aren’t any
good (consider this: they might lie). Ignore the choices
in your day that push writing aside (consider this: so
much just doesn’t matter).
Keep writing.
In indigo and turquoise and periwinkle and violet. In
sickness and in health and in the deepest darkest pits
of never ever wanting to press another word onto the page.
Keep writing.
Because guess what?
It pays off.
Okay, I perhaps use the term “pays” loosely. But you’ve never
been all that concerned with fame or riches anyway, right? Just
good words, good work, good people. And oh, it pays off in all of
those, and more.
Those poems from your heart?
Someday they will heal the hearts of others.
Those characters you love?
Someday they will be beloved by some amazing little people.
Keep writing.
Because the world need good words, and you’ve got some to give.
Because it’s what you are
called
gifted
wired up
to do.
Because it makes your own heart so.very.happy.
And that’s success, baby.
And because I said so, and I am 30 years smarter than you.
Keep writing.
Plus also: quit worrying. It causes wrinkles. Trust me.

 

WALT’S SELECTION:

Our successes come in all forms, and making it from where we stand at the moment to landing proudly on our laurels is something for which we all strive. Becoming the person we’ve always hoped to be may be the greatest of our achievements. Expressed succinctly by Hannah Gosselin, her BIGGER PLANS:

~BIGGER PLANS~ by Hannah Gosselin

While your heart was aching,
pounding, voice struggling
for worth, for words resounding,
I was busy with bigger plans.
In those times when you spun
words for the absolute fun of it
I was naming homes, silently
whispering them in your ear,
planting them in mystery.
I had in mind the girl who so
emotionally tattered, torn
had been the victim of a bully.
She felt so very alone, needed
your voice, your heart reaching
through a collision with time
“coincidence,” she read you,
your words reached her.
In the times of sadness
When your verb-filled well
spilled discouragement,
my soul was sensing an
adult-child of a tragic
alcoholic home, silenced,
who’d spoken, opened
fragile faults, spirit falling,
only to wish them retracted.
She read your story, she
knew then she wasn’t alone.
there was room for growth, hope.
When you were winding through
a day willed of words and “play,”
displaying in vivid words, beauty
in all its array, nature’s power
miracle of it all, breathless wonder.
I was in that moment,
finding evidence
soul’s needing to know,
reason behind all of the magic.
Making real for them a tangible
Maker and Creator of all that is.
When your heart felt wordless,
doubtful, spiteful, tired and failing,
I touched you tenderly with a word
to inspire you, prod you along,
move you toward the very future
I had planned, with a myriad of
meaningful, connections to be made,
with a purpose and a bigger plan.

written for p.b./ © h.g. 2012

Congratulations   De  and Hannah,  for being chosen for this week’s BLOOMS.

WEB WEDNESDAY – JANET MARTIN

JANET MARTIN

Web Wednesdays are my favorite days of the month, because we can highlight the wonderful poets who grace our “garden.”  This week we feature a poet who writes mostly of love, faith, home, and all-things-lovely:  Janet Martin.  We discovered her talent not long ago at Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides. I connected with her on a personal level right away.

Welcome, Janet!  Let’s begin with a poem you feel best represents your writing style, and the essence of who you are.

JANET:  First off, Marie, I want to thank-you for the interest you show to me and all the poets here, and for your kind and encouraging words.

 When I told my daughter as she stood looking over my shoulder, that I am trying to find a poem that represents ‘me,’ she threw her head back and laughed! She understood that there are almost two-thousand pieces of me on my blog alone. My favorite topics to write about are faith, family and nature. Oh, I do so love to ‘paint’ the world in words, since putting a brush in my hand leads to … nothing intelligible. I also insist that not all my poems are autobiographical, but, in the words of Walt Whitman, “There is no trick or cunning, no art or recipe, by which you can have in your writing what you do not possess in yourself.”  I therefore concede that each poem does possess a tiny thread of me.

MARIE ELENA: “The Call of Life” is a lovely poem Janet finally chose to share as an example of her style and thought process.  It is followed by one of my own favorites, “My Apology to My Writer’s Group.”

The Call of Life

Solitary triumph
Monumental grief
Oceans of vain doubting
Swallowed in Belief
Deep unspoken sorrow
Disquieting fears
Hope for each tomorrow
As today disappears
Tear within the eye now
Aching in the chest
Letting our dreams die now
Because God knows best
Brave blue-collar heroes
Unnamed and unsung
Longing, as it sears through
Thirsting on our tongue
Rising and the falling
Ebbing and the flow
We answer the calling
Of living’s joy and woe
Life’s November weeping
Into the thin dark
Love and sorrow sleeping
In the self-same spark
Whispers of desire
Feathering the sod
Lifting our hope higher
And homeward to God

© Janet Martin

MY APOLOGY TO MY WRITER’S GROUP

I have discovered for the ump-teenth time
There is really no home for the poet of rhyme
And while I admit I have much to learn
There is a barred pasture for which I yearn
Where Tennyson, Long-fellow and Blake recline
Among all the great masters of rhythm and rhyme
My admiration runs deep for the artist of prose
The skill of their quill; the metaphorical rose
I strive to be brave enough to venture among
The haiku, cinquain, nonet, tanka song
But when I have wandered their courtyards sublime
I return once again to the pastures of rhyme
Beauty is in the eye of beholder, its true
I have understood as I beheld the senyru
And marveled at the tools of simplicity
Creating pure, breath-taking imagery
I bow my head, the truth now I know it
Dare I to call myself a poet?
Yet happily I gather words in my thought
Dither about for the elusive jot
I care not so much about status or title
The lure of words cannot keep my thought idle
Am I a poet or merely a shadow
Drifting in bliss through a wide open meadow?
So while some may gag at rhyme’s stringent plot
I have not learned how to un-rhyme my thought
Over and over I am lured by its dance
Yet drawn simultaneously by free-verse romance
So quietly I sit at the back of the room
Happy to observe poet’s in full bloom

© Janet Martin

MARIE ELENA:  Oh boy, can I relate to “Apology!”  It reminds me of something you have said of yourself: “I really am just someone who likes to play with words.” I wonder if you have any clue how often my response to your poetry is, “I wish I’d written that.”  I relate to your feelings, beliefs, words, style, faith … the whole package.

It is probably safe to say that you believe the folks who post responses to Walt’s Poetic Bloomings prompts are “poets.”  Do you consider yourself a poet?

JANET: I’m smiling as I consider this question because, as stated in the poem above I often wonder, ‘am I a poet?’ Or simply someone who likes to rhyme?  When my kids call me a poet, I reply that if I am a poet it would be of the homespun variety. I am so blown away by the beauty that graces the garden here, and am honored to plant a few humble blooms here and there. On my blog Another Porch, I have a number of poems of which I contemplate who or what makes a poet. In technical terms I am not a poet. Until last August when someone questioned the reason for a certain meter in a poem, I have to confess I did not even know what he was referring to.  🙂   I simply counted syllables.

After a visit to my trusty pal, Mr. Google, I was introduced to iambic, pentameter, and many other meter siblings. All kidding aside, this kind reader took a great interest in my writing, and by his repetitive encouragement to stretch and try some new forms and topics, I took a trembling step into the world of prompts. I cannot thank him (Mike Patrick from The Poet’s Quill) enough for introducing to me a whole new classroom of friends and challenges. This is also the step which brought to me the grand realization that perhaps I am not a poet … yet. Marie, every new form introduced here is a first for me. It really was/is terrifying for me to blog, and ten times more to venture beyond the shelter of it into other poetry communities. Poetic Asides was the first poetry pool I dipped my toes into, and oh, I am so thankful I took the plunge! Marie, we may never have met if I had not! Thank you again to Mike P. who, although very busy with sudden changes in his own life, stopped by to encourage me to try it! So, trying to still the heart-pounding ‘What if there is no one who really ‘gets my passion’? – this ‘thing’ that has burned in me for as long as I can remember and suddenly wants to fly? I posted … and met you 🙂  and other kindred spirits. Paper is a patient ear in a world where no one really has time to listen anymore. My blogs/graffiti walls are there as a way to share to any who care to read.  This quote has become a personal favorite:

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin

MARIE ELENA:  “Paper is a patient ear in a world where no one really has time to listen anymore.”  What a wonderful, quotable quote! I may have to keep that in mind for the next time we do a “Hey!  That’s My Line!” prompt.

Well, Janet, I’m convinced we owe Mike Patrick a handshake and our thanks for drawing you out of the shadows.

When did you first feel the pull of writing poetry? How long have you been writing on a regular basis?

JANET: I felt the pull when I was eight. I was enthralled with rhyme since the day I discovered it, and hunted for rhyming books as a small child. My mother loves poetry and books. Her old readers contain some of the very early favorite poems of mine. The Brook by Tennyson, The Wreck of the Hesperus by Longfellow, The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson … I could go on and on. In January, on my Another Porch blog I posted the first poem I recall writing and keeping. The post is entitled In the Beginning and it includes a picture of the Precious Scribbler, purchased at our local general store for twenty-nine cents. This scribbler would hold the pieces of a young girl’s heart for approximately three years and then for the next thirty-something years I filled binders and journals with poetry.  I suppose I began writing on a regular basis from the age of eight. I was the third in a family of ten children. Somehow, in my mind, knowing I was ‘the child who wrote poetry’ gave me a personal identity.

Also, I fell in love with the poetry of Edgar A. Guest. He will forever be the poet that greatly stirred and influenced my writing style. I am in the process of collecting every volume of his poetry. His blend of family, faith, humor and home, love of God, country and fellow-man gained my deepest respect.

MARIE ELENA:  In conversation, you mentioned that you “had no formal education beyond Grade Eight.”  You write with such beauty, skill, and elegance, one would never guess.  Do you mind if I ask how this came about?

JANET: No, I do not have any formal education beyond Grade Eight. The Mennonite culture I grew up in did not pursue, rather, they discouraged ‘higher education.’ A child’s school years began in Kindergarten and ended in Grade Eight. The school I attended was a small parochial school in our community, and it is still being used today. They now include Grades Nine and Ten, but there are many students whose families choose to end their education at the end of Grade eight. When I was a girl, the school had two rooms: Grades One to Four in the ‘Junior’ room, and grades Five to Eight in the ‘Senior’ room. We employed two teachers, one for each room. They taught all subjects to all four grades. One of those teachers also held the title of principal. This sounds like a lot, but the grades were small, ranging from four to perhaps seven or eight students in one grade.

After Grade Eight, students helped on family or neighboring farms, as did I. Boys were trained in farming or another trade, and girls were trained in house-keeping and gardening and so forth. It never even crossed my mind at that point that I may wish for more education someday … At seventeen years of age I began working in an in-store bakery. I was employed there for eight years, until Emily, our eldest daughter was born. I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost twenty years.

MARIE ELENA:  Have you ever regretted your decision, or thought about furthering your education?

JANET:  Since the decision had not been mine to make, but was simply a way of life back then, I cannot say I regret the decision. Having said that, yes, I have thought about furthering my education, but that is all it is: a thought. The idea is extremely daunting as I look at my 11-year-old daughter’s workbooks and realize how much has changed since I went to school. I really would not know where to begin! I am on the brink of a stage where I wonder what life holds. Education would definitely be a bonus when considering options of employment outside of the home.

Also, I am extremely thankful for the computer and high-speed internet! We got our computer five years ago and high-speed internet approximately a year ago. ‘Windows’ has certainly broadened my horizons! 🙂  I realize there are many correspondent courses available and I might look into something like that for a start. Sometimes I fear I may have forgotten the art of learning and retaining what I learn.

For now, I am doing child-care out of my home. It allows me to be at home, and is a small supplement to the family budget.

MARIE ELENA:  There is much to be said about being a student of life, and a stay-at-home mom.  It seems you make the most of both.

Here is another poem I can particularly relate to, and wish I had written:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

When midnight is lonesome and heavy and deep
When need in your bosom is stronger than sleep
When longing is clenching the hope from your soul
And life is a journey without a clear goal
You are not alone

When empty arms yearn for someone to embrace
When love’s loss has stolen the thrill from life’s race
When cold lonely hours bleed away, undefined
And night’s endless hollow expands in your mind
You are not alone

When tears of desire and helpless despair
Weep in every heart-beat and breathe on the air
When only the darkness responds to your plea
And nothing but silence keeps you company
You are not alone

Someone is waiting to be a true Friend
Arms full of mercy and grace without end
God so loved the world that He sent His dear Son
He is a true, faithful Friend to each one
You are not alone

What can we do His fellowship to receive?
All we can do is simply believe
His grace sufficient is love’s offering
Tender, omniscient are the words of a King
“You are not alone”

© Janet Martin

MARIE ELENA:  You are one whose faith shines brilliantly, as in this poem.  Please tell us about this important part of who you are, and how it shapes your life and this poem.

JANET: Marie, may I begin my answer with a few questions? Do you ever feel lonely in spite of loving arms around you? Do you ever feel alone in a crowd? Do you ever long for something, but you are not sure what? I do. This partially inspired the above poem.

Also, I noticed on my blog that the words lonely, longing, and alone are searched approximately ten times for every other word searched. To me, it is a sad reflection of the world we live in … and I understand it. But I am so thankful that I am not alone. This assurance was taught to me as a child, and shaped my faith even then. When I was a girl approximately six years old, I went through a phase where I was certain our house was burning. The fear was sparked (pun intended) after a chimney-fire in our home and as my WILD imagination took shape, I was certain that I smelled smoke in every room. I think I drove my mother nearly mad. I don’t clearly remember how long it lasted, but my mother reminded me over and over that God is watching over us, and nothing happens in life outside of his care. Slowly my own faith began taking shape and, though I battled the ‘fire-demons’ for years, I learned through it to pray, and to place my trust in God. I came to Christ with a child’s faith. I remember kneeling and asking him into my heart. It influenced that first poem I wrote as well as many to follow. (I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for our sins and that all who believe in him will have everlasting life. John 3:16, the first verse I memorized as a child.)

Eighteen years ago, we left the Mennonite culture. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and hard to explain to someone not raised in that type of setting where faith and tradition are completely intertwined. For approximately ten years I wrote very little poetry. Besides being in busy ‘mothering’ years, this change caused me to examine everything I believed in! Every relationship close to me was tested through this time. Again, it is difficult to explain it, the letting go of tradition and leaning solely on grace and in the process hurting intensely, those who have loved me the most (aka parents and siblings).  By God’s grace daily go I, scars included. Family scars are surely the deepest and most painful. The above poem was written one night as I battled regret and longing and clung to our Living Hope. When earthly arms are not enough, when longing has no name, God’s love never fails … and tears well in my eyes even now as I realize the awesomeness of this. I cannot explain it but to say, “To one who has faith no explanation is necessary, to one without faith no explanation is possible.” ~ St. Thomas Aquinas

MARIE ELENA:  Thank you for sharing so freely, Janet.  I’m thankful also for the sensitivity you exhibit, knowing that not everyone who graces our site is of the same Christian faith as you and I. Part of the joy of Poetic Bloomings is the freedom to express who we are in a manner that does not offend those who feel differently.

You describe yourself as “a lover of simple things, and the music of life.”   These are a few of my favorite things:  Go!  Describe these for me.

JANET: This is my favorite question by far! Every single one of my kids would testify that I am a sky-lover! I am completely mesmerized by the sun going down, or rising with colors of crazy grace dissolving the darkness. I’m in love with the wind moaning wildly outside my window. I am a lover of nature, the sun-etched leaf trembling in the late-day hush, or the snow spreading the color of grace over a muddy world. I am in love with the music in the eager rush of children’s feet, the bedtime tuck-in routine, of a boy-becoming-man awkwardness, the ‘wisdom’ of teenagers. I love the music of seasons, the wonder of a moment. I have never traveled outside of my honeymoon, but I have learned to enjoy a thousand gifts every day and marvel at life’s simple things.

Here is a little prayer I penned one morning when I needed to look a little harder…

Lord, give me eyes to see your simple gifts within each day
Open up my heart and help me see You in this way

A thousand, thousand whispers from You brush earth’s weary sod
Open up my ears so I may hear You thus, oh God

I have no need for riches that will tarnish, fade and rust
But help me Lord to gather treasures of the heart, not dust

Lord, open up my eyes to see the wonder of Your love
Flowing in moments within reach from portals up above

Contentment is life’s greatest gain, when joined with godliness
Lord, teach me daily how to live within its quietness

© Janet Martin

MARIE ELENA:  Your faith-based poetry truly speaks to my heart!  Here is a poem that is NOT faith-based that I absolutely adore. This is yet another of yours that I just want to scream: WISH I’D WRITTEN THAT!

THE OTHER GUY

Today I was the other guy
I watched myself as I walked by,
Today I got a chance to see
What others saw as I watched me,
Today truth opened up my eyes
As I stood with the other guys
I received the words today,
That thoughtlessly I toss away,
As I stood with the other guys
And truth stared back into my eyes
Beneath the candor of my touch
I wasn’t sure I liked me much
I got my own advice today,
I could not turn and walk away,
As I stood with the other guys
And watched me through a stranger’s eyes
I blush a little now in shame
As I hear me speak my name
I used to wish that I could see
Perhaps, what others thought of me,
But now as I am standing here
I wish that I could disappear
Today I opened up my eyes
As I stood with the other guys

© Janet Martin

MARIE ELENA:  First of all, if you haven’t tried to get this published, you really do need to find a home for it.  Perhaps a children’s/teen magazine.  Next, as with your “Apology” poem, does this speak to a personal experience?

JANET: Thank you Marie. It is nice to hear from others what might be ‘publish-worthy.’ I find it very difficult know what to submit anywhere for publication.

Yes, this poem was a painfully honest look in the mirror after being told ‘I wish you could hear yourself sometimes!’ This statement was like a gut-punch, but after tempers cooled I could not forget it. I began ‘hearing’ myself, and tried visualizing what it would be like to live beside me instead of inside me.  🙂  It is a startling reality-check and very humbling and sobering. This thought helps me to keep in check (sometimes) those words I would not like to have spoken to me.

MARIE ELENA:  Thank you for the honesty and refreshing transparency.  We need more of that in our society, in my opinion.

You and your husband of nearly 24 years have four children.  You are a stay-at-home mom in a society of “working” women.  (As though what you do is not work!  Hmmmph!)  How did you and your husband come to this decision?  Please tell us the pros and cons, and how you feel about it. And by the way, my own mother was a stay-at-home mom, and I appreciated it even when I was in high school.

JANET:  My husband and I will celebrate our twenty-fourth anniversary on June the 3rd, Lord willing. We have four children.  Emily is nineteen, Melissa is seventeen, Matthew is almost fourteen and Victoria just turned eleven on March the 9th.

MARTIN FAMILY

I love being a stay-at-home mom! Yes, we live in a society where this is no longer the norm due to ever-increasing living costs. My husband is a transport-truck driver. He is generally gone from Monday to Friday or Saturday, therefore I have never considered working out of the home. With his job taking him away much of the time, we feel I need to be here in the home to give our children the security and stability of knowing there is someone at home. This has been rewarded with the most wonderful music of all … it is a one-syllable word that greets me every afternoon if I happen not to be in the kitchen when they come in after school … “mom?”

I’ll admit it takes creativity on the budget end of things, but it can be done. In the summer we have a huge garden and, because I grew up doing a lot of canning, it is something I still do.

SUMMER FUN

GARDEN BOUNTY

My kids are wonderful and helpful. They make my life much easier because they are understanding and I think they actually like me  🙂 ! Jim (my husband) keeps saying he will drive truck until he figures out what he really wants to do in life. He is in the twenty-sixth year of trying to figure it out. This is another reason I am so thankful to have poetry as an outlet. It is someone to talk to when no one is here.

MARIE ELENA:  Yes, I think one thing we all have in common is the desire to crawl out through the internet wires!

Now, as I ask of all our featured guests, if there was only one thing we could know about you, what would you want it to be?

JANET:  Marie, I can answer this question the best by sharing a poem where I adapted the style of Edgar A. Guest to share the heart of who I am.

 My D’ruthers

I’druther you were painfully honest with me
And my feelings would sting for a while
Than to walk with you down a tree-lined street
As you lie to me through your smile
I’druther be a little homely
Than a cheap and painted fraud
Who wears a mask to fool people
Forgetting I can never fool God
I’druther be poor and happy
Learning to be content
Than rich with a pocket of fool’s gold
That brings no joy when it’s spent
I’druther have one friend who is honest
Than a hundred which seem to lack
The ability to be faithful
As they stab me in the back
I’druther have a house full of laughter
With furniture battered and scarred
Than live in a palace that’s silent
With every façade unmarred
I’druther have my arms full of children
Than trophies and accolades
And I like a ten-minute vacation
Beneath the willow’s shade
I’druther drive my sensible mini-van
With a happy family
Than be alone with a perfect tan
In a red Lamborghini
I’druther have a little trouble
Here on my acre of sod
Than live in a perfect bubble
Where I would never need God

© Janet Martin

Marie, this is the hardest question for me to answer, but all I can think of to say is that I love to love others for who they are and be loved for who I am … not who others think I ought to be. It is too hard to try and be someone other than yourself. I love to live fully in the moment I am in, for it is the only thing of any worth at all.  And I LOVE each of my cyber-poet friends dearly. Thank you so much, each and every one of you, for what you are teaching me.

MARIE ELENA:  Again, thank you for sharing yourself so honestly with us.

One last thing:  “… knowing I was ‘the child who wrote poetry’ gave me a personal identity” made me smile.  I suppose in a family of ten children, one needs to find their niche.  This statement says much about you, and I believe therein lies your answer to, “am I a poet?”

*****************************

JANET’S BLOGS:

http://itsjrm.blogspot.com/  are where I post Journal-type entries.

http://anotherporch.blogspot.com/ is my main blog

http://frontporchpoetry-janet.blogspot.com/ is inspirational poetry. This was my first blog, and with the encouragement of a few readers they persuaded me to stretch to other topics, so I moved to another porch.