MEMOIRS IN REAL TIME by Sharon E. Ingraham

We finally decide to confront our past and we focus on those days long gone. Seldom do we think about the now, how those moments are affecting who we are today. It is times such as these that we need to think of the past in real time!

This new edition of our MEMOIR CHAPBOOK PROJECT covers this aspect memorably, giving us food for thought in approaching life in the same way.

MEMOIRS IN REAL TIME by Sharon E. Ingraham

PROMPT #105. Ekphrastic Poetry – 2013 Photo Prompt #3

Photo Credit:  Barbara Young

Photo Credit:  Barbara Young

THIS IS YOUR PROMPT.  WHAT DOES IT SAY TO YOU?

Thanks to Barbara Young for use of her photo. 

If you are interested in submitting a photo for consideration as a future photo prompt, please see submission instructions at:  http://poeticbloomings.com/2013/01/10/call-for-photos/

MARIE ELENA’S HAIKU

even the eagle
is unable to soar
until it is free
 
© Copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013

WALT’S EGGS-AMPLE:

ESCAPE

The eternal question:
“Which came first?”
The answer is unclear,
but my guess is here,
the chicken has left the building!

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik – 2013

 
 

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #104

Tempus Fugit! Time flees. And in the passing of time we find our wisdom. The choices we made have molded our lives, mostly in rewarding ways. The contrast between then and now are most striking. We learn from our accomplishments and our mistakes. Your poems all have painted vivid portraits. We are honored by your talent. Now, for our BLOOMS:

WALT’S BLOOM:

This poem hit close to home, having survived a similar fate. Jerry Walraven (Chev Shire) has express the angst and sadness so perfectly. Thank you friend for letting me know I wasn’t alone.

“The Road” by Jerry Walraven

The direction
was always away,
on that re-gifted Schwinn.
Though the roads
never went far enough
to escape
the smell of stale beer
and cigarettes
and the voice
that told me–
in some hearts
alcohol takes first place
(just ride the bike,
he’s not coming
home from the bar)
the wind would sing
and tell me tales of a time
the road would open up
and take me home.

Light years have passed
and the roads still call
and on a long ride
I can tell that boy
the lessons learned
from skinny tires on pavement
were learned
well.
He knows where his heart is
and these roads
never leave home.

From Marie Elena:

This was a particularly heart-tugging prompt, Walt.  I enjoyed every response.  Most triggered memories of my own, while giving me a little glimpse of the penning poet’s life and heart.  Thanks to all of you for sharing so freely.

After choosing my Bloom,  and emotionally spilling the reasons for my choice, I came to the garden to discover Walt and I were in step.  Though this is not a particularly unusual occurrence,  one of us will normally post another choice.  There are, after all, so many beautiful blooms from which to choose, and he and I both struggle in selecting just one. There has been only one other poet who has received both Walt’s and my Bloom selection for a given prompt:  Michele Brenton (“Banana the Poet”) for her Viking Funeral.

Chev, your offering this week brought tears to my eyes with each reading.  You are a master at use of title, phrasing, reflection, and flow.  “The Road” aptly refers to both the physical road, and the experiences and lessons that have brought the writer to where he is today. “The direction was always away,” “that re-gifted Schwinn,” “the roads never went far enough to escape” – Wow.  Could there possibly be more illustration and sentiment packed into so few words?

Though I wrote more on the lure of this brilliant piece, nothing I can say does your own words any justice.  And so I will simply enthusiastically second Walt’s selection, and offer you my own Bloom.

Thank you for gracing our site with your gift.

IN-FORM POET WEDNESDAY – CONSTANZA

The Constanza, created by Connie Marcum Wong, consists of five or more 3-line stanzas. Each line has a set meter of eight syllables. The first lines of all the stanzas can be read successively as an independent poem, with the rest of the poem weaved in to express a deeper meaning. The first lines convey a theme written in monorhyme, while the second and third lines of each stanza rhyme together.

Rhyme scheme: a/b/b, a/c/c, a/d/d, a/e/e, a/f/f………etc.

(Thanks to Shadow Poetry:  http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/constanza.html)

MARIE ELENA’S CONSTANZA:

There, but for the grace of God …

 I’m told I should pray for this one.
And yet, I don’t know if I can.
For how does one pray for a man
 
Who’s done what this evil one’s done?
His victims?  Will they pray for him,
Through losses of life, and of limb?
 
My God, did You send Your own Son
To die for this wicked man’s soul?
To kill, maim and mar was his goal.
 
I’m drawn not to pray, but to shun.
Forgive me, I’m lacking in grace –
My prayers are dishonest and base.
 
My God, yes, You gave up Your Son
Who willingly donned human skin,
Then died for my own dreadful sin.
 
Please give me Your heart for this one,
And all who, like him, are misled.
Without You we’re (all of us) dead.
 
© Copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013
 

WALT’S CONSTANZA:

POETRY: BACK IN TIME

I’ve lived without my words – a mime
keeping each one all to myself
like lost thoughts sitting on the shelf.

In the ways of my prose and rhyme
I have arrived to hit my stride
expressing all these thoughts inside.

For I found that in all that time
my words were squandered and wasted,
their sweetness was never tasted.

It was a felonious crime.
Punishment? Echoing silence,
for a man of words it’s violence.

Since early man stepped out of slime,
he wanted to communicate
but sounds that rhymed still had to wait.

He was fascinated with rhyme,
and now he writes them twice as fast,
evoking emotions at last,

a poet ahead of his time!
A trendsetter in thoughts and words;
writing the sweetest rhymes you’ve heard!

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik – 2013

**The secret of this CONSTANZA: I went to the Monorhyme link in our IN-FORM POET WEDNESDAY directory and used my example I posted there, editing it to seven lines. I used this to complete the CONSTANZA (mindful of the eight-syllable restriction).

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN – PROMPT# 104

Can you believe it?  With today’s prompt we celebrate the completion of our second full year at POETIC BLOOMINGS. We have explored many ideas and forms, and we published our first collection – POETIC BLOOMINGS – The First Year. The gears are in motion for our second installment. We have completed an ambitious twenty-week MEMOIR CHAPBOOK PROJECT with amazing results.We have supported and nurtured one another, celebrated and mourned, and we stand as strong as ever going into our third year.

Marie and I hope you continue to plant your poetic seeds in our garden and share in the bouquet of beauty that grows here each week.

****

Now our prompt: Time flies when you’re having fun! We’ve heard that throughout our lives. In the movies, time passing is depicted as a clock or sundial in time-lapse photography in rapid motion. We see hair gray up and other parts sag down. So for this poem, we want you to write a poem that shows the passing of time. The first part will center upon something you enjoyed or did as a child. The second part will focus on your perspective on that activity and how age has changed/enhanced your vision.

We thank you so much for your participation and continued support. WE ARE ALL POETIC BLOOMINGS! Grow beautifully!

MARIE ELENA’S PERSPECTIVE:

“The pourer is considered the guardian of the teapot, which implies sterling social graces and profound trust.”  ~  Mike Lininger (Editor, Etiquette Scholar)

TEA PARTIES WITH TOM

My cousin Tom and me

Growing up together

Play clothes and bare feet
Giggles galore
Teensy Dixie bathroom cups
Grandma’s garden hose
Sipping “tea”
Distended tummies
              Little ones
             Bathroom runs
 
 Decades flee
Family gatherings
Memories revisited
(Teasing notwithstanding)
We’ll never live it down
              Giggles galore
              You pour
 
 © Copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013
 
Tom and me again

early twenties

Tom and me with Sophie

early fifties

Love ya, Cuz!

WALT’S LIFE SPAN:

GONE FISHING!

Along the railroad tracks
behind my grandfather’s garden,
Smokes Creek winds a serpentine
path rushing to feed Erie’s ravenous
hunger. A sloping bank beneath the trellis;
a bamboo pole and can of worms,
tranquility comes in nary a nibble.
The act becomes the pact made
between me and the Maker.
A good escape for a fish faker.

I have not found such serenity
since youth had offered its kind hand,
it’s every man for himself and a shelf full
of life that happens at the speed of sound.
If I wasn’t grounded I would have found
a replacement, a place meant to give me peace.
But memory is a strong bridge, reaching back
to grab lost moments in mind. I can return
with my eyes closed, knowing my seat
on the sloping bank awaits. Worms optional.

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik – 2013

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BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #103

Rain comes in many forms. Rain drops or tears or a stretch of time (reign) that touches all when they fall. The Chinese say “May you live in interesting times!” there is no doubt we do, if the events of this past week have taught us anything. So we celebrate life with the words of all of our expressive and interesting poets. Marie and I love the lot of you, not just from your words, but as people: friends and “family,” a part of the fabric of our lives! Now the BLOOMS:

MARIE ELENA’S CHOICE

The poetry barometer was off the charts for this prompt.  You folks are going to think I am “all talk” when I say these things, but choosing only one poem to highlight was nearly impossible for me this week.  I finally settled in on one that is so simple and pure that it could nearly be overlooked:  Death Then Life, by Paula Wanken.  To borrow Damon Dean’s words, Paula, “you’ve nailed the truth again by framing this image for us in your words.”  That’s just your way.  And as Walt said, “this was as expressive as all get out.”  Indeed!  Paula, it is my pleasure to offer you my Bloom.

DEATH THEN LIFE by Paula Wanken

Dormant earth;
wrapped in a pall of
death; few signs
of life, and
even fewer reasons to
hope…til fresh rain falls.

The seeds that
died to self, take on
new purpose.
Hope is found
after the storm, in the new
life that emerges.

Perhaps the best living
comes after dying.

WALT’S DECISION:

This poem is very impressive when the back story is revealed. And after the REIGN of terror that our brothers and sisters in Massachusetts have experienced this past week, it carries more gravity. The fact that they’ve “made it through the rain” is a testament and tribute to those who have lost life and limb. The scars will run deep for a while. But we will persevere. Amy Barlow Liberatore’s Half a Rainstorm is Better Than None (Bermuda, 1987) earns the recognition for her heart and compassion to all of us and our extended family: the human race. Thank you, Amy!

Half a Rainstorm is Better Than None (Bermuda, 1987) –
(by Amy Barlow Liberatore)

Favorite haunt in Hamilton.
A day-off treat, strong coffee
dense shortbread, and
small talk with a friend.

Sky darkens, pavement is
wet across the way.
We emerge, fully
expecting immersion.

Yet we’re on the “sunny side of the street.”
Rain spatters cobblestones in
a literal line drawn down the lane.
A meteorological DMZ.

Island storms are that specific.
I pass my hand into the storm and
pull it out again; palm to fingers, drenched.
It dries in the sun as we ponder miracles.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Congratulations Paula and Amy! Congratulations to every poet in our garden. And congratulations to the lives we live.

POET INTERVIEW – LINDA BAHEN SWENSKI

LINDA SWENSKI

LINDA SWENSKI

We’ve all come to know Linda Bahen Swenski through her personal and dynamic work here at Poetic Bloomings.  She is one of those who is sorely missed when she can’t make it over here to share the fruit of her muse with us.

You will want to read Linda’s Memoir Project chapbook, “I Hope I Have Learned Something,” if you have not already done so.  I asked Linda to share one of her “favorite” poems with us.  She chose to share “Good-Bye,” from this very chapbook.

GOOD-BYE (by Linda Bahen Swenski)

There is no easy way to say good-bye.
I want to hug and hold you, not to cry.
But mixed with happy memories I had before
I feel the fear that I can’t bear them anymore.

Though friends and neighbors offer their support,
my total grief does my faulty smile distort.
For with you, something in us all will die—
there is no easy way to say good-bye.

And so together we should face our grief at home,
for in the end our fear is being left alone.
We will never heal our hearts, and yet we try—
there is no easy way to say good-bye.

I know that there were times we fought with rage.
My memory scrapbook doesn’t seem to have that page.
No consoling words erase the need to cry.
There is no easy way to say good-bye.

There is a part of you that lives on too—
a treasure chest of memories that I shared with you.
These loving thoughts will help me to get by.
There is no easy way to say good-bye.

So through my sorrow I must face another day.
No soft shoulder serves to take the pain away.
And though my heart is breaking, my eyes are dry—
there is no easy way to say good-bye.

If to us a thousand lifetimes more were left,
the final end would leave me still bereft.
So with prayer or song or quiet or tear-filled eye,
there is no easy way to say good-bye.

LINDA:  This poem is one of my favorites because it got me through one of the toughest times of my life so far:  the death of my Father.  I wrote it in the shower where I was being cleansed as much by my tears as by the showerhead.  It was one of those poems that just fell out of my head.  I certainly didn’t set out to write a poem to my dead father in the shower.  But there it was.

Since then, I have often sent this poem to friends and relatives who have lost a parent or other dear one.  It seems to carry a universal truth that sums up how many of us feel when faced with this type of tragedy.  We have mixed feelings that are impossible to sort out because they are boiling in a soup of uncontrollable emotions.  I know that this poem has become part of some peoples’ memorial books for their loved ones, and I feel honored by this.  But more importantly, it helped me to get through a very difficult time and deal with a terrible loss the only way I knew how.  In this case I chose a poem for its function over its form.  I have probably written poems that were more structurally sound or graphically beautiful, but I have never written one more personally meaningful.

MARIE ELENA:  Thank you for sharing this with us again, Linda.  It truly is meaningful – dense with memory and emotion, and an excellent write.

I see that you are a Speech Language Pathologist.  That seems somehow appropriate.  How did you get into this profession?

LINDA:  Oh you will LOVE the answer to this question.  I wanted to be an elementary school teacher from a very young age, but when my Mother saw the college course catalog and what I would be taking, (things like English for the Elementary School Teacher, and Math for the Elementary School Teacher) she said that there was no way that she would pay for such stupid college courses.  So I went to my second choice which was Social Worker.  My Father said there was no way he would pay for me to be trained to go into some inner city and get myself killed.  I said, I was out of ideas because that is what I had always wanted to do.  My Mother, having been looking through that course catalog, said, “How about being a Speech Therapist.”  I was furious at this point and just said, “FINE.”  And that is how I chose my profession.

Having told this story, I could not possibly have picked a better career.  I have been a Speech Pathologist for going on 40 years and I truly love it.  There is flexibility in being a speech pathologist in that you can work in the schools, in hospitals, for an agency, open your own clinic, or even work from home.   That makes it great for mothers and for people who get easily bored with one setting.  Maybe mother does know best.

MARIE ELENA:  You are absolutely right – I DO love your response to this question!  What an amazing story!  You need to write a poem about that. 😉

What exactly do you do in your line of work?

LINDA:  I have for most of my career worked with those who have severe disabilities, rather than those who have minor articulation or language issues.  Many of my clients have been unable to speak at all, and my job has been to come up with alternative ways for them to communicate, whether it was with sign language, pictures, a communication device, or a gesture system.  Other times I have been able to retrain someone who has completely lost their speech abilities through stroke or accident, or who never developed speech skills to begin with and enabled them to use speech to communicate.  It has been a challenge and very rewarding.

MARIE ELENA: That’s just so admirable, Linda.  I can only imagine how challenging and rewarding it really is.

Is there any correlation between your work with words verbally, and your passion for the written word?

LINDA: There surely must be.  A lot of people say that I have a way with words when I am speaking, but I certainly feel that my words are improved by the careful consideration and review I can give them when they are written down.  And again, I would say that because of the work I do, I tend to put much more emphasis on the meaning of words than their appearance or structure.   Although I often hear that a picture is worth a thousand words, I do not see that as an obstacle, I see it as a challenge.  How few words can I use to paint that perfect picture?  I would love to get it down to a sentence!

MARIE ELENA:  That is how I see it as well.  Most often, the poetry I am most impressed with is that which says much in few words.  It’s just my personal preference.

In your poem “When YOU Were Alive,” (from your chapbook) you say, “So I tried to explain a large concept to a small child in words he could grasp.”  I must tell you, that line endears me to you.  Do you consider this to be a learned skill?  Part of speech therapy, in a way?

LINDA:  I think you have put your finger on something here.  If you look at my poetry, I tend to stay away from humongous words, difficult phrasing, and obscure references.  Although I love to read poetry that is complex and abstract, I tend to write in very simple and concrete terms.  Many poets do a fantastic job of allowing the reader to take their words and create their own interpretations of their poems, making them personally meaningful.  When I write a poem, I usually have a specific idea I would like to share, and I try to be as concise and direct as I can.  I sometimes take the point of view of a human trying to explain a common experience to an Alien from another planet.  I like to pare feelings and experiences down to their most understandable form, then to demonstrate their significance to us all.  I think it would be rare to get to the end of one of my poems and not be certain of exactly what I was trying to say.  It probably does come from my speech pathology background.  Every part and position of every word carries meaning.  The –ed or –ing at the end of words, the re- or ex- at the beginning of words, and the work order and punctuation of each sentence all change the meaning of what is being said if it isn’t done correctly. Those nuances are just as important in speech as they are in poetry.

I spent a lot of time when my kids were little trying to use the correct words with them.  One of my favorite stories about this is when my 5 year old son had heard the word, “prostitution” on the news and being a curious soul asked me what it meant.  I, of course, was stunned by the question, but I believed in never lying to my children, so I told him that I was busy fixing dinner and would he please ask me later (giving me some time to think and hoping he might forget).  He did not forget, and asked me again later, but having had time to think about it, this is the information I gave him:  Prostitution is when someone, usually a woman, does something illegal for money.  This satisfied his curiosity, contained no untruths, and when he was older was easily reconciled with the full definition.  He is 32 now and says that one thing he always appreciated was that I didn’t lie to him and I always tried to find answers to his questions.  It would sure be a lot easier now with Google!  I try to do the same in my poems.  I try to be honest and to share all the necessary information as simply as I can.

MARIE ELENA:  Oh, that is just all so excellent.  The more you tell me about yourself, the more I can see how your basic personality suits your career perfectly.

One of your favorite quotes is this:  “Life is too short for drama and petty things, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly.”  I Googled it, and it seems the author is unknown.  I can relate to the sentiment 100%. What would you consider your main source of “drama,” and what do you do to curb it?

LINDA:  To me “drama” is the need to justify the overblown emotions we sometimes experience when the words or actions of others are not compatible with our own expectations.

MARIE ELENA:  Great explanation.

LINDA: We sometimes make it worse by exaggerating, involving folks who have no business being involved, and making trouble where there doesn’t need to be any.  What do I do to curb it?  I write!  When I am feeling excessive emotions over something that has been done or said, I write a letter to the person or persons I feel are responsible.  I tell them that I am, of course, right, and they are incredibly wrong.  I vent my anger, puzzlement, frustration, disgust, indignation, and sadness in all their glory.  Then I put the letter in a drawer.  I pull it out and read it whenever the need for drama washes over me, usually several times over the course of a day or two.  Then, when I feel they surely must know how I feel from the exquisite way I have expressed myself, I tear up the letter and throw it away, completely satisfied with no one the wiser.  Writing for me, in this case, allows me the freedom to express feelings that are sometimes best not shared, may be damaging or hurtful,  but need to be dealt with in order for my mind to be peaceful.  As you have probably guessed, some of my poems have come from just such drama.

MARIE ELENA:  Linda, I have one sister, and no brothers.  Tell me about growing up in a relatively large family.  Then feel free to brag about them.

LINDA:  My family is not as big as many, but it certainly made me who I am.  I am the oldest of 5 kids, 17 years older than my youngest sibling.  Since my Mother was only 18 years older than me, I felt more like a mom that a sister a lot of the time.  I had a lot of responsibility growing up which I hated, but it was a huge character builder.

I never had a room of my own until I graduated from college.  I could not wait to have a place over which I truly had control!  It was an actual goal in my life to live by myself for at least one year before I got married.  I happily lived on my own for 3 years.  Aside from all the years with my family learning to accommodate and compromise, it was the most important time of my life.  I was finally able to see what I could do on my own.  I could see myself as a separate entity, not dependent upon or responsible for others.  It was very freeing.

When you are in a large family, everything you do affects others.  John Bradford, who has written many books about families and how family members affect each other, pictures it like a mobile.  When all the pieces are hanging from a mobile and you touch or move any one of them, all of the other pieces are affected as well, sometimes for a long time.  The larger the family, the more pieces of the mobile there are and there is more movement and greater disruption.

I think I would be a very different person if I had come from a small family.  I think I have a tendency toward selfishness and that was definitely tempered by having to be considerate of so many other people.  I have both a strong need for alone time and for time with friends and family.  I think both of those needs were strengthened by my long-term large group experience.  Perhaps the most significant thing I gained from having such a large family is tolerance.  We used to argue for entertainment.  We loved to disagree.  But we were always respectful of those who did not share our viewpoints, because we had to be.  In a large family you MUST learn to agree to disagree.

My family has, of course, continued to grow.  Two of my sisters and my brother are married and have children.  It is glorious to have in-laws and nieces and nephews added to my birth family.  I am married and my husband has two sisters, but after 35 years of marriage they and their families seem like blood relations as well.  I have a terrific son, 32, who has been with his significant other for over 10 years, and a lovely daughter, 22, who is also in a long term relationship and will be graduating from The Ohio State University May 5.  I am waiting patiently for a wedding and a grandchild, but these things can’t be rushed.  I am willing to wait until the time is right, not that I really have a choice.

Son Chris with his wife Hannah

Son Chris with Hannah

Kat with husband Brian

Daughter Kat with Brian

MARIE ELENA: Thank you for generously sharing your family with us.  How lovely they are!

Now, just for fun:  You’ve experienced the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and present decade.  Which one would you choose to spend the rest of your life in, and why?

LINDA:  I would have to say the 70’s if I had to pick one, since it was really the decade of most importance in my life.  I graduated high school and college, lived on my own for the first time, got married, bought my first house, and got pregnant.  Essentially it was the decade in which I changed from a child into a responsible adult.   It was also a decade of change and social revolution for blacks and women.  It may have started in the 60s but it became a reality in the 70’s.  I also love the music of the 70’s, it was free and experimental and every time I hear a classic rock song I am right back there in my mind.  In all honesty, though, it is probably just nostalgia that would make me choose the 70’s.

MARIE ELENA:  What drew you to poetry, and how old were you when you began writing?

LINDA:  My first experience with poetry as a child was probably Nursery Rhymes.  I LOVED them, and still as an adult know them all by heart.  Then, of course, it was Dr. Seuss, which I read constantly.  By the time I was in fourth or fifth grade, I was writing rudimentary poems.  Then in sixth grade, my teacher said that I could write a poem for my assignment instead of a composition.  Well, poems have WAY fewer words than compositions so I was off and running with that assignment, not realizing how much more difficult poetry can actually be than prose.  I quickly became enthralled with the puzzle of trying to fit the right words together and with the magic that occurred when it actually worked.  It amazed me that a few words, properly placed, could say infinitely more than a dictionary full of wrong ones.

In High School, a dear friend gave me this poem he had written on a little piece of scrap paper:

So here I am again, wide awake,
wondering if it’s late or early next morning,
so tired I could die but no matter how I try
to go to sleep, to get some rest, to find any relief at all,
I’m kept awake by the noise of the little man inside my head
tacking your picture to his wall.

Nothing he could have said or done could have been a clearer message than those few words on that torn corner of paper.  The power of poetry had hit me.  Then when I went through a pretty apocalyptic identity crisis a few years later, I got through it by writing it all down in a 24 page epic poem.  Oh, yeah, there was a lot of crying and emo too, but honestly that was the beginning of my dealing with strong emotion by writing it out.  The poem itself, as you can imagine, was awful.  It was filled with rantings about, “what do I matter?” and, “no one cares!”  But it did the trick.  I read it repeatedly to myself, satisfied that I had captured every self-involved drop of insecurity I could.  It was titled, appropriately enough, “If You Care Enough to Read This.”  Wow.   But after I recovered my sanity, I continued to express myself in poetry.  I still have some poems I wrote on the back of paper placemats while I was waitressing my way through college.  It has always been a great outlet for me.

MARIE ELENA:  You brought out the “puzzle” quality of poetry, which brought out a “duh” moment for me.  I have never thought of it in that manner.  “It amazed me that a few words, properly placed, could say infinitely more than a dictionary full of wrong ones.”  This speaks to me as well.

Linda, do you have a favorite poet, or a favorite style?

LINDA:  My favorite poets have always been Emily Dickenson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, probably because I can so clearly relate to the feelings they express.  And Emily Dickenson tends to use those simple, meaningful words to which I am drawn.  I like different poems depending upon my mood, my mental capacity, and their presentation, but I am always drawn to the simple and direct.  A good poem also has a cadence, a rhythm, or a pattern that sweeps me along like music.  It is something that just grabs your heart and runs away making you chase it.

MARIE ELENA:  Is Poetic Bloomings your first experience in getting your poetic voice “out there?”  Was it hard for you to do at first?  Or did it just feel “right?”

LINDA: Except for sharing poems with my family, which I have always done, Poetic Bloomings is my first experience sharing them with others.  And it did feel “right” from the beginning.  The site is so user friendly, the format so welcoming, and all the poets so supportive that it is nearly impossible not to feel at home here.

MARIE ELENA:  Thank you, Linda.  It really does have a magical quality to it, due to the mix of talent, love of the craft, and love for one another.  It never ceases to humble Walt and me.  We are so grateful for all of you.

One of my favorite poems of yours is this one, about autism.

AUTISM (by Linda Bahen Swenski)

A small sound
the wrong order
lights that are too bright
a slight irritation
food that isn’t bland enough
something that is unexpected
and I blow apart.

MARIE ELENA:  These few words are piercing.  Do you speak from experience?

LINDA:  I have worked with probably close to a hundred children and young adults who are on the autism spectrum.  I was fascinated by Autism when I first learned of it 45 years ago while studying to be a speech pathologist.  I am no less fascinated by it today.  It is often said, “If you meet one person with Autism you have met one person with Autism.”  It is disorder that manifests in so many different ways, but even in its mildest forms it can be devastating for the individual and his family.  Those of us who have never had to deal with a social/communication disorder will never understand the difficulties it creates.
People with autism are born the same and look the same as anyone else.  There is no genetic test for it yet.  So for a few years a family has a seemingly normal child.  Then, when the diagnosis comes, it is as if the family has to bury the child they thought they had and give birth to this new child of which they have no understanding.  It can be heart breaking.  This can be true of other disorders as well of course, but we still understand so little of the causes of and treatment for Autism, and there is so much misinformation about it.

MARIE ELENA:  “Then, when the diagnosis comes, it is as if the family has to bury the child they thought they had and give birth to this new child of which they have no understanding.”  Yes, heartbreaking.  And Linda, your poem captures the essence quite effectively.

You seem to recognize that you have a way with words.  Do you recognize yourself as a “poet?”

LINDA:  I definitely have a poet’s heart.  I think poets try to arrange the world with words into a form that can be more easily handled.  We like to make it more beautiful, more organized, more meaningful, and more accessible.  That is how I see myself as a poet.

MARIE ELENA:  Beautiful, Linda.  This makes me smile.

Now, as I ask all our guests:  if there was only one thing we could know about you, what would you tell us?

LINDA:   Who would have thought that THIS would be the tough question for me?   I guess I would say that I am a creator.  I like to make things.  I make poems out of words, but I also knit, cook, crochet, sew, tat, do counted cross stitch, etch glass, make candles, and much more.  I have also tried some other things like jewelry making, quilting and basket weaving at which I do not seem as skilled.  For me a productive day is a happy day, but there is nothing I like to make more than I like to make new friends.

MARIE ELENA:  As my little two-year-old granddaughter would excitedly exclaim (arms spread wide), “All friends here!”  Thank you, Linda, for an enjoyable and gratifying look into who you are.  I’ve enjoyed this immensely!

More of Linda’s poetry may be found at her Poetic Bloomings Poetic Recollections page:  http://poeticbloomings.com/poetic-recollections/linda-swenski/.

IN-FORM POET WEDNESDAY – PANTUN

Day 15 at the NaPoWriMo 2013 April adventure featured a glimpse at the Pantun poetic form.

The pantun is a Malay poetic form. Per Wikipedia, the pantun originated as a traditional oral form of expression. The most common theme is love.

The basic pantun consists of a quatrain (4-line verse). Commonly, each line contains between 8 and 12 syllables, and employs an abab rhyme scheme.  A pantun traditionally  follows a fixed rhythm.   Again, per Wikipedia, “The first and second lines sometimes appear completely disconnected in meaning from the third and fourth, but there is almost invariably a link of some sort. Whether it be a mere association of ideas, or of feeling, expressed through assonance or through the faintest nuance of a thought, it is nearly always traceable.”

MARIE ELENA’S ATTEMPT:

FADING

 Threadbare blankets lay lightly on the chaise;
His loose change clinking as he shuffles off.
A ticking clock broadcasts that life’s a race,
While clicking cane attends a muffled cough.
 
© Copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013
 

WALT’S PANTUN:

BLOOMS OF LOVE

…and all at once, the rain had ceased.
When did my children grow so quick?
The length of sunshine has increased.
Why has it left me feeling sick

when the warmth of Spring emerges?
Little girls become young women
Comfort in this season’s surges.
and all the changes from within –

blossoms having rooted now bloom,
Decorating each life they touch,
fragrant flowers fill up the room.
truly knowing they mean so much.

Life’s bouquet gathered together,
Grown in love to know what life means;
flourishing in all kinds of weather,
ever-growing, evergreen!

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik – 2013

APRIL SHOWERS! – PROMPT #103

AprilShowers

Photo Credit –
autumn-sunshine.net

In Buffalo, we’ve been inundated with heavy downpours, so this prompt is simple. Write a rain poem. They say April showers bring May flowers. My daughter is getting married at the end of May and will be needing the blooms. Combine any of the above to write your piece. Rain, April/May, Flowers, Beautiful Brides (Yes, I am biased! – Walt)

MARIE ELENA’S RAIN HAIKU:

Tap spring patter step
Raindrops on a tin roof stage
Gratis performance

© Copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013

  RAIN ON THE TIN ROOF OF “OUR” CABIN IN THE HOCKING HILLS OF OHIO

(Thanks to Keith Good for the audio/video clip.)

WALT’S REIGNING POEM:

SEVENTH INNING DRENCH

Bleacher seats along the third base line,
which are fine when the sun shines.
But an April start has us darting for cover.
Baseball lovers with slickers and gloves
watching the grounds crew wrap the infield;
tarps unrolled and the old game takes another hit.
We didn’t sit for very long before the strong
downpour had begun. The only run was for the exit.
Rain check in tow; we’ll give it a go tomorrow.

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik – 2013

In keeping with the “Rain” theme, I’ve always thought this was pretty amazing:

A Chorus that recreates “Rain”RainChorus