I would like you to welcome our co-host who has risen to the top of our craft. She is a very talented and highly prolific poet. Her work is always exceptional and her accomplishments in poetics are very telling. She is very good.




It has always interested me that some of the most difficult circumstances of my life have ultimately fed my loves and my work in the world. I guess that’s grace. Edgewood Farm in rural North Carolina taught great work ethics, our days spent in tobacco fields, milking cows, growing food and learning to entertain ourselves productively. Naturally, music provided a rhythm for our labors, harmony kept us friendly to one another, and lyrics introduced rhyme, the basics of many formed poems. Some songs fed desires in us, like “Faraway Places” recorded by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Willie Nelson—everyone had a go with it. That song fed wanderlust in me, but I never dreamed I would travel to those places other than in imagination or in books. Music and reading kept me engaged, nurtured by a mother who looked on poetry as a way of seeing clearly and a musician father who dreamed bluegrass dreams. I loved that farm but couldn’t wait to get away from it, ironic in that my poetry goes back to it so often now. In hindsight, each life challenge has prepared me for the next challenge or opportunity.

I began writing stories and poems in elementary school and won National Student Press awards in high school, was editor of both yearbook and newspaper, learning to compose with a camera, all of which was handy as a teacher sponsoring those activities. My English BA is my “reading degree,” while the MFA in creative writing years later is my “fun degree” and an ‘attagirl’ to myself for enduring the marking of literally thousands of student papers while teaching in high schools, community colleges, and universities. But slowly, I began to travel to faraway places, usually as a student or a teacher with students. It was good for my soul and my words. I matched places to go with what I taught: Shakespeare= England; Mahfouz=Egypt—like that. As a theater director and teacher, I had to act in community theater and write plays; if they were musicals, I had to write music and compose lyrics. How else is a teacher to retain joy and the life of the mind?

Just when the heart was going out of teaching for me, I was invited to China to teach English writing at Shandong Teachers University, where I stayed for two years, traveled a great deal in Asia, and met and subsequently married a colleague from the USSR. Those travels in Asia led to teaching Asian Studies and American literature at the NC School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, which naturally led to more travel on scholarship in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Korea and Thailand, later becoming academic director for teachers’ programs to China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. That girl in tobacco fields wouldn’t have imagined this life. I guess I needed to travel far away in order to come back home purposefully.

I wrote a few teachers’ guides to literature for Penguin and published poems and articles in professional journals during my 40 years being super-teacher, but my creative work was largely on hold until 2011 when Nancy Posey, my conference buddy and fellow writer, directed me to the April PAD at Poetic Asides. There I “met” such generous and skilled writers—Walt and Marie and Iain and De, and, well, most of you. And see, here you all are, my “faraway places” mapping words each week to keep me traveling. These days, I work as a church musician. I play organ, piano, and tinker with autoharp, dulcimer, and psaltery. I sing with a group called Stringfellows and send poetry or fiction out every now and then so I don’t forget resiliency through rejection. My recent poetry has been published by The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bay Leaves, Emerge Literary Magazine, Prompted and Beyond the Dark Room, Poetic Bloomings: the first year, Final Draft, Pinesong, KAKALAK, and Writer’s Digest. I’m at home in Bahama, North Carolina with my husband Vladimir and two pushy cats, Warren and Flora. I welcome you travelers to visit me. Bring a song.



Prompt #148 – “BACK TO SQUARE ONE” – Find a poem you have written early in your writing adventures (or one with which you’re unhappy). Take the three best lines from that poem and use them in a new poem. Please include a link to the original poem if it is available.



Songs start in his heart,
gentle melodies that trip
from his fingertips, composed
with every emotion and notion
that says what flows as sound
goes around. In his head it plays,
it says love will linger; find a way
to keep the music alive. He strives
to express in a tender ballad
what his heart needs to sing,
for in his song are words
and once heard the lyrics stay.
It plays in ways only love knows.
And so it goes. And so it goes.

© Copyright Walter J Wojtanik – 2014

Lines from my poem, “Composer’s Tableau”



From “Defying Gravity”

My thoughts about gravity have shifted
over the years, my stars shining
a little closer to home…

The whole poem is available at The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature


Time has a way of easing bulk
into new formations,
massive peaks sloughed
to mumbling mountains
sanded to slope-shouldered
mounds, surrounding valleys
round as matrons’ hips,
meadows finely furnished
by eroded topsoil
headed downhill.

Some blame winds,
ice and rain, terrain,
weather engineering change,
lake-to-desert development,
forest-to-plain reconstruction;
mud and snow
avalanching downward,
taking trees along, create
a balding pate of earth
soon to be redecorated
with wild flowers.
Some call it fate.

We carry time’s pull on us,
the weight of years hanging
limp as saddlebags.
We think to thwart this fate
with diet, exercise,
with maintenance,
with cosmetics, surgical
lifts and temporary tucks,
gravity grinning
at our attempts to
manage re-landscaping,
our foiled imaginations
stuffed into life’s sheath.

We reassess our shifting
acreage as if we watch
a beloved pet grow old,
a beloved star grow cold—
with a heart and eye
for bovine usefulness,
feline resourcefulness,
songbird trust and praise.
We exercise forgiveness
and radical acceptance,
a different kind
of beauty.

© Copyright Jane Shlensky – 2014


In two days, we will embark on Poetry Month. Many site will be doing special prompts or challenges to occupy our collective muses in April. We will continue to run our normal schedule.

The Sunday Seed Prompt and the Wednesday INFORM POETS will follow their pre-arranged routine. A special page will be posted in the menu tabs where you can post poems written for other sites, but you may wish to share with a larger audience here. We welcome your work and will help promote it. Please include the site for which it was written and an idea of what the prompt was.



    When first I saw her eyes, I lost my mind
    and never did regain my taunted heart;
    the beauty smiling therein left me blind
    when first I saw her eyes. I lost my mind
    that day; I’ve never seen her ken nor kind
    again, nor ever shall. I witnessed art
    when first I saw her eyes; I lost my mind
    and never did regain my taunted heart.

    NB: I wrote a poem similar to this in 1993. In fact, the above differs by one word (“smiling” for “lying”) and one letter (t, forming “taunted” for “haunted”), but those small changes bring it closer to what I’d like it to be; the original always bothered me a bit. There’s no link to the original, but the changes are so small, it’d be superfluous anyway.

    • Your use of the repeated lines is brilliant, William. Your subtle changes empowered the poem with an honesty it otherwise might not have had. Fantastic job.

    • Before charging in with more general comments, wanted to welcome Jane to the hosting chair! Just returned from N’Awlins Jane and as if I needed any more reasons to wish I was southern-born, you’ve just provided them. There’s always been something about the south that lures me – the writing (and writers), the music, the food, the manner…it’s not like anywhere else, is it? I haven’t even been that many places actually but between Anne Rivers Siddons,Pat (?) Conroy,and a few others, I feel as if I’ve inhabited a good deal of the south. I really want to visit the Carolinas if for no other reason than to see where you and Nancy Posey hang out. I got hooked on basketball (for the first time, for me!) while I was away, and now want to be more involved in that foolishness! If I haven’t mentioned it before, I wanted to say how much I like the way you write about aging…it’s not an easy thing to do well but you have the knack and I really enjoy your work: “We exercise forgiveness and radical acceptance, a new kind of beauty” — oh how true — if only this was wisdom we could impart to the young. But then it wouldn’t be wisdom, would it? Very fine poem Jane.

      And Walt…”and so it goes, and so it goes”….you write love like a troubadour my friend…have you heard Billy Joel’s song that has this line in it? It might even be called this; I’ll have to do some research and see if I can find it (my daughter sang it one year in her jazz choir; it would break your heart.) As always, a winner.

      • What a wonderful welcome to the big girl chair. Though I’ve left the south for attitude adjusting stints, I always come back, especially to NC which is a wonderful state (Atlantic, mountains, rolling hills, urban and rural nicely mixed. I like the rough edges to the south, which I do believe account for the writers and musicians that come from here. Well, that and the food ;). Thank you so much for your comment about “Landscapes”. As mama would say of truths, “They may be ugly, but they’re still the truth.” Come on down. Nancy and I will fuss over you. (That’s southern for petting you.)

  2. It’s good to see you at the helm, Jane, and your poem is superb. The little gems scattered through it: “gravity grinning”; “a beloved pet grow old, a beloved star grow cold”; “songbird trust and praise”; these speak eloquently of the poem’s grace and, I suspect, yours.

    • Thanks so much for your kind remark. I don’t mind standing around at the helm since I know Walt is steering this ship. Walt, your poem resonated with me and I suspect with all who know the power of music to express and soothe us.

  3. Walt, I’ve read and re-read your piece several times. For me, the poems that stay are those that sing, and this is a whole chorus. Wonderful.


    Around the town and hills around,
    the ghosts still stream around the course;
    I follow, over hallowed ground,
    down roads of triumph and remorse.

    The ghosts still stream around the course
    as I traverse the turns and straights;
    down roads of triumph and remorse
    I make my way, through memory’s gates.

    As I traverse the turns and straights
    I cross the eons. There, we meet.
    I make my way through memory’s gates,
    where generations pause and greet.

    I cross the eons; there, we meet:
    I follow over hallowed ground
    where generations pause and greet
    around the town and hills around.

    NB: This is a modification of a poem first written in 1995. There is no link to the original because I have no web page or the like, but this also is only slightly changed from the original. I like it better now. I wrote it originally for a friend who drives an old MGA in vintage racing events; at Watkins Glen, in New York State, the original road course still exists and folks can drive it if they wish. It is a far cry from the modern racetrack at Watkins, or “the Glen,” as my racing friend calls it, but the old course still has the rural charm of the post-World War II days when they raced in the streets.

    • Whatever changes you made surely were wonderful, for this is a finished poem, in my opinion, that uses the form and the subject matter extremely well. Plus, I’m fond of the idea of ghosts of many generations communing over entertainment. Now, that’s “hallowed”.

    • This poem would make a great song “round” like Row, Row, Row Your Boat. The cadence and rhyme would work wonderfully well, I think. Such a fun poem to read and it does carry the reader along for the ride.

    • I remember Watkin’s Glen, Bill. I guess being from Toronto, we sometimes would get race results from here? In any event…the rhythm in your poem just pulled me along…very nice.

  5. Oh, Jane, it’s so good to see you in a director’s chair here, leaving behind a bit of excellence as usual but in a different sense.

    This is a wonderful prompt for me, as it pushes me to do what I’ve needed to do for some time. Thank you.

    Also, as usual, you’ve set extremely high standards for the rest of us with your shining example of a poem’s redesign. This was a fantastic poem and one which reads as smoothly as well-molded butter.

    Walt, you didn’t slouch in your new poem, either. It does sing when read aloud. Bless you both for such incentive and examples.

    • Thank you, Claudsy. Walt is a wonder with prompts that are “good” for us and for poetry. It did the same for me as you suggest–forcing me to look at poems that need a little guidance 😉 I appreciate your kindness.

      • You’re more than welcome, Jane.

        I’m having problems getting onto the site at the moment. So if I don’t show up, you’ll know why. Walt and I are working on it. For come reason I just can’t connect to it. I look forward to seeing what gets written to this one.

        Have a great time in this new position this week. 🙂 ❤

  6. The Beauty Unspoken

    She was elderly, greyed with wisdom,
    silvered with life experiences.
    He, on the other hand, was a young tumbling lad. A timid little sapling, still moist with morning’s fresh dew. She was always watered by his youth, the endless spring in his step. A stroke, long hidden in her past, had robbed her speechless. She unable to engage others in the spoken word. It did its damage to her soul, but left it’s mark upon her body, permanently. But undeterred, she still spoke through the heart, the silent beauty of the body’s language. And she was glad to be heard, by me. She could understand me. But I, on the other hand, learned her world. The words embedded in her countenance, the motions of her wandering hand, and her ever brightening smile. She had spoken volumes through painting eyes, and accompanying brow. I understood her body’s language and she had wondered how. Together we laughed and laughed. Enjoying as friends, one another’s words. Compiling a wonderful history that composed a best seller.

    Link to original poem:

  7. Pingback: Awakening | Metaphors and Smiles

  8. Awakening

    Spring’s coiled tightly
    in fetal position sleeping,
    spiraled within fern
    cozy inside bud,
    pod and seed;
    she’s concealed
    and silent
    but I can sense her still-
    rejoicing in the rewrite,
    as regeneration breathes
    into her every heartbeat.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

    I used a portion from a November 2011 PAD poem
    the prompt was Blank or Blank, it was the second post on my blog,
    the excerpt I included was extracted from, “Revise or Rewrite.”

    “Rejoicing in the rewrite,
    regeneration breathes
    in every new heartbeat.”

  9. Jane!! Your story is intriguing and enchanting…thank you for sharing so generously, truly…you’re a gift and a gem in our poetic community.

    I love what you did with the portion you selected Jane…and the way you bring landscape persona is so visual and fun. Excellent!

    Walt, the musicality and language of love given in your piece are passionate…it’s easy to see what joy and inspiration it is for you…thank you for sharing this with us.

    Warm smiles to everyone in the garden today…my plot of land is collecting rain for the growing again…a gray spring day, (makes me smile any way)! 🙂

    • Thanks, Hannah. Such a sweet comment. Lately, I’ve entertained the possibility of being put up on a rack like an old car and getting overhauled right down to racing stripes. Rain here too and a chill wind to make us appreciate sun when we get it. Hugs to you.

  10. Hi Jane! Your quite an accomplished person. You and the likes of others make me feel like a sapling in the midst of sequoia trees.

    Wise Trees

    On the nightside, parked
    tucked in the shadow.
    I took courage at seeing
    your gorgeous crown,
    dense dimensions,
    fullness of wisdom
    elegant roots.  
    I basked in the canopy
    of your stability,
    although my heart lay crumbled
    in the canyons of shame.
    I only hoped in your
    massive frondescence,
    width of winging bough.
    As a sapling of youth,
    barely peeking above ground,
    I stood in awe of all the wise trees.

    Original poem:

    • Well, man, you had me at Trees. My mom thought trees were like elephants in their wisdom always pointing out the old-timers. Every stately sequoia, every oak or elm, started as a seedling, a sapling, and relied on nature and good fortune, including the harbor of old-timers’ canopies for shelter. I think your “massive frondescence” is coming right along. I love that phrase.

    • For me, this brings to mind an oak on a friend’s property. He lives in a house build in 1890, and when the house was built, the deed specified at the old oak” would form one corner of the lot. Wonderful poem.

    • Truly excellent, Benjamin. I find great peace within the redwoods groves. There is a stillness of time, a bated breathe, which draws a person in, but only if their heart can hear the sigh that releases wonderment on the spirit’s level. I found that in your poem as well. Thank you.

  11. Wow, Jane, what an interesting life! And a great poet!
    I have both versions posted on my blog. I wrote the original in the fall of 2004.

    Forest Companion

    I wander in the woods,
    enjoying traipsing there—
    the sounds of woodland birds,
    the smells of ferns and moss,
    the crackling underfoot.

    But rain can get me down.
    Mosquitoes irritate.
    Monotony abounds.
    I wander, wondering
    where in the world I am.

    Or why I’m even there.
    Is it for exercise?
    To grow, to learn, to care?
    To build a home of logs?
    Sometimes, I just want out.

    Please, help me understand,
    through bad times and the good,
    You’re there with map in hand,
    still walking by my side,
    my hiking guide and friend.

    • I think this is lovely (and a darned good companion to Benjamin’s too). The subtlety of your rhyme and the shortness of your lines are like well-placed foot-falls in the forest trail. That first stanza is so nicely sensory pitted against the negatives of sensation in the second, which never fails to force questions upon us. In short, this poems form and content are so logical and yet so moving in the final stanza when you realize you were guided all along. Wonderful.

    • Wonderful poem, Connie. I always feel the life in the forest and the spirit that waits for recognition, too. Perhaps we were dryads in another lifetime. 🙂

  12. Welcome Jane! So excited to get to know you more! Sounds like you’ve had a wonderful and adventuresome life so far! Thanks for sharing so much about yourself. Lovely poem and the title just knocked my socks off, it’s so amazingly appropriate but so uncommon.

    Walt – a very musical poem from you this morning – you are living up to your reputation as a poetic musician or is that a musical poet? Either way – lovely poem. 😉

    • Thanks, Michelle. I’m a bit humbled by you previous hosts who made this look effortless.

  13. Kisses Come in All Sizes

    Kisses come in all sizes –
    wet and sloppy
    (no, I’m not talking about a dog),
    dry and smooth
    (nope, I wasn’t kissing a mannequin),
    some so quick you’re not sure they happened
    (I really need some more data here),
    others so bruising you wished they didn’t
    (forgettable except for the pain).

    My first kiss was just a peck
    (Rather annoying really),
    Not sure what all the fuss is about
    (I had other things I would rather be doing),
    My interest in the whole kissing concept wasn’t sparked
    (I was rather young)
    I’d rather play
    (Luckily he was more interested in my plastic dinosaur).

    Kisses come in all sizes –
    and when the right one comes along
    the whole world sighs with you
    (no really, I swear I heard it).

    Taken from the very first prompt of the first Poetic Asides Prompt, April 1, 2008 – the first of something.

    • I’m smiling reading this with those clever asides in parentheses. My favorite is “(I really need some more data here)” which is a good sign for kissers everywhere. This is delightful.

    • For me, this recalls a great song I recall the Weavers singing: “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.” Such fun to read.

    • This is such a fun, personal, and yet resonating poem, Michelle. I kept seeing images from my own past that related to each example you gave. You triggered a specific ride down memory lane and one as individual as fingerprints. Terrific job!

  14. Not that this is better, but it’s different

    ( The original is in my blog post )

    Dear Walt, Marie Elena, et alia from 2009

    [First time I tried to tell this memory,
    I thought you were shadows
    on the cave wall. Did not know
    that you had losses, faces, grandbabies.
    It was a story I told, in Mama’s sense
    of telling stories: falsehood, if not an outright lie.]

    In Tennessee, the winter ‘fifty, ‘fifty-one
    was like this past one: frigid. Ice broke everything.
    This memory belongs to that November.
    The stars were clear as ice, the moon full
    but small and cold. We’re in the country:
    where my grandmother, grandfather, uncle lived.

    [A farm with two mules, a half-dozen cows.
    A woodstove in the front room; a single,
    hanging light bulb. I catalog the mismatched chairs
    in the original poem, and tell you the unpainted
    sheetrock walls are gold-brown, mention
    a souvenier pillow, the smell of hickory smoke. ]

    I don’t remember who was in the room–
    a ring around the hot stove, faces red, backsides
    cold as outside–when my uncle Bill came back
    from hunting. We’d have heard his dogs,
    foxhounds, barking and then belling, out there
    up and down the hills and hollows. Echos.

    [I would have seen fox skins nailed to the barn.
    They kill hens, foxes do, and I have seen
    the tiny yellow chicks trying to stay warm
    around a light bulb. The men and their dogs
    are out hunting foxes. Or sitting around a fire
    talking in low nasal country voices, and drinking.]

    That is where memory plays false. I was three,
    maybe four. My true recollection isn’t framed well,
    but nailed to the wall, a page from a magazine.
    My uncle lets the cold air in, has a gunny sack;
    in that, what he dumps into the circle of family
    is a fox cub, small as my hands, and terrified.

    [I tried to make a poem from that, for the cave
    and its shadows. Added a gun that was–if even there–
    unimportant. Missed telling you the truth.
    Not some thing about the south and rural barbarism,
    but: That I was as frightened in that room of poets
    as a fox cub dumped out of a gunny sack.]

    • At first I wasn’t sure of the bracketed stanzas–they made me question their part in the poem, but very quickly, I saw the power of their truth (literally their truth) in the story and the aim of rewriting to uncover and own truth. Then they were essential to me. That final simile is just wonderful and powerful, given the story. But, yes, I just tried it out: it works pretty well standing alone as well: “a fox cub dumped out of a gunny sack”. That can only mean one thing… Powerful revision.

    • Barbara, this took me back home in many ways, to a simpler time and cold winter nights around the Warm Morning stove.Jane is so very right. Powerful, gripping in places, without letting go until the reader accepts the words and their meanings. Excellent.

  15. I enjoyed both poems and your delightful story, Jane In a hurry to finish mine before lunch . . . no early poems here but I wrote this poems four years ago in the wake of my daughter’s death. Found at

    On Probation

    Sentenced to life without Jolene
    Jailed by grief
    Key drowned in my sea of tears
    Waves subside but black walls encompass me
    Alone in the dark, my fingers fumble for light
    God drills a pinpoint in my prison
    Illuminating life around me
    Within me
    Do I dare?
    Snatch the key, crack the door
    On probation

    • We so seldom consider in a capital crime the sentence already exacted on the victims, something you express powerfully here. “Jailed by grief” grabbed me too, as well as the redemption at the end.

    • This verse tells so much. Causal factors aren’t necessary for the reader. The emotional response is more than sufficient. Very well done, Darlene. Anyone who’s lost a close loved one recognizes this prison cell.

      • I keep returning to this event. It’s partly the time of year. With this prompt, Jolene’s death prompted me to write a few poems, since I just started here a few weeks ago.

        So, thanks, and I’m glad the poem works..

        • I do much the same thing with times of year, Darlene. We associate both emotions, memories, and the need to express again our responses to experience. I think of it as a human trait. For me it’s April, May, and August. December comes in for other downers.

          The fact that writing poetry acts as a relief valve puts you right in there with all poets to some degree. At least, that’s my thinking on it. I can only imagine the depth of your feelings about this loss, but your words go a long way in creating necessary understanding for all.

    • You write about your daughter’s death with such honesty and candour Darlene…have you thought of doing a collection of these poems? Maybe it’s too soon? They are very fine, in my view.

  16. Welcome to the Big Chair Jane! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It was wonderful to learn more about you and your poem was wonderful too! Walt, brother a corker as ever.

  17. The original poem is not on the web. It was written long ago and far way. I don’t want to add it it to my blog so if I may crave your indulgence I will post it in its entirety. The poem obviously has changed but the real change is in me. At that time my mind was bouncing between ending my marriage and ending my life. I survived. My marriage didn’t, nor did my mind (for a while!)

    Easier said than done

    As I watch the storm clouds
    fleeting o’er the moon,
    I can feel the call of dawn.
    Hit the road, Jack, and maybe come back,
    when the time feels good
    and the sun brings rain.

    The journey of life is beckoning me,
    but still I waiver.
    The road is, perhaps, a paradise
    of sorts — but is it mine?

    Shall I go,
    or shall I stay ?
    The question remains unanswered.
    Travelling on is unavoidable,
    but when a fork in the road
    appears, will my instincts guide me
    down my true path ?

    The storm clouds are fading now.
    The stars twinkle and tap
    a code that my heart
    can read.

    Love lies waiting
    — but whither the way ?
    Best to decide in the morning,
    for dawn is ‘ere the
    cliché of the soul.
    ©Iain Douglas Kemp 11/92

    Beyond the Blue Horizon

    As I watch the storm clouds fleeting o’er the moon I can feel the call of dawn.
    The wolf inside stretches and rears up.
    It howls a yearning,
    keening, screaming, warning howl:
    “Beware the traveller for he is wise. He has tasted the fires,
    he has slain the ebony beast and walked naked through the desolation
    only to wrapped in the warm glow of joy and freedom. Beware the traveller for he is free!”

    My back turned to the beacon of the night, I stride forth full of purpose, full of power, full of dreams and schemes and plans to put into action.
    The journey of life is beckoning me and I will not shirk.
    I will not hesitate or waver from my chosen course.
    The light behind me will give way soon enough to the light of day.
    The light that brings warmth and hope, peace and contentment.
    The bright sun that guides us on the cobbled and stony path
    that we elect from all those that may be trodden.
    The path least travelled or the way most worn,
    it matters not, for the journey is the destination and it is mine alone.
    Time was when I looked back in anger but those times are gone.
    Forgotten? Nay! Forgiven? Perhaps.
    But in any case relegated to the memory and not dwelt upon as was so long the way.

    Onwards and upwards, progress in every step, in every thought,
    deed and word scribbled in the latest of a series of well-worn journals.
    The records of the sojourn, the annals of the voyage.
    Written, closed and added to the pile.
    They are not for me to hark back upon, to remember was is done.
    Rather for those who come after, to at least know how it was done.

    The light on the horizon calls enchantingly.
    Bare-foot and naked still I stride forth once more.
    It is a magical cloak that forms on the wind to clothe me,
    boots conjured from the creatures of the desert wrap my feet
    and the palm leaves bend and twist and twine into the hat
    that shades my eyes from the glorious sunrise.

    No longer afraid.
    Enabled, embodied, empowered,
    I bid farewell to the long dark night and step onto the road that knows no end.
    My eyes, my sights are set on that distant horizon and a smile crosses my lips.
    The storm clouds are fading now.

    ©Iain Douglas Kemp 3/14

  18. Iain, I enjoyed them both, but can well see the change in you from the first to the second. The questions alone are emblematic of dilemma and uncertainty. I love the image of stars tapping code that is read by the heart. The second/rewrite is like the parting of storm clouds, “enabled, embodied, empowered” indeed. All travelers surely long to be wise and free. Bravo.

  19. I have one for now. I’m sorry that I don’t have a link to it anywhere. It sits in a file on my hard drive instead.

    “Where did this thought begin?
    What small trigger sent me on this quest?
    Perhaps I can trace it back to that spark”
    Lines from Beginnings vs. Endings

    Trails in Relation

    Where did this thought begin?
    What small trigger sent me on this path?

    Perhaps if I remind you each day that I’m here,
    satisfaction will pass for happiness
    in your eyes.

    Would you note my absence?
    Why should I choose to stay, be lonely?

    Maybe my love could expand, include your trophies,
    polishing admiration to gain time
    in your heart.

    What can I change for you?
    Who must I become to satisfy?

    I began as your beloved, learned quiet ways,
    became background noise to the symphony
    in your ears.
    You answer no questions.
    You now care too little for me to care.

    My trail of longing leads only to pain,
    leaving me to seek guideposts for others,
    for my life.

      • Thank you so much, Benjamin. Perhaps so. I was channeling the poor and unfortunate unhappy ones stuck in relationships that had died without benefits of memorial. It’s always been my feeling that those are the worst ends of all.

    • Claudsy, those three lines are already powerful, perhaps because as my memory is challenged, I frequently ask myself that first question and set about tracing a sequence back to try to understand (perhaps so I won’t take this path again). The title, Trails in Relation, is perfect for it forces the reader to finish–in relation to what? which is the point of much of the poem. Your images are strong–background noise vs. symphony, answers to no questions, and so forth. The final stanza diverges onto trails that may lead to healing, for you speak of others. No better way to heal the self than thinking beyond the self. A wise poem.

      • Thank you so much, Jane. I hadn’t thought of the form I took, other than its parameters helped to fence in the thoughts and lines themselves.

        It is a poem of entrapment, one by another, either in voice or in actuality. I watch people go through these dances of destruction and wonder how can they stand to live without resolution.

        That last stanza is the only resolution I could come up with for anyone stricken and striven as the character in the poem.

        I’m glad you liked it, and humbled that you thought it wise.

      • Thanks, William. Yep, that was the intent. We need the sad to appreciate the happy and the grateful for events in our lives. Otherwise, we’d have no way to recognize them. 🙂

  20. Love has authority

    Love is a tidal wave
    in a kind ocean.
    Love has authority
    over all other emotion.
    My heart is overflowing;
    and love will not be contained,
    It cannot fail,
    be defeated or blamed.
    Look deeply into mine eyes
    so that you may see,
    that love is abiding richly,
    to you from me.

    (I wrote a series of poems in the late 90’s era and this is one of them. The original is written on paper. This is when I first started writing poetry! The one above is modified from the original).


  21. Sailing in Vanity

    A mind subject to vanity
    is like a boulder falling on a feeble rock,
    casting a great shadow of darkness
    before its crushing point…

    A mind subject to vanity,
    is likened to a man in a small boat
    within a sea of lost hopes.
    Wanting nothing but to take him under,
    and to be swept away by his own current.
    To drown him, sink him.
    Until he and his little boat
    drown in the misery
    of all deceit.

    (The above poem is an edited version of a poem from the 90’s)


    • This is an interesting notion, Benjamin, especially your binding the stanzas together with that final rhyme. I did, however, get lost in the second image as to what symbolizes what and the relation that’s there between vanity and deceit. It may be the Benadryl and lost sleep talking though. This is pretty complex stuff for a new poet to tackle. Kudos!

  22. Go, Janie! Now I get to go back through my old poems, eh? I’m tempted to resurrect my high school and college poem folder I found recently in my underwear drawer (my favorite hiding place).
    N. P.

    • This is a peaceful, sweet poem, Hen. Further, it reminds me of Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”–a song designed to help us all chill out. For me, the most telling words of the piece are “you share with all who LISTEN there.” I suspect this line is true of so very much in the world. So now we know: you’re a good listener to the elements and the feelings they engender.

      • Thank you, Jane, I woke up and reread it… something’s missing… I need to work on it. But, I am so happy that “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay” came to you because that is exactly what this poem is about… (and also, feeling nostalgic; anticipating an upcoming Sunday drive into San Francisco, listening to this song… ) 🙂 !!

      • Hen, I must say that the song came to mind and stayed there, but by the end of the poem, I was in a different frame of mind and understanding.

        You write such meaningful spiritual poetry and this framework took over from the song at the end. When I re-read it, I stood on the shores of Galilee, listening to another voice, sweeter, higher in power, offering bread as a symbol. It was most reassuring for all the link back to the song.

          • I’ve noticed that with poets and poetry, double meanings are the rule rather than the exception. Multiple meanings simply reflect the ability of the poet to paint a large enough landscape with their words so as to allow the reader to apply the poem to their own life, circumstance, or experience. You’ve done that so well.

    • Your title took me to a different place, but I understood why when I got to the end of the stanza. Love it, Hen. Very subtle indeed. 🙂

  23. Patricia A. Hawkenson’s Back to Square One

    I created this new poem with three lines from my older poem: Theory of Relativity

    he should not
    be jealous
    of what I know

    Here is the link to the first poem I posted on my poetry blog: Expressive Domain.

    Here is the new poem:

    I Learned From the Best of Them

    Bent over
    in a mocking bow,
    he should not
    be jealous
    of what I know.

    For my fingers
    know the quick wind
    of a knife blade
    taunting closer,
    in a father’s control
    of his child’s fear.

    My eyelids know
    the pain of closing
    while trying
    to look straight

    My back felt the spaces
    welt between the bars,
    the blackness of blood
    on my white sheets.

    I knew how
    to hold it all inside
    until my keyboard grabbed
    my fingers tight
    and forced them all
    to fly away.

    • Patricia, it is so wonderful to see you back here again. What a powerful, powerful piece. WOW.

    • Patricia, those three lines gave birth to a wonderful new poem, especially that “what I know” that could be a great many things. The dark and painful knowledge readies us for that final escape through music. That, of course, gets me where I live: music–both playing and composing–healing us by helping us release “it all inside” to flight. Makes me want to yell
      YAY! at the end. Nice work.

    • Patricia, the others have expressed my response already. Power, yes! In several ways–the words, the progression of action, the multiple meanings and possible images corresponding to the words. All of these things you’ve combined with precision and intent, and you’ve done it so very well. Amazing piece.

  24. Unrequited

    She staggered,
    perfumed of gin and lime
    toward stoic
    candlelight. All that
    remained, all that
    was left of her plans
    for unrestrained romance.

    She killed the flame
    in the softness
    of fingers, hanging
    on the silence
    of rooms. Her soft
    perfumed hair
    wafted aside,

    her smiled regrets
    that her heart
    wouldn’t hide.
    And the sink swallowed
    drips from the tap
    as she swallowed
    a bit of her pride.


    Continued from The Last Edge of Romance written November 2012.

  25. “Leave ’em in Stitches”

    If you look too closely
    at life
    you begin to see the seams,
    the stitches which bind us together,
    are not made of a single kind of thread
    but are layer
    upon layer
    of differing threads,
    each stitched by a different hand
    as we each noticed
    what was worth

    From “Apprentice” published in Children, Churches and Daddies in 1995,

  26. Pingback: Unrequited | The Chalk Hills Journal

  27. I don’t many early poems . . . but my daughter was a poet. A friend said she had the soul of a poet. I took her poem and rewrote it. I include both here.
    In Dire Need original written 2004, four years before her death

    Prayed in this moment in time,
    That this time has made,
    In dire need I call out to you.
    Sorrow fills my soul
    Like an ocean tossing and turning
    Leaving behind a hole that cannot be filled.
    Life is like ashes in the wind
    Blowing away where none can see
    Leaving behind a hole of sorrow.
    Oh, Lord, please bring me back again.
    Still these waters of mine.
    Fill this hole of sorrow
    With rays of joy.

    My reworked poem: In dire need she called out to You
    Her life, like ashes in the wind,
    Blown away where none could see
    Leaving behind a hole that could be filled
    No laborers to refill the emptied soul
    No miracle-workers to resurrect the ashes
    No master artist to restore the original design
    Until. . .
    You answered
    The One who walked on water stilled her raging sea.
    Filled her with joy and dressed her with praise
    Crafted a crown from ashes
    Centerpiece of Your grace

    • Darlene, your daughter’s poem comes from such a sorrowful yet hopeful place (based on the fact that it is in the form of a prayer). You’ve managed to remold that into a resurrection of sorts with “You answered….filled her”. Those last lines are lovely and redemptive. I hope the rewriting of this poem helped you heal a little.

      • Jane,

        Thank you. As I wrote it, I sensed the words of Isaiah 61 in me (if you know the reference, “beauty for ashes” etc.) Hopeful, yes. Redemptive, yes. I find comfort I knowing she is in heaven, where pain can no longer touch, the holes in her soul made whole again . . .

    • Your rework of your daughter’s poem allows for promise and redemption, Darlene, both of which I sense have brought a bit of ease to your heart. And in the end, isn’t that what writing poetry does for meny of us?

    • I so agree with Jane, Darlene. I thought your rewrite might go in quite another direction and was so thrilled when it went where it did…a wonderful rendition that I think your girl would love.

  28. That Wrenching Feeling

    I stood on bare wood
    when there was nothing
    else left except an old broom
    in a corner of the living room.
    I planted my feet as if my soles
    were brushed with glue.

  29. I had written a version of this poem a few years ago and every year on my dad’s death anniversary i work with it, kneading it and revising accordingly—

    Since you were gone

    Some 15 odd seasons ago, the landscape changed
    My heart just froze with winter’s pain
    But slowly spring’s compassionate gaze
    Melted away that barren haze
    I feel you right beside me now
    As dusks turn to dawns

    I have this strange self ritual
    Which now, has become, –medicinal–

    You come and sit beside me
    Underneath the wise oak tree
    And, as I feed the squirrels
    You blow a soft sweet breeze
    I see you in the ocean
    And hear you in the rain
    And when I plant that soft red rosebush
    I feel you in its vane

    I drink my tea with you each day
    And toast some quotes you used to say—

    And even though–you’re out of reach
    In a timeless zone, I cannot tweet
    I feel you here, right in my hurt
    And the twirling smiles, that light my curls

    I did not grasp your beacon then
    Some voices now, anchor my zen
    Somehow—between the brown and blue
    I find all kinds of clues
    There’s a tiny glimmer that’s bright and free
    Guiding me— to be–
    And even though you may be gone
    You are,— right here — with me—

    • Priti, I admire this yearly ritual you’ve begun with this fine tribute to your father. I find myself talking with my mother particularly, when I’m gardening or cooking or have just read a book that she and I would have discussed ad nauseum. Our deceased loves just take on another plane of existence and perhaps as your poem suggests, help us recognize the spiritual in the natural things around us. There are so many good lines and images here. Lovely.

    • Love this, Priti. Made me think of my dad, and how all his little expressions (mostly made up). Have traveled through other family, and even my friends, who still remember those words.

  30. From an early poem “Found on a Beach in Uruguay” (link to the original posting below)

    Spread as if in perpetual flight, each
    Unflawed vein and dotted sector mirrored
    By its twin; the fragility and ephemeral

    It’s not that I’ve been particularly disappointed by this poem but it does seem to be lacking something and I’ve never been able to “place” it (I think I’ve submitted it to about 4 or 5 publications, maybe entered it an equal number of times to contests)…it’s time to take another run at it.
    Spread as if in perpetual flight, each
    unflawed vein and dotted sector mirrored
    by its twin; the fragility and ephemeral
    nature belied by the perfection
    laying still against the sand
    The butterfly found dead on the white beach
    in Punta del Este is as undeniable
    as the scribe awaking to pen
    poems in winter

  31. Well, I have to say I enjoyed the original and its “mirror” wing here. The final simile that you set up is interesting and powerful. EA Poe suggested that all good poetry was about dead beauty (lost love, a case in point). I enjoyed reading and thinking about this reflection of the transience of life; a beautiful butterfly perfect in death on a lovely beach makes a wonderful visual image, while the poet in winter appeals to other senses. I like it a lot.

  32. Since today’s PAD prompt was beginnings and endings, I went back to an earlier poem (not sure how long ago) and harvested a few lines at the end to form a new beginning:

    Mine is the muse
    of second chances, second helpings, second comings,
    leading me through a hall of mirrors, where I meet
    myself, and turn to find another way to travel on,

    tracing circles
    like the stone shadows on sundials,
    the second, minute, hour hands of clocks,
    the planets’ paths around the sun.

    The cycle
    of seasons, bulbs buried then emerging brand new,
    yearly resurrection, the solstice and equinox,
    playing parlor tricks, balancing eggs on end,

    may be my muse’s gift,
    not just the possibilities of the blank page,
    but the opportunity to take my old mistakes
    scraping them away to create my palimpsest.

    Here’s the original:

    Sometimes I just know, without any formal cues,
    when I’ve reached the end, and while a fitting finale
    to fiction or a surprising couplet at the soliloquy’s
    end satisfies, I can’t impose the same on my life,
    my deeds, my words. Perhaps Millay could put chaos
    into fourteen line, but mine sometimes expands
    to fifteen ,sixteen, or more or refuses to budge
    beyond twelve. Mistrust besets me, reminding me
    of those who claim they’ve seen the light but were
    snatched back from there to here.
    Hope too goads me on. Like the fifth book
    in Adams’ Hitchhiker trilogy, life presses forward,
    even when an end makes sense. Mine is the muse
    of second chances, second helpings, second comings,
    leading me through a hall of mirrors, where I meet
    myself, and turn to find another way to travel on.

    • I like what you did here, Nancy, especially those lines that spawned a new poem. I’m a big believer in second and all subsequent chances as you know, so this resonates with me. I also like the format of your second chance here, the shortened lines reading as a thought unto themselves. I do believe a blank page (or screen or canvas) is as forgiving a thing as we are likely to find, because, as you say, it gives us an opportunity to make something new of the old. This is beautiful work, my friend.

  33. Pingback: Back To Square One (prompt) | echoes from the silence

    • Thanks so much. Sometimes I’m reminded of an adventure and wonder why I’m more sedentary than I like now. The spirit is willing, as they say.

  34. Tears of Joy

    A tear for sorrow.
    A tear for pain.
    So many tears.
    So much pain.
    Where is my happiness?
    Where is my cheer?
    My soul cries out,
    but can anyone hear?

    Tears of joy
    from the source within.
    Stream down my face
    and drop from my chin.

    (modified poem from the 90’s)

    • It feels wrong to say I love a sad poem, though I do like the sad portion of this one. The final quatrain, however, takes back tears and renders them joyful and overflowing. Great image.

  35. What use am I?

    What is a tree without the strength of it’s roots?
    What is a seed? Without fertile soil to embody it’s growth?
    What use is the might of the Sun? If it’s rays have nowhere to run?
    What use is the eye? If they fails to interpret the skies?
    What use am I? Without the Son?

    (modified poem from the 90’s)

  36. ALL RISE

    All rise.
    The Son will judge
    the ends of the earth.
    All shall bow before him,
    and be tried before his face.
    The dead and the dying,
    the corrupt and the righteous.

    The hour of tears shall flood the earth
    and a weeping river of sorrows shall run
    in that day.

    All rise.
    The Son will judge
    the ends of the earth.

    (Modified poem from the 90’s)

  37. Shepherds Questionnaire

    When shall we awaken?
    And how long will we slumber?
    When time shall end?
    What do you seek?
    And why do you yet sleep?
    How many burdens do you still carry?
    Where are the sheep that have wandered astray?

    I have shaken you,
    but your eyes do not open.
    I have called you,
    but you have not listened
    nor spoken in return.

    O’ where, have you wandered to?

    (modified poem from the 90’s)

  38. And I think I’ll just rewrite the one that posted above.

    Empty Hearts in Empty Houses

    A stagger toward candlelight,
    stoic as gin. The tartness of lime
    perfumed on her skin, plans
    for romance killed like a flame.
    No smiles, no heart, no pride.
    No long rumble under covers.
    No tumble, no, not tonight.

    • Pruned shrubs always put out new growth. So it is with these poems. This is a darned good revision/rewrite of the others, tight smart images, like turning a painting into a work in which a few strokes of a pen tell all that we need to understand. Wow!

  39. I wrote and submitted to the April PAD Day 4 prompt ‘SINCE….” on April 4 (Since the Beginning ) Then – seeing the TRIVERSEN CHALLENGE, I rewrote my original to the following.

    TRIVERSEN: Poetic Form
    By Marjory M Thompson

    Since time began,
    I’ve been connected true to you
    and you to me.

    Connected ‘fore the stars were hung,
    before the moon reflected light
    before the earth began to spin.

    Connected by a golden thread
    woven through all time and space,
    binding we-two to be as one.

    Long and gold, vibrating thread
    moved by a summer’s breeze
    and captured for a robin’s nest.

    Lifted by winter’s harsh storms,
    it flies,
    but does not break.

    Holding fast,
    connections do not end,
    that started when all time began.

    • my original poem was:

      SINCE THE BEGINNING… 2:30 pm
      Copy write – By Marjory M Thompson

      Since the beginning of all time
      I have been connected to you.

      Before the stars were being hung,
      the moon first reflected the sun,
      before time the earth first spun,
      I was connected to you.

      Two golden threads, woven to blend,
      reflecting sunlight and blue skies.
      Vibrated by summer’s breeze, then
      lifted by storms and winds, it flies
      ever connecting me with you.

      A thought, a look, a touch, a word
      since the beginning of all time
      each has connected me to you.

    • Wow, these are both beautiful, Marjory. I love how seamlessly this became triversen. I think you have a lovely submission here.

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