POETIC BLOOMINGS is a Phoenix Rising Poetry Guild site established in May 2011 to nurture and inspire the creative spirit.


I cannot tell you all what a tremendous help you have been in tilling this fertile poetic garden. The Guest Hosts so far have been such nurturing souls and we have all benefited from that. My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Jane Shlensky for her diligence and tenacity to stay with the project, comment on almost every poem posted.



The idea of culling three lines from a poem and giving them a fresh start, is a form of revision which is a major part of the writing process. The original poems were a step stone to something rejuvenated and better; a new perspective. The poem I chose became in our author’s words, ”something different”. But in her irrepressible story telling style, Barbara Young rewove her three lines into this tapestry:


[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.]

© Copyright Barbara Young – 2014



Guest-hosting has been a great experience for me, reading so many fine poems from so many fine poets and people. Thank you, Walt. While bloom selecting has been a little daunting, it has given me an insight into how editors of books and magazines feel when they select poems for their publications. I realized that I’m more of a gatherer of posies than I am a single-stem girl, but I have to say to you all that there was a lot to love in your poems this week, and a lot to love in the kind and caring way in which you encourage one another. That’s the fertilizer that makes this garden grow, in my opinion. I winnowed for hours and still sat like a child holding a Whitman’s sampler but allowed only one piece of chocolate. My short list had Jerry Walraven, Patricia Hawkenson, Bill Preston, Nancy Posey, and Hannah Gosselin, but that isn’t short enough, alas. Finally, I took a nap and went with the first poem that claimed my thoughts when I woke . It ain’t scientific, but it worked.  This week’s Brilliant Bloom goes to Patricia Hawkenson for a poem that chilled us and offered the power of redemption through music.


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.

© Copyright Patricia A. Hawkenson – 2014



This short form seemed to garner some outstanding thoughts and their corresponding amazing poems. From happy to sad, determination and despair these Cinqku all met the challenge. This one was clearly thought provoking, slightly tongue in cheek and quite telling. Two oars working together move forward. One oar steers to the shore, of just goes in a circle. Paula Wanken expressed that vision smartly. There is wisdom in her words.


sail, with oar
in water, moves
me…alas, only in

© Copyright Paula M Wanken – 2014



One of the things I love about this blog is that people rise to a challenge, take on any form, and churn out these wonderful “attempts” that read more like the finished thing. I ate these little cinqku up, each one as imaginative and clever as each of you are, but finally I offer my bloom to Darlene Franklin for a cinqku whose central image has kept me spinning.


brush winter’s
cobwebs into
skeins of spun memories
new thread

© Copyright Darlene Franklin – 2014

CONGRATULATIONS to Barbara, Patricia, Paula and Darlene on you selections. And great work by all our contributors!

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  1. Well, thank-you, Walt. It would still be sitting on the needs-work pile, though, without the prompting.

  2. Wonderful bloom choices all and great comments to go with…I just wanted to say when I read Patricia’s poem, it rattled me, has haunted me since, and I thought then — this would be my pick…that doesn’t happen hardly ever so I thought I’d mention the synchronicty. It was wonderful having you “chair” with Walt, Jane…a wonderful poet, and a thoughtful commenter. Thanks again to both of you and congrats to all the brilliant bloom winners!

  3. Great choices, friends… Congratulations, Barbara, Patricia, Paula and Darlene!

  4. Well done to this week’s blooms. Perfect choices. Perfect.

  5. Congrats!! Excellent pieces! Thanks Walt & Jane.

  6. Thank you for choosing my poem for a beautiful bloom! I should mention that although music is one way that people find emotional release, the poem could also be read to use the computer keyboard and writing as an escape – as poetry has been for me. I do try in most of my poems to carefully choose words that might have multiple meanings as it gives the reader so much more to reflect. I’m honored. Thank you all for your kind words and support of my efforts.

  7. William Preston on said:

    Congratulations to Paula, Darlene, Patricia, and Barbara for such thoughtful, moving works.

  8. connielpeters on said:

    Darlene, another bloom! Gee, you’re embarrassing me, but I’m very much delighted, too. 🙂 Congrats to you, Paula, Patricia and Barbara. Well deserved.

    • Darlene Franklin on said:

      Connie, I am shocked. And delighted, of course. I don’t wish to steal your thunder. . .Thank you very much

  9. Wonderful choices. Looking forward to this weeks prompt.

  10. Darlene Franklin on said:

    With all the beautiful, heart-breaking and humorous poems this week, I am dumbfounded to be chosen. Thank you for the honor. And congratulations as well to Paula, Barbara, and Patricia.

  11. Barbara, Paula, Darlene, and Patricia, you all deserve to be singled out for this week’s blooms. Each of you had marvelous examples for us to follow into this next week. Congratulations!

    Thank you, Jane for sitting in the teacher’s chair this week. You’ve given me much to think about, simply by studying your comments to poems submitted. You did a terrific job.

    And Walt, you’ve offered us a new stage in our development by doing this revolving co-host format. If we can’t have Marie every week, this is the most wonderful solution around. Thank you for choosing such fantastic poets to challenge us.

    • janeshlensky on said:

      Thanks, Claudsy, for this sweet comment. I think Walt exemplifies the benevolent teacher or ruler, allowing others to try their hands at what he does so effortlessly (umm, seemingly). All hail, King Walt!

  12. Congratulations to Barbara, Patricia, Paula and Darlene!!

    I just love this feature…it’s such a joy to read the choices of our talented and gracious hosts each week!!

    Thank you Walt and thank you Jane for being here so fully…inspiring and supporting, (I’m so humbled to have made your short list, Jane!!).

  13. Quite a surprise to read of my bloom on Facebook this morning. Thank you, Walt, for the bloom. Thank you Walt & Jane for the fine examples that inspired us all. And…congrats to my fellow bloomers: Barbara, Patricia & Darlene! 🙂

  14. Congratulations, Barbara, Patricia, Paula and Darlene! And thank you Walt and Jane for the prompts and examples.

    • janeshlensky on said:

      I can’t take credit for the prompts–that’s all Walt. In fact, I could have spent another week trying to write meaningfully to them. That’s how you know it’s a good prompt, hm? Thanks, Debi.

  15. Barbara, Patricia, Paula and Darlene, congratulations on your Brilliant Blooms. Exceptional work by all of you!

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