POET INTERVIEW – RYAN K. RUSSELL

Processed with VSCO with b1 preset

Ryan K. Russell

Question:  What could possibly have prompted the internet to connect a sixty-year-old grandmother with a young NFL Defensive End? Why, a passion for poetry!  Of course!  Please welcome Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ryan K. Russell on this, the day of the launch of his debut poetry book, Prison or Passion!  (The title is linked to a site where you may purchase the book.  After you read the poem below, I believe you will be heading straight over there with me to make your purchase.)

Overdraw – by Ryan K. Russell

Gold coin. Dollars. Cents.
Money can’t buy me a dad.
Birthday transactions aren’t bank statements but hugs and laughs.
Silver dollar. The little boy holler. No father to calm his cries.
Plastic credit card. Cold and hard like the floor you left me to sleep on.
I was below zero. It only takes one number, and plenty commas to make you love a zero.
Should I pay you to love me?

I prayed you to love me.

I cried for you to love me.

I bled for you to love me.

My deposit insufficient.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MARIE ELENA:
  Hello Ryan!  A warm welcome, and congratulations on the launch of your book!

“Overdraw” is forcefully unsettling – born of your own life.  So very much is said with few words, which is my favorite style of poetry.  I look forward to reading more, getting to know more about the man behind the poem, and introducing him to our poetry “garden.”  Thank you for taking time out of your ridiculously busy, high-profile life, to stop by our humble site.  In my way of thinking, that speaks volumes of who you are.

This book-launch day is also the day of your mother’s birthday. May I assume this is more than just a happy coincidence?  Was this something intentionally arranged, to surprise or honor her?

RYAN: It’s no coincidence that the book releases on my mother’s birthday. Everything about this book is intentional. The font, the cover design, the arrangement, and any pictures were done by me with great purpose. The relationship I share with my mother is the closest bond two human beings can have. The love I receive from her is truly unconditional. Growing up it was just my mother and I. My biological father was not in the picture. I had a stepfather that raised me until I was seven, then he passed in a motorcycle accident. My mother was all I had. Even though she worked three jobs at times and was still a full-time college student, my mother made sure that we had a strong bond. No matter how long or hard her work day was, she would listen about my day with in depth questions. Sometimes she would listen while resting her eyes, and I would doubt she was even listening. When I asked if she had been, she would be able to repeat back to me, almost word for word, exactly what I said. She made sure I always knew I was a blessing and not a burden. Releasing this book on her day is just one of many ways I continue to honor her.

MARIE ELENA:  I am so sorry to hear about your father and stepfather – such devastating blows to a young child.  Obviously your mother is a remarkable woman, raising you so beautifully on her own. What a gift you are giving her, with this book launch.  We are happy to honor her right along with you, with this interview today.  My intention was to shoot for May, but when I saw the book launch and your mother’s birthday were both today, I stepped on the gas.  And I’d like to take a moment to wish her a very happy birthday!

with mom

How cute is this shot of you both?! 

Ryan, one of the things I was excited to learn about you is that you were a product of the Big Ten, having earned a football scholarship at Purdue in Indiana.  What did you study there?  And why did you choose that field of study?

RYAN: I double majored at Purdue. Since I was on a football scholarship I spent most summers at Purdue training. That gave me an opportunity to take extra classes as well. I studied sociology and communications because initially I wanted to be a sports broadcaster. The plan was to have a long successful career in the NFL and then, when it was all said and done, be a big time broadcaster or analyst. Sociology peaked my interest to know the world around me.  Also I have always been an emotional human being but I wanted the opportunity to study people in a more logistical way. Now I do a lot of public speaking at schools, where I talk about some of the struggles I’ve been through as a young man. Writing was more of a personal venture and a therapeutic way of expression. Eventually I realized that football was not the only thing that was innately a part of me, but writing was as well.

MARIE ELENA:  Thank you for using what you have learned in your life experiences to help our youth. What most valuable lesson have you taken away from being a college and professional athlete? Is there any particular coach or fellow player that you would say helped you with that lesson?

RYAN:  God, the lessons I’ve learned through football and the people I have encountered through it is endless. My friends often joke about my ability to relate anything in life to a football analogy. I would have to say the lesson that has resonated the strongest with me is the finite nature of life. When you’re young time seems endless, you feel invincible. Yes, there’s also a power in that, and a boldness that comes with it, but when you learn the finite nature of things though, details start to matter. Things become more beautiful because you understand they are temporary. You take risks because you know you will never have another opportunity exactly like that one again. You hold your loved ones closer and kiss your lovers deeper because you will never be there again, in that moment, at that time, with that person. Things will never go back to the way they were and they will never remain the way they are.

MARIE ELENA:  So much wisdom, eloquently expressed.

RYAN:  My teacher for this lesson was my best friend, college teammate and roommate, Joseph Gilliam. Joe and I were the same age, lived in the same dorm, played on the same side of the ball, but were opposite in a lot of little ways. Joe was mature and grounded with a strong sense of self. I was immature at times, emotional, reckless, and discovering who I was and who I wanted to be. Joe did everything with purpose, he enjoyed all the little things in life, he took nothing for granted. Our final year at Purdue Joe suffered a career ending knee injury, and by this time we were the two closest people on the team. I was devastated my best friend would be missing his final season at Purdue. See life is finite, football doesn’t last, and you don’t know when it’s going to be over. Instead of sulking, Joe poured all his love for the game into those around him. Joe encouraged me every game, talking to me on the sideline, picking me up when I felt down, and watching film with me constantly. Joe didn’t sulk on the past because it was over. He made the most of every moment.  I was with Joe in 2017 when he was diagnosed with stage four spinal glioblastoma. It was much of the same. I was devastated, as was everyone in Joe’s life. By this time I had introduced him to one of my childhood friends, Rachel, and they had married. Rachel and I did everything we could to be there for Joe, but looking back it seems Joe was consoling us. Joe didn’t torture himself with the past, he didn’t waste his moments fearing the future, he made every present moment full. His time was finite but he made an earth shattering impact on all that knew him. My best friend Joseph Marlow Gilliam III passed September 11, 2018. His life is more than a lesson but an example of how I try to live every day.

MARIE ELENA: Oh, Ryan … I’m so sorry about your dear friend.  You have endured so much pain in your life.  Great blessings, coupled with immense loss.  I remember the story of Joe.  Glioblastoma is a horrible thing.  It took my husband’s mother.  Hers was deep in her brain.

RYAN:  I’m truly sorry to hear about your mother in law. Joe’s was initially at the base of his spine, then another developed on his brainstem.

MARIE ELENA:  He sounds like the kind of friend everyone would want to have.  I’m glad he was in your life, even for that short while.

You blew me away with what you consider the most valuable lesson you learned from football.  Now in the reverse, what would you say has been the hardest thing about a life of football, on a personal level?  Especially in the NFL, where I imagine there are temptations that are hard to resist.  Have you found that to be true?  If so, how have you dealt with them?

RYAN: I won’t ever deny that I’m an emotional person. I have accepted that about myself, and in knowing that, I have to protect myself. The nature of the business is brutal. I have been on three teams my five years in the league, and I have made tons of close friends. With every friend I have made, I have had to say goodbye to many more. I know it seems like something small but to me it can really take a toll. I grew up just my mother and I so friends for me are as close as family.  One day a buddy you’ve been hanging out with all camp might roll his ankle. Next thing you know his locker is empty and there is someone completely different in it. That was hard for me to deal with at first. I know it ties into my abandonment issues I have from my father leaving me, and it took me some time to confront the root of the problem head on. After the passing of my best friend, I started going to therapy regularly and learning how to deal with a lot of trauma I’ve been through, including abandonment.

MARIE ELENA: That really doesn’t seem like something “small” at all, to me.  That is an aspect of professional sports I have never thought of.

On the thrilling side of football, you have moments like the one in this photo.  🙂 Oh my goodness, Ryan!  I wish you had been sitting with me when I opened this photo from you!  I literally gasped, and then laughed out loud, all by myself!  When I asked for photos, I never imagined something as thrilling as you tackling Drew Brees!  You totally made my evening!  I was so excited, I mistakenly hit “send” on a question I already knew the obvious answer to:  Of COURSE you did not play at Purdue with Drew.   He is an old man, compared to you! Sheesh!  And I must say, hats off to the photographer.  Thrilling action. Both names clearly shown.  Both helmet decals shown as well.  Excellent “catch!”  (ahem)

Brees

RYAN:  Though Drew and I never played together, he came back to Purdue multiple times to speak, and he was always inspiring. He’s a Texas boy like me, and he was the only reason I really knew where Indiana was on the map. I’ve spoken to him one on one a handful of times and he talked at lengths about the connection of humanity. How you can’t expect to be a good student without being a good son. In his examples he couldn’t be the best quarterback if he wasn’t waking up everyday trying to be the best husband, if he wasn’t tucking his kids in every night trying to be the best father. You don’t pick and choose when you want to be your best and in what fields. You just do it all the time in every way possible.

MARIE ELENA:  Wow.  That makes me glad I asked my embarrassing question.  Thank you for sharing this about Drew, and confirming that he is the man he projects himself to be.

I am used to criticism on matters of athletics, but not on matters of my heart.”  This quote from you touched me.  I do think both require a thick skin. Not that I would know anything about criticism on matters of athletics (I don’t have an athletic bone in my body!). But there is something about putting your “self” out there … the heart of who you are, where you’ve been, where you’re going, what you feel and believe and aspire to … it feels vulnerable.  It is vulnerable.  And maybe that’s where people with lives as different as yours and mine find common ground.  Please expand on that quote of yours.  What prompted you to splay your heart?  And what prompted your use of poetry to that end?

RYAN: Writing has always been personal and football has always been public. In high school on Friday nights everyone in Dallas was in a football stadium. They would cheer and boo during the game but after the game you were always going to hear an opinion. My earliest memories of football come with memories of criticism. It’s funny, when you’re a professional you hear so much more criticism from so many more people, but it barely affects you. I’m not sure if it’s because we are jaded now or because you know 99.9% of the people critiquing you have no idea what it takes to play at your level. On the flip side, I remember writing my first poem around the age of seven when my stepdad passed away. The format was a letter to God asking him why I didn’t deserve a father. Why I was a little boy who had a dad who didn’t want him and the dad who did want him was killed. No one read this poem. No one cheered or booed. It wasn’t the talk of the town and it wasn’t criticized. In my experience, sharing your story with people gives them the opportunity to connect. That part of it is valuable and beautiful. Also sharing gives them the opportunity to criticize. Even more so when you add a monetary value to your heart’s expression, criticism is expected. This quote is me preparing and acknowledging this fact. The noise of criticism grew louder in football when people started paying hundreds of dollars for a seat. The noise will inevitably grow louder for my poetry when people pay money to read them. I focus on the little boys who aren’t ready to share their poems, so they can read mine and know we are on the same journey. And that our journey has a happy ending.

MARIE ELENA:  Again, so much wisdom here.  And thank God for the happy ending.

Ryan, if I may ask … did the little boy who wrote that heartwrenching poem to God ever get an answer from Him?

RYAN:  I think God had always answered that question. I was just too hurt a lot of the times to hear it. I believe he shows me all the amazing things I have that I deserve: my mother, my passion, my art, my career, my friends, etc. I think he also has given me great things I don’t deserve: forgiveness, mercy, hope, etc. God answers me every morning he wakes me up, and every night I fall asleep. He tells me, “It’s not about what you deserve, but what you receive and how you move forward from there. Make the most of it. Love the great, learn from the hurt. Go through the dark so that you may help someone who is stumbling around blind.” I hope that makes sense.

MARIE ELENA:  It makes a world of sense, Ryan. A world.

From the outside looking in, we can tend to think talented people who have “made it” in life have few struggles.  Obviously that is not true, and you have kindly been very transparent with us about some of your hardships.  What or whom do you feel helped you survive, and even thrive, in spite of it all?

RYAN: I love this question because it allows me to shed some more light on the release date of my book. I chose to release Prison or Passion on my mother’s birthday, for the simple reason that I would not have survived the story my book tells without her. When my father passed and my biological abandoned us, my mother was more than enough. She was provider and nurturer, flawlessly. When I suffered abuse from family members, she swiftly removed me from the situation and protected me from harm. She put me in the best schools she could, she listened when I spoke, and she always encouraged my most outlandish dreams. When I suffered injury from football, she was my healer.  When my best friend passed of cancer, she was my shoulder to cry on. When I was cheated on by my first love, she encouraged me to love again. She was the perfect balance of mentor and friend, not knowing she was really playing the role of savior.

MARIE ELENA:  Thank you for sharing this beautiful, strong, loving woman with us.  These photos speak volumes.

 

 

MARIE ELENA:  Let’s talk some more about poetry.  Is there a particular poet you are most inspired by?  If so, who and why?

RYAN: I could talk at lengths about Maya Angelou and the role she played in my life not only as a poet but as an African American Female Activist. Not growing up with a lot of male influence on a day to day basis, I think I was more open to growing close with Angelou and her work. I was used to being raised by strong independent women. I learn that like I, she suffered abuse from a family member. She spoke many languages and traveled the world as I had always dreamed. She recited work at the inauguration of Clinton. She had been nominated for a Tony, a Pulitzer, and won three Grammys. Maya Angelou was like my poetry Mother without even ever meeting her. I also learned a lot about the civil rights movement through studying Maya Angelou.

MARIE ELENA: Your poetry mother.  I’m sure she would have loved to have known that.  Her death was a huge loss to the entire poetry community, as well as the world.

Have you been involved in any poetry slams?  I am so shy, but would love to muster up the confidence to take part, sometime.

RYAN: Slam is actually one of the ways I found the courage to publish my book. One Tuesday night three years ago, my brother and I were visiting Los Angeles during my offseason. My brother was one of the few people who knew I wrote poetry and he looked up a one mic for us to attend. Da Poetry Lounge on Fairfax is a great intimate environment where poets all around the world come to read and listen. My brother ended up signing me up and I performed for my first time on that stage. Since then I have performed several times and go more often to listen and be inspired. My brother was under the impression that if I could read my work aloud it would be easy for me to just publish a book and let others read for themselves. Recently I have performed a poem from my book called Sitting Down at Da Poetry Lounge.

MARIE ELENA:  Performance venues would be a good source of inspiration.  My nearly sole source for rubbing elbows with other poets so far has been online.  But I have gleaned much inspiration from them! Many of us here at Poetic Bloomings met online at Poetic Asides, which is a blog by Robert Lee Brewer (poetry editor of the Writer’s Digest).  It was there that Walt Wojtanik and I met, and later decided to begin this little site we having going here.  A few of us have even managed to meet one another, though not Walt and I as of yet.  We have taken to referring to each other as “best friends who have never met.”  Is there an online site where you interact with other poets? You know you are welcome here anytime to respond to Walt’s prompts.  We are a small, but passionate and encouraging group. I know the Poetic Asides community would welcome you as well!

RYAN: Thank you for the invite Marie. I would love to join some more poet communities. I have been so busy doing everything for my book, so I actually haven’t had time to meet as many poets as I would like. I met one of my idols actually on Instagram. I had been following contemporary poet Christopher Poindexter online for a while and after sharing some of my own work, he showed interest in me. Christopher is the creator of three poetry books himself and was looking to start his own publishing company with his brothers. We met on Venice beach, swapped poems, stories, and ideas. Months later I became his first published poet of his company, Jack Wild. Other poets I have had the pleasure of interacting with on Instagram are Atticus, Tyler Knott Gregson, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Jon Lupin, Danez Smith, and some others. I have been very fortunate to be accepted into this community that I have always secretly felt so connected too.

MARIE ELENA:  You are definitely plugged in! Much of Christopher Poindexter’s poetry speaks to the heart of the, “say much in few words” poet I aspire to be.  I have to admit to snooping around a bit on Facebook, and saw that you actually used typewriters on Venice Beach.  I can’t think of anything more fun!  I bet you drew a lot of smiles from people strolling the beach!

Now for another quote of yours:  “We are multifaceted and phenomenal beings with unlimited capabilities.”  I love this, Ryan.  And you seem to be a prime example of it.  I see that in addition to football and poetry, you are also an artist, a novel-writer, a playwrite, and, and, and!  Please help me enter the mind of one with so many talents, such diversity, and such confidence.

RYAN: Honestly that quote is what I believe of the world. I knew it when I was a young boy. My mother was a mom, my best friend, a probation officer, a sister, a lover, a widow, a writer, a social worker, a spiritual guide, etc. She had so much on her plate yet it never seemed to get full.  My family is Jamaican and my mother is the first generation to be born here in the states. I often heard the joke that Jamaican always had a bunch of different side hustling going on. I always thought that was so cool. When I used to visit every summer with my grandmother I thought it fascinating that the same man renting jet skis in the morning at the beach was the man selling curry goat lunches in the afternoon, and he also owned the club we visited in the evening. I think the perception of Jamaican’s are that we are easy going and laidback, but honestly I believe that we relax hard because we work even harder. I adopted that same mentality when I moved to LA. School is a great way to learn and expand but sometimes I think we use it to limit ourselves in ways. We pick subjects we want to specialize in, curriculum geared towards one subject. I see the need for this and by no means am I proposing a complete reform of formal education, but I think we need to emphasize the importance of informal education. Informal education to me is the education of life and its experiences.  I do what my heart calls me to do, I learn from those I meet, I grow from the experiences I have and the relationships I create. Recently I have started writing songs as well. Hahahah but I do need to focus on finishing one project before starting five more. I have promised myself this offseason to try and focus on three projects as “work,” i.e. my poetry book, my novel, my script. Any other writing I’m doing right now I want to keep as leisure.

MARIE ELENA:  You leave me shaking my head.  So young for so much wisdom.  And a true renaissance man, much like our own Walt Wojtanik!

RYAN:  I think I’m just lucky. Hahaha!

MARIE ELENA:  There is no such thing, in my book. 😉

Getting ready (sadly) to wrap up our chat, there is something I have never asked a guest here, but want to ask you.  I hope you don’t find it a morbid question:  When you pass from this life, what would you most like those left behind to remember you by?

RYAN:  I want them to remember I smiled more than I did anything.  I smiled more than I hurt. I smiled more than I cried. I smiled more than I hated, or judged. I smiled as much as I could through it all and I hope I made them smile more than I made them do anything in life.

MARIE ELENA: I want to just sit with that response a while, and soak it in.  If we all aspired to this, we’d live in a very different world.

This last question is one I end every interview with:  If there was only one thing we could know about you, what would you want it to be?

RYAN: Know that I believe in you. No matter what you’re fighting or what you’re striving for, I believe in you. If you know nothing else about me, know I believe in you.

MARIE ELENA:  Well, you’ve certainly made me a believer in you, Ryan.  Thank you so much for, well, for everything.  For visiting our humble site and sharing who you are.  For BEING who you are.  What a pleasure this has been.  I wish my dad was still “with us.”  He would have loved this.

Take care, God bless, and Boiler Up!

________________________________________________

For more of Ryan, please check out the links below.

Publishers Website:

https://jackwildpublishing.com

My Websites/Social media:

https://rkrelentless.com

https://www.instagram.com/rkrelentless/

https://twitter.com/RKRelentless

Book Available On:

https://www.amazon.com/Prison-Passion-R-K-Russell/dp/0578482983/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=prison+or+passion&qid=1555961924&s=gateway&sr=8-1

https://jackwildpublishing.com/collections/r-k/products/prison-or-passion

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/prison-or-passion-r-k-russell/1131253059?ean=9780578482989

 

THE POETIC BLOOMINGS “LIFE IS A BEACH!” GAUNTLET

(This is a slightly revised re-posting of an announcement originally made June 28.)

I’m on a much needed (aren’t they always) vacation next this week  😀  and I’m sure some beach time is in order. After all, “Life is a Beach!”

So here’s the deal. We will all be going on sort of a vacation next month in the form of the first POETIC BLOOMINGS “LIFE IS A BEACH” POETRY GAUNTLET. What’s this mean, Walt?

First of all, for the month of July, the weekly Sunday prompt will be suspended. WHAT, NO POETRY PROMPTS? Au contraire!

A beach/vacation-related inspiration will be posted daily. “Daily?” you ask, “How is that a vacation?” It’s a break from routine, so  spin your wheels, stretch your muse.Use this idea to write your poetry. Long, short, rhymed, it doesn’t matter. Just write. Everyday. That’s the gauntlet. And since everyone is doing “challenges” nowadays, we’re making hay while the sun shines.

Wednesday will continue as IN-FORM POET WEDNESDAY with a twist. It will be joined with the prompt to pen your beach finery to that specific form. We may (will) repeat forms we have previously highlighted.

Marie’s monthly interview will also continue, so watch for it toward the end of the month.  (Catch Marian Veverka’s June interview herehttp://poeticbloomings.com/2013/06/20/poet-interview-marian-j-veverka/).

The BEAUTIFUL BLOOM feature on Saturday will also take a hiatus for the month (hey, Marie and I have earned the rest). However, anyone wishing to “award” a particular poem they’ve read with a Starfish, please feel free to do so. Poems will be selected from the month’s submissions for a special chapter in Book 3 (yes, there will be a book three! 😀 ).

BUT… we’re not done. As with the 20 week Memoir Project, you will be asked to compile another e-chapbook of the “Beach” poetry to be highlighted through the rest of the year. (Anyone wishing to still complete and submit a Memoir, you are welcomed to do so!)

So, pour yourself a cold drink, kick back (don’t forget the SPF), write more poetry and enjoy a different July here at POETIC BLOOMINGS.

IN-FORM POET WEDNESDAY – LINE MESSAGING

In LINE MESSAGING poetry, the final line of each stanza may be compiled to create an entirely new poem with its own independent message (a poem within a poem).  It appears there are no rules for number of stanzas, or rhyme scheme.   This form was created by Angel Favazza.

See Shadow Poetry for more on LINE MESSAGING

MARIE ELENA’S ATTEMPT

David

He considers profoundly
The beauty before him,
Knowing she belongs to another. 
He uses his authority to order her
     Husband
                 to the front lines.
He feels no remorse
For death in war is honorable. 
     Yes? 
Besides,
What does it profit a man
 
     If the perks of royalty elude him?
He is convinced his king-heart is selfless;
That his royal power is used
For the wellbeing of his people,
     And not as a means
            To gain the world
 
                  And all therein. 
He seeks only what is best for this
      worthy creature.
Surely he could give her what Uriah could not. 
Surely for this precious gem,
Uriah would be willing to give
     his life
                And forfeit his soul.
 
 © Copyright Marie Elena – 2013
 
 Independent Message:
     What does it profit a man
     To gain the world,
     And forfeit his soul?
                        (Mark 8:36)
 
 I have to admit that this was one of the hardest forms I’ve ever attempted.  Walt, yours is nothing short of amazing. ~ Marie Elena
 

WALT’S MESSAGE:

A HEART IN THE SILENCE OF LOVE

Silence is a comforting companion,
a reminder that peace soothes
and love is the cure for
a heart left to languish.

 Even when it seems to be hopeless,
you find a way to embrace
life as the gift it is,
you are not far from
living to the fullest
in the throes of a lifetime love,

 Fondness of heart strengthens
in the absence of it, But above it all
you know that life is in the living,
and love is found in the giving.
For it is the truest of hearts that
never feels abandoned for lack of it

 © Copyright Walter J Wojtanik 2013

The independent (poem) message:

 
LOVE LIVES ON

 A heart left to languish
in the throes of a lifetime love,
never feels abandoned for lack of it
 

 © Copyright Walter J Wojtanik 2013

POET INTERVIEW – MEENA ROSE, BEYOND BAGHDAD

“There are certain moments that rise above the din of the ensuing chaos. Little vignettes, if you will, that have become integrated into the story of me, and yet they do not define me.” ~  Meena Rose

“I cannot adequately express what an honor it is to be the one to give you a glimpse of this remarkable woman.  Perhaps after reading this interview, you might feel compelled to join me in encouraging Meena to write her memoir.”  ~ Marie Elena

Come meet this extraordinary woman: http://poeticbloomings.com/web-wednesday-interviews/poet-interview-meena-rose-beyond-baghdad/

MEENA ROSE

MEENA ROSE

TRUE SILENCE – PROMPT #97

“True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.”  –  William Penn

What soothes you? What is it that puts you in a state of comfort? When all else seems to be crashing down around you, what offers you hope?

Take us to your happy place and let’s see if it works for us!

MARIE ELENA’S COMFORT:

Hot tea
roaring fire
soft robe, warm from dryer
smooth jazz
hot bath
hand-in-hand, strolling path
good read
white wine
heavy snow on soft pine
porch swing
easy chair
deep pillow
earnest prayer 

© Copyright Marie Elena Good -2013

 

WALT’S SANCTUARY:

MUSIC HATH CHARMS

The savage breast is soothed in arms
of music’s hidden devil charms,
a lilting soft melodic touch
that keeps a soul quite safe from harm.

A respite from life’s stress and woes,
all meant to ease where e’er it flows.
a tune of beauty to start this bloom;
the seed, its rhythm sows.

I seek this music in my life,
symphonic sounds to lessen strife.
Placate my spirit – lift my heart,
enhance this dance of life!

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik -2013

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #87

“Visions of sugarplums” is just a nice way of bringing your muse out to play, on Christmas Eve or the crest of a new fallen snow. Our poets offered worded wonder of a wistful nature to express just that!

MARIE ELENA’S BLOOM

These sugar plum offerings were a joy to read!  Couldn’t we repeat this prompt week-after-week-after-week?   I would like nothing more than to offer each and every one of you my single Beautiful Bloom this week, but I must behave.  😉  Claudette Young, I offer my Bloom to you for “Small Things.”  Your words capture the spirit of joyful giving, and humble expectations.  What sweeter dreams could befall us?  Your last stanza says it all.  Beautifully lived; beautifully penned.

Small Things (by Claudette Young)

We all gathered,
Diverse women in hall,
Sewing chatting defining
Ourselves by hand and
Purpose for that season.

Scraps of fabric we cut
In boot style, big enough
For goodies and trimmed
With spare lace or ribbon,
And jingles bells on cuffs.

Amid laughter and learning
We placed our care into
Myriad small person futures
To carry their hopes forward,
To know someone else cared.

When those bright stockings
Overflowed with pencils and
Prizes, alongside fruits and nuts.
They traveled horseback to
Hillsides, caves, and home sites

Where children of sparse fortune
Celebrated with less expectation,
Knowing life gave them small
Things to appreciate and
Possibilities for surprising cheer.

WALT’S BLOOM:

A wispy midnight vision wrapped in a flannel and giving inspiration to the muse of these works of sheer art. Our “sugarplums” dance on the out reaches of our thoughts and none more ethereal than this piece by JANET MARTIN.  There is lilting quality to this poem and the rhyme ties it all together!

A SUGAR PLUM… by Janet Ruth Martin

Silent night
A froth of white
Sifts from the lower cloud
It wraps the earth
In sparkling mirth
Redemption’s spotless shroud

Heavenly peace
Mankind’s release
From worldly weariness
Where all is calm
Held in the Palm
Of Perfect Love’s caress

Whisper of prayer
Wings through the air
Past midnight’s star-kissed seas
Where God imparts
To love-worn hearts
Life’s tender memories

© Janet Martin

CONGRATULATIONS CLAUDETTE AND JANET!

VISIONS OF SUGARPLUMS – PROMPT # 87

As we stand on the threshold of Christmas, we want you to nestle all snug in your bed and write a sugarplum. A sugarplum can be something that puts a smile on your face, a warmth in your heart or a thought in your head. A trigger to bigger things. A memory spark tied to the Holiday season, no matter which you celebrate!

But also, you can write about sleep. My history with every sleep disorder in the book plays into this as well. Give your vision some life.

MARIE ELENA’S SWEET DREAM:

what sweeter dream
at end of day
than Babe of peace
in manger’s hay
 
© Copyright – Marie Elena Good 2012

WALT’S VISION:

IN HEAVENLY PEACE

The night is silent and still.
The children nestle and dream
sweet thoughts for a restful slumber.
And despite the turmoil that stirs,
mankind yearns for goodwill
toward brothers and sisters
not known, a love shown for a day
blessed and pure, all calm and bright;
a Silent Night. A Holy Night
in Heavenly peace!

© Copyright – Walter J. Wojtanik 2012

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT # 86

Say it with music. This week we explored music as our muse, finding a “Sound of the Season,” and using that inspiration to pen our poems. The varying results are astounding. The choices are as always, difficult. But we carry on. Here are this week’s BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS.

MARIE ELENA’S BLOOM:

To my own discredit, there are times (probably far too many) when I do not take the time to slowly draw in and savor the work of the extraordinary poets easily accessible to me.   All I can say is that I’m thankful I took the time this morning to slowly breathe in and relish Jane Shlensky’sAdoration.”  The poetic beauty and multiple layers of this piece are simply remarkable.  Oh, to pen such eloquence …

ADORATION by Jane Shlensky

We shook our heads when she returned
from walking woods, as often she did,
each time carrying some treasure of burl
or mistletoe, Indian Pipe or sassafras root.

This time she dragged a young maple
dry and stripped of leaves, killed
in its spring, torn from the ground,
its slender trunk splintered like bone.

She stood it in the greenhouse, a skeleton
surrounded by greening seedlings, its bark
slowly curling away in ribbons from white
smoothness beneath. At advent, she built

for it a stand and hung from its naked limbs
fluffs of Spanish moss. Each spray of twigs
stretching like fingers of an empty hand
outstretched, she filled with a bird’s nest,

song birds of wood and clay perched
among the branches, a single dove lighting
on the highest limb, its wings lifted as if
it carried in its claws the hope of the world.

The holy family assembled at the foot of the tree
around an empty manger, poised to adore the newborn,
kneeling, bearing gifts, nudging the animals aside
for a glimpse of his light. But where was he?

The child, already in flight, nested aloft, hardly
bigger than the blue eggs that surrounded him.
He was risen among wild things that offered him
the gift of themselves, their ode to joy a chorus

of birdsong cradling his dreams. Each year
we dreamed of receiving, of fir trees smelling
of evergreen, our visions flightless. She saw
the broken and dead and dreamed of resurrection.

Her tree, no more than a memory now, returns to me
each Christmas, each Easter, each walk through woods,
each flutter and tweet of birds at my feeder, and
I am brought to my knees in humility, in adoration.

WALT’S SELECTION:

In the past week there has been much talk of “Angels” – a common description of the innocent souls who were taken from us so young. And it seemed to be a shared inspiration for our poets this week. I chose this poem from all the great entries because it is a wonderful expression of the season, and well… because it was the first one to present angels as a theme. At that, I present this BEAUTIFUL BLOOM to Salvatore Buttaci. Congratulations Salvatore, and Merry Christmas!

ANGELS FROM THE REALMS OF GLORY by Salvatore Buttaci

Those who remained behind
Gathered about the throne of God
Glorifying His gift
to the world of humanity
While angels sang praises
On Earth to the newborn infant,
His Son, the Word made flesh
To dwell among us for a time

Angels from the realms of glory,
All the saints who had died
Loving and living God’s commands,
Watched from heavenly heights
A child wrapped in swaddling clothes,
His mother sweet Mary,
His foster father good Joseph,
The donkeys braying.

A promise God had vowed
Long before time and space began
He kept at Bethlehem
In a stable, beneath a star
He sent twinkling above
The shepherds, the wise men, the world
That was changed forever
When the Infant drew his first breath

WELCOME HOME – PROMPT #68

Okay, we’ll leave the self examination for the moment and look into our origins. Everybody comes from somewhere,  it’s true. But we’re focusing our microscope a bit more finitely. For this week’s prompt, we’re going home!

“HOW DO YOU VIEW your life? – POETIC BLOOMINGS MEMOIR PROJECT

Part3: Welcome Home Marie and I ask you to write your poem using your childhood home as inspiration. Be descriptive and paint your imagery as colorfully as you can. What color was your house? How was the neighborhood? Did you have a favorite room; hiding places? Wall paper or paint? – What memory of your home is the strongest for you? We will deal with the people in your home in later prompts. Right now, just give us a glimpse of where you lived. Include all you need to make us feel  at home.

MARIE ELENA’S ROOTS:

BELMONT AVENUE

She was a two-story, humble abode;
Up in years, but still
She wore white well.

I don’t recall the kitchen much
Before Dad’s home-made solid oak cabinets, and Mom’s
Fruit-dappled wallpaper with appealing colors
That showcased the oak.
I also can’t quite recall the walled staircase
Before Dad opened it up, and added an elegant
Curve.
Then there’s my bedroom, of which I have
No recollection, pre-
Flamboyantly pink flowered wallpaper
Of my five-year-old big-girl choosing, that
My parents tolerated, and my Grandpa
Patiently hung.

I’m quite certain her front porch
Had limited personality until
Our porch swing was hung
And summer nights meant staying up late,
Pajama-clad, swinging and singing
And chatting and waving
To neighbors that happened by.

While some things were lovingly changed,
Others were equally as lovingly allowed to just be.
There was the dining room wallpaper mural –
An elegant home
With winding creek and weeping willows,
Where I used to sit for hours,
Placing myself in such a charming and picturesque scene.

What I truly treasured about our home, though,
Was her setting –
Comfortably settled among the homes of
Loving aunts, uncles, and eleven cousins.

© – Marie Elena Good – 2012

WALT’S HOME BASE:

WHERE OUR HEARTS BELONGED

Home.
It is where the heart is.
We had left her years ago
but our hearts remained; an empty shell

where the essence of us resides.
They can cover her in vinyl,
but in the final determination
the combination of sunny yellow

and a mellow burnt umber trimming.
had her brimming with love.
A two-family dwelling with
full cellar. A fellow could find sanctuary

with nary a care; there was always family there.
A room paneled and trimmed
(all on the carpenter’s whim)
Bunks and captain’s beds,

where we were born and bred.
It remains in my heart and head,
where my memories come.
I’ll always her call home.

© – Walter J. Wojtanik – 2012

It amuses me that we both chose to personify our homes – females, both. 😉 ~Marie Elena

Why not, home was a loving and nurturing place. 😉 Walt

“HEY… THAT’S MY LINE, TWO!” – PROMPT #64

One of our most popular prompts was presented during week #38, and we are reprising it for our ever-expanding poet base. The concept was this simple: Take that “I wish I had written that” line from one of the poems posted at Poetic Bloomings, and for the moment, make it your own …  as the title of a totally new poem. But, be sure to credit the poet and poem from which it came.  Have fun!

MARIE ELENA’S BORROWED LINE:

COMMAS DON’T SCARE ME

No hooked little mark
Will catch me off guard.
No comma faux pas
Will, leave my poem marred.

© Marie Elena Good – 2012

From Nancy Posey’s Uncertainty poem Within and Beyond my Grasp

WALT’S SECOND CHANCE:

SAVED FOR SOMETIME DREAMS

A vacation in the South of France,
a chance to dance unencumbered
on the Champs-Élysées on a day
so blue we can’t help but be happy.

A day to be illness free; no trick knee,
no blocked artery, just a day…
where dark spots go away from x-rays,
a chance to verbalize emotions that are assumed.

A ticket with every number needed
to exceed my earnings in this lifetime
all in one inspired evening, leaving
everything behind to find my peace of mind.

A home to house this ever-expanding
empty nest, the best place to have raised daughters,
but we ought to lose the excess
and express ourselves more simply.

Success for those daughters to achieve
all which they aspire to and to view
the world through less cynical eyes;
this prize of life so garnished. Untarnished.

The end of conflicts where friends and enemies
stick out a hand and come to understand
what seems too good to be true; to eschew
the terrors of wars; to abhor them.

The opportunity to view these things in a life well lived
and to be forgiven for indiscretions and errors
in judgement, putting priorities in proper perspective,
rejecting all attempts to temp my loving temperament.

A night full of nothing but sleep to foster these dreams,
without the anemic schemes of a torn
and twisted psyche. It might be the greatest wish
on this dish of savory favors saved for sometime.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2012

Line culled from Marie Elena Good’s Uncertainty poem – DEMENTIA