Monday, January 23, 2017

Poems of the Week ~ with Audrey and Annell

Today, my friends, we are featuring three wonderful poems by Audrey Howitt, of Audrey Howitt Poetry, Alive and Well, and Annell Livingston of Somethings I Think About.  Pour yourself a piping hot cup of tea, and settle in to enjoy the words of your fellow poets.

This poem from Audrey  really took my breath away when I first read it. Let's take a look:

Audrey Howitt photo

i met you in the sun

you wrote your poetry
on clouds
blue on white
a daisy, your pen

until grey streaks pushed
your kind aside
deeper and deeper
into the edges
pulling petals apart
a litany to tiny ends

the wilt of a berry
on your breast
rebirth it's red
this new ink
the leaves your pages

poetry, your breath.

September 16, 2016

Sherry: Wow! So beautiful! Tell us about it, Audrey.

Audrey: I am honored and thrilled to be featured---I feel like my poetry is shifting right now--or I as a poet am shifting--one or the other or both--anyway, something of the old is being left behind as the new starts to take more focus--this piece was about that process for me--it feels like a loss of some kind, and I am uncertain right now where this shift is taking me--but I am trusting that it will be a good place for me--

Sherry: It is always interesting, when things start shifting within. Would you tell us a bit about this inner shift?

Audrey: So as much as I understand this shift, and I am not really sure that I do, I sense a kind of deepening or maturing that is starting to happen in my writing. I think I have been writing for 5 or 6 years now. When I first started writing, I was always trying to make my pieces poetic--make them beautiful by putting the words together in a way that pleased me--they were pretty I think--and then I started running out of things to say in that way--I would sit for long periods of time with blank paper in front of me, or worse, start writing and then hating it, just tearing up my work--I began to think that maybe that was all there was to my writing--and that maybe I was done --I had never really thought much about what I wrote--I wrote it and very seldom edited anything.

Now, I feel as though I am waking up a bit more in my writing. I am paying more attention to metaphor and the emotional content that underlies the writing.  I am also sitting with my pieces longer than I used to before I post them. I am trying to understand where they come from and what they mean to me on a deeper level --all of that means that I am posting less often--and working and re-working my pieces more than I used to.

I want my pieces to be good--really good--and I think for that to happen, I have to tell the truth in my writing--and as I move more toward truth, I find that making my pieces pretty is less interesting--that is the story behind this piece--

I feel a bit adrift--

Sherry: Sometimes these shifts can feel discombobulating, but I view them as very positive, personally, as it means growth is happening. And I think the most authentic poems, the ones we respond to most strongly, are the ones that speak the poet's truth.

We will watch where your work takes you with interest, Audrey. You posted another poem recently that I found a very positive response to the political climate we are struggling with these days.  Let's take a look:

Audrey Howitt photo

A Reweaving

i awoke to a world gone mad
hatred its main bargaining chip
and though i didn't want to,
i cried with each step this morning,
picked up worn linen
woven in youth's innocence
its nubs a part of its landscape

i will reweave it
over time
make it stronger
though you may shout your imprecations
loudly in my ear
i will not falter
i will not halt
i will not hate

so that our children
need not fear

Audrey: I was stunned at the election results. I am still stunned and trying to find words to put to the feelings that not only I, but so many people are experiencing now. So many people are really terrified at what this election will mean for this country, the world, the planet---so many people will suffer I fear. Since the election, hate crimes have skyrocketed here--even at the local elementary school, racist graffiti was found this last Friday. And I think we are just seeing the beginning--

I had not been to a protest since the Vietnam War era--but I went to one Sunday, and held hands and sang the old songs--We Shall Overcome seems so appropriate right now. 

Sherry: We are being set back 50 years. At my age, I feel very tired, from all the overcoming. Sigh. 

I love "I will not hate so our children need not fear." That really speaks to me, my friend. But it is hard to hold onto hope.  I find your work strong and powerful; you seem to be tapping into a deep well these days. Thanks so much  for sharing your poem and your thoughts with us today, and where you are at on your journey.

This fall, Annell shared a pensive poem about memories of past summers, that I think you will find very moving.

Fragments Geometry and Change
by Annell Livingston (2015)  
#204  11”x11”  gouache on w/c paper  

regrets        lie around       like dead flowers in the garden

the season for fresh blooms     is gone    i prepare for winter

leaving wet suits    on the line      summer's laughter fleeting

yet my heart is filled   with the warm cargo of summer   beach parties

picnics      hold the shell to your ear       gentle breezes heard

waves pound the shore   seagulls scream   the sun sets in the west                                                                                          

regrets left behind     to return another season      with thoughts of you

hearts entwined with silver thread        there is no danger we will forget

our tongues lap warm milk from the bowl            you were torn from me

years gobbled up                     your brindled coat thrown over the chair

your presence remains            memories of summer        fill my heart

from the bridge             i see the ship               leaving shore  

mist settles in       the view becomes obscure      the afternoon light

lingers                  still, i try to follow the ship         until out of sight          

there is a trail across the water      white foam       reflections of sky

with a tiny needle    i make small stitches     to hold memories together

bind pages into the book    whisper words           hoping you will hear 

October 7, 2016

Sherry: This pings at my heart, Annell, the loss, the golden memories, the stitching together and, especially "hoping you will hear." Sigh.

Annell: Thanks for asking for this poem, and for giving me the opportunity to talk about it, and what I was thinking.

regrets       lie around                like dead flowers in the garden

(so many things I wish I had done differently…..)

the season for fresh blooms  (spring)     is gone    i prepare for winter

leaving wet suits           on the line 
(children leave their wet swim suits on the line, and at the end of summer,
you will often find them there)
summer's laughter fleeting     yet my heart is filled

(though my heart is filled with regrets, it is also filled with the fun we had)                                       

with the warm cargo of summer        beach parties

picnics             hold the shell to your ear  
(when summer is over, that one precious shell, found at the beach is there on the shelf, 
when you hold it to your ear, you can still hear the sounds of summer)           

gentle breezes heard

waves pound the shore       seagulls scream            the sun sets in the west 

(the idea of the setting sun, end of day, end of summer—
there is a certain sadness  in this idea)                                                                                

 regrets left behind (sometimes we forget the regrets)      

to return another season         with thoughts of you 
(yet when I think of you, the regrets return)

hearts entwined with silver thread 
(I have an image that I carry, my heart entwined with the ones I love 
with silver thread  that cannot be broken)    

there is no danger we will forget  
(we can never forget the ones we love…the love remains)

our tongues lap warm milk from the bowl 
(I am thinking of my precious kitty here, the beauty of his being)             

you were torn from me (and quickly my thoughts change, your death,
which came too soon)

years gobbled up (the years you were lost to me) 
your brindled coat thrown over the chair imagining it was the coat you wore

your presence remains  (and even when a person is gone, they are still there,
they pop up unexpected anytime)

memories of summer     fill my heart (still I think about the time
we did have together)

from the bridge   i see the ship  (again imaging, when you died, you left in a ship)              
leaving shore    

mist settles in      the view becomes obscure (I follow the ship with my eyes,
until I can see it no more, you have gone to a place I cannot follow….yet)
the afternoon light

lingers       still, I try to follow the ship          until out of sight 

there is a trail across the water      white foam        reflections of sky

(perhaps it is the silver thread, that is wound around our hearts…
that creates that line to you)

with a tiny needle          i make small stitches        to hold memories together

(I imagine myself, sewing, making stitches, holding memories together)

bind pages into the book (a book of memories)   whisper words
perhaps I speak to myself, or maybe to  you)

(I hold you close, and in some mysterious way, I hope you will hear
what I say to you, you will know how much I loved you)
  hoping you will hear

Note:  It has been two years and five months since my Son died, in some ways it happened yesterday, and in other ways it has been a lifetime.  The shock has softened, and I am glad he no longer suffers the pain of his illness, (here it comes) but I still miss him so.  Wish he had not died.  Wish I could have known he would die so soon….wish it could have been different….he was who he was, and I am who I am….I suppose it was as it was, and could not have been another way.  I wonder….what makes us think it would have been better if it had been “my way?”   I am grateful I was there when he died.  To be with him, to comfort him, to hold him…it all happened so quickly, the healing takes time, an important element in the healing.

This poem could have been called a “Mother’s Lament.”  There are some things in life that are hard, and over time, they do not fade away, they crystallize into marble.  Some regrets will always be there.  We will live with them for as long as we live.                       

October 7, 2016 

Sherry: I think every mother's heart is filled with regrets, things we wish we had done differently. But we know we did our best. Thank you for this very moving poem, Annell, and for sharing your thoughts behind and between the lines.

We hope you enjoyed these beautiful offerings, friends, each one straight from the poet's loving heart. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Early morning at the beach

Happy dogs

Lennard's Light



Here are a few more photos of the beach in Tofino, B.C. Hopefully you aren't tired of them. Smiles. If any of you have photos you would like to share in the Pantry, please send them to me by email ( We hope you all had a productive week of poetry, and are ready to dip into the Pantry for some good reading. 

Did you catch Rosemary's feature last Friday? Rosemary always has an interesting poem and poet for us at the end of the week. This past Friday's was very entertaining. This Monday, we are featuring poems by Audrey Howitt and Annell Livingston, and on Wednesday, Sumana's Midweek Motif prompt will be: Change. An appropriate topic for these political times. Looks like a great week for poetry, my friends.

Link your poem with Mr. Linky, say hi in the comments, and do visit some of your fellow poets in the spirit of reciprocity. We are so happy you are spending your Sunday morning with us.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Thought Provokers


They finally found him –
that anonymous guy
who faced down a line of tanks
in Tiananmen square
that day in 1989
in that shot that
stopped the world
in its tracks
and seared the retina
of the globe
like a soldering iron
to the eye
and made you chew
your lip like jerky
at what actual courage
looked like –
a skinny crazy guy
so way out and alone
and far beyond mercy
poking a beautiful
brave blood flower
down the barrel
of Mao’s old
faceless metal beast

Yeah, Tankman!
They found him!

And now he’s found an agent
and done Oprah
and ghostwrote a bestseller
and they’re making the film
with Jackie Chan
and he’s putting his name
to a Revolutionary clothing brand
with a cute little tank logo, and …

It’s nice he didn’t die.
But I dunno, maybe
some things are best left
to the imagination
where they’re free to live
bigger, richer lives.

Like, I never want to know
who Jack the Ripper ‘really’ was,
would be happier if the Titanic
had been left to lie, undiscovered,
encrusting mystery in the depths
of the mind …

I mean good luck to Tankman
plucked from obscurity like he was
from flipping eggs in that Shandong Diner

He’s big now, a ‘brand ambassador’.
Only careful what you wish for.
We wanted him and now he’s here –

moved on from that old massacre
to a much bigger campaign
doing ads for Tourism China

– Tug Dumbly

This is a fantasy, of course – not the original incident, which was very real and widely witnessed, but Tank Man's current history as imagined by the poet. Wikipedia outlines the original event (too momentous, after all, to be called a mere 'incident') and makes it clear that the man's subsequent fate is unknown.

(I can't show you the famous photo as it is clearly subject to stricter copyright than covered by our usual disclaimer. However, the same Wikipedia article includes it if you would like to refresh your memory. Instead, this intriguing photo of Tug Dumbly perhaps makes a fitting statement.)

I came across this poem just before the US election, and then thought I couldn't include it here immediately, because everything political (and pretty much everything else too) would inevitably be seen through that filter at that time. In the aftermath, with the inauguration looming as I write, perhaps that still pertains; but I could wait forever – interest in the new US President is not going to go away – so I'm posting regardless. 

I don't actually see this poem as political criticism, so much as social satire.

How stirring the first stanza is! And indeed, it was a heroic gesture. And what do we do with our heroes in today's world? We like to turn them into celebrities – not quite the same thing. And of course, many of our celebrities are not heroic at all but have other claims to fame, from genuine musical or sporting talent to big boobs or pots of money.

Some heroes are not admired at the time, perhaps quite the reverse. Whistle blowers risk imprisonment. One Australian of the Year earned widespread public opprobrium for daring to be proud of his Aboriginality. Even in this poem, the fictional celebrity of Tankman happens many years after his real act of heroism.

Then again, perhaps it is political commentary after all. Wheels coming full circle and all that. Revolutionaries, if they succeed, may become the next generation of tyrants ... or acquiescent advertisements for the status quo. 

Well, those are some of the things it puts me in mind of. What does it say to you, I wonder? (I'd love to hear your responses in the comments.)

I've shared Tug Dumbly's work with you twice before in 'I Wish I'd Written This'. If it wasn't for my commitment to bring you a variety of poetic voices in my Friday columns, it could be a lot more. He keeps writing poems that absolutely blow me away. 

To refresh your memory about his life and work, check details and links at this post.

Material shared in 'Thought Provokers' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.