Friday, July 1, 2016

The Living Dead

~ Honouring our poetic ancestors ~


Confessions X.27

By Augustine of Hippo (Saint Augustine) 354-430

Late have I loved you,

Beauty so ancient and so new,

late have I loved you!
Lo, you were within,

but I outside, seeking there for you,

and upon the shapely things you have made

I rushed headlong,

I, misshapen.

You were with me but I was not with you.

They held me back far from you,

those things which would have no being

were they not in you.
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;

you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;

you lavished your fragrance,

I gasped, and now I pant for you;

I tasted you, and I hunger and thirst;

you touched me, and I burned for your peace.


Goodness, why would an avowed Pagan like me be treating you to the writings of a Christian saint? Well, because decades ago I came across a fragment of this, and loved it so much that I copied it into a scrapbook of poems and sayings. I've had occasion recently to reflect on what drew me to poetry, and found myself declaring that beauty is my reason. So I was reminded of these words and sought out the full text. There are several translations, few of which name the translators; this, which doesn't, is the one I liked best. 

Having only the start and ending of this in my original fragment – without the lines about the 'shapely' or in some translations 'lovely' things – I went in quite a different direction from Augustine, seeing the beauty of creation in a pantheistic light, the embrace of which takes us closer to, not away from God. But it's a beautiful, impassioned piece of writing however you interpret it, and I think we can honour the saint as being also a poet. In terms of ecstatic spirituality, I think this rivals Rumi.

Wikipedia tells us:

Augustine of Hippo ... also known as Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, Blessed Augustine, and the Doctor of Grace was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was the bishop of Hippo Regius (modern-day AnnabaAlgeria), located in Numidia (Roman province of Africa). He is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity for his writings....

I guess many of you knew that already, and there are further details at the link above. I seem to recall from hearsay that he was also the saint who, in his earlier and wilder days, prayed to be delivered from temptation – but not just yet! (I see he was a Scorpio like me. I mean no disrespect by saying that I understand his attitude perfectly.)

Well, I don't want to tread on dangerous ground or risk giving unintentional offence. We have many shades of religion (including no religion) in this community, and manage to co-exist with mutual tolerance – so I'll leave it at that, inviting you all, as poets, to enjoy this as a superb poem.


Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Birthday(s)

Traditional English birthday greeting


Is that a birthday? 'tis, alas! too clear;
'Tis but the funeral of the former year.
~Alexander Pope, To Mrs. M. B, line 9.


“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” 
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice


“I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth. ” 
― Ovid, Metamorphoses


Midweek Motif ~ Birthday(s)

It is either your birthday 
or your un-birthday.  
And someone else's as well.

Your Challenge:  Write a new poem giving yourself or someone else a birthday gift on a specific birthday.  

(Or remember one already given/received.)



A BIRTHDAY
by: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

My heart is like a singing bird
    Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
    My heart is like an apple-tree
    Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
    My heart is like a rainbow shell
    That paddles in a halcyon sea;
    My heart is gladder than all these,
    Because my love is come to me.
     
    Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
    Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
    Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
    And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
    Work it in gold and silver grapes,
    In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
    Because the birthday of my life
    Is come, my love is come to me.
The Author Reflects on His 35th Birthday

Related Poem Content Details

35? I have been looking forward 
To you for many years now 
So much so that 
I feel you and I are old 
Friends and so on this day, 35 
I propose a toast to 
Me and You 
35? From this day on 
I swear before the bountiful 
Osiris that 
If I ever 
If I EVER 
Try to bring out the 
Best in folks again I 
Want somebody to take me 
Outside and kick me up and 
Down the sidewalk or 
Sit me in a corner with a 
Funnel on my head 
. . . .
Read the rest HERE

Related Poem Content Details

The black kitten cries at her bowl 
meek meek and the gray one glowers 
from the windowsill. My hand on the can 
to serve them. First day of spring. 
Yesterday I drove my little mother for hours 
through wet snow. Her eightieth birthday. 
What she wanted was that ride with me— 
shopping, gossiping, mulling old grievances, 
1930, 1958, 1970. 
How cruel the world has been to her, 
how uncanny she’s survived it. 
In her bag, a birthday card 
from “my Nemesis,” signed Sincerely 
with love—“Why is she doing this to me?” 
she demands, “She hates me.” 
“Maybe 
she loves you” is and isn’t what Mother 
wants to hear, maybe after sixty years 
the connection might as well be love. 
Might well be love, I don’t say— 
I won’t spoil her birthday, 
my implacable mother.
. . . . 
Read the Rest HERE.

For K.R. On Her Sixtieth Birthday 

by Richard Wilbur

Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark,
Who round with grace this dusky arc
Of the grand tour which souls must take.

You who have sounded William Blake,
And the still pool, to Plato's mark,
Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark.

Yet, for your friends' benighted sake,
Detain your upward-flying spark;
Get us that wish, though like the lark
You whet your wings till dawn shall break:
Blow out the candles of your cake. 


###

Please share your new poem with Mr. Linky below and visit others 
in the spirit of the community.

(Next week Susan's Midweek Motif will be ~ Compromise )


Monday, June 27, 2016

LIFE OF A POET ~ REBECCA SANCHEZ (BEKKIE)


We have a treat for you today, my friends. We are zooming down the west coast of the USA to the San Francisco area, to meet the energetic poet, bicyclist and photographer, Rebecca (Bekkie) Sanchez, who writes at Capricious Poet. Be prepared for some spectacular scenery, as Bekkie lives very close to the beautiful Bay bike trail. For this chat, we're sitting on a bench looking across the bay to San Francisco, and we're serving chilled California Iced Tea. Keep your eyes peeled. I have heard sometimes one can spot a small seal along the path!





Sherry: Bekkie, I am so pleased to be chatting with you. Would you give us a snapshot of your life: who you are, where you live, the life of this poet on any given day?
                                                               
Bekkie: I live in San Mateo, California, near the San Francisco Bay, which is why this is called the Bay Area. Close enough so I can ride my bicycle from my small apartment to the Bay Trail. The Bay Trail is a bicycle/walking path that travels around the San Francisco Bay so, in theory, one can go all the way around. Wetlands and nature thrive in these areas; it's a wonderful place to ride, used by many people.



Me and the California seal I found


I get up in the morning, have breakfast, and around 11 am take a 15-20 mile ride every other day. One day I found a Californian fur seal in the middle of the trail! It came up a walkway out of the bay to rest in the sun. 



Up close ~ isn't he cute?


It was the cutest thing I ever saw and what a thrill that was. I spent an hour with it, taking pictures and videos, but had to leave it behind. The next day it was gone back into the bay. I often see creatures of all kinds scurrying across the trail or in the bush, and the bird species are amazing.

Sometimes I leave my bike behind and walk the many beaches and paths the trail offers. I really enjoy nature and need these moments of zen. As much as I like being with people, I'm pretty much a loner who likes spending time with myself.




Another gorgeous day on the bike trail,
near Foster City


Sherry: I am much the same, Bekkie. You live in such a glorious area! It must be fantastic to have trails and beaches so close by.

Bekkie: When I get home, I open my Chromebook and get to work. I post on my social networks, read poetry and look for prompts to write for. I have more than a few blogs I write posts for. I keep a copy of Google Keep on all of my devices so I can jot down my thoughts wherever I am but do most of my writing in my comfy chair in the living room. It's been years since I used pen and paper.



My writing chair


Sherry: OMG, you have my Dream Chair!!!! 

Bekkie: When I'm not writing I like to cook. I'm always looking for new recipes. I prefer to eat at home and eat a healthy well-balanced diet. I cook with the same cast iron pans I've used for decades now; it actually adds iron to your food.

I'm a pretty simple person living a simple life and like it that way.




Looking towards San Mateo Bridge
during low tide


Sherry: It sounds wonderful to me! On your About Me page, you say “poetry chose me”. Would you tell us about your poetic journey? 

Bekkie: I am an artist at heart. Art was always my go-to for expressing myself, starting in Kindergarten. When I learned to read, Dr. Seuss had a real impact on me. I loved his artwork and his rhyming stories. Alice In Wonderland, with its wild fantasy and rhymes, had a big effect on me. When I got old enough to write I started writing rhyming poetry; it came so naturally. In high school, I married my art with poetry and never looked back. I feel I was born an artist, but poetry chose me. I also write flash fiction when the mood is right.

What I like about poetry is the same thing I like about art. Two people can look at the same object and have totally different takes on it. Only with poetry the output is much more personal. With poetry, you can dig deeper and express yourself, but with art sometimes you have to guess what the artist was feeling. When I put my poetry and art together, it's like a total thought or story.




This painting is from when I was 12. 
It was the first painting I ever had
in an art show at my school. 


Sherry: Oh my goodness, this is a fantastic painting for a 12 year old! It is beautiful! 

Bekkie: I've been an artist since I fell in love with crayons. My first painting was in an art show when I was 12 years old, and it's still hanging on my wall. Some of my favorite things are drawing, Japanese Sumi painting, jewelry making, drawing on clothes and making greeting cards. I will make anything that I get interested in. I used to sell my wares personally and in stores on consignment. When computers came along, I got into animation.

My career in electronics took most of my time and my hand made art got put aside. Now I do my animation and add it to my poetry.

Sherry: You are very versatile! Tell us a bit about your childhood. Looking back, can you see anything that might have predicted your becoming a poet? 




Me roller skating in the good old days


Bekkie: My childhood in Michigan City, Indiana, was a little different than most because my father was a professional wrestler in the 50's, early 60's. I grew up with larger than life wrestling characters (my father's friends) at a young age and the whole family traveled on the road around the midwest with him a few times. We all slept in our station wagon. Our family of 4 went with him to matches on Indian Reservations, at state fairs, and even a state prison, to name a few.

My father was a boxer initially, and fought Mohammed Ali when he still was Cassius Clay, and just starting out in boxing. My father lost, remarked he hit hard. Later my dad stopped boxing to wrestle instead. We joked that was because Ali knocked boxing outta him, LOL.




My dad


Growing up this way only helped a child like me, with an already wild imagination, to want to share my thoughts and ideas. As I got older, art and poetry became my conduits.

Sherry: Well, that is an unusual childhood indeed. You must have a ton of material for your writing! How very cool. What was your field of employment before retirement? 

Bekkie: I became too disabled to work as an engineering technician by 2005; hence, my early retirement. Bad knees made it impossible to crawl around and in machinery figuring out what was needed to put it into production. I went to a technical college to get my degree and worked in electronics. I liked working with the engineers on projects and enjoyed my work. Before being a tech I was an assembler and soldered circuit boards. I didn't get to go to college proper and taught myself all I know about poetry.

Sherry: Me, too, kiddo. Would you like to choose a few poems written by you to share with us, and tell us a bit about each one?


Busy Bodies

Busy businesses bestow bargains
on beings bedazzled by big buildings
and beau-coup buying.
People board backfiring buses belching black
while buxom blondes barter businessmen
on Broadway.
Bankrupt buildings sit boarded up
behind back-lit bars
as the bar-bands bodacious bass
beckons bodies and backstreet betrayals.
A bedraggled beggar’s barbaric behavior
blurred by booze barfs his breakfast.

© Rebecca Sanchez 2015

Sherry: That is a big bunch of B's, LOL.

BekkieI like to write allegations and have written many of them on different subjects. I find them fun and challenging. Busy Bodies is about a day in San Francisco where you see it all.

Ten Digits

Ten digits is what I own
ten fingers made of bone
not nine, not three
ten digits serving me.
Ten digits is what I use
ten fingers to amuse
two thumbs, eight fingers
ten digits that never linger.
Ten digits is what I love
ten fingers fit my gloves
ten phalanges help me so
missing one I’d surely know.

© Rebecca Sanchez 2015

Sherry: This made me smile.

BekkieTen Digits is a poem I wrote to honor Dr. Seuss; it's for adults as well as kids, just like his work was. I had those lines bouncing around in my head and had to use them. I think it's very Seuss-like and silly.


Nobody Knows

You liked him on Facebook
you sent him a Tweet
you follow on Google
in chat rooms you’ll meet.
You re-share his posts
and know him quite well
but he has a secret
that he’ll never tell.
For he’s a real dog
and he’s fooled everyone
and no one will guess
cause his secrecy’s won.
So next time you see him
he will not disclose
online he’s a dog
but nobody knows.

© Rebecca Sanchez 2015

Sherry: I think I recognize that guy! LOL.

BekkieI like to write humorous poems and Nobody Knows is a good example. I got this idea from an image of a dog on a couch in front of a computer. When you're online chatting you never do know who you're talking to. It could happen!


When My Baby Sleeps

When my baby sleeps she mirrors an angel.
Arms folded over her ample bosom
hands clasped
as if in prayer.
Full lips, almost
moving with her dreams.
Her face-
so gentle, unadorned and innocent
her breath quiet and even.
Only the shadows around her show movement.
They silhouette my sleeping angel
malevolent and churning
when she sleeps they let her rest.
When she wakes she resembles a banshee.
Arms raised and breasts shaking in their quake
hands formed like claws
long fingernails vindictively,
cutting.
Voluptuous lips pulled back
in a grimace
over that vomitous mouth
as she becomes like the bean chaointe
and the wailing starts.
When my baby sleeps she mirrors an angel.
Let’s not wake her just yet.

© Rebecca Sanchez 2015


Sherry: Yes, let's not. Such a well-described contrast.

Bekkie: I enjoy doing dark writes; they are a lot of fun. "When My Baby Sleeps" speaks for itself I wanted to shock the reader a little. She sounds like such an angel until she wakes up.

Some people write in certain styles and are known for it but, when I write a poem, the poem tells me what form it will take. I like to make the reader feel all kinds of emotions, even pointing the finger back at them making them think. I like to write about any subject, use different poetry forms and can be funny as well as serious or dark.  



Looking towards Coyote Point,
San Francisco and boat harbour


Sherry: In your site  Bike With Bekkie, I enjoy your articles about your bike rides in the Bay area. You have some wonderful photos of your travels. Would you share when you began biking daily and the impact on your health and well-being? 

Bekkie: Bike With Bekkie is special to me because I need to share my story with others. Not just because biking or finding ways to move every day is important to our health and well-being, but because it's paramount to our emotional stability. So many people are fighting depression and you can't ride a bike regularly and be depressed! Once you feel better, taking better care of your health and yourself becomes easier. With a little effort, anyone can get their life back, be happier and healthier.

In February of 2014, my mother passed away unexpectedly quick and at that time my life I was at an all-time low. I was already depressed and weighed almost 200 pounds when I heard about her death. I didn't care to shower, brush my teeth or do anything but feel sorry for myself. I was already a hot mess when I went to the psychiatrist for help. He put me on 3 kinds of medications but instead of helping me they made me much worse, turning me into a vegetable that still did nothing.

In September of 2015, I looked at myself in the mirror one day and just felt sick inside. I wish I could tell a great story about a shaft of golden light coming down and hearing sweet voices telling me I was worth it to get better, but no. What I did do was stop taking my medication and started cleaning up.

In October I got a Jawbone health band that monitored various health points with a smart coach. I went on a 1,200 calorie diet, stopped drinking soda and logged my food. I was an insomniac and trained myself to sleep well again. Having bad knees I couldn't walk well, but I started walking anyway and lost 30 pounds. My depression was disappearing and I had energy again!

Sherry: I am sorry you lost your mother, Bekkie, and went through such a hard time. But it sounds like a transformative time for  you, a turning point.




Me and my bike


Bekkie: In February I started riding my 30-year-old Schwinn touring bike every other day. At first, it was really hard and I was so weak and out of breath, but it got easier. I couldn't believe how happy it made me feel! Now at 62, I have never been so healthy. I feel great and have a stronger body.

When I started all this, I couldn't walk very well now my knees have improved and I can walk a few miles. The biking is the best thing I ever did for my bad knees. I still need them replaced, but they are much better now.

Sherry: Wow, Bekkie, this is speaking directly to me. You are an inspiration! 

You have been blogging since 2008. What impact has blogging had on your writing? What have been the positives?

Bekkie: Blogging has been the best thing I've ever done for my writing. I used my blogging to learn to be a better writer. I learned what worked and what didn't in subject matter. The feedback you get from your readers is so valuable. Blogging gave me an opening to share my poetry and see what people thought of it. It also gives you a great way to network and make friends.

I started dropping in for image prompts in 2009 with Magpie Tales and there was no turning back. I think blogs are an excellent platform for sharing your passions and interests with the world and they're free! My first blog, Bekkie In Wonderland, is still getting plenty of hits and occasionally I still write for it.

Sherry: Cool! Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United? How did you find us? (we’re so glad you did!)

Bekkie: I liked writing with Magpie Tales but never felt at home. I followed the "breadcrumbs" (people I wrote with and poetry sites they wrote with) around for years until I found Poets United. I noticed at Poets United the founders not only had prompts but introduced and wrote about their members, highlighting their work and photography. Not many prompt sites do this; it's a great way to get to know who you're writing with. I was hooked.

I am so happy to be included in a group of such talented people and was thrilled when Sherry asked me to do this. This is my first time and I'm honored! I'd just like to thank everyone for your comments and support of my poetry. It means so much to me. They are like treats that I savor, and make my day.

I'm so happy to belong to such an eclectic group of creative friends! Hugs all around!

Sherry: Well, we are happy to have you, Bekkie. Thank you for your kind words. And for  letting us get to know you better during this visit.

Well, my friends? Another poet on her journey, which includes some pretty spectacular scenery! Smiles. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!