Monday, June 12, 2017

POEMS OF THE WEEK ~ STAFF PICKS

It occurred to me, looking around for poems to feature, that it might be time to offer some poems by staff. Recently, Mary, Susan, Sumana and Rosemary posted poems that, together, follow a theme dear to my heart - love and concern for Mother Earth. So I gathered them together in a posey, and offer them to you, with our thanks and appreciation for sticking with us so faithfully, week after week, and month after month. We wouldn't be here, without each one of you.







When I have no happiness,
the sunrise is my joy.
When I have no time,
I throw away my watch.

When I have no friends,
I walk with my dogs.
When I cannot sleep,
solitude is my rest.

When I lose my youth
I conjure myself sage.
When I have no voice,
poetry gives me words.

When I have no love, my
granddaughter gives a hug.
When I have no dreams
I learn to enjoy the dark.

When I have no faith
I act as if I do.
When I have no peace
I rest in my God.


Sherry: In these turbulent times, it is the simple cornerstones of our lives that give us ground on which to stand. I love this poem, Mary.

Mary: "My Song for Today" was first written in 2011, and as I look back on 2011, I realize that it was such a different world then than it is today.

It is amazing the changes a few years can bring. In 2011 the poem was written in past tense.  In 2017 I changed it to present tense which, most of the time, I prefer to write in anyway. In 2011 the poem's purpose was to reflect back on  some of  the ways I attained a positive perspective during difficult times.  In the 2017 revision, the poem in present tense instead gives me incentive / motivation to attain a positive perspective, despite our changed world.  Written as it is now inspires me to live this poem, and to think more positively than I ordinarily might. (Smiles)

Sherry: It does the same for me!

Susan's poem  really speaks to our love and pain for Mother Earth, and our wish to help her and her creatures.







Life is like a mountain hike: the pathway
both old and new, the heart that beats and blends
strata of rock, pebbles, flora and flesh.

Life is like a glacial hike: crevasses
turning to craters, cliffs, catastrophe
under our feet, heartbeat frozen between.

We are the mountain, we are the glacier
where ever we walk, city or sea shore
and so I claim the flowers and the weeds.

I woke this morning with joyful spirit:
a well the tweets dropped in with refugees—
Honduran mother and child—deported.

Certainly death awaits them in this new
slaughter of the innocents.  And we are
innkeepers offering not even caves.

We are this mountain.  We walk this glacier.
Hearts with the depth and warmth of this planet
can vanish into solitude and freeze.

Tears stream down my face and I plot
to take the pathway back with my people.
If we cannot, heaven cannot save us.

Life is like a mountain hike: the pathway
both old and new. Our feet walk for the earth.
Our hands create both with and for our God.  


Sherry: How I love this poem! The mountain hike, the crevasses we can fall into and disappear. And that we are mountain and glacier both. I so resonate with waking up with joy, then turning on the news. "And we are the innkeepers offering not even caves." I share your tears. "If we cannot - (change/care/transform) - truly "Heaven cannot save us." I am glad for the hope and activism in your last lines.

Susan: Exactly, Sherry. I had written half my poem the night before, happy, and determined to show it in my writing for a change. I had the mountain stuck in my head from the boogie-woogie hymn "Life is Like a Mountain Highway". Such happiness! But then in the morning, I heard the news. And the "blissful shore" disappeared. In the Nativity story, I have tended to identify with the refugees, but suddenly I got that we were those who locked our doors. Happiness is stark contrast to horror, and vice versa, so that feeling one allows us to feel the other even more. That's "the well". In the same way Hospitality and action contrast Isolation and inaction. (I should have used that word instead of Solitude -- I love Solitude. Hmm. I feel a revision coming on!) We have a choice to act for the greatest partnership  we know: Earth and God. Thanks for picking this poem to include with amazing poems by the wonderful PU staff.


Sherry: What a wonderful explanation - and poem! - this is. Thank you so much for sharing both with us.

Sumana recently wrote a most gorgeous poem, of nature and the lessons the earth has to teach we humans, if we listen.









I walk in the footsteps of Nature.
I am a She and believe She too is a She.
Her rivers run through my veins
so my feet tap unwittingly
to the rhythm of rain;
to the songs of rainbow;
I have embraced the Flame of Life.
In the thunderstorm days
I had learnt forbearance from Her.
I have seen how She is robbed of Her treasure;
She is abused, pummeled and battered
in the hands of greedy marauders
yet she breathes Her blessings into the sky
in the words of star-full nights
sunsets, sunrise.
Taking cue from Her
I’ve come to terms
with the child snatcher Death
and turned my sighs into words.


Sherry: How I love the way you turn your sighs into words, my friend!

Sumana: "One must be patient like Mother Earth. What inequities are being perpetrated on Her! Yet She quietly endures them all."- Sarada Devi

The poem is based on this quote. 

'She' is the female creative energy with infinite power that is wonderfully manifested in our Mother Earth. Her inherent beauty lies in her forbearance. She is an open book, a muse and inspiration Herself. She is darkness and She is light. Similarly any 'She' is the symbol of fortitude and a potent force. What matters most is how 'She' wields the power: sublimation or devastation. One must also keep in mind, when limit is crossed, Mother Earth will not forgive, neither would any 'She'.

I used imagery relating to energy, playfulness, beauty, devastation, sorrow and hope.

Sherry: And the result is a magnificent poem, Sumana. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Rosemary hit a note that resonates in her recent poem, looking back through the sands of time. Let's read.








One more grain of sand

rolls through the hourglass;

his voice long stilled, and even I

am not that girl who once….

He was so much of his time!

And so, of course, was I. No wonder

I loved his poetry, its haunting

melancholic nuances, the longing

for beauty and freedom and a world

of perfect love – we children

of the flowers … now I read

predictions of war, and I think

we were not so wrong to want

magic and poetry and a dream

of love and peace. Were we?



Sherry: No, we were not wrong. 

Rosemary: This poem is only semi-autobiographical; and while the main theme is clear to readers, some details have been misunderstood. Some I fudged on purpose, but others which I meant to be clear were missed. E.g. I thought everyone would pick up on 'flower children', but because I worded it a little differently to avoid the cliché, it went over some heads. They thought I was talking about actual children. 

I forget how old I am! Some references such as that one, which are self-evident to me, are not in the forefront of the general consciousness any more. Also it probably didn't help that I referred to my younger self as a 'girl'. I didn't mean child but very young woman. That's probably politically incorrect terminology now.

I was trying to capture the flavour of an era. Implying that I myself was a flower child is one of the not-quite-true details, employed intentionally. (Poetic licence!) I was in fact a little older than most of them, and at that time was living a much more conventional life as a young wife and mother. But I was very much in sympathy with most of their ideals (though not so much the 'turn on, tune in, drop out' ethos).

Sherry: Me, too. I was also a young wife and mother back in those heady days, living a more conventional existence on 3rd than the smiling hippies along 4th Avenue in Vancouver. But my heart was right there with them. My inner being recognized that long before my conscious mind caught up. (Which was a shock to my very conservative husband!)

Rosemary: At my blog, Susan asked who the 'he' in the poem was. At the time I wrote it, I was revisiting the work of one of my favourite poets, Australian Michael Dransfield (who died young, and whom I never met) and noticing from this perspective how much he was of his time. Not that the poetry isn't lasting, but it does also express a sixties to early seventies zeitgeist.

At the same time, I didn't want it to matter to my poem who the 'he' was. Could have been any one of a number of poets, or even song-writers. Indeed, my brief summary of 'his' poetic preoccupations leaves out much of Dransfield's subject matter and over-simplifies the rest. So Dransfield isn't really the 'he' in the poem, but things in his work suggested to me a certain kind of poetic consciousness, and even style, which was prevalent at the time (again omitting the drug culture aspects, both from Dransfield's writing and my fictional 'he').

That era is now regarded as having a youthful naiveté. Hence the wistful tone of the final question. The speaker of the poem sounds as though her certainty in those old ideals has been shaken. The writer of the poem stands firmer on them than ever!

Sherry: As do I, my friend. Thank you for this moving contribution to the conversation.

I was nonplussed as to which of my poems to include here. Having written so many agonized poems about our destruction of the planet, I wanted to add a note of hope, to join my fellow poets in offering a loving and positive message in times that feel so dire. Then I remembered this one.







I'm standing on the rim of the world,
at the far edge of far, 
next stop Japan.

I am thinking of you.

The news is bad.
It is very bad.

But the view is beautiful
from here.

I send you
a small postcard
of hope.

Believe in the essential goodness
of humankind.

Believe in Mother Earth
who, like us,
wants to live.

I stand on the edge
of the edge of the world.
I send you this
small postcard
of hope.


All of my life, hope has been my mantra. I refused to believe that the transformation of consciousness would not arrive in time. Never did I believe greed, power, corruption, and corporate control would overcome humanity's will to survive. Yet it seems it has. When the news cannot get much worse, for Mother Earth and for us as a species, (and for all the other species dependent on our good governance for their own survival), one small corner of my soul refuses to surrender, to give in to despair. For surely, surely, we cannot be blind enough to seal our interconnected fate by closing our eyes to the reality of what we are doing to our planetary home.

People on the march give us hope, and a voice. I sent you this small postcard, from the edge of hope, to encourage you, and myself at the same time, to continue the fight to defend Mother Earth from those to whom she is only a billion dollar paycheque.

Well, my friends, I don't know whether we have succeeded in fostering hope. My last comment nearly sent me into despair! But we can only try, with the same will to survive that Mother Earth and all her creatures share. Thank you to my fellow staff members, for their wonderful contributions to this feature. And for keeping Poets United going for all of us who love it, with your dedication and hard work. Each one of you helps shore up what is left of my poor old tired heart. Smiles.

We hope you take away something good from this exchange. We welcome your responses in the comments below. And do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!



27 comments:

  1. Sherry, Mary, Susan, Sumana, Rosemary- thank you all very much for your beautiful contributions. Each poem has an ecological appeal for our species to get back in touch with our roots - the earth and the universe beyond...
    Amazing pieces! Thanks....

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    1. We're happy you liked them, Panchali. We cant repeat the message too often. It is long past time to reconnect with the earth and the other living beings whose fate is interconnected with our own.

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  2. Sherry, I wonder if you know how much your gifts are showing in the presentation you have gathered here:

    Beginning with Mary's message that change begins here with the heart and mind of the individual. How we find change by first going inward and alone.

    Then Susan's poem about the need to see our own personal identity in the world around us, beginning that journey toward empathy with all of life.

    Then Sumana's poem, that gives all of Nature that singular definition of 'She'. That one who nurtures and gives us life and breath, as well as meaning.

    After which is Rosemary, who shows us how to take our personal experience and move it outward to the very world that is so in need of our assistance.

    Last, but never least, is your own postcard of Hope sent out to the world at large, the hope of acceptance as we express our inner concerns after identifying them. Our creative process worked out in five different voices, all carrying separate but clearly defined steps as to what the rest of us can and hopefully will accomplish.

    You do damned good work, my friend. And thank you for that.

    Elizabeth

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    1. Wow, thank you, Elizabeth. That is high praise. As always, you teach me something in your comments, as I did not understand the depth of this collection until you explained it. I only knew that each voice added something essential to the bouquet of hope and love offered. Thank you so much for helping us see the collection even more clearly.

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    2. A great piece of observation, Elizabeth! And Sherry, it seems to me that, in sequence, your final poem is a perfect answer to the wistful question that ends mine.

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  3. Sherry, I see how you make a hopeful quilt here. Thank you for including me. In this workshop I'm in I hear again and again"But what are you giving your reader?" From You I learn that so much is gained in a community of poets.

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  4. Your voice is essential, Susan. I take great satisfaction in what we - jointly - offer the world at Poets United.......I believe we are doing good work, in our small, quiet way, and that is very satisfying. And it would not be the community it is without each of us. I cant wait to hear all about your workshop! We shall chat, so our members can enjoy it vicariously.

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  5. Lovely to be included in this collection, which shows so clearly our different personalities and styles along with our deeply like-minded values and convictions – the very things which make this a great team to be part of. And as you say, it is the wider community of Poets United which allows us expression. Thanks Sherry, thank you colleagues, and very many thanks to all at PU.

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  6. You are welcome, Rosemary, and I agree we make a good team. I owe a debt of gratitude to Poets United, for what it has meant to my writing and my poetry, that I can never repay, if I do a thousand features, LOL. Thank you to each one of you wonderful staff members. And to our community members, without whom we would not be here at all.

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  7. Thank you, Sherry. for your efforts to bring this to us

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  8. This is a wonderful share! I so enjoyed the various angles of perspective on the like-minded planet-centric beliefs and concerns that all of you - Mary, Susan, Sumana, Rosemary and Sherry - care deeply about. A fantastic synergistic poetic mosaic and an important post. Thank you for this, poets.

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  9. Thanks, Martin and Wendy, for visiting and commenting.........my pleasure to put this together, as always. I especially love the theme, as you know!

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  10. Mary, Susan, Sumana, Rosemary and Sherry, wonderful poetic ladies! They are all a source of much talents and inspiration. Hank has been enjoying their contributions from Day One! Thank you ladies for sharing. Gratefully yours. Love you all!

    Hank

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  11. Thanks to all the featured poets for their dedication to the poetic world. It is through thoughts and words that gateways to the mind can open. Your poetry comes from the heart and helps to keep us united.

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  12. Ah, what a wonderful feature you put together here, Sherry! I am so pleased to be featured along with the rest of the staff of PU. I love the profundity and the diversity of the poems featured. What a perfect way to begin the week!!!!

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  13. It's wonderful to be a flower in the garland Sherry! Feeling so elated and thankful to you all staff members of Poets United. What wondrous voice you each have! Thank you.

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  14. I agree this is an absolute feast, Sherry!❤️ I love the poems you have featured here and feel so blessed to be a part of this community. Long Live Poets United!❤️

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  15. What a wonderful idea and collection - we are so lucky to have all of you at the helm of Poets United

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  16. Thank you everybody for the kind comments! We love you too.

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  17. Yes, thank you everyone. We are so happy you enjoyed this - and so happy you are all here!

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  18. Thank you Sherry for compiling these magnificent poems that reflect the sad condition of this world but nurture the hope that is needed to save it. I think we're all riding the same wave - we rise and fall as we try to balance today's reality with what we know can be and hope will be.
    I thank all of you for enriching my life with your continuous work and dedication and for your love of earth.

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  19. What a feast you all have presented here; life, death, love and humanity in our precious world. It is as though poets are a benign, benevolent species caught in a maelstrom of greed and destruction in this precious world.

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  20. What a delight to read this set. Grateful to all of you for all you do to keep this space going, for your love for nature and poetry and the world. Cheers!

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  22. Yes, your poems are each supportive of each other's poems. It seems each is reaching for happiness in various degrees. I tis hard, when we hare what is being done in our name.

    "A time to weep...a time to sow." And I think each poem does sow a little hope, I see you now, each standing in her field, casting seeds, some will be caught, and some will grow. We should never give up, even to the last day...when all the tree are cut, and the bears are shot and there is not a drop of clean water to drink...the picture I paint is not too bright...

    Today, a gunman has taken his gun to town, shot some FOP congressman...and others, if only the leadership could realize how angry the people are, how frustrated...the bastards. My own thoughts, are, they should be shot, they are awful people, and are only in this for their own gain.

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  23. as a natural born pessimist I have to say that the combined energy of your poems breathes a great deal of hope into your readers - with many thanks to you all for your efforts at keeping us poets united here

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