Sunday, May 28, 2017

Poetry Pantry # 355

Deer and Bunny at the Farm

These sweethearts visit often at the family farm in Port Alberni, B.C. They love eating birdseed from the feeder, and often graze in the pasture with the horses. Occasionally a black bear and, more rarely, a cougar, strolls through, as well, but we haven't managed to capture their visits in photos, being too busy encouraging them away from the horses.

Here is someone else who likes bird seed-
Beau, the Grand Old Girl, in her fly mask.
She is now 33 years old, feisty and hilarious.

We are looking forward to a good week this week, my friends, and to Mary's return from her time away next Sunday.  If you didn't catch Rosemary's feature on Friday, do scroll back. She featured a wonderfully relevant poem written by Adrian Mitchell, the English poet. It is not to be missed!

Tomorrow we are featuring Beverly Crawford, and you won't want to miss  it. Beverly had an amazing childhood, attending one of the old one-room schoolhouses, where she says the teacher "taught life." You'll love getting to know her better. On Wednesday, Susan's prompt is: Tobacco. That is a thought-provoking topic, and I'm sure there will be some interesting responses. On Friday, Rosemary will have another  interesting feature for us. How the weeks sail by!

Link your poem, my friends, and do visit your fellow poets in the spirit of community. Enjoy!

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Living Dead

~ Honouring our poetic ancestors ~


Outside the plasma supermarket
I stretch out my arm to the shoppers and say
“Can I give you one of these?”
I give each of them a leaf from a tree.
The first shopper thanks me.
The second puts the leaf in his mack pocket where his wife won’t see.
The third says she is not interested in leaves. She looks like a mutilated willow.
The fourth says “Is it art?” I say that it is a leaf.
The fifth looks through his leaf and smiles at the light beyond.
The sixth hurls down his leaf and stamps it till dark purple mud oozes through.
The seventh says she will press it in her album.
The eighth complains that it is an oak leaf and says he would be on my side if I were also handing out birch leaves, apple leaves, privet leaves and larch leaves. I say that it is a leaf.
The ninth takes the leaf carefully and then, with a backhand fling, gives it its freedom.
It glides, following surprise curving alleys through the air.
It lands. I pick it up.
The tenth reads both sides of the leaf twice and then says: “Yes, but it doesn’t say who we should kill.”
But you took your leaf like a kiss.
The tell me that on Saturdays
You can be seen in your own city centre
Giving away forests, orchards, jungles.

– Adrian Mitchell (1932-2008)

"Adrian Mitchell."
The Famous People website.
(accessed May 25 2017) 

Adrian Mitchell, English poet, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, journalist and children's writer, was one of England's foremost performance poets who sometimes had audiences of thousands. 

He was known particularly as an anti-bomb poet. An activist and revolutionary in the context of being a committed pacifist, he was considered the voice of the Left and often used satire – but he also sought to uplift people's spirits with his poetry. This one, I think, does both. The satire is there in the people's different reactions to being given a leaf. And overall, particularly in its closing lines, the poem makes me feel lifted up, inspired, happier.

If ever there was a time for an anti-bomb poet, this is it, after the explosion in Manchester. But this poem makes the point obliquely by focusing on Life. How hard it is, it seems to say, for us to recognise and appreciate the gift of life. That lack must surely be one of the things that leads to terrorist attacks. 

What can we helpless citizens do in the face of such horrors? Little, perhaps, in the way of direct action. But we can reaffirm our commitment to life, love and humanity, as the people of Manchester are now doing.  We can raise our voices, poetic or otherwise, in support of this commitment. And we can encourage ourselves by reading poems which have tenderness as well as strength. 

You can find out details of his life and work at Wikipedia, where I found this lovely tribute:

"Adrian", said fellow-poet Michael Rosen, "was a socialist and a pacifist who believed, like William Blake, that everything human was holy. That's to say he celebrated a love of life with the same fervour that he attacked those who crushed life. He did this through his poetry, his plays, his song lyrics and his own performances. Through this huge body of work, he was able to raise the spirits of his audiences, in turn exciting, inspiring, saddening and enthusing them.... He has sung, chanted, whispered and shouted his poems in every kind of place imaginable, urging us to love our lives, love our minds and bodies and to fight against tyrannyoppression and exploitation."

His obituary in The Guardian, by Michael Kustow, said:

The poet and playwright Adrian Mitchell, in whom the legacies of Blake and Brecht coalesce with the zip of Little Richard and the swing of Chuck Berry, has died of heart failure at the age of 76. In his many public performances in this country and around the world, he shifted English poetry from correctness and formality towards inclusiveness and political passion.

(Wikipedia also refers you to several other obituaries.)

An article at the Poetry Archive says:

Mitchell was committed to a form of poetry that welcomes as many people as possible - he was, perhaps, best known for saying that "Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people." Thus his work deals with recognisable subjects in clear, modern language, and can revel in strong rhythms, drawn as often from the blues and pop music as from the poetic canon.

His output was prolific. His several book pages at Amazon begin here. And you can listen to his own excellent recitals of some of his poems on YouTube.

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Flowers

Flower of Life II, 1925, 1918 by Georgia O'Keeffe

Flower of Life II, 1925, 1918 by Georgia O'Keeffe

"I decided that if I could paint
that flower in a huge scale, you
could not ignore its beauty. ”
- Georgia O'Keeffe

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"The earth laughs in flowers.” 

“I will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch 
a hundred flowers and not pick one.” 
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

“I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.” 

File:Maude Goodmann The daisy chain.jpg
The daisy chain by Maude Goodmann (1844-1936)

Midweek Motif ~ Flowers

Flowers hold memories 

and memories hold flowers.

Your Challenge: In a new poem, memorialize a significant encounter with a flower or flowers.

In a Burying Ground

by Sara Teasdale

This is the spot where I will lie
When life has had enough of me,
These are the grasses that will blow
Above me like a living sea.
These gay old lilies will not shrink
To draw their life from death of mine,
And I will give my body's fire
To make blue flowers on this vine.
"O Soul," I said, "have you no tears?
Was not the body dear to you?"
I heard my soul say carelessly,
"The myrtle flowers will grow more blue."

by Claude McKay
Far from this foreign Easter damp and chilly
My soul steals to a pear-shaped plot of ground,
Where gleamed the lilac-tinted Easter lily
Soft-scented in the air for yards around;

Alone, without a hint of guardian leaf!
Just like a fragile bell of silver rime,
It burst the tomb for freedom sweet and brief
In the young pregnant year at Eastertime;

And many thought it was a sacred sign,
And some called it the resurrection flower;
And I, a pagan, worshiped at its shrine,
Yielding my heart unto its perfumed power.

by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open–
pools of lace,
white and pink–
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities–
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again–
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

    (Please forgive me for posting all of "Peony" without permission.  I love it.)  

Every Flower - Noel Paul Stookey with John Payne on saxophone

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

(Next week Susan’s Midweek Motif will be ~  Smoking Tobacco ~
as 5/31 is World No Tobacco Day.)

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