Category Archives: Poetry

Guest Post: Poetry by Christo N

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace:

The tree of wisdom beckons

To all who would heed its call

The ancient power of nature

Breathing life into

Our weary souls

Let this fresh knowledge

These new synapses firing

Be a rapturous discovery

Of the healing power

Contained within

The oceans, rivers and forests

As the waves wash away

The pain and longing

And the wind in the trees

Whispers sweet nothings

To nurture peace within

Our tired thoughts

With time

We could spiral upwards

With content and meaningful

Thoughts, words, actions

Gliding

Surfing

Floating

On the beauty

Found only on planet earth

This blessed world

With all its angels and devils

Has all we need to find

Heaven within ourselves

You just need to know

Where to look

Start with the tree of wisdom

Drink deeply from the springs of knowledge

And never, ever, ever give up

Christo N is a poet/writer from The ACT, Australia who spent 6 years incarcerated in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Whilst locked up he began writing poetry and has continued after release. A lot of his poetry reflects the process of self development that only comes with years of introspection and hardship.  

He uses the metaphor of being lost at sea for the hard years doing time and feels incredibly blessed to be back to the safe harbor of freedom.

You can find his blog here.

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Guest Post: Poetry by Miriam Sagan

An Odd—Large—Painting

in the rental casita
a plump woman
asleep, on a lumpy sofa
bare feet
on a red pillow
despite the green
ferny wallpaper
this is no
Matisse
her unconvincing
knees
seem faraway
from her head
while her toes
are off the canvas completely

there are days
I’ve felt like this
no Sleeping Beauty
just trying to get through
a hot afternoon
a third trimester
high school
menopause
too enervated
to even put ice cubes
in a glass
of tap water

but this is bought and sold, signed
hanging on the wall
the artists’s name
a blur beneath a painted cushion

and the day seems like a to do list
I left for myself
twenty years ago
forgetting to even mention
I love you.

***

Ancestors

zodiac swam in its round
above the wooden ark
veiled women hid behind
a mechitza of water and blood
if I was a child
I ran among their legs
if I was a child I ran

in the Red Cafe in Kiev
at the teetering round table
in steam and smoke like a railway station
tea served in endless glasses
they are shouting again
those philosophers
too broke to pay
but suddenly I can’t hear them
sound fades, they’re ghosts
and what am I?

in all of history, who can care
about one girl, tired, besmirched
sitting by the coals of a dying fire
who can care
about birch trees—
there are so many…

who can care about rape
about how my eyes turn
a betraying green
or how my fingers curl helplessly
as DNA deforms my hand
the double helix of Vikings, Cossacks, the Rus
come down out of the cold shamanic north
for bad, for worse

ancestors come if I call
smelling like a snuffed candle
and come if I don’t call
smelling of hospital corridors and panic
for the angels are too busy
encouraging each blade of grass to grow
reciting the alphabet
but only from aleph to aleph
they have not yet
reached the first letter
of my name

before this, a wall
before that, destruction
before that, an ark on the deep
a raven a dove, an opinion
about what survives

***

Rancho de Taos

you think you
have problems…
windchimes
kept us awake
all night
along with the neighbor’s
barking dog
and the dance music
turned up loud
not to mention
the moon…

magpie feathers float on the air
something
killed and ate
a bird;
a cauldron, a metal rabbit, a lantern
guard the storeroom
of a different feeling

Taos Mountain is still
snow-covered,
the day after Easter
I’d be careful,
breeze ruffles the pages of a book
about grenades and the Chinese revolution

the tiny girl
like a crow
can count
at least up to five
for how mysterious
the hacienda is
that always
has one more bed
than the number
of residents.

* * *

Miriam Sagan is the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and memoir. Her most recent include Bluebeard’s Castle (Red Mountain, 2019) and A Hundred Cups of Coffee (Tres Chicas, 2019). She is a two-time winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards as well as a recipient of the City of Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award. She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, Yaddo, MacDowell, Gullkistan in Iceland, Kura Studio in Japan, and a dozen more remote and interesting places. She works with text and sculptural installation as part of the creative team Maternal Mitochondria in venues ranging from RV Parks to galleries. She founded and directed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement. Her poetry was set to music for the Santa Fe Women’s Chorus, incised on stoneware for a haiku pathway, and projected as video inside an abandoned grain silo in rural Itoshima. Her blog is Miriam’s Well.

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The Pen and the Sword – Guest Post by Kevin Coolidge

by Kevin Coolidge

It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword, though I much prefer my Swiss army knife. Still, I could not help but be fascinated by a class called “The Pen and the Sword” taught by an Aikido master.

Truly, now was my chance to learn to kill a man with a ballpoint pen and land that job with the CIA. If he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword, then he who lives by the pen…? Writing is not for the weak. I must be strong. I must be prepared. I must be ready.

I was ready to become both master of the pen and the sword. Anxiously I awaited the sensei’s arrival. The room was filled with gymnastic mats-also called tatami-and nervous energy. Here I would forge the weapon of my mind, the strength of my spirit, the tool of my will.

A stout man came waddling into the room with a Grizzly Adams beard and blazing blue eyes, like a half-crazed Viking warrior who forgot where he put his bearskin. This could not be the teacher? Surely such a man was born to wield an ungainly battle-axe, not the eloquently crafted katana. Lost? Searching for a Wagner opera? A drumming circle?

His voice boomed, “You have to write a poem. You have one minute. Go!”

A mad rush of students surged to the back wall where a table sat loaded with clean, white paper and pencils. Quickly, I grabbed a pencil. “Only a minute to craft a poem of truth and beauty, and it has to be great!” I looked to the heavens for inspiration; I pleaded to my muse for guidance. I looked within myself, and found me.

There’s a saying, “No matter where you go, there you are.” And there I was. There’s some that might say I’m bull-headed or have a blatant disregard for authority figures. Maybe, maybe not. But I was in the moment, and that rebel in me grabbed that pencil and wrote four quick lines that spilled out of me.

I have to write a poem.

It has to be good.

No, I don’t.

No, it doesn’t.

I put my pencil down and smiled smugly like that smart-ass kid in geometry class that always finishes his test before anyone else. Don’t you just hate that? The berserker glared at me and snarled, “Are you done?”

“Yep.” I arrogantly replied.

“You now have thirty seconds!” roared the madman…

Aikido (aikidō) is translated as the “way of harmonious spirit,” and emphasizes joining with an attack and redirecting the attacker’s energy. Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  So this class was not to turn me into a lethal weapon, but it did make the art of poetry more accessible to me. The arts of war have strong traditions in many art forms, from poetry to calligraphy to flower arranging.

Martial arts are more than what you do, or do to someone. Martial arts can help build confidence, fitness, discipline and awareness of one’s surroundings. It is something that you feel. Being what you are. Being in the moment and it ain’t always pretty.

What is poetry? Is it more than just words? If it has no structure, is it poetry? If it doesn’t rhyme, is it poetry? If it’s in free form, or freestyle, is that a poem? Poetry, and discussions of it, have a long history, and poets and scholars will never agree on a definition.

For me, poetry is a means of expressing an idea, emotion, feeling or memory in a concise way. It may be graceful, beautifully expressed, or even brutal-an elegant arc of a well-honed blade or a swift body blow to the breadbasket.

No, my aikido teacher was not a tyrant, or a bully, but a kind, gentle man with lessons to teach and a wicked sense of humor. The real power and truth of a poem is the honesty and truth to it. You can dress it up, flesh it out, or make it dance the salsa, but if it isn’t real it really isn’t anything at all. What is poetry? All I can say is, “You’ll know it when you feel it…”

For further reading check out, Sword and Brush by Dave Lowry: The way of the brush reflects the strategic principles of the sword; Lowry is master of both.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury: A celebration of the act of writing, by a master storyteller. I am unaware of his prowess in the deadly arts, but I don’t recommend meeting him in a dark alleyway.

Kevin resides in Wellsboro, just a short hike from the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. When he’s not writing, you can find him at From My Shelf Books & Gifts, an independent bookstore he runs with his lovely wife, several helpful employees, and two friendly bookstore cats, Huck & Finn. He’s recently become an honorary member of the Cat Board, and when he’s not scooping the litter box, taking out the garbage, or feeding Gypsy her tuna, he’s writing more stories about the Totally Ninja Raccoons.

 

 

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The Lunch Break

This stolen snippet of time

useless

for anything worth pondering

other than worries

loneliness

a dwindling checkbook

and a few bad poems.

 

Did you like this post?  Find more of my work here.

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On Sale this Month!

My Heart in my Hand:  A Collection of Poetry is on sale this month for $.99.  It’s available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.  Please help me share the good news!

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4 a.m.

The last few hours
of the night
press close
making sure
the nightwork is done.
The spinning
of every web,
the shining
of every star,
one last haunt
for every spirit.

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Garden’s End

When the vines have given up their last

Fruits of earth are memories past

Brown and brittle are stem and leaf

Their green long stolen by autumn’s thief

When twig and weed are all that remain

To show the end of summer’s reign

A frost the sun can no longer defend

And this is surely garden’s end.

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