Monday, July 21, 2014

Poetry News

I was recently interviewed by Margaret Fieland about Chiaroscuro and writing. She asked some great questions about the process behind compiling and publishing Chiaroscuro, as well as how I balance fantasy and poetry. Go leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my book.

The Poetic Muselings are having a summer poetry challenge. We challenged each other to see who could write (and post) the most new poems between July 15 and Sept 1. Come join in the fun.

Today I wrote my first poem for the challenge. (I am behind!) Since my son was sitting nearby, I asked him for a topic. He chose dinosaurs, as that’s our theme for this week. We’ve picked out themes for each week of summer, to help with activity ideas. So, in honor of dinosaur week and my son, I wrote the following poem. This poem/song also got us up and moving to do the Stego Stomp. So I’d call it a success: a new poem, collaboration with my son, and exercise! Stomp along.

Stego Stomp

Come into the stomping ground
Best party to be found

DJ Rex will never fail
Every dino shake your tail

Through the valley we will romp
Time for the Stego Stomp

Clap your plates to the beat
Move all four of your feet

Stomp left, then stomp right
Jump up with all your might

Nose to the ground, tail in the air,
Wave that thing like you don't care

Spin around, then grab a snack
(Making sure to watch your back)

Blast out a mighty roar
You are a dinosaur!

As a bonus for you, I took a picture of part of my rough draft notes and doodles. When I mentioned DJ Rex, my son pointed out that due to his short arms a t-rex would spin with his nose.

Stego Stomp draft

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Poem and a Prompt

Whether just starting as a poet, or well-experienced, you can learn by imitation. Choose a poem by another poet, classic or modern, and write a poem in the same style. There's a few ways you could approach this:

  • Write a poem as a direct response to the subject.
  • Write your own poem inspired by the topic.
  • Follow the poetry form only.

Here's an example of one of my early poems. I personalized Emily Dickinson's "This is My Letter to the World." I kept it in a similar style, and thought: What would I say to the world?

vintage photoalbum pages with butterfly

My Letter to the World

What do I have to say to the world
That all but deserted me?
Would anyone listen to a single soul
Through the unheard art of poetry?

Although surrounded by others,
Wanting my voice to be heard,
I’m often isolated
For no one will hear my words.

Can I make a difference in someone’s life,
As others did in mine?
Will anyone read the simple words
That I wrote in my spare time?

I may be a shy, quiet person
But I have a message of my own;
Won’t someone come and discover
The soul within my poems.

The message of my poem remains true today. I want my voice, my poems, to be heard. Which is why I am giving away a free copy of my new poetry book, Chiaroscuro. One week left to enter. Go here to the blog post with the Rafflecopter giveaway.

I'd love it if you shared your own poem based on the prompt.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Chiaroscuro Book Give-a-Way!

This is your chance to win a copy of Chiaroscuro.



CHIAROSCURO is a poetry book about the contrast and balance between light and dark. It’s a journey through a crumbling world that leaves a gritty taste. It shines light on the edge of awareness where dark magic wars with childish innocence.

These poems range from internal conflict to worldwide war to creatures of myth, but all follow the themes of finding havens of light in dark days, persisting despite the odds. The light is only brighter for the darkness that surrounds it. 

Winner will receive a PDF copy of Chiaroscuro. This is my first Rafflecopter giveaway. If it goes well, I'll do another! Enter below. Ask if you have any questions.

If you happen to already have a copy (thank you!), you can still enter and gift it to a friend. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Monday, May 5, 2014

It’s a Brand New May

April is over. I challenged myself to write one new poem a day, and 26 blog posts for the AtoZ challenge. I’m happy to say that now only did I succeed, I blew it out of the water. This was my most successful poetry month. Last year I had the same poetry goal. My numbers:

Blog posts: 26

poems written: 41 (last year 19)

words of poetry written: 2512 (last year 1332)

What would I do different?

I didn’t spend much time visiting other bloggers doing the A to Z challenge. Next year I’ll interact more. I did find a few new blogs to follow, and hopefully got a few friends in return.

My own favorite posts:

C is for Chiaroscuro
F is for Fairies and Fudge
I is for Imagination
Q is for Quotes
R is for Rain
U is for Unique

Fellow bloggers who participated:

Sylvia Van Bruggen: Writer, Artist, Play Instigator
Writing Off the Edge
Untethered Realms
Writing in Wonderland

Thank you to everyone who visited, left comments, and gave support. I couldn’t have done this on my own.

Now What?

My goal is to transfer that productivity to my fiction. I’m going to keep it quite doable this month, and match my poetry. So 2500 words added to my novels.

As for blogging, I’m going to blog once a week, with updates on my poetry and fiction, as well as life in general. I hope you stay with me.

April was also a great month, as my first ever poetry book was published April 23. Chiaroscuro is available directly from SynergEbooks, and on Amazon.com and B&N.com.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zero Hour

As today is the last of the A to Z challenge, and also the final day of poetry month, I wrote a poem about an ending. But this isn't "The End". Expect me back here blogging about once a week. It won't be all poetry all the time. I'll expand back to include other topics such as fantasy, books, and life. I hope you've enjoyed this month's journey. I'll do a recap next week.

Fate

Five doomed us—
A council of greed
turned to the dark arts
in their attempts to cheat death,
but only gods can grant immortality.

Foresight could have saved us…
the oracle's visions
blinded by gold,
she bought a ship
and left us to our fates.

Thrice the waves came,
each more deadly than the last…
slammed through walls,
flooded streets,
pushed us to the heart of our island.

Too little, too late,
a sacrifice was chosen
to appease the scorned gods:
I was merely a child
thrown into volcano's maw

One last desperate prayer,
I cried out in terror
as I fell to certain doom:
this wasn't my fault,
wasn't my fate!

Zero hour had come…
Hades embraced me,
blessed my sacrifice;
I arose a phoenix,
reborn as Atlantis crumbled.
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Phoenix Press
Phoenix Press (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Youth

The child has a special gift, seeing the world with different eyes. Too many of us grow up and stop believing.



The Child's Gift

Mama,
can you smell?
my teddy bathed in wildflowers

Mama,
can you feel?
this rock has a heartbeat

Mama,
can you hear?
the flap of dragonwings

Mama,
can you see?
the fairy sitting in the tree

Mama,
can you taste?
there's magic in my lemonade

Mama,
did you know?
an angel watches over me

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for eXtras

In Scott Westerfeld's Extras, each person has their own news feed. But with so many feeds, not everyone will get noticed. Even in today's world, anyone can have a blog, a Facebook page. It can be easy to feel lost in the crowd, unnoticed, merely an extra. Even before blogs, when I was first writing poetry in high school and trying to get published, I penned this poem about wanting to be heard:

My Letter to the World

What do I have to say to the world
That all but deserted me?
Would anyone listen to a single soul
Through the unheard art of poetry?

Although surrounded by others,
Wanting my voice to be heard,
I’m often isolated
For no one will hear my words.

Can I make a difference in someone’s life,
As others did in mine?
Will anyone read the simple words
That I wrote in my spare time?

I may be a shy, quiet person
But I have a message of my own;
Won’t someone come and discover
The soul within my poems.

Once I had the word Extra stuck in my head while planning this post, there's one other thing that kept coming to mind. "Extra! Extra! Read all about it." More news trying to get attention, the newsies selling their papers on the streets. So here's my new poem on topic:

Extra Extra!

sellin' news
on the streets
tryin' to stand out in the crowd
to be heard o'er the noise

weighin' the need for food,
a roof overhead,
against standin' up
for what's right

just one boy, one voice,
the big man won't hear,
but one becomes legion--
united we change the world

If you haven't seen it, the movie Newsies follows these boys, in their struggle to stand up to the presses. And since Newsies is a musical, I simply must include a song.



P.S. If you haven't yet read Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, check it out. Awesome YA dystopian series. My husband and I bought the whole set after being unable to put down the sample chapters. So compelling.


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Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Walt Whitman

Whitman is my favorite classic poet.

Walt Whitman was born May 31, 1819. He was the second of nine children, four of whom were disabled. At age eleven he was pulled out of school to help support his family. At age twelve he began to learn the printing business and was mainly self-taught. His collection of poems Leaves of Grass, which he began working on in 1848, was so unusual in form and content that no commercial publisher would publish it. In 1855 he published his first collection, consisting of twelve poems, at his own expense. His editing job was the only way he kept himself afloat.

Despite his rough upbringing in poverty, Whitman took his experiences and used them to give a foundation to his writing. He could not know and truly appreciate the wonders of life without first experiencing the grime. And that he did. Whitman was a writer that the average worker could relate to. Because of his experiences, his poetry speaks to us all.

And we listen because he knows what it is to live. He has begged in the gutters with the worst of us, and he has soared through the heavens with the best.

Excerpt from Song of the Rolling Earth

A song of the rolling earth, and of words according,
Were you thinking that those were the words, those upright lines?
         those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words, the substantial words are in the
         ground and sea,
They are in the air, they are in you.

Were you thinking that those were the words, those delicious sounds
         out of your friends' mouths?
No, the real words are more delicious than they.

"Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and mothers of families. ... reexamine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem."

~ Walt Whitman

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Villanelle

The Villanelle is a structured poetry form. This may intimidate some, but I find it a fun form to work with. It has two refrains (repeated phrases) that alternate throughout the poem. I like the musical quality of the Villanelle, and that the refrains are more subtle in their repetition.

The Villanelle below is one I wrote during last year's poetry month.

If you want to read my very first Villanelle, it's actually the sample poem for Chiaroscuro. I also wrote one earlier this month, featured in my rain post.

The Author

A goddess, many worlds do I create
to fill with danger, passion, magic, flight,
with words alone manipulating fate.

A lonely princess on a grand estate,
a dragon in his lair just out of sight,
a goddess, many worlds do I create.

Each character is given a strong trait
then thrown into some unforgiving plight;
with words alone manipulating fate

When countless suitors seek to procreate,
the dragon takes them out with just a bite.
A goddess, many worlds do I create

A hero uses wit to then debate
and keeps the dragon occupied all night,
with words alone manipulating fate.

The dragon tricked to eat some poisoned bait
the princess freed to her own tale rewrite.
A goddess, many worlds do I create,
with words alone manipulating fate.

I found the trick with the Villanelle is to write your final couplet first. Then work the rest of the poem around it. And before you start, come up with a good list of words that rhyme with lines A and B, as it's just the two end rhymes throughout the whole poem. You need to make sure there's enough potential before diving in and running out of workable words halfway through.

And to get a better visual for how I write a Villanelle, here's my initial notes for the above poem:

AbA/abA/abA/abA/abA/abAA

[Capital A's are the refrain, lowercase are rhyming words.]

(7 a's, 7 b's)

a – create, bait, date, eight, fate, ate, rate, wait, trait, berate, debate, deflate, restate, state, soul mate, estate, procreate

b – flight, light, site, sight, white, night, plight, right, height, trite, quite, bite, ignite, knight, rewrite

A goddess, many worlds do I create
With words alone manipulating fate


A A goddess, many worlds do I create
b to fill with danger, passion, magic, flight.
A With words alone manipulating fate

a A lonely princess on a grand estate
b a dragon in his lair just out of sight
A A goddess, many worlds do I create

a Each character is given a strong trait
b then thrown into some unforgiving plight
A With words alone manipulating fate

a When countless suitors seek to procreate
b the dragon takes them out with just a bite
A A goddess, many worlds do I create

a A hero uses wit to then debate
b and keeps the dragon occupied all night
A With words alone manipulating fate

a the dragon tricked to eat some poisoned bait
b the princess free to her story rewrite
A A goddess, many worlds do I create
A With words alone manipulating fate


I went with iambic pentameter (10 syllables) for this one, whereas Downpour follows the refrain and rhyme scheme, but not the meter.

Have you ever tried to write a Villanelle? I'd love to read it.
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Unique

I came across this again in my notes. It’s something I wrote a few years ago, but still applies today.

I was going through the same phase of: any other writer could tell this story better. Then I remembered my conclusion when I put myself down as a bad parent.

Even though I'm not the best mom, I don't want anyone else raising my kid, because I know him best.

As a writer, my characters deserve the same. I may not be the best writer, but I know my story and characters and no one can tell their story the way I can.

One of my favorite fantasy authors, Patrick Rothfuss, responded to a commenter who wished they could write like him. I wrote this verbatim into my bliss book so I’d always have a reminder when I start comparing myself to other authors.

“I’ll never be able to write a book like The Last Unicorn. I wish I could, but I know I can’t.

You can’t write the sort of story I write. Only I can.

We all have our own style. Our own way. Our own something we need to say.

If you want to write like me, you’re bound to fail. What you want to do is write your story, but do it brilliantly. Do it so well that it shines.

But it takes time. And revision. And depression. And work. And then more work…

I’ve been there. I know what you’re talking about.”

We are all unique. We each have a story to tell. Whether we tell that through our blogs, or poetry, or fiction, or in a different medium such as film or art. We can all contribute to the world. When we stop contributing, we do the world a disservice.

Keep on Going on

You are you.
No one can replace you;
No one can love
the way you do.

You're not just one star
in the universe;
You are someone's sun--
They would be adrift
if your light went out.

Don't give up your dreams—
your success, your creations, your journey,
may change someone else's life.

Keep on going on.

There is darkness in my background, but I have embraced this. I didn’t give up on myself, or my dream. I am happy to announce that the book shaped from that darkness, Chiaroscuro, is now published. It is available for purchase as a digital book from SynergEbooks, my wonderful publisher. And will soon be available for Kindle and Nook.

This is my first published collection of my own poetry. So I am very excited to release it to the world.

Chiaroscurocover1smaller

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Tree

Urban Willow
Urban Willow (Photo credit: Ian Sane)
Sanctuary

The world can be a crazy place,
big crowds may be ordinary
but make me crave some breathing space
to sit beneath my willow tree.

Escape is not one time of year,
the brisk air of February
means many layers of cashmere
to sit beneath my willow tree.

Don't think me lonely under here,
my daydreams are legendary;
dragons, fairies, and elves appear
to sit beneath my willow tree.

If you're ever feeling slighted,
in need of a sanctuary,
know you are always invited
to sit beneath my willow tree.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Snow

Yesterday was rain, today we’ve moved on to snow. Today’s poem is a Musette about childhood.

Winter Fun

Flakes fall…
Let's go have a
snow brawl.

Snowstorm—
sip some cocoa,
get warm.

Next day,
we are snowed in—
more play!

Bryce's first snowman

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rain

I seem to be writing a lot of rain this month. I love the rain. The sound, the smell, the touch. I’m going to start out with an oldie but favorite. The second poem was my villanelle about the weather for day nine. And the last is an Elfje I wrote today.

Reflections

Red sneakers exchanged for red galoshes,
I wander in the hungry rain.
The green clouds in the stormy sky
Light the lazy edge of the sidewalk
And my dog a dusty wolf
Stalks the myriad puddles,
Hesitating when he finds himself
In the depths of their dim waters.
But I, in my new galoshes,
Lose myself in the worn rain.

waiting in rain
Downpour
I look out at the rain,
a raging thunderstorm
transforming the terrain.

Run to catch my train…
huddle on the platform;
I look out at the rain--

the lightning is insane,
a light dance in freeform
transforming the terrain.

The train pulls up to its domain--
I clamber on, glad to get warm;
I look out at the rain,

forehead pressed on windowpane
I watch the waters swarm,
transforming the terrain.

At least it's not a hurricane.
Soon we'll reach my dorm.
I look out at the rain
transforming the terrain.

Spring
raindrop
hits pavement
one becomes many
storm clears the air
breathe

Note: "Reflections" is a poem from Chiaroscuro, coming soon.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quotes

I’d like to share with you some quotes that really echo how I feel about poetry.

What is poetry?

“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.”
--Edgar Allan Poe
"Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance."
--Carl Sandburg

Who is the poet?

“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”
--W. H. Auden

Poets don’t publish for the recognition or the money. We do it because we want to connect with the world, with other people. To share human experience and emotion.

"Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo."
--Don Marquis
“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
--T.S. Eliot
"Poetry is a language in which man explores his own amazement."
--Christopher Fry

And, above all else:

"Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves.
What humans can be, they must be. They must be true to their own nature." --Abraham Maslow
I am a Poet
A genius in disguise
Forms flow from my fingertips
Words and phrases grow within me
Waiting for ripeness
That moment when I write them
And another poem is born

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Paradise

beachTwo views of paradise today. This first poem is my new one, written for the NaPoWriMo prompt for a ruba’i poem, mixed with the Poetic Asides prompt for a weather poem.

Paradise

tide laps at my toes
washing away my woes
the sky a clean slate
for me to daydream prose

This second poem is an older one, but still rings very true. This is the place I go when I close my eyes, needing sanctuary.

My Quiet Place

A meadow on the hill,
Filled with hues of green;
A gentle slope
Perfect to roll down.
A scent of green, of
Bees humming through the glade;
The sky a blue
So true it sings.
In this meadow lies a cottage--
Simple, yet elegant it stands;
Myriad windows light every room,
Dust fairies dancing in the sun.
A warm breeze fills the air
Bringing scents of fresh cut grass,
Of lilacs, blossoms, roses
Climbing up the walls.
Nothing can harm me here.

What’s your idea of paradise?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Observer

oak
oak (Photo credit: mindfulness)

Unrequited

Hidden in oak tree's shadow,
I lean forward…
gripping the branch with clawed feet.
He leaves the inn. Laughing,
a toss of burnished hair;
in excitement I almost lose my balance,
flap my wings to steady myself.
He looks up.
I pull back from his piercing green gaze,
burrow my head in my shoulder.
He must not see me.
His footsteps distance, and I
dare to peek again.
A pretty young thing leans
out a window to catch his eye;
I hiss at her, but his attention
already moved on
to assist a woman into her carriage;
she is no beauty, wrinkled as I.
Breath rushes out in surprise.
Perhaps...
in my hesitation, I almost lose him,
over rooftops I fly
skittering across tiles
to perch on a ledge.
I crane to see but he enters a shop;
I yearn to follow, to speak to him,
but shudder at the sight he would see.
I retreat to the oak,
settle my crooked back into the hollow,
wrap tattered, filthy wings around ungainly breasts,
and dip my head, that my oily hair
covers my haggard visage.
How would a prince such as he
see past looks to love this harpy?
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Night

Fun fact: This quote from my Mom is about me.

I did have one night owl child who still does better at night than in the morning. I tried everything - she just couldn't get to sleep. I eventually gave up and allowed her to stay awake and play quietly (Fisher Price Little People was generally her game of choice )- rule was she had to play very quietly so as not to disturb the rest of the family who actually wanted to sleep...when she got tired she climbed into bed on her own. When she started going to public school and couldn't sleep in, things had to change, but she was a little more willing to understand and cooperate by then.

barn_owl_1I can’t stay up as late as I used to, but I am still a night owl. Mornings make me sluggish. I tend to get a lot of ideas in bed trying to sleep, when my creative mind refuses to shut off.

Two very different night poems for you today. These were written earlier this month.

This first poem was written from NaPoWriMo’s prompt to write a rhyming charm poem.

Charm of Night

I ask for sweet dreams
with the birth of this charm
flower of buckwheat
protects me from harm

feather of owl
to watch as I sleep
sprinkled with moondust
to make my dreams deep

amethyst stone
will calm the mind
then strips of willow
will this charm bind.

This second poem was for day 13’s prompt on Poetic Asides. The prompt was to write an animal poem, and as a bonus challenge to make it a sestina. I wrote about a creature of the night with an animalistic nature.

The Reign of the Night

Brothers walking in the rain,
our destination nowhere;
afraid to prove
what we already knew --
that our string of lies
wouldn't get us through the night.

We find a barn late in the night,
shelter from the soaking rain…
but danger in the shadow lies,
tooth and claw tear us where
lifeblood flows, I know
this the end will prove .

We die and rise the same, and prove
ourselves creatures of the night--
a taste for blood I hadn't known,
the cravings I try to rein;
my brother finds a dame from somewhere,
paints her as a whore, but I sense lies.

I sense her heartbeat where she lies;
I turn away, my honor to prove
and make one little room, an everywhere
within to contain night;
I will not let it reign,
I must keep saying no.

My brother insists, he knows
resisting is a lie,
with our new life we can reign,
to our debtors prove
we will rule the night;
we can go anywhere.

It is a strange world where
my brother is the one to know ,
the one to lead the night;
I will see where his path lies,
let him be the one to prove
that he can take the reins.

I fall into where the darkness lies,
abandon humanity I know would not approve,
surrender myself to night's reign.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Moon

Moon
Moon (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn (back soon, sorry for not commenting))


Lunar Pull

The moon begins to dance--
Tides swoon for its romance.


Essence Poem, by Mary W. Jensen
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Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Library

This week is National Library Week. Last year, I created a book spine poem from books at my local library. The poem represents what the library means to me.

Mary W Jensen's library poem

Brink of Chaos
The Great Escape
Gateways
Haven

I could spend all day in a library. After my senior year of high school I spent the summer working at a library as a page. I confess, I wasn’t the best employee. I was too distracted by the books. It’s not the most efficient to stop and flip the pages of a book while shelving. I’d love to work in a library again. I truly do love the atmosphere.

In honor of both library week and poetry month, I have written another poem.

My Second Home

The library was my first love
perfect for a book-a-holic,
no budget could sustain my obsession.

A sacred space filled with treasures;
fingers trail on book spines…
so many choices
each one a new adventure--
Do I read an author tried and true?
or experience something new?

Some days I come
not for the books
but the atmosphere.

Sit back in an armchair
wrapped in hushed air,
soak in the rich love of words
infused between these walls,
let it inspire me…
flow through my fingertips
to fill the pages of my notebook.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Key

I love keys. So it is no wonder that is the 'K' word I gravitated to today.

Puerta de entrada al pasado / Entrance door to...
Puerta de entrada al pasado / Entrance door to the past (Photo credit: NeoGaboX)
The Key's Mystery

The key itself is simple
rusted iron on woven cord
without its lock
it is nothing

It may open a chest
left hidden by pirates
or unlock a gate
to an alien world

Perhaps it locks
a mermaid's diary
or the chains that bind
a wolf at full moon

It could be the key
to a dungeon cell
or the way to unlock
a damsel's heart

Most likely it matched
a plain house door
but until the lock is found
it holds everything to me
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Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jackalope


collageOrama's Etsy shop
A jackalope is a jack rabbit with antlers (jack rabbit + antelope). A group of jackalope is called a flaggerdoot.

Jackalope

The jackalope hops o'er the hills
aware as the hare
regal as the deer
it skirts the desert towns
rarely seen but sometimes heard
singing with its flaggerdoot
echoes woven from our own songs
as the thunder rolls above
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Imagination

Finite Cyclic Groups
Finite Cyclic Groups (Photo credit: derekbruff)
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." 
~Albert Einstein

Daydream

Voices drone around me
Equations drip from the blackboard
Numbers sizzle into puddles of data
Letters, once unknown values,
Dance away to reform
Into glorious words
Words stretch and morph
Into dragons
Which fly me away 
from this dull room
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Hero

Two hero poems for you today, from my vault. A different view of your traditional hero.





A magical quest
journey for the talisman
a clichéd hero

To Be a Hero?

A youth seeking guidance
kneels before the village matron.
She rests her withered hand
atop the boy's bowed head

"We found you in the woods --
a babe crying alone.
You welcomed our embrace
And we gave you a home.

Now your growing hands
ask for a sword;
your growing feet
wish to wander.

Dear child,
sometimes it's better not to question.
Knowledge may be power,
but the answers may distort your view.

If you pursue destiny
through the twilight forest,
you leave inexperienced, exposed
for destruction at your rival's whim.

Take heed to your elder now.
Don't take that first step 
to see the wizard;
once that path is chosen, you cannot return.
Embrace the life you have --
leave the world to its own devices."

And the boy lifts his head
to see this village, his home,
wondering if his purpose
is greater than self,
and decides if it is enough.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Green

As some of you may know, I have a series of color poems. Maybe someday there will be enough to stand as a collection of their own. You can read "Yellow's Blessing" and "The Warmth of Orange" in the anthology Lifelines. "Seeping Gray," "Whetted Steel," and "Black's Embrace" will be in my upcoming poetry book Chiaroscuro. And to celebrate the letter "G" today, here is my Green poem.

Unfurling so many ways
Unfurling so many ways (Photo credit: sbisson)
Green Unfurls

the smell of fresh-cut grass
stretching yoga poses
a breath of fresh air after smog
surprise at the touch of a frog, smooth not slimy
green apple shampoo massaged into my scalp
the taste of a kiwi
mint ice-cream
Bob Ross and his happy trees
smack, run, cheer, baseball
the snap of green beans
ruins, hidden in moss and vines
willow leaves, dripping, waving
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Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Fairies and Fudge

Vegan Chocolate Fudge.
Vegan Chocolate Fudge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fairy Fudge

the fairies left a gift for me
outside my bedroom door
a single square of darkest fudge
you won't find in a store

pixie dust like little stars
glinting from its core
it carries whiffs of oak
soaked in a downpour

I take a bite, close my eyes
relish tastes galore
cocoa rivers carry me
to exotic shore

magic bursts through my veins
my feet lift off the floor
wings curl from my shoulders
leaving muscles sore

I shrink down to inches high
needing clothes no more
wrapped only in morning light
out the door I soar

by Mary W. Jensen
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Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Ekelöf

Gunnar Ekelöf
Gunnar Ekelöf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gunnar Ekelöf was a Swedish poet and writer who lived from 1907 to 1968. He won many awards for his poetry. He has been described as Sweden's first surrealist poet.

I discovered Gunnar's poetry while browsing a library book sale. Selected Poems of Gunnar Ekelöf, translated by Muriel Rukeyser and Leif Sjoberg. It stood out, being the only poetry book on the shelf. Curious, I picked it up and opened to a random page. I don't remember what page that was, but the poetry resonated with me. I read a few more poems, then bought the book.

When One Has Come as Far as I
by Gunnar Ekelöf

When one has come as far as I in meaninglessness
every word becomes once more interesting
Finds in the mould
which someone has turned with an archaeologist's spade:
The little word you
perhaps a glass pearl
that once hung at the throat of someone
The big word I
Perhaps a flint shard
with which someone in toothlessness scraped his tough flesh

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Today's poetry prompts from both NaPoWriMo and 30 Day PoetryChallenge both have to do with using an existing poem. So I've picked some of Ekelöf's translated poems to work with.

I don't think Ekelöf would mind:

Augustine says, "Tag och läs! and take for good what you read." I mean with "Tag och skriv!" Read, and make it your own, give it your own expression. --Gunnar Ekelöf

Since these are longer poems, I'll just share one today. This one is a blackout poem. "Find a poem written by someone else. Make it new by crossing out or deleting select words."

I am using the poem Euphoria, translated by L. Nathan &J. Larson. (Another E word!)

Euphoria

You sit in the garden alone with your notebook, a sandwich,
                                            flask, and pipe.
It is night but so calm that the candle burns without flickering,
spreads its glow over the table of rough planks
and gleams in bottle and glass.

You take a sip, a bite, and fill and light your pipe.
You write a line or two and give yourself pause and ponder
the thin streak of evening red slowly passing to the red of morning,
the sea of wild chervil, green-white foaming in the darkness
                                            of summer night,
not one moth around the candle but choirs of gnats in the oak,
leaves so still against the sky … And the aspen rustles in the
                                            stillness:
All nature strong with love and death around you.

As if were the last evening before a long, long journey:
You have the ticket in your pocket and finally everything is packed.
And you can sit and sense the nearness of the distant land,
sense how all is in all, both its end and its beginning,
sense that here and now is both your departure and return
sense how death and life are as strong as wine inside you!

Yes, to be one with the night, one with myself, with the candle’s flame
which looks me in the eye still, unfathomable and still,
one with the aspen that trembles and whispers,
one with the crowds of flowers leaning out of darkness to listen
to something I had on my tongue to say but never got said,
something I don’t want to reveal even if I could.
And that it murmurs inside me of purest happiness!
And the flame rises … It is as though the flowers crowded
                                            nearer,
nearer and nearer the light in a rainbow of shimmering points.
The aspen trembles and plays, the evening red passes
and all that was inexpressible and distant is inexpressible and near


I sing of the only thing that reconciles,

only of what is practical, for all alike.
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Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Dusty Tome



Do Not Disturb

Dare not to enter
Or even peak in

Nightmares wait for
Open minds
To confound

Dusty book lies
Innocent, a guise of
Spells and mystery…
Tempting to open,
Unwitting
Read the words--
Book of the Dead

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro (kee-ar-uh-SKYOOR-o): The contrast and balance between light and dark.

Chiaroscuro is the title of my upcoming poetry book being published by SynergEbooks. Today I’m going to share how the collection came to be.

Back in 2008, I took a course at the Muse Online Writers Conference called “How to Turn Your Poetry Into a Saleable Chapbook.” I had a lot of poems under my belt and wanted to create a cohesive collection.

I looked over all of my poems, and sorted them into themes. I found a lot of them were on the darker side: death, pain, abuse. Of course, a lot of those were from my teenage days. You know how teenage angst can get. But I still use poetry to deal with the darkness.

With encouragement, I went ahead with the dark theme. Chose my title, Chiaroscuro. My initial tag line was: Exploring the darkness, bringing the monsters of death and abuse into the light.

What was initially a 25 poem chapbook, later expanded to a book length collection so I could enter it into a local writing competition. I didn’t win, but I did get valued feedback from my peers, and wrote what is now the introduction.

Within us resides a tapestry of darkness and light. It is woven into our hopes, fears, dreams, and secrets. To understand the tapestry leads to knowing ourselves. Follow these threads of dark and light. You may be surprised at what lies hidden, lost, or wandering.

Last year during April Poetry Month I wrote some promising poems that fit the theme, so I polished those to fill out the content some more.

And now it’s on its way to becoming a digital book. Here’s a glimpse inside:

Anniversary

The door lifts to the bleak garage--
flashbacks barrage,
emotions show,
eyes overflow.

One year has passed since he's been gone;
my heart's withdrawn.
His red race car
sits like a scar.

My finger traces through the dust
as thick as lust;
I draw a heart
and then depart.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Boy

IMG_0762
About a Boy

Born in March
Reader of Fantasy
You make me so proud
Creative and bright
Extra big hugs

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for... Adventure to Agony

I actually wrote two poems today. The double prompt from Poetic Asides is a beginning and an ending poem. So I wrote one for each.

BMW R1200GS Adventure motorcycle
BMW R1200GS Adventure motorcycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gypsy

I open the door
breathe in fresh spring air
of a new day--
My day
to take as I please.

I secure a pack to the bike,
six string on my back
no school, no job
just me and the open road.
A trip to nowhere and anywhere
to find myself.

Stop on a whim--
barter for a bed or
play for my supper,
new faces and places
shape my music.

Each day a new adventure.

No More Running

Broken Fence
Broken Fence (Photo credit: Chrispl57)
Feral growls chase me
I duck through broken fence,
only to find more dead ahead
pouring from the house.

I turn back, but the way is blocked;
dirty torn fingernails reach through fence
tear into my flesh--
I stagger back
with my own feral scream.


Find shelter in an empty shed,
hands pressed to my gut
I sink to the floor
back bracing the door.

Tears and blood pour from me,
Infection ripping
through my veins,
the pain a constant jab…

Is this it? The end?
No more stargazing
or chocolate
or kisses.
Alone.
In agony.

With bloody fingers I clasp
the key hanging from my neck
until the teeth
dig into my skin.

The key to your heart…
I drift away,
remember our wedding day
promises of love eternal.

Horror snarls
as the door cracks
reminds me that death did us part.

I sob,
pain of body and heart
too much to bear.

Envious of the mindless moans,
the painless existence of
the once dead,
I open the door.

Welcome the horde. 
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