poetry friday roundup is here!

Happy May, and Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

So, a new month, the month of flowers and strawberries and Mother’s Day (sigh). Tell me, on the first of May, did you wash your face with morning dew to maintain your youthful appearance? Will you scamper through the meadows wild with a garland of blossoms in your hair?

And are you smiling right now? In the UK, May is National Smile Month. Sounds good to me (call me Cheshire Cat). 🙂

I think a good way to celebrate this new month is with a Mary Oliver poem. We’ve talked before about the importance of art, beauty, and gratitude. Whether you write or draw, it all begins with careful observation, being fully present, and as Oliver says, “learning to be astonished.” What is your message?

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photo by Julie White

MESSENGER
by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

~ from Thirst: Poems (Beacon Press, 2007)

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Though this poem is the perfect writer’s credo, this “job” of rejoicing in the wonders of the natural world is a worthy one for all human beings. In this way we become stewards of this fragile earth. In this way we are all poets. 🙂

I’m anxious to see what you’re sharing this week, so please leave your links with the amiable Mr. Linky below. Do help yourself to a little light refreshment to bolster you on your travels from blog to blog. 🙂

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🎈 KEEP A POCKET IN YOUR POEM GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🎉

Happy to announce that the winner of a brand new copy of Keep a Pocket in Your Poem by J. Patrick Lewis and Johanna Wright is:

TANITA S. DAVIS!!

WOO HOO!

Congratulations, Tanita!!

Please send along your snail mail address so we can get the book shipped out to you pronto.

Thanks, everyone, for entering the giveaway. 🙂

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Thanks so much for joining us today!!

🌺 HAPPY WEEKEND TO YOU! 🍓


Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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friday feast: a little bouquet of color + a special julie paprika giveaway

It’s here, it’s finally here!

Happy Spring!

We must celebrate with what so many of us are craving after such a long hard winter: COLOR!

But why settle for plain blue when you can have indigo or blue moonshade? As for green, make mine Elysian. Let’s bask in the evocative names of colors and the flights of fancy they inspire. And yes, you may call me Sheba. 🙂

POEM FROM A COLOUR CHART OF HOUSEPAINTS
by Wendy Cope

Limeglow of leaves –
elf, sapling
in Elysian green,
she’s jitterbugging
in the forest.
She is froth, the tang
of julep, capering
among the ferns.
Passion, the firedance
of her fantasy,
fireglow of poppy
and corona, ember.
Casanova, peerless
demon, jester!
She burns, a firefly,
Apollo’s geisha.
Her sandgold hair,
spun silk kimono,
melon and lemon sorbet
on the balcony,
white wine, gardenias.
That honeysuckle year –
if he could ransom
one sunlit day!
Indigo seascape –
Melissa in cool,
blue moonshade.
Harebell, naiad,
exotic ballerina,
she commands the bay,
the midnight swell,
the surf, pale gossamer.
Autumnal in brogues,
beige twinset, russet
tweeds, she takes
coffee at eleven,
sherry at noon –
dreams of Tarragona,
castanets, a man
who called her Sheba.
Her mood
is violet, nocturnal.
Aubrietia, phlox,
wisteria delight her
more than roses.
Solitude, a purple
robe, a last
long hazy evening.

~ from If I Don’t Know (Faber & Faber, 2001).

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Which shade of green should I use to paint my dining room — Barefoot in the Grass, Peaceful Garden, or Spring Has Sprung? Inspired by nature’s palette, we paint our rooms to bring the outdoors in. While I contemplate my choices, enjoy this floral bouquet plucked from Cope’s dreamscape. If you need me, I’ll be lounging in my purple robe sipping sherry. Come to think of it, I’ve always wanted a pair of castanets.

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friday feast: welcoming the new year with two poems by barbara crooker

AFTER THE HOLIDAYS,
by Barbara Crooker

the house settles back into itself,
wrapped up in silence, a robe
around its shoulders. Nothing
is roasting in the oven or cooling
on the countertops. No presents
are waiting to be wrapped, no cards
fill the mouth of the mailbox.
All is calm, all is bright, sunlight
glinting off snow. No eggnog, no yule
log, no letters to be licked
and stamped. No more butter
cookies, no more fudge, just miles
to go on the treadmill, another round
plate added to the weight machine.
All our good intentions pave the road.
We stride out into the new year,
resolute to become firm, to define
our muscles, to tighten our borders.
The thin tinsel of the new moon
hangs in the dark sky, a comma
dividing the sentence between
last year’s troubles and this year’s
hopes. The calendar ruffles her pages,
a deck of shiny cards, deals out
a fresh new hand.

~ from Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014)

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Happy New Year!

It’s nice to be back after a relaxing holiday break, and I can’t think of a better way to welcome 2015 than with two lovely poems by the inimitable Barbara Crooker.

As a longtime fan, I’ve shared more of her poems here than of those by any other poet. And with good reason: time and again, I am stunned by the lyrical beauty and emotional resonance of her work, its reassuring accessibility and seamless architecture.

A new Barbara book is always cause for celebration, so imagine my delight when I learned she has not one, but TWO new books out — Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (Future Cycle Press, 2015) and Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014), which  includes today’s poems.

The 50+ poems in Small Rain explore the cycle of the seasons: Corvid (Winter), Passerine (Spring), Tangerine (Summer), and Amaryllis (Fall). Each beautifully crafted gem brims with Barbara’s keen observations of the natural world. Intimate glimpses of bird, flower, tree and sky elucidate the heartening aspects of wonder and reverence in the presence of loss, regret, and aging. I especially appreciate the gentle reminders to stop, look, and love our world despite what we are doing to it, and to strengthen our resolve to embrace joy.

I thought of my own mother when I read “Dianthus.” She showed me my first Sweet Williams, and I’ve liked them every since. Enjoy today’s poignant bouquet. May the fragrance of sweet remembrances and renewal grace your days this new year.

Pink Dianthus by AnnA Eckstein

DIANTHUS

My mother comes back as a dianthus,
only this time, she’s happy, smelling like cloves,
fringed and candy-striped with a ring of deep rose
that bleeds into the outer petals. She dances
in the wind without her walker, nods pinkly
to the bluebells. She breathes easily, untethered
to oxygen’s snaking vines. Lacking bones,
there’s nothing left to crumble; she’s supple,
stem and leaf. No meals to plan, shop for, prepare;
everything she needs is at her feet, more rich and moist
than a chocolate cake. How much simpler
it would have been to be a flower in the first place,
with nothing to do but sit in the sun and shine.

~first published in Louisiana Literature

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via bhg
Dianthus Plumarius via Annie’s
Dianthus “Chiba Cherry Picotee”
Dianthus “Sugar Plum” via Garden Drum

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Barbara on “Dianthus”:

Someone (Mom was a little foggy towards the end) brought her a pot of Sweet Williams when she was in the nursing home (it was probably one of her hospice visitors), and she wanted me to take them home and enjoy them. With some trepidation, I planted them outside, and the fact that they’ve come back every summer for the past six years makes me feel (irrationally) like this is keeping her alive, which, of course, she is, in my heart.

About the first poem:

‘After the Holidays’ was written some years ago, but I think I feel the same way every New Year — I love the holidays, but by January first, enough is enough, and I also love getting back to clean living and a healthier lifestyle, plus I love putting my house back in order. It’s all good.

♥ Thank you, Barbara, for granting me permission to post your poems. I’m looking forward to reading and sharing something from Selected Poems too!

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poetryfriday180The always warm and welcoming Tabatha Yeatts is hosting the Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week and have a good weekend!

 

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

poetry friday roundup: mother’s day edition

“If I had a flower for each time I thought of my mother, I could walk in my garden forever.” ~ Anonymous

Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

I’m happy to be back and hosting the Roundup this week. Please help yourself to some strawberry shortcake and green tea.

I made the shortcakes with Bisquick in honor of my mom. We grew up on these, along with Bisquick pancakes and waffles. It’s nice to remember those carefree days before trans fats became a no-no. Care for an extra dollop of real whipped cream? Only the best for you. 🙂

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🌷 MAY FLOWERS 💐

SONG OF THE FLOWER XXIII
by Khalil Gibran

I am a kind word uttered and repeated
By the voice of Nature;
I am a star fallen from the
Blue tent upon the green carpet.
I am the daughter of the elements
With whom Winter conceived;
To whom Spring gave birth; I was
Reared in the lap of Summer and I
Slept in the bed of Autumn.

At dawn I unite with the breeze
To announce the coming of light;
At eventide I join the birds
In bidding the light farewell.

The plains are decorated with
My beautiful colors, and the air
Is scented with my fragrance.

As I embrace Slumber the eyes of
Night watch over me, and as I
Awaken I stare at the sun, which is
The only eye of the day.

I drink dew for wine, and hearken to
The voices of the birds, and dance
To the rhythmic swaying of the grass.

I am the lover’s gift; I am the wedding wreath;
I am the memory of a moment of happiness;
I am the last gift of the living to the dead;
I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow.

But I look up high to see only the light,
And never look down to see my shadow.
This is wisdom which man must learn.

(1914)

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Mom, me and my brother Newton. She let me call her Margaret :).

Besides being a good cook, my mother was an avid gardener who had an extensive knowledge of tropical plants. Monstera, hapu’u, red ginger, heliconia, plumeria, anthuriums, bird of paradise — she knew them, grew them, filled ceramic vases with blossoms and cuttings. She inherited some of my grandmother’s orchid plants, which thrived under her loving care.

When I complained once about disliking hot weather and the searing Hawaiian sun, she said, “You’re like a greenhouse orchid.” Quite true when considering my finicky personality and love of climate control, but I still took it as a compliment. 🙂

I am the memory of a moment of happiness;

She was surrounded by pink kalanchoe, white orchids and purple hydrangea when she died. The day before, she had turned in her bed to look up out the window at the beautiful blue sky and the stretch of ocean where she had enjoyed happy fishing days on my brother’s boat. I thought of a line from my favorite Truman Capote short story: “As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”

But I look up high to see only the light,
And never look down to see my shadow.

She was honored at her memorial service with standing wreaths and sprays of white and yellow chrysanthemums, white gladiolus; pink, white and purple dendrobium, pink roses and carnations, and pink and orange stargazer lilies.

I am the last gift of the living to the dead;
I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow.

Writer friend Candice Ransom says that a white carnation signifies your mother has passed. I will be holding mine close on Sunday, savoring the fragrance of good memories.

If you’ve lost your mother too, these are for you.

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🌹 THE ROUNDUP 🌻

Please leave your links with the ravenous but reliable sausage connoisseur Mr. Linky. Don’t forget to put the name of your poem or title of the book you’re reviewing in parentheses after your name. Thanks for joining us today — enjoy all the poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere!

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♥ A Special Note from Jane Yolen ♥

I send out a brand new poem every day to subscribers, and the only thing I ask in return is that at month’s end, they either buy a book of mine or borrow one from their local library and read it.

Since I have 350 books out, that should be a piece of cake! More numbers, this is my second year of doing this for subscribers, of whom there are now over 400! It’s also my fourth year of writing a poem a day. Most of the poems I send are adult poems, but occasionally there are new children’s poems as well.

To get on the list, send me an email request: janeyolen (at) aol (dot) com. If the request comes before May 10, I will catch you up on the first ten May poems. After that, you will be started on June 1.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all. What kind of flower is your mother?

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Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

friday feast: emily dickinson’s poetry of flowers

“Earth is crammed with heaven.” ~ Emily Dickinson

Please help yourself to Emily’s rice cakes and a cup of green tea.

Hello Spring, is that really you? 🙂

Today we’re greeting the somewhat reluctant, much-awaited season of renewal, rebirth, and regrowth with a little help from esteemed poet Emily Dickinson.

I’m sure you know she was fond of sending friends and acquaintances fragrant bouquets with notes or verses tucked in them, sometimes with a gift of food.

What could be sweeter than homemade gingerbread or coconut cake, nasturtiums and peonies from her garden, and a heartfelt verse she’d penned just for you?

From the New York Botanical Gardens Emily Dickinson Exhibit (2010)

Though she may have eschewed personal contact with people outside the family, Emily was able to sustain longstanding friendships and express romantic inclinations on her own terms. She cultivated and excelled in all three of these pursuits — gardening, baking, writing — as a normal course of each day, all of them requiring practiced skill, time and devotion.

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