LEADERS - not followers

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Poems hang out where life is.

For Big Tent Poetry

This week’s prompt
Poems hang out where life is. – Susan Wooldridge
So you’ve spent most of the summer at the pool (or the lake or the beach) and you’ve hardly written any poems. (Or maybe that’s just me). Maybe you’ve been working too hard at your day job and you’re just not feeling the poetry. Whatever the cause, if you are feeling your well is dry (or even if you’re not), it’s high time to make a word pool!
For this week’s prompt you’re going to need a little notebook, something you can carry with you in your pocket. And you’re going to need to, as I say to my young art students, open your artist eyes and ears. Because before you write your poem this week, you’re going to look and listen and gather all the words and phrases your world has to offer.
“Pick me, pick me!” you hear the neighbor kid shouting. Write it down. “… no reading required,” you spy on your child’s Memory game. Write it down. Step outside your door and write down the first five things you see: cracked stair, beach towel, empty bird bath, overgrown garden, green plastic watering can. Go back inside and raid the pantry: cumin, ground pepper, canned spinach, lazy susan.
The idea of a word pool is one I originally learned from
Susan Wooldridge in her wonderful book, Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words. As she describes the process in her second book, Foolsgold,“Gather words at random, sloppily, aslant, in circles, even upside down on a page.” Once I started really opening my eyes and being in tune to all the amazing words and phrases just waiting to be used in a poem, I couldn’t stop writing them down.
This week, give yourself permission to eavesdrop and steal. Take words in the name of poetry and call them yours. Then weave your favorite words into a poem. It’s like a Wordle, but more personal!
Then come back, starting Friday, and share* your poem!
*When posting, it might be nice to tell everyone a little bit about where and how you collected your words!


Hopes seemed dashed at breakfast time
What to do? Four souls to feed
Fridge is empty, shelves are bare
No frozen, processed, powdered
Conveniently pre-packed
Early signs suggest a need
For vital kitchen upgrade
Improvement for little room

A fresh approach is required
Open window raises hopes
Outdoor edible menu
Organic, free-range produce
Vegetables, spices, herbs
Bounty hunter's net result

But what’s on today’s menu?
Fresh fruit salad for starters
Main course cock-a-doodle doo
Sticky staple; just dessert

Bill of fare, no price to pay
Bob’s your uncle; problem solved

Notes: Kitchen, bare shelves, empty fridge, window
‘Edible menu’ lifted from this post
Sights: banana, papaya, mango, coconut, tamarind, men fishing, rice fields, chickens, sugar cane, honey
Life: vital signs; walking, crawling, swimming, flying, growing all around
Hope: dashed, raised, Bob ‘your uncle’ Hope
Improvement for little room; twist on room for improvement
Bounty hunters net result = fish
Sticky staple = rice
And it’s all free!

Sunday, August 29, 2010



Nicole Nicholson brings us this week’s prompt, which is to Wordle yourself. She says,
“For this week’s prompt, we’re going to do a little something interesting. You’ll make your own Wordle from one (or more) of your own poems, and then write a new poem out of the resulting Wordle.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1. Visit
http://www.wordle.net/ and click on the “Create your own” link near the top left of the page.
Step 2. Paste the text of one of your poems into the first text box at the top of the “Create” page.. If your poems tend to be under ten lines or if you wrote a bunch of really rockin’ short form poetry (like haiku, haynaku, lunes, or tanka) then you can use several of those poems for this exercise.
Step 3. Click the “Go” button right below the text box. You will be taken to the resulting page where your brand new Wordle will appear! (Note: you can monkey around with the color, font, and layout as you like using the menu options shown above your brand new Wordle.)
Step 4. Write down between six and twelve of the largest words in your Wordle and use those words to write a brand new poem.
Here’s an
example of a Wordle that I did this with my poem, Backwards. You’ll have to come back Wednesday for the Post Your Poems post to see my resulting poem.
If you can’t do the Wordle for technical reasons, then here’s another way to approach the prompt: take a poem (or two, or five) of your own and pick out between six and twelve of your most frequently used words, and then write a new poem.
Feel free to post your Wordle image with your poems. And have fun with the prompt this week

Wordle from this post


You moved in circles populated by important men
To centre your attention on your own self-serving needs

Conflicting images, provoked by indirect, free thought
Compel you to explore the words that issued from your lips

As ready as you’d ever be to face up to your flaws
Your weaknesses exposed, revealed the depth of your self-doubt

Decreasing popularity, a rapid fall from grace
A half-truth half uncovered and a hasty exit made

The tightly-woven web of lies surrounding your affairs
Displayed a calm exterior; concealed a troubled mind

Unguarded overnight, the rusted gateway to your past
Saw souls forgotten breach the threshold; dominate your dreams

By morning light, decaying fibres frayed, dissolved to dust
A solitary strand survived intact; remained untouched

Saturday, August 28, 2010


For Writers Island prompt #18 2010
And Monday Poetry Train Revisited


The vastness of space
Is not nearly enough
To contain all those gifts
Or returned unopened

To name but a few

In favour of thought
Ignorance is bliss
Apathy prevails
Cynical attitudes
And self-serving greed

Only if we take
Of what’s rightfully ours
But wrongfully spurned
And only then
Can we realise
Our full potential
Certain in the knowledge

All things are possible

Thursday, August 26, 2010


For Three Word Wednesday
And Friday Flash 55


Not two seasons into his leadership, the once popular captain had allowed his halo to slip, triggering a decline in form.
The team’s ability to recover and mount a serious title challenge now rested on a wing and a prayer.
A collective decision was made to abstain from voting him in for a third season.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


For Big Tent Poetry

This week’s prompt
We are going to start this week’s poems with our hands. Really. There is a — forgive me, ahem — “hands-on” portion of the prompt and a writing part. My hope is that if you attend (mindfully, of course) to a manual task it will influence the poem. Maybe it will provide the action. Maybe it will impact the pacing. Maybe it will suggest an image.
So here’s part one: Do something with your hands and really pay attention to the motion of your hands and arms and to the movement of other objects that may be involved. Open something: a dresser drawer, a bottle of wine, the garage door. Fold something: the laundry, a letter, a paper airplane. Scrub something. Touch something. Pack something up: a game, a suitcase, a box. Braid something. Plant something. Chop something up. Make shadow puppets.
Anything will do. As long as it is a manual task. As long as you really, really, really pay attention. It may also be wise not to read ahead to part two; it will make the first draft of the poem more spontaneous if you don’t plan too much or think too hard.
And here’s part two (and it’s brilliant): Write something.
OK. So maybe that wasn’t so brilliant. Unless part one was enough inspiration for you. If it was, get writing. If you need something more, however, hold the task you just completed in mind while you write about one of the following: a kiss, a dance, a swim, a burial, a sacred space or something that’s been injured physically.


At first clumsy, hesitant
Words wouldn’t come easily
Until a single-digit surge
Under pressure, from the Right
Delivered the message LOUD – unclear
Syllables s-s-stuttered across the screen

Middle finger soon joined index
And later thumb....... for spacebar
Later still, five fingers were tapping
Was it the sound of one hand clapping?
Or was it just a classic case
Of the left hand never really knowing
What it was the right hand was doing?

At every opportunity then
I practiced my new-found skill
The only thing I could ever do
With one hand tied behind my back

Day after day
Night after night
Time after time
Time and again

Again and again
Repetition, refrain
Repetition defined
Definition refined

Never relaxing
Often head scratching
Sometimes nail biting
Always typewriting

Left hand going through the motions
Playing an occasional cameo role
But even two decades down the track
The left hand still doesn’t really know
What its partner, the right hand is doing

Monday, August 23, 2010


For We Write Poems

If you haven’t come across this site yet, you should have. It’s an initiative by SMITH Magazine asking people to write their life story in six words. There are now expanded sections with categories to base your memoir on, such as Childhood, Travel, or Revenge, but my favourite is the original life story six-word memoir.
Click the link to see examples from famous people and unknown names alike, and spend the week trying your hand at six-word memoirs. See if you can write one for every category on the website. Possibly one will inspire you to write a longer poem–will it be one of your own, or a stranger’s that you read on the site? This prompt doesn’t require you to write many words, but it does involve some deep thinking and manipulating of words. Let it inspire you to write more, or less, than you usually do in a given week. And definitely come back on Wednesday to share your favourite six-word memoirs (or other, longer material you’ve written out of this prompt) with your poeming-friends!


Yesterday; a day of broken promises
Ineffective guarantees, followed immediately by disclaimers

Same old same old Rat Race
Old too soon? Long time Dying?

Life is tough; deal with it!

Today, I choose a different path
No short cuts; always scenic route

As sure as day follows night
Tomorrow follows today, bringing fresh hope

The best is yet to come


For One Single Impression
And Monday Poetry Train Revisited


I’ve been trying hard
Not to think about
All I am

I’ve been trying hard
Not to think about
All I have

I’ve been trying hard
Not to think about
All I know

I’ve been trying hard
Not to think about
All I see

I’ve been trying hard
Not to think about
All I feel

But the more I try
The more I think

The more I think
The more I feel

The more I feel
The more I see

The more I see
The more I know

The more I know
The more I have

The more I have
The more I want

The more I want
The more I get

The more I get
The less I need

The less I need
The less I feel

The less I feel
The less I see

The less I see
The less I think

The less I think
The less I know

The less I know
The less I have

The less I have
The less I am

The less I am
The more I try

To understand

What I know
What I think
What I feel
What I see
What I have
What I want
What I need

What I am

Saturday, August 21, 2010


For Writers Island prompt #17


The story of my life… so far

Still just forty six years old

Seen fifty eight, spanning

Two Millennia

Three Centuries

Eight Decades



Thursday, August 19, 2010


For Three Word Wednesday
And Friday Flash 55


The final phase
of the celebration.
In keeping with tradition
One more for the road.
Double shot of single malt whiskey.
Brace yourself
Down the hatch
Shudder… Grimace.
Short walk home transforms to marathon stagger
as cold night air triggers full effect of the alcohol.
Pocket, keys, door, lock – finger fumble
precedes stumble into bed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010



This week’s promptThis week’s prompt is a Wordle. The words are taken from one of a well-regarded poet’s published poems, which will be named (and linked to!) in Friday’s Come One, Come All post.
Hope you enjoy this week’s challenge to use any number of the words in your Big Tent Poetry poem this week!


Deep in the Isan heartland
Beyond banana, pineapple
Across untended rice fields
Baked hard by the summer sun
The unforgiving landscape
In cynical dry-season mood
Questions the wisdom of cars
That risk its impassable route

Our focus zeroes in on
The slow trickle of a stream
Where once flowed a full-blown river
Supplying diesel-driven pumps
Used to moisten rice in plant
Via discarded rubber hose pipes
Or home-made earthenware pots
Hand-crafted by silk-clad women
Deep in the Isan heartland



What do you see in this photo? Do you notice the plates on the wall, the curtains on the window, the roosters on the bottom shelf? Whatever draws you into this photo, use it as a starting point and write. Write a new piece each day based on this poem, or just write one piece for the week. How long you spend with the photo is up to you. Whichever route you choose, be sure to come back next Wednesday to share what you’ve written and to read the work of your peers. See you then!

Mom's House by Sarah Regnier (www.cameratakesphotos.com)


Return from another world
Re-entry takes one small step

An Alien atmosphere
Until signs of life are seen

Wall of china monument
Visible from inner space

Welcomes me to planet earth

Monday, August 16, 2010


For Haiku Heights – Struggle
And Carry On Tuesday
It was love at first sight


Or was it love at first sight?
I strive to discern

Saturday, August 14, 2010


For Writers Island prompt #16 2010
And for One Single Impression - Beginning
And Monday Poetry Train Revisited


Before the beginning – a mind
Exists in the ferment formed
By the dust of the first Big Bang

Creativity is created
And concepts inhabit the mind
Original concepts all

This mind, alone in the void
At some point before Space and Time
Devoid of fear of theft of thought

Inexperienced in matters of matter
Prone to the occasional mistake

In the beginning, a need
A need for survival
For continuity

Ambition, achievement
…things of the future

Life is in the early stages
Of evolving intelligence

Revolving around the light
The light the mind has seen

Mind over matter; actions occur
As fast as the speed of thought

No need to plan ahead
In subconscious reality

No process, no control
Only cause and effect

Without consequence
Or accountability
Until several Big Bangs later…

A story for another Time…

Thursday, August 12, 2010


For Three Word Wednesday
And Friday Flash 55


I needed help.
Being a rookie, my inexperience left me in a tricky situation.
The remedy was to delegate responsibility upwards.
It seemed like a joke at first, but the more I thought about it,
The more I realised I could use my position to gain leverage.
After all; if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


For Big Tent Poetry

This week’s prompt, by guest maestro Cynthia Short
Many of us live lives acquiring — or attempting to divest ourselves of — possessions. From the cars we drive, and the antique bowls our grandmas gave us, to the house we once loved but now need to sell … often possessions help define our lives.
This week’s prompt is to think of something you possess. What are your feelings about this possession? Do you possess it, or does it possess you?
Some of the things I possess, but that haven’t yet made it on the page as a poem include: a scar, my mother’s laugh, and old suitcase that I traveled with extensively. Mementos of an important part of my life, an old photo of relatives that died before I was born, a horrible gift that I must display because I love the person who gave it to me … you get the idea: most any thing in our physical worlds are possessions that might just have an impact on our lives.


Introducing Kuhn Chaidee
As you can see, he’s in good shape
That’s on account of his diet
All he can eat grows freely
Or it swims, or crawls, or flies

Kuhn Chaidee realizes
The value of possessions
Is something that’s relative
Emotional or intrinsic
Nevertheless he takes pride

His single-roomed residence
Is a permanent work-in-progress
Although a temporary construction
Built from salvaged timber, bamboo
And recycled cement sacks

He has access to running water
That he can’t afford to run
Electrical connection
Via a single plug socket
Feeding a single light bulb
Though he retires at nightfall

And a refrigerator
To store his drinking water
As well as a black and white TV
He never has time to watch
Even his ancient cell phone
Only takes incoming calls

He could never afford a car
But he can afford to smile
At his accumulated wealth
He measures in modesty



This week’s prompt is brought to us by Neil Reid:
List poems are a very elemental style of poem. (And I simply adore list poems!) They can be item by item very precise and succinct, or broad and more encased in other related poem text. That’s also part your choice. The list items might be tightly related, even sequential of a sort, or more generic and broad. Also your choice. They may be ruthlessly honest and introspective or even abstract, extending themselves into unknown territory (they can be truthful or fanciful as you choose). These are all possibilities of list poems – a simple concept, yet with unlimited chances to invoke or provoke new understandings and relationships. Play!
For this prompt let’s define the topic to be a list of “things you’re afraid of”, or alternately, “things you’d never do”. Of course if you’re just all inspired about another possible list, please, go ahead, have fun and share your result with us!



Bloody Sunday, 2002
Stormy Monday, 1988
Tuesday, 2008
Ash Wednesday, 2002
Monster Thursday, 2008
Friday The Thirteenth, 1980
Saturday Night Fever 1977



The 30 word wordle is displayed on Man Ray's famous photo. You vill use all of zee vurds and you vill not vinje and vine (Barbra Seville)This is the first of the SPOTLIGHT SERIESThe SPOTLIGHT POEM requires you to answer questions about the meaning of your poemand its origin. If the subject is one you do not wish to discuss best not submit it for a spotlight poem. Please be mindful that this is not a critique exercise.I understand that most of us do not wish to explain or analyse our work. I am opposed to this concept in theory as individual interpretation can be just as valid as the poem's intention. And, of course the more imaginative you are the more off course and wild your interpretations can be. However just occasionally to satisfy the curiosity of certain poets (Viv) I thought it would be fun to know the intention of the poet and how wildly off course our interpretations may be.Before asking the questions you might like to state what you think the poem might mean to see how connected or disconnected you are to the original poem. For those of you who like to write or read cryptic poetry (Francis) this should be fun!

I made it 32…
I spotted a couple of f-words in there…


Sparrow song greets Monday morn
The little bird gives the boy
an anniversary tip

“A bud flowers on this day
Whiter than white innocence
abandons its girdle grip”

Hallway promise awaiting
removes peach stone from dry throat
brings joy to the heart; a glow

Maiden voyager’s frisson
Fingers wobble nervously
Logs on… Lap-top trickle… slow

Rude twaddle, f-words ensue
… The kid is known for his lip

Slowly the tulle-like haze lifts
Net confusion just a blip

Feeling light as a feather
Happy to know he knows he
Rose above anxiety

Burn to compact, smooth as silk
High time – High tea, teatime high
Do we know the reason why…?
Nine years old on August nine
Complete with home computer
Happy birthday to Changnoi

It couldn’t be more simple
Now a disc-burning demon
Downloading first for the boy

Note; Changnoi doesn’t swear… in English…

Monday, August 9, 2010


For Haiku Heights


Drought-depressed rice fields
Harvest hopes raised by rainfall
Salvation in sight

Saturday, August 7, 2010


For Writers Island prompt #15 2010
And Monday Poetry Train Revisited


Sheltered, not isolated
Village Isan life goes on

Influences, attitudes
Filter through at their leisure

Nature’s barriers exist
At all points of the compass

Pu Khao and Pu Pan ranges
To East and West horizons
Converge at a point due north

While the Southernmost defences
The waters of Ubol Rat

Reservoir that fills bellies
With its rich, living harvest

As well as helping to feed
Technological habits

Hydro electricity
Surges unpredictably

Into our cell phone chargers
And Personal Computers

Isan’s own influence spreads
To the South and to cities

With a gritty-edged northern
Border region tone of voice

As it fuses traditions
With more modern attitudes

Providing a wider choice
Reflecting changes in taste

That Morlam girls know about
And can’t dance their dance without
That their writhing gestures shout

Bridging the culture divide
They’re casting the Isan spell

Isan - North Eastern Thailand
Pu Khao - Eastern range of hills
Pu Pan - Western range of hills
Ubol Rat -Reservoir to south
Morlam - Traditional Folk Dance

Thursday, August 5, 2010


For Friday Flash 55


“Spock, The Federation wants to award you for a lifetime of genius”

“Illogical Captain.”

“But to be called a genius means you must possess…”

“…Insufficient data Captain.”

“Refusal will destroy them… You’ll have to be subtle.”

“Phaser on stun…?”

“What will you say to them, exactly?”

“Live long and prosper.”

“Beam me up Scotty…!”


Wednesday, August 4, 2010


For Three Word Wednesday


Teetotal party
By invitation only
Predict feeble drink

Monday, August 2, 2010


For Big Tent Poetry

This week’s prompt
This week we’re going to try to mix up our writing life
and we’ll start the process with a little poetic introspection.


During the course of my investigation
I didn’t leave a single book unread
I left nothing to the imagination

I gave the subject my full concentration
Took in every word my tutors said
During the course of my investigation

I took to the task with full concentration
Knowing I’d have to go from A to Z
I left nothing to the imagination

It may seem a complete exaggeration
But I never let it go to my head
During the course of my investigation

Some chose theory for examination
I opted for the practical instead
I left nothing to the imagination

She didn’t want to discuss medication
Just took her clothes off, and lay on the bed
During the course of my investigation
I left nothing to the imagination


For Carry On Tuesday
Does the road wind uphill all the way ?


I Hurt…
how cLose
are we ?

it’s Another
sloW climb


I shaLl
not Let
it Anger me

my Will
and unDefeated

no roaD
can hArm us
as lOng as
we Respect it

we Test
our Honour
to thE limit

the Summit
oncE reached
prOlongs our

Sunday, August 1, 2010


For We Write Poems

Irene Toh bring us a different sort of challenge this week,
one that will prove to be quite fun I suspect.
Irene says, “Write a poem that revisits the Red Riding Hood fairy tale.
You can change the story, or question the assumptions behind the fairy tale,
eg why doesn’t the wolf eat Red Riding Hood in the forest when he first met her?,
why does the author allow fantasy, such as that the wolf can be cut up
and the grandmother and the Red Riding Hood emerge unhurt,
or wonder what Red Riding Hood stands for, such as if wearing a red hood is significant,
or question the innocence of Red Riding Hood,
eg why does she not go straight to grandmother’s house as her mother instructed
but chose to wander? Or you can revisit another fairy tale altogether!”
Spend the week on this prompt, then come back on Wednesday
to post your links to your poems.
See you there!


Don’t forget, we’re having Gran here for dinner
She likes flowers on her dining table
And she’ll be expecting you home… for dessert

She’s so sick now, she’s hard to recognize
So don’t ask her about those new dentures of hers
Or she’s likely to swallow you whole

You know how snappy she can get

And I’m so hungry; I could wolf down a pig
Though the thought of it makes me huff and puff
Because pork is so overrated

And besides, those little chicks are easier
They tend not to disagree with me
But perhaps we’ll sit down to a fat old bird

Which reminds me – I’m spitting feathers

And my stomach hangs heavy as a stone
Is she listening? Where has she gone now?
I hope she’s hunting for the Evian

No…? Oh well, at a push I could get my own…