Category Archives: Dverse Prompts

September 20th Poem for the Young. No More Same Old.

There be whales out there. Vittoria our marine biologist guide

I enjoyed reading Lillian’s experiences and video of the whales off Cape Cod’ with her grandson. It reminded me of my first experience of seeing a whale, 20 years ago, in San Francisco Bay. It was also my first trip to the USA. I wrote a poem for Dverse on this 3 years ago with the prompt of ‘ a first ever experience. After that the next whale watching was in the middle of the Atlantic off the Azores.

Today is the 20th September 2019 and young people have asked adults to join them on demonstrations and strikes for climate action. There will be a UN summit and all the different nations have been asked to bring solutions. All I can offer today is a poem as if I were 20 today.

Same Old: Born in 1999

I am 20 years old, or older today.
So please don’t give me more of your
Same Old.

You tell me you first saw your first whale
20 years ago from today,
In San Francisco Bay.

You tell me you partied with
An 80 year old,
Californian dreamer.

You tell me you cried over
A library full of books and blood.
20 years ago
Columbine
Before you were mine.

So don’t give me
The Same Old
Weapons are MAD
But we must defend our dreams,
Whales are factory processed meat,
But all must be free to eat
Whatever they want.
We need the wood not the trees.

Because we DON’T.

I want to grow old with
Whales in the waves,
Wolves in wild woods,
Birds flying safe and free
Above children with a future
And Elephants in Africa.

I do not want to grow old
In a world worn out by
Broken promises.
20 years ago
You saw a grey whale
In San Francisco.
20 years before that
You sung of the flowers.
Where have they all gone?

I do not want to dream
When I am old,
Of a past world where
Whales breached the waves
Wolves wandered in woods
Diverse birds flew in great flocks,
Elephants roamed in Africa.
Children unsafe without a future.

How long do you need,
To solve the suffering
You caused,
While dreaming,
Working yourself to the bone,
To give me
The Same Old
Future you said I deserved.

Take my hand
Before we both grow too weary.
Let’s bite the bullets.
Finish with the fumes.
Grow the forest.

So I can grow old
And watch with wonder,
My children’s children,
Wonder at whales in the waves,
Wolves in wild woods,
Birds flying safe across borders,
Elephants in Africa,
Children with a future.

 

 

For open link night, Dverse Poets http://www.dversepoets.com

A Poem To Remember the victims of Peterloo: the struggle for Democracy.

Having been a little quiet here through the heat of August I did think the sestina form offered by Victoria Slotto for Dverse Poets (://dversepoets.com/2019/08/29/) form challenge would suit a historical occasion. Finally, this year in Manchester centre there is a memorial with the names of all those who died there, in St Peter’s Fields 200 years ago, August 16 th.
I’m a little late on posting this but have been busy with a ‘deep’ revision of my novel and enjoying summer nights of music and fiesta here in our rather dry Sierra. There has been a fire about 10 km away from us and my thoughts are also with the Amazon forests. The Brexit mess deepens and darkens and our British Parliament struggles to understand the ‘mythical’ will of the people. There is still deep division. I truly wish we grew up knowing more about working lives and the struggles of our ancestors. Peterloo had become a ‘lost’ story until recently.

August 1819, Manchester, England.

In the August of 1819 the people came
By foot, with bands, with songs of ways to change
The way their lives were bound by others power.
Today, was the day, to make the point and strike.
Starved by the corn tax, not paid for each hour
Spinning cotton,not stopping, till the dark of day.

Under summer’s brightest skies, this was their day.
To St Peters Field, our working families came.
Thousands gathering peacefully until the hour
When Speaker Hunt cried out the need to change.
But the mill owners, the gentry did not like this strike.
And gathered too, together in fear, of working power

The government gave the right to unleash power.
This talk of votes for all must end this day.
How dare these upstarts profits lose by strike.
The police would not control a mob, the cavalry came.
Poor families now would see a darker change,
Struck down by sabres, dead or wounded within an hour.

Who can report and tell the truth about this hour,
When lies are told of violent mobs by those with power?
A newsman’s voice brought forth the truth to change
The way that facts be twisted, turned unto this day.
And with the clarion call for truth to power came,
A guardian rising to fend off the lies that strike

Deep, denial to protect from hurt can strike
200 years and tears ago, until this hour.
We were led to forget the names that came,
To ask for the right to be a part of the power.
They asked for a vote on a bright summer day.
Their loss brought us here but took years to change.

Today our scientists tell us our climate will change.
And children gather in peace, for a future they strike,
For our lives to be green means miss a school day
Do we live near a time of democracy’s dark hour?
While fossil fuels burn they still have the power.
Was it just to extinguish our lives, the cavalry came?

Change is the way as the clock strikes the hour.
Strike like the flash of thunder’s own power.
Or lose all to that day when the cavalry came.

 

Peace gathering in Manchester City Centre with Yoko Ono and many bells.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my first attempt at a Sestina….Thank you dVerse for the challenge! And thank you Victoria Slotto for your very clear guidelines. It may have been a bit like sudoku but once I had chosen the end words that could work it slotted into place.

I used notes from Victoriahttps://dversepoets.com/2019/08/15/poetry-form-sestina/

and then below is my working out to fit the form.

Sestina:

A 12th century form consisting of 6 stanzas, each having 6 lines; followed by one tercet (3 line stanza).

BUT!
The end-words of the first stanza’s six lines, must appear as end words in each line of the following stanzas, in a particular prescribed order:

I decided to brainstorm some words about Peterloo and then look at the order scheme to see how to make the story fit. I left out Byron and his poem. This was not printed for fear of a backlash of treason.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Masque_of_Anarchy

But I brought in the Manchester Guardian as this newspaper arose from the tragedy and the attempts to manipulate or deny the truth of witnesses that day.

Peterloo
Manchester…St Peters Fields, protest against corn tax, need for representation, vote,
Strike, gathering of masses, family, child, boys and girls, men and women, working folk, rights,
March, walk, from villages, afar, distance,
Peaceful, listen, cavalry, horses, trample, strike down with sabres, august day, summer, 1819,
200 tears ago, years, dark, injured, maimed
Summer 2019 fires, floods, drip feed apocalypse,
Democracy, divided, power, news, facts

Stanza 1: End-words: Line 1 – change . Line 2 – change Line 3 – power. Line 4 – strike
Line 5 – hourLine 6 – day.

Working out Stanza 1 was the most important as these words will now have to form the following patterns for next 6 stanzas. And the  ending three lines of the 7 th which must use all. Below is how I used numbers to guide me through this.

Stanza 1.
1. came

2. change
3.power.
4.strike.
5.hour
6.day.

Stanza 2. 6,1,5,2,4,3

6.Under summer’s brightest skies, this was their day.
1.To St Peters Field, our working families came.
5. Thousands gathering peacefully until the hour
2. When Speaker Hunt cried out the need to change.
4. But the mill owners, the gentry did not like this strike.
3. And gathered too, together in fear, of working power.

Stanza 3Stanza 3: 3, 6, 4, 1, 2, 5
3. The government gave the right to unleash power.

6. This talk of votes for all must end this day.
4. How dare these upstarts profits lose by strike.
1.The police would not control a mob, the cavalry came.
2. Poor families now would see a darker change,
5 Struck down by sabres, dead or wounded within an hour.

Stanza 4 Stanza 4: 5, 3, 2, 6, 1, 4

5. Who can report and tell the truth about this hour,
3. When lies are told of violent mobs by those with power?
2 A newsman’s voice brought forth the truth to change
6 The way that facts be twisted, turned unto this day.
1 And with the clarion call for truth to power came,
4 A guardian rising to fend off the lies that strike

Stanza 5Stanza 5: 4, 5, 1, 3, 6, 2
4.Deep, denial to protect from hurt can strike

5 200 years and tears ago, until this hour.
1 We were led to forget the names that came,
3To ask for the right to be a part of the power.
6They asked for a vote on a bright summer day.
2 Their loss brought us here but took years to change.

Stanza 6
2 Today our scientists tell us our climate will change.
4.And children gather in peace, for a future they strike,
6 For our lives to be green means miss a school day
5 Do we live near a time of democracy’s dark hour?
3 While fossil fuels burn they still have the power.
1 Was it just to extinguish our lives, the cavalry came?

Line 1…2, 5 Change….hour….
Change is the way as the clock strikes the hour.
Strike like the flash of thunder’s own power.
Or lose all to that day when the cavalry came.

 

Sent from my iPhone

Continue reading A Poem To Remember the victims of Peterloo: the struggle for Democracy.

A Magical Encounter with a Frog and Snake.

 

My task for this month of May for Dverse Poets is the ‘lai’ form. https://dversepoets.com/2019/05/09/more-lai-and-lai-nouveau/

This is derived from French poetry and involves a tight rhyme and syllable scheme. I also wanted to write about my encounter with a frog and snake when waiting by a friend’s pond while the car was being repaired. Would this form work  for this wild encounter?

 

On time well spent           ( Nouveau Lai)

Stay still by the pond

Only time has gone.

Quivers

With those legs so long

To those depths belong

Shivers

Of cold without sun.

Before the day’s done

The birds still their song.

A snake creeps along.

Shivers

Back and forth darts tongue.

Where is right and wrong?

Quivers

Only time has gone

Stay still by the pond.

 

Frog on phone in May            ( Lai Form)

This frog could be friend

So photo must send.

Tap till

All follow the trend

To share without end.

Keep still

Watch life learn to fend

For food not a friend.

Who will?

I had been quite transfixed by this wonderful wild encounter and lost in time and also knew I wanted to write about the experience. As it involves a frog and snake it brought to mind D.H. Lawrence’s poem ‘The Snake’.  I thought free verse, with one thought or impression to each line might be worth trying. We were also at a recent talk at the Alajar Renaissance Festival listening to some local poets. One topic was about Magia, the magic philosophies that brought about the renaissance and liberation from religious thought to scientific discovery. The talk was about the unifying power of ‘poesia’or poetry within nature.

I was inspired by Frank Hubeny’s poem https://frankhubeny.blog/author/frankhubeny/ because my encounter was in the soft light by a pond and  these were mysterious things. The snake did not eat the frog but was perhaps on the look out for reasonable sized fish. It was not interested in insects, tiddlers and tadpoles which were all in abundance. Both animals remained so still for so long and so did I! Were we all watching each other?Perhaps a lot is scientifically known about frogs and snakes and a lot of animal stories have made characters of these creatures,but being so close to both these wild animals accentuated for me their mysteriousness and evoked that sense of wonder if not awe with the evolutionary magic of the natural world. We do not know everything about their worlds and we cannot capture everything on photo on our phones.

After desperately trying to clear the memory of my phone for a photo of this frog so close by it moved away.Of course! A bit later the frog came back onto one of the lily pads.  And then the snake began its arrival, slithering so easily, then vertically down into the water and then swimming really fast. It didn’t seem to catch anything but perhaps it did and was then still when digesting it. I have to admit to being a little nervous but identification suggested a harmless grass snake.  By that time my phone was dying so I had to sit and just watch. It became a competition of who was going to keep still the longest. Frog, snake or me! This became a much deeper experience and observation rather than trying to take endless photos which get lost in clouds!

Frog on lily pad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes on the Form

The Nouveau Lai is a five syllabled couplet followed by a two syllable line. The number of lines in each stanza is fixed at nine and the couplets must rhyme with each other, as the two syllable lines must also rhyme. In English this line is probably the most difficult part of the poem. French is also a syllable timed language unlike English which has stress/accent on certain syllables  and many words can also be unstressed eg prepositions.

The Lai is a very old French form and tradition states that the short line must not be indented, it must be left dressed to the poem. This is known as Arbre Fourchu (Forked Tree) there is a pattern meant to be set up as a tree.

The number of lines in each stanza is fixed at nine. The number of stanzas is not fixed and each stanza has its own rhyme pattern. The rhyme pattern is… a. a. b. a. a. b. a. a. b.

Daffodils In a Garden for Peace

I have spent this last weekend of March in the UK at Woodbrooke Quaker College Birmingham, and I wandered around the garden of many acres to find the different types of daffodils. I gave up counting. Some were very different, some differences were very subtle. Some were fading away or being eaten. Some were in their full glory. I was bounded by time and the need to return to the conference talks. Perhaps the daffodils reflected the topic of our weekend about Unity, Diversity and Boundaries. Although there were many different points of view as there are often are within Quakers there was a unity and peacefulness in the stillness of Meeting, Woodbrooke and its Quaker history.

On return I thought the daffodils and stillness should inspire some writing and Dverse poets hosted by Sarah are working on the Villanelle form. So I have given it a go. More on the form and the links to past poets at end of poem.

 

 

 

 

An Infinity of Daffodils

(Woodbrooke Quaker Garden, March 2019)

What are words worth when silence calls?

Too many views but 22 types of daffodil flower,

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

The worm that wriggles deep within us all.

Now frays the edges of the yellow cloud shower.

What are words worth when silence calls?

We gather together to tear down walls.

Dare we dare  discern eternity within one hour?.

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

Bright orange clothes a host of petals small.

Elegant trumpets ready to hide the pollen’s power.

What are words worth when the bees need to call?

To live in a way that no longer appals.

To hold in the light the insects’ last hour.

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

Is it God calls or some wormlike fear?

The fall of a tear, the lost peace of a flower.

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

What are words worth when silence calls?

 

 

 

 

 

https://dversepoets.com/  For  Dverse poets  this month there is the opportunity to try out the Villanelle form and read a range of these written by the many talented poets who frequent this very convivial and poetic meeting place. Why not have a go? Check on the link and then on Mr Linky at the end of the post.

Note the villanelle form has to have 19 lines with 5×3 line stanzas, finishing with a quatrain, all  with repeating lines and a rhyme scheme to keep to.

Past poets referred to of course are William Wordsworth and his daffodils and ‘pensive eye’ and William Blake with ‘O sick rose’ and the worm and ‘ to hold infinity in the palm of your hand, eternity in an hour.’

Daffodil Notes

As for daffodils, well the number of varieties that have been cultivated seems to be about 13,000. And the number of wild species from 40 to 60. But it seems this depends on how daffodils are categorised and there are different sources for this information. Still a staggering number as there are also so many hybrids too.

 

 

 

Daffodils are from the Amaryllidacae family, think lilies and one of the old names for daffodil is Lent Lily. These beauties seem to like to lighten up lent as the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter is when they are in bloom. It is thought daffodils are a mispronunciation of Asphodels, see those in a previous post. Perhaps also the English made a play on words with daffadowndilly. Narcissus of course is a name given to this range of species and Linnaeus decided on Narcissus poeticus when he began to classify them. They seem to be the poet’s flower.

Wild daffodils originate from the Mediterranean region and  there is a wild one we saw near our Navasola home in the south of Spain; the wild hooped daffodil. There is also a wild species in the U.K. that can still be found growing wild. The Wildlife Trusts have this link as to where to go. There may not be  the ‘ hosts of golden daffodils’ that Wordsworth saw in the  Lake District but it is good to know that the wild species can still be found.

Wild daffodils in the U.K. https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/where-see-wildlife/where-see-spring-wildlife/wild-daffodils
P1010076 Small Wild daffodil, hooped daffodil,in Southern Spain in  early April2018

My outcome for the weekend was ….to enjoy: swinging high, walking and watching the geese on the labyrinth, a visit to Cadbury’s Bournville village and watching an amazing woman play the carillon bells. And the conference….threw some light on what unites us.

 

 

Lets hope Spring is not blown away by another cold spell and possible snow.

And let’s hope with so much political turmoil the beauty of nature can unite us and the stillness we can find within bring peaceful and positive outcomes.

Sonnet to the Island of San Miguel, The Azores, The Atlantic.

It’s Open Link night at Dverse Poets and a chance to share some of our own poetry. I have been trying to develop my skills at sonnets and odes ever since attending a poetry workshop run by the poet Daljit Nagra at Keat’s House, London.

On our way back from our adventures in the Azores I thought  I should write my own sonnet sequence to a country I love. Portugal!  I have three under way but the sonnet form does require steady concentration and still needs to capture my true intentions.  We watched some children playing with a dog when they should be at school and saw another side to an island paradise of poverty in a fishing town. We also discovered how much of the original forest has been lost and the threats to nature there. San/ Sao Miguel in the Azores is a microcosm reflecting our macrocosm of Planet Earth. Inside the core is violent heat ready to burst out through volcanic eruptions.

Islands like San/Sao Miguel have been formed by volcanoes and over millennia slowly bloomed into vibrant life.

Sonnet 1

To Sao Miguel

O mild isle wherein hides hidden heat

From deep within your cratered core

Volcanic lava could spit more

But Furness folk stew pots for us to eat

For tourists need to taste a special treat

Or poise on whaling boats awash off shore

Where from calm sea we can say we saw

The ones that fathom deep in 20 thousand feet.

O living sea, a vast unknown, give us a sign

That whales, free from pain can roam to Arctic North.

Darkening beaches, black basalt, glossed with brine

Greet birds flying from the cold Antarctic south

And on shore too, may San Miguel protect its own,

From fisher folk to tiny bird, keep vibrant green on red hot mouth.

 

Georgina Wright  January 2016

Bubbling hot geysers from volcanic activity. You can have a stew cooked inside one of those holes!
Bubbling hot geysers from volcanic activity. You can have a stew cooked inside one of those holes!

 

More of the waterfall valley
More of the waterfall valley
The glossy black basalt rocks with tears of brine. See image poem!
The glossy black basalt rocks with tears of brine. See image poem!

Poetry, Travel Memories; The first time ever I…. Whale Watching

This poem and memory is in response to a post from  dverse poetry prompts . It is about remembering a journey or place visited and trying to recreate the experience.  This is about the first time I visited America and where I saw a whale for the first time. It’s also about the mix of media messages, memories, feeling the fear, seeing the contrasts and learning about the biodiversity of living things.

The First Time Ever

 Gray Whale in San Francisco Bay    May 1999

The first time ever I travelled to those United States

Where star spangled banners show off diverse places.

Where the cavalry comes and sort things out

With guns n’ horses and Rin Tin Tin.

Why was this a place I feared to go

For an eightieth birthday of

California dreamin’

In San Francisco Bay.

Lew’s life work listening with compassion

Sharing and trusting we are loved.

So why the fears and why not go?

 

A friend and colleague frowned and said.

You won’t be going to any schools. Instead,

You are going to San Francisco

Where you can wear flowers in your hair

If you dare.

 

I leave a library full of well-placed books.

And think of a library with half written pages

Of young ones’ dreams and parents’ screams.

Columbine and eglantine in Shakespeare’s dingly dell

Of murder most foul where books lay strewn

budlike withering, wandering worlds, unworn.

 

We arrive and meet with love, forgiveness, fun.

A birthday to unite all States.

Where are you from? Your accent is so quaint.

London? What state’s that in? New England?

Oh across the pond, that England.

Islands within a continent of

Many smiles, many good days.

 

On a cold and blustery day in May

We boarded a boat in the drizzly dawn

To go far out to watch for whales.

We float about and see our first great Gray,

Between the rocks of Alcatraz and the Golden Bridge.

Directions called and Whale ahoy he stays or she

To show how whales can spout their shout.

Spots of barnacles for years within the sea

Ancient being with a peerless eye, explores

Within the bay, between the rocks of Alcatraz

And the Golden bridge. Why did we not stay?

But went out further seeking more

To see upon the sea.

 

It was a whaleless, grey and dismal day.

Cold crept in with oceanic spray.

No more giants but squawking gulls

And deep within, the stomach pitches.

Smells of vomit, fear of lurching overboard.

If there could be calm could I walk back

Like Jesus to the shore?

The waves they pounded.

 

The gulls cried out and followed on this hopeless tour.

All had been seen within the bay, no more.

We learn that seagulls do not exist.

Only gulls of many different kinds.

Oh Jonathan Livingston Seagull if only I had known,

Your flight beyond the realms of gulls so sure.

But now I do not know which gull you were.

And all I want is to return to shore.

Between the Golden Bridge and Rocks of Alcatraz

Was a Gray whale, the first I’d ever saw.

No need for more.

 

I am not sure whether my experience might encourage others to go whale watching. I had also never visited the USA but felt wary of the statistics and media messages on violence.  April 1999 was the time of the tragic shooting at Columbine School. As a teacher and in charge of our school library  we all felt very shocked and concerned about the loss of such young lives.

I am very glad I spent a week in San Francisco for Lew Epstein’s eightieth birthday. We were well loved by our American friends and we visited many places, near and far from San Francisco.  The Redwoods, Yosemite, Monterey Bay and of course the city itself. The whale watching was to be a highlight!

Post Script. We have planned another trip to the Azores, to Faiai where we hope to go out on a boat as there are many different kinds of whales off the deep sea bed surrounding the Azores. We will hope for a good day.

Dedicated to the too many young lives lost to violence and abuse. And to leave an ocean full of life for youngsters not only to read about but see and wonder. Travel in Peace. Gray Whales do.

OPHELIA   ( Hamlet)   Her garland of flowers and her deep sadness.

There’s fennel for you, and columbines.—There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays.—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.
 GRAY WHALES

Gray whales can live up to 70 years. Barnacles attach easily to them as they swim slowly in nutrient rich oceans. The barnacles leave rings and thse give  individual markings to each whale. They migrate and can be seen along the Mexican and Californian coast at certain times.

Gulls and birds of the sea and shore

{ Larus} Heermann’s Gull, Ring billed gull, California gull, Western Gull, Laucous winged Gull,   and many varieties of tern, elegant, royal and least,  and from my poem on the biodiversity of birds, american  versions of plovers, sandpipers, curlews, whimbrel, dunlins, sanderlings, are but a few of sea bird variety on the Californian shores of the Pacific.

Link to beach guide for California

Thanks for reading and I do appreciate comments.

A Room to Breathe In. My inner sanctuary at Navasola.

Here I am sitting in my sun room
Retreating from the unforgiving,
Too much heat at times.
Now too cold, wet and windy.
But always I can see the rocks,
The tiny path leading to the Era.
The trees, the trees, the trees.
Outside, Outside, Outside.

A room to feel at home in
A room to be quite quiet in
A room to retreat into.
White walls, less clutter
Clears the mind, Warms the heart.
Away from the building work,
Away from the rush of life.
Inside, Inside, Inside.

I have been fond of all my rooms
Some for sleep, some for work
Some for all the family.
This room is for me a sanctuary
To write in, be silent in.
A welcome break from the
Busyness of life,
Where now I have a chance
To breathe in the rocks.
Breath out the words.
From Outside to Inside
And Inside to Out.

This has been inspired by another Dverse Prompt night  dverse website and an interesting post on examples of poems about rooms. I was so relieved to create this space for myself in the middle of an ongoing building project as we reform the house at Navasola.

image
Outside the window. Wild and not so wild flowers.
image
My favourite view from the window of my room.
image
Natural tree sculpture seen from my room!
image
Inside the room with my friend’s dog Lotti, mirror made in an old Castano tree frame.