Monday, November 20, 2017

Poems That Sing! by Rosemary, Mary and Truedessa

In the same week, three poets, Rosemary, Mary and Truedessa, posted poems about singing that lifted my heart. I thought they might do the same for yours, so I swiftly gathered them together in a bouquet, just for you. Enjoy!

I Sing

I sing softly and sadly
I sing sadly and softly

I sing in the middle of your delight
and at the edge of your last anguish

I sing as if the day would never end
I sing slowly at midnight and quickly at dawn

I sing to the wind and the stars and the dark
I sing to the treetops and to their trunks

I sing to small frogs in the rainwater pipe
also to the bees that visit my clover

I sing in the cities, among their towers
I sing in rainforests and alongside rivers

I sing with the sea and with thunder
with jagged rocks and rising mountains

I sing in the language of a cat
and in the colours of a butterfly

in the pouring rain I sing
in the burning sun I sing

I will never stop singing

Sherry: This is so beautiful. Yes, never stop singing, Rosemary. We are always listening for your song.

Rosemary: I became aware of something that felt like a little tickle in the back of my mind, about my poetry. I felt that perhaps I needed to try a new form – maybe a short form. Hedgewitch started a 'Friday 55' prompt at her blog. It began in September, but I had such a busy September that I was rarely online and didn't find out about it until the end of the month. It sounded like just what I was after, so I dashed off four (for the four Fridays I'd missed).

But then I pretty soon realised that I wasn't very thrilled with them. They struck me as banal and boring. I assessed myself as having fallen, over time, into a mode of cosy domestic realism which had become my default position. Not where I wanted to remain! For sure it has its place, but please, not for the rest of my writing life. What is it to be any kind of artist, if we don't keep exploring new possibilities?

I decided to just open up my mind and see what poured forth from the subconscious. It was a little like channelling. Several intensely emotional pieces flowed on to the page. They’re not autobiographical – except that at my age I've experienced a range of human emotions, so I guess they're all still in there somewhere. 

'I Sing' was the third of these pieces, which all happened in quick succession. This one goes beyond describing an emotional state, to something more spiritual. 

I have no idea where it came from. Some deep place inside me? A gift from the angels of poetry? I didn't know, ahead of writing them, what words I was going to use nor the shape they would take on the page. 
I am no singer in the literal sense. I have a poor ear for music, and am told I don't sing in tune (something my listeners can hear but I can’t). But it's clear to me, and I hope to readers, that it isn't about singing with the voice.

I thought my friend Raeline's response (serendipitously, the first comment made) expressed a perfect understanding. 'In the key of the heart and melody of the soul,' she said. It felt like that.

Sherry: And the reader feels it, as we read, Rosemary. It is so beautiful. It is a breathtaking piece of writing, and such an affirmation of life, of living every moment we are here. Thank you so much.

Let's read Mary's poem on this theme. I love it so much.

I Sing

I sing in the morning
and all the day long

I sing softly or loudly
I cannot stop my singing

I sing of my sadness
and of my delight

I sing of the memories
to brighten my day

I sing of the sadness
I cannot forget

I sing of my hopes
may they not be dashed

I sing of trees
and colorful autumn leaves

I sing of water
and the essence of life

I sing to my dogs
they always understand

I will sing to you too
when you need a song

Sherry: I love this, Mary. It lifts the heart. As I read both of these poems, I think what a nice prompt "I Sing" might be, one of these weeks. We all need a song to sing these days!

Mary: First of all, I wrote my poem “I Sing” after having read Rosemary’s poem with the same title.

I then decided to write my own ‘singing’ poem! After deciding to do this, I no longer looked back at Rosemary’s.  I just wrote what my ‘muse’ inspired me to write as I thought about the occasions that might inspire me to sing, and the feelings I might have as I sang. 

I was especially pleased with the last stanza I came up with, the way I wrote it TO the reader:

"I will sing to you too
when you need a song”

I intended it to be a personal and uplifting ending. And the more I thought about it the more I also realized that our poetry IS personal.  We are all ‘singing songs’ to one another in our poetry, aren’t we?  We all hope that somehow our poems affect others in a personal way. 

Perhaps sometimes we are even fortunate enough to write the poem (song) that someone really needs that particular day.

Sherry: And that is the very best feeling of all. Thank you for this, Mary. And for your years of dedication and hard work, keeping Poets United chugging serenely along.

Soon after Rosemary's and Mary's song poems, Truedessa posted one, and this feature formed in my mind's eye. Smiles. Let's read.

My photo

searching for you in the depth of night
crossing realms into our parallel world
lying in your arms, everything felt right
in stillness, romantic thoughts swirled

I'll give you this song it's all I've got
I'll give you my heart and that's a lot

surrendering my love, traveling fast
sharing my soul, sometimes I cried
wondering if the magic would last
in the dead of night, part of me died

if this is a dream, forget me not
if this is a dream, wake me not
if this is a dream we've shared a lot
if this is a dream, we've loved a lot

I've watched your life twist and bend
an evolving star in this earthly show
when lights dimmed, I was your friend
always on the sideline, never front row

I'll give you this song it's all I've got
I'll give you my heart and that's a lot

caught in mists of suspended reality
afraid to open my eyes, fear of losing you
breaking the boundaries of normality
tell me our wondrous journey was true

if this is a dream, forget me not
if this is a dream, wake me not
if this is a dream we've shared a lot
if this is a dream, we've loved a lot

searching for you in the depth of night
crossing realms into our parallel world
lying in your arms, everything felt right
in stillness, romantic thoughts swirled

I'll give you this song it's all I've got
I'll give you my heart and that's a lot

surrendering my love, waves of delight

waiting for you in our secret place
on wide wings my heart takes flight
soft fingertips, outline your face

if this is a dream, forget me not
if this is a dream, wake me not
if this is a dream we've shared a lot
if this is a dream, we've loved a lot

I'll give you this song it's all I've got
I'll give you my heart and that's a lot

twas, just a dream it seems

Sherry: How I love "I'll give you this song, it's all I've got / I'll give you my heart, and that's a lot". This poem would make the most beautiful song, True. I can almost hear it.

Truedessa: Thank you so much for featuring my poem. This particular piece is about a journey that intertwines two souls in a deeper level of consciousness. It represents a connection that seems to have crossed some kind of parallel world, and the writer and reader wonder if it is reality or fantasy. "I'll Give You This Song" is a gift of unconditional love in bittersweet circumstances.

Sherry: Unconditional love is the truest love there is. I love the idea of two souls meeting at a deeper level of consciousness. Those connections are always life-changing.

Thank you so much, ladies, for these wonderful, uplifting poems.  They truly sing. You have heartened us for the week ahead. Do come back, friends, and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Poetry Pantry #379


We have had another active week at Poets United.  I do hope you have enjoyed Susan's Midweek motif -- "Meteor Showers."  I hope  read Sherry's "I Wish I'd Written This:  Lee Maracle - Speaking Truth to Power" about one of the foremost writers of Canada. 

Monday Sherry will be sharing a blog update, featuring a prolific Poets United poet.  And next week Sumana's Midweek Motif is "The Flower - Rose."

This week many of us in the US are celebrating our Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.  If you are one who celebrates, I wish you a happy day.

Now, with no further delay let's share poetry.  Link your one poem below.  Say hello in the comments.  And do visit other poets who share their poetry as well.   See you on the trail.

Friday, November 17, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This: Lee Maracle, Speaking Truth to Power

This powerful poem is read by Lee Maracle, one of the foremost poets and writers in Canada. Ms. Maracle  is from Vancouver, B.C., a member of the Sto:lo Nation, of Salish and Cree ancestry. She is a granddaughter of the renowned Chief Dan George, of North Vancouver. She was one of the first aboriginal writers to be published  in Canada in the early 1970's. Ms. Maracle now lives and teaches in Toronto.

I could not have written this, as I am not a member of First Nations. But I empathize with how this beautiful nation of people - the first who lived on this land for thousands of years - was displaced, marginalized and oppressed by those who arrived here much later. And I so admire Ms. Maracle's strong voice, speaking truth to power.

Her above poem, "Aboriginal Apology", is a triumphant response to the Canadian government's lame attempts to address reconciliation these last few years. So far apologies have been inadequate. Perhaps because reparation would go further than words in addressing the injustices done to an entire people since colonial times.

In articles I have read about her, one of her quotes stood out for me:

"Where do you begin telling someone
their world is not the only one?"


Ms. Maracle has written many books: novels, works of nonfiction,  and poetry. She has edited several anthologies.  She is also an educator, social activist, performance artist, storyteller, playwright, songwriter and Artistic Director of the largest aborginal theatre in Canada, in Toronto.

Ms. Maracle has given hundreds of speeches on political, historical, and feminist sociological topics  related to native people. She has conducted dozens of workshops on personal and cultural reclamation, serving as a consultant on First Nations’ self-government. She has an extensive history in community development.

Lee Maracle is one of the most prolific aboriginal authors in Canada. Her life and her voice are inspiring to all generations. I thought I would introduce her to you, so those outside of Canada can hear her voice, speaking truth to power with such strength.

The long list of her works can be found here

Here is another example of her work.


Do you speak your language?
I stare—I just said: how are you?
I thought English was my language
apparently it isn’t
I thought Halkomelem was gibberish
the devil’s language
that’s what the nuns said
apparently not
Some white guy sets me straight:
Aboriginal people are losing languages
Funny, I thought I had it just a moment ago
maybe it’s in Gramma’s old shoebox
maybe it’s sandwiched between papers
in plastic bags hidden under mom’s bed
Hey, has anyone seen my language?
              Will my words dangle from empty raped mountains?
               laid waste on dead seas
              Or will they sing sweet from the skirt of winds
               remembered songs of hope not realized?

              I weave this imagined dream world onto old
              Suquamish blankets,
              history-hole-punched and worn—
              to re-craft today,
              to re-member future in this new language.
             And I sing I am home again.

              Lee Maracle, from Talking To the Diaspora, 2015

I do hope you enjoyed meeting this amazing and powerful woman.  

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.