Tuesday, December 15, 2015

And I know now what I didn't know then by the Tuesday Poets

now you are privy to
a thousand thousand things.        Jennifer Compton

The geology of the region, the path rain takes under
the earth, the black areas of nitrate.        Sarah Jane Barnett

There are places yet to find
where the teeth of ancestors
still speak to us from the forest floor –       Kathleen Jones

please do not dance
with the statues.       Helen Lowe

I wonder what times I will choose to rescue
from a land built out of longing.       Andrew M. Bell

The Canterbury Provincial Building's Cat
does not exist
but I have named him Moorhouse.       Helen McKinlay

Enough. Take your feathers
dead or alive and flutter into oblivion.       T Clear

He went south with the housing market
to a cottage facing the sea        Tim Jones

which is not to say
that some feasts don't need ruining.      P S Cottier

Goodbye takes the form of a blessing.
My family press tika on our foreheads
rupees into my palm.        Saradha Kiorala

But somehow the gift was given
somehow we made it work.      Harvey Molloy

It was dark and we were nearing the end of our chat, and you
said to me, I bet there are fresh flowers lying in your backseat.        Bel Hawkins

You walked home from the diary
the loaf still warm
cradled in your arms       Catherine Fitchett

and I now know
what I didn't know then,
that the things we despise
when young can in fact be beautiful.      Kay McKenzie-Cooke

The lights threaded
their sparrow eyes across the
black sky.       Leah McMenamin

Everybody in the room
is full of bonhomie.       Fifi Colston

"No hea koe? No hea koe? No hea?"
"Where are you from? Where are you from? From where?"       Jeffrey Paparoa Holman 

A Temporary Monument.       Bernadette Keating 

A tuba and a man strolling through
the grass, a pretzel of flesh and brass.       Bryan Walpert

Like birds, blue and brown can soar and glide.
They can spin like star motes
or flatten, like feathers in a storm.      Susan T Landry

The slow delicious thaw
of an expected frost.        Pamela Gordon

My yoga teacher says 'You are a baby, you are a flower,
you are stirring a giant pot.'       Helen Lehndorf

yes       Orchid Tierney

the Magritte painting of a woman on horseback
shimmering in and behind tree trunks.       Melissa Shook

I ask you, waka, ark, high altar
Above the sea, your next destination?       Richard Sullivan

I lick my lips
and lean with

an affectation of slothfulness.       Alicia Ponder

You left Lesotho the year of your eighteen years
and we closed like clams. Grass grew a beard
on you.        Rethabile Masilo

You are not an old man and he is not a marlin but he is mighty just the same and you are
awed by his beauty.       Michelle Elvy

A small old woman
knitting the whole tale
on needles of bone.       Helen Rickerby

Measuring how well      a person will rebound
after being dropped on      is still being worked on.       Keith Westwater

Alice swallows several live
goldfish. They look remarkably like tinned mandarin segments.
In syrup.       Janis Freegard

You spy
the feet that twist beneath him,
thick as the roots that anchor an oak.       Eileen Moeller

Why did the day break before it began?
The dream still fermenting, the sudden rain?       Catherine Bateson

Just as soon,
behind us rose an amber moon,
which cast sufficient light, a golden
barley smear of light –       Zireaux                                            

my astonished belly
has lately become
a fishbowl
and you, little fish.       Renee Liang

I see a courtyard there and a lemon
tree whose unbound feet turn stones
to moss,       Claire Beynon

an asterisk of a cloud dissolving
in the time it takes to walk to the compost bin.       Mary McCallum

The birds mostly flew too high to identify, but there
were swallows and larks.        Belinder Hollyer

Gun-metal and the iron of blood was on her lips /
all morning, as the sun refused its trembling ascent.       Elizabeth Welsh

Take (_____ Back Words) ~ Tender
Tender (_____ Hearted) ~ Thread       Mariana Isara

How wings grow slick
and open for that years-long
maiden flight no parent can impart.      Penelope Todd

The notes of Jerusalem
are bold as a bell
they rise to the vault of the ceiling.      Pamela Morrison

It does not wait
for the funeral tent

nor see the lightness of green
turn to earth-brown black.      S L Corsua

There is no difference between the tree and the shadow of the tree.
There is no space between light and the wave coming shoreward.       Miriam Levine

Maud shall have
a glimmergowk to hoot her elegy     shall nither there until the mawks

liquify her skin.       Melissa Green 

Who'll find me
now she's gone –
knees by ears tight
breathing all of me.       Helen Heath

The jaunt
through the asphalt world did have its moments,

exotic brilliances & conspiracy corridors. But
finally, feet, recognising the opportunity while
the mind's woolgathering, swing over & out.       Harvey McQueen

Today we are drawing a circle around five years of Tuesday Poem. This does not, however, mean 'The End'. Something almost always follows a full stop.

It has been a buzz tracking back through our archives – five years of weekly poems, our own and others – thousands of poems in all. Tuesday Poem has sustained a consistently high level of commitment, enthusiasm, originality and dazzle. We are 46 poets past and present – a truly global collective – coming from a range of far-flung islands and continents: New Zealand, the US, UK, Australia, Italy, Lesotho and France. One of our members is waterborne and is, together with her family, poetically sailing the seven seas.

The collaborative poem we are posting today is made up of lines we selected from all our poets over the years – from their poems posted as part of Tuesday Poem and linked in the sidebar – with some consistency applied to punctuation to enable the poem to work as a whole. To find the poems the lines have come from, simply cut and paste the quote in the Tuesday Poem search box.

In February 2014, as TP's founders and curators, we agreed to an interview with a man named Angel, editor of a Spanish literary journal, El Pais. One of his questions was to do with the motivation behind the Tuesday Poem initiative. "Why", he asked "do you offer it 'for free'?" It was interesting to revisit what went to press -

"Tuesday Poem's poetry is offered 'for free' because we believe in community and in the idea of a gift economy in which our poets' words facilitate relationship and connection and are a voice for a diverse group people. Poetry is a way to build bridges and celebrate our common humanity."  Claire


"People are still touched by poetry and search for it for this reason. There is something sustaining there. Something we need. People need poetry for other reasons too - for personal reasons: consolation, etc - the compressed language and short controlled lines paradoxically restraining and releasing feeling. Oh, and there's more - I do think poetry goes to the heart of what it is to be human, which is based on the deep need we have for language and rhythm and music. Something beyond the basic physical needs. Something that you would call spiritual, or perhaps 'being open to wonder'."   Mary

It has been a privilege and very great joy being in this poetry boat with you all. Warmest gratitude to all our poets and our readers near and far. T. S. Eliot wrote 'We shall not cease from our exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time'. Which takes us back to the opening lines of our collaborative poem –

      now you are privy to
      a thousand thousand things.    Jennifer Compton

People and poetry are integral and essential to our lives. Tuesday Poem has grown to become an extensive and valuable archive of international poetry, based in New Zealand and with contributions from people around the world. We acknowledge all contributors, especially the hardworking Tuesday Poets who not only posted on their blogs, but stepped in to manage the Tuesday Poem site at different times.

We will stay open indefinitely for visitors. Search to your heart's content, keep in touch and come back often …


Claire and Mary, on behalf of the Tuesday Poets.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Morte D’Arthur (Partial) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

So all day long the noise of battle roll’d
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur’s table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their Lord,
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.

And slowly answer’d Arthur from the barge:
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within Himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou seëst—if indeed I go—
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadow’d, happy, fair with orchard-lawns
And bowery hollows crown’d with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound.”
So said he, and the barge with oar and sail
Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan
That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,
Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood
With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere
Revolving many memories, till the hull
Look’d one black dot against the verge of dawn,
And on the mere the wailing died away.
by Alfred Lord, Tennyson, 1809-1892
Editor: Helen Lowe 

The Morte D’Arthur, or Death Of Arthur, is probably the most well known in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, which draws on Sir Thomas Malory’s medieval work of the same name (Le Morte D’Arthur) as well as the Celtic Mabinogion. Because it was the first written of the Idylls poems and the last in chronological sequence, I have included the first, and also the final two stanzas today.

The  Morte D’Arthur is one of a long tradition of epic poems, from Homer’s Iliad, through the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf and Middle English Sir Gawain & The Green Knight to later works such as Milton's Paradise Lost.  Like both Sir Gawain & The Green Knight, and Malory's earlier work, Tennyson's Morte D’Arthur draws on the Arthurian legend, which was also known as  ‘The Matter Of Britain’ in the Middle Ages because of it’s subject matter.

Like its predecessors, Tennyson’s poem demonstrates the enduring influence of these ancient stories and the way in which they continue to ‘speak’ to us afresh in each new generation.  In Tennyson’s case the medium was poetry,  but I believe the influence is clearly discernible in contemporary literature, including Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave, TH White's The Once and Future King, and Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising. As both a poet and and fantasy novelist I am honoured to be part of so grand a tradition.

As for the poem  last mentioned but very far from least  I feel that in terms of poetic power and language, it really speaks for itself.  To read an illuminated version of the poem from 1912, click on: Morte D’Arthur~ Helen Lowe

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809-1892, is one of the most well-known and enduring of the Victorian poets, his considerable body of work distinguished by an outstanding lyric gift for sound and cadence. He was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland throughout much of his long and distinguished poetic career.

Today's editor, Helen Lowe, is a novelist, poet and interviewer whose work has been published, broadcast and anthologized in New Zealand and internationally. Her first novel, Thornspell, was published to critical praise in 2008, and her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Helen's fourth novel, Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night Series, Book Three) is forthcoming in January 2016. She posts regularly on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really blog and is also active on Twitter: @helenl0we

In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ring of Fire by Mary Eliza Crane

At the wane of a long season
of heat filled yellow sky,
fire consumes mountain forests
infested, decimated by bark beetles
feasting in their own changing world.
I swim deliciously in a warmer river
without current, cringing at banks
so barren I could walk across.
The water is too hot for salmon
to return upstream and spawn.

Earth degrades to dirt, crumbles in my hand.

Early spring bloomed in a riot
of fragrant hawthorn flower,
unfamiliar nesting songbirds,
rare sun, and blueberries found
and eaten before breakfast,
while deer were still bedded
down with stumbling fawns;
when drought was only a word
to justify smug satisfaction towards
the bigger state further south.

I want to have one last love affair
with the earth before we both die,
too decrepit and worn to fall
into deep passion and wet ecstasy
in one another's arms.
Give me time, I'm asking for time.
Give me soft moss, give me
great chasms of awe.
Sweep me off a windy mountain
plunge me into watery depths,
over and over again.

I remain insatiable.

I stand feebly against the apocalypse
with pickled beets and heirloom beans,
broccoli, lettuce and parsnip seed,
four cords of seasoned maple for the winter.
I stand only as tall as I dare against the machine.

Dread of the San Andreas Fault
dropping a chunk of California coast
into the sea is an old twentieth century anxiety.
Doomsday now resides in the Cascadian Subduction Zone
admiring the view, while the Juan De Fuca Plate
slides under the North American continent.

I don't want to grow old together
in futile observation of aches and pains
and broken ecosystems, losing my teeth
and my breath, while my beloved Earth
sheds species, withered and dry,
raging against the dying of the light.

I'd rather go out in one catastrophic orgasm,
landslide crashing down behind me,
vast tsunami wall rising up in front.
Great Maw, Ring of Fire, swallow me inside,
no burning keening carcass left to find.

© Mary Eliza Crane
Published with the permission of the author.

Last year, while in conversation with Mary Eliza Crane, the talk rambled over to climate change and our sense of helplessness in the face of impending doom. Mary said, "I don't know what to do with this. I love this planet." Her words stuck with me all our long hot summer, a repeating loop that began a simmering in my subconscious, a poem which refused to rise to the surface. So when I heard her read "Ring of Fire" at a Seattle open mic in September, my breath caught for just a moment— there it was, the poem I'd longed for! (And even better, I didn't have to do any of the work!)

I was immediately struck with its passion, precision, keen attention to detail and the pace at which it navigates to its subject's demise. No prissy, self-important preciousness here. This is a poem — and a poet — fearless in its assertions. A sacred anthem, a final love song to the earth.


Mary Eliza Crane is a native of New England who began writing poetry at age fourteen. She migrated to the Pacific Northwest three decades ago and settled into the Cascade foothills east of Puget Sound. Deeply and passionately in love with the natural world and rural culture, Mary's voice lives in the understory and fog of the Snoqualmie River, her poetry a fusion of the natural, personal, and political world. A regular feature at poetry venues throughout the Puget Sound region, she has read her poetry from Woodstock to LA, including opening for Graham Nash at a benefit concert in 2012.  Mary has two volumes of poetry What I Can Hold In My Hands (Gazoobi Tales Publishing, 2009) and At First Light (Gazoobi Tales Publishing, 2011). Her work has also appeared in Raven Chronicles, The Cartier Street Review, Quill and Parchment, The Far Field, and several anthologies, including Cradle Songs: An Anthology of Poetry on Motherhood by Quill and Parchment Press which won the 2013 International Book award for Best Poetry Anthology. Mary's third volume of poetry will be published by Moon Path Press in 2016.

This week's editor, T. Clear, has lived her life in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains, never more than a mile from water, under the brooding, misting skies of the Pacific Northwest. She is a founder of Floating Bridge Press, Easy Speak Seattle, and her work has appeared widely. Her poem "Repository of the Lost", in the Spring 2015 issue of Crab Creek Review, was nominated for Independent Best American Poetry Anthology.

Please check out more Tuesday Poems on our blogroll on the left-hand sidebar.