Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

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A True Senryu Story

This form made me giggle and immediately brought up a senryu story:


My big Poodle hates rain

Stares at me:

“Do something! My feet are all wet!”



Taming the elusive Iamb

Note: In all of the following, I have indicated stressed syllables in bold.

Woods and Fields near my home

My woods and fields

An iamb is a two-syllable metrical foot where the stress is on the second syllable:

da dum

A trochee is a two-syllable metrical foot where the stress falls on the first syllable:

da dum

Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” is composed of iambs:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

For an example of dactyls check out Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s “Song of Hiawatha

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest,
With the dew and damp of meadows,

And now Michele’s first stanza:

We claim our fears and ghosts by what we do,
   paths drag us into, not by accident,
   territory steep in our deep taboo.*

*Note: there are several ways to read this line — this is one.

So, lines one and two consist of nothing but iambs, but line 3 starts with two trochees.

One way to figure out the meter is just what I have done above: read the lines aloud, then underline or bold the stressed syllables, then see what you have. Another is to clap as you read: clap on all the stressed syllables while at the same time keeping track of whether this matches your pattern.

Another is to imitate a well-known rhyme or song. One of the only successful rhymed stories I wrote followed the rhythm of a nursery rhyme (unfortunately I’ve forgotten which one). Here are the first couple of stanzas. Can you help identify the song or nursery rhyme I tried to follow?

Old Tom Troll
had a hole by a bridge,
not far from the River Dee,

a lonely hole
not fit for a Troll,
and full of damp debris.

So Old Tom Troll
went out for a stroll
to find new holes to see.

Old Tom Troll
had a hole by a bridge,
not far from the River Dee,

a lonely hole
not fit for a Troll,
and full of damp debris.

So Old Tom Troll
went out for a stroll
to find new holes to see.

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Make Visible: The Villanelle

I wrote this Villanelle several years ago for a Valentine challenge on

The rhymes aren’t exactly right, but it does make a unique Valentine poem.



Cupid’s arrows pierce my heart,
Despite love’s shifting sands
Never will we two part

Card stolen from Wal-Mart
More than eruptions from my glands
Cupid’s arrows pierce my heart

To get to you I took the BART *
IPOD plays my favorite bands,
Never will we two part

I feel the sting of his golden darts
Make of me any demands
Cupid’s arrows pierce my heart

Dressed up like a dime-store tart
You held me in your gentle hands
Never will we two part

Your eyes travel my Holy Lands
Ready for your commands
Cupid’s arrows pierce my heart
Never will we two part.

* BART-Bay Area Rapid Transit

February 10, 2009

© Anne Westlund

Children's Valentine, 1940–1950

Children’s Valentine, 1940–1950 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Events and Accolades

We’ve been busy, sharing our poetry with the world. Some highlights of our recent and future activities:

Anne Westlund:  
~had three poems published in Poetry Breakfast:
“Chivalry”  – March 11, 2012
“White-out” – March 17, 2012
“Eclipse” – March 26, 2012
~Strange Pulp – one time publication for the Oasis Sci-Fi Convention in Orlando, Fl.  Short story,  File Under “S”, May 2012

Lin Neiswender: Three poems in the anthology Love and Other Passions by the Poets of Central Florida,

Margaret Fieland:
~is Participating in Sequential Poetry Reading on Sat April 21st between 12 and 3 at The Omen, 184 Essex Street in Salem, MA
~ Poems published:
Boston LiteraryMagazine
“Monday Morning” Spring, 2012
“Weather Report” February 24, 2012
“Taking a Break” March 3rd, 2012

Michele Graf: Two poems, “Chief Joseph Trail” and “Forest” were recently included in the Oregon Poetic Voices Project (OPV), a comprehensive digital archive of poetry readings to complement existing print collections of poetry across the state. Read and listen to her poems at:

Aragman, the Fifth

As my sister Muselings have demonstrated, we’ve approached the Aragman armed with butterfly nets, howitzers, and an array of tactics. I aimed for congruity of the alternating lines, and didn’t worry about syllabic symmetry.

My seemingly serene (publicly, at least), alter ego had a lot to say about being the subject of this poem. She’s usually the Wise Woman, link to the universal. Maybe she still is — let me know what you think. Below is the revised version, followed by the original post. Comments?

Moon Spirit (Graf, 2006)

Moon Spirit

Om — is it porn?
Watch, howling, heady.
No mop I stir 
but gates I open,
Import ions
of all persuasions.

In prism, too —
treacherous harmonics
I romp to sin,
bare it all in beaming light
Impostor in?
This Goddess of the Night?

Sin pit room,
raucous pounding sound.
Imp riots on,
curses ecliptic arc.
Prison it, Om,
for its own good.

Motion rips,
I stir the brew,
Trim poison,
cast away deception.
Sip it, moron —
vintage lunacy just for you.

. . . I Trip On Oms . . .

(revised, per comments and experimentation!
This is where I started:)

Moon Spirit

I Trip On Oms,
treacherous harmonics.
No mop I stir
but gates I open,
Import ions
of all persuasions.

Sin pit room,
raucous pounding sound.
Imp riots on,
curses ecliptic arc.
Prison it, Om,
for its own good.

Motion rips,
I stir the brew,
Trim poison,
cast away deception.
Sip it, moron —
vintage lunacy just for you.

Impostor in?
Is this the Goddess of the Night?
I romp to sin,
bare it all in beaming light
minor posit —
howling loud, heady, you must ask —

Om — is it porn?

Prompts: Jump-Start Your Poetry

English: harvest moon

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes I feel like my poetic well has dried up like the middle of the Sahara desert. So I did a little sleuthing for inspiration.  I’ll pull a poem nugget from each of these sites and see if I can get a poem out of them. which yielded the lines “In the water of discord the seasons sleep,” and “In the stillness of the soul the spirits turn, ”

“Shine Portrait”

“It is the dying spirit.

Lost moon, velvet spirit.

Wither, decline. With sharp flames

Declining, shining.”

Here’s what I came up with:

Shine Portrait

In the stillness of the soul the spirits turn,
Lost moon, velvet spirit.

It is the dying spirit,
Declining, shining, burnt orange crescent
Tangled in purple-bruised clouds
Evening’s mantle dusted with stars
You wither, decline, disappear

In the water of discord where seasons sleep
Sister moon’s spirit stirs, sharp flames
Calling out to seasons
You shine once more
A glowing orb, reincarnating  spirit

In the stillness of the soul, spirit awakes
Found moon, craggy spirit.

©2012 Lin Neiswender

Make Visible: Start Your Own Tribe

Please refer to my previous post Make Visible:  Find Your Tribe.

So you’ve checked out a few social networking sites and been to a few local meetings but don’t really feel comfortable with any of them.  Give it time!  Maybe you just need to hang around for awhile and get to know people better.  Or maybe, and this is very likely, the groups don’t address you specific interests.  What to do?  Why not start your own social networking site or offline group and find your tribe?

Wait.  Don’t abandon the sites and groups you’ve tried out.  They are good places to find people with similar or the same interests that you have.  Here are seven easy steps to starting your own tribe:

  1. Decide on the focus for your group. It should be something you are passionate about. You don’t need to know everything about your subject to start a group about it.
  1. Name your group. Find a name you can live with that sums up what your group is all about.
  1. Find a free (or paid) platform for your new tribe. Or find a meeting place for your offline group.  Here are some suggestions, by no means exhaustive.


Google Groups

Yahoo Groups



Churches or Synagogues

Community Centers or Convention Centers



  1. Then set up your site the way you want or consider topics for your first offline meeting.  Real world groups have slightly different considerations than online groups.  You will need to find out about refreshments, if you need a key, if they need to buy drinks or food (if in a café or restaurant), and if there’s a fee to use the room.  For online groups you may be able to design the site the way you want it to look, and set notification and membership settings. You can usually decide whether to let anyone join, join by invitation only, or to extend your membership to a select few.  For offline groups you also have a choice whether to have a public group or a private group where you handpick the members.
  1. Advertise!  This is where those previous networking sites and offline groups come in.  They are great places to post about your new group and find new members for your new tribe.  You can email and call your friends and post on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  Keep in mind whether or not you are inviting “everybody”, interested parties only, or a few select friends.  That will determine how and where you publicize your new group.
  1. Provide content.  Some people will come to your group and just chat, but it’s better to give them something to chat about.  For online groups you can provide your own content, photos, writing, and artwork.  Depending on whether your group is public or private, you can also share book excerpts.  Always when sharing, share who the author or artist is. For real world groups, you may just have the group members bring something to talk about, or you could bring in speakers or teach classes in your subject.  It may cost to hire speakers or teachers, so this is another opportunity to provide your own content or have group members take on these roles.
  1. Don’t let all this go to your head!  Sure you started the group and can decide who goes and who stays, but don’t be a dictator.  Let your new friends voice their opinions and post their own content.  Encourage dialogue and respect among equals.  As owner, you are in charge of getting rid of any spam accounts, sharing basic guidelines, and discouraging explicit photos and profanity (if that bothers you or becomes a problem).

One caveat:  Your group may start slowly, may be active at times and inactive at other times, or may grow exponentially.  You never know.

If you are interested in Divination subjects, like Tarot and the Runes, please join me at The Divine Life Google Group:

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Six Questions for . . . the Poetic Muselings . . . Magdalena Ball, and more

Six Questions For . . .

We’re being interviewed on Jim Harrington’s blog, “Six Questions For . . .” on March 1, 2012. Jim’s guest include publishers, editors, and others in the field of writing. His goal, to paraphrase from his blog, is to:

. . . provide authors with specific information about what editors are looking for in the submissions they receive, offer editors a venue for advertising their publications and getting the word out about what, in their opinion, constitutes ‘good writing.’

We’re delighted to share ideas about what we look for, and our approach — and to be in such great company. Please read Jim’s interview and let us know what you think.

. . . Magdalena Ball . . .

will be our guest on Weds., March 14, 2012. Our interview, starting from a focus on poetry and creativity, will be quite different from the  others on her blog tour. Her recent book, Black Cow, has rave reviews.

Visit her site to learn more, including the prizes she’s offering.  “The draw is open to anyone who comments, re-tweets (please use #blackcow – it’s not mandatory, but will help me find the tweets!), or updates their status with info about anything to do with the visits.”  Magdalena Ball

. . . and More:

Thank you for responses to my question last week about markets or guidance for our 14-year old poet. Please take a look at the post, and send your ideas. Thanks!  Mentoring and being Mentored

thank you!

Mentoring and being Mentored

This week, I am mentoring a very talented 14-year old poet, and supporting one of our Poetic Museling mentors. Interesting to be of service up and down this ladder.

First of all, congratulations to MAGDALENA BALL for Black Cow, her recently released novel. Reviews praise its depth, craftily written prose, the core subject so many of us face — is success as we’ve defined it destroying us, our families, and lives? Sometimes, desperation is the greatest motivator to force us to take the unmapped turn-off to something else. But is that other road the answer, or the path to a worse problem?

I’m anxious to read this book for several reasons:  Maggie is one of our incredible mentors, who helped make Lifelines real. Not only did she teach the chapbook workshop that brought us together to continue writing, and edited our work, but she’s an accomplished and marvelous poet. And a voracious, eclectic reader — a woman after my own heart — who’s Compulsive Reader website is a treasure of possibilities.

And Maggie is one of the most sincerely caring, compassionate people I’ve met, if only online. I value her advice, talent, and willingness to share and nurture others, and her friendship. I hope someday to have the chance to get to Australia and give her a big hug.

Here are some links to follow for more info:

Magdalena Ball –  Book Musing
Magdalena Ball – Black Cow
AMAZON (discounted!)  |   BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY (free worldwide shipping!) |   BEWRITE BOOKS
Join the book tour (for fun, prizes, and a lot of info)!
Black Cow Discussion Questions and book club visits


The other end of the spectrum is equally exciting.  I almost  never am far away from my other poetry passion, as editor of the Apollo’s Lyre poetry column. I receive poems from all over the world; from those diving into the submission pool for the first time, as well as those with pages-long credentials. All ages, forms, subjects. Some are “perfect” as they are, some need tweaking; often the most widely-published poets are the most open to editing, but not always. I plan a series of posts about the process, and publishing, from my editor view.

Recently, a young lady with an intriguing voice, nicely constructed poems, and subjects that tap into the universal, sent me her work. Unfortunately, Apollo’s Lyre contains some adult-themed subjects or words, articles, flash fiction, and poetry, as well as sillier, lighter items. We are not an appropriate venue for her work.

However, I want to help “C.” find a good place to sub her poems — I think she’s very talented, and hope some day I can publish her, and also say that I read her early work and gave her the encouragement to keep writing, exploring, and putting herself out for the world to see.

With her permission, and that of her mother, I’m contacting fellow poets, poetry publishers, and my contacts in general to ask:  Where could a 14-year old poet send her work?

If any of you have ideas I can share with “C.”, please let me know. Be part of this mentoring process — there’s plenty of room here!

Thank you —


Make Visible: Find Your Tribe

It is so important as creatives that we find a group of people that we feel comfortable with.  They share our values, our interest in creating and inspire and challenge us. Or maybe we just like to hang around with them, have fun and do fun things with them.  Groups offer us a chance to make friends, learn and share.  All this applies to both online and offline groups.

Online Groups:

Where do you start?

Tribe                                        many interests

Yahoo Groups                          many interests

Google Groups             many interests

Image representing Tribe as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

CoachCreativeSpace                all creative interests

Writer’s Digest Community       writers

Wet Canvas                             visual artists

For Tribe, Yahoo and Google groups there’s a box to put in your interest (keyword), a list of groups will come up that you may want to join.

Offline Groups:

Where do you start?

This depends on the size of your community.  You may be able to find groups through, your local newspaper, Weekly, or posted at your library or grocery store.  These groups may be related to interests, like writing, activities, like yoga, or church or self-help groups.

What next?

Join the group, post an introduction or go to the first meeting and introduce yourself, be friendly, become involved, participate.

It’s that simple.

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