“Parable of the Red Birds” and other poems by poets in response to last Wednesday’s Writing Prompt

Last Wednesday’s Writing Prompt (April 19,2017): “We’ve probably all been there and/or known someone who’s been there, thinking if they change where they live, who their married to, where they go to school, things will be better. Maybe they will, but probably not unless there are some internal changes. What’s your view or experience? Tell us in poem or prose.”

I think each of these poets did a fine job in responding. I enjoyed their work and know you will too.  Read on …

Parable of the Red Birds

The cardinals outside my window
Have two babies cuddled in the nest-
I peered in to see gray downy bundles
Rather ugly little fellows, mouths all agape.

Today, the fledglings are out of the nest.
The male cardinal has been vigilant,
Constantly flying to the little dears,
Dropping food in their open mouths.

While they flap clumsy tiny wings
The father flits about, devout in his care
Leaving me to wonder, where is Momma?
What is that Momma Cardinal up to?

After a little reading, I have discovered
No—she didn’t fly the coop with a lover-
She’s off to make her second nest of eggs.
The father is feeding her and the babies!

So what does this have to do with the grass
Looking greener over the fence? Nothing.
Sometimes everything is as it should be-
Your home is where your family assembles-

Either the family you’re been born with
Or the cackle of friends you’ve chosen
And gathered, dear one by dear one,
And it’s the place you build your wings.

© 2017, Sharon Frye (The Poetry of Sharon Frye)

Sharon is new to this exercise but not new to this site.  She was featured here as American She-Poet (12). Her new collection, Blue Lamentations (Cold River Press, 2017), is now available.

quite often these days

I focus on a moment from the past
identify strongly with it
and very soon find myself back there
pursuing a path that leads
from that moment into other moments
that just might have been

so that I am lost in passageways
I never took—corridors of time
I maybe only half-explored; it’s an effort
to wrench myself away back here
where all’s strange and unaccountable
& forlorn with a sense of great loss

so it was when I discovered (used as
a bookmark) a letter I never answered
asking me if I was happy now
I had left her and gone my own way—
if I could let her know (she said) she’d
rest content so I disappear into her

missing me and start wondering how
to reply—the letter is fifty-five years old
for god’s sake but as I said I’m prone
to follow up these distant naked leads
fully expecting the characters I bring to life
to make a response to me as I do to them

©Colin Blundell (colinbludell.com),  From The Recovery of Wonder published in 2013 under Colin’s Hub Editions imprint)


:: when ::

when small boys wake early,

when the journey is long,

the other disturbing the night

until all around is tired,

no real work done.

breaking backs.

have you really lost your arm,

have you really changed your life,

have you lost your sun glasses

in paradise?

do you know the people here,

who think i have sold my house,

who look after the dead,

© Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA)


She traveled north
with her husband she chose
based on society’s mores
his decision accepted based
on her need to fly

trading asphalt and concrete
for a similar landscape
peppered with evergreens

leaving behind her self
melting in the heat of day
preparing for a rain cleansing
her of tainted memories

she traded her self-identity
with the prospect of years
rearing children alone
in unfamiliar landscape
needing to fly

always tethered & wings clipped
by a ritual of custom
her wings a rainbow

coloring her inside and out
brightened by the sun
dampened by the rain
her self conflicted interests

birds fly home to roost and nest
innate to their very being
so each time she returned to
her place of birth she
fell into memories

coming to know her colored feathers
of self would always remain
inside no matter
the need to fly

© 2017, Renee Espriu (Renee Just Turtle Flight)

1.) Picked Apple Falls Hard On Him

Him On Her

apples, little earths
of laughtered kisses

of words that tickle
of giggle flesh,

deep red and green
or change in colour

from one to the other
or pick one.

Your apricots, peaches
and nectarines

a predatory sweetness
invites the unwary

as you feel slightly soft
and pull away easily

blackcurrant berries
swell to full size and turn

a shiny blue-black
incise deep past

the mantel to core
molten with sweet
juice oozes

over your tongue
out of the flesh

out of the month
through holes in the bones
life agape

Picked Apple, woodbride,
you tend gardens with skill,

devoted to orchards’ care,
love fields and branches

laden with ripe apples,
carry a curved pruning knife,

cut back scraggy growth,
lop limbs spread too far,

split bark, insert a graft,
provide sap from different stock
for trees bairns.

Will not suffer them being parched, waters twining tendrils o’ their thirsty

root. This is your love, your passion,
no need of lust. Workaholic, close

yourself off in an orchard, post a notice, ” No Men Allowed”.

2.) Her On Him

glance and you’re a scraggy girl darkened in denim,

a bespectacled man in a ballooned jumper, honeyed farmer, shy hunter,

mollusced fisherman.
I wake up to a tupped shepherd,

come back to a wick carjacker.
You’re everyone else, but yourself.

can’t pin you down,
my turning year,

first grape that darkens
on purpling bunch,

spiky corn-ear that swells
with milky grain; near my toes

you’re sweet cherries, autumn plums and a mulberry redder

in summer,
a change in the weather,

a new set of clothes,
an alteration in the air,
and I love you.

3.) My Seduction

A challenge. Never impress
you as myself.

Too young, no prospects.
Men have to invent

themselves to get anywhere.
I want to see you all the time.

So I turns up at your door
a rude farmer,

brought you a basket
filled with ears of barley.

Next, my forehead bound with freshly cut hay, as I might have been tossing new-mown grass.

“Sorry. No men. Busy.”

Another day I lumped horses
bridle in my stiff hand,

so you’d swear I’d unyoked
a weary team.

“No stables. Goodbye!”

With knife I were a female dresser
and pruner of vines:
“No vines here. I’m busy.”

Sometimes I’d carry ladder
and bucket a Window cleaner.

“No windows here. Goodbye.”

A scraggy girl darkened in denim,
beg a bunch of wildflowers
for her mam and you say
“Nothing wild in this garden, girl.
Sorry, mowed them all down”

A bespectacled man in a ballooned jumper, honeyed farmer, shy hunter,
mollusced fisherman.

“Sorry. Read the notice. No men allowed.”

4.) The Old Lass

I wrap my head with a coloured scarf,
lean on a staff, sprout grey hair, wrinkled

as a decaying fruit, caved in hollows,
thin skin, fungus faced, moles, brown

blotches, sour breath, stink of stale piss lingers, and a small spiky moustache.

She lets me in her well-tended garden,
to admire fruit and fruit of her

She a Pear’s sweetness
salves a searching tongue,

a Peach’s blush like sunrise
a Plum’s scent entices, smooth and laughing,

a Cherry’s scarlet lips rain sodden
a blossoming branch
makes bees dance

a secret orchard
‘You are so much more lovely’,

I snog her.
Then apologise.

Sit on flattened grass,
look at branches bend weighed
down with fruit.

Vine and Tree
There is an elm opposite,

gleaming bunches of grapes.
I tell her
“Remarkable tree, and its entwining vine.
But, if that tree stood there, unmated,

without its vine, it wouldn’t be sought after for more than its leaves, and vine

also, joined to and rests on the elm,
will lie on the ground,

if it were not married to it, and leaning on it.’

You reply “It is a tree. Marriage means nothing to me.”

“A thousand men want you,
you shun them, turn away.”

But, if you are wise,
if you want to marry well,

listen to me, an old lass,
as loves you more than you think,

more than them all, reject others
and choose Change to share your bed!

You have my pledge as well:
he’s not better known to himself

than he is to me: he does not wander
hither and thither, lives by himself

and he doesn’t love latest girl he’s seen.
You’ll be his first love, and his last.

He’ll devote his life only to you.
He’s young, blessed with natural charm,

can take on a fitting appearance, if needs be. Whatever you want,

though you ask for all of it,
he will do.

He doesn’t want fruit of your trees,
or sweet juice of your herbs:

he needs nothing but you.
Take pity on his ardour,

and believe that he,
who seeks you,

is begging you,
in person, through my gob.

I’ll tell you the tale
of Stone Lass

“Spunk sees Cruel lass from afar
gobsmacked by her looks
he gets smitten hard
and determines she’ll be hooked

Asks her mates for her mobile number,
and all her social media pages,
scours internet for details,
winds himself up in rages.

Gets his message through once
or twice but she mocks him
” Fancy me. You do right. I’m gorgeous”
and promptly blocks him.

Finds her home and knocks
and her Dad answers and says
“She don’t want to know, son.
Thinks your a stalker. Away!”

Writes his first letter and posts
it personally through her door,
it tells her she’s won and he’ll be gone
she can celebrate and more

she can see him lose his life
which is all he has left for her.
Cruel scoffs at this but goes along
for the crack and laughter.

She sees him throw a rope
already knotted around a beam
put his neck in the noose
and let out a scarifying scream.

Then she feels herself harden
stone thoughts
stone mouth
stone neck
stone chest
stone limbs
stone heart
calcified flesh and bone
she is a statue.”

Picked Apple has no reaction.
Change thinks stuff it

and becomes himself
young, virile and fresh.
Picked Apple falls hard for him.

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow)

THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

We continue with the current recommended read: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. Left, right or center – American or not – it’s a must read.

LESSON ELEVEN: INVESTIGATE. “Figure things out for yurself. Spend more time with long articles.  Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on the internet is there to harm you.  Learn about sites that investigate propaganda campaigns (some of which come from abroad). Take responsibility for what you communicate with others.” Prof. Snyder,  On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Go to art, not war.

Poem on …

CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (12): Sharon Frye, Last Chance for Rain

SharonSharon Gariepy Frye – a.k.a. Sharon Frye -is a photographer as well as a poet with one chapbook published, Last Chance for Rain (White Knights Press, 2014) and a new collection, Red Dashboard (Elizabeth Dillon, 51T8-CyhKSL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_2016) to be published later this year, the exact date to be announced.

Last Chance for Rain offers us twenty poems. Each presents a compassionate look at the complex architecture of everyday lives – occasionally her own – with all their bays and battlements, their facades and their niches. Understanding comes with small intimate descriptions like this one of an elderly gentleman:

“She noticed his wrist, a small pear stone,
silver hair planted, bloomed over stone.”

excerpt from the Last Chance for Rain, the poem that lends its name to the book

When I first encountered Sharon’s poetry, I was impressed with the detail, the sense of a spiritual journey, and with her compassionate imagination, which is both her strength and her distinction. No surprise that Sharon was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for Poetry and most recently made the shortlist for the 2016 Blackwater International Poetry Festival.

JAMIE: Congratulations on making the Blackwater shortlist. It was so pleasant to see the announcement go up. I think it’s not the only award you’ve received. Bravo!

It seems to me your interests are as eclectic as most of us who read and/or are featured here: art and photography, music and dance, literature and poetry. I think I’m not alone in enjoying your nature photography. With the wealth of your interests, how and why did you come to focus on poetry?

SHARON: Thanks for the warm regards on making the Blackwater shortlist. I was a little surprised myself.

From an early age poetry dazzled me. I remember my first anthology of poetry was called Reflections on a Gift of Watemelon Pickle. I was mesmerized by the play and dance of words across the pages. I have been hooked ever since.

I began writing more as my children moved into adulthood, one by one. Now that I have an empty nest, I have more time to follow the muse. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised where it has taken me, from reading to FDNY firefighters, to Ireland and Sacramento…to various stops along Route 66.

JAMIE: This is a question people think is reserved for women, but I ask it of everyone I interview: How do you do it? How do produce a fair amount of poetry, well-crafted and well-considered, and juggle all your interests, your job with the U.S. Postal Service and your family responsibilities?

SHARON: It’s not easy, all this juggling… and I get frustrated. I try to be a good daughter to my aging parents, a good parent and an active grandmother. I also work full time as a rural mail carrier and am an active member of a local writing club. I think the experience and interaction with what has become my focus is also what inspires and serves as a catalyst to express – or record – some of my feelings and observations that result from these experiences.

I once wrote about the Asian man who was giving me a pedicure. I felt my heart expand as I considered what his life and history might have been. It’s a good practice, trying to perceive the worldview of those you come into contact with throughout the day. It gives the gift of empathy, which then always circles back to gratitude, always.

JAMIE: Do you find inspiration in the landscapes of Wyoming, where you come from, and Oklahoma, where you live now?

Jamie, you are a keen observer. I do love the landscape of my birthplace Wyoming and now those in my home of Oklahoma. There is just as much beauty in an Oklahoma sunset as there is on a snow-capped range nestled in the pines. I have learned to love Oklahoma’s red-dirt roads and often meander on a Sunday afternoon, taking pictures of abandoned farms and rusted Studebakers, forgotten in fields.

JAMIE: If I’m not mistaken, you have a strong affinity with what is probably your ancestral country, Ireland. You come honestly then by your love of and gift for poetry. Who is your favorite Irish poet and why?

SHARON: You are right, my maternal grandmother’s family hailed from Kilkenny. Of the Irish poets, I love Seamus Heaney, the earthiness of his words. You spoke of landscape: Heaney seemed to meld the inner landscape with the outer world in a mystical way. I also like some of Yeat’s work…The Stolen Child and A Prayer for my Daughter.

JAMIE: Tell us about Writing Knights and Equador Das Coisas.

SHARON: Writing Knights Press is an independent publishing company in Ohio. They publish many aspiring poets’s chapbooks, as they did my book, Last Chance for Rain. I was pleased that the publisher, Azriel Johnson, nominated one of my poems, Dollar Store Princess for a Pushcart Prize in 2015.

O Equador Das Coisas (the equator of things!) is a lovely journal of art and literature from Brazil. Editors Carol Piva and Germano Xavier have invited me to be a regular contributing poet, with my own page in the journal. Carol translates my poems from English to Portuguese for this endeavor… Oh, sometimes the world is so wonderfully small, you know? 😊

Poverty Line

It started with my back tooth,
much cheaper to extract wisdom.
Now tongue swirls in dark abyss
around black cavity, nothingness.

I feel unbalanced as I walk
one molar gone, orthodontic
shift in class, the have­-not caste,
one millstone followed by another.

How much grinding bore holes
in enamel, uprooting the bed?
Babies sucked from natal stream
drained the marrow, shriveled the bone.

Frayed blue collar underscores
my lopsided, one­-less­-tooth smile
while white starched collars
curl below rows of faultless teeth.

—Sharon Frye

Here is a slide show of Sharon’s photography ~

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You’ll find some of Sharon’s poems in past issues of The BeZine. (Just type her name into the search feature.) We are sharing some of Sharon’s poems in the April issue – due out on the 15th – which celebrates poetry month.

© 2016, poem, words and photographs, Sharon Frye, All rights reserved

THE SUNDAY POESY: Opportunities, Events and Other News

PBD - blogroll


Mohammed Al Ajami, photo courtesy of PEN International
Mohammed Al Ajami, photo courtesy of PEN America

Mohammed al-Ajami Pardoned by Qatari Emir. It seems that the Government of Qatar has finally listened to the concerns of the United Nations and international community,” says ADHRB’s Executive Director, Husain Abdulla, “The Emir’s decision to pardon Mohammed al-Ajami is not only a victory for free expression over the forces of censorship and repression in Qatar, it is also a testament to the power of public, international pressure to improve human rights everywhere.” Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain

Distinguished English Poet, Myra Schneider, celebrates her 80th birthday this June. In honor of the upcoming occasion, The Poet by Day featured an interview with Myra that includes suggestions for novice poets: A Life Immersed  in Poetry: Myra Schneider Celebrating over 50 years as Poet and Writer.



  • You can register your book with Publishers Weekly and submit it for review via its BookLife platform HERE.
  •  Writer’s Digest Deadline for WD Self-Published Book Awards: April 1, 2016 … “here’s your chance to enter the premier self-published competition exclusively for self-published books. Writer’s Digest hosts the 24th annual self-published competition–the Annual Self-Published Book Awards. This self-published competition, co-sponsored by Book Marketing Works, LLC spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors.” Details HERE
  • Information on other self-published book awards is offer by The Book Designer HERE.


unnamed-1April 16, 7-9 pm.


Stickyz Rock N’ Roll Chicken Shack
107 River Market Avenue
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

Join Sharon Frye, Ayara Stein, Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, RJ Looney, Donnie Lamon, MH Clay and Justin Booth. You’ll find the bios of presenters HERE.

APRIL 14-17, The above event is part of the Little Rock, Arkansas Annual Literary Festival.

MARCH 21, 6-7pm in HumSS G27, University of Reading Whiteknights Campus. Poet, playwright, director, producer and teacher Mojisola Adebayo will give a talk on and reading from her work,  Mojisola Adebayo: Plays One (Oberon Books, 2012), on Monday 21 March, Mojisola will discuss her work with the Department’s expert on black British theatre, Nicola Abram. No charge and no reservation needed.

734866_1188351144510894_2329117433083661482_nMojisola Adebayo: Plays One includes the plays Moj of the Antarctic, Desert Boy, Matt Henson: North Star and Muhammad Ali and Me

Moj of the Antarctic is inspired by the true story of an African American woman who cross-dresses as a white man to escape slavery; taken on a fantastical odyssey to Antarctica.

Desert Boy, a time-travelling a capella musical, offers a sharp twist on the subject of knife crime, black youth and absent fathers.

Matt Henson, North Star is a biographical tale of Arctic betrayal, mixed with Greenlandic folk tales; all about love, climate and change.

Muhammad Ali and Me is a lyrical coming of age story, following the parallel struggles of a gay girl child growing up in foster care and the black Muslim boxing hero’s fight against racism and the Vietnam war.

APRIL 15: Special Poetry Issue of The BeZine. April, National Poetry Month in the United States, is celebrated as an international event at The BeZine. This year Contributing Editor Michael Dickel hosts and The Woven Tale Press is a partner. Poets featured include: Michael Rothenberg, Myra Schneider, Carolyn O’Connell, Terri Muuss, Dilys Wood, Liliana Negoi, Michael Dickel, Jamie Dedes, Imen Benyoub, Natasha Head and Aprilia Zank.

Notes: The Woven Tale Press offers a copy of their first Press Selected Works for free; and National Poetry Month is sponsored by the American Academy of Poets. Link HERE for activities in which you may join and to send for a free poster.

APRIL 21: Litquake Celebrates National Poetry Month at Gardenias: A Poets Supper; 1963 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94115; featured poets include Kimberly Grey, D.A. Powell, and Solmaz Sharif. Details HERE.

JULY 3 – 18:  W/rites and Rhapsodies: Israel Writing Tour
Write! Tour! Perform! Listen! Learn! Feast! With tour leaders Adeena Karasick and Michael Dickel. Registration deadline: 15 April 2016 Link HERE Itinerary. Cost: $3,080, which does not include air fare, more details HERE. Register HERE.

SEPTEMBER 24:  is the next Global Event Day for 100,000 Poets for Change (peace, sustainability, social justice). Check out 100TPC.org for details on this initiative, to find events in your area and/or to register an event you’re organizing. Poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion are founders and hosts.

In honor of 100TPC, The BeZine is focusing on Environment and Environmental Justice this year. Message G Jamie Dedes on Facebook if you want to join our ongoing Facebook discussion group. Our September 15 issue of The BeZine is dedicated to Environmental subjects and hosted by Associate Editor, Priscilla Galasso. On the global event day, September 24, the Zine will sponsor a virtual event with reader participation. Michael Dickel hosts.

OCTOBER 17: Under the leadership of Terri Stewart, Beguine Again founder and managing editor, will host a 100,000 Beguines for Peace event. This interfaith effort will focus on spiritual topics. Details to come from Terri in months ahead. Beguine Again and The BeZine are sister sites and The Bardo Group Beguines support and often contribute to both sites. Terri Stewart is a Methodist Minister. Her popular Daily Practice posts on Beguine Again feature poetry, art and music to address timely topics in a conscious and prayerful manner.

OCTOBER 20-23: The 30th Annual Dodge Poetry Festival, the largest poetry festival in the United States will be held in Newark, New Jersey. Details HERE. Readings from past festivals are archived on YouTube HERE.

12523073_1671505789771540_1144084924930641637_nSAN FRANCISCO JAPAN TOWN 2016, 110th Anniversary: This is one of the only three remaining Japan towns in the United States. Events are scheduled throughout the year to celebrate culture and history. Of special interest are photographic displays, a book launch, a concert and performing arts nights. Details HERE.



“Here be inspiration. There are blogs and there are blogs. There is writing; there is poetry; there is art; there is human endeavour and there is ‘The Poet by Day’. Rarely, if ever, have I come across a web log like this, of such towering integrity. Seldom have I encountered such a willingness to subjugate self for the benefit not only of the art of the written word, but also for the benefit of poets and writers everywhere. Here be a deep well of inspiration.” Poet, essayist and musician: John Anstie (My Poetry Library)


  • to honor the place of poetry in our lives;
  • to acknowledge good poets, both established and emerging;
  • to encourage poetry for social and environmental justice;
  • to shine a light on women and minority poets and poets just finding their voices in maturity;
  • to encourage you in your writing and provide helpful information and resources;
  • to have fun, to laugh, to feel good … and to cry when that’s needed.



HEADS-UP LITTLE ROCK: Literary Pub or Perish, April 16th


April 16, 7-9 pm. 

Stickyz Rock N’ Roll Chicken Shack
107 River Market Avenue
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

This event is part of the Little Rock, Arkansas Annual Literary Festival.

SHARON FRYE is a poet from Northern Oklahoma. When not delivering the mail, she enjoys writing about those she meets along the way. Whether it’s the cashier at the Dollar Store or the man giving her a pedicure- she tries to see the person behind the persona. She hopes her words might cause you too, to look more closely at the people you pass each day. Sharon is a frequent guest poet with The BeZine and she was on the short-list for the Blackwater Poetry Prize (Ireland).

AYARA STEIN is the former editor of the arts quarterly Gypsy Blood Review, she’s published in Verse Wisconsin, The Mayo Review, Ping Pong: The Journal of the Henry Miller Library and The Delinquent (UK), she is comfortable in the company of academics and outlaws.

SILVA ZANOYAN MERJANIAN is a widely published poet residing in California. She has two volumes of poetry Uncoil a Night (2013) and Rumor (Cold River Press, 2015). Rumor won Pinnacle Book Achievement Award by NABE for Fall 2015 and Silva has 3 poems from Rumor nominated for Pushcart award. Silva is a frequent guest poet with The BeZine.

RJ LOONEY will share his poems that are inspired by his experiences growing up in rural Arkansas, conversations in bars, and life in general. He is the author of A Crow’s Breakfast: Poems from The Low Road. He wears glasses when he needs them and generally avoids tucking in his shirttail.

Tennessee writer DONNIE LAMON came to the Big Apple four years ago to make a name for himself, and instead made a ministry. He lost his own name but found the names of hundreds of those unnamed and uncounted. Five Loaves and Shoeleather distributes care packages to the homeless on the streets of New York. His latest book is The Cardboard Gospel.

MH CLAY is a poet, playwright and musician, active in the Dallas spoken word scene. He is the Poetry Editor for Mad Swirl. He’s excited to carry on the creative conversation that will ensue among all the poets and patrons who come to Little Rock.


Justin Booth, Event Host
Justin Booth, Event Host

Outlaw Poet JUSTIN BOOTH will share some of his gritty southern goth poetry and prose, as well as introduce to Central Ar, an amazing group of writers he has met while traveling to share his own work. He is the author of four poetry collections including The Singer, The Lesbian, and The One with the Feet.