Sunday, January 29, 2017

"Of Verse, Poesy & Odes"

Of Verse, Poesy & Odes

Palm a poem as if fragile
even if the words are bold.

Let them sink into your skin
as if moonlight,

let them flow through your veins
until they become ordinary

for only then will we know
they nourished.

by Margaret Bednar, January 29, 2017

This is linked with "Imaginary Garden of Real Toads - Weekend Mini Challenge - Condense a Poem"  non other than Pablo Neruda's "Sweetness, always" in our own words, retaining the essence of what we think the poem is.   Below is Neruda's whole poem:

Sweetness, always
by Pablo Neruda

"Why such harsh machinery?
Why, to write down the stuff and people of everyday,
must poems be dressed up in gold,
or in old and fearful stone?

I want verses of felt or feather which scarcely weigh,
mild verses
with the intimacy of beds
where people have loved and dreamed.
I want poems stained
by hands and everydayness.

Verses of pastry which melt
into milk and sugar in the mouth,
air and water to drink,
the bites and kisses of love.
I long for eatable sonnets,
poems of honey and flour.

Vanity keeps prodding us
to lift ourselves skyward
or to make deep and useless
tunnels underground.
So we forget the joyous
love-needs of our bodies.
We forget about pastries.
We are not feeding the world.

In Madras a long time since,
I saw a sugary pyramid,
a tower of confectionery -
one level after another,
and in the construction, rubies,
and other blushing delights,
medieval and yellow.

Someone dirtied his hands
to cook up so much sweetness.

Brother poets from here
and there, from earth and sky,
from Medellin, from Veracruz,
Abyssinia, Antofagasta,
do you know the recipe for honeycombs?

Let's forget about all that stone.

Let your poetry fill up
the equinoctial pastry shop
our mouths long to devour -
all the children's mouths
and the poor adults' also.
Don't go on without seeing,
relishing, understanding
all these hearts of sugar.

Don't be afraid of sweetness.

With or without us,
sweetness will go on living
and is infinitely alive,
forever being revived,
for it's in a man's mouth,
whether he's eating or singing,
that sweetness has its place."

Monday, January 23, 2017


Ever wondered about the story behind these triple roadside crosses?  HERE it is.   

As a child I was tucked into bed inspired
with stories of Saints; some plucked from sin
and dismay, others never swayed from righteous ways -

drifted off to sleep beneath moonlit shelf
of angels and figurines blessed -

waited for "marching orders",  my turn to serve;
"Strive for sanctity" a phrase I'd often heard -

drove by triple crosses planted in cow pastures,
wondered if they were a sign.  Opened bibles randomly,
fingered verse as if a crystal ball -

St. Joan had her voices, her visions,
St. Teresa, her raptures, her angels,
my Evangelical friend, her "God told me so" -

but I'm afraid the only voice I hear is mine.
The only vision is what's before me.

Perhaps love is all you need
(inspired a bit from the Beetles
as well as the Bible) -

Love as a verb, a word to galvanize us all
to become our own unique saint.

by Margaret Bednar, January 23, 2017

This is linked with "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - Sunday Mini Challenge with Brendan - Voices"   I did a bit of an overhaul on this poem - for those who read it through the first time, thanks for doing so again.

I learned this lesson years ago - and I've stumbled many times, but whatever we believe, if we don't put it into action, what good is it?  Most never have a "great revealing" nor a "voice" that divinely inspires... but if we are true to what we believe in (I am talking religion) then we are called to live it the best of our abilities, to be strong, to be our own unique version of a saint, to love God not by being just like the saints before us, but loving God as they did.

And to always remember love is a verb, an action.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Writer

The Writer

Her voice is soft like a songbird's first "good morning",
vibrato's as words pour into her leather bound fortress,
becomes a warrior, a missionary - maybe a bit of both;

a vortex of youth, passion, possibilities -
becomes a full bodied soprano reaching for high C
no longer penning curly cues and girlish giggles
but brandishing flourishes as bold and strong
as ambition dares reach...

and she dares.

by Margaret Bednar, January 16, 2017

Linked with "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - Poetry, Writing, & Metaphor - Dreaming w/ Stacie"   Metaphors are not to use the word like - I believe if one uses "like" then it is a similes.  They both compare ...

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Of Grace & Tears" - Ellis Island Hospital

Ellis Island Hospital Ward
Ellis Island Hospital Hallway

"Of Grace & Tears" - Ellis Island Hospital

There are lives we'll never know about,
letters penned of hopes, dreams, successes, failures -
never realized

but I almost feel the brush of shoulders,
hear their whispers as I tread
yesteryears worn stairwells and dim-lit halls,
peer through cracked, broken windows,
almost see them as harbor winds snow-kiss
old planked floors,
my footprints ghost-like impressions
reminiscent of decades,
not moments, passed.

Chairs angle toward windows
seemingly vie for sight
of Lady Liberty, as if hope's still sought
by eyes wistful, eyes dim.

The mortuary's more mysterious
than morbid, eight tray doors swing open,
empty now - almost invite a peek within
to ponder "who"...
autopsy table's missing,
yet overhead light's intact
as if waiting
for doctor to walk in, lecture to begin.

Long hallways beckon
with shafts of shadow and light,
doors ajar to private rooms
for contagious and crazy;
isolation and a view
not so prestigious.
Better a shared ward with 16 beds.

Quarantined with time and silence
is crumbling plaster, scattered bricks;
illness and ailments no longer contained
within these walls of those who journeyed on,
for those turned away.

Curve of banister's still beautiful,
generous windows still filter light,
but now rain, snow, and summer ivy reside,
slowly reclaim the past, the humanity
and tragedies, grace and tears,
love and fear.

by Margaret Bednar, January 13, 2017

I invite you to listen to me read my poem:

Ellis Island - a blog link (See Saw by Liza Cowan) totally worth reading - gorgeous photography and words...

And here is a video I HIGHLY recommend! ... "Forgotten Ellis Island" Narrated by Elliot Gould

Nine out of every 10 patients were cured at Ellis Hospital and continued their immigration journey.

Ellis Island Autopsy Theatre
Ellis Island Hospital
The mortuary's eight trays... awaiting burial 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ellis Island 1892-1954

Statue of Liberty with Ellis Island in the background
Ellis Island 1892-1954 

Liberty raised her arm, held aloft a flame
for dreams, for welcoming first class
who quickly disembarked, walked beneath her crown.

Others, tired, poor, and tempest-tost,
alighted upon isle Ellis, poked, prodded, questioned;
breasts full of trepidation of a letter chalked
upon one's chest.

Land of opportunity for those with strong backs,
for those who weren't hunchbacked, diseased,
feeble minded, Jews, Slavs, Italians, or Chinese:
first to confront "closing of the open door".

Most marked "desirable", no steamship return;
a few detained for Dr. Kimmel and staff -
wards now emptied and windblown once teamed
with immigrants tired; some tempted

to believe in God for the first time.

by Margaret Bednar, January 12, 2017

I've visited NYC quite a few times over the last couple of years, but this was my first visit to Ellis Island.  I took the "Behind the Scenes Hospital" tour - not pictured here.  I was left with quite a few impressions and will hopefully be writing a few more poems on this topic.

I do believe our government's first responsibility is to keep our nation safe from disease and those who would/will hurt our society and way of governing - but my heart went out to so many of the people's stories that didn't make it through (it is recorded that only 2% did NOT make it through) ... 9 of every 10 hospital patients were cured and became citizens.  There was corruption going on and of course, at the same time, many heroic, selfless people working to help the immigrants.  It seems the same narrative continues today...

Here is a short video "Inside Ellis Island's Abandoned Hospitals (CNN)" you might find interesting.  I walked through these rooms, took photos, and will have a poetry prompt featuring Ellis Island on February 16 at "Imaginary Garden of Real Toad's" website.

Ellis Island - Main Immigration Station
The Public Health Service defined its mission rather narrowly—preventing the entrance of disease to the nation—but PHS officers interpreted their job more broadly. In their eyes, the goal was to prevent the entrance of undesirable people—those "who would not make good citizens" [3]. In the context of industrial-era America, immigrants who would wear out prematurely, requiring care and maintenance rather than supplying manpower, would not make "good" citizens. By 1903 the PHS had elaborated two major categories: "Class A" loathsome or dangerous contagious diseases and "Class B" diseases and conditions that would render an immigrant "likely to become a public charge." A subset of Class A conditions included mental conditions such as insanity and epilepsy.