Tessa, I’m Not Seeing Crooked

David Ligare still-life-with-grape-juice-and-sandwiches-xenia-1994

David Ligare, Still Life With Grape Juice And Sandwiches via Magpie Tales

I’m not seeing crooked. I am what I see–
a believer. You’d call it a swagger, doing
what I do when I do and how do you do.
You want me to be a dry-mouthed witness?
As if that will iron out all the ironies?
Zigzagging smoke. Lolling out to sea.

Sure I like looking at some photo-realism.
A common ledge superimposed with difference–
well, different things. It’s called luminosity.
What you see. What I see. Grape juice and a
tower of sandwiches. In seeing the world’s
plurality, we’re seized by a nameless joy.

So shall we? Let us be led by whatever they are.
Olives and wheat. Peaches and water. Maple leaf
and stone. Apples. A candle. Apricots and poppies.
Bread and wine. Fruit and bird. Herring and paper.
Naming–the moon’s way of embracing its shadow.
Bust and ruler. Wing and sticks. Grapes and Crow.

Prompt: I don’t know what you make of photorealism. I like it without knowing why. I like the painting rendition of a photograph. It’s like a semblance of a semblance of something. A mirror of a mirror, so imagine you’re standing in a room of mirrors. It’s a non-ironic way of representation in a world that’s full of irony. That’s where I was trying to go with this poem. You can see the whole lot of David Ligare’s paintings here. Whatever it is, interpret the image via Magpie Tales or whatever else you see in your own unique way.

Tessa, This Thing Called Existence

She tried lipstick–orangey peach–and tied on
a polka dotted scarf. Oh, she’s not ignorant,
or maybe she is, it depends. She sits in
the room, copying passages from the Bible.
It’s her way into language. There’s her man,
an old man, a preacher man. Silvery but kind.

She carried his child. He had baptized her,
wetting her forehead with river water.
She thinks all the time, the past burning
into ash, but it’s there. There’re echoes
everywhere. Now she knows about what the
Bible says; it keeps her warm and safe.

She walked past the cornfield, late, worn
and dry, stalks bent. Down to the river
to watch the white birds–hundreds of them.
Pelicans. She thought about what it be like,
having this child. She felt it stirring, inside
her yellow coat, open, warmed by the sun.

Prompt: As someone who reads fiction, I often borrow stories. This one’s based on the novel by Marilynne Robinson, Lila. It’s actually possible to take a slice out of a book and then weave the story into a poem. Try it. And of course, in doing so, you’re taking on another self. The book deals with “life without comfort, without love, and that is the real life”, in the words of a reviewer from The New Yorker. It’s a slow book, for sure, and there isn’t much romance in it. Duh. Just tenderness. Well, your prompt would be to take on another self from a book.

Spring/Summer 2016 Issue 9: Song Of Myself

Collaborate with our theme. You know you wanna…

Red Wolf Journal

Song of myselfRed Wolf Journal Issue 9 (Spring/Summer 2016)
Our theme: “Song Of Myself”

Welcome to the Spring/Summer 2016 issue.

What is this singing which poets do? In Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”, he sings of “fountains, meadows, hills, and groves” invoking spring/summer with the joyous singing of birds. But it is with a “philosophic mind” that he did it. His song is the way poetry lies against time and nature. So poems function as a mirror and as a dreamscape both. You sing of these things. Therefore they exist. Or they exist, therefore you sing of these things. Either is subjectively true. After all, it is the nature of poetry to be metaphorical. Death, on the other hand, is literal.

As a poet, or someone who writes poetry, I don’t stop singing. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll eventually wear myself out and stop. Because poetry is visionary, it…

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Tessa, The Self Is Where The Mind Is, Is It?

chess-players union square damien derouene

photo by Damien Derouene via Magpie Tales

The quintessence of mind is strategy.
Ferocious energy there. Where mind is it exalts
itself and becomes fire.
It is prodigious of meaning.
Cognitive moves in a chess game
and she learned by watching.
A contest of equals is a marriage.

We give benedictions.

None of us may escape cause and effect.
A thing happens because, a priori, something
else already had. How you move the pieces is
a mind’s progeny. A mind’s iterations.
Visionary power–queen has in spades but
if the king is dead there is no kingdom.
There’s something Shakespearean about it.

Prompt: Magpie Tales provided the jump-off for this poem. It led me to a certain conclusion about the self. See where it leads you. The subject is, of course, the self. What is self, if I may ask. Does it reside in the mind and manifest as personality or intelligence? Does it exceed the mind or does the mind contain it? The kind of philosophy you espouse, is it important as an expression of the self you possess?

Release of Winter 2015/2016 Issue 8

Meanwhile, this just happened.

Red Wolf Journal

Seeing beauty

We are pleased to announce the release of Red Wolf Journal’s Winter 2015/2016 Issue 8:

Red Wolf Journal Winter 2015 2016 Issue 8

The poets with work in this edition are:

Holly Day
Edilson Afonso Ferreira
Christopher Hileman
Nancy Iannucci
Christopher Oak Reiner
Roslyn Ross
Debi Swim
Alan Toltzis

You are welcome to submit work to our upcoming Spring/Summer 2015 Issue 9. The theme is “Song of Myself”. Watch this space for the official announcement.

With pleasure,
Irene Toh and Tawnya Smith
Winter 2015/2016 Editors

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Tessa, This Is My Song

Would I be distracted, and not speak?
There would be silence. The heart would cease
its serpentine course, not feed on language and
would you be pleased, or nonchalant, that this
oscillating air would not flail it and
there’re no more hieroglyphics. In fact,
it would be dull and placid.

These stirrings from within,
I know not from where they come, nor where they go,
and most likely they’re streaking like
a wild monkey–gangly, misplaced,
furry, with a hungry mouth,
and maybe it’s just enamored of meaning,
clamoring to meet the sun.

I’d no more combed my hair and luxuriated
than I’d perfumed the air with elixir.
You’d limbered toward me with a lithe body,
a new grace and how we knew we had always
wanted this embrace. You tucked your arms
around my waist and we rose from our bed
–O, everything’s made new again!

Prompt: Hi there, been a while. I’ve slumbered, I admit. It’s kind of, you know,
having to keep silence. Well, not to worry, we poets would swing to action soon enough. April means NaPoWriMo–the 30 poems in 30 days annual ritual. I guess I would be writing feverishly if I don’t fall into another slumber. Red Wolf Journal will be announcing the theme for the Spring/Summer 2016 issue very soon, in fact, in time for April’s poeming. The prompt for today? It’s to write a poem which references the word “song”. That’s a big clue to the new theme, by the way. My lips are sealed for now.

Except to say my poem is inspired by this quote: “…the song of me rising from our bed and meeting/the sun.” Who said this, do you know?

Tessa, My Truth

atonement letter


Photo via Magpie Tales

Listening. Even if all seems dubious.
Tessa, I’m no nihilist and so I’ve got
to believe, to be held in thrall–
no matter how outrageous,
and somewhere there’s got to be
where your truth becomes mine.

In a world where we each makes up
our fictions, maybe seeking secret
accolades. Well, not another mass
hysteria, or the scream, or just
namby-pamby talk. We’re markedly this
or other. All’s a kind of madness.

There, I’ve written another letter.
And in my best Keira Knightley disguise,
acted the part of an apostle, stood by
the postbox in a quiet English town–
Manchester probably–sun drying up puddles,
saying iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou.

Prompt: Well, the prompt would be: what’s your truth? With a little help from Magpie Tales? With or without. You get to decide. You get to decide what’s your truth in your poem. You. Not anyone else but you. Your truth. Sorry this is all you get. Truth can be rather skimpy. Theme of the new Spring/Summer 2016 issue? Clue this!


All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.

Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.

Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made
nor the work they have chosen

nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.

By the lake in the wood
in the shadows
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,

it wants to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.

in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you’ll find
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

~ David Whyte ~

Tessa, I Am Singing Again

Of course, poetry is sonorous.
We gorged on it. Plangent with longing.
Being subtle and reticent, in this time-defying
labyrinth, effusive with esoteric knowledge,
imbued with language, inventive of a new

I wondered, what are we tweaking about?
Then I knew, once you’ve found your voice,
you won’t stop singing. As if you’ve found
a channel from the source, it’s not evasive,
and of course, you needed a muse,
keeping a lid on things. Of course,
Yeats had said it best.

What, you asked. It’s the eternal quest for
beauty, truth, love, justice, God–plain
discourses of the soul. What is soul but
consciousness, and how does it speak but
metaphorically? Why, even parodists would know!
And that I have no need greater than this,
a great desire, resonates with being.

Prompt: Hey guys, a new moon’s coming. I suppose Spring isn’t officially here yet but it’s definitely round the corner. I guess there’s no harm in starting my prompting for the new issue of Red Wolf Journal. What is the theme, you ask… and well, I’ll answer like this: when in doubt, write about writing! Alright, Clue: think of Spring/Summer. Yep it’s gonna be Spring/Summer 2016 issue running from March to September 2016. Mind you, I haven’t set a word down on the editorial so I’m not singing about it, but you know, just singing.

Oh right. What did Yeats say?
“The desire that is satisfied is not a great desire.”