The entire poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, by the wildly abstract Wallace Stevens remains a mystery to me.  Pick any stanza.  Let’s say, V.

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Is it a stretch to say that Stanza V opposes two types of beauty? (Probably, but Ben Huberman’s post led me here. A complex and divergent literary trip, to be sure, not unlike the one through this poem.)



How will-o’-the-ˈwispy Stevens can be. Those opposing beauties?  2116646_orig

Might he mean one distinct and the other suggestive, that the blackbird’s whistling is there to illustrate?






No matter. Just click here to read about the Wallace Stevens Walk in Hartford, CT.    You may even feel compelled to write a ‘Thirteen Ways’ koan. (BTW, a central theme of many koans is the ‘identity of opposites’.)  Have a go, be inscrutable like Wally and his blackbird.  Zen-like, even.

If two wings flap and there is a sound, what is the sound of one wing flapping?

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Toni 7/5/16


Poetry is the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. So says Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen says if he knew where the good songs came from he’d go there more often. All the poets and writers I know are on the hunt for that elusive place.


The Poet-turned-Pop Star says that poetry comes from a place that no one commands, that no one conquers. And yet, the poems come.





Poet Maureen Thorson decided to take up the challenge (modeled after National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo) and invited other poets to join her. Since then, the number of participants has grown larger every year, and many writers’ organizations ~ local, national and even international ~ host NaPoWriMo activities.


I’m celebrating here ~ at Poetic Asides, a website hosted by Robert Lee Brewer, senior editor at Writer’s Digest. It’s the 2015 April PAD Challenge, a poetic bacchanal. BYOP, of course.


The “PAD” stands for “poem-a-day.” So each and every morning, there’s a new poetry prompt. Brewer throws out a life preserver along with it ~ his own attempt at the prompt (wished for and welcome), then it’s my turn. And yours. There are plenty of poemming days left. Post as few or as many times as you like.


You can read the poetry, wallow in it, share it with your writing group, spread it across your social network. There are so many doors to open ~ start anywhere, walk ‘write’ in.

imagesBut if you want to be considered by a ream of genuine poet-judges for publication in the Poem Your Heart Out anthology, you need to post your poem in the comments. It’s free and easy ~ the prompts (open to space-warpingly vast interpretations) magically appear each morning.


Click here to join the fun.

Modern Poetry: Text Message Haiku

So, it’s now Day 12 of the April PAD Challenge and it’s been downright envibing so far. I am inspired by the poets, a neighborly, infectiously upbeat bunch. Last year, they gave me the idea to put some rocking’ glad rags on my iambs and start a brand new blog. Mental Crumbs~ in love with carbs and poetry gives my poems some stylin’ and profilin’ in honor of National Poetry Month.


I wonder if Leonard Cohen is appearing anywhere during National Poetry Month. His poetry is awe-inspiring, his words steady and lyrical. Cohen’s life is burning well. Everybody knows.

Toni 4/12/15


Mary Oliver’s divine whisper  ~ it is no small gift.


by Mary Oliver

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

… from A Thousand Mornings. © The Penguin Press, 2012.


Here’s an interview with Mary Oliver, my favorite poet.

Who’s yours?

Toni 4/27/14