Pythian Games

put on your track shoes and write the miles

Archive for the ‘Neruda Poetry Challenge’ Category

The One that Got Away

with 9 comments

(inspired by the Pablo Neruda “I write the first faint line…” prompt)

I write the first faint line…

In sand, in water, in dust,

But more often,

In the clouds,

Along the mile markers,

While I am driving along.

It’s then I have my best thoughts –

When I can’t stop and write them down.


The ideas sneak up behind me,

Attack metaphors,

That pounce upon me

While I am in the shower,

Again, no pen near by,

No paper on which to write.


I used to mourn each lost gem.

Nowadays I tell myself

I am just a good sportswoman

Practicing “catch and release” –

The ideas will come back to me someday,

When I have my waders on,

My line is taut,

My hook is sharp,

My net is ready,

And the thoughts are

Much bigger and better…


© Kerry Vincent

Written by kvwordsmith

May 20, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Write the First Faint Line

with 8 comments

Write the first faint line,
unlock the door
to your mind,
and heart.

Sketch shadows
in a darkened room,
resolve questions,
of a forgotten past,
explore dreams .

Persist diligently
in practice, day after day
pursue wisdom,
ponder truth,
awaken your universe.

First line taken from Pablo Neruda’s exquisite poem Poetry.

Written by porchsitter

May 20, 2008 at 3:45 am

Saddest Lines

with 12 comments

The harrowing
Tormenting void
Taunts me
With its empty spaces
And reverberating silences
Vacant chairs
Small reminders

Empty wallet, glasses,
a book, marked
Where last it was held by living hands
A mat, with strands of black hair
From the companion who once lay beside me,
Adoring eyes watching

Trapped in a crevice above a seemingly
Black, bottomless void
Where life is extinguished
I feel
Helpless! Hopeless! Heart crushed!
Nothing to lose
I reach and, taking part of the void and leap

Pirouette, suspended
above the empty space
Spinning, weaving, rebelliously
Forming a lid
to fill the back, bottomless void
that would cloak and
Ruthlessly claim me.

Written by Heather Blakey

May 18, 2008 at 11:08 am

The Whistler by Mary Oliver

with 12 comments

The Whistler


Mary Oliver

All of a sudden she began to whistle By all of a sudden I mean that for more than thirty years she had not whistled. It was thrilling. At first I wondered, who was in the house, what stranger? I was upstairs reading, and she was downstairs. As from the throat of a wild and cheerful bird, not caught but visiting, the sounds warbled and slid and doubled back and larked and soared.

Finally I said, Is that you whistling? Yes, she said, I used to whistle, a long time ago. Now I see I can still whistle. And cadence after cadence she strolled through the house, whistling.

I know her so well, I think, I thought. Elbow and ankle. Mood and desire. Anguish and frolic. Anger too. And the devotions. And for all that, do we even begin to know each other? Who is this I’ve been living with for thirty years?

This clear, dark, lovely whistler?

Mary Oliver is my absolutely favorite poet. This, since I discovered her work about four years ago. I have all her books and so often find joy and/or solace in her words. This piece, The Whistler, she wrote of her long time partner, Molly Malone Cook, who passed on in 2005. Oliver, now in her seventies lives on with strong memories of her partner in life. She has recently published a book of Molly’s photography entwined with her own, s prose depicting their lives together through words and pictures.

I wonder if I, faced with such a loss go on as she is doing. My own partner of 45 years is at present undergoing tests due to symptoms that may point to the diagnosis of a debilitating disease. This being the case, I wonder where I will get the strength from to cope. I so admire Oliver and her work and know that I must look to others like her and take a page from their book of life…to find my own well of strength. I look for a positive outcome, but have to be prepared for whatever eventuality.


Written by woodnymph

May 17, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Neruda Rain

with 12 comments

Rain today,

out of the blue,

warm winds brought

rare rain,

Neruda rain,

words in the


coming through.

Writing Prompt – Heather Blakey’s Neruda Challenge on Squidoo

(copyright Imogen Crest 2008.)

Written by imogen88

May 17, 2008 at 5:49 am

I Spent the Day with Pablo….

with 11 comments

I spent the day with Pablo,
a stranger I yearn to know.
We met at the shore, where
Calle de las Sirenas winds down
to meet the sea, swirling and rolling
like a drunk in a rocky cove.

He is hard to know, this Pablo.
His voice whispers words
I strain to hear.

His puzzling songs–
of lovers and death,
of moss-covered stones
sleeping beneath
the Southern Cross,
of calls to solitude and solidarity–
beguile me.

Am I the woman he longs for?
Am I the lover he yearns to caress
with fingers like fiery rays of an afternoon sun?
Or is it another, distant and ancient,
that evokes his saddest song?

He spits at me, this Pablo,
so I slide back to the sea,
his song growing more dim
until the sea covers over me
and I melt into death.

Poem and images: L. Gloyd (c) 2008


Written by Pelican1

May 17, 2008 at 1:51 am

Sadness and Its Durability

with 13 comments

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheat Field With Crows, 1890.

I’ve rushed here through the stalks

To ask you to rethink the whole death thing.

No, really, you’re going to be quite famous one day soon.

Don’t you want to see that happen?

Take advantage of the privileges and benefits that come with it?

Look at Picasso.

I know he wasn’t a contemporary of yours, but

He knew how to live well off his talent.

Though his varying wives and mistresses

Would probably beg to differ.

But still: he certainly enjoyed what came to him.

You didn’t see him chopping off bits himself

And giving them to prostitutes for safekeeping.

Or seeing yellow in the bottom of a glass of


So get out of this field.

Theo won’t take it well, and

I just learned that “Wheat Field with Crows”

Wasn’t your last painting, like people romantically suggest.

Such a lonely scene, it had to foretell something

They think. Don’t hovering crows

And stormy skies signify madness at an end?

A few years back,

I saw this same painting turned into a doormat

In some catalog.

I was livid: this work,

This place the deed of death was started


Turned into

A place where people could grind mud

Into the lack of understanding in

What makes people tick.

I vowed never to buy from them again.

Such a sacrifice, eh?

But I did see “Starry Night” at the Met

Stood in front of it for a long, long time

People passing by me in a rush to get it all in

Before closing time.

I could have fallen in,

My eyes tracing lines of paint.

The poster at home doesn’t do it justice,

But it reminds me

Given a chance to travel time

I’ve hit this field,

Knowing what I do about

Sadness and its durability.

But now that I think about it,

I don’t think fame or money

Would be your cure.


Written by jodhiay

May 16, 2008 at 10:58 pm

Our Love Story (Neruda-inspired)

with 9 comments

XVII (I do not love you…) by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I do not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.



Our Love Story


I do not love you as others love their lovers.

We are like no other lovers. 

None like us ever existed before or ever will exist again.

We brought our pain and dumped it at each other’s feet.

I told you, “You ought to run – I’m damaged goods.”

You said no one else liked you…
when you were a kid, you thought even your dog hated you.

It was the saddest thing I ever heard.


Fourteen years have passed and here we are,

Still together, although the couple who introduced us

Has divorced, remarried, moved out of state.

We never had a storybook romance –

(Unless you like “Tales of the Weird”).

I go to work, you manage the house,

We both go to therapy,

We take turns making the “Cook-n-serve” butterscotch pudding
we both enjoy.

You are transgendered and I am an abuse survivor –

We don’t fit anywhere else in the world

But in each others’ arms.


But every day we come home to each other,

Kiss each other good-night,

Say “I love you”.

That’s our love story.

It is enough.

We are both happy –

something we never knew before.



By Kerry, for Leni © 2008

Written by kvwordsmith

May 16, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Neruda Inspired – A Mighty Word Army

with 8 comments

Like light moonbeams they quietly gather
Stealthily creeping through the cast iron curtains.

Treading lightly, the whispered word patterns silently amass,
Stealthily emerging from within the lofty mansion of the gods.

The rebel army forms a vivid word picture.

Disciplined, they gather resolutely in the darkened,
labyrinthine corridors of the psyche, forming sturdy battalions.

With banners raised, they prepare to march, ready to invade distant lands.

Graceful, curling, silky, smooth little words, skillfully dancing pirouettes,
performing acrobatic feats lead the way with agility.

While taut, tense, cryptic vipers, having skillfully twisted themselves from within the invisible chains, Hephaistos so meticulously fashioned in his anvil, self-righteously form an indomitable rearguard.

United the word warriors stand erect, on the mountaintops, awaiting the bugle call. In unison they surge forward, gathering momentum as they ride into the valleys.

The word army, united, buoying each other, singing, marches in tight formation.

In rhythm, the armed force gathers momentum, vigorously occupying and outwitting the foreign, virgin, white unblemished soil of the New World.

by Heather Blakey

Written by Heather Blakey

May 16, 2008 at 10:52 am

Of Our Bobbie Jo

with 13 comments

This was written in response to the ‘Saddest Words’ prompt on


Once Upon a time, I was married, and loved my husband’s family as I do my blood kin.  Some of them were easier to love than others, my husband’s sisters Kathy and Melanie I still call one another sisters and our love grew, deeply and permanently.  From each of them I was blessed with a beautiful, loveable niece.


Our Kathy lived near my husband and I in Corvallis, Oregon with her sons, Brian and Brandon, and her daughter Roberta Joliene (Bobbie Jo).  Brandon and Bobbie were of school age and I watched Bobbie after Kindergarten at my house. 


Bobbie and I had wonderful times together, puddle-jumping, cooking, and other such delights filled our afternoons.  I called her, “Ma Petite.” , and I became ‘Aunt Bear’., I wondered why she called me that until the day she tried her best to wrap child-sized arms around my Earth Mother hips, looked up at me from adoring green eyes and said, “I call you my Aunt Bear, do you know why?”


“No, ma petite, I don’t know.  Why do you call me your Aunt Bear?”

“Because huggung you is like hugging a teddy bear!!”  She squeezed as tightly as she could, and I hugged her back.


“Oh thank you sweetie!!”  I managed to say this around the lump filling my throat.


Bobbie had been the flower girl at my wedding, and my husband caught this utterly darling photo of her:

The Perfedt lower Girl



Time does what it does best and passed, Kathy moved back to her beloved New York, I separated from my husband and returned to Arizona; Bobbie and Brandon grew up.


Kat and I kept in touch over the years, we have now been friends for over 30 years and will most likely be friends until we return to the First Home of All Souls.  Kat has not had an easy life by any road, and last year she was dealt the cruellest blow any mother could suffer.


In August of 2007, at the age of 18, Bubbie Jo passed away suddenly, leaving a silent, aching void behind.


All grown up?


So young, pretty, and loving; far too soon to be taken from her family and friends.

Unwilling farewell


Last weekend I dreamed of our Bobbie Jo, as she was when I was her Aunt Bear.  She came to me and asked a gift of me, one I must do, although in my heart I would not do it .  She held my hand, suffused with love and trust and  asked this simple gift of me.


“Let me go.”

So now, although I still weep and hear her voice in my heart; the hand of my spirit opens, and Bobbie Jo flies; bright and happy into the arms of All-Mother, who holds her in love and tenderness until we shall meet again.


And I, I must say the saddest words;


“Good-bye, ma Petite, and Gods’peed to you.”

Written by gwenguin1

May 16, 2008 at 5:09 am

Dear Jack (written to author, Jack London)

with 12 comments

My saddest lines and words to famous author, Jack London (1876-1916)

You are
my one
distinct and
silent voice
resting deep
in stillness

I stand with no one around. The cool morning breeze pulling a few pieces of hair away from my face, I wait.

The winds shift into a deep ryhthmic longing.

Your breath tickles the nape of my neck. My heart is racing as I feel a soft kiss brush against my skin. Your voice mixes with the winds in the haunting sounds of love.

Gasp! You are behind me, a chilling touch preventing me from falling to your grave with shattered tears. You know I would just as soon dig you up and lie down beside you, then throw the blanket of Earth back to keep us covered. Alas, knowing my morbid thoughts, your ghostly hands wrap around my waist. Gently, you squeeze. I pray you take my life so we can be together. You don’t.

My beloved Jack, I wallow in madness for I cannot reach you. I am unable to touch your hands that I yearn to hold for comfort. I quest to know why my heart and mind would follow you again to this place that keeps me captive; this place that grieves for you. Your grave. The place you were put to rest. The place that rest robs me and burns my soul in the agony of missing you.

Do not give me simple gestures to erase you from my mind. I have tried to unplug the rhythm of your voice to no avail. Jack, you elude my dreams for I cannot place you in my current life. I cannot hear your words and am left only to the haunting chant of you lingering in the depths of my being, your whispers carried through the ethers of time.

Pushed down to your grave, you disappear as quickly as you had appeared. The pangs of anguished love rips from the belly up. A scream can be heard for miles. My knees bend into a ball and the scent of dirt from your grave torches me. You are gone. I am alone again.

What kind of mad woman am I to be haunted by a ghost I can only love from a distant past? How is it that I ache for your expressions that stain my thoughts with ink from your words? Your novels line my bookshelves. Yet, I cannot read them for they bleed me, imagining your lips upon mine from another existence. I am chased by the illusion of what cannot be, lost by the fine threads between this life and beyond.

It is true that I yearn to know this love here and now; to feel that soulful love is possible.

Jack, if it is destiny, I will put you to rest as a ghost of a distant past until another takes my heart as passionately as you. Until then, I remain a soulful lover that surrenders to the dreamer’s dream of awakening.

 Jack London had a great influence in my life from the time I started reading his books at an early age to the many years spent visiting at his beloved ranch (Beauty Ranch) in Glen Ellen, CA (Sonoma County wine country). I have often felt that I have loved him deeply in another time and space. His Credo has been a guiding light:

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze
than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow,
than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

— genece hamby, contemporary artist & poet

Written by Genece Hamby

May 15, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Poet Hunting

with 15 comments

If poetry found Neruda,

was he looking,

or did it sneak up on him


Beautiful words,

images in the mind,

great works

speaking through Allende.

Poignant film,

Il Postino,

poet hunting,

searching for

a voice.

Does poetry hide in the

clouds, building up like rain,

hunting the earth for fertility,

then bursting forth?

Like words on a page,

posted in a postbox,

sent, or sending?

Maybe this is so?

Writing Prompt – Heather Blakey’s Neruda Challenge on Squidoo

(copyright Imogen Crest 2008.)

Written by imogen88

May 15, 2008 at 7:18 am

One Response to the Saddest Thing prompt

with 18 comments

Make a Wish!


We have a cake, candles, and gathered guests. We sing “Happy Birthday to


Bryan!”, but the birthday boy is nowhere in sight. It is St. Patrick’s Day. While others


are drinking green beer, we are having a birthday party for her little boy.


I look at Gloria, Bryan’s mother, my best friend. Her hands and her dreadlocks


are shaking, her eyes wet, but she is smiling. 1 am thankful that she is holding up.


Gloria and I met twenty years ago, when we worked for a power-hungry


television evangelist who fleeced his flock and mistreated his staff. We quit, but we kept


in touch with occasional calls and Christmas cards. A few years ago, we discover we are


both in therapy to deal with our childhood sexual abuse. We decide to start getting


together once a week as an informal support group. Who knew she will help me through


coming out as a late-blooming lesbian, leaving my unhappy eighteen-year marriage, or


that I will soon be helping her?


When Gloria becomes pregnant, I worry. She will be a single mom, barely able to make it financially, even though she works two jobs. How will she raise a child? But she is determined to find a way.


I offer to be her labor coach. When I get the call to meet Gloria at the hospital, I leave a


meeting with a vice-president that it has taken me two weeks to arrange. But when I arrive, Gloria


tells me that her sonogram says something is wrong with the baby. The doctor comes in and asks if they can induce labor and if she will agree to an emergency cesarean section if needed. “Anything to


help my son,” she says.


But all the procedures in the world cannot help. Bryan has Chromosome 18 damage,


A condition insurance adjusters call “Trainwreck.” Nearly every one of his vital systems has


something seriously wrong with it. I call a nurse friend. She informs me the baby does not have a


chance. How can I tell Gloria?


I stay with her through labor, scrub, enter the delivery room, but am asked to


leave while they do the C-section. I pray the baby will at least have a face. God is


merciful: Bryan is a pretty little boy with soft, curly hair and all his fingers and toes. His


big dark eyes, so full of pain, are the only clue that his insides are hopelessly scrambled.


I have never seen a newborn who looks so exhausted. They rush him to the neo-natal




Next I pray that Bryan will at least live through the night, till Gloria’s anesthetic


wears off, so she can hold him and name him. That wish also granted, I pray that somehow the


doctors can cure Bryan’s life-threatening conditions.


But I run out of miracles. God is not a genie who grants three wishes. Even


though Gloria will be a loving, deserving mother, even though she has given her heart


and body, Bryan will not survive. Her only baby’s breath never rises above God’s softest




I know Bryan will not live much longer, so I overcome my shyness, lie my way


into the neo-natal nursery, bringing my partner, who is a photographer, to take pictures


for Gloria.


The next morning, when Gloria awakens, the nurses bring Bryan to her. He is


hooked up to life support devices, barely alive. She cradles him in her arms long enough


to name him, read one story, sing one song, give one good-night kiss.


Sometimes, even a mother’s love is not enough.


The medical staff call me and Gloria’s therapists she has no family to be with


her when they withdraw life support. Gloria hugs Bryan and sings, in a splintering voice,


a last lullaby, “Jesus loves me, this I know…” She kisses him and whispers good-bye.


Bryan dies quietly, in his mother’s arms, in a roomful of love and prayers.


Gloria cannot let go of Bryan, despite the nurse’s coaxing. She clings to him for


half hour, then tearfully passes him to me so I can say good-bye, too. I hold my friend’s child and tell


him, “Your mama loves you and wants you so much. We’re going to miss taking you to the zoo and


out on walks.” Bryan does not mind the tears that fall on his face. I touch his tiny starfish hand, feel


his nubby baby toes through the cotton gown, kiss his fine hair. It is too late for my usual incantation


for newborns, “Don’t let anyone abuse this baby!”


When the nurse takes her son to the morgue, Gloria rocks, wailing, keening: “My


baby! My poor little baby is gone!” I have never heard such raw grief or felt so


inadequate. Gloria shakes and weeps and finally has to be sedated.



Bryan’s casket is no bigger than a shoebox, set adrift in the backseat of a big blue


Oldsmobile. I witness his burial because Gloria is still in the hospital. Someone has to


see where the grave is dug. The plain wooden box is lowered down. I say a prayer, drop


a white rose tied with a blue ribbon and a letter telling him how much he is loved and




Gloria grieves Bryan’s death for weeks. I want to help, but I cannot bring her


baby back. I call every day to make sure she is all right. I loan her some money when


she quits her job she cannot face working in a daycare again. I want to fix things for my


friend, but it is impossible. Gloria tells me that just being there for her, and listening, is




Bryan lived just twenty-two hours. He changed our lives forever. He taught us


that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. You don’t have to live a long life to make a


difference. You don’t have to do great feats just be yourself. You can be angry at God


and not be struck down.


Years have passed. We have tried to let go and move on. Gloria took a


break from childcare but is working in her field again. Nowadays when Gloria sees a


child Bryan’s age, she can smile without trembling or tearing up. We still get together to talk about


our jobs, significant others, storytelling, and the play about child abuse we performed in last spring.


Holidays are painful – we guess what presents we would have bought Bryan this Christmas, what he


might have wanted this birthday.



           Of course, we still wonder why. Gloria wants to know why God took her little  

boy. I want to know why God gives healthy children to careless mothers and takes them  

from loving ones. We are learning to live without the answers. We are slowly healing,


but we are learning that healing is a lifelong process.


God does not outline lessons on some celestial chalkboard.


Bryan taught us that love hurts, but is worth the pain. That friendship is being


there, giving each other support, like a loom woven with joys and the sorrows. Like his


mother, Bryan was a soft-spoken teacher, who taught us that life, even just twenty-two


hours, is too precious to take for granted.


For most children, birthday parties are a ritual of growing up. For us, Bryan’s


birthday party is a celebration to remember a baby boy who touches our hearts still. We


blow out the candles and make a wish.


(based on a real life experience in 1995) (c) Kerry Vincent

Written by kvwordsmith

May 14, 2008 at 6:24 pm