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Margaret’s Senryu

My Senryu, and fun with GIMP.

I’ve been having a blast lately playing with the color manipulation functions with GIMP, though I have yet to read the book I bought that goes through all the features. Consequently, I have a nice directory full of road photos, a great many of which I’ve played with using GIMP.

Last night Michele emailed me and asked me if I could take today’s blog post and create a Senryu. So I grabbed an image from my Pictures directory and wrote about it.


Night Road, photo by me, digital manipulation courtesy of GIMP

Night Road, photo by me, digital manipulation courtesy of GIMP

Night Road
Psychedelic sky
Dream made visible








Sand in the Desert: Putting Together a Poetry Collection

I am a way-back science fiction fan, but until November,  2010, I had never

written a science fiction story. The

The cover for my forthcoming poetry collection

truth is I had a phobia about it, mainly about the world-building, which in the abstract intimidated me.

Around September or October of 2010 I decided I would simply go for it and write a science fiction novel for NaNo.  I started with the world-building: the planet, the aliens, the Terran Federation, the aliens’ society, values, arts, politics (or lack thereof). I’d been mulling over several things for years: a society based on personal responsibility, and one where the “normal” relationships contained multiple partners and included same-sex relationships.  I continued happily outlining the society and the people. I noted down about a page about the plot, including the main character, his father, and a couple of others.  I decided to write a YA/MG sci fi novel.

For various reasons which I will not fully divulge, in case any of y’all decide to read the book, I needed my aliens to be distinctive but not outlandish. I needed them to have skin color that could be found here on earth, yet still be distinctive, so for this and a number of other reasons, one of them being that I was damned sick of the good guys always being white, I made my aliens, my main character, and his father Black.

I also wanted to participate in Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides November Chapbook challenge, so I conceived of a poet to tie the two together. One of my alien characters is a scholar, and my main character ends up studying the poems of my imaginary poet. Raketh Namar, the author of the poems, exists in the universe of the novel some five thousand years before the action of the book on planet Aleyne. Raketh Namar, the poet, was the author of one of the most sacred texts of my aliens, the Aleynis. I don’t usually write prayers or write about spiritual subjects, yet I found myself writing them without difficulty. Raketh Frey, the main character in the novel, studies these poems during the course of the action. Eight of the poems, noted in the acknowledgments, appear in the book.

In the universe of the novel, this collection of poems was translated into English Common Speech by two of the other characters in the novel, Ardaval Namar and Gavin Frey, the father of my main character, Raketh Frey. Aleynis do not translate their sacred texts, and this translation is therefore unusual.

 Having written the poems, I wanted to put together the collection and publish it, but having dilly-dallied for some time, I decided to self-publish. At the present time, I have a cover, designed by Karen Cioffi, and Michele Graf has edited the collection, including some valuable suggestions about the order of the poems.

All I have left to do is to hop over to CreateSpace and  put the whole thing into their system, and after that I have to decide on a price.

Here is one of the poems, one that does not appear in the book:

Ode to My Father

When I was very small child
he was as tall
as the stars.

When I was boy-high
he had shrunk
to the height of a large tree

When I became a man,
he shrank to the size
of a fist.

When I became a father,
he rose again.
His head touched the sky.

Now he is gone.
I take my small son
and point heavenward.

“There is your grandfather”

The Artist’s Way, an interim Report

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher C...

The Artist’s Way book cover

The Artist’s Way is a book by Julia Cameron which turned into a movement on tapping into on creative potential. The book is divided into twelve chapters, one each week for twelve weeks. The core of the practice is the morning pages, 750 words that one is supposed to write longhand first thing every morning, and the artists date, a date with oneself to do something to nurture one’s creativity.

I have been through the book before. At the time, I did write longhand, although I usually fell short of three pages. I did write them fairly early in the morning. Now however knowing the limits of my concentration and my major, major dislike of writing anything by hand, I signed up with a website , The site is meant for morning pages and the like– not a blog, stuff is private, but it keeps you on track by

  1. Emailing you a reminder every morning,
  2. Keeping a count at the bottom of the screen so I can see your progress towards 750 words, and
  3. Awarding points for successfully doing ones pages 4. stats — it tells me how fast I types, how many words per minute, etc –
  4. Statistics.It tells me how fast many words per minute I typed, and the like.

I find the statistics surprisingly motivating. I’m a pretty fast typist, and when I’ve finished my allotment, I take a look at how long it took me and what my words per minute rate was. My rate is generally pretty consistent.

I’m finding that the discipline of having to produce 750 words is a key, for me, to tapping into creativit part of the experience for me. It’s long enough so that I have to find a fair amount of stuff to blurt out, which means I actually have to dig down and figure out what’s on my mind. I know that I’m not going consistently produce 750 words/three pages if I wrte them by hand, so in spite of the fact that writing by hand taps into a different area of the brain than typing, this is the best solution for me . I don’t delete the reminder until I’ve completed my pages.

As to the artists date, last time I went thru the book, I was convinced that the artists date had to be something big, and I never seemed to get to it. This time I know it can be something simple, like treating my self to a trip to the bookstore, or following thru on my commitment to get to yoga..

How is it going so far? Last week I went to the bookstore and loved over a book I was thinking of buying, spending an hour or so drinking coffee and reading the first chapter. I decided to borrow it from the library. This week, I followed through on my commitment to go to yoga. I’ve been twice this week to the Ashram around the corner. They have loads of classes, some of them free, and great instructors.I’m also finding that the discipline of producing 750 words every morning is making it easier for me to decide what to write.

Here is a link to an online community devoted to Julia Cameron’s ideas:

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Poetic Inspiration: Other People’s Poems


I love reading poetry. Not only does reading poetry expands my poetic horizons, butI constantly find inspiration in other’s work. Sometimes the subject touches a chord, sometimes I want to try out a particular poetic device, and sometimes — well — it awakens my playful side.

A couple of weeks ago, Robert Lee Brewer posted a “magic” prompt on his blog,
and Mark Windham wrote a rip-roaring yarn involving a dragon and a brave hero.

I read Mark’s poem. After bopping myself over the head for having overlooked such a delightful subject, I wrote a poem of my own.

Here they are: first Mark’s poem and then my own.

Mark’s Poem

 (so far untitled)

Damn, but dragon hide is sturdy stuff,
My lance broken, horse dead or run off.
My shield was busted by a swipe of tail,
Helmet went flying and left arm broken.
Our foolishly brave troop is down to me plus three.
All hiding and rethinking our chivalrous vows.
Two have died from swipes of massive claws,
Three roasted in fiery breath, one ingested I fear.
Sitting here with my back against this boulder,
Wondering how in the hell to get out of this mess,
Pledging that the monastery will be my destination;
Damsels can stay in distress, the dragon keep his gold.
What’s this? A newcomer to our futility. Oh Joy!
Much help, I am sure, this old man trudging up the hill;
Stooped against the slope, leaning mightily on his staff,
Clothed in oversized robes and wide brimmed hat.
Halfway up the hill, just below my hiding place,
He is greeted by the dragon’s challenging roar.
Stopping, as if mildly distracted by a butterfly,
He looks from under his hat and strokes his beard.
I hear the now familiar mighty beating of dragon wings,
The old man seems unperturbed, as if studying the event.
Another roar accompanies feeling the heat of belched fire;
Much like seeing the executioners axe, I cannot look away.
Suddenly straightening with unexpected speed and strength,
He thrust his staff forward as the fire engulfs him….
What?! I saw it but do not believe! The dragon’s fire parted,
Passed him by on sides and above; not a singed hair in his beard.
There is a new tone now to the dragon’s cry; rage maybe? Fear?
The sorcerer takes a step forward, staff held high in right hand,
Steely eyed he begins raising the left as he starts chanting,
A white, glowing globe begins to form in his upheld hand.
Continuing his mumbling as he slowly takes two more steps,
Coming even with my spot as the globe grows and swirls.
Beating wings are deafening now as he thrust left hand forward,
Launching his magic at his monstrous, unsuspecting foe.
A brilliant, blinding explosion of light and a piecing scream….
I awake to his gentle hand on my arm; ‘Is it over? Is it dead?’
He smiles and shakes his head. ‘No, one does not kill a dragon.
You just have to convince it that it is time for it to move on.’
He stands and takes up his staff, a helpless old man once more,
And makes his way down the hill, carefully avoiding the rocks.
My remaining companions gather round and watch him go,
All somewhat surprised that he left us the damsel and the gold.


And here’s my response. I decided to make it as unlike Mark’s poem as I could manage.


A Tale of a Poor Knight and an Old Horse

by Margaret Fieland

A man rode out one two-moon night
to win a magic sword.
He rode a horse consumed by blight.
Twas all he could afford.

His clothing, all was soiled and worn
and filled with many holes.
The folks he passed heaped him with scorn
and pelted him with rolls.

His horse was soon quite out of breath
It stopped beneath a tree.
It said, “I feel quite near to death.
Please, master, set me free.”

The man then heaved humongous sighs
and shook a shaggy head.
He felt a measure of surprise
to see his horse had fled.

“Alas,” he said, “it’s much too late
for me to set you free.
I’m much too tired, at any rate,
to dig beneath this tree.”

And so our knight meandered home,
and still without a sword
“because”, he said, “it’s hard to roam
with what I can afford.”

Oh, yes, and a note on the importance of feedback. The initial version of this poem, the one on Robert Brewer’s blog, had the horse “fall dead” at the end of stanza three, but my fellow muselings felt sorry for the horse, and I agreed. Hence now we can all picture him enjoying the grass in some sunny pasture far from poverty stricken knights.

Do check out Mark’s blog:
Mark Windham

and let us know what you think of the poems, and if you’re inspired to write one of your own.

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