Friday, May 24, 2019

Whispers Poets on the Theme of Song

Dear The song is…readers,

It is a privilege to share poems from six of Whispers’ talented writers.  With the topic of song, requested by Editor/Publisher Marianne Szlyk, writers from six different countries responded.  The eclectic mix of poetry is a joy to share with you.

Music wells from deep within us…the song of our hearts nestled in soft melodies or maybe at times a clash of cymbals.  It walks on with our lives, a part of our souls.

After 5 ½ years of publishing, Whispers closed for submissions in June. I invite people to share in the treasures I feel blessed to have published. I would be happy to facilitate any requests to such as this one.


Karen O’Leary
Whispers’ Editor


that song 
By Peggy Dugan French, United States

the one that lingers deep into the night
brings a smile of remembrance
or a tear of regret
soothes a broken heart
calms a ragged soul
simmers in the midnight hour
leisurely entertains on Sunday mornings
gently lulls a child to sleep
introduces the kids to the classics
blares from a teenager’s room
fills the house with holiday traditions
keeps us company on the road
gracefully fills a wedding aisle
and hovers over a final resting place with honor
of the many songs that fill our past
nothing compares to the song that is us

Peggy Dugan French lives in Cardiff, California and publishes the small print zine, Shemom.

Tunes of hope
By Inge Wesdijk, The Netherlands

A dissonant chord
starts to tear down
the harmonious melody
between my body and spirit
Causing anger and distrust
leaving shattered dreams behind

The sweet tinkling
of colorful wind chimes
interweaving tunes of hope
and encouragement
into my life's composition
Restoring my newfound faith

Inge Wesdijk hailed from The Netherlands, a talented writer who was Whispers’ Poetry Editor.

Dreamy Lady*
By Jack Horne, England

He sang, 'Oh, dreamy lady' to
the woman of his dreams; and I
was meeting you that day and felt
you were the one...contented sigh...

I hear that song and think of you; 
I clear my throat and wipe my eyes,
recalling better times when I
was innocent to all your lies.

Our love was doomed - I see that now;
I wasn't in your future plan;
the song still moves me, yet I know
you're gone and have another man.

*Inspired by Marc Bolan's song

Jack Horne lives in Plymouth, England, and enjoys writing poems and short stories.

Lost Love
By Gert Knop, Germany

And when I stood there,
thoughtful caught in memories
those unforgotten tunes,
and never-ending dreams.

And see us yet,
still walking hand in hand
and listen to the bird songs,
what a lovely dream,
I wished would never end.

But what remained of our love?
Only those songs and melodies?
An empty heart,
yet with desire,
A piece of driftwood like,
and long extinguished fire.

Gert W. Knop, born in 1943 lives in Zittau, Germany.

A Cicada Song
By Paul Callus, Malta

I sit underneath an old gnarled tree
watching sunlight filtering through
clustered leaves, relishing the smell
of ripe carobs ready for picking.
Ignoring lethargy, a cicada erupts into song –
a few stuttering attempts followed by a
prolonged bout of monotonous intensity.
I fill a tin mug with cool well water from
the pail beside me. Savouring its freshness
I close my eyes and travel back in time
to when the field buzzed with activity –
grandfather, uncles, parents and children
defying the hot summer temperature,
clambering branches, lashing with rods,
heaping brown carob pods on the ground
before transferring them into sacks, ready
to be loaded on the horse-drawn cart.
Nothing much has changed, except that
now I am not a child anymore, but a
frail old man who sits alone reminiscing...  

Paul Callus has been writing prose and poetry for over 50 years, his preferred mediums being Maltese and English.


The Song Is ....... Spring (with Maria Callas)
By Isha Wagner

The dead mouse has lain
a long time on the backyard stair
Why it chose to die there
Why I chose to leave it be

Now spring is changing the scene

As Maria's voice shatters the warm air
Lemons and oranges have flourished
White camellias have blossomed

And I think it's time now to sweep
up the mouse with the dead leaves
and depart from the cold season

As Maria sings.

Isha Wagner lives in the Wairarapa, New Zealand, and likes putting words on paper to form ideas.


Let's start with Maria Callas' aria from La Traviata:

Recently my husband and I went to hear some local jazz musicians at the Strathmore.  Among them was the violinist David Schulman.  Here he plays "Agua Madruga" with his band Quiet Life Motel:

I'm not sure who sings on this song "Home," but David Schulman plays the violin here:

OK, I saw that Tillery is the vocalist.

This is Marc Bolan's "Dreamy Lady":


Monday, May 20, 2019

Welcome to Flynn Taylor!

Tonight, after a long, hard semester, I would like to post a striking story that a friend of a former student sent me.  Enjoy!

Spanish Fly

It’s another day of blue sky, another walk, another errand.  I was crossing sideways to the other side of the gravel road when a deep shout came from a vintage mustang, pleading me to stop.  The baritone voice sounded familiar, something I heard long, long ago but I could not make it out.  I strolled over cautiously, slowly and then he said his name.  My heart nearly stopped.

In another time, things were simple.  I was younger; I showed off my million dollar tanned legs in denim minis.  I shook my long blonde hair and pranced around skillfully showing off my assets.  Perry, Gloria, Gucci, and Calvin ruled the world.  I was laughing at life, shinning like a star.  That was when we would never grow old or sick, everything was forever.

When he got out of the car, I remembered all that and I also remembered a gorgeous guy with creamy skin and short jet black hair, jeans accenting his firm hips and a wide bright smile to greet me which made me weak in the knees.  

Oh how I wanted to learn Spanish!

Luis was the boy I could never get out of my system.  I felt like his smile was only reserved for me.  He was smart, sexy, and oh so funny.  We would spin conversation hour after hour and it was always REAL.  Sitting together, pushing each other’s buttons as little kids do when they like each other, we pretended that everything was perfect.  In his bright eyes, I was alive.  We were so comfortable, yet uncomfortable.  The vibe between us sometimes created a wedge by which was hard to pass.  

He once said “My wife might have a problem with that.” 

That was the one thing that could never be ignored.

But our attention never died as hard as we tried to not to face it, we just skirted around it the best we could.  We would knock shoulders when sitting on the steps, playfully teasing each other and battling to make our points.  However, there was one incident when I finally shared how I felt with a poem I wrote.  He listened patiently, attentively, as I softly spoke the words of yearning buried so deep.  He was touched yet he would not touch me.  I told myself it was wrong.  At times we may have been frail in knowing what we felt, but we still remained like oaks even if that tension never faded.

Then one day he was playing with my hand, and my heart sounded.  He was an unbelievable flirt and noticed my silver ring.  He twirled it around and gently tugged at it.   He asked if he could have it.  He could I resist?? He slid it off my finger and on to his.  That was that.  I would like to think that made him mine but I knew the truth.
The pages turn, now torn, weathered and yellowed.  I wondered what had happened in those lost years we drifted apart, that disappeared through the travels of life’s timeline.  All of these images brought us here.

The man that jumped out of his car to meet me at the curb was NOT my Luis.  He was unfamiliar.  He lacked the bravado of the sensual Spanish senor’ I knew years ago.  The one that could Salsa like the flamingos, one that could serenade me with “Maxi Priest” and leave me on the floor and the one whose smile let me know he was thinking the same, even if he never acted on it.  All that was left before my tearful eyes was a sketch, the details losing their sharp lines, the gaps lost and the man I once loved was gone.

He asked how I was.  I tried to hide my pain with a smile and giggled. 

I said “How much time have you got?” 

 He said “Let me take you to dinner.” 

Oh how I wished he said that some twenty years ago.  How can time be so cruel?  This sweet man who stole my heart back then had disappeared; instead I was standing with a frail figure with sullen eyes and needed to add on twenty pounds.  I tried to piece it all together but the pieces were not fitting.  Suddenly, he told me.  Then I cried inside for all the forfeited years that will never be, the ache of experience he will never have, the fragility of his life hanging precariously by a thread.  I pulled him in like I had wanted too so many times in quietness, looming in the heart of my own youth, when I was a vivacious girl who loved being in love.
When time is short, everything intensifies, including the moments you dreamt of.  I wanted to hold his hand, be there for him in the final hours.  I wanted to look into his deep green eyes that once captured a sparkle of promise.  Now they just seemed to find fear despite the smile.  And it was in that expression that I knew, knew no words needed to be said, knew I could not change it.  He scribbled his number down and asked me to call him, and then he walked back to the car and pulled away from the curb.

I was alone.  The furious wind blew my hair into my face.  I was grateful because no one would see.  Then, I thought of Luis.  He had that swagger of confidence as he walked down the halls eyeing the girls. It always got to me.  Those eyes knew me in a love shared without shame but never truly realized.  He would have gotten a kick out of that.  I asked him to teach me the merengue and he laughed loudly like I told him a joke. 

He said “My wife would not like that baby.” 

But I often imagined what our dance would look like, intertwined like ivy vines with far too much on our minds.  The Spanish spell casted upon me, made me high.  But that was some hazy far away dream in my head.  It is just how I see him, looking at me in the only way he could, exposing the truth.  Even now, he still does that, only this time I preferred not to know.  I thought about what to say but I lacked any words.  Seemed there were no more.  And as time marches forward, all I want is to go back, back to when I only saw him. 

My Luis still haunts my ever stilled dreams, even on this busy street behind my tears.  
I suppose he always will.

Flynn Taylor 

Biography of Flynn Taylor
 Flynn Taylor has been a writer of both short stories and poetry for over fifteen years.  Ever since age 5, she found joy in writing down her thoughts and feelings and sharing them with her family and friends.  She is also an artist and likes to draw interesting things.  
In her early twenties, she started to explore other means of expressing her feelings in the creative arts and took up sculpture, sun printing, and composing songs on her guitar. She looks at the world with a sense of wonderment and is inspired to capture it in words, art, and photography. She hopes that her excitement and creativity will stir others into finding their own talents and share them with others.
 Currently, she is in the process of writing a book that focuses both on the musical experience of fans and her personal biography.   Her work will also include an analysis of her favorite music and the importance of fan support to the success of her favorite rock bands.  She has asked fans to submit their own stories and appreciation for the band as there have been no other books that address fan support directly in this manner. She feels this is a new area that has never been explored and should be represented in the literary market. Through the publishing of her work, she hopes to inspire other fans to also write their own books based on their own experiences as lovers of music and to honor their favorite bands.

I'll start with some jazz by young Latino musicians.  The first is percussionist and vocalist Pedrito Martinez' "Volando Voy":
This version of "La Luna" is live:
Here the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio is performing "Ay, Mama Ines":

I'll finish with pianist David Virelles' "Gnosis" with vocals by Ramon Diaz:


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Welcome to Hiram Larew!

Photo by Chris Thomas/President's Malaria Initiative

Tonight I'm posting the poems that Hiram Larew, a DC-area poet, sent me a while back.  Enjoy!  Thank you, Hiram, for sending these poems.


Mark my words --
cakes are cakes
and there will always be someone
who’s better than you.
Of course
that’s why we have years on years
to cast about.
It’s also true that
as surely as you won’t you will change
like grass does at any fence.
I know because I know.
Up on top remember this --
children never notice the weather
because really all that days do 
is float by.

Here is a lovely poem!

Image by www_AMP_watch on Pixabay


When I know exactly what to say
In ways that hum even better than trees
Then I’ll step up to woo you
But for now what I do  
very badly
Is a dazed is-that-so look --
All I’m good for is just staring

And in case it matters
My legs are like mud 
So I can hardly imagine moving or doing or really even trying

But in fact I do take take heart from  
this Spring breeze called maybe
and from that somewhere that has hardly sung
in years
I feel a future coming that will stop at least
long enough to wink --
Blink is how I love you
Don’t make me tell you in any other way. 


Music can live alone
Water does run uphill
October’s leaves will blow into piles
Battles somehow dissolve into fernshade.

Take courage as you crack these eggs --
No, what happens isn’t fair 
But I promise
It’s ten times juicier than the moon. 

Larew's poems have recently found page space in Contemporary American Voices, The Wild Word, Viator and Voices Israel.  On Facebook at Hiram Larew, Poet and at Poetry X Hunger.

As for music, since my husband and I just came from listening to Delfeayo Marsalis' quintet, I'll post his music.

This is "Autumn Leaves" where Marsalis is joined by his father, his brother Jason, and his bassist.

Here is a live version of "Cantelope," so you'll get some of the club experience.  

I'll finish with his Uptown Jazz Orchestra's version of "Skylark":

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Bruce Hodder Returns

Photograph by Lynn M. Reid

I apologize if this is your school, but I thought that this picture goes well with Bruce Hodder's first poem.  As it turns out, one of the roofs to the right is that of a prison.  The sky is oppressive, too.

The Hierarchies of School

At my school, punks were bullies.
Like society in microcosm,
they reinforced convention
and they reified the dumb.
They preyed like wolves on the clever kids.
They were always knocking glasses off
and smacking small kids in the corridors.
They mercilessly mocked a boy
who walked on crutches from the NHS,
and Indians were ‘pakis’
in their lexicon of spite.
The punks made school life miserable
for anybody who they could isolate;
but they didn’t touch the black kids.
When the black kids were around,
the punks were timid, like their victims.
Only one boy who years later
joined the Army, took their leader on.
He was being the biggest thug in school,
but such a posh kid no one noticed.
They noticed it that day though,
when he bounced a Rastafarian
like a dead weight round the bandstand
in the park, while fifty watched and jeered.


A lemon sun drooping in the evening sky
is casting long shadows across the flattened ruin
of the old bus station. I had a seizure there.
I am riding the number two from home to town.
My mission is to catch another bus to work
ten miles away, in Wellingborough’s biggest warehouse.
On the Drapery, two tiny Asian women struggle
with a shopping trolley carrying a huge tv.
An old teddy boy in a black fedora
watches me get off and climb the hill towards him.
He’s smoking in the doorway of the old Bear pub.
I want to look at fliers for the gigs this month.
They have them in the window by the big kebab shop.
My friend’s black metal band Denigrata
should be playing soon. Sure enough, the flier’s there.
The flier, and the lazy summer warmth this evening,
get me thinking of the Beatles, when they played Northampton
in the building that is owned now by the Jesus Army.
I imagine screaming girls. I see the fab four’s flight
through the back, to a limo on St Michael’s Road.
There were decoys at the front, so the legend says,
in black suits, ties and bouncing mop top wigs,
who were paid to be accosted by our mums and aunties.
My vision of the past makes the night ahead
seem easier to face. It makes me young again.
The end was just a rumour that I paid no mind to
in the days before the lunatic that cut down John.


They had a Cotes-du-Rhone bottle and some plastic cups.
The wine freed tongues, and eased Mum’s nerves a little
as they laced white doves made out of card along
a stretch of fencing at the air force base.
Sitting on the grass beside the rusty peace bus,
singing Bob Dylan songs, Mum said she felt alive,
as she had not for decades, and she wondered why.
She thought, perhaps, it was those fearsome missiles,
monsters in their cages, with the power to end
a million lives like that, in just a finger-snap.
It might have been the big guns that the guards all carried.
Danger thrills. Perhaps it was the repercussions
that they might face. Someone took their photographs,
no doubt to send to somebody at MI5.
I think it was the company that made Mum buzz.
Big Linda, with her green DMs and spindly roll-ups,
old Les, with his Merlin beard and pony tail,
in the Thatcher years, when shaving til you bled was law.

Bruce Hodder lives in Northampton, England with his wife Michelle. 
He has been a poet since he heard Bob Dylan singing ‘The Ballad of 
Hollis Brown.’ His list of publications is wide but he hasn’t written many 
of them down over the years, so he can’t share them with you. He can 
say he was a featured poet in ‘Other Voices’ (Crossroads Press) and 
has recently placed several poems about Donald Trump in John 
Grochalski’s Winedrunk Sidewalk. 

I feel like I should be posting some British folk songs to go with 
Bruce's poems.  Here are Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger singing 
"Dirty Old Town":

This is her version of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face":

I'm going to add her version of "The Leatherwing Bat":

I'll finish with two songs from Richard Thompson's Strict Tempo, 
an album of instrumentals.
First is "The Knife-Edge": 

The other is "Banish Misfortune":