Poetry Showcase Inspired by Sylvia Plath from Emma Lee

art by Katy Horan (c) https://www.literaryladiesguide.com/literary-musings/artists-portraits-of-sylvia-plath/

"Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted"  
(quote used on Sylvia Plath's headstone)

Not the pink of a woollen wedding dress,
the azaleas on a cemetery path,
a bandage bloodied by a cut thumb,

nor the hearse-like English cars,
the men in crow-shaded suits
the shadow of Devonshire slate roofs.

Not the blues of the English Channel,
the Atlantic Ocean that tempted
drowning-dreams in her first decade.

Not Spanish terracotta or Devon earth.
Her red was the poppies’ papery skirts,
the lust for poetry in her blood.

Not quite the yellow of her bikini
during that platinum summer
of beaches and babysitting.

Almost the yellow of daffodils,
her first hive of bees (her father
had written Bumblebees and their Ways).

Her yellow was that of the rose –
Victorian symbol of jealousy,
rages that could tip her into self-loathing.

The yellow of a single rose bud
at the point of becoming a full bloom.

Like a child forming itself finger by finger in the dark

My father told me I was love.
My mother said an accident,
grew like a bulb in her cold womb.
The grass would unload its dew on my feet
as I traced the flowers the frost made
and drew a star for my dead father.
Pinched red mouthfuls of berries
knowing sunset would bring punishment
after which I’d look to the black sky,
search for my father’s star.

I envied the magnolia,
drinking its own scent.
Eternity stretched like boredom.
I counted the pills, but not enough
to kill this thinness, light as paper.

And I became a bride. You were real,
handsomely featureless, 
would waste afternoons starting at the sky.
I gave you children. Then
I drew pity from the others on the ward.
I took my ring off. It caught the sun.
I put it back on. This is my finger
touching the photo. These are my babies.
The clouds white as a wedding dress.

I stayed. You’d borrowed the light.
I wanted it back. I wore black.
You’d buy roses, still called it love
as I hid a bruise, another fracture.
The children cried and I
was too small to comfort their hurts.
The pain they wake to is not theirs.

I crushed pills, added water,
watched it turn colourless, tried to drink.
In the ambulance, my heart still beat
so healthily it almost bloomed.
This living doll was mended again
for the gift of my babies’ small breaths,
the smell of their sleeps.

Reading Her Letters

Reading Sylvia Plath's letters gave me a jolt of recognition:
the strained cheerfulness, framing negatives as positives
and accounts for every penny with approval-seeking justification
to a mother who burdened a child with financial difficulties,
who made it clear how difficult it was to be a mother,
the burdens, unasked for self-sacrifice, always the martyr.
She lived vicariously, demanded success to take credit for
- my daughter gets her brains, work ethic from me, she'll go far.

And the subtext: it justifies the pressure I put her under
because I need her to achieve for me be the success I wanted 
for myself, what's hers is mine. Two lives entwined
no boundary allowed between mother and daughter.

The letters showed a way of managing contact, a boundary
of grey rock, reinforced by polite words on pretty stationery.

Crackle and Drag
(i.m. Sylvia Plath 1932-1963)

She did what she set out to do:
secured Yeats' former flat 
with a year's rent in advance,
turned summer in New York
into an intense, glowing novel,
flayed herself into a brilliant poet.

Poetry not written by a dead, white male
that school thought suitable for study.
A rejection was an invitation 
to try again, repurpose her work,
try out a short story, a novel,
create a moment's monument

that lives beyond a punchline, rewards
re-reading, outlives the life.
When some readers insist on dragging
her work with the foreboding of death,
they miss the crackle of static, the spark
that fired her work ethic, that inspired.

A Contemporary Visit to 3 Chalcot Square
(home of Sylvia Plath from 1960-1961)

You’d approve of the red curtains,
but not the lampshade: you weren’t chintzy.
In the window boxes, instead of flowers,
you’d have had fresh herbs for cooking
while Ted was in meetings at the BBC.
You’ve have cut a rose for your dinner table
from the untamed bush you ducked under,
hurrying back from walks 
along Primrose Hill with Frieda.
Whites and yellows would have brightened
your flat, chock-a-block with books
and baby paraphernalia, barely 
room for your writing desk, piled 
with your journal and dictionaries,
plans for book launches, another baby
and a scintillating literary salon that 
somehow got crammed into this, 
with just enough space to paint the sill white
and stencil hearts in a burning red.

Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and "Ghosts in the Desert" (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at https://emmalee1.wordpress.com. 

Poems Inspired by Prince “A Purple Showcase”  from Emma Lee 

3 poems from Emma Lee 

Poem: Tracing a Love Song by Emma Lee

Poetry based on photography “The Lone Road to Moloka’I” from Maggs Vibo

(c)Maggs Vibo

A Lone Road on the Island of Moloka’i by Maggs Vibo

Our plane putters over patchwork pillows of rusty clay 
Celebrating the day's first rays at a coffee plantation

Top down, and around the bend the breeze kicks dust into our locks
We visit spaces of ancient mysteries and forgotten history
Not far from a phallic rock and a peninsula of exiled patients

Where jagged cliffs leap to kiss the sea
Towards desolate paths that stretch and smile at roosters crowing
as if echoing the road sign:

Slow Down
This is Moloka'i

Untitled from Jacqueline Dempsey Cohen

Here the earth glows,  
breathes from its molten core
laying bare its soil 
reborn with radiant heat
This iron-rich clay beckons
hands to touch and feet to scuff
staining fingers, soothing toes
caressing knots of need.
Untouchable limbs frame the path
relentlessly muted 
urging travelers ever onward 
to mountains birthing fire.


A JOURNEY by Petar Penda

He took a fiery road
towards distant hills,
with wild shrubs on its sides
not to let him turn off the path.
This solitary journey led to
his self-knowledge of
the lack of something central
which permeated.

Copper Dust Road by Robin McNamara

I’m on a dust road
unburdened by winds /
unshackled by conformity. 

Humbolt of a cloud; 
wispy in the sky 
where the land lies 
with dust and rust 
and rock and ruin.

I saw a desert man he
was wearing wisdom of
an Indian spirit / I crave  
the aqua of his knowledge.

My face copper-rust from 
the swirling dust of the road  
to nowhere /
rattlesnakes and coyotes on
each side watching /
waiting patiently for hope to die.

ABOUT TO ACHIEVE by Spriha Kant 

Crossed many long tortuous paths
beaded with many thorns
showering under the sun’s anger
Every time, found me 
a bird flying
to touch the horizon.
Cooler sun
Roaming clouds
Swaying thickets on both sides of the path
as if about to welcome me
to my destination
by showering me in water
from the skies.

(c) Spriha Kant

The Red Road by Elizabeth Cusack

Why is this road so red
And what makes it real?

Why is perception a tunnel?

Who decided our destination
And what do they know?

What is a bramble
And why is it dark?

Why are hedges bare
And why do thorns stick up in air?

Why do rabbits fall into lairs?

Everyone knows these skies will part
And our lives will not end here.

Beguiled by Lesley Curwen

Rust bloodroad flares to brightest crux
its russet track armed by hedges' dark
overed by long mynd and sailing cloud 

the eye swept back and back to fiery light 

its centred throb, perplexing Delphic shape. 
Witch trio aflame, altar to neon gods
or haloed mothers keening at a grave? 

She is on fire by Constance Bacchus

not going anywhere she is rambling on to the lake she stops off at one of two gas stations won’t eat anything but licorice candy extreme pop she spins out of control across so many hills the vultures at the top pay attention she has passed the other one watches the fire blend in arrives at the launch hardens her heart in the water you could say it fossilized you can say you miss it you can say anything you want it is cold doesn’t care breaks apart amongst milfoil

Inspired by Leonard Cohen lyric visual piece from Maggs Vibo  

Congrats! To Fevers of the Mind contributor Maggs Vibo 

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Margaret Viboolsittiseri aka Maggs Vibo 

Visual Poetry by Maggs Vibo: Drinking the Ash Pt 1 & 2 

Poem from Constance Bacchus : Memories from a party last 4th of July 

Poetry based on photography Challenge from Ankh Spice pt. 1 

Poetry based on Photography challenge from Ankh Spice pt. 3 

2 poems by Spriha Kant from Hard Rain Poetry Forever Dylan Anthology 

A Sylvia Plath inspired poetry showcase by Robin McNamara 

A Poetry Showcase from Robin McNamara 

August 2022 Poetry Showcase from Elizabeth Cusack 

Poetry by Petar Penda : Tiresias

A Sylvia Plath inspired poetry showcase by Robin McNamara

Robin McNamara is an Irish poet. Hisdebut chapbook Under a Mind’s Staircasewas published in June 2021 (Hedgehog Poetry Press UK). His forthcoming full collection, Monochrome Heart is being published in late 2022. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for ‘Apple Picking Season’from Under a Mind’s Staircase.  

Postcard From an Exiled Heart

I watched a documentary on North Korea
the day after you said, 
My heart is unwatered. 

I learnt about a different culture 
in another world with another perspective 
on life. It reminded me of you.
When my iPhone trills with your 
good morning text. I can’t help but think 
of Janus, the god of beginnings and endings.  

We’ve lived lives of regrets and if we could 
do it all again. I don’t think we would 
have done anything different,
while at fifty we still react to half a heart. 
One part eaten by men of her past the other 
half, seedless and barren. 

The Waste of Minds

When the light is softer in the morning
A gasp of an autumn day appears 
Awoken from slumber and summer heat
Which cools to early dark evenings again. 
A bed of leaves at my feet a promise 
Of living room fire and books of poetry.
The seasons are changing but my words;
They do no such thing to the minds that
Refuse to flow. I could die today and perhaps 
People will say he was a fine man but alas 
The smartphone is more powerful than death 
and has domain over lives lived / unloved
Our demise passes no resemblance to fast lives
Unthinking past the absent scrolling.  
A semblance of hope remains in our poetry 
In defiance of the age of the waste of minds.

Auguries in the Water

are an old-aged rained river 
submerged in susurration of 
a memory    lucent 
with hope 
that lasted until winter

are a sliver of light emerging 
from summer water
the jumping salmon    just an augury 
long gone               the body is water 
the flow of skin and the submerged heart

like driftwood        the river floods 
memories into mud    silt    coarse
with bone     the ebb of an autumn 
tide slowly tugs at the moorings
holding the reminiscences of 

Poetry inspired by Sylvia Plath from Eileen Carney Hulme: Things I Share with Sylvia

(c)Kim Cypert

Things I share with Sylvia

Lipstick, of course
cherries in the snow
and other pretty red things
tulips and poppies
though I’ve never written
about either, until now
does this mention count?
A birthday month, October
those Libran scales
that balancing act.
Trees, yes trees
and the sea
and the moon
always room for the moon
but what of hearts
bruised and broken
we know hearts
Sylvia and I.

For more follow Eileen's site http://www.eileencarneyhulme.org.uk/
Twitter: @strokingtheair 
Eileen has Three poetry books published Stroking The Air 2005 (bluechrome) The Space Between Rain 2010 The Stone Messenger 2015 both published by Indigo Dreams.