Amazing Affirmation

“Hi James. I was a student at Orme at the very first fine arts festival. There, you recited a poem that I have been searching for, for years, titled something like “When I Die.” Can I find it in one of your collections?

Yes, it had an impact on my young and now much older mind. Gillies.”

Second email:

“I participated in two FAFs. One year was doing wood block printing with Dot, the other forging with one of the ranch hands. I vividly remember you reading your poem at the FAF closing gathering in the Horsecollar theater, and I remember the hush in the crowd as you did. Your hair was darker then.”

I share these emails, so all of you who write and sing your words, know, believe in your heart and soul, your voice and words do matter. We do inspire and  have impact on others, and this is important. Poetry, spoken or in sung words, is very important. So, write on. Sing on.

Yes, I found the poem in an old floppy and converted it to a word.doc, and sent it to Gillies. Now I send many hugs to Neil Gillies for giving me such powerful affirmation. In a day or so, to honor Gillies, I will post When I Die  on this Plumlover blog.

And all of you who appreciate the words and songs of creative people in your life, take time to stop and tell them how much their work means to you.  We all need a little hug once in a while — hugs help us continue with the lonely work of writing, and then going public with our voice.  Cheers to all.

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Robin’s Holy Nest

Robin’s Holy Nest
Journal Note. 5:30 PM, May 27, 2017
In our crab apple tree, this robin on a branch pinches grasses in its beak, then hops into seclusion of covering leaves; among leaves she pops up her head and still holds the mustache of grasses in her beak. She looks this way and that, then hops deeper into the tree, out of sight, into her own sanctuary.
Even though, just as no one has taught her how to make a nest of mud and grass; no one has taught her how to lay eggs and sit on them to hatch; no one has taught her how to dig worms and feed her babies; so too, no one has to teach or tell her that in her own being is a holiness with its own theology and godliness; and every moment of her wing or ground time, her every being is a prayer. Amen.

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Sensate Exercise

Poetry Saves Lives — SUNFIRE — Six Senses Sensate Exercise

Journaling Workshop, April 22, 2017                 (c) 2017 James Ciletti

“Art is a spiritual ambassador.” Barbara Jatta, director, Vatican Art Museum

My name is:_______________________________________and I am a Sunfire Writer.

Welcome to the Sunfire Journaling Roundup. How do you think about poetry? As a group of words on a page, sometimes in your head?  What makes a snow poem a poem? Rather than a weather report?  Or perhaps both in one?  Or what happens when we create words that share the cloudy or sunny climate of our human experience? To the point, poetry is a full body experience and when we create that conversation to share with ourselves and others, we connect our intimate self with the human family and tell us what we mean to ourselves, to one another, and how we experience the fabric of our life-world.

The Judeo-Christian concept: man is created by a god in the image and likeness of god. The Greek concept: man created the gods to mirror back to us so we can know and understand who we are. Both definitions define the god or gods as a pathway to understanding who we are. In one, we are godlike, creators, in the other, the powerful mysterious gods are like us. Knowing them reveals to us who are.

The mission of the Vatican Art Museum: “To present, preserve and share that extraordinary legacy of culture, history and beauty that the Roman Pontiffs have collected and preserved for centuries.” What does this have to do with us?  Poets? Writers? I believe our mission as poets and writers is to create, present, preserve and share our extraordinary legacy of our emotional-knowledge experiences, and god-like, to reflect back to us a better knowledge, understanding and viable experience of who we are.

“Poetry is how our feelings talk and we share those words with family, friends and other.”

Thus, poetry is at once a spiritual, emotional, and intellectual, manifestation of who we are, how it feels to be a human being on this planet within the family of mankind: a physical sensate embrace of life.

Perhaps Poetry, Stories, Memoirs, Songs, Essays, are our gods.

Today’s Sunfire Sensate Exercises, engaging the six senses, are designed to manifest our feeling–emotional– knowledge of our human experience. Poetry is a full body experience. Be spontaneous!

Put your thumb on your wrist and feel your pulse, what is one of the most sensuous touch experiences you have had?________________________________________________________________________

Breathe deeply thorough your nose. What is the most sensuous aroma, smell, experience you can remember?___________________________________________________________________________

Close your eyes, see the picture of a sensuous place experience? Briefly tells us of that place________


Tell us one of your most sensuous visual experiences of another living being_____________________


Pinch your earlobe — tell us of a very sensuous sound experience you have had____________________


Press your tongue up against the roof of your mouth, now curl your tongue along the sharp bottom edge of your upper teeth, lick your tongue around your lips, now, think of your taste experiences in your life, tell us of one that was very exceptional, sensuous, with an object or person________________________


Now let’s talk.   What did you feel when you were expected to write about your sensate feelings?  Immediate engagement? Or resistance?   For your self growth, understand that.

Page 2                                  April 22, 2017         Sunfire Sensate Exercise

Practice with this copycat sensate exercise.

Slowly read, and sensate within yourself the senses experiences of this poem.

Fall Harvest, Julesberg Colorado
by James Ciletti

Harvest machines drone, groan, churn,
Stuff their greedy mouths; corn stalks
Sticking out of their steel jaws.
Maneuvering like ants from the
Fields, fat trucks follow food trails of
Yellow corn to sky-high grain silos.

Under yellowing elms the shaded streets
Catnap with their legs crossed.
The sky above Julesberg High
Dozes in a turquoise hammock.
But the machines prowl across the fields
Their dust rising like smoke signals.

Drifting out of a nearby window the
Aroma of home made bread, pies. To
The fields women and girls carry supper
To their sweaty men and boys who
Stuff their mouths with fried chicken legs.
Gulping down cold milk, they eye
Dark clouds in the northern sky.

Slow hungry whales chomping
Sea grass, the machines eat up the fields.
The western sky turns on its side —
Flashing colors like a rainbow trout.
Soon the sun sleeps. Crickets chirp.
Yellow moon stares with wide eyes.

But these men, pointing their flashlights,
Prowling machines shining headlights,
Reap on, harvesting in the darkness.

(C) 2013 James Ciletti


PART TWO: Pick up a pen and now go to the top of the poem and work your way down and underline the sensate words.


Name your “Sensuous Place:

By: (your name) ___________________________________

FIRST: Close your eyes and sensate that place, smell, sound, taste, touch, see, feelingly.

SECOND: In a Stream of Consciousness, in no particular order, write out sensate words/images that you feel of your place. Be spontaneous; write the first words that come out of your pen.

THIRD: Jim, let me tell you about my place:

Now write your sensate poem, in random order. Later, work on it as a “Poem”

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I write the lips

I’m reading The Love Poems of Kenneth Patchen, number 13 in the Pocket Poet Series. The final poem in the book is entitled, The Are Not Many Kingdoms Left.

The first line: I write the lips of the moon on her shoulders. . .

And the last line: O cold beautiful blossoms of the moon moving upon her shoulders.

So I leave this teaser to you, now you go discover the beautiful love poem that is written between the first and last line.

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Please close the window

“Honey look! The crab apple tree, all the pink blossoms.”
“uh-huh, achoo.”
“They’re so beautiful.”
“uh-huh, achoooo!”
“The window is blowing them into a pink shower.”

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Last evening I was attending a first literary event, called Incandesence, Burning Light of Sunfire Writers, at Fremont Correctional Facility in Canon City, 45 miles south of Colorado Springs.  The Sunfire Writers are the men in our weekly Sunfire Writers Workshop which I have facilitated for 10 years every Thursday from 1:30 to 3:30.

Last evening’s one hour event, in which 9 men, (offenders in prison official language) gave a stand up performance of poems, stories, memoirs and “writers manifestos” to a small  audience of their fellow prisoners, and a video camera. They had spent months writing and rewriting and weeks preparing and rehearsing.  Most of the men recited their work from memory; one was a 2500 word award winning short story, recited for 15 minutes, with excellence, from memory, by one of our best writers.

Big deal, huh?  You bet it was.  And for more than their courage and confidence to get up before their peers and be vulnerable, and share, their creativity, sensitivity, and intellectual prowess.  A big deal also, because after ten years of my giving the workshop, the prison officials, with the great help of Captain Q., consented to supporting the program and allowing an audience of fellow prisoners to hear the writers.

Here is what I wrote to Captain Q., this morning:

“Late evening’s literary event was a sure success, most importantly because having an audience brings full circle the work the writers create. And that helps me to motivate them to work more diligently. Writing is a lonely profession, but we write alone to share with others. If there is no one to share with, writing becomes frustrating work in a vacuum; but with an audience — usually for us writers, through journals and literary magazines, also blogs — but the FCF Sunfire Writers do not have real access to them — most of the lit magazines now require submission of material through on-line Submit services; (the Internet is forbidden to inmates) so, knowing that from time to time, that they can have an audience, a live audience to hear and appreciate their work, makes their work fulfilled and meaningful, and helps the men feel appreciated, and more confident.

“Thank you for making it all possible, and know that the real value is more than a chance to perform, the real value will occur week after week, because of acceptance, and affirmation as writers, and with new confidence, the men will grow and evolve to being better writers and better persons.

“I am so proud of the Sunfire Writers.”

SO, with April as National Poetry Month, get out there, attend a slam, support or produce a poetry event, create an audience to give appreciation for and meaningful full-circle “payment” to your writers for all they create alone and need and want an audience with whom to share their work. And go to your local Independent Bookseller, and buy two books of poetry, one for yourself, and one to give away.


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At 6 a.m. This Snowy Daylight Dawning

Watching the terrible news of children gassed in Syria, I could not imagine the pain and grief of the father holding his four-old daughter, looking down at her, feeling her stiff and dead body, seeing lifeless eyes. Unable to write any more than this, but wanting to offer some sense of empathy with the father, I retrieved a former poem I wrote years ago, after reading about the shelling and death of children,  in Kosovo. Sensing again their death I sense and share now this father’s grief and loss.

The newspaper photo shows a sled on red snow
in Kosovo, with the caption,
“Shelling kills six children playing in the snow”

When all this world
is white with ice and snow
cold floorboards chill my feet,
the air bites icy cold,
my shoulders hunch up for heat.

I see this life as pure and clean,
the land virgin white, the air Madonna blue,
this moment bright and fairy.
But outside my window
the street light turns from green
and now I see upon the snow
red light
RED light
From man’s own making
red light upon the snow.

Red light tinged with pink.
Red light as gurgling in the lungs.
So where are all our darling children
This day of snow and light?
I fear they lay as bright, as bright
Upon the snow, as this red light.

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