Your Voice (a Tanka)

To find your true voice
Look within, observe yourself
Behold the pure you.
Ignore judgments from without,
Project your truth to the world.


Written in response to Colleen’s Weekly #Poetry Challenge No. 50 #Haiku #Tanka #Haibun: VOICE & WATCH, I substituted “observe” for “watch.”


Children of Danu

Danu, our mother,
Goddess of the Danube,
Sister of the Rhine,
Liquid lifeblood
Of Germani and Kelts.

Mother of Irish gods,
Who arrive in Éire
Riding clouds of mist and fire.
Ruling the Emerald Isle
Til the coming of the sons of Míl
Drove them to retreat underground,
Into the ancient sídhe,
Shadows in the Otherworld.


Pronunciation key:
Danu – Dan-oo
Germani – Jer-MAN-ee
Éire – Air-ya
sidhe – shee.

Note: I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to Irish Gaelic pronunciations, so some of these may not be exact. Corrections are welcome!

Unheard Incantations: A Collaborative Poem


The words we cannot say
Will be wept
Into silence between us (CER)

Breathe deep, dear love;
Be still with me
Listen to my heartstrings
A song meant just for you (KMA)

Each tear
An eloquent elegy
To tortured truths (AP)

Each note played
On a hand carved lute
Strung with strips
Of my soul (JWL)

Your breathless aura
Beats in time
Undulating ululation
With my exhaled psyche (AP)

Intertwined, tangled,
Unified: whole
Healed. (JWL)

Yet with hearts torn open
Bleeding out the notes of our song
You turned from me (ME)

I am fire
In desire
I beg
Save me (1W-W)

Fetch me an instrument,
For the untrained ear
Is soothed by that
Which it cannot comprehend. (LEL)

Not everything is black and white.
For even the eclipsed moon
Is not without a little light. (SD)

Whispers through the distance
I remember
As you reach for my hand
my heart (CER)

Our words
Drip like fire
Into embers
Wanting back
Their flame. (SFF)

The words we cannot say
Will be wept
Into silence between us (CER)

Written by:


Kindra M. Austin

Sarah Doughty

Michael Erickson

Stephen F. Fuller

John W. Leys

Lois E. Linkens

Aurora Phoenix

Christine E. Ray

Raven’s Flight (Tanka)


Soar away, raven
From your master’s hand, away
See the world around
Spy the comings and goings
He awaits your quick return.


This is my response to Colleen’s Weekly #Poetry Challenge No. 49 #Haiku #Tanka #Haibun: Soar & Wait.

Twilight Visions

A one-armed Odin-eyed
Mad martyr prophet
Stands at the edge of the abyss,
Visions of the White Wyrm
Strangling creation; swallowing time.

Twilight stars fall,
Diamonds plunged in velvet night,
Grandsons kill grandfathers
Before fathers are conceived,
Chaos and Paradox burn
The charred corpse of causality.
Yesterday, today; tomorrow
Collapse on themselves
Folding into singularity:
The final moment.

Wolves loose their chains,
Feasting on Sun, Moon and Sky.
Darkness & silence fall.
The Question left unanswered.


This poem was originally published on The Ink Owl on 8/28/17 as part of his writing prompt challenge using the phrase ‘Into the Deep I Plunge’ to create a fantasy based piece.

Staring into the Flames

Dedicated to the brave men and women fighting all the wild fires in Oregon
(And everywhere!)


Raging fires of Muspelheim
Flaming sword of Surtr,
Gentle beautiful glow
Of destruction peers over the ridge.

A brigade of brave warriors,
Oath sworn to Móðir Jorð,
Stand ready in defense
Of her ancient holy lodge,
Prepared to give no quarter
And surrender no ground,
Facing down the Eldjötnar
And sons of Muspel,
Tearing through the forests of Freyja,
Burning Miðgarð black.

Oðinn’s army,
Children of Ash and Elm,
Siblings of Oak and Fir,
Stand at the edge of Ragnarok
Without fear.



Muspelheim = Moo-spell-haym
Móðir Jorð = Moe-thear Yorth (Th as in father) – “Mother Jorð (Earth)”
Eldjötnar = Eld-Yote-nar
Freyja = Frey-ya
Miðgarð = Mith-garth (Th as in Father)
Oðinn = Oh-thin (TH as in Father)
Ragnarök = Rag-na-rock

Pictures are of the Elk Creek Fire currently burning (September ’17) along the Columbia River in Oregon.



Lord Brahma, self-born,
Blooming forth from a holy lotus
Rooted in Vishnu’s navel.
Four faceted face,
Looking like a Keruv of Yahweh,
Each mouth composing a Veda.
A form of the formless Brahman,
The only true reality.
Bringing order and form
To the primordial elements,
Shaping all the senses know,
Sprung from the only thing worth knowing,
First third of the tripartite Trimūrti,
Creating as Vishnu preserves and
Shiva destroys and regenerates.
A brief shining image in a short dream
Nested in the mind of eternity.


Pronunciations and Notes:

Brahma = Brah-mah, from Sanskrit ब्रह्मा

Vishnu = Vish-noo, from Sanskrit विष्णु

Keruv = Kh-roov, from Hebrew כְּרוּב‎‎. From where we get the word Cherub. An order of Angels which are described in the book of Ezekiel as having a number of wing pairs, and four faces: that of a lion, an ox, a human, and an eagle. Their legs were straight, the soles of their feet like the hooves of a bull, gleaming like polished brass.

Yahweh = From the Hebrew יהוה. Hypothetical pronunciation of the name of God as given in the Hebrew Bible. Since, by tradition, the divine name is never pronounced in Judaism—being substituted with the word “adonai” (אדני, “my Lord”)–when reading the Bible aloud, nobody is 100% certain how it was originally pronounced.

Veda = Vay-da, from Sanskrit वेद The oldest scriptures in Hinduism.

Brahman = Brah-mahn. From Sanskrit ब्रह्मन्

Trimūrti = Tri-moor-te. From Sanskrit त्रिमूर्ति

Shiva = Shiv-ah. From Sanskrit शिव

Image is a painting by Ramanarayanadatta Sastri, which depicts Brahma emerging from a lotus risen from Vishnu’s navel while he rests on the serpent Shesha.

One Year Anniversary

Exactly one year ago today I started this blog by posting the poem The Darkness of His Dreams. Since then I have published 256 posts (246 poems (Among them 28 Haiku/Senryu, 46 Tanka, 2 Sonnets, and 35 poems involving Mythology (30 of them involving Norse Mythology)), 8 pieces of prose and a couple administrative announcements, similar to this one). My most liked posts have been:

  1. Childhood Memory (Haiku)
  2. For Bob Dylan
  3. Portrait of the Poet
  4. For Vincent van Gogh
  5. I Dreamed I Saw Old Socrates

Also in that time 355 people have subscribed to the blog via WordPress and there have been 1146 comments posted by readers. The top commentors have been Kindra M. Austin (77), Colleen Chesbro (58), Sarah Doughty (52) and Christine Valentor (47).

I want to thank every person who has visited this blog, subscribed, read my poetry and commented over the past year. Your support truely means more to me than I can express.

Thank you all.

John W. Leys

Blood Into Ink

blood into ink

Blood is too thick to write with
When you tear open a vein
With a fountain pen
To fill an empty India ink bottle–
Coagulation in the ink well,
Blood clots smeared across the page–
Dilute with salty tears,
Cried alone in the dark.
Your pen will run smooth
Across the page,
Cauterizing the wounds.


This poem was originally published on the Blood Into Ink blog on 8/2/17. It was written in response to the Blood Into Ink Writing Prompt Challenge held by Christine Ray of Brave and Reckless.

Blood into Ink is “a safe, respectful, open and inclusive home for stories of survival from those who have lived through sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse, child neglect, domestic violence and other forms of trauma. It is a place to share writing about our struggles and our triumphs.”

Since having this published on Blood into Ink I am very honored to have been invited to be a regular contributor to that blog. I invite you all to visit and check out the other talented writers that post there.

Poems on Other Blogs

I just wanted to post a quick note about a few poems I have (and will have) had posted on other blogs:

First, I was honored to have my new poem Twilight Visions posted on The Ink Owl‘s blog as part of his writing prompt challenge using the phrase  ‘Into the Deep I Plunge’ to create a fantasy based piece. You can read the poem here. You should also go over and check out the other submissions as well as Ink Owl’s own amazing work.

Second, I will be having some poetry posted on the Go Dog Go Cafe blog. The first piece, Exiles and Enlightenments (a Sonnet), was posted earlier today. There will be several others posted over the next few weeks on Thursdays.

A huge thank you to both of these blogs for featuring my work, it is greatly appreciated!