Stemming from Greatness – Inspiration from Foliage

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Emily Reynolds and Adam Tutor contemplate the beauty of the garden. Photo credit Betsey Garland.

Emily Reynolds and Adam Tutor contemplate the beauty of the garden. Photo credit Betsey Garland.

Differentiating between us and them

by Melanie Robinson

They see flowers.
We hear blades and the unsung love letters they mutter to leaves.
They feel heat and humid,
We taste in the shadows.
We keep talking to constellations.  They keep ignoring us.
They hear foghorns.
We can see everything all at once balanced on the tail end of a hook eye.
They feel normal.  We disagree.
They feel the weight of extra blankets during a cold night.
We grip desert and prickly pears and sugar skulls.
We speak in flames and smell like ashes.
Our hearts are roots in the heat of Texas.

Melanie Robinson ProfilePoets have always found inspiration from nature, evidenced by the fact that authors have written about gardens since ... well, since the Garden of Eden. This, my sad attempt at a Botanical Garden-inspired poem, is the result of a recent “Writer’s Walk” event that sought to join muse and master in a holy union of thoughts and words.

“Writers Take a Walk” is the brainchild of Don Mathis, a local poet active in just about every literary group in town.  Mathis served as president of the Texoma Poetry Society in 2011, was crowned champion of the McKinney Poetry Slam, is a founding member of the San Antonio Poetry Fair and participates regularly with the Sun Poet’s Society and La Taza writers’ group.

Poets have historically disregarded convention and authority. Don Mathis keeps the tradition alive. Photo by Lea Lopez-Fagin.

Poets have historically disregarded convention and authority. Don Mathis keeps the tradition alive. Photo by Betsey Garland.

The idea sprouted from an initial Sun Poet’s Society event titled “Writers Take a Hike.”

“They would tour local parks and wilderness areas and then write, write, write,” said Mathis. “The focus was on keeping pen in contact with paper – keeping the words flowing.”

The downside of outdoor events in San Antonio, if not throughout Texas, is the menacing heat that threatens enjoyment. Mathis organized the first poetry walk in December 2011 with the thought to tour indoor locations to avoid melting, but has begun venturing out of doors during the fall and winter seasons. Previous walks have focused on the Andy Warhol exhibit at the McNay Art Museum, the Aphrodite exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Bat Flight on the Riverwalk.

Participants are instructed to “bring a pen and paper and prepare to be inspired.” As evidenced in their work, they definitely were.

The Nature of a Woman

(Felt) By Adam Tutor

The Rose Garden the maze the life the petals in a row,
The winding of her in between the edges of the beauty,
Crossing the threshold, becoming the line,
Defining the boundaries between flesh and flora, really it is all the same.
She is the kindness of the land and so are they,
Gifted to us, to me, by the blessing of the bountiful spirit overflowing
Throughout our ever spinning ever knowing omnipresent nature.
I hardly see for she blends into the space with not moving.
Her smile the curvature of the leaves as they bend in the evening glow,
Her hair the flowing branches that bend down and attempt to kiss the earth,
The eyes that are the spaces in between the leaves that let the sunlight shine through,
The bits of sky that remind us of our smallness, her grandness.
The exposing of flesh the uprooting of roots, more naturally in the ground and set Firm in the earth, in tune with the melody of the flow of the soil and its nutrients, Her form the greater trunk and so is the nature of a woman.

"The gardens reconnected me to my oneness with the dust whence I came, as if I was a conduit for the abundance of beauty to be shared between heaven and earth,” said Tutor of his experience in the Botanical Gardens. “It was an absolute blessing to share in the evening space of sunset sweetness with such sentient souls!"

Emily Reynolds and Adam Tutor contemplate the beauty of the garden. Photo credit Betsey Garland.

Emily Reynolds and Adam Tutor contemplate the beauty of the garden. Photo credit Betsey Garland.

Susan Salzman described her experience utilizing sumptuous adjectives as the writers navigated deliciously dark paths after the evening reached sundown.

“We felt a bit like teenagers sneaking around a forbidden secret garden in the middle of the night," said Salzman. "Flashlights gave a different emphasis to the sculptures. Scarecrows appeared out of nowhere. Without the distraction of color and form, the smells of the plants and soil were more noticeable.”

Sensory Garden

By Carol M. Siskovic

Mosquitoes do not seek to be seen,
unlike the goldfish flaunting themselves
in the greenish pond held in the hollow
of hillocks covered with thick, lush grass.
These pests do not swim but may swarm.
Usually quiet and sneaky, some buzz, whiz,
emit gentle evening calls as do the crickets
or softly whistling birds as they gather
in this Eden to nest with flower creatures
and man-nurtured green-growing guardians.
These darting insects, nipping demons, surely
do not belong, but they continue nagging
as if to shout their equal right, equal purpose.
I am here like you, they whine.
I, too, have a beauty if you but notice.
So...notice! And remember as you scratch:
Our varied world hides and displays.
That which you slap or disdain may possess
uses not yet uncovered, discovered,
much like a lot of life forms.
You feel me? Here, I'll try again.

“I encourage everyone to write,” noted Mathis. “Once you’ve written something – share it! Take it to an open mic or poetry slam. Submit it to a publication. Give it away! You’ll be amazed at the positive feedback.”

Someone once told me that to write and not share your work is to be selfish. If there is one person you can touch with your words, then you are doing an injustice by not affording them that chance to relate or rejoice or remember.

Inaugural San Antonio Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla speaks at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event at Gemini Ink. Photo by Melanie Robinson.

Inaugural San Antonio Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla speaks at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event at Gemini Ink. Photo by Melanie Robinson.

There has been a push recently to encourage more participation in the spoken and written word art form in San Antonio, as evidenced by this year’s La Voz competition, hosted by our city’s Poet Laureate, Carmen Tafolla. There is still more work to be done, however, to ensure competitions and celebrations such as La Voz are not fleeting.

While the writers read their rough drafts aloud to each other, two little girls about nine years old asked, “Can we be your audience?” “Yes!” exclaimed Don. “Yes, but only if you read a poem.” Excuses of no paper or pen were quickly eliminated and, just as quick, we had two new poets.

In the spirit of encouraging the sharing of stories, Don Mathis and I will begin curating a once-monthly poetry column for The Rivard Report – the title of which is unknown at the moment.

We encourage poets of all ages to submit their work to We will highlight five poems every month and select one poet to highlight. As lovers of all things communication, Don and I are extremely excited at the prospect of giving a voice to San Antonio.


Melanie Robinson
 graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in professional writing and a minor in anthropology from the University of Texas at San Antonio in December 2011. Her current marketing position at the local nonprofit organization ARTS San Antonio has afforded her the opportunity to further explore her love of the arts. She now spends her nights among local musicians, artists and poets – finding beauty in self-expression. You can contact Melanie through her Facebook.


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4 thoughts on “Stemming from Greatness – Inspiration from Foliage

  1. A Jungle Waits – by Don Mathis
    A jungle waits beyond those gates. Fields and savannahs too, rest just beyond your view. There’s an oriental garden with koi in a pond. And encircled within these fences is a feast for the senses. Prairies of wild grass grow beside towers of glass which contain a shelter for flora from the delta. A row of tiny houses forces us to rethink our use of resources. There’s a lake and a forest of pine. Such bucolic scenes will help you unwind after a week lost in your livelihood. It’s good to take a walk in the woods. If aliens were to invade our planet, we’d think of creatures and take for granted that invasive species outside our door may have arrived from a foreign shore. But take note of everything that grows and you will see beauty unfold.

  2. Ephemeral

    Morning’s promise
    gathers up close
    as the old sun sets.
    What was wondrous,
    sweet smelling stars
    of the garden when
    Day was but a lad
    bounding out of the east
    are now drawing up,
    like the old day itself.
    Beauty to take ones
    breath away becomes
    shriveled and dead,
    having its day in the sun.
    What if on its day
    the garden is closed?

    © 2013 Ephemeral by Peter Holland

    Life the Flower

    A plant can sit
    just green, just there
    for a very long time
    until compelled by Nature
    it sends into the world
    a flower.
    Some do this many times,
    some but only once,
    some have perfume
    like the breath of heaven,
    some are putrid
    some showy, some subtle
    some not even seen,
    but in the end they bloom.
    a person may bloom a lot,
    or only once,
    they may be
    an ever blooming grandaflora,
    or just
    a nondescript
    one day wonder,
    we must notice the blossoms.

    © 2013 Life the Flower by Peter Holland

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