Meet Martin Shone, Sublime Poet and Thinker …

… who settles upon all things.

In my budding effort to open my blog to host others, today I am featuring Martin Shone, intuitive writer of poetry and prose, profound observationalist and thinker.

Martin lives in the UK and has three grown-up children and a four-year-old granddaughter. By day he works as a school cleaner where his mop and bucket are his tools, but in the evening he swaps those for his keyboard. He’s had various other jobs including Postman, Egg Packer, Security Guard, Soldier, Painter & Decorator, Retail Assistant, and General Dog’s Body, amongst other things. Fun fact: Considering he doesn’t own a TV or listen to the radio very often, he once applied to have a go at reading his poetry on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent. He didn’t get very far though, not even passing the first stage; nerves got the better of him and he fluffed his lines.

I’ve been following Martin’s blog, taken pleasure, been reassured and inspired by his poetry and reflections for many years. I keep his first two collections close by and often pick them up to randomly open and be guided by as I might my Little Zen Companion.

He has published three poetry collections: Silence Happens: Little Thoughts of Life, Nature, Peace, Freedom & Love;  Being Human: Little Thoughts of Life, Nature, Peace, Freedom & Love; and, his most recent, After the Rain, (in his own words) over 100 poems of Love, Nature and Humanity with an essence of Romance & Passion running through their veins.

I expected Martin’s latest collection to be companionably soothing, sensory, and enlightening. And so it was, inhaling and exhaling poetry in caressing arrangements of words, light as a feather while defying gravity, rising out of Martin’s intuitive observations and perceptive reflections, as well as his experience, imagination, and belief that, as I wrote in my review of Silence Happens, “beauty, peace and love are always available”.

Just a few pages into After the Rain, I had to stop and take a deep breath before reading further—for the best of reasons. I realized I was witnessing a favorite poet’s maturing, strengthening, and deepening. He was still offering the music of his soul for me to “sing along”, but, also, a new complexity of rhythms, sounds and understanding. Without losing any of his writing’s freshness and delicacy, his lyrical musings had become more inspired and inspiring, confident and courageous, distinct and layered.

Martin’s poetry often reminds me of that of the Victorian poetess Christina Rossetti, because of its inclination to let nature—weather, birds, insects, flowers, trees—direct its metaphors and meaning. There are so many poems in this collection that stood out as favorites for me, but the one I return to more than any other is As Bluebells Distract My Mind (Page 57), too long to quote in full here, so I offer its last two lines:

How can I write anything to compare with this magic
therefore I regard the distractions around me and put down my pen.

After the Rain offers a sublime invitation to live and breathe through all the senses, contemplation, conscience, the heart’s joys and sorrows, spiritual reflection, and, especially, magical distraction, which is, after all, the poet’s best muse and his audience’s best reason for attending to what he creates.
Read my full review of After the Rain on Goodreads or on Amazon.

I’m thrilled that Martin took me up on participating in a little interview!

DMD: Why/when did you begin writing poetry? Was there something that made you feel you needed to express yourself in this way?

MS: I wish to start by saying thank you to Diane, for your continued support of my work over the years, for your help with getting my first book Silence Happens off the ground, and for choosing to interview me. It is an honour.

DMD: You’re so welcome! It’s my pleasure.

MS: I always have a poetry book on the go and nearly always fail to understand what it is I’m reading, although some poems hit the spot, hit that thing inside which then opens and breathes. Mostly, poetry for me is a thing I do not understand, something I can’t get to grips with when reading it. I don’t remember any from my school days or even if I was taught poetry, but school was a bit of a blank. August 2011 was when I began writing poetry in earnest, with maybe a few here and there beforehand. I created my WordPress blog and out it came, pouring from me and most of it, to be honest, was not worth the digital ink it was written with. Slowly I began to see changes and the poetry began to attract more followers ’till at some point the poems became more than the poetry I’d written. Something changed inside me and these poems needed to come out as if it wasn’t me expressing myself but the poetry.

DMD: What has been the greatest influence on and/inspiration for your poetry? How would you describe your poetic voice?

MS: Inspiration comes when the mind is empty of requests for inspiration. Having said that I know nature inspires me, humanity inspires me, death, silence, candle flame, and any number of things, ordinary daily things, conversations, off the cuff comments, life, spirituality and our ongoing quests to find answers to things already here within us. Sometimes I get asked to write a poem there and then, but I say it doesn’t work like that, not for me anyhow, and, yet, on the odd occasion I can. Generally, the poems turn up at my door needing to be watered. I don’t have a single main thing which inspires me to write and, as for an influence, I’m not really sure unless it’s those demons inside. As for my poetic voice? It took me a long time to accept what others were telling me. I was asking myself: how can I be a poet when I don’t particularly like poetry and my grasp of English grammar and punctuation is, to say the least, pretty bad? I refused to accept it. I wrote poems about how I wasn’t a poet—how could I be when I wasn’t the one “writing” them? It was difficult to understand and, at one point, I stopped and closed the site, but with encouragement I started again and out they came: ants from a nest. I don’t know what my poetic voice is and, besides, I don’t think it’s up to me to say or think about.

DMD: In my review of After the Rain I state that, because of its romantic melancholy and its inclination to let nature direct its metaphors and meaning, your poetry reminds me of that of the Victorian poetess Christina Rossetti. It is said that Christina didn’t do a lot of revision to her poetry. Do you do much with yours?

MS: I forget, that’s my problem, I forget. I have a form of Aphantasia, which means my mind’s eye doesn’t see, or in my case doesn’t quite see. I have, what I called in some of my poems, before I knew or even heard of Aphantasia, my darkness, because I can’t see, in my mind, the words I type. I can’t visualize the scenes, the poetry, any colours or voices etc., but occasionally I “see” shadows or glimpses of silvery images and less occasionally a video busts upon me so colourful and violent it makes me shudder. When I’m writing I don’t have the poem just a vagueness of something, sometimes it sits in my stomach—a feeling, a warmth—and so I write and when the poem is finished I have forgotten how it started, so I have to go back and read it. Sometimes I’m shocked at how the ending seems to fit with the theme or the balance of the poem. They still need a bit of editing and revising, and my thesaurus and OED are always at hand. They don’t always appear like this, sometimes I have to stop because the meaning is there but I don’t have the word in me (as I say, school was a blank). And, you know, a poem is never finished; there’s always something in it which needs a change.

DMD: How do you find/make time for writing? Can you write anywhere or do you need a certain space and quietude to do it?

MS: In the weekdays, I write in the evenings if I’m not too tired from work, but falling asleep, reading, or a lack of motivation sometimes gets in the way. I guess I can write anywhere within reason. My laptop is the main place and on the village green at the weekends with my notebook is a favourite, with a coffee, but I’ve written on trains and planes, too. On the whole, I write in silence but sometimes I need a distraction, something loud. I remember writing a spiritual poem a few years ago while listening to a quite loud thrashing piece of heavy metal type stuff—I guess I needed to blank everything else out.

DMD: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

MS: I’m happy when I’m in the flow; I can’t say I’m energized by it, just happy. Occasionally, when something comes to me, I could be writing it and the world is not here; nothing is here but the poem and when it’s finished doing its thing it feels like I’ve been unplugged from whatever or whoever is controlling the poem and I’m exhausted. I need water and silence.

DMD: Do you write anything other than poetry? What writing projects, poetry, and otherwise, are you working on now.

MS: Apart from poetry and the second collection which I’m working on now, I write short stories, not many though. I’ve written a short Young Adult novel of 30,000 words about bullying in school and how the two main characters go about their days with chess as their friend. One is the bully and a genius level chess player, the other is the bullied and thoroughly loves chess. The school tournament is where they find themselves. I have a couple of starts of other novels, one is a fantasy story where I’ve written about 3,000 words and has not been touched for a few years. Amongst other things, it involves an otter who finds an egg and this is no ordinary egg for what comes out of it will change the world. The other novel or maybe novella is a kind of elemental spiritual love story and I have no idea where the words came from; they appeared while watching a spider as I was drinking coffee outside my local café. They came as 12 separate paragraphs, which I originally assumed were going to be the beginnings of 12 chapters but they have since sort of melded into one thing. I think I’ve written about 6,000 words of this and again not touched it for over a year or so and I seem to have lost the thread. I am an idle writer; the times I look at the pile of poems for my next book and turn away!

DMD: What, besides writing, do you do that taps into your creativity and helps you to relax and enjoy yourself?

MS: I’ve dabbled with painting but that came upon me in a burst too, just like the poetry; then it went away and I can’t seem to find it again. I enjoy walking through nature, along the towpaths, forest tracks etc. Photography is another thing that takes me away from stuff and reading too, I always have a couple of books on the go. I enjoy silence, chess, and, I reckon. I’m a bit of a solitary creature by habit. Maybe I should be a monk! I have a nice collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with books by and about him and his creations, which pleases me. I’ve been collecting him for over 30 years now. I must say though, I don’t think I’m all that creative especially with the poetry. I just write the things and I like the things I write.

Thanks so much to Martin
for such an open and honest and fascinating interview.
And I beg to differ: he certainly is “all that creative”!

 

 

I encourage you to treat yourself to all of Martin’s publications.

And they make beautiful, heartwarming, soul enriching gifts!

 

Available at amazon.com

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and

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Follow Martin on

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Watch and listen to Martin’s poetry readings on YouTube

If you are interested in guest posting on my blog in interview or other format, please contact me.

The Moon and June … in May … on Mother’s Day

Today Mother’s Day (in the US) falls on May 13th as it did in 2012 when I first posted as follows (with a few updates) …

... once again with deep love and devoted admiration for my mom who, at 89 and despite a number of tough months in and out of the hospital and rehab, now home requiring a lot of care, is as vibrant and beautiful as ever.

I would like to share from her journal:
“June’s Favorite Prose and Poems and Wit. Truth—Goodness—Beauty”, 1985.

Here is a poem she included in it, by one of her favorite poets (and mine too, so much so I am currently writing a novel about her)…

The days are clear
day after day
when April’s here
that leads to May,
and June
must follow soon.
Stay, June, Stay!
If we could stop
the moon and June.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

And some of the paintings my mom put in it …

And from the last page of her journal…

Once upon a time

I planned to be an artist

or celebrity.

A song I thought to write one day

and all the world with homage pay.

I longed to write a noble book,

but what I did–

was learn to cook.

For life with simple tasks is filled,

and I have done not what

I willed!

June M DiGiacomo

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Anne, Dear, Sweet, Anne: A Valentine

Before she closed her eyes on that day she would be tempted to hold and look at one of her most treasured possessions: a Valentine, a pretty thing of lace paper, satin ribbon, & embossed flowers with a little bird in an egg-filled nest, Anne, dear, sweet, Anne quickly written but not yet slowly spoken.

It was unto her spirit given.

~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine & Subtle Spirit

In February 1840, a young man walked ten miles from Haworth to Bradford, West Yorkshire in order to anonymously post Valentines to four young women who he expected would be charmed by them. The flirtatious fellow was William Weightman, curate to Reverend Patrick Brontë.

Drawing of William Weightman by Charlotte Bronte

Was William being capricious or compassionate or, perhaps, a bit of both? Sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne and their dear friend Ellen had never received a Valentine before. They may have been fooled by the sender’s motivation, but not by his identity. Charlotte probably told herself to view her Valentine cynically. Emily likely looked hers over quickly and put it aside. Possibly, Ellen enjoyed hers for vanity’s sake.

Anne might have hoped for a deeper meaning in hers, that sending four was William being discreet and inclusive, which, of course, her shy and generous nature would appreciate.

William wrote different verses in each. Well, three are known. The receiver of Fair Ellen, Fair Ellen is obvious. Away fond love and Soul divine could have been inscribed – to tease rather than ensnare – any of the Brontë sisters.

And that fourth Valentine? I like to think it was the most special, because it was …

There were many men who could at first and, for a while, please and astonish others, but eventually they would reveal their weak characters, insincerity, even dishonor, until their eyes, hair, form, and words were finer than their appeal. Anne wouldn’t deny William was independent and mischievous, but only as he liked to encourage pluck and cheerfulness in others. It was clear he always meant to do what was right and just, over and over proving his good nature through the tireless kindness he showed everyone, especially those whom circumstance had been most unkind to. At once prepossessing, to some suspiciously so, the longer Anne knew William the more she trusted how she felt about him, especially as he held dear those she did.
~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine & Subtle Spirit

Was William Weightman the love of Anne’s life? Who better than Anne herself to answer … in the way that beautiful poetry tells without saying.

That voice, the magic of whose tone
Can wake an echo in my breast,
Creating feelings that, alone,
Can make my tranced spirit blest.

That laughing eye, whose sunny beam
My memory would not cherish less; —
And oh, that smile! whose joyous gleam
Nor mortal language can express.
~
from Farewell by Anne Brontë

 

 

 

 

 

 

What had been hope at first sight, a stir of her heart, amiable reserve, foolish diffidence, a February keepsake, time standing still and looking forward with a gentle exchange of words and glances in a trusted parting, was, in a moment … all that was left of William, her William, never hers except as she imagined, always hers as she would forever know him.
~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine & Subtle Spirit

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Portrait of Mischief and Love: International Cat Day August 8, 2017

Why not see

Through the eyes of a cat

With jeweled vision

In topaz and green and sapphire

And the preciousness

Of each moment

 

Where was my heart when
my hand captured time in a portrait
of mischief and love?

Work in progress of my new kittens, Yoshi and Kenji, Copyright 2017 by DM Denton

Cats Between the Lines

Cats must be there. Even as I wander long ago and faraway, they follow me, rub my legs, curl on my bed and beg my attention without disturbing it. Their purring is my mantra too, so natural and deliberate at the same time, encouraging the perfect rhythm of my heart. They are soft to the touch yet strong enough in their will. One swipes at my pen to remind me not to take it all so seriously; another paws my arm, pleading, eyes green with envy for the obsession that seems to leave him out. Oh, no. How can I tell him? With a turn and a bow and a stroke he’s reassured; with an Eskimo kiss he’s a distraction but—as one of my favorite writers, Colette, once noted—never a waste of time. Yet another stretches, slithers and yawns like a serpent enticing me to a nap. And then I realize I’m being watched, by that scamp who only sleeps to run and jump and wrestle when he’s awake, small and smart and certain I can’t grab him before he runs away again.

Cats know more than they ever say, probably for the best if progress is ever to be made. A leonine length with legs neatly crossed and head shaped for stillness sets me wondering if any activity could be better than none. Oh, I know. I must make a living, eat and drink and pretend to hunt. So I do so with their goal in mind, eyes squeezed closed and whiskers and paws and tail twitching, to savor sleep as much as success—for the dream of the mouse even more than its taste. 

Cats can be characters, as many as I’ve had there’s no end to the possibilities. I can dress them up and use them in stories that otherwise might not welcome them. I suspect they would be flattered if they knew, that they expect me to take them everywhere I go and include them in everything I do. Saying that, they realize being ignored is freedom from expectation, especially if turned into a choice. And vanishing is just another way of being found.

In memory of my beloved fur-babies Gabriel and Darcy
who in 2017 left this world but not our hearts

 

 

The cat is the animal to whom the Creator gave the biggest eye, the softest fur, the most supremely delicate nostrils, a mobile ear, an unrivaled paw and a curved claw borrowed from the rose-tree.
~ Colette (French Novelist, 1873 – 1954)

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

The Moon and June

Sunday (5/14) is Mother’s Day in the US, and with deep love and devoted admiration for my mom who is now 88, I would like to share some paintings from her journal entitled ‘June’s Favorite Prose and Poems and Wit. Truth–Goodness–Beauty’, 1985.

Here is a poem she included in the journal, by one of her favorite poets (mine too)…

The days are clear
day after day
when April’s here
that leads to May,
and June
must follow soon.
Stay, June, Stay!
If we could stop
the moon and June.

Christina Rosseti (1830-1894)

And from the last page of her journal…

Once upon a time

I planned to be an artist

or celebrity.

A song I thought to write one day

and all the world with homage pay.

I longed to write a noble book,

but what I did–

was learn to cook.

For life with simple tasks is filled,

and I have done not what

I willed!

June M DiGiacomo

My mom at nineteen

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Let’s Go A-Maying

This is a repost, but why not? Hope you enjoy it again or for the first time! And that May brings beauty to your eyes, warmth to your heart and rebirth to your spirit!

On May Morning

Now the bright morning Star, Day’s harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The Flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow Cowslip, and the pale Primrose.
Hail bounteous May that dost inspire
Mirth and youth, and warm desire,
Woods and Groves, are of thy dressing,
Hill and Dale, doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early Song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.
~ John Milton (1608-1674)

 

The first of May, by all its names and traditions, is a day marked for its flowers and frolicking, even if, as Shakespeare wrote: “Rough winds do shake” its “darling buds”.

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‘May Day Morning’ by Edwin Austin Abbey (1852 – 1911)

For the Druids of the British Isles, Beltane was celebrated to honor the sun, marking the halfway point between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. Bonfires were lit, usually on the eve of May 1st, smoke and ashes thought to have a cleansing and protective influence. Like Samhain (November 1st), it was a very important festival. Some say the tradition of a pole decorated with flowers, dancers weaving its ribbon streamers intricately together until knotted, began with the pagans. As innocent as it seems, the May pole is a phallic symbol, which ties in with the day’s theme of the fertility of spring for plants, animals and humans. The May bush, made of hawthorn, rowan or sycamore, was decorated with flowers, ribbons, cloth streamers, even eggshells and candles. “Long life and a pretty wife and a candle from the May bush.” Yellow flowers, like primroses, gorse and marsh marigolds, were tied into crosses to be hung over doorways and laid on windowsills and doorsteps to encourage abundance. The Green man was a masculine ‘face’ covered in leaves and shrubbery, often carried through towns and villages. Feasting took place, food and drink offered to the spirits of nature like fairies or elves.

raising-the-maypole

May’s beginning was a celebratory time for the Romans, too. They called it Floralia: five days from April 28th through May 2nd with much wanton gaiety in honor of their goddess of flowers and fertility, Flora.

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Triumph of Flora by Tiepolo (ca. 1743)

In Medieval times, ‘a-maying’ welcomed the dawn with the gathering of flowers and foliage, and women washing their faces in dew to improve their looks and encourage men to pursue them. A Queen of the May was crowned, a blending of her origins as the flower bride, queen of the fairies, the Roman goddess of springtime (Maia), and Maid Marion from the tales of Robin Hood; in all these guises generally representing purity and the potential for new life.

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‘Queen Guinevere’s Maying’ John Collier (1850 – 1934)

In the puritanical mid-17th century England, May Day was outlawed for a while, a censor the Puritans took to America. The Catholic Church attempted to outlaw the May initiations, but eventually absorbed its pagan rites into its own in order to win converts.

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May Day as ‘Labor Day’ and “International Workers Day’ is marked by a bank holiday in many parts of the world, but not in the US or Canada (instead moved to the first Monday in September), probably because of its association with communism and socialism, which certainly doesn’t prevent Americans and Canadians from welcoming and appreciating this day that, no matter sunshine or showers, warm or cold winds, insists winter is finally over.

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“There not be a buddin’ boy or girl, this day, but be got up n’ gone to bring in May.”

All day she had tried to ignore what was going on out-of-sight but not earshot, unable to deny the appeal of laughter, lively music and singing inspired by the beribboned pole she had watched going up the day before. She didn’t take part, except to secretly act out one of Martha’s reminisces of being young and wanting to look her best for any possible sweetheart. “Wash in dew from the hawthorn tree, and will ever after handsome be.”  Martha also suggested collecting it from ivy leaves or the grass under an oak, emphasizing that it had to be done at or just before sunrise.

“Also prevents freckles, sunburn, chappin n’ wrinkles.”

Donatella took a bowl outside before Martha had arrived and Mama was up. It filled a little as she shook the ivy that hung along the cottage’s front door, the leaves of some kind of thorn at one end of the garden, and the grass she pulled up from under the oak tree at the other. Not sure the dampness everywhere wasn’t from overnight rain, she felt silly and hoped no one saw her running around barefoot and rubbing her face and neck.

~ From my Historical Fiction To A Strange Somewhere Fled (sequel to A House Near Luccoli)

Spring flowers in woods

Wroxton Abbey Woods composite with Spring Flowers by DM Denton

 

 Wishing all a very Merry Month of May!

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back tobardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Playing with Ambition (Remembering Gabey)

Below the first image is a repost about one of the greatest loves of my life …

It has been almost two weeks since I lost my beloved Gabey-kitty, leaving a large hole in my heart and space in my life that had been so sweetly and feistily and affectionately filled by his physical presence for 13 1/2 years. I miss those sparkling amber eyes that looked into my soul and his confidence in his own magnificence and just all those little ways and means that were specific to him. His kitty brother and “cousins” are feeling his absence as profoundly as we are, breaking my heart a little more when they look for him or at me asking “Why?”, but they are also mending it, filling the deep sense of loss with their individual precious presences. Comforting and caring for them is a way to actively do the same for myself. And, through their natural awareness of the energy of the non-physical, they are a constant reminder that, although Gabey’s mortal body is no longer here with me, his pure, loving, blessed spirit can never be absent as long as I stay in touch with my better self.

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Playing with Ambition

He makes a grab for my pen, puffing his cheeks, twinkling his eyes, smiling if he could. It’s not that he wants me to stop writing, at least not in the long term, for it keeps me captivated and close to him. He likes to interrupt my ambition, a playful swipe over the page I stare at for a thought too good to miss if only it would come.

He came, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, with topaz eyes and quick sharp teeth, infecting my hand and heart with feisty vulnerability. Then he was gone, taken as I allowed, others to care for him better. Except I wasn’t convinced, traveling far and near to find the dirt road and unclear path to making him mine.

No one wanted him like I did. Certainly not those who had more than they could handle, separating themselves from his beauty as I thought impossible. In my arms he pretended he didn’t know me, hadn’t tempted and tasted me, too young a fellow to know he shouldn’t cry. I assured him that a love like mine, patient and doting, was all he needed. Slowly he believed, fed on fairy tales and fancy feasts.

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

And now he’s only for losing if eternity fails us. At times he prefers his own space and I’m more distracted than when he steals my pen and chance for inspiration. Somehow I always convince him to lie again at my feet—on my feet, warming them, massaging them, numbing them, until he notices my papers set aside. He moves up the bed for undivided attention, licking my cheek, nuzzling my ear before smothering me with his love, his gingery mane blinding me as his unexplained pleasure eases my doubts.  

Then it’s all too serious for him. He makes a grab for what is still in my hand, holding it in his teeth, his head and shoulders performing a tango. I laugh though not too loud for it is the middle of the night. We dance for a few moments longer, light on our feet with no need to exercise more than our imaginations.

“The cat is the animal to whom the Creator gave the biggest eye, the softest fur, the most supremely delicate nostrils, a mobile ear, an unrivaled paw and a curved claw borrowed from the rose-tree.” – Colette (French Novelist, 1873 – 1954)

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©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.