Archive for September, 2010

Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

Posted in Authors I've read, period drama with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by echostains

I wrote this short review quite a while ago –  and forgot all about it.  I just found it again in my drafts so……

Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd


It has taken me quite a while to read Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd.  this isn’t because it was boring – quite the contrary.  It is a strange novel – even for Ackroyd and it is written from the perspective of  two duel personalities which span hundreds of years.  The first narrative is by Nicholas Dyer and architect who serves under Sir Christopher Wren.  The language takes a bit of getting into but is well worth the perseverance as intrigue, plague, fire and a fascination and indoctrination into the occult weave themselves into the personality of Dyer.

Hawksmoor on the other hand is a detective. separated from Dyer by a few centuries.  This is a very strange tale fraught with bygone actions and future consequences.   Deja vu  ensues as the past reveals and yet repeats itself, and self fulfills its own prophesy showing Aykroyd’s amazing skills yet again in  esoteric matters.

Nick Dyer is a horrible character but a compelling one also. He is a product of his time, hardened by life’s experience and with a dark  mysterious childhood.  The inspector Hawksmoor, though eccentric, doesn’t quite take off for me and pales by comparison to Dyer.  Nevertheless these two are wrapped up in a cycle of murder,intrigue and superstition.  Dyers dark spires and Hawksmoor’s descent into Dyers world leave a tingly aftertaste!

book image from here

Poetry Challenge: Mona Lisa’s Smile

Posted in ALL MY POETRY CHALLENGES, Inspiring poetry, My Poetry with tags , , , on September 26, 2010 by echostains

This poetry challenge is about the smile of the famous Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo Da Vinci.  The lady’s smile (and it has been said that she may not be all ‘she’ seems) is one of the most enigmatic smiles ever painted. To submit your poem or haiku which can be as profound, humorous, long or short as you like, either submit in the comments section here or send it by email to me and I will put it on this page.  You can use the logo on your blog – but please link to me:)  The challenge is write a poem or a haiku about that smile, or the lady or the relationship between the artist and the lady.  Here’s mine:-

The Lips don’t lie

Shut up!



Mona Lisa

As I try to

Keep the brush steady

With my ingenious strokes…

Whilst your countenance



If only they knew

What a shrew

And a nag

You are

My muse,

And the amount

Of abuse

I take

As you smile…

Well, they would run

A mile

And not waste their sighs

Nor their wonderings why’s?

On your enigmatic smile…

If only they knew you…

Like I…..


Lynda M Roberts  ©2010


Poem No; 2 is by Kserverny who IS the artswebshow – check out his blog HERE

Moaner Lisa.


Only one other woman ever smiled at me this way.

A repressed smile.

A prudent glare that wracks me with guilt, for a crime i have yet to commit.

her name was also Lisa.

The moaner Lisa.

And i wonder why i have to sit at night,

And contemplate how to shut you up.


“Do this, do that”

you neigh with that horrid half smile that say’s,

“get to work my dear domestic slave”


I reflect intently on my  lost youth.

Consider how to end this dilemna.


Or something more radical.

Anything to remove that infuriating smirk from your face.

Who am i kidding?

I will still take your smile to my grave.


Poem No:3 is by 47whitebuffalo – Check out her wondeful blog, full of artistic delights HERE

entering your court

alone, worn soles floor kissing

sharing silence smirk



own secrets lacking

you made all mysterious

pale reality




The 4th poem is from incomplete History and it’s our first Haiku!

A haiku:

Mona Lisa smile.
Scream! Scream two, scream three…last summer…
I know what you did

Our 5th poem is from RASH 11 who has some wonderful and unusual poem on his blog and it’s seen from Mona Lisa’s perspective for a change:-


September 29, 2010 by patrickseguin 

Written and posted in response to Lynda Roberts’ Bookstains Poetry Challenge: Mona Lisa’s Smile  

I’ve been dead so many times
that all the secrets of the grave
blur and roll and rumble
through my soft sideway stare
and impossible smile 

beyond the flash and comprehension
of my fanny-packed audience
I’m not the spectacle
they think I am 

just another ghost
stuck between limbo
and hell 

wishing I could fade
into the cold mountains
at my back 

or at least rise up
turn away
and relearn the pleasure
of strolling down
smooth winding paths
into the hard blue water
crashing along my shore 

Our 6th poem is by Adam Dustus – who has a wonderful blog, full of poems, writings and very clever and inspirational photography!  Find him HERE

Knowing What He Didn’t Know

Her eyes couldn’t help but glow
Knowing what he didn’t know
There is someone missing
From cradling arms
Lisa’s lips hath subtle charm
Under cover of dark dress
For life she holds a child blessed

Our next poem (No:7) is from Gabriela Abalo.  She has a lovely blog with short stories, and poetry – her blog has the apt title ‘Embracing who we are’.  Please check it out:)


I am an eternal freak
The keeper of an everlasting mystery
Which is the secret of my vanishing grim?
Light or darkness makes a difference
Sometimes you see it
Sometimes you don’t

Games of your mind
Mirror of your emotions
I am me and I am you
A light hearted-woman
Or a Hermaphrodite?
To hold the enigma
Is my stigma

I am my master in disguise
If you really look you can see we are alike
I am not the mother
I am not the son
Since I am both and none

I am his masterpiece
His life companion
His mirror
Not his darkest secret
But his portrait of humankind

I am left and right
Masculine and feminine
Good and bad
The one with two faces
Who smiles and cries
At the same time

Yesterday, today and tomorrow
I am the world’s sorrow
I keep a mystery that none can borrow

I am Mona Lisa
So they say, so you say
I am La Gioconda
The one with the most famous, elegant smile
The entire world will ever talk about


© Gabriela Abalo


Poem number 8 is a sonnet!  It has been contributed by Steve, whose blog Heednotsteve is enough to cheer anyone up with his wit, rhymes and life observations – please give it a visit:)

As Lisa sat, some centuries ago,
she surely didn’t hold a careful pose.
For, even as the artist placed her so,
she must’ve licked her lips or scratched her nose

or blinked her eyes or shifted in her seat,
if only while the artist looked away,
his eyes returning, every time, to greet
her pose, unchanged, throughout the stifling day.

The artist would’ve known, but could ignore
her minor change in posture.  For the light
revealed to him composite truths.  And, more,
his brush obeyed those vagaries of sight.

Enigma never lived in Mona’s smile.
It stems, instead, from Leonardo’s guile.


© Steve Mitchell 2010

Our 9th poem in the Mona Lisa Poetry Challenge is from bendedspoon who has a cheerful, happy and delightful blog (please take a look)

Mona Lisa by Da Vinci

Sorry world

please don’t hate me

but for the life of me

until now I can’t fathom

why Mona Lisa’s smile

is so famous.

Yes I love the painting

but the smile is all like other smiles

they are all special and meaningful.

Tell me, if back then

one of these faces was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci

and it was claimed that the smile is most enigmatic

don’t you think we will not rave about it to the end?

The Smile

To repeat, please don’t hate me

because I admire Leonardo Da Vinci deeply

and Mona Lisa knows I love her

just like the rest of the Wonderful girls.


Lynda this is my smiling piece

for your Mona Lisa poetry challenge.

Just for the fun of it. Smile!


Our 10th contribution is a Haiku from Abigal Parker – she writes a Haiku a day!  Check out her blog here

Mona Lisa’s smile
soothes our gaze and dissipates
the twisted distance.

 It’s never too late to enter my poetry challenges!  Here’s a contribution for Chubbypenny whose poetry log is a labrynth of very original poems you must take a look!

Mona Lisa snicker
i didn’t know him well, in fact hardly at all
and i’d never before sat to pose.
his idea was silly, really off the wall
~to paint me on a stool without my clothes.
he said he was interested only in my eyes,
of course i knew there was something more.
his brushes and oil were just a disguise
and he wanted my clothes to drop to the floor.
i decided to humor him with a very sly smile
and sat there quietly while he wondered why.
but my lips were tightly sealed all the while
never telling him he’d left open his fly.
i never knew what the fuss was about,
people have questioned my smile for years.
yes, his fly was open but nothing flew out
or else i’d have been laughing until there were tears
so all this time I’ve heard experts bicker
about the real reason behind my smile
but really, I must say it was more of a snicker
and everyone missed it by a mile.

© Chubbypenny 2011


‘Vincent could have told you’ A Poetry Challenge

Posted in ALL MY POETRY CHALLENGES, Inspiring poetry, My Poetry with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2010 by echostains

Just Click the Van Gogh image to take you to  some of the comments made about the poems

Everyone has heard Starry Starry Night By Don Mclean,  the beautiful song about Vincent Van Gogh.  There is a line in it which says:_

But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you…….

The challenge is to watch the very short video that features all Van Gogh’s self-portrait and imagine what the artist might be trying to convey through these portraits – in other words if he could speak – what do you think he would he want to say to us?  Alternatively you could just write a poem about Van Gogh the man or his work.  The poem can be as profound as you want, or as daft as you like:)  it can be long, short or even a haiku.

Please note;-

The idea behind the challenges is to publicise Bookstains (as well as having creative fun) so therefore it is imperative that the poet link to Bookstains to further the challenge.

 In return the poem is copied to the challenges particular page and the poets own website mentioned with a link and the poem critiqued on not only Bookstains but also on the poets own blog or website.

 If you wouldn’t put the poem on your own blog, please don’t send it to mine and expect me to promote it.  This is a genuine challenge – please play fair:-) 

Please post your poems either under comments – or if you prefer sent me an email and I’ll put them on.

Here’s the first of the poems!  this one is by Kserverny aka Artswebshow.  please check out his blog it’s fantastic!


Oh why did the ladies never love me.


As i sit here in my velvet chair.

Chains of smoke swirl around me.

My dinner left lingering by the door.

Painting for the purpose of inner peace.

My thoughts, they say.

Oh why did the ladies never love me?

Life looks back in fall.


Relying for my income on dear little brother.

Oh the shame, it makes me insane.

I burn and cut for you people.

Yet none will look my way.

Stewing in my little bed.

Oh why did the ladies never love me?

Life looks back in fall.


The tormented candle flickers softly now.

Obsessive working grips me tight.

No interest gained off local peers.

I fear my end is in sight.

I softly said.

Oh why did the ladies never love me?

Life looks down in winter.


People tread upon the floor.

Above the sunflowers fill them with awe.

Such a valuable epiphany,

Of a time travelled long before.

The painting remains silent.

Ladies flock around him.

Standing proudly on the wall.


POEM NO: 2 is by bended spoon who has a very upbeat and positive website – guaranteed to raise a smile (this is the second time he’s made my day!  Please check him out:)


Van Gogh

are you aware

what you have put me through?

well, echostains

invited me to a poetry challenge

though i am not a poet.

but for the fun of it

here it is.

i see that you are obsessed

with your myriad faces.

don’t tell me you’re not

why paint a lot?

kidding aside,

i admire you man

we both lack self-confidence

but still we want to give happiness.

so i guess what you are trying to say

in your self-portraits is,

‘no sense in taking thy own life

for thy own life has sense’.

Poem No:3 is by Linda Kruschke who has a lovely homely and welcoming blog!  please check it out:)

Vincent Could Have Told You

Faces change
My face changes
With the seasons
With my mood
I paint a changing me

But I remain
Beneath the face
What I call God
That which is love
It does not change

Poem No:4 is by Debbie Feller whose blog has ‘simple poems  and simple faith’ please check it out!

I paint from the mirror
turning away to hide
my bad side
the eyes remain

Poem No:5 is by opoetoo who has a great blog full of poetry and musings – please give it a visit and you won’t be disappointed!

Ground /between stones

I feel the world turn

In your face

Of  clay on canvas



up through the hard ground

Corn for crows to pluck and pillage

……………………… Corn enough

to feed the wonder of this planet


Poem No: 6 is by Adam Dustus who is a novelist, poet and graphic artist.  He has a very well established blog and there’s lots to interest poets, writers and artists alike!  Well worth a visit!

Light stricken, anxious eyes
Painting beautiful expressions sublime
Puddling tears that Starry Night
Too late, my work now recognized

Could not foresee what happened to me
Now millions on sales tags
Downloads to computer screens
Broadcasts of honors in stellar HD
Even documentaries all about me
Scandals, art thieves,
Dedicated museum wings
Sunflower posters
Mass produced grief… 


Yet curation now kind
Since I razed my prime
They think priceless being
A tortured mind

Only my faces and work survive
Absinthesizing swirls refined
Depression claimed another life
Still art without end
Beyond my time


Poem No: 7  is from Steve whose blog ‘Heednotsteve’  has a bit about everything (but mostly fiction and poetry).  its a good one so please give it a visit!

I know you

or at least
I know
your face

pale forehead
and faint brow,
high cheeks

your somber face

the contours
and creases
of it

backwards to me, convenient

set mouth
and the eyes,
I know the eyes

unflinching – I’ve never seen them closed

I know
your face

your sad

hopeful and doubtful

as if
I might tell you

about you

as if you might
by patient

know me

PoemNo:8 is by Fireblossom.  Her blog Shay’s word garden is full of original poetry.  Check it out!

Vince, hi.


What? Oh, I’m fine. You’re sweet to ask.


What up?

“Dawg”. Ha ha.

Are you, like, still doing drawings and stuff?

Yeah? You’re pretty good. Seriously, dude.

You should, like, maybe take a class or something.

Have you ever signed up for an art class? No?

I think the community college offers them.

I took, I don’t know, some computer thing there once…it was okay, I guess.

I met Rick there.

Yeah, Rick, this guy I’m seeing, or like, we’re hanging out and that.

Look, Vince, I need to tell you,

You’re a nice guy and all. Some girl is out there for you.

No kidding, a lot of girls really like beards. For real!

My friend, she’s totally all about dudes who look like these mountain men or something.

Hey, I didn’t mean…

It looks good. No lie.

But, Vince,

I’m not really into art or that, and Rick, he’s kind of into the whole surfer, keg party thing.

Well, what I mean is,


Here’s your ear.

I wrapped it in, I don’t know, this napkin from Chicken Shack.

I didn’t, like, use it at all, it’s clean.

Maybe they can re-attach it?

But dude, seriously,

Don’t, like, send me the other one or anything, you know?

It’s gross, I have to be honest with you.

Really thoughtful,


Gross. As hell.

What were you thinking?

Oh, c’mon,

Don’t go all crumpled looking,

My dog does that and I can’t deal.

He’s at my mom’s now…

Well, I know, like you care, right? I just ramble, whatever.


So, check out those art classes.

Maybe you could even sell one of your paintings?

Use the money to buy a new jacket or something.

Good luck, Vince.

I gotta run, Rick hates it if I keep him waiting.

Peace, out.

And no more ears!

Later, dude!





car door slamming

engine starting

lipstick adjustment in rearview mirror)


What a fucking nut case!

Poem No: 9 is our first Haiku and its contributed by the wonderful Eva from the equally wonderfully artistic and poetical blog  47whitebuffaloThere’s lots of goodies there – please call in:)

eyes catching light play

all ways fleeting here to there

oranges splashing blues


Our 10th poem is by Dawn Runs Amok  (D.C. McKenzie) who has a lovely poetry and music blog here.  The poem is called Fou Roux.  The author is an avid fan of Vincent Van Gogh and this was written especially for the 120th memorial of the artists’ death.

Fou Roux ~the redheaded madman

~by D.C. McKenzie

Thirty good and wholesome
townspeople of Arles, neighbors all,
have had your yellow house closed by the cops
And you, Vincent, saw your worst fear come to pass
as, at last, you were hauled off to the Asylum.

There it took three days of solitary
confinement to regain your Self.

Gauguin is gone. It is true, Paul has left:
but not before it was too late
to stop the juggernaut of sorrow and arrest.
(and by the way, Paul Gauguin
you windbag, you…cross-eyed thief,

it had been raining for days on end—
how did you hear his footstep
so soft behind you in the downpour?
In the darkness, without lamp or light—
how did you see the blade with which
you claim Vincent menaced you so?)

You are scared now, Vincent…aren’t you?
All about you are the insane and their keepers.
Have you come to believe the vicious gossip?
Has it truly come to that at the last? Madness?

Or is it a worse ailment? Failure.
Not as an artist before the public,
that fickle beast, you know too well

it was never really about acceptance
rather, a failure to render your vision into reality.

That, I fear, is what broke youso finally, so completely.
Now, you are surrounded by chaos and heartbreak.
Bedlam brimming in broken minds: without order, without colour,
as if you have been cast upon a fey, monochrome wind.

Alas too, the sky above you has become foreboding,
pressing upon you as much so as the pressure of poverty
skulking in the shade. For to be a burden upon Theo
and his family is a thing you loathe most of all.

There is so much that I will never understand.
Yet, this I truly know, Vincent:

Hunger is nothing next to Emptiness
(don’t believe? try it.)
—a hideous non-thing that steals away our very senses.

Of emptiness there can be no solace.
It is a thing every suicide instinctively knows.
In the end, it is not loneliness, but emptiness
which we seek to escape; and by which we are undone.

The sky, hitherto your collaborator,
your vista upon a far too vivid Now, is shuttered.
It has become a coffer of looming cobalt clouds.
In this Now, even absinthe and spirits cannot ease the pain
or bring surcease to the seizure and the sorrow.

Smiling a scarecrow smile to even behold it

the sunlight which was once your gilded muse,

once your benevolent ally in a hostile world,

huddles forlorn in your cell

caught in a corner of the ceiling

where your brush cannot reach.

A sun that is present only amidst fields

populated by an unkindness of crows.

Furrowed ground lies beneath hulking slate-blue skies
and wheat sheaves, bound into pyre-like haystacks,
which you have roughly carved in cadmium and ochre
on a canvas barely able to withstand your demands.

Although they make much of the crows,
it is the blackviolet vault of the sky
which brings a stab of empathy
for the agony and despair of your last days.
Thunderclouds roiling greyblue
broken by oblique rays of a mantled, yet majestic, sun.

Oh, they make much of the crows, but…no, Vincent,
it is the turmoil of the skies that signaled your peril.




Wheat Field with Crows~Auvers 1890

Our 11th poem is a Haiku from Abigail Parker who does a Haiku a day all the year around!  her blog is here

In the night cafe
Reeling orange and absinthe green
Half-drunk, I step back.

Heres a Haiku from Tigerbrite whose interesting blog has a poetry section as well as posts about The Tree of Life and the planet Cyberluz Please take a look!

Penetrating eyes

peer from colourful brush strokes

on living canvas

 Copyright Tigerbrite

Poem: Impressions

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , on September 12, 2010 by echostains

 It has been said that first impressions are always the truest and that you should always go by your first impression when you meet someone for the first time.  For most people, the only way they have of ‘meeting’ a celebrity will be through the media and the only clues we have on this (real) person is what what has been written about them –  what we read. 

We are able to pass judgement on these people  when we see them being interviewed, but sometimes our opinion will be clouded by what we already know (or think we know) about them from the newspapers.  The media can make or break a celebrity.  It can place you high on a pinnacle – only to knock you down when it suits.  It can make ordinary people Gods  – and then be so disappointed when they don’t live up to their hype – mete out punishment….


First impressions

are just that –


Fossil fuel


Bygone fools



Rusty tools

Which open nothing


Misty rules


Which end up as  chip paper

seemed a good idea at the time

No crime

In making a living out of lies?

Who heeds these cries?

Moving on ahead

to our latest news…..


Lynda M Roberts 2010


Fossil image from here