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Paint chip sestina

This week the Paint Chip poetry challenge from Linda Kruschke is to write a sestina. Do visit her blog for more information, her poem and links to the other participants’ poems.


The paint chip words and phrases you have to work with, in the order in which I pulled them randomly from the deck, are antique lace, sawdust, field of poppies, gold medal, safety orange, pinot noir, and the blues. Some of these might actually work well as end-words for your sestina. I managed to use one as such.

Linda Kruschke

Remembrance and memories

I sometimes wonder about family values.
My mother’s claim to fame as a student nurse
Was winning (in her final exams) a gold medal.
Dad fought in World War Two. No field of poppies
For him. Instead capture and farming to feed
The foe, while waiting for release and victory.

For me, not to lose my temper was a victory.
School rules instilled in pupils worthwhile values.
At home we grew vegetables and fruit to feed
Ourselves. If we became ill, Mum could nurse
Us back to health, without recourse to drugs from poppies.
Her devotion and self-sacrifice deserved a medal.

Through service Dad gained more than one wartime medal.
He had been repatriated after the allies’ victory.
Anemones were his gift to Mum rather than poppies.
Availability affected prices and hence flowers’ values.
It was after the war that Mum trained to nurse,
Learning the best ways invalids to feed.

In Trafalgar Square we bought some bird feed.
Soldiers in uniform wore many a medal.
They may have owed their health to a nurse,
And their liberty and freedom of speech to victory.
How have we lost our forefathers’ values?
They have faded and died like winter poppies.

But spring heralds new life; sprouting seeds of poppies
Lead to pepper-pots in autumn to feed
The birds, which live by different-from-human values.
Now Olympic sports competitors gain a medal
As a reward for record-breaking victory.
Never a grudge should the losers nurse.

In illness my children needed me to nurse
Them back to health. Painting tulips and poppies
Led to daughter’s art exam success – a victory.
Beauty does not fill a stomach, but can feed
The mind and spirit. A flower show medal
Is something its recipient values.

Mothers nurse, while babies feed.
Red poppies recall a dead soldier’s medal,
But Christ’s victory far exceeds earth’s values.

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Two amazing books inspired by the Bible

I usually read any book I review here on Sue’s Trifles from cover to cover before I write about it. The reason I am making an exception in this case is that the books are worth mentioning although I have not yet reached the end of them.

The books are The Infographic Bible and The Book of Psalms in Rhyme.

The Infographic Bible

Cover of The Infographic Bible in a brownish shade with gold writing and patterning
Photo of front of The Infographic Bible

I received The Infographic Bible: Visualising the Drama of God’s Word as a Christmas present soon after it was published in November 2018. Karen Sawrey presents an enormous amount of information from the Bible in a diagrammatic form. It is not for people, who find reading difficult, but is a useful way of seeing an overview of various aspects of, for example, Biblical history mostly in large double spreads.

Two examples of the sort of information collated in The Infographic Bible from input provided by a large team of experts are clean and unclean animals, and the good and bad kings with the prophets of their times.

I began reading it from cover to cover and reached pages 86/87 out of 224. Having picked it up again to write this review I am inclined to take a really good look at it to find out what is included, rather than reading every word. When I have learned my way around it, it will become a useful reference book.

I was interested to note that one of the contributors was Nick Page.

Back cover of the Infographic Bible with endorsements, blurb and list of contributors
Photo of back of The Infographic Bible

The Book of Psalms in Rhyme

The second book I am reviewing here is another rather ambitious project based on the Bible.

I received a .pdf Advance Review Copy of The Book of Psalms in Rhyme on the understanding that I’d post an honest review on goodreads and/or Amazon. The launch date of 30 August 2021 was too close to the date I received the ARC for me to be able to read the entire book.

Regular readers of this blog will know that The Psalms are one of my favourite parts of the Bible and writing rhyme is one of my interests. To render all 150 psalms in rhyme is a big project and Brendan Conboy has done well. His style is similar to rap, with some long rhyming lines and other lines with rhyming words in the middle and at the end.

Before the launch date I only managed to read about 20 of the rhyming psalms. They are true to the meaning of the English translations of the Psalms. David’s earnest rhyming prayers have an urgency and vibrancy, which might be missed in older versions.

I particularly like the rendering of Selah as (Pause in his presence). The Psalms are meant to be used to learn about and draw closer to God. This book will be helpful and I look forward to reading it to the end.

I have also reviewed it on Goodreads:

The book of PSALMS in RhymeThe book of PSALMS in Rhyme by Brendan Conboy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

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Three short books from BorrowBox

As well as reading printed books, I have been reading some books on my phone. As I have finished reading seven books and not yet reviewed them, there will be reviews of three books in this post.

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Khalil Gibran’s book is written as allegorical poetry and contains much wisdom. The Prophet was about to set sail from a city and before he went he was asked for advice by various groups of people. The Prophet is probably best known for the section about children. This is addressed to parents. I enjoyed this book and was interested to learn a little about the author. There were illustrations, but how they were relevant to the book escaped me at the time. I have since learned that he was also an artist. Really it is a book to return to, but reading it on BorrowBox is a good introduction. It was first published in the USA in 1923.

No-one is too small to make a difference by Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg from Sweden is well-known for her activism on climate change. As a schoolgirl she has managed to attract international attention. Her book, No-one is too small to make a difference is a collection of her speeches to various important meetings. As her message is the same, there was a lot of repetition, but it was interesting to read her words and to note which important meetings she had spoken at. Climate change is an important issue and one that should be taken notice of by everyone. Decisions taken by older people will affect today’s children and future generations.

Captain Tom’s Life Lessons by Captain Tom Moore

In 2020 centenarian Captain Tom Moore (1920-2021) captured the hearts of the British public by his sponsored walk around his garden using his zimmer frame. He raised a very large sum of money for National Health Service Charities. As a result he also gained an honorary degree and a knighthood. His book is written as he spoke with Yorkshire phrases, such as ‘When I were a lad’. His life story is interwoven with advice for good-living. While he did not consider himself religious, it was apparent that the faith and morals of his grandparents had influenced his character. It is a heart-warming book.

I recommend these three influential books from very different authors. They are all published by Penguin. Perhaps you have read one or more of them already. If so, what did you think?