Saturday, August 6, 2011

First Flowers!

One of the most wonderful things about joining Muse is the endless variety of flowers out there, just waiting for the picking. I’ve made friends that range over thousands of mile, from Canada to Pennsylvania to New Jersey to Florida to California to Scotland to England to – Malta. Yes, folks, I sit here in my tiny little Southern country crossroads of Jeffersonville and subscribe to and post comments on the Malta Times. How’s that for international sophistication? I’m a regular jet-setter. One of the first Musers with whom I formed a fast and firm friendship, one that I’m convinced will last to the back of beyond and further, is Tanja Cilia. And she’s special to everyone who collects her flowers. Take a gander for a moment at the beautiful image posted above the Muse icon. That, folks, is a portrait of the Goddess Athena, specially done for her by her friend Lisa MaGuire-Smith. Why Athena, you ask? Because like the Goddess Athena, Tanja Cilia fights for the underdog. It’s a priceless gift, one that Tanja treasures and uses as her internet image for Facebook.

Tanja is one of the Muse editors, but I didn’t know that for quite a long time. I call her my Maltese Falconess. She calls me Gail-Force, all unknowing that my nickname at work is “The Twiggs Tornado”, Twiggs being my home county. (Something about me and roaring winds, apparently. I don’t understand it myself.) Her Malta Times banner reads: “Tanja Cilia has been writing for Allied Newspapers since she was 14 years old – and hopes to continue doing so for at least another 37 years... Over the years she has covered most topics under the sun, and occasionally ventured beyond it too. But her favorite topics remain women's and social issues.” (That’s because like Athena, she fights for the underdog.)

Fleur and Lee stories began when Tanja worked at Fleur de Lys Primary School. Since then, they have appeared here and there, but mainly in Tagħna t-Tfal [Children’s Own] and Sagħtar [Wild Thyme], publications for Maltese school-children. She also freelances for print and online publications, in Maltese and English. She has a personal predilection for sci-fi.

But I’m here to tell you, folks, and you can take this to the bank – where she shines is as a reader of souls, a philosopher of life. I’ve always been an intense admirer of the art of Haiku. So much said in so very little. Seventeen syllables. No more. Such control, such precision! It’s possible I admire it so much because I’m pretty sure I’m completely incapable of ever producing one. I write long. (Go on, folks, collectively now – “Duh! We’d never known that if you hadn’t told us!”) But the haiku produced by my Tanya? Oh. Dear. Lord. Thank you for allowing me to share the beauty of those simple syllables, combined into profoundness with the skill of a Master Chef in his kitchen.

Tanja wrote her own perfect description some time ago, never knowing at the time that I would use it much later to herald this celebration of my Maltese Falconess:

I think in haiku
And dream in Technicolor;
Free-flights of fancy!

Oh, yes. She certainly does. She explores the secret facets of writers:

Open up your heart -
Swift strokes on a keyboard tell
What quills used to do.

Pictures don’t need words,
Just as words don’t need pictures;
Both can tell stories.

She explores the mysteries of life:

I fooled my shadow;
It disappeared in the sun...
Now I live in peace.

I paint my own world;
Using the Nature’s palette
To mix my own hues.

I smell the darkness
A scent of dank loneliness –
Heaps of rotting leaves.

Laundry on the line
Dancing madly in the breeze
Not free – they’re pegged down!

Life is a circle
No beginning and no end -
Embracing a void.

She explores the mysteries of love:

I looked, and I saw
Mirror image of my soul;
Shining in your eyes.

I cry a river
I weep for times that are past
Oceans of mem’ries.

Love is a marble
Hard glass encases a core
That’s unreachable.

Love is an onion;
Each layer that you explore,
Brings the core closer.

Love is an onion
It’s got several layers –
And it makes you cry!

She knows the secrets of friendship:

No man's an island
Just holler if you need me;
And I'll be right there.

I particularly love that one, because down South, that’s one of our signature phrases. We say it a lot, “Holler if you need me!” And somewhere down deep, I think she wrote that just for me, even though she didn’t know I existed at the time.

I could quote and quote and quote. But I’m not going to. Because here they are, should any of you be so inclined for further beauty.

You’ll find all the links to the collected Haiku of Tanya Cilia within that link! I love that woman. Can y’all tell? And so, until next time, and another flower for the fence. See y’all later! Y’all come back now, hear?


  1. So I needed a description of a medieval prison and found a notorious prison turned museum lay on Malta, so I asked Tanja about it. She gave me all kinds of info and impressions of being underground in there. She even offered to go and visit again just to help. Thanks again, Tanja.

  2. Joe, I remeber this one - The King of Silk, wasn't it, the one where the protagonist had a wrist watch (and I am not saying any more!)? Thank you for your beautiful tribute.

  3. Love your haiku, Tanja. So beautiful and the images are crystal clean. So many to love I can't pick a favorite. Such a great variety and such depth. Do you write longer poetry? I do and would love to see yours. I'll show you mine if you show me yours:)

    Gail, I love your blog and hope your followers keep increasing.

  4. What a beautiful flower to represent. Okay. I'm falling in love with your fence all over again. This is a special fence indeed. I think it's magical. It has to be for the power it holds. Thank you for sharing the lovely Maltese scents with us. She's beautiful.

  5. What a touching tribute to your Flower du Jour, Gail! I enjoyed learning about Tanja, and I loved reading her haiku, so simple yet so complex.

  6. What a beautiful tribute and post. I'm sure Tanja is honored, and I agree, she's a breath of fresh air when we need one.

  7. Congratulations, Gail! Lea picked up what had been a dead series for me from another publisher, and my book's coming out in April too. Come visit me at Facebook and my blog.

  8. Hi Gail, loved the haiku and tribute to Tanya. You forgot the place most distant from you when you mentioned where your Muse friends come from. That's New Zealand where I live! Looking forward to your next flower on the fence.

  9. Wow...I finally slip into sleep and the beautiful world of Gail and Tanja explode with the same magnificence of the fireworks we American's gawk in awe at on Independence Day.

    I met Tanja shortly after she joined Muse and was instantly captivated by her wit, her strong sense of right and wrong, and her dedication to those she brings into her heart. Like Gail I am lucky to be one of those people.

    Thank you Tanja for what you and Gail have presented here, but also for our daily talks...and thank you for always being in my corner. Not quite like having the Maltese Falconess standing tall and proud for you. I hope she knows I stand in her corner with equal determination.

    And Tanja, you came into Muse and I knew I'd found another gold nugget for my heart's treasure chest.

    Love you Both.

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  11. Sorry Sweetie. I may have slept but the mind and eyes are not yet functioning. The first comment was to have said NOTHING quite like having the MALTESE FALCONESS standing tall and proud for you.

    I think I'm going back to bed. Brain obviously isn't functioning yet.

  12. It's just gone 6.00am here (Sunday) and it's going to be a fine day, thanks to you all, no matter what the world is throwing at me right now. I am at a loss for words. Thank you.

  13. Gail, that was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend. I enjoyed learning more about Tanja and her beautiful haiku poetry.

  14. Thanks, Gail, for spotlighting Tanja. I learned about her talent for writing haiku. What beautiful words. Many of them spoke to me. I also learned we will have to be careful what we say around you. You might blog about it! LOL...