PF: A Poem of Farewell

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Many months ago, fellow Swagger, Heidi Mordhorst,  suggested writing a poem of farewell for our monthly challenge. At that time, none of us had any idea that it wouldn’t be a run-of-the-mill end to the school year. I remember idly thinking I’d maybe write a farewell to my alarm clock or to some aspect of my classroom.

When I finally turned my  attention to this month’s challenge again, maybe a week or two ago, my initial knee-jerk poetic response was:

Every atom
of my being
revolts
at the thought
of saying
one
more
goodbye.

There have been so many unexpected endings lately. Sigh.
In other words, I struggled with finding a way into this challenge.  After numerous false starts, I toyed with the idea of not participating, but I felt guilty, especially since another Swagger, Margaret Simon, was hosting the Roundup this week at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. (Be sure to check out her beautiful golden shovel, written to her students.)

Finally, I was bemoaning the pending deadline and my lack of progress on the prompt to my daughter. We were talking about all the accumulating, worrying farewells (school, employment opportunities, truth, common decency, environmental protections, etc.) and she started riffing off the ending of “Goodnight Moon”. Inspiration struck! With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown, I used her classic book as a starting point. Like so many things, it turned political.

Goodnight Trump

In the great white house
there is an inept man
with a sickening band
of sycophants
who
rally round his toxic rants.

With this bigoted liar in the oval room,
lie truth in tatters and a whiff of doom,
tax returns hidden, but no books in sight
a hunger for power—not justice, but might,
mocking tweets, outrageous lies,
a need to diminish and patronize.

Goodbye dignity
Goodbye truth
Goodbye clean water and skies for our youth
Goodbye unity and national pride
and a country with citizens deeply united
Goodbye decency
Goodbye class.
Pray God, come November,
Goodbye to this Ass.

©Molly Hogan, 2020, draft (revised again after posting)

To see how my fellow Swaggers’ respond to this challenge, click below:

Today’s host, Margaret Simon: Reflections on the Teche
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

 

Letting In Some Light

slice-of-life_individualWendell Berry’s poem “In the Peace of Wild Things” is one of my favorites because I can so readily relate to turning to Nature as a source of solace. During recent weeks, so many people have done the same, desperate for some relief from the dizzying, dismaying reality of our world these days.

These days my own forays into nature have taken on an almost frantic air. I feel slightly desperate to find some space to breathe, to escape. I am perpetually thankful that I live in a place where I have so many options to do so; yet, in view of our current national woes, these moments feel tinged with guilt or almost inappropriate somehow. As a friend recently questioned seriously on a Twitter post,  “How dare I enjoy my garden?”

Still, I need the time within nature to pull my thoughts out of torturous circles, to find a short respite from the ongoing concerns of our embattled country, to find some peace. So, I go out and wander and take pictures when I can, and when I can’t not.

I post my photos frequently, seeking to share the beauty and solace I find. With them, I send an implicit message: “Look at the beauty in our world. Lose yourself in it for just a moment. Breathe.” Still, in the midst of such turmoil and tragedy, I worry that I’m being tone deaf  when I post photos of lily pads, dandelions, and osprey.

Then this past Saturday, I shared these photos:


Beneath them, two friends commented:Screen Shot 2020-06-02 at 6.00.25 AM

So, while I puzzle over how to do my part, how to stand up for what I believe while balancing my need to be informed and my need to periodically retreat, I’m still sharing. I’m hoping to find peace amongst the wild things and to offer that momentary respite to others. The presence of beauty doesn’t deny the darkness surrounding us, instead perhaps it lets a bit of light in so that we can replenish ourselves, gather up our strength, and persevere. At least, I hope so.

PF: Another Week of Poems Of Presence

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This week it’s mostly been #PoemsofPresence again. I think I missed some days and wrote two on others (who can keep track of the days anymore!?!), but here are a few of this week’s entries: 

May 23

cardinal two

Bird song spills
into golden afternoon.
A slim candle
of cardinal
illuminates the shade.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

May 25th

Busy with chores,
our orbits crossed
in the living room
where the music played
loud and bouncy.
We met,
danced a few steps
together,
then twirled off,
accelerating back
onto our individual
trajectories.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

May 26

Illicit Goods

Somehow
a persistent yen
for a sticky roll
with pecans
transformed into
a surreptitious
curbside pick-up
with money exchanged
for a suspiciously bulky
brown paper bag.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

May 27

ajuga

ajuga’s bugle blossoms
rouse the drowsy bees
morning reveille

©Molly Hogan, 2020

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Mary Lee Hahn at her blog, “A Year of Reading.” Mary Lee is sharing poems by Marilyn Chin along with a nudge to stretch oneself and read “without walls”. Thanks, Mary Lee, I needed that!

SOL: Blue Jay Gratitude

slice-of-life_individualI owe such a debt to the birds–maybe even my sanity these days (that’s assuming I still have it). However I’m feeling, watching the birds takes me out of myself and lifts my mood. It’s a combination of meditation and treasure hunt.

At this time of year, newcomers abound at the feeders and through the yard and there’s so much to see. Orioles linger at orange halves, red breasted grosbeaks sing in a nearby apple tree. You might see a finch flapping his wings wildly to woo his lady love, or a hummingbird arcing through the sky in a pendulum flight display. Some days I’m rewarded with a glimpse of a migrating warbler hopping through trees or shrubs. Recently, I delighted in seeing a chestnut sided warbler and a black and white warbler within minutes.  All this in my own yard.

I sometimes feel guilty about the blue jays, though. They are here year-round, so I tend to overlook them as loud and pesky regulars. Familiarity breeds contempt, they say, and it truly is so with blue jays. If I’d never seen one before and one flew by my window, I’d be rapt–delirious with joy at the beauty of the brilliant blue, the raised crest, and the bold black and white markings. Since they’re here daily though, I tend to disregard them.

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Yesterday, however, I looked up from my computer at the insistent call of a blue jay. I nearly turned away again–not much to see there. Just a jay. It’s so easy to overlook or disparage this common bird with its gluttonous, swaggering behavior. It swoops in like it owns the place. Big, bold and brassy! But yesterday, my eyes lingered.

Have you ever watched a blue jay squawk? Really watched? I’d never noticed before, but it invests its entire body, lifting and stretching with each call. This jay sat on the platform feeder squawking away, bobbing up and down. Sun filtered along its back, highlighting the softer blue, then illuminating the lower brilliant blue, black and white feathers like stained glass. The jay stopped squawking only to eat the choicest seeds. It cocked its head, contemplated its choice and then tucked each one away. I wondered at its capacity–how many could it fit!?– reminded that jays had a role in reforesting the land with oak trees after the glaciers retreated. Amazing! Finally, the jay retreated to the tree tops where it commenced squawking again, its momentum setting the thin branches swaying. Other jays joined it in a raucous chorus that literally set the treetops into motion.  

I often think of how much I miss by simply not paying attention. There are so many things to amaze and delight within the commonplace. Yesterday I was grateful to the blue jay for reminding me.

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blue jay enjoying peanuts at a different feeder

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PF: More Poems of Presence

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Here are a few more poems from my responses to the ongoing “Poems in Presence” challenge. I’ve been so thankful to combine this prompt with photography as a positive focus in recent weeks.

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Day by Day

Yesterday
the plum tree
blossomed

Today
I watch
the sun rise
through its petals

©M. Hogan, 2020

Untitled
newborn leaves
cradle lambent pools of light
radiant morning

©M.Hogan, 2020

lady's mantle

Lady’s mantle
makes her spring debut
adorned
with a dewdrop diadem

©M.Hogan, 2020

thrush

Some days
worry and grief
settle in
before my eyes
are even open.

Thankful
for the lingering visit
of a hermit thrush

©M. Hogan, 2002

This week the Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol Varsalona at her blog. She is sharing some of the wonderful poems she’s collected at her Nature Nurtures Gallery and also an original poem to Mother Nature.

PF: Pandemic Morning

 

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Pandemic morning

i.

I wake briefly
leaden
longing for tranquility
drift back
into uneasy sleep.

ii.

My eyes open to
amber beauty–
antique glass
transforming sun rays
into wavery blocks–
an ephemeral Mondrian canvas
painted on my wall.

iii.

Outside
in the garden
a warbler lies
unblinking.
Cupped in my hands
his speckled breast and
olive feathers
fade.
No echo of warmth.

iv.

From within the apple tree
the hermit thrush
sings a haunting melody
then hovers
beneath the suet,
wings outspread.

Benediction
or crucifixion?

© Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

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Jama Rattigan is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and settle in for a delicious post!

PF: Poems of Presence

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This month Michelle Heidenrich Barnes shared a wonderful interview with Margaret Simon on her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. At the end of the interview, Margaret posted a challenge to “Write a mindful poem about the present moment.”  Then, Mary Lee Hahn and Heidi Mordhorst created a Twitter hashtag #PoemsofPresence and invited poets to write small poems for each day in May. I’ve been playing along, and here are a few of my poems from this past week.

May 1:

May arrives
I fill the hummingbird feeder
Sweet anticipation

May 2:

oprey.jpg

overhead
osprey wheel and glide
surf the currents

May 3:

Unexpected Beauty

beside the old train tracks
one bleached skull
fragile, yet whole

May 4:

lemony finches
dot the apple tree
a cherry-red cardinal
perches in the birch
brilliant blue jays
swoop down
like bits of falling sky

May 5:

glowing sun peeks
into striated skies
another day dawns

May 6:
Investment

an afternoon walk
grudgingly taken
still yields
rich rewards

May 7: looking to linger on the light side here…

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This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by none other than, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today’s Little Ditty fame. Make sure to stop by and enjoy an interview with Nikki Grimes and a sneak peek into her newest book, “Southwest Sunrise”, plus a bonus poetry challenge.