Instructions to a Standardized Test

74707-poetry-friday-logoOver at Today’s Little Ditty this month, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes interviewed Liz Steinglass about her debuting picture book: Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer. It was a great interview and ended, as always, with a challenge. Liz invited readers to write Poems of Instruction to inanimate objects. What an intriguing challenge! I’ve been having loads of fun seeing what others have written and finally settled on my response. (I apologize for the appearance, but the only way I could retain my formatting was by taking screen shots and cutting and pasting them.)

Instructions to a Standardized Test

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The ever-inspiring Margaret Simon of Reflection on the Teche is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. She’s sharing some wonderful nature pi-ku poems written by the gifted and talented students she teaches.

Complaint

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Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
Oscar Wilde

Like many others in my neck of the woods, I’m a bit obsessed with the weather these days. Overall, it’s been a pretty miserable spring. Chilly, drizzly and grey. I’ve tried to talk myself into appreciating it. All this rain sure makes everything green!  or Well,  it’s easier to still be in school when the weather’s not so nice.  or …. Well, honestly, I can’t think of much else. Maybe,  At least you won’t get a sunburn?! Clearly, I’m reaching here.

So, I’m terribly sorry, Oscar, but I’ve decided to grab onto this silver lining: The crummy weather gives me something to write about. It inspired my first dizain last week (Rainy Spring Lament) and today I’m lodging another poetic complaint. 

Complaint

Yo, Springtime, why you gotta be so rude?
It’s April showers in that platitude
May’s for sun and blossom amplitude
This weather smacks of nasty attitude
My sunscreen lotion cap is still unscrewed
My pallid winter skin is still unhued
Can’t you gift us with an interlude,
a patch of sunny day to up the mood?
Folks down here are gettin’ kinda rude
This weather is a major downer, Dude!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

 

Rainy Spring Lament

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I’ve been struggling to write for the past few weeks. I didn’t participate in the weekly Tuesday SOL for most of April, and my poetry writing has been erratic. My morning writing pages haven’t been accumulating either. Outside, there’s lots going on and I’ve enjoyed time down by the river, and walking, taking pictures, gardening, etc., but I’m not feeling a writing tug. I just haven’t wanted to write about anything in particular. I’ve started and stopped a couple of pieces, unable to find any sort of rhythm. Could it be the weather?

Thank goodness for my on-line writing communities–Poetry Friday to the rescue! Intrigued by the dizains on show in several posts last week, I decided to attempt one. The basic rules to a dizain are 10 lines with 10 syllables each and a rhyme scheme of ababbccdcd.  Our depressingly rainy spring seemed to be the perfect topic.

Rainy Spring Lament

These ceaseless days of drizzle drag me down
fair sun retreats, unfelt and rarely spied
sky clings to clouds as to a favorite gown
debuting springtime blossoms peek then hide,
droop ever downward, fully mist-ified
The forecast looms with unrelenting grey
belies the merry, merry month of May
when typically the whole world comes alive
instead our spirits sag and tempers fray
Oh, when will springtime finally arrive?

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Elizabeth Steinglass at her blog, Elizabeth Steinglass: Poetry for Children and Their Grownups. She’s celebrating all sorts of milestones this spring, including the imminent release of her first book: “Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer.” Congratulations, Elizabeth!!  Today she’s sharing a first draft of a poem that’s included in that book, and a poem that was cut.

Time Traveling With John Smith

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Captain John Smith sits on my desk. To be more precise, he stands there. I found him a while back, tucked in a closet corner, forgotten. I picked him up and assessed his condition. He was missing some accessories–his helmet and one leg protector were gone, and the sword I dimly recalled was nowhere in sight–but overall, he seemed to be in fighting condition. He must have fallen out of some haphazardly packed box of my son’s childhood ephemera. I carried him downstairs to place him on my desk.

On our journey downstairs, I idly wondered about the original historic John Smith. What did he really look like? Was he tall, blond and muscular? Did he have all his teeth? What did Pocahontas see in him? I imagined the real man was probably vastly different than this bold Disney-ified version. 

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It’s been a couple of weeks since then, and John Smith is still standing on my desk. I like him there. He strikes an interesting note amidst the writerly clutter, and I stop and look at him from time to time. I never did google him. I don’t wonder about his appearance or his life now. I don’t think about his story. Instead, when I look at him, I always think about my son. I remember him playing with this treasured figure, and oh-so-many others, devising elaborate scenarios of derring-do and rescue. I remember his small hand clutching John Smith about his trim waist, moving him to and fro and his young voice artificially deepening to create his version of an adult masculine voice. It never fails to make me smile.

Note: I saw my son this past weekend. He’s 25 now, almost 26, and I mentioned to him that I’d found his John Smith figure. He immediately grinned. I could feel the sands of time shift for him as well.

 

PF–Fibonacci poems

74707-poetry-friday-logoIf you didn’t have a chance to watch Laura Shovan’s fabulous Nerdy Book Club Facebook appearance, I highly recommend it. During part of this poetry extravaganza, she focused on Fibonacci poems, and offered several resources to facilitate writing these poems with students.  After watching Laura talk about Fib poems, I realized that I’d never written one. Oops!  Inspired by Laura and some of my recent photos, I set out to rectify that omission. 

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This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Jama Rattigan at her sumptuous blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. She’s celebrating spring with some fabulous art and poems by Sara Teasdale and Mary Oliver.

Wishes

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My thoughts have turned to my grandmother a lot lately.  I’ve always thought of her as a strong and capable woman. She was relatively reserved and certainly proper–“A place for everything and everything in it’s place” kind of woman–and I suspect she could have given etiquette lessons to Miss Manners.  One thing I’ve been struck by recently is some of the contrasts between my ideas about her and my actual memories of time spent with her, and ultimately, how little I knew the woman she was.

Wishes

My pragmatic grandmother
stoic and steady
taught us to wish
on eyelashes and stars
and on a slice of pie–
Cut off the corner
tuck it behind the crust
now turn your plate
clockwise, three times
eat it all, corner piece last
to make your wish come true
On the first of the month
she taught us to wake
and quickly whisper
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit
for good luck
I wonder why she dwelt on wishes
what she wished for then…

Oh, how I wish
I could ask her now

© Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the dynamic Carol Varsalona at her blog, Beyond Literacy Link. She’s sharing a lovely foggy morning at the beach in photos and poetry.

NPM 2019–Autumnal Paint Chips

This morning I listened to the spring peepers before the sun rose, and pulled four paint chip colors that turned my thoughts to fall: Mystical Shade, Surprise Amber, Autumnal, and Summer Day.

What mystical shade marks the shift
from summer day to autumnal eve?
Is there a surprise amber
that stealthily permeates leaves,
tints the tips of tallest trees,
then tilts the balance
toward wintry breeze?

©Molly Hogan, 2019 (rough draft)