Today I declare…

It’s funny how you can lose sight of something–like an album you listen to all the time until somehow, without noticing, you just don’t anymore. Then one day, you hear a song on the radio and think–Oh my Gosh! When did I stop listening to that?

I used to respond to the “Word of the Day” (WOTD) prompt from TeachWrite all the time. Then, in some twist of algorithm, it disappeared from my internet universe. I stumbled upon it last week and have been dabbling away ever since.

Late last week, the WOTD was “declare”. With a few weeks of “bulk up for winter” autumnal eating under my belt and the addition of some more recent Thanksgiving gluttony, here’s what came to mind:

Today I declare
(like I did yesterday
and the day before
and maybe a few more days
before that)
I will show some restraint!
Skip the sugar!
Back off the fat!
Eat more veggies!
Ha!

My newest habit is
stating an intention
then ignoring it
over and over again.

I ponder next steps
as I wipe the stuffing crumbs
from my chin.

©Molly Hogan

And a follow up limerick:

A woman I know loved her stuffin’!
Five servings a day? That was nuffin’!
Eaten hot, warm or cold
even seven days old!
She just couldn’t gobble enough in!

©Molly Hogan

And though the stuffing is now sadly gone, my waistline and I cherish our fond memories.

Pantoum

My dad’s 80th birthday was earlier this month, on November 3rd. My youngest sister, who lives near my dad and stepmother in Ohio, was able to spend some time with them. The rest of us had been planning for well over a year to drive in from Maine, New York and South Carolina. Unfortunately, we realized months ago that this was no longer going to be an option. We shifted our plans, collaborated and did our best to make the day special for my dad from across the miles. It felt like a pale imitation of a celebration.

I know that having to recalibrate a birthday celebration isn’t a huge hardship in the scheme of all-things-Covid, but still, it made me sad. Lingering sad. I had so looked forward to seeing my sisters and celebrating with my dad.

On the Occasion of My Father’s 80th Birthday

We couldn’t be there
to celebrate eight decades
to gather in candlelight
to circle in and sing.

To celebrate eight decades,
we’d planned to reunite but
to circle in and sing
became unwise, if not forbidden.

We’d planned to reunite but,
grieving, we cancelled journeys that
became unwise, if not forbidden.
We created a long distance celebration.

Grieving, we cancelled journeys that
promised hugs, love and laughter,
We created a long distance celebration.
Love rimed with loss.

Promised hugs, love and laughter
deferred by disease.
Love rimed with loss.
We couldn’t be there.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol at Carol’s Corner.

Deer: Differing Perspectives

Two deer ambled across the road in the dim morning light. I eased off the gas, slowing as another scrambled up the bank and across. In an instant, they had entered the line of trees and disappeared. Here then gone.

Looking both ways carefully, wary of stragglers, I slowly sped up and resumed my commute to school. Smiling now. Thankful for the moment.

Good luck, I thought, mentally sending the deer wishes for safe passage across country roads and through this year’s hunting season. God speed!

Driving along, I replayed the moment in my mind. The graceful movements, overlarge ears and tawny pelts. The swish of white tails. Seeing deer always brings me such joy.

Maybe I’ll write a haiku.

I entertained myself with phrases and syllable counts until I pulled into the school parking lot. Then, as I entered the classroom, the deer faded from mind amidst the reality of towering stacks and endless to-do lists.

About two hours later, my students arrived. L. approached me with a huge grin on his face.

“Mrs. Hogan! Guess what I did!?” he asked, his excitement palpable.

I set down my clipboard to give him my full attention. “What?” I asked.

“I ate a deer heart last night!” he crowed.

Insert a long pause here.

“Um. Oh.” I stammered. Another long pause. He looked at me expectantly.

Finally, I spoke. “Why?” (Yes, not my finest response, but I was flummoxed and genuinely horrified. And also, really, Why??? As a vegetarian, I don’t appreciate meat eating, but heart eating seems like another level entirely–even more invasive and primitive. Yeah, I know that may not really make sense…)

“Huh?” he looked back at me, clearly uncertain how to answer. His smile faltered.

I regrouped and tried to manage my expression.

“Well, how did you cook it?” Ew!

“Oh, I think my dad just threw it in the oven,” he responded.

“Was it good?” I asked, really wishing I weren’t having this conversation.

“Yeah! It was delicious!” he replied, smile firmly entrenched again. He then bounded off to start his day.

I picked up my clipboard and shook my head.

I wish I’d taken the time to write that haiku.

Dazzled by Autumn Gold

“Nothing gold can stay.”
Robert Frost

“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”
― Roman Payne

For the past couple of months, I’ve been awestruck by the golden tones of autumn. I don’t know if the color is unusual this year or if I’m simply more tuned in or more willing to be swept away. Regardless, over and over, I’ve been stopped in my tracks by varying tones of gold.

Autumn Gold

Gold dazzles in autumn.
It skims the river
and shimmers in luminous fog.
Gold whispers
in the rustle of marsh grasses
and in the quivering heart
of the gilded maple.

Gold can be brassy and bold
or soft and tawny.
It collects in the eye of a blackbird,
creeps along craggy stone walls,
knits patchwork quilts
on the wide boards
of an old pine floor.

Gold bookends the days,
rising in greeting,
then spilling from windows
on dark winter nights
to welcome you home. 

Gold promises.
Gold delivers.
Gold takes my breath away.

©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted at Teacher Dance by Linda Baie. Be sure to stop by to check out the bounty of poems and poetry-related posts.

Finally, I’m sending you off with one of my all-time favorite golden songs– Eva Cassidy’s rendition of “Fields of Gold.”

Photography+Poetry=Balance

Taking pictures helps me stay balanced. It forces me to slow down, to notice, to appreciate. It gets me out of my house and out of my head. It reminds me that even when things are ugly, there’s so much beauty in the world.

I rarely take photographs of people. I prefer to focus my lens on the wonders of nature. But on a recent walk with my husband and daughter, we stumbled upon a hillside meadow filled with bursting milkweed plants. I struggled to capture the wonder of the glowing milkweed strands in the lowering autumn light.

And then I saw my daughter doing this.

a hopeful breath
one generation seeds the next
thistledown wishes

©Molly Hogan

This week I also found time to respond to another photo, shared as a prompt in Margaret Simon’s weekly “This Photo Wants To Be A Poem”.

Photo credit to Laura Purdie Salas

November’s steady amber gaze
transfigures feathered grass
autumn alchemy

©Molly Hogan

And then, as it so often does, my drive to work provided me with another moment to savor.

autumn morning
fog rises to greet the sun
day breaks in collage

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Robyn Hood Black at her blog of all things poetic and artistic, Life on the Deckle Edge. And what a post she has today! She’s highlighting a poem by Margaret Simon (Reflections on the Teche) and shining the light on a bountiful array of new books and possible gift ideas. So many poetic folk have all sorts of other artistic talents! It’s a perfectly timed post for those who have yet to start shopping (or even thinking about shopping) and have some book loving friends and relatives on their list. Be sure to check it out!

An Aubade (sort of!)

When Linda first posted our November challenge form, an aubade, I had to look it up. The first description I came across was, “A love poem or song welcoming or lamenting the arrival of the dawn.” Well, as I’m a lifelong lark, that sounded do-able. Feeling optimistic, I researched a bit more and discovered this Wikipedia definition: “An aubade is a morning love song (as opposed to a serenade, intended for performance in the evening), or a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn. It has also been defined as “a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak”.” I liked this broader definition and started considering my options. Unfortunately, I didn’t get too far.

Then, not too long ago, at a store with my daughters, I noticed a display of small charms. Each was shaped differently and was accompanied by a small card with “Advice” from that creature or being. I was charmed by the idea, and it struck me that the rising sun would have some advice to impart. That could fit with Linda Mitchell’s November challenge to write an “Aubade.” Maybe… Sort of…

Advice from the Rising Sun in Autumn

Remember you always have choices:
make a bold entrance
or tiptoe in with muted steps,
but don’t forget to show up.

Be kind.
Take time to warm the breast
of the patient heron
who lingers at water’s edge.
Spotlight leaves in their final fall,
cushioning their spiraling descent
with your elongated golden rays.

Work your magic when you can.
Turn dust motes into fairy dust.
Conjure tendrils of mist from the river.
Bejewel the frosted grass and
kindle a rich amber glow
in the heart of a leaf-laden maple.

Do your part
to banish threatening shadows,
push back winter’s encroaching chill, and
usher in hope on the wings of a new day.

Finally, don’t forget
to look on the bright side–
an adversity of clouds
may just be the perfect opportunity
to create a spectacular scene.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

If you’d like to check out what the other Swaggers did with this Aubade challenge, click on the links:
Heidi (My Juicy Little Universe)
Linda (A Word Edgewise)
Catherine (Reading to the Core)
Margaret (Reflections on the Teche)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Susan Bruck at her blog, Soul Blossom Living. She’s sharing a delightful whimsical romp of a poem and some lovely accompanying art work. Be sure to stop by and check it all out, along with links to lots of other poems.

Green Waves and Ham

On a recent Sunday, we strolled down the beach, admiring the pounding surf and the range of color in the breaking waves. My camera hung around my neck and every so often I snapped pictures of the water, birds, shapes in the sand, or whatever caught my eye. Kurt and I chatted or walked silently for long stretches. We laughed as the shorebirds dashed in and out from the surf, their little legs pumping. I was deliciously content.

Other walkers dotted the beach, many with canine companions. I’m not a huge dog fan, but even I have to admit that nothing says happiness like the exuberance of a dog running at the beach. It is sheer joy in action!

As we walked by one group of three dog walkers, we exchanged casual hellos. A man in the group looked pointedly at my camera and then struck a dramatic pose, clearly inviting me to take his picture.

“Well, maybe if you had a bird on your head…” I laughed. He laughed, too, and we continued on past.

A few moments later, “Hey!” I heard a voice call. I turned back to see the wannabe-photographed man.

“Did you say a turd on my head?” he asked.

Then, leashed dog in hand, he positioned a telltale bulging green bag on top of his head and struck a pose. 

What could I do?

Click.

Revisiting a Halloween Summoning

I haven’t been writing much lately, so I turned to a Halloween-themed poem that I previously shared here. Sadly, the state of our world seems even more dire than when I wrote this poem in 2017. I made some minor revisions to the final two stanzas to focus on more current woes. Unfortunately, many of the original ones remain. Scary, indeed.

Halloween Summoning

I summon ye, spirits and spooks and sprites
and tip-tapping branches on moonless nights
Arise headless horseman and grisly ghouls
and bleak haunted houses where terror rules
Awaken ye witches, ye wizards and djinns
and mad-grinning pumpkins aglow from within
Come forth ye black cats and specters and crows
and clink-clanking chains from dank caverns below
I summon ye, yearning for simpler days
when you were the frightening things on parade
when you were the terrors that filled up my head
that kept me awake and that filled me with dread.

Rise spectors! Rise phantoms! Rise foul-smelling fiends!
Come, take back the night from our nightmarish dreams
Come, banish the darkness, the stygian gloom
the madmen now flirting with chaos and doom
and whipping up festering cauldrons of hate.
Come vanquish these forces before it’s too late.

I’d rather face phantoms about at all hours
than criminal leaders who hunger for power,
vanishing glaciers, electoral threats
pollution, pandemic and civil unrest
And mad spinning storms of apocalypse size
and “leaders” who bully and taunt and despise.

So, rise all ye spirits of Halloween night!
Come harrow us all to your black hearts’ delight!
Treat us to hauntings, and foul apparitions
Bedevil our sleep–it’s no imposition!
Tis better by far to have monsters aprowl
than the man-made disasters that torture us now.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the one and only Linda Baie at her wonderful blog, TeacherDance. Be sure to stop by and check out this week’s poetic offerings, spooky and otherwise!

#Poemtober

I’ve been dabbling in #Poemtober this month. It’s a challenge to use the daily word prompts from “Inktober” to inspire poems. Much to my dismay, many, if not most, of my efforts have been invaded by the political climate and my disgust for our current president. I feel like I need a brain rinse. Sigh…

Day 3: Bulky

Growing weight of worries
a bulky woolen sweater
itching at my skin

©Molly Hogan

Day 6: Rodent

King Rodent
hosts scores of feasting fleas.
Nourished by his dark blood,
they scuttle off
to spread his plague
throughout the land.

©Molly Hogan

Day 7: Fancy

With his fancy resorts
and fancy casinos,
he fancies he can have
whatever he wants,
do whatever he wants,
say whatever he wants.

He’s grounded in greed
mucked deep in the mire
of his own malignancy
with his fancy sycophants
dancing attendance.

I do not fancy him.

©Molly Hogan

Day 9: Throw (inspired by Linda Mitchell’s “Untitled Duplex” and the line, “Poets throw lines to clear the wreck”)

Throw me a line
a perfect image
or refrain
a lifeline of verse
to pull me
from the treacherous waters
of this new reality

©Molly Hogan
(inspired by Linda Mitchell’s “Untitled Duplex” and the line, “Poets throw lines to clear the wreck”)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Janice Scully at her blog, Salt City Verse. She’s sharing a wonderful quote from Thomas Carlyle, autumnal celebrations, and a heartfelt poem about stopping time and holding on to a lovely moment.

Here’s a recent lovely moment of my own–its own form of brain rinse:

Yesterday at the River

Yesterday at the river, there was no drama. No brilliant splash of red or purplepainted clouds. I stood on the bridge as the river below glided silently by, tugging steadily at a green buoy.

Tethered securely, it bobbed and swirled. I looked down on it, watching as it twisted and turned. Wondered what held it fast deep below the water’s surface. Watched, mesmerized, as it ruffled the placid silk of the river’s flow into whirling pools and eddies.

Few birds called yesterday. Far off a crow or two and later a few geese, sounding their echoing farewells. Once the rippling call of a kingfisher crazylaughed across the water, like a skipped stone. Mostly, though, it was a quiet time. A grey time. An in-between time.

Yesterday the fish sought flight. Again and again they flung their bodies, bursting from the river, quivering curls of gleaming scales, then splashed back from air to water. Silvered concentric circles rippled out to intersect, overlap, then bump invisibly against the shore. A gentle nudge from fish to air to water to land.

The river flowed. The buoy held. The fish jumped.

I stood still. I watched. I listened.

Eventually, the sun rose, cresting the horizon with no great fanfare, just a gentle, gradual lightening.

A new day began.