“Acrostics”

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This month’s DMC challenge was posed by Canadian poet, Jane Whittingham. During a delightful interview with Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty, she invited readers to write an acrostic about themselves– “a little ditty about you!”

The acrostic form feels like a perfect fit for these first frantic back-to-school days. I find my mind fiddling away at different possibilities, especially when I wake in the middle of the night–which happens more than I’d like to admit!

As I played around with the challenge, I found that I was changing things up a bit and creating small fictional scenes. I also was loose with the acrostic form. While I’m still deciding if they “fit” the prompt or not, I thought I’d share two of the poems here. (WordPress was not playing nice, so I had to get a bit creative to include indents–please excuse the cut-and-paste look!)

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Laura Purdie Salas is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Writing the World for Kids. She’s offering a peek at her newest book (a delight!) and the opportunity to win a signed copy. Make sure to stop by and check it out and visit the Roundup as well.

PF: Box Poems

74707-poetry-friday-logoThis month the Sunday Night Swaggers tackled a prompt shared by Catherine Flynn, who challenged us to write a poem about a box. It could be about a box from photos she shared, or about any box we wanted. I knew immediately that I would write about my recipe box, but wasn’t sure how to begin. I had lots of ideas, and random phrases, but could not settle on a form. Nothing came together. 

After lots of fruitless starts, I suddenly remembered Ian MacMillan’s poem, “Ten Things Found In a Wizard’s Pocket.” Bingo! I had my form! Though now I had to stick to ten things–another challenge!

The bare bones of the poem came easily, but I am still fiddling away with it. Every time I think it’s “finished”, I come back to it and find myself changing it–sometimes merely a word, sometimes cutting a phrase, sometimes adding one. It just hasn’t quite clicked into place. It’s a squirmy one! But alas, the deadline has sounded, so here it is, in it’s slightly drafty form.

Ten Things Found in My Recipe Box

An array of batter-splattered cards
Four corners with dusty, clustered crumbles
A whispered scent of warm spices
A marked preference for desserts
Yellowed newspaper clippings, fragile at the folds
My mother’s faded handwriting
An archive of good intentions
Time-proven spells for comfort and celebration
Sticky fingerprints, from small, helpful hands and
a handful of empty recipe cards,
waiting. 

©Molly Hogan, 2019 (draft)

Then I thought I’d play around with a more generic box in a “Things to do…” poem. It occurred to me that a basic cardboard box has a lot of things it can do!

Things to do if you’re a cardboard box

Package a pizza
make a cheap, speedy sled
Bedeck yourself with blankets
for a cozy cat bed

Stay solid when shaken
enclose and protect
transform at the hands
of a small architect

Yield to blunt scissors
and imagination
become a car!
                    a rocket!
                              a ship!
with unknown destination

Hold keepsakes in the attic
cuddle colored lights
Serve as sword or shield
in raucous pirate fights

Grant a reader respite
from the hurly burly world
Reinvent yourself until
your sides are frayed and curled

Once time-worn and tattered,
fold yourself and then
recycling awaits you
–your chance to start again!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at the blog, Poetry for Children, hosted by the dynamic duo, Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell. Among other offerings, my fellow Swaggers will be sharing their box poems. Make sure to stop by and fill up with poetry for the weekend!

If you want to go straight to some other box poems, click to visit my fellow Swaggers:
Heidi Mordhorst
Catherine Flynn
Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon

Building a Memory

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On Friday night, with my wine glass in hand, after two long professional days and a third day working in my classroom, I announced, “I want to go to the beach this weekend!”

My husband and my visiting in-laws and I made plans to head to Popham Beach the next morning.

Happily, the forecast was accurate, and on Saturday morning we arrived at the beach to find warm, welcoming temperatures, stunning clear blue skies and gentle surf.

We walked along together, greeting other beach walkers, exclaiming about the beauty of the day, chatting about this and that. Then, slowly we drifted apart. My in-laws followed their dog’s exploratory path. My husband stopped to chat to a surf fisherman. I wandered on ahead, snapping occasional photos.

After a while, I realized that the beach was empty around me. I stopped walking and turned to face the ocean. I closed my eyes.

“Absorb this moment,” I told myself. “Feel the warmth of the sun. Feel the solidity of your feet planted in the sand. Breathe deeply and smell that fresh salty air. Feel the breeze on your skin. Listen to the wind and the steady rush of the surf. Remember this moment. Build a sure, deep memory that you can hold close as the school year begins and through the coming busy, busy days.”

I waited for several, slow moments.
Breathing.
Feeling.
Listening.
Creating a memory to sustain me.

After one more long, deep breath, I opened my eyes, and looked around. Ahead of me, other beach goers wandered and their dogs raced along happily, sniffing, exploring. High above, an osprey circled, and a few cormorants flew by, skimming the waves. 

I turned back to see my husband approaching. As he walked up to me, I slipped my hand in his, and leaned into his side briefly. Then we walked further down the beach together.

 

Olio

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Isn’t olio a great word? I confess it’s one I know only because I enjoy crossword puzzles. It’s an odd little word in which three out of four letters are vowels. This is apparently quite helpful for  puzzle designers, who use it with great frequency. In addition to those handy three vowels, olio also has great fun-to-say synonyms–words like hodgepodge and mishmash. (On a side note, idle curiosity led me to look into other synonyms (#rabbithole) and on to the coolest word ever– gallimaufry. ga-lə-ˈmȯ-frē. Just take a second and say it a few times. It’s a beaut!)

With my first two professional days behind me and the first day with students zooming down the pike, I’m feeling a bit scattered. It seemed like the perfect time to round up some odds and ends and offer up an olio of poems. (And aren’t those last three words fun to say together!?)

Photo Laura P. Salas

Way back in July, Laura Purdie Salas posted this interesting and amusing photo for her 15 words or less weekly challenge. I didn’t share my poems then, because I was pressed for time, and I also had a tough time with the 15 word limit. Here are two of my efforts:

Holy Cow!

Made of plaster
headed to pasture
wants to go faster
Incipient disaster!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

The Farmer’s Successful Plea

Cow’s on the flatbed. Go, go, go!
Mama in the truck says, “No! No! No!”
Papa looking sheepish, on his knees
“Can’t Bessie come camping? Please, please, please!”

©Molly Hogan, 2019

I also have a couple more definitos to share. If you’re not familiar with this form, it was invented by the Master of Word Play, Heidi Mordhorst, and is quite addictive. In a nutshell, it’s an 8-12 line poem that uses wordplay to define a word. That word is the final word in the poem. You can check out her post for a longer definition and some examples. I’ve opted to leave my poems untitled this time so you can try to guess the word as you go!

Won the game?
Aced the test?
Bubbling over
with happiness?

Sing or dance!
Don’t just hint.
Express your joy!
Be jubilant!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

She lifts a hand
with lazy grace
no urge to move,
still, in one place
indolent, slow
a slothful pace
Energy lost
to summer’s heat
sluggish, listless
lounging in seat,
languid

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Finally, I’ve been enjoying some of my last pockets of free time down at the river’s edge. I’m including a poem sparked by an image from a recent morning.

cormorant skims
over dawn-gilded waters
autumn whispers hello

©Molly Hogan, 2019

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This week’s Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted by Kat Apel, who is sharing all sorts of delightful book news from Down Under. She’s reviewing two new picture books written by friends and the exciting news that this week she signed the contract for her second picture book. Woohoo! Go, Kat!

To Fly into a Bright Sky

74707-poetry-friday-logoAmy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her fabulous blog, The Poem Farm. She has invited everyone to participate this week in a celebration of the life of Lee Bennett Hopkins. I’ve chosen to do so by writing a poem inspired by a line from an LBH poem.

To Fly into a Bright Sky

To fly into a bright sky
is to focus on the light
of the surrounding stars
rather than the darkness between.
To see ourselves as stalwart contenders,
rather than walking wounded.
To linger in laughter,
rather than wallow in tears.
To focus on what remains,
rather than on what was lost.

To fly into a bright sky
is to choose the light,
to chart a path,
to soar.

Molly Hogan ©2019
inspired by the line “to fly into a bright sky” from Lee Bennett Hopkins’s “Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life”

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I never had the opportunity to meet Lee Bennett Hopkins. After reading so many of the tributes and anecdotes shared recently, I find myself wishing even more that I had. Thankfully his poetry lives on.

 

A Generous Morning

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI woke this morning, and shortly after my first sip of coffee, glanced out the window at the lightening sky in the east. I hadn’t been out at dawn lately, and I planned to spend much of the day in my classroom, unpacking supplies and dipping my toes into the idea of the fast approaching school year. Remembering that free time was fleeing as quickly and as surely as the birds were migrating south, I spontaneously decided to drive down to the river.

About ten minutes later, as I parked, my friend, Roger, pulled in next to me. We climbed out and exchanged greetings. Then, we wandered as we wished, absorbing the morning scenery, snapping pictures here and there. After a bit, our paths crossed near the dock.

“I miss the swallows,” Roger said, gesturing meaningfully at the mosquitos that swarmed between two bushes along the path.

“I saw a huge flock of swallows at the marsh almost two weeks ago,” I said. “It was amazing! They were everywhere! Hundreds of them!” Then I lamented, “But it seems so early for them to be heading south.” 

“I saw about fifty up on the tracks the other day,” he said, then added, “It’s the same time they left last year.” After a moment, he commented, perhaps to console me, “There’ll be a few stragglers.”

As is our habit, we next walked up to the bridge to wait for the sunrise. As we approached, the air seemed so still. Where weeks ago there were swooping swallows putting on a non-stop aerial show, today none were in sight. The sky seemed lonely.

Then, as I stepped onto the bridge, a couple of swallows approached. Just a few. I pointed them out to Roger, smiling, and then stood quietly, watching them dart and dive through the air currents, hunting insects.

Soon afterward, a movement in the sky downstream caught my eye. I looked up and saw a bird approaching in the distance.

“Something’s coming!” I said to Roger.

We both aimed our cameras toward the incoming bird.

“See it?” I asked. “I think it’s a heron!”

As it flew closer, we could see that it was indeed a great blue heron, one of my favorite birds. It landed briefly on a nearby water plane, then flew off again. I tracked its path through my lens, past an osprey (which I hadn’t even noticed) and on to a perch in a tree along the river’s edge.  Roger and I stood quietly and watched the two birds for long minutes.

Eventually, both osprey and heron flew off. The sun rose higher, lit the mist and gilded the edge of the dock. A small flock of cedar waxwings flittered and flew through the metal lattice of the bridge. Small fish jumped and flashed silver in the river.

I stood and watched it all, fully appreciating the generosity of the morning.

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Question

 

74707-poetry-friday-logoAfter a medical emergency with my husband late last week, things have calmed down a bit, but the questions remain, as does the elevated stress level. Seeking periodic escape from the latter, I’ve spent some time lost in my computer, reading/answering e-mails, avoiding news, and liberally dosing myself with poetry, nature photography and cat videos. (And look, did you see what I just did there? With the cat videos? That was sort of a joke (even if not totally untrue). Surely that means things are on an upswing!)

At any rate, I wasn’t sure I’d be participating in PF this week. My focus has been shot, and my writing has been erratic. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to work on a tree poem to participate with Christie’s theme. Then, looking back through my queue of unattended e-mails, I read Jane Yolen’s daily poem from August 11th. It was a response to David L. Harrison’s word prompt for August: “Question.” Between the medical situation and being in my early 50s, I’ve certainly been feeling questions swirling lately and this was my response to that prompt. (WordPress wasn’t happy with my formatting attempts, so I’ve had to go with screen shots.)

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After rereading it, I realize this poem might sound a bit…dark…but it’s just what happened when I sat down to write. 

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by tree-loving Christie Wyman at her blog, Wondering and Wandering.  Make sure to stop by and see what sort of tree-inspired poetry is gathering there.