December Challenge

This month I was in charge of selecting our writing group challenge, which in itself can be a challenge. I considered, rejected, pondered, fretted and finally browsed around a bit on the internet. Ultimately, I discovered a new-to-me site and this prompt:

Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.”

Mass Market Paperback Dandelion Wine Book

I liked the feel of this prompt–open to many interpretations and any forms. I also loved that I’d get to revisit a favorite book. How irresistible is that?

Hmmm….now which book to choose? I considered a number of favorites, but ultimately, I opted to revisit Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. This book is an outlier in my reading history. I bought it as a teenager and it took me at least three or four false starts and a decade or more before I finally read it. When I put it down, I announced, “This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.” I have no idea if it would resonate with me as powerfully now. Perhaps it would feel “overwrought” as some critics labeled it. Or perhaps once again I would be deeply moved by the lyrical language and the delight of immersing myself in a young boy’s small town summer adventures in 1923. I intend to reread it soon to find out.

In the meantime, here are a few gems from Dandelion Wine, not necessarily short, to give you a flavor.

“And some days, he went on, were days of hearing every trump and trill of the universe. Some days were good for tasting and some for touching. And some days were good for all the senses at once. This day now, he nodded, smelled as if a great and nameless orchard had grown up overnight beyond the hills to fill the entire visible land with its warm freshness. The air felt like rain, but there were no clouds.”
(and how sad I am that the word trump has been so irrevocably tarnished as it’s used to such great effect here…)

“Way out in the country tonight he could smell the pumpkins ripening toward the knife and the triangle eye and the singeing candle.”
(Oh, how I wish I’d written this line!)

Here’s a longer passage I love about the power of new shoes.

And finally, here’s the line I finally chose to work with: “Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”

Unintended Consequences

On drowsy summer days
when air thickens,
potent and heavy,
industrious bees
drone to and fro.
I halfdoze on the patio,
envision them
tiptoeing across cosmos
phlox and bee balm,
accumulating spicy floral notes
on their tiny bee feet.

As they rise
in bumbling flight,
I fancy the notes sparkle
yielding to gravity’s tug,
they tumble
a glimmer of fairy dust
released by busy bees
keen on making honey
unaware of their legacies,
buzzing vectors
nudging reproduction
into motion
and setting a sweetness of
unintended consequences
in the spiced summer air.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is over at A Year of Reading today. Make sure to stop by and check out the sneak peek into Irene Latham’s newest book–a middle grade dystopian verse novel. Wow!

If you’re interested in seeing how the other Swaggers interpreted the challenge I posed, check out their posts by clicking on the links:

Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise

30 thoughts on “December Challenge

  1. Molly, I LOVE that you’re a Bradbury fan! Simply brilliant writing. Your poem is a winner! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      True confession–I haven’t read that much Bradbury, as I’m not a big fantasy/sci fi reader. My son has been urging me to read “Fahrenheit 451” so that’s high on my TBR list. Have you ever read his short story “All Summer in a Day”? Wow! It’s a powerful punch of a story!


  2. I haven’t read Dandelion Wine, but I like your sneak peeks. I especially love the poem it inspired. I will never think of bees and their “tiny bee feet” quite the same way again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] Flynn at Reading to the CoreMolly Hogan at Nix the Comfort ZoneHeidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little UniverseLinda Mitchell at A Word […]


  4. How great for you that you have developed a writing community that has sharpened your writing skills and broadened your insights! It all takes an investment of time to nurture your community and to be so illuminatedly creative in your writing. Well done, MBH. (Despite being underlined as a misspelling, it’s time to add “illuminatedly” to the lexicon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mitchell Linda says:

    Spices on tiny bee feet….just the idea makes me happy. Yes, they are the spice makers and givers. A wonderful addition to Dandelion Wine.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lindabaie says:

    Dandelion Wine is a favorite I re-read often, Molly, & loved reading it with my students, too, introducing the power of Bradbury! I love the idea of bees tip-toeing. It’s a lovely ode to bees.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. janicescully says:

    Now I have to read that Bradbury book. I love how the pollen yields to gravity’s tug and tumbles, “sending a sweetness of /unintended consequences/ blossoming.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. haitiruth says:

    Dandelion Wine is the favorite book of one of my brothers. He gave me a copy years ago, and like you, I took several runs at it before I read it. Great book! And I love your poem. It’s so atmospheric! Ruth,

    Liked by 1 person

  9. margaretsmn says:

    You are so smart! I envy how you took this line for such a wonderful ride on those tiny bee feet. Unintended consequences is such a great title.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I regularly title a page in my notebook- ‘Words I Wish I Had Written’ when I am rummaging and reading and stumble across treasure. It is important to note these words of inspiration. We must allow them to nestle in amongst our own words in the hope they rub off in our own writing. Kids often mistakenly believe their notebooks must be limited to their words alone. Molly, you have most effectively used the inspiration of Bradbury’s words to create your own. I particularly enjoyed the opening lines of your poem. You set the scene with precise clarity, essential in writing a poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “On drowsy summer days” is a great first line! It immediately transported me to my front yard. Your imagery is stunning, Molly! I especially love “tiptoeing across the cosmos” and “a glimmer of fairy dust.” Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. cvarsalona says:

    Molly, your prompt is a rich one that opens to a ethereal-like world of bees and fairy dust. “accumulating spicy floral notes
    on their tiny bee feet,” is just one set of words that adds to the power of your poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. maryleehahn says:

    I love Dandelion Wine (re-read it recently via Audible), and now I love it even more.
    This is a fabulous challenge. I’m tucking this idea away for a possible future when I have more time and bandwidth.
    Thank you for changing forever the way I look at bees!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Molly, nobody works magic with words the way Bradbury does. And this is fantastic–I esp love the ending, from “buzzing vectors” on down.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Kimberly Hutmacher says:

    What a great challenge idea, and you definitely met the challenge with your poem. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Linda KulpTrout says:

    Wow! Molly. I love the prompt you shared. After reading your wonderful poem, I’m inspired to give it a try!

    Liked by 1 person

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