NPM: Inkling Challenge

I’m dabbling in NPM with a sort of free form project that Margaret Simon and I created. It’s a “calendar-non calendar” grid of various poetic forms with a couple of Free Choice options thrown in. The idea is to try to get to all of them, but in any order you want and with free rein to alter/adapt to make it work. After posting for 31 days in March for the Slice of Life Challenge, I never can commit myself to 30 more days of writing. I consider this an invitation rather than a commitment. If you’re interested in checking out our plan, or playing along, here it is:

One thing Margaret and I knew we had to include was our monthly Inklings challenge. This month Mary Lee Hahn had the prompt, and she invited us to write a poem including these four words: knuckle, denial, turn, cautious. While writing this post, I went back to check the wording of the prompt and realized that Mary Lee had actually said to use “three or more” of these words. Clearly, I hadn’t been reading carefully. Dang it. At any rate, my efforts, which went all over the place, all endeavored to include all four words. I found myself mostly focused on knuckles. I learned about tree knuckles from pollarding, thought about knuckle idioms and considered fists and protective stances. Ultimately, a conversation during our last Inkling meeting led me to consider flowers, and I took the liberty of changing denial to its verb form. I’m not loving the title


Within willow’s tender catkins
tight-knuckled blossoms swell
denying the cold winds
with cautious optimism 
and a bold turn toward spring

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’d like to check out what the other Inklings did with this prompt, click on the links below:

Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Margaret Simon, my NPM co-conspirator, who is sharing her response to our Inkling prompt and her contributed line to the Progressive Poem. You’ll find links to all sorts of poetic projects there. Set aside some time and enjoy!

25 thoughts on “NPM: Inkling Challenge

  1. “tight-knuckled blossoms”–such an effective contrast here with even the sounds of the words themselves hinting at that closed vs. open move of buds blossoming in spring. And thinking of spring as bold–yes! In our northern climates, it does take a certain boldness to go forth and blossom even when there may be more cold and snow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks! Venturing out without socks has been the height of bold these past few days. Brrrr! I always admire the tenacity and boldness of those first spring blossoms.


  2. Oh wow, tight-knuckled blossom is exactly right. Love! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love that “bold turn toward spring.” I have a similar picture on my post this week too that I took back in February. It’s my favorite time of the trees.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your title and your poem. Harbinger is exactly what these exquisite, tender blossoms are. Well done, Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. maryleehahn says:

    Now I’m going to see knuckles everywhere I look — in trees, pussy willows, ferns! So. Much. Fun to see where this challenge took everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You captured “cautious optimism” in form, fit and function, Molly. Well done. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Denise Krebs says:

    Molly, you are an over-achiever here to be sure! Not just in using 4/4 of the words, but the way you have stitched them together is so beautiful. Harbinger is a perfect title. Those images are wonderful; my favorite being: “tight-knuckled blossoms swell”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, I love this prompt and all the poems. That combination struck me and I wrote this:


    I spent years in denial,
    Thinking that if I was only
    Good enough,
    Smart enough,
    Pretty enough.
    They would love me.
    They would accept me.
    They would act like a family.
    But they remained indifferent,
    Callous in their disregard.
    And I finally turned away,
    Let go of my white-knuckle hope
    That I could change them with kindness.
    I opened my hands and let go,
    Creating space for my own happiness.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mbhmaine says:

      What a powerful response! “White-knuckle hope” is such a loaded phrase. You incorporated all the words so smoothly, organically that I had to double check to see if they were there. Thanks so much for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. janicescully says:

    Well done, Molly. You imbued this catkin with such power! Tight knuckled, denying, bold turn.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. lindabaie says:

    I like the title, always correct with catkins! And I like “denying the cold winds”, Molly. They persevere for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. margaretsmn says:

    That offering of a bud, the hope of spring to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The first two lines = WOW! And the photo shows it all so well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I will (happily) see knuckles of blossoms everywhere now!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. heidimordhorst says:

    Yes, yes, yes! Little fuzzy bold knuckles!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Love the prompt and the creativity of your poem. I also love pussy willows! Your words fit the photo perfectly. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Wow–that tight-knuckled blossom! Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This line is perfect Molly,
    “tight-knuckled blossoms swell” I’ll be looking out for those now, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s