After the Diagnosis

After the Diagnosis

We reminisce.
Rest in silence.
At one point we marvel
at the unexpected
heaviness of water.
Dad tells me
it weighs
8.3 pounds per gallon,
or so he thinks.

Now I understand
this pressure in my chest–
the slow inevitable breach
beneath my reservoir
of tears.

©Molly Hogan

As I’ve alluded to in several posts lately, this has been a challenging spring–and for so many reasons. At school, ending the year teaching, reading and writing poetry has been a breath of fresh air. At home, writing poetry has allowed me to explore my emotions and simultaneously get a bit of distance from them.

I’m not sure it’s an exaggeration to say that this spring, poetry has saved me.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol at her blog, Carole’s Corner. She’s sharing poems by a wonderful new-to-her (and new-to-me) poet, Jeannette Encinias.


Last spring a thrush visited me almost every morning for a couple of weeks. Its call became one of my favorite bird songs, and one of very few that I can identify. This year it didn’t return and I’ve only heard the thrushes sing far off in the evening. Still, I welcome the sound. Whenever I hear it, I feel a little bit lighter.

This weekend, we headed down to Plymouth, Massachusetts for my son’s wedding. We had rented a house to gather in for a few days before the big event. Much to my delight, one of first things I heard when I arrived was a thrush singing. I was surprised to hear it in the beachfront neighborhood. Whether it’s true or not, I think of the thrush as a woodland bird. But there it was. And they kept singing. Thursday night, Friday, Saturday morning. Greeting me upon arrival. Singing the day away at dusk and welcoming the new day at dawn. I commented about it over and over again.

“Do you hear the thrush?”

“There it is again!”

“Isn’t that a beautiful sound!?”

On Saturday afternoon, we headed toward the wedding site about 20 minutes away. As soon as I got out of my car, there it was–thrush song once again. I heard it several more times as I moved about the grounds.

Eventually my focus shifted away from bird song as the wedding began. I could write about that forever. Lakeside venue. Perfect weather. Beautiful bride. Grinning groom. Heartfelt and moving vows. Friends. Family. Music. Food and fun. And lots and lots of dancing. Sore feet and full heart. Love and laughter. Oh, what a celebration!

The morning after the BWE (Best Wedding Ever), I wandered early along the lake front beach. And there it was. Thrush song once again. Idly, I wondered, Is there any significance associated with a thrush?

I picked up my phone and searched.

This was the first response:

“Of all the birds, the wood thrush is the symbol of solid, healthy relationships. It happily appears in our lives to signify that we are engaging in a long term relationship that will never break down at any cost. In this way, the wood thrush acts as a congratulatory animal totem.”


I stared at the screen, stunned and deeply moved.

My heart blossomed with love and hope for my son and his new wife.

Now, as I type this early Monday morning, I’m back at home. Tired and happy, and still replaying the kaleidoscope of the weekend in my mind. Feeling so joyous and thankful.

Then, suddenly, a thrush calls from near the house. Over and again. Loud and clear. It’s the first time I’ve heard one this close since last year. I smile. It feels just perfect.

I know that every time I hear a thrush sing now, I’ll still feel lighter, but also my heart will lift as I think of Connor and Courtney and the love between them.

What a blessing.

Photo by Russell Smithe Video Productions

Challenge: Today’s Sermon

Way back in April, it was my turn to post the May challenge for the Swaggers. I had recently run across Cheryl Dumesnil’s poem,  Today’s Sermon” and thought it would be a great inspiration.


is slop buckets knocking 
against each other

and a towel cart 
squeaking down the hall

and grease stains 
worked into cracked palms.

(click on the above link to read the rest)

I suggested using her poem as a prompt in any way we liked–as a mentor, by lifting a line, using the title, creating a found poem from it or whatever.

Way back then, in April, I had a plan– a rough draft about great blue herons. But life has a way of revising plans and I got a bit thrown off course. When I let the others know I wasn’t going to be able to post on the first Friday in May, they graciously suggested that we all wait to post until June.

So, now it’s June, and time to post. This poem is very different from my initial draft, because, well, you know, …life.

Today’s Sermon

Today’s sermon was derailed
by the run-away train

racketing down the track
headed toward the gap.

Today’s sermon attempted to bridge
that maw between before and after

but was stung by a blitzkrieg
of ricocheting gravel. 

Today’s sermon was drowned out by
the long, low howl of the train’s horn

keening through an alien landscape
thin and penetrating and 

the tick tick tick of the tracks
constricting in the ceaseless heat.

Today’s sermon, taut and tilted to one side,
braced for the approaching curve and

the inevitable crash.

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’d like to see what the other Swaggers are doing with this challenge, click on the links to visit their sites:

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

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Margaret Simon at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. Make sure to stop by and see what she did with this challenge and what else she’s been up to. You’re sure to get inspired!

I am heading out of town to celebrate my son’s wedding (yay!) and will probably not get around to reading and commenting much, if at all, this weekend. Hopefully, I can dive in next week as we finish up our last full week of school.

The Evidence is in…

I’m pretty sure I’m losing my marbles. Or at least I’m really, really tired. Exhausted. Wrung out. Or maybe both? All of the above? You be the judge. Here’s the evidence:

  1. Do you know that feeling on long drives, of being overwhelmed with fatigue? The one where you really can’t stay awake? When you’re opening windows, turning on the AC, shaking your head, pinching yourself, or just pulling over to nod off for a few minutes?
    Well, on a recent Friday, I drove home from work, feeling just that way, yawning madly. Struggling to keep my eyes open. I was so, so tired. I tried all the tricks, but none were working. It’s only a 25 minute drive, but I actually considered pulling over. I was desperate to get home.

    Finally, I pulled into the driveway and put the car in park….
    the next thing I knew, I was opening my eyes. The car was still running (thankfully in park!) and my audiobook was well ahead of where it had been. I have no idea how long I’d been sleeping, but I had been. As my colleague said, “Well, thank God you don’t have a garage!”

  2. Late last week I fell into bed exhausted. (Are you sensing a theme here?) When Kurt came upstairs, it woke me, and I got up to go to the bathroom. As I returned to the bedroom, I looked down. What?! I was still wearing my work clothes. I never even got out of them before falling into bed. I mean, I’d been wearing a comfortable outfit, but still!
  3. Then, I was trying to figure out what to do about last Friday afternoon’s send-off party for a co-worker moving to Spain. I really wanted to attend, as she’s a lovely person and the parent of a student in my class. I also thought it would be nice to actually socialize with some colleagues. But I really didn’t know if I could carve out time to figure out what to make and then to make it, and my in-laws had arrived days ago and I’d barely seen them, and the wedding is fast approaching and report cards are due and…you get the gist.
    So, on Thursday afternoon, after a lot of agonizing and mental gymnastics, I finally realized I just couldn’t swing it. I decided I would simply explain to my co-worker and offer my apologies. I knew she’d understand.

    Here’s how that went:
    She happened to stop by my classroom this past Friday morning with her two kids and a gift of an iced coffee from Starbucks. (Yes, she’s an amazing, generous human being!)
    After my effusive thanks, we chatted for a few minutes, and then I took a deep breath and said,
    “I’m so sorry, J, but I’m not going to be able to make it to the party tonight.”
    She looked at me oddly.
    Crap! It wasn’t a surprise, was it?
    I search my memory.
    No….I distinctly remember the invite saying she knew about it. At least I think I remember that. Oh, no!
    “I didn’t blow it, did I?” I asked, anxiously. “I was sure you knew about it!”
    “Oh, no,” she said, still looking at me oddly,”I did know about it.”
    She paused, then continued, “But, Molly, the party was last Friday.”

So, the evidence is in. It’s pretty clear. There’s plenty more, but I didn’t want anyone to worry too much, and I think I’ve proven my case. I doubt there’s even a need to withdraw to deliberate.

In the slightly revised words of Daniel Pinkwater, I fear it’s clear that I have “gushed my mush, lost my marbles, and slipped my hawser. ” Or, perhaps I’ve “popped my cork, flipped my wig, blown my stack, and dropped my stopper.” However you put it, it doesn’t look good–the verdict seems to be a foregone conclusion.

I rest my case.

Infusing Photos with Poetry?

Life’s been tougher than usual lately. I’m pushing myself to get back into a rhythm of regular posting again. Poetry and photography take me a bit out of myself, offer a sort of respite from daily life. So, I’m dabbling, not working on anything in particular, but enjoying mixing some photos and poems.

The path
of decapitated seed heads
leads the way
toward the light

©Molly Hogan

This week Michelle Koogan is hosting the Poetry Friday Round up on her blog. She’s celebrating birthdays with her poetry and art. Be sure to stop by and join the festivities!

PS Thanks for the post title idea, Tim Gels!


Each evening, after work, I wander through my gardens, bathing in the vibrant green air, inhaling the overlaying scents, colors, textures. Letting go of the day. Marveling at how much changes in a day.

Late May brings the drowsy soft heads of poppies. Those overlarge buds, so deceptively shy and sleepy enchant me. Buds of clustered anticipation.

Slowly, the slightest hint of crimson emerges–a tantalizing glimpse amidst the green. A tender promise.

Then suddenly, almost overnight, there’s a brazen crowd of blowsy blossoms shaking their crumpled petals in the breeze. A chorus line of Parisian show girls–long stalks of bare legs and colorful petticoats flying.

I’m forever startled by this transformation from demure to brazen. Forever grateful.

Bedazzled by poppies.

Happy Retirement, Mary Lee!

Nature writer, Hal Borland, wrote “blue sky, warm sun and roadside violets are as comforting a discovery as any heart could ask of the burgeoning countryside.” When I read this recently, it occurred to me that there are certain people who are like that, too–present and adding to the comfort of all. Mary Lee feels like that kind of person to me. Although we’ve never met, her generosity of spirit, her passions for poetry, equity, nature and teaching shine through. She is warm, welcoming and inspiring. While I am sure her absence will be keenly felt at her school, I’m looking forward to seeing where her creative energy takes her!

To celebrate all things Mary Lee in this week’s Poetry Friday, I’m re-sharing a slightly edited version of a poem I wrote to celebrate Mary Lee’s birthday several months ago.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by another warm and generous teacher, Christie Wyman, at her blog, Wandering and Wondering. Be sure to stop by and join in the celebrations!

PF: A poetic start to spring break

Last Friday was the first day of spring break and I was delighted to learn that two of my favorite poetry people, Laura Purdie Salas and Irene Latham, were presenting at the Faye B. Kaigler’s Children’s Book Festival. And it was free. And I didn’t have school, so I could attend! Win! Win! Win! Clearly, this was the best way ever to start my spring break.

It turned out that Irene and Laura were joined by the charming and amusing Vikram Madan. What a great panel of poets! Each of them shared from their books and included ideas for writing with children. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, it’s well worth the time to check out the recording here. During the presentation, among other things, Vikram shared tips for engaging kids by encouraging them to write and draw in response to humorous poems, Laura shared her riddle-ku and equation poems and Irene encouraged us to try writing nonets.

My version of a riddleku isn’t a mask poem, like Laura’s are, but here it is:

first warm spring recess
pale stalks emerge
pump, leap, run

Can you guess what I’m talking about? I suppose you might need to experience an early spring recess after a long northeastern winter to know. I’m leaving it title-free for now, so you can put your guess in the comments if you’d like 🙂

Here’s the nonet I started writing during Irene’s free write time and finished up later.

Nature’s Beneficence

yourself in
the beautiful
world surrounding you.
Keep your eyes wide open.
Stop! Look! Listen! Breathe in. Out.
Be prepared to be bedazzled.
Lose yourself and find yourself again.

©Molly Hogan, draft

Thanks to Irene, Laura and Vikram for a wonderful presentation!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Catherine Flynn at her blog, Reading to the Core. This National Poetry Month she’s been writing a series of wonderful poems with a theme of “Writing Wild.” Be sure to check them out, along with the links to loads of other inspiring poetry projects.

PF: Terse Verse

Poetry Friday: What is Poetry? | Reflections on the Teche

I hadn’t planned to participate in PF this week, but it is the first day of April Break, so I have time. And the weather isn’t too inviting for a photo jaunt. And then I read Kat Apel’s PF post, and her breezy, fun, creative terse verse inspired me to try my own. Thanks, Kat! I had so much fun playing around with these!! What a great way to head into spring break.

Here are my efforts, in no particular order.

Spring break started yesterday:
Slept in late! Feelin’ great!

On discovering hidden treasures in the garden
Violets pool. Springtime jewels.

When I see the local weather forecast on April 16th:
Snow’s due. Feeling blue.

The hill of scilla has launched into riotous bloom
Dazzling hue. River of blue.

Bird vs. Cat–A sad report on recent happenings in the garden:
Chirp. Slurp. Burp.

Ordered large pizzas on the commute home
Tough day eaten away.

When the seamstress isn’t returning your calls about altering your mother-of-the-groom dress and the wedding is in early June…
What’s the glitch?
I need a stitch
before the hitch!

I highly recommend reading Kat’s post and then trying your own hand at these terse verse. It’s slightly addictive!

This week’s PF Roundup is hosted by Jama at her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Jama’s posts are always a nourishing delight, so be sure to swing by and check out the happenings.