PF: Another Week of Poems Of Presence

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This week it’s mostly been #PoemsofPresence again. I think I missed some days and wrote two on others (who can keep track of the days anymore!?!), but here are a few of this week’s entries: 

May 23

cardinal two

Bird song spills
into golden afternoon.
A slim candle
of cardinal
illuminates the shade.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

May 25th

Busy with chores,
our orbits crossed
in the living room
where the music played
loud and bouncy.
We met,
danced a few steps
together,
then twirled off,
accelerating back
onto our individual
trajectories.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

May 26

Illicit Goods

Somehow
a persistent yen
for a sticky roll
with pecans
transformed into
a surreptitious
curbside pick-up
with money exchanged
for a suspiciously bulky
brown paper bag.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

May 27

ajuga

ajuga’s bugle blossoms
rouse the drowsy bees
morning reveille

©Molly Hogan, 2020

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Mary Lee Hahn at her blog, “A Year of Reading.” Mary Lee is sharing poems by Marilyn Chin along with a nudge to stretch oneself and read “without walls”. Thanks, Mary Lee, I needed that!

SOL: Blue Jay Gratitude

slice-of-life_individualI owe such a debt to the birds–maybe even my sanity these days (that’s assuming I still have it). However I’m feeling, watching the birds takes me out of myself and lifts my mood. It’s a combination of meditation and treasure hunt.

At this time of year, newcomers abound at the feeders and through the yard and there’s so much to see. Orioles linger at orange halves, red breasted grosbeaks sing in a nearby apple tree. You might see a finch flapping his wings wildly to woo his lady love, or a hummingbird arcing through the sky in a pendulum flight display. Some days I’m rewarded with a glimpse of a migrating warbler hopping through trees or shrubs. Recently, I delighted in seeing a chestnut sided warbler and a black and white warbler within minutes.  All this in my own yard.

I sometimes feel guilty about the blue jays, though. They are here year-round, so I tend to overlook them as loud and pesky regulars. Familiarity breeds contempt, they say, and it truly is so with blue jays. If I’d never seen one before and one flew by my window, I’d be rapt–delirious with joy at the beauty of the brilliant blue, the raised crest, and the bold black and white markings. Since they’re here daily though, I tend to disregard them.

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Yesterday, however, I looked up from my computer at the insistent call of a blue jay. I nearly turned away again–not much to see there. Just a jay. It’s so easy to overlook or disparage this common bird with its gluttonous, swaggering behavior. It swoops in like it owns the place. Big, bold and brassy! But yesterday, my eyes lingered.

Have you ever watched a blue jay squawk? Really watched? I’d never noticed before, but it invests its entire body, lifting and stretching with each call. This jay sat on the platform feeder squawking away, bobbing up and down. Sun filtered along its back, highlighting the softer blue, then illuminating the lower brilliant blue, black and white feathers like stained glass. The jay stopped squawking only to eat the choicest seeds. It cocked its head, contemplated its choice and then tucked each one away. I wondered at its capacity–how many could it fit!?– reminded that jays had a role in reforesting the land with oak trees after the glaciers retreated. Amazing! Finally, the jay retreated to the tree tops where it commenced squawking again, its momentum setting the thin branches swaying. Other jays joined it in a raucous chorus that literally set the treetops into motion.  

I often think of how much I miss by simply not paying attention. There are so many things to amaze and delight within the commonplace. Yesterday I was grateful to the blue jay for reminding me.

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blue jay enjoying peanuts at a different feeder

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PF: More Poems of Presence

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Here are a few more poems from my responses to the ongoing “Poems in Presence” challenge. I’ve been so thankful to combine this prompt with photography as a positive focus in recent weeks.

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Day by Day

Yesterday
the plum tree
blossomed

Today
I watch
the sun rise
through its petals

©M. Hogan, 2020

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newborn leaves
cradle lambent pools of light
radiant morning

©M.Hogan, 2020

lady's mantle

Lady’s mantle
makes her spring debut
adorned
with a dewdrop diadem

©M.Hogan, 2020

thrush

Some days
worry and grief
settle in
before my eyes
are even open.

Thankful
for the lingering visit
of a hermit thrush

©M. Hogan, 2002

This week the Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol Varsalona at her blog. She is sharing some of the wonderful poems she’s collected at her Nature Nurtures Gallery and also an original poem to Mother Nature.

PF: Pandemic Morning

 

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Pandemic morning

i.

I wake briefly
leaden
longing for tranquility
drift back
into uneasy sleep.

ii.

My eyes open to
amber beauty–
antique glass
transforming sun rays
into wavery blocks–
an ephemeral Mondrian canvas
painted on my wall.

iii.

Outside
in the garden
a warbler lies
unblinking.
Cupped in my hands
his speckled breast and
olive feathers
fade.
No echo of warmth.

iv.

From within the apple tree
the hermit thrush
sings a haunting melody
then hovers
beneath the suet,
wings outspread.

Benediction
or crucifixion?

© Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

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Jama Rattigan is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and settle in for a delicious post!

PF: Poems of Presence

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This month Michelle Heidenrich Barnes shared a wonderful interview with Margaret Simon on her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. At the end of the interview, Margaret posted a challenge to “Write a mindful poem about the present moment.”  Then, Mary Lee Hahn and Heidi Mordhorst created a Twitter hashtag #PoemsofPresence and invited poets to write small poems for each day in May. I’ve been playing along, and here are a few of my poems from this past week.

May 1:

May arrives
I fill the hummingbird feeder
Sweet anticipation

May 2:

oprey.jpg

overhead
osprey wheel and glide
surf the currents

May 3:

Unexpected Beauty

beside the old train tracks
one bleached skull
fragile, yet whole

May 4:

lemony finches
dot the apple tree
a cherry-red cardinal
perches in the birch
brilliant blue jays
swoop down
like bits of falling sky

May 5:

glowing sun peeks
into striated skies
another day dawns

May 6:
Investment

an afternoon walk
grudgingly taken
still yields
rich rewards

May 7: looking to linger on the light side here…

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This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by none other than, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today’s Little Ditty fame. Make sure to stop by and enjoy an interview with Nikki Grimes and a sneak peek into her newest book, “Southwest Sunrise”, plus a bonus poetry challenge.

PF: Epistolary Poem

downloadLong before I knew the word “epistolary”, I loved epistolary novels. There’s something about reading a book written in documents, especially letters or diary entries, that appeals to me on every level. Perhaps it’s the guilty pleasure of reading some one else’s correspondence? The change in perspectives? I also love that the form is so versatile and  works well in so many sub-genres–children’s literature, fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, young adult literature, etc.

download.jpgI don’t remember the first such novel I read, but I distinctly remember being fascinated in college by the literary sensation “Griffin and Sabine.” (Does anyone else remember this book? It’s kind of like “The Jolly Postman” for adults.) In more recent years, I’ve read and loved 84, Charing Cross RoadSorcery and Cecilia, The Martian, The Perks of Being a Wallflower,  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and Breakout, among others. Please send your favorite epistolary suggestions my way! Reading always appeals to me, but legitimately settling down to read someone else’s letters is especially delightful.

This month it was my turn to select the Swagger challenge, and my thoughts turned toward epistolary poems. A nice challenge with plenty of room for choice! Hopefully my fellow Swaggers agreed.  According to poets.org, “epistolary poems, from the Latin “epistula” for “letter,” are, quite literally, poems that read as letters. As poems of direct address, they can be intimate and colloquial or formal and measured. The subject matter can range from philosophical investigation to a declaration of love to a list of errands, and epistles can take any form, from heroic couplets to free verse.” (see more here)

We share our challenge poems on the first Friday of the month. While on the one hand April seemed to last an eternity this year, on the other hand, I completely lost track of time. May 1st snuck up on me and I found myself scrambling to create an epistolary poem in time to share today. To whom did I want to write? Did I want to write as myself or from a different perspective?

As I so often do, I turned to nature for my inspiration. One of the most welcome harbingers of spring for us is the blossoming of the Siberian squill, or scilla, on the hill up to our home. It’s an early blossoming flower and we look forward to its arrival every year. This year it’s been especially beautiful and we’ve been especially thankful to see a sign that spring is indeed coming.

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scilla

To the Unknown Gardener,

Early each spring
scilla spills,
flowing over the hill
in lush cobalt waves.
I often imagine you,
on a long ago day,
sifting soil through your fingers,
toiling beneath the trees.
Did you foresee
this future luminous river of blue
or did you simply glory
in the fall breeze on your skin,
the crinkling tissue
encapsulating each bulb,
and the satisfaction
of planting them
one by one?

Generosity thrives
in the soul of the gardener
who plants today
to gift tomorrow.
Each spring
we thank you.

Molly Hogan ©2020 (draft)

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You can find this week’s Poetry Roundup at Elizabeth Steinglass’s blog. She’s sharing a video of herself reading several poems from her fabulous book, Soccerverse:Poems About Soccer, along with some activities to do at home.

To see how my fellow Swaggers responded to this challenge, click on the links below:

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

If I Were Goddess of the Ocean

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This past week, Laura Shovan wrapped up her Water Poem Project and the final bonus prompt came from author and poet, Aida Salazar. She wrote,  “Imagine you are the goddess of the ocean. Write a poem about what you have to do during an ocean storm to keep all its creatures safe.” I saw the first half of this prompt, ignored the rest, and went on a mini-rant. I vacillate between feeling frustrated, angry and scared these days, and the idea of being a powerful goddess of anything is very appealing.

If I Were Goddess of the Ocean

Hell!
Some people would feel my wrath!
I’d rage through DC,
sweep wild waters before me,
send towering waves
thundercrashing
through the Oval Office,
channel cascading currents
through Congress
purging it of sycophantic cronies,
then surge forth
to scour away
self-righteous hypocrites
clothed in a veneer of Christianity
who have forgotten the meaning
of compassion
and willingly play
Russian Roulette
with others’ lives.
I’d tumble them about a bit
shake them up.

Unwilling to further
foul my domain,
I’d pull back the tides,
toss these sodden creatures
back onto land.
Bedraggled and drenched,
perhaps they’ll reconsider
their self-serving stances,
their callous calculations,
their disregard for truth
and consequences.

I’ll settle back down
to the ebb and flow
yet whisper warnings
with my surf…

Don’t mess with me!

©Molly Hogan, 2020

Christie Wyman, birder, naturalist, poet, teacher,  is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Wondering and Wandering. She’s been making the most of National Poetry Month with her fabulous ThoreaulyInspired Poetry Project and also shares her contribution to the Progressive Poem.