Emerge- A Definito

Having a great fondness for Heidi Mordhorst’s definito form, last month I tucked away a mental note to write one for the Poetry Pal’s shared challenge for today. In Heidi’s words, “the definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. I’ve written definitos before (here), but it had been quite a while since I’d played with the form. As usual, I wish I’d had more time!

Half the fun of writing a definito is choosing the word you want to highlight. With butterflies on the mind in my classroom this week, emerge was an easy win.

Emerge

A scuba diver bubbles up
from turbulent seas.
A skyline materializes
as coastal fog fades.
From a too-tight chrysalis
a butterfly steps and spreads
its crumpled wings.
To move out or away from
To come into view
To emerge.

©Molly Hogan, draft

Make sure to visit The Opposite of Indifference where Tabatha Yeatts is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. There are sure to be other definitos for you to enjoy, along with an assortment of other poetry.

PF: Spring Cleaning

This month it was my turn to pick the writing challenge for the Inklings. Spring arrives a bit later up here in Maine, so my thoughts turned to the much vaunted “spring cleaning.” Anyone who knows me well, knows that cleaning is not my forte. Still, here was the challenge I posed (perhaps with procrastination in mind): “Spring is finally arriving in Maine, and though, year after year, I turn my back on spring cleaning, I thought it might be fun to write a poem about some sort of domestic task. (Writing a poem = way more fun than cleaning!) “

I also shared a link to a possible mentor poem called, aptly, “Spring Cleaning”.

Spring Cleaning
by Ellen M. Taylor

Why are there no poems of the joy
of vacuum cleaning after a long

winter? Of the pleasure of pulling
the couch back, sucking up cobwebs, dead

flies, candy cane wrappers, cookie crumbs?
The sun rises earlier now, flooding

the room with daffodil light, enough
to see long unseen clumps of dog hair,…

(click here to read the rest of the poem)

Once I’d shared the challenge, I realized that I really didn’t know what I wanted to write. All my best intentions to clean and organize scatter every weekend morning when I awake to a vibrant, changing world. How could I write about cleaning? Perhaps more to the point, how can you stay inside when there’s something to exclaim over around each corner?! The bees are buzzing! The alewives are running and the osprey are fishing! There’s a pair of wrens nesting in the tree out back! Lilacs perfume the air! Dandelions transform lawns to wishing field overnight! Spring showers bauble the garden! The warblers are warbling! There’s just so much going on! In Spring the world is on permanent exclamation point! It’s a time of year that invites, almost demands, celebration. I kept thinking of the hymn, “How Can I Keep from Singing?” Finally, I decided to use that song as a sort of parody base for my poem.

You can find different versions of the lyrics, but here’s a choral rendition of the the version I prefer which is more inclusive:

So, as you read, feel free to sing along with my poem. To be honest, I do not know how well the rhythm and the poem itself works without the hymn in mind, because I sang as I wrote this and can’t divorce the melody from the words!

Spring Cleaning

As Winter fades and Spring arrives
abrim with new creations
the virtuous are locked inside
obsessed with dirt predation

But robin’s rockin’ on the lawn
an oriole is singing
wisteria drips down the vines
while they’re inside mop-wringing

I tarry in the shower stall
where grout is grim and greening
I make one desultory swipe
then flee away from cleaning

Although the corner cobwebs grow
in silent protestation
I can not yield the duster more
without loud lamentation

The grass is green, the skies are blue
the vernal pools are teeming
What foolish person would I be,
if I just kept on cleaning?

The meadows burst with newfound life
sweet blossoms resurrected
Each day unfolds with new delights
Spring cleaning is neglected

When flowers tremble in the breeze
and birds are hover-gleaning
I will not yield to tyrant dirt
I will not keep on cleaning

I will not scour, dust and mop
and waste these hours, fleeting
Spring’s miracles will soon be gone.
There’s time enough for cleaning.

©Molly Hogan

Karen Edmisten is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Round up at her blog. Be sure to stop by and enjoy a wonderful poem by Yeats and while you’re there, check out some other posts as well. If you want to check out what the other Inklings did with this challenge, click on the links below:

Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn
Margaret Simon

Also, be sure to spend some time outside celebrating the wonders of Spring!

Roller Coaster Days

downloadMy mind is focusing more and more on school lately, and I’m locked into a repeat ride on an emotional roller coaster. I veer without warning from corkscrewing anxiety into a butterfly loop of excitement at being back in the classroom then bank around a corner to spiral into feeling overwhelmed then zoom up the next hill feeling energized until I lose momentum and tip over the top, then dive, practically free-falling, down that mountain of anxiety again. And that all can happen within a span of one minute. Over and over and over.

August 2020

Water’s rising
in Anxiety River.
Forecast is calling
for unrelenting rain
with the potential
for severe thunderstorms.
There’s bound to be flooding.
What are you doing
to sandbag?

©Molly Hogan

Still, I remain cautiously optimistic…
a golden shovel after Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”

It’s a real s*!t show
out there these days, with a
barrage of bad news and little
to leaven the load. My faith
in community, in country, wobbles. There’s 
no steady base. We don’t need magic,
but science, and compassion and a belief in
the power of “us” to alleviate the
burden and to shine a light out into the night.

©Molly Hogan

Ramona is hosting the Roundup this week at her blog, Pleasures from the Page. Make sure to stop by and check out the bountiful offerings on her post and to celebrate her first time hosting.

And a last minute quick draft to celebrate a happy moment in my kitchen this evening:

From one
forgotten
rotting tomato,
a questing seedling
emerges.

Hope
sprouts.

©Molly Hogan

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Poetry Friday is here!

downloadWelcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup!

In July, Mo Daley and Tracie McCormick shared a prompt at Ethical ELA to write a monotetra poem. This form, created by Michael Walker, was totally new to me. It’s composed of any number of quatrains (4-lined stanzas) with 8 syllables per line. Each line in a stanza has the same ending rhyme (mono-rhyme) and the final line of each stanza repeats the same four syllables. If that doesn’t make sense, check out the link to the prompt where Mo and Tracie explain it much more ably than I!

Just before seeing this prompt, I had read about the likely impending demise of our sole 207 area code in Maine. I decided to use that topic to try a monotetra. I found this form really engaging to write, but also really challenging. I’ve been revising my poem up to the last minute and it still feels clunky. Please note that you need to read 207 as “two oh seven” to make the syllable count work.

Two Oh Seven: The end of an era

The news is stark, the outcome bleak
Is there some respite we can seek?
Some technological technique?
To stay unique. To stay unique.

Our code’s a relic from the past.
Too many numbers have amassed.
The unused ones are going fast.
One code can’t last. One code can’t last.

Our code–a unifying call
of “All for one and one for all!”
One number easy to recall.
Now doomed to fall. Now doomed to fall.

207 is depleted.
Our supply has been exceeded.
Numbers cannot be repeated.
Must concede it. Must concede it.

©Molly Hogan

This month I was lucky enough to be paired with the great Tabatha Yeatts herself for a poetry swap! She created this beautiful poem with “a dash” of my blog theme in response to my photo of a snail. I love her word choice, like “buttersoft lit morning”, and the series of compelling questions at the end. (As a confirmed nervous spectator, they really hit home!) Thanks so much, Tabatha, for this lovely, thoughtful poem and for coordinating the swap.0.jpg

Please add your link below to participate in this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Gratitude and #poeticdiversion

downloadI caught part of Krista Tippett’s “On Being” interview with Marilyn  Nelson last weekend. In the portion I heard, Marilyn Nelson shared part of her poem “Farm Garden,” inspired by the life of Venture Smith. I grabbed a strike line to write this golden shovel poem.

Gratitude
a golden shovel after Marilyn Nelson’s “Farm Garden”

These days gratitude
soothes my parched throat. It is
a balm in fevered days, a
source of comfort, never-emptying,
ever-present in life’s cup.

©Molly Hogan

Recently, I’ve been actively working to foster a sense of gratitude.  I’ve been focusing on positive moments throughout the day, then writing small poems and sharing them with the hashtag #poeticdiversion.  (Please join in on Twitter if you’d like to do so.) Already, I can attest to the value of searching for and focusing on positive moments and gratitude every day!

Here are five small poems from this week:

8/3/20

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wayward blossom
some call it “weed”
I prefer “volunteer”

©Molly Hogan
8/4/20

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How is it
that watching
the sun rise
can so profoundly alter
the dawn of a day?

©Molly Hogan

8/5/20

“Look at all the dragonflies!”
“Oh!”
“Oooooohhhhhh….”
Awkward…
Feeling like a voyeur,
I took photos
and laughed.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

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8/6/20
Back Meadow in August

criss-crossing desiccated stalks
splashes of sun-seared blossoms
the shadow of a passing bee
faded patchwork quilt

©Molly Hogan

8/7/20

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Look closely!
Within a zinnia’s tender petals
a secret garden thrives

©Molly Hogan

Laura Purdie Salas is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog . She’s sharing a delightful poem about a pufferfish (Be sure to take time to read this one aloud!) and encouragement for dealing with poetry writing anxiety. Thanks, Laura!

Inspired by Poetry Friday

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I’ve been dabbling in this and that this month, but mostly I’ve found a lot of inspiration in the recent posts of different Poetry Friday participants. I can’t say how thankful I am for this community. It enriches my life in so many ways!

First, I was inspired to respond to the Poetry Princess invitation to write an etheree.  An etheree is a 10 line poem, beginning with a one syllable line and working its way up to 10 syllables in the tenth line.

Summer Passes

June
unrolls
a carpet
of fragrant blooms
to welcome July,
who unleashes her heat
and temper in thundrous bursts.
She cedes lush gardens to August
who blankets them in humidity
and the faintest whiff of autumnal spice.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

Matt Esenwine’s post  last week reminded me of the power of a cherita. Cheritas tell a story in 6 lines, separated into one, two and three lines. Better yet, they don’t typically have titles and wow, do I struggle with titles!

At the shore

the waves curl and unfurl
in endless repetitions.

Two young lovers, sun-lit and carefree,
construct a castle of sand,
beautiful and doomed.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

I also was inspired by Tabatha Yeatt’s post last week about senryu, haiku-style verse that focus on humanity rather than nature.

control
slowly letting go
of that illusion

©Molly Hogan, 2020

And on a lighter note, very much inspired by one of the mentor poems that Tabatha shared:

indigestion
after once again
eating my words

©Molly Hogan, 2020

Finally, after reading Mary Lee Hahn’s post last week, I was inspired to create a daily challenge for myself and anyone who wants to join . Rather than spinning in circles trying to figure out what’s going to happen with school, I’m trying to focus on something small and positive each day, enjoying fleeting moments as they happen. Join in if you’d like!

in the garden
summer sun comes on strong
tomato blushes

©Molly Hogan, 2020
#poeticdiversion

Thanks to all my PF friends. You are such an inspiration!

Catherine Flynn, a regular inspiration to all,  is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Reading to the Core. She’s sharing another beautiful resource and the poem it inspired.

 

Rondeau Rant

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This month’s round of Ethical ELA prompts was a welcome distraction in the midst of increasingly distressing news and looming decisions about the start of the school year. Mo Daley and Tracie McCormick started participants off with a rondeau prompt.  As they explained, “The rondeau is a French poetic form composed of a rhyming quintet, quatrain, and sestet. The rentrement, or refrain, is a repeating line throughout. A rondeau usually has 8 syllables per line and refrains of 4 syllables. The rhyme scheme is AABBA AABR AABBAR. ”

I’m not big on name-calling, but these days my temper is fraying. I’m so tired of being angry and working to remain civil with people who simply make me crazy. I’m also heartily sick of people not wearing masks.

Wear Your Mask!

Don’t listen when the asses bray
about their rights taken away.
Ignorant choices just prolong
the upward trend–dread Covid’s song.
A mask is a small price to pay.

There really is no other way
to stem the tide without delay.
So wash your hands, avoid the throng
and wear your mask.

My temper has begun to fray
when faced with mask-less fools each day.
The evidence is clear and strong:
Mask naysayers are deadly wrong.
Reject this toxic game they play–
and WEAR YOUR MASK!

©Molly Hogan, 2020

Many who oppose masks refer to mask wearers as “sheep.” (I won’t tell you what I call them in the privacy of my home.) My recent non-verbal response to their derisive refrain of “Don’t be a sheep!” was to order masks made from this fabric:

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These will probably be the first masks I’ll look forward to wearing!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the talented and prolific Margaret Simon at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. Margaret dove into some poetry work last week and is sharing some quotes about what poetry is. She’s collecting ideas from participants and hoping to create a collaborative poem. Stop on by and add your thoughts about poetry to the comments.

 

PF: Poetry Swap and More

downloadLast week I opened up the mailbox, expecting the regular array of bills, advertisements and political flyers, and instead found a slim package addressed to me. Oooh! Intriguing. Already my day was looking brighter! Seeing a familiar name above the return address, I realized it must be my first Summer Poetry Swap gift! I brought it into the house and immediately opened it.

Sure enough, Margaret Simon of Reflections on the River Teche had received my name in the match up. She sent me a lovely note on a beautiful photo card she’d made, along with a cute and cheerful notebook from a student fundraiser. Inside the notebook, she’d copied some of my recent photos from my Facebook page and included a copy of her gorgeous poem, “Mbuntu.” As a bonus (and an encouraging nudge), she’d added Michelle Haseltine’s Notebooking Bingo page. Thanks for such a personal and thoughtful gift, Margaret!

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Mbuntu

The kayaker doesn’t look
up
to see me watching him,
seeing how his body,
like paddle,
the water are one.
Stroke right, stroke left
sends a ripple from the
water to the trees
where light dances
like fine feathers.

Branches spread from bald
cypress
to shade the grass,
hide the tree frog,
nest the swallow.
A bird calls
here-a-here-a-here.
Cicadas buzz
like maracas at a Spanish
festival.
The sun rises to the sound
of Samba.

~Margaret Simon

You might not know this, but Margaret also offers up a weekly poetry prompt each Thursday morning titled “This Photo Wants To Be A Poem”. It’s fun to participate, sharing quick responses and commenting on those of others. This week she shared this photo from her friend, JoAnne Duncan:

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feather-at-sea, by JoAnne Duncan

Here’s my response:

Amidst a melody
of blues,
one single feather,
earthbound,
retains the memory
of flight.

©Molly Hogan

Much to my delight, Margaret has also featured a few of my photos. Here’s one from this past spring and my response:

dandelion-by-molly-hogan

Youth’s bloom a golden memory,
her heart aquiver,
Dandelion sighs,
releases her arrowed seeds
to lift and fly
to unknown destinations
in the wild spring breeze.

Molly Hogan, 2020

Thanks again, Margaret, for my Summer Swap gifts and for all the poetry goodness you spread!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Jan Annino at her blog, Bookseedstudio. She’s sharing memories of her mother and a tender, original poem about swimming with her mother in the sea. Be sure to stop by and check out her post. She’s rounding up the old school way.

 

Ethical ELA Prompt Responses

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Last month I experimented in my notebook with a couple of  Ethical ELA prompts.  The first was from Margaret Simon who, within her prompt, asked “Are you a marcher or a leaper?” I didn’t manage to meet all the guidelines of the prompt (like the use an echo line), but enjoyed playing around with some of my favorite words.

No Clear Destination

I’m neither a marcher
nor a leaper,
rather a rambler,
a perambulator,
one who coddiwomples
or stravaigs,
meandering along,
no clear destination in sight,
the journey the reward.

©Molly Hogan

Another Ethical ELA prompt last month came from Melanie Crowder. She suggested identifying your emotional state then brainstorming things in the physical world that are illustrative of it. She encouraged writers to look beyond the obvious and then write a poem that reveals one’s emotional state through a description of that chosen object.  I did initially have an emotional state in mind, but I think the poem wandered a bit.

Mica

Beneath earth’s surface,
silted and soiled,
layers of mica rest.
Light, soft, flexible,
it cleaves
into glittering sheets,
transparent to opaque,
reflective and insulating,
resistant to heat.
Mica shields
and reveals.

Above ground,
when struck
by the whirring blades
of a mower,
mica shatters,
exploding briefly
into a dazzling constellation
of shimmering slivers
of light.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is  hosted by the ever-ready-for-a-challenge Linda Mitchell. She’s written an “In One Word” poem, a form newly created by April Halprin Wayland. Check out her post for an explanation of the form and a powerful original poem.

 

 

PF: Dark Thoughts and The Danger of Denial

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The news is grim and so is much of my recent poetry.

Dark Thoughts

At night
dark thoughts
come home to roost
like a murder of crows
ink black,
loudly squawking,
demanding attention,
while feasting
on carrion.

When will the danger pass?

Never.

It’s always been here.
I just hadn’t seen it
so clearly before.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

 

The Danger of Denial

There are only so many times
you can wrap
something disturbing
and wrong
in coarse rope
tie it to a heavy boulder
and push it
beneath the surface
to keep it submerged.

Eventually,
such things
slip free
of ropes and anchor,
bob up
bloated,
distorted,
and dreadful–
evidence of a crime,
on the brink of exploding
and spewing putrefaction.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

I think these poems are like purgatives (or at least I hope so), an attempt to relieve some of the deep concerns I feel under the onslaught of horrible news. There are still many wonderful things going on in my life, but sometimes I need to focus on the darker stuff.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Karen Eastlund at her blog, Karen’s Got A Blog.