SOL–Dawn at Scarborough Marsh

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On a chilly morning in April, there is a subdued beauty to the marsh. Filled with subtlety and variation, it’s a sensory feast. The sky transitions from peach to brilliant gold, lighting the mist that lies low over the grassy hummocks and tide-carved channels. The promise of color lies hidden in silhouettes. The rising sun rays brush the low-lying mist, setting it aglow. They light the feathery edges of fern grass with an amber glow and caress the bellies of flying mallards against brilliant blue skies. Gulls call and crows caw. The air is chilly and permeated with the deep rich scent of damp earth and the organic tang of swampy water. Song sparrows rustle and flit from shrub to shrub, intermittently singing their sweet notes. A great blue heron picks its way through the shallows. It’s a glorious place to greet the new day.

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Some people say there’s no magic in the world. Clearly, they have never have walked in the marsh at sunrise.

NPM 2019 Paint Chip Poetry

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I thought I was all worn out after last month’s SOL writing challenge. Phew! No daily writing deadlines. Less pressure! More time for….other stuff. Woohoo!

56157671_2292250211056165_7153227001665421312_nBut… it’s National Poetry Month. There are challenges and invitations everywhere! Much to my surprise, I’ve found myself “Playing Around with Poetry”. I’m still not quite sure who gets credit for issuing the initial invitation, but think it was Mary Lee Hahn. I know that Jone MacCulloch, Margaret Simon and Christie Wyman are playing along. Yesterday, I gave in to temptation and messed around with my own version of some Paint Chip Poetry.

This morning, much to my surprise, I couldn’t resist trying again. I changed it up a bit, deciding to pull out three random strips and point at one color on each strip without looking. I pulled: “dapper tan”, “papaya”, and “euphoric lilac.”

Spring Dawn

One plump sparrow
with dapper tan stripes
forages beneath the euphoric lilac
heavy with exuberant blossoms
whose scent drifts up
to sweeten the
papaya-streaked sky

(rough draft)©2019 Molly Hogan

SOLC 2019 Day 31: “We’ll Leave the Light on For You”

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 31
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.

http://www.twowritingteachers.org

It had been a long satisfying day. I’d begun the day at sunrise at the river watching an incredible natural display of spring exuberance. Then, I’d come home to write and was thrilled by some unexpected new visitors at the bird feeder.

MOLLYCARD_WEB_SIZE.jpgAfter that, I spent three hours gallery sitting at the last day of an exhibit of my photos at a local art center. I returned home to finish off my blog post and pack, and then we were off to drive to Massachusetts for a celebratory dinner with my son and his fiancee and her family. Instead of trying to drive the 2+ hours back home, we’d decided to stay overnight.

After dinner, we were both more than ready to get to our motel, check in and settle into bed with our books. We left the restaurant with hugs and goodbyes, and headed toward our destination: a Motel 6 about 30 minutes away. On the way, we recalled Tom Bodett reciting their quaint welcoming slogan, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”

I hunched over the wheel, working my way through the unaccustomed traffic, following the narrated GPS directions to the hotel, eager to arrive. As I merged across multiple lanes of traffic and made various quick stops and turns, I remembered how much I don’t like driving at night and in the city. Around us, to my country eyes, our surroundings looked increasingly ugly and somewhat sketchy.

Where was this hotel anyway?

Finally, we saw the Motel 6 sign up ahead.

“There it is!” Kurt said.

Ah, relief was at hand!

“Stay to the right, then make a sharp right onto Popes Lane,” the GPS voice directed.

In the midst of the unattractive suburban concrete sprawl, I turned as directed and then maneuvered into the motel parking lot.

“Go that way,” Kurt said, pointing.

“Slain,” the GPS voice suddenly announced as if she were a tour guide on some grisly sensational murder tour.

“What?” I asked, looking at Kurt. He looked as confused as I felt.

The voice continued, “to kill violently, wantonly, or in great numbers; broadly, to strike down, kill.”

We both turned and looked at the motel, trying to make sense of this unsolicited announcement. Why was the GPS suddenly narrating the definition of slain? To make things even odder, Kurt doesn’t even have voice activation on his phone, and this was simply the default GPS narrator.

“Well, that’s a bit alarming,” I finally said.

Kurt and I looked at each other and then again at the waiting motel. What!?!

As I moved the car forward and into a parking spot, we eyed the hotel with growing trepidation.

The helpful GPS voice then intoned, “You have arrived at your destination.”

We looked at each other and burst out laughing at the strangeness of it all. Then, we both glanced at the motel again. Suddenly, that famous Motel 6 slogan, “We’ll leave the light on for you”, seemed a bit less charming than it had before.

SOLC 2019 Day 30: A Springtime Brew

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 30
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

This morning I swung down by the river to catch the sunrise. As I pulled into my parking space, a juvenile bald eagle flew right before me. I thrust the car in park and grappled for my camera, hoping to catch a quick shot. I didn’t realize yet that the hour ahead would be full of such opportunities.

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Quick! Take a pic! It’s an eagle!

I noticed my friend, Roger, was already at the water’s edge snapping photos. I took a few pictures and then wandered over to join him. Last weekend I’d seen him, but I’d been in a total stress zone. The river magic hadn’t worked on me. This weekend Mother Nature was pulling out all the stops, and together, we were a rapt audience.

We took picture after picture, delighting in the beauty unfolding around us. I went back and forth between gawking and wildly swinging my camera around trying to capture the cauldron of activity. The seagulls were back, ducks flew, floated and fished, and eagles swooped by periodically. The air was filled with song, and bird after bird made an appearance–cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, pigeons, hooded and common mergansers, grackles, robins and more. The fish were jumping, and the river ice had receded dramatically, bringing back those intoxicating reflections. I could have spent hours watching bird shadows swimming amidst reflected clouds. Add the rising sun to the mix, and it was intoxicating. An ambrosial springtime brew!

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Hard to catch a sharp photo when everything’s moving!

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Hooded mergansers coming in for a landing

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Seagull at sunrise

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Incoming! (This one cracks me up!)

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Swimming bird reflections

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After sunrise, the sun still puts on a show

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juvenile bald eagle 

 

 

 

SOLC 2019 Day 29 and PF: Ekphrastic Poem

This week I’m again sharing a dual post for the SOLC and Poetry Friday Roundup.

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This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at Carol’s Corner. She’s sharing a sweet spring poem by Ralph Fletcher.  Stop by to see what other poetic treats await you! 

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 29
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Back in January I drove down to the Portland Museum of Art. I was scouting for a piece of art to respond to for an ekphrastic art contest there. I wandered through the galleries, considering paintings, sculptures and photographs. I lingered at a Wyeth landscape, eyed one of my favorites by Ipcar, and considered the paper mache sculptures by Christopher Patch.

Eventually I arrived at a temporary exhibit of Richard Avedon’s photos. This photo of Andy Warhol drew me from across the room. I stood before it and stared for the longest time. I was struck by the violent patchwork of scars and the artist’s hand pressed against his stomach, as if holding himself together. I kept thinking of the violence of the injuries, of the surgeon working his artistry on the canvas of the artist’s flesh. I had no idea of the story behind this picture until I looked it up when I got home (Click here if you’d like to read about it.), but I knew immediately I wanted to write a poem in response to it. In fact, I wrote several.

I ended up submitting two poems to the contest, one responding to this photo, and another to a self portrait by Lois Dodd. I just got my rejection letter yesterday. I was disappointed, but on the bright side, they said that the Warhol poem “came close.” Sadly, that only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, right? I’m a big proponent of celebrating rejections, but at some times it’s easier to do that than at others. Of course, another look at this photo puts a poetry rejection into perspective.

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Andy Warhol, Artist, New York City, by Richard Avedon

Picture this
inspired by Richard Avedon’s photo
Andy Warhol, Artist, New York City

Pop Snap
Bones crack
blood splats
flesh heals but wounds steal
pieces and peace
new reality
bullet’s trajectory changes topography
each line sewn but no way home
life’s shattered, rearranged
transformed canvas
this man’s skin
life’s pulse
so damn thin
one hand to hold it in
Pop Flash
Photo
Snap

©Molly Hogan, 2019

SOLC 2019 Day 28: A Quick Dose of Toddler

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 28
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I tend to arrive early at school, so I get to see parents dropping off their kids at the before school program. Often younger siblings are there for the drop off, and I really enjoy watching the family interactions. I also love getting a quick dose of toddler!

One morning this week, I was headed to the copier.  A little boy, maybe three and a half years old, was airplaning happily down the hallway, arms outstretched, blissfully ignoring his mother’s reminders to “watch out!” I deftly moved out of the way, avoiding a near collision. He zoomed along, oblivious, a big smile on his little face. I smiled back at him and then at his mother.

“Crazy driver!” I laughed.

She rolled her eyes.

“I wish I had a little bit of that energy,” I said.

“Don’t we all!” she replied, hurrying after him, another young child on her hip.

As he neared the congregation of bus drivers waiting to leave on their morning route, the little boy turned into their midst. One older driver held up his fist for a fist bump. Slowing down slightly, the boy planted a big smacking kiss right on the man’s knuckles, and then he revved up and kept on going. The driver grinned, clearly surprised and delighted, and the boy headed out the door with his mother hot on his heels.

SOLC 2019 Day 27: Would you rather…?

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 27
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Sometimes we manage to grab a little bit of time at the end of the day for a community circle. I often pose a question and we send around a talking piece, taking turns answering whenever we get the piece. I’ll pose questions like, “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” or “If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?” Sometimes students contribute ideas for questions.

One day not too long ago, we gathered at the carpet.

“Ok,” I asked. “Would you rather eat a worm or an ant?”

After the initial hubbub died down, I responded first, “Ant.” Then I passed the talking piece, pretty sure that “ant” would be the dominant response.

The next student asked for some clarification. “Is it raw or cooked?”

I hadn’t been expecting that, but answered decisively. “Raw.”

“Darn,” he said. “Well, I guess ….. ant.”

We continued around the circle. I was fascinated by the additional clarifying questions and the rationales behind different choices.

“I think I’ll choose an ant, because probably I’ve already eaten some and didn’t even know it,” said one student.

“Do you have to chew it?” asked another. “Or can you swallow it whole?”

Hmmmm…That was a tough one. After some discussion, we decided no chewing was required.

“I think I’ll swallow the worm then,” she responded. “Without chewing!”

“I would definitely swallow the worm,” said the next student. “I’d just slurp it down like a piece of spaghetti.”

“Ew!” we all chorused.

In the end, much to my surprise, the class was pretty evenly divided. I’m still sticking with my choice. Definitely an ant.

Which would you choose?