Dazzled by Autumn Gold

“Nothing gold can stay.”
Robert Frost

“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”
― Roman Payne

For the past couple of months, I’ve been awestruck by the golden tones of autumn. I don’t know if the color is unusual this year or if I’m simply more tuned in or more willing to be swept away. Regardless, over and over, I’ve been stopped in my tracks by varying tones of gold.

Autumn Gold

Gold dazzles in autumn.
It skims the river
and shimmers in luminous fog.
Gold whispers
in the rustle of marsh grasses
and in the quivering heart
of the gilded maple.

Gold can be brassy and bold
or soft and tawny.
It collects in the eye of a blackbird,
creeps along craggy stone walls,
knits patchwork quilts
on the wide boards
of an old pine floor.

Gold bookends the days,
rising in greeting,
then spilling from windows
on dark winter nights
to welcome you home. 

Gold promises.
Gold delivers.
Gold takes my breath away.

©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted at Teacher Dance by Linda Baie. Be sure to stop by to check out the bounty of poems and poetry-related posts.

Finally, I’m sending you off with one of my all-time favorite golden songs– Eva Cassidy’s rendition of “Fields of Gold.”

Photography+Poetry=Balance

Taking pictures helps me stay balanced. It forces me to slow down, to notice, to appreciate. It gets me out of my house and out of my head. It reminds me that even when things are ugly, there’s so much beauty in the world.

I rarely take photographs of people. I prefer to focus my lens on the wonders of nature. But on a recent walk with my husband and daughter, we stumbled upon a hillside meadow filled with bursting milkweed plants. I struggled to capture the wonder of the glowing milkweed strands in the lowering autumn light.

And then I saw my daughter doing this.

a hopeful breath
one generation seeds the next
thistledown wishes

©Molly Hogan

This week I also found time to respond to another photo, shared as a prompt in Margaret Simon’s weekly “This Photo Wants To Be A Poem”.

Photo credit to Laura Purdie Salas

November’s steady amber gaze
transfigures feathered grass
autumn alchemy

©Molly Hogan

And then, as it so often does, my drive to work provided me with another moment to savor.

autumn morning
fog rises to greet the sun
day breaks in collage

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Robyn Hood Black at her blog of all things poetic and artistic, Life on the Deckle Edge. And what a post she has today! She’s highlighting a poem by Margaret Simon (Reflections on the Teche) and shining the light on a bountiful array of new books and possible gift ideas. So many poetic folk have all sorts of other artistic talents! It’s a perfectly timed post for those who have yet to start shopping (or even thinking about shopping) and have some book loving friends and relatives on their list. Be sure to check it out!

An Aubade (sort of!)

When Linda first posted our November challenge form, an aubade, I had to look it up. The first description I came across was, “A love poem or song welcoming or lamenting the arrival of the dawn.” Well, as I’m a lifelong lark, that sounded do-able. Feeling optimistic, I researched a bit more and discovered this Wikipedia definition: “An aubade is a morning love song (as opposed to a serenade, intended for performance in the evening), or a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn. It has also been defined as “a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak”.” I liked this broader definition and started considering my options. Unfortunately, I didn’t get too far.

Then, not too long ago, at a store with my daughters, I noticed a display of small charms. Each was shaped differently and was accompanied by a small card with “Advice” from that creature or being. I was charmed by the idea, and it struck me that the rising sun would have some advice to impart. That could fit with Linda Mitchell’s November challenge to write an “Aubade.” Maybe… Sort of…

Advice from the Rising Sun in Autumn

Remember you always have choices:
make a bold entrance
or tiptoe in with muted steps,
but don’t forget to show up.

Be kind.
Take time to warm the breast
of the patient heron
who lingers at water’s edge.
Spotlight leaves in their final fall,
cushioning their spiraling descent
with your elongated golden rays.

Work your magic when you can.
Turn dust motes into fairy dust.
Conjure tendrils of mist from the river.
Bejewel the frosted grass and
kindle a rich amber glow
in the heart of a leaf-laden maple.

Do your part
to banish threatening shadows,
push back winter’s encroaching chill, and
usher in hope on the wings of a new day.

Finally, don’t forget
to look on the bright side–
an adversity of clouds
may just be the perfect opportunity
to create a spectacular scene.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

If you’d like to check out what the other Swaggers did with this Aubade challenge, click on the links:
Heidi (My Juicy Little Universe)
Linda (A Word Edgewise)
Catherine (Reading to the Core)
Margaret (Reflections on the Teche)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Susan Bruck at her blog, Soul Blossom Living. She’s sharing a delightful whimsical romp of a poem and some lovely accompanying art work. Be sure to stop by and check it all out, along with links to lots of other poems.

Green Waves and Ham

On a recent Sunday, we strolled down the beach, admiring the pounding surf and the range of color in the breaking waves. My camera hung around my neck and every so often I snapped pictures of the water, birds, shapes in the sand, or whatever caught my eye. Kurt and I chatted or walked silently for long stretches. We laughed as the shorebirds dashed in and out from the surf, their little legs pumping. I was deliciously content.

Other walkers dotted the beach, many with canine companions. I’m not a huge dog fan, but even I have to admit that nothing says happiness like the exuberance of a dog running at the beach. It is sheer joy in action!

As we walked by one group of three dog walkers, we exchanged casual hellos. A man in the group looked pointedly at my camera and then struck a dramatic pose, clearly inviting me to take his picture.

“Well, maybe if you had a bird on your head…” I laughed. He laughed, too, and we continued on past.

A few moments later, “Hey!” I heard a voice call. I turned back to see the wannabe-photographed man.

“Did you say a turd on my head?” he asked.

Then, leashed dog in hand, he positioned a telltale bulging green bag on top of his head and struck a pose. 

What could I do?

Click.

Revisiting a Halloween Summoning

I haven’t been writing much lately, so I turned to a Halloween-themed poem that I previously shared here. Sadly, the state of our world seems even more dire than when I wrote this poem in 2017. I made some minor revisions to the final two stanzas to focus on more current woes. Unfortunately, many of the original ones remain. Scary, indeed.

Halloween Summoning

I summon ye, spirits and spooks and sprites
and tip-tapping branches on moonless nights
Arise headless horseman and grisly ghouls
and bleak haunted houses where terror rules
Awaken ye witches, ye wizards and djinns
and mad-grinning pumpkins aglow from within
Come forth ye black cats and specters and crows
and clink-clanking chains from dank caverns below
I summon ye, yearning for simpler days
when you were the frightening things on parade
when you were the terrors that filled up my head
that kept me awake and that filled me with dread.

Rise spectors! Rise phantoms! Rise foul-smelling fiends!
Come, take back the night from our nightmarish dreams
Come, banish the darkness, the stygian gloom
the madmen now flirting with chaos and doom
and whipping up festering cauldrons of hate.
Come vanquish these forces before it’s too late.

I’d rather face phantoms about at all hours
than criminal leaders who hunger for power,
vanishing glaciers, electoral threats
pollution, pandemic and civil unrest
And mad spinning storms of apocalypse size
and “leaders” who bully and taunt and despise.

So, rise all ye spirits of Halloween night!
Come harrow us all to your black hearts’ delight!
Treat us to hauntings, and foul apparitions
Bedevil our sleep–it’s no imposition!
Tis better by far to have monsters aprowl
than the man-made disasters that torture us now.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the one and only Linda Baie at her wonderful blog, TeacherDance. Be sure to stop by and check out this week’s poetic offerings, spooky and otherwise!

#Poemtober

I’ve been dabbling in #Poemtober this month. It’s a challenge to use the daily word prompts from “Inktober” to inspire poems. Much to my dismay, many, if not most, of my efforts have been invaded by the political climate and my disgust for our current president. I feel like I need a brain rinse. Sigh…

Day 3: Bulky

Growing weight of worries
a bulky woolen sweater
itching at my skin

©Molly Hogan

Day 6: Rodent

King Rodent
hosts scores of feasting fleas.
Nourished by his dark blood,
they scuttle off
to spread his plague
throughout the land.

©Molly Hogan

Day 7: Fancy

With his fancy resorts
and fancy casinos,
he fancies he can have
whatever he wants,
do whatever he wants,
say whatever he wants.

He’s grounded in greed
mucked deep in the mire
of his own malignancy
with his fancy sycophants
dancing attendance.

I do not fancy him.

©Molly Hogan

Day 9: Throw (inspired by Linda Mitchell’s “Untitled Duplex” and the line, “Poets throw lines to clear the wreck”)

Throw me a line
a perfect image
or refrain
a lifeline of verse
to pull me
from the treacherous waters
of this new reality

©Molly Hogan
(inspired by Linda Mitchell’s “Untitled Duplex” and the line, “Poets throw lines to clear the wreck”)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Janice Scully at her blog, Salt City Verse. She’s sharing a wonderful quote from Thomas Carlyle, autumnal celebrations, and a heartfelt poem about stopping time and holding on to a lovely moment.

Here’s a recent lovely moment of my own–its own form of brain rinse:

Yesterday at the River

Yesterday at the river, there was no drama. No brilliant splash of red or purplepainted clouds. I stood on the bridge as the river below glided silently by, tugging steadily at a green buoy.

Tethered securely, it bobbed and swirled. I looked down on it, watching as it twisted and turned. Wondered what held it fast deep below the water’s surface. Watched, mesmerized, as it ruffled the placid silk of the river’s flow into whirling pools and eddies.

Few birds called yesterday. Far off a crow or two and later a few geese, sounding their echoing farewells. Once the rippling call of a kingfisher crazylaughed across the water, like a skipped stone. Mostly, though, it was a quiet time. A grey time. An in-between time.

Yesterday the fish sought flight. Again and again they flung their bodies, bursting from the river, quivering curls of gleaming scales, then splashed back from air to water. Silvered concentric circles rippled out to intersect, overlap, then bump invisibly against the shore. A gentle nudge from fish to air to water to land.

The river flowed. The buoy held. The fish jumped.

I stood still. I watched. I listened.

Eventually, the sun rose, cresting the horizon with no great fanfare, just a gentle, gradual lightening.

A new day began.

Night Sounds

Night Sounds

Sometimes
in the deep-dark-between hours,
when curdling worries
and prickling fears
pinch and poke me
from sleeping to sleepless,
I find comfort in the night sounds.

Sometimes I hear
the distant hoots
of a barred owl calling,
“Whooo cooks for you?”
threading through the trees,
the merest whisper of a sound.

Sometimes two owls
swoop in closer,
engage in a spirited duet,
a raucous whirlwind
of cascading calls, 
grumbles and hoots.

Sometimes I hear
the far-off yipping cries
of a pack of wandering coyotes.
Or only the crickets
chirping in the night,
setting the air abuzz.

Then sometimes,
there are nights when I wake 
to silent darkness
beyond our windows, and
the soft rhythm
of you,
breathing beside me.

I turn and nestle
into your warmth
and slowly,
my inhale mingled with yours,
our exhales twined,
I drift back to sleep.

©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Bridget Magee of wee word fame at her blog, wee words for wee ones. She’s sharing a delightful post filled with all things orange.

The Tectonics of Grief

The first time I encountered a duplex was in an Ethical ELA challenge back in May. They linked to a Poetry Foundation post that described the process of writing a duplex as: “Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines.” What?! I immediately cried “Uncle.”

Then, this month Margaret Simon suggested that for our monthly challenge we should write duplex poems. I maybe groaned out loud. I was decidedly daunted. But now, I had to at least try.

So, I puzzled out the basics. Seven couplets, each with 9-11 syllables was doable. I could also echo my initial line in my final line. But then there’s an expectation that the meaning or impression shifts from certain lines to others. (If you’re interested in the specifics of that, you can go here.) I’ll admit that that was the part I was still fiddling with when the deadline arrived.

The Tectonics of Grief

Grief–a seismic change, colossal shift
familiar landscape ever altered.

Altered landscape becomes familiar.
Under my feet, fractured terrain settles. 

I settle for this fractured terrain with
slivers of  beauty ‘midst ravaged crevasses.

Ravaged crevasses etched in my reflection–
a puzzle of tracks and foundational cracks. 

I puzzle over cracks and artifacts,
looking for edges, connecting jagged pieces.

Pieces connect unexpectedly. I edge
forward, stumble with aftershocks,

recreating my past, stumbling forward until…
grief–a seismic change, colossal shift.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. She’s sharing a wonderful interview with Carole Boston Weatherford about her new YA novel in verse about Marilyn Monroe, entitled “Beauty Mark.” What an enticing sneak peek!

To see what the other Swaggers did with this duplex challenge, check out their sites:
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

(Note:I’m unable to figure out to how to format the duplex with the new wordpress editor–Please use your imagination and pretend the 2nd, 4th, and 6th stanzas are indented!)

I guess it was bound to happen.

Socially distanced, masked and with freshly sanitized hands, the kids were playing a math game, “Spin and Round”, along the periphery of the room. I’d just checked in with the last group and headed past my desk where my phone was lying out. It’s become an integral part of the day since we spend lots of time outside and I have no time to access my computer after about 11:00 am. I’ve gotten used to glancing at it to check for important e-mails, and did this as I walked by, noticing a notification of an incoming district e-mail.

“Positive Case of Covid-19….”

I stopped in my tracks.

What!?

I grabbed my phone, quickly clicked on the notification, and read.

The details were deliberately vague, but someone with contact at our district’s middle school had tested positive for Covid. My heart sank.

About fifteen minutes later, at recess, the kids played and the adults huddled, checking in with each other.

“Did you see the e-mail?”

“Do you know anything?”

“You know our kids practice sports at the middle school, right?”

We reassured ourselves that this was bound to happen. It wasn’t unexpected. And it was just one case. Hopefully our precautions would serve us well and this could be contained.

We headed back into school, slightly uneasy. But at least there weren’t any cases at our school.

About an hour and a half later, as the kids packed up, I quickly checked e-mails.

Oh, no.

Sure enough, there was another district e-mail.

“Three More Probable Cases of Covid-19.”

My head spun. I hadn’t expected this notice so quickly after the first one. I skimmed the text. Three cases. One more at the middle school, one at the high school and one at a 3-5 school. None at our school. At least not yet.

Still. This is beginning to feel like a runaway train heading down the tracks.