PF: A Poem of Farewell

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Many months ago, fellow Swagger, Heidi Mordhorst,  suggested writing a poem of farewell for our monthly challenge. At that time, none of us had any idea that it wouldn’t be a run-of-the-mill end to the school year. I remember idly thinking I’d maybe write a farewell to my alarm clock or to some aspect of my classroom.

When I finally turned my  attention to this month’s challenge again, maybe a week or two ago, my initial knee-jerk poetic response was:

Every atom
of my being
revolts
at the thought
of saying
one
more
goodbye.

There have been so many unexpected endings lately. Sigh.
In other words, I struggled with finding a way into this challenge.  After numerous false starts, I toyed with the idea of not participating, but I felt guilty, especially since another Swagger, Margaret Simon, was hosting the Roundup this week at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. (Be sure to check out her beautiful golden shovel, written to her students.)

Finally, I was bemoaning the pending deadline and my lack of progress on the prompt to my daughter. We were talking about all the accumulating, worrying farewells (school, employment opportunities, truth, common decency, environmental protections, etc.) and she started riffing off the ending of “Goodnight Moon”. Inspiration struck! With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown, I used her classic book as a starting point. Like so many things, it turned political.

Goodnight Trump

In the great white house
there is an inept man
with a sickening band
of sycophants
who
rally round his toxic rants.

With this bigoted liar in the oval room,
lie truth in tatters and a whiff of doom,
tax returns hidden, but no books in sight
a hunger for power—not justice, but might,
mocking tweets, outrageous lies,
a need to diminish and patronize.

Goodbye dignity
Goodbye truth
Goodbye clean water and skies for our youth
Goodbye unity and national pride
and a country with citizens deeply united
Goodbye decency
Goodbye class.
Pray God, come November,
Goodbye to this Ass.

©Molly Hogan, 2020, draft (revised again after posting)

To see how my fellow Swaggers’ respond to this challenge, click below:

Today’s host, Margaret Simon: Reflections on the Teche
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

 

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!

Water Memory

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Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, today’s Poetry Friday hostess extraordinaire, recently posted a daily prompt for Laura Shovan’s Water Poem Project. She suggested writing about a water memory. I haven’t had much opportunity to respond to prompts lately, but this one caught my fancy.

Once

Once
I stood
beneath a lacery
of leaves
woven
by towering trees
bedecked
in dappled sunlight.
A brook
threaded its way
down the hill
around and over
moss-covered rocks,
its crystalline waters
burbling,
spilling,
running free,
their song
as refreshing
as a cool breeze—
A gift
from the forest
to me.

© Molly Hogan , 2020, draft

Make sure to visit the PF Roundup at Amy’s amazing blog, The Poem Farm. You can also check out Amy’s National Poetry Projects, both current and past. Set aside some time and prepare to enjoy yourself!

(Please forgive the formatting—we’re going on 24 hours without power and I’ve never used my phone to post before! I’ll need to add links later too! Update: 36 hours later and we just got power back! Woot!)

SOLC Day 1: A Mad, Magical Moment

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 1
This month I’m participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (SOLC) to write about a small moment every day in March. 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

On Saturday afternoon, I lounged in the family room, lost in my mystery novel, enjoying a low-energy afternoon after an active, productive morning. At some point, I must have nodded off. When I woke, I still felt deliciously drowsy. I stretched and slowly opened my eyes.

I didn’t think I’d slept long, but the light that filled the room was definitely odd.  I yawned, shrugged off the throw blanket and walked over to the window to look outside. The sun was shining, but it was…snowing?

What?

Suddenly wide awake, I plunged my feet into the nearest shoes, snatched up my camera and raced outside. The sun gleamed brightly through a bank of low clouds, but even as I watched, the snow flakes were falling faster and faster. It was stunning. Each flake glistened in the sky like glitter! I took a few pictures, well aware that I probably wouldn’t be able to capture the glorious light, the wonder of the moment.

After a few minutes, I raced back inside to grab my camera bag and a different lens. My husband looked up from his lazy afternoon couch position.

“It’s amazing out there!” I cried, then dashed out again.

I wandered about the yard, taking a picture now and then, slipping on the icy snow and grinning from ear to ear, transfixed by the sight. Snow flakes continued to fall, the sun shone, and the sky got bluer and bluer. It was a mad, magical moment.

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I had wondered if my first small moment would be hard to find. If I’d regret signing up for the challenge this year. Instead, the moment drifted softly into my day. Precious and fleeting. Feeling a bit like a miracle.

 

Sneak Peek: “On a Snow-Melting Day”

Screen Shot 2019-12-22 at 7.49.48 PM.pngI’ve long been a fan of Buffy Silverman’s poetry and photography, admiring her clever word play and focus on the natural world. Years ago, even though I didn’t know her, I sent her an audio of my first grade class reciting one of their favorite poems, her poem, “Toad Serenade.” (I would share it here except my plan won’t let me. 😦 ) This fall, I was delighted to hear that she has a new book coming out in February. Then, lucky me, I had a chance to preview it! 

 “On a Snow Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring” captures that wonderful moment when everything shifts and tips from winter toward spring. There’s a lovely energy to this book, a  momentum that is enhanced by the structure and by the interplay between poetry and photographs (three of which are Buffy’s). The words and images are paired together beautifully!  The photographs are gorgeous–bright and vivid–and the language is wonderfully engaging with clever rhyming, powerful verbs and creative adjectives.There’s even additional information at the end of the book to fuel discussions about natural changes as spring approaches. 

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One of my favorite pages…though it was SO hard to choose just one!

This book is sure to delight Pre-K- 2 readers, its targeted audience, and makes me yearn to visit my old first grade classroom to read it aloud. It would also serve as a fabulous mentor text for both younger and older writers. I can imagine shared writing sessions with younger classes and great explorations of word choice and the power of hyphens with older students. Congratulations, Buffy, and thanks so much for the opportunity to take a sneak peek. My only complaint is that I read the book on a snowy day in December, and it reminded me how far away spring really is! 

A Rotten Afternoon

slice-of-life_individual“So, please introduce yourself and say why you want to be in Writing Club.”

We worked our way around the circle.

“I’m here because I want to finish writing a story I started last year.”

“I’m here because I really like writing.”

Then a student started giggling and announced, “I’m here to write about Chicken Nuggets!”

Multiple students dissolved into gales of laughter. After order was restored, we continued. A student started to introduce himself by his given name, and his friend interrupted him, “No, you mean you’re Timmy!” she cried.

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “I’m Timmy!” and laughed maniacally.

“Chicken Nugget!!” another student called out, accompanied by more laughter from some, and confused and/or annoyed looks from others.

And so it went on.

I made it through the hour. Barely. I spent most of my time redirecting, reprimanding and regretting my decision to have an after-school Writing Club. My only bright spot was that somehow quite a few students actually wrote to the prompt and had something to show for their independent writing time. I have no idea how, given my largely unsuccessful efforts to lower the volume to a reasonable level.

Now I’m home, drinking wine, and regrouping. I didn’t have the energy to go to my own Writing Group, which made me even sadder and grumpier.

Sometimes you just have to tell it like it is.

Poetry Friday: National Author’s Day Challenge

downloadLinda Mitchell posed our monthly Swagger challenge this time around. She suggested that since November 1st was National Author’s Day, we should find a mentor author and create a poem inspired by that individual. I loved the idea! I brought home Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon, considered some Ogden Nash poetry and also revisited Helen Frost’s fabulous Step Gently Out. After much debate, I decided to use the latter as my mentor text. This beautiful book pairs Frost’s poetry with Rick Lieder’s gorgeous photographs. It’s a winning combination and a favorite of mine, combining two of my greatest pleasures–poetry and photography.

Step Gently Out

It begins,
“Step gently out,
be still,
and watch
a single blade
of grass.
An ant
climbs up
to look
around.
A honeybee flies past.”

I worked last minute to pull this all together, so I could post tonight, but it’s still drafty.

foggy start (1)

pink sky eagle (1)

dual herons (1)

gilded cormorant (1)closer kingfisher (1)

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whole world come alive

Step gently out,
be steady
and slow.
Watch
tendrilled fog
mime river’s flow.

An eagle perches
in pinkened skies,
observes the scene
with ancient eyes.

Two herons soar
high above,
silhouetted in
silent flight.

A cormorant
skims along the river
gilded in
dawning light.

Kingfisher pauses
after rattling call,
then plummets in
plunging dive.

Rising sun
crests the trees.
Feel your spirits
spark, revive.

Mornings at the river…
watch the whole world
come alive.

©Molly Hogan, 2019

To visit my fellow Swaggers and check out their National Author Day-inspired posts, click on their names:
Margaret Simon
Heidi Mordhorst
Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. She’s sharing two fabulous poems by Samantha Reynolds and an invitation to a winter poetry swap.

#Poemtober Day 12: Dragon

 

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Autumnal Conflagration

flicker, flutter
fire, flame
autumn embers
kindle bright
as if a roaring rush
of dragon’s breath
has brushed the landscape
igniting, brightening
lighting with flares
of crimson maple and golden oak
leaves crackling with color
piercing smoky grey skies
until even the river
is ablaze

©Molly Hogan, 2019 (draft)

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Navigating a New Course

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Twenty minutes after I leave home, I pull onto the access road to the hospital. Thinking how routine this already feels. Thinking I don’t want this to be a new normal. I navigate without conscious thought, easily finding my way to patient visitor parking. I park and walk toward the building, eager to see you, wondering how your night was. The doors open automatically as I approach, and I enter, turning left toward the stairs that will take me up to your room.

I’ve been up and down these stairs dozens of times in the past two days. Going to the bathroom. Trying to get cell phone reception. Calling people to give updates. Running to the car to grab something. Bringing your cell phone down so that texts will come through. Moving just to move.

At the bottom of the stairs this morning, I stop and look up, feeling my anxiety ratchet up. How will you be? How was your night? Will we get any answers today? Will they be reassuring or not? What happens next?

The steps stretch up before me. I take a deep breath and mount them slowly.

One.

Two.

Three.

The wall along the stairs is decorated with large paintings, primarily Maine land- and seascapes. I haven’t looked at them closely, but in my many trips up and down, one in particular has drawn my eye again and again. Perhaps it’s because of its location–at the top of the stairs. Or perhaps because of its subject–a single sailboat underway in the midst of a vast expanse of ocean. The waters sometimes appear calm to me, and sometimes seem more turbulent. It must depend on the angle. Always, though, the sailboat looks the same– small and so vulnerable in the midst of so much water. No land in sight.

I climb the stairs slowly, my eyes lingering on that painting. On that small boat. On the blue seas surrounding it. I think of this journey we’re on, and wonder where we’re going. What will our destination be?

Finally, I reach the landing.

It feels selfish and cowardly, but I stand still for just a moment. Just one. I want to exist in this brief space of not knowing anything more. Just for a minute. One, long minute when nothing changes. Even though this minute is fraught, it could be easier than the next one. Or the next one could be easier, I remind myself. Though that’s just not the way I think. I’m so scared.

I take the moment. Stretch it out for a bit longer. Then I step forward, turn the corner, and walk down the hallway to your room.