Challenge: Today’s Sermon

Way back in April, it was my turn to post the May challenge for the Swaggers. I had recently run across Cheryl Dumesnil’s poem,  Today’s Sermon” and thought it would be a great inspiration.

TODAY’S SERMON

is slop buckets knocking 
against each other

and a towel cart 
squeaking down the hall

and grease stains 
worked into cracked palms.

(click on the above link to read the rest)

I suggested using her poem as a prompt in any way we liked–as a mentor, by lifting a line, using the title, creating a found poem from it or whatever.

Way back then, in April, I had a plan– a rough draft about great blue herons. But life has a way of revising plans and I got a bit thrown off course. When I let the others know I wasn’t going to be able to post on the first Friday in May, they graciously suggested that we all wait to post until June.

So, now it’s June, and time to post. This poem is very different from my initial draft, because, well, you know, …life.

Today’s Sermon

Today’s sermon was derailed
by the run-away train

racketing down the track
headed toward the gap.

Today’s sermon attempted to bridge
that maw between before and after

but was stung by a blitzkrieg
of ricocheting gravel. 

Today’s sermon was drowned out by
the long, low howl of the train’s horn

keening through an alien landscape
thin and penetrating and 

the tick tick tick of the tracks
constricting in the ceaseless heat.

Today’s sermon, taut and tilted to one side,
braced for the approaching curve and

the inevitable crash.

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’d like to see what the other Swaggers are doing with this challenge, click on the links to visit their sites:

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

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Margaret Simon at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. Make sure to stop by and see what she did with this challenge and what else she’s been up to. You’re sure to get inspired!

I am heading out of town to celebrate my son’s wedding (yay!) and will probably not get around to reading and commenting much, if at all, this weekend. Hopefully, I can dive in next week as we finish up our last full week of school.

The Evidence is in…

I’m pretty sure I’m losing my marbles. Or at least I’m really, really tired. Exhausted. Wrung out. Or maybe both? All of the above? You be the judge. Here’s the evidence:

  1. Do you know that feeling on long drives, of being overwhelmed with fatigue? The one where you really can’t stay awake? When you’re opening windows, turning on the AC, shaking your head, pinching yourself, or just pulling over to nod off for a few minutes?
    Well, on a recent Friday, I drove home from work, feeling just that way, yawning madly. Struggling to keep my eyes open. I was so, so tired. I tried all the tricks, but none were working. It’s only a 25 minute drive, but I actually considered pulling over. I was desperate to get home.

    Finally, I pulled into the driveway and put the car in park….
    the next thing I knew, I was opening my eyes. The car was still running (thankfully in park!) and my audiobook was well ahead of where it had been. I have no idea how long I’d been sleeping, but I had been. As my colleague said, “Well, thank God you don’t have a garage!”

    Yikes.
  2. Late last week I fell into bed exhausted. (Are you sensing a theme here?) When Kurt came upstairs, it woke me, and I got up to go to the bathroom. As I returned to the bedroom, I looked down. What?! I was still wearing my work clothes. I never even got out of them before falling into bed. I mean, I’d been wearing a comfortable outfit, but still!
  3. Then, I was trying to figure out what to do about last Friday afternoon’s send-off party for a co-worker moving to Spain. I really wanted to attend, as she’s a lovely person and the parent of a student in my class. I also thought it would be nice to actually socialize with some colleagues. But I really didn’t know if I could carve out time to figure out what to make and then to make it, and my in-laws had arrived days ago and I’d barely seen them, and the wedding is fast approaching and report cards are due and…you get the gist.
    So, on Thursday afternoon, after a lot of agonizing and mental gymnastics, I finally realized I just couldn’t swing it. I decided I would simply explain to my co-worker and offer my apologies. I knew she’d understand.

    Here’s how that went:
    She happened to stop by my classroom this past Friday morning with her two kids and a gift of an iced coffee from Starbucks. (Yes, she’s an amazing, generous human being!)
    After my effusive thanks, we chatted for a few minutes, and then I took a deep breath and said,
    “I’m so sorry, J, but I’m not going to be able to make it to the party tonight.”
    She looked at me oddly.
    Crap! It wasn’t a surprise, was it?
    I search my memory.
    No….I distinctly remember the invite saying she knew about it. At least I think I remember that. Oh, no!
    “I didn’t blow it, did I?” I asked, anxiously. “I was sure you knew about it!”
    “Oh, no,” she said, still looking at me oddly,”I did know about it.”
    She paused, then continued, “But, Molly, the party was last Friday.”
    Oops.

So, the evidence is in. It’s pretty clear. There’s plenty more, but I didn’t want anyone to worry too much, and I think I’ve proven my case. I doubt there’s even a need to withdraw to deliberate.

In the slightly revised words of Daniel Pinkwater, I fear it’s clear that I have “gushed my mush, lost my marbles, and slipped my hawser. ” Or, perhaps I’ve “popped my cork, flipped my wig, blown my stack, and dropped my stopper.” However you put it, it doesn’t look good–the verdict seems to be a foregone conclusion.

I rest my case.




Infusing Photos with Poetry?

Life’s been tougher than usual lately. I’m pushing myself to get back into a rhythm of regular posting again. Poetry and photography take me a bit out of myself, offer a sort of respite from daily life. So, I’m dabbling, not working on anything in particular, but enjoying mixing some photos and poems.

The path
of decapitated seed heads
leads the way
onward
upward
toward the light

©Molly Hogan

This week Michelle Koogan is hosting the Poetry Friday Round up on her blog. She’s celebrating birthdays with her poetry and art. Be sure to stop by and join the festivities!

PS Thanks for the post title idea, Tim Gels!

Poppies

Each evening, after work, I wander through my gardens, bathing in the vibrant green air, inhaling the overlaying scents, colors, textures. Letting go of the day. Marveling at how much changes in a day.

Late May brings the drowsy soft heads of poppies. Those overlarge buds, so deceptively shy and sleepy enchant me. Buds of clustered anticipation.

Slowly, the slightest hint of crimson emerges–a tantalizing glimpse amidst the green. A tender promise.

Then suddenly, almost overnight, there’s a brazen crowd of blowsy blossoms shaking their crumpled petals in the breeze. A chorus line of Parisian show girls–long stalks of bare legs and colorful petticoats flying.

I’m forever startled by this transformation from demure to brazen. Forever grateful.

Bedazzled by poppies.

Happy Retirement, Mary Lee!

Nature writer, Hal Borland, wrote “blue sky, warm sun and roadside violets are as comforting a discovery as any heart could ask of the burgeoning countryside.” When I read this recently, it occurred to me that there are certain people who are like that, too–present and adding to the comfort of all. Mary Lee feels like that kind of person to me. Although we’ve never met, her generosity of spirit, her passions for poetry, equity, nature and teaching shine through. She is warm, welcoming and inspiring. While I am sure her absence will be keenly felt at her school, I’m looking forward to seeing where her creative energy takes her!

To celebrate all things Mary Lee in this week’s Poetry Friday, I’m re-sharing a slightly edited version of a poem I wrote to celebrate Mary Lee’s birthday several months ago.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by another warm and generous teacher, Christie Wyman, at her blog, Wandering and Wondering. Be sure to stop by and join in the celebrations!

PF: A poetic start to spring break

Last Friday was the first day of spring break and I was delighted to learn that two of my favorite poetry people, Laura Purdie Salas and Irene Latham, were presenting at the Faye B. Kaigler’s Children’s Book Festival. And it was free. And I didn’t have school, so I could attend! Win! Win! Win! Clearly, this was the best way ever to start my spring break.

It turned out that Irene and Laura were joined by the charming and amusing Vikram Madan. What a great panel of poets! Each of them shared from their books and included ideas for writing with children. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, it’s well worth the time to check out the recording here. During the presentation, among other things, Vikram shared tips for engaging kids by encouraging them to write and draw in response to humorous poems, Laura shared her riddle-ku and equation poems and Irene encouraged us to try writing nonets.

My version of a riddleku isn’t a mask poem, like Laura’s are, but here it is:

first warm spring recess
pale stalks emerge
pump, leap, run

Can you guess what I’m talking about? I suppose you might need to experience an early spring recess after a long northeastern winter to know. I’m leaving it title-free for now, so you can put your guess in the comments if you’d like 🙂

Here’s the nonet I started writing during Irene’s free write time and finished up later.

Nature’s Beneficence

Go!
Immerse
yourself in
the beautiful
world surrounding you.
Keep your eyes wide open.
Stop! Look! Listen! Breathe in. Out.
Be prepared to be bedazzled.
Lose yourself and find yourself again.

©Molly Hogan, draft

Thanks to Irene, Laura and Vikram for a wonderful presentation!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Catherine Flynn at her blog, Reading to the Core. This National Poetry Month she’s been writing a series of wonderful poems with a theme of “Writing Wild.” Be sure to check them out, along with the links to loads of other inspiring poetry projects.

PF: Terse Verse

Poetry Friday: What is Poetry? | Reflections on the Teche

I hadn’t planned to participate in PF this week, but it is the first day of April Break, so I have time. And the weather isn’t too inviting for a photo jaunt. And then I read Kat Apel’s PF post, and her breezy, fun, creative terse verse inspired me to try my own. Thanks, Kat! I had so much fun playing around with these!! What a great way to head into spring break.

Here are my efforts, in no particular order.

Spring break started yesterday:
Slept in late! Feelin’ great!

On discovering hidden treasures in the garden
Violets pool. Springtime jewels.

When I see the local weather forecast on April 16th:
Snow’s due. Feeling blue.

The hill of scilla has launched into riotous bloom
Dazzling hue. River of blue.

Bird vs. Cat–A sad report on recent happenings in the garden:
Chirp. Slurp. Burp.

Ordered large pizzas on the commute home
Tough day eaten away.

When the seamstress isn’t returning your calls about altering your mother-of-the-groom dress and the wedding is in early June…
What’s the glitch?
I need a stitch
before the hitch!

I highly recommend reading Kat’s post and then trying your own hand at these terse verse. It’s slightly addictive!

This week’s PF Roundup is hosted by Jama at her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Jama’s posts are always a nourishing delight, so be sure to swing by and check out the happenings.

2021 Kidlit Progressive Poem

This is the first year I’m participating in the KidLit Progressive Poem. Luckily, the last week or two has been so nutty that I haven’t had too much time to stress about that. (Silver lining!) The general idea is that each participating writer sends two lines to the next poet who chooses one, then writes another two options to send on down the line. It’s been fun to follow along and watch the poem evolve.

After choosing her line from the two sent to her, this year’s Progressive Poem organizer, Margaret Simon (Reflections on the Teche) and one of her students, Chloe, each wrote an option to send my way:

Friends can be found when you open a door.

Or

A never-ending sign connects hand to hand.

Great lines, right? This decision-making is tough stuff! After hemming and hawing, I finally opted for this one: Friends can be found when you open a door.

Here’s the poem after I chose between those two options (and Margaret, you’ll have to tell me later if it’s your line or Chloe’s!):

I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!
Easily contagious – sharing smiles is my plan.

I’ll spread my joy both far and wide,
As a force of Nature I’ll be undenied.

Words like, “how can I help?” will bloom in the street.
A new girl alone on the playground – let’s meet, let’s meet!

We can jump-skip together in a double-dutch round.
Over, under, jump and wonder, touch the ground.

Friends can be found when you open a door.
…?

What will the next line be? Here are my two choices for Buffy Silverman:

Hold it wide, step inside, where there’s one, there are more.

or

Side by side, let’s walk through, there’s a world to explore.

Below is the full list of participants. Feel free to go back and look at previous options and lines to see how this poem has progressed.

Here is the full list of participants for this year:

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All

SOL: Feeling Fortunate

On Saturday morning, we headed toward Scarborough Downs, a former horse racing site that has been transformed into a mass vaccination site. We arrived precisely when directed for Kurt’s first vaccine dose, and were immediately impressed by the clockwork precision of the many moving parts. We were directed from station to station by friendly, helpful workers, with minimal delay.

About 10 minutes after we arrived, Kurt had received his first dose and we were walking out toward the observation area. We followed the handy white arrows on the floor as directed (or so we thought). The couple in front of us was talking to a petite older woman, so we turned toward another cluster of official looking people with clipboards.

“Hey! Are you trying to jump the line?”

We turned and saw the woman, waving her clipboard at us.

“Oops! Sorry!” we said, and moved back toward her.

The couple moved along and she turned to us.

“I may be short, you know, but I can take you down,” she asserted, smiling, and we laughed.

“Oh, are you a mixed martial artist?” asked Kurt.

“No,” she said, without missing a beat, “but I have 8 brothers.”

“Oh,” Kurt replied, “Same thing then.”

She asked her questions and directed us to the check-out/appointment scheduling area. After we finished there, the next person led us over to a couple of chairs.

“Let us know if you’re not feeling good,” she said, “You’re free to leave at 10:34 if you feel fine.”

Kurt sat, and I wandered over to check out the big thank you wall of post-its.

I wandered along the wall, stopping and reading every so often. Each note expressed thanks, gratitude and hope. Many were short. Some told personal stories. Together they created a wonderful, positive outpouring from the community. With so many serious problems front and center, it’s easy to overlook the massive accomplishments of this time, and the efforts of so many individuals and organizations to make a difference. It felt so nice to see some of that effort acknowledged here. Also, so often these days, I find I can’t begin to wrap my head around what I see people saying and doing. This communal constructive wall of thanks, though, was something I could deeply appreciate and relate to.

On the drive home, I looked ahead of us and saw this vanity plate. Even though I wasn’t the one who got this shot today, it still felt pretty apt.