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.


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.


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.

NPM, Day 5: “Stone Bench in an Empty Park”

Today, I grabbed a slim volume from the books in front of me. “Stone Bench in an Empty Park” is a collection of poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko. The poems are all haiku celebrating nature in the city and are beautifully illustrated with photos by Henri Silberman.

In his Introduction, Janeczko explains that while haiku usually celebrates the country, he wanted to highlight the wonders of nature within the city. He reminds us that no matter where we are, “We need to look carefully at what is around us. If we look closely enough, we will see poetry.”

I have more access to country than city around my home, and chose to write haiku about a few of the things I saw on my country walk yesterday. Next time I’m in the city though, I’ll be looking for haiku opportunities and thinking of this collection.

porcupine grazes
an undulation of quills
rippling through tender grass

©Molly Hogan, draft

chivvied by crows
red-tailed hawk soars
into a bowl of blue

©Molly Hogan, draft

NPM, Day 4: “writing poetry from the inside out”

2021 National Poetry Month Poster

So, here it is Day 4 and I’m still enjoying playing around with my nebulous NPM project. It occurred to me that if I’m going to keep doing this, a title or overarching theme (other than “Grabbing random books off my shelf” ) might be helpful. Maybe “Dusting off the Shelves” or “Dusting away the Cobwebs”?

Clearly, I’m going about all of this a bit backwards. Most people choose their theme or topic and then dive in. I’m dipping my toes in, happily uncommitted. As long as it feels fun and productive, I’m going to continue. As soon as it feels like a slog, I will probably opt out. If I keep going, perhaps I’ll find a title by the end of the month. 🙂

This morning, I grabbed Sandford Lyne’s book, “Writing poetry from the inside out: finding your voice through the craft of poetry” off my shelf. It’s filled with techniques, tips and writing exercises. He encourages “poem sketching”, using words as materials to create quick sketches or word studies, and suggests using word groups to get started. I’ve enjoyed playing around with these in the past and thought I’d try again today. Low stakes and fun is my mantra for the month! I turned to the back of the book, where Lyne generously provides groups of words. So many choices! I let my eyes flit over them and stopped on the first group that appealed to me this morning:


Here’s what I came up with:


Honeysuckle clambers climbs
up and over garden fence
slow interloper
roping coils of twining branches
she advances
with fragrant stealth
betraying her presence
with air that tastes
of forbidden nectar

©Molly Hogan, draft

And as I typed this, another poem popped up.

Does the pale wooden fence
feel the honeysuckle’s weight
as a burden?
Does it resent
the relentless trespass?
Or does it relish the swirl
of twining vine
and preen beneath
the sheath of blossoms,
acquiring a taste
for gaud and glory?

©Molly Hogan, draft

NPM: Poemcrazy

2021 National Poetry Month Poster
Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

This morning I picked up Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge’s “poemcrazy,” an all-time favorite, but one I haven’t visited in years. I opened to Chapter 3: “collecting words and creating a word pool”, dove in, and fell in love with it all over again. It’s such a joyful, exuberant celebration of words and word play. I wonder that sparks don’t fly off the pages as I read.

I started writing down words and phrases, playing with sounds and meanings. Word romping. Listening for sounds, free associating, “casting out words like water in a fountain.” I drenched myself thoroughly in words, marking no boundaries, simply creating and diving into pools of words while Wooldridge cheered me on: “Be sloppy. Don’t think. You can’t make a mistake, there aren’t any wrong words.”

In April

flaming yellow finches
pop in, perch, pop up
like lollipops or lemon drops
fling light
sing bright
sprinkle citrus song
flit, glit, flutter, fly
sparkling sunbeams
in a zephyrous sky

©Molly Hogan, draft

PF: Maple Tree, Ten Times

This month Linda Mitchell posed our Swagger writing challenge: to write about something seen in many ways. The prompt was to pattern a poem after Pat Schneider’s “The Moon Ten Times,” a poem that sees the moon in many ways. I loved the way this prompt stretched my brain, and I played around with focusing on the wind, a river, winter and a tree. Ultimately, I chose to consider the many ways to see a maple tree.

Maple Tree, Ten Times

  1. Spring reservoir
    sap rising like a song–
    sweet and clear
  1. Wooden cradle
    gently rocking
    newborn birds  
  1. Open air venue:
    Dawn chorus
  1. Nature’s
  1. Autumn firecracker
    rocketing branches
    of crimson and gold
  1. Calm eye
    in a swirl 
    of whirligigs
  1. Sky quilter
    sections the blue dome
    into patchwork pieces
  1. Icy wind chime
    glazed limbs flash
    tinkle and clink
  1. Earth’s fingers
    trace the clouds
  1. Winter’s needlework
    bold stitches anchor
    sky to earth
  • ©Molly Hogan, draft

To check out what the other Swaggers have done with this challenge, click on their names:

Heidi Mordhorst
Margaret Simon
Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Mary Lee Hahn at her blog, A Year of Reading. She’s sharing a link to NPM projects and the Progressive Poem, and also the first and second poems in her NPM project of creating daily haiku.


Get the Official Poster | Academy of American Poets

I’ve been toying with the idea of committing to creating my own project for National Poetry Month (NPM). It’s April 1st and I still haven’t decided. One thought I had was to mine my dusty trove of “I’ve been meaning to read or reread that” books and use each one to spark a poem. I thought it would be a great way to dip into those books and explore some new prompts, poets, and processes. It sounded kind of fun and relatively low-key.

I Am Writing a Poem About...: A Game of Poetry: Livingston, Myra Cohn:  9780689811562: Amazon.com: Books

With this idea in mind, I picked up Myra Cohn Livingstone’s “I Am Writing a Poem About…A Game of Poetry”, a book long-ago recommended to me and purchased, and never perused. It’s a collection of poems inspired by word play in one of Livingstone’s master classes of poetry. The first prompt she gave her students was one word: “Rabbit.”

Well, this seemed like a sign. Today is the first of the month, and anyone who has known me for any length of time knows about my obsession for trying to say “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” as my first words on the first day of each month. In my family, it’s a way to wish for good luck. (If you’re interested, you can read more about it here and believe me, it’s much harder than it sounds.)

So, I figured I’d write a poem inspired by the word “Rabbit” and just take it day by day. We’ll see what happens along the way!


No rabbits
visit my yard
nose aquiver at the scent
of clover-drenched lawn
but each month,
as I was taught,
I whisper an early morning
“Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit.”

Even though
no rabbits appear
and the luck is debatable,
I hear the echoes
of my mother’s and
grandmother’s voices–
a different sort of visitation
and perhaps the one
I was conjuring
all along.

©Molly Hogan

SOLC Day 31: Done

March 2021 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.

Writing the final post of the challenge is, well, challenging. On one hand, I want to reflect on the month past, the process, the growth. On the other hand, I simply want to type, “DONE!” and push “Publish”.

I believe this is my seventh year to finish this challenge, and the end is always filled with big emotions: relief, triumph, sorrow, gratitude. It always feels like I should offer up some profound words of wisdom and insight, but for now, I’m coming up short. Perhaps in the days ahead, I’ll have some space for reflection as the experiences of the month shift and settle. But for now, I know this:

Once again, I hesitated before signing up for this challenge.

Once again, I’m thankful I did.

Once again, I regretted all the posts I didn’t read, or the ones that moved me that I didn’t find time to comment on.

Once again, I was deeply moved by the thoughtful comments that visitors left on my blog. By the time they took to connect.

Once again, I marveled at this writing community, this group of people trying to capture their lives in words, willing to put it out there for others to read.

Once again, I discovered fabulous new-to-me writers and mentors who taught me something every day along the way–about struggle, about writing, about life…

Once again, I flirted with the idea of quitting. And didn’t.

Once again, with this post, I am finishing the challenge, filled with relief, triumph, sorrow and gratitude.

One by one, I type the letters: “d” “o” “n” “e”.


SOLC Day 30: Just Trying to Finish!

March 2021 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.

I used to run 5Ks and I remember the common encouraging refrain from spectators as I approached finish lines: “Finish strong!”

I remember trying to rally to their words. Trying to pick up my pace. Trying being the operative word. At that point, I was typically depleted, though still determined to finish. And finish I did. Every time. My pace didn’t increase, but I continued to put one foot in front of the other until finally, I crossed that finish line.

I feel a little bit like that now. Usually at the end of the March challenge I find myself in a groove, finding topics easily, finishing strong. This year, I’m struggling. It’s been hard to keep my mind on the goal. Yesterday, I almost didn’t post. I was willing to quit. But I didn’t.

Weirdly, simultaneously, I also find myself wanting to commit to a personal project for National Poetry Month. You know, the one in April, the coming month. The one that begins the day after this challenge ends. The one that has me asking, “Am I insane!?”

Anyway, today, I went looking for inspiration for a slice or for a project. I glanced through books, looked at unfinished drafts on my blog (156 of them!) and then, I remembered how one year I had constructed a poem from the titles of my e-mails. So, I clicked on the overflowing “Promotions” section of my Inbox, and using bits and pieces of them in order, created a found poem.

The extravaganza is coming
crepuscular rays
April sharing
Refresh your space!
Full steam ahead to
art in bloom!
How will you celebrate?

Even my Inbox seems to be nudging me along toward a NPM project!

But for now, here I am, moving slowly forward, step by step toward the closest finish line, the one that marks the end of this challenge.

It’s so close now.

Only one day to go.

SOLC Day 29: Appreciating Nature’s Indifference

March 2021 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.

Saturday was a down day. A day to dwell on problems rather than on possibilities. A day when the worst case scenarios seemed like the most likely ones. But when days like this happen, as they do, I’ve learned enough to take myself outside. There I found some things that made me smile–little rays of optimism that pierced my dismal fog.

Soon enough the scilla will bloom and cascade down the hillside, a river of glorious blue.
The layered leaves of the emerging sedum cradle a crystalline drop of rain.
Crocus rejoices in purple blossoms. How can you not smile?

And today, my book summed up my feelings perfectly: “I found nature’s indifference to my cares and concerns oddly consoling. If I ever started sinking into despair, I need only step outdoors and look around at the glorious green world.” Paul Doiron