July Challenge–Two Responses

This month Heidi posed our group’s challenge. She shared a poem that Tabatha Yeatts had recently shared on her blog: “What Pain Doesn’t Know About Me”, by Gail Martin. It begins like this:

“How I visualize him as a rooster. How I nickname him Sparky.

My rabbit-heart. How it looks motionless in the bank of clover
but secretly continues to nibble.”

It’s a wonderful poem. You can read the rest here.

Heidi proposed that we use Martin’s poem as a mentor in some way, and she also suggested we might try using some anthimera, which thankfully she explained. It’s essentially using a word in a new grammatical shape–a noun as a verb, a verb as a noun, etc.

I’ve really struggled with this prompt. Heidi left it nice and open, but I couldn’t seem to find a way in. At the moment, I’m in Ohio, helping out my stepmother and dad as he begins palliative cancer treatment. I’m so glad to be here, but needless to say, I’m distracted and a lot more.

My first effort was sparked by the idea of anthimera:

Rough Country (working title)

These days we’re cancering
though I hate to verbify the word
since it’s already damn active
and more than aggressive enough
I’d like to recruit some more verbs
like pummel, throttle, pulverize
and group them
into an active verb posse
ride out together
lasso in that tumor
and administer swift, vigilante justice
leaving cancer broken-backed and beaten
then ride off triumphantly
with a nice sunset in the background
or better still, a sunrise
and the promise of another day.

©Molly Hogan


Then I tried to work with Gail Martin’s poem as a mentor. This was tough. I wasn’t quite ready to delve into Fear, Anger, Grief and couldn’t turn it around and find another entry point. I ended up focusing elsewhere. Sort of. Over the past days, I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the back deck of my dad and stepmother’s house. It looks out over a small pond, and the frogs, dragonflies, ducks, geese and occasional heron are a welcome distraction.

What Frogs Don’t Know About Me

How their croaking calls and banjo twangs are a lifeline, pulling me out of the darker pools in my mind.

My nervous eye. How it scans edges and boundaries, constantly searching for anomalies.

I’m benign.

They needn’t fear my touch. I have no intention of invading and prefer the distance of the lens.

My out-of-proportion delight when I do spy them. Two bumps recast as two watchful eyes. The possibility of transformation.

My understanding–I get their “on-alert” stance. How they are ever ready to jump and splash away at the slightest disturbance. Real or imagined.

We are united in a perpetual state of vigilance.

Even now I hear their long low croaks and can’t help but smile in response.

We inhabit this place together.

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’d like to see what the other Swaggers did in response to this prompt, check out their posts:

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 Laura Shovan at her blog. Make sure to stop by and enjoy some poetry.