Poetry Friday is Here!

I’m participating in an on-line group working through Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way. As one of our first assignments, we read through the book’s Appendix. There was an Artist’s Prayer included there, beginning “O Great Creator.” I’m not fully comfortable with faith and prayer, and this felt a bit uncomfortable to me. Julia Cameron is quite clear that one shouldn’t allow the “semantics” to become an issue; The concepts of God, or flow, or spiritual electricity work equally well. I was able to roll with that, but still, the Artist’s Prayer felt like a bit of a stretch.

Then about two weeks ago, one of the group members shared her Artist’s Prayer, adding before she read it, “all my prayer is praise.” Those words and her lovely prayer lingered in my mind. The next week, another group member shared her beautiful Artist’s Prayer in a group chat. I carried this with me as well. 

This past Saturday I drove down toward the ocean, timing my arrival to shortly before sunrise. En route and while there, I watched the sky shift and change. As the world gradually lightened around me, I felt the inner quickening that always lifts me on such morning wanderings.

This time though, I found myself awkwardly, tentatively turning over phrases like “O Great Creator.”  I felt a yearning to compose my own Artist’s Prayer. My own prayer of thanks. When I got home, I jotted a few lines in my notebook. Maybe I’ll work on that later, I thought.

Then, on Sunday, I finally captured a picture of the Carolina wren that’s been visiting our house this winter. I shared it on Facebook and Linda Baie replied, sharing a Mary Oliver poem I’d never read before—“The Wren from Carolina”  

The second and third stanzas  popped out at me, 

“Now he lifts his chestnut colored throat
and delivers such a cantering praise–
for what?

For the early morning, the taste of the spider, 
for his small cup of life
that he drinks from every day, knowing it will refill.”

That’s it! I thought. “and delivers such a cantering praise” What a glorious line!! That’s what I want to express–my gratitude for my own “small cup of life” that refills to overflowing–so often on my morning expeditions, but at other moments as well. 

So I started writing my own Artist’s Prayer. It’s still a work in progress, but the journey toward writing it has been so interesting.

Artist’s Prayer

O Great Creator
Thanks be for opening my eyes
to the wonders of this world
To the bountiful gifts
that surround me
Thanks be for the dawn
that quickens my soul
that pulls it like a boat
into river’s flow
Grant me the courage
to be open
to the current
that tugs me
from the bank’s safety
into the fullness of the river
Let me, trusting,
lean into that power
on the tide of each day
May I travel in kinship
with the trees,
the creatures of sea and land
May I glory in the journey
as much as the destination
Thanks be
for this cup of gladness
for the growing certainty
that as I hold it aloft in my hands
each day it will be filled.
May I capture these moments,
share this joy
May my creations
reflect my gratitude
and my dawning understanding:
the closest I come
to holy
is at the break
of day.

©Molly Hogan (draft)

Please share your Poetry Friday offerings at the link below. I’m so looking forward to enjoying them over a long, leisurely weekend!

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SOLC 2019 Day 20: “Killed with Delight”


March 2019 SOLC–Day 20
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.

As I drove to work yesterday, my mind whirled with to-do lists and the last minute adjustments I needed to make to grades and comments. I kept losing my place in my audio book and was thankful that it was one I’d already read, so I could maintain a tenuous grip on the thread of the story. Preoccupied with my thoughts, I turned into the drive that leads to the school parking lot.

Then I stopped. Literally. My mind stopped swirling and I stopped the car. In the middle of the drive. Heedless of cars that might be behind me. (Luckily, there were none.)

There in front of me was a stream of steam flowing from a pipe in the roof of the school. Behind it was the sun, just cresting the horizon. The two combined to create the most beautiful smoky light extravaganza. I don’t think the picture does it justice, but the moment and the image remain clear in my mind. Sunlit roiling steam. Beauty in the ordinary…perhaps even beauty in the ugly. 


My thoughts turned to Mary Oliver and her insistence on being mindful of the potential for joy and delight that surrounds us within the ordinary. I typically associate her words with nature, but in this instance, it was a combination of man and nature that moved me. 

After taking a few photos, I pulled into the parking lot. My chaotic thoughts seemed less turbulent now. Instead of feeling rushed, I felt grateful to have been pulled out of my introspective fugue and into the wonders of the world. Grateful to have been “killed with delight.”

by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.


Click here to read the entire poem.

Mourning Mary Oliver

unnamedAs so many others have, I’ve been mourning the death of Mary Oliver this past week. I have re-read many of her poems, discovered new ones, and re-listened to her On Being interview. I have felt simultaneously comforted and bereft. Oh, what a voice we have lost.

Then, when browsing through some past posts, I rediscovered this one from the Thursday after the election. Yeah. That election. It features my then college-aged daughter seeking comfort in Mary Oliver, trying to spread love, and netting some Emily Dickinson. Re-reading it moved me once again to tears and reminded me how much our world has changed in the past few years. Sigh.

Here’s the Mary Oliver poem my daughter quoted from in the linked post:


Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles…

(click here for the rest of this poem)

While Mary Oliver’s words live on and continue to offer a path through the crazy, her death adds to my growing feeling of overwhelming loss and unease. I feel like there’s an insidious malignancy gaining ground and I’ve just lost a critical and powerful ally. So I turn again and again to poetry, to nature, and often to her words for comfort. Again and again.

Image result for it is a serious thing just to be alive

This week’s Poetry Friday Round up is hosted by Tara Smith at her blog Going to Walden. When I read the poem she shared today, a powerful and disturbing Linda Pastan poem, I was struck by how it resonated with the linked post I was sharing and with my own feelings.

Bird Nest



Recently, I found an empty bird nest tucked into the top of a rose bush. I thrilled to touch it, imagining some bird selecting and weaving each thread, instinctively constructing a home. The outside was loosely woven and rougher, with strips of grape vine, maybe? The inner nest cavity was tighter, made with a softer material. Such care was invested in this home and its selected location, safely nestled amidst the thorns. As I ran my finger over it, I thought of one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems, “With Thanks to the Field Sparrow, Whose Voice is so Delicate and Humble.”

Image result for mary oliver with thanks to the field

Using her work as an inspiration, I wrote this:

With Thanks to the Unknown Bird,
Whose Nest is so Carefully Constructed

I do not live happily
within the harshness of our times
The talk is crass and crude
the politics of hatred and division
Violence stalks the streets
and walks our school halls
The world weeps
Yesterday, in the crown of a blooming rose bush,
I came upon your hidden nest
gently I held it between my hands
marveling at the intricate construction
moved by the knowledge that
within this nest
you warmed your eggs and tended your young
From this nest
your brood took flight into summer skies
My fingers traced the woven fibers
I took comfort in the reminder that
such wonders still happen
within our world

©2018 M. Hogan

For more poetry this week, visit Sylvia Vardell’s blog, Poetry for Children. She’s hosting Poetry Friday Roundup and sharing her (and Janet Wong’s) new book, “Great Morning: Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud.” Be sure to stop by and get an overview of this wonderful soon-to-be-released book!