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