PF: It’s been a year

They’ve Flown My Coop

A flock of renegades
they’ve taken to free-ranging
scrabbling about
scritch-scritch-scratching
peck-peck-pecking
stirring things up

At my cautious approach
they ruffle and up-size
Feathered coils of anxiety
primed to flutter and squawk
newly bold and belligerent

I retreat and from a distance
begin to count them
making sure they’re all still there
oddly invested in their survival
My flock of feral worries

©Molly Hogan

And here’s another poem, just because…well, you can laugh or you can cry, right?

These days I am wicked forgetful
Too often I’m feeling regretful
for things left undone
or never begun
I just can’t keep track of anything!

©Molly Hogan

I’m hoping you see what I did there! lol

It has been a year. I’m wishing intensely for the end of the school year, but also wishing for more time. I’m worrying about quite a few things, and excited about a few others. I’m accepting sorrow and seeking joy. It’s all a balancing act, I guess. Some days I manage it better than others. Always I find comfort and solace in nature.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carmela Martino at Teaching Authors.

PF: Invitation

The closer one lives to the land, the less one distrusts time.
Hal Borland

I’ve been feeling scattered lately. Unsettled. Thinking a lot about time, life, choices. Trying to make sense of things. So far, I haven’t made much progress. It’s like I keep trying to walk a straight line on a curving path. I continually feel a bit askew. A bit lost.

About a week ago I stumbled upon David Wagoner’s poem, “Lost“. I’ve read it again and again and again since then. It begins like this:

“Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,”

I don’t know much, but I do know that anything I do to connect with the natural world yields rich dividends for me. I was struck by the idea that even when I may feel lost, the landscape around me (literal and metaphorical) is not. Whatever surrounds me is “Here” and worth meeting and knowing. My perspective of being lost is simply that, a perspective. As such, it can be changed.

The poem ends with these lines:

“If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
where you are. You must let it find you.”

So, over my much anticipated spring break, I wandered a bit, here and there. To the bay. To the river. To the woods. To the marsh. Seeking to reconnect with the natural world and with myself in some way. Trying to reconfigure the pieces into a cohesive whole. Trying to open myself to knowing the “here” and to letting the world around me find me.

Invitation

Come sit a while
Don’t overlook
the simple wooden bench
on greening grass
Be open to the allure
of scudding clouds
budding tree
and bluest sky
Slough off your sorrow
Seek joy in blackbird’s call
Turn your face 
to the fledgling warmth
of spring sun
Let hope spark 
Open yourself
to a deeper knowing
Let this place
cast its spell
Come sit a while

©Molly Hogan

The Poetry Friday Roundup this week is at Jone Rush Macculloch’s blog.

SOLC Day 4: Inkling Challenge

March 2022 SOLC–Day 4
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.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I love quotations. I always have good intentions about collecting them in one neat little notebook. But you know what they say about good intentions…

Still, when Margaret posed our Inkling group challenge for this month, I was immediately intrigued. She asked us to write a poem in response to a quotation or inspired by a quotation or whatever. Somehow other than a little tinkering a week or so ago, I haven’t worked on anything. It’s been a week! So, I’m not thrilled with last week’s tinkering or tonight’s last gasp effort, but here they are:

The first response is a golden shovel with the strike line, “…just take it bird by bird” from Annie Lamott’s wonderful book, “Bird by Bird.”

I am repeatedly saved by the birds

There are some days that just 
poach your brains. They take
aim at ease and whittle away. It
all seems hopeless, but then a single bird
song ripples the air; something feathered flies by. 
Thank god for that bird.

©Molly Hogan

The next is a response to one of my favorite proverbs, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

He says it’s my mantra
It drives him crazy
as he’s more of a 
crash-bash-fly-through kind of guy
though I suspect 
he’ll object 
to that classification
(and to any unintended innuendos
some minds might attach to it)

Recognizing my own nature
I cheer for the tortoise
plodding along
making headway
bit by bit
no flash or dazzle
in the race at its own pace
just steady and true
steady and true.

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’re interested in reading what the other Inklings have done with this challenge, check out their posts:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

The Poetry Friday Roundup this week is hosted by Kat Apel at her blog. She’s celebrating the release of her newest verse novel, “What Snail Knows”.


Fowl Play

At some point in the past few weeks, Heidi Mordhorst referenced Mary Amato’s poetry prompt videos for the 12 Days of Christmas. In search of playful writing waters, I decided to check them out. Each day Mary Amato posted a short video prompt highlighting a literary technique based on that day’s line of the famous holiday song. I didn’t manage to complete all of them, but here are two I especially enjoyed.


“Form: In Paris you spy three French hens doing something unusual… Write a 3-line haiku about the hens. “

Three French hens
with innate feathered flair
catwalk down Paris’s streets

©Molly Hogan


“Alliteration: Write a song about swans. Sneak in as many s-words as possible.”

Swans*

Autumn winds are shifting
breathing winter’s sigh 
Swans are winging southward
with low and mournful cries

Silhouettes at sunrise
soaring through the sky
slicing clouds asunder
warning winter’s nigh

©Molly Hogan

*For what it’s worth, the tune for “sing a song of sixpence” was in my mind as I wrote this.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Jone MacCulloch at her blog.

PF: Confounded

Linda posted this month’s challenge. She said, “Percentages are all around us in recipes, prices, assessments, statistics.” She then asked us to write a poem that “includes the idea of percentage/percent in some way.” When I first read this, my thought was What!? This seemed like such a random prompt and a bit foreign to my ELA-inclined brain. As always though, when pushed into exploring new territory, I found the journey rewarding. Thanks, Linda!

Confounded

  1. In my college statistics class
    I learned all about variables:
    dependent, independent,
    confounding.
    The rogue nature of the word,
    confounding,
    fascinated me.
    The way it transformed fact
    into uncertainty.
    Transformed causation
    into correlation.

  2. Last week I saw a bumper sticker
    “Make The Truth Great Again!”
    Did you know that
    60 % of people
    can’t complete
    a 10-minute conversation
    without lying?
    But how do you define a lie?
    And how often do we lie to ourselves?
    Is there a percentage
    to capture that?
    I just said
    “Fine, thanks” in response
    to the last three people
    who casually asked,
    “How are you doing?”

  3. I recently read
    that 80% of Soviet males
    born in 1923
    did not survive World War 2
    and that 99% of all species
    that ever lived on earth
    are estimated
    to have gone
    extinct.
    Such despair,
    encapsulated
    in numbers.

  4. We turn to percentages
    as if to gospel,
    spouting them
    with the fervor of converts.
    As if a number
    can help us
    make sense
    explain
    tidy up and tuck away
    all the messy realities.
    Forgetting the variables
    forgetting the nuance
    forgetting to think.
    Wondering why
    we still feel
    utterly
    confounded.

    ©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Mary Lee Hahn at her blog, A(nother) Year of Reading. She’ll be sharing a wonderful percentage poem there. To see what the other Inklings have done with this challenge, click on the links below:

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

PF: SPLAT!

I didn’t think I’d post today and had nothing planned. That kind of brought me down, because participating in PF grounds my writing in so many ways. Then, last minute this morning, I was inspired to combine two prompts: Inktober’s word for Day 25 “splat” and the Poetry Princesses’ invitation to write a “Word Play” poem. (For more information on “Word Play” poems, look here.) It’s definitely still drafty, especially in terms of rhythm, and I think there’s room for some robust excising, but I enjoyed playing around with it.

Splat

Splat is a soft word,
an oh-dear-oh-my word,
a muffled-curse-or-worse word.

Though born from collision,
it’s rarely a catastrophe.
Hard to take seriously,
splat can be a pratfall
or a prelude,
à la Pollock,
a rollicking rhyme
a really fun time.
It bounces around in picture books
rat-a-tat-tatting
with cats, rats and bats.

Freewheeling splat
doesn’t have boundaries
doesn’t respect them
goes where it likes.
A quirky explorer
of blouses and floors
where people wipe it away
but splat is persistent
a misstep
or twist of the wrist
and its back.

Lover of children
and colorful condiments,
splat proves gravity
still
works.

©Molly Hogan, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Linda Baie at her blog, Teacher Dance. She’s sharing Halloween-themed poems spiced with a bit more.

PF: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

My dreams have been odd and memorable in these first few weeks of school. In one I was trying to save dozens of struggling bat-like, kitten-like creatures covered in burrs which were strangling them. Then the creatures morphed into full orange kittens with little black striped feet, the cutest little “socks” — until I realized someone had drawn them on with Sharpie markers.

In another one I was diving into turbulent water for my pairs of shoes that were sitting neatly on the ground beneath the tide that had unexpectedly risen. A woman reached out to rescue me, but once she had me on her boat, she injected me with something. Somehow I knew that she was kidnapping me to be her embroidery slave. (Yes, embroidery slave. No, I don’t know how to embroider! lol) When I awoke, I punched her, so she injected me again. When I woke the next time, I complained, “That’s not fair! I should be able to hit you once for drugging and kidnapping me before you drug me again!”

Finally, in my most recent dream, I was exclaiming to the doctor, “How can I be pregnant!? And with twins!? I’m 54 years old!”, but inside, in my dream, I was also thinking, Oh, this explains everything. No wonder I’m so dang tired. It all makes sense now.

In other words, restful sleep is doubly precious these days.

Saturday morning after the first week back at school
(with apologies to Robert Frost)

A single crow
in a maple tree
sang the morning
awake for me.

Clarion clear,
first thing I heard.
I grumbled, rolled over
and flipped it the bird.

©Molly Hogan

Here’s hoping you’re enjoying restful nights.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Denise Krebs at her blog, Dare to Care. She’s sharing a wonderful In One Word poem inspired by April Halprin Wayland. Check it out and perhaps you’ll learn a new word just like I did!

The Shoe-Stealing Glizard

Just this morning I wrote in my notebook that I wanted to play more when I was writing poetry. I realized that I miss writing whimsical verse–poems that are light-hearted, silly and fun. I thought about revisiting some Ogden Nash or maybe some Shel Silverstein to look for some mentor texts. Then, reality intruded, and I had to stop writing and head to school to try to move into my new classroom.

As I unpacked boxes and flipped through files, I unearthed a copy of a poem I dimly remembered writing for my students when I was teaching either first or second grade. I can’t remember why I wrote it, much less why it was copied onto a transparency sheet. (Remember those!?) Parts of the poem had worn away during its long sojourn in the forgotten folder, but I decided to quickly revise it and share today. It was fun to work on something a bit lighter!

The Glizard

The Shoe-Stealing Glizard is a rare beast to see.
He creeps about stealthily, trying to be
as quiet as shadows shifting around,
searching for grub without making a sound.

His name tells the story. It gives him away.
He’s hunting for shoes. All the night! All the day!
He’s not very choosy about what he eats.
He adores cowboy boots and even old cleats!

He takes red shoes and green ones and big ones and small.
The size doesn’t matter, not one bit at all.
He just loves the taste, the crunch and the munch.
He can eat ten at once, and that’s just for lunch!

If your sneakers are stinky and dripping with gunk,
why to him, that’s a treat, a delicious Ker-plunk!
He’ll dip them in milk and then with a slurp
he’ll gobble them up, finish up with a burp.

So when you can’t find your shoe or its mate,
keep your eyes open, but it might be too late.
It could be the case, I’m sorry to say,
that the Shoe-Stealing Glizard has wandered your way!

Molly Hogan, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol at her blog, The Apples in My Orchard. She’s sharing a lesson about “I am” poems with all sorts of links to poets and poems.

Close Reading in the Garden

As always, my garden has been a great source of joy and comfort to me this summer. I highly recommend spending the last days of summer lingering in your garden, or any garden, and looking closely.

Close Reading in the Garden

In the midst of garden glory
one zinnia blazes gold
limned by garden green
Its single stalk, leaf-laden,
supports the showcase blossom
Spiraling taffeta whorl
draws the eye inward
to dawning curled petals
a whimsy of bright suns
circling the heart of it all
hidden treasure for the attentive

©Molly Hogan, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Christie at Wondering and Wandering. She’s sharing a beautiful community poem about what poetry is, created by lines contributed by her poetry workshop participants and the Poetry Friday community. I, sadly, didn’t manage to get my ducks in a row in time to participate, but was wowed by the final product. Be sure to check it out!