PF: A poetic start to spring break

Last Friday was the first day of spring break and I was delighted to learn that two of my favorite poetry people, Laura Purdie Salas and Irene Latham, were presenting at the Faye B. Kaigler’s Children’s Book Festival. And it was free. And I didn’t have school, so I could attend! Win! Win! Win! Clearly, this was the best way ever to start my spring break.

It turned out that Irene and Laura were joined by the charming and amusing Vikram Madan. What a great panel of poets! Each of them shared from their books and included ideas for writing with children. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, it’s well worth the time to check out the recording here. During the presentation, among other things, Vikram shared tips for engaging kids by encouraging them to write and draw in response to humorous poems, Laura shared her riddle-ku and equation poems and Irene encouraged us to try writing nonets.

My version of a riddleku isn’t a mask poem, like Laura’s are, but here it is:

first warm spring recess
pale stalks emerge
pump, leap, run

Can you guess what I’m talking about? I suppose you might need to experience an early spring recess after a long northeastern winter to know. I’m leaving it title-free for now, so you can put your guess in the comments if you’d like 🙂

Here’s the nonet I started writing during Irene’s free write time and finished up later.

Nature’s Beneficence

Go!
Immerse
yourself in
the beautiful
world surrounding you.
Keep your eyes wide open.
Stop! Look! Listen! Breathe in. Out.
Be prepared to be bedazzled.
Lose yourself and find yourself again.

©Molly Hogan, draft

Thanks to Irene, Laura and Vikram for a wonderful presentation!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Catherine Flynn at her blog, Reading to the Core. This National Poetry Month she’s been writing a series of wonderful poems with a theme of “Writing Wild.” Be sure to check them out, along with the links to loads of other inspiring poetry projects.

PF: Terse Verse

Poetry Friday: What is Poetry? | Reflections on the Teche

I hadn’t planned to participate in PF this week, but it is the first day of April Break, so I have time. And the weather isn’t too inviting for a photo jaunt. And then I read Kat Apel’s PF post, and her breezy, fun, creative terse verse inspired me to try my own. Thanks, Kat! I had so much fun playing around with these!! What a great way to head into spring break.

Here are my efforts, in no particular order.

Spring break started yesterday:
Slept in late! Feelin’ great!

On discovering hidden treasures in the garden
Violets pool. Springtime jewels.

When I see the local weather forecast on April 16th:
Snow’s due. Feeling blue.

The hill of scilla has launched into riotous bloom
Dazzling hue. River of blue.

Bird vs. Cat–A sad report on recent happenings in the garden:
Chirp. Slurp. Burp.

Ordered large pizzas on the commute home
Tough day eaten away.

When the seamstress isn’t returning your calls about altering your mother-of-the-groom dress and the wedding is in early June…
What’s the glitch?
I need a stitch
before the hitch!

I highly recommend reading Kat’s post and then trying your own hand at these terse verse. It’s slightly addictive!

This week’s PF Roundup is hosted by Jama at her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Jama’s posts are always a nourishing delight, so be sure to swing by and check out the happenings.

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
    performs
  1. Nature’s
    verdant
    parasol
  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
    stretch
    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.

SOLC Day 12: My Brain is Tired

March 2021 SOLC–Day 12
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.
www.twowritingteachers.org

Today’s post is for both Poetry Friday and the March Slice of Life Challenge.

Last month a group of poets gathered to write a poem a day in response to prompts about “Bodies.” (If you’d like to check them out, Laura Shovan, the creative organizing force behind this group, has posted the prompts at her blog.) One day the prompt was about “astral bodies.” I looked at the linked material and simply thought, “Wow, my brain is either too tired or too old to contemplate this too deeply! … Or maybe both.”

Today, I kind of felt the same way when I thought about writing a post. It’s late in the day, we had PD all day and I was pretty whooped. I had all sorts of ideas I could write about–an amazing class Zoom visit with Irene Latham, the eagles we watched on an afternoon walk today, a recent class discussion, my vaccine anxiety, the first signs of spring, etc. –but I just didn’t have the energy or motivation.

Here’s last month’s poem from the project. It still seems apt, as I guess my brain’s still tired this month, and now it’s even a bit older.

My Brain’s Too Old for the Astral Plane

My aging brain’s
not up to speed
for making sense
of philosophy
or talk about
an astral plane
between the body
and the brain…
or is it twixt
the body and soul?
I can’t quite grasp
the nebulous whole.
Astral whosit?
Spectral what!?
Oh, sh*t, Plato, too?
A cosmic glut!
The words they orbit
but make no sense.
I can’t comprehend—
this matter’s too dense!
I contemplate it
over and over
’til my brain implodes
like a supernova.

©Molly Hogan

The Poetry Friday Roundup this week is hosted by the Mistress of Wordplay, Heidi Mordhorst, at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe. Be sure to stop by and wish her a Happy Birthday and check out some linked poems while you’re at it!

SOLC Day 4: SOL and PF Roundup

March 2021 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

This post serves double duty for SOL and the Poetry Friday Roundup.

On the way to school on Wednesday, I let my mind wander aimlessly from one idea to another. Usually, I listen to the radio or to an audiobook. (I just finished “Once Upon a River” by Diane Setterfield and highly recommend it!) In recent weeks, I’ve more often opted to turn off the stories and allow my mind to free range. This is very unusual for me, but I don’t really have the capacity to take in any more information these days. I find that allowing my brain to skip around as it wants is a helpful way to clear some of the debris out of the way before the day begins.

Today, my mind was happily skipping along until…OMG! I suddenly remembered that my critique group challenge post was due this week. And I hadn’t even started. I hadn’t even thought about it. Oops. (Hmmmm….I’ve said that a lot lately.)

So, when I got home from work, I looked up the challenge. It was from Margaret Simon and based on an Amanda Gorman poetry prompt that she called “Book Scavenger Hunt.” The prompt directs you to choose a book, choose three random page numbers, turn to each of those pages and choose one word that appeals to you. Then, with those three words, create a poem.

I opted to use the book “This Book is Anti-Racist,” in part because, despite my best intentions, I still haven’t read it. (To be honest, it was also in part because the book was easily accessible at the moment I thought about working on this.) For no reason in particular, I chose pages 15, 45, and 60. At any rate, I opened to each page and considered my options. By chance, two of the page numbers I chose, were title pages, with very few words. I’m not sure if that was good or bad, but it certainly expedited the process. On the other page, I tried to let my eyes skim the page and choose a word quickly. While I don’t think this is necessary, I liked the idea of the words being somewhat random. Interestingly, my words felt like a set. I ended up with identity, sense, and history. Here’s my very quickly written, drafty poem:

When I write

When I write,
most often, 
I’m not writing stories.
Instead, I’m trying
to make sense
of my own story–
sifting through my history,
creating my identity,
building myself, 
one
word
at
a
time.

©Molly Hogan

This is such an accessible prompt and I’m sorry that I had a very limited amount of time and brain power to work with it. I’m looking forward to revisiting it some other time. You can visit the following sites to check out what the others in my group did with it:
Heidi Mordhorst
Catherine Flynn
Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon

This week the Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by my warm and wonderful Aussie friend, Kat Apel. She’s celebrating the release of her newest picture book, “The Bird in the Herd.” Head on over to her blog for a sneak peek at this newly released treat!

Dawn After the Ice Storm

I’ve been participating in Laura Shovan’s February Poetry Project on Facebook. The theme is “Bodies” and the prompts have been fabulous. One recent prompt from Rebecca Brock focused on the brain. Inspired by a recent ice storm, here was my response:

Dawn After the Ice Storm

Any second now
the sun will clear the horizon
low rays will spark
the ice-laden branches
into fiery life 
Light will ricochet
like fireworks
A complicated relay
of electrical 
and chemical impulses
will shoot between synapses
My mouth 
will drop open
to emit
a quiet
delighted
gasp

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Karen Edmisten at her blog. She suggests a dose of Billy Collins and provides one, too. Her post leaves me wondering…what am I as old as?

In Search of Optimism

It’s been a delight to have more time to write this week during Winter Break. I especially enjoyed taking up an Ethical ELA challenge to revisit sonnet-writing. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy writing sonnets. They’re a lovely brain puzzle to occupy me on icy winter days when going outside seems to risk life and limb.

In Search of Optimism

Outside the window, winter still holds sway
new fallen snow conceals the grass below
Too early, dark invades the cold midday
’tis only drifts and icicles that grow.

First snow that fell enchanting, soft, serene
has mutilated to an icy scrum
We yearn for something tender, soft, and green
these endless days of winter leave us numb.

But is it just a passing trick of light
or is the finch more golden by the day?
And look! The sun climbs higher, warm and bright
and sends the ice retreating on the bay.

The warbling call of finches on the wing
ignites a feathered hope for coming spring.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Ruth at her blog, There is no such thing as a God-forsaken Town. Her beautiful photos and poems often feature tropical birds and flowers and always provide welcome light during the dark days of winter.

PF: Two short poems

Every week, Margaret Simon of Reflections on the Teche, shares a photo prompt and invites others to write a short poetic response. This week she shared two photos of butterweed flowers and some background information about them. She also mentioned that her husband mows around these flowers in their yard, because he knows she likes them. That inspired my response:

Photo by Margaret Simon

Outside the window,
spring dawns with jaunty blossoms.
Her spirits rise.
He mows around each cluster,
a gesture sweet as a kiss.

©Molly Hogan

I also was inspired by this morning’s lovely sky — variegated clouds and an almost-full moon. I only had my cell phone and it was still quite dark, so the picture I took looked a bit grainy or diffuse, more like a watercolor than a photograph. I loved the storybook illustration feel of it.

wolf moon skirts clouds
shelters in pine’s embrace
storybook morning

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Jan Annino at her blog BookSeedStudio.

Balm for the Soul

In these troubled times I’ve been finding solace at the beach.

At the beach

hours ago
I stood
feet braced
in shifting sand
buffeted by the wind
marveling at collaged clouds
and feeling the growing light
like a pulse
prickling my skin
Westerly gusts
sent currents
of fine, dry sand
streaming over wet
I walked as if within
a flowing hourglass
bent into the wind,
breaking dawn
with the turbulent sea.

Now as the final sands
of this day slip by
I sit at my desk
casting back
to the beach
still feeling the push
and pull
of the wind
hearing the echo
of the churning surf
tugged outward
by moon’s invisible lure
as surely as I
am pulled toward
that tumultuous shore
time and time again

©Molly Hogan

Like so many others, I was transfixed listening to Amanda Gorman recite her poem, “The Hill We Climb”, at Wednesday’s Inauguration. I’ve listened to it again and again. With my classes. With my family. By myself. Every time I discover something new. So many have already said it, but what an amazing young woman! She gives me hope.

The day after the inauguration, the sunrise was especially stunning. I thought immediately, “Ahhhh. This must be the new dawn blooming.”

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Laura Shovan at her blog. She’s sharing information about her February Poetry Project with the theme of “Bodies.” I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of this group for several years now and am looking forward to participating again. Laura is opening up the project by sharing prompts on her blog this year, too. Check it out!

January Challenge: Finding Nestlings

The New Year begins with a new challenge from Heidi Mordhorst. She suggested that we: “Write or find a nest poem: a longer poem of a dozen lines within which you find at least half a dozen nestlings, Ă  la Irene Latham.”

If you haven’t encountered Irene’s latest book, “This Poem is a Nest”, you are probably not familiar with the concept of nestlings, a version of found poems. True to her brilliant, innovative style, Irene has written a poem and then used that poem as the source for smaller found poems, or nestlings. The only hard-and-fast rule is to use the words in the order in which they appear in the original source poem. Titles do not need to come from the poem. It’s far more challenging than it sounds, but it’s also a lot of fun!

Initially, I thought I was going to work with a poem I’d written that was inspired by Robert Frost. I ended up changing my mind and choosing a piece by Frost for my nest. This might be cheating, but I prefer to call it improvising. I chose Frost’s poem, “A Prayer in Spring.”

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

No photo description available.

Here are my nestlings (though I didn’t quite make it to the requisite half dozen):

Oh, spring!
pleasure by day
by night

And then hummingbird departs

darting meteor
thrusts 
off a blossom

In this second year of the pandemic…

far away
uncertain harvest
need, loss

A Sudden Haunting of Memories

ghosts swarm
make us 
suddenly 
stand still

A Heartfelt Plea

oh, not to think!
uncertain by day
ghosts by night

To see what other Swaggers have done with this challenge, visit their blogs:
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Margaret Simon: Reflections on the Teche
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

Then be sure to stop by Sylvia Vardell’s blog, Poetry for Children. She’s hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup there this week and she’s sharing a sneak peek of 2021 poetry for young people. What a resource!