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!

After the Diagnosis

After the Diagnosis

We reminisce.
Rest in silence.
At one point we marvel
at the unexpected
heaviness of water.
Dad tells me
it weighs
8.3 pounds per gallon,
or so he thinks.

Now I understand
this pressure in my chest–
the slow inevitable breach
beneath my reservoir
of tears.

©Molly Hogan

As I’ve alluded to in several posts lately, this has been a challenging spring–and for so many reasons. At school, ending the year teaching, reading and writing poetry has been a breath of fresh air. At home, writing poetry has allowed me to explore my emotions and simultaneously get a bit of distance from them.

I’m not sure it’s an exaggeration to say that this spring, poetry has saved me.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol at her blog, Carole’s Corner. She’s sharing poems by a wonderful new-to-her (and new-to-me) poet, Jeannette Encinias.

Challenge: Today’s Sermon

Way back in April, it was my turn to post the May challenge for the Swaggers. I had recently run across Cheryl Dumesnil’s poem,  Today’s Sermon” and thought it would be a great inspiration.

TODAY’S SERMON

is slop buckets knocking 
against each other

and a towel cart 
squeaking down the hall

and grease stains 
worked into cracked palms.

(click on the above link to read the rest)

I suggested using her poem as a prompt in any way we liked–as a mentor, by lifting a line, using the title, creating a found poem from it or whatever.

Way back then, in April, I had a plan– a rough draft about great blue herons. But life has a way of revising plans and I got a bit thrown off course. When I let the others know I wasn’t going to be able to post on the first Friday in May, they graciously suggested that we all wait to post until June.

So, now it’s June, and time to post. This poem is very different from my initial draft, because, well, you know, …life.

Today’s Sermon

Today’s sermon was derailed
by the run-away train

racketing down the track
headed toward the gap.

Today’s sermon attempted to bridge
that maw between before and after

but was stung by a blitzkrieg
of ricocheting gravel. 

Today’s sermon was drowned out by
the long, low howl of the train’s horn

keening through an alien landscape
thin and penetrating and 

the tick tick tick of the tracks
constricting in the ceaseless heat.

Today’s sermon, taut and tilted to one side,
braced for the approaching curve and

the inevitable crash.

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’d like to see what the other Swaggers are doing with this challenge, click on the links to visit their sites:

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 Margaret Simon at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. Make sure to stop by and see what she did with this challenge and what else she’s been up to. You’re sure to get inspired!

I am heading out of town to celebrate my son’s wedding (yay!) and will probably not get around to reading and commenting much, if at all, this weekend. Hopefully, I can dive in next week as we finish up our last full week of school.

Infusing Photos with Poetry?

Life’s been tougher than usual lately. I’m pushing myself to get back into a rhythm of regular posting again. Poetry and photography take me a bit out of myself, offer a sort of respite from daily life. So, I’m dabbling, not working on anything in particular, but enjoying mixing some photos and poems.

The path
of decapitated seed heads
leads the way
onward
upward
toward the light

©Molly Hogan

This week Michelle Koogan is hosting the Poetry Friday Round up on her blog. She’s celebrating birthdays with her poetry and art. Be sure to stop by and join the festivities!

PS Thanks for the post title idea, Tim Gels!

Happy Retirement, Mary Lee!

Nature writer, Hal Borland, wrote “blue sky, warm sun and roadside violets are as comforting a discovery as any heart could ask of the burgeoning countryside.” When I read this recently, it occurred to me that there are certain people who are like that, too–present and adding to the comfort of all. Mary Lee feels like that kind of person to me. Although we’ve never met, her generosity of spirit, her passions for poetry, equity, nature and teaching shine through. She is warm, welcoming and inspiring. While I am sure her absence will be keenly felt at her school, I’m looking forward to seeing where her creative energy takes her!

To celebrate all things Mary Lee in this week’s Poetry Friday, I’m re-sharing a slightly edited version of a poem I wrote to celebrate Mary Lee’s birthday several months ago.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by another warm and generous teacher, Christie Wyman, at her blog, Wandering and Wondering. Be sure to stop by and join in the celebrations!