Dazzled by Autumn Gold

“Nothing gold can stay.”
Robert Frost

“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”
― Roman Payne

For the past couple of months, I’ve been awestruck by the golden tones of autumn. I don’t know if the color is unusual this year or if I’m simply more tuned in or more willing to be swept away. Regardless, over and over, I’ve been stopped in my tracks by varying tones of gold.

Autumn Gold

Gold dazzles in autumn.
It skims the river
and shimmers in luminous fog.
Gold whispers
in the rustle of marsh grasses
and in the quivering heart
of the gilded maple.

Gold can be brassy and bold
or soft and tawny.
It collects in the eye of a blackbird,
creeps along craggy stone walls,
knits patchwork quilts
on the wide boards
of an old pine floor.

Gold bookends the days,
rising in greeting,
then spilling from windows
on dark winter nights
to welcome you home. 

Gold promises.
Gold delivers.
Gold takes my breath away.

©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted at Teacher Dance by Linda Baie. Be sure to stop by to check out the bounty of poems and poetry-related posts.

Finally, I’m sending you off with one of my all-time favorite golden songs– Eva Cassidy’s rendition of “Fields of Gold.”

Photography+Poetry=Balance

Taking pictures helps me stay balanced. It forces me to slow down, to notice, to appreciate. It gets me out of my house and out of my head. It reminds me that even when things are ugly, there’s so much beauty in the world.

I rarely take photographs of people. I prefer to focus my lens on the wonders of nature. But on a recent walk with my husband and daughter, we stumbled upon a hillside meadow filled with bursting milkweed plants. I struggled to capture the wonder of the glowing milkweed strands in the lowering autumn light.

And then I saw my daughter doing this.

a hopeful breath
one generation seeds the next
thistledown wishes

©Molly Hogan

This week I also found time to respond to another photo, shared as a prompt in Margaret Simon’s weekly “This Photo Wants To Be A Poem”.

Photo credit to Laura Purdie Salas

November’s steady amber gaze
transfigures feathered grass
autumn alchemy

©Molly Hogan

And then, as it so often does, my drive to work provided me with another moment to savor.

autumn morning
fog rises to greet the sun
day breaks in collage

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Robyn Hood Black at her blog of all things poetic and artistic, Life on the Deckle Edge. And what a post she has today! She’s highlighting a poem by Margaret Simon (Reflections on the Teche) and shining the light on a bountiful array of new books and possible gift ideas. So many poetic folk have all sorts of other artistic talents! It’s a perfectly timed post for those who have yet to start shopping (or even thinking about shopping) and have some book loving friends and relatives on their list. Be sure to check it out!

An Aubade (sort of!)

When Linda first posted our November challenge form, an aubade, I had to look it up. The first description I came across was, “A love poem or song welcoming or lamenting the arrival of the dawn.” Well, as I’m a lifelong lark, that sounded do-able. Feeling optimistic, I researched a bit more and discovered this Wikipedia definition: “An aubade is a morning love song (as opposed to a serenade, intended for performance in the evening), or a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn. It has also been defined as “a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak”.” I liked this broader definition and started considering my options. Unfortunately, I didn’t get too far.

Then, not too long ago, at a store with my daughters, I noticed a display of small charms. Each was shaped differently and was accompanied by a small card with “Advice” from that creature or being. I was charmed by the idea, and it struck me that the rising sun would have some advice to impart. That could fit with Linda Mitchell’s November challenge to write an “Aubade.” Maybe… Sort of…

Advice from the Rising Sun in Autumn

Remember you always have choices:
make a bold entrance
or tiptoe in with muted steps,
but don’t forget to show up.

Be kind.
Take time to warm the breast
of the patient heron
who lingers at water’s edge.
Spotlight leaves in their final fall,
cushioning their spiraling descent
with your elongated golden rays.

Work your magic when you can.
Turn dust motes into fairy dust.
Conjure tendrils of mist from the river.
Bejewel the frosted grass and
kindle a rich amber glow
in the heart of a leaf-laden maple.

Do your part
to banish threatening shadows,
push back winter’s encroaching chill, and
usher in hope on the wings of a new day.

Finally, don’t forget
to look on the bright side–
an adversity of clouds
may just be the perfect opportunity
to create a spectacular scene.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

If you’d like to check out what the other Swaggers did with this Aubade challenge, click on the links:
Heidi (My Juicy Little Universe)
Linda (A Word Edgewise)
Catherine (Reading to the Core)
Margaret (Reflections on the Teche)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Susan Bruck at her blog, Soul Blossom Living. She’s sharing a delightful whimsical romp of a poem and some lovely accompanying art work. Be sure to stop by and check it all out, along with links to lots of other poems.

#Poemtober

I’ve been dabbling in #Poemtober this month. It’s a challenge to use the daily word prompts from “Inktober” to inspire poems. Much to my dismay, many, if not most, of my efforts have been invaded by the political climate and my disgust for our current president. I feel like I need a brain rinse. Sigh…

Day 3: Bulky

Growing weight of worries
a bulky woolen sweater
itching at my skin

©Molly Hogan

Day 6: Rodent

King Rodent
hosts scores of feasting fleas.
Nourished by his dark blood,
they scuttle off
to spread his plague
throughout the land.

©Molly Hogan

Day 7: Fancy

With his fancy resorts
and fancy casinos,
he fancies he can have
whatever he wants,
do whatever he wants,
say whatever he wants.

He’s grounded in greed
mucked deep in the mire
of his own malignancy
with his fancy sycophants
dancing attendance.

I do not fancy him.

©Molly Hogan

Day 9: Throw (inspired by Linda Mitchell’s “Untitled Duplex” and the line, “Poets throw lines to clear the wreck”)

Throw me a line
a perfect image
or refrain
a lifeline of verse
to pull me
from the treacherous waters
of this new reality

©Molly Hogan
(inspired by Linda Mitchell’s “Untitled Duplex” and the line, “Poets throw lines to clear the wreck”)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Janice Scully at her blog, Salt City Verse. She’s sharing a wonderful quote from Thomas Carlyle, autumnal celebrations, and a heartfelt poem about stopping time and holding on to a lovely moment.

Here’s a recent lovely moment of my own–its own form of brain rinse:

Night Sounds

Night Sounds

Sometimes
in the deep-dark-between hours,
when curdling worries
and prickling fears
pinch and poke me
from sleeping to sleepless,
I find comfort in the night sounds.

Sometimes I hear
the distant hoots
of a barred owl calling,
“Whooo cooks for you?”
threading through the trees,
the merest whisper of a sound.

Sometimes two owls
swoop in closer,
engage in a spirited duet,
a raucous whirlwind
of cascading calls, 
grumbles and hoots.

Sometimes I hear
the far-off yipping cries
of a pack of wandering coyotes.
Or only the crickets
chirping in the night,
setting the air abuzz.

Then sometimes,
there are nights when I wake 
to silent darkness
beyond our windows, and
the soft rhythm
of you,
breathing beside me.

I turn and nestle
into your warmth
and slowly,
my inhale mingled with yours,
our exhales twined,
I drift back to sleep.

©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Bridget Magee of wee word fame at her blog, wee words for wee ones. She’s sharing a delightful post filled with all things orange.

The Tectonics of Grief

The first time I encountered a duplex was in an Ethical ELA challenge back in May. They linked to a Poetry Foundation post that described the process of writing a duplex as: “Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines.” What?! I immediately cried “Uncle.”

Then, this month Margaret Simon suggested that for our monthly challenge we should write duplex poems. I maybe groaned out loud. I was decidedly daunted. But now, I had to at least try.

So, I puzzled out the basics. Seven couplets, each with 9-11 syllables was doable. I could also echo my initial line in my final line. But then there’s an expectation that the meaning or impression shifts from certain lines to others. (If you’re interested in the specifics of that, you can go here.) I’ll admit that that was the part I was still fiddling with when the deadline arrived.

The Tectonics of Grief

Grief–a seismic change, colossal shift
familiar landscape ever altered.

Altered landscape becomes familiar.
Under my feet, fractured terrain settles. 

I settle for this fractured terrain with
slivers of  beauty ‘midst ravaged crevasses.

Ravaged crevasses etched in my reflection–
a puzzle of tracks and foundational cracks. 

I puzzle over cracks and artifacts,
looking for edges, connecting jagged pieces.

Pieces connect unexpectedly. I edge
forward, stumble with aftershocks,

recreating my past, stumbling forward until…
grief–a seismic change, colossal shift.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. She’s sharing a wonderful interview with Carole Boston Weatherford about her new YA novel in verse about Marilyn Monroe, entitled “Beauty Mark.” What an enticing sneak peek!

To see what the other Swaggers did with this duplex challenge, check out their sites:
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

(Note:I’m unable to figure out to how to format the duplex with the new wordpress editor–Please use your imagination and pretend the 2nd, 4th, and 6th stanzas are indented!)

“In One Word” Poems

Late in May I read a post from April Halprin Wayland describing a new form of poems she’d been writing. She called them “In One Word” poems. There was a puzzle-y aspect to the form (think Word Scramble) that immediately appealed to me. April’s linked post outlines her step-by-step description of the process, but essentially, to write an “In One Word” poem, you

  • choose a word
  • list words that you find within that word
  • choose words from that list
  • write a poem in which each line ends with one of those words

Easy, right?

Not quite. I immediately began fiddling around with the form in my notebook. Initially, I got stuck on step one: Choose a word. It was hard! I wanted to choose the perfect word. But what was that? Did I want a word that annoyed me or one that was personally meaningful or one that held surprising words within it? Then, though I can word scramble with the best of them, constructing a meaningful poem from the resulting words added yet another layer of difficulty. Eventually, I put the form to the side for a while.

When I was faced with writing a Summer Poetry Swap poem in August for the mighty Tabatha Yeatts, I turned to this form again. This time the one word choice was easy: Imperfect

Within Imperfect

If you forever seek perfect,
you may instead discover a recipe
for dissatisfaction–a price
too high to remit.

But within imperfect is a permit
to take risks, light a fire
of creativity, to be bold and fierce.

When you embrace imperfect,
you set yourself free.

©Molly Hogan

Then, this month Catherine Flynn suggested writing an “In One Word” poem for our challenge. Sharing the poem I wrote for Tabatha felt a bit like cheating, so I fiddled a bit more. Ultimately I decided to work with the word “gardens”, as mine have been such a source of comfort for me this summer.

Within my garden

A spider darns,
repairs its web, an intricate snare
for unwitting victims who dare
to cross the sea
of leaves and blossoms, to rend
those delicate threads, drag
them with feet and wings, and end
web-caught amidst the fragrant sage
bordering the garden.

©Molly Hogan

Hmmmm…..Sometimes a poem moves in a different direction than you anticipate. So much for solace in the garden!

To see other “In One Word” poems, check out these blogs:
Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn
Margaret Simon
Heidi Mordhorst

This week Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at her blog, Beyond Literacy Link. Carol is a tireless poetry ambassador and nature enthusiast who, among other things, creates fabulous virtual seasonal galleries of photographs and poetry to share. She’s unveiling her Embraceable Summer Gallery with a few sensational highlights in her post and a link to the full gallery. Make sure to stop by and check it out!

Poetry Friday is here!

downloadWelcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup!

In July, Mo Daley and Tracie McCormick shared a prompt at Ethical ELA to write a monotetra poem. This form, created by Michael Walker, was totally new to me. It’s composed of any number of quatrains (4-lined stanzas) with 8 syllables per line. Each line in a stanza has the same ending rhyme (mono-rhyme) and the final line of each stanza repeats the same four syllables. If that doesn’t make sense, check out the link to the prompt where Mo and Tracie explain it much more ably than I!

Just before seeing this prompt, I had read about the likely impending demise of our sole 207 area code in Maine. I decided to use that topic to try a monotetra. I found this form really engaging to write, but also really challenging. I’ve been revising my poem up to the last minute and it still feels clunky. Please note that you need to read 207 as “two oh seven” to make the syllable count work.

Two Oh Seven: The end of an era

The news is stark, the outcome bleak
Is there some respite we can seek?
Some technological technique?
To stay unique. To stay unique.

Our code’s a relic from the past.
Too many numbers have amassed.
The unused ones are going fast.
One code can’t last. One code can’t last.

Our code–a unifying call
of “All for one and one for all!”
One number easy to recall.
Now doomed to fall. Now doomed to fall.

207 is depleted.
Our supply has been exceeded.
Numbers cannot be repeated.
Must concede it. Must concede it.

©Molly Hogan

This month I was lucky enough to be paired with the great Tabatha Yeatts herself for a poetry swap! She created this beautiful poem with “a dash” of my blog theme in response to my photo of a snail. I love her word choice, like “buttersoft lit morning”, and the series of compelling questions at the end. (As a confirmed nervous spectator, they really hit home!) Thanks so much, Tabatha, for this lovely, thoughtful poem and for coordinating the swap.0.jpg

Please add your link below to participate in this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Gratitude and #poeticdiversion

downloadI caught part of Krista Tippett’s “On Being” interview with Marilyn  Nelson last weekend. In the portion I heard, Marilyn Nelson shared part of her poem “Farm Garden,” inspired by the life of Venture Smith. I grabbed a strike line to write this golden shovel poem.

Gratitude
a golden shovel after Marilyn Nelson’s “Farm Garden”

These days gratitude
soothes my parched throat. It is
a balm in fevered days, a
source of comfort, never-emptying,
ever-present in life’s cup.

©Molly Hogan

Recently, I’ve been actively working to foster a sense of gratitude.  I’ve been focusing on positive moments throughout the day, then writing small poems and sharing them with the hashtag #poeticdiversion.  (Please join in on Twitter if you’d like to do so.) Already, I can attest to the value of searching for and focusing on positive moments and gratitude every day!

Here are five small poems from this week:

8/3/20

117058819_3368268756558026_4106333740900173312_n (1) copy.jpg
wayward blossom
some call it “weed”
I prefer “volunteer”

©Molly Hogan
8/4/20

DSC_0403 copy.jpg

How is it
that watching
the sun rise
can so profoundly alter
the dawn of a day?

©Molly Hogan

8/5/20

“Look at all the dragonflies!”
“Oh!”
“Oooooohhhhhh….”
Awkward…
Feeling like a voyeur,
I took photos
and laughed.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

DSC_0803.jpg
8/6/20
Back Meadow in August

criss-crossing desiccated stalks
splashes of sun-seared blossoms
the shadow of a passing bee
faded patchwork quilt

©Molly Hogan

8/7/20

DSC_0922
Look closely!
Within a zinnia’s tender petals
a secret garden thrives

©Molly Hogan

Laura Purdie Salas is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog . She’s sharing a delightful poem about a pufferfish (Be sure to take time to read this one aloud!) and encouragement for dealing with poetry writing anxiety. Thanks, Laura!

Rondeau Rant

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This month’s round of Ethical ELA prompts was a welcome distraction in the midst of increasingly distressing news and looming decisions about the start of the school year. Mo Daley and Tracie McCormick started participants off with a rondeau prompt.  As they explained, “The rondeau is a French poetic form composed of a rhyming quintet, quatrain, and sestet. The rentrement, or refrain, is a repeating line throughout. A rondeau usually has 8 syllables per line and refrains of 4 syllables. The rhyme scheme is AABBA AABR AABBAR. ”

I’m not big on name-calling, but these days my temper is fraying. I’m so tired of being angry and working to remain civil with people who simply make me crazy. I’m also heartily sick of people not wearing masks.

Wear Your Mask!

Don’t listen when the asses bray
about their rights taken away.
Ignorant choices just prolong
the upward trend–dread Covid’s song.
A mask is a small price to pay.

There really is no other way
to stem the tide without delay.
So wash your hands, avoid the throng
and wear your mask.

My temper has begun to fray
when faced with mask-less fools each day.
The evidence is clear and strong:
Mask naysayers are deadly wrong.
Reject this toxic game they play–
and WEAR YOUR MASK!

©Molly Hogan, 2020

Many who oppose masks refer to mask wearers as “sheep.” (I won’t tell you what I call them in the privacy of my home.) My recent non-verbal response to their derisive refrain of “Don’t be a sheep!” was to order masks made from this fabric:

106667436_585885935699532_8544098707773520854_n.jpg

These will probably be the first masks I’ll look forward to wearing!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the talented and prolific Margaret Simon at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. Margaret dove into some poetry work last week and is sharing some quotes about what poetry is. She’s collecting ideas from participants and hoping to create a collaborative poem. Stop on by and add your thoughts about poetry to the comments.