Poetry Friday is here!

Welcome to Poetry Friday! It’s been a while since I’ve hosted and I’m so glad to be here!

This month Catherine Flynn chose our Inklings challenge prompt. She asked us to “Write a poem about any sport you have a connection to–one you participate(d) in or love to watch. Use any form you think works best.”

I must admit that I’m not much of a sports lover, but I do have a favorite sports-themed poem: Robert Francis’s “The Base Stealer.” I’m not sure how or when I first stumbled upon it, but it’s also been a perennial favorite with my fourth graders. It’s a short poem and choosing just one section to highlight is HARD! I wish I could share it in its entirety.

To provide some context, it begins like this:

“Poised between going on and back, pulled
Both ways taut like a tightrope-walker,”

A few lines later, the midsection is one of my favorite parts:

“Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ball
Or a kid skipping rope, come on, come on,
Running a scattering of steps sidewise,
How he teeters, skitters, tingles, teases,
Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird,”

Fabulous, right!? It could almost make me believe that, as some say, baseball is poetry in motion. Here’s Robert Francis reading the poem in its entirety:

Or, if you prefer to read the poem yourself, click here.

Regardless of my love of this poem, Baseball is NOT my favorite sport by any stretch. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but I find it pretty dang boring. I’m sure that’s because I don’t understand the nuances of the game. Regardless, I don’t view it with a favorable eye and I don’t have any warm and fuzzy memories of playing as a child. Still, I opted to focus on baseball for this sports-themed challenge. I’m sharing two responses, from two different perspectives.

©Molly Hogan, draft

Still In the Game

I wear no uniform
but my heart races
My eyes fix on their target
blood pounds in my ears
My hands grip, twitch and tense
The roar of the crowd
swells around me
I shift on the edge
of my seat
poised for triumph
or defeat

My kid’s up at bat.

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’re interested in seeing what the other Inklings did with this challenge, click on the names below:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

Be sure to add your post to this week’s Roundup by joining the Inlinkz link party. I’m so looking forward to reading all of your poetry offerings 🙂 Here’s your formal invitation:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

PF: Garden Haiku and Poetry Swaps

Every year the hydrangea puts on a show in my garden. Even this summer, when much of the state of Maine is in moderate drought, it’s persisted in its effusive blossoming. It looks like it’s in a perpetual state of celebration.

Summer Garden

hydrangea blossoms drift
in bold cumulous clouds
still no rain

©Molly Hogan

After taking a year off last year, I opted to join in the Poetry Swap again this summer. I chose to participate in 3 of the 5 swaps and have enjoyed both creating and receiving. A huge thank you to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing all the fun!

For my first swap, Margaret Simon sent me a clothbound notebook with several of my photos inside, accompanied by her elegant haiku. She invited me to fill the remaining pages, writing, “A conversation perhaps, from poet to poet, photo to poem, and space for your own”– A personal gift and a lovely invitation.

In my second swap, Patricia Franz sent me a dazzling Chagall postcard with a poem inspired by the Chicago skyline and rich with imagery and metaphor.

Marc Chagall American Windows, “Literature” and “Freedom”
(panels 3 and 4)

Chicago – for Molly Hogan

bridges hopscotch a ribboned river
emerald green relief for ageing architected towers
standing shoulder to shoulder like fellow immigrants
in a photograph for posterity

the burly and the refined,
both weathered and worn by the same wind
that welcomed them, daring
to reinvent themselves
to do history’s hard work

July 4, 2022
©draft, Patricia J. Franz

I also finally dove into my copy of Buffy Silverman‘s newest book, “On a Gold-Blooming Day: Finding Fall Treasure”. Wow! What a beauty! I hope you’ll go check out my review here.

Overall this week, I’m feeling grateful for poetry in words and in my garden.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Marcie Flinchum Atkins at her blog. She’s sharing information about the Sealey Challenge and some of her strategies, along with a lovely haiku.

PF: Spring Cleaning

This month it was my turn to pick the writing challenge for the Inklings. Spring arrives a bit later up here in Maine, so my thoughts turned to the much vaunted “spring cleaning.” Anyone who knows me well, knows that cleaning is not my forte. Still, here was the challenge I posed (perhaps with procrastination in mind): “Spring is finally arriving in Maine, and though, year after year, I turn my back on spring cleaning, I thought it might be fun to write a poem about some sort of domestic task. (Writing a poem = way more fun than cleaning!) “

I also shared a link to a possible mentor poem called, aptly, “Spring Cleaning”.

Spring Cleaning
by Ellen M. Taylor

Why are there no poems of the joy
of vacuum cleaning after a long

winter? Of the pleasure of pulling
the couch back, sucking up cobwebs, dead

flies, candy cane wrappers, cookie crumbs?
The sun rises earlier now, flooding

the room with daffodil light, enough
to see long unseen clumps of dog hair,…

(click here to read the rest of the poem)

Once I’d shared the challenge, I realized that I really didn’t know what I wanted to write. All my best intentions to clean and organize scatter every weekend morning when I awake to a vibrant, changing world. How could I write about cleaning? Perhaps more to the point, how can you stay inside when there’s something to exclaim over around each corner?! The bees are buzzing! The alewives are running and the osprey are fishing! There’s a pair of wrens nesting in the tree out back! Lilacs perfume the air! Dandelions transform lawns to wishing field overnight! Spring showers bauble the garden! The warblers are warbling! There’s just so much going on! In Spring the world is on permanent exclamation point! It’s a time of year that invites, almost demands, celebration. I kept thinking of the hymn, “How Can I Keep from Singing?” Finally, I decided to use that song as a sort of parody base for my poem.

You can find different versions of the lyrics, but here’s a choral rendition of the the version I prefer which is more inclusive:

So, as you read, feel free to sing along with my poem. To be honest, I do not know how well the rhythm and the poem itself works without the hymn in mind, because I sang as I wrote this and can’t divorce the melody from the words!

Spring Cleaning

As Winter fades and Spring arrives
abrim with new creations
the virtuous are locked inside
obsessed with dirt predation

But robin’s rockin’ on the lawn
an oriole is singing
wisteria drips down the vines
while they’re inside mop-wringing

I tarry in the shower stall
where grout is grim and greening
I make one desultory swipe
then flee away from cleaning

Although the corner cobwebs grow
in silent protestation
I can not yield the duster more
without loud lamentation

The grass is green, the skies are blue
the vernal pools are teeming
What foolish person would I be,
if I just kept on cleaning?

The meadows burst with newfound life
sweet blossoms resurrected
Each day unfolds with new delights
Spring cleaning is neglected

When flowers tremble in the breeze
and birds are hover-gleaning
I will not yield to tyrant dirt
I will not keep on cleaning

I will not scour, dust and mop
and waste these hours, fleeting
Spring’s miracles will soon be gone.
There’s time enough for cleaning.

©Molly Hogan

Karen Edmisten is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Round up at her blog. Be sure to stop by and enjoy a wonderful poem by Yeats and while you’re there, check out some other posts as well. If you want to check out what the other Inklings did with this challenge, click on the links below:

Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn
Margaret Simon

Also, be sure to spend some time outside celebrating the wonders of Spring!

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!