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.


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
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!

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

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
  1. Nature’s
  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
    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.

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!