“Acrostics”

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This month’s DMC challenge was posed by Canadian poet, Jane Whittingham. During a delightful interview with Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty, she invited readers to write an acrostic about themselves– “a little ditty about you!”

The acrostic form feels like a perfect fit for these first frantic back-to-school days. I find my mind fiddling away at different possibilities, especially when I wake in the middle of the night–which happens more than I’d like to admit!

As I played around with the challenge, I found that I was changing things up a bit and creating small fictional scenes. I also was loose with the acrostic form. While I’m still deciding if they “fit” the prompt or not, I thought I’d share two of the poems here. (WordPress was not playing nice, so I had to get a bit creative to include indents–please excuse the cut-and-paste look!)

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Laura Purdie Salas is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Writing the World for Kids. She’s offering a peek at her newest book (a delight!) and the opportunity to win a signed copy. Make sure to stop by and check it out and visit the Roundup as well.

PF: Box Poems

74707-poetry-friday-logoThis month the Sunday Night Swaggers tackled a prompt shared by Catherine Flynn, who challenged us to write a poem about a box. It could be about a box from photos she shared, or about any box we wanted. I knew immediately that I would write about my recipe box, but wasn’t sure how to begin. I had lots of ideas, and random phrases, but could not settle on a form. Nothing came together. 

After lots of fruitless starts, I suddenly remembered Ian MacMillan’s poem, “Ten Things Found In a Wizard’s Pocket.” Bingo! I had my form! Though now I had to stick to ten things–another challenge!

The bare bones of the poem came easily, but I am still fiddling away with it. Every time I think it’s “finished”, I come back to it and find myself changing it–sometimes merely a word, sometimes cutting a phrase, sometimes adding one. It just hasn’t quite clicked into place. It’s a squirmy one! But alas, the deadline has sounded, so here it is, in it’s slightly drafty form.

Ten Things Found in My Recipe Box

An array of batter-splattered cards
Four corners with dusty, clustered crumbles
A whispered scent of warm spices
A marked preference for desserts
Yellowed newspaper clippings, fragile at the folds
My mother’s faded handwriting
An archive of good intentions
Time-proven spells for comfort and celebration
Sticky fingerprints, from small, helpful hands and
a handful of empty recipe cards,
waiting. 

©Molly Hogan, 2019 (draft)

Then I thought I’d play around with a more generic box in a “Things to do…” poem. It occurred to me that a basic cardboard box has a lot of things it can do!

Things to do if you’re a cardboard box

Package a pizza
make a cheap, speedy sled
Bedeck yourself with blankets
for a cozy cat bed

Stay solid when shaken
enclose and protect
transform at the hands
of a small architect

Yield to blunt scissors
and imagination
become a car!
                    a rocket!
                              a ship!
with unknown destination

Hold keepsakes in the attic
cuddle colored lights
Serve as sword or shield
in raucous pirate fights

Grant a reader respite
from the hurly burly world
Reinvent yourself until
your sides are frayed and curled

Once time-worn and tattered,
fold yourself and then
recycling awaits you
–your chance to start again!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at the blog, Poetry for Children, hosted by the dynamic duo, Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell. Among other offerings, my fellow Swaggers will be sharing their box poems. Make sure to stop by and fill up with poetry for the weekend!

If you want to go straight to some other box poems, click to visit my fellow Swaggers:
Heidi Mordhorst
Catherine Flynn
Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon

Olio

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Isn’t olio a great word? I confess it’s one I know only because I enjoy crossword puzzles. It’s an odd little word in which three out of four letters are vowels. This is apparently quite helpful for  puzzle designers, who use it with great frequency. In addition to those handy three vowels, olio also has great fun-to-say synonyms–words like hodgepodge and mishmash. (On a side note, idle curiosity led me to look into other synonyms (#rabbithole) and on to the coolest word ever– gallimaufry. ga-lə-ˈmȯ-frē. Just take a second and say it a few times. It’s a beaut!)

With my first two professional days behind me and the first day with students zooming down the pike, I’m feeling a bit scattered. It seemed like the perfect time to round up some odds and ends and offer up an olio of poems. (And aren’t those last three words fun to say together!?)

Photo Laura P. Salas

Way back in July, Laura Purdie Salas posted this interesting and amusing photo for her 15 words or less weekly challenge. I didn’t share my poems then, because I was pressed for time, and I also had a tough time with the 15 word limit. Here are two of my efforts:

Holy Cow!

Made of plaster
headed to pasture
wants to go faster
Incipient disaster!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

The Farmer’s Successful Plea

Cow’s on the flatbed. Go, go, go!
Mama in the truck says, “No! No! No!”
Papa looking sheepish, on his knees
“Can’t Bessie come camping? Please, please, please!”

©Molly Hogan, 2019

I also have a couple more definitos to share. If you’re not familiar with this form, it was invented by the Master of Word Play, Heidi Mordhorst, and is quite addictive. In a nutshell, it’s an 8-12 line poem that uses wordplay to define a word. That word is the final word in the poem. You can check out her post for a longer definition and some examples. I’ve opted to leave my poems untitled this time so you can try to guess the word as you go!

Won the game?
Aced the test?
Bubbling over
with happiness?

Sing or dance!
Don’t just hint.
Express your joy!
Be jubilant!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

She lifts a hand
with lazy grace
no urge to move,
still, in one place
indolent, slow
a slothful pace
Energy lost
to summer’s heat
sluggish, listless
lounging in seat,
languid

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Finally, I’ve been enjoying some of my last pockets of free time down at the river’s edge. I’m including a poem sparked by an image from a recent morning.

cormorant skims
over dawn-gilded waters
autumn whispers hello

©Molly Hogan, 2019

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This week’s Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted by Kat Apel, who is sharing all sorts of delightful book news from Down Under. She’s reviewing two new picture books written by friends and the exciting news that this week she signed the contract for her second picture book. Woohoo! Go, Kat!

To Fly into a Bright Sky

74707-poetry-friday-logoAmy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her fabulous blog, The Poem Farm. She has invited everyone to participate this week in a celebration of the life of Lee Bennett Hopkins. I’ve chosen to do so by writing a poem inspired by a line from an LBH poem.

To Fly into a Bright Sky

To fly into a bright sky
is to focus on the light
of the surrounding stars
rather than the darkness between.
To see ourselves as stalwart contenders,
rather than walking wounded.
To linger in laughter,
rather than wallow in tears.
To focus on what remains,
rather than on what was lost.

To fly into a bright sky
is to choose the light,
to chart a path,
to soar.

Molly Hogan ©2019
inspired by the line “to fly into a bright sky” from Lee Bennett Hopkins’s “Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life”

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I never had the opportunity to meet Lee Bennett Hopkins. After reading so many of the tributes and anecdotes shared recently, I find myself wishing even more that I had. Thankfully his poetry lives on.

 

Question

 

74707-poetry-friday-logoAfter a medical emergency with my husband late last week, things have calmed down a bit, but the questions remain, as does the elevated stress level. Seeking periodic escape from the latter, I’ve spent some time lost in my computer, reading/answering e-mails, avoiding news, and liberally dosing myself with poetry, nature photography and cat videos. (And look, did you see what I just did there? With the cat videos? That was sort of a joke (even if not totally untrue). Surely that means things are on an upswing!)

At any rate, I wasn’t sure I’d be participating in PF this week. My focus has been shot, and my writing has been erratic. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to work on a tree poem to participate with Christie’s theme. Then, looking back through my queue of unattended e-mails, I read Jane Yolen’s daily poem from August 11th. It was a response to David L. Harrison’s word prompt for August: “Question.” Between the medical situation and being in my early 50s, I’ve certainly been feeling questions swirling lately and this was my response to that prompt. (WordPress wasn’t happy with my formatting attempts, so I’ve had to go with screen shots.)

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After rereading it, I realize this poem might sound a bit…dark…but it’s just what happened when I sat down to write. 

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by tree-loving Christie Wyman at her blog, Wondering and Wandering.  Make sure to stop by and see what sort of tree-inspired poetry is gathering there.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is Here!

74707-poetry-friday-logoWelcome to this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup! I was so excited to be hosting this week for  many reasons, but not least because I knew immediately what to title this blog post. Phew!

Titles are so important, but they give me so much trouble.  Far too often I hem and haw, and then finally choose a title simply to have it done. On rare occasions, a title comes to me immediately, but I can’t stress enough how rare that is. Usually, it’s a difficult process and results in a title that, at best, feels adequate. At worst, the process makes me circle round and round, tear my hair out, agonize loudly and at length, and question my writing skills. It’s an ugly process. Sigh.

A few weeks ago, not long after yet another title tussle, a Poetry Foundation Poem of the Day post popped up in my Inbox. The poem for that day was titled, “Lost in the Milky Way.” That’s a great title, I thought. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I could use the title like a found line. Inspired by that title, I could write a poem, and then I could even compare it to the one the poet wrote. The hard part was not looking at the original poem until mine was written. The wonderful, freeing part was knowing that I already had a title for my poem!

Now, I thought that I was very clever. I’d already written most of this post and had my plan in place. Then, I read Margaret Simon’s PF post two weeks ago. Rats! Apparently, my idea was not as innovative as I had thought! lol She noted that Austin Kleon shares the title-stealing idea in “Steal Like An Artist” and then went on to share a beautiful poem of her own based on a title stolen from a painting. Oh, well. I decided to go with my plan anyway. Maybe I’m stubborn, maybe I’d already invested too much energy, or maybe I just couldn’t face having to create a title!

At any rate, here’s my poem, based on a stolen title:

Lost in the Milky Way

To lose oneself in the Milky Way
first one must find it.

“Is that it?” I asked
that first night, so long ago.
“That smudgy streak?”

“That’s our galaxy!”
Your words tumbled out,
intense and eager.
“Made of millions–no, billions
of stars
            and planets
                               and solar systems!
It’s a barred spiral of light!”

You spouted facts and figures,
gesturing with one hand
while the other held mine.
My head swirled
with light years and
numbers with zero
                                 after zero
                                                 after zero.

Standing beside you now,
gazing into space,
my hand slips into yours.
I ground myself
in this one moment
in space and time,
while you continue to sing
your love song to the universe,
lost in the Milky Way.

Molly Hogan ©2019

Once my poem was written, I was eager to go back to the Poetry Foundation e-mail and check out the original poem with the inspiring title. The first thing that startled me was the poet’s name, which hadn’t been visible in the e-mail title. Linda Hogan! Go figure! (Thanks, Linda, for a great title! )Then, I read her poem.

Lost in the Milky Way

Some of us are like trees that grow with a spiral grain
as if prepared for the path of  the spirit’s journey
to the world of all souls.
It is not an easy path.
A dog stands at the opening constellation
past the great helping hand.
….. (click the title to read the whole poem.)
I’ve read this poem over and over again. It’s rich and layered and pretty wonderful. Very different from my poem. Isn’t it fascinating how the same title can lead in totally different directions?
So, if you’re interested in playing along, here are a few recent titles (with links to the original poems) that might be fun to play with–Please note, I haven’t read any of these poems, so I don’t know what you’ll find when you click on the links. I simply found the titles evocative.
Dear Echo
Also, next week Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering is hosting the Roundup. She’s thrown out an optional poetry theme of trees. Maybe you can steal a title to go along with that!
Lee  Bennett Hopkins

Photograph by Charles J Egita Photo

Note: I have just read the terribly sad news that Lee Bennett Hopkins died today. On the home page of his blog, he says: “Give children poetry. It is one of the best gifts you can give them…a gift to last a lifetime.” Thank you so much, Lee, for sharing your poetic gifts with all of us. You will be missed.
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Please click below to add your link for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Update: I apologize if I’ve been late approving any posts, or have missed approving any, and for not getting around to read and comment on posts. I’ve been unexpectedly caught up in a medical emergency. Thanks for understanding, and I will do the best I can when I can.

Poetry Friday: Definitos

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Last month, Heidi Mordhorst posed our Sunday writing critique group the challenge of writing a definito, a fabulous poetry form that she created and defined many moons ago. In short, Heidi describes the definito as “a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem.” I soon discovered that, even though I came up with word after word to use, the poems are much more challenging to write than I expected. Here are three of mine.

solitary

when there’s only
one
not two or three
existing
alone
on
its
own
solitary

©Molly Hogan, 2019

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resilient

When challenges rise
like a flooding river
hold tight in the current
bend with the flow
Be strong
Be tough
Don’t let go…
Be resilient

©Molly Hogan, 2019

And then, just for kicks… and without a photo—

Regurgitate

Upchuck, throw up
heave, hurl, spew

Tossing cookies
sick with flu

What’s a queasy
kid to do?

Nauseous, achy
don’t feel great?

Grab a bucket!
DO NOT WAIT!

You’re going to…
regurgitate

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week, Heidi‘s highlighting definitos as she hosts Poetry Friday at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe. Make sure to stop by to read more about the evolution of the form and to see some examples. Keep your eyes open while you wander through the Roundup, as  there will be plenty more definitos around! Then, consider trying your hand at writing one, but be forewarned: Writing these is kind of addictive!