Limericks to the Rescue!

It was a long week. Hybrid Model. Group A. Group B. Daily Agendas. NWEA Testing. F&P Testing.

I barely squeaked out this limerick.

The Tale of the Fashionable Carrot

There once was a carrot by chance,
whose roots grew to look like orange pants.
He capered, cavorted,
his root legs contorted,
creating his own harvest dance.

©Molly Hogan

And since writing limericks is such fun, I was inspired to try another in response to Jone’s invitation to write a math-related poem today.

Standardized Testing and Vocabulary Enrichment

When math testing wouldn’t resume
I started to fret and to fume.
Technological glitches
unfiltered my lipses.
The F-bomb went off in my room.

©Molly Hogan

Ok, the f-bomb was dropped. But actually only after students had departed for the day and I couldn’t get the next day’s test session set up. Talk about aggravating! It was one tech testing snafu after another all day long. Ugh.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Jone McCullough at her new blog site. She’s invited participants to share math-inspired poems and is highlighting a few from a soon-to-be-released anthology by Janet Wong and Sylva Vardell.

Inspired by Poetry Friday

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I’ve been dabbling in this and that this month, but mostly I’ve found a lot of inspiration in the recent posts of different Poetry Friday participants. I can’t say how thankful I am for this community. It enriches my life in so many ways!

First, I was inspired to respond to the Poetry Princess invitation to write an etheree.  An etheree is a 10 line poem, beginning with a one syllable line and working its way up to 10 syllables in the tenth line.

Summer Passes

June
unrolls
a carpet
of fragrant blooms
to welcome July,
who unleashes her heat
and temper in thundrous bursts.
She cedes lush gardens to August
who blankets them in humidity
and the faintest whiff of autumnal spice.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

Matt Esenwine’s post  last week reminded me of the power of a cherita. Cheritas tell a story in 6 lines, separated into one, two and three lines. Better yet, they don’t typically have titles and wow, do I struggle with titles!

At the shore

the waves curl and unfurl
in endless repetitions.

Two young lovers, sun-lit and carefree,
construct a castle of sand,
beautiful and doomed.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

I also was inspired by Tabatha Yeatt’s post last week about senryu, haiku-style verse that focus on humanity rather than nature.

control
slowly letting go
of that illusion

©Molly Hogan, 2020

And on a lighter note, very much inspired by one of the mentor poems that Tabatha shared:

indigestion
after once again
eating my words

©Molly Hogan, 2020

Finally, after reading Mary Lee Hahn’s post last week, I was inspired to create a daily challenge for myself and anyone who wants to join . Rather than spinning in circles trying to figure out what’s going to happen with school, I’m trying to focus on something small and positive each day, enjoying fleeting moments as they happen. Join in if you’d like!

in the garden
summer sun comes on strong
tomato blushes

©Molly Hogan, 2020
#poeticdiversion

Thanks to all my PF friends. You are such an inspiration!

Catherine Flynn, a regular inspiration to all,  is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Reading to the Core. She’s sharing another beautiful resource and the poem it inspired.

 

Ethical ELA Prompt Responses

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Last month I experimented in my notebook with a couple of  Ethical ELA prompts.  The first was from Margaret Simon who, within her prompt, asked “Are you a marcher or a leaper?” I didn’t manage to meet all the guidelines of the prompt (like the use an echo line), but enjoyed playing around with some of my favorite words.

No Clear Destination

I’m neither a marcher
nor a leaper,
rather a rambler,
a perambulator,
one who coddiwomples
or stravaigs,
meandering along,
no clear destination in sight,
the journey the reward.

©Molly Hogan

Another Ethical ELA prompt last month came from Melanie Crowder. She suggested identifying your emotional state then brainstorming things in the physical world that are illustrative of it. She encouraged writers to look beyond the obvious and then write a poem that reveals one’s emotional state through a description of that chosen object.  I did initially have an emotional state in mind, but I think the poem wandered a bit.

Mica

Beneath earth’s surface,
silted and soiled,
layers of mica rest.
Light, soft, flexible,
it cleaves
into glittering sheets,
transparent to opaque,
reflective and insulating,
resistant to heat.
Mica shields
and reveals.

Above ground,
when struck
by the whirring blades
of a mower,
mica shatters,
exploding briefly
into a dazzling constellation
of shimmering slivers
of light.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is  hosted by the ever-ready-for-a-challenge Linda Mitchell. She’s written an “In One Word” poem, a form newly created by April Halprin Wayland. Check out her post for an explanation of the form and a powerful original poem.

 

 

PF: Dark Thoughts and The Danger of Denial

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The news is grim and so is much of my recent poetry.

Dark Thoughts

At night
dark thoughts
come home to roost
like a murder of crows
ink black,
loudly squawking,
demanding attention,
while feasting
on carrion.

When will the danger pass?

Never.

It’s always been here.
I just hadn’t seen it
so clearly before.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

 

The Danger of Denial

There are only so many times
you can wrap
something disturbing
and wrong
in coarse rope
tie it to a heavy boulder
and push it
beneath the surface
to keep it submerged.

Eventually,
such things
slip free
of ropes and anchor,
bob up
bloated,
distorted,
and dreadful–
evidence of a crime,
on the brink of exploding
and spewing putrefaction.

©Molly Hogan, 2020

I think these poems are like purgatives (or at least I hope so), an attempt to relieve some of the deep concerns I feel under the onslaught of horrible news. There are still many wonderful things going on in my life, but sometimes I need to focus on the darker stuff.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Karen Eastlund at her blog, Karen’s Got A Blog.

 

PF: Tabernacle

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Tabernacle 

Pine trees spire above.
We move along
the narrow aisle of trail,
each step stirring
densely layered needles,
censing the air.

In the distance
an emerald glow
filters through tree trunks,
luminous as stained glass.

Without a word
we stop,
rapt.
Something potent
lies ahead.

©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

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Tricia Stohr-Hunt is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect.

PF: A Poem of Farewell

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Many months ago, fellow Swagger, Heidi Mordhorst,  suggested writing a poem of farewell for our monthly challenge. At that time, none of us had any idea that it wouldn’t be a run-of-the-mill end to the school year. I remember idly thinking I’d maybe write a farewell to my alarm clock or to some aspect of my classroom.

When I finally turned my  attention to this month’s challenge again, maybe a week or two ago, my initial knee-jerk poetic response was:

Every atom
of my being
revolts
at the thought
of saying
one
more
goodbye.

There have been so many unexpected endings lately. Sigh.
In other words, I struggled with finding a way into this challenge.  After numerous false starts, I toyed with the idea of not participating, but I felt guilty, especially since another Swagger, Margaret Simon, was hosting the Roundup this week at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. (Be sure to check out her beautiful golden shovel, written to her students.)

Finally, I was bemoaning the pending deadline and my lack of progress on the prompt to my daughter. We were talking about all the accumulating, worrying farewells (school, employment opportunities, truth, common decency, environmental protections, etc.) and she started riffing off the ending of “Goodnight Moon”. Inspiration struck! With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown, I used her classic book as a starting point. Like so many things, it turned political.

Goodnight Trump

In the great white house
there is an inept man
with a sickening band
of sycophants
who
rally round his toxic rants.

With this bigoted liar in the oval room,
lie truth in tatters and a whiff of doom,
tax returns hidden, but no books in sight
a hunger for power—not justice, but might,
mocking tweets, outrageous lies,
a need to diminish and patronize.

Goodbye dignity
Goodbye truth
Goodbye clean water and skies for our youth
Goodbye unity and national pride
and a country with citizens deeply united
Goodbye decency
Goodbye class.
Pray God, come November,
Goodbye to this Ass.

©Molly Hogan, 2020, draft (revised again after posting)

To see how my fellow Swaggers’ respond to this challenge, click below:

Today’s host, Margaret Simon: Reflections on the Teche
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

 

PF: More Poems of Presence

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Here are a few more poems from my responses to the ongoing “Poems in Presence” challenge. I’ve been so thankful to combine this prompt with photography as a positive focus in recent weeks.

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Day by Day

Yesterday
the plum tree
blossomed

Today
I watch
the sun rise
through its petals

©M. Hogan, 2020

Untitled
newborn leaves
cradle lambent pools of light
radiant morning

©M.Hogan, 2020

lady's mantle

Lady’s mantle
makes her spring debut
adorned
with a dewdrop diadem

©M.Hogan, 2020

thrush

Some days
worry and grief
settle in
before my eyes
are even open.

Thankful
for the lingering visit
of a hermit thrush

©M. Hogan, 2002

This week the Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol Varsalona at her blog. She is sharing some of the wonderful poems she’s collected at her Nature Nurtures Gallery and also an original poem to Mother Nature.

PF: Pandemic Morning

 

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Pandemic morning

i.

I wake briefly
leaden
longing for tranquility
drift back
into uneasy sleep.

ii.

My eyes open to
amber beauty–
antique glass
transforming sun rays
into wavery blocks–
an ephemeral Mondrian canvas
painted on my wall.

iii.

Outside
in the garden
a warbler lies
unblinking.
Cupped in my hands
his speckled breast and
olive feathers
fade.
No echo of warmth.

iv.

From within the apple tree
the hermit thrush
sings a haunting melody
then hovers
beneath the suet,
wings outspread.

Benediction
or crucifixion?

© Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

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Jama Rattigan is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and settle in for a delicious post!

PF: Poems of Presence

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This month Michelle Heidenrich Barnes shared a wonderful interview with Margaret Simon on her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. At the end of the interview, Margaret posted a challenge to “Write a mindful poem about the present moment.”  Then, Mary Lee Hahn and Heidi Mordhorst created a Twitter hashtag #PoemsofPresence and invited poets to write small poems for each day in May. I’ve been playing along, and here are a few of my poems from this past week.

May 1:

May arrives
I fill the hummingbird feeder
Sweet anticipation

May 2:

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overhead
osprey wheel and glide
surf the currents

May 3:

Unexpected Beauty

beside the old train tracks
one bleached skull
fragile, yet whole

May 4:

lemony finches
dot the apple tree
a cherry-red cardinal
perches in the birch
brilliant blue jays
swoop down
like bits of falling sky

May 5:

glowing sun peeks
into striated skies
another day dawns

May 6:
Investment

an afternoon walk
grudgingly taken
still yields
rich rewards

May 7: looking to linger on the light side here…

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This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by none other than, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today’s Little Ditty fame. Make sure to stop by and enjoy an interview with Nikki Grimes and a sneak peek into her newest book, “Southwest Sunrise”, plus a bonus poetry challenge.

PF: Epistolary Poem

downloadLong before I knew the word “epistolary”, I loved epistolary novels. There’s something about reading a book written in documents, especially letters or diary entries, that appeals to me on every level. Perhaps it’s the guilty pleasure of reading some one else’s correspondence? The change in perspectives? I also love that the form is so versatile and  works well in so many sub-genres–children’s literature, fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, young adult literature, etc.

download.jpgI don’t remember the first such novel I read, but I distinctly remember being fascinated in college by the literary sensation “Griffin and Sabine.” (Does anyone else remember this book? It’s kind of like “The Jolly Postman” for adults.) In more recent years, I’ve read and loved 84, Charing Cross RoadSorcery and Cecilia, The Martian, The Perks of Being a Wallflower,  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and Breakout, among others. Please send your favorite epistolary suggestions my way! Reading always appeals to me, but legitimately settling down to read someone else’s letters is especially delightful.

This month it was my turn to select the Swagger challenge, and my thoughts turned toward epistolary poems. A nice challenge with plenty of room for choice! Hopefully my fellow Swaggers agreed.  According to poets.org, “epistolary poems, from the Latin “epistula” for “letter,” are, quite literally, poems that read as letters. As poems of direct address, they can be intimate and colloquial or formal and measured. The subject matter can range from philosophical investigation to a declaration of love to a list of errands, and epistles can take any form, from heroic couplets to free verse.” (see more here)

We share our challenge poems on the first Friday of the month. While on the one hand April seemed to last an eternity this year, on the other hand, I completely lost track of time. May 1st snuck up on me and I found myself scrambling to create an epistolary poem in time to share today. To whom did I want to write? Did I want to write as myself or from a different perspective?

As I so often do, I turned to nature for my inspiration. One of the most welcome harbingers of spring for us is the blossoming of the Siberian squill, or scilla, on the hill up to our home. It’s an early blossoming flower and we look forward to its arrival every year. This year it’s been especially beautiful and we’ve been especially thankful to see a sign that spring is indeed coming.

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scilla

To the Unknown Gardener,

Early each spring
scilla spills,
flowing over the hill
in lush cobalt waves.
I often imagine you,
on a long ago day,
sifting soil through your fingers,
toiling beneath the trees.
Did you foresee
this future luminous river of blue
or did you simply glory
in the fall breeze on your skin,
the crinkling tissue
encapsulating each bulb,
and the satisfaction
of planting them
one by one?

Generosity thrives
in the soul of the gardener
who plants today
to gift tomorrow.
Each spring
we thank you.

Molly Hogan ©2020 (draft)

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You can find this week’s Poetry Roundup at Elizabeth Steinglass’s blog. She’s sharing a video of herself reading several poems from her fabulous book, Soccerverse:Poems About Soccer, along with some activities to do at home.

To see how my fellow Swaggers responded to this challenge, click on the links below:

Heidi Mordhorst–My Juicy Little Universe
Catherine Flynn–Reading to the Core
Margaret Simon–Reflections on the Teche
Linda Mitchell–A Word Edgewise