Finding Beauty

download It was my turn to post the challenge this past month in our Swaggers group. Talk about pressure! I felt a bit like Goldilocks looking for the perfect prompt–something not too hard, not too easy, but just right. After way too much deliberation, I finally opted to poach off a post I’d used in the past for photography. Here’s what I shared:

Challenge:  I participated several years ago in a photo challenge from Kim Douillard to “find beauty in the ugly (My post is here). This month, I invite you to reinvent the world around you (or one aspect of it) by shifting your lens to see the beauty in what at first seems to be ugly or unnoteworthy. Happy Writing!

Next, I had to figure out what to write about. My garden immediately came to mind. At this time of year, it’s a jumble of sad, dried stalks. Some people cut their dying plants back, and I’ve heard that can help prevent the spread of some plant diseases. But I’m not much for proactive “cleaning”, and I did read that leaving your garden intact, with all its rustling seed heads and stalks, protects plants, enriches the soils, and provides birds with food and shelter. That was convincing enough for me! I also love the architecture of all the angles and lines when the snow falls.

I thought I’d write one poem about my garden, but instead some smaller poems emerged. All of them are love songs to my bedraggled weed-filled winter garden.

finches ladder up
dessicated plant stalks
feast on tattered seed heads

©Molly Hogan, 2019

bee balm dons
her winter accessory
a fresh white bonnet

©Molly Hogan, 2019

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sered garden husks
shiver in the breeze, whisper
summer memories

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Perhaps only
with winter’s advance
does our truest heart
reveal itself
amidst a slow,
steady crumbling

©Molly Hogan, 2019
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And finally, stepping away from the garden to another time that I found heartfelt beauty somewhere unexpected.

after the hospital
your sleepy warmth beside me
oh, blessèd snore!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Click on the links below to visit my fellow Swaggers and discover where they found beauty:

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

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tanita S. Davis at her blog [fiction, instead of lies]. She’s sharing a wonderful poem expressing gratitude for worms and an original sonnet acknowledging the many hands that make our lives run more smoothly.

PF: Life Hack

downloadIf you read my blog regularly, or even just sometimes, you probably know that I love to go down and wander by the river at dawn. It’s a beautiful spot, and there’s always something to see. These visits center me and deepen my appreciation for the beauty around me and its subtle cycles.

Typically, I walk around and take photos from different vantages. I’m constantly moving, actively searching. One day recently, I sat on a rock by the water and just watched. The common mergansers have returned for the winter and a flock of gulls was visiting. The sunrise unfolded slowly, in increments. Nothing dramatic. No blazing reds or streaks of violet highlighting bold cloud formations. No golden spotlight rays. Simply a slow brightening. But, as I sat, the ducks swam closer, then circled back out, then came back again. Closer. They dipped and dived. They swam along the line between rill and still water. Their wake shifted color with the changing light. Gulls flew overhead, wheeling and periodically plummeting into the water with tremendous splashes. Occasionally they caught something. Most often they didn’t. The movement of their wings and the spill of water from their feathers fascinated me. I sat on a rock and took it all in. 

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I’ve been following David L. Harrison’s blog for the past few months, and he posts a Word-of-the-Month challenge. This month’s word was “hack.” Somehow, over the course of the month, my thoughts wound around to life hacks.Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 8.49.32 AM.png

I’m sure there are different ways to interpret the term, but I think of it as a short cut designed to make a task pass faster. And it occurred to me that going faster, being more efficient, sometimes denies something essential or worthy about completing a task that takes time, dedication, or deliberation. Also, when we go faster (or walk around instead of sitting still), we can miss the nuances and subtleties.

Our culture embraces rush. So many of the “life hacks” I read about seem designed to help us move faster through our day. This seems in direct contrast to the mindfulness I’ve been trying to embrace. The being in the moment. I’ve also seen a number of articles lately about the importance of being bored in generating creativity. Somehow this is all swirling and linked up in my mind. I haven’t figured out how it all relates yet, but it’s taking up brain space for now. Perhaps some evening when I’m bored with doing dishes, yet appreciating the warmth of the water and the play of light on the bubbles, I’ll figure it out. 😉

Life Hack

A life hack? What’s that?
An illegal attack?

No, wait…it’s a trick?
To get me done quick?

But day follows day
way too fast anyway.

My life without hack
speeds by on a race track.

With hack it would fly
in the blink of an eye.

I’d never disdain
efficiency’s gain,

but there’s value to slow
to linger and grow.

Short cuts can cut more
than mere time from a chore.

Relentlessly fast
makes the present the past,

and rewards are so sweet,
when time’s made them complete.

So delayed I may be,
but no life hacks for me

©2019 Molly Hogan 

Wishing you a wonderful holiday weekend and a chance to stop by the Poetry Friday Roundup and enjoy some poetry. This week Bridget Magee is hosting from Switzerland on her blog, wee words for wee ones. She’s sharing her thoughts on celebrating Thanksgiving from afar. I loved learning about turkey pricing and oven sizing in Switzerland, and also enjoyed her limerick tale of an unfortunate turkey. Check it out!

Bold Moon

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I’m peeking my head up from the insanity of writing report card comments to sneak in a poem for Poetry Friday. This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads. Last week, she challenged participants to write about foods that deserve a national holiday…or perhaps don’t!  I had every intention of participating… Ah, well. I’ll tuck that challenge away for another day. In the meantime, head over to Rebecca’s blog to check out her poetic tribute to Hot Salad and other offerings as well. It’s sure to be a poetic feast!

With little time for extended writing lately, I revisited a favorite prompt–Sandford Lyne’s word pools. The pool I chose included the words: moon, stolen, ladder, branches. I opted to use three of the four. Poetic license! 😉

Bold Moon

The moon has stolen
branches from the tree.
She drapes herself artfully
with their intricate tracery
shifting them this way
and that
for maximum affect.
Bold thief to shine a spotlight
on her own misdoings
She broadcasts her beautiful larceny
to a rapt world.

©Molly Hogan, 2019

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PF:#Poemtober: A haiku and a cherita

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As I drafted this post, it struck me that most of the poems I’ve written and shared recently seem to be a bit dark. Honestly, I don’t think they reflect my state of mind! With that disclaimer,  I’m sharing my #Poemtober responses  for “dizzy” and for “pattern.” As always, I’m grateful for the prompts and challenges that encourage me to write regularly. 

buffeted by daily news
dizzy with dismay
hope hides in shadows

©Molly Hogan, 2019

 

One dull thud

Three wispy red feathers
pattern the smudged windowpane

one brilliant cardinal
dims and cools on the ground
the silence reverberates

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the gracious and talented Irene Latham at her blog, Live Your Poem. Make sure to drop by and fill up with some poetry!

Conference Week Infects My Poetry

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Conference Week

A bounty of PTA-donated
tempting treats
fills baskets and bowls
in the Teacher’s Room.
I pick a pack of Teddy Grahams.
Back in my classroom,
I relish biting off the heads
of each cheerful little bear.

Molly Hogan ©2019

Ok, I actually do enjoy conferences, but I truly do not enjoy the week of planning, teaching and late nights of conferencing combined. What a week! With so many late nights, I’ve fallen a bit behind on #Poemtober, but here are a few of my recent efforts.

Ash

After the volcano
of his rage,
she picks her way
through the ash,
wary of embers
eager to ignite
a new
conflagration.

Molly Hogan ©2019

Legend

Legend tells
of a teacher
who discovered the secret
of balancing
work and home
and kept it.

I don’t believe it.

©Molly Hogan, 2019

And I revisited the prompt “build” to pair with my daughter’s illustration:

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#Inktober sketch by Adeline Schneider

Build

Let’s build a tower
above the sea
high, in the sky,
an eagle’s aerie.
We’ll live each day,
wild and free,
whilst unheeded, the surf
works her treachery.

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Oh, my! These are cheerful, aren’t they?  lol

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Karen Edmisten. Stop by to check out all the poetry goodness.

Autumn Storm

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It’s been another hit-or-miss week working with #Inktober/#Poemtober. I’ve really liked knowing the prompts are there, but sometimes the inspiration hasn’t been. Isn’t it weird how some words can feel “dead” while others seem to brim with possibility? And those same “dead” words might easily reanimate at a different time or place, when seen through a different lens?

At any rate, this past weekend, my daughter mentioned that she’d been participating in #Inktober. Yesterday, she shared her entry for “wild” with me:

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It, together with the arrival of a fierce storm, inspired this poem.

Autumn Storm

outside the wild wind roars
leaves swirl in tornado torrents
the storm prowls like a lion
lashing the earth with mighty paws

Molly Hogan ©2019

Now that the storm has passed, there are far more leaves on the ground than in the trees, but to date, this fall has been particularly spectacular. Time and again, I’ve been stopped in my tracks by the beauty of autumn in New England.

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brilliant baubles
leaves ornament the trees
fall’s parting gift

Molly Hogan © 2019

I hope your days are also filled with beauty.

 

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Jama Rattigan at her amazing blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Make sure to stop by and see what Jama’s serving up this week. It’s sure to be delicious!

 

 

#Poemtober

downloadImage result for inktober 2019Once again, most of the writing I’ve been doing lately has been quick responses to prompts. Among other things,  I’ve been semi-participating in this month’s Poemtober. That means that I’ve tried to write to the word prompt each day, with wildly varying results. Here are my responses for the prompts “swing” and “husky.”

In October
the balance swings
from “on top of it”
to “overwhelmed”
in the blink
of an eye

©Molly Hogan, 2019

In the shadowed field
beneath glowing hunter’s moon
corn stalks rustle
a haunting, husky tune
winter’s coming…
coming soon…

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Catherine Flynn, at her blog, Reading to the Core. Catherine reminds us of the power of gratitude and shares, among other things, a wonderful poem “Let’s Remake the World with Words.”