Grief

Poetry Friday--snowThis month I’ve been participating in Laura Shovan’s 8th Annual February Daily Poem challenge. This year ‘s theme is “Water”, and each day someone posts a related prompt. We share our fledgling poetic responses on a Facebook page, with the emphasis on idea generation and drafting, not polishing.

Earlier this month Kara Laughlin shared a video and pictures of slurpee waves. Whoa! How did I ever miss these? When temperatures get so cold that ice crystals start forming in the ocean, you have slurpee waves. They’re rare, rather unworldly-looking and utterly fascinating.

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Photo credit to Jonathan Nimerfroh

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New York Times photo

Looking at the pictures, and thinking of a recent tragedy in the life of a friend, sparked this poem.

Grief

The very ocean
has transformed—
free flowing-waves
congealed to slushy surf.
My pulse rolls slowly
with this strange tide.
How do such things
come to pass?
I would have said
it was impossible.
Yet, here I stand
at the shore.
Without you.

Molly Hogan ©2020

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Cheriee at her blog Library Matters. She’s sharing a fascinating interview with Canadian poet, Avis Harley.  Be sure to stop by and check it out. You’ll absolutely come away richer for the experience.

Riffing off a Facebook Valentine Quiz

Poetry Friday--snow.jpgLinda Baie is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at her blog,TeacherDance. Make sure to stop by. You’ll find links to other poetry posts there, but her blog is also a fabulous place to get a sneak peek into recent releases.

I’ve been participating in Laura Shovan’s February poetry challenge, and I’d intended to share a poem I’d written during the past week. Then, with snow day time on my hands, I happened to get on Facebook today. I spotted a Valentine quiz someone had shared, and this poem happened. It’s a bit schmaltzy but it’s timely at any rate. 

Riffing off a Facebook Valentine Quiz

We met in high school.
He sat behind me in class,
two years older,
a senior to my sophomore.

Our first date was a snow day hike
through Towner’s Woods.
He picked me up.
(I couldn’t drive yet.)
Little did we know then
that one fine May day,
seven years later,
we’d marry there.
Three years after that
we’d scatter the ashes
of our firstborn child.

For better. For worse.

Now after thirty years of marriage
and three more children
we’re irrevocably intertwined.
He’s the loudest.
I’m the most stubborn.
He’s a better cook, but
I’m the better baker.
I fall asleep first
and he has the worse temper.
Hands down, he’s crazier.
I suspect I’m more sensitive.

We cleave unto each other.
In sickness and in health.
We love and we cherish.
Most days we’re both certain
that we’re better off
simply because
we’re together.

Molly Hogan ©2020

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Then

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Now-ish

Bonus: A Valentine squirrel. See how his hands make a perfect little heart?

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Acquainted with the dawn

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This month Catherine Flynn posed a bold challenge for our group: Write a terza rima. A terza what? I honestly had no idea what that meant and I had to educate myself. It’s been a process!

Let me tell you, this form is not easy. It’s been an interesting and engaging challenge, but be sure to put the emphasis on challenge.  Eek! The structure is so interwoven that any change sent ripples throughout the entire poem. At various times in the process, I ended up with repeated rhymes (Oops!), messed up rhyme schemes (Ugh!), and/or little meaning (Ouch!). At this point, it really needs to marinate a bit and go through another critique session, but the timer has gone off, and it’s time to post.

Acquainted with the dawn
(inspired by Robert Frost’s Acquainted with the Night)

I have been one acquainted with the dawn
who wanders through the trailing hours of night
compelled as if a thread through needle drawn

to marvel at the seeping glow of light,
bold skies batiked with streaks of reds and blues,
brocaded clouds, bird shadows stitched in flight.

Night’s worries dim as morning light debuts
and Nature’s peace suffuses, bringing ease.
I walk, admiring the changing views.

Webs, dew-bedecked, bedazzle in the breeze
and sun, with Midas touch, turns light to gold,
embroiders veils of diamonds in the trees.

Dark whipstitched boughs help earth to heaven hold,
create a living frieze where eagles fly,
and every day unfolds as if foretold.

Yet even as the sun climbs through the sky,
reflected in the river’s satin glow,
discarded trash lies ‘neath the brush nearby.

Within the water, plastics swirl and flow.
And changing seasons come with prickling fears.
How long can Nature brave each wielded blow?

My solace and my comfort through the years
is jeopardized with every passing day.
I listen to the news through veils of tears.

How long can Nature hold the tide at bay?
What can I do to shield this world I love?
What can we do to mend a world so frayed?

For now I hold it close and journey on.
I have been one acquainted with the dawn.

Molly Hogan ©2020 (draft)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the vivacious and prolific Laura Purdie Salas at her blog, Writing the World for Kids. Also, be sure to check out what my fellow Swaggers did with this terza rima challenge:

Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn
Margaret Simon
Heidi Mordhorst

To the heron who is wintering over

slice-of-life_individualDSC_1064.jpgI’m fascinated by great blue herons and have spent hours watching them. Typically they leave Maine for warmer climates by November or so. This year, a local heron appears to be intending to winter over. While I delight when I see it, I’m also quite concerned about its chances of survival.

To the heron who is wintering over

How do you fare, fair heron 
when snow dusts your feathers
and cold seeps into your bones?
When frigid winds buffet you,
and fish are locked away
beneath ever-thickening ice?

Why did you linger
when autumn light turned amber
and cast long shadows?
Why didn’t you spread your mighty wings
and soar?

Instead, each day
you step into frigid shallows

keen eyes scanning
for elusive fish.
Intent predator with stiletto stealth–
walking that thin slippery line
toward survival.

©Molly Hogan, 2019 (draft)

Jone Rush MacCulloch is hosting this week at her blog, Jone Rush MacCulloch. She’s sharing some beautiful poetry postcards and offering a giveaway. Go check it out!

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Quasi Ghazal

downloadA couple of weeks ago, life felt more than a bit out of control. I don’t need to go into details again, as I’ve already written about it here. At any rate, in the midst of it, I decided to try to write a ghazal (pronounced more or less like “guzzle”). Honestly, I don’t even know why that form occurred to me except that I knew it was complicated and I’d never attempted to write one.

Ghazals have a lot of requirements (here) and if you know anything about ghazals, you’ll see that I have definitely not met all of them.  Regardless, this turned out to be a fortuitous choice for me.  It was so helpful to take my big blob of anxiety and manipulate it into a structured form. Somehow the requirements of the form gave me some necessary distance from the intensity of the events in my life, but also allowed me to process them.  Since I’m missing some components and some of the stylistic elements, I’ve decided to call it a quasi ghazal.

Here We Are

After we got home from the ER,
we said to ourselves, “Well, here we are.”

Still, our heartbeats skitter, struggling
to find a new rhythm. As we are.

Already road worn on this unchosen
journey, we’re uncertain where we are.

This landscape is inhospitable–
shadows threaten wherever we are.

Destination unknown, there’s no map
guiding us onward from where we are.

With stuttering steps, we move ahead,
aware the ground may shift where we are.

Coiled serpent of anxiety
slithers out to greet us where we are.

Unwanted, persistent companion,
it slides along wherever we are.

As each day ends, we’ve traveled further
from where we once were to where we are.

Though the persistent rattle echoes,
I cherish each moment. Here we are.

Molly Hogan ©2020 (draft)

This week Poetry Friday is off to Australia again!  Poet Kat Apel is hosting at her blog. She’s sharing updates on the situation in Australia, the happy news of some rain and fundraising success, a delightful opossum photo and poem, and a back-to-school poem in a new-to-me form, a trimeric. Make sure to check out her post and find links to others while you’re there. When the events in the world weigh you down, there is solace to be found in poetry. Treat yourself to a moment or two. It’s time well spent.

 

Bombardment

downloadI wrote this poem a few weeks ago and hoped that soon it wouldn’t be relevant. Sadly, it still is.

Bombardment

The voice on the afternoon radio
intones relentlessly:
“Australian bushfires continue to rage…
hundreds of koalas incinerated in the blazes…”

My mind shies away,
maneuvers back
to the gentle glow of the waning moon
limning our snow-covered barn roof
this morning.
To the stark angles and edges
of roof and sky,
transformed by moonlight.

“…successful airstrikes on militant targets.”

Words drum, pierce.
A relentless aerial assault.
My mind retreats to the glory
of an incandescent sunrise–
two deer grazing, a squadron of geese
layers of kindled mist
shifting, shimmering.

“…two students killed and three others injured…”

Strings of words strafe.
I scan the shadowy terrain
The skies are a deep indigo blue.
Thick charcoal clouds scud along,
barely visible.
There’s nothing else to see.
Winter is on our doorstep.
Already it’s dark outside.

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Australian poet, Sally Murphy, at her blog.  She’s sharing what she’s doing to respond to the ongoing bush fire tragedy in Australia, news about a bibliography of verse novels she’s working on with Kat Apel, and a cover reveal for her soon-to-be published verse novel.

Weighing Words

downloadA new year, a new challenge! This month’s Swagger challenge came from Heidi Mordhorst. After we’d been discussing whether or not we each were going to choose a One Little Word (OLW) for the year, she announced that “To Word or Not To Word” would be our group’s January challenge.

OLWs. I’ve chosen one before…maybe two..or three? I know I didn’t choose one last year. Did I the year before? Scrolling back through blog posts, I find that I have chosen OLWs two times. In 2016, I chose “Choose” and in 2018, I chose “Pause.” It seems to be an even-year sort of phenomenon–which makes me feel like I’m due in 2020.

As I reread those posts, I enjoyed reconsidering the reflective process I went through to select the words, and where I was in my life when I wrote them. I remembered that I always liked the focus of OLW, how it pushed a word or an idea to the forefront my mind. I enjoyed the process of  considering words and their shades of meanings. So, did I want to choose a word this year?

As we head into 2020, even without regarding the state of our world, our nation, I’m feeling a bit out of kilter. My youngest graduated from college last month, and my oldest is getting married in May. My middle child lives a rich, independent life more than a day’s comfortable car ride away. The chicks have not only emptied the nest, they’re now building their own. Which leaves me, mama bird, looking around wondering, “What’s next?” I have many interests, but sometimes they pull me in different directions. All too often, I feel scattered and unfocused.  Could OLW help me with that?

Weighing Words

I ponder words
some heavy, some light
examine nuances,
unexpected meanings,
surprising depths.
I weigh words in my mind
sift, sort, and shuffle them,
consider the possibilities,
reflect on my recent lack of discipline–
list after unfinished list– and
my new unfortunate tendency
toward procrastination.
Again and again,
I return to one word:
“focus”
a powerful contender.
I turn it over in my mind
pleased by the layered meaning,
the nod to photography.
Could this be it?
But, what about bokeh–
that much desired
out-of-focus
photographic effect?
And don’t seeds widely flung
lure flocks of birds
more surely than a concentration
at a single feeder?
Clearly, a steady focus
can accomplish much,
but an eye fixed on the destination
can also miss
the beauty of the journey.
For ultimately, isn’t it scattered light
that creates rainbows?
©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

So, apparently I’ve talked myself out of adopting a OLW this year, though I don’t rule out that one may find me later. It’s a process, right?

Hmmmm….process….Now, there’s an interesting word…

Note: If you’re interested, here’s Wikipedia’s definition of bokeh:
“In photography, bokeh (/ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə or /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay; Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”.

And here are two of my photos that demonstrate it.

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The year’s first Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol at Carol’s Corner. She’s sharing a wonderful poem by Maya Angelou, and I highly recommend that you stop by and read it. And then read it again. And again. (And here’s the link to the Roundup!)

Then, visit my fellow Swaggers’ sites and see how they responded to the “To Word or not To Word” challenge. Just click on the links below:

Linda at A Word Edgewise
Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret at Reflections on the Teche, and
Catherine at Reading to the Core