Poetry Friday is Here!

I’m participating in an on-line group working through Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way. As one of our first assignments, we read through the book’s Appendix. There was an Artist’s Prayer included there, beginning “O Great Creator.” I’m not fully comfortable with faith and prayer, and this felt a bit uncomfortable to me. Julia Cameron is quite clear that one shouldn’t allow the “semantics” to become an issue; The concepts of God, or flow, or spiritual electricity work equally well. I was able to roll with that, but still, the Artist’s Prayer felt like a bit of a stretch.

Then about two weeks ago, one of the group members shared her Artist’s Prayer, adding before she read it, “all my prayer is praise.” Those words and her lovely prayer lingered in my mind. The next week, another group member shared her beautiful Artist’s Prayer in a group chat. I carried this with me as well. 

This past Saturday I drove down toward the ocean, timing my arrival to shortly before sunrise. En route and while there, I watched the sky shift and change. As the world gradually lightened around me, I felt the inner quickening that always lifts me on such morning wanderings.

This time though, I found myself awkwardly, tentatively turning over phrases like “O Great Creator.”  I felt a yearning to compose my own Artist’s Prayer. My own prayer of thanks. When I got home, I jotted a few lines in my notebook. Maybe I’ll work on that later, I thought.

Then, on Sunday, I finally captured a picture of the Carolina wren that’s been visiting our house this winter. I shared it on Facebook and Linda Baie replied, sharing a Mary Oliver poem I’d never read before—“The Wren from Carolina”  

The second and third stanzas  popped out at me, 

“Now he lifts his chestnut colored throat
and delivers such a cantering praise–
for what?

For the early morning, the taste of the spider, 
for his small cup of life
that he drinks from every day, knowing it will refill.”

That’s it! I thought. “and delivers such a cantering praise” What a glorious line!! That’s what I want to express–my gratitude for my own “small cup of life” that refills to overflowing–so often on my morning expeditions, but at other moments as well. 

So I started writing my own Artist’s Prayer. It’s still a work in progress, but the journey toward writing it has been so interesting.

Artist’s Prayer

O Great Creator
Thanks be for opening my eyes
to the wonders of this world
To the bountiful gifts
that surround me
Thanks be for the dawn
that quickens my soul
that pulls it like a boat
into river’s flow
Grant me the courage
to be open
to the current
that tugs me
from the bank’s safety
into the fullness of the river
Let me, trusting,
lean into that power
on the tide of each day
May I travel in kinship
with the trees,
the creatures of sea and land
May I glory in the journey
as much as the destination
Thanks be
for this cup of gladness
for the growing certainty
that as I hold it aloft in my hands
each day it will be filled.
May I capture these moments,
share this joy
May my creations
reflect my gratitude
and my dawning understanding:
the closest I come
to holy
is at the break
of day.

©Molly Hogan (draft)

Please share your Poetry Friday offerings at the link below. I’m so looking forward to enjoying them over a long, leisurely weekend!

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PF: My Home

This month Catherine Flynn posed the challenge for our group: “Copy a mentor poem (or other text) word for word, then replace [that poet’s] language with your own.” She was inspired by an article that she’d read in the NYT entitled, “How E.L. Doctorrow Taught an Aspiring Writer to Hear the Sounds of Fiction. I decided to try this with a wonderful poem by Renée Watson: “This Body II.”

This Body II

My body is
perfect and
imperfect and
Black and
girl and
big and
thick hair and
short legs and
scraped knee and
healed scar and
click for the rest of the poem here

Here’s my poem. I struggled with the ending two lines and ultimately deviated from Watson’s original form. I’d still be fiddling if it weren’t Friday already.

My Home

My house is
inviting and
imperfect and
red and
old and
big and
slightly crooked and
terribly cluttered and
horsehair plaster and
cobweb corners and
walls sheltering and
laughter that echoes and
generations that whisper and
doors to step through and
windows that frame and
my parent’s loveseat and
my in-law’s chair and
my grandparent’s buffet and

my house is coalescence
my house is my home.

©Molly Hogan

If you’d like to see what some others have done with this prompt, check out their blogs at the following links:

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

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Jone MacCulloch at her blog.

Revisiting a Halloween Summoning

I haven’t been writing much lately, so I turned to a Halloween-themed poem that I previously shared here. Sadly, the state of our world seems even more dire than when I wrote this poem in 2017. I made some minor revisions to the final two stanzas to focus on more current woes. Unfortunately, many of the original ones remain. Scary, indeed.

Halloween Summoning

I summon ye, spirits and spooks and sprites
and tip-tapping branches on moonless nights
Arise headless horseman and grisly ghouls
and bleak haunted houses where terror rules
Awaken ye witches, ye wizards and djinns
and mad-grinning pumpkins aglow from within
Come forth ye black cats and specters and crows
and clink-clanking chains from dank caverns below
I summon ye, yearning for simpler days
when you were the frightening things on parade
when you were the terrors that filled up my head
that kept me awake and that filled me with dread.

Rise spectors! Rise phantoms! Rise foul-smelling fiends!
Come, take back the night from our nightmarish dreams
Come, banish the darkness, the stygian gloom
the madmen now flirting with chaos and doom
and whipping up festering cauldrons of hate.
Come vanquish these forces before it’s too late.

I’d rather face phantoms about at all hours
than criminal leaders who hunger for power,
vanishing glaciers, electoral threats
pollution, pandemic and civil unrest
And mad spinning storms of apocalypse size
and “leaders” who bully and taunt and despise.

So, rise all ye spirits of Halloween night!
Come harrow us all to your black hearts’ delight!
Treat us to hauntings, and foul apparitions
Bedevil our sleep–it’s no imposition!
Tis better by far to have monsters aprowl
than the man-made disasters that torture us now.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the one and only Linda Baie at her wonderful blog, TeacherDance. Be sure to stop by and check out this week’s poetic offerings, spooky and otherwise!

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.

plumm blossoms (1)

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.