NPM: PF: On the perils of misunderstanding idioms

It’s funny how the mind works, isn’t it? My mind was on quite a ramble this morning. I was thinking about PF and how I haven’t participated in weeks. I figured this week wouldn’t be much different, as I haven’t been writing much. Then, I was remembering a comment I made to my writing group about trying to write something “light and sprightly” after I’d shared yet another pair of somber, dark poems. I like the word “sprightly” and the sound of it, so I jotted down a bunch of “ight” words in my notebook.

Next, my thoughts turned to my after school Writing Club. This past Monday we started talking about favorite Shel Silverstein poems. Someone mentioned the one about the person who lost their head and ended up giving up looking for it and sitting on it. Another student looked horrified: She clearly was not familiar with the poem. So, of course, we had to dig out “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and share that poem with her, along with a few select others. And I was thinking about how joyful that was and how timeless Shel Silverstein is.

My thoughts wandered along and perhaps “Someone Ate the Baby” (another epic Silverstein poem) was percolating in there somewhere (though we hadn’t shared it), because the phrase “I want to eat you all up!” and potential misunderstandings popped into my head. Somehow it combined with some of those “ight” words and suddenly there was a limerick in my head. It isn’t light and sprightful, but writing it made me giggle. I hope you enjoy it as well.

On the perils of misunderstanding idioms

There once was a baby delightful.
Everyone said they wanted a biteful.
As they cuddled and oohed,
I snuck in and chewed.
And now they all think I am frightful.

©Molly Hogan

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town. Make sure to stop by to enjoy some poetry as National Poetry Month winds down.

NPM: Inkling Challenge

I’m dabbling in NPM with a sort of free form project that Margaret Simon and I created. It’s a “calendar-non calendar” grid of various poetic forms with a couple of Free Choice options thrown in. The idea is to try to get to all of them, but in any order you want and with free rein to alter/adapt to make it work. After posting for 31 days in March for the Slice of Life Challenge, I never can commit myself to 30 more days of writing. I consider this an invitation rather than a commitment. If you’re interested in checking out our plan, or playing along, here it is:

One thing Margaret and I knew we had to include was our monthly Inklings challenge. This month Mary Lee Hahn had the prompt, and she invited us to write a poem including these four words: knuckle, denial, turn, cautious. While writing this post, I went back to check the wording of the prompt and realized that Mary Lee had actually said to use “three or more” of these words. Clearly, I hadn’t been reading carefully. Dang it. At any rate, my efforts, which went all over the place, all endeavored to include all four words. I found myself mostly focused on knuckles. I learned about tree knuckles from pollarding, thought about knuckle idioms and considered fists and protective stances. Ultimately, a conversation during our last Inkling meeting led me to consider flowers, and I took the liberty of changing denial to its verb form. I’m not loving the title


Within willow’s tender catkins
tight-knuckled blossoms swell
denying the cold winds
with cautious optimism 
and a bold turn toward spring

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’d like to check out what the other Inklings did with this prompt, click on the links below:

Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Margaret Simon, my NPM co-conspirator, who is sharing her response to our Inkling prompt and her contributed line to the Progressive Poem. You’ll find links to all sorts of poetic projects there. Set aside some time and enjoy!

SOLC Day 31:A Messy Pile of Gratitude

March 2023 SOLC–Day 31
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.

This post is also a Poetry Friday post.

Whew! Well, here it is. The last post in this year’s challenge. Success! I won’t say it’s been easy. In fact, this year it’s been more difficult for me than it has in most of my previous years (all 8 or 9 of them–I can never remember).  In short, while part of me will miss the daily posting, a big part is heaving a huge sigh of relief.

I struggled with sleep again last night and composed an awesome acrostic from the word “Slice”. I thought it would be a great ending post, and perhaps that’s why I was finally able to drift back off into sleep. But when I woke this morning it had disappeared into the mist. I sat down to write one again, hoping to retrieve some fragments, but the remnants were well and truly scattered.

I sat for a long time, debating what to stay. What to write. Finally, I realized that I really want to end this month and begin this new day with gratitude. I once met a beautiful, wise soul who said, “All my prayer is praise.” I’m not much of a prayer person, but her words sparked something within me. I love the idea of rooting myself in a practice of giving thanks, of praising. I am far from successful at this, but still I persevere.

Next my thoughts turned to a recent ELA prompt to write a “Pile Poem”. Amy Kay, the mentor poet shared there, was apparently inspired by this quote:

So, what if, instead of thinking about solving our whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.

A Pile of Gratitude

the first one
is probably the hardest.
My husband? My three children?
The blessing of my sisters? Living in Maine?
Maybe the Carolina wren who sings the day awake
or the fox sparrow scrabbling beneath the birch? I can't
forget the marsh, the beach, the deep green of pine and steely grey granite.
Each day's sunrise. The ever-present chickadee. The bold swagger of a crow on
glittering snow. The laughter of children. Soon, I suspect, my lines will be overflowing, 
overrunning the page, the margins, and rewinding onto the next line, pooling, puddling 
like the extra fabric of curtains in old homes, and I think what a wonder it is to live a life that is 
so full of beauty, friends, family, community, that I have to worry about not having enough room to 
write it all on the page. It simply won't fit within the margins. And isn't that just grand?

©Molly Hogan

After writing this, I previewed to see how the poem looked when published. I realized I was right–when constricted to the blog format, my lines took on a life of their own. No longer does my poem have the ever increasing lines of my draft. To capture that, I’d have to play a bit more with technology, and I decided not to do that. It feels right to let my overflow of gratitude take over the form and make it its own. A teetering messy pile of sorts, one I might need to reconstruct now and again if it tilts or threatens to topple. That feels just about right.

Every day this month the SOL icon has been centered at the top of my post with a thank you to Two Writing Teachers, but that’s so easy to overlook. So here it is again: A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow. A huge additional thank you to everyone who took the time to read and comment on my blog during the month. I only wish I’d had more time to meander, read and comment along the way.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Mary Lee Hahn at her blog, A(nother) Year of Reading. Yet another thing to add to my pile of gratitude.

PF: A Few Short Poems for a Long Month

In the mad days of March, it helps to slow down once in a while and write some short poems.

snow falls
I watch

©Molly Hogan

When I don’t find inspiration outside my window, I enjoy starting my days with Alex Price’s daily #CinquainPrompt.

prompt: paddle

water’s surface
the mallard floats serene
no sign of the mad paddling

©Molly Hogan

prompt: sense

Spring pauses
offstage, out of sight.
You can sense her presence,
even through new-fallen snow.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Laura Purdie Salas at her blog. She’s sharing an invitation to join her in April with a creative poetry project. Be sure to stop by and enjoy poems of all lengths and forms!

SOLC Day 4 and PF: The Yielding

March 2023 SOLC–Day 4
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.

My post today is serving as both a Poetry Friday post (posted late!) and a Slice of Life.

This month Margaret Simon posed the monthly challenge in our Inklings writing group. She invited us to, “Explore the use of anaphora in a poem, how the repetition of a line or phrase can add depth to the theme.” I had initial thoughts of writing a triolet or something nuanced and lovely, but February disappeared. Then, in the weird way of the world of writing, I woke yesterday morning with some oddly melding thoughts, including Edgar Allen Poe’s “Raven”, in mind. I dove right in, but unfortunately, I had to stop writing to go to school. So, here’s a story in drafty poetic form, posted a bit late for the Poetry Friday Roundup. (After trying to use Poe’s work as a mentor, I am immensely impressed by his skills! Wow! )

The Yielding

Once upon a long week’s ending, teaching, planning, e-mail sending,
last ditch cleaning of the classroom, tote bags hefted, out the door
While I drove home, nearly sleeping, suddenly there came a peeping
sudden thoughts bestirred and cheeping, cheeping as they’ve done before
“Just some thoughts,” I muttered crossly, “peeping as they’ve done before.
Nothing that I need explore.”

But the thoughts were still compelling, never shrinking, always swelling
as I drove along the back roads, thoughts kept drifting to the store, 
Then the wheel was swiftly turning, as my mind was deeply burning
with the thought that still was churning, churning at resolve’s frail shore
White flag flying, I conceded, burning at resolve’s frail shore
“Just one bag and not one more!”

Once I’d yielded to the luring, gave up thoughts of craving-curing,
I slunk to the candy aisle, treading paths I’d walked before
Bright display was quite eye-catching, soon the plan began a’hatching, 
and my hand was quickly snatching, snatching, paying, out the door!
“Robin’s eggs!” my breath was hitching, catching with the treat in store
“Just one piece and not one more!”

But that feeble vow unraveled, mounds of candy quickly traveled
past my lips and down my gullet, there to lie on stomach’s floor 
As the mounting candies tumbled, suddenly my stomach grumbled
“Should I stop”, I barely mumbled, mumbled as my gut implored
But the seismic heavings heightened, grumbled as my gut implored
Quoth my stomach, “Nevermore!”

©Molly Hogan, draft


If you’d like to see what the other Inklings did with this challenge, click on their names to check out their poems:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn
Catherine Flynn

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tanita at her blog. Be sure to stop by to enjoy some poetry goodness!

A Gift of Tulips

A Gift 

An enchantment of tulips
graces the ceramic vase.
Over the flow of days
their petals curl and fade,
stems weaken and bow,
elegant in their curved descent.
Then in a final cascading rush,
each flower splays into full blossom,
casting petals upon the table.
A last tender offering.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. Be sure to stop by! Tabatha’s posts always leave you with something new to ponder and there are links to other poetic offerings as well.

Poetry Friday is here!

I love the trees in winter. My eyes are drawn to them, to their still winter silhouettes against the changing tapestry of the skies. There’s something so clean and clear about them. Undiluted dendritic elegance.

Driving home recently, I had the sudden realization that I will miss the stark winter trees come spring. While I’ll certainly enjoy the delicate emergence of greenery, something within me cleaves to the clarity of winter tree lines. Their shapes and shadows collaborate with sky and water and snow-covered land. They resonate with me on a fundamental level. I felt an odd sense of grief at their impending transformation and a deep appreciation for their presence.

A Tree in Winter

Plant a tree
above my grave
Not one to bloom
in rubied exuberance
nor an evergreen
season after season

Instead, plant a tree
with winter in mind
a tree that is stalwart and true
one that stretches upward
into the lingering shadows
of long, cold days
quilting the skies
at dawn and dusk,
its limbs a tracery
a testament to endurance
and a reassurance
Solace and stark beauty
in the dark, dark days

©Molly Hogan, draft

I hope my poem doesn’t come across as too dark. I really am just feeling thankful for the beauty of trees in a still somber landscape. In Maine, winter is still firmly entrenched, though every day the sun rises a touch earlier and sets a touch later. And those beautiful, beautiful trees rise above it all. Wishing you winter or early spring beauty wherever you may be.

Please share your link below. My comments may be delayed due to tentative travel plans this weekend, but I’ll definitely be visiting all your posts sooner or later. Thanks for sharing!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

Playing with Existing Narratives

I’m participating in Laura Shovan’s February Challenge this year. I must confess that I haven’t been as consistent as usual in my participation. I think right now I’m at a 50% response rate. I’m trying to look at that as half success, rather than as half failure. At any rate, I’m hoping to rectify that moving forward. (Yay for weekends!)

Our first prompt was essentially to deconstruct or mess around with a narrative or its structure. While initially this felt a bit brain-twisty, eventually I found it fascinating. I loved reading all the amazingly creative takes on it, too. I shared one response with the group, but was inspired to write another one as well.

(Photo credit to : markmatucciphoto)

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
The other version

That Dog
laid still,
played dead.
He wasn’t lazy
not at all

And that Fox
wasn’t quite
as quick as 
he claimed.
Though he was brown.

That Fox did jump
or try to jump
over that still 
seemingly lazy Dog.

But that wily Dog
stood up 
with a Woof shake Woof
catching that Fox 
in a brief mid-air

Then that Dog
untangled himself,
and shrugged off Fox
and trotted away
with a lazy grin.

That Fox dusted off
his chagrin,
blushing red
from tip to tail,
and limped away…

not quite as quick
as before.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol Varsalona at her blog, Beyond Literacy Link.

Almost Forgot to Flow

Catherine Flynn had our Inklings challenge this month. She took her prompt from the book How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope. Here was the invitation she shared: “Can you remember a time when you felt so consumed with the act of making something that you lost all sense of time and your mind seemed to clear? What allowed you to enter this mindful creative space?” When we talked about the prompt, there was some discussion of flow and losing oneself in the flow.

To be honest, there’s a little bit too much flow going on around here, because apparently January flowed right into February without my paying too much attention. Bottom line: I did not remember that our Inkling challenge was due until last night when I was in bed. Oops. And then I had a full day of PD today.

I came home determined to write something. I thought about times I’d felt immersed in creativity, lost to the ticking of the clock, and almost always I remembered mornings outside with my camera in hand. These are such magical moments for me. My mind wandered, recalling vivid sunrises, spiraling sea smoke, soaring birds and dazzling explosions of hoarfrost…the next thing I knew, I was waking up in my chair. It really has been a long, long week.

I finally cobbled together a nonet, expanding from a couple of lines I’d written in my notebook.

into full
blossoming day.
Watch the world wake and
shake off nighttime shadows
Follow its invitation
from one hidden gem to the next
Lose yourself in winter’s enchantment

©Molly Hogan

If you want to see what the other Inklings did with this challenge, check their sites:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn
Catherine Flynn

Laura Shovan is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at her blog.

PF: Cascade Poem

The Poetry Princesses invited others to join in the fun this month and tackle cascade poems. I was immediately drawn by the name of the form and then intrigued by the mix of structure and freedom within it. Robert Lee Brewer succinctly describes it thus: “For the cascade poem, a poet takes each line from the first stanza of a poem and makes those the final lines of each stanza afterward. Beyond that, there are no additional rules for rhyming, meter, etc.” Here’s my cascade poem:

As Fall Turns to Winter

Outside the snow keeps falling
but our fire burns bright
even as the world disappears

We stand by the windows
joined by our pale reflections
Outside the snow keeps falling

We’re quieter these days
tender and bruised, a bit sadder
but our fire burns bright

We watch as our reflections
reach out, hold hands, hold on
even as the world disappears.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Jan Annino at her blog. She’s sharing poetry and gardening wonders from Sharon Lovejoy.