Shifting Focus


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I purchased “Lost Words” by Robert G. Macfarlane quite some time ago after someone shared it here at PF. (Sorry! I can’t remember who.) Wow! What a gorgeous book–both the poems and the illustrations.

Then, in June, Mary Lee Hahn tweeted that there are songs to go along with the poems. What!? I fell in love with this one and listened to it over and over and over again. It’s hauntingly beautiful.

“Enter the wild with care, my love, and speak the things you see.  Let new names take and root and thrive and grow.” Sigh…..beautiful….

I started following Macfarlane on twitter. Browsing through recent tweets, I found one in which he shared the term “plant blindness”.

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What a fascinating idea! In the thread of comments, someone shared a link to the original article (here) and a man named James Lomax also responded. He said he’d once walked with a wildflower expert who’d said, “The world comes into focus when you can identify the flowers.” I loved that idea. It helped me to put words to the deep pleasure I get from naming the plants and flowers that surround me when I’m out and about. Having read Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s PF clever triolet earlier this month, I was inspired to revisit that form with this idea in mind. Of course, she made it look so easy! ha! I’d forgotten how tricky these are. This one’s been more than a bit squirmy and hasn’t fully settled down yet. Perhaps it’s just a bit out of focus…

Shifting Focus

Naming plants and flowers
shifts the world into focus
In gilded fields or dappled bowers
naming plants and flowers
uplifts and empowers
Trillium, wintergreen, wild crocus
Naming plants and flowers
shifts the world into focus

Molly Hogan ©2019 (draft)

Check out this week’s bouquet of poetry (and a really cute puppy!) at the Poetry Friday Roundup at Carol’s Corner.

What if this poem didn’t care?

74707-poetry-friday-logoA couple of weeks ago, Linda Mitchell hosted the Roundup (here) and generously offered up some “poetry clunkers” for others to use. I was intrigued by the line “What if this poem didn’t care?”

What if this poem didn’t care?

What if this poem didn’t care?
If it simply gathered up
its syllables and vowels,
packed up its consonants
and hit the road
not even looking back once
to see me, bereft,
fading in the distance
a pen, broken, in my hand

Molly Hogan ©2019

Jone McCulloch is hosting this week’s Roundup at her blog, Deowriter. She’s sharing a fabulous poetry swap she received from Tabatha Yeatts along with some of her swap-inspired poems.


74707-poetry-friday-logoDuring the last month or two, I’ve been playing around with some poetry forms in my notebook. Sometimes I find that I enjoy staying within the framework of a structure. I liked the idea of odes, and I thought it might be fun to write one about some relatively mundane subject. Oatmeal came to mind.

It occurred to me as I began to write this post to share my ode, that someone else might have written about oatmeal. Why not do a quick search? I did and, much to my delight,  discovered “Oatmeal” by Galway Kinnell:

I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that is better for your mental health
if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have
breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge,
as he called it with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him:
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime,
and unusual willingness to disintegrate, oatmeal should
not be eaten alone.
(click here to read the entire poem–it’s worth it! I promise!)

If you’d like, you can listen to Galway Kinnell read his poem aloud:

The downside of discovering  Kinnell’s poem is that I am now less inclined to share my own. It feels a lot more pedestrian, and it’s definitely geared toward a younger crowd. But, hey, it’s my little love song to oatmeal, so I’m going to post it anyway and just keep reminding myself, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” (T. Roosevelt)


Oatmeal, oh oatmeal
most trustworthy food
warming my belly
sweetening my mood

You nimbly transform
with each addition
breakfast chameleon
packed with nutrition

With you by my side
each day starts off right
Oh, fairest of grains
my breakfast delight

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Stop on by Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect, to check out this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. She’s sharing a wonderful triolet, inspired by a challenge, some self-reflection and a bit of family and national history.

NYC Poems

74707-poetry-friday-logoI’m in New York right now, participating in Teachers College Summer Institute for Reading. What a week of learning this has been! I’m always inspired to write by the sights and sounds of the city around me, but it’s tough to find time and mental energy to devote to it. Here are a few in-the-works poems inspired by the sights and sounds of NYC. 

Broadway buzzes by
he curls around his black bag
a sleeping question

©Molly Hogan, 2019

A Subway Moment

swept into the subway
by torrents of rain
and arcs of lightning
I stumble onto the train and stand
pressed against passengers
a humid mass
of bedraggled humanity

through the window
I see a man
sitting on the platform
his hands dance gracefully in the air
drumming an inaudible tune
against an invisible drum

his bag of belongings behind him
he sits in his island
taps and beats until
his hands agitate
as if tripped up, bumping up
against microscopic motes
He grimaces
cocks his head
his hands still
Until…in a moment
his face smooths and
he resumes
his drumming

above us thunder booms
rain pummels the city
my train pulls away

Molly Hogan ©2019 (draft)
(Note—I edited this after first posting)


A man slept on the street
his naked feet
pale and surprisingly pink
peeked from beneath
a dingy blanket

Who washed these feet
when they were small?
Did anyone count and kiss
each precious toe?
Chase the little piggies
all the way home?
wee wee wee
What a journey

Molly Hogan ©2019 (draft)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by children’s author, poet and wonderful photographer, Buffy Silverman at her blog (here). She’s sharing a peek into Helen Frost and Rick Lieder’s book “Hello I’m Here” and a wonderful original advice poem. What a delight!

The Bird Word

74707-poetry-friday-logoWherever I go, I watch birds. I spend hours watching birds at home, at the beach, and at the river. I confess, I even watch them while I should be focusing on the road. In fact, I’m amazed that, to date,  I’ve emerged unscathed from majorly bird-distracted driving! At any rate, I’m especially captivated by the daily drama at our feeders, and it frequently distracts me from my work. I often wonder about the birds’ ability to intuit the arrival of a new type of suet or fresh oranges or sunflower seeds. How do they spread the word?  I recently reworked an old poem about this, and thought I’d share the new and hopefully improved version here.

The Bird Word

Do they read a daily flyer
to alert them one and all?
Do they chatter at the back-fence
and report each new windfall?

Do they banter at the birdbath
’bout the tasty treat du jour?
Do they gossip while they’re gorging
at the feeder by the door?

Do the bluejays trade in hearsay,
while the chickadees chitchat?
Is there message to decipher
in woodpecker’s rat-a-tat?

Do the sparrows spread the news?
Each tweet a coded whistle?
Could one chirp mean sunflower seeds
and two long tweets mean thistle?

I suspect they gather nightly
to exchange the feeder news
and to seed their conversations
with their coded birdly clues.

I could sit still and decipher
how the word spreads with such speed
but instead I must go shopping…
I need two more bags of seed!

© Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Laura Shovan at her blog. She’s sharing some wonderful student poetry from her recent stint as poet-in-residence.

And because I can’t resist sharing photos….here are a few of some feeder action 🙂

Addendum: Honestly, I just looked outside this morning and saw: a rose breasted grosbeak, a ruby throated hummingbird, several blue jays, a red winged blackbird, a red-bellied woodpecker, a white breasted nuthatch, a mourning dove and a catbird. In one glance! How lucky am I?

Instructions to a Standardized Test

74707-poetry-friday-logoOver at Today’s Little Ditty this month, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes interviewed Liz Steinglass about her debuting picture book: Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer. It was a great interview and ended, as always, with a challenge. Liz invited readers to write Poems of Instruction to inanimate objects. What an intriguing challenge! I’ve been having loads of fun seeing what others have written and finally settled on my response. (I apologize for the appearance, but the only way I could retain my formatting was by taking screen shots and cutting and pasting them.)

Instructions to a Standardized Test

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The ever-inspiring Margaret Simon of Reflection on the Teche is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. She’s sharing some wonderful nature pi-ku poems written by the gifted and talented students she teaches.

Rainy Spring Lament


I’ve been struggling to write for the past few weeks. I didn’t participate in the weekly Tuesday SOL for most of April, and my poetry writing has been erratic. My morning writing pages haven’t been accumulating either. Outside, there’s lots going on and I’ve enjoyed time down by the river, and walking, taking pictures, gardening, etc., but I’m not feeling a writing tug. I just haven’t wanted to write about anything in particular. I’ve started and stopped a couple of pieces, unable to find any sort of rhythm. Could it be the weather?

Thank goodness for my on-line writing communities–Poetry Friday to the rescue! Intrigued by the dizains on show in several posts last week, I decided to attempt one. The basic rules to a dizain are 10 lines with 10 syllables each and a rhyme scheme of ababbccdcd.  Our depressingly rainy spring seemed to be the perfect topic.

Rainy Spring Lament

These ceaseless days of drizzle drag me down
fair sun retreats, unfelt and rarely spied
sky clings to clouds as to a favorite gown
debuting springtime blossoms peek then hide,
droop ever downward, fully mist-ified
The forecast looms with unrelenting grey
belies the merry, merry month of May
when typically the whole world comes alive
instead our spirits sag and tempers fray
Oh, when will springtime finally arrive?

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Elizabeth Steinglass at her blog, Elizabeth Steinglass: Poetry for Children and Their Grownups. She’s celebrating all sorts of milestones this spring, including the imminent release of her first book: “Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer.” Congratulations, Elizabeth!!  Today she’s sharing a first draft of a poem that’s included in that book, and a poem that was cut.