PF: Folktale Week Challenge

Linda had our Inklings challenge this month and she responded with an invitation to “find or write a poem in any form of any length for Folktale Week November 14-20, 2022.” The folks at Folktale Week describe the prompts as an opportunity to “search for your favorite folktales, discover new ones, work on your own amazing art, or even write your own tales.” Here is the prompt list with their accompanying lush illustration:

Unfortunately, October truly threw me for a loop this year, and I’m still struggling to regain my equilibrium. Very little writing happened. Then, although I recognized the richness and flexibility of the prompt, I had a hard time finding my way in. I pondered using fool, or potion, or star. I stopped and started. My thoughts turned time and again to tree and I remembered something about the Norse sacred tree, Yggdrasil (though I did not remember the name without a Google search). I don’t know much about Norse mythology or this tree, but remembered it was central to the universe. I was drawn to that idea–a tree uniting worlds, central to all. There’s some sort of infinite healing potential about a tree.

This poem doesn’t really feel ready for the light of day, and it surely doesn’t offer a tale, but I didn’t want to forgo participating in Linda’s challenge. I apologize in advance for the maudlin bent, but it seems to be what’s emerging from my pen these days.

Hand pressed to tree
I stand
alone
soul barked and bruised
yearning to be
rooted to earth
while soaring upward
bridging worlds

yearning to cleave
to now and then
to here and there

Hand pressed to tree
I stand
still
whilst splintering
in all directions

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’re interested in how the other Inklings responded to the challenge, check out the links below:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Catherine Flynn
MaryLee Hahn

Also, this week the Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Heidi Mordhorst who’s sharing her response to the Inkling challenge. Be sure to stop by My Juicy Little Universe and check out what she has on offer!

PF: Poemtober

This year I’ve been trying again to write poems in response to the Inktober drawing prompts. I’ve only written to about half of the prompts so far, but hope to play more this weekend. Some of the prompts are quite challenging at first glance, and it can be interesting to see where they lead. Here are a few from the past two weeks:

Day #2: Scurry

Why the constant scurry?
Trying to outpace worry?
So fast. Too fast.
Life gets blurry.
Slow down. Take time.
Less rush. Less flurry.

©Molly Hogan

Day # 4 :scallop

October Wondering

How does the moon
with such precision
carve opalescent scallop
from the inky fabric
of an autumn night?

©Molly Hogan

Day #6 Bouquet

Within the chrysalis
caterpillar transforms
from many-legged thing
to a bouquet
of petalled wings

©Molly Hogan

Day #14 empty

Some Days Are Just Like That…

Everything
feels empty
What’s missing
pulls and tugs
at the heart

©Molly Hogan

If you’re interested in trying out these prompts, here’s the list:

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Matt Forrest Esenwine at his blog, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. He’s sharing exciting news about his newest book and an original poem as well.

PF: Wordy 30s!

Ok, first off, I need to apologize. The brevity of this form definitely did not inspire a corresponding brevity in my post. I got a little carried away with Mary Lee’s prompt and decided to share the whole dang process!

So, let’s be clear– I am a total Wordle nerd and was utterly delighted when Mary Lee challenged us this month with the Wordy 30 form. Here is her explanation of the form: “A Wordy 30 is a poem using exactly 30 letters. Each line should have the same number of letters. Each line should use one word. You might have 6 lines with 5 letters in each line (like Wordle), or 5 x 6, 3 x 10, 10 x 3, 15 x 2, 2 x 15, 30 x 1, or (most unlikely) 1 x 30. Have…fun???”

I dove in with great enthusiasm, and found myself gravitating toward the 6×5 structure.

Guess
whose
terse
verse
stuck
quick?

©Molly Hogan

Hmmmm…. the one word per line limit was…well…limiting! I kept fiddling away at it.

Every
terse
verse
first
began
worse.

©Molly Hogan

That one made me laugh, but I realized that what I wanted to do was somehow tell a story within the tight framework of the challenge. I thought about this a lot, often while driving to work.

Rainy
drive
Final
nerve
frays
snaps

©Molly Hogan

Meh. I still wasn’t satisfied. Maybe I should get a bit more philosophical. Or I could play around with 6x5s. Or, inspired by Margaret and Linda, I could create add some image poems.

Nature
offers
tender
solace…
Linger

©Molly Hogan

Leaves
shiver…
Winter
admits
ghosts

©Molly Hogan

Finally, (because, why not?!) I decided to try a 3×10.

Time Scythes

everything
meticulous
disappears

©Molly Hogan

If you have any more appetite for Wordy 30s, check out what the other Inklings did on their sites. Here are the links:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Sarah Grace Tuttle at her blog. Be sure to stop by and enjoy some poetry!

Emerge- A Definito

Having a great fondness for Heidi Mordhorst’s definito form, last month I tucked away a mental note to write one for the Poetry Pal’s shared challenge for today. In Heidi’s words, “the definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. I’ve written definitos before (here), but it had been quite a while since I’d played with the form. As usual, I wish I’d had more time!

Half the fun of writing a definito is choosing the word you want to highlight. With butterflies on the mind in my classroom this week, emerge was an easy win.

Emerge

A scuba diver bubbles up
from turbulent seas.
A skyline materializes
as coastal fog fades.
From a too-tight chrysalis
a butterfly steps and spreads
its crumpled wings.
To move out or away from
To come into view
To emerge.

©Molly Hogan, draft

Make sure to visit The Opposite of Indifference where Tabatha Yeatts is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. There are sure to be other definitos for you to enjoy, along with an assortment of other poetry.

Image poems

I always enjoy interweaving my photographs and writing, and lately, I’ve been playing around with image poems again. For me, they are the perfect format for a quick dip into poetry, when the return to the classroom has taken a voracious bite out of my available writing time.

sun-kindled spotlight
summer day finale
hydrangea’s swan song

©Molly Hogan

gilded ferns
usher in summer evenings
autumn in the wings

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol Varsalona at her blog, Beyond Literacy Link. She’s offering a poetic farewell to Summer.

On groundhogs, leach fields and curses

Recently, Mary Lee Hahn shared a link to a delightful old blog post of hers that featured paint chips and poetic curses (here). I was intrigued and tucked away the idea to play with later.

And then today happened.

Today was actually a continuation of events that happened earlier this week. It all began when, in search of blackberries, I wandered over our leach field (for those who don’t know, that’s a critical component of a septic system). And I noticed that the ground felt uneven (for those who don’t know, the ground should be flat and even). Looking around, I discovered random piles of sand on top of the grass (for those who don’t know, sand is a component of a leach field and is NOT supposed to be above the ground). This was not a small amount of sand. This could NOT be good.

Um, Kurt, I said, a few minutes later to my husband, pointing out the intermittently spaced 8-9 inch circumference sand volcanos, What’s going on here?

Then we looked at each other, the gears shifting and aligning. We remembered the groundhogs we’d had to get rid of a couple of years ago for suspicious activity in the area. Remembered the cute groundhog that had visited us a couple of times recently. The one we thought had been living under the barn. We also remembered the missing broccoli and leaf lettuce in the garden. The fact that groundhogs love to burrow. It took a while, but the light went on.

Kurt appraised the situation and strategically set a trap. We decided to wait and see what happened for a couple of days and then call in the experts.

Then today, I heard a suspicious watery noise emanating from the basement. Upon investigation I discovered a pipe emitting a steady waterfall which had formed a lazy river along our creepy dirt basement floor.

Uh oh.

I went outside to find Kurt and brought him down to the basement.

Where does that pipe go? I asked him, pointing to the leaking pipe.

Cue the ominous music and the duh Duh DUHhhhhhh!!!!! followed by a long pause.

The septic system, Kurt replied.

The septic system? I asked.

The septic system.

Another long pause.

Are you positive?

Yes.

Clearly this discovery pushed things up to the next response level. I dove into our files searching for our septic service company’s phone number and found the receipt for our last date of service.

Oops.

Another discovery for the day…we had maybe kind of sort of forgotten in the midst of Covid and life in general to get the tank pumped out in a timely manner. We were more than overdue.

So which came first, the groundhog or the overfilled system?

After a frantic afternoon of googling, facebook requests for help, phone calls and explanations(Piles of what on your leach field?), a welcome dose of good luck and a hefty bill, we now have no leaking pipe, an emptied and functioning system and instructions for how to deal with the groundhogs.

Yes, unfortunately, we were right. Groundhogs are burrowing into our leach field. Luckily, it seems like most of today’s issues stemmed from the overdue cleaning, but we still have to deal with the groundhogs or we could have much more significant issues arise.

All this is the background to why I found myself considering curse poems again today.

I reread Mary Lee’s poem and copied her list of synonyms for curse. Then I googled “curse poems” and found this poem by J.M. Synge, which he apparently wrote to the sister of an enemy:

The Curse

Lord, confound this surly sister,
Blight her brow with blotch and blister,
Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver,
In her guts a galling give her.

Isn’t that fantastic to read aloud?

Finally, this evening, with the events of the day and those poetic inspirations in mind, I settled in to vent my spleen by writing a curse poem. It’s been a long day and it’s still a drafty poem, but I feel a little bit better.

A Curse on the Invading Groundhog

Rise ye gods and cast a spell
upon this creature spawned from hell
Jinx his scurvy rodent hide
taunt him with groundhogicide

Bedeck his coat with mange and pox
Bung up his ev’ry tunnel with rocks
Behex his stolen greens to rot 
spoil his food and give him nought

Blast him with pustuling blisters
cramp his innards into twisters
plague him with wounds rank and septic
make his every hour dyspeptic

Roust him from his stealthy burrow
drive him over field and furrow 
Raise his fever by degrees
’til he yields the field and flees

©Molly Hogan, draft

Here’s hoping the groundhog responds to this curse. Truly, it’s better than the alternatives.

Margaret Simon has this week’s Poetry Friday Round up at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. Be sure to stop by and see what’s on offer and wish her a Happy Birthday!

PF: A Stolen Moment

I just spent some time in Tennessee enjoying family and unfamiliar scenery. One afternoon I spent some time sitting under a crepe myrtle tree, lingering in the moment, looking down over the lake and into the distant fading ridges of mountains. Ahhhhhhh….

Sitting Under the Crepe Myrtle

Sheltered from midday sun
surrounded by the hum of bees
the rustle of leaves
the heartbeat of the tree
Blossom sweet serenity

©Molly Hogan

This week the warm and wonderful Jan Annino is hosting. Be sure to stop by and check out her blog at Bookseedstudio.

July Challenge: Persistence

It’s the first of July and also the first Friday of the month. That means it’s time to share the Inklings challenge for the month. Heidi had the honors this month. After noticing how in her own garden “THE PLANTS KEEP GROWING. They rarely give up,” she noted that “there are so many ways in which we’ve all (but especially as women, as educators) had to be persistent, despite our weariness.” So, she invited us to write a poem about persistence.

For a variety of reasons, the past month got away from me (first of July=first Friday of July was an equation that escaped my attention until quite recently!). I am going with my initial off-the-cuff responses to the challenge. Clearly I needed (and took) a respite from heavier topics.

One of life’s pressing questions…

Who is more persistent:
The thick, black hair
reappearing
firmly rooted 
in the softening skin
on the left side of my chin
or I 
who wield
the tweezers
victoriously
again and again?

©Molly Hogan

I’ve run into a dilemma with the title of the next poem. It’s not objects, as in things, but objects, as in voices dissent. So, how does one convey that or give enough context in a title? Definitely a conundrum! I just decided to opt for forewarning you.

Cat Objects

Why is “dogged”
used to indicate persistence
or a steady pursuit?
Isn’t her presence
at the mouse hole,
paw poised, statue-still
more worthy of canonization
in the lexicon?
So, not “dogged”
but “catted”?
Just yell “Squirrel!”
she suggests
and rests her case.

©Molly Hogan

If you want to see what the other Inklings did with this challenge, click on the links below:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

I’ll be traveling for the next week or so, and am unsure how much internet access and time I’ll have. I hope to be able to make the rounds, albeit, perhaps, in a piecemeal fashion.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Janice Scully at her blog, Salt City Verse. She’s sharing a great poem inspired by reading about supernovae.

A Word or Two of Gratitude

This month Linda Mitchell posed our Inkling challenge: “Honor someone’s April Poetry project in some way with a poem in the spirit of their project, a response poem or some way that suits you.” I loved the idea, but was a bit worried because I hadn’t followed along consistently with many, or really any, of the National Poetry Month (NPM) projects. I was peripherally aware of what people were doing, and dipped in now and again, but that was about it. Time just got away from me, and focus was in short supply as well.

As I pondered my options (and was all too aware of time ticking away), I realized that the big take-away for me this past month was admiration and gratitude for everyone who participated. I was simply wowed by the commitment and passion of each poet, impressed by their creative projects and by their determination to recognize and participate in NPM. Although I didn’t participate at all, I benefitted greatly from those who did and shared their work and their processes so generously. In the end, I decided that’s what I wanted to honor–the creative efforts and outcomes of all who participated in NPM.

A Word or Two of Gratitude

They dive 
into the rush and gush
of creative flow
not knowing, just going
and growing
sowing poetry seeds
on a month-long quest
not to be the best
but to be blessed by words
along a self-chosen quest
to dive deep and reap
to snatch at a wisp
of whispered word
twist it, chisel it
into a “something” that prickles
pierces upward
like a tender leaf 

Reaching through soil
breaching boundaries 
reward for the toil
from coiled seed
into bud and bloom
which soon falls
to mulch, to mix 
into rich compost
a host for the next endeavor
whatever
that might be

Never minding the distractions
infractions 
odd daily impactions
they peel back layers
a wordy striptease
to find the sublime
rewind time
strike at each part
let words fall apart
until the heart
of it all pulses 
with a steady
beat beat beat
at our world-weary feet

A gift beyond measure
a poetry treasure

©Molly Hogan

If you want to check out what the other Inklings did with this challenge, click on the links below:

Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn
Margaret is spending time with family this week and won’t be participating.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Jama Rattigan at her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Be sure to stop by and see what she’s dishing up this week along with other PF participants.

PF: The Thing Is…

This month Mary Lee challenged the Inklings to write using Ellen Bass’s poem “The Thing Is” as a mentor poem. She said, “Keep the title, but choose a theme/message either from your own life or from current events.”

Well, March is always a busy month for me and this year was no exception. I participated in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge, finished up second trimester report cards, and had Parent-Teacher conferences. Plus, I lost an hour of time to Daylight Savings! (Which I’m still a bit peeved about!) In other words, I didn’t get to play around with this prompt as much as I would have liked. The Thing is…there is never enough time!

In a serendipitous moment, though, someone recently shared Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “The Art of Disappearing.” I wrote down one line to consider using as a strike line in a golden shovel poem: “You’re trying to remember something too important to forget.” Then I thought why not try it with the challenge?

The Thing Is…

you wake to morning like you’re
emerging from a desert, trying
to make your way to
the oasis to drink, to guzzle, to remember,
to relive water cooling your parched throat or something
soothing your raw, cracked lips. Too
thirsty to stay still. It isn’t important
how early it is –or how late– what matters is to
rise. Drink deep. Write. So you don’t forget.

©Molly Hogan, draft
strike line from Naomi Shihab Nye’s “The Art of Disappearing”

If you want to check out the other Inklings’ responses to Mary Lee’s challenge, click on their links:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

This week Heidi is also hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at My Juicy Little Universe. She’s sharing her response to Mary Lee’s challenge along with a dazzling array of good news and goodies to welcome you to NPM. Make sure to head over to her blog and check things out!