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.

Dawn
tendrils
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.

PF: The Gift of a Snow Day

I’m still having fun with Alex Price’s #CinquainPrompt each day. Today’s prompt was “mine” and my response came quite easily:

Snow day!
I rise early
watch the snowflakes drift, fall
A sudden luxury of time…
All mine

©Molly Hogan

I can’t remember when we last had a snow day. What a gift! I have all sorts of noble intentions, but keep finding myself drawn outside to take photographs, to watch the birds, to tilt my head back and watch the flakes appear as if by magic from the grey sky.

The gift of time
as surely as snowflakes falling
transforms the day

©Molly Hogan

flocking robins
layer snow-laden limbs
living collage

©Molly Hogan

I’m so thankful.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Marcie Flinchum Atkins at her blog. Be sure to stop by and check out her post, which shares her book, some companion books, and a new haiku. The Poetry Friday community is always a gift!

PF: Cinquains

I’ve been dabbling in cinquains lately. Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest describes a cinquain as a “nifty 5-line poetic form.” From start to finish, the syllable line count is 2,4,6,8,2. There’s some flexibility, as the poet can add or remove a syllable from each line. Recently, I discovered a daily cinquain prompt on Twitter (@AlexPriceWriter) and it’s been a fun, no stress way to start my day. Here are two from this past week:

prompt: crowd

My head:
a mad slippery crowd
of teeming thoughts
struggling to make their way upstream
to spawn.

©Molly Hogan

prompt: sorrow

heavy
as an anchor
sorrow accumulates
digs in beneath the surface
holds fast

©Molly Hogan

As tends to happen, once you start thinking about a form, it takes up residence in your head. So, driving to work this week, I continued dabbling with cinquains, even without a prompt!

Commute
Eastern blush
ignites the coming day
Everything seems possible at
sunrise

©Molly Hogan


This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Susan at Chicken Spaghetti. Be sure to stop by and see what’s on offer!

Inkling Challenge: Change

This month Heidi challenged us to write in response to the theme of change. She wrote, “Write a poem that weighs the pros and cons of change… For extra fun, use any form, but consider starting in one form and gradually transitioning in the course of the poem to a quite different form.”

When we met for our biweekly meeting, we all confessed that none of us had created much poetry over the holidays. Mary Lee suggested that we try creating an exquisite corpse poem and then work from that to create our challenge poems. You can read a full explanation of the form here, but the long and the short of it is that one person sends a line of poetry privately to another person, who responds by creating their own line and sending it (and not the preceding line) on to the next person. This continues until everyone has added a line to the poem, seeing only the line that comes immediately before theirs. Our only guidance for this was the theme “Change.” I maybe whined a little before we started, but it was “fun”! (Thanks, Mary Lee!)

After each of us had contributed a line, here’s what we had:

Leaves on the forest floor understand and submit
Submit without challenging the direction of the wind
to wander and wind along our way
the wind unwinds us day by day, shifting
clouds, shining light or casting shadows
Where steps and stones still lie.

Pretty cool, right?

We agreed that we could alter these lines in any way shape or form as we created our poems. I decided to bold the original words so you can see how they contributed to my effort.

Change

Leaves on the forest floor acquiesce 
lift and subside, rustlesigh
tornado-up toward blasting skies
always at one with the wind

Meanwhile, flapping map clasped in hand
we march onward
focused on forecasting, predicting
altering and resisting
weather eye to the sky
unaware of how much we’re missing

Still the wind unwinds us day by day,
changeling breeze and blustery gale
shifting clouds, shining light or casting shadows
The only certainty
that unknown steps and stones
still lie ahead

©Molly Hogan, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Catherine Flynn. You can go to her blog, Reading to the Core, to see how she responded to this challenge and other poetic offerings. You can check out the other Inkling responses by clicking below:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

In Thanksgiving

Some of my favorite holiday moments are times when I’m off to the side, watching or hearing loved ones. My heart warms to hear my children laughing together, the gentle hubbub of cousins’ catching-up conversations, a piano playing, or, on this past Thanksgiving, two voices raised in song.

In Thanksgiving

In the living room
my brother-in-law strums his guitar
My daughter’s soprano rises,
mingles with his voice

As they sing
John Denver’s “Country Roads,”
I close my eyes
to cradle each sound
each nuance of this moment
precious and pure

In that instant
I know
I’m already
exactly
where I belong

©Molly Hogan, draft

Wishing you all warm and wonderful memory-making during this holiday season.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted today by Irene Latham at her blog, Live Your Poem. Be sure to stop by and check out what’s on offer there. It’s a rich repast indeed!

For Kurt

If you’re a regular reader, you may know that the last few years have been particularly difficult for me. After a brutal battle with pancreatic cancer, my father died on Thanksgiving Day in 2021. Then, last spring one of my dearest friends received a dire diagnosis. She died in June. This past October my stepmother unexpectedly died. With one personal loss after another, on top of so much going on in our world at large, it’s been hard to regain any sort of balance and retain it.

I have many, many blessings in my life and much joy, but one of the greatest of them all is my husband, Kurt. Throughout all of this, he has been an incredible support. He’s been loyal, loving, steadfast and true. Our marriage (almost 34 years now!) has had its ups and downs, but overall, his presence in my life has enriched it and has made me a better person. I am beyond thankful for him.

Groundwater

I depend upon 
your constant presence
your steady, vital flow
like earth’s pulse
percolating
through permeable rock
immeasurable
invaluable
sustaining, free-flowing
you. 

©Molly Hogan

holiday shopping
my hand entwined with yours
best gift of all

©Molly Hogan

Wishing you all the best of the season. May you have someone in your life who cherishes and supports you. Who makes you laugh. Who holds you when you cry. And who walks beside you in the sunlight and in the darker hours.

The Poetry Friday Roundup this week is hosted by Karen Edmisten. Be sure to stop by and read the poem she’s sharing there: “Be Kind” by Michael Blumenthal..

Rye Poetry Path

We spent several days over the Thanksgiving holiday in Rye, NY with my sister and her family. On our first morning there I was delighted to accompany my brother-in-law to the dog park with their adorable dog, Maisy. I’ve heard a LOT about the dog park and was looking forward to it. Going to the park with Maisy has become part of my brother-in-law’s daily routine. He describes his daily time at the park as “like a cocktail hour, only quieter and with coffee.” He enjoys the time with the dogs, their interactions, and the complex social dynamics at play amongst both canines and humans. I enjoy hearing about them.

I’d been to Rye Town Park long ago, before my sister and her family were dog owners and part of the early morning dog set. It’s lovely, beautifully landscaped and abutting Long Island Sound. I was curious to see what the “dog park” part was all about, even though I am NOT a dog person. So, I eagerly set out, expecting the people interactions and the dog interactions, but little did I know that I would find a Poetry Friday post!

As we entered the park and walked by a small pond, I noticed this:

Then, right around the corner was this:

Forget about the dogs, there was poetry here! (I warned you that I’m not a dog person.)

It turns out that the town of Rye has a Poetry Path and the park is part of it. It’s liberally sprinkled with poetry in all sorts of creative installations. These were just two of many. Each one has a plaque that tells the name of the poem and the author. If you click on their site, you can read the poem and there’s a link to learn more about the author. According to the site, the poems are “a collaborative public art installation designed to spark reflection and conversation around themes of community, conservation, and social justice.” Rye Town Park provides a home for 39 of these poems in out of an 82-poem installation. The two above by Rebecca Kai Dotlich (here) and Lillian Moore (here) are just two of many that captivated me.

Then, before leaving on Friday, we took some time to walk at the nearby Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary before getting in the car for our long ride home. It had been raining all day, and initially mist and clouds prevailed. Still, it was a lovely place to visit and as we walked, the skies cleared and the sun came out. We weren’t the only ones out and about enjoying the brightening day.

Here, too, much to my delight, there was poetry. We passed multiple installations and each one struck a chord. Apparently, the Rye Poetry Path has installed 16 poems here. They were perfectly situated and again, it was clear that the effort “to honor the spirit of the poem and the space it’s in” had been fully achieved.

On some future
day perhaps the water will rise over
the trail and no one will stand
where I stand now.
No death to all this
just some life becoming other life.


Ian Pollock

As water, cleared of the reflection of a bird 
That has lately flown across it, 
Yet trembles with the beating of its wings, 
So my soul . . . emptied of the known you . . . utterly . . . 
Is yet vibrant with the cadence of the song

Lola Ridge

so we are here in this plant-created oxygen,
drinking this sweet rain, consuming this green

A.R. Ammons


The long, sleek, and pointed call
that rose, as if in response, out of the estuary
of night and storm, said it knew well
what the given world gave, and wanted more.


Fred Marchant

If I’d had more time, I would have enjoyed wandering through all the locations in Rye to find and savor each poem. As it is, the poems I did find, some familiar, some new-to-me, added a rich layer to my visit. What a wonderful initiative to bring poetry out into a community!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Michelle Kogan at her blog. She’s sharing a lovely poem and quotes and links from a recent NYT article about the ongoing work of artists from Ukraine.

PF: Why?

I’ve barely participated in Poetry Friday over the past few months, but happily I happened to stumble upon Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s recent post, “Answer an Unasked Question“. I was utterly enchanted by her poem called “Answer”, a whimsical imagining of taking tea with the moon. Amy invited readers to “Think of something someone might wonder, real or pretend…and then write a poem answering this question.” I passed her invitation along to the Inklings for our monthly challenge.

Here’s my response to that challenge, along with a big nod of thanks to Mary Lee for sharing the mentor poem “Because of a Redwood” (which heavily influenced my poem’s structure) and to Joe Cottonwood for writing it. I also think a bit of influence seeped in from a little book I found long ago called “The Tiniest Sound” by Mel Evans.

Why?

Because when I step outside
and close my eyes
I can hear the sun 
rising above the horizon
inch by slow inch,
probing its warm, gentle rays
into piles of fallen leaves

Because there’s the faintest rustle
as frost loosens its grip
from limned leaves
of maple, aspen or oak,
shifts from glitter to flow,
then lets go
to drip
drop
onto crisply tousled grass
then slowly seep into waiting earth
where drowsy roots shift and murmur
in greeting and gratitude

Because I can feel the air
tremble and hum
in anticipation of the coming day
in all its fragile vulnerable wonderful newness

And because every single day
the birds waken, eager to sing
first a note or two
then a burgeoning chorus
that pierces the morning hush
like a beam of light striking a crystal,
splintering silence 
into a dazzling crescendo
of glorious, vibrant waves
that wash over me
again and again
So that anything
and everything
seems possible

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’d like to read what the other Inklings did with this challenge, click on the links:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

and be sure to visit Catherine Flynn who is hosting Poetry Friday today and will also be sharing her response.

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!