PF: Glowing Mist Day

downloadThis month, Linda Mitchell was in charge of our monthly Swagger writing challenge. Initially, she’d asked us to create a poem based on a hand-written recipe someone had given us. As last month unfolded, Linda opted to revise the challenge in response to the changing times. She shared the Academy of American Poets new initiative called “Shelter in Poems.” Last month, they invited readers to share a poem from the Poets.org collection that was helping them at this time, along with an explanation of how it was helping. Linda encouraged us to respond to their prompt and to interpret it as we wished. I’ve chosen to interpret it relatively broadly. In fact, my poem doesn’t even come from the Poets.org collection.

On the first day that we left school, uncertain if we’d be returning, I grabbed several picture books “just in case.” One of the first ones I grabbed was “I’m in Charge of Celebrations” by Byrd Baylor. It’s a book that I love, but not one that I’ve shared with my classes recently. Grabbing it felt instinctive.

If you don’t know this book, I highly recommend it. It’s a luscious prose poem–a love song to nature and a reminder to choose the lens through which you view the world. In this particular book, the narrator, a child who lives in the desert, shares lyrical descriptions of days/events that have been remarkable to her, and she describes how she turns those memories into lasting celebrations.

Days later, when I was trying to create some online connections with my class, I decided to share part of the book with my students. During such uncertain times, I wanted to encourage them to find moments in their daily lives to celebrate. I wanted to nudge them to get outside and explore and pay attention. To notice and find comfort in the natural beauty that surrounds them. Little did I know that reading this book to them would offer those same comforts to me.

I read the first couple of pages in a video and then invited them to write their own “celebration” poem, using Baylor’s work as a mentor text. As I was recording for them, I realized that I had witnessed just such a moment earlier that day, so I wrote a poem,  Soaring Eagle Day, and shared it with them as another mentor. Then, I was inspired to revisit memories of a summer morning in the marsh and wrote this poem.

Glowing Mist Day
(inspired by Byrd Baylor’s “I’m in Charge of Celebrations”)

Sometimes people ask me
why I get up so early,
why I rise to meet the dawn.
It’s hard to explain,
so instead,
I just tell them about
the Day of Glowing Mist.

That morning
the sun lit the mist
over the marsh
so the air blazed
in undulating waves
of gold and amber,
a glorious light
furious
yet gentle.

A deer slipped from the woods
and another followed
into the marsh,
into the glowing mist.
They raised their heads
and looked
toward the rising sun.

I looked toward the deer
and that moment,
that very moment,
grabbed me by the heart
and squeezed
until joy bubbled
in my veins,
a fomentation of wonder
like the liquid sunrise.

I couldn’t decide whether
to whoop and holler
and crow
with delight
or drop to my knees
and whisper
to the universe,
“Thank you.”

It was that kind of moment.

My heart swelled
with the marsh,
the glowing mist,
the two deer
and the flock of geese.

I don’t think
it’s ever gone back
to its original size.

©Molly Hogan, 2020, draft

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the real life inspiration

Apparently visitors to poetry sites have sky rocketed during this time. People are turning to poetry for solace and comfort. I was lucky enough to have Byrd Baylor’s book remind me that nature is full of celebrations if I choose to see them, and it offers me both shelter and inspiration. Remembering this has been a balm and a blessing.

This week Heidi Mordhorst, wordsmith extraordinaire and a fellow Swagger, is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup. She’s sharing her response to Linda’s challenge. If you want to check out what the other Swaggers are doing, click on the links below:

Linda Mitchell, A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn, Reading to the Core
Margaret Simon, Reflections on the Teche

 

SOLC Day 27 and PF: And the Beaches Have Closed…

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 27
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.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

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This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts, at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. She’s sharing a lovely original poem about acceptance.

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I woke this morning to the news that many Maine beaches are now closed to the public. Some people are ranting and raving about this on local social media. I get it. I hate that the beaches are being closed. But I also accept the sad necessity.

Nevertheless, I feel bereft this morning. The beaches and time spent walking alongside the ocean sustain me, especially in times when I feel adrift. I had intended to head to the beach later this afternoon. I know that I’m very fortunate to have tremendous access to nature even without the beaches. Still, I’m grieving.

The Solace of the Ocean: A Sonnet

When I feel overwhelmed and tempest-tossed
and crave perspective and serenity
when life feels like a battle I have lost
I take myself to wander by the sea

‘Midst drifts of fog or dazzling rays of sun
in dawn’s soft hues or evening’s golden glow
one breath and the enchantment has begun
allegro transforms to adagio

Susurrant surf or tossing, tumbling tide
The redolence of rose in briny air
Such wonders nudge my worries to the side
a heartfelt sigh escapes my lips like prayer

And slowly as I linger and explore
I feel myself become both less and more

©2018 Molly Hogan

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SOLC Day 19: Ode to My Treadmill

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 19
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.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

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My friend and critique partner, Heidi Mordhorst, shared the list below on her Facebook page this morning. I’d been considering how I wanted to structure these strange days and this framework really appealed to me.

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created by Brooke Anderson. The Greater Good Science Center

In search of silver linings, I have been thinking about gratitude a lot lately, so that was an easy starting place. One thing I’ve been tremendously grateful for recently is having a treadmill in the house. After a year of it gathering dust, I finally started using it a few months ago. I was so surprised to find that I actually enjoyed it. Really! As long as I could read on an i-pad while I walked fast, I was a happy camper. These days, I don’t just like using the treadmill, I need it! And I’m grateful to have it. I still walk outside, but power walking at a set pace is a huge help with managing stress and anxiety.

I’m also very grateful for the role that writing plays in my life, and determined not to allow the current situation to take over my writing life. I’m trying very hard to find lighter moments or different topics to focus on. With that and Poetry Friday in mind, today I decided to write an ode to my treadmill.
Ode to My Treadmill

Oh, Treadmill, my savior
in unsettled days,
you offer salvation
‘midst pandemic craze.

Your deck is so stable
Your surface non-slip.
Your presence ensures that
I don’t lose my grip.

I ramp up your incline
and pick up my speed.
You absorb every shock.
Oh, true, stalwart steed!

I turn to you often,
as news brings more stress.
Each time, without fail,
you ease my distress.

The world may be shaking,
but you’re tried and true.
Oh, Treadmill, without you?
Oh, what would I do?

©Molly Hogan, 2020

This week Michelle Kogan is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at her website.  Be sure to stop by and check out her art and poetry.

SOLC Day 13: Double, double toil and bubble

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 13
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.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

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This post is serving double duty for the SOLC and this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

I woke this morning with Macbeth’s “Song of the Witches” in my mind. It seemed to lend itself to a contemplation of our current chaotic and unsettling situation. 

Double, double toil and trouble;
media buzz, infection bubble.

Virus of ferocious speed
spawns illness, anxiety–
plunging markets, travel woes,
lights out on all Broadway shows,
social distance, closing schools
quarantines, stockpiling fools.
For lasting harm and lingering trouble,
add inept leader, boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
media buzz, infection bubble.

©Molly Hogan, 2020, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Matt Forrest Esenwine at his blog, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. He’s sharing all sorts of happy poetry news. If you need some respite from the world around you, check out his post and maybe click on a few links. Poetry helps.

SOLC Day 6: Poetry Friday: Question Poem

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 6
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.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Today’s post is doing double duty for the SOLC and Poetry Friday.

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This month Margaret Simon challenged our writing group to write a question poem. “What is a question poem,” you ask? Well, Susan Sherwood at Pen & the Pad writes: “A question poem is described by its name: it’s a series of queries. The poem generates one question after another, building upon a topic.”

I was looking forward to this challenge, but it didn’t go as smoothly as I’d imagined it would. I can’t tell you how many questions I posed, trying to find a way into a poem. I’ve gone from the meaning of life to the inconsistency of dress sizing. There were so many false starts! I worked on poem after poem, finally I settled on one poem for a while, only to junk it a week later. Then, as the deadline loomed, I went back to that poem again. Ugh! It still felt like a hot mess. Last night, I actually began to compose an “I’m sorry but I’m not sharing this month” e-mail to send to the group. But I couldn’t quite bring myself to push send.

The SOLC reminds me that you have to challenge yourself, to show up and try, and Amanda Potts reminded me yesterday that sometimes you have to accept when something is “Good enough.”  So, I’m not wild about this poem, but I’m sharing it anyway. I may rework it. I may junk it again. But I’m putting it out there in the spirit of this crazy thing called writing. It’s all about process right?

Why is the barista sad today?

Why is the barista sad today?
What story weighs her down?
Will my coffee–
half-caff, light two percent please–
contain the flavor of her quiet sorrow?
Why is it so easy to overlook
each others’ stories?
To let our eyes slide away?
Do we ask?
And if we do,
do we truly listen?
Which version of our own stories
do we share?
Which truth percolates up
in a rich brew of fact
and fallacy?

Does she even know
how beautiful her skin is?
How is it that,
at my age,
I have never learned
to apply foundation?
Shouldn’t everyone know how
to hide their blemishes?
To chose the face they share
with the world?

Does she appreciate
the firmness of her jawline?
When did mine soften anyway?
How did I go from ten years old
to turning fifty plus change
in the blink of an eye?
And how can that
already measure
more than half a life?

©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

You can check out some other question poems at the following links:
Margaret Simon — Reflections on the Teche
Linda Mitchell– A Word in Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst — My Juicy Little Universe
Catherine Flynn — Reading to the Core

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Rebecca Herzog at her blog, Sloth Reads. She’s sharing two poems that she wrote during Laura Shovan’s February Poetry Project. They cover an unusual range from volcanoes to eggs. 🙂

A Cherita: Our Trip to Crater Lake

Poetry Friday--snowAs February draws to a close, I’ve slowed down on my participation in Laura Shovan’s challenge, and sadly, I am now several prompts behind at this point. Still, participating has been a fabulous experience. I’ve learned so much from seeing other’s poems and interpretations of each prompt. There are some mighty creative people out there!

During this month I’ve been struck by how my initial thoughts on what I might write sometimes shift and change dramatically.  I posted about this in my SOL post on Tuesday.  It happened again when Alice Tabor-Nine posted some beautiful photos of Crater Lake.

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photo by Alice Tabor-Nine

My initial efforts focused on the bird’s eye view, the brilliant blue, the magical Wizard’s Island. Then, I remembered our long-ago plans to visit Crater Lake and how they were suddenly altered.

Our Trip to Crater Lake

Once upon a time, long, long ago, hidden turmoil brewed.

Then, one day, it could no longer be contained.
The volcano burst, cataclysmically altering the scene.

Hot, violent tears erupted in a steady flow.
We diverted to Urgent Care…
double ear infection

©Molly Hogan, 2020

This week Karen Edmisten is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog. She’s sharing a poem about February 29th by Jane Hirschfield. Perfect timing! Stop by and check it out!

 

Grief

Poetry Friday--snowThis month I’ve been participating in Laura Shovan’s 8th Annual February Daily Poem challenge. This year ‘s theme is “Water”, and each day someone posts a related prompt. We share our fledgling poetic responses on a Facebook page, with the emphasis on idea generation and drafting, not polishing.

Earlier this month Kara Laughlin shared a video and pictures of slurpee waves. Whoa! How did I ever miss these? When temperatures get so cold that ice crystals start forming in the ocean, you have slurpee waves. They’re rare, rather unworldly-looking and utterly fascinating.

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Photo credit to Jonathan Nimerfroh

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New York Times photo

Looking at the pictures, and thinking of a recent tragedy in the life of a friend, sparked this poem.

Grief

The very ocean
has transformed—
free flowing-waves
congealed to slushy surf.
My pulse rolls slowly
with this strange tide.
How do such things
come to pass?
I would have said
it was impossible.
Yet, here I stand
at the shore.
Without you.

Molly Hogan ©2020

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Cheriee at her blog Library Matters. She’s sharing a fascinating interview with Canadian poet, Avis Harley.  Be sure to stop by and check it out. You’ll absolutely come away richer for the experience.