Bombardment

downloadI wrote this poem a few weeks ago and hoped that soon it wouldn’t be relevant. Sadly, it still is.

Bombardment

The voice on the afternoon radio
intones relentlessly:
“Australian bushfires continue to rage…
hundreds of koalas incinerated in the blazes…”

My mind shies away,
maneuvers back
to the gentle glow of the waning moon
limning our snow-covered barn roof
this morning.
To the stark angles and edges
of roof and sky,
transformed by moonlight.

“…successful airstrikes on militant targets.”

Words drum, pierce.
A relentless aerial assault.
My mind retreats to the glory
of an incandescent sunrise–
two deer grazing, a squadron of geese
layers of kindled mist
shifting, shimmering.

“…two students killed and three others injured…”

Strings of words strafe.
I scan the shadowy terrain
The skies are a deep indigo blue.
Thick charcoal clouds scud along,
barely visible.
There’s nothing else to see.
Winter is on our doorstep.
Already it’s dark outside.

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Australian poet, Sally Murphy, at her blog.  She’s sharing what she’s doing to respond to the ongoing bush fire tragedy in Australia, news about a bibliography of verse novels she’s working on with Kat Apel, and a cover reveal for her soon-to-be published verse novel.

Weighing Words

downloadA new year, a new challenge! This month’s Swagger challenge came from Heidi Mordhorst. After we’d been discussing whether or not we each were going to choose a One Little Word (OLW) for the year, she announced that “To Word or Not To Word” would be our group’s January challenge.

OLWs. I’ve chosen one before…maybe two..or three? I know I didn’t choose one last year. Did I the year before? Scrolling back through blog posts, I find that I have chosen OLWs two times. In 2016, I chose “Choose” and in 2018, I chose “Pause.” It seems to be an even-year sort of phenomenon–which makes me feel like I’m due in 2020.

As I reread those posts, I enjoyed reconsidering the reflective process I went through to select the words, and where I was in my life when I wrote them. I remembered that I always liked the focus of OLW, how it pushed a word or an idea to the forefront my mind. I enjoyed the process of  considering words and their shades of meanings. So, did I want to choose a word this year?

As we head into 2020, even without regarding the state of our world, our nation, I’m feeling a bit out of kilter. My youngest graduated from college last month, and my oldest is getting married in May. My middle child lives a rich, independent life more than a day’s comfortable car ride away. The chicks have not only emptied the nest, they’re now building their own. Which leaves me, mama bird, looking around wondering, “What’s next?” I have many interests, but sometimes they pull me in different directions. All too often, I feel scattered and unfocused.  Could OLW help me with that?

Weighing Words

I ponder words
some heavy, some light
examine nuances,
unexpected meanings,
surprising depths.
I weigh words in my mind
sift, sort, and shuffle them,
consider the possibilities,
reflect on my recent lack of discipline–
list after unfinished list– and
my new unfortunate tendency
toward procrastination.
Again and again,
I return to one word:
“focus”
a powerful contender.
I turn it over in my mind
pleased by the layered meaning,
the nod to photography.
Could this be it?
But, what about bokeh–
that much desired
out-of-focus
photographic effect?
And don’t seeds widely flung
lure flocks of birds
more surely than a concentration
at a single feeder?
Clearly, a steady focus
can accomplish much,
but an eye fixed on the destination
can also miss
the beauty of the journey.
For ultimately, isn’t it scattered light
that creates rainbows?
©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

So, apparently I’ve talked myself out of adopting a OLW this year, though I don’t rule out that one may find me later. It’s a process, right?

Hmmmm….process….Now, there’s an interesting word…

Note: If you’re interested, here’s Wikipedia’s definition of bokeh:
“In photography, bokeh (/ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə or /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay; Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”.

And here are two of my photos that demonstrate it.

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The year’s first Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol at Carol’s Corner. She’s sharing a wonderful poem by Maya Angelou, and I highly recommend that you stop by and read it. And then read it again. And again. (And here’s the link to the Roundup!)

Then, visit my fellow Swaggers’ sites and see how they responded to the “To Word or not To Word” challenge. Just click on the links below:

Linda at A Word Edgewise
Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret at Reflections on the Teche, and
Catherine at Reading to the Core

Poetic Crumbs

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December and the holidays lured me away from my notebook and to a different kind of poetry making—one that resulted in luscious chocolate fillings, crisp crusts, cinnamon-layered swirled sticky buns, and plush cakes. Yum!

I’ve gathered up some of the spare crumbs from my more traditional poetic efforts this month to share today.  Here are two haiku, a something else, and then a silly double dactyl.

last minute shopping
waltzing through crowds
reeling from sticker shock

©Molly Hogan, 2019

 

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Vibrant blossoms
spark December reverie
memories of mom

©Molly Hogan, 2019

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one wild fox
calls from an icy shore
one human listens
captivated

©Molly Hogan, 2019

After enjoying far too many holiday goodies, I played around with a holiday double dactyl. (Update–I just put two and two together and realized that the idea for this double dactyl was greatly inspired by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes and her Santa-inspired double dactyl!  Who can resist “Jolly Saint Nicholaus” as a double dactyl? Thanks for the inspiration, Michelle! )

Snickety Snackety
Jolly Saint Nicholaus
tests out his Santa seams.
No room to spare.

Too many cookies and
overindulgences.
Sleigh’s flying lower now.
Reindeer despair.

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Michelle Kogan who, as always, is lifting her voice in support of our planet. She’s sharing a nonet called “2020 Raise your voice!” and two related videos. Be sure to stop by and check out her post and visit a few others. Ring in the New Year with some poetry!

Wow!

download“Wow!”

That was just about all I could say, “Wow.”

Perhaps you recognize the nod to Kevin Henkes (Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse), perhaps not. Either way, you’re sure to realize that I was totally wowed by Linda Mitchell’s Poetry Swap gift to me.

Back in November, Tabatha Yeatts kindly invited people to participate in a poetry/gift swap this December. (Thanks, Tabatha!) I, in a fit of delusional optimism, thought, “Sure!” and signed up. Then I got matched up with Linda Mitchell, and knowing the recipient made participation even more fun. And it really was…even if November flew by and December approached far faster than I’d imagined and I barely squeaked out my gift and poem by the due date. (How is it that every year I forget how insane this time of year is?)

At any rate, I sent Linda’s gift off on Saturday and then early the next week,  Linda’s gift for me arrived. Wow! Clearly there was no squeaking done on her end! She created a stunning book for me including her beautiful artwork and an original poem. What a gift! With her permission I’m sharing it here. First, check out the adorable cover below.

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Then, on the inner flyleaf, she began the book with a poem from Wallace Stevens entitled, “The Snowman”.

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These photos simply don’t do the book justice. That initial tree….wow! And those pines and snowflakes. Wow! Again, that was just about all I could say, “Wow!” Each page is a work of art highlighting a stanza from the original Wallace Stevens poem.

Then, the final page showcases her marvelous poem to me. Oh. So. lovely. Her first stanza moved me deeply and then she followed up with stanzas rich with beautiful winter imagery and ended with an echo of Stevens’s fabulous final line.

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Oh, Linda. Thank you for this beautiful book and your poem. I treasure them. The warmth of poetry and friendship mean so much and I am the richer for having received both.

Buffy Silverman is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at her blog.  She’s sharing a sneak peek at Liz Garton Scanlon’s stunning new book, “One Dark Bird.” Be sure to check it out.

Finding Beauty

download It was my turn to post the challenge this past month in our Swaggers group. Talk about pressure! I felt a bit like Goldilocks looking for the perfect prompt–something not too hard, not too easy, but just right. After way too much deliberation, I finally opted to poach off a post I’d used in the past for photography. Here’s what I shared:

Challenge:  I participated several years ago in a photo challenge from Kim Douillard to “find beauty in the ugly (My post is here). This month, I invite you to reinvent the world around you (or one aspect of it) by shifting your lens to see the beauty in what at first seems to be ugly or unnoteworthy. Happy Writing!

Next, I had to figure out what to write about. My garden immediately came to mind. At this time of year, it’s a jumble of sad, dried stalks. Some people cut their dying plants back, and I’ve heard that can help prevent the spread of some plant diseases. But I’m not much for proactive “cleaning”, and I did read that leaving your garden intact, with all its rustling seed heads and stalks, protects plants, enriches the soils, and provides birds with food and shelter. That was convincing enough for me! I also love the architecture of all the angles and lines when the snow falls.

I thought I’d write one poem about my garden, but instead some smaller poems emerged. All of them are love songs to my bedraggled weed-filled winter garden.

finches ladder up
dessicated plant stalks
feast on tattered seed heads

©Molly Hogan, 2019

bee balm dons
her winter accessory
a fresh white bonnet

©Molly Hogan, 2019

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sered garden husks
shiver in the breeze, whisper
summer memories

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Perhaps only
with winter’s advance
does our truest heart
reveal itself
amidst a slow,
steady crumbling

©Molly Hogan, 2019
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And finally, stepping away from the garden to another time that I found heartfelt beauty somewhere unexpected.

after the hospital
your sleepy warmth beside me
oh, blessèd snore!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Click on the links below to visit my fellow Swaggers and discover where they found beauty:

Margaret Simon: Reflections on the Teche
Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tanita S. Davis at her blog [fiction, instead of lies]. She’s sharing a wonderful poem expressing gratitude for worms and an original sonnet acknowledging the many hands that make our lives run more smoothly.

PF: Life Hack

downloadIf you read my blog regularly, or even just sometimes, you probably know that I love to go down and wander by the river at dawn. It’s a beautiful spot, and there’s always something to see. These visits center me and deepen my appreciation for the beauty around me and its subtle cycles.

Typically, I walk around and take photos from different vantages. I’m constantly moving, actively searching. One day recently, I sat on a rock by the water and just watched. The common mergansers have returned for the winter and a flock of gulls was visiting. The sunrise unfolded slowly, in increments. Nothing dramatic. No blazing reds or streaks of violet highlighting bold cloud formations. No golden spotlight rays. Simply a slow brightening. But, as I sat, the ducks swam closer, then circled back out, then came back again. Closer. They dipped and dived. They swam along the line between rill and still water. Their wake shifted color with the changing light. Gulls flew overhead, wheeling and periodically plummeting into the water with tremendous splashes. Occasionally they caught something. Most often they didn’t. The movement of their wings and the spill of water from their feathers fascinated me. I sat on a rock and took it all in. 

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I’ve been following David L. Harrison’s blog for the past few months, and he posts a Word-of-the-Month challenge. This month’s word was “hack.” Somehow, over the course of the month, my thoughts wound around to life hacks.Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 8.49.32 AM.png

I’m sure there are different ways to interpret the term, but I think of it as a short cut designed to make a task pass faster. And it occurred to me that going faster, being more efficient, sometimes denies something essential or worthy about completing a task that takes time, dedication, or deliberation. Also, when we go faster (or walk around instead of sitting still), we can miss the nuances and subtleties.

Our culture embraces rush. So many of the “life hacks” I read about seem designed to help us move faster through our day. This seems in direct contrast to the mindfulness I’ve been trying to embrace. The being in the moment. I’ve also seen a number of articles lately about the importance of being bored in generating creativity. Somehow this is all swirling and linked up in my mind. I haven’t figured out how it all relates yet, but it’s taking up brain space for now. Perhaps some evening when I’m bored with doing dishes, yet appreciating the warmth of the water and the play of light on the bubbles, I’ll figure it out. 😉

Life Hack

A life hack? What’s that?
An illegal attack?

No, wait…it’s a trick?
To get me done quick?

But day follows day
way too fast anyway.

My life without hack
speeds by on a race track.

With hack it would fly
in the blink of an eye.

I’d never disdain
efficiency’s gain,

but there’s value to slow
to linger and grow.

Short cuts can cut more
than mere time from a chore.

Relentlessly fast
makes the present the past,

and rewards are so sweet,
when time’s made them complete.

So delayed I may be,
but no life hacks for me

©2019 Molly Hogan 

Wishing you a wonderful holiday weekend and a chance to stop by the Poetry Friday Roundup and enjoy some poetry. This week Bridget Magee is hosting from Switzerland on her blog, wee words for wee ones. She’s sharing her thoughts on celebrating Thanksgiving from afar. I loved learning about turkey pricing and oven sizing in Switzerland, and also enjoyed her limerick tale of an unfortunate turkey. Check it out!

Bold Moon

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I’m peeking my head up from the insanity of writing report card comments to sneak in a poem for Poetry Friday. This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads. Last week, she challenged participants to write about foods that deserve a national holiday…or perhaps don’t!  I had every intention of participating… Ah, well. I’ll tuck that challenge away for another day. In the meantime, head over to Rebecca’s blog to check out her poetic tribute to Hot Salad and other offerings as well. It’s sure to be a poetic feast!

With little time for extended writing lately, I revisited a favorite prompt–Sandford Lyne’s word pools. The pool I chose included the words: moon, stolen, ladder, branches. I opted to use three of the four. Poetic license! 😉

Bold Moon

The moon has stolen
branches from the tree.
She drapes herself artfully
with their intricate tracery
shifting them this way
and that
for maximum affect.
Bold thief to shine a spotlight
on her own misdoings
She broadcasts her beautiful larceny
to a rapt world.

©Molly Hogan, 2019

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