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!

PF: Ah, Bread!

In my family we travel for bread. 1 1/2 hours roundtrip for great bagels? Sure! 2 hours? Well, maybe… We also bake bread. And eat and eat and eat bread. We’re easily influenced by carbohydrates and enjoy every moment of our continual surrender. So, I was delighted when Diane Mayr posted a yeast-related prompt in Laura Shovan’s February Challenge. She included a fascinating short video about all things yeasty. Surely I could rise to the occasion?

My first effort was an acrostic:

Yeast

Your best efforts
eventually end up
as
stale
toast.

©Molly Hogan

Well, that seemed a bit depressing, although it did make me laugh.

I went back to the drawing board, and here’s what I came up with next–a very drafty (reverse?) acrostic:

Resilience

You’re never sure if you are
Equal to the challenge
A promise in the making but
Sometimes you fail. Still,
Time is on your side
Time to work your magic
Small beings can effect great change
And there you are
Elastic under life’s punches
You rise, you fall

©Molly Hogan, draft

At least that one was a bit more optimistic. Maybe.

Eventually, I moved away from acrostics and ended up with this poem:

Breaking Bread

The yeasty aroma 
draws me in.
I belly up to the table
slice thick slabs
slather on the butter.
After a couple,
my inhibitions scatter
with the crumbs.
I engage 
in rampant gluttony,
deliciously carbdizzy.
Only thinking about
the next bite
and the one after that.

Who says you can’t 
get drunk on bread?

©Molly Hogan, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tricia Stohr-Hunt on her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Nothing Weighty About Me

I’m participating in Laura Shovan‘s February Poetry Challenge this year. I always look forward to this month with its creative prompts and the sharing of poems (even when I fall behind on the daily quota.) This year the theme is “Time”. The prompts, as always, have been rich and varied, and the responses even more so. It’s an ongoing education.

My favorite experience is when the alchemy of prompt and poetry takes me in an unexpected direction. One day last week, I had a restless night and was up at 3 am. I checked out the prompt and Matthew Winner had shared a link to “Hazy Shade of Winter” by the Bangles.

After listening to it, I forgot to hit pause and the next song started playing: “Our Lips are Sealed” by the GoGos.

Somehow the combination of the two songs struck me and a poem happened.

Nothing Weighty About Me

Call me shallow if you must
but I prefer the next song 
the bouncy bubble-gum beat
of the GoGos
singing“Our Lips Are Sealed”
to this one
with its eerie overtones
driving beat and
threads of warning.

See what’s become of me?

Word on the street says
it’s a hot song anyway
Paul Simon’s work 
encircled with bangles
But a touch of sparkle
can’t conceal its dark roots
any more than a bottle of bleach
can turn back time.

See what’s become of me?

But pass the Clairol
and a helping of cotton candy, Baby.
I’m all for light and fluffy
a fan of the sweet stuff.
Why ponder browning leaves
gritty patches of snow 
and impending winter
when I can rise above it all
cruise through summer days
with my lithe and limber friends
on top of the world
forever young
singing in the wind.

See what’s become of me?

©Molly Hogan, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday post is hosted by Linda Baie at her blog, TeacherDance.

PF: Math Poems

This month Catherine Flynn challenged us to write any sort of mathematical poem. It was a nice open prompt with lots of options, and Catherine included some links to inspire us. I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to write a Fib poem. I had the sense, whether accurate it or not, that it should be written about something natural. I tossed around a few ideas until, serendipitously, a blizzard arrived.

Blizzard

First
one
snowflake
feathered down
then two    threefour and
soon the sky was dizzy with snow

©Molly Hogan

After playing around with that, I started thinking about the number, zero. Back when I taught first grade, I used to write with my first graders in response to a mentor text called “Zero is…” I always loved their responses and how the text got us thinking about zero in different ways. It reminded me that there’s more to zero than meets the eye.

In Tennis, Zero Is Love

Zero 
is an absence,
a placeholder
meaning nothing is there.
An even number, 
it’s the fulcrum
on the number line
between positives
and negatives.
Zero, added,
changes
nothing.

Still, Zero is nuanced.
Holding its place,
it can move numbers
toward infinity
or with a single operation
fully erase them.
It’s open
to interpretation:
With zero,
context is everything.

When you walk beside me,
your hand in mine,
Zero is my loneliness.

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’re interested in reading what the other Inklings have done with this challenge, check out their posts:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Elisabeth Norton at her blog, Unexpected Intersections.

More Wordle Poems

So, I’m still addicted to Wordle and look forward to each daily puzzle. I’ve realized that an upside to writing poems with my word guesses is that there’s a consolation prize to doing poorly at Wordle (aka needing more guesses). For me, it’s easier to write poems with four or five words than with three words. So, even when I’m not doing as well, I have more poetic material to work with. I’ve revised my “rules” so that it’s okay to use different forms of a word as long as the base word is included. Really, I’m just focusing on fun and not on finesse. I enjoy following the words and seeing where they lead me.

Update: What I mentioned last week and failed to mention this week is that credit for the Wordle poetry idea goes completely to Buffy Silverman, not to me.

word guesses: fairy, tried, crimp, prick

Foiled

When child was born
rogue fairy tried
to weave foul magic
to crimp her life–
one single deadly
finger prick.
(Enchanted wheel
should do the trick!)
But evil wishes
don’t prevail
when others work
to change the tale.
Heart-cast magic
with best intent
can alter spells
from malcontent.

©Molly Hogan

word guesses: frame, mouth, mount

Cookie Heist

“I’ve been framed,” she cried
with her mouth open wide
smeared chocolate on her chin
crumbs trailing behind–
All mounting evidence
of a culinary crime.

©Molly Hogan

The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted this week by Irene Latham at her blog, Live Your Poem. Make sure to stop by and contemplate all things patient.

Wordle Poems

Are you playing Wordle, the game flavor of the month?

Over the last couple of weeks, as my Facebook page blossomed with shared grids documenting others’ Wordle game outcomes, I had to investigate. I mean, I’m always up for a good word game. So, I went to the site, tried it and was immediately hooked. I love the simple concept, but also the fact that there’s no way it can become a time suck. (With only one new game per day, you can’t go wrong!) Also, since everyone is trying to guess the same word, you can get a competition going with family and friends.

Then, the brilliant Buffy Silverman suggested using Wordle word guesses to create a poem. Count me in! She didn’t impose any other parameters (though she suggested that it should be “vaguely coherent”), but for some reason I decided I needed to use my words in the order I guessed them. I am now having way too much fun doing this and it’s brought a whole new level to my Wordle enjoyment. Here are a few of my efforts:

Word guesses: mouse, stare, spire, shire

Winter in the Night Garden or Whose garden is this anyway?

As I watch through the window
a wee mouse
scales hummocks of snow
stops to stare at me
with unblinking eyes
then turns to wend its way
through the tangled spires
of faded stalks and blossoms
foraging for seed
within its garden shire.

©Molly Hogan

Word guesses: windy, harpy, prosy, proxy

Beware

On these windy days
the air spirals
into harpy mode
keening, crying
clawing at my skin.
No prosy commentary
on the value
of rest and winter retreat,
this is a full-on assault.
Wind as Mother Nature’s proxy.

©Molly Hogan

Word guesses: pared, plums, pinch, point

After the Argument

With one eye on me
she pared down the mound of fruit 
ruthlessly discarding dented apples
rejecting dusky plums
giving the lone kiwi
a sharp-fingered pinch
tossing each
with a decisive thud
into the heaping compost bin

I got the point

©Molly Hogan

Here’s a recent round of guesses. Is there a poem lurking within them? Feel free to get inspired!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference.

PF: Between the Pages

This month Heidi posted our Inkling challenge. She invited us to “use the form” of the poem, The Lost Lagoon, by Emily Pauline Johnson (d. 1913) to build a “poem FOR CHILDREN about a treasured place that you return to again and again (geographical or metaphorical).”

There’s a lot to dig into in the mentor poem, and between my original draft and this final one, I seem to have drifted away from some of it (like the correct number of beats in my lines–oops!). Writing this poem has been a messy process and at this point it feels like it needs some time to simmer before I revisit it. I’ll put it on the back burner for a while, but here it is for now.

Between the Pages

I open the cover to look 
flip through the first pages inside
tantalized by the scents that arise
settle in, feel my worries subside.
Oh, the joy of a newfound book!

Halfway through I can’t stop to look
though someone’s been calling my name.
Printed words burst to life in my brain 
and I’m drawn like a moth to the flame
fully lost in the world of the book.

I turn the last page, then must look.
In the mirror my face seems the same
yet I feel fundamentally changed
my perceptions and world rearranged.
Lost and found in the world of a book.

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’d like to read some other responses to this challenge, check out the links:
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading

The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted this week by Carol Varsalona at her blog Beyond Literacy Link.

PF: Jane Kenyon

I stumbled upon this poem recently, and I have come back to it again and again. Jane Kenyon sure knew how to say it.

In the Nursing Home
by Jane Kenyon

“She is like a horse grazing
a hill pasture that someone makes
smaller by coming every night
to pull the fences in and in.
 
She has stopped running wide loops,
stopped even the tight circles.”
click here for the rest of the poem.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted this week by Carol Varsalona at her blog . She’s unveiling her most recent autumn gallery, an extravaganza of fall-inspired poetry and imagery. Be sure to stop by and check it out.

PF: Stepping out of my comfort zone

Sometimes it can be hard to choose what to share on my blog. When I’m struggling or trying to work through something heavy, lingering in that space in my writing can help me. Having a sort of distance from the maelstrom of my emotions allows me to process them from a safer vantage. I still feel the impact, but I’m exploring them with an eye toward expressing them. I can’t explain it well, but it works for me–even if the results typically just live in my notebooks. But when is something too personal or perhaps worse, overly sentimental? Sometimes when I’m in the thick of something, I lose my objective eye and it’s hard to gauge that. Today I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a little bit, sharing two poems that carry a lot of emotional weight for me right now.

Landslide

Under the weight
of their accumulation
the years have finally
given way.

An avalanche
of aches and pains
pummels his frame.

After each strike
he staggers
struggles to regain
his balance.

Braces for the next blow.

©Molly Hogan

There’s a Hole in that Bucket

We step carefully 
along the path 
into the cancer center
as if we can sense
the scattered debris
of dreams and wishes
swept away
in a slow flow
of inexorable loss.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Matt Forrest Esenwine at his blog Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.

PF: Limping Through #Inktober

It’s Parent Teacher Conference Week. I’ve heard some schools have conferences during the school day. Or half days. Or something. Apparently there is an alternative to a full week of teaching and shoehorning in conferences before and after school. Or so I’ve heard.

#17 Collide

Parent Teacher Conference Week

Crash!
Bang!
Kaboom!
Life and job collide
Brace for impact
Count on casualties

©Molly Hogan

#18 moon

Some days
my sanity dangles
from the merest sliver
of crescent moon

©Molly Hogan

#20 sprout

A tendril of energy
takes root,
sprouts,
withers away.

©Molly Hogan

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Jama Rattigan’s blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Jama always provides a feast, so be sure to stop by and check out this week’s offerings!