Acquainted with the dawn

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This month Catherine Flynn posed a bold challenge for our group: Write a terza rima. A terza what? I honestly had no idea what that meant and I had to educate myself. It’s been a process!

Let me tell you, this form is not easy. It’s been an interesting and engaging challenge, but be sure to put the emphasis on challenge.  Eek! The structure is so interwoven that any change sent ripples throughout the entire poem. At various times in the process, I ended up with repeated rhymes (Oops!), messed up rhyme schemes (Ugh!), and/or little meaning (Ouch!). At this point, it really needs to marinate a bit and go through another critique session, but the timer has gone off, and it’s time to post.

Acquainted with the dawn
(inspired by Robert Frost’s Acquainted with the Night)

I have been one acquainted with the dawn
who wanders through the trailing hours of night
compelled as if a thread through needle drawn

to marvel at the seeping glow of light,
bold skies batiked with streaks of reds and blues,
brocaded clouds, bird shadows stitched in flight.

Night’s worries dim as morning light debuts
and Nature’s peace suffuses, bringing ease.
I walk, admiring the changing views.

Webs, dew-bedecked, bedazzle in the breeze
and sun, with Midas touch, turns light to gold,
embroiders veils of diamonds in the trees.

Dark whipstitched boughs help earth to heaven hold,
create a living frieze where eagles fly,
and every day unfolds as if foretold.

Yet even as the sun climbs through the sky,
reflected in the river’s satin glow,
discarded trash lies ‘neath the brush nearby.

Within the water, plastics swirl and flow.
And changing seasons come with prickling fears.
How long can Nature brave each wielded blow?

My solace and my comfort through the years
is jeopardized with every passing day.
I listen to the news through veils of tears.

How long can Nature hold the tide at bay?
What can I do to shield this world I love?
What can we do to mend a world so frayed?

For now I hold it close and journey on.
I have been one acquainted with the dawn.

Molly Hogan ©2020 (draft)

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the vivacious and prolific Laura Purdie Salas at her blog, Writing the World for Kids. Also, be sure to check out what my fellow Swaggers did with this terza rima challenge:

Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn
Margaret Simon
Heidi Mordhorst

To the heron who is wintering over

slice-of-life_individualDSC_1064.jpgI’m fascinated by great blue herons and have spent hours watching them. Typically they leave Maine for warmer climates by November or so. This year, a local heron appears to be intending to winter over. While I delight when I see it, I’m also quite concerned about its chances of survival.

To the heron who is wintering over

How do you fare, fair heron 
when snow dusts your feathers
and cold seeps into your bones?
When frigid winds buffet you,
and fish are locked away
beneath ever-thickening ice?

Why did you linger
when autumn light turned amber
and cast long shadows?
Why didn’t you spread your mighty wings
and soar?

Instead, each day
you step into frigid shallows

keen eyes scanning
for elusive fish.
Intent predator with stiletto stealth–
walking that thin slippery line
toward survival.

©Molly Hogan, 2019 (draft)

Jone Rush MacCulloch is hosting this week at her blog, Jone Rush MacCulloch. She’s sharing some beautiful poetry postcards and offering a giveaway. Go check it out!

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Quasi Ghazal

downloadA couple of weeks ago, life felt more than a bit out of control. I don’t need to go into details again, as I’ve already written about it here. At any rate, in the midst of it, I decided to try to write a ghazal (pronounced more or less like “guzzle”). Honestly, I don’t even know why that form occurred to me except that I knew it was complicated and I’d never attempted to write one.

Ghazals have a lot of requirements (here) and if you know anything about ghazals, you’ll see that I have definitely not met all of them.  Regardless, this turned out to be a fortuitous choice for me.  It was so helpful to take my big blob of anxiety and manipulate it into a structured form. Somehow the requirements of the form gave me some necessary distance from the intensity of the events in my life, but also allowed me to process them.  Since I’m missing some components and some of the stylistic elements, I’ve decided to call it a quasi ghazal.

Here We Are

After we got home from the ER,
we said to ourselves, “Well, here we are.”

Still, our heartbeats skitter, struggling
to find a new rhythm. As we are.

Already road worn on this unchosen
journey, we’re uncertain where we are.

This landscape is inhospitable–
shadows threaten wherever we are.

Destination unknown, there’s no map
guiding us onward from where we are.

With stuttering steps, we move ahead,
aware the ground may shift where we are.

Coiled serpent of anxiety
slithers out to greet us where we are.

Unwanted, persistent companion,
it slides along wherever we are.

As each day ends, we’ve traveled further
from where we once were to where we are.

Though the persistent rattle echoes,
I cherish each moment. Here we are.

Molly Hogan ©2020 (draft)

This week Poetry Friday is off to Australia again!  Poet Kat Apel is hosting at her blog. She’s sharing updates on the situation in Australia, the happy news of some rain and fundraising success, a delightful opossum photo and poem, and a back-to-school poem in a new-to-me form, a trimeric. Make sure to check out her post and find links to others while you’re there. When the events in the world weigh you down, there is solace to be found in poetry. Treat yourself to a moment or two. It’s time well spent.

 

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.