Swagger Challenge: Write a Zeno

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Last month we began posing monthly challenges for our writing group, named The Sunday Night Swaggers. The plan is for a different one of us to pose a challenge each month, and for all of us to share our poems at the first Poetry Friday of the month. This month Margaret Simon (Reflections on the Teche) posed our second challenge: Write a Zeno.

A quick intro to Zenos: J. Patrick Lewis created the form. In an interview with Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today’s Little Ditty  he explained, ” The zeno was inspired by the “hailstone  sequence” in mathematics. I define a zeno as a 10-line poem with 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1 syllables that rhyme abcdefdghd.” (If you’d like to find out more about the “hailstone sequence”, click here. It’s actually kind of cool!)

I’ve written Zenos before, and was looking forward to writing some more. But this time around I was stymied. Flummoxed. Confounded. I wrote page after page after page. Lists of rhyming words. False starts. Half starts. I wrote about Halloween vampires, black crows, crimson maple trees, snowy egret carnage, the marsh, mornings, my cat, and more. Yikes! Nothing fell into place. The tyranny of a 1-syllable rhyme has been grossly underrated! 

It’s been one of those weeks…

Some mornings, words fall into line
gather neatly
on the
page
some days they fight,
wrangle,
rage
twist and kick, then
storm off-
stage

© Molly Hogan, 2019

The Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted by Cheriee at Library Matters. She’s sharing an interview with Canadian poet Robert Heidbreder and some wonderful examples of his poems. If you’re interested in checking out some other Zenos, you can find my fellow Swaggers’ Zenos at their blogs.

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

PF: Pulse

downloadA recent Poetry Friday post by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater inspired me to revisit a moment I’d written about (here) and try to create a poem from it. I was further intrigued by her idea of  “smoosh-ing” two words together to make new ones.

Pulse

Face the ocean
Stand still
with both feet sandplanted
Close your eyes
Feel the sunwarmth brush your cheeks
Breath the fresh, salty air
In
Out
In
Out
Listen to the whisper of the breeze
the rhythmic rush of surf
In
Out
In
Out
Tune in
to your own
steady
pulse

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Carol Varsalona is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at her blog, Beyond Literacy Link. She’s sharing a fabulous travel log celebrating summer adventures. Be sure to stop by and check it out!

PF: To Prepare for Winter…

downloadIt’s that time of the year when finding time for writing is harder than ever. The demands of school leak into other parts of the day, and my reserved writing time can easily slip slide away before I even notice. These days I am especially grateful when a prompt or challenge sparks a response. I wrote this one to Laura Purdie Salas’s prompt for her “Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle!” give-away. I didn’t win the give-away, but having written something was a welcome consolation prize. 🙂

To prepare for winter…

I snap some photos
of blazing maples,
then sweep the leaves
from my mind,
wipe away dew-laden webs,
prepare to focus on lacy frost,
misty clouds of breath,
the glory of the first
snowfall.

©Molly Hogan, 2019

The Poetry Friday Roundup this week is hosted by the ever-gracious Linda B. at her blog, Teacher Dance. She’s revealing the cover of a new book by Irene Latham and Charles Waters that will be coming out in February. Take a peek! It looks wonderful!

“Acrostics”

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This month’s DMC challenge was posed by Canadian poet, Jane Whittingham. During a delightful interview with Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty, she invited readers to write an acrostic about themselves– “a little ditty about you!”

The acrostic form feels like a perfect fit for these first frantic back-to-school days. I find my mind fiddling away at different possibilities, especially when I wake in the middle of the night–which happens more than I’d like to admit!

As I played around with the challenge, I found that I was changing things up a bit and creating small fictional scenes. I also was loose with the acrostic form. While I’m still deciding if they “fit” the prompt or not, I thought I’d share two of the poems here. (WordPress was not playing nice, so I had to get a bit creative to include indents–please excuse the cut-and-paste look!)

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Laura Purdie Salas is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Writing the World for Kids. She’s offering a peek at her newest book (a delight!) and the opportunity to win a signed copy. Make sure to stop by and check it out and visit the Roundup as well.

PF: Box Poems

74707-poetry-friday-logoThis month the Sunday Night Swaggers tackled a prompt shared by Catherine Flynn, who challenged us to write a poem about a box. It could be about a box from photos she shared, or about any box we wanted. I knew immediately that I would write about my recipe box, but wasn’t sure how to begin. I had lots of ideas, and random phrases, but could not settle on a form. Nothing came together. 

After lots of fruitless starts, I suddenly remembered Ian MacMillan’s poem, “Ten Things Found In a Wizard’s Pocket.” Bingo! I had my form! Though now I had to stick to ten things–another challenge!

The bare bones of the poem came easily, but I am still fiddling away with it. Every time I think it’s “finished”, I come back to it and find myself changing it–sometimes merely a word, sometimes cutting a phrase, sometimes adding one. It just hasn’t quite clicked into place. It’s a squirmy one! But alas, the deadline has sounded, so here it is, in it’s slightly drafty form.

Ten Things Found in My Recipe Box

An array of batter-splattered cards
Four corners with dusty, clustered crumbles
A whispered scent of warm spices
A marked preference for desserts
Yellowed newspaper clippings, fragile at the folds
My mother’s faded handwriting
An archive of good intentions
Time-proven spells for comfort and celebration
Sticky fingerprints, from small, helpful hands and
a handful of empty recipe cards,
waiting. 

©Molly Hogan, 2019 (draft)

Then I thought I’d play around with a more generic box in a “Things to do…” poem. It occurred to me that a basic cardboard box has a lot of things it can do!

Things to do if you’re a cardboard box

Package a pizza
make a cheap, speedy sled
Bedeck yourself with blankets
for a cozy cat bed

Stay solid when shaken
enclose and protect
transform at the hands
of a small architect

Yield to blunt scissors
and imagination
become a car!
                    a rocket!
                              a ship!
with unknown destination

Hold keepsakes in the attic
cuddle colored lights
Serve as sword or shield
in raucous pirate fights

Grant a reader respite
from the hurly burly world
Reinvent yourself until
your sides are frayed and curled

Once time-worn and tattered,
fold yourself and then
recycling awaits you
–your chance to start again!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at the blog, Poetry for Children, hosted by the dynamic duo, Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell. Among other offerings, my fellow Swaggers will be sharing their box poems. Make sure to stop by and fill up with poetry for the weekend!

If you want to go straight to some other box poems, click to visit my fellow Swaggers:
Heidi Mordhorst
Catherine Flynn
Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon

Olio

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Isn’t olio a great word? I confess it’s one I know only because I enjoy crossword puzzles. It’s an odd little word in which three out of four letters are vowels. This is apparently quite helpful for  puzzle designers, who use it with great frequency. In addition to those handy three vowels, olio also has great fun-to-say synonyms–words like hodgepodge and mishmash. (On a side note, idle curiosity led me to look into other synonyms (#rabbithole) and on to the coolest word ever– gallimaufry. ga-lə-ˈmȯ-frē. Just take a second and say it a few times. It’s a beaut!)

With my first two professional days behind me and the first day with students zooming down the pike, I’m feeling a bit scattered. It seemed like the perfect time to round up some odds and ends and offer up an olio of poems. (And aren’t those last three words fun to say together!?)

Photo Laura P. Salas

Way back in July, Laura Purdie Salas posted this interesting and amusing photo for her 15 words or less weekly challenge. I didn’t share my poems then, because I was pressed for time, and I also had a tough time with the 15 word limit. Here are two of my efforts:

Holy Cow!

Made of plaster
headed to pasture
wants to go faster
Incipient disaster!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

The Farmer’s Successful Plea

Cow’s on the flatbed. Go, go, go!
Mama in the truck says, “No! No! No!”
Papa looking sheepish, on his knees
“Can’t Bessie come camping? Please, please, please!”

©Molly Hogan, 2019

I also have a couple more definitos to share. If you’re not familiar with this form, it was invented by the Master of Word Play, Heidi Mordhorst, and is quite addictive. In a nutshell, it’s an 8-12 line poem that uses wordplay to define a word. That word is the final word in the poem. You can check out her post for a longer definition and some examples. I’ve opted to leave my poems untitled this time so you can try to guess the word as you go!

Won the game?
Aced the test?
Bubbling over
with happiness?

Sing or dance!
Don’t just hint.
Express your joy!
Be jubilant!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

She lifts a hand
with lazy grace
no urge to move,
still, in one place
indolent, slow
a slothful pace
Energy lost
to summer’s heat
sluggish, listless
lounging in seat,
languid

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Finally, I’ve been enjoying some of my last pockets of free time down at the river’s edge. I’m including a poem sparked by an image from a recent morning.

cormorant skims
over dawn-gilded waters
autumn whispers hello

©Molly Hogan, 2019

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This week’s Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted by Kat Apel, who is sharing all sorts of delightful book news from Down Under. She’s reviewing two new picture books written by friends and the exciting news that this week she signed the contract for her second picture book. Woohoo! Go, Kat!

To Fly into a Bright Sky

74707-poetry-friday-logoAmy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her fabulous blog, The Poem Farm. She has invited everyone to participate this week in a celebration of the life of Lee Bennett Hopkins. I’ve chosen to do so by writing a poem inspired by a line from an LBH poem.

To Fly into a Bright Sky

To fly into a bright sky
is to focus on the light
of the surrounding stars
rather than the darkness between.
To see ourselves as stalwart contenders,
rather than walking wounded.
To linger in laughter,
rather than wallow in tears.
To focus on what remains,
rather than on what was lost.

To fly into a bright sky
is to choose the light,
to chart a path,
to soar.

Molly Hogan ©2019
inspired by the line “to fly into a bright sky” from Lee Bennett Hopkins’s “Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life”

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I never had the opportunity to meet Lee Bennett Hopkins. After reading so many of the tributes and anecdotes shared recently, I find myself wishing even more that I had. Thankfully his poetry lives on.