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.


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

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,
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!

PF: More Inktober poems

The daily Inktober prompts are a great low-stakes way to keep the creative juices flowing and a wonderful distraction when one is needed. Here are a few of my recent efforts. (I will apologize in advance for #12 though I had great fun writing it!)

#10 pick

Mystery in the Garden

Yesterday I picked a pumpkin
where I thought I’d planted melon.
I can’t figure how this happened
and the pumpkin isn’t tellin’!

©Molly Hogan

#11 sour

Her words sour the air
transform the moment’s
fleeting sweetness
curdle it
like lemon in milk
into a bitter corruption
so sharp and biting
it lingers on the tongue

©Molly Hogan

#12 stuck

Economics in Action

The teacher droned on endlessly 
about wants versus needs.

“Ugh!” Bea thought, “This econ. stuff
is putting me to sleep!

The sun is out and I am stuck
in this most dull of courses.”

So she jammed a finger up her nose
to check her own resources.

Bea didn’t think about it much
just dove into her task,

more invested in her treasure hunt
than in doing well in class.

After intense exploration
she finally withdrew,

content to sit and contemplate
her own gross revenue.

Then casually she licked it off
restoring her good humor

while embodying those econ. terms—
producer and consumer.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Bridget Magee at her blog, Wee Words for Wee Ones. She, punster extraordinaire, is sharing news of the release of her anthology, 10•10 Poetry Anthology: Celebrating 10 in 10 Different Ways. I’m delighted to have a poem included in this anthology and can’t wait to have a copy in my hands. Congratulations, Bridget!

PF: #Inktober

I’d forgotten all about #Inktober until last week when I read Michelle Kogan and Ruth Hersey’s #Birdtober posts and they nudged my memory. Was Inktober still a thing? A quick Google search reassured me:

Rules & Prompts — Inktober

Initially, #Inktober started as a challenge for people to make a drawing in ink in response to a daily prompt word and then tweet it. Some poets opted to respond with poetry instead (#Poemtober). I thought this might be a playful exercise for me this October, so I started participating–at least in my notebook. I haven’t shared my responses on Twitter, but here are a few of my efforts:

Day One: crystal

If I had a crystal ball
for future-gazing
would I lose
day after present day
gazing into its depths?

Or would I drape it
in plushest black velvet
swaddle its mysteries
content to linger
in ignorance?

©Molly Hogan

Day 2: suit

For Kurtis

You’re my #1 guy
You suit me to a T
Without U
Where would I B?
O U Q T*
You’re my A to Z!

©Molly Hogan

*In case you haven’t experienced the wonderful book CDB, this translates to “oh you cutie”

Day six: spirit

Come October spirits rise
Take to the air
Spook and surprise

Fright us!
Delight us!
Open our eyes!

The world is much larger
than many surmise.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Irene Latham at her blog, Live Your Poem. She’s sharing a wonderful autumnal harvest of goodies including exciting news, a Neruda poem and her latest Artspeak duo. Make sure to check it out along with other Poetry Friday offerings linked there.

PF: Limericks to the rescue!

When life is feeling a bit overwhelming, it’s surprising how often a limerick can come to the rescue. It’s an easy access poem, with no claim to deeper meaning and a delight in being trivial. How refreshing is that?! It also can incorporate some stunningly adept and amusing word play. And let’s not forget the occasional bawdy humor.

Here’s one of my favorite limericks by Ogden Nash:

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I’m damned if I see how the helican!

Another fabulous limerick, author unknown:

There was a young lady of Ryde
Who ate some green apples and died;
The apples fermented
Inside the lamented
And made cider inside her inside.

I mean, really, how fabulous is that?

Many people can pull a limerick out of their memory. Maybe this is due to the distinct rhythm and rhyme scheme, or perhaps due to their often naughty nature. On a recent visit, my dad regaled us with this limerick, author unknown:

There was a young lady from Thrace
Whose corsets grew too tight to lace.
     Her mother said, “Nelly,
     There’s more in your belly
Than ever went in through your face!

So, I suppose it’s not surprising that I turned to limericks when approaching our group’s most recent challenge. This month Mary Lee Hahn selected the challenge. She suggested that we “Explain a poetry term (simile, metaphor, allegory, allusion, etc) in a poem that makes use of that term. OR tell how to write a poetry form (ode, elegy, sonnet, limerick, etc) in that form.”

Here are my efforts:


If your poems tend toward nude or to crude
Here’s a form with the right attitude
It’s short, though not sweet
with distinct metric feet
and in five lines, amusingly rude.

©Molly Hogan


A limerick’s a poem with a beat
a pattern of metrical feet
It’s rhyme scheme is set
and if you forget
your readers really won’t be satisfied.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Catherine Flynn at her blog, Reading to the Core. Make sure to check out her response to the challenge.

If you’d like to see what other Inklings did with this challenge, check out their sites here:

Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche

PF: Unrepentant

This month Margaret posed a doozy of a challenge to our group, or as my grandfather would have said, “It was a real lulu!” Margaret suggested that this month we write ghazals (pronounced “guzzles”). Apparently, she’d been having a hankering to write one and thought she’d invite us all to come along for the ride. And what a ride it was! It definitely pushed me right out of my comfort zone–always a good, if not comfortable, thing!

I’d written what I called a quasi-ghazal once a year or so ago, and all I remembered was that the form was darned challenging. This time I was determined to get closer to fully adhering to it. I found a post on Tweetspeak that offered some guidance. It outlined step by step how to write a ghazal (click the link if you want more details) and also shared a mentor ghazal by Patricia Smith.

Hip-Hop Ghazal

Gotta love us brown girls, munching on fat, swinging blue hips,
decked out in shells and splashes, Lawdie, bringing them woo hips.

As the jukebox teases, watch my sistas throat the heartbreak,
inhaling bassline, cracking backbone and singing thru hips.

Like something boneless, we glide silent, seeping ‘tween floorboards,
wrapping around the hims, and ooh wee, clinging like glue hips.

(click the Tweetspeak link above to read the rest of this poem)

After reading this, I was more than a bit daunted. I couldn’t make up my mind what I even wanted to write about. I started and stopped. Started and stopped. I just couldn’t find my way. In the end, let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty process, but I persevered. I still don’t think I’ve hit 100% of the requirements, but I’m getting closer. Once it finally started to come together, it was kind of fun. Borderline brutal, but kind of fun, and definitely satisfying.


I confess, I enjoy a glass of wine at night.
Lips to glass. Upright to supine at night.

I prefer Cabernet to Merlot, seeking body
in spirits that linger with moon’s shine at night. 

Come, join me, drink to dreams deferred
and days gone by. Liquid anodyne at night.

Half-remembered words circle while I sleep —
a haunting or a visit more divine at night.

When shadows lengthen, intoxicated by starlight,
will you turn into my arms and be mine at night?

©Molly Hogan

Wine seems to be a theme for me this month. Not sure what’s up with that, but I’m going with it, so I’m also sharing a tetractys inspired by one of Kat Apel’s recent posts.

new school year
I quaff my red with no hesitation.

©Molly Hogan

Finally, I offer you this find from our local village store:

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Heidi Mordhorst at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe. She’s sharing her most-amazing ghazal there. You can visit the other Inklings at their blogs to check out some more ghazals.
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


PF: Zentangle Poem

In the midst of classroom unpacking chaos, between bouts of frantic worry and frenzied optimism, a page from a book appeared on my classroom floor. I picked it up. Hmmmm. Where had that come from? After reading through it, I was pretty sure it had come from a copy of “The Phantom Tollbooth” (which, I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve never read though it’s now in my towering TBR pile.) I did know enough to recognize the character names: the Humbug and Milo. Knowing I didn’t have a copy of that book in my classroom, I figured that at some past point, I’d probably rescued a few pages from a discarded copy and intended it for some blackout poetry. I tucked the stray page in my bag.

Days later, at home, that page tumbled out of my bag with a mess of other papers. Always willing to indulge in a bit of procrastination, I decided to try a blackout poem. Once I found the poem, I transformed it into a Zentangle–a first for me. The resulting poem surprised me a bit. I will say that regardless of how this poem sounds, I really am looking forward to being with my new class. My worries are based in a wider world.

Graceful sky
Sunlight leafslid
dropped luminous
clear and close

Ahead and soon
serious difficulties
continual crashing
wild dashing


a breath

We’re lost.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s poetry Friday is hosted by Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections.

Responding to Miss Rumphius

This month our writing group changed its name to Inklings, and Catherine challenged us to write an ekphrastic poem. She suggested writing in response to an illustration in a wordless picture book, but left the prompt open for us to choose other illustrations, photos or artwork. Catherine was inspired by the current wordless picture book exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. (I’m supremely jealous that she was able to visit this exhibit in person, but those of us further afield can still get a sneak peek here.)

I had a tough time deciding what image to use. I checked out the Eric Carle exhibit highlights and also ran through books in my mind: The Girl and the Bicycle, A Boy a Dog and a Frog, Sector 7, etc. But even though it wasn’t wordless, my thoughts kept returning to one of my favorite picture books, Miss Rumphius, and to this picture in particular:

Miss Rumphius Notecard Collection – The Bowdoin Store
illustration from Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Miss Rumphius, set on the coast of Maine, has long been a favorite in our family for the heartwarming story and the wonderful, often familiar, illustrations. Barbara Cooney, the author/illustrator, was a local resident in the last town we lived in. She was a familiar site around town, a slight woman with her long white hair braided into a coronet upon her head. She occasionally read aloud to children at the library.

In the late 1990s, Ms. Cooney was instrumental in funding the new town library. In addition to donating a significant sum of money, she allowed the library to sell numbered prints of the above illustration from Miss Rumphius. We scraped together the money to purchase one, and it’s been hanging on our wall ever since. No doubt that’s a big reason why the picture came to mind and wouldn’t leave. I gave in to the inevitable.

Knowing the story so well, I wondered how to respond creatively to something already so imbued with meaning for me. How could I separate the illustration from the story? Did I need to? While pondering and looking at the illustration, my eye was drawn over and over to Miss Rumphius’s hand, reaching out to touch a lupine. I went with that focus.

The Lupine Lady Contemplates

Her hand
brushes the delicacy
of a single blossom
considering her legacy
as she
the creator
approaches her end

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’d like to see what others did with this challenge, check out their sites here:

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

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading (here). She’s sharing a rich villanelle and an invitation/reminder to contribute a line for Christie Wyman’s Roundup next week.

P.S. While writing this post, I discovered some things I hadn’t known: Barbara Cooney donated the illustrations for the book to Bowdoin College, lupine isn’t native to Maine and Miss Rumphius is based on a real person! Long ago, there really was a woman, though her name was Hilda Edwards, who planted lupine seeds all around Christmas Cove, Maine. She was clearly the inspiration for this wonderful story and you can read more about her here.

A glimpse of Maine's famous wildflowers. Photo: Down East Magazine
photo of coastal Maine lupine from Down East Magazine

Poetry Friday is here–and Summer is, too!

“Summertime and the living is easy.”
George Gershwin

“We might think we are nurturing our gardens, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.”
Jenny Uglow

Summer in Maine is a gift, and I enjoy every moment of it. Back when I signed up to host, July seemed like a far away dream. Now spring blossoms are memories, the month is half over, and the specter of August hovers on the horizon. As much as a big part of me misses being at school with kids and colleagues, another part of me cringes at the thought of the start of the school year and the end of summer. There’s much I love about teaching, but the relentless pace of the days is NOT one of those things. “Autumn days and the living is easy,” sang NO teacher ever!

This week I decided to revisit an earlier prompt from Linda Mitchell and use Pat Schneider’s The Moon, Ten Times as a mentor poem again. I thought I’d put on my half-full glasses (half of July remains!) and focus on what I love about summer. It was tough to limit myself to ten things, and I omitted many much-beloved aspects of summer (fireflies, beach walks, birds, dragonflies, frogs, etc.). I’m also uncertain about the order–it’s rather haphazard, but perhaps that mimics the luxury of disorganized summer days, right? Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Summer, Ten Times

  1. Morning transformation
    bird song displaces
    the radio alarm
  2. Time warp
    hands rummage in rich earth
    hours vanish
  3. Baby Boom
    each day a new arrival
    in the garden
  4. Eau de Summer
    plush floral tones, fresh-mown lawns
    the scent of sun-dried sheets
  5. Verdant woods
    air shifts and pulses
    in sun-shafted spectrums of green
  6. The sweet tyranny
    of ripe berries
  7. Sparkles of laughter
    arc as high
    as the sprinkler’s spray
  8. Surprise!
    Dance parties
    in the center of the zinnias!
  9. Sun-lit windowsills
    dotted with geraniums
    and the occasional sleeping cat
  10. An ending and beginning:
    Spring’s coda
    Fall’s prelude

©Molly Hogan

So, what would be on your summer time list? I’d love to know! If you want to share, add your thoughts in the comments. In the meantime, thanks so much for stopping by the Roundup today. You can add your link here to participate:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

I’m posting this early as I am out of town until Friday evening. I may be able to read and comment here and there before then, but mostly I’ll be reading and commenting over the weekend.

From My Notebook

This summer is moving jaggedly for me, sometimes rushing by and at other times, lingering unexpectedly. I don’t seem to get to choose which moments fly by and which rest with grace (Now that would be some super power!). Still, I’m enjoying the overall luxury of less-scheduled days. Then, somehow yesterday was Thursday before I knew it was even approaching… and Friday quickly followed (as it’s wont to do…). I’ve been scribbling this and that in my notebook, but hadn’t thought about a post for Poetry Friday. Here are two poems I’m still tinkering with.


After I left
I remembered the cantaloupe,
the one I was supposed to cut,
still resting on the counter
where I had left it.

There’s a poem in there somewhere,
cushioned within
the skin, the seeds, the pulp,
woven from
the initial, careful selection
the good intentions
and now the inevitable
slow, steady

There’s a poem in there somewhere,
but I still can’t find the words.

©Molly Hogan, draft

Seeing the Light

Not long
after her husband died
she brought me a candle,
intricately wrought from beeswax,
the kind you hesitate to light.

“Be sure to burn it,” she said.

©Molly Hogan, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Margaret Simon at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. Be sure to stop by and check out her poetic contributions to a recent anthology.