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

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)