Poetry Friday is here!

unnamedWelcome to this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup! This is my first time hosting and I must say, when I signed up, August seemed so far away!  Yikes! Holy Speeding Summer, Batman! Regardless, I’m simultaneously delighted to be here and desperately hoping that the link up works. If it does, it’s thanks to Catherine Flynn. (Thank you! Thank you, Catherine!) If it doesn’t…well, it’s my fault, but at least I’ll have something to write about on Tuesday for Slice of Life. On a related note, please attribute any typos in this post to multiple crossed fingers.

As August flies by and the school year rushes forward, I’ve been reflecting on my summer. One of the highlights has been participating in Tabatha Yeatt’s Summer Poetry Swap. In the past I’d always been a bit intimidated by the Poetry Swap posts that were shared. Frankly, I’m still intimidated, but I’ve also been highly motivated. Even though it’s not always comfortable, that might not be a bad combination. It’s certainly pushed me to be productive, and sometimes my efforts have sparked new ideas and multiple poems.

Recently, I was working on a swap poem and really struggling. Nothing seemed to fall into place. I kept writing, discarding, revising, whining (By the way, does a whine still count as a whine even if I’m the only one around to hear it?)…at any rate, you get the idea. I finally gave up on that poem and started from scratch, creating a wholly different one to send out. But the rejected poem had other ideas and kept nudging me to finish it. So, today I’m sharing the sonnet that refused to be rejected and that I’ve been tinkering with ever since. It’s driven me a bit mad, which is more than a bit ironic, but here it is.

The Solace of the Ocean: A Sonnet

When I feel overwhelmed and tempest-tossed
and crave perspective and serenity
when life feels like a battle I have lost
I take myself to wander by the sea

‘Midst drifts of fog or dazzling rays of sun
in dawn’s soft hues or evening’s golden glow
one breath and the enchantment has begun
allegro transforms to adagio

Susurrant surf or tossing, tumbling tide
The redolence of rose in briny air
Such wonders nudge my worries to the side
a heartfelt sigh escapes my lips like prayer

And slowly as I linger and explore
I feel myself become both less and more

©2018 Molly Hogan

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Thanks for stopping by for this week’s Roundup. Don’t forget that bird lover and poet Christie Wyman at Wandering and Wondering has a challenge for next week. She’ll be hosting PF and on her post last week invited everyone to “fly along” and write a bird-related poem.

Please click below to link your Poetry Friday post.

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After the rain…

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Have you ever seen the end of a rainbow? Do you know what you’ll find there? Well, it turns out that sometimes you’ll find my lilac bush entwined with a rogue grape vine.

But let me back up a little…

We’d been inside most of the day due to lowering skies, drizzling rain and occasional hiccups of thick downpours. The anticipated thunderstorms hadn’t arrived, but it had been a stormy stay-inside-and-clean-read kind of day. The skies seemed to be clearing, we’d just finished dinner, and I was itching to get out and move a bit.

“Hey, wanna go for a walk?” I asked my husband, Kurt.

“Yeah, sure,” he replied.

I left the room to get my shoes on and moments later heard him call out, “Whoa! Check out the rain!”

Oh, no, there goes our walk!  I thought, then looked out the window. Sure enough, the rain was pouring down in sheets. The sun, however, had emerged from behind clouds in the western sky, and in its rays, the rain fell like liquid silver. We squinted, trying to look at it, dazzled by the combined brilliance of sun and rain.

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“There must be a rainbow out there,” I declared, and I dashed outside into the rain, spinning around in the driveway, scanning the skies.

“Oh! ” I finally cried. “There is one! It’s gorgeous!”

Kurt came outside and we both stared at the intense rainbow forming over our house. It was simply stunning, the most vibrant rainbow I’ve ever seen. It practically pulsed with color, each hue vivid and distinct. I followed its arc over the house and then down, down, down….

“Oh, my gosh! Look!” I said, pointing. “You can see where the rainbow ends! It’s ending right in our yard!”

We both stared. Sure enough the arc of the rainbow came down directly through our grape-vine-covered lilac bush and ended on the grass below.

“That’s unbelievable,” I said.  “I’ve never seen a rainbow’s end before.”

We stood, rapt, marveling at the sight.

Then, after a few moments, I added (typically), “I wonder if I can catch it in a picture.”

The rain had eased almost completely by now, so I dashed inside for my camera and rushed back out, quickly taking a few photos.

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“Well,” Kurt announced casually as we headed down the driveway, “I know where I’m digging tomorrow!”

We laughed and together turned back to look at the dazzling rainbow over our house. Slowly, a second, faint rainbow formed, arching over the first.  We stood in the driveway for long minutes. The rain stopped completely, the clouds parting to reveal brilliant patches of blue. Everything sparkled, bejeweled with raindrops. The rainbows lingered. Finally, we turned to go on our walk.

So, back to my original question: Do you know what you’ll find at the end of a rainbow? It turns out it’s not just my lilac bush and Concord grapes.

There’s treasure to be found.

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More Poetry Swap Goodness!


unnamedAs soon as I saw Linda Baie’s name on the package in my mailbox, I knew I was in for a treat, guaranteed that the contents of my second Poetry Swap would be both thoughtful and generous in spirit. And wow, was I right!

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This was the beautiful homemade card and quote that greeted me when I opened my  package. How perfect is that?

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Then, in addition to the lovely card with its personal note, Linda gave me a small lined notebook, perfect for jotting down ideas, thoughts, and inspiration on the go. As if that weren’t enough, she selected a book of poetry for me, “The Time Traveler” by Joyce Carol Oates. I’m looking forward to diving into this further, but the first poem alone thrums with powerful word play and imagery. What a wonderful gift!

And finally, and best of all, Linda wrote me a beautiful, personal poem. She had clearly spent time wandering around my blog, considered my writing, both poetry and prose, to inspire her piece. I was deeply touched.

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Thank you so much, Linda, for your gift of poetry.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the gracious and talented Mary Lee Hahn at her blog, A Year of Reading. Make sure to stop by to beat the dog days of summer and enjoy some refreshing poetry.

How Lovely Life Can Be

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI sprawled on the chair in the family room, book in hand, feeling low-energy yet restless. From upstairs, a hum of voices floated down, punctuated by laughs and giggles. Addie and her friend, Kayla. Lydia was in her room, chatting online with her boyfriend. Kurt was at a meeting. Maybe we should go to the beach or do something, I thought idly. But I didn’t move.

A little bit later, Addie wandered downstairs and into the room. “Want to do something?”

“Well,” I said without much enthusiasm, “I was just thinking we could go down to the beach. It’s a little bit late, but it’s probably gonna be pretty down there.”

Addie floated the idea to Kayla and Lydia, and between the four of us we worked up some motivation and headed out. Half an hour later as we drove down the peninsula, we debated which part of the beach to visit. Should we go to the old fort where the seals sometimes fish and  frolic? Or should we visit the state park portion where wide open expanses of beach invite long strolls?

“Well, I think it’s almost low tide, so we could walk out to Fox Island,” I suggested. “That could be fun. We haven’t done that in ages.”

“I don’t remember ever walking out to an island!” Lydia protested. Despite our detailed descriptions, she couldn’t remember it at all. That settled it. Fox Island it was.

We pulled into the lot and parked, opening the doors to temperatures in the high 60s and a lovely afternoon glow. We walked up the path over the dunes, and the beach unfolded before us. Fox Island lay directly ahead, the large sandy causeway clearly visible. Already the sun was heading down, spilling golden light upon the wet sand.

“Oh, it’s beautiful!” I sighed.

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A few people wandered in the distance, silhouetted against sand or surf. Layers of mist obscured the shore line of islands and a distant light house. Over time, they drifted into the beach and then away again, veils hiding and revealing, in constant flux. Herring gulls strutted along the tide line, foraging, their reflections bright in the wet sand. DSCN5326.jpg

The girls and I meandered along the beach, stopping to snap pictures, gradually heading out to the island. As the sun slipped lower, the light shifted as we walked. At times it was so golden it felt surreal, at others cooler and toned with serene blues and greys.

We reached Fox Island and the girls climbed ahead onto the rocks. I stopped to watch them and to soak in the scene around me. Their voices and laughter drifted back in the cool air. The waves tumbled and crashed and the sun continued its slow golden descent. The mist shifted and skimmed over the sand. I closed my eyes briefly, etching it all into memory, fully content and deeply moved.

This beautiful place. These beautiful girls. This beautiful moment.

How lovely life can be.

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On Fox Island

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view from Fox Island

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The golden hour

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My girls tracking hermit crabs

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Personification

unnamedI participated (translate this as: lurked and wrote privately) in Jennifer Serravallo’s Summer Writing Camp for teachers. If you haven’t checked it out yet, don’t worry! Camp ends tomorrow, but you can find all of the video sessions posted in the related group on Facebook (The Reading and Writing Strategies Community). Watching the videos and responding to the prompts is time well spent.

During the second week of camp, Jennifer focused on Poetry.  On Day Two of that week the emphasis was on Strategy 7.4: Bringing Objects to Life.  She suggested that you choose an everyday thing to bring to life. She advised choosing an animal or something that moves, then listing the verbs related to it.  Next, she said to think of something similar that a person might do. Then work with these two lists to bring your object to life.  (Go to Facebook and watch the video for a much clearer explanation!)
Here’s my response:

Tiny Tyrant

He marshals his troops
into rigid columns
One by one
never marking time
they march forward
Beat by beat
coming ever closer
until
at the precise
designated
hour…
they strike!
With one prolonged, rousing
BLAST
they rip their victim
from deepest sleep
to weary surrender

Alarm Clock Victory!

©2018 M. Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted by the warm, wonderful and wise Catherine Flynn at her blog, Reading to the Core. Be sure to stop by and visit!

 

Hollyhocks

unnamedI’ve been delighted by the hollyhocks in my garden this summer. Over the years, they have appeared in my garden intermittently, varying in height and color. In the spring I’m thrilled when I see those tell-tale leaves, anticipating the glory of the blooming flowers, thrusting high above the garden.

This summer the hummingbird visits the hollyhocks most mornings. It hovers before a blossom. Darts in. Retreats. Hovers again. It moves to a tightly furled blossom. Hovers. Moves on. Even though I know its wings move in figure 8 patterns, I can’t see them. Nor can I capture his rapid flight in a picture. I’ve stopped trying now and simply enjoy watching him. Sometimes his small body bumps into a blossom, dislodging golden pollen which falls into small piles, or tumbles down the blossom to drift through the air. When he flits to the other side of the plant, I watch his shadow through the delicate petals. I often think how lovely it must be to dine on nectar in dew-drenched pink blossoms on a summer morning!

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In summer’s garden
Hollyhock buds purse pink lips
waiting for sun’s kiss

©2018 M. Hogan

Under sun’s caress
Hollyhock petals unfurl
welcome hummingbirds

©2018 M. Hogan

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Hollyhock’s Ambition

Hollyhock builds a ladder to the sky
Holding a star within each blossom
she creates a universe
for hummingbirds and bees

©2018 M. Hogan

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This week Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe. She’s sharing some fantastic poetic adventures in Chicago. Make sure to stop by for some great ideas and to enjoy links to more poetry!

Pause already, darn it!

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hAs we walked along the trail, talking, a small pond appeared around the curve.

“Look, there’s a  heron!” Kurt said to me, pointing across the water. Then he promptly followed up with, “Oh, we spooked it.”

I looked up quickly and saw large grey-blue wings beating low across the water, and immediately fumbled for my camera. I knew there was no way I was going to capture the picture in time, but hoped perhaps the heron would settle further along the shore. I grabbed the case, opened it and got my camera in my hand. Meanwhile, I glanced up… just in time to see those wings gliding away and out of sight. I stopped and watched the last few seconds, marveling at the size and power of the bird and at the beauty of its flight.

Oh, I should just have watched him fly, I thought.

I had been so busy trying to get the camera out, that I had missed it.

I love taking photographs, but lately it’s occurred to me that sometimes I get so caught up in the photo opportunities, that I forget to simply enjoy what’s around me.

Pause, Molly, I reminded myself.

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The next morning I wandered down to the river park early to watch the sunrise. I took a few  pictures, and after a while headed over to a spot by the railroad tracks. The tracks cross at the base of a river junction here, and you get a lovely vantage of both rivers. I was hoping to listen to the song sparrow again, as he tends to frequent this spot.

DSCN4993.jpgThis morning as I climbed up, I heard a curious tapping sound. I walked over the tracks and looked down to the water and shore below. There I saw my new friend, the spotted sandpiper, whom I’d first encountered a few days earlier on the dock at the river park. It was bobbing along with its curious walk, pecking along the tidal shore line. I moved a bit closer to see what it was doing and …

Whoa!  What’s that!? There, much closer to the tracks and me, was a… beaver? muskrat? I wasn’t sure which it was, but it was thoroughly enjoying a breakfast of greens. Its thick brown fur lay sleek along its sides and water droplets glistened along its back.

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I struggled to remember the differences between muskrats and beavers. Obviously the tail is the easiest one, but this wily creature’s tail was hidden beneath the water. I know beavers are much larger, but how do you compare when you only have one species in front of you? It looked big to me, but…? I thought I remembered reading that muskrats weigh only about 4 pounds and this creature appeared to be many times that weight. I also had learned that when they swim, you can see much more of the muskrat’s back/body than the beaver’s. This one wasn’t swimming, but based on its size, I was pretty sure it was a beaver.

Thrilled, I took a few pictures and then suddenly it stopped eating, apparently just noticing me. It looked at me for a long moment, then turned and slipped into the water. Rats! I still couldn’t see its tail and now it was headed off for parts unknown. I walked along the tracks, hoping to see where it went. Trees and bushes interspersed along the edge of the track, hiding part of its progress.

Moving past a clump of trees, I spied it again. Wait! How much of its back is showing? Can I see its tail? There was a swirl of movement in the water. Wait! What? Two heads?? Whoa! There are two of them! They nudged up into each other gently and headed back into shallow water. Based on the size and their bodies in the water, I was now convinced they were beavers. Two beavers! I was so excited!

DSCN5207 (1).jpgAnd that’s when I made my mistake. Frustrated by intruding leaves that interfered with my focus, I tried to get closer.  Moving slowly, camera in hand, I crept forward, determined to get a fantastic photo. Instead of simply watching and enjoying the wonder of the moment, this unexpected second encounter, I edged back along the tracks. In an instant, I knew I’d spooked them. They splashed off into the water and veered into two separate directions. There was no coming back this time.

I’m still kicking myself about this. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson from my experience with the heron. But no, clearly, I still have a lot to learn about being in the moment and not always looking to get a tangible “prize” to take away with me. Sigh. Obviously, I’m a work in progress.

DSCN5203 (1).jpgI stayed a bit longer and watched a flight of swallows gather in the trees along the river’s banks. The song sparrow added his song to the scene, and a red squirrel and a yellow warbler of some sort stopped by as well. The beavers did not return.

Pause. Look. Listen. Be.

Like I said, a work in progress.