Remorse

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Remorse

The blue bucket holds
a careless expanse of water
and a limp cross
of drowned feathers
and silenced song

From the tilted bucket
water spills,
the small sodden body
tumbles
in a final
earthbound
flight

I resettle the bucket
upside down
Too little
Too late

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the talented Irene Latham at her blog, Live Your Poem. Stop by to enjoy some poetry!

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Random Rainy Day Musings

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hAmy Ludwig Vanderwater wrote this weekend about how there are moments we experience that “stick like peanut butter” to the roof of our mouths. These moments and the feelings they spark want to “live on”, and she suggested that writing helps us “hold such scenes close.” One of the things I treasure most about writing is how, when I’m writing regularly, I become more tuned in to those “sticky” moments.

Each day holds so many moments like this–small scenes, experiences, thoughts or conversations that play over and over in my head. They’re easy to overlook or discard, but they are rich with potential. Once you’ve noticed them, to mine them requires time and patience. Time to sit and ponder, to write, to revise. Patience as you live within that moment and struggle to determine its essence, to determine what moved you and how you convey that in your writing. What is it really about?

I experience many such moments when running. Running gives me space for thinking and also gets me outside where there are all sorts of things to notice.  Thoughts and ideas whirl through my head. Some are random while others generate new ideas. What’s the origin of the word autumn? Why do we also call it fall? Why is it the only season with two names? 

Some ideas are sparked by things I see around me. When I ran a few days ago, I came across a small sparrow, lying dead on the edge of the road. Its small feet were curled tight as if still clinging to some branch. How had it died? Had it flown into a car or was it diseased? What flight path brought it to this final destination? I keep seeing the image of that sparrow in my mind. Watching turkeys cross the road, I wonder… which turkey decides when to cross the road and is the same one always first? Or last? Where would I be in the line if I were a turkey?

DSCN1681.jpgThis fall I’ve been intrigued by the bountiful crop of buckeyes along one of my running routes. Often I bend down and pick one up as I run by. Are these seeds or nuts? Do animals eat them? Can I eat them? I find their glossy mahogany sheen irresistible and I smooth my fingers over it as I run. I’m stunned by the beauty hidden within their prickly exterior capsules.  This feels like a metaphor to explore. Beauty hidden within an ugly exterior…how often we miss the hidden side of things… the rewards of time, aging, maturity. What I see or discover or think leads me to new thoughts or questions, which often leads me to research, which helps me to form connections, to see patterns.  I may write something about it. I may not. But jotting about it preserves the moment so that I can revisit it whenever I choose.

DSCN1666 (1).jpgYesterday when I was running, this spider web, drenched in morning dew, caught my eye. After my run, I drove back to try to capture it in a photograph. This is no easy proposition as the camera wants to focus on the background, not the small blot of spider or its silken strands. I did my best, but overall was uninspired by the resulting photos. Then, getting ready to leave, I glanced down next to the web and saw a small cluster of weeds. Some were bejeweled with dew drops. Others had lost their petals and seeds and blazed like stars. Unexpected beauty in the weeds.

Noticing one thing often leads to noticing another. This is true in photography and in writing. Take time to ponder one of those “sticky peanut butter moments”, follow a meandering trail through the forest of words and thoughts. You never know where you’ll end up, but you’re almost always richer for the journey.

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Barber’s Revenge

unnamedIt wasn’t a productive writing week. Thank goodness for Laura Purdie Salas and her Thursday  15 Words Or Less Poem  photo prompt. That’s just what it took to get me to write something this week.

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Photo credit to Laura P. Salas

When I saw the photo, I immediately thought of a blue jay getting a haircut. With their boisterous, loud presence in mind, I imagined that a blue jay might ruffle some feathers in the avian barber shop. How might the barber respond? I struggled with the 15 word limit this week and had to use my first line as the title to keep the word count down.

Cocky bluejay needs a trim…

At the barber’s pushes in
Swaggers, preens
with raucous squawk
departs abashed
with spiked mohawk

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

 

This week the Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the talented Violet Nesdoly at her blog. She’s offering a perfectly spiced ode to pumpkins. Be sure to check it out!

Mushroom Fever

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The mushrooms have been nothing short of spectacular around here this fall and I’ve had such fun hunting for different varieties. I have no intention of tasting these wild mushrooms, but I love taking their pictures. The variety of shapes, sizes and colors is simply amazing and there’s so much to learn! Even a few minutes of research reveals fascinating details. For example, the yellow-orange Fly Agaric (top right) is somewhat poisonous and slightly hallucinogenic. Legend has it that fierce Viking fighters ate it before heading into battle. Yikes! The common names for mushrooms are also a delight. They range from cautionary to whimsical to disgusting, with names like Death Cap, Pink Disco, Judas’ Ear, Trumpet of Death, Weeping Toothcrust (ew!), Old Man in the Woods, Golden Navel, Dewdrop Dapperling, Destroying Angel, etc. What fun! These days I’m inspired and fascinated by funghi!

Mushrooms and fairy folk are irrevocably intertwined in my mind. I imagine all sorts of fairy frolics when I stumble across toadstools and fairy rings.

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Where wee folk wander
dimpled dew-drenched prints
blossom into
wending mushroom byways

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

This one really sparked my imagination! An owl? An octopus?

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Preparing for the Mushroom Halloween Contest

Parasols are old and trite
expected ‘shroom attire
An owl in flight
a rare delight!
Blue ribbon’s his desire

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

Or perhaps this one…I couldn’t resist the first line. (Get it?)

A fiesty fun guy
embraces fall festivities
eschews convention
transforms into an owl

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

 

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And then for some reason these two captured my heart. To me, there was something so poignant about them. (I swear I was not eating the mushrooms!)

Partners

Aged and weather-withered
they lean into each other
long past taut youth
together
they watch
falling autumn leaves
carpet the ground
about them

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

This week Laura Purdie Salas is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog Writing the World for Kids.  While you’re there, check out her weekly 15 Words or Less poems and her poem sketches. They’re wonderful!  Then, if you want to shift gears, head outside and look for some mushrooms!

Dance like there’s nobody watching…

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“You’ve got to dance like there’s nobody watching…”

All resolutions of mindfulness, being in the moment and the zen state vanished as I looked at the clock then, with a muttered expletive, pushed the last papers into my bag, grabbed my lunch and coffee and dashed out the door, running later than I wanted to get to school. Within a few quick moments, I had turned the car around and was bumping down our steep gravel driveway, dust rising in my wake.

As I neared the road, I caught a glimpse of my neighbor’s middle-school child standing in our driveway blocking my way. His back was to me and his backpack was sitting beside him, a telling clue. I glanced at the clock: He must be waiting for the bus. I approached, surprised that he wasn’t moving out of my way. (My old Subaru is many wonderful things, but silent and stealthy are not among them!)  I continued forward slowly. But wait! What was he doing? He wasn’t standing anymore, he was all out dancing–arms, legs, moving wildly. He had some moves! He was dabbing this way and that, swiveling his hips and in general, going to town with great enthusiasm. I felt a broad smile stretch across my face. I drove even closer, now noticing the ear buds that stopped him from hearing the car’s approach, the ones that fed music into his happy feet. Closer still. Was I going to have to beep or get out and say something?  

Finally, when I was quite close to him, he must have sensed something, and he turned in mid dance step, freezing briefly when he saw me close behind him. Then he turned away, grabbed his bag and shoved it to the side of the driveway, moving quickly to follow it.  I smiled and waved casually as he turned back, maneuvered my car past him and drove out onto the road.  The scene kept me smiling all the way to work–his delight in the music, the unselfconscious dancing, the innocent joy and vitality of the moment. What a great way to start my day!

Fast forward to the next day. Once again, my morning routine was off. I had opted to squeeze in a run and as I returned, he was again waiting at the end of the driveway. Today he was still, stolid. Simply standing. An antonym to yesterday’s animation. I checked: The ear buds were in. Perhaps the music simply wasn’t moving him today. Perhaps he was simply tired. But suddenly a thought occurred to me–what if this quiet waiting was a self-conscious awareness seeded from the day before?  That moment yesterday which delighted me, probably mortified him. Will he now always feel like someone’s watching? Will he ever feel comfortable again dancing at the bus stop? I greeted him as I came to a breathless stop and then I headed up my driveway, hoping that as I disappeared from view, he might burst into uninhibited dance moves again. Crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.

A Weekend of Poetry

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It was a weekend that inspired poetry, and perhaps more importantly, allowed time for it. My husband and I were driving our daughter from Maine to Philly to move into her new apartment. She’s the first one of our children to fly far from the nest, so this was new territory in more ways than one. One of the upsides of the drive was time with my writing notebook in hand as we careened along the highways or, all too often, idled in traffic. With my husband willing to handle most of the driving, I had the luxury of plenty of time to read and write.

A highlight of the long road trip was reading some of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. I just purchased this recently after reading about it in a post by Catherine Flynn. (Thank you, Catherine!!) It’s a joy of a read with so many wonderful prompts for dipping into words and poetry– for playing. Her love of words shines through the pages and inspires me to look closer, to notice, and to write.

English muffin clouds
nooked and crannied
drenched in buttery sunlight

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

I also was inspired by Michelle Barnes who writes Today’s Little Ditty and who recently shared a challenge from Carole Boston Weatherford to write an abecedarian poem. I’ve been toying with this form for a week or two and played around with it on our car ride as well. I shared the concept with my husband and daughter and we had some fun creating possible themes for such poems–words you’d like to yell at drivers, inventions you wish were created, etc. Michelle’s invitation stated that you could use sections of the alphabet, as long as they were sequential. Although initially I was determined to use all 26 letters, I finally decided not to try to force the x,y,z lines. Here’s what I came up with:

Foggy night

A blank canvas
dew-damp and dark
Ethereal fingerlets and
fronds of fog
ghost and hover
in insubstantial inky jumbles
a kaleidoscope
of lingering moonshine
and nebulous outlines
a patchwork of quivering
roiling swirls and
tenuous tendrils of undulating
vaporous waves
Wisps of wizardry

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

And then there was this heart-full moment with my daughter as we shopped for apartment accessories and essentials at Target. I’m not satisfied with the poem, but the moment was priceless.

Suddenly stopping
by the Home Goods aisle
she rushes around the laden cart
and wraps her arms around me
hugging me close

When I loosen my arms
to release her,
she holds on tighter
longer
til tears prick
and the all-too-short
eternal moment
tattoos my heart.

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the magnificent Amy Ludwig Vanderwater at her blog, The Poem Farm. Talk about inspiring! Make sure to carve out some extra time to spend exploring her rich site–You won’t regret it!

Without Peace

It’s Thursday and time for another 15 words or less poem. Today’s photo prompt from Laura P. Salas was International Peace Day inspired. Sadly, my thoughts were more negative. The beads reminded me of an abacus and that lead to thoughts of the ghastly accumulating total of lives lost in wars and conflicts. I actually have a childhood friend whose brother is an internationally recognized expert in the quantitative analysis of mass human-rights abuses, like genocides. How horrifying that there is a need for such an expert.

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Photo credit to Laura Purdie Salas

Without Peace

Quick fingers 
calculate
with slick, clicking
beads
Counting lives lost
Collective sorrow

Molly Hogan (c) 2017