November Morning

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“Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky,
How beautiful it is?
All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness
There is a poem, there is a song.”
~Krishnamurti

I was halfway to work this morning, lost in an audiobook, when the silhouette of a tree caught my eye. In the cold morning its branches etched the sky like tributaries intertwining at a delta. It was stark, intricate and magnificent. Somehow, it pierced my inattention and snapped me out of Maoist China and into the present day. I turned the CD off and tuned into the scenery around me.

It was a stunning November morning, and until that moment, I hadn’t even noticed. The rolling farmland spilled away from the edges of the road, in undulating, glistening hills. Frost-covered shingles sparkled on rooftops and lazy curls of smoke drifted from brick chimneys. By the side of the road, fallen leaves skipped and danced in the wake of passing cars, their edges curled inward, as if to ward off the chill. Frozen dew cloaked the fading blooms on leggy weeds with dazzling crystals. A man and his dog walked along briskly, their breath feathering the air with billowing plumes. Farther along, down at the river, the water reflected the last vestiges of fall color, and breathed wraiths of fog that swirled and glowed in the morning light. Concealing. Revealing. Overhead, a flock of geese flew by, underlit by the rising sun. I took it all in, entranced by the beauty, and thankful that I’d finally noticed the gift of this morning.

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    November Morning

        The rising sun gilds the treetops’
remnant bronzy leaves
and warms the bellies
of low-flying geese
to amber glow

(c) Molly Hogan, 2017

Jama Rattigan is hosting Poetry Friday today at her delicious blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup. She always serves up a feast, so be sure to drop by and enjoy today’s offerings!

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Storm Aftermath–A week in a slice

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hLast week I wrote about waking from Sunday night’s storm. I ended with the line, “…I wonder what we’ll see when day breaks.” Here are a few of the things I “saw”, in no particular order:

 

 

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This was just around the corner from my house.  Sadly this wasn’t an uncommon sight. 

  1. No significant damage to our property and belongings. So thankful!
  2.  No electricity for the next 6 days! (You may have heard my “Hooray!” when the power returned late on Saturday morning.) Note: There are still people without power!
  3.  The beauty of running water. The water was cold but it continued to flow and the ability to flush toilets cannot be overrated! (Being on town water is a blessing during a power outage!)
  4. Community spirit! The community rallied in so many ways. People posted open invitations for those without power to come to their homes for showers, coffee, etc. Valiant Mainers immediately revved up their chainsaws and got to work clearing trees from roadways. Our town organized a “Trick or Trunk” event so that kids wouldn’t miss out on Trick or Treating. People decorated their cars, gathered at a central location, and handed out candy from the trunks. The fire station came with a truck to provide some light. What wonderful, positive community spirit!
  5. Nature undimmed by artificial light. The star-lit night sky was staggering without light pollution. The full moon cast an amazing glow that was far more impressive viewed from a candlelit home.
  6. Good Humor. One man on the town Facebook page titled each day as “Involuntary Glamping Staycation Day 1”..etc. People were cheerful, friendly and helpful everywhere you went.
  7. The inside of the school showers. I never thought I’d see those! (I was about to head to the local fire station for a shower on Saturday when our power returned. I have to admit, I was curious to check those out and thought the experience might have definite blog potential.)
  8. My internet addiction. Wow! I felt a bit lost when I couldn’t easily participate in writing communities on line. I also missed being able to easily google information (What’s a bomb cyclone anyway?) and access online Thesauruses (or is it Thesauri? See, that’s what I mean!) and Rhyming Dictionaries. Oh–and weather forecasts!
  9. My Good Fortune. Yes, it was not much fun to go without power for an extended time, but after a day or so I had many options for powering up, warming up, cleaning up, etc. I keep thinking of those who are struggling in Puerto Rico and how fortunate I am in comparison.

And then there was this:

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Halloween Summoning

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Halloween Summoning

I summon ye, spirits and spooks and sprites
and tip-tapping branches on moonless nights
Arise headless horseman and grisly ghouls
and bleak haunted houses where terror rules
Awaken ye witches, ye wizards and djinns
and mad-grinning pumpkins aglow from within
Come forth ye black cats and specters and crows
and clink-clanking chains from dank caverns below
I summon ye, yearning for simpler days
When you were the frightening things on parade
When you were the terrors that filled my young head
that kept me awake and that filled me with dread.

Rise spectors! Rise phantoms! Rise foul-smelling fiends!
Come, take back the night from our nightmarish dreams
Come, banish the darkness, the stygian gloom
the madmen now flirting with chaos and doom
and whipping up festering cauldrons of hate.
Come vanquish these forces before it’s too late.

For I’d rather face phantoms loose on the streets
than cowardly spirits who hide beneath sheets
and slow melting glaciers and nuclear threats
pollution, mass murders and civil unrest
And mad spinning storms of apocolypse size
and leaders who bully and taunt and despise

So, rise all ye spirits of Halloween night
Come devil us all to your black hearts’ delight
Tis better by far to have monsters aprowl
than these man-made disasters that haunt us now.

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the multi-faceted Linda Baie at her blog,  Teacher Dance. Among other things she shares a plethora of informative and entertaining book reviews, thoughtful reflections and wonderful slices of life. While you’re enjoying the poems and her blog, be extra thankful for electricity and internet connections!

 

 

Stormy Morning

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hYesterday morning…

Outside it’s still dark. The wind howls and rain periodically slaps against the windows. There’s an occasional splintering sound and then a muffled thud as branches and trees snap and tumble to the ground. By the flicker of candlelight, I write in my notebook. The glow casts odd, long shadows across the page, highlighting the pen point as ink emerges onto the page. My writing feels more important this morning, like it’s linked to centuries of candlelit compositions, imbued with historical weight. I write and write, filling pages.

Earlier this morning in the kitchen, the beam of my flashlight cut through the dark, illuminating motes of dust. I thought of April Pulley Sayre’s wonderful book, about dust (Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust) and wondered about the origin of these small lit specks. Were they intergalactic? Prehistoric? Had they traveled vast distances, perhaps in some previous wind storm, to settle at this time, in this place? I watched them swirl in the light, enjoying their erratic motion, wondering.

Now, I sit in my circle of light, head bent over my notebook, the calm in this raging storm that surrounds my home. It occurs to me that too often I might be the storm in the calm, generating my own circle of agitated weather. Today, I revel in being the calm center. The gale blows steadily outside, a constant roaring hum with intermittent louder bursts of frenzy. In the rare lull, the sound of pelting rain emerges. Outside the darkness lingers. Inside the candles flicker and shadows dance. Dust settles. I continue to write and wonder what we’ll see when day breaks.

Early October Snow

unnamedEarly October Snow
by Robert Haight

It will not stay.
But this morning we wake to pale muslin
stretched across the grass.
The pumpkins, still in the fields, are planets
shrouded by clouds.
The Weber wears a dunce cap
and sits in the corner by the garage
where asters wrap scarves
around their necks to warm their blooms.
…click here to read the rest

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Bee Balm in her winter bonnet

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Brenda Davis Harsham at her delightful blog, Friendly Fairy Tales. Click here to visit and enjoy her wonderful photographs and poems and also the Roundup.

 

Jibba Jabber

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hAfter yesterday’s long day of teaching followed by hours of Parent Teacher Conferences, I woke this morning to my alarm blaring. 4:45 am. Time to get up and make sure I had plans for the day and finished getting ready for tonight’s conferences. I had tons to do. It was time to get moving… I lay there in a daze, thinking dully, “Get up! Get up! Get up!”

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The wolf’s head is hidden under Granny’s cap on this Topsy Turvy doll.

Suddenly, I flashed back a few decades. You know how there are those odd, somehow disturbing toys that can haunt you? Some from your own childhood? Some from your children’s? I can think of several in each category.  As a child, I had a wonderful reversible Red Riding Hood doll that I adored…until my siblings changed it to the wolf head and rested it on my pillow. Every night! (At least I’m pretty sure it was my siblings…) My son had a Sleep and Snore Ernie that used to come to life at night. My husband and I would wake with a start in the depths of the night to odd noises coming from the living room. We reassured ourselves that it was an odd battery quirk, but I’m still not so sure about that one. (To this day my husband looks uneasy when I mention Ernie.)

220px-Jibberjabber.jpgBut this morning, I heard echoes of one of my children’s toys called a Jibba Jabber. It was a weird looking long-necked creature. You were supposed to grab it at the neck and shake it. (Odd concept, really!) When you vigorously shook it, it made “jibba jabber” sort of squeaky talking sounds that you were encouraged to interpret into some demented sort of conversation. My kids loved it and shook it all the time, so its head wobbled back and forth and it talked and talked and talked.

Back in those days, in the depths of sleep deprivation with three small children, whenever Jibba Jabber talked, I heard it say two things clearly: “Help me! Help me! Help me!” and “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” Always in squeaky groups of three. Somehow today, my dazed mental repetition of “Get up! Get up! Get up!” invoked the spirit of Jibba Jabber, and I heard those words again.
“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”
“Help me! Help me! Help me!”

Conference week is a challenge!

 

Addendum: While I was looking up photos for this post, I came across the following at Wikipedia:

“Jibba Jabber was a doll made by the toy company Ertl in the mid-1990s. The dolls came with various hair colors including red, blue, pink and green. The female version of the doll (called Ms. Jibba Jabber) had a pink body with pink nose and the male version had a black body with yellow nose. The distinguishing property of the Jibba Jabber was the distinct ‘choking’ or ‘strangling’ sound (resembling a groan tube) made by the wobbling head when shaken. When Ertl was told about Shaken Baby Syndrome, the company responded, as reported by the US Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, by “plac[ing] an insert in Jibba Jabber packaging explaining that while Jibba Jabber is for fun, a lethal form of child abuse involves the shaking of babies. The pamphlet lists seven ways to react positively to a child rather than resorting to violence.”[1]

The toy was recommended as an adult stress reliever and gift for corporate executives.”

Yikes! This puts a whole new spin on my disturbing memories!!!

Cloud Watching

 

unnamedRecently, I’ve been turning to Nature with a bit of desperation, seeking solace from the ever-increasing barrage of disaster and tragedy.  In particular, I’ve been looking at the clouds and the sky a lot.  I’m captivated by the changing light and the shifting clouds. There can be such drama in the sky at one moment, and utter tranquility at the next.

Wispy clouds
tiptoe across blue skies
to congregate
in fluffy cumulus pools

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

I see the sunrise most days. No matter my mood, the grandeur and beauty of it move me. On one recent morning, the sky was threaded with clouds, and the dawn light show was truly dazzling. As the sun rose, the illuminated cloud color shifted with an interplay of brilliant reds, pinks, dark greys, dazzling lines of white. The grandeur of it cut straight through me. Meanwhile, the regular morning report of chaos and hatred spilled from my radio. I’ve been struggling to capture the intensity of that moment. A moment when I felt overwhelmed by the power of Nature and the magnitude of beauty on such an awesome scale, but simultaneously comforted by it, while also feeling overwhelmed by our capacity for hatred and destruction, yet in some ways more fundamentally aware of its, and my, ultimate insignificance. Still working on this one…

Paradox

The blood-red rising sun
licks the clouds
kindling them
into a fiery crimson glow

A river of
grief streams
from the radio

Bedazzled by the sunrise,
I flounder in the flood
of cruelty and tragedy
How can such blazing glory
coexist with such madness?

The piercing beauty
of those backlit clouds
overwhelms me
rips me asunder
yet comforts me
and completes me

 

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

I’ll end with a hopeful cloud-related thought from Yvette Pierpaoli, a humanitarian who devoted her life to refugees. She wrote, “though at the level of the individual our actions are as light as a cloud, united they can change the color of the sky.”

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Foggy sunrise