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Students sprawled about the room, reading independently, and I sat criss cross applesauce, working down on the rug with a strategy group. Other than our low voices, there was no talking in the room. As I finished up, I sent my group members back to their independent reading, and the sound of intense, hushed conversation caught my ear. Looking across the room, I saw two boys, heads bent over a book, chatting urgently. I approached.

“What’s up, guys?” I asked.

“Mrs. Hogan! There’s an inappropriate word in C’s book!” blurted Max, who could be considered a budding classroom authority on such words.

I looked down at John, the consummate rule follower, and he nodded vigorously, eyes wide.

“What is it?” I asked, already considering the possibilities.

“It’s right here,” John whispered and pointed. I looked down at the page and sure enough, there was the offending word (not one I’d considered, but one I’d now add to my mental list). The sentence referred to “three bitches.” A quick glance at the context and the cover confirmed that the book was (thankfully!) about dogs.

“Oh,” I said, “you guys are right. That is a word that some people use inappropriately, but what it really means is a girl dog.” (And yes, in retrospect, perhaps I should have encouraged them to use context clues to figure that out, but in the moment, I went with nipping this particular conversation in the bud.)

“Oh,” they said and nodded in apparent understanding. John looked relieved.

After a second, Max’s nod slowed and he looked up at me, a slightly puzzled expression on his face, and said, “Son of a girl dog, you mean…”

What? It took a second for that to register, then…

Ack! No! That’s not what I mean!

“No, Max,” I said firmly, “just a girl dog.”.

“Oh,” he said doubtfully, “Ok.”


Women’s Room or Men’s Room? That is the question…


In the summertime and even on weekends, I indulge myself and go to the bathroom whenever I need to. I know. It’s crazy, right? At any rate, I know where the bathrooms are around town. The library and Lowes have especially nice ones, but somehow when I’m running errands, I always need to use the bathroom at the grocery store. It’s adequate but not particularly inviting. There’s a doorway that opens into a short, narrow corridor with a men’s room to the right and a women’s room at the end. Invariably, I am not the only one who needs to use “the facilities”, as my Dad calls them, and there is often a short line. This may shock you, but the line is always to the women’s room. And another potential shocker: When I’m desperate, I tend to slip into the men’s room rather than wait.

Recently, after parking my loaded grocery cart off to the side, I headed into that familiar corridor. No line! I reached for the door handle and turned, but it didn’t budge. Locked, darn it. Oh, well, I wasn’t in dire straits. I’d just have to wait a little bit. After about a minute, a woman opened the door to the corridor behind me and got into line.

“There’s always a line here, ” she said, smiling.

“I know,” I said, commiserating. “Sometimes I just use the men’s room.”

“Me, too,” she said.

We continued to wait, awkwardly lined up in the corridor. Another minute or so passed.  I looked consideringly at the men’s room door. This was taking longer than expected.

“Maybe I should use the men’s room today, ” I said, breaking the silence. Then suddenly, we heard the muted but telltale sounds of a toilet flushing. “Oh, wait! That sounds promising.”

More rustling sounds emerged from the bathroom and then the hand dryer blasted.

Still we waited. We looked at each other and shrugged. I gave the men’s room door another wistful glance.

Finally, we heard the jiggle of the handle and the door started opening. Perking up, we moved to the side to make room for the person exiting. Bit by bit, the door swung slowly open, until, much to our mutual surprise…an elderly man emerged! My fellow wait-er and I made eye contact, our eyes wide. In contrast, the man assiduously avoided our eyes, moved rapidly down the hallway and quickly exited through the door. As soon as he was gone, we turned to each other and burst out laughing.

“Well, that was unexpected!” she said.



Leonora Speyer


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Another day, another new-to-me poet (and a professional violinist!). I hope you enjoy these two beauties as much as I did.


They dip their wings in the sunset,
They dash against the air
As if to break themselves upon its stillness:
In every movement, too swift to count,
Is a revelry of indecision,
A furtive delight in trees they do not desire
And in grasses that shall not know their weight.

They hover and lean toward the meadow
With little edged cries;
And then,
As if frightened at the earth’s nearness,
They seek the high austerity of evening sky
And swirl into its depth.

–Leonora Speyer

And here’s another delight:

A Gift

I Woke: —
Night, lingering, poured upon the world
Of drowsy hill and wood and lake
Her moon-song,
And the breeze accompanied with hushed fingers
On the birches.

Gently the dawn held out to me
A golden handful of bird’s-notes.

Leonora Speyer


I missed the Roundup last week so I’m reposting to this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted by the wonderful Michelle Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty.

In the blue ceramic bowl…


In the blue ceramic bowl
on the kitchen floor
the cat food sits
each morning
a jolting reminder that
outside beneath the apple tree
two small mounds
of fresh-turned soil
slowly settle

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

It’s been a very sad week at our house. We had to put our cat, Ling Ling, down on Monday and our cat, Tunafish, on Tuesday. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to clean out their food bowl.

To read more poetry this week, head on over to Kathryn Apel’s blog where she hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup this week, Aussie style!


I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of participating in Laura P. Salas’s 15 Words Or Less Poetry Challenge.  Each Thursday she posts a photo prompt and shares her first draft  poem. The idea is to “wake up your poetry brain” by writing your response to the photo and sharing it. It’s intended as a fun, low-stakes, creative exercise.

This week’s  photo prompt was a picture of a sculpture of a leopard from the Minnesota Zoo.


Photo credit to Laura P. Salas

You can read her delightfully dark poem and other responses here. This is my first draft effort:


No jaunty polka dots
can camouflage the
lethal grace and
coiled muscles
poised to pounce

Molly Hogan (c) 2017



Goodbye Sweet Ling Ling

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hThe vet’s words faded in and out. Key phrases caught my ears.
“Kidney levels…off the charts…heroic efforts…even then it’s unlikely…”
He paused and looked at me for a long moment. “It would be a kindness,” he finally said.

I stroked my cat’s soft fur and my eyes filled and my heart ached. I remembered her as a small fuzzy kitten, skittering about the house. Then, later, as the valiant cat who had recovered from serious injury and re-adjusted to life on three working legs. The cat who greeted me each morning and afternoon. The one who raced to the kitchen whenever a deli bag wrinkled, to beg desperately for sliced ham. The one who meowed plaintively from the hallway when she felt it was time for me to go to bed, and who slept snuggled by my side. Who purred contentedly as I stroked her in the dark hours when insomnia visited. And now I cradled my featherweight cat in my arms, feeling the weight of her years. After a moment, I looked at the vet and I nodded, marking the beginning of the end of seventeen years of our togetherness.

Later, as the poison flowed into her veins, I held her body in my arms, pet her, and wept, whispering to her.

“Thank you, sweet Ling Ling. You were the best.”

“I’m going to miss you so much.”

“You won’t hurt anymore, sweet girl.”

I kissed the top of her head three times, once for each of my children, saying softly, “This is from Connor. This is from Addie. This is from Lyddie.”

And then it was over. Oh, so quickly.

Last night, we buried her under the apple tree.



jungle cat.jpg

How To Eat A Summer


While I was running earlier this week, I was reminiscing about my summer and thinking how thoroughly I’d enjoyed it. The first several lines of this poem popped into my mind, and the rest soon followed. Once home, I jotted it all down and played around with it a bit. With roots in my summer fun and a nod to Eve Merriam’s inspiring poem How To Eat A Poem, here it is:

How to Eat A Summer

I gobbled up summer
like Eve Merriam
might eat a poem
taking greedy bites
so luscious juicy streams
escaped my lips
rolled down my chin
then fell in bright sticky drops
onto my outspread fingers
from which I licked up
every delicious bit

There was nothing left
to throw away

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

For this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup, head on over to Jone Rush McCulloch’s blog, Check It Out. Don’t forget to bring your appetite!