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Welcome back. I’m sorry I missed posting last week, but my flight left Los Angeles at 5:50 AM. I had a wonderful trip to NCTE and lovely visit with my friend Julieanne. Then it was home for Thanksgiving and to New Orleans for a birthday weekend with my grandchildren. Life has been full and busy lately. ‘Tis the season.

The photo today was posted by Barry Lane, author, musician, and educator. It was tagged for This Photo by Paul Hankins on Facebook. Not only does the photo speak to travel, it seemed to travel itself to get to me. Even if you haven’t been traveling lately, you can relate to the image through the inscription on the building (which I totally missed the first time I saw the photo, so I’m pointing it out.).

Photo by Barry Lane.

Add your small poem in the comments and respond to other writers with encouragement.

Dream your dream.
Carry on.
Take me with you.

Margaret Simon, draft
Poetry Friday is hosted by Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town.

The Poetry Sisters put out a challenge that fits well with this Thanksgiving season, a recipe poem. Thanks for the challenge  Laura,  Tanita,  Mary Lee,  Liz,  Kelly,  Tricia,  Sara,  and Andi!  Find more of these poems tagged with #PoetryPals.

A Recipe for Dressing and Love (a haibun)

My mother made the dressing, the whole meal actually, but especially the dressing. Only Ballard cornbread mix would do, baked in a cast iron skillet to the perfect shade of brown. Sauté the trinity–onions, celery, bell pepper–in pure, smooth butter. Mix crumbled cornbread with vegetables, a sprinkle of sage, soak in chicken broth. I used vegetable broth instead the year I was vegan, but my children vetoed the change. Nostalgia for Dot’s dressing, an original recipe. Today I ask my mom if she remembers the recipe. She doesn’t. Whether evidence of memory loss or just the passage of time, I tell her,”It’s OK.” I open my recipe book, find the handwritten sheet of paper and begin, again.

Her cornbread dressing
mixed with a heart of kindness–
Recipe for love

Margaret Simon, draft

We had a cold front pass through the night. The air became damp and cold. As I arrived home from a rather blustery carpool line, I stopped short of the carport because something bright red caught my eye. Was it because of the cold that the cardinal, fluffed up and still, stayed at the feeder? I quickly rolled the window down and shot a picture. Some people believe the red bird is the sign of a loved one who has passed. Monday was the 18th anniversary of my father-in-law’s death. My mother-in-law reminded me. I’m sad to think I forgot. Maybe the cardinal was his way of saying it was OK.

Cardinal at the Feeder, photo by Margaret Simon

The red bird waits,
wonders how to be light
on a dark afternoon–

I whisper,
just stay.

Margaret Simon, draft

I will be traveling today to Los Angeles for the NCTE conference. Will I see you there? Please leave a small poem in the comments and support others with encouraging words.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Last week fellow poet-blogger Patricia Franz taught me how to make videos on Canva. It’s so easy that my students picked up on it pretty quickly. I had to do some of the audio and adjusting time on each image, but they were able to add elements, text, and record their own voices.

I will be sharing this lesson this week at NCTE in a session I am giving called “Are Your Words Like My Words: Accessing Your Inner Light Through Poetry” on Thursday at 11:00 AM. I’m excited to be presenting live, in person again and alongside two of my favorite poets, Laura Shovan and Mary lee Hahn.

My book Bayou Song opens with an I am poem, I am a Beckoning Brown Bayou. I projected this poem for my students. We discussed the alliteration of the opening line and how each line begins with an I + action. They selected their own topic and wrote their own poems. Here is a link to the Google doc I am form.

I am a Cypress Tree, Sincere in my Surroundings by Avalyn, 3rd grade and Mrs. Simon
I’m a Big, Bouncy Bubble by Brayden, 3rd grade
I’m a Big, Brown Box Turtle by Adelyn, 4th grade

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Buffy Silverman.

This post is dedicated to the memory of my father, Dr. John Y Gibson. In 2013 to celebrate his 80th birthday, we created a book together. Illuminate features ten of his Christmas card drawings alongside my poems. Today would be his 89th birthday. He passed away on April 22, 2022.

Patricia Franz offered to teach some of us bloggers how to use Canva to make videos. I forgot all about the Zoom meeting on Monday, but she graciously recorded it and sent me a link. I decided to make a video with some of my father’s drawings and a poem I wrote for him in 2008. It’s my first attempt, but Canva and Patricia’s guidance made it fairly easy to do. Thanks, Patricia.

Light comes out of darkness. As an artist, I want to tell you that in my ink drawings it is the darkest dark that reveals the brightest light. So it seems also in life.

John Y. Gibson
A poem video “My Father’s Drawing” by Margaret Simon

My Father’s Drawing

Dots of ink and graphite rise in tension with paper
to form a likeness of mother and child.
The wild contrast of darks to light
plays in harmony creating a vision of love.

In the meantime, I grew up,
became a mother with children
living away from my father.
His words came to me in thank you notes
and birthday cards, an occasional phone call.

Yet everyday, I look at his drawing–
the dots of pointillism reach out from the wall
and grant me an audience
with his grateful praise.

Margaret Simon, Illuminate

In most parts of the northern hemisphere, fall is a time when leaves change hue and fall getting ready for the dormancy of winter. But here in the deep south of Cajun country, the prairie goes to seed. My friend and neighbor James Edmunds recently photographed fields of prairie grasses. I was attracted to the starlike seed pods of this one.

On Instagram, James wrote, “The Cajun Prairie project in Eunice right now is in a beautiful post-flowering, going-to-seed stage. The perimeter can be walked on nice sidewalks and gives views into a wide variety of native grasses!” To see more, I found a website for Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation. It does my nature-loving heart good to see there are organizations dedicated to preservation and restoration of natural land.

Cajun Prairie Grass by James Edmunds

Prairie grass sashays
replanting, replenishing
starlike seedlings soar

Margaret Simon, haiku draft

Write your own small poem in the comments and support other writers with comments. Thanks!

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

On Friday, we took our students on a field trip to Bluebonnet Swamp in Baton Rouge. Because it is a natural preservation site, we were not allowed to picnic on the grounds. We piled back into the bus to travel a few miles to another park. When we pulled up, a student yelled out, “I don’t see the playground.”

They were right. It was a vast green space with a pavilion, picnic tables, and a track. After we finished eating, I offered a walk to some students. We walked down a hill to a ravine and found a large live oak with its branches draping over the ground and ravine. The branches reached low enough for climbing.

And climbing was what they did. As though the tree herself had invited them on. Despite my little nag on my teacher shoulder, I let them go. Years ago when I was raising young children, I remember my sister-in-law allowing her daughter to climb a tree. I questioned her. She said, “Climbing gives her body confidence.” I was holding onto this as I watched these students in all their confident bodies climb all over the tree like cautious ants. They really did seem to know if they could do it.

No one fell. No one got hurt. Not one of them got wet. I released my held breath and patted my teacher-shoulder. On the way back up the hill to the bus, one of the students yelled out, “This is the best. field. trip. ever!”

Tree climbing, body confidence

Poetry Friday is hosted by Heidi at my juicy little universe

Happy November! Wow, did that ever sneak up on me. The month of gratitude. The month of NCTE! (Yes, in California and I am presenting) The month before Christmas. Ah, 2022 is quickly slipping away.

Here we are with another Inkling challenge, and I, once again, put it off. Linda Mitchell challenged us to write a poem to one of the prompt words for Folktale Week. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. You can find it on Instagram: #folktaleweek, #folktaleweek2022.

I selected the word star.

Have you found the star in you?

The one that shines brightest in the dark.
Your star may feel far away
yet even dandelions have hidden wings.
Open your wings to the wind.

Believe you can fly.

Margaret Simon, draft

I signed up for a postcard exchange through Spark: art from writing, writing from art. I received a card from our own Jone MacCulloch. It’s an illustration that wants to be a poem. Perhaps a Folktale poem? Will you take the challenge?

“Pumpkin Moon” by Jone
Moon: copy of great grandfather’s Civil War letter
Pumpkin inspired by Yayoi Kusama

Check out what the other Inklings have written for this challenge:


Linda Mitchell

Molly Hogan
Catherine Flynn
Mary Lee Hahn  
Heidi Mordhorst


Our first Thursday Spiritual Journey gathering is hosted today by Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces.

Today is the first Thursday of November and a group of bloggers gather to share their spiritual journey. Fran selected the theme for today, holy. I immediately thought of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy. I thought of the torn apart hymnal I was given by an artist friend to use for collage. I didn’t find that hymn but one that did use the word Holy. I wanted to create an erasure or black out poem. I googled Zentangle designs and set to work on the page.

This exercise became meditative and holy. I used a pen that I had picked up from my dad. He was a pointillist artist. I felt his presence as I imagined the time he spent making dots on a drawing. He was always fascinated by the play of dark and light. One of his favorite Bible verses was John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Holy humble prayer
we clasp hands
worship deep

All love
is true

Sufjan Stevens has a wonderful version of Holy, Holy, Holy that I am placing here for you to listen to. These singers are wonderful, but they start goofing around on the video around the 3 minute mark.

Wishing you a happy and holy holiday season. What does holy mean to you?

If you are a Spiritual Thursday blogger and would like to host a month in 2023, please sign up on this Google document.

November is here and it’s dark. The sun is slanting in the sky, the weather is cooling, and the days are shorter. Therefore, my friend, teacher, photographer Lory Landry was able to capture this sunrise on the way to school. Around here, the sugarcane is either standing tall or freshly cut. It’s harvesting season. That also means that when the wind is just right, you get a whiff of burning cane-fields. They still do this despite its harmfulness to the environment. If truth be told, I like the scent. I also like that it means fall and Christmas.

Please take a moment in your busy day to muse about this photo. Leave a small poem in the comments and write some encouraging words for others.

Sunrise by Lory Landry

November 1st

A scent of wood burning
A splatter of candy on concrete
Jack-o-lanterns gone to seed
A sprinkle of egrets perch like twin moons in the trees
A church bell chimes

Embrace the red sunrise
And praise the morning light.

Margaret Simon, draft