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Laura has the roundup this week.

Catherine Flynn of our writing group, the Inkings, put forth this challenge for our first of the month poetry challenge: “Somewhere, someone recommended the book How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope. It includes “reflective pauses” and invitations for “writing and reflection.” After the poem “Work,” by Sally Bliumis-Dunn, (https://sallybliumisdunn.com/) the invitation reads: “Can you remember a time when you felt so consumed with the act of making something that you lost all sense of time and your mind seemed to clear? What allowed you to enter this mindful creative space?”

Mindful creative space is also known as Flow as defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I studied his theory way back in the early 90’s when I was getting my masters in gifted education. It can be such a euphoric feeling that many creatives crave it. Like time doesn’t exist or matter. It hasn’t been happening to me lately, and this prompt challenge made me start thinking about what my blocks to flow have been.

You can read this list as a list of excuses (because they are) or as a sad list of losses. But the more I read about grief and writing and mental health, I realize that this is normal. Frustrating. Yes. But normal and as my Nikki McClure calendar reminds me, I will get through.

Calendar by Nikki McClure

Flow, not Flowing

I lost my journal,
the one notebook with the instructions on how to do this thing
called writing. Hiding
between the books in the school backpack,
and then there’s the time it takes to pack a lunch
and get out the door. Not to mention
the dog threw up again this morning.

I lost my godchild,
the one I’d hadn’t seen in years. She was growing up,
going to graduate school, doing all the things
a twenty-something does without a care,
yet now I care because she’s gone

and I can’t sleep or write or do anything
to make all those absent years present again.

I lost my happiness, buried deep
in the rains of winter, drowning out
the words I want to write, need to write.

“Are you writing?” they ask. I say I am
because that is what I do. Say it until it is true.
This is my confession and to tell the truth,
it flowed right out of me.

Margaret Simon, on-the-spot-I-need-to-post-something draft

Here are links to my Inkling friends’ posts:

Heidi
Molly
Mary Lee
Catherine
Linda

A bonus blossom:
I’ve had this orchid for a year, at least and these blossoms popped out this week.
The Spiritual Journey First Thursday is gathering at Bob’s site.

For this month’s Spiritual Journey posts, Bob asked us to use the theme “Colors of My Life” Ever since my father died in April, the color that reminds me to think of him is yellow.

One day in early June as I recovered ever so slowly from Covid, a male prothonotary warbler came to my window. He flapped his wings, showing off or defending his territory from his reflected invader I’m not sure which, but I internalized it as a visit from my father’s spirit.

Recently I was in an antique shop with my daughters, wandering as they shopped and I found a little ceramic yellow bird with a sweet succulent in it. Now it sits on my kitchen table. Do we need these little things? Probably not, but in some small way, they give comfort and hope.

My cat Fancy overlooks a succulent plant.

Yellow Through My Days

In a terra-cotta pot, daffodil
bulbs sprout, ones my dear friend
nurtured and planted for someday.

Someday, a yellow blossom
will pop open like a sparkle
of light welcoming spring.

Someday, a yellow prothonotary warbler
will find a house perched
at water’s edge, ready for nesting.

Someday, the yellowed pages
of a scrapbook will break
my heart.

But today, yellow is hiding
inside a bulb, on a southern shore
and in a cardboard box

for someday…

Margaret Simon, draft

Daffodils sprouting

On Christmas Eve, I was alone in Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans. Not alone in the sense that no one was there, but alone without my family in a strange church. My daughter and her husband were home with their new baby. My husband, his mother, and our other daughters’ families were celebrating together in New Iberia. But my soul wanted to be in church. Somehow my Episcopalianism made me feel drawn to the church on Christmas Eve. I admit, it was weird and lonely, and I hid well my tears inside. The music was familiar and kept me grounded. The priest was a woman whom I knew from my home church in Jackson, MS. This was her first Christmas Eve service as a Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana. This is my story.

I urge you to find your story of sanctuary. Where were you on Christmas Eve? Do you worship? Do you have a special place to find the Holy Spirit? I understand for some the church is not a safe place. Explore your own thoughts today. Leave a small poem in the comments. Be sure to encourage other writers for whomever they are, whatever they offer.

Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans, LA. photo by Margaret Simon

Sanctuary

Consecrated
by human hands
open to wandering souls
most sacred, most holy
this alcove where prayers are hummed, flowing
from tearful, humble hearts
a refuge protected from prey
immunity offered
to evil suffered
a home, a hug, a harbor…sanctuary.

The form I used today is a definito created by my friend and fellow poet, Heidi Mordhorst:”the definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem.

Poetry Friday is with Jan at BookSeed Studio

This month’s #poetrypals challenge was a new form to me: the cascade poem. I was mesmerized by Molly Hogan’s Slice of Life post on Tuesday. She posted amazing photos of a beach in Maine at sunrise on a very cold morning. I borrowed some words from her post to create a cascade poem about this photo by Molly.

Photo by Molly Hogan

Cascade Golden Morning

Cold. Cold. Single digit cold.
Walking the rhythm of the morning,
Day breaks to molten gold.

Experience moves me. Bold
ripples through me, lifts me.
Cold. Cold. Single digit cold.

Still lost in glory dawning,
toes throb in rebuke,
Walking the rhythm of the morning.

Miniature forests of fairies hold
a treasure chest of sparkling jewels.
Day breaks to molten gold.

Margaret Simon, with words from Molly Hogan

Find more Cascade poems at these poetry blog sites: Molly, Heidi, Mary Lee, Laura, and Michelle.

I do not live in a cold climate (In South Louisiana it’s cold when the temperature falls below 50.)and most of the time, that is fine with me. But I am fascinated and mesmerized by photos of snow. My friend and fellow Inkling Molly Hogan lives in Maine. She was telling us at our Zoom meeting about her experience photographing in single digit weather. She loves taking photographs of nature. She posted about this experience on her blog post on Tuesday. I “found” a haiku in her post along with an amazing photograph for today’s prompt. You should go to her post to see and read more: Nix the Comfort Zone.

Hoarfrost by Molly Hogan

Winter wonderland
enchanted intricate beauty
bedazzled gratitude

Margaret Simon, found haiku from Molly Hogan’s blog.

Leave a small poem in the comments and support other writers with your comments. Thanks for stopping by.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by my new poet-friend, Marcie. She is a master at haiku and sends me a beautiful photo with haiku card each month. Here is the latest one:

out of tree crumbs–
tiny mushrooms stake
their umbrellas
haiku and photo by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Today is my day to be featured on wee words for wee ones for my contribution to Two Truths and a Fib Poetry Anthology: A Poetic Introduction to 30 Subjects with a Twist. Thanks to Bridget Magee for her work compiling this book. If you are not sure about which bio statement is the fib, I’ll give you a hint: I teach gifted kids in grades 1-6.

I was inspired to write about Bubbles because my grandkids love to play with bubbles. Aren’t they fascinating? Kim Douillard granted permission for this photo to be included in the book. She takes photos on the beaches of San Diego, California. There is a bubble person who creates amazing bubbles on the beach. I love how she captures the wonder of a huge bubble in her photos.

Photo by Kim Douillard

I want to share my Fib poem. The Fib poem form was created by Greg Pincus using the Fibonacci series for syllable count: 1. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,…

Blow
Big
Sturdy
Flexible
Shape-shifting whispers
Large enough for you to ride on.

(c) Margaret Simon, 2023

Consider ordering a copy of this book full of fun poem forms and fibs: Click here.

I can’t resist a good sunset photo. I don’t think I’m alone in this. A brightly colored sunset reminds us that things will be alright. I saw this wonderful photo on Mary Howard’s Facebook. She often posts sunsets from her new home in Hawaii, but this one is from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She happily granted permission for me to use it.

 “I was in Myrtle Beach SC for a SERRRA presentation. Each night I’d walked the beach to get sunset photos. On this day I noticed that I could actually walk under this and it made for a perfect photo. I’m learning to pay attention to my gut!” Mary Howard

Please post a small poem in the comments and support other writers with encouraging responses. I will be posting my own poem later today.

Sun reluctantly sets
in golden glow
sending us a message
of hope.

Margaret Simon, draft
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Susan at Chicken Spaghetti.

What is the greatest gift a poetry teacher can ever hope for? A student who keeps writing poetry, even though you are no longer teaching her. You may remember my student Chloe. She’s now in 7th grade and attending another school, but last week she sent me a poem. She told me that she was in Thibodeaux, LA for a gymnastics meet. Her father went to college in the town and showed her the route to where he had lived. He asked her to write a poem about it. And what father do you know encourages the poet-daughter? I was charmed, of course, and asked if I could post her poem here. Please leave encouraging comments for Chloe.

Thibodeaux Turns

Extravagant land that turns your world 

The world that grew with you 

That rested with you

That prayed with you

Never felt alone with this land 

These bodies of water mark journeys in our lives 

And heart

And minds

Traveling tree roots that build our homes and house animals that feed us 

This air that circulates our bodies and arms and legs

Blowing away our doubts and fears 

Bringing us to our pot of gold at the end of our Louisiana adventures 

Our sugar cane grounds desperately reaching for the water we provide 

Thibodeaux turns turn our history 

Our signs 

Our lives

Chloe Willis, 7th grade

Did you see the moon last week? The Full Wolf Moon came out on January 6, the 12th night of Christmas. I was struck by a photo from Jone MacCulloch on Instagram. Like Jone, I was taking an early morning walk and tried to capture it with my phone. She used an iPhone 13. They seem to improve the camera feature on every new phone.

When I asked Jone about the photograph, she wrote, “Every morning I take the dog out sometime between 6:30- 7:30 ( when he gets up. I’m always the first up). This was last Friday. I used an IPhone 13. The moon was setting and one thing that struck me was how it is now more northerly in the sky.”

Can you follow your moon muse and write a small poem? Share in the comments and write encouraging comments to other writers.

Full Wolf Moon by Jone MacCulloch

The moon glows
in harmony with the sun–
a perfect reflection
of peace.

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

All we have are these moments: the golden trees,
the industrious bees, the falling light. Darkness
will not overtake us.

Barbara Crooker, “Poem with an Embedded Line by Susan Cohen”

My One Little Word for 2023 is Purpose. I am trying to purposefully capture small moments and hold them close. My dog Charlie is near the end of his life. He is 15. He sleeps most of the day. But he still gets excited about treats.

We were having a rainy day. I heard the rain, but it didn’t register that I had let Charlie out in the side yard. I don’t know what made me remember. Perhaps it was his slight scratch at the door. Or the boom of thunder. He is usually afraid of thunder.

I opened the door and Charlie ran in, soaking wet. I grabbed a towel and sat down on the floor. He ran into my arms and let me rustle him around in the towel. Then he’d run away and turn around, back into the towel, rub rub rub, shake, shake, off he ran again. He did this a few times. I was giggling hard.

My old dog has some life left in him!

What are your small moments of joy?