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Archive for April, 2020

During this pandemic stay-at-home time, new symbols are emerging. One of them is the banana, a staple in many homes is now ripening into home cooked banana bread. Repurposing food is comforting. Creating a recipe from scratch gives you something to do, something wholesome to accomplish.

Today’s photo appeared on my Facebook feed. A friend and neighbor, Susan Edmunds posted a photo that captured a light beam coming through the window. She gave me permission to publish the photo this week as a poetry muse.

Bananas by Susan Hester Edmunds

A glow of light
nourishes, comforts,
sustains health
and hope.

Margaret Simon, draft

Write your own small poem in the comments. Please comment to a few other poets.

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

Even before we were sheltering in our homes, I enjoyed making connections over cyberspace. Teacher-poet-writer Fran Haley is one of those connections. We read each other. Yesterday she wrote a beautiful blog post “Ode to the Wind.” In that post she wrote about a tweet from Robert MacFarlane with the word of the day: susurrate.

Word of the day: “susurrate”—to whisper, murmur, esp. of noise produced by numerous individual sources of sound (bees humming, leaves rustling, etc.) Compare to “psithurism,” its similarly sibilant sense-sibling, meaning the whispering of wind in trees (from Ancient Greek).

Susurrate was a new word to me when I read MacFarlane’s most amazing, beautiful book the lost words: A Spell Book. A friend who knows I love words and poetry loaned it to me. I presented the first few poems to my students. The last stanza of the second poem “adder” reads:

Rustle of grass, sudden susurrus, what
the eye misses:
For adder is as adder hisses.

Robert MacFarlane, the lost words

Reading Fran’s post, I remembered that I had written a definito to the word. The definito is a form created by my friend, teacher-poet Heidi Mordhorst. “The definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common, often abstract word, which always ends the poem.

I love this form for working with the meaning of a new word in a way that helps someone else understand the word.

As murmur is to whisper
a mutter to a babble
When grumbles turn to mumbles
and a purr softens sound
As whisper is to wind
a sigh of the weather
As a hum is to a hummingbird
flying quickly to a flower
You may hear something
close to silence…susurration. 

Photo by Philippe Donn from Pexels

The Progressive Poem is coming to the end. Today Donna Smith is hosting Jessica Bigi’s contribution.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Christie at Wondering and Wandering

On Tuesday evening I participated in a free webinar from Highlights with Lesléa Newman called “Poetry to Soothe the Soul”. During the presentation, I realized I had picked up one of her books at NCTE last fall, October Mourning. I went on a search for it and found it and have been reading. It’s a verse novel about the killing of Matthew Shephard. Her use of short form and repetition is affective in that book.

The Patrol Officer’s Report

two thin white tear tracks
one red swollen blood-caked face
this is someone’s child

Lesléa Newman, October Mourning

With us, she shared her own Pandemic Haiku. Her homework assignment was to write our own. I had written a haiku a few weeks ago and sent in a soundbite of me reading it to Alan Nakagawa’s sound collage commissioned by OCMA, Social Distance, Haiku, and You! This week I received a link to all the creative sound recordings. They had more than 500 entries. My haiku is included in Part B. Posted here if you choose to listen.

Heartbroken world mourns
Loss of who we were before
Waiting for new life
-Margaret Simon

On Wednesday, I collected moments throughout my day in haiku. Here is my collection:

Pandemic Haiku

In a viral time,
let us be grateful for this:
Breath. Green. Life.

Early morning sun
slant of light through cypress shades
welcoming hummers

Walks with Leo
are a wander, meander
See dat, dat, and dat? 

Chalk art on sidewalks
greet passersby with colors
“This too shall pass!”

A new duck tenant
three eggs today lay
in the wood duck house.

Seven green-gold charms
chrysalis-haven for wings
to magically form.

Watching my screen
I see Chloe, Rylee, you
in your own kitchen. 

Don’t know what will be
when the viral storm calms down
I hope for a hug. 

Margaret Simon, draft 4/22/20
Message in sidewalk chalk

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Welcome back to This Photo…a low stakes writing prompt. Don’t think too long and hard about this. Whatever comes is good. Leave a small poem of 15 words or so in the comments. Read other poems and leave a supportive comment. That’s it. Poetry brain practice!

Clouds by Jone MacCulloch
Wispy clouds by Margaret Simon

I love to notice clouds. Cloud photos never quite come out as well as what you truly see. What can you imagine in the clouds? Look up. Just notice. Take a moment to be present.

Cloud goddess
flies her kite,
a ballet dance
on Spring’s serene
sky-stage.

Margaret Simon, draft

Check in on the Kidlit Progressive Poem that is going on an adventure today to Haiti with Ruth.

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This poetry month I didn’t commit to write a certain type of poem every day like many other poets I am following. I decided I would write to the muse. Wherever she lead, I would follow.

Among my weekly teacher-poet emails, I get Teach this Poem from Poets.org. This week the poem to teach was “Earth. Your Dancing Place” by May Swenson. One line (“Take earth for your own large room”) jumped out at me and wanted to be a golden shovel. After messing with it in my journal, I created this draft.

Earth’s Heartbeat

If you take

a moment with earth,

touch her for

her soothing spirit, place your

hand on her beating heart, your own

heart will open a door to a large

living room

Margaret Simon, draft 2020

I was also inspired by Catherine Flynn’s post that included the NASA Earth Day poster. The artist, Jenny Motter, used the idea of listening to the pulse of a tree to create this amazing image. There is much more imagery used in the artwork that you can read about at the NASA site.

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

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#NPM20: Storm Song

I subscribe to Poets & Writers The Time is Now writing prompt email each week. This week, the poetry prompt here asked writers to watch a video of a dance in which their movements were stilted rather than flowing. The prompt was to write a poem of one syllable words. I want this to be a new form: single-syllable song.

My dog in many ways is the perfect dog, schnoodle (schnauzer/ poodle mix) so no shedding. He always wants to please. He’s incredibly patient with kittens and babies. However, he is afraid of storms.

Last night a storm rumbled around 11:30 PM. Charlie barked. His bark is more of a squeal. Like a baby’s cry of fear. I got up and held him in my lap for a while until he was calm enough to sleep. That’s where my mind went to write this poem. I like how placing each word on its own line helps bring out the tone of fear and release.

Storm Song
One
step
forth
leads
me
through
dark
halls
when
he
cries
he
pulls
my
heart
grabs
me
in
a
hug
we
fall
to
sleep
dream
of
a
new
way
to
feel.

(c) Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday: Zeno

Poetry Friday round-up is with Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone

Have you heard of the Zeno form? It’s one of my favorites that I’d forgotten about until I made a “Poetry on the Bayou” episode on my YouTube channel. I’ve been recording myself sitting outside on the back deck overlooking the Bayou Teche. I’m reading poems from my book Bayou Song.

This week I read a Zeno about cypress knees, a strange phenomenon for the bald cypress trees which are prolific around the shores of the bayou. Some people cut the cypress knees and use them to carve decorations or paint on. There is no solid research on how or why the cypress trees make their knees. And my husband, aka the yard man, curses how they interrupt his mowing flow.

Listen to a Cypress Zeno and learn to write a Zeno poem.

A zeno follows a mathematical sequence for a syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1. J. Patrick Lewis originated the form and added that the 1 syllable lines should rhyme.

With students, I enjoyed adding the element of a “zine” to create a “Zeno-Zine.” You can see a previous posts about making Zeno-Zines for Dot Day and in Summer Poetry Swap.

Today I released a monarch butterfly that I had sheltered in a habitat for two weeks. The caterpillar came as “lagniappe” on a milkweed plant I bought nearly three weeks ago. The caterpillar made its chrysalis on a leaf. I wanted to plant the milkweed in the garden, so I taped the leaf to the top of the butterfly net, only to have the tape release, and the chrysalis end up falling to the floor. I had luckily taken precaution and placed bubble wrap on the floor. Once it fell, I realized that the tape was sticking too well to the bubble wrap, so I just decided to leave it alone. I really wasn’t sure if it would develop. Call it the miracle of nature or the resilience of monarchs, but the butterfly emerged yesterday, full and complete. This calls for celebration in a Zeno poem.

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