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Archive for May, 2021

Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle at More Art 4 All.

“Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”

Jane Kenyon, Writer’s Almanac May 23, 2021

I’m keeping Jane Kenyon’s quote as a summer goal.

I read a prompt on Denise Krebs’ blog, Dare to Care, about taking a mentor text and writing its opposite. I think the prompt originated with Jericho Brown. I had saved a Jane Kenyon poem because I wanted to use it as a mentor text.

Inertia

by Jane Kenyon

My head was heavy, heavy;
so was the atmosphere.
I had to ask two times
before my hand would scratch my ear.
I thought I should be out
and doing! The grass, for one thing,
needed mowing.


Just then a centipede
reared from the spine
of my open dictionary. lt tried
the air with enterprising feelers,
then made its way along the gorge
between 202 and 203. The valley of the shadow
of death came to mind
inexorably.

Read the rest of the poem here.

I enjoyed playing this game, using a thesaurus to find antonyms. You should give it a try sometime.

Energy

Mirror Poem

My toes were light, light;
so was the earth.
I had to half question
why my finger scratched my nose.
I didn’t think I should be inside
and lazy! The sky, for one thing,
needed viewing. 

After a while, a mosquito
flew over the belly
of my open notebook. It tried
the air with indolent wings,
then made its way along the nibble
between scar and creativity. A Cricket
in Times Square
came to mind
doubtfully. 

It must be easy for the right wing
to know what the left is doing.
and how, on such an afternoon,
when the earth is bright and attentive,
how does it end with feeling
orderly and lighthearted? 

Well, it had its fill of poetry.
I watched it pull its body
under the crease of the page, and appear
in a stain on my finger. 

Margaret Simon, after Jane Kenyon

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Joining a community of writers responding to
open invitation no. 59 at
Sharing Our Stories Magic.

You know how sometimes without any prompting from you a “memory” pops up on your phone, a photo that you’d totally forgotten about and most often, enjoy seeing again. Jogging a memory of another time and place. But I’ve noticed when it comes to flowers, the memories are a repeated vision of the flower I took a picture of yesterday. That happened to me twice this week. Blooming seems so miraculous and random and something we have little control over. It just happens. There is consistency in the blooming of a flower. They come back around again.

This week I took a picture of this amazing gladiola. I shared a small poem in response on my Instagram.

This May morning
shows its gladiola heart
sipping summer sun.
Margaret Simon, #haiku #poemsofpresence

I found a similar photo in my phone album from a year ago. Last year during lock down when I was walking every day.

On Monday, I heard a call for poems from Kwame Alexander on NPR. He creates crowdsourced poems based on small poems people send in. This week’s prompt was from Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” I wrote and sent in this small poem.

Still, I rise
with the sun
following a path
through watermint
where the scent 
fills me.

Still, I rise
to feel her gentle kicks
inside a waterwomb
knowing love grows
from my seed.

Still, I rise
to watch ducklings
drop to waterglory
following Mama hen
through fervent streams.  

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

So I rise each day for a walk. I take photographs of flowers again and again. I will keep taking photos of flowers. Why not? They make me happy!

This Canna Lily came back after the big freeze. I take a picture of it every year.
Gardenia is my favorite scent. I’ve been unsuccessful at the growing of a gardenia bush.
For now, I enjoy cut ones in a vase in the church hall.

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My friend, poet-librarian, Linda Mitchell nudged me to follow her colleague Hope Dublin’s Instagram @hopesview2021. As I perused her amazing photographs, this one grabbed me. It seemed to be asking to be a poem.

Photo by Hope Dublin

I take pictures of things that hold beauty or intrigue. Sometimes it is a bit of both.

I can’t wait to read the words inspired by the photo. It was taken at Riverview Cemetery in Strasburg, Virginia. The title of the book is The Last Unicorn, a fantasy novel by Peter S. Beagle, published in 1968. I go on a lot of walks and one of my favorite places to walk is a cemetery. They are peaceful, beautiful, filled with hints at history, or stories waiting to be told.

I should also tell you that I discovered the book in a little free library and happened to be carrying it on my walk. I put it down to take a picture and thought it made a more interesting image than the gravestone I was originally going to take a picture of at the time. The book was opened on a random page but happened to be page 13.

Hope Dublin

Join me today in this cemetery with your book in hand. What is it about? Why do you carry it with you? Who is present in this place? Write a small poem in the comments or link to your blogpost. Leave encouraging comments for other writers. (I am happy with my draft, and that is not something I say every day.)

Sometimes we carve our stories
onto headstones
for the world to notice.

Sometimes our stories hide
inside dandelion seeds
blowing in the wind.

Sometimes, our stories are told
over & over time until
someone has memorized
the words.

Margaret Simon, draft

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

Today the Poetry Friday community is celebrating Mary Lee Hahn on the occasion of her retirement. Mary Lee is one of those behind the scenes worker bees. She keeps Poetry Friday going with periodic calls for hosting. She has served on multiple committees with the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE). I’ve learned over and over from Mary Lee’s quiet wisdom.

To find a way to honor her with a poem, I looked through the Ditty of the Month collections. I found an ars poetica poem by Mary Lee entitled “Peony Poem” in the 2017-2018 anthology. I borrowed her form to write this poem:

Another Peony

An idea
seedling, set
in soil, soggy and shifting
sprouting in a spring garden.

A draft
wobbly, wilting
waits on new legs
hoping to learn to grow.

A poem
blooming, brilliant
shines like a rose on a stem
showing up on this special day. 

Margaret Simon, after Mary Lee Hahn, draft
Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Congratulations on your retirement, Mary Lee. “The trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry.” (Billy Collins) Just think how many poems you have spawned over the years, exponentially.

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Spring is the season for dragonflies. This year we have them in abundance. It’s fun to watch them circling about. My neighbor, first grade teacher Lory Landry is a photographer. I was amazed by her recent Instagram photo of a dragonfly. It struck me in many ways. The close-up on the compound eyes makes the creature look more human (or alien). The wings are poised either in landing or taking off position. He (or she) just seemed to be asking for a poem.

Dragonfly by Lory Landry
Instagram @loryla63

Last night in a Highlights mini-workshop, Laura Shovan talked about the skinny form. The rules: the first line can be any length, lines 2-10 each hold a single word (repeated word in 2, 6, and 10), line 11 uses the same words as line 1. Doing a quick search about the dragonfly, I scribbled out a skinny. Please join with a quick poem in the comments and encouraging comments to other writers.

Compound eyes look upon
spring
days.
Iridescent
wings
spring
branch
to
branch.
Spring
looks upon compound eyes.

Margaret Simon, draft

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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.
Black-bellied whistling duck on top of the wood duck nest box.

Through the magic of a Ring doorbell camera, we are watching the wood duck nestbox in our backyard on the bayou. During the months of March and April, we had a reliable wood duck hen sitting on a clutch of 14 eggs. On April 15th, 13 ducklings, barely 24 hours old, jumped out of the nestbox into the bayou. And off they went.

We’ve had a wet spring, so the bayou has been high. My husband pulled a canoe up to the nestbox, tied it there, and climbed a stepladder to clean out the nestbox. The next day we had shoppers, new wood duck couples swimming by, poking around.

We thought we had a new hen sitting. Day by day a hen would fly into the house and lay an egg. She seemed to start the incubation a week ago; however, her sitting was erratic. There one day, gone the next.

A few days ago, I noticed a larger, louder duck inside the wood duck house. Invaders! Squatters! Thieves! The ducks were what we call Mexican Squealers or Black-bellied whistling ducks. This duck is larger, with a bright orange bill, long legs, and a loud squeal. Two of them. How did they get in? Why? Did they lay an egg? It was actually hilarious to watch these ducks try to get back out of the house. Lots of noisy squealing and legs scrambling.

Since this incident, the hen has come back and settled in. She doesn’t leave as often and for as long. Maybe we can start counting days. We’ll see. Nature is not predictable. Even an innocent nestbox is not always peaceful.

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@margaretgsimon) for updates on the wood duck house. On Twitter during May I am posting #poemsofpresence. Here’s the poem-of-the-day for Monday.

Rainy grey Monday,
Watching new wood duck tenant
nestle for sitting.

Margaret Simon, #poemsofpresence

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Irene at Live Your Poem.

This week I started following Denise Krebs’ blog, Dare to Care. We met each other virtually through blogging. She introduced me to a poetry form called 4×4. Here are the rules copied from her post:

  • 4 syllables in each line
  • 4 lines in each stanza
  • 4 stanzas
  • 4 times repeating a refrain line–line 1 in the first stanza, line 2 in the second stanza, line 3 in the third stanza, and line 4 in the fourth stanza.
  • Bonus: 4 syllables in the title
  • No restrictions on subject, rhyme, or meter.

It’s a fun form to play with. I’ve combined it with using quotes or a stolen line as the repeated line. I have to admit this form has been tough for students to use. While teaching it to kids, I’ve written a few poem drafts this week. Here are two that I don’t hate.

Awareness is
everything we
need to know to
stand for something.

Don’t fall for it.
Awareness is
looking deeply
into your soul.

Answers will come
to questions asked.
Awareness is
waiting for you.

No choice ever
is possible
until you know
awareness is.

Margaret Simon, draft

Hang on to love.
Find someone who
cares for you most,
holds you in trust.

Trust can be hard.
Hang on to love
anyway, ’cause
you matter, too.

When hearts are turned
to the sad news,
hang on to love
to get you through.

Not all sparkles
or shiny smiles,
for steady hands
hang on to love.

Margaret Simon, draft

Last summer I wrote with the National Writing Project during a virtual writing marathon. My poem, Muses, is published in their online journal here.

Chloe wrote a 4×4 poem and read it on a Flipgrid video:

https://flipgrid.com/s/bsA9gxDeQoit?embed=true

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This photo was not taken today. Today I am waking up to more rain after all night thunderstorms. But last week one morning was glorious. The sunrise lit up the cypress and oaks and sent a line of light down the bayou. I try again and again to capture this morning light in a photograph or a poem. Anything I try is an imperfect approximation.

Morning sunrise on the bayou, Margaret Simon

How many ways
does the sun rise?

How many days
are you alive
to bathe your face

in light?

Margaret Simon, quick draft

Consider writing with me today. Leave a small poem in the comments and post encouraging words for other writers. Join me on Twitter with #poemsofpresence.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Bridget at wee words for wee ones.

Heidi Mordhorst has started a Facebook group Paradise, Paved for poets wanting a place to “park” their poems, for comment, critique, or just a safe place to land. She has been practicing writing in conversation with or after other poets. Like artists will copy a master painting, when poets copy a master, form frees expression. Magical, really.

I received a link to May Sarton’s poem, For my Mother, in an email from Poets.org. Using her poem as a mentor text, I wrote a poem for my mother.

For My Mother
after May Sarton

Once more
I listen
to the music
of my past
with harmony
rising in my throat.

At the piano
or stereo,
from choir to opera,
your notes
entered
my bones.

Keeping a distance,
my ears remember
the vibrations
of the walls
I closed myself in.

Your song
brought us through
flood waters.
I remember laying out
sheet music to dry.
Then you made a home
with new walls.

Today I find the box of cards 
you collected
and choose one
to send you.

Maybe you will recognize the paper,
the handwriting, or the return address.
Maybe not.
It doesn’t matter.
I remember your song
and that is enough. 

Margaret Simon, draft

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday is being gathered today by Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link.

Carol is gathering Spiritual Journey posts today around the topic Blossoms of Joy. When I first typed it, I wrote “Blossoming Joy,” which slightly changes the blossoms into action. I have come to believe that we are all in the process of blossoming. We never arrive because life is hard and good and disappointing and joyful all wrapped up on any given day.

I’ve been listening to Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It’s a book full of quotable quotes. This is one that spoke to me.

“I am here to keep becoming truer, more beautiful versions of myself again and again forever. To be alive is to be in a perpetual state of revolution. Whether I like it or not, pain is the fuel of revolution. Everything I need to become the woman I’m meant to be next is inside my feelings of now. Life is alchemy, and emotions are the fire that turns me to gold. I will continue to become only if I resist extinguishing myself a million times a day. If I can sit in the fire of my own feelings, I will keep becoming.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

My spiritual journey is the alchemy that keeps me blossoming. I’m in a constant revolution with my inner and outer selves. Outside I want to show I’ve got everything under control. No rocky roads here. Smooth sailing. I know what I am doing, and I am doing it.

Practically every day, someone in the halls will comment about my appearance. Whether it’s the cute Dr. Seuss “Teacher, I am!” mask or the shoes I’m wearing, someone will say something. I know. I know. This is how women interact. I find myself doing it every day.

In fact, one day a little kindergarten girl was rushing in the hallway. She said, “I have to go to the bathroom,” and rushed by me. Then I heard from her little sweet voice, “But I love your hair!”

Perhaps she genuinely had noticed and liked my hair. But it struck me that even our young girls are trained to greet another girl with a compliment about her looks.

I’m not saying this practice is one I would change so much as notice. Our society trains girls at a very young age that how you look matters. Is this healthy?

Lucille Clifton is one of my favorite poets. Years ago I had the privilege of hearing her read at the Dodge Poetry Festival. Her poem “roots” was the poem of the month for A Network of Grateful Living. I loved the voice and cadence so much that I wrote beside her. Literally placed the poem on a document and wrote my own beside her. Glennon’s words and my own inner thoughts led me to this poem.

wings

call it fire even,

call it anything.

it’s the desire in us

to fly.

we hold our hands

above our heads

and call them

branches,

and grow on them.

we flutter them and make melodies.

call them stories, wild stories.

we are lost in the cumulonimbus

field of clouds.

call it lightning,

our flames.

call it wings.

it’s the wild in us.

it’s the wild of us.

it is the wild, call it

whatever you want to.

call it blossoming.

Margaret Simon, after Lucille Clifton
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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