Archive for August, 2022

The skies have been dramatic lately with storms rolling in and out. On a morning walk earlier this week, I looked up and saw a carpet of pink. A few steps later, a rainbow. Then the sky became yellow and the clouds broke apart. All in a matter of minutes.

Let this image inspire your muse this morning. Where will you walk? Who is with you? What can you imagine? Write a small poem in the comments and come back to leave encouraging responses to others.

Pink sky, Margaret Simon

Avalyn (3rd grade) wrote this haiku with me:

Cotton candy sky
If you look closer, you see
aesthetic heaven. 

Mrs. Simon and Avalyn

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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.

A week ago I had a Mohs procedure on my nose. That means the dermatologist biopsied what I thought was a zit that turned out to be a squamous cell carcinoma. This type of surgery is no big deal to the young “boy scout” who was extremely proud of his suturing technique, but to me, it was uncomfortable and annoying. Ethical ELA was having its monthly Open Write, so the whole thing became a muse for a poem. Scott McCloskey led the exercise in writing about something you were “today years old” when you first learned about it.

Numbed Ignorance

Being a patient is not new to me,
but at today’s years old,
I learned of a procedure for removing
cancer cells off a nose called Mohs.

The young doctor told me
“You’re going to love this!”
as he stitched and stitched
as if there’s anything to love about
his brutal touch, about cancer cells, about a hole in my nose.

Sure I want to be rid of it,
but I carry the sign,
the cross-hatch signature
he was so proud of, the black eye,
the irritant of a bandage on my face.

I am learning that knowledge
is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Just hand me an ice pack
and let me go back to
numbed ignorance.

Margaret Simon, draft

Some people are good at sending cards. I want to be better. It’s a skill I admire. When my daughter’s mother-in-law heard about my little procedure, she sent me a card. I’ve been using Dictionary for a Better World to teach my students about poetry. On Friday, we explored Irene Latham’s poem Belonging which is a pantoum form. I’ve been puzzling with the form ever since. A pantoum is much harder to write than it looks, but here goes…


A card came in the mail
addressed especially to me.
As I fingered each detail,
I felt your hand in mine.

Addressed especially for me,
little bear with a bouquet
held his hands out to mine
with caring words to say.

This little bear with bouquet
hopes I’m better by today.
Your kind words do say
someone cares.

You hope I’m better today.
I feel your hand in mine. 
Across the miles you say
in a card that’s in the mail.

Margaret Simon, for Andree
Sweet card from Andree’

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Leave a small poem response to the photo in the comments. Be sure to support other writers with encouraging words.

If you’ve been here before, you know that one of my favorite photographers is a critique partner, Inkling Molly Hogan. Molly lives in Maine and is an amazing photographer. Please take a moment to read her Tuesday post about “gathering calm” through nature.

When I go out to take pictures, I usually have at least the location in mind, which dictates some of what I’ll see. Ocean versus marsh versus river. Forests or fields. Still, there are surprises here, too. I never know what will capture my attention at that particular time. Will the fog call to me, or shadows or spider webs? Will interesting patterns emerge in sand, water or sky? 

Molly Hogan

What does the poet see? What will draw your attention? The ocean waves? The striking bird? The patterns in the sand?

Fledgling tern cries to be fed, photo by Molly Hogan


makes the baby cry
the great owl hunt
the fledgling squeal
Hunger opens our souls
for feeding

Margaret Simon, draft

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Today’s Poetry Friday Round up is with Dave at Leap of Dave.

Today was the first Poetry Friday of the new school year. Prompted by Kim Johnson who is writing daily to Dictionary for a Better World, I decided to begin at the beginning with the word Acceptance. Irene Latham wrote the model poem we read today. I have to admit starting with such a metaphor-driven poem was challenging. “I am a word with teeth– a crocodile” At first my students thought the poem was all about a crocodile. We had to work hard to make the connection between the title and the illustration.

From Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham and Charles Waters.

When it came time to write, I suggested using Irene’s form for an opening line. I am a word with ______. Adelyn chose the word Art. I adore what she wrote for her first poem of 4th grade gifted class.


I am a word with imagination

A rainbow over my head

Some understand me, some don’t

Yet I don’t wait for supplies I improvise

I rest in a messy room

Full of markers, crayons and sketch books

As I dream of a

peacock flying overhead

by Adelyn, 4th grade

I am happy to be writing poems with kids again!

Here is my poem after Irene on the word Gracious:


I am a word with wings–
a butterfly
landing on a red blossom.

Some want to catch me.
Others let me be.

Yet I do not waste time (as you do)
in the muddy banks
between despair

and hope.
I rest in freedom–
air, wind–
lightly lifting

as nectar fills my soul
with sweet gratitude.

Margaret Simon, draft, after Irene Latham

Consider joining me with my friends over at Ethical ELA for this weekend’s Open Write starting tomorrow through Wednesday.

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Welcome to This Photo: I hope you are inspired by this photo to write a small poem. Leave it in the comments. Read other small poems and write an encouraging message.

School has started and thus, my itinerant trek from school to school. Last year I found an alternate route that took me through the country. I have come to love this scenic route. In the spring I stopped to take a photo of a barn among wildflowers. One day last week I saw a new calf in the field with the white cows. I passed a few times before I decided to stop. On this particular day no one was anywhere around, so I pulled into the driveway. Momma cow saw me coming and kept a close eye on me, but I spoke to her kindly and was able to get this photo of her new baby.

White cow, white cow
what do you hear?

Little calf, little one
love is always near.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday Round-up is here. Scroll to the end to find the link up and join.

Today is my birthday. I am turning the age of the year I was born. Can you do the math? I have to admit I am not a fan of birthdays. Being born in August has never appealed to me. It’s always hot and usually rainy. But with daily rain comes daily rainbows. Over the last few days I’ve seen a few big ones. I stop my car and get out to take a picture. I wish the pictures could show the colors and size, but you’ll have to just imagine it.

My Heart Leaps Up

William Wordsworth – 1770-1850

My heart leaps up when I behold 
   A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
   Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

Birthday card from Linda Mitchell, my birthday “sistar”
Summer Poem Swap from Patricia J. Franz

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

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Join me and other writers in the comments. Write a small poem in response to the image. Encourage other writers with comments.

Words fascinate me. But sometimes they just puzzle me. I was scrolling through Instagram and came across my sister-in-law Julie’s beautiful post. She lives in Seattle and is a potter. Her Instagram is newleafseattle. She observes (and photographs) nature in her own unique way. This photo was captioned “On an Island in the Salish Sea – ‘choose a path and follow it.”

I asked “Where is the Salish Sea?” Then I googled and started to feel dumb (this is not a new feeling for me). The Salish (say-lish) Sea includes Georgia Strait, Puget Sound, and Strait of Juan de Fuca. Surely I have heard of this before with as many times we have visited Seattle. My google search revealed that the term was created in 1988, so it’s fairly recent, and was created to honor the Coast Salish, indigenous people of the area. Wikipedia offered this statement, “In a 2019 survey of residents in the general vicinity of the Salish Sea, only 9 percent of Washingtonians and 15 percent of British Columbians were able to correctly identify and name the Salish Sea.” This justifies my confusion but does not excuse it.

Let’s take a look at the photograph of rocks. Are you drawn in by the different colors of rocks or by the rings around the large stone? Let the muse take you where it will.

photo by Julie Braybrooks, newleafseattle

Like rings around a stone
encircle time,

I hold close

my path.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday is hosted today by Inkling Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone.

Today is the first Friday in August and my first day of school, but it’s also time for an Inkling challenge. This month Catherine wanted to give us something easy to write. She thought about sports. I am not all that sporty, but I do have a poem in the anthology Rhyme & Rhythm: poems for student-athletes (Archer Books. 2021). It’s a duplex poem about swimming.

As I contemplated this challenge, I turned to my weekly yoga class. I am going to miss this class during the school year. I love the instructor and the way she speaks to us. I’ve always thought it was like poetry. So on Wednesday, I recorded the class. This poem is a transcription with poetic license. I decided to play with having no punctuation and using space and line breaks to pause. Does this work?

The Sport of Mindfulness

Breathing is healing
brings the body together 
all cells communicate together
Breathe and communicate
into one focus. breath

Notice if your thoughts move
into a pattern bring yourself back 
to your anchor
your breath

Back and forth a tennis match with yourself
building a new skill purposeful
intentional thinking

Lean into the stretch        spread your fingers
press into the palm          open your muscles

Stay with the breath
Challenge yourself
Focus ride the waves
of discomfort Then it starts to feel good

Exhale pose
thank you colon
thank you liver
thank you spleen
gallbladder pancreas
Thank you for all your hard work
Toxins moving out release

Come back to the breath
The sound of the wind sound of the music
Sensation of being in the room  among friends
No responsibilities

Nature is abundant
Bring awareness to your abundance
You are abundant thriving We are all thriving

We all meet at the center

For Susan Grain
Margaret Simon, draft

See how other Inklings met this challenge:
Linda Mitchell
Molly Hogan
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels.com

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Spiritual Thursday Posts are gathered today at Beyond Literacy Link

abandon the shoes that had brought you here
right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up
but because now, you would find a different way to tread,

from “Finisterre” by David Whyte, Gratefulness.org

Sometimes we have to abandon shoes, say goodbye, leave something or someone behind.

Today is my last day of summer as we define it in the world of education, not by the actual season but by the school calendar. I go back to school tomorrow. Students will come next Wednesday and the year 2022-23 will be up and running.

I will leave behind the shoes of slow mornings, lingering over coffee and conversation. When this time arrives, it’s hard not to evaluate your summer. The question to my colleagues and students will be “How was your summer?” So in one word, we evaluate how we spent our days off. “Good” “Rough” “Crazy” “Busy” “Fun” “Exhausting”

Which shoes will I reminisce about when I hear this question?

Teva sandals,

straps of yellow, pink, orange, and blue

draw attention to my feet, my yellow toenails.

I can walk through water in these shoes.

Hold steady in a river raft.

They are made of sunshine and beach shores,

strappy bathing suits and splash pad sprinklers.

I relax into them, feel summer fresh.

I will leave these at the shore of school days,

put on sensible teacher shoes,

and walk into a new school year.

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.

[Paulo Coelho]

Ruth invites us to Share our Stories about saying hello (or goodbye)

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Let the photo inspire you to write. Leave a small poem in the comments.

We have had a string of rainy days here in South Louisiana. It happens most summers and helps to regulate the rising temperatures. Some days you feel as though you will never dry out. The air is wet. The ground is wet. Your body is wet.

The grass loves all this moisture and it grows and grows. In a nearby empty lot, the grass is almost as tall as I am. On a recent walk I stopped to look at it. Even the weeds of nature that grow out of control are beautiful. Nature is ongoing, reliably replenishing, and ever growing. Maybe your area of the world is hot and dry. Wash yourself in the lushness of the bayou side.

photo by Margaret Simon

Nature makes no demands.
Listen to the wind through the grass.
Earth’s song in harmony.

Modern haiku, Margaret Simon, draft

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