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Welcome to This Photo Wants to be a Poem, a low stress weekly poetic writing prompt. This week’s photo is courtesy of Molly Hogan, who is an amazing photographer/ poet/ teacher in Maine. She has sent me a few photos for this weekly prompt. (If you would like to offer any photos, please send me an email. You will get credit, but the photos will be free for reuse.)

In keeping with Laura Purdie Salas’s 15 Words or Less prompts, I encourage you to write a quick short poem. To help build a supportive community, please comment on three poems with an encouraging response.

photo by Molly Hogan

A soul in solitary
silence seeks
a soft whisper
of solace.

Margaret Simon, draft

Your turn. Leave your poem draft in the comments. Thanks!

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Welcome to a new weekly poetry prompt. Inspired by Laura Purdie Salas who for years posted a weekly photo for participants to write a poem of 15 Word or Less. Because Laura is busy with her day job, writing wonderful children’s books, she has taken a hiatus from this weekly prompt. Here is a link to the archives of those posts.

I contacted Laura, and she was happy to pass the baton. With this new title This Photo Wants to be a Poem, I will post a photo once a week on Wednesday night for you to respond to on Thursday. You can type your poem into the comments. Please be kind and comment on at least 3 other writers’ poems. That’s how we build a supportive community.

Laura limited the poems to 15 words. I see purpose in this practice because (1) it’s quick, (2) word choice matters, and (3) you’ll likely get it done. In all honesty, I will not be counting words. The idea is to simply practice your writing brain.

The photos will credit the photographer but will also be free for you to use if you wish to post on a blog or other social media. If you would like to contribute a photo, send it to me by email.

Let’s get started! This photo was taken by my friend and choir colleague Brenda Lowry on a walk along the Atchafalaya Basin.

Thistle by Brenda Lowry

My first draft:

My spiky stem says Stay Away!
But bees are welcome any day.
Come. Buzz. Play.

Margaret Simon

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

A painted sign in my daughter’s neighborhood. We had to take a picture, but Leo, having been released from the stroller, wanted to get down and walk.

I’ve been participating in Ethical ELA’s monthly 5 day writing challenge. I love this community of friends. On Sunday, the mentor text was a poem “What I Want Is” by C. G. Hanzlicek. The prompt is here.

On Friday night and Saturday morning, we had Leo who is now 14 months and loves to walk. I took him outside in our backyard and next door to swing. My neighbor has 2 grandsons, too, so she has set up baby swings hanging from a tree. I really could not imagine anywhere else I’d rather be. So the prompt led me to this poem.

What I want is
what I have

when I’m with him
walking hand around finger

down the hill
to the bayou

to wave at the canoers
even though they don’t

see us swinging
from a rope

in the oak tree
laughing just because

there are wildflowers
too many to count

and a cool breeze
to catch our smiles on

a day of only us
pointing at birds

flying overhead
Bird 1 Bird 2

Margaret Simon after C.G. Hanzlicek

On Monday I combined the Ethical ELA prompt to write a This is Just to Say apology poem with the image posted in Laura Shovan’s February poetry project.

photo by Jone MacCulloch.

This is Just to Say

I missed the turn
to school today.
My eyes were on
the clouds

So soft and floating
like giant snowdrifts
above me in bouquets
of white roses.

Forgive me,
I’m late
my head in the clouds
dancing around in their fluff.

Margaret Simon, draft, after William Carlos Williams

Finding daily prompts in my email inbox help me to pick up the pen and notebook and make something. Creativity feeds my soul. The positive loving feedback is fun, too.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura at Writing the World for Kids.

Take a walk with me on this chilly day. The temperature dropped during the day yesterday from a rainy 55 degrees to a frigid 35 degrees with winds close to 20 mph. Bundle up in your winter coat and gloves. Did you bring your wool socks? As we walk past the bayou and along the road, we come to an open field. Watch your step because the ground is uneven here, and you may step in a puddle.

There near the neighboring house is a tree that looks like it may have been struck by lightning. It’s leaning slightly, but oh! It’s bright with pink blossoms. Flowers in winter? I think Japanese magnolia likes to be the first to show off her new spring dress.

My poetry swaggers group had a difficult challenge this month, given by Catherine Flynn. Terza Rima, she suggested, a form none of us had ever tried. But it’s from Dante, she delighted, not knowing yet that we are no Dantes.

Nevertheless, I gave it a shot. The first results lacked greatly. After a few rounds with my writing buddies, they helped me patch it up to present today. A terza rima is not going into my book of forms. This was a tough code to crack. Here’s a link to some confusing helpful guidelines.

A Japanese magnolia takes a chance
on blooming ‘fore the risk of frost is gone
with warming trends alive inside its branch.

Perhaps a passing storm had left it torn
in this winter field alone and gray,
when leaves of life from limbs are yet unborn.

Bold flowers burst bright pink and lift away
a fog; flamboyant beauty flirts for view
when wind blows chill across my path today. 

A Japanese magnolia takes a chance.

Margaret Simon, draft #5

Visit the Poetry Swaggers Sites for more (and better, if you ask me) Terza Rima poems.

Catherine Flynn
Molly Hogan
Linda Mitchell
Heidi Mordhorst

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Graphic design by Carol Varsalona. She is also hosting today at Beyond Literacy Link.

Living on the bayou gives me a daily view of seasonal changes. We have a huge cypress tree that drops its needles all over the back deck when the days grow shorter. They burst out in bright neon green as the days grow long.

While cypress respond to daylight, other plants respond to temperature changes. On my morning walk, I’ve been watching a Japanese magnolia bursting into bloom. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it blooms earlier and earlier each year. The beauty is striking. I used the tree as a subject for my Poetry Friday offering for tomorrow.

One way I pay attention to seasonal changes is to write poems. I am writing every day with #100daysofnotebooking and with Laura Shovan’s February poetry challenge. When I commit to a social media group, I have accountability, so I get it done.

On Saturday, I wrote a quick notebook draft responding to the quote by Robert Louis Stevenson “There is no music like a river’s”

Listen to the cry
of mother wood duck,
clicks of red-headed woodpecker
on the old oak.
Hear the train whistle
in the distance, and the peaceful
ringing of wind chimes.

The bayou wakes up slowly
on this winter Saturday
playing its music
for the clouds
welcoming first sun,
first light,
new day.

Margaret Simon, draft 2020
Photo by Nandhu Kimar, from Pexels.com

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I am linking up today to It’s Monday, What are you Reading on Jen Vincent’s site, Teach Mentor Texts. Click on the image to find more blog Kidlit reviews.

With new grandsons to read aloud to, I have taken an interest in books that have rhythmic, poetic language. The words have to go quickly as Leo’s favorite part is turning the page. Buffy Silverman’s new release is just this kind of book. With quick rhyming verse, she takes us through a snow-melting day.

In my part of the world, South Louisiana, we do not get much snow. Yet, we have chickadees at the feeder all winter long. With lively and sharp photographs and bouncing, rhythmic language, we can learn about places that have a distinct seasonal change. Grand sons can point to the cardinal swooping, the rabbits bouncing, and the foxes pouncing.

On a Snow-Melting Day releases on February 4th, 2020. Hop into a delightful book on a marsh mucking, duck dapping day.

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The poetry Friday Round up is hosted this week by Tanita at fiction, instead of lies.

Our Sunday night Poetry Swaggers group is posting today with a challenge from Molly Hogan. “This month, I invite you to reinvent the world around you (or one aspect of it) by shifting your lens to see the beauty in what at first seems to be ugly or unnoteworthy.”

Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so.

Naomi Shihab Nye, A Valentine for Ernest Mann

Molly quoted Naomi Shihab Nye who says,
“Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us,
we find poems.” All we need to do is shift our focus a bit to find beauty in the everyday, otherwise passed-over things.

I pass this dilapidated house often, yet after Molly’s prompt, I noticed the beauty of the plants justing up through the floor boards.

There are signs
on the door
fingerprints,
peeling paint.
We’ve been here,
so have they-
gone now
the way of time.

Margaret Simon, draft 2019
Steps to a house in New Orleans. I was struck by the pattern of color in the peeling paint.

The Smell of Morning

Sagging fog, thick on the morning,
captures the scent of my walk.

Someone is running the dryer
blowing Downy air.

Every morning, he smokes a cigar
on his front porch, white rocker, 
booted feet propped on the railing.
He waves and with it comes
a pungent smell of burning wood–a home scent.

Beneath my feet, pine needles crunch
releasing a breath of Christmas.
My mother would gather them
to mulch the flower beds for winter.

As I walk, I practice my deep
yoga breath, in, hold, out, hold,
pausing to savor the ordinary,
extraordinary scents of the day.

Margaret Simon, draft 2019

Be sure to visit the other Swaggers today to enjoy more beauty in the ugly.

Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core

Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise

Molly Hogan: Nix the Comfort Zone

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