Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

On my daily walk, I pass a Japanese Magnolia tree. I’ve photographed this tree often, and written poems about it here and here. On a foggy grey morning, the dew drops glistened as I passed. I was compelled once again to photograph this tree.

Secrets of the night
on dew drops
come morning

Margaret Simon, draft

Leave your #smallpoems #poemsofpresence in the comments. You may post on our Facebook page as well. Please leave encouraging comments for your fellow writers.

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I volunteered to host a holiday party way back in the summer when the living was easy. My Thanksgiving week was busy with family events, but we managed to squeeze in Christmas decorating as well. My youngest daughter Martha was visiting, and she has a good eye for design. She created a piece with candles and cedar branches and berries. When I lit the candles, I was surprised at the atmosphere of warmth and welcome they created. On a tricube roll, I wrote a gratitude poem for these candles.

Christmas candles by Margaret Simon

open doors
candles lit


fireplace glows
knows we’re home

Margaret Simon, draft

Welcome to this photo. Write a small poem, any form, in the comments and encourage other writers with your words. Happy Holidays!

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A Happy Thanksgiving thank you for this little community of writers. Thanks for making time for yourself on Wednesday morning to write along with me and others. I am grateful for you!

This past weekend my daughters and I traveled to Texas wine country. You can read my Slice of Life about it here. Our Airbnb was connected to downtown Fredericksburg by a narrow concrete bridge across Barons Creek. On the chain link fence were locks. Maggie said, “Like Paris!” Oblivious to the reference I took this picture.

Locks over Barons Creek, Fredericksburg, TX by Margaret Simon

I challenge you to write a small poem without using the word locks. If you haven’t tried a tricube form, read Linda Mitchell’s prompt from Ethical ELA. Like haiku, a tricube captures a single moment with few words. Three by three, three syllables in each line, three lines in each stanza, three stanzas. Share your small poems in the comments or on Facebook. Join here.

On my way
across paths
of rivers

I hold on
to your hand
with fervor

Our two hearts
are combined
with vigor

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.
Fredericksburg, Texas

For my 60th birthday back in August, my daughters bought me a vacation with them to Fredericksburg, Texas. A sisters trip. We invited my sister-in-law who lives in Dallas to come along. This was to our advantage because she drove and picked us up at the Austin airport to drive to Fredericksburg. Not to mention she was fun to have along.

Fredericksburg is a town in the hill country, settled by Germans, and home to 59 wineries. Just imagine all girls at a winery table on the banks of Baron’s Creek toasting and sharing stories. Nothing better, right? We laughed, we cried, we laughed.

One evening we found ourselves closing down a winery. We had stayed beyond our welcome, and it was dark. Two of my daughters worked on getting us an Uber (We were being responsible), but on a Sunday evening in a small town, they were few and far between. We were also being a bit picky and didn’t want the old cowboy with the car full of trash (and a foul smell). We walked to the entrance and someone told us the gates were closed. We’d have to walk to the back gate which was apparently quite a distance down a dark dirt road.

To the rescue appeared Enrique. He told us to wait right there while he got his truck. His truck was like brand new and big enough to hold 4 of us in the back seat comfortably. When he got us to the back gate, Katherine said, “The Uber is 15 minutes away.”

Our angel Enrique said, “Ya’ll going back to town? I’ll take you.” And he flashed his million-dollar-twenty-something-Mexican smile our way.

We made it safely back to town while I embarrassed my girls by calling our angel “Enriquo.” But I was sober enough to find $40 to leave on the seat. He saved us and wanted no payment for it.

My Inkling friend Linda Mitchell is the host at Ethical ELA today with a prompt for writing a Tricube poem. Here is mine in deep gratitude for my daughters.

My three girls
now women
look at me

What they see
in my eyes–
mother’s joy

What they hear
from my lips–
words of love

Margaret Simon, draft

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Opossum in a persimmon tree–say it three times fast. I caught this guy one morning on my walk with Charlie through the neighborhood. Does he look guilty to you? He didn’t move at all while I wandered to different perspectives to take his portrait. He was suspicious, yes, but completely still. Charlie didn’t bark. I don’t think he saw the opossum. We, opossum and I, however, locked eyes, and I will never be the same. These creatures usually freak me out, but this one…this one…was different somehow. Maybe it was the persimmon tree backdrop or his innocent guilty stare. Tempted to name him, I’ll just post his portrait here for you to muse about.

Opossum in persimmon tree, by Margaret Simon

Leave a small poem in the comments. I’ll be back to post mine. Be kind in your responses to other writers. Enjoy!

Opossum in a persimmon tree
Staring right back at me
Did I catch a thief
or make a new friend? 

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.

Through blogging communities like this one (Slice of Life) and Poetry Friday, I’ve met many mentors for writing. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is one of those special teacher-poets who generously gives of herself. During the pandemic shut down, she recorded videos in Betsy, her writing camper, every day. These can be found on her YouTube channel. Last year she went back to teaching, so she didn’t blog as much. Boy, did we miss her voice in cyberspace!

But she’s back and each week on Friday, she posts a mentor poem on The Poem Farm with student-friendly (and adult-friendly) instructions for writing your own poem. This past Friday, her poem came up on my Instagram and was just right for our writing time.

Crocheted wool hat by Margaret Simon

One of our kindergarten teachers is having a baby, so I crocheted a little hat for her new child. This was on my mind when I wrote alongside my students. I gifted the poem to Miss Heidi along with the hat.

The Wool Hat

after Amy Ludwig VanDerwater “Circles”

When sheep’s wool
becomes yarn
becomes crochet
becomes hat,
a newborn baby’s head
holds a sheep,
and I wonder
how prayers
offered for a stranger
growing inside a friend
becomes a child
wearing a hat
passed on
from sheep to hand
to heart
to warmth
to love.

Margaret Simon

Jaden, 6th grade, has started a new trend when he writes his gratitude poem. If he makes a mistake, he turns it into a picture. I noticed his little designs and complimented him. He said, “Oh, I made those dots and stars because I messed up.” That sounds like a poem to me. And so he turned his mistakes into stars into a poem.

Recycle Poem

Old mistakes
become rainbows
and new designs
old mistakes 
become new inspirations 
when I look at the designs
will I remember the old mistakes? 
will I think of new ideas?
shapes like stars and squares?
or something new?
what will the new mistakes become?

Jaden, 6th grade

One of the fourth grade teachers is raising monarchs. Katie was inspired by this and wrote her circle poem about the life cycle of a butterfly.

Life Cycle Poem

Out of a small egg
comes a small, slimy, bean.
A bean that squirms
and grows and grows.
Grows into a small
chrysalis where it stays for a while
until it’s ready to fly.
Fly into the real world
with beautiful, colored, wings
and to reproduce
another small egg.

Katie, 6th grade
Monarch hatchling by Margaret Simon

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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.

On Saturday as part of the Festival of Words, I had the privilege to attend a small workshop with Aimee Nezhukumatathil. She led us through a number of writing exercises and ended with a discussion of the haibun.

From Poets.org: “Haibun combines a prose poem with a haiku. The haiku usually ends the poem as a sort of whispery and insightful postscript to the prose of the beginning of the poem. Another way of looking at the form is thinking of haibun as highly focused testimony or recollection of a journey composed of a prose poem and ending with a meaningful murmur of sorts: a haiku.”

Aimee added to this definition with two concepts: Aware, a Japanese concept similar to natsukashisa, a type of nostalgia with a fondness for what is gone but also slight optimism for what’s ahead and a sense of calm because this is the natural course of things. She also Nezhukumatathiled the form with the addition of scent. She spoke about scent as a way to activate the reader’s mind to a memory.

On Monday, I went to a former school to screen a student for gifted. They put me in my old room to do the testing and while the child took her test, I wrote this poem.

I enter the spacious classroom, and you are not here. So many hard days in masks and social distance
defined our relationship then. Your desk is gone. The smell of pencil shavings is sharp
mixed with musty-mold of an old school. Today I am testing a girl like you,
bright and edgy with a little swagger to her walk. But she isn’t you. No one can be you but you.
This chair, the small blue square that lost its cushion years ago, holds me again.
I trip over its wobbly wheels wishing you were here to laugh at me. Where are you now?
In another classroom, another school, same masked face, same suspicious eyes.
I want to know if you are OK. I only ever wanted you to be OK.

Students come in
Twist my heart into a knot
And leave it longing

Margaret Simon, draft
Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday Posts are being gathered today by Denise Krebs at Dare to Care.

Gratitude should be a daily practice, and I believe, for the most part, it is, but the month of November tucked gently between the wildness of Halloween and the frenzy of Christmas gives us an opportunity to find grace and gratitude.

On Monday, I decided to start a monthlong project of gratitude poems with my students. When they walk in and open their notebooks, I ask, “What are you grateful for today? What is making you happy right now?” We have a quick discussion and then write small poems. I’ve printed leaves on colored paper. We write our #gratitude on a leaf, cut it out, and add it to the “Poet-Tree” on the classroom door.

Gratitude Poet Tree

I’m posting my poems on social media with #gratitude. I’m drawn to the small poem form hay(na)ku that Denise Krebs introduced me to. Here are the #haynaku that I’ve posted so far this month.

November 1

–your eyes
Saying Love Mamere

November 2

Dino book–
Children were here!

November 3

–your smile
Masks hide happiness.

by Katie, 6th grade
Gratitude Septercet by Margaret Simon

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Yesterday I wrote about taking a walk with my two-year-old grandsons through our neighborhood. One of my neighbors collects folk art. Their collection has been shown in museums and is quite extensive. Their yard is no exception. As soon as Leo could walk on his own, he enjoyed meandering into this yard to see all the sculptures. One of his favorites is the gigantic bunny sitting on a bench reading. It is made of thousands of wires. And of course, around Halloween, he has a skeleton companion.

Studious Wire Rabbit, collection of Becky and Wyatt Collins.
photo by Margaret Simon

I may twitch
I may rust
Up on my bench
My story you can trust

Margaret Simon, draft

In keeping with the tradition of 15 words or Less, I have written a 15 word ditty-on-the-spot. Write your own quick poem in the comments and respond to other writers with kindness. You can also participate in our Facebook group.

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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.
We have rubber boots for both boys. Here, Leo helps Tuffy put on his boots for our walk. Charlie looks on.

On Sunday morning, I was in charge of my two grandsons, both 2 years-old, 9 months apart. We started out with a goal of walking to CeCe’s house. CeCe lives on the next block about half a mile from my house. For the first little while, the walk was adventurous. The boys walked together, but then Tuffy (Thomas, T-monster, T-bird) trailed off into a field of tall grass. I had to fetch him out and in so doing, realized he had left a prize in his diaper. We had to go back home and change him.

Back on the road, each boy carried a skeleton hand. I got these plastic skeleton salad tongs at the dollar store last year. They each had one tong, so no arguments or need for “sharing.” Every once in a while Tuffy would want Leo’s, and they would trade. When Leo discovered that banging on the gutter caused a loud percussion, the boys pounded out a rhythmic tune that echoed across the quiet stillness of Sunday morning.

Moving on, Leo saw another gutter, “Look, another one!”, but I said, “Let’s keep moving. It’s a long way to CeCe’s house.” I called CeCe, and she told me she would be going to church at 10:30. This was 9:30, so I told her we would just stop for 5 minutes. I estimated we’d get there by 10. Well, not so much.

I put Thomas in the stroller which he cried about, but once I started singing, he was OK. I was making up songs right on the spot. It went something like this, “We are marching, marching, marching to the Frankenstein.” I promised we would get to see the humongous Frankenstein statue on the next block.

I texted CeCe when we hadn’t made it to her street by 10:00. “We’ll have to see you later.” Then I ran into some friends out for a morning run. We stopped to talk. It’s funny how my toddlers were very talkative until someone asked them a question.

We finally made it to Frankenstein. I called Katherine who was just out of the shower after her run with Papère. She came with her car and picked us up or I may still be out there coaxing these boys along with a drum and a song.

Frankenstein with Leo, left, Thomas, right.

Walking with a Toddler

I open my eyes to your wonder
as you discover everything new–
a fallen limb, a world over and under.
I open my eyes to your wonder,
reach for your hand at the sound of thunder,
follow your gaze, engage your view.
I open my eyes to your wonder
as you discover everything new.

Margaret Simon, draft triolet

I am joining a daily writing of gratitude poems for the month of November. Three lines a day.

–your eyes
Saying “Love Mamère.”

#gratiku #haynaku

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