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Ruth is hosting today’s postings for Spiritual Journey Thursday. Click to go to her site. https://thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.

Romans 5: 4 

This Biblical verse was quoted by the Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry in his sermon for Pentecost this past Sunday. I have read this verse before. And every time, I feel a bit of discomfort. There’s the part of me that wishes we could have hope without suffering and endurance.

This last week has been suffering for all of us. Watching a brutal, senseless murder at the hands (or knee, rather) of people we are supposed to trust is both heart and gut-wrenching.

In the Episcopal prayers of baptism, we state that we will respect the dignity of every human being. There are no exclusives to this phrase. Every means every, not the ones who look or act like us. God calls us to be a community of love. Where do we place hatred? In God’s world, hatred has no place.

This time I want more than hope for a better world. I want to take an active part in creating one. I started with conversation. When I was growing up in Jackson, MS, I went to a high school that was 90% black. We walked the halls together. We had lockers side by side. We sang together in the chorus. We worked together on the yearbook. But, never did I socialize outside of school with an African American classmate.

On Tuesday, I reached out to my friend who is the executive director of our church’s mission, Solomon House. We sat in the courtyard and talked for an hour or so. She offered many insights, but the thing I remember most is her admonishment, “I need my white friends to stop feeling guilty about being white.”

I will move beyond this guilt and do more than hope for a change. I will find ways to be a part of the solution. There will be a peaceful protest in New Iberia on Saturday. I’ll be there.

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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.

Taking a morning walk every day seems a mundane task. It’s exercise, yes, but so much more. Walking is my daily therapy.

This last week, I’ve been walking with a stroller. My daughter is home with her 8 month old while her husband works off-shore. She needs help with the baby while she works from home. We love having them here.

While walking, I stop to chat with neighbors. People are in less of a hurry, and it shows in the way we linger in the shade and talk about the weather, the baby’s eyes, or how we are faring in the pandemic.

While walking, I stop to check on my neighbor’s century plant, now in full bloom. This plant has been in the process of blooming for ten weeks. It has been a source of wonder and hope for all who have seen it. These plants bloom once in their lifetime. After blooming, it dies. I posted it in April for “This Photo wants to be a Poem.”

Century plant in full bloom.

While walking, I discover Sesame Street songs. When Thomas gets fussy, the best antidote is Elmo. I didn’t know how many popular musicians have done songs with Elmo, Dave Marshall, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Adam Sandler, and many more. Even after he’s asleep, I keep listening. The songs are uplifting and catchy.

While walking, I may catch a poem of presence.

Morning walk with stroller
Elmo’s song La la la
la’s him to sleep.

Margaret Simon, draft

There are some wonderful #poemsofpresence on Twitter. Consider joining us. What mundane task is keeping you going these days?

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at beyond Literacy Link.

I follow the Ethical ELA website that is beautifully led by Sarah Donovan. Each month she posts a 5 day Open Write which is a series of writing prompts hosted by teachers of writing. This month’s host was Kim Johnson. Kim drew mentor texts from great writers such as Jason Reynolds and Jericho Brown. I was drawn to a prompt from Jason Reynolds’ book Long Way Down, “The Way I Felt.”

It amazes me how a single prompt can turn out so many different individual responses. Go to the link to read the many touching responses. I am honored to be among them.

The Ultrasound

The way I felt
when you showed me
the ultrasound.

Never knew love like this.

I held the tiny image
in the palm of my hand

cried

feeling a new world
opening. I planted.
I grew a fertile seed
now planted
in you.

Fingers, toes,
a nose!
Small person
coming to be
my grandchild.

Margaret Simon, draft
Poems of Presence Today’s Little Ditty Challenge continues through the end of the month.

My student Breighlynn in 4th grade was featured this week on Today’s Little Ditty. She took the ditty challenge to write a poem of presence. The Twitter hashtag continues. It’s not too late to jump in the fun!

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This photo appeared on my Facebook feed from local artist and children’s book author Paul Schexnayder. Paul has an ironic sense of humor, especially in the everyday. His photo reflects that sense.

Mary’s Lizard by Paul Schexnayder

When I asked Paul if I could use this photo for a poem, he said, “I was hoping you’d ask? I almost asked you to write one!!!”

Please consider leaving your own small poem in the comments. Leave a comment for a few participants. Fun writing practice to wake up your creative self. No pressure. No judgement. Thanks for coming by.

A lonely lizard
seeks shade in the arms of Mary.
She stoically abides.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

Today, I’d like to introduce Laura Purdie Salas’s new book Secrets of the Loon. Released in early May, this book is different in design from her others, yet still holds her amazing poetic voice. Beautifully designed with photographs by Chuck Dayton, Laura takes us on a journey with newborn loon, Moon Loon.

Loons do not live in the deep south. My experience is with wood ducks. Wood ducks will lay a clutch of a dozen or so eggs, while loons only lay two. But I gather that their survival rate is better because the baby loon will ride on its parent’s back to escape danger. On the bayou, wood ducks are prey to birds, alligators, and snakes. I’m not sure of the survival percentage, but it can’t be that great, or we would have wood ducks everywhere.

Secrets of the Loon is written in rhyming verse. I didn’t notice this at first. Other poetic elements jumped out at me; repetition, onomatopoeia, and imagery together create a delightful tour of the lake.

Secrets of the Loon, Minnesota Historical Society Press (5/1/20)
ISBN: 9781681341583

These rocky shores, with trees tipped in gold.
These ripples and currents, fishy and cold.
This dazzling sky, a vivid blue dome.
This spruce-scented bay offers comfort.
It’s home.

Laura Purdie Salas, Secrets of the Loon

Being unfamiliar with loons, I also enjoyed reading the back matter of More Loon Secrets. I hope one day I will see a loon in real life. But for now, Laura’s book takes me to a beautiful lake full of natural sights and sounds.

For more about Laura and Classroom Connections, visit Today’s Little Ditty.

Lagniappe (a little something extra) today is a video I saw on CNN’s Five Things to Know page. Believe me, it was the best thing there. One of my favorite hymns to sing. I first sang Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring in my high school choir. That is why I remember it so well. Ah, youth…

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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.

My feelings are all over the place. Starting the day later because I can sleep longer wakes me rested, ready. A walk outside on a perfect spring morning energizes. But then the weight of all that is different, all that is not happening, not normal comes with cleaning out a classroom or picking up items at the store or watching the news.

Poetry helps me cope. In my email inbox, on my Instagram feed, or on the bedside table, I can find a poem that soothes, comforts, or inspires me.

On Twitter this month, a group of us teacher-poets are writing #Poemsof Presence. These poems capture a single moment in time. They honor the present without regard or worry over the future or past. I can find connection and hope in this task. If you are a poem dabbler, join us.

This poem by ADA LIMÓN has come across my path a few times. Today from Gratefulness.org. I love how the title Instructions on Not Giving Up tells me what she wants me to learn from nature. And the poem fills me with a beautiful image.

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. 

Ada Limon, read the rest of the poem here.

Milkweed seeds
Release on silken wings
Like the butterflies they nourish.

Margaret Simon, #poemsofpresence

A little lagniappe of beauty in this video of a monarch butterfly swarm.

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This Photo Wants to be a Poem is a low pressure, quick writing prompt I post each week. Consider joining in the playful poetry today. Leave a comment with 15 words or less structured as a poem. Write encouraging comments on other responses. That’s it. No judgement. Just be present.

Speaking of being present, a group of poet dabblers are writing a poem of presence each day of May on Twitter using the hashtag #PoemsofPresence. This grew out of my Ditty of the Month interview. You can also write a poem of presence on the padlet that Michelle is curating.

Today’s photo was taken last week when we were out on a family walk with Leo, who is 17 months today. He is learning about mischief, and he took Baby Thomas’s hat from his stroller and put it on and ran. It was all such a fun game. I was lucky to capture this shot in the multitude of photos I took.

Catch me if you can!
photo by Margaret Simon

Let me run
in the sun.
Hat askew,
can’t catch you.

Margaret Simon, draft

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https://elizabethsteinglass.com/blog/
Poetry Friday round-up is with Liz Steinglass.

We made it to May 1st, and I’m pleased to announce the Progressive Poem has reached a celebratory ending. Thanks to all the poets who participated and took their turns without any prodding or reminding from me. My job as coordinator this year was made easy because we are a community that works ( and plays) well together. See the completed poem here.

This month my Poetry Swaggers group is sharing epistolary poems. I have to admit that when Molly Hogan suggested this form, I didn’t know what it was. Basically this is a letter poem with a fancy name. My poem is written to my notebook, a constant companion these days.

My notebook

Dear Notebook,

From the time I was a teenager
with a diary that locked,
I’ve written word by word.
Some days the pen scribbles nonsense
or a secret I will not share.
Other days, the blank page
inspires–my words play on your stage.

Whether you are lined or graphed or solid white,
I love the magic of empty pages
filling you with scrolled loops
and curved letters.
When I hold you near, I smell
the scent of flair pens,
washi tape, glue stick– a writer’s incense.

I can be whoever I want to be
in my own little corner
in my own little notebook. 

Margaret Simon, draft

To see more epistolary poems, visit these Swaggers’ sites:

Heidi Mordhorst–My Juicy Little Universe
Catherine Flynn–Reading to the Core
Molly Hogan–Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell–A Word Edgewise

In other news, I am the Reader’s Spotlight over at Michelle Barnes’ site Today’s Little Ditty. Thanks, Michelle, for all you do to promote poets and encourage writers.

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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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