Friday, August 1, 2014

the not-so-subtle signs

Duncan drinking in Italy 2013
I needed a vacation this summer--I mean, seriously needed it.  Those inner teacher resources were painfully depleted by June 16, and I am lucky enough to have nothing required of me this summer--no coursework and no paid work.  I've been sleeping in all the way until 6:30 and going with the flow, just enjoying my kids and my wee garden, the pool and summer produce and reading.

Then, last week, things turned.  I know when I've had enough vacation each summer because suddenly little children become intensely interesting again.  Last summer it happened at an outdoor table around the corner from Piazza San Marco in Venice:  a group of Italian bambini, ages 3-7, were climbing all over a dry fountain in our small, enclosed piazza, and even in a foreign language they were suddenly tremendously more entertaining than the boisterous and traditionally very entertaining European relatives we were with.

This year it happened last week while I sat waiting for my 15-year-old to finish playing a summer league soccer game:  a younger brother, maybe 6, in the bleachers behind me, with his confident, erudite pronouncements about everything under the sun, distracted me easily from both the game and the book I was trying to read.  (It's something about the openness of young children, how nothing is calculated or self-conscious as they try out  positions, ideas and interactions, both physical and intellectual.)

And yet, having enjoyed an ample sufficiency of relaxation, I found myself not quite achieving anything for several days.  I wanted to tackle my long summer Tasks list that has been dutifully syncing across my devices; certainly I kept looking at it; and yet at the end of the day  nothing was cross-offable.  I finally took action.  I sat on Monday with a legal-size sheet of physical paper and a mechanical pencil, and I drew a calendar of my [choke] last three weeks of summer break.  I filled in all the scheduled events, and then I added in all the as-yet-undone projects and...oh my.  Time to Get Down to Business.

On Wednesday I awoke in the dark at 5am (as usual), with just a little tickly anxiety pricking me about things to get done--and it felt good!  Having kicked a really damaging adrenaline habit, it was good to feel like my productive self again, with some focus and a plan in place.  Then I went back to sleep until 6:30.  : )
No need to overdo things for now!  Five-year-olds and school and work and routine and opportunities are on my mind again, but I'll enjoy the less-structured, daydreamy mornings for a little longer.

One of the items of business was to fill out forms for a very nice upshot of having poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology.  A Texas school district is buying the rights to a group of poems for 3rd graders, so that they can post them on a website for easy classroom access (what a great idea, right?).  The remuneration for this extra use of my poem is modest, but it's a thrill for someone whose writing can't be a main income source for now.  Duncan, age 11, saw me working on the permission forms and asked what poem they wanted.  It's a good one for this moment in my summer arc, at the top of the roller coaster between vacation daydreams and the first day of school.


                                    Funday, Imaginary 1st    

Dear Daydream,      
I’m glad you are my secret friend.
When will you tickle my brain again?
You’re welcome in math, in science and art.
Your wondering wandering makes me smart.
Please come to visit and read with me.
Just don’t interrupt when it’s time for P.E.!


            Heidi Mordhorst 2012
                all rights reserved

Duncan read it, laughed and said, "Yeah, that poem is worth fifty bucks!"

You can enjoy more worth-y poems over at Reflections on the Teche with Margaret, today's Poetry Friday host.

Friday, July 25, 2014

do bears live in the woods?

Brief family vacation this past week, somewhat dogged by uncooperative weather and corporate demands, but sparkled with shining moments of foolishness, fires lit in the rain, and awe at the wonders of nature.  Here are three haiku from Shenandoah National Park, as unpolished as the stalagmites that stand out of reach of the tourists at Luray Caverns.

underground beach
sandcastles drip
from the hard dark sky

big toe blistered
as sure as bears live
in the woods

you stare
with a mouth full of berries
we stare

Speeding out now for the last day of half work/half vacation.  See you and your summer moments over at
Poetry for Children with Sylvia and Janet!

Friday, July 11, 2014

taking your suggestions, please

This summer I'm working on a sweeping revision of last summer's project.  I'm now aiming at a teen audience, and one of its themes is identity.  Many of the poems will be set in the context of trying out different voices, perspectives, and even disguises, and so it seems like a good place to include some of the poems I've written as "copy tributes."  (I may have made up that label.)  Here's one that's working quite well; below you'll see what I'm hoping you can help with...

Stopping by Turtle on a Rainy Morning

Whose shell this is I think I know.
His head is under cover though;
He doesn’t want me stopping here
To watch him, crouching close and low.

I startled him along the path.
He wasn’t stepping very fast
Between the ferns and dripping weeds,
This wettest morning, for a bath.

He freezes, puts on all his brakes
And hopes that there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the blink
Of careful notice that I make.

His shell is lovely, arched and dark,
But I can’t read his orange marks,
Our miles of difference, slight and stark,
Our miles of difference, slight and stark.

            Heidi Mordhorst 2013
                all rights reserved

So far the poems I've copy-tributed are classics by male poets.  I also need to include a couple by women--but which?  I can think of several Emily Dickinson ones that would work well, but what about a more modern classic American poet?  Which Lucille Clifton or Maya Angelou poem would you suggest?  Sylvia Plath? Dorothy Parker? They need to be widely recognizable, I think, for the "joke" to work.  (It's not really a joke at all, but I want literate MS and HS readers to realize that something is going on even before they get to the reference.)

Of course I could sit down and surround myself with all my anthologies for a hunt, but I thought it would be more fun to start by asking you what classic poems by women spoke to you in your teens (or later).  I'm sure you'll remind me of something obvious I've forgotten, or, as so often happens here, introduce me to something that somehow I've missed. 

Thanks, and turtle on over to Write Time for the round-up with Linda Kulp!