Thursday, April 23, 2015


In Room 166 this week kindergarteners are exploring in depth the question of "What Do Poets Do?"  With the help of Langston Hughes, Lilian Moore, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer and e.e. cummings we have learned that:

Poets choose to write about one small thing.
Poets choose juicy words that sound good together.
Poets choose where to put their words.
Poets create strong feelings.

I revised my poem selections this year because of a change in our curriculum, and we have a theme of "hands" going on.  Here's the poem--which somehow I had missed in my long study of cummings's work--that we read in search of a strong feeling (I selected the bold-type section for kindergarten readers)...and oh, people, I have just made a wild discovery.  See below.

Spring is like a perhaps hand || E. E. Cummings, 1894 - 1962


Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully 
out of Nowhere)arranging 
a window,into which people look(while 
people stare
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things,while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps 
fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.
Here is the discovery:  in my haste to revise my poetry project booklet on Monday morning, I see that I left off the last line, "without breaking anything."  I just never even saw this wondrous final finesse of spring's perhaps Hand!

I don't feel bad about selecting the second stanza only for younger kids, but I do feel foolish for missing that last line--and yet for the kids, it was that (entirely plausible) ending of the poem on "and" that created the strong feelings of surprise and amusement and wonder!  In fact our response to the poem ended up being adding a word or phrase that seemed to follow this rather tricky abstract metaphor (which we concretized by acting it out.  Partner 1 was the window first while Partner 2 was the the hand, and then we swapped roles.)

"Wonder" is one of the Po-Emotions included in Mary Lee's NPM Challenge, too, on April 20.  Here was my response to the challenge.

Like the beat of your heart
wonder should be reflexive

all of a sudden daily you
should find yourself
pricked by a kind of desire
formless but strong
an itch of the mind
that you just must scratch

but it's not in your head
it wanders all over your body
your feet want to travel
your hands want to unravel
every sense wants in
on the wonder,

while your mind does the molding
stretching  & straightening the circling
into a bee-line towards that
exclamatory dot of Got It

--HM 2015
all rights reserved 

I'll end with Hana's response to "April Rain Song" below, and after tomorrow, when "I am a poet too" concludes our week-long intensive, I'll be able to do my annual sharing of kindergarten poetry.

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you.

Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

And I love the rain.

~ Langston Hughes

"If the rain kisses me I will 
smile with the rain."

The roundup is flowing down at No Water River with Renee LaTulippe today--wonder your way over there!

Friday, April 17, 2015

poetry cubed

Matt Forrest Esenwine:
"So for this contest, I’ve taken the basic premise of the TV show and applied it to poetry – but without the dejected countenances and broken dreams. I call it “Poetry…Cubed!” Here’s how it works:

  • Use the 3 images (“cubed,” get it??) below as inspiration to write a poem. (simple so far, yes?)
  • The poem can be any form, any number of lines, rhyming or not. (also simple, yes?)
  • The only hitch is that you need to include a reference to all three images in the poem – either via concrete imagery or something more abstract. (Heck, it’s poetry, so feel free to stretch the boundaries!)"
I like Matt and I like "Chopped!"  The first time I saw this cooking concept on TV was in England in the 90's on a show called "Ready, Steady, Cook!"  I even got to sit in the studio audience once while it was filmed, hoping that me and my bag of ingredients would be chosen to come on stage.

Above are the three images Matt has chosen.  I'm going to go for it right now, this morning, and see what happens--I'm thinking of Erica Jong and calling this thing I do "the draftless luck"--from nothing to published piece in one flighty leap!


hot wheels of
yellow nectar

bee rumbles
a long low road

bee blazes a trail
towards one red center
in the distance

bee lights
lights up
lights upon it

tiny monster
stalking pollen
in the theater
of green

HM 2015
all rights reserved

There's my entry, Matt!  The round-up is at Life on the Deckle Edge with the ever-delightful Robyn Hood Black.

Friday, April 10, 2015

ny vertigo
At the request of the April birthday girl, our family jaunted briefly to New York City this week.  She had visited with her 8th grade class and wanted to return to MOMA, and we also found our way to the newly-reopened Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.  Other stops in our thoroughly mid- and upper-Manhattan stay included the Magnet Theater for an improvisational comedy show, Zabar's and two of the six apartments I lived in between 1986 and 1991.

Everything is different but the same, and the feeling I had stepping off the bus was different but exactly the same.  Here's a poem I wrote in 1986 and revised for a workshop with Daisy's class in 2012 (they wrote poetry in response to their NYC trip too).  Now I find it's time for a BIG revision--time for a companion poem, or should it be contrast or competitor poem?  This second version is rough, but I wonder if I've captured my dizzyingly changed perspective...

New York Vertigo, 1986

What I am I’m huge I’m high.
Arrive in Red Hook subdeep July
  I alight. afire and mighty
  queen of the borough.

Arrive and then descend.
I go vertical.  I dive.
  upside under bricks and bridges.
Submarining blind.
Where periscope disturbed. ascending
   to this island state.  a nation
   of buildings crushing up and looming.
I’m flattened.  I’m pinioned
   to Manhattan’s curbed & canyoned floor.
Who ballooned deflated.
   barely standing five feet high.  I
   glimpse sky between scaffolds.
This vertigo is not from heights
   Brooklyn. or otherwise

--HM 1986/2012
all rights reserved 
New York Vertigo, 2015

What I am I’m slow. I’m older.
Arrive Manhattan subSpring, undry
  I alight. unchill and stilling--
  queen of Dysurbia.

Arrive and then revolve.
I stay horizontal, spin.
   inside beyond stoops and scaffolds
Telescoping time.
Where memory destroyed. pretending:
   I could still belong.   formation
   of people crushing up and blooming.
I mattered,  additioned
   to this island’s vast and varied more.
Who defined belated.
   daring standing eight feet deep, I
   glimpse me between marriage.
This vertigo evolves from states
   Empire, and otherwise

 --HM 2015
all rights reserved 

One of the things that it's EASY to remember about living in New York is what I was wearing--what I shopped for, what I could barely afford and saved for, what I could barely afford and bought anyway, what I felt totally cool in and what I wished I hadn't worn. (Sidebar:  it was NOT spring in NYC this week and I knew that and still ended up wearing not quite the right thing despite my detailed strategic planning.  Sigh.)  I'll be exploring some of these sartorial considerations in my guest post over at Author Amok on Monday, where Laura Shovan is asking "What Are You Wearing to National Poetry Month?"  Don't miss this series of posts on clothing-related poems!

The round-up today is another NPM celebration with Laura Purdie Salas as our host--connect with many poems at Writing the World for Kids!

Monday, April 6, 2015

po-emotion: sadness

Over at her Poetrepository, Mary Lee is writing a poem for each day of April either using an emotion word or evoking that emotion--this after writing a poem in March for each and every one of my Forward...MarCH CHallenge words!  I am humbled and could not possibly keep up this pace of writing and blogging, but I have promised myself that I'll join in where I can.

For example, I have begun a cleridoubledactylhew in response to Kwame Alexander's challenge over at Today's Little Ditty with Michelle--a wonderful post!  Kwame's challenge is to write a clerihew, the rules for which are quite loose, but yesterday at The Miss Rumphius Effect, Jane Yolen shared some very fun double dactyls, which, like clerihews, are written about people.  When I went to save my very difficult cleridoubledactylhew, I had a serendipitous thing happen: I caught sight of a doc called "Sadness made me keep a diary."  I'd totally forgotten about writing such a poem. It needed more work, but here it is.

Why I keep a diary

She was withering,
I was blooming. I visited,
sat in a familiar wing chair
in an unfamiliar room,
looked through a box of her papers:
calendars, church bulletins, a little locked
five-year diary marked 1943.

"July 14:
Fell down the basement stairs
carrying a bushel of peaches ($2.15).
Broke my ankle.
Tried not to cry in front of the children.”

“September 9:
Collected rents today (sunny, 79*).
Made black-and-white cookies
for the Ladies’Aid meeting.
Charlie & Lila growing awfully fast.

“November 21:
Find myself talking to Arthur’s
picture too much.
Took it off the piano today
and put it away.”

All my gramma’s sadness—recorded
in brisk, cheerful lines, hidden
under a bushel, now unlocked.
At home I began my own little
five-year diary, so that someday
my children might understand
why sadness is hard for me.

–HM 2015
all rights reserved

Other challenges I am visiting have produced this work:

For Jone's Double LL challenge, using the words "alluvium" and "elliptic":


after recess
cheeks bear
an alluvium
of shallow silt
carried by
fleeting tears

–HM 2015
all rights reserved

Elliptical Rainbow Mama

Every year this day
rolls around.
We turn the eggs gently
in their baths of color
but like Mama,
heavier at the bottom,
they spill off the spoon
and splash rainbows
on the gray newspaper.

HM 2015
all rights reserved

For Tricia's Jumping into Form challenge, this sijo, written on my phone while waiting to see my doctor:

Scarf Sijo

A wild, wide one with fringe wraps the wearer in animal drama.
Short stripes on silk knotted around a neck stand guard against slouching.
Field of Van Gogh flowers twists infinitely, lifting heart to face.

–HM 2015
all rights reserved

So much more to to Author Amok to check in with the "What Are You Wearing to NPM?" series!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

surprise: MarCH CHallenge results

Surprise indeed!  How did it get to be Sunday, April 5th, and I haven't rounded up the MarCH CHallenge and picked a "StretCHiest MarCHer" yet?  (Not-so-surprising answer: Science Night and shed-raising and end of quarter and professional day at school + 16th birthday and kidney stones and Spring Break at home + March marching into April with all its NPM distractions--that's how.)

Here I join Mary Lee over at her Poetrepository with a PoEmotion (hee hee so clever I still love that CoIncidence).  Her emotion for Friday was surprise:

yes, sur!
I am under
the impression
that I can control
each moment
through careful

but, surprise!
I am seized
each day
I am taken over
by events
of wanton

oh, prise!
I am ripped
of control
and now I win
the prize
of sudden

HM 2015
all rights reserved

So now, having caught my breath, Happy Easter and let the round-up proceed!

The Quantitative Round-Up*

Of course, there were also audience/commenters, who are very important to the process, and some of them occasionally shared a poem, too:  shout-outs to Matt Forrest Esenwine, Robyn Hood Black, Catherine M. Johnson, Margaret Simon and Laura Shovan!

Our steady participants numbered about 8 in total. Now, here they are, in order of the number of poems they contributed to the collection.  There were 20 official days of challenge, and then a few more words that were on an earlier list that I unhelpfully revised, so we'll call it 24 prompts in all.  I hope I have counted correctly (and next time I'll keep track in a much more efficient way!)

Jone Rush MacCulloch of Deo Writer was a regular contributor with 7 poems, and  Kate Coombs (formerly of the wonderful blog Book Aunt) arrived a little late to the party but wrote 18 poems in the end.

Carol Varsalona wrote 19 expansive poems. all of which can be enjoyed in full at her blog, Beyond LiteracyLink.

Charles Waters and Mary Lee Hahn joined in every single day wth great vigor, verve, and variety, writing exactly 20 new poems.  Mary Lee's can be found at her poetry blog, Poetrepository, and it's always fun to read about Charles's NYC life at his blog, Poetry Time.

Joy Acey and Diane Mayr contributed 20 plus a couple of extras for a total of 22, many of them illustrated.  I believe that my juicy little universe is the only place you can read them all!

Finally--and the StretCHiest MarCHer prize must go to her--Donna JT Smith of Mainely Write wrote 20 poems plus an ADDITIONAL self-assigned but generously-shared 10 -CH poems for a total of 30 poems in 23 days!!!  And this while she was also writing 31 Slice of Life posts and competing in The March Madness Poetry Tournament (I think retirement must be fun)!


Donna will receive one copy each of my two collections of poetry, and my eternal gratitude for being one of the folks who made this challenge fun for all of us.  This same appreciation goes out to all who participated in any way--it's what makes the Kidlitosphere simultaneously such a comfortable and inspiring place to spend time! 

With many thanks once again,
Your Forward...MarCH! CHallenge Host Heidi


*The Qualitative Round-up will happen on whichever Thursday I am home recovering from a necessary medical procedure (blecch).  I'll link to it the very next Friday. ; )

Friday, April 3, 2015

progressive poem 2015: line 3

Welcome one and all to Day 3, Line 3 of this year's Progressive Poem, curated by Irene Latham.  I'm delighted to participate again this year! I note that as an ever-changing group, we seem to like to take big risks.  In 2012 we spilled our dreams in a spice-scented Moroccan market. In 2013 we danced and dangled under the Big Top of the Poetry Circus.  In 2014 we journeyed clutching sapphire eggs into the company of a blue-eyed friend.

This year Jone and Joy have led us into the wild in so many interesting ways.  These long lines defy regular meter, don't demand rhyme, and give us a whole delta to explore.  I''m fascinated by the "she" who roams it, shoeless and netless.  Let her fend for herself,
let her body be one with the landscape...

She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium deposits of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.
Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows 

I see that my blogwidth is not enough to contain these lines; can we break them for today?  Then it looks like this, and what is changed, do you think?
She lives without a net, 
walking along the alluvium deposits of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, 
on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.
Hands faster than fish swing at the ends 
of bare brown arms. Her hair flows

Tomorrow Laura PS at Writing the World for Kids continues the poem, and I bet her blog is wide enough to hold the flow.  Not to get sedimental, but I just love this big ol' collaboration of poets...Go Us!

Follow along each day to see how our poem grows, and join Amy at The Poem Farm for a singable round-up this first Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month!

2015 Kidlitosphere

Progressive Poem

1 Jone at Check it Out
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
17 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
23 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write