Friday, February 15, 2019


You know how sometimes someone misspeaks and it's like a whole new world has opened up?

how they came to be

that word never uttered your lips
it was a
gut feeling that uttered your lips
into soft pink being, sound free
your lips were they sputtered
into speech by a gullet full of
swallowed beach
certain now
surely your lips were spoken in
guttural groans and croaks
mayhap your
lips were buttered, basted, pursed
and popped from bubbles of spit
worried that your lips were
flurried up chapped and hushed by
winter slush
say it now
that word ever uttered your lips

 draft ©HM 2019

 Happy Valentine's Lips Day. The round-up is over at Check It Out with Jone today where there will be much Cybilant rejoicing from many lips!

Friday, February 8, 2019

an exciting announcement

I've known for about a month now about this new opportunity, but this week I received my first official communication as a member of the...  

NCTE Children's Poetry Awards Committee!

Our charge is
  • To recommend on a regular basis (every two years beginning in 2009) the name of a living American poet or anthologist to the NCTE Executive Committee to receive the NCTE Children's Poetry Award in recognition of his or her aggregate work.
  • To establish an annual list of Notable Poetry Books published in the current year by any poet, living or deceased, and of any nationality.
  • To establish an annual list of Notable Verse Novels published in the current year by any poet, living or deceased, and of any nationality.
  • To sustain a collection of poetry books of past and future award winners in the University of Minnesota, Kerlan Collection.
  • To recognize and foster excellence in children’s poetry by encouraging its publication.
  • To explore ways to acquaint teachers and children with poetry through such means as publications, programs, and displays.
I'll be joining a group of seven good folks who share these responsibilities and as you can imagine, I'm thrilled to be of service in this way and looking forward to  reading 75-100 books of poetry and novels in verse each year!

And now, an InstadraftTM of a sharing moment that occurred unexpectedly on Tuesday at the end of the day.  

My Tradition

is my tradition because I'm the only one!
The only one in my family 
born in China.
My mom and dad (can I tell their real names?)
were born in Texas; my sister too.
My brother was also born in the United States
(is New Mexico part of the United States?
in New Mexico. But I was born in China,
and I should tell you 
I'm adopted.

That's when your parents can't 
take care of you, and I went to an orphanage.
It's not sad, because three years later--
THREE YEARS--that's where 
my family found me and brought me home. 

So, Chinese New Year Is MY tradition.
We'll eat Chinese food
and maybe have some decorations 
and watch the parade in China 
with the dragon dance.
My favorite part is eating with chopsticks. 
Happy Year of the Pig!

©HM 2019                              

The round-up today is brought to us by Laura at Writing the World for Kids, I think.....parade on over and see what's happening!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

ODT #5 a curtain of bliss

Another in my growing collection of poems about the truth.  The rising water threatens to wash everything away.  I miss my blindfold.

A Rhinoceros at the Prague Zoo | Phillis Levin

While ducks and swans paddled placidly on the Vltava’s rushing
waters, penguins, storks and gorillas were evacuated from the Prague
Zoo, and a crane was used to lift two rhinoceros to high ground. But
one turned violent and had to be killed, and keepers had to shoot a
35-year-old Indian elephant named Kadir as water rose to his ears
and he refused to move to high ground. 

–The New York Times, August 14, 2002

A blindfolded rhinoceros
is being lifted
out of the water.
It is important he doesn’t see
what is going on.

Please pass it on:

please pass along
his blindfold
so we can be lifted, too.

Take us slowly from the flood,
the rising water
that threatens to wash
everything away.

The world keeps unraveling,
the riverbank
the blood flowing,

and the rhinoceros
had better keep
that blindfold on

because he is dangerous
if he sees what is dangerous.

Unlike a unicorn,
he is heavy and
clumsy and dumb.

He will crush someone
with his fear,
he will tear us apart
if he panics.

Raise him
lower him
into a meadow
of cool waters.

Then pass along
the blindfold
so we can be lifted, too.

Raise us
out of the muck
onto a bed of grass,

pass the bright bandana
covering his eyes,
a blanket
of surrender,
a curtain of bliss:

a checkered napkin
taken from a tavern

or a chessboard
from above.

Thanks to Tabatha for finding that, and to Linda for finding this:

"What though our eyes with tears be wet?
The sunrise never failed us yet."

Friday, February 1, 2019

ODT #4 building services

People are helping me to collect poems that come at my One Difficult Truth for 2019 All Time in different ways.  Steve Peterson, aka @insidethedog, found this one for me...

The Illuminist | Jane Hirshfield

Even in his glass cabin you can see
the man driving the snowplow
is whistling, happy. He races
one road, then the next, moving new snow.
A monk patiently hammering gold-leaf,
before him the world grows pliably, steadily brighter.
And if more will fall again tonight,
no matter.
He will put on his hat, his gloves,
and make again order.
All day the plow’s sound rises,
a pre-Gregorian chanting singing its singer.
Gold of winter sun grows thinner and thinner.
he can lay it right with the little plow.
The scriptorium darkens over white vellum.
His puttering ink-stroke, lengthening,

And if it's my job to translate some of these expressions of paradox, of  bitter/gorgeous-messy/miraculous- tedious/tantalizing, into versions for my young poetry fans, here's how this one might go.

Building Services | after Jane Hirshfield

Even louder than his growling you can hear
the man mopping the floors
is driven, determined.  Mr. B polishes
one hallway, then the next, moving the day's dirt.
Ms. P patiently herds hands placing tiles;
before us the wall grows tesselated, steadily sparkled.
And if more mud will ride in again tomorrow
on our shoes, no matter.
He will fill up his bucket, add soap
and make again order.
All day the polisher's sound rises,
the circular pad throatily spinning its song.
 Flicker of mosaic tree grows broader and brighter.
Now, for a minute,
he can mark it off with yellow CAUTION signs.
The skylight darkens over white cement-board.
 Our glittering glass-field, spreading,
         ©Heidi Mordhorst 2019

 The round-up today is hosted by dear Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference, where--oy!--she is as full of surprises and serendipities as ever.  See you there.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

ODT #3

How many ways can it be said?  I seem to be collecting poems that capture the paradox of this exquisite, excruciating life.  Found this one in a comment left by Amy LV at Tara Smith's host post.

Adrift | Mark Nepo

Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief. The light spraying
through the lace of the fern is as delicate
as the fibers of memory forming their web
around the knot in my throat. The breeze
makes the birds move from branch to branch
as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost
in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh
of the next stranger. In the very center, under
it all, what we have that no one can take
away and all that we’ve lost face each other.
It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything.
I am so sad and everything is beautiful.

Friday, January 25, 2019

recess today

Second-grade recess is hairy at this time of year.  For one thing, there's not as much outdoor recess, and sometimes it's "blacktop only" because of the snow or mud conditions.  For another, the Great 2nd Grade Shift is in full swing.  Here's a summary of what's going on cognitively and socially inside kids who are turning 8:

And I'm afraid it's true what you're hearing about the effect of 2D screentime on children's brains.  Kids are now generally less able to play with peers in ways that don't have external structure, less apt to improvise, less skilled in the collaborative negotiation that underpins pretend play.

I recently had to engineer an extra recess so that a complicated and loaded wedding scenario could be played out.  Once I got the important questions out in the open ("Do you want to be IN the wedding, watch the wedding, or ignore it?") I sat back and let it roll.  Very few kids wanted to be IN it in the end, but those who did discovered that they could get "married" and then go off and play house and car and pets and shopping and parties.  They were surprised and exhilarated to discover new collaborators and new identities. It was totally worth the "lost" 20 minutes of instructional time. 😏

The following poem was also influenced by a date night with my spouse at an Improvisational Comedy workshop.  Here's to "Yes, and..."! 

Recess Today

“I’m tired of basketball,” I said,
“and tag and running everywild.
Let’s play Families instead.”
My friend Benita stopped and smiled.

“Let’s make our house under the slide!
You be the mom; I’ll be the child.”
“Yes,” I said,” and let’s ask Clyde
to be our dog!” So then we piled

some woodchips up as best we could
and made a bed for Clyde the dog.
We played that we lived in the woods
and hunted berries in the fog.

Logan asked if she could play.
She helped us drag a heavy log
to make a couch, and then she stayed.
We read her Lego catalog.  

Our family grew again when Chance
knocked on the slide and said, “Hello.
I’m Grandpa visiting from France.”
“Come in,” we said. “We have to go

out to a wedding by the lake.”
The seesaw was a car we borrowed.
Of course the wedding all was fake.
I hope we play again tomorrow.

draft ©Heidi Mordhorst

Perhaps you'd now like to scroll down for my surprise midweek post, "Day of Service." The roundup today is hosted by Tara at Going to Walden. Borrow a seesaw and get on over to somewhere in the world!

Friday, January 18, 2019

"amazed of the nature"--habitat poems by 2nd graders

Long post today! First, want to publicly acknowledge the gift of poet Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, who gave 20 very full minutes of her precious time to two classes of 2nd graders yesterday via Zoom.  Thanks to the dedicated efforts of my media specialist, @JoelaPaik, the technology worked beautifully and those kids are marked by the blessing of her poetry and her personhood forever.  Thanks, Amy!

Last Poetry Friday in Room 203 was a day with more gorgeous than bitter (it always is).  Again this year (see past projects 2017 here and here 2018), after quite some time spent researching and writing informational brochures about a range of world habitats, the Diamond Miners enjoyed some inspiration from the books pictured below as well as FOOTPRINTS ON THE ROOF by Marilyn Singer, and then set to work.

AFRICAN ACROSTICS by Avis Harley, FOREST HAS A SONG by Amy LV, WATER SINGS BLUE by Kate Coombs and, importantly, REJOICE: RAINFOREST POEMS by 3rd Graders (Scholastic Kids Are Authors series)

 Habitat brochures & poems:  I dislike the blank spaces but there is only so much catching up I can organize...

As always there were a couple who had trouble getting started--but only a couple and only a little!  Most kids understood that they were going to use all the knowledge they had accumulated through research to inform a poem and went to work with very definite ideas. And as always, I consider it evidence that my Poetry Friday routines are effective that every kid felt able to strike out on their own to act as "the boss of their poem."  I find that Poetry, in contrast to its bad rep for making people feel dumb and inadequate, Is Empowering for kids.

We started our workshop off with a shared acrostic involving ALL the habitats students had researched.  I'm particularly struck by the effectiveness of this year's acrostic poems--there were two that I actually didn't recognize WERE acrostics until I went to type them!  Today's project is to illustrate; I'll add those into the post over the weekend somehow.                      HABITATS
                      an acrostic poem by The Diamond Miners
                                             Have you seen
                                             A gila in the desert?
                                             Blue shiny waves
                                              In the ocean?
                                             Trees towering
                                             And expanding in the forests?
                                             Tall grasses waving over wildebeest in the
                                             Savannah?  Have you seen habitats?

And now, here are the students' poems!

Forests Spread
    by Chris M.

Forests spread
until the sun gets
low and low   The
leaves look dark
Fantastic trees
look at the sun
while it is getting
low    Green leaves

 by Isabella ZR 

Deserts are hot
what can I do? I might melt
on the sizzling sand
You know why! I might burn
myself!!! but some
have snow.  I might go!
Will I see snow?


 by Ethan F.

rivers are   smooth   soft

relaxing   sometimes rivers

grow   no one knows when they

Tall Grasses Dance
by Siddhartha Dangol

tall grasses dance in the
wind   they dance all
night and day  
never stop  never stop  
they like to stay in the light
and night    never stop
tall grasses always dance
in the grassland every
day    never stop at all.

     by Christian W.

Open blue sea
Covering the land   I’m the
Emperor of the sea
Amazed of the
Nature of the sea.

    by Ashly AM

forests are covered
with orange and red
in fall
forests are covered
with green and yellow
in summer

In the Desert
 by Kymani F.

in the desert
the wind blows hot
in the desert it prickles
and it tickles
the sand and the cactus
in the desert

 by Hannah D.

Really hot
Animals everywhere
In the rainforest
Noisy and quiet
Finding things to eat
Organic habitat
Really calm
Expanding trees
So much rain
The plants so pretty

Forest Is
 by Matthew H.

Forest is green and
brown and blue
vines on trees and
leaves and bears
wood and lakes

by Ezra W.

a grassland is
covered with grass
as tall as a zebra’s
covered with animals
like hyenas

by Bruce H.

Day after day it is hot.
Every monster can be dangerous.
See if you can touch one?
Evenings animals hunt for food,
Ringing on houses for prey.
There is not much rain.

    by Emma D

      r i p p l i n g
rain on the leaves
          on the
        into the
      g r o u n d


Thunderstorm in the Savannah

by Corwin R.

is coming
in the savannah
fire and rain
on the hill
with the
ant mound

Rain Forest Research
 by Jadeline Z.

      Rainforests don’t get snow!
      But why?  You need to know!!!
You can look at a book.
What about PebbleGo?
Fine, but where’s the computer?
I lost it.  What?!!!

In the Desert
 by Heidy R.

in the desert
it burns my feet
the weather is windy 
the wind blows the sand

by Aydin T. 

Water rippling shiny & blue.
Ocean splashing fiercely on shore.
Waves crashing & splashing.
Thunderstorm’s a comin’!
Water smooth, water calm.
Thunderstorm’s all gone! 

And finally, I must mark the passing of one of our quietest yet greatest voices in poetry, Mary Oliver. I believe she would have enjoyed these poems by 7- and 8-year olds, and certainly, through me, their voices are influenced by hers. In memoriam...

by Mary Oliver

The spirit
   likes to dress up like this:
     ten fingers,
       ten toes,
shoulders, and all the rest
   at night
      in the black branches
         in the morning
in the blue branches 
    of the world.
       It could float, of course,
          but would rather
plumb rough matter.
   Airy and shapeless thing,
      it needs
         the metaphor of the body,
lime and appetite,
   the oceanic fluids;
      it needs the body's world,
 and imagination
   and the dark hug of time
       and tangibility
to be understood,
   to be more than pure light
      that burns
         where no one is --
so it enters us --
    in the morning
       shines from brute comfort
          like a stitch of lightning;
and at night
   lights up the deep and wondrous
      drownings of the body
         like a star.
The roundup today is with Tricia at the Miss Rumphius Effect.  Let us mourn and rejoice together.