Friday, September 18, 2020

take it to your altar

This popped up before my eyes on a day when I hadn't realized I needed a prayer of some kind. Read it first with the fire in mind. Then read it again with metaphor in mind.

AHO . ASHÉ to the ASHES 

Now maybe go scoop some ashes in a sacred manner, and then 
maybe go vote, to remind Fire that it is full.

This came from @mujeresdemaiz via Instagram. I believe the words are by  @thehaginthewoods and

May you be safe, may you be loved, may you be remembered, now and always. Matt Forrest Esenwine has the round-up today at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.

Friday, September 4, 2020

in one word: ****

about as delicate as I can be about
 dismantling anything right now
The Sunday Night Swaggers are back to monthly challenges. This month Catherine Flynn has challenged us to write an In One Word poem created by April Halprin Wayland. See her introductory post here.

It is 7:37 am and, in one word, f**k.  I had another post in mind and I have just remembered that I have a poetry challenge to rise to! Luckily I did start this challenge some months ago. So let's consider this LIVE POETRY FRIDAY and let's see what half-draft I have sitting in a handy searchable Google Doc....


In a Word: dismantle [last edit July 5]

I didn’t write it right away. Beset by lament, beset by the dismal stain that spreads when you actually listen, my mantle of denial, of sane, silent agreement was torn away. Uncovered, stripped, taken apart at last, by taking myself apart I can finally put you together. By breaking myself down I can see the far edges of the system.

remaining words on my list:




In the spirit of that grace that we are all offering each other these days (please say you are offering and accepting enormous grace right now!), I will come back to this very very rough Step 4 later in the day. Then you can watch me finish my poem right here. Maybe I'll even use Screencastify to record my doings! Don't we all have a lot of new tools and techniques we can juggle?

I would also like to say that I intend to do my host duty and visit all of LAST FRIDAY'S posts when I can....

SATURDAY, 7:15 am


brought to you by Screencastify, 5 free minutes at a time!

Then I did some more editing off-video, so now the poem is....

And just now, Sunday morning, I've had another go at a few things that were bothering me...

Thank you to whoever is hosting today- IT'S CAROL at Beyond Literacy Link, and happy LABOR day to all. Don't forget to check out the rest of our swaggery gracious offerings today!

Catherine Flynn @ Reading to the Core 

Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone 
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise 
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche

Thursday, August 27, 2020

back to school; poetry friday is here!

It's good to be back, Poetry Friday!  My hiatus was important, but I've missed you. Do you wonder what I've been up to?  You can check out this post and the two following to find out what I did to relieve my mind.  Shout out to Linda Baie for the initial gift and participation.     

And while it has been ever so easy to forget, amid the wide array of challenges to our precarious status quo, that I'm supposed to be a Climate Activist, I'm going to send you to this separate post <currently under construction> all about the intriguing pandemic invention called a ShoeStrike for Climate.

[EDITED SAT MORNING]  What was I thinking?  School starts Monday, and even if I'm still rounding up new PreK families and trying to set up virtual home visits all week, I have a thousand things to do.  I do not have time to write a separate post about shoestrikes!  Climate action is still important, but I can only do so much. I may not get to everyone's post this weekend, but I'll get there eventually. 

Also, I notice that I did something that bothers me when others do it.  I took a shortcut and said "amid the wide array of challenges," instead of very specifically naming the unceasing traumatic effects--on every color of us--of systemic racism, the system that tells police officers that Jacob Blake (and his three little boys) are a threat to their safety because he's Black, so shoot him. Power, justice and compassion to the marchers yesterday. Sorry I couldn't join.


Any minute now it will be September of the strangest and most uncomfortable of my 56 years.  You can tell because I am awake at 12:30 am on Wednesday night writing a Poetry Friday post ahead of time.

In September 2001 the elementary school kids had already gone back to school and my Caterpillar Class of 4-year-olds was just getting underway.  Then 4 planes crashed into parts of our "safe little greatest nation on earth" and suddenly nothing would ever be the same.  Do you remember?

At that time I had a toddler and had recently returned to the practice of poetry.  For a workshop I wrote this poem, and you'll see why it has come to mind again as I cease checking the daily counts in order to focus on going back to school, joyfully, with a screen full of 4-year-olds.  I guess I have a little lingering grief to get out before we start singing the ðŸŒžGood Day, PreK!🌞 song for 2020....

On that cheery note, HAPPY NEW SCHOOL YEAR to all the teachers who will or are already rockin the remote learnin! Kindly leave your links for the roundup below, and may we all be as well as we can-- especially our friends who have weathered hurricanes in addition to all the other storms we currently ride under.    

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, July 31, 2020

#magazineticpoetry III

I conclude my nondigital, move-words-around-with-my-actual-hands poetrymaking project.  It was fun and interesting and challenging and above all diverting.

July 24

July 26

July 28

July 29

July 30

July 31

All "tablestorms"
©Heidi Mordhorst 2020

Friday, July 24, 2020

#magazineticpoetry II

I continue my experimentations with a limited yet flexible set of words.

Here are my hashtags:

Am I running out of ways to use them?  Surely not yet....

 July 12 

July 13

July 14

July 15 

 July 16

July 17

July 19

 July 20

July 21

July 22

 July 23

All "tablestorms"
©Heidi Mordhorst 2020

Saturday, July 11, 2020


Things are tough out there, relentlessly tough.

I needed more play, I needed to make something, I needed to turn away from the news and make something, but nothing fancy or tricky or permanent.  So I got out a tin of words sent to me in 2017 by Linda Baie of TeacherDance.  I found I needed connector words, so I also got out a Magnetic Poetry set (LGBTQ version). 

Here's what I've playmade this week.  It's working the way I hoped it would.

Monday, June 15, 2020


If you are a 5th grader from my school looking for your special promotion message, click below!


with love from Ms. Mordhorst

Friday, June 12, 2020

celebrating nikki grimes

Inspired by others who are granting themselves a wise or well-earned break from activities and practices that feel heavy, I am taking a break from Poetry Friday this summer.
My focus this summer will be on writing--really WRITING-- for submission. 
I'll see you when I next host on August 28th!

Hoopla and huzzah!  Thanks to Irene Latham's thoughtfulness, today we celebrate the achievements the accomplishments the downright gift that is Nikki Grimes, poet, author and leader of the young people's poetry community.

My celebration is of ONE LAST WORD, Nikki's 2017 tribute in Golden Shovels to the poets of the Harlem Renaissance, in anticipation of her forthcoming LEGACY, a companion that highlights women poets of the Harlem Renaissance.  From ONE LAST WORD, here is Nikki's reworking of a line from "The Minor Key" by Clara Ann Thompson.

This poem, like so many of Nikki's, is truer than true, and yet right now in this moment we are all noticing the range of ways we selfsame human folk may itch with anger, sneeze with laughter, crack, peel, sigh.  Same and different, that concept we start working on in PreK and never stop learning.

I enjoy catching up a little with Nikki each year at NCTE, and in Baltimore last year I was lucky enough to spend a whole little dinner with her.  Here's a photo taken by Janet Fagal, who happened to be at the next table.  

As we finished dinner Nikki said, "But you didn't read me a poem." So I read her my collage poems for kindergarteners which I had brought for my session, right there in the Hilton restaurant!  One of the extraordinary things about Nikki is her range, her ability to write for the ears and hearts of our youngest right up to our most adult young adults; she listened with pleasure and respect. 

Hoopla and huzzah once again for our treasure, Nikki Grimes!

Visit Live Your Poem with Irene to find links to the Poetry Friday round-up, and may the wisdom and wonder of Nikki accompany you through the week.

Friday, June 5, 2020

farewell: a sunday swaggers challenge

Back in maybe January, when I set the monthly challenge for our poets' group, the world seemed, you know, normal. Regular. Ordinarily challenging, simultaneously bitter and gorgeous...normal.

Now as we face our June poetry challenge, I think I speak for all of us when I say we are shook.  Yes, through March, April and May we were consumed by the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic quarantine online school family displacement disturbing public discourse--but by the end of May we had, as humans do, come into some place of routine.

And then--not for everyone, some of whom live in this upside down all day every day--the world turned upside down again as we watched in horror as once again, twice again, [threefourtentwentyfifty toomanytocount] Black lives were taken before our eyes.

So now the challenge I set back in January, to write a poem of farewell to anyone or anything--which I thought appropriate to the end of a normal regular school year--has even more possibility built in.  

I wrote a duplex last week which was a worthy challenge.  It's not explicitly a poem of farewell, but it is the beginning of goodbye to the belief that "not being racist" is enough.   The inauguration line is a link to this moment from the TV show Black-ish.

But there's so much, so many more, to bid farewell to.  It's time to say goodbye to the 5th graders from my school, many of whom I've known for their whole [school] lives.

I hope this poem captures the odd challenge of this year and the heartfelt connections that will last long past this pandemic.

The Time We've Had

It's hard to say goodbye
      when you haven't said hello 
for weeks and weeks--not really.

I squeeze my own self tight
      and throw a hug through screens--
I mean it but it feels kind of silly.

Kind of silly, kind of sad,
     but this is the year we've had 
and now it's ending--this is it.

And here's the thing I've learned
     from twelve weeks of online learning--

        if you need me, I am here
        if I miss you, you are there
and the time that we have shared
      has marked our hearts with burning--
just a bit.

draft © Heidi Mordhorst 2020

Thanks to our own Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for hosting today, and let's see what the rest of the Swaggers decided to bid farewell to!

Friday, May 29, 2020

online lessons

I signed up for MasterClass to get their 2-for-1 deal and so that I could sit at the feet of Billy Collins.  He does things in his poems that I love but that are not my usual style, so I thought I'd learn something new and stretchy.  I was right, and I'm only on Lesson 5 of 19.  You can also see what other members of the family have found interesting!

My dear friend Mary Lee is celebrating the triumphant yet sorrowing end of her school year with an expansive post inviting us to a Reading Without Walls challenge.  See you there!