Friday, November 27, 2020

thanks, anyway


He holds the 21st century up to his ear

and I can see it so clearly on the 

small screen: the helix and the antihelix,

the curve of his scapha,

the lobule of course, and between 

his tragus and antitragus, where

it's easy for detritus to collect,

his intertragic notch is looking

particularly clean and shiny.

There's a tuft of hair here and there,

to be expected at 80; and there

is the transparent wire that makes

it all work still: just a filament, really, 

looping over the helicis crus,

over the concha cavum (not 

to be confused with the concha

cymba), into the much more

commonly known ear canal.

The picture is so clear that I imagine

I can see inside: the practically-named

stirrup, anvil and hammer,

which thumps the ear drum 

far more delicately than "hammer"

and "drum" suggest.  We joke 

when he realizes I've been

studying his ear instead of seeing

his face, about how he's glad 

he showered this morning to get 

that ear so clean--and still 

we misunderstand each other.

They arrive for the dinner we agreed

must be separate; we turn them away

on the porch because one of us

might be unclean--virus trapped,

perhaps, in that notoriously mucky 

intertragic notch.

draft ©Heidi Mordhorst 2020


Join Carol and more of the Poetry Friday crew at Carol's Corner for a Thanksgiving weekend round-up. This week for the first time, someone I know personally and locally has had COVID (and, gratefully, gotten through it), but it has closed all the way in for so many. I hope you and yours are safe and well enough. ๐Ÿงก

Thursday, November 12, 2020

aubade, with apologies

Dear Sunday Swaggers,

I'm sorry.  Last week I very consciously made a decision to pass on Poetry Friday in order to focus on my work for the NCTE Poetry Awards Committee meeting on Friday evening. My beleaguered brain was unable to recall that on THIS particular Friday, I was committed to our monthly group challenge--this time from Linda Mitchell, to write an aubade (here's a good one by Philip Larkin).  So you came here on Friday morning and found only...


No song or poem
greets this dawn.
Nobody bids a
fond adieu to a love.
There is no parting here
this morn, for neither 
was there joining...

except the joining 
of an early riser 
and her books. She rose
to read, to join with eyes
of love wide open, wise,
to read what the world
would put before a child.

She read to see that words
played music like the dawn,
like rays of light and veils 
of cloud removed, illuminating
extraordinary news.

She read to see that promises
were kept, that what the
poem claimed would be
delivered, along with
extra unexpected joy.

She read to keep familiar
voices honest. She read to
thresh fresh voices from 
the throng. She read and
wrote her morning love
a song, a song to guide
the ones who choose 
the books, who spread
the poems out before 
the child.

draft ©Heidi Mordhorst 2020

Please accept my apology, Swaggers. Our committee is excited to be participating at the NCTE Annual (Virtual) Convention, reviewing last year's picks, introducing this year's choices, and announcing the biennial NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children!

And in case you missed my fellow aubadeers' work last week, here are links:

Our host for Poetry Friday this week is Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge. I hope there's haiku!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

it's that time again


Autumn has fallen hard here this week.  Trees are looking disheveled if not bare, leaves are blowing in the rain, and we've had many mornings of chill, damp fog.

But in PreK we have been focused with delight on pumpkins, which--let's face it--are among the most cheerful of produce! (Never mind that I needed a long deep sob on Tuesday over the fact that for the first time in my entire teaching career I am not carving pumpkins with my class.)

It so happens that I have a few poems for this time of year.  The pumpkin one is, curiously, more hallowed and floating than hollowed and glowing.  And then there's the obligatory black cat.  Please enjoy a blast from my authorial past, and pardon the homemade photos of actual pages; I am too tired to do better.


Both of these are from PUMPKIN BUTTERFLY: POEMS FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF NATURE (Wordsong/Boyds Mills, 2009).  I have a case or two in my basement if you would like to order a nice signed copy for your young ones or your classroom!    

Our host today is my pal Linda at TeacherDance.  Ring her doorbell for tricks and treats aplenty (but NO I REPEAT NO Trumps)!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Friday, October 23, 2020

i can't sleep,

which for me is so unusual, and if not, I know why, usually, and tonight (starting too late after the debate, and late to take my nightly half-tablet of diphenhydramine hydrochloride, and a tiny knot of something in the back of my neck; is it dread?) unusually I don't know why I'm awake at 1:28 with no plan for a Poetry Friday post, so I turn to this endlessly suitable POEM IN YOUR POCKET collection from the Academy of American Poets, selected by Elaine Bleakney, a stranger who must share my taste since I always find the poem I am looking for.

This poem by Robert Creeley, I find, is almost exactly as old as I am--published in June of 1964 in Poetry Magazine. My eye is heavy with the sight. I can feel my face breaking,

breaking, I hope, into sleep.  Did I lift all that, to what purpose?

Our host this week is Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  We seem to be in a similar state of mind, falling, not falling. It all drops into place.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

hop to it hoopla hooray!


Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, children's poetry champions extraordinaire, have done it again.

Their new anthology, HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING, pulls together 100 new poems by 90 living poets designed to get kids up, down and moving all around.  Originally conceived before the pandemic hit and so many of us evacuated our school buildings, the collection morphed and flexed, in keeping with the needs of our time.  It is now woven through with poems that acknowledge the realities of life in masks, school on Zoom, and the small and larger griefs that accompany the goof and games of childhood.

I'm so pleased that my "Poem for When Things Get a Little Too Serious" is included.  Another time I'll highlight the very fun EXTRA, EXTRA section at the back as well as some of my favorite discoveries for PreK Zoom use!

Our Poetry Friday host today is Janice Scully at Salt City Verse.  Hop on over for more book-birthday celebration of this great anthology and other poetry treats!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

duplex challenge

 Well, thank you very much, Margaret Simon! A bracing challenge for the Sunday Swaggers this month: we swag on over to Jericho Brown's THE TRADITION to learn more about the duplex form, one which I tackled already not too long ago to satisfy a different challenge.

But it would be a cheater-pants move to just reuse that poem, so in honor of the fact that in this new world order I swim laps on a cloudy October afternoon (every other year of my life pooling came to a hard stop on Labor Day Monday),  I offer this fresh and drafty new duplex, "a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem..."

Can't wait to see what Margaret and the other Swaggers have come up with--you can too by clicking below.  

Our hostess with the mostess today is Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference (and I mean that literally--I believe that Tabatha posts more consistently than any of us steady and prolific posters).  May your Friday be steady and prolific as well.

Saturday, September 26, 2020


I'm distracted. You're overwhelmed. I pause a moment at the bathroom window to take in the dogwood's deep red signal of fall. You pause a moment to appreciate the fleeting equinox light, and then we both return to the business of managing our business, our small part of the collective fear and dread of this moment in time.

And then we remember:  it's not just the virus.  It's not just the deep red signal of another police shooting.  It's not just the fleeting light of grief and respect for a woman of wise and notorious decorum before we must dive into the fray again.  

Meanwhile, beneath and above all this, our climate emergency continues.  Luckily art comes to the rescue, and we are gifted a way to remember.

Union Square NYC, September 19, 2020

Please go here to read about the reimagining of Metronome, a giant electronic clock that has now been converted to a CLIMATECLOCK which shows the deadline for achieving zero global emissions before there is no turning back (this screenshot from 9/26/20 8:54 am EST).

ClimateClock has a companion website and an app where you can get not just the bad news, but good news about what IS being done around the world to reduce and reverse the effects of emissions, and how we ourselves can #ActInTime.  The app shows an action item of the week which gives us each something concrete to do.

I guess I have clocks on the mind as I navigate 2h15m of live online instruction for each of two groups of PreK children every day.  How do I offer lively, engaging, HUMANIZING contact for 4-year-olds through a screen?  How much time is enough?  How much is too much?  How do I build in time for guided free-play choices indoors and out, like we would have in real school?

So far we're having pretty good success using Padlet for our choice boards (Indoor and Outdoor), this online countdown timer, and this music to let us know when it's time to come back to class. 


So here I am at the advertised "crossroads of poetry, public school PreK & climate action"--what can I offer?

In Jeopardy

tick tock think
tick tock play
tick tock thoughtful playful days

tick tock stumble
tick tock sigh
ticktock check the clock and try

again  again  again  again  again  again  again  again


Jone has the Poetry Friday roundup today at her spruce new blog.  Better late than never, right? in sooo many ways!

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 ๐ŸŒžGood Day, PreK!๐ŸŒž 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