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 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.