Friday, July 12, 2019

a very practical "poem"

No, it's not really poetry, this postcard-sized flyer that I plan to print and carry at the ready when overwhelmed people of good faith ask what they can actually DO.

But the world you walk through today
with its nearby honeybees
and faraway flooding
with its close-up calamity
and its distant river dolphins,

this world today is your poem
to read and recite
to memorize and mourn
to fold into the palm of your hand
which unfolds you
to move beyond speaking.

I say it aloud
to help me move
with urgency, patience
because change
is challenging us.

instadraft ©Heidi Mordhorst 2019

Today's Poetry Friday host is Jone at Deowriter, where she shares a very fortunate Poem Swap gift from Tabatha and where we can choose to open all kinds of poetry surprises.

Friday, July 5, 2019

born this way

I'm sure I'm not the only teacher in the Poetry Friday community who takes time in the summer to DIG OUT.  The persistent pressures of classroom life always have me triaging my way through the school year ("What must be done immediately or tomorrow?  What important pieces of paper can be thrown in this tray/folder/pile which I promise I will come back to as soon as I get more than a moment?")

Summer brings that more-than-a-moment, by which time I have forgotten what I put in this tray/folder/pile.  Luckily, much of it is now expired/moot/replaced and can be tossed directly into the recycling! I'm not sure this is the ideal way of dealing with paperwork, but there is a kind of relief in realizing that it's too late now to address quite a few things that seemed pressing a few months ago.

So here in a faded green folder are papers which were saved from my grandmother's things after her death at 95 in 2004, and which were in turn rescued from my parents' recent move into a very downsized cottage.  They are a mix of letters received by my grandmother from relatives of the 19th century, missives from my mother as a young mother to my grandmother, from me and my brother from summer camp to home in the 70's.

And here!  Original copies of poems written by Heidi as a child!  Here is the first poem I remember intentionally writing As A Poet, I think in 2nd grade.  This is a copy rewritten by a later Heidi with more developed cursive and no doubt a vision of her own poetry collection:

This list of wishes, dated Fall 1973, shows the heavy influence of all my reading and learning about Native American Indian history and culture.  Probably 90% of that information was incorrect or, at best, approximate (much came from the fictionalized facts of the Childhood of Famous Americans series), but what I did understand is that what we now call indigenous peoples lived on the land in a respectful harmony with its resources.

 Kind of fascinating, right?  The power of that fantasy was intense throughout my middle childhood.

And here--I am 11--is more evidence that my recent conversion to vociferous climate activist is really just a continuation of lifelong concerns.  😊

Perhaps you too were born this way.  (Perhaps ALL children are born with an innate understanding of our physical connection to the Earth; is that why we all will eat dirt given half a chance?)  Perhaps we all were born this way, and then the culture of achievement and consumption misled us, made us forget that knowing how to get tomatoes from nothing but seeds, rain and dirt might ultimately be more important than how to efficiently Google "vintage editions 1964 Childhood of Famous Americans."

In my searching this morning I came across this quote from Sitting Bull, "Dakota Boy."

It has become very very difficult to judge what is enough.  (Which makes it very very hard to tell if we ourselves are enough.)  So as I dig out and sift through this summer, I'm asking: does this thing I have always done, that I was sure I wanted to do, this object that I hang on to, still make sense right now?  Or can I let go, do with the less that is enough?

Our Poetry Friday host this week is Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect, where she and her Poetry Sisters are ringing us with triolets.  Isn't it nice that we can get there without too many CO2 emissions?

Friday, June 28, 2019

daylilies and hummingbirds

Global Climate Strike scheduled for Friday, September 20.  Plan ahead to show that 
you accept that this is a #ClimateEmergency and that you don't accept government inaction! 

The pretty stripes above are a powerful graphic depiction of climate warming in my state of Maryland. Each stripe represents the average annual temperature of one year between 1895 and 2018. "These are just normal fluctuations over time," say the climate change deniers--but there is no doubt that the trend we see starting in about 1985 is a strong, consistent shift.  You can go to and get the warming stripes graphic for your location too.  Share the knowledge, friends.


Why?  Why am I harping on?  Here are some reasons within my view this morning on my patio.
This particular bloom was a great triumph, because our daylilies were not doing well until we cleared out the avalanche of trumpet vine that was choking it.  Then, just as they were getting ready to finally pop, Fiona and I met a pair of young stags on the road behind us, and we are 99% certain that one of them bounded back through our yard and stopped for a tasting at our Daylily Buffet!  Of the 18 stalks that had flowers developing, there were only 4 left the next morning.  Here's my daylily poem:

orange daylilies stand
long-necked in creeks of green
along every road
flocks of June herons

ours haven’t landed yet
late bloomers
just opening their beaks
©Heidi Mordhorst 2019

I'm harping on because as I'm sitting here, this appears:

blue-grey buzz of 
long-beaked hover
coming back
hanging just 
out of reach whenever
I think you've
instadraft ©Heidi Mordhorst 2019

I'm harping on because we poets, "we love the Earth...we love our planet...we love the is our home." (You might like to watch the amusing and not very "clean version" of the not super-poetic music video below, which seems aimed at 12-year-old boys.  You have been warned.)

I'm harping on also because see, L'il Dicky knows that if you want to capture the attention of 12-year-old boys, you put foul-mouthed animated pigs and farting skunks on YouTube, because it's likely that many of those kids have not noticed a daylily or seen a live hummingbird or pig or skunk to fall in love with.  We all of us are losing daily touch with nature, or if we're touching it, it's encased in plastic or it's 2D on an electronic screen.

As spring came on in 2nd grade and we spent more time outdoors, I found myself having to explain to 8-year-olds that they are SUPPOSED to actually TOUCH nature, get dirty, get scraped and bruised and sweaty--"it's how your body learns about the world," I said.  They all just wanted endless band-aids.  
I finally decided to provide unlimited, self-determined band-aids (but not unlimited visits to the nurse!).  And Karen Boss's DMC Challenge over at Today's Little Ditty with Michelle Heidenrich Barnes gave me the perfect opportunity to expand on a new, more powerful purpose for band-aids.  Thanks to Michelle for featuring this at her blog; now you can read it here too!

©Heidi Mordhorst 2019

Thanks to Buffy over at Buffy's Blog for hosting us today.  I hope you get a little dirty and hot and bruised on your way over and that your path is lined with daylilies and hummingbirds and not animated expletives.  And don't forget to start thinking about what you can do to make a noise on September 20.  #ThisIsZeroHour.

Friday, June 21, 2019

hallelujah solstice

Global Climate Strike scheduled for Friday, September 20.  Plan ahead!

I like to say that here in Maryland, just outside DC, summer lasts from May to October, meaning you could comfortably eat outside at your patio table at any time during those 6 months.  But of course, technically, summer doesn't start until June 21stish or until school is out, by which time the longest day of the year is already arrived.

In our family we celebrate the solstices (and with less established tradition the e*uinoxes).  So I know that today is called Midsummer or Litha by our neopagan friends.  I try to resist the feeling that summer has peaked before it's begun, and to remember that there are 94 whole days before the fall e*uinox (and a pause to note the rolling on of the Wheel of the Year on August 7, when neopagans observe the halfway point called Lammas)--but it's hard.

And being a teacher, it's hard to remember in May as the days lengthen to Be Here Now and enjoy those extra hours of sunlight even though "summer doesn't begin until school is out."  In fact, this year even the impending END of the school year felt uninspiring.  I kept waiting for that wide-open "Friday afternoon feeling" of weekend anticipation to take me over, and all I got was that "Sunday evening feeling" of dread and anxiety that summer will soon be over and school will start all over again.  *SIGH*

Sounds like it's time for a change of scene, right?  Send up your message to the universe that Heidi needs her groove back, and let's see what shifts. EDITED now that I can share the news: a change of scene is exactly what I'm getting!  The universe has shone upon me and I will leave 2nd grade to teach pre-K next year!!!  Yay yay yay!!!)

Now the school year has truly ended, now I have enjoyed my first day of true rest & relaxation, and I'm in a better place to Be Here Now.  You know, like the sun does--hour after hour, day after day, eon after eon.  The seed of this poem came from a kindergartener's words back in 2011.

Belly of the Summer

hallelujah sun
you have eaten up

leaf and land, sand and snow,
ocean vapor, lava flow

now your belly glows
so full and fat

that you have to lie back
in your blue hammock
your many arms thrown wide

and just shine

revision ©Heidi Mordhorst 2019

Our round-up host today is my dear friend Linda Mitchell!  Join her at A Word Edgewise for summery poems and a very fun "clunker exchange"!

Friday, May 24, 2019

#GlobalClimateStrike: educating ourselves

No, I can't just walk out, not show up.  School doesn't work that way. (Although honestly I have wondered how long it would take to get any number of excellent child-related needs achieved, including climate salvation, if 3.2 million public school teachers all walked out together for a week. Hoo, mama, could we stir things up!)

But I did book a sub for a sick day, and the code I'm using is "Illness in Family" because the home of the human family is indeed ill.  I'll be heading down to the White House to stand with @JeromeFosterII for a livable future for our ailing planet, our ailing attitude.  I think my sign will say

  lead the way to the low-hanging fruit

I will not be joined by an old friend of mine and of climate action, Robin Galbraith, because she is actually a substitute teacher in my district and is working today, but I want to highlight the work she has been doing to train and become a presenter for the organization DRAWDOWN, which you can read about here.  This organization is attempting to communicate to the public hopeful ways to impact what seems like an insurmountable problem, something that those of us who some days wake up feeling defeated already can really use.  I'm looking forward to seeing Robin present soon.

Project Drawdown aims to share 100 solutions to reverse global warming.  But today even 100 seems like more than I can personally tackle, and when I look at the list, I don't even know what some of them mean.  So instead I Googled "low-hanging fruit personal climate action."

Well, would you look at that!  Here's a paper that is actually called:


"The individual and household sector generates roughly 30 to 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and is a potential source of prompt and large emissions reductions. Yet the assumption that only extensive government regulation will generate substant-ial reductions from the sector is a barrier to change, particularly in a political environment hostile to regulation. This Article demonstrates that prompt and large reductions can be achieved without relying predominantly on regulatory measures. The Article identifies seven "low-hanging fruit:" actions that have the potential to achieve large reductions at less than half the cost of the leading current federal legislation, require limited up-front government expenditures, generate net savings for the individual, and do not confront other barriers

Although in isolation any one action may appear trivial, when multiplied across part or all of the roughly 110 million households in America, each can produce enormous emissions savings. These actions are the low-hanging fruit of individual and household emissions. They demand relatively little of individuals but produce prompt, significant CO2 emissions reductions when carried out in large numbers. They have the prospect not only of reducing emissions but also of kick-starting the process of engaging the public in its role of reducing emissions."

You guys, I am shocked to discover that the seven actions listed here are NOT AT ALL what I was expecting (which is kind of the point of the paper: we don't even know what we're doing that is heating up the planet)!  Look:

  • Reduce the component of motor vehicle idling that has net costs to the driver;
  • Reduce standby power electricity use;
  • Accelerate the substitution of compact fluorescent light bulbs for incandescent bulbs;
  • Adjust temperature settings two degrees in both summer and winter;
  • Decrease household thermostat settings on water heaters;
  • Maintain the recommended tire pressure in personal motor vehicles; and
  • Change air filters in personal motor vehicles at recommended intervals.

Friends, I have personally been driving on a flat tire for a week, ignoring the warning light on my dashboard.  I thought this research was going to say something sexy like "Ban single-use plastics!" or "Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing food waste!"  (Read through that article to see one human's "personal Climate Resolution [including] reducing food waste as a low hanging fruit to reduce GHG emissions and save scarce resources.")  But no, apparently I should start by UNPLUGGING all electronics that I am not actually using to avoid midnight vampire power sucking, as much as my refrigerator uses!

So if we can all take individual actions that will make a big difference, why would I bother going downtown (by Metro, of course) to demonstrate at the #WhiteHouseClimateStrike?  Well, because it's a visible platform, and I'm a communicator, and because our government does have a leading role to play even if it's not expensive and slow regulatory fixes.  The research paper points out that "It is quite possible that a well-managed public information campaign that had a budget of $1.5 billion and that reflected the most important advances in the social and behavioral sciences would generate reductions in the low-hanging fruit sufficient to achieve the 150 million ton target."

So it is a governmental responsibility to PROMOTE the scientific evidence that we American humans and our fossil-fueled modern advances in comfortable and convenient living are going to have GIVE SOMETHING UP to preserve the planet for our children. And also, if 14-year-old girls can go sit alone with their signs on a street bench, next to a police station, in front of a state house for weeks on end to bravely plead for my adult help, then by golly I can spend a morning in front of the White House trying to give it! @kidlit4climate

And here's my wee poem, which will not fit on a demonstration sign:

Stand up, sit down, shout
Take time to teach
Raise your voice; the
Iron is hot 
Kick up a fuss
Every action counts

Every action counts, even if it's only that you put a sign (painfully ironically) in your car window today and drive around showing that "I SUPPORT THE CLIMATE STRIKE FOR OUR FUTURE."

The round-up today is with Dani Burtsfeld at Doing the Work That Matters. Yeah, let's do that! And felicitations to all who are finishing up their school years today, with thanks for that work too.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


 Image result for twitter logo

white birds flap on screen
seventeen syllables
give or take a few

I've been intermittently com-posting some haiku on Twitter, late inspired by Liz Garton Scanlon's 11-year April tradition.  Why not round them up, now that I've planned how to get peacefully and productively through all the meddlesome, tedious EOY assessments and all the emotionality that comes with the end of another year of 2nd grade?

By the way, if you haven't read this piece on that complex emotionality for teachers, please do.  If you're not a teacher, you'll learn a lot, and if you are you'll feel deeply and well represented.

For Teachers of Children in Poverty, The End of the Year Brings Mixed Emotions

So here they are:

painted lady chrysalis
leaks neon blue and scarlet
inner beauty

alone, sun on my
burger, glass of rose'
cause for poetry

    (in response to this one from @lisagerlits)
     I ought to have a dog
    to walk--for poetry's sake
    if not his or mine

the round cans wax
then wane to empty drawer
cat food calendar

fat green
molecule of miracle
first tomato

ivy gone awry
persistent oils, tangled roots
hard learned lessons ooze

hundreds of tiny
deeprooted weeds sprout each night
they will not be stopped

the flaming plane
is not "out of the blue"
we see it coming

waiting all day
for the thunder to roll
sun just carries on

I'm so late with my post this week (didn't know I was going to do one!) but even so I'm sure that our host and my friend Margaret at Reflections on the Teche won't mind my tardiness. She has pi-ku so I'll be in good company!

Friday, May 3, 2019

round-up and rest

Thanks for a great month, PF people!  I'm still struggling with a persistent and extremely frustrating inability to comment on certain Blogger blogs, including my own, so I'm going lay low this month until the worldwide tech community helps me figure it out and meanwhile get some submitting done.

#ClimateCrisis PSA:  Many climate protection organizations are calling on adults to join the students across the globe who have been striking on Fridays for the future of their planet IN A GENERAL STRIKE on Friday, May 24.  I've booked a sub and will be out demonstrating.  I love this formulation of the moment from
"Climate change, the defining challenge of our lifetime. It is, of course, not the only major, systemic issue we face and, for many, it is not the most important in day-to-day lives marked by injustice and inequality in a system that privileges the few. But it is an issue that touches nearly everyone and that permeates our systems, exacerbates inequality, and sharpens injustice.... climate change is real, it’s caused by humans, [and] there’s still time to fight it."

I enjoyed so much about our playful, narrative April this year, and I'm grateful for the commitment of all the folks listed below who contributed, including to the Progressive Poem (and of course to Irene for instigating once again), but the grand finale kudos goes to Donna Smith, who made our whole funky found poem into an actual song, ukelele accompaniment provided!  Aren't we all a multitalented bunch?

And here's the playlist of the Progressive Poem, whence the lines all came from--an eclectic mix, for sure.

Here is a list of each line's source:

L1 The Who, ‘I Can See for Miles’/The Beach Boys, ‘Endless Summer’
L2 The Beach Boys, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’/Dean Martin, ‘When You’re Smiling’
L3 The Jamies, ‘Summertime, Summertime’
L4 The Doors, Summer’s Almost Gone’/Led Zeppelin ‘Good Times, Bad Times’
L5 Ray Bradbury, “Dandelion Wine”
L6 Joni Mitchell, “Chelsea Morning”
L7 Paul Simon, “Kodachrome,” “Dazzling Blue”
L8 Dan Fogelberg, “Run for the Roses”
L9 Spice Girls, “Wannabe”/Will Smith, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”
L10 The Beatles, “Good Day Sunshine”
L11 The Carpenters, “Top of the World”
L12 Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Underneath the Lovely London Sky” from Mary Poppins Returns
L13 Carole King, “Hi-de-ho (That Old Sweet Roll)”
L14 Steve Miller, “Fly Like An Eagle”
L15 Don Felder, “Wild Life”
L16 Nowleen Leeroy, “Song of the Sea” (lullaby)
L17 Sara Bareilles, “She Used to Be Mine” from WAITRESS
L18 Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely”
L19 R.E.M., “Find the River”
L20 Carole King, “Way Over Yonder”
L21 Mint Juleps, “Groovin” by the Young Rascals
L22 Jack Johnson, “Upside Down”
L23 Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) “Rainbow Connection” from the Muppet Movie
L24 The Foo Fighters, “Learning to Fly”
L25 Tina Turner, “The Best”
L26 The Partridge Family, “Summer Days”
L27 The Pointer Sister’s, “We Are Family”
L28 Indigo Girls, “Power of Two”
L29 David Bowie, "Let's Dance"
L30 Donna's Song

Jama's rounding us up today at her brain-candy blog Alphabet Soup.   Happy May to all!