Friday, December 28, 2018


Cranking along, enjoying the mini challenge of one haiku per day, I addressed everything from our ill-behaved President to the 200th anniversary of THE Christmas carol.

Dec. 22
hope a lump of coal
in your stocking ruins the golf
naughty selfish boy
Dec. 23

smoke of wood fire
smells like home to primal noses
as Silent Night to ears

Oh, yes--I was having a lot of satisfying creativity and community writing #haikuforhope, and then on top of my injured foot, which wasn't getting better, came this:

Dec. 24

high holiday
laid low by fondue and flu
gentle morning joy

I'm blaming the flu shot I got last Saturday, which I did only to pass the time more productively while I waited in an urgent care center for an x-ray which might show why my injured foot wasn't getting better.  I haven't been terribly ill--but it does feel like every single 2nd grade germ of 2018 has just been waiting for an entryway, and the little hole where the flu shot went in was it.  My Killer Immune System, of which I am still very proud, has been working overtime, but suddenly I needed NOTHING on the horizon.

Dec. 25

music of the season
jangles, twitterjabber jars
now for long quiet

And I also came to realize that all that hanging around on Twitter liking things was getting in the way of my real intent for this break, which was to read some books.  So I just decided to stop.  Just like that.  So today, here are the last of my #haikuforhope and me experimenting with a challenging philosophical conundrum: quitting shit.  [Pardon my rhyming.]

The question I'm wrestling with is: Where is the line between dependability and flakiness?  What is the ratio of external appearances to internal integrity in that calculation?  When is it compulsion and when is it commitment?  Can you be a good person (and I think I know what that means, having watched all of THE GOOD PLACE so far) if you quit something you promised, or even just intended--to yourself or others--that you would do?  Is it okay to not do things because you don't feel like it?  What kind of lesson is that to teach your children? And most fundamentally,

When is enough enough, and why would this be so hard for me to figure out?

Dec. 28

it is my son who
"has trouble stopping," I thought
tyrant intentions

Donna JT Smith is our round-up host on this endingbeginning Poetry Friday of the year.  See you in 2019!

UPDATE 1 HOUR LATER: As always there is wisdom to be found at Tabatha's blog The Opposite of Indifference.  Here's a quote I just found in her Christmas Eve post, which seems to suggest starting from a position of NOT doing things:
Never compose anything unless the not composing of it becomes a positive nuisance to you.
~Gustav Holst


Friday, December 21, 2018


Wishing all a merry and bright Solstice!  Our family's 12 Nights of Yuletide begins this evening with a special meal and a candle-lighting ceremony (see Dec. 20 below), so all I have time for in between cooking and tablesetting is to recap my #haikuforhope this week.  Thanks again to Catherine Flynn and Mary Lee Hahn who ignited this little practice for me again this year.

Dec. 15 

holiday party 
I can’t enjoy the spiced punch 
emptied water jugs

Dec. 16 

pins and needles 
weary foot won't take the weight 
limbs stage a slowdown 

Dec. 17 

butter flour fruit spice 
rows and columns of goodness 
edible calendar

Dec. 18 

blur of class play grades 
parties actual meetings: 
a girl could lose a day  

Dec. 19 

weeks of drought 
dry arroyo of bedroom 
a flood of daughter

Dec. 20 

tradition, you bully 
meet me at the corner of 
must and love

Dec. 21

dark clock ticks 
repeatedly remind myself
tomorrow is longer

Three and half more hours of school...I look forward to a full tour of blogposts this weekend, rounded up for us by Buffy at her blog.  Joy to you all!

Friday, December 14, 2018


I'm continuing to join a whole crew of December hopefuls in Tweeting daily haiku.  Here are mine for the last week, and while I keep trying to hew to some basic tenets of traditional haiku, circumstances continue to drain my self-discipline so that the best I can do is to write something, never mind according to any rules.

What are those rules?  I often turn to my friend Robyn Hood Black for haiku inspiration, because

empty window
the last of her fur
in the lint trap

 ©Robyn Hood Black
Frogpond 40:3, Autumn 2017

which just goes to show you don't even need  5-7-5, but today I'm reviewing a bit of guidance from The Academy of American Poets:

Among the greatest traditional haiku poets are Basho, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki. Modern poets interested in the form include Robert Hass, Paul Muldoon, and Anselm Hollo, whose poem “5 & 7 & 5” includes the following stanza:

     round lumps of cells grow
     up to love porridge later
     become The Supremes                                          [my goodness, how I love this]

Haiku was traditionally written in the present tense and focused on associations between images. There was a pause at the end of the first or second line, and a “season word," or kigo, specified the time of year.

As the form has evolved, many of these rules—including the 5/7/5 practice—have been routinely broken. However, the philosophy of haiku has been preserved: the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment and illumination.

As you'll see in my week's work, each of my haiku has one or two of the traditional elements, but I don't think any one has all of them.

Dec. 8

is this a place where
only those survive who are

 Dec. 9

dead brown living green
hanging somewhere in between
wise bud of waiting

Dec. 10

single string of
tiny lights twines up trunk
strives at crescent moon

Dec. 11

full-on sweat-soaked battle
scrambling bodies slap the mat
purity of wrestling

Dec. 12

two holes show hidden joins
present hearts, everyone

Here are two where I try to get at all the markers of classic haiku.  Let's see if it makes a difference....

Dec. 13

still a week to go
weary feet make for the car
frozen lawn sparkles                               

Dec. 14

lot full of tiny trees
our car the polar opposite
of Grinch's sleigh

Okay, ONE where I try to get all the markers!  Yep, the self-discipline is definitely a little flabby. I'm sure the round-up this week will be toned and taut over at Laura Shovan's blog, where she's featuring a book by a mutual friend of ours from Maryland, Jona Colson.  Wishing you all more merry, more bright.

Friday, December 7, 2018


Some of us in the Kidlitosphere, in the Twitterverse, are spending December haikuing, just as in 2016, led and inspired by Mary Lee, we haikued for healing. (I now regret attempting to use haiku as a verb.)

This year our friend Catherine suggested modifying our daily writing practice to #haikuforhope, and that is certainly resonating with me...although it does appear that when you're trying to produce a pithy moment each and every day, just about any topic comes to seem like a commentary on hope, if not actually hopeful.

Here are mine so far this week:

Dec. 1

last red branch exhales
catching up in slow motion
refusing to rush

Dec. 2

Sunday morning Spirit Play
we all watch as fog lifts
in a water glass

                                                           Dec. 3

                                                           nothing can pierce this
                                                           afternoon dark
                                                           not even 12-foot Rudolph

Dec. 4

seven-year-olds sit
in silent rows, testing
cold winds test the glass

Dec. 5

unwinding the light
tightening the twinkle
window candles spark

Dec. 6

"we are in trouble"
small hands mold
plasticene landscapes


Dec. 7

Tuesday despair
Friday giddy energy
estrogenic seasons

Participants in this December tradition are Catherine Flynn @flynn_catherine, @MaryLeeHahn, @MargaretGSimon, Linda Mitchell @LindaMitch2783, Molly Hogan @mbhmaine, Julieanne Harmatz @jarhartz, Jone MacCulloch @JoneMac53, Jean LaTourette @mz_lat,  Linda Baie @LBaie, Carol Varsalona @cvarsalona, and @mandyrobek....and probably more.  Join us!

And join the Poetry Friday round-up (what is that? go HERE to find out) hosted by Liz Steinglass today, where there's all kinds of merry and bright.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

out of sync

is how I seem to be this shortest fall ever, with NCTE climbing in over parent conferences, with winter sweeping into mid-November, with December jingling in early with Hanukkah on its heels, with the hottest, the wettest, the driest, the coldest ever.

In rebending a few crucial spines of myself, I'm off the clock, off-kilter, out of step, outta sight and out of mind and hardly ever sure what I want to be doing with my time.

So now it's Saturday evening and I find I did want to post for Poetry Friday, although early on Friday instead of composing my post I was doing something else poetic and secret.  Maybe it's not too late.  Maybe it's never too late.

It's definitely not too late to reconnect with a former student.  Tyler hasn't been gone long; he's in 3rd grade now and I had him last year. I got the most welcome email from his mom, sharing this, "proudly described as his first rhyming poem."

I love this for so many reasons.  This poem is Tyler through and through, the Tyler I knew, short and  full of power!  But also, the craft: the tantalizing switch-up of "hunters taking wing" and "rulers of the air" for the title, the collective voice, the mythic feel of the language with the ring of a pledge, a shift in the rhythm at the end lest it become too sing-song and lose its gravity.

And of course I love the evidence that the work and play we did with poetry continues to hold a place in Tyler's world, which is definitely not all due to his year with me in 2nd grade--his mom is a high school English teacher AND the literary magazine sponsor.  But it does feel good that Tyler would want to reach back and share this with me.

And here I am, a day and half late, sharing it with you, Poetry Friday.  Thanks to all who steadfastly make this community happen and do their part to keep it going. Even when any of us step out for a time, we are always welcomed back.  And thanks to Carol at Carol's Corner, for hosting this week!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

live from #NCTE18

Greetings, all, from sunny Houston, to which I escaped so early Thursday morning that I journeyed unscathed by the surprise autumn snowstorm that CLOSED MY SCHOOL DISTRICT, in mid-November, no less!  I'm happy enough to be here at NCTE that I don't mind missing the snow day, but boy--the time spent on sub plans gone unused--THAT really stinks. :)

I was delighted to be presenting again this year as part of a session called Poetry in the Wild. My team included the greatly gifted teacher-poets Mary Lee Hahn and Margaret Simon, plus the greatly gifted poet-authors Irene Latham and Laura Purdie Salas, all well-known to you Poetry Friday regulars.

Our session went swimmingly with an extra surprise from Mary Lee, who introduced us each with a snippet of "wild" music. Here are the slides from my section, entitled "Talk a Mile in Someone Else's Shoes: How Poems for Two Voices Encourage Young Writers to Step Into New Perspectives." You can download this presentation as a PDF by clicking on the front page, and I'm also providing a copy of the "poetry folder" that I use in 2nd grade small group reading over the course of 5-10 days when we're focusing on point of view in the curriculum.

I hope there's something useful there for all you teachers.  Don't forget to be careful about attributions and copyright rules, which you can find here: [2008 Copyright Guidelines]

I'm excited to rejoin the Poetry Friday routine and look forward to all the goodies piling up over at TeacherDance with Linda to host us!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Saturday, September 8, 2018

blog pause: a message from the management

Hello, few but faithful followers!  Hello, intermittent visitors!  Hello, accidental arrivals!

I'm posting today just to inform y'all that I'm going on hiatus for an undetermined length of time (unless doing so turns out to be a big mistake, like last time, in which case I'll consider it a successful experiment instead of a failed one and come back).

Since May, maybe even since December, I've been plunged into a deep dive of memoir, and while it's kicking up a tsunami of writing, both prose and poetry, the work is consuming and often doesn't feel quite appropriate for this Poetry Friday Kidlitosphere space.  Which is not to say that this community wouldn't embrace and support whatever I put up here, but perhaps more that I myself need to be in incognito mode for a while.

So I'll sign off, leaving you with an exhortation to read a book called I Will Be Complete by Glen David Gold--in which, according to one review, I play either a "tedious" or "forgettable" role 😏--and a see-you-later poem. 

Not for Kids

This poem is not for kids
it’s about how the bees sting you
from the inside
it’s about what’s under the bed
invisible almighty
that they are afraid of
this poem is all shiny
on the outside and rotten
on the inside  
oops worm bit off your head
now you can’t think your way
out of the apple
it’s not for kids at all
kids don’t know about pain:
scraped knee, loose tooth,
broken arm, black eye
these are sticks and stones
mere sticks and stones
kids don’t know that words
can always hurt you
isn’t it amazing how the
high-functioning trunk
grows right around
the wire that garottes it
this poem is not for kids
it’s this little light of mine
frantic incandescent
long-lasting flavor of
gingerbread abandonment
the way you can’t get angry
because nothing is wrong

draft ©HM 2018 

The round-up this week is hosted by Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.  Ride over on the last waves of summer to join the party!

Friday, August 31, 2018

"all the world is all of us"

I went back to see whether my first-days-of-school post last year expressed any of the even-keeled matter-of-fact even-slightly-boredness that I'm feeling during this year's preservice week, and the answer surprised me.  At this time last year my blog makes NO MENTION OF THE START OF SCHOOL.  I, who have lived for the excitement and possibility of the new year since, well, 1968, have been rather unmoved by it for two years now.  I'm shocked.

But honestly, this year feels different even than last. This year I'm very aware that the fresh new folders and the fussing over my first-day script and our new schedule's opportunity to be faithful with #PoemADay are all just routine--they're what I've done every year for 30 years.  This year I'm very aware that the big excitement doesn't come until the kids walk in.  The true fresh newness is the living breathing being of the collective class:  how will I welcome each and every child as she or he is, and help them turn that welcome around and beam it on to their classmates? [This little light of mine--I'm gonna let it shine...]

This is not achieved by standing at the copier prepping days' worth of paper, by fancying up the decor, by micromanaging my slot on the library check-out schedule (the one of those three things that I have done this week and which I now see was unnecessary).

Being prepared, creating a comfortable environment, providing for a workable timetable--all these help, but none of them are the real work of a teacher in these days, in this moment.  The real work is, as it has always been, interpersonal, emotional, the work of commitment to the balance of liberty and justice for all in the deep formative experience of 2nd grade, any grade.  That looks different in American classrooms now, is always changing, but has reached a tipping point, as the pundits say.

So here's an appropriate little back-to-school poem, friends.  Labor over this at the weekend, and have a great new year of school.

Declaration of Interdependence | Janet Wong

We hold these truths
to be not-so-self-evident--
but think about them a while
and you might agree:

all men are created equal-
ly a puzzle, made up
of so many parts;
and each of us makes up part

of the greater puzzle
that is our nation.
Lose one piece
and the picture is incomplete.

What happens when
too many pieces,
one by one,
become lost?

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit
of Happiness: let's do our best
to find the pieces that fit together,
to make our picture whole.

from Declaration of Interdependence, presciently 2012
by Janet Wong

Thanks to Robyn over at Life on the Deckle Edge for hosting Poetry Friday today. March on over and see where you fit in the greater puzzle.

Friday, August 17, 2018

sandwich generation
It's 1:52 pm and I'm only just realizing that it's Friday, it's THAT Friday, like every Friday--it's POETRY Friday.  You might think that means that I'm so relaxed and checked out here at the end of my long summer that I've lost track of what day it is, but no...

It's more that I'm having trouble surfacing from my deep dive into the past for this memoir WIP that has taken over my mornings.  It requires a lot of internet research--everything from who narrated the record album versions of Winnie-the-Pooh that I listened to in 1970 to the names of all the books by Marilyn Sachs that I read between 1973 and 1977 to what year Wesleyan Alpha Delta Phi started calling their dance parties "VORTEX: the party that really sucks" to what club I would have danced in in Manhattan,1986 to the what Metro line we were riding in 2007 when Daisy got off and Duncan and I didn't.  (Here's a little present from me to you of a similar age, by the way.)

Funnily, though, not everything I dredge up leads to memory or even memoir.  Some of it leads to poems that I could only write right now, in this moment, at this age.  Like this one--bon appetit!

sandwich generation 

Back when I was just cheese or
lebanon baloney with mustard,
French’s yellow mustard on
Pepperidge Farm white,
a sandwich was nothin' but a sandwich:
light, bright, handy, daily
gift.  The Archway cookie
tucked under one layer of my
folded paper napkin was
the icing on the cake,
so to speak.

That was before we discovered
whole wheat bread and
grainy mustard, before I went
anywhere and sandwiches
became a bit more pleasantly
I was open faced hot turkey
with Thanksgiving gravy,
roasted and basted in the
ancestral kitchen;
I became open-faced cheese
on toast under a British grill.

Now the other shoe has dropped
(there’s a pair of them), the case
is closed, and it’s clear which side
my bread is buttered on: both.
Below me the 19-grain bun, the yeasty glazed donut,
above the gentle weight of Arnold’s Brick Oven White.

Now I’m tuna salad with
finely chopped celery,
not too much mayo,
tuna melt with cheddar if I’m
going for the Best Sandwich
Oscar, pickles for him,
cucumber for her, heaped
between the two slices
of bread.

Now I’m once-a-week
processed packaged smoked
turkey with avocado guacamole
always wishing for some sprouts,
mustard AND mayo, glass  of
milk, chips on the side,
the Saturday sandwich lunch
that I think is my uncomplicated
childhood though I never had that.

Now I'm peanut butter, ground-
nuts full of healthy fat,  ground
shapeless into a paste that
sticks to your ribs, saves lives
and goes with everything from
concord grape jelly to Miracle Whip
to carrots, apples and bacon,
edible at lunch, breakfast,
and in a pinch for dinner.  

Call me creamy until it turns
out I was wrong about that:
everyone likes crunchy better,
the way the solid bits persist,
tickle your teeth.  I spread thin
into all four corners, oozing
when I’m overfilled or when
I’m sliced by the hands
of a clock.

Bread above me,
bread below me,
am I holding it all together?
I’m a hero.

draft ©HM 2018

The round-up today is with Christy over at Wondering and Wandering. Flap on over for some birdy beauty and so much more!