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!