Friday, March 20, 2020

daily questions for day-to-day existence

Photographer Brooke Anderson’s post-it note list has been shared over 20,000 times.

A List, Getting Longer 

I see you, you see me, we talk, raise a fork or a glass, 
we are Jetsons in baggy pajamas.

You who are close but closed in, you who walk beside me
six safe feet away, you who am I. 

Single actual appointment on the color-coded schedule is therapy, 
which I miss, blithely playing solitaire. 

In light rain after dark we huddle around the brand-new hand-dug possibly-illegal 
fire pit and roast marshmallows. 

When efficiency is no longer valuable, I make a trip up the stairs carrying a single earring
which has been separated from its mate. 

Heart hanging on the front door, cloth napkins hanging on the laundry rack, me hanging on
every beautiful donation my network makes. 

©Heidi Mordhorst 2020 

Michelle Kogan is our host for a spring celebration this Poetry Friday. Dear ones, you matter to me.

Friday, March 13, 2020

another way to look at it: coronavirus edition

planet earth is blue and there's something we can do
It's the first second Friday of the month and so the members of our critique group human community once again have a challenge before us: we are now entering a period during which daily life as we know it cannot be sustained.  The inconvenience, the disappointment, the sorrow are monumental.

People are feverish with virus and anxiety, and the contagion can barely be contained. Our fear for our own lives and those of our neighbors has spurred us into immediate and collective action, with or without the wise or courageous leadership of our elected officials.

This, friends, is the response the young people have been looking for in the face of catastrophic climate change.  The planet is feverish with emissions and wild weather, and the reckless squandering of resources has not been contained.  Our fear for our own lives and those of our neighbors has not spurred us into immediate and collective action, despite the wise and courageous leadership of our youth, our scientists and our public policy experts.

But now that can change.  
Now we see that what must be done, can be done
if we have enough fear.  The governor of a state can go on TV and simply declare that 
you must not keep dumping your food waste into the same bin as your trash.  
A school system can spend a short amount of time and, to the best of its ability, redirect its resources and transform its operations to make school transportation
greener and more efficient. Churches, nonprofits and individual families 
can cooperate to reverse global warming now, if we
accept that "business as usual" is no longer sustainable.

This is the silver lining.  This is the moment.  
This is the straw that breaks the camel's back; this is the inconvenient truth.
No mud, no lotus.  No dark of night, no day.
This is where we see that us and them, that now and next, are the same. 

Friends, be careful out there. Be wise and courageous IN there. And when we have moved through this challenge, don't forget that we proved we can move through the next infinitely bigger challenge.


Friday, March 6, 2020

sunday swaggers question themselves

It's the first Friday of the month and so the members of our critique group once again have a challenge before them:  to write a question poem.  That is all the guidance our friend Margaret Simon has given us!

Now I like a prescribed form as much as the next poet, for its opportunity to stretch my skills within defined boundaries, but as I note in this piece (which I wrote back in 2011 and have just rediscovered!) free verse is my jam.  So Margaret's challenge is a nice one for me, since I may pose my question/s in whatever form the poem itself seems to demand.  To me a poem is not a poem unless it can show off its shapeliness, unless it operates by some detectable pattern or principle that becomes constraining even if it then breaks free by the end.

I wonder if this poem, written for Laura Shovan's February Poetry Project on February 14th, meets that criterion.  I myself posted the photo and the prompt, which was "MELT IT."


Meanwhile, I have begun a poetry collaboration with a 5th grader, NZ, whom I taught in 2nd grade.  Poetry just oozes out of him wherever he goes, so I suggested a shared Google Doc and we've been poeting back and forth.  Here's our current exchange...

Some Questions

HM What is it like to be an only child?

NZ Don’t know, I never was. I imagine freedom, 
more love than anything in the world. 

HM No, I never was. What is freedom?

NZ Freedom is the wind blowing on my face,
while my dad hugs me on the boardwalk
next to the great big ocean.

HM The loose wind of the world, the tight hold of a hug.
Is freedom made of push and pull?

NZ Something like that. Freedom can be
being set free, or it could be the opposite,
something holding you back.

How do you see the world?
A meaningless piece of rock,
a speck of dust in the ever growing universe?
Or something more?

HM Something more, something more.  
The rock makes meaning as it breaks from the soil,
as it is built and falls from the human wall,
as it crumbles into dust carried by the wind.

NZ That wind, what does it feel like
as it carries the dust into the great big galaxy?

And finally, I was wondering last night:

We poets, are we not the posers
of answers rather than questions?

You come to us for our philosophies
of blades of grass and breaking glass,
of blaring joy and ominous birds,
and surely our job is to answer, like
oracles dropping flowers on the water
from our coracles woven of words.

We poets are paddlers, leaving you,
leading you to the answers, not
leaking a trail of questions like
bread crumbs along the path only
to be eaten, to take up rain, to sink 
slowly toward the bottom, nibbled
by fishes along the way.  

Is it not so, that we poets are here to
tidily bundle up the salty grains of truth?

©Heidi Mordhorst 2020


Don't forget to visit the rest of the Swaggers to see what "question poem" means to each of them, and thanks to Rebecca for hosting at Sloth Reads this week!