Friday, December 31, 2021

with bells on

Santorini -photo by Yuri Lev

Greetings to all who land here as we ring out the old year and ring in the new.  The Seven+One Poetry Sisters aka Poetry Pals have invited us to feature bells today.  In the spirit of collabellation, here's my blitz:



if a clod be washed away by the sea


coral bells

coral reef

reef or island

reef or atoll

toll the bells

toll the road

road to ruin

road to nowhere

nowhere else

nowhere man

man no island

woman be

be the bell

be the ring

ring me up

ring a rosie

rosy glasses

rosy future

futures stocks

future shock

shocking data

shocking news

Alexander Graham Bell

calling on the Batphone

phone me up

phone it in

in a minute

just a second

second thoughts

second chances

chance encounter

chance of rain

rain of ashes

rain of fire

fire alarm

fire fall

all fall down

all wrung out

out of luck

just in time

time's a-wastin'

time’s a ship

a sinking ship

a sinking feeling

a feel for it

it takes a toll

atoll an island

rings it tolls



draft ©HM 2021

Many will notice that I'm leaning heavily on John Donne here, his famous you-can-call-it-a-sonnet-but-really-I-wrote-it-just-the-way-I-wanted "No man is an island." Like John, I had a hard time following the rules of the blitz this time and finally I've just had to give in and ring this bell my own way. Thanks to the sisters, among them Tanita Davis, for the opening the challenge.

In other news, Tanita was my Winter Poem Swap partner, and in the spirit of pacing myself and making that holiday feeling last as long as possible, I'll be posting all about the lovely gifts she sent next time, when also the Inklings will be posting our first challenge of *gulp* 2022. I'm glad to leave 2021 behind, yes, but also not expecting too much better of 2022.  

Apparently that's a way to go, according to this deeply radical and honest blessing that passed to me on Facebook, by Nadia Bolz-Weber:

A blessing for the new year:

As you enter this new year, as you pack away the Christmas decorations and get out your stretchy pants

as you face the onslaught of false promises offered you through new disciplines and elimination diets

as you grasp for control of yourself and your life and this chaotic world

May you remember that there is no resolution that, if kept, will make you more worthy of love.

There is no resolution that, if kept, will make life less uncertain and allow you to control a pandemic and your children and the way other people act.  

So this year,

May you just skip the part where you resolve to be better do better and look better this time.

May you give yourself the gift of really, really low expectations.

May you expect so little of yourself that you can be super proud of the smallest of accomplishments.

May you expect so little of the people in your life that you actually notice and cherish every small lovely thing about them.

May you expect so little of the supply chain and the service industry that you notice more of what you do get and less of what you don't and then just tip really well anyhow.

May you expect to get so little out of 2022 that you can celebrate every single thing it offers you, however small.

Because you deserve joy and not disappointment

So, I wish you a Happy as possible New Year.

As do I, and especially to our host today, Carol at Carol's Corner, who is gamely rounding us up with the antidote, which is always poetry, to the sudden fiery devastation of very nearby territory in Boulder, CO.  May you all feel just a little bit safer by being here.

Friday, December 17, 2021

climate friday: mastering methane

Greetings, Poetry Friday friends! It's the 3rd Friday of the month, when I try to focus my post on important issues of climate rescue.  We all have our own meaningful and motivating causes, and when I found myself overwhelmed by the many, many needs and crises in the world, I picked ONE that feels foundational to me.  

Yes, racism and economic justice are towering challenges, but by working towards preserving the planet, I believe I'm also addressing those, because preserving the planet is saving the homes of its people, especially those who live where climate warming is most pronounced and dangerous.  The New York Times has an extensive interactive piece called POSTCARDS FROM A WORLD ON FIRE, if that tornado system here in middle America seems like a fluke. Spoiler alert: it ain't.

So let's talk about methane.  From the EPA: 

Methane is the second most abundant anthropogenic GHG after carbon dioxide (CO2), accounting for about 20 percent of global emissions. Methane is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Over the last two centuries, methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled, largely due to human-related activities. Because methane is both a powerful greenhouse gas and short-lived compared to carbon dioxide, achieving significant reductions would have a rapid and significant effect on atmospheric warming potential.

In other words, making the effort to reduce methane emissions is extra powerful, because we could take out a much more damaging greenhouse gas effect within the 12 years it would otherwise last. 

LOTS of that methane comes from food waste that is dumped into landfills where it rots anaerobically,  producing methane.  Here's a handy graphic to show how one state's overall waste is more than 50% organic matter that could be composted aerobically instead of dumped.

This jibes with what I learned in a Zoom call yesterday with 5 high school students who have received a WWF grant to initiate food composting in my district's schools.  In an average school, food and other organic, compostable waste equals 50% of our overall trash, but it goes straight to our county landfills or incinerators.  The grant program would provide our school with tools to collect food waste from the cafeteria and have it picked up and composted by a commercial composting contractor, reducing school methane contributions by close to 100%.  I'm so excited about this possibility I can hardly stand it!  After all, I watch about 75% of 2 PreK lunches per day go straight into our trash can.

Composting all those limp french fries, nuggets, banana peels and half-eaten pears (because if it's not an apple many kids won't eat it) means those hundreds of pounds of school food waste per week is returned to arable soil, not gassed into the atmosphere.  Here's a vid from MIT that shows why this is an easy solution to our dumbest problem.

And now, because this IS a poetry blog, I give you a poem from my collection PUMPKIN BUTTERFLY (Wordsong 2009). 

Folks, I fear that's a little hard to read (click it to get a better view), but I don't have time this morning to make it better!  Enjoy digging into the rich organic matter of Poetry Friday, ringingly hosted for us this week by Jone at her blog.  Wishing you all a merry and bright Solstice before we meet again next week!


Friday, December 10, 2021

the tree in me

last Dec. 21; my grown-up son
Greetings, Poetry Friday folk!  If you are new,  go here to learn more about this weekly poetry smorgasbord, and welcome.  Poetry Friday originated in 2006 in an online children's literature bloggers' location called The Kidlitosphere, and how surprised am I to find that Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti is not "new" to Poetry Friday as I've been believing, but a returned early adopter who wrote about it for the Poetry Foundation!

I mention this because I think it might be fair to say that Poetry Friday, since I've known it (my first intentional Poetry Friday post was on 3/27/09) has gradually admitted more and more poetry posts of original work for adults and focused less often on others' published work for kids.  Certainly as my own children have grown up my writing has become more and more adult, a fact which I didn't embrace until around 2018.  

Now, as a challenge to myself this December, I'm deliberately writing for a young audience, and a series of poems related to the season (both natural and festive) is developing. Yesterday I wrote about watering the tree (a Yule tree in our house rather than a Christmas tree; if you're curious ask me about our family's 12 Days of Yuletide), which reminded me to share another's published work for kids!

I read about 200 submissions for the NCTE Poetry Notables list this year, and one of our standouts was THE TREE IN ME by author-illustrator Corinna Luyken. As it happens I had an opportunity to provide a reading of this book for a service at my UU congregation, which I presented as a member of our Earth Ministry to go with my minister's theme of "Old Growth."  Here's what I was working with when I made a selection to present; as you can see poetry and literature are holy texts in our denomination!

Old Growth

Walt Whitman mused that it is the trees which “know the amplitude of time.”  At the end of this month when our congregations reflect on what it means to hold history, we’ll follow the old growth trees into deeper time than our own short lives, paying homage to what Ursula K. Le Guin has called the “tall fraternal fire of life as strong now as in the seedling two centuries ago.” 


And here's what I sent for our service that is currently both "limited in-person" and streamed on YouTube. I recorded it early on the morning before Thanksgiving, not yet washed or dressed, so I went for an "invisible" format that made quite a few people comment on the way I used my hands. Early childhood folks out there will recognize that this is just regular PreK technique! 

                       There was something funny with the sound on my computer, sadly, but the amazing AV folks at church made it better for the recorded service.

  So there you have it:  a classic Kidlitosphere Poetry Friday post to brighten and warm this season of cold and dark.  The round-up today is with Cathy at Merely Day by Day, where--serendipitously--she honors this tradition of Poetry Friday in the Kidlitosphere!

Friday, December 3, 2021

taking on a new form - inklings challenge

Greetings, Poetry Friday people.  Some other day when I have more energy I'll share my essay on how no early years teacher (and probably no teacher, period) should ever be expected to work alone. I've gotten used to having a paraeducator here in PreK, and when she was away for 3 days this week I got all flustered and anxious and, although I pulled it off, deeply exhausted.  (There was no sub, of course, although folks pitched in where they could.)  How did I teach K, 1, 2 all those years in all those places with the barest minimum of support from an extra pair of hands, an extra caring heart?

All of this is by way of pardoning--nay, accepting--that my address of our dear friend Molly's INKLINGS challenge is a touch less than magical.

Here was her assignment: 


The Magic 9 sounded good and somehow seasonal, and not too complicated: wide open except for the line count and the rhyme scheme, a play on the word abracadabra: abacadaba. I felt the pressure, but I played.



May my words magically bring into being the next poem in my December series (short poems for children, for a change)--or else a full-time assistant for every K-2 teacher.

Our host today is Michelle Kogan at her artful blog, where you can find gorgeous watercolors and good news as well as poetry for the holidaze.  Wishing a happy and safe Hanukkah to all our friends who are mid-menorah this week!