Thursday, June 30, 2022


Good heavens, is it my turn again?!


Greetings, Poetry Folk. It's the first of the month already and the Inklings are taking on another challenge--mine this time. I wrote: "I'm looking out at my yard, my garden, and no matter what’s happening outside or in, THE PLANTS KEEP GROWING. They rarely give up. There are so many ways in which we’ve all (but especially as women, as educators) had to be persistent, despite our weariness. Write a poem (for kids or adults) about PERSISTENCE.  If you write for kids, maybe try a definito!"



Then I offered 2 poems that might inspire:

I attempted a definito, yes, but it quickly became overgrown by an adult invasive.



End of June and we who teach so hard 

right up until the frenetic final goodbyes

are weary. 

At home

our eyelids droop  our muscles melt

our cells give in to weakling bacteria

We eat cereal for dinner or maybe

just a glass of rosé out back

And out there

the wild grape

the volunteer tomato

the trumpet vine  oh the trumpet vine


are not weary!

It’s dry for days on end  hot and dry 

and blue so blue  but nevertheless 

their greens  garnished with 

insidious tendrils  delicate fur 

yellow starlets  hollering vermilion hallelujah

They persist persist  stand steadfast.

What are they drinking?

(we’ll have what they’re having)

No, not standing still. They sprawl  they reach  they wrap.

What is nearby to support their creep and climb?

Tomato cage of course, and trampoline net 

innocent bystanding butterfly bush   deer fence

bottle tree  patio chaise pressed to share its longeur 

passenger door handle if we leave the car parked

for long enough--- 

They don't just subsist 

They don’t just persist 

They insist

on thriving 

They resist 

our inexpert ripping  lopping  setting of limits.

They drink from somewhere deep and dirt-pure

They freely twirl their tender fingers 

They freely rest their renegade limbs

They freely lean their stems

on others. 

            draft ©HM 2022


You know what's weary-making?  Doing it alone. You can have grade-level teams and staff meetings all you want, but being in that room by yourself with all those little shoots and sprouts and seedlings springing up and needing sun and soil and water and talking to--that's exhausting, even demoralizing.  I know because for the last 3 years I didn't have to do it alone.  Shout out to Elizabeth Cabrera, my paraeducator.  I miss her!

I think my poem was pretty heavily influenced by the one below, which I heard on my bike on Tuesday, riding to my therapy appointment and catching up with Poetry Unbound.  Here's the episode, and here's the poem.


My Therapist Wants to Know about My Relationship to Work | by Tiana Clark

I hustle
I grasp.
I grind.
I control & panic. Poke
balloons in my chest,
always popping there,
always my thoughts thump,
thump. I snooze — wake & go
boom. All day, like this I short
my breath. I scroll & scroll.
I see what you wrote — I like.
I heart. My thumb, so tired.
My head bent down, but not
in prayer, heavy from the looking.
I see your face, your phone-lit
faces. I tap your food, two times
for more hearts. I retweet.
I email: yes & yes & yes.
Then I cry & need to say: no-no-no.
Why does it take so long to reply?
I FOMO & shout. I read. I never
enough. New book. New post.
New ping. A new tab, then another.
Papers on the floor, scattered & stacked.
So many journals, unbroken white spines,
waiting. Did you hear that new new?
I start to text back. Ellipsis, then I forget.
I balk. I lazy the bed. I wallow when I write.
I truth when I lie. I throw a book
when a poem undoes me. I underline
Clifton: today we are possible. I start
from image. I begin with Phillis Wheatley.
I begin with Phillis Wheatley. I begin
with Phillis Wheatley reaching for coal.
I start with a napkin, receipt, or my hand.
I muscle memory. I stutter the page. I fail.
Hit delete — scratch out one more line. I sonnet,
then break form. I make tea, use two bags.
Rooibos again. I bathe now. Epsom salt.
No books or phone. Just water & the sound
of water filling, glory — be my buoyant body,
bowl of me. Yes, lavender, more bubbles
& bath bomb, of course some candles too.
All alone with Coltrane. My favorite, ‘Naima,’
for his wife, now for me, inside my own womb.
Again, I child back. I float. I sing. I simple
& humble. Eyes close. I low my voice,
was it a psalm? Don’t know. But I stopped. 


Maybe sometimes persistence is overrated.

Here's where to find the persistence poems of my fellow Inklings.  Thanks to Janice at Salt City Verse for hosting us all today. I'm traveling tomorrow, so catch-up commenting will take place from Lille, France on Sunday, if all goes to plan!

Catherine Flynn@ Reading to the Core

Mary Lee Hahn @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche



  1. I am as mesmerized by the GIF (that tendril swinging around and around until it finds support) as I am by your poem. It builds and twines so beautifully and then the final stanza bursts into bloom. Love it.

  2. "deep and dirt-pure" is as beautiful language as any I've seen. I love that your original poem was pushed out of the way by a persistent other poem that needed exposure. Enjoy the bike rides, Heidi! I so look forward to being in the place that you're in. For now, I'll live vicariously through you.

  3. I loved this prompt and how it speaks to our work as teachers and as writers. Your noticing of the plants that just keep on growing despite our efforts. I truly hope my students are like this. Love the repetition of "they freely..." especially the "lean on others. Your encouragement is gold to me in my ow persistence. Thanks!

  4. I love reading the clever use of verbs in Tiana's poem, Heidi, & you're right, no matter the moisture lack, our plants "insist", too. It's a wonderful 'turning' of your verbs, too. Happy July!

  5. I'm always up for a garden metaphor! Your poem is full of wonderful images and persist. Thanks for sharing your poems and your inspiration.

  6. For at least 5 months of every year I am more gardener than anything else. I didn't grow up with a garden, but years of college biology and botany classes genuinely changed my life. I love that plants, for the most part, stand still and let me marvel at them. Marvel I do - the way they can sprout in the worst conditions and will themselves through their complete life cycle is astounding. You have really captured that irrepressible force, especially in the last stanza. I needed this poem today!

  7. I love that your poems always take me on a journey, Heidi. There's such craft and energy within them. Like Linda, "deep and dirt-pure" popped out at me and I love the idea that you went with the poem that pushed its way up through the intended one. That's another perfect layer of persistence!

  8. I love the word play with subsist, persist, resist, then insist. I feel the energy in those leaves and vines and yours to resist and carry on. Thanks for sharing Tiana's very evocative poem about her workday with such a rushed and harried feel, as if I'd been there and at home later in the tub listening to Naima.

  9. Heidi, that last comment from anonymous is Janice.

  10. This is lovely, Heidi. So lush! I extra love "They drink from somewhere deep and dirt-pure /
    They freely twirl their tender fingers..."

  11. We have much to learn from plants, don't we? I love the whole poem, Heidi, but the last stanza is especially lovely. Yes to drinking "from somewhere deep and dirt-pure!"

  12. Such presence your poem has and building energy, I like your closing also, "they lean their stems/on others," thanks Heidi, and happy journeys in France!


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!