Poetry Friday: The Roundup is Here!

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup! (Find our more about Poetry Friday in this post by Renée LaTulippe here.)

Tuesday was the last day of school in my district, and I’ll be honest, I’m exhausted! The good news is that I’ve had two days to rest and relax and get ready to welcome you here today!

For the past two years, our school did not chose a single individual as teacher of the year. Rather, we were all celebrated for our efforts to keep school as normal as possible for our students. This year, one teacher was recognized each week and we were asked to share a reflection about teaching with our colleagues. Two weeks ago, it was my turn to share my thoughts. Of course I had to write a poem.

I love writing abecedarians and decided that The ABCs of Teaching would be the best form to organize my reflections about all I’ve learned about teaching children over the past 27 years.

The ABCs of Teaching

Ask questions and
Build knowledge.
Cultivate curiosity.
Develop relationships.
Encourage children to explore and
Find their
Gifts. Grow their
Hearts.
Infuse this
Journey with joy,
Kindness,
Love and laughter.
Make learning meaningful.
Nurture strengths.
Open hearts to
Possibilities.
Quiet doubts and fears.
Read, read, read!
Sing praises, build
Trust, treasure each moment.
Unlock mysteries,
Validate and celebrate success.
Wonder what’s next.
eXpect miracles. Stay
Young and never lose your
Zeal for children!

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

I hope you all have a relaxing, safe, and healthy summer!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

Poetry Friday: “Looking for the Gulf Motel”

I love podcasts. I love that they come in neat little packages that I can listen to while I’m doing the dishes or folding laundry. I love that I can press a few buttons on my phone and Ada Limón or Pádraig Ó Tuama will read a poem to me as I drive to work. This is the best way to begin the day.

Not long ago, on Poetry Unbound, Pádraig Ó Tuama shared “Looking for the Gulf Motel” by Richard Blanco. Although I have never been to the Gulf Motel, or Marco Island, Florida, I instantly recognized everything in Blanco’s poem. Substitute my father and friends clamming at Head’s Beach, or the Cafe 2000 in Newport, and this poem is the poem of my childhood summers.

Although many of you may have already read this poem or heard this episode, I’m sharing it today in honor of Father’s Day, the start of summer, and all the Gulf Motels of our childhoods.

“Looking for the Gulf Motel”
by Richard Blanco

Marco Island, Florida

There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

The Gulf Motel with mermaid lampposts
and ship’s wheel in the lobby should still be
rising out of the sand like a cake decoration.
My brother and I should still be pretending
we don’t know our parents, embarrassing us
as they roll the luggage cart past the front desk
loaded with our scruffy suitcases, two-dozen
loaves of Cuban bread, brown bags bulging
with enough mangos to last the entire week,
our espresso pot, the pressure cooker—and
a pork roast reeking garlic through the lobby.
All because we can’t afford to eat out, not even
on vacation, only two hours from our home
in Miami, but far enough away to be thrilled
by whiter sands on the west coast of Florida,
where I should still be for the first time watching
the sun set instead of rise over the ocean.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Please be sure to visit Michelle Kogan for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Household Dreams

It’s the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for another Inkling challenge. This month, Molly “thought it might be fun to write a poem about some sort of domestic task. (Writing a poem = way more fun than cleaning!)” She shared “Spring Cleaning,” by Ellen M. Taylor to inspire us.

I actually don’t mind cleaning, but I mind the time it takes. There are so many more interesting ways to spend my time. Still, I manage to keep the downstairs of our house under control. The spare bedroom upstairs in another story!

For some unknown reason, I decided that this poem should be a sonnet. My relationship to sonnets is the same as my relationship to cleaning: I like the idea, but the execution is always flawed. (Iambs are not my friends!)

There are three main forms of sonnets: Petrarchan, Italian, and English, or Shakespearean, along with many variations. I chose one of these alternatives, the Spenserian form.. Spenserian sonnets vary “the English form by interlocking the three quatrains (ABAB BCBC CDCD EE).

Household Dreams: A Sonnet

Someday soon I’ll sweep away the clutter.
Tables and shelves won’t be covered in dust.
Clean sheets, unfurled flags of hope, will flutter
On fresh breezes. My conscience will be shushed.

No longer will I betray the trust
Of window panes longing to shine.
And the kitchen floor will be nonplussed
When it’s mopped to reveal its design.

These lofty goals all sound just fine,
But this hectic pace could not be sustained.
Unless the planets and stars all align,
Domestic perfection won’t be attained.

I’ll ignore the mess, let it go to seed
I’ll sit here all day, just knit, write and read.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Please see how my fellow Inklings responded to Molly’s challenge, then head over to Karen Edmisten’s blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche
Linda @ A Word Edgewise
Heidi @ My Juicy Little Universe
Molly @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Mary Lee @ Another Year of Reading

Poetry Friday: Unfinished Tasks

Where to begin?
I can’t believe we’re here again? That’s not true, because nothing has changed since December 14, 2012 when 20 children and six adults were murdered 10 miles from my house.
That I’m enraged? Of course I am. We all are.
That I feel helpless? Yes. Chris Murphy, the staunchest, loudest, most tireless Senator calling for gun reform is my Senator. I know he’s doing all he can.
But do I feel hopeless? Not quite. How could I carry on if I thought it was inevitable that I, or someone I love will be shot at school? I couldn’t.

So, what to do? We carry on. We do small acts that, cumulatively, add up to big acts. We go to work each day and let the children we work with know that we love them, care about them, and want the best for them. We honor the memory of Irma Garcia, Eva Mireles, Dawn Hochsprung, Victoria Leigh Soto, Mary Sherlach, Lauren Rousseau, Anne Marie Murphy, Rachel D’Avino, and countless other educators who have been killed when we go into school each day to take up “those dear unfinished tasks” of theirs.

Turn Again to Life

by Mary Lee Hall

If I should die and leave you here awhile,
Be not like others, sore undone, who keep
Long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.
For my sake – turn again to life and smile,
Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
Something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine
And I, perchance, may therein comfort you.

Coincidentally, this week Krista Tippet is sharing memories from of her most profound interviews. Rachel Naomi Remen is a Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine who has much to teach us all. I leave you with this quote:

We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people; to lift it up and make it visible once again and, thereby, to restore the innate wholeness of the world. This is a very important story for our times — that we heal the world one heart at a time.

Please be sure to visit Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Then go out and look for the light.

Poetry Friday: So Much Depends…

Last week, inspired by Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s National Poetry Month project, I wrote a gogyohka in response to a photo of my mother and her twin sister. Like Tricia, I have found family archives to be rich source material for poems. One of the treasures I have is a diary of my grandmother’s from 1936. Times were tough for my grandparents throughout the Depression and many of her entries detail the small ways they scraped by. January of that year was bitterly cold, and Grandma was knitting a scarf for my uncle, but she ran out of yarn. She sounds so relieved when she finally “got to town” to get more yarn that the first line of William Carlos Williams’ famous poem popped into my head instantly.

So much depends
upon

a skein of red
wool

soft as a
petal

spun into a
scarf

by two nimble
hands.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Please be sure to visit Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: National Poetry Month Isn’t Over

It’s time for the monthly Inkling challenge. This month, Linda challenged the Inklings to “Honor someone’s April Poetry project in some way with a poem in the spirit of their project, a response poem or any way that suits you.” 

I knew immediately that I wanted to base my response on Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s (aka Miss Rumphius) project of “sharing original poems written in a variety of Japanese poetic forms (haiku, tanka, dodoitsu, etc.) to primary sources. I’m using photos, letters, newspaper articles, and more to inspire my writing.” Tricia shared many treasures from her family archives and her poems always captured funny or poignant insights into her source materials.

Like Tricia’s family, my family (specifically my maternal grandmother) saved everything and I have many photos and letters. I also have my grandmother’s diary from 1936, which is the only one we know of. Mostly, she recorded the weather, her daily household chores, and what she baked. There are also a few headlines from the wider world: The last line for Monday, January 20th reads “King George V of England died. Edward VIII becomes king.” She stopped writing on Saturday, August 22th with this short entry: “Rained on Sat. Went to town in A.M. Did shopping. Bought a pot roast. Not much new. They will finish the forty acre lot in one more day.” (I’m sure this refers to haying on my great-grandfather’s farm.)

I suspect she stopped writing because of this entry a few days earlier: “Feel certain that we will have a baby by spring.”

That baby turned out to be my mother and her twin sister.

Here they are, about 3 or 4, ready to attend a cousin’s wedding.

My mother is on the left
Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

There are troves of poems waiting in that diary, but how could I resist writing about this photo? I chose a most forgiving form, the Gogyohka. This is a five line verse without a specific syllable count. As Tricia explained in her post, it was “invented in the 1960s, the idea was to ‘take the traditional form of Tanka poetry (which is written in five lines) and liberate its structure, creating a freer form of verse.’ You can learn more about this form at Writer’s Digest Gogyohka: Poetic Form.”

Please be sure to visit my fellow Inklings to see which NPM project they honored:

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

Then head over to Jama’s Alphabet Soup, where Jama is serving up the Roundup.

Poetry Friday & NPM: Skyglow

This month I have been writing poems in response to the ideas, connections and echoes between All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson and Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. I’ve focused more on Rooted and the fundamental beliefs, or tenets, that are at the heart of rootedness. Like countless poets and scientists before her, Haupt knows that “poetry and science intermingle.” They “bring depth and knowing to one another–all mingle as co-expressions of a wild earth.” (p.24)

Poets and scientists have been inspired by the mysteries of the universe since the dawn of time. All living creatures are guided by the natural cycle of light and dark created by earth’s rotation and orbit around the sun. But we are disrupting these rhythms by leaving the lights on. Mounting evidence makes clear that this disruption is harmful both physically and mentally to humans, plants, and animals. The International Dark Sky Association has declared this week “Dark Sky Week.” There are simple steps we can all do to eliminate much of the light pollution that threatens us. Let’s start by turning off the lights.

Skyglow

Once guided by the stars above
we’ve lost our celestial map,
its compass rose
erased by bright skyglow.

Warblers, winging northward,
confused by all this light,
are steered off course,
crash into glass and steel
instead of settling into soft nests.

Creatures of the night exposed:
No shadows to hide in
or darkness alerting frogs
and toads its time
to serenade their sweethearts.

One more balance we’ve disrupted.
Another threat to harm us all.
How will we find our way forward
if we look up and see nothing,
nothing at all?

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Photo by Adrian Pelletier on Unsplash

Previous NPM Posts:

Day 10: The Cosmos
Day 9: The Fox
Day 8: A Haiku
Day 7: Ode to an April Morning
Day 6: Wander
Day 5: For the Good of the Earth
Day 4: Enchantment and Wonder
Day 3: Reciprocity
Day 2: Kith and Kin
Day 1: The Thing Is

Please be sure to visit Jone Rush MacCulloch’s blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

National Poetry Month: The Cosmos

This month I have been writing poems in response to the ideas, connections and echoes between All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson and Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. I’ve focused more on Rooted and the fundamental beliefs that are at the heart of rootedness. One tenet, “poetry and science intermingle” is woven into many of these poems. Haupt explains that “poetry, science, story, art, all bring depth and knowing to one another–all mingle as co-expressions of a wild earth.” (p. 14)

Last weekend I came across 50 Ways to Help Save the Bees by Sally Coulthard. This short book is filled with relatively simple steps we all can take to protect these engines of our ecosystems. One step is to plant a pollinator garden. I’ve been gardening for years, but never focused specifically on bee-friendly flowers. Coulthard includes a list of “Blooms for Bees” and one of my favorite annuals, cosmos, is included. Anxious to get my bee-friendly flowers started, I planted packets of cosmos, sunflowers, and cornflowers (indoors–it’s not warm enough here in western Connecticut to sow seeds outdoors). This poem was inspired by all that planting.

Dozens of bees orbit
a galaxy of blossoms,
probing pollen-packed pompoms
bursting from the shining center
of the cosmos.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Maurice Flesier, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can learn more about how to help bees here.

Previous NPM Posts:

Day 9: The Fox
Day 8: A Haiku
Day 7: Ode to an April Morning
Day 6: Wander
Day 5: For the Good of the Earth
Day 4: Enchantment and Wonder
Day 3: Reciprocity
Day 2: Kith and Kin
Day 1: The Thing Is

National Poetry Month: The Fox

This month I have been writing poems in response to the ideas, connections and echoes between All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson and Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. I’ve focused more on Rooted and the fundamental beliefs, or tenets, that are at the heart of rootedness. “Everyday Animism,” is one of these tenets. Haupt explains that “all ways of being, from hominid to dandelion to dragonfly to cedar tree, possess a kind of aliveness.” (p. 24) She also states that “It is time to acknowledge animal consciousness–both the continuities that we share and recognize, and the mysteries that we may never comprehend.” (p.137) Today’s poem attempts this acknowledgement.

The Fox

On the verge of night,
I stand at the edge of the field.
I see only the black tufts of his ears.
He senses my presence;
Becomes one with the spikes of grass.

I freeze.

But he is on a mission, 
and it’s growing dark.
His whole head rises.
I stare into
his coal black eyes.
They carry this plea:

Save me.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Previous NPM Posts:

Day 8: A Haiku
Day 7: Ode to an April Morning
Day 6: Wander
Day 5: For the Good of the Earth
Day 4: Enchantment and Wonder
Day 3: Reciprocity
Day 2: Kith and Kin
Day 1: The Thing Is

National Poetry Month: A Haiku

One of the challenges I’ve had this month is choosing a subject/topic for my poems.  My goal of writing in response to the ideas, connections and echoes between All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson and Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt provided a framework, but that was just a first step. Another decision that I have struggled with is what form to use. Today, I decided haiku was the best form to capture my thoughts after seeing this picture my daughter-in-law shared with me.

Lyanda Lynn Haupt lays out twelve fundamental beliefs, or tenets, that are at the heart of rootedness. One of these is that “all is sacred.” Haupt explains that “a recognition of the sacred in all of nature is the source of any movement toward reciprocity–inner and outer. It hallows our life and work.” This wreath should have come down months ago, but it will stay a few more weeks, until it’s now sacred task is completed.

forgotten weathered
Christmas wreath shelters new life
resourceful mama

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Previous NPM Posts:

Day 7: Ode to an April Morning
Day 6: Wander
Day 5: For the Good of the Earth
Day 4: Enchantment and Wonder
Day 3: Reciprocity
Day 2: Kith and Kin
Day 1: The Thing Is