News From the Natural World: Propagation

Today’s poem is a Fib, or Fibonacci poem, a poem that follows the Fibonacci sequence to determine the number of words, or in this case, syllables in each line of the poem. I worked out to eight syllables, then repeated the sequence backwards, ending with a single word. The idea for today’s poem came from “Propagation,” an essay by Naomi Huffman, in this week’s New York Times Magazine. You can read more about the real begonia in the poem here.

Propagation

From
one
plant, a
begonia
cared for through the years
by grandmothers, aunts, and nieces,
nurtured cuttings sprout roots in jars
heart-shaped leaves bloom: a
new cycle of
green life
is
born.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Previous “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 18: At the Pond
April 17: The Red Chair
April 16: Dear Venus
April 15: Listen
April 14: Ode to a Tide Pool
April 11: What Does A Bird’s Egg Know?
April 10: Clusters of Clover
April 9: Song of the Pink Moon
April 8: Jewel of the Jungle
April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

News From the Natural World: At the Pond

This poem is a response to the challenge Michelle Heidenrich Barnes posed on her blog yesterday. All month, Michelle has been sharing writing tips and wisdom from Patrice Vecchione‘s new book, My Shattered, Shouting, Whispering Voice: A Guide to Writing Poetry and Speaking Your TruthHere’s the prompt:

For this week’s challenge, I’ve selected “Into the Future: Take Yourself There Now” (Chapter 53) from Part III of My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice. Patrice writes:  

Is the future a place you wish you could arrive at now? I remember feeling that way. Or maybe here and now is fine. For the length of a poem, venture into that place called future, as you imagine it; peer into its unknown terrain, and see what you find.  

As some of you may know, I have an eleven-week old granddaughter. Fortunately, I was able to visit her in February before we all had to stay home. But of course I’m anxious to see her again. Her father, my son, recently sent me a photo of a baby turtle near the pond in their yard. This poem imagines a future visit to the pond with my granddaughter.

Someday soon
I’ll take your hand
and we’ll walk to the pond.

Careful where you step!
A baby turtle, no bigger than a quarter,
is lumbering toward the pond, too.

When he arrives,
he’ll slip into the water
to forage for algae
and insects.

When we arrive,
we’ll sit on the bank
keeping our eyes peeled.
Maybe he’ll climb onto a log
to bask in the warm sun
after his meal.

Or maybe a heron will alight
on the pond’s far edge,
where the brook flows in.
You’ll grow restless
as she tiptoes on her stick-like legs,
uncurling her slender neck,
thrusting her bill
into the murky water,
aiming for a fish.

Time for lunch? you wonder.
Time for lunch, I nod.

Hand in hand,
we’ll leave the pond.
Someday soon.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Previous “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 17: The Red Chair
April 16: Dear Venus
April 15: Listen
April 14: Ode to a Tide Pool
April 11: What Does A Bird’s Egg Know?
April 10: Clusters of Clover
April 9: Song of the Pink Moon
April 8: Jewel of the Jungle
April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

 

News From the Natural World: Poetry Friday Edition

Welcome to the Poetry Friday edition of News From the Natural World, my National Poetry Month project. Be sure to visit my friend and critique group partner, Molly Hogan, at Nix the Comfort Zone for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Today’s poem was inspired by the photo below, taken on March 20th, just after our quarantine began. I was quite surprised to see this at the end of a driveway I pass by when I go out for a walk. I still have no idea why it was there, but I knew immediately that I had to write about it. However, finding the right form wasn’t easy.

Yesterday, poet, teacher, and mentor extraordinaire, Georgia Heard, posted this video on Facebook. The poem she shares, “Where Do I Find Poetry,” is one of my favorites. As soon as she started reading it, my mind went back to this red chair and I knew I’d found a way in. A greeting card by British artist Rachel Grant provided me with the first line. Thank you to the owner of the red chair, Georgia, and Rachel, for helping me with this poem.

The Red Chair

It begins here,
in a red chair
at the edge of a field
still wearing its stubbly
brown winter coat.

Sit. Be patient…
Watch the last bits of snow
dissolve into the quickening earth.
See grass slowly turn green
and vermilion tips of peonies
poke their heads up through
the softening ground.

Stay a while.
Soon robins will be cruising the field
searching for fat pink worms
and tufts of dried grass to line their nests. 

Feel March winds ease
into warm April breezes
that coax daffodils and dandelions
to shine like a thousand suns
under spring’s clear blue sky,
and seep into
your winter-weary soul.

It begins here.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Previous “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 16: Dear Venus
April 15: Listen
April 14: Ode to a Tide Pool
April 11: What Does A Bird’s Egg Know?
April 10: Clusters of Clover
April 9: Song of the Pink Moon
April 8: Jewel of the Jungle
April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

News From the Natural World: Dear Venus

Today’s poem is an epistolary poem, a poem in the form of a letter. Finding topics for poems this month has never been a problem, but I seem to get bogged down in what form the poems should take. The more I played with my ideas about Venus, which has been putting on quite a show this month, it became clear that this poem should be a little love note to the evening star.

Dear Venus,

Every evening, when the sky is clear,
I scan the western sky
searching for your blazing light.
You’re never hard to find,
outshining every star.

I take each worry from my day,
seal it in a bubble,
then send them off to you.
Your murky clouds swallow
Them up, one by one,
without complaint.

Back on earth, I stand
beneath your dazzling glow
and feel lighter.

Thank you.

Love,

A friend

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Evening sky, 3/27/12, by nanamori / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Previous “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 15: Listen
April 14: Ode to a Tide Pool
April 11: What Does A Bird’s Egg Know?
April 10: Clusters of Clover
April 9: Song of the Pink Moon
April 8: Jewel of the Jungle
April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

News From the Natural World: Listen

This story from NPR’s All Things Considered inspired today’s haiku.

commotion is paused
the din of the world has stopped
bird song fills the air

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 14: Ode to a Tide Pool
April 11: What Does A Bird’s Egg Know?
April 10: Clusters of Clover
April 9: Song of the Pink Moon
April 8: Jewel of the Jungle
April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

News From the Natural World: Ode to a Tide Pool

Last week, as part of Laura Shovan’s #WaterPoemProject, former Young People’s Poet Laureate, Margarita Engle offered the following prompt:

Is there a shore that makes you nostalgic? Were there mysteries in the water, such as the manatees, sharks, crocodiles, and caymans of Cuba’s estuaries? Does it comfort you to remember times when travel to that place was easy?

Can you join me in believing that times of joyful travel to beloved shores will gradually return?

Yes, in fact there is a beloved shore that makes me nostalgic. When I was a kid, my family spent a week each summer in Rhode Island on the shores of Narragansett Bay. I have so many happy memories of these vacations that I’ve spent the past two days trying to find a way into this poem. This poem is still very “drafty” and I’m not sure it fills the bill as an ode, but here it is.

Ode to a Tide Pool

Yours is a salty world of extremes.
Half the day, you’re buffeted
by crashing waves.
But as the tide
recedes,
your submerged
treasures
are slowly
revealed.

Barnacles, armored
in suits of calcium carbonate,
feed with feathery feet.
Knotted wrack and Irish moss
drop anchor on your rocks
alongside mussels
who slurp
plankton stew
served up by the sea.
Periwinkles forage
glassy diatoms
and sea stars hide
amongst rockweed.

Soon, the tide returns.
Once more, you’re hidden
by the ocean’s splash and spray
and the cycle begins again.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Tide pool at Beavertail State Park

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 11: What Does A Bird’s Egg Know?
April 10: Clusters of Clover
April 9: Song of the Pink Moon
April 8: Jewel of the Jungle
April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

News From the Natural World: What Does a Bird’s Egg Know?

Eggs, the subject of today’s poem, seemed like a good choice for Easter weekend. The idea came from this episode of The Brain Scoop with Emily Graslie and Dr. John Bates of Chicago’s Field Museum. The form was inspired by Joyce Sidman‘s wise poem, “What Do the Trees Know?” from Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold.

What Does a Bird’s Egg Know?

What Does a Bird’s Egg Know?

To be strong enough to hold
mother bird as she protects
her babies from the cold.

What Does a Bird’s Egg Know?

The pattern and color to best conceal
each one from hungry bears or snakes,
maybe speckled brown or spotted teal.

What Does a Bird’s Egg Know?

To be the just right shape and size
for baby birds to grow and stretch
so wings are ready to reach for the sky.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Société neuchâteloise des sciences naturelles via Wikimedia Commons

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 10: Clusters of Clover
April 9: Song of the Pink Moon
April 8: Jewel of the Jungle
April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

News From the Natural World: Clusters of Clover

.      

Today’s poem was inspired by this article about clover.

across the meadow
red and white clover explodes
like supernovas
orbited by honeybees
pulled in by their sweet nectar

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Photo via Pixabay

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 9: Song of the Pink Moon
April 8: Jewel of the Jungle
April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm today. Be sure to stop by for more poetry goodness.

Also, don’t forget to check in on the Progressive Poem. Matt Forrest Esenwine has today’s new line.

1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, deowriter
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
Kay McGriff
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel, hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan

News From the Natural World: Song of the Pink Moon

I knew I wanted to write about this week’s spectacular pink moon today, but wasn’t sure what format my poem should take. This morning, I was rereading Dictionary For A Better World, by Irene Latham and Charles Waters. I am absolutely in love with this book. Charles and Irene’s poems are just the beginning of the many layers to this rich and rewarding book. If you haven’t read it, read it now. You’ll feel much better.

Hope seems to be in short supply lately, so I had this page bookmarked. As it happens, Irene’s poem about hope is a nonet, “a nine-line poem that begins with a one-syllable line and builds to a nine-syllable line, or the reverse.” As today is April 9th, this seemed like the perfect time to try this form.

Song of the Pink Moon

Round
pink moon
rises, shines
her bright spotlight
on a woodland pond.
Soaring from the shadows,
the humming and thrumming of
a thousand exuberant spring
peepers, singing the world a love song.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2020

My view of last night’s pink moon.

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 8: Jewel of the Jungle
April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

Today, it’s Carol Varsalona’s turn to choose a line for this year’s Progressive Poem.

1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, deowriter
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
Kay McGriff
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel, hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan

News From the Natural World: Jewel of the Jungle

Every Tuesday, the New York Times has a section devoted to science. When I opened the paper yesterday and saw this photo, I knew I had to write a poem about this enchanting little bird!

You can read an expanded version of this article here. This story was also featured in Esquire.

“Jewel of the Jungle”
(South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher)

Hidden deep within a jungle
of the far-off Philippines
lives a bird so small and shy
she’s hardly ever seen.

Adorned in the colors of sunset,
streaked purple, orange, gold,
with bright black eyes that shine like night,
she’s a dazzling sight to behold.

Zipping, darting through the trees
finding insects for each meal,
she grabs them in her dagger-like bill,
then gulps them down with zeal.

Her jungle home is threatened
by our axes and our brawn.
Let’s stop this mad destruction
Before her habitat is gone.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Other “News From the Natural World” poems:

April 5: Phantom of the Forest
April 4: To Build a Nest
April 3: Apple Cake
April 2: Specimen
April 1: Forest Snail

Yesterday, I contributed a line to the Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. Find out which of my lines Tara Smith chose here, then follow the progress of this year’s “choose your own adventure” version of the poem at the links below.

1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, deowriter
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
Kay McGriff
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel, hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan