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

National Poetry Month: An Ode to April

I know it’s Saturday afternoon, but here’s my Poetry Friday post. This month I had every intention of writing a poem a day 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. That hasn’t happened, but I still have a week!

In Rooted, Haupt includes creativity as one of the tenets of rootedness. She writes that “the joining of our own unique arts to those of the collective whole is the deepest — perhaps the only — hope for the continuation of a wild earth.” (p. 28) So on this day after Earth Day, here is my contribution to the collective whole.

Ode to an April Morning

This April morning
the world vibrates with life.

Day-old goslings, 
swaddled 
in gray and yellow down
scramble onto the edge
of the pond,
follow mama and papa
to a patch of fresh grass,
nibble their first meal.

Painted turtles 
bask
in the warmth
of the sun,
heads raised in
celebration.

A pair of cardinals
dart in and out
of a holly bush,
scouting out
the perfect spot
to build their
nest.

And in the field, 
violets shimmer
with possibility.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Please be sure to visit Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for the Poetry Friday Roundup and to catch up with this year’s Progressive Poem.

National Poetry Month: Wander

In Rooted, Lyanda Lynn Haupt recommends wandering. She writes, “Wandering brings mind and movement into a healing congruity.” (p. 64) Wandering is something we could all use more of.

This poem began as an acrostic of wander. Technically, it still is, but like most writing, it had a mind of its own and wandered off in another direction.

Wake to whispering trees
Awash in the surging green of
Nascent leaves and petals, still
Dappled with last night’s rain,
Eager to burst open and host
Robin’s reveille

The robin in charge
of reveille in my yard

Previous NPM Posts:

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: For the Good of the Earth

My National Poetry Month Project has gone off the rails. Instead of writing poetry this week I’ve been changing the diapers of my 3-week old grandson, reading and singing to him and his 2-year old sister, and helping their parents transition to life with 2 kids. 

Early in April, I read an article in The New York Times about microplastics hitching a ride on marine snow to the bottom of the ocean. Scientists fear that this will disrupt the food webs throughout the world’s oceans. This has gnawed at me ever since, but I couldn’t figure out how to write a poem about it. Then I found this quote by Wendell Berry. The last line felt like a perfect strike line for a Golden Shovel: 

Here’s my very drafty draft:

How can we pretend to know
with certainty the
ripple effects of our inventions on the world?
Tons of plastic, that miracle convenience*, floats and
swirls through our oceans. Now we learn
that this “indestructible” scourge breaks down, that microplastics have infiltrated what
were once thought pristine, unreachable depths. Is
no place safe from the blizzard of debris we’ve unleashed on the Earth? What good
is all our technology if we can’t protect our only home for
our grandchildren, for all of nature? They deserve it.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

* See this article to find out how plastic was marketed to our parents in the 1960s. There are many, many articles online about ways to reduce our plastic use. Here’s one with an extensive list of ideas.

Please be sure to visit Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for a terrific interview with Leslie Bulion and the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Previous NPM Posts:

Day 4: Enchantment and Wonder
Day 3: Reciprocity
Day 2: Kith and Kin
Day 1: The Thing Is

National Poetry Month: Enchantment and Wonder

This month I will be 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.

Lyanda Lynn Haupt includes “Enchantment and Wonder” among the tenets of Rootedness. She explains that the word wonder “derives from the Old English wundrian – to be astonished by the presence of the wondrous.” (p. 27) She also explains that we humans, so preoccupied with our busyness, have to be open to the “visitations” of the wondrous. Sometimes I can be a bit too open to wonder. Although I haven’t driven off the road while gazing at some bird, cloud, or tree yet, I’ve come close. That is what happened one day last November. Driving to work one morning, I noticed something hanging from a tree near the road. As I got closer, I slowed almost to a stop. (So I wouldn’t drive into the tree!) Wonder of wonders, it was a Baltimore oriole’s nest! Sadly, it was too far off the ground to get a good look at, but I’ve been marveling at that nest all winter long. Late last week when I drove by, I was enraged to see that the tree had been cut down! I hope whoever cut it down noticed the sock-sized miracle they destroyed. I decided to write a tanka-ish poem in its honor.

hidden since last spring
among dense, sheltering leaves,
an oriole’s nest,
a beak-woven wonder,
survived the winter

but not humans.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn 2022

From Nests and Eggs of North American Birds, by Oliver Davie, 1900
Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

Previous NPM Posts:

Day 3: Reciprocity
Day 2: Kith and Kin
Day 1: The Thing Is

National Poetry Month: Reciprocity

This month I am 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.

At its heart, reciprocity is the idea that all beings, plant and animal, “facilitate one another in beneficial ways,” Janine Benyus writes in her essay “Reciprocity” (All We Can Save, p. 9). For several years, we have been witnessing reciprocity in action outside our kitchen window. The stump pictured below is all that’s left of a beech tree that died. Worried that it could fall on our house, my husband and son cut it down, but never got around to digging out the stump. I’m glad they left it to finish its natural cycle.

Reciprocity

Red-crested pileated woodpeckers
Excavate the stump of an old beech,
Carving cavities, feasting on
Insects who’ve settled inside the
Pitted, pulpy wood, all that
Remains of a towering tree, where a multitude of
Organisms still thrive, a
Community 
Inextricably intertwined, supporting,
Tending, nourishing one another for
Years to come.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Previous NPM posts:

Day 2: Kith and Kin
Day 1: The Thing Is