Poetry Friday: On the Wings of Birds

When Mary Lee Hahn invited us all to join her in writing a daily haiku during the month of December, I wasn’t sure I had the energy. The past year has been challenging in so many ways and I have often found it difficult to put my worries and frustrations aside and just write. But, like Mary Lee, I needed to find a way to “focus on moments and slows me down to a more livable pace.”

Writing a haiku each day has helped me shift into low gear and find the poetry in what Natalie Babbitt calls “those commonplace marvels which [the world] spreads so carelessly before us everyday.” For me, many of these marvels have arrived on the wings of birds, so it seems appropriate to end the year with a mini-collection of haiku inspired by my feathered friends.

By Shahnoor Habib Munmun via Wikimedia Commons

a quartet of crows:
onyx adornments in oak’s
leafless crown

tracks in fresh snow:
thank you notes
from the birds

withered brown apple
summer’s forgotten bounty
blue jay’s surprise treat

like an eagle’s tail
plumes of white clouds fan out
over distant hills

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Wishing you all a joyous holiday season. I’m looking forward to seeing you all in 2018! Please be sure to visit Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Slice of Life: Frost Petals

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My OLW for 2016 was present. Part of my rationale for that choice was to not procrastinate. I have gotten better about this, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Another reason I chose present was to be more aware of my surroundings in the moment, to be open to the gifts waiting there.

I have been much more successful with this connotation of the word. Finding “commonplace marvels” and writing #haikuforhealing along with Mary Lee Hahn and other bloggers during the month of December was a perfect way to end the year. But I’ve found that once I started really noticing, marvels were everywhere and being present to them is not something that I could stop. 

Although I have a pretty good idea of why my OLW will be for 2017, I haven’t completely decided. In the meantime, here is today’s commonplace marvel, which I found on my windshield this morning.

in dawn’s rosy glow,
a bouquet of frost petals
blooms

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

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 Thank you to StaceyDanaBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lisa for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Poetry Friday: “Words are Birds”

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January 5th was National Bird Day. I have been a bit obsessed with these feathered flyers for several years now, so I hope you don’t mind if I extend the celebration and share a bird poem or two today.

“Words are Birds”
by Francisco X. Alarcón

words
are birds
that arrive
with books
and spring

they
love
clouds
the wind
and trees

some words
are messengers
that come
from far away
from distant lands

for them
there are
no borders
only stars
moon and sun

Read the rest of the poem here.

by Srivatsa Sreenivasarao via unsplash
by Srivatsa Sreenivasarao via Unsplash

Alarcón’s poem and these little birds inspired this #haikuforhealing:

white-rumped munia:
poem perched on a puddle’s rim
birds are words

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Please be sure to visit Linda Baie at Teacher Dance for the first Poetry Friday Roundup of 2017!

Poetry Friday: Comet Seekers

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This week I read The Comet Seekers, by Helen Sedgwick, a beautiful, lyrical novel about two seekers whose paths crisscross throughout the book. Amazingly (coincidentally?), there is a comet in our neck of the galaxy this month. Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková may be visible with a telescope or binoculars tomorrow evening. How could I not write a haiku about a comet today?

comet seekers scan
every corner of the sky
searching for marvels

Comet detail of Bayeux Tapestry [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Comet detail of Bayeux Tapestry [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Please be sure to visit Donna Smith at Mainely Write for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

IMWAYR: Spreading Love & Warmth

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The arrival of a new baby brings joy and always inspires me to break out my knitting needles. So it was this past weekend when my niece and her husband welcomed their third child, Vera. As I was putting the finishing touches on a frilly hat, I began thinking about picture books that spread the happiness a hand-knit gift brings.

Shall I Knit You a Hat (Macmillan, 2004) by Kate Klise and illustrated by M. Sarah Klise begins with Mother Rabbit hearing the news of “a blizzard moving this way.” She immediately knits a hat to keep Little Rabbit’s ears warm. Kind-hearted Little Rabbit loves his hat so much he asks Mother Rabbit to make hats for all their friends.

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The theme of spreading love and warmth through hand-knitted hats is extended to sweaters for all, including animals, houses, and trees, in Mac Barnett’s Extra Yarn (Blazer + Bray, 2012). Hidden in the simplicity of this Caldecott Honor book, illustrated by Jon Klassen, are deep ideas about generosity and the true worth of a loving spirit.

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Much to the dismay of his captain, Ned, the Knitting Pirate, by Diana Murray and illustrated by Leslie Lammle (Macmillan, 2016), loves to knit. But when an sea monster attacks their ship, Ned’s hand-knit “blanket with the jolly roger crest” comforts the angry beast and saves the day.

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These books share a sense of love and comfort that we sorely need right now. They are perfect read-alouds for inspiring generosity in young children.

My knitting also inspired this #haikuforhealing, part of Mary Lee Hahn’s December haiku project.

loops of spun softness
slip off quicksilver needles
cozy hat blossoms

© Catherine Flynn, 2016

Please be sure to visit Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers for more book recommendations.