Friday, March 29, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Surprises


The first surprise--
on the logjam that crosses the river,
a mink.

Not a muskrat.
A mink.
In Ohio.

The best surprise--
turned to look upstream, checking the footing for my next step,
my eyes off the line and
a tug
a yank
a fight
a trout.

Not a bass.
A rainbow trout.
In Ohio.

The last surprise--
I've forgotten
the achingly numb feet
from a day spent standing in
fast flowing
forty degree water with a
fly rod.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Yes,  while others escaped to warm ocean beaches, I spent a day colder than I've ever been in my entire life and it was all worth it. (The Laphroaig may or may not have helped with that...)

Poetry Month is just around the corner. My NPM19 Poem A Day project is Playing With Poetry. I'm going to spend the month playing with Haikubes, Magnetic Poetry, Metaphor Dice, and Paint Chip Poetry. Join in if you'd like! We can use the Twitter hashtag #playwithpoetryNPM to find and support each other.

Speaking of find and support, Carol has this week's Poetry Friday roundup and her favorite daffodil poem at Carol's Corner.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Nothing Gold -- After Robert Frost

Nothing Gold
after Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold
or, in the case of that bush
with its six inches of new growth,

Or, in the case of that forsythia
on the south-facing side of the house,
an unbelievable shade of bright

Or, in the case of those new shoots
knifing up from exposed iris bulbs,
a simultaneously fragile but violent

All these early hues
in leaf, in flower
hard to hold as the earth moves
along its path
hour by hour
by day by day
by season by season,

not so much subsiding
as being subsumed
in the golden Eden
of Life.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

The first draft of this poem happened in one of our five-minute quick-writes in writing workshop this week. Another reminder that these small rituals are powerful not just for our student writers, but for our own writing lives.

I have a love-hate relationship with Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. I landed in the honors program at the University of Denver based on good grades in a sub-standard rural high school. I was over my head in so many ways. There was so much I didn't even know I didn't know. A professor attempted to teach me how to craft a critical essay by humiliating me -- by showing me the work of a classmate who was already clearly on the path to his fame as a writer. Then he asked me if this poem by Robert Frost was hopeful or hopeless. My humiliation had turned to stubborn anger, and I argued that the poem was hopeful. And then I figured out on my own how to be the kind of writer I wanted to be.

It was that experience more than any other that taught me how to teach the writer, not the writing. Every writer can move to the next level, but you can only begin from where they are the moment they show you their own work.

Rebecca has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Sloth Reads, and how perfect is that? Tomorrow is National Goof Off Day, when our spring break begins!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Climate Change Edition

For today's Climate Change Edition of Poetry Friday, I'm reposting a poem I wrote for my 2017 Poetry Month project featuring Malvina Reynolds.

“ was while doing graduate work in English there (University of California Berkeley) that she did some student teaching. She used pop songs to teach her high school students about rhyme scheme and meter, as they were not poetry readers."

Malvina Reynolds would have been at Berkeley in the 1920's, and "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" was a popular song then. Perhaps it was one she used to teach about rhyme scheme and meter.

I used this song as my mentor text for a poem about Mother Nature.

Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue
Words: Sam M. Lewis and Joseph Widow Young; Music: Ray Henderson (1925)

Five foot two, eyes of blue,
but oh, what those five foot could do:
has anybody seen my gal?

Turned-up nose, turned-down hose
Flapper? Yes sir, one of those
Has anybody seen my gal?

Now, if you run into
a five-foot-two
covered with fur,
Diamond rings,
and all those things,
Bet your life it isn't her

But could she love, could she woo!
Could she, could she, could she coo!
Has anybody seen my gal?

My Gal, Mother Nature

Birds and bees, rocks and trees
Oh the breeze and green green leaves
Has anybody seen my gal?

Skies of blue, rivers too
Nature? Yes we need her hues
Has anybody seen my gal?

Now if the skies are hazed
Parks are paved
Trash everywhere,
Species dead
Sewage spread
Bet your life there’s no clean air

The temps are high, could she die?
Could she, could she, could she die?
Has anybody seen my gal?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Heidi has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at my juicy little universe. Head over and get inspired!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Angela Matteson
Wordsong, March 12, 2019

True story: my dolls sat on my closet shelf until just a few years ago when we had to empty mom's house to sell it. I tried to pack them away in a trunk several times, but it never lasted. Because, you see, my dolls were alive. They needed to be out in the open where they could breathe and see.

And, if Laura's new book of poems gets it right, maybe where they could hop off the shelf and take part in a "late-night talent show" while the house slept!

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Laura's imagination roams all through the house bringing to life a Kleenex parachute, an overdue book playing hide-and-seek, a very punny toilet, a basketball with a headache, and many more.

This is a book of poems that's sure to be a hit in our classroom for Poetry Friday presentations!

Check out other links on the blog tour for interviews, give-aways, a peek at the online resources for the book, a Padlet of contributor poems, and more!

Blog tour links:

Monday, 3/11 Mile High Reading
Tuesday, 3/12 Reflections on the Teche
Wednesday, 3/13 A Year of Reading
Thursday, 3/14 Check It Out
Friday, 3/15 Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
Sunday, 3/17 Great Kid Books
Monday, 3/18 Simply 7 Interview/Jena Benton blog
Tuesday, 3/19 My Juicy Little Universe
Wednesday, 3/20 Live Your Poem
Thursday, 3/21 Reading to the Core
Friday, 3/22 KidLit Frenzy       Beyond Literacy Link

Friday, March 08, 2019

Poetry Friday -- A Tribute to the Women Who Made Me Who I Am

The women who made me who I am
     gave each other home perms
     led Cub Scout dens and Brownie Scout troops
     grew asparagus for the challenge of it
     ran the swimming pool and coached the swim team.

The women who made me who I am
     opened businesses
     drove tractors
     canned pickles
     read voraciously.

The women who made me who I am
     put meals on the table
     put kids to bed
     put petunias in the planter
     put family first.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Happy International Women's Day! This poem's for you, Harriet, Verta, Rae, Phyllis, Rita, Vonnie, Evelyn, Adrienne, Joy, Bonnie, Rose Mae, Faye, and all the others whose names have left my memory, but whose mark remains.

Catherine has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Reading to the Core.

Next week, Heidi (my juicy little universe) is inviting us to join her in sharing Climate Change poems for the worldwide School Strike for Climate.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Poetry Friday -- A Small Sized Mystery

Our Not-So-Small-Sized Mystery

A Small-Sized Mysteryby Jane Hirshfield

Leave a door open long enough,
a cat will enter.
Leave food, it will stay.
Soon, on cold nights,
you’ll be saying “Excuse me”
if you want to get out of your chair.
But one thing you’ll never hear from a cat
is “Excuse me.”

(read the rest of the poem here)

Here's another small-sized mystery, if you have nine minutes to watch (make's worth it). The Kid Should See This is a most excellent site filled with videos that are vetted for kid viewing. I've used these videos in every subject area for every reason: instruction, inspiration, and just plain FUN. 

Are you planning ahead for an International Women's Day poem next week for Catherine's roundup at Reading to the Core? Get on it! (...I'm saying to myself, too!)

Linda B. has today's roundup at TeacherDance.