Thursday, April 30, 2020

Poetry Friday -- Highlights of The Flipside

I had a lot of fun with this year's National Poetry Month poems. Early in the month I started writing etherees, inspired by Liz Garton Scanlon's video lesson.

give thanks
for the clouds.
Yes, the same ones
that spoiled your picnic,
that rained on your parade,
that flooded the soccer field.
I am thankful for clouds because
without them there'd be no rainbows, and
behind them there will always be blue skies.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Now, More Than Ever
in hope,
then exhale
your gratitude.
Remember these truths:
students over standards,
patience over procedures,
compassion over compliance,
care over content, and grace over
gimmicks. We must humanize our teaching.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Fifth Grade Lessons
and you're learning
life requires you to
(first and foremost) show up.
Read directions, do your best,
ask for help, give help when you can.
Put one foot in front of the other.
Never take "ordinary" for granted.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

I wrote lots of haiku (sometimes that's all the brain space I had after a day of online teaching). Inspired by Jarrett Lerner, I kept a haiku diary for a day:

Haiku Diary for April 15

I wake up whiney
the sameness of every day
I'm on my last nerve

exercise, shower
a mug of hot tea, breakfast
sun peeks through the trees

my heart pumps, blood flows
lungs reliably inflate
some sameness is good

going to work means
down the hall into office

Google Meet is fine
but like all the rest of life
you have to show up

food delivery
a small thing for us to do
makes a big difference

lunchtime luxury
listen to a podcast
nurture my spirit

hours and hours of screens
my brain is totally fried
the cure is ice cream

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Here are two of the stories I told. The first one is 100% true, but the second one is mostly fiction. In the first stanza, I am the Grandma, the second stanza is me, the third stanza is fiction (after the first line, anyway!), and the fourth stanza is where I was and what I was doing when I wrote the poem.

I Have a New Friend
I have a new friend.
We've never met.
She chalks art and exercise challenges on the sidewalk.
She leaves the chalk out.
I write and draw my thanks.
Her chalk sticks became a pile of chalk pebbles.
I left a package on her porch --
Highlights magazines and gently used sidewalk chalk.
She left a package on my porch --
coloring pages, crayons and markers, four Cra-Z-Loom bracelets.
And a note.
I have a new friend named Annie.
We've never met.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020


When Grandma was a girl
she sometimes walked home from school for lunch.
She remembers grilled cheese and tomato soup,
kidney beans and cheese on toast,
peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

Now that school is in my house,
I eat lunch at home every day.
I like to eat the same thing I did at school --
pretzels and a cheese stick, veggies and a fruit.
Keeping lunch the same helps me remember the cafeteria.

The cafeteria was loud and messy.
I traded pretzels for bites of sushi or mini Oreos.
After lunch was recess. I miss recess --
the swings, the big toy, even the muddy soccer field.
I even miss indoor recess.

Sitting on my porch
eating my not-a-school-lunch
at home-is-now-school,
I close my eyes in the sun, listen to the birds,
and remember everything I miss about school.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

Liz has the Poetry Friday Roundup for today at her blog Elizabeth Steinglass. Happy May!


  1. Kudos! I particularly like "Now, More Than Ever."

  2. I especially like your "I Have a New Friend" poem. I makes me happy/sad at the same time, if that makes sense? Thanks for sharing all month long. :)

  3. Yes! I love your new friend poem too. And your haiku diary. I want to try that one day. Happy National Poetry Month!

  4. So much heart in these poems! Your etherees are awesome, because besides being lovely, they feel like the lines are broken where they SHOULD be, not just where the syllable count is correct.

  5. Three cheers for you and your NPM explorations, Mary Lee! You may be bone tired at the end of each day, but I hope you are also satisfied with what you accomplish. You deserve that self-praise. Thank you for inspiring me.

  6. Your Haiku Diary caught my attention Mary Lee. I felt they linked so well and captured the essence of these strange and unusual times. You have provided ample evidence of your creative energies in lockdown days. It must feel gratifying...

  7. Mary Lee, your etherees have inspired me to try writing one. They are lovely! My favorite is "Gratitude."

  8. I read most of yours during the month, Mary Lee, loved reading your response to the day, what was happening with your class, recording this strangest of April we just finished. I enjoyed all of these very much, poignant and real, but somehow this really showed, hmm, that's how it is! "Sitting on the porch." Thanks for sharing your 'flipside'!

  9. Thank you for such a beautiful collection of poems. I think I like Gratitude best because it is so very positive and a wonderful reminder.

  10. These are all wonderful, Mary Lee. Your etherees are so wise, especially "Now, More Than Ever." And yes, I believe ice cream is the cure for just about everything!

  11. These are wonderful, Mary Lee. Your "I Have a New Friend" made me teary. That's the kind of connection and story that has helped me during this time. I try to remember how many such stories there are. I'm so glad you celebrated this one here. I also love your etherees and your haiku diary and really everything about this post. You say so much in a few words and deftly capture the emotions of this time.

  12. Mary Lee, reading your poems this morning made me realize once again not to take the ordinary for granted. Our world is full of ordinary routines now, yet each day becomes a song of thanks. Would you be interested in offering your gratitude etheree for my #NatureNurtures2020 gallery? Each one of your poems is beautifully crafted with heart.

  13. Mary Lee, how you managed a poem a day in April I do not know. And so many of them deep knots of pain/truth/lightness/letting go. I had to let go even of the videos--more screen time was a logical but a foolish choice! I will continue at my leisure to fill up 30 days of April, but the Week 6 mark was a terrible turning point and now at the end of week 7 I feel calmer. I loved your idea at Michelle's spotlight on Margaret's Poems of Presence, and I think to go with my LoveToBike challenge (ride every day in May) I'll do a mindful moment of about 4 lines every day. Join me on Twitter? #PoemsOfPresence? #MindfulMay?
    PS please tell Franki I love her series but that her chosen logo/photo stresses me out. Yesterday--not once but twice--I dribbled soil and then water onto my laptop trying to demonstrate planting beans to 15 little zoomboxes of PreKids. My home classroom looks frightfully NOTHING like that rosy flatlay.

  14. What wonderful poems -- awesome that you were able to write every day and keep up with school work! I especially love "Now More Than Ever" and your haiku diary. Oh, and "I Have a New Friend." All so heartfelt and timely.

  15. Great portrait of your day and mood. I feel the same, tho my teaching/library days are over. Still... the sameness and the anxiety... but, we shall get through this. And yes, ice cream is often the answer! Coconut raspberry swirl. Mmm

  16. Lots of great poetry here Mary Lee, I like your cloud "Gratitude" poem, maybe because I like rainbows so much. I also like the last stanza of your "Lunch" poem. My husband and I get excited about food deliveries too, crazy huh. I relate to the screen fatigue. Although I was writing everyday, I gave up with posting–I had to keep up with my classes–perhaps next yea….

  17. Thank you for sharing so many poems, Mary Lee! I was so excited to see the etherees since I wrote one for Poetry Friday also! I particularly liked "Now, More Than Ever" and "I Have a New Friend." Such heart in all of your poems.

  18. I enjoyed following along, Mary Lee :-) I hadn't seen your new friend poem before, that joy of sharing and finding common ground!

  19. I love your etherees and the new friend poem is very special. Your haiku diary really brings home how difficult and stressful online teaching is!

  20. I loved each of these for different reasons, but "Now, More Than ever" just hit home in a very special way. Thank you, Mary Lee.


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