Friday, November 25, 2016


An unsolicited email showed up in my inbox. Rather than spam, it seemed like a message from the universe. Here are the big ideas:

5 Insights for Recording Artists, Performers, and Creatives 

1. Make Art for Social Change

2. Channel Your Pain into Art

3. If You See It, Say It, Sing It, or Sculpt It...

4. Be Visible

5. Collaborate

In a seemingly unrelated email, Carol Wilcox asked if I was planning to write a haiku a day in December again this year. 

My creative spirit, who has been sitting out on the porch with her head between her knees for the last couple of weeks, looked up and nodded. Yes, that seems right, she said. A response to the news of the day, shared in the concise metaphorical form of the haiku. 


Perhaps a month of haiku won't heal the world, but it may begin the process of healing my spirit. Join in if you'd like, by using the hashtag on Twitter or FaceBook.

Tanita's haiku are at [fiction, instead of lies]
Michelle's haiku can be found archived in one post at Today's Little Ditty
Linda Mitchell's are at A Word Edgewise
Margaret's are at Reflections on the Teche
Heidi's are at My Juicy Little Universe
Catherine's are at Reading to the Core
Carol Wilcox's are at Carol's Corner

Buffy Silverman's are at Buffy's Blog
Jone Rush MacCulloch's are at DeoWriter
Diane Mayr's, posted on Thursdays, are at Random Noodling
Julie Johnson's are at at Raising Readers and Writers
Carol Varsalona's are at Beyond LiteracyLink
Linda Baie's are at TeacherDance

All haiku on this page are ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016.

image via Unsplash

waning moon
darker nights ahead
light the lanterns

11/25 Black Friday

autumn leaves
windblown into the corner
some still fly free


mob of cawing crows
one hawk flying sure and low
ducks the raving flock

11/27 #BetsyOurLoss

bushels of apples
vibrant orchards with strong trees
menace of blight

11/28 #commonplacemarvels

chickadees and wrens
nuthatches, cardinals, finches
all share the feeder


after rain
puddles reflect
dark clouds


overcast skies
unexpected kindness
ray of hope


Hello, December
Orion races west
Big Dipper empties


cold wind
oak leaves rattle
long winter ahead

(using Linda Mitchell's last line--modified--as my first)

winter tide: rest, rest 
ignore moon's pull: lull, lull 
wave goodbye: surge, surge

(a meditation on birthdays that are past the half-century mark)

another year
snowflakes gather in drifts
spring melt looms

(in response to a Turkish haiku in #haikuforhealing)

butterfly wings
small movement stirs the air


five birds
huddle on the wire
welcome one more


woodpile expands
winter heat stored in neat stacks
stoke the fires

(after reading articles about Trump's lies about jobs saved at the Carrier plant
and his designated security advisor is perpetuating fake news
and he knows squat about the Constitution)

brave little mouse
this lion can't be trusted
be vigilant


dark horizon
menacing storms build strength
children play tag

(a fun exchange)

from Van Allen (@GRProject43X), in reply to my 12/8 haiku

Your 5-7-5
is short a few beats. Why? Why?
A butterfly weeps.

my response:

my 5-7-5
is not worth tears, butterfly
who's to say what counts?


naked emperor
prepares to bask in the heat
of a dying Earth

Poetry to the rescue.

in emergency
dial nine-one-one for body
eight-one-one for soul

6:00 a.m., The Morning After the Neighborhood Lighting

one luminaria
shines on


prickly day
softened by sticky snow
balm of silence

Hat-tip to Renee LaTulippe for the first line.

poised atop the food chain
not my keystone


fifth grade --
teaching parrots
to think


yammering cuckoo
eagle remains vigilant
beware the talons


rain stops, ice melts
temperatures keep rising
shroud of fog

For Birds...and Friends at Solstice Dinner

even a few seeds
are enough for these birds here --
feed your flock


so much can't be fixed
but when the sink starts to leak
out come the tools


one bird -- one squawk
a mighty din -- the whole flock
add your voice

Winter Solstice

our darkest day
followed one spin later
by more light


honest work, like-minded folk
everyone comes clean

Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa

light and levity --
we gather all the candles --
blaze away darkness


under snow
at the base of the old oak
trillium sleep

Tyrannical Regimes use Isolation as a Weapon of Oppression

harmony, beauty --
haiku sung acapella --
join the chorus


planet is heating
sixty-eight in December
slow, comfortable death


sunrise looks forward
lights all the dark corners
fades all the stars

There are no big box stores, shopping malls, freeways, or stadiums,
but Eastern Colorado has this:

bolt of night fabric
black velvet stretched tight with stars
Milky Way ribbon


black bowl of night sky
overturned on plate of land
Milky Way flows


moving target
bullseye shrinks


ganderless goose
takes young chicken under wing
comfort for both

in the village
a stranger calls for help
answer comes quickly

fuchsia sunrise
be glad for another day
shadows be gone


mother bird
you raised your chicks to fly
don't be sad

this treacherous road
built by those who came before
fellow travelers

Fox News is Blaring on the Nursing Home TV

giving thanks
for print media's page turns
for website browsing

old oak stands silent
bare branches ache for spring
leaves will return

small town life
so slow, squirrels are safe
no roadkill

Happy New Year?
You've already forgotten?
Fresh hell awaits us.

I Feel Violated, Not Safe

groin alert requires pat down
you could smile, she says

The Return of Civil Disobedience

Hello, 2017.
Civil disobedience
knocks at your door.

incapable of deceit

Unlike this one: Asked if Trump is playing the media with his comments on who was culpable, Woolsey said it was a "possibility," noting that 
Trump is an "expert in weaving around" on issues like this.

west wind
bitter cold barrels in
chimes complain

a different kind of #haikuforhealing

(pass the Kleenex)
hazy fog

As I ponder whether my work with 5th graders
will survive the crazyweird to come...

Will you remember this, kids?
Practice it as adults?

Accepting difference.
Will you remember this, kids?
Do it as adults?

Outrage over hate.
Will you remember this, kids?
Act on it as adults?

Rumors. Fake news. Anything that's not the real issues.

heads turn
wolf advances


please help me believe
in today


sense of urgency
every word and action must
promote harmony


today's mountain
eventually a hill
but oh the rubble

Friday, November 4, 2016

Life is Full of Pain and Glory

Life is Full of Pain and Glory

Like a single leaf
spiraling lazily down
through a china blue sky.

Like a hangnail
which, in careless irritation,
is yanked and bleeds.

Like a fragile, confused iris
blooming in October
one block from the hospital.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Quite So Much

Quite So Much

If it weren't for the clouds
I wouldn't love the blue
quite so much.

If it weren't for the cold shock
of the first step into the river
I wouldn't love dry land
quite so much.

If it weren't for the surprise of bright yellow fungus
I wouldn't love dead trees
quite so much.

If it weren't for the constant chatter
and the loud enthusiasm of children
I wouldn't love silence
quite so much.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Our fifth graders went to Highbanks Metropark last week for a field trip put on by the Ohio River Foundation, a group that works towards "protecting and restoring the Ohio River and its watershed." The Olentangy River, which runs through Highbanks, is a part of the Ohio River watershed. Our students took part in several activities that determined the health of the Olentangy River, and that reinforced the need to conserve our fresh water resources. This poem was inspired by our field trip.

Violet is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Violet Nesdoly | Poems.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Everyday Miracle: A Septercet

Everyday Miracle

Watching caterpillars morph
from worm into chrysalis
never grows old. Starting small

(teeny-tiny, truth be told)
they adopt a growth mindset --
after egg, it's grow, grow, grow.

They change caterpillar clothes
as they thicken and lengthen.
Then comes the ultimate change --

undigested food is purged,
silk belt is spun, anchoring
caterpillar, who lets go

and leans into the process.
Unseen to observing eyes,
parts that were caterpillar

shuffle, shift, reorganize.
What once began as all crawl
will become fluttering flight.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

The Ditty of the Month challenge at Today's Little Ditty, issued by Madam Jane Yolen, was to write a septercet, a form she invented in which each verse (as many verses as you want) needs to have three lines, each with seven syllables. It can be rhymed or not. The challenge was also (I just realized) to make your septercet feature reading and/or writing. Oops. Maybe mind is about reading the natural world.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Fifties

The Fifties

Trees feel the fifties
in their tip-top leaves --
ever so slightly not as green.

Bees feel the fifties
in their crystal wings --
buzz-uzz-uzzing sluggishly.

Runners feel the fifties
in groups of twos and threes --
comfortable in shirt-sleeves, breathing easily.

I feel the fifties
slightly differently --
cycling along...they're in my knees!

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

Gratitude List

Gratitude List

Praise be this morning for waking early,
tree crickets buzzing, the humid air,
the puffy clouds lined with pink first light.
Praise be my morning tea, steaming hot,
the cat underneath my feet,
the caterpillar on the sprig of dill
in a juice glass on the kitchen table.
Praise be these blueberries from Michigan,
this yogurt, thick and creamy,
from a local farm co-op. Praise be the basil,
sturdy and fragrant in the morning light,
and for the tall purple ironweed and the
goldenrod, both on the verge of blooming.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

When the poem Gratitude List by Laura Foley showed up in my inbox via The Writer's Almanac, I knew I wanted to use it as a mentor text and paint a picture of a midwestern morning to mirror her ocean beach morning. It was a fun exercise and a good reminder that borrowing from another writer sometimes makes my own writing not just better, but possible on a day when I'm not sure I have anything to write about!

Gratitude List

Praise be this morning for sleeping late,
the sandy sheets, the ocean air,
the midnight storm that blew its waters in.
Praise be the morning swim, mid-tide,
the clear sands underneath our feet,
the dogs who leap into the waves,
their fur, sticky with salt,
the ball we throw again and again.
Praise be the green tea with honey,
the bread we dip in finest olive oil,
the eggs we fry. Praise be the reeds,
gold and pink in the summer light,
the sand between our toes,
our swimsuits, flapping in the breeze.

by Laura Foley (used with permission of the author)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Cleaning Dandelions Out of the Iris

free image from

Cleaning Dandelions Out of the Iris

Satisfying snap --
trowel cuts roots below ground.
They're bound to come back.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Friday, June 24, 2016


Flickr Creative Commons Photo by SB


The pears on the kitchen counter
are probably ripe by now,
and the basil in the raised bed
ready to be ground into another batch of pesto.

Perhaps the coneflowers and gayfeather have bloomed,
and certainly the morning glory vines
have locked the back gate.

But when I return, the afternoon sun will glow
through the west windows

as it always does.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday, June 3, 2016

That Moment

That Moment When Summer Arrives, 
Whether or not the Solstice Has Occurred

The peonies are blown.
Rain knocked the petals off
the last poppy
and laid the daisies down on the lawn.
The first fireflies
sparkle the humid night.
You can smell
the grass growing.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hidden Miracles

Jack in the Pulpit:
unrecognized miracle
pokes up amongst ferns

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Saturday, April 30, 2016



Mommy? Grandma?
Why are you crying?
Did I do something wrong?

No, Jackie. No, Punkin'.
It's not you.
We're crying for the bygones.

We're remembering Uncle Jack.
Grandpa's trumpet 
was one of the things from home that he took along

with him into the war.
The trumpet didn't come back, and neither did he.
But you're here, so Uncle Jack will live on.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016



It seems like just yesterday
my little girl was in ruffles and a bonnet,
then serious-faced with that long, long hair.

Our Lizzy was the observer.
She worshipped Lewis,
kept Jack out of more than his share 

of trouble. She watched over Henry
like a mother hen.
She could beat me at checkers, fair and square.

Now I've given her away.
My little girl.
Take care of her, young man. Take good care.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

I'm going to miss this family I've invented from random photographs and scraps of my own family's history. I plan to work on giving them a more proper storyline. Or perhaps I'll just collect them into an e-book. Time will tell. It always does, it seems.

Buffy has the Poetry Friday roundup at Buffy's Blog.

Thursday, April 28, 2016



Falling in love
with a race car driver
surprised me as much as it did you.

When the children come,
he has promised
to find a new,

safer line of work.
How many grandkids?
I think you can plan on two.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016



Dear Iva,
I couldn't be more sure.
But are you?

You'd give all that up for me?
For a life on this farm?
For a job at the school?

When I look at your face
in the photo you sent
I still can't believe it's true.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

The 2016 Progressive Poem is HERE!

It's been a little nerve-wracking to be the 27th poet to add a line to the 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. I've peeked in on it a couple times a week since the first of the month, but I didn't want fall in love with the direction it was heading, knowing that the direction would certainly change. (And boy has it!!)

I'm glad I got a spot this year -- the schedule filled up fast! Here's who's added lines so far (and who will add after me):


1 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Diane at Random Noodling

5 Penny at A Penny and Her Jots
6 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
7 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem

9 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
10 Pat at Writer on a Horse
11 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
12 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

13 Linda at TeacherDance
14 Jone at Deo Writer
15 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly

17 Kim at Flukeprints
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Charles at Poetry Time
20 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

21 Jan at Bookseedstudio
22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
23 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
24 Amy at The Poem Farm

25 Mark at Jackett Writes
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
28 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
30 Donna at Mainely Write

The poem started off with some gorgeous images of birds and wishes, then the ocean and more wishes. A celebration of spring kept the spirit of the poem light in the third and fourth stanzas. In the fifth stanza, we took a short break from the earthly poem and rode Pegasus to the largest moon of Jupiter. The breeze returned with an offer for our speaker: "I give you flight!" What a gift! But the speaker suddenly gets cold feet in stanza seven, line one, at which point, Renee, in yesterday's line, "pushed her out of the plane."

Here's the poem:

A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky.
A hummingbird holds and then hies.
If I could fly, I’d choose to be
Sailing through a forest of poet-trees.

A cast of crabs engraves the sand
Delighting a child’s outstretched hand.
If I could breathe under the sea,
I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee.

A clump of crocuses craves the sun.
Kites soar while joyful dogs run.
I sing to spring, to budding green,
to all of life – seen and unseen.

Wee whispers drift from cloud to ear
and finally reach one divining seer
who looks up from her perch and beams —
West Wind is dreaming May, it seems.

Golden wings open and gleam
as I greet the prancing team.
Gliding aside with lyrical speed,
I’d ride Pegasus to Ganymede.

To a pied pocket, the zephyr returns
blowing soft words the seer discerns
from earthbound voyage to dreamy night,
The time is now. I give you flight!

Yet I fear I am no kite or bird–
I lift! The world below me blurred
by tears of joy. I spiral high 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016



This picture haunts me.
It's as if
I sealed my fate

in a moment of silliness
prompted by the photographer.
The blind date

with the man who would be your father
was that same night.
I was blind indeed. And he didn't wait

a single minute for my good sense to return.
Almost before I realized it,
I was hitched and whisked away

to that wretched farm.
His conquest
was my doomsday.

I won't try to stop you, Iva.
Neither will I come rescue you.
It is your life to waste.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016



I never knew Great Uncle.
When I turn twenty and can manage
the money he left for me

I will thank him for his hard work,
his thrift, and his service in far away Russia in the Great War.
Then I'll not hesitate to leave.

A life on the farm
was Mother's "terrible mistake."
It is my dream.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016



Dear Henry,
Yes, that's me --
on the outside.

Inside, I'm still the girl
who could out-race and out-spell you
with one arm tied

behind my back!
Keep sending your poems about the homeplace.
They're what's keeping the true me alive.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016



All right, Pa.
You want me to invent a better story?
Youngest son

grows up to become
the world's first famous
ukulele musician.

Deprived of violin and trumpet
by his older brothers,
he discovers a musical passion

all his own. Deeply regrets
missing out on a life of farm work.
How's that for invention?

The truth will be:
Youngest son inherits farm,
makes agriculture his ambition.

Finds fame
in cattle and crops.
His regrets? None.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

Papa and Henry

Papa and Henry

There's my gallant Henry,
high on his steed,
ready to gallop into the sunset!

                                                  Tell the truth, Pa.
                                                  We both know
                                                  from the set

                                                 of Dolly's ears
                                                 what was about to happen.
                                                 I was lucky to get

                                                 out of that alive.
                                                 When Dolly went to live at the Dobler's
                                                 I was not upset.

Henry, my boy, what's stopping us
from inventing a better story
complete with some imaginary regrets?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Jama has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Thursday, April 21, 2016



There I am,
Jack's shadow.
I'm surprised he let me hold his precious bat.

Do you think he's okay?
Why haven't we heard from him?
Where's he at,

anyway? Why won't they tell you?
When will this war be over?
I want my hero back.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016



A note to my younger self:
Don't take the world so seriously.
You don't always have to do as you're told.

Snatch off that silly bonnet
and run towards freedom.
Make your move, and make it bold.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Tuesday, April 19, 2016



I remember that day.
I did all my morning chores
up to my knees in mud,

came back to the house
to clean my boots up,
and there he was,

proud as punch
in my overshoes.
How could I begrudge his fun?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016



We went back to Nebraska
just that once.
My brother's wealth was hard

on your Pa.
All of it --
tidy barn, grass in the yard,

and Jack in hand-me-downs
holding tight
to that car,

not wanting to leave it
for our dry and dusty
struggle of a farm.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016



Jack was always a joker,
using the animals
for some prank or scheme,

but Lewis loved them
deep and hard.
They were a team:

his Bonnie dog,
and Queenie --

the old mare
who was so patient,
so gentle with Lizzy and Henry.

Lewis has been gone nearly a year,
but whenever a car comes into the yard
they both look up hopefully.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Saturday, April 16, 2016



This one takes me right back
to the day of my mama's funeral --
Lewis playing "Amazing Grace,"

sitting there in a kitchen chair
at the edge of her beloved garden.
The one place

in all this endless brown dryness
where there was color and life.
That's what her garden was -- an amazing grace.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016



When Lewis' first model plane
took off like a dream on the first try,
is that when you knew

he'd be a pilot someday?
How he loved to tell that story.
Now, whenever a plane goes buzzing through,

I look up and imagine him there,
beyond "the surly bonds of Earth,"
"Up, up the long delirious burning blue..."

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016
(with a hat tip to John Magee's "High Flight")

If you're new to my National Poetry Month project, you can go back to April 1, 2016 and read forward to catch the story line. Or you can go here and click on the link(s) under the pictures.

Michelle has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Today's Little Ditty.

Thursday, April 14, 2016



Yes, indeed.
That's me.
Star of the team.

Valedictorian of my class, too.
If you work hard,
I believe you can succeed

at whatever
you aim for.
Of course, when it comes to wheat

a farmer can work his tail off
and the weather decides
what will be.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Henry and Lizzy

Henry and Lizzy

Who's that, Mama?
The one in the middle
marked with an X?

                                        He's so young
                                        and handsome!
                                        Tell us how you met!

I never knew
that once upon a time
Papa played trumpet!

                                        Did he bring you
                                        flowers? Candy?
                                        ...How could you forget?!?

Can I have it?
May I have it?
Pleeeeease, may I have it?

                                      Papa gave it to Jack
                                      when he enlisted?
                                      ...I guess that's best...

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016