Thursday, November 9, 2017

If Truth Be Told


Unsplash photo by Charles Deluvio

I'm the type
who'd rather have dumplings
than blossoms

Issa, 1814




Unsplash photo by nabil boukala


I'm the type
who'd rather have breakfast
than cocktails

Mary Lee Hahn, 2017






I'm the type
who'd rather have sunflowers
than roses

Mary Lee Hahn, 2017







I'm the type
who'd rather have bikeways
than freeways

Mary Lee Hahn, 2017




I couldn't resist using Issa's haiku as a mentor text. It's so unlike any other Issa haiku that I've received in my email inbox via Daily Issa. 

What type are you? What can you learn about yourself through your "rather haves?"


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

How Airplanes Fly


Unsplash photo by Ross Parmly

How Airplanes Fly

Actually,
It's the wings!
Rushing air
Pushes up,
Lifts the wing.
Amazing -- it's
Not the
Engine that makes planes fly!


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Friday, September 29, 2017

Ode to Bluegills





Ode to Bluegills

Though you are small,
you are mighty,
fighting like a fish ten times your size.

You make us cheer
and call for the photographer.
And you make us cringe

when we remove the hook.
Why must you swallow the fly
so far down it takes magic to extract it?

Never mind.
All turns out well for you in the end,
and you swim away gladly.

We thank you for your spiky dorsal fin,
the distinctive black beauty spot near your gill,
your iridescent scales.

We thank you for the tug on our line,
reminding us that we are connected --
the two of us; all of us.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Friday, September 15, 2017

Bike Ride Blessing 3.0 -- A Counting Out Rhyme



Bike Ride Blessing--A Counting Out Rhyme

One for the moon
in the morning sky,
two deer watching
as I ride by.

Three steep hills
to make me work,
paired with coasting--
that's the perk!

Four herds of runners
clog the path.
Ring my bell,
pedal past.

Three ponds total--
rising mists.
Two geese honking--
they insist:

One is presence,
patience, too.
Eyes and ears,
one is you.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017



Saturday, September 9, 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bike Ride Blessing




Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Nick Step

Bike Ride Blessing

I want to stop,
gather my thoughts.

A deer and her fawn
ran across the path
so close
I swerved to miss them.

An ordinary day
suddenly goes soft.
All that was wrong
is lost.

Moments like this
can't be bought.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017



Friday, July 28, 2017

Black Swallowtail Haiku



the caterpillars
unrecognizable
disguise mystery


©Mary Lee Hahn



I still haven't seen a single adult black swallowtail anywhere, all summer long. They have found my dill and parsley, however. Caterpillars have appeared and disappeared several times. A couple of weeks ago, they were all over the dill in various stages of growth. I brought in six, excited about watching the ten (TEN!!) I left outside grow up. When I went outside later that afternoon, all ten were gone from the dill, nowhere to be found. Food chain, I assume. I am glad I saved six.

Of the six, three have successfully chrysalized (is that a word?) and two are close -- still eating, but nearing the full-to-popping size they achieve before they reorganize all their body parts so they can fly. The mystery of the changes from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly never gets old.


Caterpillar on dill, top left. Two chrysalises on bottom stick.



Two unrecognizable caterpillars -- top one is greenish, bottom one is brown.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Timing is Everything


Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes State Park


timing is everything

how we measure the seconds between
     toast and charcoal
     insult and injury
     impact and airbag
hands up, palms forward--stop!

how we measure the seconds between
     boom and sparkle
     joke and punchline
     notice and wonder
hands out, palms cupped--more!


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017



I took the title of my poem from today's poem at The Writer's Almanac. Gerald Locklin uses the timing of one event for his poem, but I got to thinking about the range of emotions possible within brief moments. What are some moments you'd like to have stopped or to held onto?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dear, Sincerely


Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Faruk AteĊŸ


Dear Mac and Cheese,

I’ve got to hand it to you,
you perfected the whole dissemblance thing.
I mean, it was flat-out brilliant
disguising yourself in that box for all these years,
allowing generations of beginning (or lazy) cooks
to transform dust and rocks
into a creamy bowl of comfort.
Box-made, your color is, though, disturbingly unnatural.
Not quite the orange of the namesake fruit
nor of a winter sky at sunset.
Neither oriole nor monarch.
Not autumn or amber.
Perhaps closest to road gang prison uniform,
a subtle hint to alert the most observant cooks that
the box is actually a trap.
Half a lifetime of cooking wasted, spent colorblind and imprisoned,
I’m free now, and so are you.
I’ve grated a big mound of cheddar and American,
mixed in noodles, poured on cream, baked until crunchy on top.
We’ve escaped, and nothing can stop us from moving on
to smoked gouda, bacon, fresh peas, and a crisp panko topping.
Your palette is now my palate.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017






Sincerely, Mac and Cheese

I know I cannot erase the facts:
they will grow up motherless;
he will be achingly lonely.

Stir into me the courage of a wooden spoon,
bake me with a searing love,
deliver me to be eaten one spoonful at a time,

the same way a vast grief must be consumed.
This is all you can do.
This is all I can do.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017




My mentor text for these two poems was David Hernandez's book, Dear, Sincerely. His poem, "Sincerely, the Sky" was featured recently on The Writer's Almanac. I loved it so much that in a rare move, I clicked through to his book on Amazon. After a peek inside the book, I knew I wanted to own it.


There are 10 Dear or Sincerely poems in the book. I took the conversational tone of my first poem from Hernandez's "Dear Death." My sincerely poem is most like his "Sincerely, Paper Gown."

Friday, June 16, 2017

IF


Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Nicholas Flook


IF

If houseplants had jobs,
the commute would kill them.

If birdbaths had children,
the yard would be filled with puddles.

If the screen door paid bills,
the currency would be slams and breezes.

If clocks made investments,
only time would tell if it was all worth it.

If measuring cups had power of attorney,
responsibility would be calibrated.

If a window left a last will and testament,
it would be completely transparent.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


My mentor text was the book IF, by Shirley Glaser, reviewed here.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Playing Checkers with Vincent


Flickr Creative Commons photo by Greg Wagoner

Playing Checkers With Vincent

Maybe I should have let him win.

He was an honest player,
showing me I could double jump him.

(I had forgotten about double jumps.
That's how long it had been since
my last checkers game.)

I thanked him for the tip
and didn't double jump him that time.

That counts, doesn't it?

He was an earnest player,
thinking through the if-thens of every move,
his strategy as transparent as his joy.
At one point, when I had two kings to his one
but there were still lots of checkers on the board,
he wanted to quit
but didn't.

He didn't flip the board
until my win was inevitable,
laughing gleefully,
no need to concede
because it was time to clean up
for free summer lunch.

Mini corndogs and fries
with two choices from the salad bar.

Maybe I had it all wrong.
Maybe he's the one who let me win.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Friday, May 26, 2017

Peony Poem



Peony Poem

an idea
sudden, surprising
like red peony shoots
the first color in a spring garden

a draft
leafy, bushy
too much green, but with buds
sweet enough to attract ants

a poem
lopsided, fragrant
overly showy, flamboyant, glorious
cut for a vase or for a grave


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Sunday, April 30, 2017

This World



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.






What Scientists Know That We All Should Remember

This world values diversity
over singularity

adaptation
over stasis

the many
over the few

balance 
over imbalance.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017




I saved this song for last because, as you can hear, it is simultaneously a goodbye song and a love song to the world. The world she sings about in this song is the natural world, but it is also the world of humanity. 

Malvina loved this world (these worlds) enough to fight for all she found to be right and true, using her musical and writing talents. Her name needs to be added to our list of women heroes who 

Persist (like Elizabeth) 
Inspire (like Malala)
Speak (like Maya)
Influence (like Sonia)
Defy (like Rosa)
Fight (like Hillary)
Empower (like Gloria)
Focus (like Michelle)
Rule (like Ruth)
Sing (like Malvina)

My poem today was doubly inspired by a month spent with Malvina and the book I'm currently listening to, The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson. My wish for the future of the human race would be that we could come to know about ourselves the things that scientists know about life in general on this planet. Maybe if we could build our human society to be in tune with the scientific principles of life, we could keep the whole planet alive.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

There's a Bottom Below


For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.

Children's songs, songs about current events, the environment, politics, and gender inequity -- I've gotten to know Malvina Reynolds, but today's song makes me laugh. It's as though Malvina Reynolds has gotten to know ME! Add blues to her list of musical genres. My version of this song doesn't match her rhythm well enough to be sung, and I certainly could have written a more sobering and depressing version about my March, but I couldn't resist capturing a snapshot of the past couple of days.





The Fifth Grade in May Blues

Do you think you've hit bottom?
Do you think you've hit bottom?
Oh, no.
There's a bottom below.

There's a low below the low you know.
You can't imagine how far you can go...down.

Every once in awhile your lesson hits home
It clicks, it’s fun, but don’t forget...next time you’ll go...down

Do you think you've hit bottom?
Do you think you've hit bottom?
Oh, no.
There's a bottom below.

You watch the Kleenex fill up the trash can
Wash every surface with Chlorox and then (on the weekend) you go...down

Do you think you've hit bottom?
Do you think you've hit bottom?
Oh, no.
There's a bottom below.

You’re patient and kind and your voice is kept low
You’re frustrated and angry and then you yell...you’ve gone...down

Do you think you've hit bottom?
Do you think you've hit bottom?
Oh, no.
There's a bottom below.

There's a low below the low you know.
You can't imagine how far you can go...down.


©Mary Lee Hahn (with apologies to Malvina Reynolds)


Friday, April 28, 2017

Pennies



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Along with all of the songs she wrote about the issues of her times (still current now), Malvina Reynolds also wrote songs for children. In the documentary Love it Like A Fool, she mentioned that it irked her that men were taken seriously when they were any age, but with her white hair and her songs for children, she became known as "The Singing Grandmother." Anyone who's been listening along through this month knows without a doubt that Malvina Reynolds was much much more than a "Singing Grandmother."



Pennies

The beaded coin purse
full of loose change,
mostly pennies,
bulged on the kitchen counter
beside the mug full of leaky pens and
pencils with dried out erasers.

In the top dresser drawer
beneath silky slips
that hadn’t been worn in decades
was stashed a plastic bag of pennies.
All wheatheads,
collected because perhaps they’d become valuable.

Mom’s laudable thrift,
learned at the knee of necessity
makes my lack of frugality
appear extravagant.
Her someday was always out of reach.
Mine jingles in my hand.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Current Events




For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.

Sometimes in Malvina's songs, she pulled her topic straight from the headlines of the newspaper. Her song today is about a little mouse who chewed some wires, causing big problems for humans.

Language alert if you are listening with children. 
Be ready to hit mute at 1:06-1:09 and again at 2:40-2:43. 




My poem topic today came from this article: Cassini Spacecraft Starts Weaving Between Saturn and Its Rings. It's a blackout poem.

























In Order to Survive

plan
a
precautionary measure
for
the Grand Finale
of our "pale blue dot"
Earth.

©Mary Lee Hahn



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Hard Work of Real Human Beings



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Through her music, Malvina addressed issues of diversity and collaboration, as well as economic and labor issues.




The Hard Work of Real Human Beings


Where do cherries come from?
They come from a tree!
And who picks them one by one?
Neither you, nor me.

Where does asparagus come from?
It grows in a field!
And who stoops down to cut each stalk?
Neither you, nor me.

Where do apples come from?
They grow on a tree!
And which strong worker fills buckets all day?
Neither you, nor me.

Where do peppers come from?
On bushes, low and green!
And who must pick each single one?
Neither you, nor me.

How much money do they make?
Do they have the things they need?
Who values their important work?
Neither you, nor me.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Live in a City



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Through her music, Malvina addressed issues of diversity and collaboration, as well as economic and labor issues. 




Riddle Poem

What is bigger than all its parts,
full to the brim of stops and starts,
more colorful than the boldest rainbow,
only silent when buried in snow,
less significant than it wants you to believe,
a problem to solve, a tragedy to grieve?

("...a city made by human hands")


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017



Monday, April 24, 2017

Rain



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Another unifying topic in Malvina Reynolds' songs is the environment. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





Ode to an Inch of Life-Giving Rain

Oh, Rain!
You fall so abundantly further east
but we treasure every hundredth of an inch
here on the western high plains.

Oh, Rain!
You have rescued the wheat crop,
not to mention the Russian Olives
in the windbreak on the north side of the house.

Oh, Rain!
You lift every spirit.
Are your ears burning? The inch that fell last night
is the topic of every conversation at the post office.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Sunday, April 23, 2017

The World's Gone Beautiful



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Another unifying topic in Malvina Reynolds' songs is the environment. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





The World is Asking Not to Die

The world is asking not to die,
yet humans look away,

overpopulating the planet,
changing the climate past the point of repair,
destroying biodiversity in a mass extinction,
killing oxygen-producing phytoplankton with nitrogen runoff,
polluting fresh water sources,
acidifying the ocean,
contaminating air, water, and soil with plastics and chemical compounds,
depleting the ozone layer,
clearing forests at an alarming rate.

How can humans look away
from a world that is asking not to die?


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Skagit Valley Forever



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Another unifying topic in Malvina Reynolds' songs is the environment. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.




wild is worth saving --
find your own Skagit Valley --
fight for our future --


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Friday, April 21, 2017

Regrets



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Another unifying topic in Malvina Reynolds' songs is the environment. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.

Today's poem is a Golden Shovel. The last word in each of my lines reads down, like an acrostic, and is a line from today's song by Malvina Reynolds, "Let it Be." Last month, I buried the story of the loss of two beautiful and magical places inside a book review, and when I set out to write today's poem, it became a lament of the most recent replacement of magic with convenience. Clearly, I'm not over that yet.



Regrets

You do the best you can until you
can do no more. You think
about the choices that
you made and you
wonder if your love
could ever have been enough for her
survival. You planted and
weeded and you
hoped someone else would want
to become caretaker to
this magical place where kids could discover
the workings of nature -- how
intricately she's
designed -- made
with milkweed, for example, expressly so
there can be monarchs. Because you
loved that plot, you take
it personally that they leveled her
and undid all your work; took apart

a piece of what made this world good and
right, wild and free. Your regrets threaten to break
 your belief in yourself, but her
 beauty remains whole in your heart.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ticky Tacky



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





Ticky Tacky
(to the tune of "Little Boxes")

It’s the sameness, lack-of-change-ness
It’s the absence of diversity
Economic inequality
Absolute conformity

It’s a boilermaker
Never varying
So redundant
Truly tedious

It’s the absence of diversity
And it all looks just the same.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Grass Is Persistent



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. April 16-19 will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





Grass Is

People want to tame me or
Eradicate me. They underestimate my
Root
Structure and my
Indomitable
Spirit. I am
Tenacious. I
Exist
Not to please, but to break concrete and spread
Truth.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We Won't Be Nice



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.

One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





We Won’t Be Nice

Cause a disruption
Form an obstruction
March and rally and chant.

Shake up the status quo
Make a line and block the flow
March and rally and chant.

Rebel with civility
Abstain from docility
March and rally and chant.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017





Monday, April 17, 2017

They Can Have Their Cake and Eat it, Too



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.

One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. April 16-19 will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.

Let Them Eat Cake was recorded live in concert, November 1972.




They Can Have Their Cake, and Eat it, Too

They sugar coat the truth for us,
fake the daily news,
make us look the other way.
What could they possibly lose?

They divert to keep the facts at bay,
disguise false validations,
sweeten fibs with taradiddles,
no need for vindication.

“What could we possibly lose?” they ask,
on the brink of a nuclear war.
They’re blind to even the simplest truths,
and deaf to our uproar.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holes



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. The next four days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.

The World in Their Pocket was recorded live in concert by KQED in 1967.




Holes

They say the world is richer,
With jobs and giant bankrolls.
But their logic’s got a hole.

They say we’ll build the pipeline,
Bother with leaks and spills later.
But their logic’s got a crater.

They say the world is safe,
In their constant Twitter spasms.
But their logic’s got a chasm.

When crater, hole and chasm
Become a vast abyss,
They’ll say, “Oops, we were remiss…”


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Saturday, April 15, 2017

What is Feminism?




What is Feminism?

Some women
have the luxury of
joining a cause.
Fighting for equal rights
and equal pay.
Finding their voices,
expressing their true identities.

Other women
have the necessity of
work.
Finding the work
and doing the work.
Keeping their families fed,
running the businesses.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017





"My mother came from a long line of women who worked outside the home. Her grandmother ran a deli while her husband read Torah. Her own mother and father ran a naval tailor shop. When I was in the fifth grade, my mother’s father died, and she and my father and grandmother ran the shop together."

http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/malvina-reynolds/

Friday, April 14, 2017

I Don't Mind Failing





Language alert: if watching the video with children, be prepared to hit the mute button at :33-:38 and 4:15-4:20. Also, apologies (and gratitude) to William Carlos Williams.







This is Just to Say

I have failed
the test
that measures
my worth

and which
you were probably
planning to use
to pigeonhole me

Forgive me
I refuse your labels
I am deliciously
worthy and capable


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Not a Joke




Not a Joke

Isn’t it funny
(not a joke
no humor
no puns)
Isn’t it funny
how war creates a necessity
that strips away all the labels
previously preventing a person’s
life work?

Isn’t it funny
(not a joke
no humor
no puns)
Isn’t it funny
how the devastation of war
creates industries
and builds an economy out of
destruction?


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017



“My mother was writing her dissertation when I was little and got her Ph.D. in 1939. But it was the middle of the Depression; she was Jewish, a socialist, and a woman; and she couldn’t get a job teaching. But when the Second World War broke out, she got a job on an assembly line in a bomb factory, and Bud went to work as a carpenter in a shipyard.”

http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/malvina-reynolds/