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

Jackie




Jackie

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

Papa




Papa

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

Lizzy




Lizzy

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

Henry




Henry

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):

2016 KIDLITOSPHERE PROGRESSIVE POEM

April
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

Mother




Mother

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

Iva




Iva

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

Iva




Iva

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

Henry




Henry

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

Henry




Henry

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

Lizzy




Lizzy

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

Papa




Papa

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

Mama




Mama

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

Papa



Papa

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

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

Lewis,
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

Mama




Mama

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

Lizzy




Lizzy

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

Papa




Papa

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


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mama




Mama

I've got enough work
to fill three days,
but here I sit,

mooning over the photo book.
Mama, I wish you'd look up
from your prize houseplants and chat a bit.

Help me figure out how to go on --
my two big boys gone to war --
one on a ship, one in a cockpit --

my little girl suddenly a woman, and lovesick --
the youngest just trying to find his way,
figuring out where he fits in all this.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016






"Green"

the prairie
in fall
so much brown
brown
browngold
goldbrown
gold

the prairie
in winter
so much
white
bluegray
whitebluegray
white

when i cannot bear
the monotone palettes
any longer
i plant
drag clay pot
from window
to window
following
weak winter sun
drip water
over dry dirt
and wait
to feel life
life spirit
green
brush
against
my fingertips.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2016


Monday, April 11, 2016

Papa




Papa

That Jack.
He pestered me
like a horsefly

on a mule.
Just had to have my picture.
Stood me beside

the car, but made sure
the mistake he made after the dance
was hidden behind.

I was madder than a hornet that night.
Reckless, ungrateful son-of-a-gun.
But I can't help myself. He makes me smile.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016



Sunday, April 10, 2016

Mama




Mama

Got a photo postcard today
from my brother who stayed
back on the old place

north of Concordia
when the rest of us moved to Colorado.
Looks like they've got no complaints.

"Richard on Eds shoulder,
he couldn't look out. Mrs. and myself
in our oats field, it made 62 bu."

We watch the clouds build up in the west,
watch them pass by our fields,
watch them continue east to deliver their rain.

It's sure enough dry here -- nearly desert.
But there's a beauty in it, and we are learning
to lean into the wind and weather. We'll stay.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Jack




Jack

Mama gave me my own camera
for my eighteenth birthday.
She seems to believe

that I could profit from studying the world
instead of always trying to get the world
to look at me.

Your plot backfired, Mama.
The herefords are watching.
And behind the shed, so's Henry.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016


Friday, April 8, 2016

Henry



Henry

Dear Iva,
I didn't think Mama
would miss just one.

Guess she knows her flock
better'n I thought.
It sure was fun

to see that photographer's face.
If I hadn't started laughing,
no one would have known I done it.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016





A note to my readers: these stories and these characters are works of fiction. With very few exceptions, I have no idea who the people are in these photos. The names of many of the characters come from my ancestors and their friends. Other names are ones I chose to fit the character. The settings are real. My mom is from Denver and my dad grew up on a farm in Eastern Colorado (although some of these photos could be of ancestors/family friends further back who lived in Nebraska and Kansas). If we could sit down together for a cup of tea and a scone, I'd tell you all the little bits of truth I've woven into this fiction. I'd tell you the biggest surprises I've had, and the poems that took the most/fewest drafts. Like Amy LV commented, sometimes I feel like these people are talking through my pencil.

I did not have this all planned out before Poetry Month began, except that I grouped the photos in sets of seven to have ready to load onto the main page for the project. I had no idea I would be telling a story in verse this month. I'm as surprised and thrilled as you are. I expected to be frustrated by the challenge of writing a variety of poems, and instead, I look forward (and often can't stop myself from writing forward) as I discover the story and figure out ways to fill in the gaps. How will it end? No idea. Stay tuned. (If you want to read from the beginning, go back to the poem for April 1, and read forward to today.)

Here at Poetrepository, I have added (with permission) poems that Steve Peterson and Carol Wilcox have written that seem to me to fit with the flow of the story I've got in my mind. Carol Varsalona has also written some fabulous partner poems using these photos. You can find them here.

Happy Poetry Month Poetry Friday! Laura has the roundup at Writing the World for Kids.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mother




Mother

Iva, I made this move
for your own good.
You will become

a proper lady.
I let Auntie down,
but you will overcome

growing up on that wretched farm.
You will rise in society
to the level you are from.

You can squirm all you want,
but I've got you firmly
under my thumb.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Iva




Iva

Dear Henry,
I found this picture of Mother
in Great Uncle's attic.

Wishing I could send you
that dead coyote.
Bet it would be worth more than

all those skunks you trapped
last summer
when you hatched that plan

to get rich quick.
Let me tell you,
rich ain't always grand.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Iva




Iva

When Mother's rich uncle in Denver died
and left everything to her,
she took it as a sign

that we were meant to leave
"that dirty farm" and
"those ignorant farm wives" behind.

I missed the class picture,
but Marjorie wrote and told me
how Jack masterminded

a plan to become
as famous as his siblings.
I wish I had been there to remind

him -- be happy with what you are
and what you've got.
Sometimes good enough is just fine.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016





The girl with the curls is Dorothy

And that other one,
with the dark hair, no curls,
way off on the right side, 
actually part way out of the picture
in the navy, too big, 

sleeves-rolled-up-dress
(made over from a dress
Ma found in the church mission box)
That's me.

"Look at all this lovely cloth," Ma said
"why would someone throw that out?"
and I knew right then
that not only was I not going
to have curls like Dorothy
but my dress was going to be ugly too.

Do you see how I'm kind of scowling?
I will not stay here on the plains
where the day to day ordinariness
of life in a homemade dress with no curls
sucks the life out of you
the same way the hot prairie winds 
suck the life out of the seeds
Pa tries to grow

Someday, I'll be the girl with the curls
and the store bought dress.

Someday, I'll be like Dorothy.

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2016



Monday, April 4, 2016

Lizzy




Lizzy

When Lewis came home
from basic training
Jack suddenly remembered the chores

Pop has been nagging him to get done.
Everyone looks up to Lewis.
He's a natural-born

pilot if there ever was one.
Why does everyone's favorite
have to go off to some war?


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016




Camera Angles

From here
I appear confident
self-assured,
almost cocky.

If the camera went
two inches lower
you could see
my knees
knocking.

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2016



Pa

The telegram came
up the lane
in cloud of dust that hot
August day, hadn’t had rain
in weeks, so much
dust my eyes watered
but Ma read: ...REPORT
YOUR SON MISSING
IN ACTION STOP
PLANE SHOT
DOWN OVER SOUTH PACIFIC
ON JULY 29 STOP
SEARCH CREWS UNABLE
TO FIND CREW STOP
The car slowed to a stop
and turned right toward
town, while the dust
hung heavy and my
eyes just wouldn’t
stop watering.

©Steve Peterson, 2016