Friday, April 8, 2016



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.


  1. Now, I'm curious about how this story fits with the photographer! I'm guessing, too, given Henry's penchant for pranks, that Mama "knows her flock" in more ways than Henry can imagine and was not fooled. :)

    Of course, I was trying to figure out the chicken breed. I'm guessing mostly Black Australorps, though there are some in there that depending on the sun, might be Barred Rock? Interesting story about when they became popular and why.

    1. Do you get that this is the photographer who took the class picture? Hoping this isn't too soon after the dead coyote that readers will think it's that photographer...

    2. In my pre-coffee haze, I hadn't made those connections, but now that I'm thinking, of course it has to be true. That coyote was a long time ago.

      The story is getting filled out enough that now I need to go back and re-read to see the clues planted in the earlier poems!

  2. OK, I'm just a little confused. I knew the class picture was connected to this picture. It was a dead chicken that Henry was holding up in that picture? Ick!

    "Feeding Time"

    my chickens wait
    by the gate
    if they are patient
    I will scatter corn
    across the ground
    in haphazard flings
    they are much
    more patient
    than the hungry children
    at my
    dining room

    Is it any wonder
    I choose
    to feed
    the chickens

    (C) Carol Wilcox, 2016

    1. My students went straight to killing a chicken, too! Henry's not THAT desperate for fame! I think it's a ball glove he's holding, actually. I imagined the chicken in the photographer's car or something. I guess I'll have to revise that. Maybe put the chicken in the teacher's desk to be found later...But no. No chickens were killed for pranks in MY poetry!!

    2. And yes, I can totally see why the speaker would feed the chickens first!!

  3. There's nothing to see
    but me
    outside the frame,
    watching from the window
    as another storm approaches,
    and then the chickens all scatter,
    as if knowing the winds of change
    have arrived.