Sunday, December 31, 2017

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

To-Do List

Unsplash photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

only five days left --
hiding from her to-do list
curled up with a book

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Swimming in Winter

swimming in winter --
every bit of discipline
needed for the plunge

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Holiday Fridge Tanka

Holiday fridge:
two half-filled bottles of wine,
one leek, heavy cream.

Let's finish the leftovers
and start fresh with simple fare.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017


bleak and cold
the pond's not frozen over...
not just yet

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017


more more more more more
in this season of excess
"enough" is tricky

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017


unsplash photo by sydney Rae

summer's memory
forgotten 'til just now
wrinkled old apple

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter Solstice

solstice sunset --
skeletal sycamore
backlit by autumn

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Missing Mom

my heart leans west
toward the home no longer there --
missing mom

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017

Outdoor Recess

Unsplash photo by Noah Silliman

teacher gladly trades
wintery temperatures 
for outdoor recess

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Saturday, December 16, 2017


ticking clock, humming furnace
sunrise tiptoes in

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017


in this moment
past holds hands with future


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Winter WInd

persistent north wind
attempts to crystalize
water in my cells

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Indoor Recess Season

temperatures plummet
teachers prepare for long haul 
indoor recess season 

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


box of ornaments --
felt, styrofoam, beads, ribbon --
still smells like Mom's house

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus 
explosion of color 
winter fireworks 

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Saturday, December 9, 2017


storms rage -- 
damage, injustice -- 
seek refuge 

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Friday, December 8, 2017

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fall Drive

Flickr cc photo by Nicholas Tonelli

rural PA smells:
smoking meat, spicy fall weeds,
hot pine pitch

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Flickr cc photo by Shelly Prevost

above the playground
unbothered by winter wind
hawk soars

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


mom brought the whole world
to a rural farming town --

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

Class Crud

stomach flu, pinkeye
sinus drainage, rattling cough --
hands chapped from washing

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Flickr cc photo by José Miguel S

writer cups hands
captures fragile fleeting thought

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017


oldest teacher
in spite of her greying hair
you'd never guess

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


face turned toward the east

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Flickr Creative Commons Photo

boiling water
tea leaves understand

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Flickr Creative Common photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli

shagbark hickory 
unaware of scrambling squirrels 
crows stand guard 

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017


candy maker
licks spoon, fills hundredth bag
craves popcorn

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Old Chocolate

old chocolate
no longer melts well
tastes just fine

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

First Hard Frost

Unsplash photo by Autumn Mott

early morning walk
constant chatter of leaf-fall
first hard frost

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

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

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
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 Ateş

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


Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Nicholas Flook


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

over stasis

the many
over the few

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.