Thursday, October 31, 2019


Unsplash photo by Benjamin Lizardo


It's hot.
It's dry.
A spark:
a fire.

A flame
a burn
a blaze:
a pyre.

It threatens,
gets hotter.

The only thing
it fears

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Friday, August 2, 2019

You Just Don't Get It

Unsplash photo by Torsten Dederichs

You Just Don't Get It

Befuddled and muddled
your noggin's confused

puzzled and troubled
you're coming unglued

mixed up and perplexed
you've been aggravated

your head is unscrewed, you're

©Mary Lee Hahn

This poem is a Definito, "a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem." (Hmm...I seem to have missed the bit about "free verse." Oh, well. We'll write off my rhymes as meeting the "wordplay" requirement. What good is a rule if it's not bent now and then?) I chose "addlepated" because it was the word of the day for July 29 on my Merriam Webster dictionary app. And it's fun to say, even if it's NOT fun to feel that way!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Found Haiku -- On a More Hopeful Note

Unsplash photo by Andre Hunter

To change the world, you
must start out by loving it.
Don’t forget to dance.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Found in Garrison Keillor's column "The pleasure of running into Stan on Sunday,"

This haiku and the one from yesterday were written in response to Linda Mitchell's challenge on Today's Little Ditty. It's pretty addictive.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Found Haiku

something was missing
where had all those insects gone
a feeling of loss

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Image and words found in this article: "The Insect Apocalypse is Here: What Does it Mean for the Rest of Life on Earth?" by Brooke Jarvis, November 27, 2018

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Choice is Yours






The Choice is Yours

There will always be fences
there will always be walls
keeping out, keeping in

And there will always be beauty
there will always be art
reaching out, seeking within

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019


“Theology is not only about understanding the world; it is about mending the world”
-- Miroslav Volf

Started by a squabble between goddesses over the Golden Apple, the Trojan
War is a complicated mess of jealousy and political intrigue.
And did it really happen, or is it just a conglomeration of stories passed down?
Let’s not haggle about the details.
Look instead at this caterpillar on the dill. A gentle poke reveals its
Osmeterium, a repugnatorial organ that jumps out like a snake to startle predators.
Watch as its jaws reduce the shoot to a skeleton.
This common caterpillar will become
A butterfly named for Polyxena, youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy.
Ironic metaphor for beauty that comes from strife, or fluttering reminder:
Love for even the smallest miracle of life is the cure we must aim for?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Slightly Subversive Social Justice Librarian

“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.” ― Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race


I look up from the circulation desk when
the girls walk in wearing leggings, glittery t-shirts, and brightly colored hijab. We
make eye contact and I smile. Then they identify
we shelve the thick fantasy books by their favorite author, and our
brief moment of connection ends. The privilege
of my position as librarian intersects
with their positions as readers, but I can see with
a glance around the room that more than one somebody
believes that this space is not theirs. This kind of look or covert stare “elses”
the girls and establishes mainstream oppression
even in this openly accepting public space. When asked for my recommendations, we’ll
head into the stacks and just by chance, find
ourselves near the two fantasy readers asking them for their suggestions. Our
shared love of books provides all of these readers with opportunities
not only to meet each other between the pages, but to
human-to-human connections, which result in genuine change.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Thursday, June 13, 2019

To the Caterpillar

Photo via Roads End Naturalist

To the Caterpillar

I spotted the yellow dot of your egg on the dill.
Cutting a sprig,
I brought you in.

Daily, your egg darkened as you grew.
What once was a dot
is now the tiny dash of you.

Your life obeys the rules of geometry:
line follows point,
wings bring symmetry.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

But Seven is a Prime Number

via Unsplash

But Seven is a Prime Number

I am odd.
I am the seven
in your twofoursixeightten.
Left out
unless I add to or subtract from myself
in ways that don't
feel right.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Thursday, June 6, 2019


summer has arrived
chicory is blooming
bright blue roadside stars

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Friday, May 17, 2019

To the Daisy

To the Daisy That Has Survived Even Though the Grounds Crew Mowed Down the School Land Lab Two Years Ago

No matter how low they mow you,
Show the world you won't be stopped:
Keep the memory of your former glory alive--
Send roots deep and runners long--
Bring joy to those who see your smiling face:

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Thursday, May 16, 2019

To the Sock in the Trash

To the Sock in the Trash

Just because you're worn out
doesn't mean you're a failure.

If it weren't for the holes in your sole and toe
how would we know
the measure of our steps,
the constant erosion
of time and motion?

You're not a failure, you're my hero.
You served from below:
gauging progress
never seeking promotion
the model of devotion.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


the silent bubble of April
over garden, 
over nest.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Monday, April 29, 2019

Haikubes With Hem

my balance calls
I slowly return home 
the glorious next

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Hem is sad to see Poetry Month drawing to a close. He'll miss stealing haikubes from the pile and batting them underneath the couch. And they are so fun to lay on while Mom is trying to choose just the right ones. But how come she can bat them around with her paws, but I get in trouble for the same thing, Hem wonders. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Key to Happiness: Some Food for Thought

Today's challenge:
One randomly drawn prompt
and one randomly drawn paint chip.

The Key to Happiness: Some Food for Thought

You want everything to be plum perfect?
I'm here to tell you you're as likely to get a lemon
as you are a piece of cake.

You might be the big cheese,
and as cool as a cucumber,
but you'll still get your goose cooked now and then.

Take this with a grain of salt
or take this like candy from a baby --
the key to happiness is

not worth a hill of beans
unless the fruit of your labors 
is a bowl of cherries 
that you are willing 
to share.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Saturday, April 27, 2019



nip the tips
off branches.

You can tell
because the cut
is slanted.

The size of oak's leaves
has doubled
in a week.

Some are cupped
(to receive sun?)
all are fuzzy.

Look at the table.
This is how shade happens in spring:

©Mary Lee Hahn

Friday, April 26, 2019

A Lazy Symphony

A Lazy Symphony

so much depends

a delicate spring

languid with sweet

a lazy symphony of

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

This is another "cross-out" poem, an idea shared by Laura Shovan in her Nerdy Book Club Poetry Month FB event. I wrote one inspired by Emily Dickinson last Sunday. This one was inspired by William Carlos Williams' Red Wheelbarrow.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

And Then on Top of Everything Else

And Then on Top of Everything Else (a teacher's rant)

Let's set the stage--
the calendar page
hasn't turned to May
yet every single day

is filled to the brim
and you're drowning, can't swim,
got to keep the momentum
and don't even mention

talent show
field trip
author visit
summer reading.

On top of all that
(magnify the impact)
the impossible curse of your body:
you're sick.
(Pass the toddy.)

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

New Little Tree

We added a new member to our garden family on Earth Day. Welcome, Cranberry Viburnum! Nature's first green is sometimes red!

I accidentally left all my poetry tools at school, but luckily, there's Magnetic Poetry Online! Here's a haiku for our new little tree:

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Uncle Bob -- A Prose Poem

A jumble of memories

Uncle Bob was not my uncle. He was my dad's cousin, but the closest thing to family we had. He also was not a cowboy, but if you saw his slow, bow-legged saunter, his cowboy hat, his blue jeans and western snap-fasten shirts, that's what you might think. You wouldn't know by looking that he was the canniest dry-land farmer in the Great Plains of Eastern Colorado. He was born and raised in the part of Colorado without mountain peaks and rich soil. His landscape was wide and flat and dry. Dirt roads with thistle in the ditches marked the edges of native grassland pasture and wheat fields. Uncle Bob had a deep understanding of the land he farmed, never succumbing to "the grass is greener" mentality of irrigation. He was a dry-land farmer whose harvest depended on the land and the weather. There were good years with enough moisture, and plenty of years with dust devils and tumbleweeds before the rain came...or didn't come. In the summer, many a cumulonimbus cloud appeared on the horizon, only to take its rain elsewhere, but perhaps also its hail. A winter blizzard was a mixed blessing of wind that carried topsoil away and brought moisture that did or didn't cover the fields to nourish the winter wheat. Uncle Bob secured his success by collaborating with the land and the climate, but he allied with another of the vast natural resources of Eastern Colorado for his final venture -- harvesting the wind with graceful lines of enormous turbines.

In my mind, it is night. I stand in the dusty yard where I played as a child, rusty tractors along the fence, the Milky Way a bright smear across the impossibly dark sky. Uncle Bob is in it all -- land, sky, and wind.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Not Giant...Yet

I count baby oak leaves among the cutest of spring's babies. It's hard to imagine that these fragile fingertip-length leaves will be bigger than my whole hand by the middle of June. And the photosynthetic glucose factory inside each one of them...don't even get me started on that miracle.

There's a new Rhino in town, a watering can rhino, and she helped me write a haiku for the baby oak leaves.

your glorious life
grand, gorgeous -- so not giant
sweet home for my heart

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Sunday, April 21, 2019

To Make a Forest

Flickr Creative Commons Photo 

To Make a Forest, After Emily Dickinson

To make a forest it takes one spring and eternity,
The delicate goddess of this spring mist and one enormous eternity.
Plus moments.
The sweet moments alone will do,
If eternity is few.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

This is a "cross-out" poem, an idea shared by Laura Shovan in her Nerdy Book Club Poetry Month FB event.

It is also a magnetic poetry poem. Thank goodness FOREST was right on top in the box!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Happy Birthday, Franki!

For Franki, On Her Birthday

You are an unspoken blessing to the teaching profession.
Your advocacy is a not-so-silent promise that all voices will be heard.
I know you are reluctant to accept the trophy of our accolades,
but where would we be without your impossible-to-ignore drumbeat of excellence?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019

Springtime Alarm Clock

Springtime Alarm Clock

Supposedly, time is a gentle songbird,
but someone forgot to tell
the robin outside my window
in the predawn darkness
who is singing jazz riffs
that would make Charlie Parker proud.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Here is my metaphor:

And here is Charlie Parker, who I chose randomly, but just learned is Charles ("Bird") Parker.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

After the Fire

After the Fire

The images of smoke and ash
spread from screen to screen around the globe.

As the loss of an ancient cultural treasure was mourned
by those who had experienced the holiness there
and by those who now would not,

a pair of girls enjoying a sunny recess in Ohio
searched the soccer field
for four-leaf clover,
eventually finding seven lucky clusters.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


The classroom stuffed animals wanted to get in on the Haikube scene. Why should Hem and Rhino have all the fun? On the left is the hamster from Laura Shovan's book The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, in the middle is a camel one of my Egyptian students gave me, and on the right is Grumpy Bird. They watched last week while their small humans took the Language Arts state test, and the classroom is now ready (all math charts hidden or removed) for the Math portion of the state test. They know how hard their small humans have been working, and they wanted to write a poem to encourage them.

realize sweet grace
you hold dynamic marvel
you have pluck enough

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Spring's Yellow

Spring's Yellow






©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Monday, April 15, 2019

Poetry is a Burning Blessing

Poetry is a Burning Blessing

your pen -- the matchstick;
ideas -- tinder, kindling, fuel;
poetry -- the fire

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Playing With Poetry -- With FIRST Graders!

I Went to the Mexican Store

I saw
rainbow vegetables.
the best part was
a pepper
reading a book!

©1st Grade, 2019

Holy Moly! First graders at the end of the day on Friday still have SO much energy and SO much creativity! Hats off to all the first grade teachers in the world! 

We were writing a 15 Words or Less poem and we had WAY too many words. One little girl took out four boring words ("green, purple, and striped") and replaced them with one juicy one -- "rainbow." Brilliant! You have to look closely at the top right corner of the picture to see the pepper reading a book. It's a green pepper in the corner of a cardboard box, but when you see it through first grade eyes, it sure is a pepper reading a book!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Playing With Poetry -- With MORE Second Graders!

Pink Piglets in a Pen

You think I'm dirty.
I DO love
rolling in mud
I bathe in hay.

©2nd Grade, 2019

Another great group of young poets, and look at all we packed into that poem! Alliteration! Rhyme! Juicy word choices!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Playing With Poetry...With Second Graders!

The second grade team at my school has invited me to visit their classes as the "Visiting Poet" for their Poetry Month poetry writing unit. So. Much. Fun!

Yesterday, after I elaborated on what a poet actually does (lots of reading, lots of rewriting) and where I get my ideas (everywhere), we wrote a 15 Words Or Less poem together.

Our prompt was a picture of tire tracks in snow.

Our first draft was too long, so I shared my sneaky trick of using one of the lines as the title to reduce the word count. 

We wound up with this:

Today Might Be a Snow Day

The cars
make diagonal tracks
in the sparkly snow
dusk to dawn.

©2nd Grade, 2019

It seemed ludicrous to be writing about a snow day when the temperatures here in Ohio hit the 80s today for the first time this season, but I know our friends in Denver and the upper midwest are dealing with Winter Storm Wesley, which will likely downgrade to lots of rain for us in the coming days.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Haiku for Hem

Hem didn't come running when I dumped the Haikubes tonight, so Rhino and I worked alone. Our haiku might not seem very flattering, but it's the honest truth. Hem is a rescue cat, and we're pretty sure he was taken too soon from his mother, causing him to miss out on some important early socialization lessons. He plays REALLY rough. He's ruthless. His favorite games involve trying to bite your hand when you pet him, biting your pants leg, and jumping human shoulder-height (after getting those wild tiger eyes) to try to bite the hand you are holding out. One of his nicknames is Mr. Bitey. Hem is a strikingly beautiful cat, but he's drawn blood from both of us many times, resulting in us calling him worse than simply a jerk. He is, however, quite the Daddy's Boy, and he is always able to charm his way back onto AJ's lap.

wild tiger eyes
wicked gleeful biting jerk
charm peace with the man

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Promise and Power

Like the green of spring,
poetry is a promise
unspoken, yet heard.

(And on the flip side,
power is a glorified mirror.
Enough said.)

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019