Friday, December 17, 2021



The trees are all bare.

I can see the whole sky.

The high clouds sit still

while the low ones scoot by

in a rustling wind

that tickles porch chimes

as the wink of a moon watches

silent and wise.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Autumn Cento


Autumn Cento 

Little grey dreams
holding up the hawk:
a blur in the periphery.
I’ve little time left.
Everything’s been said.
My heart is so giant this evening
following old
migratory patterns that would have been better left alone.
Someone raised a camera to capture us both in a moment;
the only gift I have to give.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021


1. Little Grey Dreams by Angelina Weld Grimk√©
2. In Gratitude by Abigail Carroll
3. The Hummingbird by Blas Falconer
4. Elegy for Estrogen by V. Penelope Pelizzon
5.  Rabbits and Fire by Albert Rios
6.  First by Carrie Fountain
7-8.  anti-immigration by Evie Shockley
9.  The Vine by Laura Kasischke
10. Offering by Albert Garcia

Friday, November 26, 2021

Ode to Autumn


Ode to Autumn

In September
Autumn hides in heat waves
drops hickory and acorn hints
measures equinoxial nights and days.

In October
Autumn is primarily pigment
green gives way to red-orange-yellow
flaring, flaming, blazing, fading.

In November
Autumn reveals the bones of trees
draws our eyes to steely skies
to murmurations and hawks on lines.

In December
Autumn is largely forgotten
lost in the long-dark star-filled nights
leading to the solstice birth of spring.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Ode to Thanksgiving


Ode to Thanksgiving

You are a shameless celebration of colonialism and
the genocide of indigenous people,
a blatant celebration of excess,
a disgracefully blackened Friday celebration of commercialism.

And yet
you are also mom’s cranberry jello salad, plus
gratitude as full and round as the Beaver Moon,
the final leaf-raking,
and a cold after-dinner walk beside the river.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, November 19, 2021

Ode to the Last Black Swallowtail Caterpillars in the Withering Jungle of Fennel


Ode to the Last Black Swallowtail Caterpillars in the Withering Jungle of Fennel

You are young
in the golden season of death.

Within your chrysalises
you will wait out the cold season of dormancy.

The sky will welcome you
in the bright season of flight.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Rethinking Persevere is a Word

After reading this book, I thought again about what PERSEVERE could mean.

Rethinking Persevere is a Word

Persevere is a long word:

four hundred years long,

the distance of the Middle Passage,

the length of a ship’s hold, packed with bodies chained together.

And although persevere 

contains none of the letters that spell luck,

privilege shines through from beginning to end.

The privilege of tracing a blood line

for generation after unbroken generation 

in an ancestral story of ascension

rather than a lineage that dead-ends

in the shackles of slavery,

in lives with trauma encoded in the DNA,

in the knowledge that one’s existence

is not predicated on bootstraps

or an innocuous insistence to try again 

or the blithe assertion to summon grit

but instead dependent on ancestors who persevered

surviving horrors unimaginably severe

family members inhumanely severed from each other

per their owners’ whim.

Persevere is a light word for some,

a chirpy motivational poster word.

For others it is a heavy word,

a how-dare-you-assume word,

a claim-my-humanity,


lift-while-we-climb* word.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

*Angela Davis

Thursday, November 4, 2021

What Are the Chances?


view from the summit of Aldis Hill, St. Albans, VT

What Are the Chances?

Twenty percent chance of rain hung low and purple

over the shoulders of mountains splashed with the last 

of this year’s wash of autumn color.

On Aldis Hill, we took the Main Loop trail

hiking steadily up 

through stands of white-bark birches

and flutter-of-orange maples

in a silence broken only 

by a downy woodpecker’s hollow drumming.

At the summit, we stepped out from under trees

and twenty percent chance of rain had become a mosaic:

puffy white cumulus on a background of bright blue.

Across the valley, shafts of sunlight shone spotlights

on patches of red-orange-yellow trees.

Later, at Hathaway Point, we looked across Lake Champlain

and saw one hundred percent chance of rain headed our way:

one dark cloud with streaks of rain meeting the lake.

We could hear the rain on the lake

then in the trees

before we dashed for the porch at the ranger’s station.

When one hundred percent chance

was reduced to drips, 

a honking V of geese

at least fifty strong

filled the sky


the way


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Thursday, October 14, 2021




This poem is a decima. The rhyme scheme is ABBAACCDDC, and there are 8 syllables each line.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

A Trio of Tankas

Here is a trio of tankas. I’ll share them without images, because I’m hoping the words themselves are enough to paint a picture in your imagination. The orb weaver and the buck live in Central Ohio; Rae’s house is in the dry high plains of Eastern Colorado.

Tanka for Rae’s House

Beyond the window:
extravagantly green lawn,
bountiful garden.
In the unwatered pasture
dry grass crunches underfoot.


Tanka for the Eight Point Buck

sun low behind trees
morning air carries fall chill
eight point buck sees me
freezes so majestically
you forget he’s in the street


Tanka for the Orb Weaver

Above our front door
hangs a ferocious hunter
alarmingly large
seeming to stand in thin air.
She owns the porch. I concede.

all three ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Seven more tanka can be found here.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Summer's End

SUMMER’S END (a sonnet for AJ)

Still dark and hush except for crickets’ song,
I step onto the porch and breathe fall air --
peculiar blend of dust and spice. I long
for crisp when summer heat and humid pair

to drape a thick and soggy robe of haze
on lushly verdant meadows, crops, and trees.
All summer nature grows in humid days
and thick hot nights without a smidge of breeze.

But then September comes and with it hope
for bright blue skies and just a hint of red
in maple leaves. Fall harvest ends all growth,
puts summer’s weary, aching bones to bed.

Orion’s in the eastern sky again.
Fall is here. I’m feeling no chagrin.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Quiet Waters


photo via Unsplash


In that last year, I circled the lake,
investigating every cove along the shore
until I discovered the outfall --
a small stream that would carry me away,
silently slipping into quiet waters
where a single paddle stroke would do,
where simply floating for an entire morning
would be an acceptable option.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, August 20, 2021

Ode to the Hummingbird

(after ODE TO DIRT by Sharon Olds; line 10 was lifted from her poem)

Dear Hummingbird, I’m sorry I doubted you,
I thought you would only come to carefully tended sugar feeders.
Turns out, those zinnias I planted on a whim
in between the iris after they finished heralding summer
with their purple flags and sharp green blades
and also the sweet peas that come up every year
camouflaging the chain link fence with a curtain
of pink polka-dotted greenery
are all you need. O hummingbird,
help us find ways to serve your life,
you who bless our early evenings with the miracle of your hover-flit-sip
(pausing occasionally to perch and preen)
you who ask only that we cultivate an altar of beauty
where together we can worship.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, August 13, 2021

Things to Do if You Are a Road Trip

image via Unsplash

Things To Do If You Are A Road Trip

Perch hawks on fence posts.

Pinwheel the wind farms.

Create curiosity with road cuts.

When a trailer tire ahead shreds

     let all who follow dodge the pieces.

Conveniently space rest stops and gas stations.

And as for destinations,

     if they do not include the open arms of family or friends,

     make every traveler feel welcome.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, August 6, 2021

Passing the Torch

Passing the Torch

I shake the flame out of my matchstick;

(one flame dies so another can grow)

cup my hand around the candle’s burning wick.

Nothing about this process is quick.

(light one, expect others to follow)

Again, I shake the flame out of my matchstick,

discard it with a flick,

(travel light, shed unnecessary cargo)

cup my trembling hand around the candle’s wick

and listen to the clock tick-tick-tick.

(there’s no stopping time, I know, I know)

I shake and the flame goes out of my matchstick.

This is no magician’s trick --

(it’s a hard pill to swallow)

the cup of hand around the candle’s burning wick

is merely the arithmetic

of love caught and held in a minute glow.

And so I shake the flame out of my matchstick; 

cup my hand around the candle’s burning wick.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, July 30, 2021

Don’t Just Stand There, Open Your Umbrella

Don’t Just Stand There, Open Your Umbrella

Before me in the east,
wrapped in a billowing headdress,
sun peeks.

Without turning, I can hear
grumbles of unrest,
while before me in the east,

with a well-practiced technique,
coyly half-dressed,
sun peeks

at the growling purple beast
storming in from the west.
Before me in the east

she begins to disappear
behind clouds that fume and crest.
Sun peeks

one last time. Then the storm releases
all the rage it had suppressed.
Before me in the east,
sun no longer peeks.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, July 9, 2021

Good Morning

image via Unsplash

Good Morning

after Good Night by Carl Sandburg

Many ways to spell good morning.

Redwing blackbird at the top of the larch
          spells it with red epaulettes and spread wings.
He shouts the wetland awake; mallard and frog join in.
Bees make a lazy trajectory of gold-and-black
          between purple cone flowers.

Meadow at dawn spells with a misty quilt
          lifted by sun’s fingers.

Kitchens are a chorus of kettle whistles,
          cutlery clatters, mug thumps, bacon sizzles.

It is easy to spell good morning.
          Many ways to spell good morning.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, July 2, 2021

There's a Village for Sale in Scotland

There’s a Village for Sale in Scotland

There’s a village for sale in Scotland.
Only $173,000 and that includes mossy ruins
and a beach on the loch.

In Scotland, thunderclouds won’t stall overhead
dumping inches of rain at a time, flooding the yard.

In Scotland, the yard waste is always picked up on time
and the neighbors don’t build smoky fires with wet wood.

In Scotland, Democracy is not failing,
racism is not systemic, and police are always helpful.

Though there’s a village for sale in Scotland
I’m not buying it.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, June 18, 2021


Now That Juneteenth is a National Holiday

We pause
in honor of Liberty, Hope,
and Resiliency.

We pause
with clear-eyed acknowledgement of slavery's role
in building the economic foundation of our country

We pause
to consider a better way forward
for our not always glorious national history

We must not
co-opt this celebration with white commercialism

We must not
let this celebration undermine the right to protest

We must not
allow this celebration to eliminate the ongoing work of justice

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021 (draft)

Friday, June 11, 2021

Learning Arabic

Learning Arabic

is more than just driving on the left in England.
It's driving on the left
with no cognates on the map,
an alphabet consisting of small bits of flowering vine,
and luckily a lay-by
where you abandon the car and the map
taking a path instead
walking like a botanist, field guide in hand,
poring over every blossom, every curving leaf,
breathless when you begin to find meaning
in this brand new ancient world.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, June 4, 2021

Ways to Reappear

image via Unsplash

Ways to Reappear

In the dawn
Down a path
Through tall pines
Come to
With a grin
In a flash
Down to earth
In a spotlight
In a shadow
Without a plan
Without speaking
On your porch
On your threshold
In the garden
In the pool
In a library
In the corner
In the background
Come out
On a limb
At a moment's notice
In envelopes
In secret
Without words
Without a doubt
Seeking identity
Through dense fog
Down this path
In the dawn

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021 
after Ways to Disappear by Camille Rankine

"Ways to Disappear" was the Poem a Day from on Wednesday, June 2. Camille Rankine writes about her poem: “There are so many ways a person can become not a person in someone else’s eyes. They can be erased through violence of gaze or word or action, by the individual, by the media, by the state, so that their humanity dissolves into nothing in the other’s view, and they vanish. In plain sight, and not there at all.”

Big truth in these times, in this country.

I began to think of possible ways for a person to reappear. If we can erase a person, surely we can also work against that erasure, really see those around us, and make sure they know they've been seen.

The poem is also about losing one identity and reappearing with a new identity. 

Process notes: I found the photo on Unsplash after I wrote the poem. It was a little eerie how well the image matched my words. 

I borrowed the first word in every line from Rankine's poem. Lots of times I used the first two words. To give the poem a more optimistic feel, I changed "gone" to "come." The lines are specific and personal but at the same time broad and general. As in Rankine's poem, the lines sometimes seem connected, but mostly can stand alone. The word "seeking" stood out to me as a turning point, and from there I diverged from Rankine's poem, reversing the pattern of the first three lines, and ending where the poem started.

Friday, May 14, 2021



I await a
the first
to emerge
from its
underground burrow
at the oak’s
brown skirt.

at first
then red-eyed
and loud
there’s never
just one
they move
in a crowd.

I await a
the first
of the brood.
A seventeen-year

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

For more information about Brood X, check out Cicada Safari

Friday, April 30, 2021


one month, thirty days
seventeen syllable rut
ready for a change

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Thursday, April 29, 2021


it's urgent, not optional
sacrifice comfort

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021


Wednesday, April 28, 2021


playground drama
duck nest under the slide
brave mama

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021


Tuesday, April 27, 2021


summer in a jar
basil, parmesan, garlic
tastebud time travel

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021


Monday, April 26, 2021


just strolling along
big leather feet flap flapping
parking lot goose

©Mary Lee Hahn


Sunday, April 25, 2021


we turned a corner
(the redbuds are leafing out)
over there -- summer

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021


Saturday, April 24, 2021


one slip
I guess the knife is still sharp
blood mixes with onions

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021


Friday, April 23, 2021



nature teaches us
expect the unexpected
snow in late April

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Thursday, April 22, 2021


car changes color
maroon with a glaze of gold
oak pollen season

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021


Wednesday, April 21, 2021


when will justice be
expected immutable
like rock not spring snow

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021


Tuesday, April 20, 2021


How do you pack a
decades-long friendship into
a three-line haiku?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021