Friday, December 30, 2022



This is a 4 x 4 poem. Read about the form here.

This is a square poem. Read about the form here.

Thursday, December 8, 2022



Crows own the morning sky,
the naked treetops, too.
Clouds both amplify
and muffle their sharp-edged caws.
Below the grey they fly
on a mission to who knows where
or why.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

Friday, November 11, 2022


Cajun Prairie Grass by James Edmunds


Seed your world
like Cajun

prairie grass —
sending stars

So beauty
will expand,
sow beauty.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

I’ve only written a couple of tricubes. Until this one, I didn’t really like the form. Moral of the story: don’t give up too soon!

Thank you, Margaret, for “This Photo Wants to be a Poem,” from whence the image and inspiration came.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Wordy 30 Poems


A Wordy 30 is a poem using exactly 30 letters. Each line should have the same number of letters. Each line should use one word. You might have 6 lines with 5 letters in each line (like Wordle), or 5 x 6, 3 x 10, 10 x 3, 15 x 2, 2 x 15, 30 x 1, or (most unlikely) 1 x 30. Mine are a 5×6 and a 6×5.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Radiant Spendor


Radiant Splendor

Chrysalis comes from Greek.
“Chrysos” means gold.
A diadem is a crown
perhaps worn by a monarch, 
who is a king, queen, emperor,
or butterfly.

The diadem
of a monarch’s
is adorned with
flecks of flashing gold:
breathtaking effulgence.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

A definito is 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.

photo via Unsplash

Friday, September 9, 2022

I'm Just Calling Things What They Are


Four of us Poetry Friday Peeps read and discussed THE HURTING KIND one section at a time in August. It was the best #sealeychallenge activity ever. We got more out of this book with a slow read and deep conversations than we ever would have by plowing through it in a day and checking it off our to-do list.

If you haven’t read THE HURTING KIND, I highly recommend it. Here is the book trailer with Ada Limón reading the final poem in the book.

This is a cento I made with almost all of the poem titles in the second section, Summer. The words in italics are the only words I added.

Friday, September 2, 2022



The striking line, “You can’t sum it up. A life.” comes from the poem “The Hurting Kind” from the book THE HURTING KIND by Ada Limón.

The poem itself, in response to Margaret Simon’s gorgeous photo, is a “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem…” poem.

The photo is via Margaret Simon.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Six Strands


summertime clothesline
sun-bleached swimsuits and towels
functional design

taming tough jute
after follow-the-diagram 
precisely forming each
every creation now
to time. Unraveled.

Simplicity patterns and fabric on bolts –
Orth’s Department Store –
a place for dreaming.
Later, pinning pattern pieces –
cutting carefully –
no place for dreaming.

counting cross stitches
design emerges slowly
time-lapse with needle and thread
if you follow the pattern

The Conundrum of Patterns

They are everywhere.
They are beautiful.
They teach discipline.
They limit creativity.
They encourage innovation.
They connect us.
They are thread;
we are needles.

one thread
at a time
to unravel
the apron string's knot --
a tangle of patterns,
precision, and perfection.
Examine each beautiful strand.
Make them into something


© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

To Be Human Is To Bear Witness


To Be Human Is To Bear Witness

Spiral milkweed pushes up green shoots
And dirt is blowing
And turbines are spinning

Oak flowers dream of acorns
And glaciers are melting
And panels are absorbing

Dandelions spread rampant joy
And wildfires are raging
And coal plants are shuttering

Hummingbirds return all abuzz
And extinctions are accelerating
And bald eagles are rebounding

This world within a world within the world
And all the excruciating truths
And every glimmer of hope

To be human is to bear witness.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

Friday, April 29, 2022

My Chlorophyll Heart


My Chlorophyll Heart

I’m for photosynthetic optimism –
the bulbous kind you plant in the fall
in spite of squirrels who dig ruthlessly
and urban deer who nibble indiscriminately,
the kind that seed packets hold through the winter
believing in butterflies and hummingbirds
before they’ve ever known sun and rain.

Here’s to the blazing green energy of plants–
from the toughest blade of crabgrass
to the most tender spring ephemeral,
from the massive trunks of riverbed sycamores
to the tiniest pond-floating duckweeds.

I’m for the plants –
for the roots who go about their work
silently, mysteriously,
collaborating with mycorrhizal fungi.

And I’m for the leaves of trees –
especially sweet gum’s stars
and ginkgo’s fans.

I’m for the way we share the air with plants –
us breathing out, plants breathing in.
I’m for the generous chemistry of leaves,
combining carbon dioxide with water and sun,
creating carbon building blocks for itself, then
sharing the extras back into the soil for the microbes.

What moves me?
What plays me like a needle in a groove?

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

This poem is an attempt to write in the style of Taylor Mali. The poem I used as my mentor text is Silver-Lined Heart.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Nature Has Something To Say


Nature Has Something To Say

My name is Mary Jane.
I have a twin.
Don’t treat me as property.
I am alive.
I can hear and hold memories.
I have rights, too.

Save my neighborhood.
Save our lake lives,
our woodland and wetland lives.
If your corporations have legal personhood,
so should we.

We are alive.
Do not treat us as property.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

"Threatened by development, five bodies of water are suing the State of Florida, making the unprecedented argument that nature has legal rights, too." -- Does This Water Have Legal Rights?

Mary Jane and her twin, Lake Hart, along with two other local waters and a marsh in Orange County, Florida have filed a lawsuit that would protect their neighborhood. Shifting the legal system to recognize personhood is not new. We did it to recognize slaves, women, children, corporations, and Indigenous people as citizens. Ecuador, Columbia, India, and New Zealand are leading the way with earth law. Shouldn't we ALL be on board?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

What I Know About Farming


What I Know About Farming

When I was a kid,
local farmers raised sugar beets.
Migrant workers hoed acres of fields
by hand.
Junior Soliz ate everything on his lunch tray,
even the orange peel,
and we laughed at him.

When I was a teen,
I babysat Phil and Mary Sue’s irrigation,
monitoring the pump and the furrows.
Their corn was lush and tall and impossibly green.
The water was pumped up from the Ogallala Aquifer,
which is geologic water.
When it’s gone, it’s gone.

When I was a young adult,
my father died of lung cancer.
He had been an ag pilot,
drenching himself and the farm fields below his plane
with toxic chemicals,
not realizing he was causing
silent springs.

When I imagine the farms of the future,
their workers are valued.
They grow crops appropriate for their climate.
They give life, rather than taking it.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

Looking back, it's astonishing to me that I grew up in a farming community that had been ravaged by the Dust Bowl years, and yet I learned nothing about the Dust Bowl, or what caused it, in school. Groundwater and the Ogallala Aquifer were not a part of our science curriculum. 

My dad's cousin Bob insisted on using dryland farming techniques rather than succumbing to both the allure (and cost) of irrigation, as well as the government subsidies that funded crops requiring irrigation. But he was an anomaly. 

Eastern Colorado is again in the midst of a severe drought, with dirt storms that last all day and reduce visibility to under a mile. I understand the enormity of shifting our agriculture system from huge agribusinesses to farms that are responsive to the land and climate. I understand that "huge agribusiness" can mean "land accumulated by families over many generations" and change can seem like an attack on a way of life. I understand. I am hopeful that change will come from the farmers and landowners.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Collard Green Seed Savers Give Me Hope


In the section of ALL WE CAN SAVE titled "Nourish," there are essays about Black cultural ties to the soil, and the need to reimagine agriculture so that we can save our vanishing soil and protect our (mostly Hispanic or Latinx) farm workers. Large industrial farms need to be replaced by smaller farms and more robust home gardens. More people need to get their hands dirty raising their own food. If we are intimately connected to the soil, or to the seeds and their history, as the members of the Heirloom Collard Project are, we will be more invested in saving the whole planet.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Let's Talk


Let's talk. Let's talk about the wildfires there and the flooding here. Let's talk about the decreasing numbers of butterflies and bees in our gardens. Let's talk about solar energy and Green policies. Let's talk to Indigenous people, whose deep ancestral knowledge of the earth can teach us so much about conservation and ecology. Let's stop ignoring what's going on and work together to change our trajectory.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Ode to the Minuscule


Ode to the Minuscule

To worm castings –
bubbles of fresh soil,
froth of loam.

To beech’s leaf buds –
tightly wrapped
bronze spikes.

To Squirrel Corn –
your heart on your sleeve,
treasures hidden at your feet.

To Harbingers of Spring –
salt and pepper
of the forest floor.

To gnat –
the first Trillium Grandiflorum
is all yours.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

This Earth Day weekend, I traveled to South Bend, IN to celebrate the life of April Pulley Sayre. On Friday afternoon, between rain showers, April's husband, Jeff, took us on a wildflower walk through April's favorite woods. All but the worm castings were sighted there. Those I spotted as we walked to Lake Marian Island before the luncheon on Saturday. 

During the memorial service, I jotted this note about April's belief: we can "...change the world by changing the way we look at it." Yes, we need to look at the big picture. Yes, we need to give everything we've got to reversing the warming of our planet. And yes, we need to seek out and appreciate all of the tiny intricate wonders of the natural world.

The photo of worm castings is via Project Noah, and the beech leaf bud is via Wikimedia Commons. The others are photos I took on Jeff's nature walk.

earthworm castings

beech leaf bud

Squirrel Corn

Harbinger of Spring ("Salt and Pepper")

Trillium Grandiflorum (can you spot the gnat?)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Urban Wildlife


Last Wednesday, while I cleaned out the garden beds on a rare sunny morning, three Cooper's hawks gave me quite the show, swooping and diving and calling back and forth right above the garden and nearby neighborhood. It was magical. 

Just as magical, but also gruesome, was the sight we came upon week before last as we pulled out of the alley behind the Clintonville Resources Center after doing our pick-ups and deliveries of donations to the food bank. There, where the alley met the street, was a Cooper's hawk, valiantly mantling over a pigeon nearly his/her own size.  The pigeon was squirming, and the hawk was having a hard time making the kill. A delivery truck turned onto the street from the alley across the way, and it was too much for the hawk. It flew away. I used a plastic-bag-covered hand to move the pigeon up into the yard, in the hopes that the hawk would come back, finish the kill, and have a meal.

City hawks give me hope. We are losing lots of species, but some are adapting to life in urban environments. These wild neighbors are precious to me.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Earth Speaks



are dying.
My forests are
cut down or burning.
My systems are weakened,
and my glaciers are melting.
So many species are extinct.
How can I convince you to help me?

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

Today, Earth Day 2022, I'll pass the mic to Earth and let her speak.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

At the Bird Feeder



I am the cardinal who flashes bright red.
I am the junco who wears a gray coat.
I am the wren who sings from the fence
with a body so small and a voice so immense.

I am the hawk who swoops overhead.
I am the crow who caws an alarm.
I am the silence – all have dispensed
till the robin comes back and breaks the suspense.

I am the cardinal who again flashes red.
I am the junco who fluffs his gray coat.
I am the wren back atop of the fence
with a body so small and a voice so immense.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

I saw a quote from Lisa Congdon on IG yesterday:
"Be a joy monger."
Delving deeply into the realities of the climate crises has severely depleted my stores of joy and optimism. But yesterday was a rare day without rain (one of our local climate changes is more frequent and more extreme rainfall) and it looks like perhaps we've had the last freeze. So out to the garden I went for some joy mongering. I cleared the beds of last fall's oak leaves and looked for hidden signs of spring. My notebook lay open on the porch, and is now full of joy, and smudged with mud and notes for future poems.

Section 6 in ALL WE CAN SAVE is all about the emotional and psychological toll of the climate crisis and its work.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?


This poem comes from the recent archives. It was written in February for Laura Shovan’s 10th Annual February Poem Challenge. It is a response to the Chicago song by the same title. Here it is performed by the cover band Leonid & Friends, which is comprised of musicians from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus who have never heard Chicago perform live.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

What If



What if democracy
does not exist in opposition,
is not the weight on one end
of the beam of our future?
What if democracy is the fulcrum,
holding everything in balance?

What if democracy
is a force of nature
equal to gravity, symbiosis,
evolution, and tides?

What if democracy
is a synonym
for love?

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

"Inequality and climate change are the twin challenges of our time, and more democracy is the answer to both." --Heather McGhee, p. 91 in ALL WE CAN SAVE

I fear the loss of democracy with the same panic-inducing terror that I feel for our planet. But my belief in science and in the power of love is greater than all of my fears, and those beliefs are what help me to have hope for our future.