Poetry Friday: 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?
Plants.


© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for this month was to write in the style of Taylor Mali. The poem I used as my mentor text is Silver-Lined Heart. Next month we are writing poems around the words string, thread, rope, or chain.

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with:
Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Happy Last Friday of National Poetry Month 2022! All of my NPM poems are archived here. Jone has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Jone Rush MacCulloch. Like last weekend, I will be away from my computer this weekend and will look forward to catching up on your posts next week!

Poetry Friday: Earth Speaks

EARTH SPEAKS

My
oceans
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

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Today, Earth Day 2022, I’ll pass the mic to Earth and let her speak. All the rest of my NPM 2022 poems can be found at Poetrepository.

Margaret has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Reflections on the Teche.

Poetry Friday: Witnessing the Insect Apocalypse

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From the essay, “Loving a Vanishing World,” by Emily N. Johnston in ALL WE CAN SAVE:

“It’s a constant question for me every time I’m entranced by the beauty of this world: What does it mean to love this place? What does it mean to love anyone or anything in a world whose vanishing is accelerating, perhaps beyond our capacity to save the things that we love most?”

Here’s the 2018 NYTimes article about the insect apocalypse that’s been haunting me for four years.

This is not one of my more hopeful poems. It’s hard to witness the natural world fading away, but loving the world is the first step toward saving it.

Matt has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.

Poetry Friday: Contrails

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Contrails don’t give me hope in a time of climate crisis. They play a significant role in aviation-related global warming by creating clouds that trap heat on earth. But the fact that scientists are studying them does give me hope. The sudden, dramatic drop in airplane traffic in 2020 proved to researchers at MIT that their mapping of contrails was accurate. 

Researchers at the Yale School of the Environment remind us that the ONLY way to shut down global warming is to curb CO2 emissions. 

“But if the world wants a big short-term contribution from aircraft to keep us below some specific temperature target, such as 1.5 degrees C, then action on contrails can provide it.”

 Researchers at MIT are

“working with major airlines to forecast regions in the atmosphere where contrails may form, and to reroute planes around these regions to minimize contrail production.

Steven Barrett, professor and associate head of MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “There’s an unusual opportunity to halve aviation’s climate impact by eliminating most of the contrails produced today.”

“Most measures to make aviation sustainable take a long time,” Barrett says. “(Contrail avoidance) could be accomplished in a few years, because it requires small changes to how aircraft are flown, with existing airplanes and observational technology. It’s a near-term way of reducing aviation’s warming by about half.” “

Now THAT’S hopeful. Let’s go, airline industry. The ball’s in your court.

This poem was written using The Thing Is by Ellen Bass as a mentor text. All of my poems from this week can be found here.

Janice has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Salt City Verse.

2022 Progressive Poem, Day 4

The Progressive Poem has been around since 2012, when Irene Latham got it started. In 2020, Margaret Simon took the reins. I’ve taken part every year!

I thought I was being so clever this year, choosing a day early in the schedule when I would have a chance to perhaps bring the first quatrain to a close, or at least help set the intention for the poem, rather than trying to figure out how to continue it in the middle or turn it towards the end.

Come to find out, beginnings are just as hard as middles and ends. But I guess I already knew that. So now it’s been confirmed.

Irene gave us our first line this year, a quote from Emily Winfield Martin’s book, The Imaginaries. In the second line,  Donna gave us a quote from The Hobbit set us on the JOURNEY of a poem for two voices, perhaps told all in quotes. Catherine chose a line from The Wind in the Willows . Here’s the poem as I received it. A bold statement about the journey ahead, a polite refusal, and an enthusiastic encouragement to GO FOR IT:

For me, one of the quintessential children’s books featuring a journey is Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. If I had time, I’d reread the whole book. Just taking it off the shelf and flipping through the many sticky-noted and dogeared pages makes me wistful for all the times I read it aloud in my classroom. I didn’t have to read much to find the quote I needed for the poem. Salamanca Tree Hiddle both does and emphatically does NOT want to go on the journey to Lewiston, Idaho. “It was not a trip I was eager to take, but it was the one I had to take.” Her voice will add to the reluctance in Donna’s line, and we’ll have to see where Buffy takes us next.

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Here’s where the 2022 Progressive Poem has been and is going:

1 April 1 Irene at Live Your Poem
2 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
3 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
4 Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading
5 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
6 Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
7 Kim Johnson at Common Threads
8 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
11 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
12 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
13 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe
14 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
15 Carol Labuzzetta @ The Apples in my Orchard
16 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
17 Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken Town
18 Patricia at Reverie
19 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Kevin at Dog Trax
22 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
23 Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life
24 Marcie Atkins
25 Marilyn Garcia
26 JoAnn Early Macken
27 Janice at Salt City Verse
28 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
29 Karen Eastlund at Karen’s Got a Blog
30 Michelle Kogan Painting, Illustration, & Writing

Poetry Friday: NPM Day 1

I’m reading and listening to ALL WE CAN SAVE: TRUTH, COURAGE, AND SOLUTIONS FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS

My poems this month will be inspired by the essays and poems in this book, and by this gorgeous living planet we call home.

Sometimes I get a panicky feeling about our future, but I’m trying hard to hold onto hope and to the actions I can take, no matter how small. It is not too late to turn things around, but I can’t sit on the couch waiting for someone else to do something. 

Throughout the week, I’ll be posting at Poetrepository, but I’ll do a mini roundup here on Fridays.

Today’s poem does double-duty. I challenged the Inklings to write a poem using The Thing Is by Ellen Bass as a mentor text. I wrote a couple of drafts, but when I fully processed that this poem would need to introduce my NPM project, it was back to the writer’s notebook to draft again.


Here’s how the rest of the Inklings interpreted my challenge:

Linda@A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly@Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine@Reading to the Core
Margaret@Reflections on the Teche

Heidi has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at my juicy little universe. Happy National Poetry Month! Let the flood of poetry begin!

Women’s History Gives Readers All Kinds of Role Models

BORN HUNGRY: JULIA CHILD BECOMES “THE FRENCH CHEF”
by Alex Prud’homme
illustrations by Sarah Green
Calkins Creek, 2022
review copy provided by the publisher

“No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” Julia Child was tall and loud and eager to learn to be a good cook. She learned the importance of taking “time and care” in choosing the best ingredients (making friends with the butcher, baker, and cheese maker) and in creating her dishes. Most of all, she encouraged her students, her TV fans, and her cookbook readers to have fun! What a great role model! For more images and quotes, see this review at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

BLAST OFF! HOW MARY SHERMAN MORGAN FUELED AMERICA INTO SPACE
by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
Calkins Creek, 2022
review copy provided by the publisher

Although she didn’t start school until she was eight, Mary fell in love with science first, and chemistry later. She broke through gender barriers to get a job at North American Aviation developing rocket fuels. She was given the job of developing the fuel that would take a rocket into space. After several failures, she succeeded, and the rest is history! Mary Sherman Morgan is a role model for following your passion.

NELLIE VS. ELIZABETH: TWO DAREDEVIL JOURNALISTS’ BREAKNECK RACE AROUND THE WORLD
by Kate Hannigan
illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
Calkins Creek, 2022
review copy provided by the publisher

Did you watch the recent PBS version of AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS? I was fascinated by their remake of Jules Verne’s story, and even more fascinated by the real-life story of two very different woman journalists, one outgoing and bold (Nellie Bly) and one quiet and reserved (Elizabeth Bisland) who raced to make it around the globe in just seventy-five days. Both had grand adventures and broke all kinds of stereotypes about what women could and should do.

REVOLUTIONARY PRUDENCE WRIGHT: LEADING THE MINUTE WOMEN IN THE FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE
by Beth Anderson
illustrated by Susan Reagan
Calkins Creek, 2022
review copy provided by the publisher

The men of Pepperell, MA took big actions in the fight for independence, but Prudence led the women of Pepperell in small actions that formed “a pattern of rebellion:” burning British tea and making their own with local herbs, spinning their own cloth rather than depending on British cloth, using maple syrup instead of British sugar. “Prudence could live with inconvenience and additional work. But she couldn’t live with unjust laws and stolen rights.” A role model attitude for our times. Prudence even rallied the women to catch a Tory spy crossing the bridge that led into Pepperell.

TO THE FRONT! CLARA BARTON BRAVES THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
by Claudia Friddell
illustrated by Christopher Cyr
Calkins Creek, 2022
review copy provided by the publisher

This innovative biography in verse blends Clara Barton’s words with the words of the author. We’ve heard her called “The Angel of the Battlefield,” but this biography brings Barton’s heroic actions to life. This book would be a good one to pair with images of all of the aid organizations currently working on the ground in Ukraine and those helping refugees in Poland and elsewhere across Europe. Clara Barton is a role model for compassion and determination.

Poetry Friday: Ekphrastic Dodoitsus

I love writing from an image. I love short form poetry. So this month’s Poetry Sisters challenge was right up my alley: ekphrastic dodoitsus. When we dug into the definition of dodoitsus, however, we learned that they are more complicated than a simple 7-7-7-5 syllable count. “The dodoitsu often focuses on love or work with a comical twist.” I’m not sure how well I satisfied all of the requirements, but it was lots of fun.

This first picture is at the historic Open Air School here in Columbus. They have completed renovations and one of our new favorite restaurants, Emmett’s, is located there.

After so many courses
laid with rhythmic precision
I can’t stand it anymore.
Time for a jazz riff.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

In this one, the poem only matches the photo on the theme of careless quality control. It’s based on a story Molly Hogan told, and so I’m sorry to tell you that it is as true as that unsliced apple in the picture. But a LOT more gross.

In the pickle factory,
he left the frogs on the belt.
Quality control loophole:
squeamish inspector.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

This last one stretches all the rules about love, work, and comical twist, but I had fun working backward from the last line — a five-syllable word!

When you’re blessed with a surfeit
of citrus deliciousness
what matters not the least is
uniformity.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with:
Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Amy LV has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at The Poem Farm.

If you want to join the Poetry Sisters’ challenge for next month, we’re going to write in the style of Taylor Mali, which is to say there might be metaphor dice involved, and perhaps some eloquently long-winded spoken-word poetry which may or may not be recorded in videos. Mali’s mentor poems are not always appropriate for children/students, but that doesn’t mean we can’t borrow his style if not all of his subject matter and/or word and gesture choices.

I’m sure you know Mali’s “What Teachers Make,” (look at who he’s on stage with in this version) and if you don’t know “When I Miss Teaching,” it’s time to do something about that. Especially that ending. So true. You should read “The Impotence of Proofreading,” rather than watching it, but in either case, make sure you don’t have food or drink in your mouth. (if you watch, the other guy on stage has warmed up a bit…)

Next week begins the zaniness known as Poetry Month, in which I write AND PUT OUT IN THE WORLD a poem a day. According to Poetrepository, this will be my 9th year of this madness. However, there are three more years of poems at A Year of Reading that I need to move over to Poetrepository. So it’s actually my 12th year. Wow. I’ve got my 2022 theme, but not my cute graphic made on Canva, so you’ll have to stay tuned. I’ll be posting on Poetrepository, but will round up the highlights here on Fridays.

Poetry Friday: Marshmallow Clouds

Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech
by Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek
illustrated by Richard Jones
Candlewick, 2022

Two of my favorite poets for adults, Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek, both write poetry that is accessible and that makes me see the world in new ways. How lovely that they combined their talents to do the same for children! None of the poems are signed, so I love imagining the process of collaboration with which they were created.

The book is divided into four parts — fire, water, air, and earth. But the first poem, before the fire section begins, sets the tone for the whole book: this will be a collection of poems that encourage readers to use their imaginations.

The focus on imagination is reinforced in the poets’ afterwords, which feature Kooser’s and Wanek’s thoughts on imagination, and a bonus poem by each of them that illustrates how they (and WE!) might use imagination as we move though the world.

The poems in this collection will help to broaden children’s understanding of what poetry is and what it does for the reader. These poems don’t rhyme or have clappable rhythms. They are plain spoken observations of the world through the lens of imagination. They never talk down to the child reader, and the metaphors and similes are accessible and delightful. Who wouldn’t want to imagine their book as a sandwich, with a folded pita for covers? Or a harpist, holding a giant moth and stroking its wings? Or why our pets don’t write?

Whether they are in your lap or in your class, these poems beg to be shared with children!

Ruth has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town … and before we head off to read each other’s posts, let’s pause for a moment to think about that blog name, and send out strong and positive thoughts and prayers to all the people in all the towns in Ukraine.

Poetry Friday: Chores

You might want to go the the Poetry Foundation and read “Chores” by Maxine Kumin before you read on. I’ll wait.

After an intense month of writing and going “public” with a poem a day in February, I intended to keep that habit going through March and into Poetry Month (aka April). Instead, I have (mostly) recovered my morning exercise habit that was lost to writing, commenting, and icy weather/walkways. (Yes, I know I could have gone to the health club and exercised in spite of the weather. But I didn’t.)

So in the absence of an original poem, I decided to dig into a poem with a Poem Observation. I chose Maxine Kumin, looked her up on the Poetry Foundation site, and picked a poem with what seemed to be a promising title, “Chores.” Here’s what happened:

Like I did in my classroom, I read and reread and reread, first with just my pencil in hand, then with some color coding. The more I read, the more I found to admire about the language and storytelling in this poem. There’s the obvious story in the poem about the sawdust and the sunset, but aren’t you curious for more about the paddock gate, the airbound garden pump, the broken window? And then there’s that little aside, mid-poem, about horses making divorces.

But the language! Kumin packs this poem with end rhyme, internal rhyme, assonance, consonance, and alliteration…but none of it is terribly obvious on your first read. I love that. If you read this poem aloud, especially that fourth stanza, you can’t help but be reminded of the way Kay Ryan plays with the sounds of words.

By the end of the poem (especially after multiple reads) you kind of fall in love with these “aging fools” whose work reminds us of Marge Piercy’s “To be of use.”

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong are hosting this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Poetry For Children with a YUMMY unveiling of their DELICIOUS newest book (I’m proud to have a poem in it!), THINGS WE EAT.