Poetry Friday: RIP Uncle Bob

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.


This prose poem was written in 2019 using cards from “Paint Chip Poetry.” I learned yesterday that Uncle Bob passed away last weekend. I was looking forward to seeing him next week when we’re back home. We’ll drive past the home place and I’ll savor my memories.

Kat has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Kathryn Apel: Children’s Author & Poet.

Poetry Friday: Surprise!

Back in May, I learned that one of my poems on YDP (Your Daily Poem) made the cut for 100 chosen as “the best of YDP!”

The collection is titled POEMS TO LIFT YOU UP AND MAKE YOU SMILE. It’s not up on Amazon yet, but can be found at Parson’s Porch & Company. Here’s that poem, which I wrote back in 2012. It kind of describes my day yesterday!

photo via Unsplash
CHANT OF THE COMPUTER-WEARY

update
download
Internet
code

password
fire wire
USB
load

keyboard
network
charger cord
mouse

sunshine
fresh air
out of the
house

© Mary Lee Hahn

Molly has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Nix the Comfort Zone.

Slice of Life: Home

Thank you, TwoWritingTeachers for hosting this community!

Can you still call it home if you’ve lived elsewhere longer than all the years you spent growing up there? Can you still call it home if there are no living relatives there, just some boxes in your mom’s friend’s barn? I hope so, because I do.

It’s home because the sidewalk I scuffed along from the back screen door to the little building where my bike was stored is there. The little building that sat in the shade of the ash tree that turns a glorious yellow in the fall. The ash tree that shared the yard with a weeping birch with fronds that grew down to the grass making a cool and shady secret hiding place in the summer. (We cried when that tree had to be cut down. Perhaps the ash tree is gone now, too. I’m not sure I want to know because I remember how much it hurt to see that mom’s iris had been dug up. Will the maple in the front yard be gone?)

I’m going home at the end of the month, and it will be both home and not home in the same way that I am both the child who grew up there and not that child at all. There will be change and constancy, differences and similarities, familiar and unfamiliar. In the wind, I will hear echoes of my mother’s voice and my father’s laugh and on Main Street, I’ll be greeted by people who remember me but whose names I either never knew or can’t remember. And it will be okay. It will all be okay. I will be at home.

Poetry Friday: 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

Laura Shovan takes us to the Black Lagoon for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

#PoemPairs

The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest
by Heather Lang
illustrated by Jana Christy
Boyds Mills & Kane/Calkins Creek, 2021
review copy provided by the publisher (thanks!)


FIRST THE PICTURE BOOK

The Leaf Detective is a picture book biography written in verse, lushly illustrated, and sprinkled throughout with quotes from Margaret Lowman and rainforest facts. Following the author’s note (she’s actually met and learned alongside Margaret Lowman in the Amazon rainforest in Peru), readers can learn more about the rainforest from a flip-the-book-vertically double-spread diagram of the levels of the rainforest, and explore further resources listed in the back matter. 


Lowman is a pioneer in the study of rainforests, and especially rainforest canopies. Not only did she invent new ways of studying the canopy by climbing into the tops of trees, but she broke through all kinds of challenges and barriers as a woman in the area of field biology in science. 

AND NOW THE POEMPAIR (replace he/his with she/her)

It Couldn’t Be Done
by Edgar Guest 

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
  But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
  Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
  On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
  That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
     At least no one ever has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
     And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
     Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
     There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
     The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
     Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
     That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

(this poem is in the public domain)

Inclusion and representation in science continue to be issues for women, and especially women of color. A video to share with students features Adania Flemming, a Black marine biologist/ichthyologist. Like Margaret Lowman, who has made education about women in science and about the rainforest important parts of all she does, Adania Flemming dreams of starting a research aquarium/museum in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago. 

NOTE: Thank you for your patience as we figure out WordPress. We will crosspost on A Year of Reading and A(nother) Year of Reading for a bit, but eventually, this will be where to find our current thinking. A Year of Reading will remain as a reference when we make the complete transition.