Poetry Friday: Retirement and Winter Poem Swap Info



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

Laura Shovan and I are helping Tabatha with the Winter Poem Swap. The Winter Poem Swap is a little different than the Summer Swap. In the Summer Poem Swap, poets do up to five swaps, while the Winter Poem Swap is just ONE swap. This time, though, you are asked to send a wee gift along with your poem. If you would like to participate, send Laura an email (laurashovan @ gmail . com) by November 6. Include your full name and mailing address. Let her know if you want to swap with the same person who is sending to you or if it doesn’t matter. Include any allergies your gift giver might need to know about. Laura will send you the name and address of your poem/gift recipient by November 13. Then you have a month to write your poem and put your package together for delivery by December 15, in plenty of time for the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (10:58 AM on December 21, in case you were wondering).

Bridget has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at wee words for wee ones. (And remember, I’m taking November 5.)

Poetry Friday: Garden-Fever

Gratitudes to John Masefield for my mentor text for this poem, Sea-Fever.

Irene has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Live Your Poem. Please note a change in the roundups next month — I will be taking the November 5 roundup to help out Tabatha. Also, a team of PF Peeps are going to be organizing the Winter Poem Swap, so stay tuned for more information about that!

Poetry Friday: Form and Function

The Inklings’ challenge this month was mine. I was quite taken with the idea of this book: a book about poetry forms and techniques…written in poems. So I challenged the group to write their own poems about forms or techniques. The more we dug into the book, the more we realized that the author doesn’t always explain a form in that form. For instance, her poem about the sestina follows the form but does not explain it. And one of the flaws of the book is that nowhere is there clear definitions of the techniques and forms. Still and all, I recommend the book, and we all had fun playing around with form and techniques. Here are three of mine.


Writing teachers especially hate
run-ons. Close the gate
so the end of the line can have the pause
that finishes a thought or completes a clause.



small observation
perhaps elaboration
wry commentary


Personification Limerick

I once was a limerick named Sue.
My rhythm was fine. Rhyme was, too.
There was just this one thing
caused my heart not to sing:
my longing to be a haiku.


All three poems are ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021. (I’m not sure what’s up with me sharing multiple poems per Poetry Friday post…this is the third week in a row…)

Catherine has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Reading to the Core. Check out the other Inklings’ responses to the challenge here:

Heidi @ My Juicy Little Universe
Linda @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche
Molly @ Nix the Comfort Zone

Poetry Friday: Conversations

This month’s Poetry Sisters Challenge was so much fun! The first fun was diving into each sister’s blog archives to find a poem that invited me to respond. Then, the fun was in “talking back” to her poem.

Tricia wrote “The Dizzying Stress of Tidying Up (with apologies to Marie Kondo),” to which I reply

The urge to collect
runs as deep as arthritis
in mom’s bones and mine.
A small house is a good thing.
I collect miniatures.


Tanita’s poems were in response to the Poetry Peeps prompt: Wish I’d Been There, or an historical event that incites wistfulness, to which I reply

take me back in time
not very far, or for long:
my parents’ wedding
before arthritis plagued mom
while dad was still a pilot


Sara’s poem using Linda Hogan’s “Innocence” as her model and including the phrase, “There is nothing more ____ than ____” was a poem about trees, to which I reply

there is nothing
more glorious than twin gingkoes
until one falters
slowly dying limb by limb
one tree left holding fall’s flame


.I borrowed the last line of Liz’s haiku from April 26, 2021 for the first line of my tanka in which I reply

no one stays for long
learn to cup your hands gently
loosen your tight grip
now you are the steady tree
next you’ll be leaves on the wind


Laura wrote “Why You Cry When You Read Me,” to which I reply

Where the Red Fern Grows,
Love Story, Little Britches,
Old Yeller, Charlotte’s Web:
books that squeeze my heart so hard
I cry every single time.


Kelly wrote “Cookie Time,” to which I reply

Dozens and dozens:
gingerbread for twenty years
then seventeen years
of sugar cookie cutouts.
One thing I always got right.


.Andi wrote a snake poem, to which I reply (about a different species)

backyard visitor
every day just after dusk
black formal attire
accented by white cap, stripe
the dropped birdseed is all yours


All of these tanka are ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021. The image is via Unsplash, by Tom Hill.

Laura’s response to the challenge and today’s Poetry Friday roundup are at Laura Purdie Salas: Small Reads for Brighter Days.

The other Poetry Sisters’ posts are here:


Poetry Friday: A Trio of Tankas

The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for this month is to write a tanka in response to or conversation with a poem written by one of the other sisters. Kelly wrote a fabulous article about tankas. Who doesn’t love her analogy that “a tanka is a haiku pulling a trailer?!?” To get ready for the challenge, I’ve written 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


Denise has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Dare to Care. Our Casting for Recovery retreat is this weekend, so I’ll read and comment next week.

Poetry Friday: A Sonnet for September

Earlier this week, Margaret got me thinking about sonnets. I knew I had written one, but had to dig hard at A Year of Reading to find it: Coffee House Sonnet. Turns out it’s from NPM 2010, and I haven’t archived that year’s project over at Poetrepository yet. (Adding that to my to-do list…)

We’ve been enjoying a few days of perfect September weather, and because it was clear this morning, I went for my walk before the sun came up and I got to say hello to my good friend, Orion, for the first time since he waved goodbye and marched over the western horizon last winter.

Tricia has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Poetry Friday: Ghazal for Your Cats

Jennyanydots (6 lbs) in her 21st and final year in 2008, and Hemingway (14 lbs) currently in his prime.

Margaret gave the Inklings quite a challenge this month! We wrote ghazals, (Hindi: ग़ज़ल, Arabic: غَزَل‎, Bengali: গজল, Urdu: غزَل, Persian: غزل‎, Azerbaijani: 
qəzəl, Turkish: gazel, Uzbek: gʻazal, Gujarati: ગઝલ) an ancient Arabic poetry form with five delightfully complicated rules.

I found Ravishing DisUnities by Agha Shahid Ali VERY helpful. This collection of ghazals by 100+ poets (including Diane Ackerman, W.S. Merwin, and Maxine Kumin, just to name a few of the poets whose names I recognized) helped me to suss out the form, AND provided all kinds of variations on the form.

Heidi has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at my juicy little universe, and here are all the other Inklings’ ghazals:

(An aside, related to Bridget’s post about DuoLingo. I’m learning Spanish and Arabic and reviewing my rusty German with DuoLingo. Current status: 90 day streak. When I pasted in “ghazal” in all those different languages (thank you, Wikipedia), I was startled to realize that I can ALMOST read the Arabic! I haven’t learned the “gh” character yet, but I know the little accent mark above it means short a, I know z (with another short a), and I just learned l. WOW!)

Poetry Friday — What Do You Know?

The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for August was to write a What the ____ Knows poem either after the style of Jane Yolen’s eight line, rhyming poem, “What the Bear Knows,” a poem written in honor of her 400th bookBear Outside, or after the style of Joyce Sidman’s “Higher Power” poems which she introduced in Michelle Barnes’ Today’s Little Ditty Spotlight.Jane’s poem has short lines that are complete sentences, and rhymes in lines 2&4, 6&8. Joyce’s poem has two stanzas with three lines each — a total of six truths. The line, “What do/does the ___ know?” is repeated at the beginning of each stanza, and rhyming the final word in line is optional.

For me, strict adherence to form can yield surprising results. But it’s just plain FUN to fiddle with form, and these What the ____ Knows poems were all kinds of fun!

Now that I have a little more free time, I have found my way back to embroidery, and I was inspired by the needle going in and out of the fabric. This one is Sidman-ish. It has six lines, but not in groups of three. It has rhyme, but in pairs. The question is not repeated. My biggest fun was with enjambment.

photo via Unsplash

These next two were inspired by my garden. Zinnias (hello again!) comes closest to following Sidman’s form. Crickets is similar to Needle, but its rhymes are 1/3/5 and 2/4/6. Like I said, the operative word this month was PLAY!

I’m still working on a pair that explores WHAT THE POOL KNOWS. One has long lines and is very conversational in tone; the variation is terse.

Check out what the other Poetry Sisters came up with, and join in if you want!


Elizabeth has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Unexpected Intersections.

photo via Unsplash

If you want to plan ahead for the Poetry Sisters’ September challenge, we’re each choosing a poem by another Poetry Sister and writing a tanka in response or inspired by or in conversation with that poem. You can choose a poem by someone in the Poetry Friday universe and write a tanka in response or inspired by or in conversation with their poem.

Slice of Life

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating a community of writers and a safe place to share.

Today’s prompt at the Ethical ELA Open Write is to create a one-sentence poem. Such an easy way in. I read back through my notebook until I found an entry that had a bit that seemed like it could be a poem.

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

Writing in a community is such a pleasure, and I am blessed with so many different communities. Poetry Friday is a constant, as are my two new poetry groups — Sisters and Inklings. I like dipping into the Slice of Life and Ethical ELA communities. The best, though, is the community of one — just me and my notebook most every day after exercise and before reading.

Poetry Friday: Ode to the Hummingbird

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021 (draft)

Happy Friday, Poetry Friends! In spite of but also because of all the dire and drastic news from around the world, I wish for you tiny moments of respite, such as the ones we’ve been blessed with recently when the hummingbird comes to the zinnias and sweet peas in our garden.

If you’re up for a challenge, here’s what the Poetry Peeps are working on for next Friday.

Carol has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at The Apples In My Orchard.

Edited to add Sharon Olds’ poem for reference: