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?

© 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


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. 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


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


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.

Poetry Friday: NPM Day 1


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!

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

© 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.

Poetry Friday: No Regrets

Margaret gave the Inklings their challenge for this month: “Choose a quote that speaks to you. Write a poem that responds to the quote. The words can be used as a golden shovel or throughout the poem or as an epigraph.”

I cheated just a little. I found a poem that I wrote back in June of 2021, just after retirement, and then went looking for a quote that fit with it as an epigraph.

Here’s how the rest of the Inklings interpreted Margaret’s 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

Kat has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Kathryn Apel.

The photo for today’s post is via Unsplash.

Poetry Friday: Exquisite Corpse Poem

This month, poetry met parlor game as the Poetry Sisters collaborated to create an Exquisite Corpse poem. Unlike the “rules,” we did not use an agreed-upon structure and we constructed the poem one line at a time rather than one word at a time. Liz started us off, sending Tanita her line. Based on Liz’s line, Tanita wrote a line and then send just her line to Kelly. From Kelly, a line went to Sara. Andi was next, then Laura, Tricia, and finally me. Here’s what we wrote:

This month, odd one out, running short on days and sleep,
This month, past meets pride, roots ripped from native soil still somehow grow.
The once-bright future dims. Shadows grow
But there, near canyon  rim, in  broken light
the yearling hawk shrieked in futile fury
and the steel-edged clouds looked away
trees bow and bend on a blustery day
that rattles old oak leaves down the street.

In creating our final drafts from this rich loam of raw material, we agreed that it was fair game to use as much or little of the original as we saw fit. Here’s the best of my many drafts.

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

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

 Next month we are writing ekphrastic Doditsu. You can learn about this poetic from Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest. They are a little more complicated than a simple syllable count, as I once believed! The Dodoitsu often focuses on love or work with a comical twist. We are sharing images in our group, but you can write to anything you like. If you want to be inspired by my image, here’s what I shared. 

The oak leaf photo above is via Unsplash.