Poetry Friday: Song of the Tree Frogs

“Song of the Tree Frogs”
by David L. Harrison

At the edge of night
the sun pulls down
its soothing shade
and peepers creeping
from leafy covers
tune up to sing.

Who will start
this evening’s song
with fluted notes
that serenade the night?

Someone begins,
the same song
his ancestors sang,
and the forest fills
with an urgent chorus.

Read the rest here.

A recent visitor to my sister’s screen house.

Please be sure to visit my dear friend Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche for the Poetry Friday Roundup and to wish her a happy birthday!

Poetry Friday: An Avian Tanka

My week has been filled with birds. (If you’re a frequent reader, you might be asking yourself, “What else is new?”) At the beginning of the week, I made may way to a new Audubon Center near my home for an early morning bird walk. Then I finished Mozart’s Starling (which I wrote about here). I really loved this book. Haupt ends by deftly weaving the threads of her starling Carmen, Mozart, and artists of every stripe into a reflection on the nature of creativity. “And what is this wild summons?” Haupt asks. “To listen with changed ears and sing back what we hear.”

Inspired by these words, here is a tanka filled with the sounds from my week.

As the last stars fade,
robins and cardinals sense
dawn’s approaching warmth.
Trills and cheeps float from treetops
chasing away night’s shadows.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

by John James Audubon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Please be sure to visit Donna Smith at Mainely Write for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Metamorphosis

How often do we go down rabbit holes in search of one thing, only to come out on the other side with something else altogether? Maybe not as often as we should.

This week I’m reading Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s captivating book, Mozart’s Starling. (Little, Brown, 2017). At one point, she quotes French poet Paul Éluard: “There is another world, but it is in this one.” This idea launches Haupt into a rumination on wonder. Did you know the root of “wonder” is an Old English word, wundrian that means “to be affected by one’s own astonishment”? Isn’t that lovely? Haupt ends this brief passage with this: “For us, the song of the world so often rises in places we had not thought to look.” These are the words of a poet.

Curious about her, I discovered that Haupt “is a naturalist, eco-philosopher, and speaker whose writing is at the forefront of the movement to connect people with nature in their everyday lives.”

But no poetry.

Back to Paul Éluard. The Poetry Foundation has two of Éluard’s poems, but neither of them really appealed to me. What did catch me eye was the poem of the day by Linda Pastan. Pastan is a favorite, so I clicked on the link to find this:

“At the Air and Space Museum”
by Linda Pastan

When I was
nearly six my

father
opened his magic

doctor bag:
two

tongue depressors fastened by
a rubber

band:
one flick

Read the rest here.

Even before I finished reading, I could feel my own poem taking shape. The ideas in this poem had been floating around my brain for the last month or so, but hadn’t settled on a form.

“Metamorphosis”

When I was
nearly ten

I taught myself
to embroider:

clutched a needle threaded
with magenta yarn

looped chains of stitches
tentative and uneven

until a form emerged:
butterfly wings.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Thank you for following me down the rabbit hole! Please be sure to visit my friend and critique group partner, Linda Mitchell, at A Word Edgewise for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Summer Surprise

We haven’t filled our bird feeders for months because we don’t want bears wandering through our yard, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still bringing us beauty and inspiration. I found this lovely visitor tucked into a corner that doesn’t get mowed. What better form than a Fibonacci for a poem about a sunflower?

A
dropped
seed, long
forgotten,
grows summer surprise:
one blossoming, buttery sun.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Please be sure to visit Katie at The Logonauts for the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Poetry Friday: Healing Hands

Happy National Macaroni and Cheese Day! Last week, Tabatha Yeatts, today’s PF Roundup hostess, suggested we celebrate this delectable dish in verse. Coincidentally, I had just read Rita Dove’s prompt, “Your Mother’s Kitchen” in The Practice of Poetry. Dove directs writers to include “the oven… and also something green.”  My draft deviates from the instructions slightly by not including “something dead,” and not having a female relation “walk into the kitchen during the course of the poem.” My sister doesn’t like to cook and wouldn’t have been anywhere near the kitchen while my mother was cooking!

Healing Hands

My mother’s hands
were healing hands.
After standing all day
helping doctors stitch
broken bodies back together,
she came home to
tend and mend us.

When she was seven,
my sister suffered
from chronic strep.
Soft and smooth
on her raw throat,
my mother’s macaroni and cheese
was all she’d eat.

In the kitchen, my mother
gathered milk, butter, and cheese.
Velveeta was the cheese of choice.
She took the foil-wrapped
brick from its bright yellow box,
diced it into chunks.
Standing in front
of the avocado green stove,
she whisked the mornay sauce,
stirred until the liquid
was smooth and golden,
then poured it over
steaming macaroni
waiting in a pyrex dish.
Into the oven it went,
where it transformed into a
creamy, bubbling concoction.

To this day,
whenever I see a box of Velveeta,
I can taste the macaroni and cheese
my mother used to make
with her healing hands.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Of course I had to make a batch, just to make sure I had the details right. 😉

      

Poetry Friday: How Many Greens Can One Day Hold?

According to Marcel Gleiser, Carlo Rovelli’s Reality is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravitiy “is a gem. It’s a pleasure to read, full of wonderful analogies and imagery and, last but not least, a celebration of the human spirit, in ‘permanent doubt, the deep source of science.’” What it is not, however, is a beach read. (Krista Tippett’s interview with Rovelli here is worth listening to.) That didn’t stop me from picking it up at the library a few weeks ago. While some of the science confused me, the poetry of Rovelli’s prose was immediately apparent. I decided right away that this book was perfect for the “Collaborative Cut-Up” exercise, shared by Anne Waldman in The Practice of Poetry, that my critique group partner, Margaret Simon, shared on her blog last week.

Rovelli’s text definitely “utilize[s] a vocabulary not [my] own.” Less apparent was what lines of my own I would “intercut” them with. Then, as I sat on my porch one afternoon, the answer was obvious. My yard and the woods and fields around it are a riot of green at this time of year, and I asked the question out loud. Lucy, my trusty beagle, looked up at me, but had no reply.

How Many Greens Can One Day Hold?

How many greens can one day hold?
I’m not sure.

As many greens as blades of grass, lit by sun-
light falling on a surface like a gentle hail shower?
Or ferns, reaching toward the sky, forming
small diaphanous clouds
of vibrant, growing green.

Nothing stays still.
Glossy green treetops
tremble like the surface of the sea.

Step into the unknown,
where coolness hides.
The truth is in the depths
of shadowy green pines.

Fireflies’ neon green signals
speak with the voice of nature,
blink on and off, whisper goodnight,
accept living immersed in mystery.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017 (italicized lines by Carol Rovelli and translators Simon Carnell and Erica Segre)

If quantum gravity isn’t a topic you’re anxious to learn more about, this book isn’t a good choice. But in the last chapter, “Mystery,” Rovelli asks some serious questions about the nature of knowledge and what we can know with certainty. He states “to seek to look further, to go further, seems to me to be one of the splendid things that gives sense to life.” Splendid, indeed.

Photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash.com

Please be sure to visit Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: “In A Museum”

I was incredibly fortunate to spend four days this week at the Yale Center for British Art‘s Summer Teacher Institute. The goal of this Institute was to provide teachers with strategies for incorporating visual literacy into their classrooms. This is something I have been working on for many years, but my experience at Yale opened my eyes to new ways of supporting literacy with visual arts. In my final reflection, I stated that although school has just ended, I can’t wait for school to begin again so I can share all I learned with my colleagues and students.

The entire, vast collection at YCBA resonates with poetry. We spent hours with individual paintings, delving into the stories they tell. I’m still a little overwhelmed with all I saw and learned, and am grateful to have a few uninterrupted weeks to process the information and strategies the amazing instructors shared with us. This poem, by Thomas Hardy, begins to capture my experience.

“In a Museum”
by Thomas Hardy

I

Here’s the mould of a musical bird long passed
from light,
Which over the earth before man came was winging;
There’s a contralto voice I heard last night,
That lodges in me still with its sweet singing.

II

Such a dream is Time that the coo of this ancient bird
Has perished not, but is blent, or will be blending
Mid visionless wilds of space with the voice that
I heard,
In the full-fuged song of the universe unending.

“Tail piece to The Nightingale” by Alfred W. Cooper, via Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Please be sure to visit Diane Mayr at Random Noodling for the Poetry Friday Roundup.