Poetry Friday: My Great Escape

This draft is my response to the Teachers Write mini lesson that Kate Messner posted on Monday.  In it, she asked writers to consider “how might different elements of [a] story look different to different characters?”

To inspire us, Kate shared the story of a king cobra that escaped from a Florida home a few years ago. Despite my irrational fear of snakes, I knew I wanted to write from the cobra’s perspective.

Kate’s new novel, Breakout, is a fictional version of the real-life drama of two inmates escaping from a prison near her home in upstate New York. Three characters tell the story from different points of view, giving readers a more complete picture of events. One character, Lizzie, often manages to find humor in this serious situation. The article about the escaped snake also included humorous Twitter and Facebook posts people wrote at the time, imagining where in the world the snake might be. But I found nothing humorous about the situation. I felt sorry for the poor woman who found the snake, and I really felt sorry for the snake. 

My Great Escape

Stolen from my jungle home,
stuffed into a barren box:
no royal treatment for me.
My days were spent in misery.

Desperate to stretch,
uncoil my sleek brown body
I watched for my chance,
bolted from that ranch.

I slithered through suburbia,
searching for a place to settle:
a bamboo thicket or a fallen tree
where I would be free.

But my dream was not to be…

I was found behind a dryer.
Hissing, hood flared in warning,
I rose up as if on a throne:
Leave me alone!

I put up quite a fight
before Animal Control officers
caught me, ended my spree
and returned me to captivity.

draft © Catherine Flynn, 2018

Please be sure to visit Poetry for Children, where Sylvia Vardell has some exciting news and the Poetry Friday Roundup!


Poetry Friday: This Dew-Dappled Morning

School ended last week and I spent a good part of last weekend reading and relaxing. As I sorted the stacks of books I’ve accumulated over the past few months, I found Searching for Stars on an Island in Maineby Alan Lightman. In her rave review, Maria Papova called Lightman’s book “a splendid read in its entirety,” and I ordered it immediately.

The intersection of science and spirituality is endlessly fascinating to me, and Lightman’s poetic approach to the universe captivated me at once. One line was in my mind when I went for a walk at dawn the other day: “All is in flux.” I hope Mr. Lightman won’t mind that I “borrowed” his line to begin this poem.

All is in flux.
Shimmering in dawn’s golden light,
morning glories hum
with breakfasting bees.
Raspberries ripen.
Maples dazzle and beckon.
One… two…
three crows alight
on the highest branches.
Their caws echo
across the countryside.
I step into this dew-dappled morning,
searching for what is true.

© Catherine Flynn, 2018


Please be sure to visit Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: “The Wrens”

Our librarian has been culling our collections and leaving a box of books for us to look through before these withdrawn books are…(I’m not sure what, maybe sent to the Island of Withdrawn Books?) Of course I peruse the box each day, hoping to find a treasure or two. So you can imagine how happy I was to find this the other day:

I’ve always loved Fisher’s poetry. Her keen observations and sense of humor make her work timeless. This spring, we have wrens nesting in the roof overhang of our new porch. They are dedicated parents, making countless trips back and forth from the nest to the nearby bushes for insects. As usual, Fisher gets their behavior exactly right in this sweet poem.

“The Wrens”
by Aileen Fisher

The wrens who rent our birdhouse
come back before it’s May.

They hang their hats inside the door
and settle down to stay.

We never have to send a bill,
so punctual are they…

They start each morning loud and clear,
to sing the rent away.

On another note, I am thrilled to share that two of my poems appear in The Quickwrite Handbook, Linda Rief’s new book full of mentor texts to “jumpstart…student’s writing and thinking.” Both poems first appeared here and here. Thank you, Linda, for including my work in your book!

Please be sure to visit Carol at Carol’s Corner for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: “Afternoon on a Hill”

“Sunny Days” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema,1874
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund

“Afternoon on a Hill”

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down
the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be
And then start down!

by Edna St.  Vincent Millay

School ends in three days. Then I will be “the gladdest thing under the sun!”

Please be sure to visit Michelle Kogan for the Poetry Friday Roundup.


Poetry Friday: A Villanelle for Mother Earth

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is being hosted by my friend Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. About a month ago, Margaret invited Poetry Friday regulars to participate in “More Than Meets the Eye,” a photo swap “in which we’d send a photograph from our own geographic area for our exchange partner to write a poem about.” Margaret paired me up with Amanda Potts, who hails from Ottawa, Ontario. Amanda sent me several photos to choose from, but I was drawn to this photo immediately:

Mother Nature Sculpture, MosaiCanda

I chose to write a villanelle because I wanted to capture the cycle of the seasons. Also, as a French form that is now widely used by English poets, I thought it would reflect two cultures of modern Canada. You can learn more about MosaiCanada, a “horticultural wonder” that commemorated Canada’s 150th birthday last year with scenes from Canada’s past, here.

A Villanelle for Mother Earth

Seasons come and seasons go,
there’s not a thing she doesn’t see.
Through her hands, all life flows.

She wears a crown of rainbows,
perfumed by butterfly and bee.
Seasons come and seasons go.

Abundant gifts she bestows,
plenty pours from every tree.
Through her hands, all life flows.

Across the land wild winds blow,
an echo of her melody.
Seasons come and seasons go.

Rivers fill with melting snow
beneath bald eagle’s aerie.
Through her hands, all life flows.

Her gifts are ours to borrow;
“Care well for me,” her plea.
Seasons come and seasons go;
Through her hands, all life flows.

© Catherine Flynn, 2018

Poetry Friday: Outside My Window

Last week, poet Julie Fogliano visited Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty and left readers with this challenge:

 “…just stare out the window and write what you see.”

Some months, I ponder these challenges all month. But I’d been watching this robin for a few weeks, so this month I knew immediately what to write about.

Bedecked in fresh leaves,
delicate and lithe,
an old apple tree,
its limbs loaded
with fat pink blossoms
ready to burst open,
stands outside my window.

Concealed within
this veil of green,
a robin sits on her nest,
still as a statue,
guarding her eggs
from the jays and crows
who screech and caw
in the branches above her,

right outside my window.

© Catherine Flynn, 2018

Please be sure to visit Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Spring is Here!

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe,
the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
~ Rachel Carson ~

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you read or hear about a topic and then, suddenly, it’s everywhere? The connection between science and poetry isn’t news to Poetry Friday regulars, but in the past week, this relationship was gloriously celebrated by Maria Papova, Janna Levin and friends at the second Universe in Verse, “an evening of science-inspired poems read by artists, writers, scientists, and musicians, part protest and part celebration.” The event, which was livestreamed, was dedicated to the legacy of Rachel Carson and included readings of poetry celebrating everything “from the oceans and trees and volcanos to bees and kale and the armadillo.” It was a truly inspiring event.

Then I found this article about the intersection of math and poetry, which led me to JoAnne Growney’s blog, “Intersections–Poetry with Mathematics.” Growney writes about both mathematical forms, including Fibs, and poems about math and declares, “let our STEM be STEAM.” Indeed!

Further inspiration came from my poetry pal Christie Wyman, who wrote poems about vernal pools every day in April. (Congratulations, Christie!) Thanks to her, I’ve recently been paying close attention to a vernal pool near my home. After two days of above-average temperatures, this scene greeted me on my morning walk yesterday:


The unfortunately named skunk cabbage caught my attention. Kale, armadillos, even skunk cabbage, all are worthy subjects of our attention, our words.

“Fib for a Skunk Cabbage”

and veined, skunk
cabbage leaves unfold,
arise from hidden vernal pools
boldly proclaiming, “Spring is here! Spring is finally here!”

© Catherine Flynn, 2018

Please be sure to visit Brenda Davis Harsham at Friendly Fairy Tales for the Poetry Friday Roundup.