Heatwave

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Photo Credit: Thanks and shoutout to Bryan Hanson 

I’ve been taking some time to regroup after a grueling year and a half-is of teaching. I didn’t think relaxing would be as hard as it has been. I don’t think I realized just how taxing a year of virtual work and life was until I started to slow down.

Given that Trace needed her spinal fusion immediately, her recovery has been our primary concern this summer. We had already booked plans to head down south and camp in Laurel, Mississippi, navigating our way down to Folly Beach and maybe even New Orleans, but we had to cancel all those plans to concentrate on things closer to home.

We found out in the early spring that our beautiful big red maple was causing foundation damage to our home, so out it had to come. This meant tearing up our beautiful wood deck out back. But we had to do what we had to do, so I decided if the deck was getting ripped out anyway that we would replace it with concrete. We would enjoy our summer vacation from the luxury of our own new patio. Win-win!

With the hope that all construction work would be done by the beginning of June, we ripped out the deck and threw tarps down so the dogs could still use the backyard. Well, those of you near us know the massive amounts of torrential rain coupled with brutal heat we have had this summer. Now the back yard is one muddy lake and the dogs have to be walked on leash out in the front in order for them to take care of their business.

And the construction work has yet to begin.

Except now we have an excavator taller than our house in the backyard and the contractor is heading off to vacation next week.

Sigh.

My poem today is in honor of the tiny gold finch bathing in the mud lake that is now our backyard, the late great Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and staycations.

Heatwave

Summer came on steamy winds of spring
the torrid heat belied the month of June;

summer storms raged like May shower
bombs of heat detonating in waves.

All that remained come muggy morning
was the mucky mess of mud called garden

and one tiny goldfinch preening in a puddle
making me wish I had been born a bird instead.

--Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

A Septet of Lines

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Photo Credit: Shoutout to Annie Spratt on social.

The poetry challenge I place before you today this: I’d love for you to try writing a lune.

A lune is a sort of English-language haiku. While the haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count, the lune has two different options.

The first option for a lune is a three-line poem with a 5-3-5 syllable count. The second variant is based on word-count instead of syllable count. This means the poem still has three lines, but the first line has five words, the second line has three words, and the third line has five words again.

I chose this latter form to write my poem. Today I give you a Septet of Lunes. Try your hand at it and share it in the comments. I look forward to reading your take on the lune.

dinner on the deck

the cardinals always come--
strutting red coats,
snapping seeds in a single crunch.

the dark eyed junco hops
tentatively to feed,
nervously glancing side to side

the chickadees flit over lightly
with great decorum
landing lightly on the feeder.

sparrows hide in the bushes
waiting their turn,
hanging out in patient packs.

the house finch dines together
with the others--
sparrows, chickadee, cardinal and junco.

when the blue jay plows
in to feed,
the sea of birds part;

but the noisy starlings arrival
clears everyone out--
iridescent bullies chasing away friends.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Who Am I?

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Thanks to Lorenzo Nucci @lorenzonuccipe for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/VrfGS6S86uo

On a day when I just don’t know what to write, these are the words that come to me.

Some days I am quite certain I know the answer to the owl’s question, but other days I am no so sure.

I am always me.

True to myself.

Essentially me in every year and place.

But sometimes I hide in plain sight so no one can see the me I wish to be when I’m all alone.

Who Am I?

Today I heard an owl
Singing in the summer trees
Such a plaintive cry had he
the branches bent in the breeze
I searched the trees high and low
my heart broke to hear him sing,

Who, who am I, oh who am I?
Who, who am I, oh who am I?

I know a single moment
Cannot define my story
But this entailed glory
of bird, flight, and song for me
Whittled words on my heart’s wall
that always will bear my name—

Who, who am I, oh who am I?
Who, who am I, oh who am I?

—draft by Carla Jeanne

Basil and Bits of Wisdom

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Photograph: Shutterstock

We are planting a garden again. I see all the little things I have missed. The wonder of growing and eating your own food.

I’m thinking about all of this as Evan is about to venture off on his first ever camping trip with his school class. They are sixth graders now, and they will stay three days at a beautiful campground inside the Sleep Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

I know they are well-planned. I know his teacher is diligent and careful, but still I worry about all the things mothers do. He will be sleeping solo in his tent for the first time ever.

I started this poem a year ago and today, thinking about my own baby bird, it seemed the right day for reworking and finishing it.

I know it will all be ok. I know my baby bird needs to test his wings and fly, so a-camping he will go. But in the meantime, I’ll pray away the murder of crows.

Put the basil in the oil

and simmer gently. Breathe in
the rich aroma of earth and
life beckoning. I reckon
I’ll stop a while and savor the scent.

While I waited, the garden
started to green; flowers
popped up on strawberry plants;
and the bumble bees buzzed

around blooming flower pots.
Deck sweeping becomes my
new daily chore—helicopter
seed pods, my arch rival. But

the scent is right for mid-spring
and a robin has built its nest
atop the back porch light. She
guards her eggs carefully from

the fence post, flying at anyone
who dares to walk too close.
Most mothers are alike, you know,
let a stranger even look too long

or wander dangerously close,
and you’ll see us fly off
with beaks pointing like a sword,
dive bombing the noted offender.

But what if the offender
looks like a bird?
That’s the real danger—
Crows can be tricky.

My son told me that the murder
of crows are back again
this year in Chicago. Seems to me
a fitting thing for this year.

So what about that murder
of tricky crows? Well, doesn’t
that just muddy the waters?
Bring on the mud daubers I say,

because they muck around
building their nest from spittle
and dirt, never bothering anyone
unless provoked, and then,

oh! Oh and then those daubers
reveal the truth in the saying,
“Float like a butterfly
sting like a bee!”

Basil and gardens and earthy scents;
birds raising families the best way
they know and murderous crows
ruthlessly cutting them down.

What shall I do with the madness?
When all I want is the bounty
of summer in the middle of drought—
in the middle of monsoon rains.

After the babies have hatched
and grown feathers of their own,
they fly up and over the garden wall
and into the wild open spaces.

The danger of crows prevails,
but I wonder how they will know
the rich aromas of life on earth
beckoning them to explore

I wonder how they will grow
and plant and rise up;
how they will be strong
and wary and yet somehow

wiser than those who came before?
Please dear God, let them
be wiser than those who came before.
Let them be wiser than I.

—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
A typical day of “outdoor” school in 2020-2021. He’s got his camping chair and backpack, lunch, and violin, and it’s all held together with carabiners—his favorite accessory.

What Did You Whisper to the Wind?

Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash

Today’s prompt was based on this poem by Claire Wahmanholm, which transforms the natural world into an unsettled dream-place. One way it does this is by asking questions – literally. The poem not only contains questions, but ends on a question. 

The challenge was to write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.

The Osprey

Today was the day, rising
early to head to the water.
Was that the grasses waving
good morning as we drove by?

Squinting against the sun shining,
who did I hear whistling
high-pitched and clear through the sky?
What bright sparkling caught my eye?

Whose nest was filled with littered bits —
brilliant twig jewels in morning light?
All at once I saw them coming 
fast and furious diving downward flight

orienting with the wind, floating 
on air, streaking like lightning
hunting by high dive, plucking fish
like cherries from the fresh water.

Head buried underwater, tucking
talons back, gripping their wriggling
prey on upward ascent. Tell me,
what do you whisper to the wind?

--A Draft Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What is your favorite memory in nature?

The Hummingbird

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Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@candiscamera2019

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” —Vincent Van Gogh

I am working hard to find the beauty in everyday life, but it isn’t always an easy task. Sometimes life is just hard. Or discouraging. Or dangerous, or disastrous.

So I am grateful to my friend the hummingbird who reminds me to drink in each moment.

the hummingbird

the hummingbird comes
to our little red feeder
feasting on nectar
from plastic flowers,

sipping sweet juice
through her straw-like beak.
never sitting still,
yet present —

cyclic and reliable
as the seasons —
she reminds me
to drink in beauty.

-a Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What reminds you to be still and enjoy each moment?

NaPoWrMo 2021 Day 24

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Little Wonder Himself –
Twelve never looked so good!

Today’s prompt was a fun one. I had to find a factual article about an animal. I needed to go through the article and replace the name of the animal with something else and then rearrange and edit into a poem.

I chose an article in National Geography on sandhill cranes and replaced “sandhill crane”with “middle schooler”.

Middle School and More

The sound that signals spring
more than any other sound
is the rattling, staccato calls
of gangly middle schoolers

winging their way into class.
Sitting shivering amid
the chickweed, dandelion greens,
and residual remains

of sedge grasses, I find them
listening intently to gossip
as only pre-teens can do.
I notice how they call

to each other with a kind of
guttural growling texture
like a spoon raking rhythmically
over a metal washboard.

Spring brings all varieties
to the yard—the trumpeters,
the secretive, the seasoned
by siblings, the happy-go-lucky.

But the true spring showstopper
is the middle schooler who jogs
across the schoolyard, wraps his arms
around me and says, “Love you, mom.”

—A Draft Poem for my own Little Wonder with love from Mama

Let me know what you think in the comments below. 🤗

NaPoWriMo2021 Day 10

From the Heron Webcam
Blue Heron Spring

I remember the bright sunlight
reflecting off the sand, glinting
on the breakers, and landing
back on the shore. The blue heron

did not even notice me there
standing quietly in the sand.
She flew overhead with a stick
grasped tightly in her beak, and I

imagined her tucking the stick
neatly into her new nest perched
in the treetops. I imagine
her soft blue turquoise colored eggs

resting amid the sticks and down.
The surety of spring after
the bleakness of ash-grey winter
feels like hope ignited with love.

—a draft poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
Check out this cool video of highlights from the Great Blue Heron Cam

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day fifteen

Today’s prompt was to write a poem that incorporates the idea of doubles. it could be words or form or ideas. or a mix of everything.

the chorus

at precisely 7:10,

the lead singer began the warm up outside the bedroom window.

at 7:12,

it sounded more like a song–
a repeat after me song.

by 7:14,

each bird found her voice
and joined in one wild cacophony.

by 7:16,

the medley rang out full tilt,
and for five minutes, we listened in silence.

at 7:22,

she leaned back and laughed,
the birds singing in her smile.

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day One

#napowrimo2016

 It’s that time of year again. 

NaPoWriMo begins today (and that’s no April fools’ joke). To celebrate National Poetry Writing month, every day for a month there is a poetry writing prompt. The challenge is to write one poem every day for the whole month.
Today, the challenge was to write a lune. This is a sort of English-language haiku. While the haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count, the lune is a three-line poem with a 5-3-5 syllable count. There’s also a variant based on word-count, instead of syllables count, where the poem still has three lines, but the first line has five words, the second line has three words, and the third line has five words again.

I chose this latter form to use for my poem today. 

   (Photo credit: Tracy Kaye Photography)

dinner on the deck

the cardinals always come–
strutting red coats,
snapping seeds in a single crunch.

the dark eyed junco hops
tentatively to feed,
nervously glancing side to side.

the chickadees flit over gently
with great decorum
landing lightly on the feeder.

sparrows hide in the bushes
waiting their turn,
hanging out in patient packs.

the house finch dines together
with the others–
sparrow, chickadee, cardinal and junco.

when the blue jay plows
in to feed,
the sea of birds part;

but the noisy starlings’ arrival
clears everyone out–
iridescent bullies chasing away friends.