Horace Mann #ThoreaulyInspired #NPM #NaPoWriMo #NationalPoetryMonth #ProgressivePoem

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Each day during April, I will write a poem-ish piece inspired by a word or phrase mined from the pages of Henry David Thoreau’s jewel-laden journals. I have left my challenge open so that the poems may take any form — haiku, free verse, borrowed line, blackout –and who knows which direction they will go in.

Day #25: Horace Mann

Upon the esker's edge

A peek at my process

On April 25, 1861, Thoreau wrote in his journal, “Horace Mann brings me apparently a pigeon hawk. The two middle tail-feathers are not tipped with white and are pointed almost as a woodpecker’s.” (The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Journal XIV: August 1, 1860 – November 3, 1861, Chapter VI. 1861, p. 338)

You may have noticed that the inspiration for my poem today is Thoreau’s reference to Horace Mann, yet he does not appear in my poem. I am continuously amazed by who Thoreau either knew personally or corresponded with throughout his life. Horace Mann is one such acquaintance. His list of friends also included fellow Concordians and writers Louisa May Alcott and her father, Bronson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and, most famously, Ralph Waldo Emerson. They all lay in rest together at the top of what is now known as “Authors Ridge” in the bucolic Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts, which Thoreau was hired to survey.

Sleepy Hollow connects to several trails in Concord that we frequently walk. Every once in a while I stop to visit the authors, and it was one such visit several years ago that inspired today’s poem. It’s been living in my subconscious for quite some time and I keep meaning to put pen to paper. Seeing the reference to Mann nudged me in that direction today, and I stopped by the ridge this morning for some fresh photos. “Garden of the living” was borrowed from Emerson’s remarks at the opening of Sleepy Hollow in 1855. “The pond below” refers to manmade Cat’s Pond, which was again surveyed by Thoreau.

And now for…

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Our Poetry Friday family has launched the 8th annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem originally organized by author/poet, Irene Latham. Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche is taking over this year as the organizer. Many members of the #PoetryFriday family have signed up to provide a line for the 2020 poem, and yesterday it was my turn.

Here’s where things stand with our sweet poem’s adventure thus far.

Sweet violets shimmy, daffodils sway
along the wiregrass path to the lake.
I carry a rucksack of tasty cakes
and a banjo passed down from my gram.

I follow the tracks of deer and raccoon
and echo the call of a wandering loon.
A whispering breeze joins in our song
and night melts into a rose gold dawn.

Deep into nature’s embrace, I fold.
Promise of spring helps shake the cold.
Hints of sun lightly dapple the trees
calling out the sleepy bees.

Leaf-litter crackles…I pause. Twig snaps.
I gasp! Shudder! Breathe out. Relax…
as a whitetail doe comes into view.
She shifts and spotted fawns debut.

We freeze. My green eyes and her brown
Meet and lock. Time slows down.
I scatter the cakes, backing away
Safely exiting this strange ballet.

I continue the path that winds down to the lake.
Missing my breakfast for beauty’s sake.
But wait, what’s that delicious smell?
Something familiar, I know so well.

Today it’s Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s turn over at The Poem Farm. She has offered up two intriguing and delicious options for Dani to choose from tomorrow

Here’s the itinerary for the final days of the Progressive Poem. I don’t want it to end!

1 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
2 Irene Latham at 
Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, 
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at 
7 Catherine Flynn at 
Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at 
Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at 
Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at 
Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at 
Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at 
A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at 
Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at 
Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at 
A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at 
Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at 
My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at
 A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at 
Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at 
Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at 
Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at 
To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth, 
24 Christie Wyman at 
Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at 
The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at 
Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at 
Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Bigi at TBD
29 Fran Haley at 
lit bits and pieces
Michelle Kogan

And lastly, I am also excited to share that I have joined the Teach Write blogging team and will be writing a Poetry Ponderings blog post for them every month. My first offering, Finding Your Poetry Secret Decoder Ring, is now live and May’s post, about inviting poetry into your classroom, will be up soon. And my blogging teammate, Paula Bourque, offers up Quick Write Sparks to Kindle the Poet In All of Us for her first Think & Ink post in honor of National Poetry Month. I hope you will take a peek at all of the posts by the Teach Write team!

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