Madness Poetry 2020

Hi and welcome to my Friday series the Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world, Fridays are known as Poetry Friday. You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

The Thinkier Trophy

I’m so excited to announce that I will be participating in Ed DeCaria’s, Madness Poetry competition beginning this Sunday March 8th! 64 Authletes (Writer athletes) will be competing against each other for the title of Poetry Gangster, and the grand prize Thinkier trophy pictured above.  Head over to Madness today and sign up to read, vote, and have fun!

The match up brackets mimic basketball’s March Madness brackets. The Authlete’s are provided a single vocabulary word (think SAT/GRE Vocab.) and must create a poem suitable for children, within a defined character limit (Not Easy!).

Ed has the voting divided into three sections: the authlete vote, the student vote, and the community vote. We as writers get to vote all throughout the competition, even if we lose, and this vote carries some extra weight. The student vote comes from schools that have signed up their classrooms to read, and vote on the poetry entries. The student vote also carries heavy weight considering the poems have to be kid friendly. The community vote consists of everyone else who chooses to sign up to read, and vote for their choice of best poem (that means you). The voting is open for two days, at which time everyone can vote, and comment on their favorite poems. The winner then proceeds to the next round. With each round the authletes are cut by 1/2 until only one winner is left standing. Last year’s winner was Lori Degman, whose poems were a delight week after week.

This is my third year entering and I am so excited, and nervous. The talent is amazing! So if you’re a teacher, get your class signed up, if you’re a reader, then get yourself signed up so can you can vote, and if you’re an authlete, I wish you good luck!

Sincerely,

The Hairbag Poet (a.k.a Jean O’Connor for Madness Poetry)

The Hairbag Poet: Ode to Nurses

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

Poetry Friday roundup can be found at my juicy little universe here 

You can read about the history of this series here.

Florence Nightingale ministering to soldiers at Scutari (Public Domain).

Over the past few months I have been readying myself for change. I finally finished grad school, earning my Master’s Degree in Nursing Education, and was offered a position to teach at a University not far from my home. Though I could not be happier about this new opportunity, I am also sad to be leaving my nurse friends in the PACU. I have been a bedside nurse for the past 30 years!  It has been an amazing career, and I have been lucky enough to have worked with some of the smartest, funniest, kindest, crudest, caring, and craziest people I know.

I’ve decided to write this weeks poem, as an ode to nurses, in dedication to all the wonderful nurses I have had the honor to work beside.

An ode is “A formal, often ceremonious lyric poem that addresses and often celebrates a person, place, thing, or idea” (Poetry foundation, 2019). There are several styles of writing odes including: The Greek or Pindaric ode, Horatian odes, Sapphic odes, and English Romantic odes.

The Pindaric or Greek ode (552-442 B.C.E. from the poet Pindar), was a public poem set to music celebrating athletic victories (Poetry foundation, 2019). These poems contain three stanza formats: strophe, antistrophe, and epode. “In Greek drama, the strophe (turning) signified the first section of a choral ode, and was recited by the Chorus as it moved across the stage. The Chorus’s movement back to its original side was accompanied by the antistrophe. Finally, the Chorus stood still to chant the epode, the final section of the ode, which used a new metrical structure” (Poetry foundation, 2019).

I could relate to the Pindaric ode, because a 12 hour nursing shift trumps any olympic race, and when it’s over you relish in the glory of the finish line.

Ode to Nurses

A coven of angels
led by lighted lantern,
through dark humor,
we gather,
acutely aware of the subtleties of
life and death.

Dusk turns to Dawn,
and Dawn to Dusk,
with no witness
but each other
to the graveness
of our charges.

On our darkest days
we go home silent
to our families,
sharing those moments
only
with each other.

Camaraderie shared over
coffee and cocktails,
Our wins and losses
scored in our hearts
forever.

Now it’s on to University…

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

 

The Hairbag Poet

The Hairbag Poet-Goodbye Cliff

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

 

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

Poetry Friday round up is at My juicy little universe with a focus on climate change here.

Though my poem doesn’t focus on climate change, it does focus on how one person can make a difference and affect lives for the better.

This weeks post is a sad one for me.  A coworker of mine recently passed away.  This hit our team pretty hard. His name was Cliff. Cliff was a great guy! He was amazing at his job, and always willing to help anyone solve any problem. Cliff and I were both going back to school for our masters degree and Cliff was always a huge help to me whenever I needed any technical help with the computer, or designing a project. He never hesitated to help when I would ask.

Cliff was a father, a husband to be, and a veteran. He served his family, his country, and his community with such dignity. Cliff always seemed to have a smile on his face.  In his last and final moments Cliff had pulled over to help two vehicles that were on the side of the highway, and was struck and killed by a third vehicle. But in his spirit of service, even after his death, he continues to help others as his organs now breath life into a new generation. Words can’t express how much Cliff will be missed in our hospital family, but I tried a few anyway.

This week, I am dedicating this pantoum poem to you Cliff.

Thank you for your service!

Today I fly my flag half-staff.
I’ve lost you dear old friend,
but most of all I’ll miss your laugh,
My tears I can’t suspend.

I’ve lost you dear old friend
the time feels like it just stands still.
My tears I can’t suspend,
I don’t see how this is god’s will.

The time feels like it just stands still
I flourish in despair.
I don’t see how this is god’s will,
I bow my head in prayer.

I flourish in despair,
Today I fly my flag half-staff.
I bow my head in prayer,
but most of all I’ll miss your laugh.

God Bless you Cliff!

The Hairbag Poet

 

The Hairbag Poet-Madness Round 2

Hi and welcome to my series The Hairbag Poet

As you all know I am participating in the Madness Poetry competition. Round 2 starts today and I am happy to report I will be participating. Round 1 was a close call! I was up against a wonderful challenger whose poem was so beautiful I would have voted for it myself, if she wasn’t up against me. So head on over here pour a cup of coffee or tea, relax, and read some fantastic poetry.

Madness Poetry
Ed DeCaria

And don’t forget to wish me luck!

The Hairbag Poet (a.k.a. Jean O’Connor)

The Hairbag Poet: Madness Poetry 2019-Round 1

Madness Poetry
Ed DeCaria

The madness has begun! Today is Round 1 over at Madness Poetry.  My challenge word is Reliant! My poem is written, and by some miracle I was able to stay within the 500 character requirements (which was not easy).

So please head on over here, to read some really fun poetry, and vote for your favorite authlete.

Oh, and don’t forget to wish me luck!

The Hairbag Poet (a.k.a. Jean O’Connor)

The Hairbag Poet: Madness Poetry 2019

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here

Friday’s poetry roundup can be found at Linda Baie’s site here.

The Thinkier Trophy

I’m so excited to announce that once again I will be competing in Ed DeCaria’s  2019 March Madness Poetry competition beginning March 3rd!  64 Authletes (Writer athletes) will be competing against each other for the title, and the grand prize: The Thinkier trophy pictured above.  Head over today and sign up to read, vote, and have fun!

The match up brackets mimic basketball’s March Madness brackets. The Authletes are provided a single vocabulary word (think SAT/GRE Vocab.) and must create a poem suitable for children, within a defined character limit (Not Easy!).

Ed has the voting divided into three sections: the authlete vote, the student vote, and the community vote. We as writers get to vote all throughout the competition, even if we lose, and this vote carries some extra weight. The student vote comes from schools that have signed up their classrooms to read, and vote on the poetry entries. The student vote also carries heavy weight considering the poems have to be kid friendly. The community vote consists of everyone else who chooses to sign up to read, and vote for their choice of best poem. The voting is open for two days, at which time everyone can vote, and comment on their favorite poems. The winner then proceeds to the next round. With each round the authletes are cut by 1/2 until only one winner is left standing.

This is my second year entering and I am so excited, and nervous. There is so much great talent participating. I will be writing under my proper name: Jean O’Connor

Wish me luck!

The Hairbag Poet

The Hairbag Poet-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

Tara Smith at Going to Walden is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

I know it may sound weird but I often treasure the time I spend in my car, waiting, while my children are at their activities. I call this my “found time.” I use it to read, write or do homework depending on my mood, or my deadlines. Last night, while waiting for my daughter’s swim practice to end, I decided to read. I had been doing some research on female poets and had begun researching Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Although I had known of Millay’s work, I didn’t know much about Millay the women, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the cold and empty parking lot I was sitting in, outside of the pool my daughter was swimming in, just happened to be on the campus of Millay’s alma mater, Vassar College, and the inspiration for her Drama in 5 acts “The Lamp and the Bell.” Millay wrote this play for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Vassar College Alumni Association, and dedicated the play to members of the Class of 1917. It was performed at Vassar in 1921 with an all female cast. You can read the play here.

Vassar College

Millay was a poet who garnered success and fame during her lifetime. Her career launched at the early age of 20 when she won recognition in a poetry contest for her poem Renascence. Though she was born into poverty, a wealthy fan paid her way to Vassar College. It was at Vassar that Millay explored her sexuality and her writing. In 1923 she received the Pulitzer-Prize for poetry for The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.  Though Millay was world renown, she eventually married, and settled in the town of Austerlitz, NY, on a 700-acre farm named Steepletop. She died at the age of 58 after suffering a cardiac arrest, and falling down the stairs inside her home. Her work speaks for itself.

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver

BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

“Son,” said my mother,

   When I was knee-high,

“You’ve need of clothes to cover you,

   And not a rag have I.

 

“There’s nothing in the house

   To make a boy breeches,

Nor shears to cut a cloth with

   Nor thread to take stitches.

 

“There’s nothing in the house

   But a loaf-end of rye,

And a harp with a woman’s head

   Nobody will buy,”

   And she began to cry.

 

That was in the early fall.

   When came the late fall,

“Son,” she said, “the sight of you

   Makes your mother’s blood crawl,—

 

“Little skinny shoulder-blades

   Sticking through your clothes!

And where you’ll get a jacket from

   God above knows.

 

“It’s lucky for me, lad,

   Your daddy’s in the ground,

And can’t see the way I let

   His son go around!”

   And she made a queer sound.

 

That was in the late fall.

   When the winter came,

I’d not a pair of breeches

   Nor a shirt to my name.

 

I couldn’t go to school,

   Or out of doors to play.

And all the other little boys

   Passed our way.

 

“Son,” said my mother,

   “Come, climb into my lap,

And I’ll chafe your little bones

   While you take a nap.”

 

And, oh, but we were silly

   For half an hour or more,

Me with my long legs

   Dragging on the floor,

 

A-rock-rock-rocking

   To a mother-goose rhyme!

Oh, but we were happy

   For half an hour’s time!

 

But there was I, a great boy,

   And what would folks say

To hear my mother singing me

   To sleep all day,

   In such a daft way?

 

Men say the winter

   Was bad that year;

Fuel was scarce,

   And food was dear.

 

A wind with a wolf’s head

   Howled about our door,

And we burned up the chairs

   And sat on the floor.

 

All that was left us

   Was a chair we couldn’t break,

And the harp with a woman’s head

   Nobody would take,

   For song or pity’s sake.

 

The night before Christmas

   I cried with the cold,

I cried myself to sleep

   Like a two-year-old.

 

And in the deep night

   I felt my mother rise,

And stare down upon me

   With love in her eyes.

 

I saw my mother sitting

   On the one good chair,

A light falling on her

   From I couldn’t tell where,

 

Looking nineteen,

   And not a day older,

And the harp with a woman’s head

   Leaned against her shoulder.

 

Her thin fingers, moving

   In the thin, tall strings,

Were weav-weav-weaving

   Wonderful things.

 

Many bright threads,

   From where I couldn’t see,

Were running through the harp-strings

  Rapidly,

 

And gold threads whistling

   Through my mother’s hand.

I saw the web grow,

   And the pattern expand.

 

She wove a child’s jacket,

   And when it was done

She laid it on the floor

   And wove another one.

 

She wove a red cloak

   So regal to see,

“She’s made it for a king’s son,”

   I said, “and not for me.”

   But I knew it was for me.

 

She wove a pair of breeches

   Quicker than that!

She wove a pair of boots

   And a little cocked hat.

 

She wove a pair of mittens,

   She wove a little blouse,

She wove all night

   In the still, cold house.

 

She sang as she worked,

   And the harp-strings spoke;

Her voice never faltered,

   And the thread never broke.

   And when I awoke,—

 

There sat my mother

   With the harp against her shoulder

Looking nineteen

   And not a day older,

 

A smile about her lips,

   And a light about her head,

And her hands in the harp-strings

   Frozen dead.

 

And piled up beside her

   And toppling to the skies,

Were the clothes of a king’s son,

   Just my size.

Millay is also most famously known for coining the phrase “My candle burns at both ends…” from Figs from Thistles: First Fig.

Figs from Thistles: First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
   It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
   It gives a lovely light!

(Poetryfoundation.org, 2019)

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

 

The Hairbag Poet