Friday, October 1, 2021

Look First. Wonder Next.

Shaggy Parasols in Our Yard
Photo by Amy LV

Students - This is a very small poem. Perhaps it is a haiku. Maybe it is just a little nature poem. Whatever it is, it is a bit of writing about one thought I had this week. 

My husband Mark and I were walking through our yard looking at the mushrooms of the day. These shaggy parasols (Isn't the name great? Mark always teaches me the names.) were hanging out underneath some spruces in our yard. Sometimes they grow in rings, and people call these "fairy rings." It is thought that fairies or elves or pixies dance in such places. The ones in our yard were all lined up. My first thought was that they looked like they were waiting together, like children at school, or adults at the grocery store.

I kept thinking and wondering about those mushrooms all week.

My friend, poet, artist, and blogger Robyn Hood Black is a haiku expert, and she generously shares a lot about haiku here at her website and blog. I wanted to write a small haiku-ish poem about these mushrooms, and so I turned to Robyn. One resource she shares that I read and found very helpful and inspiring is The Bare Bones School of Haiku by the late Jane Reichhold.

At times, it feels good to write with just a few words. At these times, the tricky part is choosing just the right ones. Considering the mushrooms, what I have learned about poetry, and what I have learned from Robyn and Jane, here are a few things took into my brain as I wrote these few lines:
  • A poem can be short.
  • A poem does not need to rhyme.
  • A poem does not need capital letters.
  • A poem does not need punctuation.
  • A poem can include an observation.
  • A poem can include a thought or question.
  • A poem/haiku can have two parts. (This poem includes a statement and a question.)
  • A poem's title can give extra information. (If a reader doesn't know what shaggy parasols are, the title will help.)]
  • A poem can play with sound in small ways. (The short 'u' sound in the title repeats.)
I welome you to play with any of these ideas this week. For starters, you might do these three things:

Go outside.

Look at something.

Think and wonder about it.

Write a poem with those two parts - your observation and your thinking/wondering.

Be free in your writing!

And remember: do not eat mushrooms that you find. Only mycologists (mushroom experts) can do this without getting sick...or even dying.

Close Up of Shaggy Parasols
Photo by Amy LV

Catherine is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Reading to the Core with an abecedarian about writing poetry. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.


  1. Now I've learned something! I thought "Shaggy Parasols" was your poetic name for these mushrooms, but no, some other long ago poet-scientist aptly named them! Thank you for sharing what was in your brain while you wrote (lots in your brain made for a very small and perfect poem!), and for your advice, which I will take: "Go outside. Look at something. Think and wonder about it. Write a poem with those two parts - your observation and your thinking/wondering. Be free in your writing!"

  2. I wonder if these mushrooms are the same as the "shaggy mane" mushroom. I had a slew of them in my yard one year that looked like bananas, and I've been waiting unsuccessfully for them to return.

  3. Yes. Shaggy Parasols is a wonderful name. It reminds me of the fringe-y parasols of the 1890s or so.

  4. I live in a predominately Asian community and around here, folks use parasols in the sun. Maybe those parasols are waiting for the sun to set. I love that they stayed in your mind and you asked Robyn about a haiku about them! 💕

  5. This week on "This Photo wants to be a Poem" my photo prompt was naked ladies. I love how nature has these inspiring and poetic names. I asked my students to choose one of the flower names to use in a haiku. You can see their responses here:

  6. Thank you for this inspiring post, Amy! The past few weeks have been full of stress and worry (school-related) and I haven't been able to be as present to wonder as I usually am. Thank you for reminding me that it's really just as simple as walking around my yard.

  7. The mushrooms have been delightful this year and their names are always intriguing. I appreciate the haiku tips and the reminder of the artistry that goes into a small poem. Thanks for sharing your wonders!

  8. As Mary Lee did, I thought you had dubbed them "Shaggy Parasols." How delightful that that's actually their name. Delightful, too, is your poetic nod to them.

  9. This poem, I observe, would have been wholly different if you had allowed the question mark, which would be usual. Without it, we leave the poem feeling not so much curiosity as a certainty that THEY know what they are waiting for and it is not for us mere humans to understand. But that might just be me!

  10. What a delightful poem Amy, "what are they waiting for, indeed! And their name is so special. I love all the info you gave around the poem too—and that close-up pic is perfect, thanks!

  11. Finding the perfect words for a short poem can often be so tricky. It feels like there's a little extra pressure to get it right. I enjoyed reading "mushroom wondering" and all your reminders about poetry. (Maybe those are lines of liberation.) Thanks for sharing your inspiration and process.

    On a funny note, I took a bike ride today and along the trail - you guessed it - a line of mushrooms. I took a few pictures though I'm not sure I captured the entire line of them.

  12. Amy! I am sorry to be so late to this beautiful parasol and poem party. We have been in and out of town all month and I obviously dropped a ball or two. Thank you for the kind mention, and I LOVE pondering what those mushrooms are waiting for! What wonderful comments from everyone, too! XO