NaPoWriMo 27 – We Still Hope

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a poem based on a photo prompt. Several photos were included as optional prompts; I chose the snowy city scene because the rampant snow of the polar vortex had such an impact on my life this past winter.





We Still Hope

by Jan Brown


we still fret

though winter’s gone

scattered detritus

a harsh reminder

like the shrapnel strewn

in bloody fields of war


we still wonder

what’s become of the leaves

trees bud

but do not blossom

like a growing child

but stunted


we still worry

how the Earth will heal

though welcome, spring’s new warmth

is not enough

like a candle flickering

before it dies


we still hope

spring flora will bloom

summer fires won’t burn

winter snows will be kinder

like seasons of our youth

in fading memory



Even the ducks….

Today, it is finally above freezing, the sky is snow-free, and it looks like it will stay that way. My heart is doing a happy dance!

However, the ducks who winter on Lake Michigan are not dancing, or even waddling much these days. Even the wild punk rocker of ducks, the red-breasted merganser, has succumbed to the frigid winter.

red breasted merganser by peter massas cc by sa 20

Photo by Peter Massas – Creative Commons License – CC BY-SA 2.0

Odd as it may seem, red-breasted mergansers and white-winged scoter ducks fly south every winter, from their homes in Alaska and Canada to the cold and snowy southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. This is their version of Florida, their sunny winter home. But this year it was not so sunny. This was our fourth coldest and third snowiest winter ever in recorded history. Red-breasted mergansers are built for cold weather; their beaks are even longer than their Mohawk hairdos. Their beaks are like ice picks, and under normal circumstances they can poke through thin ice and dive for small fish. But this year, the ice is too thick and the ducks have been starving.  White-winged scoters, normally one of the lake’s largest ducks, have been stricken as well.

Public Domain Photo : U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - National Digital Library<br />

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – National Digital Library – Public Domain Photo

By the time human residents ventured to the frozen lake and noticed the struggling birds, it was too late. Some very optimistic folks threw fish to the ducks, hoping they would feed. But for most, it was too late. They couldn’t rebuild their all-important fat reserves. They were too thin, too weak and too cold. Now they are being found on the surface of the icy lake, lifeless.

I am beginning to feel lucky–or should I say blessed–that I made it to the other side of this awful, frigid winter.

Perhaps because of my more-than-adequate fat reserves….

For more information:

Chicago Tribune: Ice on Lake Michigan proving fatal to waterfowl

CBS Chicago: The four worst winters ever

In the Warming House

ice skates iclipart

skates laced tight

clumsy ankles

turning inward

straining to fall


penetrates my legs

like shards of ice

in the freezing mist

I breathe the paralyzing cold

and gasp for air

failing to exhale


just one week later

I beg to go ice skating

remembering only

the glow of friendship

and steaming cocoa

in the warming house

cocoa iclipart


Lonely Souls

The climate is warming, and the snow–what very little there has been–does not stick to the ground, the trees or the windows. Even so, the damp cold surrounds us and lets us know that it is winter. I hope that you are blessed with friends and family to keep you warm.

This poem is part of the “Winter Haiku and Other Oddities” collection, which you can find on the Poetry Collections page using the menu above.