Wednesday, April 1, 2015

whoo-hoo it's here!

It's National Poetry Month and the annual poetry party has begun!  There are so many great projects going on in the Kidlitosphere that I'm going to rely on Jama's round-up post for the definitive list.  I'm already scheduled to take part in two projects (see here), but that leaves quite a few days for me to play along with other challenges and enjoyments throughout April.  I'm thrilled that my Spring Break falls in a way that allows some extra time, so starting on Friday, April 2,  I'll challenge myself to visit at least 3 blog projects each day through April 12.  Here are some of the places I'll be visiting...

Irene Latham at Live Your Poem has recruited 30 poets for her fourth annual Kidlit Progressive Poem and I'm excited to be one of them. . Here’s the full schedule of participating bloggers:

1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Irene’s personal poetry project at Live Your Poem is ARTSPEAK! She’ll be writing daily poems inspired by the online collections of the National Gallery of Art, and I might join her in exphrastasy!
At Author Amok, Laura Shovan is hosting “What Are You Wearing?” — a full month featuring poetry about clothes. I'll be a Monday guest blogger on April 13, sharing a favorite clothing-related poem with a paragraph or two of introduction.

Strap yourselves in your seats and get ready for an emotional roller coaster at A Year of Reading! Mary Lee Hahn’s project is called PO-EMotions. She will be writing a poem each day that evokes an emotion or uses an emotion word in the title or body of the poem. I'll join her in some of these, and she’ll also be cross-posting at her personal poetry blog, Poetrepository.
Jone MacCulloch will be sharing student poetry daily at Check It Out. She’s also once again doing her annual Poetry Postcard Project, where Silver Star ES students send out illustrated poetry postcards to anyone requesting them. Sign up HERE if you’d like to receive one. This is a wonderful project — seven years running so far — I always enjoy receiving my postcard each April.

At Deo Writer, Jone is hosting her first month-long writing challenge. She’ll be playing with poems that have something to do with nature and double “ll’s,” (like in her last name). I'm definitely in on this one--I love starting with one word!
Diane Mayr at Random Noodling presents Ekphrastic Mondays! Beginning April 6, she will post an original poem inspired by a work of art. 
At Today’s Little Ditty, Michelle Heindenrich Barnes is spotlighting 2015 Newbery Medal Winner Kwame Alexander as her Ditty of the Month Club special guest! She’s kicking things off with an awesome interview, giveaway, and an invitation to write a poem (or poems) this month in response to Kwame’s ditty challenge. Looking forward to this one too!

Over at Poetry for Children, Sylvia Vardell is celebrating the just released Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015) by featuring short videos of children reading some of the poems from the book.

Over at The Poem Farm, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is playing a game called Sing That Poem! Each day she’ll post a new original poem with the meter of a well-known song. Folks can print a PDF and try to match each day’s poem with the song it was inspired by. I'm starting to feel a little drunk with all the possibilities here!
Linda Baie at TeacherDance will be doing a lot of writing this month. In addition to participating in the a number of other challenges, she's writing a haiku or other related form every day.
April Halprin Wayland and her trusty canine muse Eli will be feeding us a PPP (previously published poem) every day all month long.
Over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia Stohr-Hunt will be focusing on poetic forms: “I want to shine a spotlight on forms other than strictly rhyming (though rhyme is perfectly fine) for the elementary and middle school classroom. I love rhyme just as much as the next person, but I worry that much of the poetry parents select for kids and teachers select for classrooms is chosen simply because it rhymes."  Let's hear it for Poetry with a capital P!
Liz Steinglass will also be writing a poem every day this month. Her theme this year is items hiding in or on a desk.  Hmmm...lots of possibilities here.
Laura Purdie Salas will be sharing tips on presenting poetry to students at Writing the World for Kids. She’ll also include a poem that is relevant to each daily tip.
Travis Jonker will be posting his annual gallery of book spine poems at 100 Scope Notes. There’s still time to submit a book spine cento — he’ll be collecting them throughout the month. Tips and details here.
At Alphabet Soup, Jama will be featuring some very cool newly published poetry picture books. And she's serving up a little extra treat: HotTEAs of Children’s Poetry.

So...let the festival begin!

Friday, March 27, 2015


Happy Poetry Friday to all, but most especially to me:
--happy because I am about to meet my modest but important goal of writing 4 new poems (and posting 5) each week this month using some interesting, muscular words;
--happy because some of my favorite poetry friends have joined in tackling this challenge with me;
--happy because I've gotten to know some new poetry friends quite well through the four weeks; and
--happy because, well, words and poems and goals and friends!

I CHose the word "quenCH" for this last day of the CHallenge because I actually thought my desire to write very regularly might be quenched by the end of four weeks.  More fool me.

Whetted (a jump rope rhyme for poets)

I like coffee
I like tea
I like a word
that tickles me

I like soda
I like juice
I like to rhyme
like Dr. Seuss.

I like lemonade
I like milk
I like people of the
poetry ilk

I like cocoa
I like pop
I'm still thirsty
I can't stop

I like water
drink and drink
Am I quenched?

Well, what do YOU think?

HM 2015
all rights reserved

I'm so excited to share all the last poems from this just-about-a-month of challenge, and I'll spend some time this weekend sorting and analyzing all our work from the month (to use Ed DeCaria's word, "poemetrics").  And of course I'll try to determine if there is one "StretCHiest MarCHer" who contributed the most poems, since I have promised a prize to that person.  But I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to draw a name, or send out several prizes, because there have been some thoroughly faithful MarCHers along with me.

In the meantime, I'm thrilled to say that I need not go thirsty into April, because I'll be participating in two National Poetry Month projects this year.  First, I'll follow MarCHers Jone and Joy by adding the 3rd line next Friday of this year's Progressive Poem, curated by Irene Latham.  This project is always an interesting experiment in collective composition.

And second, I'll contribute a guest post to Laura Shovan's April Project, "What Are You Wearing to National Poetry Month?"  My piece on clothing and its meanings will go up on Monday, April 13, and as a true student of what we wear and when and why, I am inexpressibly excited about this series.

And now, without further ado, the final contributions to my Happy Birthday Forward...MarCH Poetry CHallenge!

Mary Lee is drinking up someone special today.  Is her Po-emotion "relief"?


Like the relief of water
after salty popcorn
your smile
my thirsty spirit.

Like a bucket of water
on the campfire embers
your calm
my spicy temper.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

Charles is doing his drinking in the library (and wherever reading is possible):


I quench my restlessness by breaking
Open published documents of what
It means to be alive, then watering
My curiosity with images and words.

(c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

Diane's offering today is one of my favorites of her consistently fine work this month:

Pushing Buttons

Alone and stuck for
hours in a bus station.
Pushing buttons on
the only vending machine
that is still plugged in.
Pushing buttons to dispense
cloyingly sweet root beer
that doesn't quench thirst.
Pushing buttons on the
coin return that refuses
to return my change.
Pushing buttons to clear
the memory of the buttons
we both pushed last night.

Carol returns us to winter for some last whisperings of that which, although we may resist, only winter can bring:

Majestic Winter, you have quenched my thirst for stillness,
filled my space with peaceful white drapings
and satisfied my unquenchable desire for positivity.
Amidst your frequent flurries, dusty landscapes,
and howling winds, you illuminated the night
with sparkling snow and surprised many daylight hours.
I nod my head in gratitude for your sweep of grandeur
over the land and your sense of  wonderment  from
tempest storms to the gentle cascading of snowflakes.
With joyful exuberance, I dedicate a visual gallery of 
unique artistic expressions, Winter Whisperings,
soon to be unveiled to all who recall your beauty. 

Kate is outdoors with the rain today, quenching seedly thirsts:

Time of yearing,
out back clearing,
springtime makes us glad.

Digging, hoeing,
garden rowing,
working with my dad.

Packet reading,
garden seeding,
cover them with dirt.

Getting hotter,
turn on water,
now we quench their thirst.

—Kate Coombs, 2015

And Donna scores again with a masterful monorhyme:

What to Say and How to Say It

Shovel divulges, “I’ll trench.”
Tired back stresses, “I’ll wrench.”
Waterfall gushes, “I’ll quench.”
Coach advises, “I’ll bench.”
Rain insinuates, “I’ll drench.”
Fist determines, “I’ll clench.”
Muscle man proclaims, “I’m hench!”
Skunk alerts us, “I’ve stench!”
La jeune fille dit, "I'm French."

--Donna JT Smith

It's greedy to ask for more, but you Poetry Friday visitors are very welcome to add your "quenCH" poem today too!  Jone herself has the round-up this week at Check It Out.  Do check it out--Jone announces her own April chaLLenge using words with double L's (oh glory), and she also has a post rounding up all the NPM projects going on in the Kidlitosphere.  A person could easily drink themself* above the legal limit for poetry consumption by the first day of Spring Break.  Bottoms up!

(*trying out the new nongenderspecific pronoun use)

OIK friday

This just in:  kindergarten found poem.

my fart food
is carrots.
my fart food
is tomatoes.
my fart food
is peas.

Can you guess the key word?

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Folks, the week has gone over the edge, not quite into the abyss but into freefall until I can catch my breath tomorrow afternoon, after STEM Night and about a hundred other things are sorted.  The best I can do right now is open the post, share the  perCH poems, and as yesterday keep my eye on the wonderfulness that you co-poets are bringing!

An Inflated Sense of Self

It’s a breathing meditation,
so I breathe.

I suck in oxygen cocktail and
blow my toes into berries
full of airy juice.
My knees balloon sweetly
into marshmallows.
I breathe into my behind and whoopee!
cushions of flotatious rubber pinkness
lift me off my chair.
I pinch open the valve of my navel
and blow up my belly.
I breathe into my spine:
I run it up the flagpole and every rib salutes.
The shoulders are hard, clenched tight:
I breathe in, and out and out again until
inflatable branches sprout around my ears
for the perching of exotic songbirds.
I blow down my arms which turn to ribbons
whipping and waving in a soft May gale.
I breathe into my own mouth and
the bellows of my lungs feed my tongue of flame;
I breathe through the top of my head
and my hair rises into
a creampuff crown of lightness.

When I am done breathing,
my chest and everything else
full of air,
I open my mouth to sing the great wonder
and it comes out

HM 2014
all rights reserved

Come perCH with us today on the branCHes of the PoeTree!

Charles is birdy and chatty too:

                                        THE MORNING NATTER

Perched upon wires
Under apricot skies,
Birds gossip about
Last night festivities.

(c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

Diane's is fishy and illustrated!

Donna's is birdy and beyond chatty:

Chickadee Perch

From his perch in the birch
The chickadee sings
In winters or summers,
But best of all springs.
When the robins are done
It's chickadee time
With back and forth banter
Their voices will chime.

"I am here, where are you?"
"I'm just over here."
"I don't see you yet, love!"
"I'm over here, dear."

"I'll hop over there then."
"I'll wait in this tree."
"I'll come and find you, My
Little Chickadee!"

Their chirping gets closer,
"Fee-bee, chick-a-dee";
One birch perch at a time,

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Carol's is a little like mine, a different kind of spiritual (did I mention that I wrote mine during a UU service?):

When the wings of fate
fly into your sight and
throw an obstacle in your way,
reach out to find an anchor
that will guide your day.
Focus on the positive
but don't delay.

Perspective is everything!
Reflect and see
in the great expanse
what life can be.

Adventures await
with twists and turns.
Pause, look, and discover. 
You will need to discern.
The path stretches on
so don't be mislead
when careening slopes miles ahead.

Listen in silence to
the sounds around.
Embrace the stillness
as you journey down.
Brave the unknown
as only you can.

With the wings of faith
and knowledge today
may you find your ultimate way.
But if you dive into snow 
as a misstep of flight.
Remember the goal
is to endure the plight.

Look to the heavens
for you will then see
perched in the mountaintops
the Spirit of the Dove
who guides our path
with understanding and love.

 Keep 'em coming, folks!.......And Mary Lee does, with an old one that marries bird and fish:


Cedar waxwings flocked,
curious about my casts.
Calm fly rod: bird perch.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


click here for the full experience
One of my favorite things about spring (among so very many) is that people drive with their windows open,  so you get to hear what they're listening to.

Snatches of Rhapsody

First warm days of driving
windows rolled down:
I catch
snatches of song,
muddles of melody,
hints of harmony
over engines
idling at the lights

I catch
booming basslines
dopplering down the highway,
horns echoing horns,
and sometimes even
with the windows up
I know what they're hearing
because I'm belting it too

HM 2015
all rights reserved

Can't wait to find out what everyone else is snatching at today!

Donna's up first today with a Gingery game--visit her blog to see the dog in question!  (I actually contemplated challenging you people to go a day without a dog, but I'm glad I reconsidered--we would have missed out on this.)

Snatch and Catch

Fish a tissue off her tongue - so many times that song is sung!
Snare a sneaker sneaked away - a never ending game to play!
Snatch my sock out of her teeth - and give it an RIP wreath!

       - This is just the game I play!  Please don’t take this stuff away!

Seize my towel, toss to clean - I don’t think I’m being mean!
Reclaim shirt, and now my boot - somehow they’re all seen as loot!
Confiscate that little screw - tucked in cheek to later chew!

        - I’m okay, I won’t get sick!  It’s really good stuff that I pick!

"Come", now "Sit", and "Drop it,  Pup" - Your "Snatch It" games are all washed up!
Your toys are all here in your bin-choose from here and we’ll both win!
No more snatching things from me-I'm catching on to your tricks, see!

        - These toys look good enough it’s true.  But they don’t smell a bit like you! 

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Charles went to the doggy route too.  At least his culprit is apologetic, unlike Ginger:


Fido snatches his snack from my fingertips,
“That’s not nice.” I say. “You know better.”    
He snorts, chews, swallows, then licks
My hand before letting out a soft bark.
I smile; scrub the back of his ears, whisper,
“Apology accepted.” 

(c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

Carol snatches courage from the jaws of claustrophobia in this poem about her MRI experience.  Read more here.

I'm ready, Machine.
Ready to overcome fear.
Into your cavern I go,
first step forward for me.

With eyes closed,
music playing,
I seek support
to quiet my nerves.

Listen to your breath.
My yoga breathing 
starts to work 
until I think of  
the tight space-
the closed in feeling.
Backwards, I go.
Boom, boom, boom.
Machine, your reverberating beat 
snatches my quiet time away.

Panic, yes, on the verge,
but wait, I am supposed 
to be positive.
Machine, don't snatch 
my inner peace.
Don't be eager to
get the best of me.

Action of faith comes to mind.
Step forward into the light.
Eyes open to meet my fears.
It's only a white space.
Music comes back.

Knocking noises reverberate,
grow in strength.
Machine, don't snatch my positivity.
A gentle voice calls.
How are you doing?
Only six more minutes left.

Hope surfaces. 
Grounded in the belief
that I can succeed,
I seize the moment.
The music is soothing.
I listen intently for its
soft sounds drowning
out the pounding noise.

Machine, my nemesis
you once were, but now
my chariot to open
space and fresh air.
Laughingly, I snatch my
victory from the jaws
of your closed-in quarters.
I feel proud that I 
walk away the conqueror.

I'm going to need this poem someday--I'm the kid who could never go down the covered slide of claustrophobia!