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!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Welcome again to the Forward...MarCH Poetry CHallenge, in which we make the most of a word ending in -CH eaCH weekday of MarCH.  Today's word is "crouCH" which offers, I hope, a lot of possibilities.

My poem today captures a moment that my 15-year-old mentions often:  "Remember that time that Becca and I got inside the sofa?" They were about 8.


This seems like a good time to offer this link to a really great article on risky play that said daughter was assigned for a 10th grade English class project on, of all things, parenting and childhood.  I missed this when it came out, but along with Last Child in the Woods, it's alarming and inspiring.

Where are you all crouching today?


Diane starts us off today with a poem that she discovered nicely commemorates National Puppy Day:

Upon First Meeting

Two-year-old child.
Ten-month-old puppy.
The child crouches to look
into wide, open canine eyes.
Their bodies mirror curiosity,
excitement, and, a touch of fear.
Both tremble slightly, then,
unable to contain themselves
they tumble forward to catch
each other in sloppy kisses
and unadulterated delight.

--Diane Mayr

I'm beginning to sense a collection, or even a story in verse something like Everett Anderson's Goodbye, developing for Charles.  Here's his poem for today:


Crouching over the pearly coated bassinet,
Gazing at my wiggly, squiggly sister
Chirping in delight as I play peek-a-boo
While Mom, relaxing in her recliner, smiles
For the first time since Grandpa’s funeral.

(c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

 Donna's crouch is hidden in the grass in this acrostic:

Cat in the grass
Ready to pounce
On whatever it's looking at
Under that leaf
Catching it is
Half the fun, twitching is the other.

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Joy came by with two small poems today, including one for Harry Houdini's birthday:

May Day Parade
Crouching down
My daddy puts me
On his shoulders.


Holding his breath
Crouched inside a box
Harry Houdini
Works his way out.

--Joy Acey

Mary Lee turned to baseball for today's poem:


That moment when the pitcher waits,
catcher crouches at home plate,
silence settles like a weight...

...all breaths are held,
no ball propelled,
no cheers are yelled...

...and then beneath the wide blue sky,
the pitch is flung, the ball glides by,
and time, again, begins to fly.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

That's a home run if you ask me! Next up to bat is Kate, with a whole 'nother reason to crouch near a couch:


Shh! Now hurry!
Come and crouch
here behind the flowered couch.
Listen, giggle—
shh again!
Eight of us,
now nine, now ten.
Super quiet
(one more giggle),
nice and quiet
(one last wiggle).
Key in the door
and voices in the hall.
(Shh now truly,
quiet all).
We look into
each other’s smiling eyes,
then all jump up
and yell “Surprise!”

—Kate Coombs, 2015

I agree with Carol that "crouching invites curiosity"...which always lead to adventures.  See you tomorrow when our adventure includes snatCHing!  

Monday, March 23, 2015


It's the last week of my Forward...MarCH CHallenge and I can't begin to thank the other folks who are taking the time to meet this CHallenge with me!  So I'll begin the week with two lists--first, our words for this week, and then the names of all those who have contributed poems so far.  I'm pulling together the "StretCHiest MarCHer" prize this week too, to be awarded to the player who contributes the most poems.

Our words this week:
23 clutch
24 crouch
25 snatch
26 perch
27 quench

And our participants so far, in random order--HOORAY for all of you!!!
Charles Waters
Diane Mayr
Mary Lee Hahn
Donna JT Smith
Kate Coombs
Joy Acey
Jone Rush MacCulloch
Matt Forrest Esenwine
Carol Varsalona
Robyn Hood Black
Tegan, Eli and Hania from Mrs. Doele's class
(Hope I didn't leave anyone out!)

And then--no kidding--my kids started talking at dinner Sunday evening about that slogan you see up there.  I was all like, "What a coincidence."

Here's the Urban Dictionary definition:
Performance under pressure
"In the last few seconds of a close game, only a player with clutch can lead the team to victory."
There's also "Exactly what you need, exactly when you need it."

However, neither of those uses is a verb, so I have to work around that somehow.  Here goes:

I need them
when I go to bed.
I need them when
I'm sick.
I need them
when it's time to play
or picnic.

I pull them in
my wagon.
They're with me
day and night.
I hold
those snuggle pets
so close.
I clutch them
good and tight.

I wrap them in
my blanket.
No two are
the same.
I squeeze 
those snuggle pets
so close,
Clutch is my
middle name.

HM 2015
all rights reserved

Let's see what you're clutCHing in your hot little hands this Monday!
Forgive me, people, for being so late today--I'm a little under the weather and it's the end of the Marking Period, and NO SNOW DAYS!

As usual Charles has done all his homework in advance, and he gets extra credit for this companion poem to his choo-choo poem from last week.

When I was little Grandma used to say to me,
“I can’t get over how much you look like my father.”   
Now, clutching Grandma’s checker spotted hand,
Grazing her frail fingers, she asks,
“Could you please read me another story, Daddy?”
“Of course.”  I say.  Opening up another classic
From her childhood.

(c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

Next up is Joy with this story from Phoenix: "Right now in our desert the baby quail are hatching and we'll see maybe 25 of these little golf ball sized puffs racing around two adults.  Bridget Magee's husband Joe calls them goofballs.  I call them quaillets."  Here's her poem for today:

Baby Quail

A clutch of small quail
skitter and scatter,
run under the brush.
Mama quail calls,

I wonder why Joy didn't use that lovely "quaillets" in the poem?

Carol's poem is about fashion and serves as a PSA for H.E.L.P. International.  Check out her post for more information:

For fashionistas, a clutch
is a must that cannot hold much.
It is dainty and sweet,
compact and petite-
a place for lipstick 
and mirrors to meet.

Glamorous stars clutch 
their Red Carpet clutch
that doesn't hold much.
They stop and they pose
but it is not their clothes
that tiny cameras seek.
What is wanted is a peek
inside the Clutch Cam
that cradles the clutch
where fans look, not touch.

Advice for the stars
on Red Carpet Day
when in a clutch
get a soft mani touch
so your lovely hands
can showcase the clutch.

Advice for everyday shoppers:
Look for the Mothers of Masese clutch
fashionably crafted by women's touch.

Carol Varsalona (c) 2015. All Rights Reserved

 Mary Lee is back with some wisdom that seems also to apply to me today: "sometimes you just have to say, "Good enough. At least I wrote," and move on."  So true, Mary Lee, especially when we're stretching ourselves like this!  But I think this goes somewhere, especially in the larger context.


Book wanted:

grip listeners,
hold interest.

Make them
clutch cliffhangers,
cling to characters.

relaxed conversations,
and unloose imaginations.

a community of readers
and an elementary school career.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

Lots of eggs appearing today--this one is from Diane:

Spring Notion

Within a nest
of moss and poplar
fluff stitched together
with glimmering
spiders' webs lays
a clutch of eggs
so diminutive one
cannot avoid fanciful
thoughts of fairies'
market baskets.

This is lovely, lovely hummingbird delight!  In contrast, Donna drives down both lanes: the clutch under the hood and the clutch that's a brood:

A Clutch Situation

I clutch my clutch
march to the car
step on clutch
put it in gear
down the driveway
chick clutch appears
I clutch the wheel
and try to steer
stomp brake and clutch
as I near
car starts to veer
they thought I had
them in my clutches
but I've avoided
them with sheer
luck and clutch
no clucking clutch
need ever fear
as long as this
lucky clucky clutch
    clutch clutching
        car clutching
           champ is here -
I'm done
      hands off
          my story's done
don't clutch my throat,
       I'm done,
           my dear!

©Donna JT Smith

What a cliiffhanger!  Finally, just put yourself in Kate's small moment of anguish here--I've certainly heard this quiet reverberation:

First Day

I’m here.
Does anyone
I clutch
my courage
in my hands
but it slips
and falls
on the floor
with a little

—Kate Coombs, 2015

I could just clutch you people to my bosom out of appreciation and admiration!  You have definitely got clutch!  Now to get busy crouCHing...

Friday, March 20, 2015


It's Poetry Friday, and here in Bethesda, we are having a wintry start to spring with 1-3" inches of snow predicted...but the new season is hatCHing out no matter what (so say I!).  This is my day to pull something out of the files for the Forward...MarCH CHallenge, and I surprised myself by remembering this one that has not seen light of day in 15 years.  It's a teacher poem rather than a kid poem, but here goes:

For the Hatching of the Heart

Today the 4’s made scrambled eggs.
Each took a turn to crack a shell,
and each one of the group of twelve
did it just the same:

grasped the egg
in one hot hand, not gingerly,
but with a grip that would have
crushed it,
smearing egg and bits of shell
all over palms and shirts,
had the teacher not explained
how to hold it carefully
between the fingertips;

raised that hand
to whack the egg against the bowl
with force that would have
shattered it,
spraying egg and bits of shell
all over cheeks and hair,
had the teacher not explained
how to tap assertively
but gently on the rim;

laid both thumbs
against the break, preparing to release
it with a squeeze that would have
smashed it,
dripping egg and bits of shell
all over shoes and floor,
had the teacher not explained
how to pry the jagged halves
apart with one swift pull.

When all the eggs were in the bowl,
the tricky part was done.
Not one of a dozen children
had trouble with the whisk,
with beating all twelve eggs into
one deep yellow froth.

Today the 4’s ate scrambled eggs,
and every one insisted:
they liked the crunchy bits the best.

Heidi Mordhorst 2000
all rights reserved

And I can't let this post go by without mentioning my very favorite Valentine's Day story and possibly my favorite Eileen Spinelli work, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch.  If you don't know this book, run right out and get a copy today. And look what I found!

Let's see what's hatCHing out of you today!  It should be a busy day over at Reading to the Core with Catherine.  See you there!


Oh, we have some great work popping out here!

First, Charles writes small but perfectly formed:

Baby chicks hatch out
Of oval cocoon to shimmy
In sunshine’s happiness.

(c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

Nest I mean next, from Diane a whole sensory adventure in 13 lines:

Through the Bathroom Window

The nest appeared
seemingly overnight.
The number of eggs
was never determined.
Before we knew it
the chicks had hatched,
fledged, and left us.
Two weeks--fourteen
days was all it took 
for them to fly away.
Barely long enough
to learn how to focus
our eyes and ears.

Mary Lee's is an ode to what mothers give up to propagate the species:


How does
the buzzing
sit still enough to hatch

the two
(not three)
(size of a pea)
eggs that are in her batch?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

Donna gives clues that she may once have been a poultry owner.  I love the way the queen's train becomes a scurrying column of chicks!

Rhode Island Queen

Dipping her head to the ground
the old queen nods 
to her subjects
this way 
and that
her long train
flowing behind
over the ground -
my old red hen
whom I thought was lost
has returned again
from sitting
on a hidden nest
for just the right moment
for them to
as she nears
undulating train
becomes a scurrying 
fuzzy, feather quilt of chicks
blanketing her bare

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Kate's extended metaphor is just "write" for those of us who are brooding this month, trying to hatch a new poem every day:


The breaking out,
bit by bit.
Sharp-clawed toe,
beak and head.
The newest new,
wet wonder of it.
And when it’s through,
body still unsteady,
can’t walk yet,
not quite ready.
Page is quiet,
words there shiver.
New ideas
all aquiver.
Not yet able, can’t quite roam.
Still a baby,
new-hatched poem.

—Kate Coombs, 2015

Joy stops in with an ostriCH egg:


Said the baby bird
to the ostrich egg
"Let me out.
Please, I beg."

A crack with my beak
it starts to catch.
My special tooth
helps me hatch.
--Joy Acey

Jone shares what feels like a blessing, inviting the newly hatching season:

let spring hatch
let songbirds arrive
and wake us
by their song
let tulips bloom and frogs croak
love songs for us all.

© 2015 Jone Rush MacCulloch 

all rights reserved  

And Matt stops by with a haiku on birdly intellect:

hatchling, too young
to wonder

--Matt Forrest Esenwine

And Carol triples her bird-count with this piece, which I have taken the liberty of titling:

A Golden Plan
It's time to hatch a golden plan,
not with silly green eggs and ham.
Try poetry and photos - Shazam! -
an artistic venture of grand purport
to stretch imaginations and transport
minds to wander, recalling winter bliss
while not thinking of wind's bitter kiss.
Winter entered with quite a roar, held court,
and listened intently to many a loud retort. 
Now, it transitions to yet another spring.
When will I hear the sweet robin sing?

--Carol Varsalona   

  Looking forward to more!  Feel free to join the egg toss today!