Archives: Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday: Tidying Up

This week’s Poetry Friday host is Tricia Stohr-Hunt at the Miss Rumphius Effect. You’ll find links to the week’s poems, poetry reviews, and musings at her blog.

An admission: I tried listening to Marie Kondo’s book on audio. I didn’t make it past the first few chapters.

My favorite idea from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was de-cluttering not by area, but by theme or object. I can picture myself gathering all of the candlestick sets we received for our wedding 28 years ago, choosing one or two favorite pairs, and donating or giving away the rest.

(Crystal candlesticks must have been a hot item in 1991. We have at least five pairs, plus a few more in ceramic.)

That’s as far as I got. It’s not that I don’t need Kondo’s guidance – or *some* guidance. I do. We have lived in our house for almost 20 years. The children we raised here are now out of the house. We’re due for a massive declutter. Maybe I’ll give her television show a chance. I love home renovation shows, and decluttering is a renovation of interior spaces.

Friends who are Asian-American have pointed out that much of Kondo’s advice and celebration of minimalism is rooted in Japanese culture. Some of her critics have misunderstood that piece, especially when it comes to book collections. There’s an article on that topic here.

Meanwhile, I came across a poem from Judith Viorst’s new collection. In this meditation on “stuff,” Viorst touches on the push and pull of down-sizing a home that’s been filled with music and books.

My Stuff
By Judith Viorst

The trouble is I really love my stuff,
Especially the stuff that’s stashed in my basement,
Like that trunkful of 78s that I haven’t listened to in over seventy years,
When the Andrew Sisters rang “Rum and Coca Cola,”
And Sinatra sang “Full Moon and Empty Arms,”
And I forget who sang “Chattanooga Choo Choo,”
All of them played on what we called a Victrola
In the sun parlor — always my childhood’s favorite room,
Where built-in shelves held my Oz books, The Secret Garden,
The Count of Monte Cristo, the Nancy Drews  …

Read the rest of the poem in Grace Cavalieri’s (Maryland’s new state poet laureate!) review of Nearing 90 and Other Comedies of Late Life, by Judith Viorst. Scroll down to find the review.

Bonus: If you’ve never seen George Carlin’s routine on stuff, have fun watching this today. It’s one of his best.

 

A Book and a Beagle — Special Offer

I am a dog mom.

Sam the Schnauzer is my best furry friend. But three years ago, our family decided (with much convincing) that 8-year-old Sam needed a brother. Not a puppy. An older dog. A calm dog to show our very barky, anxious guy the joys of being chilled out.

I went to the animal shelter. Crashed out on the office floor was an overweight older beagle, snoring away like he owned the place That afternoon, we brought Rudy home.

If you’d like to hear more of Rudy’s story — and meet Rudy himself, the Oscar to Sam’s Felix — check out this video.

When I was working on my middle grade novel, Takedown, I couldn’t help myself. Rudy is such a funny, weird, lovable dog, I had to put him in the book. That’s how one of my main characters, eleven-year-old wrestler Lev Sofer, ended up with a lazy, chubby old beagle named Grover.

We first meet Grover in Chapter 4. Lev describes him like this: Grover waddles into the hall, snuffling my backpack. He sounds more like a pig than a dog. I pat his soft ears.

Beagle plushies and the actual champion of doggie chill, Rudy.

When I found these adorable beagle baby plushies, I had to pick up a basket full. And now I have a special offer!

I am selling “A Book and a Beagle” for just $20 plus shipping. You’ll get a signed copy of Takedown (read a review) and a Grover beagle plushie to love. Leave a comment if you’re interested.

Since it’s Poetry Friday, I went hunting for a beagle poem to go with the book and toy. Kenn Nesbitt didn’t let me down.

I love the closing stanza of “Gabby’s Baby Beagle” because it’s so true. Beagles are totally pig-like. They are obsessed with food. And the snuffly sounds they make when they’re sniffing around, hoping to find a dropped morsel — not to mention their big tummies — earn the title of pig-dog.

Gabby’s Baby Beagle

A Tongue Twister
From the book The Tighty-Whitey Spider

Gabby bought a baby beagle
at the beagle baby store.
Gabby gave her beagle kibble,
but he begged for bagels more.

Gabby loved her baby beagle;
gladly Gabby gave him one,
but her beagle grabbed the bag and
gulped them down till there were none.

So she took her baby beagle
to the bagel baker’s store,
where the beagle gobbled bagels,
bags of bagels by the score.

Gabby’s beagle gorged on bagels,
bigger bagels than before,
till he’d gobbled every bagel
in the baker’s bagel store.

Gulping bagels bulges baby
beagles’ bellies really big.
Say goodbye to baby beagle;
Gabby’s beagle’s now a pig.

–Kenn Nesbitt

Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

You’ll find the poem here at Kenn’s website. It’s worth visiting. There’s an audio file where you can listen to the poem being read!

Thanks to Donna Smith at Mainely Write for hosting Poetry Friday this week. You’ll find the link up at her blog.

Donna Smith is hosting Poetry Friday at Mainely Write this week.

A Long Winter’s Nap

Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday at Buffy’s Blog today.

Around this time every year, my acupuncturist reminds me that winter is a time for hibernation. It’s okay to huddle by the fire with the family, to be more “in” and less “out” (whether that’s your physical or your energetic being).

When snow blankets Maryland, everyone stays in and hunkers down. At my house, we curl up on the couch and watch movies or play board games. The first time we had a blizzard while my eldest was away at college, it felt strange to sit out the quiet storm without him.

Follow Soul Roots on Instagram @SoulRootsPlanner.

Click on the image to read the Rosemary Chocolate Truffles recipe from Soul Roots Planner.

Curling up, staying warm, clinging to family — all crossed my mind when I received my Winter Poetry Swap package from the swap-mistress herself, Tabatha Yeatts of the blog The Opposite of Indifference.  There were treats to warm my spirit: homemade lip balm (one of Tabatha’s many talents), a box of delicious raspberry tea, and a planner filled with herbalist wisdom and recipes, including this one for Rosemary Chocolate Truffles.

Before I get too cozy, picturing myself staying in bed with my naturally delicious chocolate bon-bons, let’s read the ekphrastic poem Tabatha included with these gifts.

UPDATE: Typos that were entirely my fault have been corrected. Apologies to Tabatha!

Das Bett by Sofie Korner

The Bed
by Tabatha Yeatts

for Laura

She feels as though the bed is poised to roll her
out of it while she is sleeping, that no matter
how much she craves rest, the bed will
cast her away. perhaps the hands that
sawed and hammered the frame, tilted
the bed just so, sought to make it
inevitable that she would seek a
husband to keep her aboard.
she covers the bed with a
blanket of her own
making, colors
that cheer
her heart,
tucks the sheets in tight.

***

I’m intrigued by the tension that Tabatha creates in this poem. As a knitter, the finale speaks to me — that the woman solves her unease by making something beautiful. I get a sense that this grounds her and counterbalances the tilted bed.

Time to make some truffles! Enjoy your holiday treats and have a great weekend, poets.

Poetry Friday is here!

Look no further. Poetry Friday is here this week. Mr. Linky will gladly take your coat … I mean link.

Welcome, winter wordsmiths!

Early birds, thanks for letting me know that Mr. Linky was misbehaving. He’s all fixed and ready for your links.

I was at the National Press Club Author Night and Book Fair in Washington, DC last month and had the great good luck to bump into an old friend, Jona Colson.

Jona and I met several years ago at the (now defunct) Gettysburg Review Conference for Writers. We were in a week-long workshop, studying with Sydney Wade. Magical.

Jona’s first collection of poetry is out. Said Through Glass won the 2018 Jean Feldman Poetry Prize and is available through Washington Writers Publishing House.

I selected one of the poems, “The Orange Speaks,” for Little Patuxent Review back in my editor days. But I’m sharing a seasonal poem today, filled with winter imagery to savor.

Snow
By Jona Colson

There is a promise in its lattice light,

its sway and spiral in white fury, falling

granular glint and glimmer, the way I’m brought

to the window following flakes in mid-flight.

There is a need to draw my name in its wet slate,

the terrible urge to disappear

into its folds, the slide and sunder of ice

and sphere, the hasty crush under heavy foot

as I raise it to my mouth—savor of sky,

of wood-fire, edged with anise and brume.

***

Published with permission of the author.

Jona says of this poem, “It’s not surprising that this poem started during a snowstorm. I remember walking to my window in DC and following the huge flakes down to the street.  Writing the poem took me back to my childhood days in Maryland when snow was mystical and anticipated. The poem sat for years in my computer before I started to send it out; it took a long time for it to find its form.”

What are your favorite winter poems, or poems about snow? Let us know in the comments. Please use Mr. Linky and let us know where to find your Poetry Friday post.


Poetry Friday: Chocolate Haibun

Thanks to Liz Steinglass for hosting the Poetry Friday round up this week!

I’m posting my Poetry Friday offering early this week. I’ll be traveling on Friday, visiting the niece and nephews mentioned in the poem below.

This is my first attempt at a haibun. It has also been forever since I shared a “random conversations” post. I wanted to capture the way an everyday moment (shopping) transformed into a moment of unexpected connection with a stranger. Haibun — because of its leap from prose to haiku — seemed a good fit. Has anyone else tried the form? What do you think about its hybrid style?

Cheer Down
By Laura Shovan

A quick stop at the local chocolatier. It’s Hanukkah, and I’ve had my eye on their white chocolate unicorn lollipops for my niece and nephews. What would be a brief transaction – customer, clerk – shifts when a George Harrison song begins to play. He is our favorite Beatle. Under the banter, recognition that each of us is settled down, grounded and calmed, by the same music.

Dusk on Main Street
Gray light, brown bag
Saffron truffles

A herd of white chocolate unicorns.

If you are ever in Maryland, the chocolate shop is Sweet Cascades in Old Ellicott City. Their truffles are divine.

And if you’d like to listen to George perform the song referenced in my poems title, you’ll find him here.

See you next week when it’s my turn to host Poetry Friday. I’m attempting Mr. Linky for the first time. Fingers crossed!

Poetry Friday: To the Moon, In the Sky

This week’s Poetry Friday host is Carol at the blog Carol’s Corner. Stop by for poetry book reviews, news, and original verse!

I’ve got a great read-along this week: a work of historical verse to pair with a wonderful new middle grade novel, coming out in February.

First up: The verse.

A few months ago, Linda Mitchell of the blog A Word Edgewise recommended a fabulous book: Countdown, 2878 Days to the Moon, by Suzanne Slade.

I hesitate to call this a picture book. It is a rich poetic history of the American moon missions, from President John F. Kennedy’s announcement of a goal to land a man on the moon (1961) to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moonwalk in 1969.

Paired with the poems, which cover all 11 Apollo missions, are gorgeous full-color paintings of the astronauts and rockets by artist Thomas Gonzalez, as well as photographs of and info-boxes about the astronauts on each mission.

The astronaut who most caught my attention in this book was Michael Collins. He flew with Armstrong and Aldrin, but never set foot on the moon:

Collins remains in the command module–
alone,
hoping he won’t have to return to Earth alone.
Then he pushes a button
and releases Eagle.

“Okay, there you go. Beautiful!” Collins calls out
as the ships slowly drift apart.

Imagine being the one to stay behind at that moment. Imagine being solely responsible for getting Armstrong and Aldrin safely back on board the command module.

There’s another reason why Michael Collins stood out among all of the heroic characters in Countdown. I had recently read about him in another book.

Next up: The Novel.

Ruby in the Sky is a debut middle grade novel by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo.

Ruby’s Dad used to work for NASA. The moon was their touchstone. Whether they were together or apart, every night they would both look at the moon and know they were thinking about each other. But Ruby and her mother’s lives have been in a tailspin since her father passed away.

Mom has dragged Ruby from Florida to Vermont, her own childhood home, in the middle of winter. Ruby is reluctant to make friends — even reluctant to speak — at her new school. But when a class biography project comes up and she has to pick a topic, her first choice is Michael Collins.

There is so much more I could say about this beautiful story of friendship, forgiveness, and finding your voice. I hope you will read it and enjoy it for yourself! Full disclosure, MG author Tricia Clasen and I worked with Jeanne on this book when she was our Pitch Wars mentee in 2016 (read about that here).

If Ruby Moon Hayes were a real person, she’d devour the poems and history in Countdown. She might even have some facts and important historical figures of her own to add to the “race to the moon” story. For your real life kids, these two books are perfects read-alongs. Enjoy!

Poetry Friday: Job Search

Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday this week at Live Your Poem.

When I heard poet and sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter perform this poetic monologue a few weeks ago, I knew it was the perfect thing to share on Black Friday.

I met Jay, a fellow Maryland poet, at the DiVerse Poetry readings series in Gaithersburg, MD this spring. (Those of you who go to that city’s book festival, be sure to say hi to Lucinda Marshall, host of the Diverse Poetry series and its lively community of readers.) After hearing him read, I had to invite Jay to perform at the local series I co-host, Wilde Readings.

I hope this hilarious portrait poem brings you a smile, whether or not you’re braving the malls today.

JOB SEARCH
By Jay Hall Carpenter

What if I had a diff’rent job,
An occupation more attuned
To skills that best befit a snob
And are, in practice, less jejune?

Perhaps I could, a critic be–
No Broadway show could match my taste.
I could appraise fine jewelry
And at a glance know gem from paste.

But English, that’s the highest calling,
To speak precisely, without doubt.
And what on Earth is  more appalling
Than when one calls a route a rout?

We lend to friends, we never loan,
And such transgressions bare my talons.
For we must all, our grammar hone.
It is less milk, but fewer gallons.

We champ the bit, we do not chomp,
A swind’ler is a sharp, not shark.
Abhor inconsequential pomp
And make each sentence hit its mark!

It’s Farther when we go the distance,
Further when we’ve things to add.
The full effect of my assistance
Is an affect far from bad.

We flounder, as we  gasp for breath,
But founder when we sink below.
Poor usage is akin to death
As even lesser men should know.

Yet here I’m stuck and must be stalwart,
Although I’m built for better thing.
So in my name-tagged vest at Walmart
I’ll greet them in the tongue of kings!

Shared with the author’s permission.

Jay Hall Carpenter has been a professional artist for over 40 years, beginning as a sculptor for the Washington National Cathedral, and winning numerous national awards for his work. His first poetry collection, Dark and Light (2012), was followed by 101 Limericks Inappropriate For All Occasions (2107), and will be followed next year by a third, as yet untitled, collection. He has written poetry, plays, and children’s books throughout his career and now sculpts and writes in Silver Spring, MD.

 

Check out Jay’s wonderful gallery of sculptures here.

I was lucky enough to see Jay’s statue of Frederick Douglass in person during the Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival (Eaton, MD). This year marks Douglass’ 200th birthday.

Poetry Friday: The Poetry of US

This week’s Poetry Friday host is Kay McGriff at A Journey through the Pages.

Happy Friday, poets and poetry lovers!

Autumn has arrived in full force. We had our first frost in Maryland this week, but I’m still thinking of the sunny days of summer.

Last Friday, I brought you with me on a visit to the Sea Turtle Hospital on the Florida Keys. Today, let’s visit the beach.

 

I was thrilled when J. Patrick Lewis invited me to contribute a poem to his wonderful new anthology, The Poetry of US, which contains “More than 200 poems that celebrate the people, places, and passions of the United States.” The book is published by National Geographic, so it’s no surprise that the photographs on every page are gorgeous.

My assignment was to write a poem about New Jersey.

People laugh when they hear that Jersey’s nickname is “The Garden State.” All they’ve seen of my home state is highways — and the factories and airports that surround them.

In fact, for a small state, New Jersey is geographically diverse. Its long eastern border is the Atlantic Ocean. It contains the Pine Barrens, part of the Appalachian Trail, and many state forests.

You *may* also have some thoughts about New Jersey if you ever watched the infamous reality TV show, “The Jersey Shore.”

When I sat down to write my poem, I wanted to show people the other side of New Jersey. I thought about summertime trips to the beach when I was a child, and how some of the places we loved best had been devastated by Super Storm Sandy in 2012. There’s a video showing the damage to our favorite boardwalk in Seaside Heights here.

Most of the time, my family avoided the bustle and busy-ness of the boardwalk and amusement parks. Instead, we would leave early, early in the morning to find a spot at Island Beach State Park. This is a preserved, undeveloped barrier island with beautiful, spare beaches.

I always loved running along the path, over the dunes, and catching that first glimpse of the Atlantic.


Beach Day
Island Beach State Park, New Jersey
by Laura Shovan

 We leave home before dawn, our car packed
with towels, sunblock, coolers of food.

There are closer beaches,
but they’re for boardwalk people.

We smile when we reach the park gate.
No hotels here. No tourist shops.

Can you smell the salt air? Mom asks.
The beach stays hidden behind miles of dunes.

At last, Dad finds a spot. We tumble out of the car,
race down a path through the scrub.

There! I am first to glimpse the wide, white beach,
first to stick my toes in the icy Atlantic.

I stretch my arms and spin. All I see are the dunes
and the ocean.  All I hear is the music of the waves.

***

Search the subject index of The Poetry of US and you’ll be sure to find places and people that are dear to your heart.

I have good friends in Albuquerque, and loved discovering Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ concrete poem, “Mass Ascension: At the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.”

Mary Lee Hahn’s poem “Bessie and Amelia,” about female aviators Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart, reminded me of reading Pat Valdata’s book, Where No Man Can Touch. You can read my post about that book — all persona poems spoken in the voices of women pioneers of flight — right here.

Have fun exploring The Poetry of US!

Poetry Friday: A Visit to the Sea Turtle Hospital

Brenda Harsham is hosting Poetry Friday this week. You’ll find poetry links from around the kidlitosphere at her blog, Friendly Fairy Tales.

Happy Poetry Friday, readers! It’s good to be back after a long hiatus.

In September, I visited the Florida Keys on a book research trip with writing friends. One of them, author and science educator Timanda Wertz, suggested that we visit the Sea Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida.

I learned so much about sea turtles. Funniest (and saddest) is that when sea turtles’ shells are damaged by a boat strike, air can become trapped in the healing carapace. That makes it difficult for the turtles to dive for food — a syndrome called Bubble Butt.

Yeah, I laughed too. The syndrome takes its name from a permanent resident of the hospital. (You can see photos of the original Bubble Butt here.) Turtles with Bubble Butt don’t do well in the wild, so they come to live at the hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

This was the highlight of the entire trip for me. (Author admission: It was even better than visiting Judy Blume’s bookstore in Key West.)

 

 

 

There were some brand new hatchlings among the turtles we visited…

 

 

 

 

 

… but my favorite was this guy. Look at that face!

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a sea turtle poem from the online journal Rattle.

Mary H. Palmer, RN, C, PhD

THE SEA TURTLE

Shoulder-deep in the sea turtle’s nest,
I search for remains, nothing alive.
The tiny turtles would have climbed
over each other, forming a living ladder
out of their sandy birth canal
leaving only the unhatched and dead behind.
Mongoose would have gotten any stragglers.
I am here only to count egg shells.
My hand reaches bottom and scoops up
sand and bits of leathery shells. In their midst,
I find a black soft lump, a hatchling left behind.
It remains listless until I gently stroke its belly
until its life flickers and catches hold
as a flame lays claim to a
candle wick.
It doesn’t have much of a chance.
Pelicans already circle. But waiting until night
so it can follow the moon to the
water is a death sentence too. I place it on
the sloping beach and whisper a prayer.

Poetry Friday: “Moving Day”

This week’s Poetry Friday host is Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. Stop by her blog for all of this week’s Poetry Friday links.

The day is finally here. We are dropping our youngest child off at university.

As often happens in times of transition, a favorite poem is making me smile and giving me comfort.

I first read “Moving Day,” by poet J. C. Elkin in 2010, when my little one actually was little — just ten years old. I selected this funny, emotionally true sonnet for an anthology I was editing.

Life in Me Like Grass on Fire: Love Poems was published by MWA Books in 2011. It includes 100 poems by 50 Maryland poets. Some of them stay with me, some I’m reminded of when I open the book. And some of the poems, like Jane’s, grow with me as I meet the moment of the poem in my own life.

MOVING DAY
by J. C. Elkin

You moved into your dorm a sticky day.
We schlepped your stuff and sweat with no A. C.
I vowed I wouldn’t bawl. I’d be OK.
I, too, was moving on. Now I was free.
My mind a knot of hopes, unbidden fears.
A sign: Hydration — Health: Your Body’s Link.
A stupid thought to cap our eighteen years,
my last advice was, “Don’t forget to drink.”

A horde of tourists swarmed Colonial Town.
Your dad bought food. I found a bench outside.
I would have been just fine, but sitting down
I bumped my head, and cried, and cried, and cried.

My mother’s death. Your sister’s crash. Now this.
At least there’s always chocolate. Make it Swiss.

from Life in Me Like Grass on Fire: Love Poems
Shared with permission of the author, J. C. Elkin