More Madness: The Predatory Edition

To my great surprise I am in the final fours of March Madness Poetry. I was in Florida for a few days this week, spending some time with my sister and visiting other relatives. My assigned word was ignominious, so I thought about what animals had an ignominious end. When my sister and I went to MacArthur Beach State Park, the leatherback turtles that nest there seemed to fit the bill.  The poem was written yesterday in the airport and in the sky (and finished when I finally arrived home at midnight.) My match is with my pal, poetry critique partner, and uber-talented writer Renee LaTulippe. You can read our poems here. I will most definitely be happy to bow out to Renee this round–it will not be an ignominious end! This poetry competition has been fun and gotten me to write five poems that I otherwise would not have (hey, wasn’t otherwise my first word?) but I am tired! Two of the poems were written on the road, and the rest were written between some work-for-hire deadlines.

If you’ve read other poems that I’ve written for March Madness, you might think I have a predator obsession. You would be correct. Here’s a slightly revised version of my round 4 poem, where my assigned word was paunch:

How to Eat a Frog: A Snake’s Manual



Flick your tongue and taste the smells
of mucky snails and crayfish shells.
Weave your way through marshy grass,
past the lodge where Muskrat dwells.
Stare intently. Slide, explore…
Slow and stealthy, wait to score.
Watch each ripple in the pond,
glide along the swampy shore.
Lunge and grab! Your mouth’s agape,
an endless cave with no escape.
Inhale the head. Legs dangle out–
Muscle down that froggy shape.
Feel the bulging deep within,
a swollen paunch that stretches skin.
Enjoy your meal, your lump of blisssssss,
guaranteed to make you grin.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

Happy Poetry Friday! Jone has all this week’s poetry links at Check It Out.

More Madness: The Feathered Furry Edition

I’m still shooting the hoops in March Madness Poetry.  The voting is happening now for the third round. Surprisingly I did not write science-y poems for the first two rounds, but animals played starring roles in them. I decided that it was time to go back to a nature/science poem for this round. My assigned word was vaunted, and when I brainstormed what might be vaunted, I thought about a barn owl’s sight and hearing. Did you know that a barn owl, whose ears are not placed symmetrically, can find its prey by listening on a dark night? So what does a mouse do to avoid this well-adapted predator? If an owl flies far overhead, it freezes, so that the owl can neither see or hear movement. If the owl is close enough to spot it, it tries to zigzag or make a beeline to a hole or brush. Of course many mice (and shrews, voles, rats, and bats) are caught by these predators.



In the middle of the night I thought that the mouse might write a letter to the vaunted owl, and tease her about not being as great of a predator as her reputation (insomnia is great for coming up with ideas–the only problem is if I can read my scribbles in the morning.) Then the owl could reply–my original idea was to have the owl swallow mousey while mouse read the letter, but I opted not to go the bloody route. I tried to give both characters formal voices to go with their letter writing habits. You can read the poem here. Be sure to also enjoy the fun kid-friendly poem that Darren Sardelli wrote about a principal’s litany of woes.

Radar, our sweet neighbor

Radar, our sweet neighbor

We have not had a dog for several years, but my daughter took care of our neighbors’ pets for about 6 weeks this winter. The dog came over for daily visits, and sweet old soul that he is, spent a lot of time snoozing and snoring. He inspired Three Dog Night, my round 2 poem:

Three Dog Night
By Buffy Silverman

A gusting windstorm slammed the door as snow swirled overhead.
The frosty breezes froze my toes and followed me to bed.
I lay there sandwiched by my pups: Bella, Bear, and Bree,
and snuggled in their furry warmth till sleep washed over me.

Someone bellowed! Someone cried! A squeak! A bleat! A moan….
Who was hooting, wailing, whooping? I blinked and heard a groan.
I found no owl, no fox or moose—no wild menagerie.
‘Twas just the roaring, snoring snorts of Bella, Bear, and Bree.

For all the Poetry Friday posts, stop by Reading to the Core.

It’s Time for the Madness!

I’m participating in March Madness Poetry again this year, and the first round is over. My word was otherwise–a tad bit easier than my unlucky opponent’s word–megalomaniacal!


I have no kangarooster photo. Here are some photos of this week’s school visits instead.

I was happy to have a softball word, because I was out of town visiting the awesome kids at Schickler and Emma Murphy Elementary Schools, in Lapeer, Michigan (I especially enjoyed being part of a family literacy event one night, and an ice cream with the author event the second night.) My school visits meant that I wrote my poem in the Best Western–and the internets were out, so I could not bounce ideas off the usual suspects. So I thought back to an idea that I had during PiBoIdMo–to write some poems about chimera animals. I have made no progress on that, but “otherwise” made me think of a kangarooster. Why? Who knows…  Here’s the poem:

Henny and Kangarooster: A Love Story
By Buffy Silverman

A lonely bird, a loveless hen, pined and daydreamed in her pen,
until she eyed the kangarooster. She begged a chick to introduce her.
The day she met this Romeo, she hoped that he would be her beau.
Otherwise, she’d wilt and mope. She’d die alone. How could she cope?

She watched him sproing, she heard him crow. His boinging thumps set her aglow.
She clucked and flapped a wingding show. An arrow flew from Cupid’s bow.
Kanga gaped and was entranced. He cock-a-doodled as she danced.
And thus began their grand affair: this boinging, clucking, mismatched pair.


Demonstrating one of the many hats an author wears–this is my “think-like-a-kid hat.”


Kindergartners transformed into gliding garter snakes.







I was a little disappointed with this poem when I finished it, and too tired to start something new. But the voters seemed to enjoy it, and after rereading it six million times it no longer seems quite as lame as it did when I wrote it. I think if I were to revise it I’d like it to be a love affair between two different chimeras. But that’s a task for another day. Or maybe not at all.

The  next round of March Madness poems will be posted on Sunday night. You can read all of the contest poems here and vote for your favorites from Sunday night through Tuesday morning.

Laura is all dressed up for Poetry Friday at Author Amok, where you’ll find links to lots of poetry goodness.

Lighting the Darkness—Poetry Friday is Here!

Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Almost Winter Solstice! I wish you light and warmth during these short days and long nights of December.

This fall I collected a pocketful of driftwood at Lake Michigan and made a handsome driftwood dude. He climbed atop a mountain of pumpkins to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Driftwood dude surfs on pumpkins!

Driftwood dude surfs on pumpkins!

Now that Hanukkah has begun, he’s given up his gourds and donned a cloak of candles and a new super-hero persona–Menorah Man.

Menorah Man!

Menorah Man!

Menorah man won’t go astray–
with pride and might he leads the way,
a candle flames on his beret
and lights our Hanukkah display.
–Buffy Silverman



I don’t think we’ll light Menorah Man’s candles during Chanukah. I’ve already had one unintentional fire when transferring latkes to a cookie sheet that was lined with paper towels. (The edge of a paper towel went into a lit gas burner. Handy tip: a metal spatula is great for whacking at and putting out flaming paper towels.) But we’ve got several other menorahs to light. As the holiday progresses, so do the number of candles and their multiple reflections in our bay window, which inspired this poem that I wrote a couple of years ago and recently revisited:

Colored Candles


More candles than we’ve had for 2014–tonight is the fourth night of Chanukah.

In my window
colored candles
flame and flicker,
dancing lights
reflect and glow.

They chase away the
moonless night.
Voices sing of
hope and wonder,

melting wax drops
drizzle-drips and

candles shrink and
dreidels spin–

Tonight is Hanukkah!
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

I hope your holiday celebrations shine with light. And if you’re in need of some inspiration and wonder to get you through the dark days of December, read some poetry posts! Please leave your links and I’ll add them during the day.18923_original


Linda’s sharing a Picture Book Holiday Read-In, complete with holiday music, snacks, and photos of happy readers at Write Time.

At Alphabet Soup, Jama’s sharing Roger McGough’s “An Alternative Santa” and some childhood holiday memories as her last post of 2014.

Over at Live Your Poem, Irene delves into the darkness and shares poems from the new book POISONED APPLES: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann.

At Author Amok, Laura introduces two store-front literary centers in her area that offer writing classes, readings, literary events, youth programming, and, of course, books! As a holiday gift, Laura’s supporting both these centers and telling others how they, too can become a member or make a holiday gift.

Robyn (whose cleverness and talents know no bounds) shares a found poem celebrating friendship that she crafted for Christmas at Life on the Deckle Edge.

Laura Purdie Salas continues her poetryaction series with two original poems inspired by two picture books illustrated by Laura Dronzek, IT IS NIGHT and MOONLIGHT.

Over at The Poem Farm, Amy shares the story of her ever expanding nativity scene.

Linda shares a wonderful poem that UA Fanthrope originally wrote for her Christmas card at Teacher Dance.

Tabatha shares Joyce Ray’s poem entitled The Language of Trees.  Is there anything better than getting a gift of poetry? (Well, chocolate and candles are nice, too, as you’ll see at The Opposite of Indifference!)

Catherine shares “The Coming of Light” by Mark Strand and Reading to the Core.

At My Juicy Little Universe, Heidi muses on this season’s darkness and shares Annie Finch’s Solstice Chant.

Margaret shares student poems written in response to Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner, and an Animoto video on A Maze Me by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Liz Steinglass offers some excellent holiday picture books that are favorites of her family.

Julie Larios is celebrating the news of our reestablishing relationships with Cuba with a video of a serenade sung on the streets of Havana. She also shares a poem from Margarita Engle’s The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom.

Keri shares an original caffeinated haiku at Keri Recommends.

Over at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme, Matt is also thinking of lighting up the dark night. He shares an original poem entitled “Candle at Midnight.”

It’s a deja vu blogfest over at Mainely Write where Donna reposts “My Wonder,” a poem she wrote in November and brings some light into the night.

At All About the Books Janet reviews bees, snails, & peacock tail: patterns & shapes–naturally, written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Thanks, Janet–this one’s going on my to-read list.

Poetry can capture expressions of joy and sorrow.  Ruth shares her thoughts about grief this week, and some moving lines about losing a child from King John, by Shakespeare.

Over at Beyond Literacy, Carol offers “The Gift of Words,” an original poem accompanied by an image for holiday wondering.

At Poetry for Kids Joy shares an original poem with some wonderful photos of the Giant Eland in his grassy home.

Mary Lee shares “Barter” by Sara Teasdale, a poem to remind her of life’s goodness in times of craziness at A Year of Reading.

The Logonauts shares a bilingual poem called “Me x 2″ by Jane Medina, and reviews the book Amazing Faces by Lee Bennett Hopkins, which celebrates diversity in the US.

Diane is celebrating the solstice at Random Noodling with some original poems and the poetry swap poem she received from Irene Latham. At Kurious Kitty, Diane shares “Stars” by Sara Teasdale.

Jennifer has been writing love poems with her students, and shares her original poem at Teacher Et Cetera.

Ramona shares a favorite Christmas poem by Elizabeth Searle Lamb at Pleasures from the Page today.

Jone captures the spirit of the season with her nativity poem at Deo Writer.

Did I miss your post?  Please let me know (a few comments wandered into the wasteland of the unapproved, unbeknownst to me–I think I’ve found them all now!)

It’s Halloweensie Time!

Susannah Leonard Hill
is once again hosting a teensie weensie Halloweensie writing contest. The rules of the contest are to write a 100-word or less Halloween story for children that uses the words pumpkin, broomstick, and creak (or any form of these words including creaky, creaked, pumpkiny, pumpkining, broomstuck, broomstickier, etc.)  The story can be written in prose or poetry.  Here’s my tale, which might be best read on November 1:




The Morning After

Last night she flew beneath the moon
and cackled at each ghost and ghoul.
She waved her wand and cast a spell,
bewitching every home and school.

She sped through graveyards, swooped through barnyards,
scaring pumpkins, stealing treats.
She gave each cat a broomstick ride
and stayed up late to haunt the streets.

But now she’s queasy–ghostly pale–
with creaky knees and achy head.
She drinks a potion, chants a charm,
then moans and groans and slumps to bed.

Class Notes

I gave myself a present this past August–I enrolled in Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab.  It was a wonderful treat–a month of experimenting with lyrical language in poetry and prose, receiving spot-on feedback, and challenging myself to focus on some basic and not-so basic skills.

I usually appreciate the restrictions of writing to different poetic forms, and writing with a consistent rhythm and rhyme scheme.  It’s a lot like solving a puzzle (and I love word and number puzzles!)  Free verse can sometimes seem a little random and haphazard–but the free verse lesson in Renee’s class emphasized the thoughtful and careful techniques and structure that distinguish it from prose.  I particularly enjoyed the poetry examples that she used to illustrate these different techniques, from Walt Whitman to Eve Merriam and Valerie Worth.  One of the poems was “The Pickety Fence” by David McCord:

PicketyFence-1024x705Read “The Pickety Fence” aloud and you’ll hear the rhythm and delight of that stick on the clickety fence!  Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (and an easy way to impose the restrictions of a structure) I decided to use it as a model for the write-a-free-verse-poem assignment at the end of the lesson.  The pickety sounds reminded me of the chipmunks that are constantly chipping in my yard.  Here’s the poem I wrote:


(inspired by David McCord’s “The Pickety Fence”)

The chippity chipmunk
is chipper and bright
He chips in the morning
He chips in the night

He’s a cockcrow chipper
He’s a high-noon chipper
He’s a twilight chipper
He’s a chippity chipper
with nuts in his cheeks

He chips in the garden
He chips in the trees
He chips in the tunnel
where he stacks his seeds

He chips and he chips and he chips and he chips
Chippity chip chip
chippity chip chip
chippity chippity
Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

Want to write your own Pickety Fence inspired poem?  If you do, please put it in a comment and I’ll add it to this blog post.

18923_originalAnd be sure to enjoy all the Poetry Friday goodness rounded up at Laura Purdie Salas’ blog.

Summer Poem Swap

2014 Summer-Poem-Swap emailEvery afternoon I hike to my mailbox, hopeful that I’ll find something other than bills and junkmail, and seldom is that hope realized. But during the summer poem swap, organized by Tabatha Yeatts, my mailbox is a treasure chest! My loot started with a poem of summer wishes from Mary Lee Hahn:  linda_toad lily

I’m happy to report that all of Mary Lee’s wishes came true for me (especially fireflies.  Many, many fireflies.) Mary Lee’s poem was in a frame with a magnetic back and its cool wishes have been hanging on my refrigerator.

My next treasure came from Robyn Hood Black who was inspired by a golden silk orb weaver (aka Nephila clavipes) who spun a giant web just outside her front porch:robyn_spider-1

Lowly scribe?  Leaden words?  I beg to differ.  Robyn’s gift also included another exquisite photo of her charming spider, who I hear was recently joined by Mr. Orb Weaver and is now busily weaving spider booties in anticipation of spiderlings.

Robyn’s spider poem was followed by a gem from Linda Baie featuring both flora and fauna:
linda_toad lily-2photo credit: ReinventedWheel via photopin cc

I have a weakness for merry toads and lilies in fashionable attire!  And for all the charming poems that have brightened my summer.  Thank you summer swappers!

I have to admit that my procrastination got the better of me this summer, and the first couple of poems that I wrote for the swap were more than a little late (in fact procrastination was the subject of my poem for Robyn.) My third swap poem was only a few days tardy, and I managed to send out the fourth one a day before the deadline. One more poem to go, and I’m pledging to send it out early!  I followed Tabatha’s writing prompts for poems 2-4 which were lots of fun (and made me wonder why I didn’t tackle them sooner…) I’m looking forward to receiving two more treasures in my mailbox this summer.

18923_originalFor more Poetry Friday treasures, drift down to Bayou Teche where Margaret has this week’s round-up.



Where’s My Sandy Beach?

Happy Summer!  Earlier this month my family plus pals spent a week at a cottage near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  We climbed the dunes, went on hikes, visited spectacular Lake Michigan beaches, paddled the Crystal River and hung out at Long Lake.

There were breath-taking views.

And much picture taking.

And much picture taking…

From all angles...

From all angles…

And serious poses.

And serious poses.

And waiting for photographers.

    And more serious poses.

And more serious poses.

And water bicycles!

Although I grew up in Massachusetts and visited many Atlantic coast beaches, I now prefer Lake Michigan–amazing sand, no salt in your eyes or hair, and more manageable waves.  The only thing missing is the chance to fill your pockets with shells, but searching for Petoskey stones (small stones composed of fossilized corals) can fill that void.

And I can write about shells even if they’re absent from the beaches I now frequent!  That’s what I did a couple of years ago when I had the privilege of attending a Highlights poetry workshop.  One of the exercises given by Rebecca Kai Dotlich was to write a mask poem from the viewpoint of whatever object was on a card each person picked.  My card had a shell, and the poem I wrote at the workshop is in Ladybug Magazine this month:

LYB1407_30_IF You Were a Shell.P30

The poem I submitted was slightly different than the one published above.  I had written from a child’s point of view, addressing a parent:

If I were a shell
and you were the sea,
You’d tumble and toss me,
warm me and wash me.

The editors at Ladybug thought it made more sense to write this poem from the adult’s POV and I agreed (although I missed that first stanza rhyme.)

Don’t you love Irene Luxbacher’s whimsical illustration?! And look what happened in Irene’s illustration–the parent that I imagined disappeared!

LYB1407_30_IF You Were a Shell.P31I love the band of young mermaids rocking that baby in the shell!  And I especially love discovering that an illustrator saw the characters in my poem in a completely different way than I had envisioned.

For more poetic discoveries, head over to Poetry for Children where Sylvia has all of this week’s Poetry Friday posts.

It’s Poetry Friday!

18923_originalWelcome to Poetry Friday!  Our nine-month sojourn in North Carolina is over, and I’m pleased to be back in Michigan and hosting Poetry Friday.  Last week I attended a three-day training for passage writers for a new Michigan assessment.  I’ve always had mixed feelings when writing test passages, and this gig is no exception–do Michigan high school kids really need another assessment?  But this assessment will be prepared with or without me, and hopefully the nonfiction and poetry passages that I’m writing are reasonably interesting and worth a student’s reading time (and there’s a paycheck at the end of the project, which is always nice.)  Writing these passages got me thinking about test-taking, so I fished out a poem that I’d started earlier this year (although I’m not sure if these tests are taken with pencils.)  I suspect that the teachers among you would like a break from thinking about this particular facet of school–I apologize in advance!

With Number 2 Pencils in Hand:pencil

brows furrow
teeth gnash
legs bounce
feet jerk
fingers scratch
knuckles crack
chins tremble
stomachs churn
palms sweat
hands smudge
papers tear
pencils break
clock ticks.

In other poetry news, I recently submitted a poem to a children’s poetry anthology being prepared by Carol-Ann Hoyte on food and agriculture, and was happy to learn this week that the poem was accepted.  I’m in good company with many other Poetry Friday folks–look for the anthology in October of this year.

Please post your links in the comment section, and I’ll update during the day.

Julie Larios is traveling, but she found time to post an original poem titled “Song of the Hog” that will go live at 12:01 a.m. on Friday at The Drift Record.

Over at Alphabet Soup Jama shares three poems from Anna’s Garden Songs by Mary Q. Steele and Lena Anderson.

On Today’s Little Ditty Michelle has the June ditty challenge wrap-up and is giving away a copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science.

If you’re looking for some time-travelling fun, head over to Author Amok for an exclusive interview with Emily Dickinson aka poet and performer MiMi Zannino, who is performing a one-woman show as Dickinson for Chatauqua this summer. And don’t miss Laura’s Thursday post where she shares her terrific news!

Emily Dickinson is also making an appearance at Tamera Wissinger’s journal where she shares a poetry movie inspired by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell’s challenge at Ditty of the Month Club.

We’ve definitely got an Emily theme going today.  Karen Edmisten recommends a gorgeous book: The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems.

Robyn Hood Black shares a terrific poem from the summer poem swap that she received from Margaret Simon, and a poetry confession that has absolutely nothing to do with me :).

Diane Mayr has two original Sketchbook Project poems about mill workers at Random Noodling; a poem celebrating Helen Keller by Langston Hughes at Kurious Kitty; and a Langston Hughes quote at KK’s Kwotes.

Myra shares the Poetry of Basho and some ruminations about the essentials in life at Gathering Books.

Matt’s been spending time at the beach and shares news of his latest published poem, “Oceansides.”

SORRY for the morning delay–I had internet woes, but hopefully all is working now!

Laura Purdie Salas is sharing a morbidly funny poem today by Kurt Cyrus from Your Skeleton Is Showing: Rhymes of Blunder from Six Feet Under.

Carol Varsalona posts an original poem “Connected Educators – Together We Are One!” and an invitation to submit a poem and photo of locale that affords each person a serene spot to her site.

Violet Nesody shares thoughts on writing with an original poem entitled “Writing”–and news of her new e-book!

Greg Pincus has an original homophoem called Bowled Over at Gottabook. 

Over at Teaching Authors, April Halprin Wayland mulls over Marion Dane Bauer’s terrific post about writing to market or writing what you love.  She also includes a revision of an original poem.

Lisa Santika Onggrid has an original free-verse, and shares a favorite poem by Indonesia poet Sapardi Djoko Damono with Lisa’s translation.

Mary Lee shares an original poem from what is developing into her “Wishes” collection.

Tabatha shares a gem of a poem she received from Donna for the summmer poetry swap!

Catherine shares a Halloween poem by budding poet eight-year old Matthew.

Liz Steinglass reports on two of her early favorites in her summer reading list: Laura Purdie Salas’ Water Can Be… and Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.

Carol shares Mary Oliver’s, “Breakage” on her blog.

At A Teaching Life Tara shares some summertime thoghts through “Starfish,” a poem by Eleanor Lerman.

Irene has a look at Marilyn Nelson’s A WREATH FOR EMMETT TILL.

Jeannine shares her thoughts about revising poetry with love and doubt–I can relate to the doubt part!

At My Juicy Little Universe, Heidi continues her haiku study and has some reflections as well as a beach haiku for kids.

At Reading Through Life Crystal shares some poems by Sarah Kay and Phil Kay, and a book review.

Monica takes us to the edge with her original poem, “House Above the Creek.”

At Booktalking, Anastasia shares a lantern poem from If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems by Brian P. Cleary.

At Poetry for Children Sylvia plugs the ALA Poetry Blast and the poets who will be presenting there on Sunday.

Lorie Ann is on her way to ALA, but she’s still dropped by with an original haiku that’s cool as winter. At readertotz she shares a poem from I Saw Esau.

In honor of Helen Keller’s birthday, Kelly shares “Swimming to the Light,” J. Patrick Lewis’ villanelle about Helen Keller.

Jone shares an original poem about growing vegetables, flowers, and community.  Check it out!

Margaret reviews Barbara Crooker’s book “Line Dance” and shares one of her poems.

Holly shares an original poem that she was inspired to write after a recent writing retreat–she writes that her inspiration came partly from Mary Lee’s wishful poem and….Emily Dickinson (that’s number four for Emily this week!)

Over at The Miss Rumphius Effect Tricia shares “Wildflowers,” a poem by Reginald Gibbons.

Fifteen words or more

I’ve written before about participating in Laura Purdie Salas’ 15 word-or-less challenge.  It’s the one challenge that I try to do weekly.  Thursday’s prompt was a picture of colorful rubber bands, which made me think of braces.  I remembered the taunts that some kids faced after getting braces, and thought about how a shy kid might reply.  Here’s a revised, fifteen-word-or-more version of my poem:

After the Orthodontist Appointment

“Metal mouth,
tinsel grin,
to your chin!”

Should I act like
I don’t care,
or give those beasts
a bracing glare?

Then I started thinking about a more self-confident kid considering her new look (and that kids now get to choose the color of those braces!) I wrote a second, less-autobiographical version that I think I prefer:

After the Orthodontist Appointmentchicago-braces

I’m metal-mouthed,
to my chin.

At least my bands
are pretty pink–
Our bracing kiss
will clink, clink, clink.

Head over to The Opposite of Indifference, where Tabatha’s hosting today’s Poetry Friday Roundup (warning: you might be wandering for a long time through Tabatha’s directory of Imaginary Poems!)18923_original