The Progressive Poem: Who is that Fisherman?

Welcome to the Progressive Poem!

One of the highlights of National Poetry Month for me is participating in Irene Latham’s progressive poem. The poem is a group venture in the month of April, with each poet adding a new line and sending it on its journey. And today the poem has landed here!

Our girl/mermaid has had quite an adventure as she bounced around the internet (look at the sidebar on the right for a complete map of her trip.) She started in a net-less state on the delta, with bare feet, fast hands, wild hair, a mysterious handbag, and a beautiful bracelet. Then after tripping over her tail and slipping in the swamp, she listens to ibises, remembers sage advice from her grandmother, and seizes a paddle. Yesterday, after some spectacular research by Ruth, she looked into the eyes of a startled fisherman in his green pirogue and carrying his crawfish trap. Now what??

Maybe she thinks of escape… Maybe the fisherman will spark a new romance… Maybe he is her missing kin, the link to her mysterious, shape-shifting past…

Maybe I only need to write one line and let others decide the ultimate destination! So here it is:

 

She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows,
snows in wild wind as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones, and steps through the curved doorway.

Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide… splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp–
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory.

Born from the oyster, expect the pearl.
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.

The surface glistens, a shadow slips above her head, a paddle dips–
she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy and turquoise eyes.

Lifted high, she gulps strange air – stares clearly into
Green pirogue, crawfish trap, startled fisherman

with turquoise eyes, twins of her own, riveted on her wrist–

Now it’s Sheila’s turn!

Happy Poetry Friday! Visit Life on the Deckle Edge where Robyn has this week’s round-up.

I Am Not a Squirrel!

I’ve been enjoying my daily poetry exchange with Liz Steinglass for National Poetry Month. Liz has been posting a poem inspired by the contents of her desk on her blog every day. Most of mine are not ready for prime time and are sitting in a file. But I’ve decided to share one poem a week in an effort to put some April poetry out in the world.

This poem was inspired by Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s challenge to write a somonka, which according to Tricia is “a Japanese form that consists of two tanka written in tandem. The first tanka is usually a declaration of love, with the second a response to that declaration. While this form usually requires two authors, it is possible for one poet to write from both perspectives.” My pair of tanka is far from a declaration of love and response. Rather it is a contrast between the squirrel-like critter I would like to be and the reality of my procrastination. I wrote it one morning after staying up until 2:00 am to meet a writing deadline.

Source: http://www.naturalheritage.com/news-events/event-detail.aspx?id=144

http://www.naturalheritage.com/news-events/event-detail.aspx?id=144

Squirrel gathers nuts:
digging here, burying there,
mapping his treasure,
driven to hoard and stockpile,
hustling from daybreak to dusk.

I squander my days–
no frenzy of gathering,
no furor of work
until a deadline draws near,
rousing my inner squirrel.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

 

Don’t procrastinate in checking out all of the Poetry Friday treats around the internet. Laura Purdie Salas has today’s roundup on her blog.

Celebrate!

There’s so much poetic goodness going on in the kidlitosphere this month–that’s certainly a cause for celebration. For National Poetry Month I’ve paired up with Liz Steinglass, and we’ve agreed to write and exchange a poem each day of April. I love Liz’s poetry, so it will be a treat to receive a daily poem from her. And I hope that having a partner will keep both of us on track! Unlike Liz, I don’t have a specific topic for the poems that I’m writing this month (but I’m hoping a theme will emerge.)

I’m also celebrating the end of March Madness Poetry! It’s too late to vote in the final match, but you can read my gargoyle poem here if you’d like. I had a lot of fun writing six(!!) March Madness poems–but I am also happy for that challenge to be over. Thank you to everyone who read and voted for the March Madness poems and who shared links and spread the word about the competition. Your kind words, support, and enthusiasm meant so much to me!

UnknownOne more reason for me to celebrate is that tonight is the first night of Passover. I was delighted that Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong included my Passover poem in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. The seders of my childhood were led by my father, who did not believe in leaving anything out. He and his sisters would race along in Hebrew, while we kids would participate or not–there was always plenty of squirming. I tried to capture the mood of those seders in my poem, especially the pride I felt when I recited the four questions.

At the Seder

My family gathers together,
the table is gleaming and bright.
We tell a great tale of our freedom–
a story for Passover night.

My brother slides under the table—
he’s lurking beneath Grandpa’s chair.
He’s waiting to snatch the afikomen*
while Grandpa is leading a prayer.

My cousin has learned the four questions,
she blushes and sings them with pride:
Why are there matzos, salt water, and herbs?
Why must we lean to one side?

The answers are part of the story–
each year we recite it anew.
We remember a season of slavery,
we’re thankful that season is through.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

The afikomen* is a piece of matzo that’s broken during the Seder and eaten at the end of the meal. In some families children steal the afikomen and ask for a reward for its return. In other families an adult hides the afikomen and the child who finds it receives a prize.  Neither of those options happened in my family–my dad was an oral surgeon and everyone got toothbrushes when someone found the afikomen! I recently learned from a cousin that toothbrushes are still featured in her family’s seder. My kids made out much better when they were young.

Happy National Poetry Month and Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Amy at The Poem Farm for the complete roundup of today’s Poetry Friday posts.

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

source: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/02/02_pesticides.shtml

source: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/02/02_pesticides.shtml

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.

From: http://animal-kid.com/barn-owl-catching-prey.html

From: http://animal-kid.com/barn-owl-catching-prey.html

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:

4-sandwiched
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!

buffy2

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.

11026184_1629781780585723_1568833437268050723_n

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

10339660_1630204460543455_327157021263283422_n

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

menorah_for_blog

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
sputter-spills;

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:

             from clipart.com

from clipart.com

 

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:

THE CHIPPITY CHIPMUNK

(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
chip
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.