A Peace Day Poem

One of the beauties of Facebook is finding out about the existence of things like International Day of Peace, and being inspired by others to write something for it. Fall is making itself known in Michigan, and I can’t think of anything more peaceful than watching the seasons change. So here’s an acrostic to celebrate both Autumn and Peace:

 

Passing between field and woods, the scent of autumn fills my lungs.
Each step stirs a cauldron of earth. Fallen leaves crackle, bees
Alight on goldenrod. The thrum of cicadas competes with the
Cawing insistence of crows and the gathering rattle of cranes,
Eclipsed only by the rumble of thunder, by the turning of time.
–©Buffy Silverman, September 21, 2017

 

Margarita Engle & Amy Ludwig VanDerwater are hosting a PeaceDay padlet–check out some writing and art projects celebrating peace there.

And it’s almost Friday–Amy’s also hosting Poetry Friday at The Poem Farm.

Poetry Swap–Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I shared most of the goodies I received during the summer poetry swap. Today I’m sharing my final treat. Jone‘s poem came beautifully mounted with an easel-thingy (the technical term, I’m sure) and is now sitting on my desk. And what a jewel it is–both the photo and the words that accompany it. I love the poem’s focus on presence in the moment. That’s the beauty of observing nature (especially through a camera) for me–focusing on the wonders of the moment.

©jone rush macculloch

And now, for your mild amusement, here are the poems that I sent my swapees. Someday I will learn how to use a simple program that allows me to lay-out poems on photographs. But in the meantime my kind daughter loaned her talents and put these together (which, come to think about it, is the simplest program I can imagine…) I chose a poem to send to Keri to match a photo I took of a spider building a web on a plant on our deck–the sunlight on her web added a bit of magic. (I cheated a bit for this one and revised a poem that I wrote for Today’s Little Ditty’s final spring challenge.)

© Buffy Silverman

I spend a lot of time down at our swampy dock, spying on dragonflies and damselflies. This green dragonfly inspired the poem I sent to Tabatha:

©Buffy Silverman

One evening I observed a damselfly just emerging from its nymphal skin. I thought I would write a single poem for Linda with photos of both the empty skin (called an exuvia, which is a fun word to say) and the new adult. But somehow that morphed into a haiku about the change, and a tanka about observing the critter. Should I admit that I borrowed the title of the book I was reading for the final line of the haiku? (The book, which I recommend, is not about insect metamorphosis!)

©Buffy Silverman

I had the good fortune to meet Nikki Grimes this summer, at a dinner that Ed Spicer gave in her honor. Nikki read from her collection, One Last Word, and I was taken both with her glorious poems and the golden shovel form. I really wanted to try writing a golden shovel, so that’s what I did with my poem for Irene, using a line from her poem “Tree for All” from Dear Wandering Wildebeest as the source for my end words: “Owls nest in my hidden knothole; my cradle cozies brand-new wings.” The photograph that accompanied the poem is of an itty-bitty monarch caterpillar, munching on some swamp milkweed blossoms.

©Buffy Silverman

For most of the summer I had a photograph on my desktop of an unopened Black-eyed Susan flower. I wanted to write something to go with it, but had no idea what. When I thought about writing a poem for Heidi, who often shares her teacher life, the flower became a student at the start of the school year.

©Buffy Silverman

And there you have it…writing and receiving poems for the summer swap, as always, was a highlight of my summer. Kat’s got all of today’s poetry friday highlights–all the way from oz!

Watching the Eclipse

Did we really drive 1000 miles to southern Illinois and back to view the eclipse? Indeed we did. It was two minutes of awe-inspiring amazement (and hours of bumper-to-bumper highway driving and backroads after we ditched the crowds.) The sky during totality was other-worldly and glorious, like nothing I’d ever seen.

We were well-equipped for sky gazing, with eclipse glasses and solar filter film covering our binoculars and telescope. The elder offspring took many photos through the telescope, and we were able to see sunspots and solar flares. Here are several of those spectacular photos (all eclipse photos © Jake Conner) and a poem inspired by the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun-Eater

Bite by bite
the moon swallows the sun,
leaving a crooked smile.

The grin grows thinner,
a curtain of darkness descends,
melting humid air.

Clouds of starlings sweep the sky,
spectral sunset falls
in every direction.

All at once the heavens blaze,
dancing fire rings the moon,
phantom sun glows a ghostly light.

As if in a dream, the moment passes.

The solar crescent flips and waxes.
The moon surrenders the spotlight,
disgorging the growing sun.
–©Buffy Silverman, August 21, 2017

Happy Poetry Friday!  Visit Jone at Check It Out for the roundup of all of today’s posts.

Summer Poetry Swap….and story time for the eclipse!

This summer I again participated in the summer poetry swap, organized by  Tabatha Yeatts. Like most of you, my mailbox is usually home to bills and catalogs. But not in the summer–every couple of weeks my mailbox grins with poetry treats! And because I’m generous, I’m willing to share my goodies.

My summer adventure kicked-off with a collage and poem from Keri Collins Lewis. I loved Keri’s invitation to explore:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up, Carol Varsalona gifted me a nature journal and a poem inspired by her morning observation–a good model for said-journal!

Watching in Awe

In pensive stillness,
she stood.
From the window
I watched.
She came in peace,
baby does
not in sight.
Quietly,
she moved
behind trees,
careful to hide
her caramel silhouette.

Gazing
into the silence,
as if with
forethought,
she communed
with nature.
morning light
caught her eye.
She delicately
passed on by.
–Carol Varsalona

 

Heidi Mordhorst used Tabatha’s terrific poetry swap logo and my own nature/science obsession to inspire her colorful poem:

 

green rides into yellow
glowing molecules of chlorophyll
rolling through particles golden as pollen
motion of stem sugaring under sunshine
summer chemistry
–Heidi Mordhorst

 

 

Imagine my surprise when I opened Margaret Simon‘s envelope and saw that some of my monarch photos that I had posted on Facebook had inspired her poem! Margaret also gave me plaque/collage she made, with a raft of buffleheads (my favorite water fowl) and the good advice to “Be impeccable with your word.”

From a tiny egg
the size of a pinky fingernail,
iridescent like a snow globe,
a monarch grows.

From a swamp milkweed,
caterpillar sheds his newborn skin
earning stripes along the way,
a monarch grows.

From a neaby leaf,
chrysalis dangles like a green lantern
darkening more each day
a monarch grows.

From a see-through shelter,
butterfly unfolds as a scarf from a magicians’s hand,
spreads wide orange kite-wings,
a monarch flies.
–Margaret Simon

Thanks for the treats, summer swappers. It’s been a welcome respite from what’s going on in the world today. (As have been the green lanterns I’ve got dangling at home, waiting for that magician’s hand to work its wonders.)

And finally, to make a long post even longer, I’m sharing a timely story I wrote for the July/August issue of Click Magazine. Back in April the editor asked me to write a read-aloud story about the upcoming eclipse. Feel free to read it with your favorite 5 or 6 year old and try out the activities!

Happy eclipse watching, and Happy Poetry Friday. Be sure to visit Kay for all of this week’s posts.

Happy Mac-N-Cheese Day!

If you’re a Poetry Friday regular, you already know that today is National Macaroni and Cheese Day. Leave it to Tabatha to suggest a Poetry Friday Mac-n-Cheese celebration (yes, that same Tabatha who organizes the splendid Summer Poetry Swap–more about the poetry treasures I’ve received in a late summer post.)

I make a mean macaroni and cheese, and we enjoy eating it fairly regularly around here. But my pasta love was really not inspiring much poetry love, so I started brainstorming other ideas. A detective named Mac N. Cheese? A worm named Mac who toiled through cheesy soil? Hmmm…maybe not. Here’s where my brainstorming eventually led:

Mac and Cheese (A Love Story)

Mac loved Cheese.
She rubbed his ears.
She brushed his fuzzy back.

Rafa, who belongs to a friend, stays at Camp Buffy when her family is away. She turned into a swamp monster in her younger days, while searching for a run-away ball. I can’t find the photographic evidence.

Cheese loved Mac.
He licked her face.
His tail went thwack-a-thwack!

Let’s play ball!
Cheese nudged Mac’s hand.
She threw it long and hard.

Cheese bounded off,
a furry streak
across the grassy yard,

sniffing here,
zipping there—
a wild, zigzag romp,

down the hill,
past the fence,
into the neighbor’s swamp….

Rafa and Dakota, the resident hound, staying out of the swamp.

Stop! yelled Mac.
but Cheese ran on
through deep and sticky muck,

goo and gush,
oozy slime
‘til Cheese’s legs were stuck!

Mac arrived
with leash in hand.
She clipped it on his collar,

picked him up
and hauled him home.
She didn’t gripe or holler.

Cheese’s fur
was thick with crud,
and smelly as a skunk.

Mac washed Cheese
(Cheese soaked Mac.)
No more grime and gunk.

Dakota, at the edge of the yard and swamp. Good dog!

Mac loved Cheese.
She rubbed his ears.
She brushed his furry back.

Cheese loved Mac.
He licked her face.
His tail went thwack-a-thwack!
–©Buffy Silverman, 07/14/2017

I can’t wait to read what other poems have been cooked up for today! Visit The Opposite of Indifference to find all the delicious offerings.

Welcome to Poetry Friday!

When I began my blog a few years back, I had big plans of studying and reviewing poetry books that would hopefully inspire my own writing. Somehow that never happened. I think I felt unqualified to share my opinions with the world. But today I’m putting a tiny toe in the water and reviewing a new favorite.

Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, If You Were the Moon,  is a charmer. The book opens with a conversation between a young girl and the moon, with the moon explaining all that the child would do if she had her wish to be the moon.  The whimsical list begins with the moon engaged in activities familiar to a youngster: Hovering near her mother, spinning like a twilight ballerina, and teasing the Earth with peek-a-boo. Each spread includes a brief description that highlights the science behind the moon’s activities: the origin of the moon, its rotation around Earth, and why the moon appears to wax and wane. As the story progresses, the moon’s actions become more magical: lighting a pathway to the sea, weaving a spell over wonderers, and whispering wisdom from the sky. The nonfiction descriptions also move to less familiar and equally magical facts about the moon: leading sea turtles, inspiring artists, and guiding farmers. I can imagine a young child pretending to be the moon and acting out the simple text. And an older child would devour the facts that are explained so clearly.

As a writer, I found this book a creative and imaginative way to explore science. So I decided to see what I could come up with using it as a model. My first step was to type out the simple text. That led me to see more clearly what the book encompasses, from understanding basic facts about the moon (how the moon formed, its gravitational pull, orbit, phases, lunar surface, light) to how the moon has inspired people through music, art, poetry, human exploration, and a guide for agriculture. Wow! What topic could I choose that might have such a wide range of possibilities? I made a list and decided to try to write an “If You Were a Book” story. That’s not a usual topic for me (what, no creepy crawlies!?) But maybe that’s the beauty of using another story as a model–it got me to think farther afield. Here’s the opening of a draft:

“Another book! Another book!” said Emma.

But Mama said, “Goodnight.”

Emma looked longingly at the books on her shelf.  “I wish I could slip between your covers and sleep inside your pages. I wish I was a book!”

Emma’s books straightened their spines. They opened their hearts and whispered their secrets….

If you were a book, you would…

Play with kites and kittens.

Climb the tallest tree.

Walk in someone else’s shoes.

Swim with sharks and polliwogs.

Sail on a pirate ship.

Shine on a rainy day…

Although this was a fun exercise, I wasn’t really satisfied with this draft. Maybe it doesn’t have the cohesiveness of a more focused topic like the moon. I’m now playing with another draft with a rhyming opening and closing–we’ll see where it leads. But in any case, I found that thinking about a story as a reviewer led me to also think about it as a writer. It’s something I plan to do again!

Wishing you a Happy June, and a Happy Poetry Friday! Mr. Linky and I are glad to be your hosts today. Please leave your links below.

Happy 2017 Progressive Poem!!

It’s National Poetry Month and (gulp) I have posted nothing this April. I had high hopes for an April blog project, but family matters and work-for-hire projects derailed me. So I am especially thankful to be participating in Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem. Every April Irene corrals the kidlit poetry community into writing a line-by-line masterpiece. It’s great fun to watch the poem travel from blog to blog, growing, meandering, changing course. I expected that signing up for line 18 would be safe–the direction of the poem would be pretty much set, yet I would not have the responsibility of bringing it to a satisfying conclusion. And then I read Tricia‘s line and panic set in. Am I supposed to know what is in the narrator’s heart, what lines are set in stone? Should I journey back to fifth grade, where I memorized Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening? Or maybe utter a line from the preamble to the Constitution? If that’s all that’s engraved in my brain, maybe I should avoid setting down lines I know by heart–I can always procrastinate and give the next poet the option to choose those words! Instead I’ll find some dragonwords waiting in the wings. Without further ado, here’s my six (eight?)-word contribution:

 

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!
I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.

But wait! I’ll share the lines I know by heart.
Mythicalhowls, fierytones slip from my lips

I’m handing the baton to Pat–take it away!

Want to know where the poem has been and follow it’s upcoming journey? Check out these links:

April
1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

Play Time

A couple of years ago the husband gave me a magnetic poetry kit for Chanukah. I highly recommend buying one of these gems–there’s a treasure chest of delicious words inside, and it’s great fun to arrange them and try to make sense or nonsense.

The daughter pulled out the magnets several days ago, on the first night of Chanukah. She decided she wanted a constraint, and wrote an acrostic in honor of her favorite member of the family–our dog Dakota. This turned out to be more of a challenge than you might imagine, sorting through the limited words that started with each letter (it turns out there is only one word beginning with K) and then trying to string together something poetic. But she rose to the challenge:

I did not give myself any difficult rules, and strung together the following:

Of course, I look at it now and start editing. Maybe the first three lines on their own? But I like “ferocious women never bring you coffee….” That sounds like a line that belongs in a short story, one that I will never write. Help yourself–that’s the beauty of having all these words in one place.

The husband photographed some past creations before I pulled them down (a warning…rust forms underneath the magnets, making little pits on the refrigerator door. I now know that it’s best to put paper underneath.) Apparently the daughter has a thing for self-imposed rules (and dogs.) She wrote this one with the constraint that words other than prepositions/articles/pronouns had to contain the letter g:

And I have a thing for coffee:

Wishing you some poetry fever for the new year. And be sure to visit Donna at Mainely Write for this year’s final poetry friday roundup!

Poetry Friday–the Solstice Edition

Welcome to Poetry Friday! I’m happy to host the poetry party today. When I was a kid, I remember reading a newspaper article about Jewish policemen in New York City who volunteered for extra shifts around Christmas so their fellow officers could spend more holiday time with their families. The article made a big enough impression that I remember it today (probably inaccurately, but still…) and it inspired me to host the close-to Christmas poetry friday shift for the past couple of years. Not that being your host is difficult–but I’m glad to take away stress from others who don’t need it now.

img_4364Now for the good news–the sun set yesterday at 5:12 p.m. in southwest Michigan, but this evening’s sunset is at 5:13! Although one minute doesn’t seem like much, I’m always delighted by the noticeably longer days of mid-January. The promise of more light is encouraging at a time when many of us hunger for it. We’re drawn to light during December’s dark days, and it’s no surprise that many cultures celebrate this time of year with candles. I’m looking forward to eight nights of Chanukah lights starting tomorrow night. And of course, poetry can bring us light.

img_4355Many of you have filled your December with moments of hope and light in your daily haikus. I’m more of a haiku admirer than practitioner, but I’ve tried to write a few this month. My handsome hound adds daily light and levity (plus occasional annoyance, but no need to dwell on that here…) and he inspired these haikus:

 

Hound Haiku

tail swings a beat
black nose disappears in drifts…img_4404img_4321
first snow

with each new scent
four legs bound in pursuit,
breathing the moment

stories told in tracks:
paws sprint from swamp to woods, while
boots plod well-worn paths

swirling flurries
carpet snout, ears, back…
white stars on black dog

shaking off whispers
of winter’s icy fingers,
scratching at the door

img_4274dog-tired,
he turns and curls, snug
in snowy dreams
–©Buffy Silverman, 2016

img_4268Wishing you all a warm and festive holiday! Mister Linky is helping out while I’m down dogging this morning. Please leave your links below:

#haikuforhealing

Mary Lee Hahn has a #haikuforhealing project floating around the internets for the month of December. I’m unlikely to write a haiku every day of the month (okay…guaranteed not to as today is December 2.)  Although I like brevity, I’m never certain about what makes a good haiku. But I’ll try to write a few. Every day since November 9th I have awoken feeling anxious and discouraged. Time spent outside with the hound helps. Maybe hound haiku will help some more?

with each new scent
paws bound in joyful pursuit–
breathing the moment
–Buffy Silverman

Bridget Magee celebrates the Poetry Friday community at her blog, Wee Words for Wee Ones. Visit Bridget for today’s roundup.