Author Archives: Buffy Silverman

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

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:


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.

Autumn Surprises

The other day Jessica Bigi posted on Facebook that she liked my poem in Cricket.  Hmmmm, I thought, I have a poem in Cricket? I figured she must be thinking of Ladybug, which I knew was reprinting a poem of mine this month. But out of curiosity I googled the October table-of-contents–and there was my poem! Because of an address mix-up I had not yet received any contributor copies (and had actually forgotten that it was in the pipeline.) I was thrilled to get a peek at it via email:life_of_a_leaf_cricket

This poem started life as a response to Laura Salas’ 15 word-or-less challenge. When I revised and expanded it, it grew a concrete oak leaf shape–and I was happy to see that the illustrator featured oak leaves falling near my poem. Thank you, Laura, for the original inspiration! And thanks to Shelly Hehenberger for the wonderful illustration.

And while I’m celebrating, here’s my poem that’s reprinted in Ladybug this month. It also started from a prompt–this one from Shutta Crum many years ago at a Michigan SCBWI conference. Shutta gave a talk about adapting fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Can you recognize the original nursery rhyme that inspired Five Little Bandits? 

It’s Friday–there’s lots more poetry on tap! Tricia has the Poetry Friday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Summer Poetry Swap…part 2

Last week I posted the beautiful poems I received in Tabatha’s summer poetry swap. This week I’m sharing the poems I sent to my swappees (or is that swapees?) I used a few of the 10 billion photos I’ve taken this summer for inspiration. It’s handy to have a talented daughter to send photos and poems to, and get back a nice design!

After being entertained by the zillions of dragonflies that zip around our dock, I wrote this poem for Irene:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

The drama that I saw outside my kitchen window (and grabbed a stool to photograph) inspired this poem for Mary Lee. I thought about trying to free the poor damselfly, but decided not to interfere. Do you see the webs hidden in the title? I cannot take credit for that bit of cleverness…

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

I raised monarch caterpillars again this summer. I restrained myself from taking as many photographs as last summer (some of those are accompanying an article I wrote for the October issue of Ask Magazine–I am ridiculously excited about having my photographs published!) But I managed to see a few things I had missed before, including a caterpillar devouring its skin after molting. Don’t worry-that’s not pictured in the poem I wrote for Donna:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

It’s pretty noisy around our house in the spring and summer. The spring peepers dominate the evening chorus, followed in the summer by American toads, green frogs, and bullfrogs (and the occasional chorus frog.) That noisy choir and this photograph of a calling bullfrog that I took at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary inspired my poem for Keri:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

I hope you enjoyed visiting my swampy home. Want to know what else is going on in the Poetry Friday world? Cowgirl poet Penny has the roundup!

Lucky Me!

Scan 2This summer I participated in Tabatha Yeatts’ summer poetry swap. My poetry swappers were more on top of the swap than moi–they sent beautiful poems and cool swag. I felt guilty when the deadlines whizzed by, but I finally managed to get with the program. Next week I’ll share the poems that I belatedly sent out. This week I’m sharing my wonderful gifts.

In June I received these flowers bursting with summer sunshine, and this joyful poem from Linda:


I rose in the dark to greet the sun –
wanting to know if I enjoyed its “good morning”
as much as I loved its “good night”?
Bird song clamored for the sun
while soft edges of trees became visible
like darkroom photographs emerging.

The colors changed sky from gray
to cream, peach, indigo-
into blue.
Broad streams of gold wrote onto the blue,
designing new pictures minute by minute.
The sun sparkled, insects woke and flew
in this, goodnight’s opposing view.
I felt joy to know the whole day lay before me.
–Linda Baie, all rights reserved

Next I got to sip some tea and contemplate the clouds in Mary Lee‘s garden, courtesy of this poem and photograph:

Scan 11GRACE

Sitting on the edge
of the third porch step,
hot tea beside me,
I ignore the garden’s weeds
and focus instead on the giant sunflower’s head
turned hopefully
toward the cloudy east.

There’s grace in knowing
the sun is there
even if it’s not showing.
I’m still learning to be that aware.
–Mary Lee Hahn, all rights reserved

Irene sent this poem inspired by her visit to the Butterfly House at Callaway Gardens and as a response to “Consider the Dragon,” a poem that I had written for her (along with some cool butterfly house swag!)

Consider the Chrysalis

Slightly creepy monarch chrysalis wearing a caterpillar skin cap. ©Buffy Silverman

Slightly creepy monarch chrysalis wearing a caterpillar skin cap. ©Buffy Silverman

Some darknesses
need not be unraveled.

Leave them to dangle,
these jeweled lockets
so tight with pain
and promise.

Allow them to
unclasp themselves,
to unfold.

Let them rest uninterrupted

before they harden
into bright truths
and flutter

across the waiting sky.
–Irene Latham, all rights reserved.

My final gift was from Donna, who wrote a poem about a dragonfly, and had it printed on a tote bag with the photograph that’s on the header of my blog! Very cool…I found out that you can’t scan a tote bag, so you’ll have to take my word on this one. But you can enjoy Donna’s Dragonfly poem:

Dragonfly patrolling our (his?) dock. ©Buffy Silverman

Dragonfly patrolling our (his?) dock. ©Buffy Silverman

I wonder why
You look the way you do –
Heaven’s wings
The lightest things
To flit across the blue;
Pencil thin,
No friendly grin,
Yet still I’m friends with you!

Eyes immense
With stare intense,
You sleep amid the dew:
Legs that clamp,
Big mouths that champ
And turn your prey to stew.
Glad I’m tall
And you are small
Or I’d be scared of you!
–Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved

Heidi has the round-up today, where you’ll find many more poetry gifts!







It’s Poetry Friday (where every month is National Poetry Month!)

Happy Poetry Friday! I hope you’ve been enjoying this month of poetic goodness. Liz Steinglass and I have been exchanging poems this month–Liz takes the gold for keeping our daily commitment. I come in a distant second…

Many of the poems I’ve written this month have been inspired by the ten zillion photographs I’ve taken of spring budding out around my house. We live at the swampy end of a small lake, and this time of year it’s a noisy place! Frogs call at all hours, swans trumpet, geese honk, and sandhill cranes bugle as they fly overhead. The toads are particularly persistent with their trills. One day I sat on our dock, surrounded by trilling, determined to find a toad in the muck. I finally spotted the closest triller and photographed him as he sang. If my friend Toad were to write a poem, this is what I imagine he might say:

Toad’s Swampy SerenadeIMG_9643

There’s a mucky, noisy choir
in the mire where I romp
making music every morning
that echoes through the swamp.

I paddle through a tangle
then I clamber up some slime
to join the crooning chorus.
My singing is sublime.

I’m puffing up my dewlap—
it swells like a balloon.
I’ll surely find a sweetheart
with my thrilling, trilling tune.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved


This is one of those poems where I’ve changed one line back and forth and back and forth and back and forth…Do I include the word dewlap, whose sound I love, but the reader might not understand? Or should I change the line to: I’m puffing up my throat until…





I suppose if I were to try to have this published for kids I would go with throat, but you, dear Poetry Friday readers, are gifted a dewlap!

Mister Linky is kindly helping with today’s links:

Happy Earth Day!

I was driving home from my morning yoga class/workout and heard someone mention Earth Day. Dang, I thought, I should have posted an Earth Day poem for Poetry Friday.  When I got home I figured better late than never. I searched my files for something appropriate, and came across this poem entitled “Recipe for a May Day.” That’s easy enough to adapt…so here it is, Happy Earth Day, Happy Poetry Friday, Happy April is Poetry Month, Happy Passover, etc etc.

_MG_0372Recipe for an Earth Day Celebration

Gather colors while you walk:
Choose the hues of sky and feathers.
Stir with greens of grass and trees.

Pick a pinch of petal purple.
Whisk with streaks of wormy pink.
Top with golden sun and breeze.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved



For more Poetry Friday deliciousness, visit Alphabet Soup (where Jama always serves up tasty wonders!)

Shhh….Surprise Party Here!

I’m touched. You’ve gathered from near and far to surprise me on my birthday. You’ve brought balloons and cake, hats and streamers. You’re hiding in closets, ready to jump out and sing!

What’s that? This isn’t a party for moi? You’re here for the Progressive Poem? You don’t think there’s a cake large enough to hold that many candles anyway? Well fine, let’s just celebrate with poetry.2016 Kidlit Progressive Poem

This year’s Progressive Poem, organized by the brilliant and talented Irene Latham, started in the sky, imagined life undersea, and then returned to land. When I noticed that the third lines of the first two stanzas wished for non-human talents that allowed these imaginary trips, I thought I could continue that pattern. Or not. Maybe I should stick with rules-of-three, and prepare to turn in a different direction (and of course someone can return to this pattern because even though IT IS my birthday as I might have already mentioned, I only get one line at this party.) For now I’ll let us stay on land and savor what’s around us. Let’s ignore the recent snow and ice pellets and celebrate spring.

A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky
A hummingbird holds and then hies
If I could fly, I’d choose to be
Sailing through a forest of poet-trees

A cast of crabs engraves the sand
Delighting a child’s outstretched hand
If I could breathe under the sea
I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee

A clump of crocuses crave the sun.
Kites soar while joyful dogs run
I sing to spring, to budding green

Clearly what this poem needs now is some spleen–take it away, Michelle! Want to follow along for the rest of the month? Here’s where the poem has been and where it will travel:

1 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

2 Joy at Joy Acey

3 Doraine at Dori Reads

4 Diane at Random Noodling

5 Penny at A Penny and Her Jots

6 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

7 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass

8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem

9 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

10 Pat at Writer on a Horse

11 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog

12 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

13 Linda at TeacherDance

14 Jone at Deo Writer

15 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly

17 Kim at Flukeprints

18 Irene at Live Your Poem

19 Charles at Charles Waters Poetry

20 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

21 Jan at Bookseedstudio

22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

23 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

24 Amy at The Poem Farm

25 Mark at Jackett Writes

26 Renee at No Water River

27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

28 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

30 Donna at Mainely Write

How to Write a Ditty

This month’s guest poet at Today’s Little Ditty is poetry superstar David Harrison (I had the good fortune to rub elbows with David and witness his magic at a Highlight’s Foundation workshop a few years ago–an experience I heartily recommend!) David challenged us to write a poem using the word “ditty.” When I read Diane Mayr’s morse code ditty today, a ditty poem started rumbling in my head. Here’s my bit of fluff:

How to Write a Ditty

A ditty should be witty
And a ditty should be short.
If a ditty isn’t witty
then a reader will not snort.

When a Valentine’s a ditty
bake it sweet as chocolate torte.
(Leave the grime and gritty for a senate subcommittee–
it’s a pity when a ditty is an odious retort.)

But if your ditty starts to wander through a thicket, through a city
and you’re in a sticky wicket and you get a speeding ticket–

STOP! You must abort!

–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved



Happy Poetry Friday! Kimberley Moran is hosting the round-up. Treat yourself to some poetry goodness.