Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Madness Continues

UnknownIt’s the Sweet Sixteen over at March Madness Poetry, and I’m still in the game.  My word for this round is flagrant.  My first thoughts about flagrant had nothing to do with biology or natural history–would it be possible for me to write a non-science poem?!  Perhaps there would be a trial for some flagrant violation of the law–maybe a trial of a fairy tale character.  What about Jack from Jack in the beanstalk?  Or the giant?  Or both Jack and the giant?  I finally settled on Goldilocks, and thought of all that might be included in a summary for the prosecution and the defense of her breaking-and-entering trial. Surely Goldilocks had read the welcome mat and took it to heart.  She probably saved the house from being burned down by taking the porridge off the stove. I googled “Goldilocks trial” in case there might be other ideas lurking…and found that my idea was less than original.  There were plays, mock trials, you tube videos, and more.  Back to the drawing board.  Perhaps rules at school could be flagrantly ignored.  But by whom?

IMG_4543.5.3.10wCaterpillars, of course (so much for the non-science related poem.)  I thought about an inchworm school where caterpillars learned to pose as sticks and leaves and flowers, and didn’t move for hours.  What might happen if a flashy monarch caterpillar came along…would it flagrantly ignore the classroom rules because it’s distasteful to birds?MonarchCaterpillarI-87-8


Here’s the poem I wrote, with apologies to any and all teachers in the audience!

The Kings of the Caterpillar Class
by Buffy Silverman

Today’s the start of Inchworm School. Ms. Mothstein reads the rules:
No showing off! No gaudy clothes! Always hide and cower!
Every day wear camouflage: a stick, a leaf, or flower.

We learn to slip away on silk. We never drop our guard.
Ms. Mothstein teaches safety tricks then leads us to the yard
where two new students wait for her. They’re creeping in plain sight.

They do not hide or dive or flee while crows and jays alight.
We stare in awe. We’ve never seen such stripy, curvy crawlers.
They’re dressed in black and white and yellow—bold, majestic colors.

Ms. Mothstein gasps! She shakes a wing in disbelief and glowers.
You are not dressed like sticks or leaves. You don’t resemble flowers!
Your flagrant disregard of rules will not be tolerated!

The monarchs laugh and munch their lunch. We’ll eat until we’re sated.
No bird will bother bitter-pillars, so stop your silly fussle.

And then a crow comes flapping by. No one moves a muscle.
We hear a snap! and then she’s gone: Ms. Mothstein lost the tussle.

If you’re reading this before 9:45 pm EST on Friday, you still have time to read and vote for the poem you prefer.  Please click on this link to find my match.  There are a lot more poems to savor at

18923_originalSpeaking of teachers who I hope I have not offended, visit A Year of Reading for links to all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings!

Dribble, dribble, shoot, swish…it’s time for more Madness!

r1f1-6-dearth-vs-11-appendage-1024x346March Madness Poetry has begun, and I’m matched with Matt Forrest in the first round of the games.  You can find our match here.  If you’re reading this before 2:00 p.m. on Friday, you still have time to vote for your top picks for most of the round one poems, including my match.  And if you’re a Friday night reader, rush over and vote for the second flight of the round one poems.

My assigned word for this round was dearth…and I had a dearth of ideas.  But Matt’s word (appendages) seemed promising.  I felt green with envy.  After knocking my head against the keyboard for quite some time, I borrowed it.  Who has a dearth of appendages?  A snake!

The poem I wrote is a departure from my usual nonfiction fare.  I started researching how snakes evolved from lizards into legless creatures and quickly realized that I was not going to write an interesting, child-friendly 8-line poem about the gradual shortening and loss of appendages that was better suited for tunnel-dwelling creatures.  Could I come up with a just-so story?  Well, I could try.  To heck with my evolutionary biologist husband.  I am now a proponent of Lamarckian inheritance–the more ridiculous the cause of the new trait, the better.

How the Snake Lost its Limbs: The Legend of Legless Lizzy
by Buffy Silverman

Long ago, in ancient times, a lizard left the ocean
to slog through bogs and stomp through swamps with leggy locomotion.
She raced past snails and paced with turtles, proud and in command–
until she spied Pteranodon who rose above the land.

For weeks she dreamed of soaring skies, then launched off from a mound–
but snapped her four appendages when crashing to the ground.
With loss of legs and dearth of hope, she never neared her goal.
She slithered through the swampy muck and snaked into a hole.

A modern-day legless lizard.

A modern-day legless lizard.


Matt’s approach to appendages was perhaps a tad more realistic–with a hint of pretzel and a side of tingles.  I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Check out all the Poetry Friday offerings today at The Drift Record!18923_original