Monthly Archives: April 2015

Bicycle Tree

I’ve been exchanging poems with Liz Steinglass for National Poetry Month. It’s been a fun challenge and a treat to find Liz’s mostly desk-inspired poems in my inbox each day. I started the month looking for a theme and for a few days wrote poems about trees. Then I stumbled on a different theme, but today I’m sharing one of the tree poems. It was inspired by an amazing photo that my daughter found on the internets, taken on Vashon Island in Washington state. (We did not see this tree when we took our kiddos to Vashon, where my husband’s sister lives, almost 20 years ago. But it is high on my list if/when we return.)

Photo by Ethan Welty/Tandem from

Photo by Ethan Welty/Tandem

Bicycle Tree

On a cool spring night
a boy leaned his red bicycle
against a young fir tree
and wandered away.

The bicycle waited patiently
for the boy’s return.

The tree grew and grew,
enveloping the frame,
embracing and lifting it
higher and higher.

Fifty years later
when the boy returned

along the road that had crumbled
past the house that no longer stood
through the woods that had grown
to the giant tree that shadowed the ground

the rusty bicycle, no longer leaning,
half-swallowed by wood and bark,

still waited.

–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

There are a lot of stories floating around the internet about how the bike ended up in the tree. Here’s one that may or may not be true.

Be sure to visit Renee at No Water River for the complete Poetry Friday roundup. Happy Final Friday of National Poetry Month!18923_original



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.


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.


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.