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.

Snowflakes at Dusk

I’ve enjoyed photography since high school, when I had the opportunity to take a photography class (how lucky was I to attend a public school that thought photography was a good use of time and resources!) For many years my camera focused on our kids, but when digital photography became popular, I left the family photos to my son. Then a few years ago my husband bought me a Canon Rebel for my birthday–and I fell in love with photography again. I occasionally post birds and bugs on Facebook, and sometimes (although not often enough) I use my photos for poetry prompts.

Earlier this week I tried taking photos of snowflakes for the first time. I am no Snowflake Bentley, but I managed to get a decent shot of the flakes on our picnic table in the low afternoon light. When I posted it on Facebook with the caption “Snowflakes at dusk,” Matt Forrest Essenwine commented that it would be the perfect title for a poem. I decided to take his challenge.

snowflakeI started with a random list of impressions/thoughts from the afternoon snow:

speckles of white swirl and melt //fading light
Speckles of white in black fur
Slow drift
Perfect crystals before melting on jacket sleeves
Slip off pine needles
Cover crunchy ground with soft fluff
Bird tracks under feeder
Frozen ground crunches under black paws–

And then I wrote: What ties all this together??

Other than my being outside with the hound, I had no idea. I tried to focus on a small detail, and that led me to haiku. Although I admire haikus that I read online (like those by Robyn, Diane, and Liz) I’ve never really understood what makes them work. But far be that from stopping me–and I figured I could use my title as one line, so the poem was one-third written!  Here are a couple of mediocre attempts:

snowflakes at dusk–
new fluff softens
the frozen ground
–Buffy Silverman

snowflakes at dusk—
bird tracks fill
and disappear
–Buffy Silverman

Both of those felt a bit slight to me, but nothing else seemed to gel. When I was reading in bed that night (Circling the Sun by Paula McLain) I was taken by the descriptions of the African sky. McLain’s words sparked some ideas, and I jotted them down. In the morning, I turned my scribbles into this:

Snowflakes at Dusk

The air brims with flakes–
crystalline stars that drift and fall,
speckling black dogs and gray branches,
erasing bird tracks below the feeder,
muffling the crunch of frozen ground.
–Buffy Silverman

So there you go, Matt. Three poems for the price of one! If my snowflake photo inspires you, dear readers, please share a poem in the comments.

Happy Poetry Friday. Tabatha has this week’s round-up at The Opposite of Indifference.

It’s Poetry Friday!

Happy Poetry Friday! Mr. Linky has kindly volunteered to help with the round-up this week. Please leave your links in the form at the end of this post.

November was an exciting month for me. My husband and I went on a service-learning trip to the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala with a group from our temple. We have not travelled a lot, and we have never had an experience remotely like this before. I admit to being nervous before the trip–I was worried about being overwhelmed or depressed by the poverty. I was concerned that I would not be able to communicate with people with my almost non-existent knowledge of Spanish. And I did not want to feel like a rich American who had come to swoop in and solve problems that I knew little about.

But my concerns were unfounded. Guatemala is a place of amazing beauty. And while the poverty is severe, the people we met did not act downtrodden or depressed. In fact, the children of these families were cheerful and eager to join in on our projects. I hope we contributed in some small way to improving the lives of a few families. I know I gained immensely from the experience.

Our group worked primarily with two Guatemalan organizations: The Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP) and Mayan Families. One of IMAP’s main goals is to create food sovereignty with organic gardens that preserve Mayan seed banks and promote biodiversity. We helped put in a garden for a single mom and her children who lived in a community built after the 2005 hurricane displaced indigenous farmers from their land. It was amazing to see the change in the family’s small yard–and wonderful to see how the kids jumped in to dig and plant (by the second day 13-year old Lesley had decided that she was going to be a gardener when she grows up.) IMG_6494We worked on several projects with Mayan Families, including building a chicken coop for a single mom and her 10 children (who lived in three rooms with a leaky tin roof.) The oldest son works as a builder’s assistant and was enamored with the power tools that the group had brought. The younger kids jumped in with hammering and painting. We also built stoves for families that had previously used open flames for cooking.

I’ve whittled down my 1000 photos from the trip to a not-quite-manageable number. Here are a few of my favorites, and a draft of a poem inspired by the experience.IMG_6874  IMG_6803                                 IMG_6868         IMG_6900  IMG_6775IMG_6959IMG_7086 IMG_7200

Eight Days in Guatemala

A hoe, a rake,
new skills to learn–

we plant, we grow,
we reap in turn.

With hammer and nails
with wood and scraps,

we join and build,
we bridge our gaps.

A gesture, a smile,
to give, to take,

with work and cheer,
new worlds to make.
–Buffy Silverman, November, 2015

A Celebration of Wild

_MG_5983Irene Latham, one of the nicest people I’ve never met (and an amazing poet) is hosting a Wild 10 Year Blogiversary Celebration today. In honor of her blogiversary, she’s asked folks to contribute a wild-themed poem.

The wildest creature in my life is our new dog, Dakota. We’ve had Dakota for about two months–he was a stray Plott hound who lived in prison for 10 weeks, learning some basic commands and good behavior before being put up for adoption. I hope he brought joy to the inmates who trained him–he’s a sweetheart of a dog with soulful brown eyes and a penchant for leaning on anyone willing to pet him. Dakota inspired this poem, and Irene gave me an excuse to share some photos of Dakota. Thank you both!

Dog Days

A tang of sky
A sniff of breeze
A bark, a cry
A dash through trees
A track, a trail
A bound, a leap
A snug of tail
A ball of sleep
–©Buffy Silverman



It’s Halloweensie Time!

Just in time for Halloween, Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog is chock-full of fun-sized stories! Susanna is hosting her 5th Annual Halloweensie Contest. The rules for this year’s contest are to write a 100-word or less Halloween story for kids, using the words costume, dark, and haunt (or any variation like costumed, darkened, haunted, etc.) If you’re reading this and it’s before Friday, October 30th at 11:59 pm, you’ve still got time to join the halloweensie parade. Visit Susanna’s blog to find links to all the Halloweensie entries.

Here’s mine:


My kind daughter put my poem on the above image (thank you, Widescreen Wallpapers!) and darkened the web line that ran through it. She also said I should post the poem without the image, in case anyone who uses text-to-speech software wanted to read it. That’s something I never would have thought of (and why I depend on my kids to keep me up-to-date.)  So here’s the non-image enhanced version:

Spider’s Halloween Debut
by Buffy Silverman

Spider spun her sticky web
and scrutinized the scene below.
A ghoulish ghost and ghastly witch
were putting on a scary show

to entertain a costumed crew
who bravely watched the chilling sight.
The audience heard gruesome groans
and shivered in the cold, dark night.

Spider itched to join the fun,
to haunt, to scare, to steal the show.
She dropped a line and skittered down,
but no one looked… so she let go

and landed on the witch’s neck.
Spider scampered, spider crawled,
She heard a screech! She heard a howl!
Creepy spider spooked them all.

Happy Halloween and Happy Early Poetry Friday. Visit Jone at Check it Out for more poetry friday treats.

Monarch Magic

One of the highlights of my summer was sharing our dining room table with a pair of monarch caterpillars. Several years ago I planted swamp milkweed at the edge of our swampy lake, and now we’ve got a healthy crop of milkweed. The original plants were cast-offs from a research project of one of my husband’s grad students. I picked some milkweed flowers for a reception in honor of said graduate student after she defended her thesis this summer. A couple of days later I noticed two teeny monarch caterpillars on the flowers! For weeks I photographed the caterpillars as they nibbled and grew, and then changed into chrysalids.

I often use my photographs as poetry prompts, so this summer’s caterpillars starred in a couple of my summer swap poems. My talented daughter did the layout of all my swap poems. The first one, for Linda Baie ( this week’s poetry friday host,) was written when the caterpillars were barely visible as they munched flower buds.


© Buffy Silverman

About 10 days later the caterpillars had grown almost as long as the milkweed leaves they were devouring, and then changed into chrysalids. I posted quite a few photos of the kids on Facebook, and Vicky Lorencen commented that she liked their striped pajamas. Striped pajamas led me to think about clown suits. That circus image inspired my next summer swap poem, written for Keri Collins Lewis:

© Buffy Silverman

© Buffy Silverman

We were out-of-town when the first butterfly emerged, but I got to watch and photograph the second one. I’ll refrain from posting the hundreds of photos I took…but you can scroll down and enjoy a bit of the magic:

_MG_5081 _MG_5109 _MG_5117

_MG_5121 _MG_5160 _MG_5326

_MG_5397 _MG_5457

Happy Poetry Friday!

Sharing Summer’s Bounty

I’ve had a fairly busy summer–working on more books for Lerner, a couple of Click articles, and some other small writing gigs. Often when I have work-for-hire assignments, poetry flies out the window. But this summer I’ve managed to write some poetry too. Liz Steinglass and I exchanged daily poems in July (which allowed us both to complete drafts of collections we started during our exchange in April.) My critique group held it’s annual retreat, which is always a productive and inspiring time. AND I participated in Tabatha’s Summer Poetry Swap! The main reason I signed up for the swap is for the deadlines–I wish I could say I always write every day, but without some kind of accountability I lose focus.

The summer swap has a wonderful added benefit: my mailbox fills with poetry! I shared a couple of earlier swap poems here. Today I’m posting the final three poems I received.

I could have used Tabatha Yeatts‘ inspiration when I was struggling to write my final March Madness poem about gargoyles! Tabatha’s laughing, splashing, open-mouthed gargoyle has so much spunk and attitude–and I appreciated that she wrote a “Things To Do” poem, as I had played with that form recently on my blog.

©Tabatha Yeatts

©Tabatha Yeatts

I guess I’ve earned a reputation as a dragonfly lover, because Irene Latham sent me my second dragonfly poem of the swap. I was also happy to recognize that Nikki Grimes’ challenge on Today’s Little Ditty inspired Irene’s iridescent, helicoptering dragonfly.

©Irene Latham

©Irene Latham

Linda Baie’s “Blowing Out the Summer Candles” was not the final poem I received in the swap. But it is full of the bounty and sweetness of summer’s end, and the perfect poem to close my post with:

©Linda Baie

©Linda Baie

Thanks to all my summer swappers! Be sure to visit Sylvia at Poetry for Children to share this week’s Poetry Friday harvest.



Buffy Silverman

August 7, 2015

I’m participating in the summer poetry swap again this year, organized by Tabatha Yeatts. Most of my mail is of the junk variety, so it’s a treat to open an envelope and find poetry! My first swapper was Diane Mayr, whose random noodling is a poetry delight. Diane took her inspiration from the dragonfly on my blog.

©Diane Mayr

©Diane Mayr

One of the things I enjoy about the swap is seeing the different approaches that poets take–I love that Diane’s poem combines science and art, and goes from historic to realistic to fantastic. Imagining a dragonfly making off with the occasional small child definitely appeals to my strange sense of humor!

When I received Diane’s poem I realized that I had better get moving on my first swap poem, which was meant to go to Diane. I thought I might write a dragonfly poem in return. But then I remembered that I had recently photographed a newly-emerged damselfly, complete with the damsel’s nymphal skin. And since Diane wrote about damsels and nymphs, I was set. Here’s the mask poem I wrote to go with the photo:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

For the second swap, Tabatha gave an optional prompt of writing a small sonnet. According to Tabatha, a small sonnet has seven couplets, with an AB or BA rhyme scheme. Each line is 5 syllables, with the first line rhyming with the title. PLUS at least one line has 5 monosyllabic words, and at least one line is one 5 syllable word. Talk about a challenge! The poem I sent to Carol Varsalona did not have a 5 syllable word, but I think I managed to follow the rest of the form’s rules. And I got to include a dragonfly! The photo that inspired the poem was taken with my left hand because my right hand was otherwise occupied:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

The poem that Keri Collins Lewis sent me for the second swap made me blush–it was about me! I’m pretty sure no one has ever written a poem with moi as the subject before, and it is unlikely to happen again, so I will treasure this one.

©Keri Collins Lewis

©Keri Collins Lewis

I’ve got more poetry swap treasures to share, but I’ll save them for another week. Tabatha has all this week’s poetry friday offerings at The Opposite of Indifference.