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.

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