Poetry Swap!

Is there anything better than a surprise package in the mail?  This week’s mail brought me a home-made poetry collage (and many oohs and ahhs.)  And I’m willing to share:

2013-06-27 16.05.05Mary Lee Hahn sent me the collage for the first round of this year’s poetry swap, organized by Tabatha.  Mary Lee found the larger-than-life stag beetle sauntering down her sidewalk.  It’s impressive, as is her poem:


A rhino needs a grassy plain,
For worms, the dirt’s essential.
The open sky’s the hawk’s domain,
The mole requires a tunnel.

A spider builds between the weeds,
A front desires a current.
A big soft chair, a book to read:
For me, that is sufficient.
–Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

When I looked at Mary Lee’s artwork I felt a little chagrined about what I had sent Joy Acey for the swap.  A plain old poem on plain old paper with a teeny tiny handwritten note.  Yikes–I better step it up for the next round!

The poem I sent to Joy was inspired by the Viceroy, my daughter’s pet axolotl.  The Viceroy has spent most of its life at Oberlin College, but recently graduated.  S/He’s an impressive amphibian–how many salamanders do you know that have a book dedicated to them?? Viceroy is now in Michigan until said daughter finds a job and flies the coop.  Like any college student, the Viceroy gets much better food at home than at school.  The daughter and I have been catching pond critters that Viceroy snaps up in an instant:

Hungry Axolotl

My birthday gift—an Axolotl–
swam around his big blue bottle,
lunged for lunch: he ate a lotl.

The Viceroy, waiting for lunch
The Viceroy, waiting for lunch

I hunted for fresh axie treats.
He didn’t feast on fruits or sweets,
Preferring snacks with hands and feets:

He lurked below, a silent threat:
That monstrous mouth of my new pet
opened wide as he beset:

swimming beetles, worms that wriggled,
darting tadpoles, nymphs who wiggled,
slimy snails and fish that squiggled.

How far could his jaws expand?
He swallowed toads that hopped on land,
I wondered if he’d chomp my hand!

My axolotol grew and grew,
‘til he was longer than my shoe,
and hungry for a cow or gnu!

If you should get an axolotl,
Find a home that’s not a bottle,
A bathtub is the perfect spotl!
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

18923_originalClick on over to The Poem Farm to see what’s up for Poetry Friday!


30 thoughts on “Poetry Swap!

  1. Hey Buffy, just a PS to let you know that I shared your poem with my family last night at dinner. We were playing a question & answer game– I asked them, “What kind of animal is an axolotl?” After several guesses, they finally got it and I shared your poem. My son said “Who wrote that?” And when I told him, he said, “She’s a REALLY good writer.” Yes, she is.

  2. Holey Moley, what a lot of creepy crawly creative goodness! Mary Lee’s collage is gorgeous and I’m all over that book and big soft chair! Buffy, trust me, your poem’s rhyme, rhythm, word play and overall FUN makes it plenty colorful… even if it is on plain ol’ paper. Wonderful job, Ladies!

  3. What fun poems! Yes, Mary Lee’s collage looks hard to beat! And Viceroy. What a very distinguished name for a well-educated amphibian. I’ve never seen one eat, but if he eats like frogs do (and from your poem it sounds like yes) you wouldn’t want to take him to a fancy restaurant no matter how sophisticated and urbane. 🙂

    1. Great image, Steve, of amphibians in high-falutin’ restaurants! Yes, an axolotl does eat like a frog (except no flashing of tongues to snag small prey.) When we feed him the little toadlets that are hopping everywhere right now, he lunges to swallow–and cute little toad legs stick out his mouth.

  4. Late to this critter party, but so glad I came. LOVE Mary Lee’s swap-offerings (and I just turned over one of those beetles in my yard this week so he/she/it could mosey along). And why am I not surprised you “raise very talented and intelligent amphibians”?! Thanks for sharing it all – loved the wordplay in your poem! :0)

    1. And I am not surprised that you are a beetle rescuer, Robyn! I really can’t take the credit for raising the multi-talented amphibian, although I did babysit it the past two summers. Truth be told, it’s my first (and possibly only) grandbabyibian.

  5. Buffy,
    I had to read both poems over and over as I enjoyed them so much. Mary Lee wowed us with words yet again, and your poem rocked with rhythm and rhyme. I had to look up an axolotl to find out if it was real. Yes, sad to say I had never heard of one before. Now, however, I can tell you much about one. I know what he eats — and that he may not be the perfect pet.

    So glad I stopped by,

  6. This Viceroy is a new amphibian in my very short book of amphibians I have known. Love both the poems and the poetry swap which is so much fun. I sent plain ole paper, too, for my first poem. Eek, guess I need to step it up. Mary Lee, I secretly hope I get on your list and get an original creation. But now I have to go write my thank you note. Not only did I sent regular printed paper, I also didn’t write a thank you note.
    Great post, Buffy!

  7. Love both poems; it seems that you and Mary Lee were paired very well indeed, Buffy. Both poems are terrific. The beetle picture is so real looking that I thought Mary Lee had actually sent the beetle’s body, & then I was wondering if it had suddenly, mysteriously died-sorry Mary Lee. Then I looked again & could tell that it was a photo. And Buffy, I have never heard of an Axolotl, but you made much goodness of the rhyming with that name-love it. I see your poems on Laura’s 15 word site & know you are clever, but this is terrific!

  8. Just for the record, the photo of the stag beetle is larger (by far) than the beetle was in real life!!

    I had fun making the collage. I’m home at my mom’s (tiny town of about 2,000-2,500) and it was a good challenge to use my rather limited resources to make my creation. Mom doesn’t have her printer connected to her new computer (and only B/W if I wanted to bother with the old computer). So I took my flashdrive and walked downtown to the Radio Shack store, where they made a print of my beetle photo. While i was waiting for the print, I noticed a rack of scrapbook paper and my idea was born. It was a nice morning diversion to make the collage.

    A note to my poetry swappers — I’ve been away from home for two weeks, but my mail/male will be driving from Ohio to Colorado on Monday. I haven’t written to say thanks because I’m not sure what I’ve got waiting for me in my mail pile!! I can’t wait to find my poem in amongst the bills!!!

    1. Yes, I intended to write that the photo was larger-than-life, but typed too fast (or reread too slowly) last night. Tell your mom that I’m happy her printer is not yet connected!

  9. The Viceroy is quite a character — and a college graduate to boot. Such fun, though I fear his very wide jaws. 🙂

    Mary Lee’s poetry collage is gorgeous. Can’t wait to see more poetry swap poems this summer!

  10. Joy’s comment made me laugh. I think we all feel like we could use handlers sometimes! Love both of these poems so much!!

  11. Buffy,
    I loved my poem and it was printed on lovely sunshine yellow paper. The poem I sent to Diane Myers was on plain paper too. I didn’t even include a picture or a note. I guess I’m going to have to step it up too. Think how far that beetle has traveled.

    1. I knew I’d spelled Diane’s name wrong. But couldn’t dig it out of my computer at the time without having to re-type everything. It is Mayr. Sorry, Diane. Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t be allowed out without a handler? I sure do.

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