Thursday, June 8, 2017

Five for Poetry Friday

Part of my travels included Rogersville
Public Library, where I presented
FRESH DELICIOUS, and readers
made veggie art (using asparagus
 paintbrushes and bell pepper stamps).
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit marvelous Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for Roundup. I've been traveling and thrifting and reading and writing and traveling and thrifting and reading and writing... not much time at my desk, which is lovely, but also has me a bit scattered! That's okay, right? I know Poetry Friday folks might even appreciate a little scatteredness! :) Therefore, I'm in with a hodgepodge of poetry today. Enjoy!

1. Earlier this spring I heard R.L. Stine talk about how he came to write the Goosebumps series, and all the spin-offs. He opened his talk with this poem:

by Shel Silverstein

I dare you all to go into
The Haunted House on Howlin’ Hill,
Where squiggly things with yellow eyes
Peek past the wormy window sill.
We’ll creep into the moonlit yard,
Where weeds reach out like fingers,
And through the rotted old front door
A-squeakin’ on it hinges,
Down the dark and whisperin’ hall,
Past the musty study,
Up the windin’ staircase--
Don’t step on the step that’s bloody--
Through the secret panel
To the bedroom where we’ll slide in
To the ragged cobweb dusty bed
Ten people must have died in.
And the bats will screech,
And the spirits will scream,
And the thunder will crash
Like a horrible dream,
And we’ll sing with the zombies
And dance with the dead.
And howl at the ghost
With the axe in his head,
And--come to think of it what do you say
We go get some ice cream instead?
Now isn't that exactly what you 'd expect from R.L. Stine?!

2. Also this spring I got to meet Watt Key, author of ALABAMA MOON and a number of other books. We got to talking, and I asked him what he would read at a "My Favorite Poem" event. Right away he cited this poem:

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
This poem has been read at nearly every My Favorite Poem event I have attended!

3. After I'd given a library presentation -- including poems from FRESH DELICIOUS, WHEN THE SUN SHINES ON ANTARCTICA and DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST, a little girl gave me this little stuffed giraffe:

She said it was because she loved how courageous the giraffe is in this poem:

Triptych for a Thirsty Giraffe

  1. Craving

Leaves turn
to dust,
mouth cottons,

swollen log.

Must find water.

  1. Caution

Water hole, at last.

Rhinos, elephants,
warthogs, impalas.

Watch out for lions!

Security-camera eyes
scan water's edge.

Must be safe.

  1. Courage

Long legs contort,
widen into triangles.

Step by step by step
until, yes!

Tongue whirlpools water
into mouth.

Must not stop.

4. Another gift I received recently was from a friend Ann, who shared with me a handmade ornament with words we both consider to be a poem:


Ann shared that she'd spotted the words on a sign at a march she was participating in, and she knew she needed to share them.

5. Finally, I'd like to share a poem I clipped recently from THE THREEPENNY REVIEW:

The Capacity of Speech
It is easy to be decent to speechless things.
To hang houses for the purple martins
To nest in. To bed down the horses under
The great white wing of the year's first snow.
To ensure the dog and cat are comfortable.
To set out suet for the backyard birds.
To put the poorly-shot, wounded deer down.
To nurse its orphaned fawn until its spots
Are gone. To sweep the spider into the glass
And tap it out into the grass. To blow out
The candle and save the moth from flame.
To trap the black bear and set it free.
To throw the thrashing brook trout back.
How easy it is to be decent
To things that lack the capacity of speech,
To feed and shelter whatever will never
Beg us or thank us or make us ashamed.
Poetry is everywhere, isn't it? Thanks for reading!


  1. What a fun mini-collection you've given us! The one from RL Stine is predictable, as is The Road Not Taken. Giraffe Girl is adorable. Those last two belong together. We should all be decent and kind no matter how hard it is...

  2. I am really loving "The Capacity of Speech." It is "speaking" to me today :-) xo

  3. I'm with Tabatha..."The Capacity of Speech" leaves me - well - speechless. Thought provoking.

  4. Kindness. If everyone would just make an effort towards kindness... it would be even so much easier to be show ... kindness. #letitsnowball

    Love your Triptych for a Thirsty Giraffe - and the sweetest moment of that little girl and her/your courageous giraffe! #awww

  5. Your post is full of kindness and caring, love and nurturing. Thanks for sharing these poems and your gifts with us.

  6. Such lovely poems. I love Robert Frost's poem. It's one of my favorites. That last poem though was a lovely sort of reassurance. It resonated specifically to the space I'm in at the moment. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Such a fabulous collection of poems new and old. I'm holding close the poetry of kindness.

  8. Love this post -- delightful hodge podge. The giraffe girl is adorable and I especially like Austin Smith's poem. :)

  9. As a child of the nineties, I would've squealed like a little girl to meet the idol of the childhood, Mr. Stine - I absolutely went through a phase where I would read nothing but Goosebumps books. He helped turn me into a lover of books! :-)

  10. I so love your giraffe poem and must get a copy of your book. A few years back I had the unforgettable experience of observing a watering hole in Uganda from behind a wildlife "blind." I was amazing to see so many different animals enjoy a cooling drink on a hot afternoon. --
    Christie @

  11. I took the grand-girls to an IMAX of the sweep of African animals and habitats, & they showed a wary giraffe at a water hole. I thought of you and that poem, that book. All of this post shows the caring we people do, and then perhaps should do a little more. That final poem is a call to us, isn't it? Thanks, Irene.

  12. Love the poem The Capacity of Speech. I love it so much I repeated reading as if I could memorize it by doing so. Very thought provoking

  13. These are all lovely and inspiring... as is the photo of the little girl who gave you the giraffe. See, kindness begets kindness.

  14. A lovely collection of words...and rhythms. I am fortunate to have read them and have them in me now.

  15. Thank you for sharing this lovely hodgepodge of courage and kindness! I haven't read "The Road Not Taken" in years. So interesting to read it again from a different perspective. As others have said, the final line of "The Capacity of Speech" stopped me in my tracks.

  16. What a rich sharing this is, so full of potent meaning and gentle admonishing. How subtle and sublime is that last poem. Frost's poem is the most googled poem of all time, by leaps and bounds. It speaks to something alone and alienated in all of us, to those times of our lives when choosing our path hurts, when we feel we have to give up one thing for another. I have come to prefer other poems, but it was an early favorite of mine.

  17. Such treasures scattered here today - thank you for sharing all, especially those amazing gifts. And thanks for that final poem. I'm pondering how to respond to the specter of seismic blasting planned for off the coast here - public response period goes a few more weeks. Sigh. XO

  18. Thanks for this cornucopia of poetry offerings Irene!I love the surprising twist at the end of Shel Silverstein's "Haunted." And the Search for water in your Dear Wandering Wildebeest book. Austin Smith seems to be leaving us with an alternative message as his poem ends, perhaps we need to view individuals who speak similarly to those who do not . . .


Your thoughts?