Friday, July 5, 2019

Poems Inspired by THE LOST WORDS

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for Roundup. A few weeks ago Mary Lee was gushing about THE LOST WORDS by Robert Macfarlane, art by Jackie Morris -- a book I also love! (You can read my blog post here.) Mary Lee also shared that Spell Songs, a (magical, gorgeous!) musical companion to THE LOST WORDS will be released soon. I can't wait! And it inspired me to share with all of you a few LOST WORDS -inspired poems I wrote last summer -- a couple of them for others, as part of Tabatha's Summer Poem Swap. Enjoy!


Stealthy as moonlight (and as predictable),
you saunter past blackberry brambles,
all regal swagger and peaceful gaze

Keeper of night,
you wear your stripe like a scar –
just part of who you are

Unfazed by fox, you rough your fluff,
release a warning scent
before lifting your tail in a blaze of battle –

No need to spray when wily fox turns tail,
leaps to safety (anything to avoid being musked)
while you forage for frogs and mushrooms

Kingdom of kudzu awaits your return,
soon welcomes you back to greentree hollow
where you curl into a furrow to nap away daylight hours
- Irene Latham

– for Tabatha

O heart-keeper, night sweeper,
sing to me of forestmoon
and joystruck mice --

Wing me to a world of leaves and summerlight,
     where words are starstorms dappled by sweet breezes.

Love me with your abiding SwapMama magic,
     swaddle me forever in your poem-feathered nest.

- Irene Latham

- for Michelle

Mother of summer, you belong
in a Grimm museum:

Only you carry both
fireball sun and inky

Night in the gossamer stitch
of your wings. Only you

Arc dizzily from milkweed to
milkweed, across three thousand

Roiling green oceans, your feet
coated in sweetdust to power you

Home to Mexico – before frost turns
you tipsy, transforms you to stone.

- Irene Latham


  1. Each poem is absolutely lovely....I do also love The Lost Words and enjoy his postings on twitter with daily words. I never considered an acrostic in this way before. I think I might need to try it. Very cool structure. And, you are able to add some real beauty to each line. Owl might be my favorite.

  2. The Lost Words is such a gorgeous book! The words and art meld together perfectly. Your poems are wonderful and inspiring! I may have to write a few nature-inspired acrostics today.

  3. Oh, you weaver of magic! I'm in love with "Owl." Every line is a treasure! And I requested this book after I read Mary Lee's post last week. It will be a delight when it arrives.

  4. I can't help loving your swaggering skunk.

  5. I love The Lost Words, too, finding new ways to look at things makes it very special, and you've shown that too in your new looks at skunk, owl and monarch, Irene. I too love the way you've used the acrostic form and read each poem imagining my own encounters with each, once that 'keeper of night' strode across a path when I was camping with students & heading toward the outhouse! Oh my, it did seem take over my night!

  6. I love all these poems here. I keep rereading them and can not pick one I admire more than the others.
    I followed the links and ended up putting a hold on The Lost Words. I am number 54 in line for 11 books. I might have to just purchase it!

  7. You bring the acrostic poem to an entirely different level with these oh-so-absolutely-perfect poems. I love these! And I want that LOST WORDS book too!

  8. Irene, these are simply stunning. You've woven such lovely images throughout each of them. I love your swaggering skunk, your owl singing of "forestmoon" and your monarch who carries ..."both
    fireball sun and inky

    Night in the gossamer stitch
    of your wings. "
    I'm bewitched and bedazzled.

  9. I think I know which book is rising to the top of my list of books I must have. Your poems are lovely. I love the skunk one. Did you know that the scent glands/oils from skunks are used in making the finest perfumes? Evidently they hold scent quite well!

  10. Oh, what a fun post Irene, and perfect timing for these summer critters! I love your closing lines for "Owl"
    "Love me with your abiding SwapMama magic,
    swaddle me forever in your poem-feathered nest."
    My "MONARCH" is displayed prominently on one of my studios walls and the "Bathtub of Poetry" keeps me company next to my computer. Thanks for all! xo :)

  11. They are all gorgeous, but oh so lucky Tabatha! OWL is just so so lovely. What a wonderful gift!

  12. I can't decide which I love more, Owl's poem-feathered nest or Monarch's fireball sun and inky night wings. Such a lush poetic world you live in, Irene. xo

  13. I just got The Lost Words--such swoon-worthy poetry, such a terrific response to the absence of these words in kids' lives and dictionaries. And I love your lost-word-inspired poetry. I'm mulling over a few, too.

  14. I thought I discovered this book all by myself--but I guess not! Mary Lee and I are going to do a preK-5th grade project of some kind using it. My favorite of these beauties is Monarch--it's a little out there, brings something fresh to this icon.


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