“Our revels now are ended…” William Shakespeare From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1
And what revels there have been! Bravo to all of you who had daily poetry projects this month. I may not have visited or commented every day, but I truly admire your hard work and dedication. You are an inspiration!
Although National Poetry Month comes to an end today, true believers know no day is complete without poetry. We’ll always dream; we’ll always write…
Words click into place like tumblers inside a lock, revealing truths hidden within my heart.
When I was a kid, I loved hanging out on my swing set. One day when I went out to play, there was a huge snake, so black he was blue, sunning himself under the swings. I ran screaming back into the house, and have been terrified of snakes ever since.
Then one of my boys turned into a lover of all reptiles, especially snakes. On our first trip to the Bronx Zoo, he made a bee-line to the Reptile House. So I had to learn, if not to like snakes, at least not be petrified when I saw one.
So I wasn’t at all surprised to see this on Michael’s Instagram feed last week:
And even though I still really don’t like snakes, it was hard to ignore the beauty of this one.
His scales polished to a glossy shine, green glimmers, blue-black shimmers as rat snake slithers over sun-warmed slate like lightning flashing across the sky.
“The beauty of the natural world lies in the details.” ~ Natalie Angier ~
Today is Earth Day. I wanted to write a poem specifically to commemorate that, but trying to write a poem about the whole Earth overwhelmed me. Then I remembered this photo from an Arizona Highways desk calendar. The beauty is in the details.
Cradled like newly hatched crocodiles, desertbell vines run rampant through the jaws of an agave, weaving their blossoms between its toothy thorns.
It’s National Poem in Your Pocket Day! My school is closed for spring break this week, so we’ll celebrate next week. When we do, I’ll be carrying Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody, Who are you?” especially for a fifth grade student who asked almost the same question in a poem she wrote last week.
“I’m Nobody, Who are you?” by Emily Dickinson
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – Too?
Then there’s a pair of us?
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
I was thinking of this poem while I walked this morning. When I heard an unfamiliar bird calling from the top of a tree, I automatically asked, “Who are you?”
Who are you, flooding my dreams with your rosy chee-chee-heeee?
Who are you, bouncing through the apple tree’s golden finery?
Who are you, sipping the last beads of dew from tender new leaves, like it was nectar for the gods?
At the Highlights Foundation Spring Poetry Retreat last April, Rebecca Kai Dotlichrecommended A Celebration of Bees: Helping Children to Write Poetry, by Barbara Juster Esbensen. Esbensen, who passed away in 1996, was an NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children winner. (You can learn more about Barbara here, part of Rene LaTullipe’s “Spotlight on NCTE Poets” series.)
“Words are the beginning,” Esbensen tells us, of “the writer’s never ending but highly interesting task of discovering exactly the right word for this feeling, that sound, a movement, a color.” She goes on to describe beginning her work with children by asking them to “find some words” to,in the words of Sherwood Anderson, “throw into a box and shake.”
Having done this with students countless times, I couldn’t remember when I had last just played with words this way. So I got a marker and let loose. I had a photograph I’d found online in mind when I created my word splash, but when I went to find the photo, I found this instead:
I gasped when I saw it and knew this was the photo I had to write a poem about.
“Japanese Tree Frogs”
Under a bower of glistening green lanterns, tree frogs trill their exuberant refrain, welcoming the soaking spring.
It is National Park Week, and this year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. (Thank you to Tricia Stohr-Hunt, aka Miss Rumphius, for the heads up on this.)
My family and I are fortunate enough to have rafted down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon twice. This is an incredible experience, one that leaves you with a deep appreciation for the grandeur of the canyon and the power of nature.
The course of the river is punctuated by powerful rapids, but there are two that stick out in my mind. One is Lava Falls, which I’ve written about here. The other is Crystal, which was formed, literally, overnight.
“In December 1966 a storm unlike any witnessed before, dropped over 14 inches of rain in some places along the north rim. All this water sent debris flows crashing down side canyons [including Crystal Canyon]. When the storm had passed, the debris fan constricted the Colorado to less than a quarter of its original width, and a large boulder at the top created one of the largest holes on the river”
National Poetry Month is rushing by, and although I’ve been sharing poems with students and created some book spine poems, I haven’t been able to keep up with writing a poem a day. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been collecting ideas and inspiration from all the amazing poetry projects going on in the Kitlitosphere. (Jama Rattigan has collected information and links to this poetry-palooza here.
Earlier this month, I found this lovely image on Twitter:
I knew right away I wanted to write a poem about that snail and flower. and started drafting a few ideas. I put it aside for some other ideas, but thought of it again when I read my friend Margaret Simon’s post this morning about Fibonacci poems. Fib poems are “based on the mathematical Fibonacci sequence which begins with 1,1,2,3,5,8.” What form could more fitting for a poem about a snail?
Snail creeps along a garden path, hunting for grub, swirls of cream and plum guard her back. Drowsy gillyflower leans down to whisper good night.