This is my playground for poetry written for children with ideas and inspiration for writing your own poems. Come on in. Sit for a spell, have a cup of words to swirl around and make your own cup of poetry. I'm so glad you are here. I hope you'll find the Kingdom of Poetry a fun place to be.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Lai

     Some days/nights you just feel brain dead.  I think part of the problem is that there are too many things I could write about today.  This often happens when I come to Poetry Friday, or I have a deadline.  I want to write something significant, something important to share and nothing seems good enough.  I know you've been there. 
     So today I'll just share a poem I wrote as part of the Monday Poetry Stretch over at Miss Rumpus Effect
     This week I learned about the Lai, a form poem. This is a French form with 9 lines--aab,aab,aab.  The a lines have 5 syllables.  The b lines have only 2.  So, since 6 of the lines need to rhyme, it means that base word family has to be big.  I'm thinking words like "an" --ran, fan, can, man, Dan, Nan, pan, tan.  Or maybe "ight"--light, bright, bite, might, plight, etc.  Anyway, for my poem I cheated a little and used feminine rhyme by using gerunds--"ing" words. (follow the links above for more information on The Lai Verse Form.)

This poem is in honor of the blue moon shining tonight. 


While I am sleeping
a lizard leaping
My eyes start blinking
what was I thinking
Then I am screaming
I wasn't dreaming

     So, how did I do?  Did I meet the requirements of the form?
    If you try performing this poem with a class, the children can join in by saying the AWAKES, MISTAKES, LAND SAKES!

     Have a Happy Poetry Friday.  Thanks to Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children for hosting the round up this week.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the new POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY.

Go Here for Ordering Information

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Special Mail

I opened my mailbox
and what did I see?
A little lizard
staring at me.

Perched among the mail today.
He scooted and scampered
to run away.

     As I was walking this morning, I noticed all the different kinds of mailboxes people have at their houses.  What is your mailbox like?  Have fun writing a poem today, even if it is only a couplet.  Here is a haiku:

Mailbox by my house
brings letters and surprises
a little lizard

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Morning Walk

On my morning walk I saw:
   a gila woodpecker sitting on a tall saguaro,
   a dozen doves sitting on a telephone wire,
   two western cotton-tail rabbits,
   a covey of quail,
   lots of lizards,
   a piece of red quartz, 
   a roadrunner running,
   and, oops,
   a quick moving king snake.

      This is a very simple list poem of things I saw on my morning walk.  There are three lines that use alliteration.  That is where words have the same beginning sound.  I've also repeated the "qu" sound three times in this poem.  Can you find those?  Repetition of sounds helps to put more music into your poems. 
      My friend Ellen Johnston-Hale taught me that, "It isn't about the rabbits; it's de-tails."  There are details in almost every line of this poem.  Do you notice how I could have just said birds, rabbits, a rock, a snake?  But the details included in each line make the line more interesting.
     Why do you think I wrote oops, in the penultimate (next to last) line? 
     Can you write your own list poem about things you saw on your way to school today?  Remember to include lots of details and try to include at least one alliteration.  Have fun writing and please share your creation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012



Little yellow frog,
Little yellow frog,
Where have you been?

I've been hiding,
I've been hiding,
said little yellow frog,
under a log.


Little red hen,
Little red hen,
Where have you been?

I've been sitting,
I've been sitting,
said little red hen,
trying to hatch these eggs.

     Can you see the pattern I've set up in these two poems? 

Little (color)  (animal).
Little (color)  (animal),
Where have you been?

 I've been (action word),
I've been (action word),
said the little (color) (animal)
(line to explain where or what the action is)

So let's try it with a cat.

Little white cat,
Little white cat,
Where have you been?

I've been sleeping,
I've been sleeping,
said little white cat,
on this cozy mat.

Or a dog.

Little brown dog,
Little brown dog,
Where have you been?

I've been running,
I've been running,
said the little brown dog,
through this misty fog.

 I'm already thinking about the verses I can write using this pattern with a goat, a lion, an ostrich, the moon, (see, it doesn't have to be an animal), the broom, even a Texas tycoon.  Just to show you the form can be used for something other than animals, I wanted to use different colors too.  So I thought about silver and the first thing that came to mind was a shovel.

Little silver shovel, 
Little silver shovel,
Where have you been?

I've been digging, 
I've been digging,
said little silver shovel
all across the gravel.

   So now it is your turn.  Can you write your own poem using this form?  If you had a whole group of poems you could put them together in your own little book of poetry.  Have fun.  If you'd like to leave your poem in the comments below, I'd LOVE to read your creation.  Thank you.

Monday, August 27, 2012








me from

getting wet.

It is so good

it's not


     Can you see the shape of an umbrella?  Do you know why it is closed?  I do like writing concrete poems, but more often than not, I just start out to write a poem and then after it is written, the poem tells me it wants to be concrete.  And once I know what shape the poem wants to be, it is so much fun seeing if I can shape the poem.  (Yes, I know if you are reading this post on your cell phone all the spaces have been deleted, so you can't see the concrete poem. RATS!) Have fun writing your own poem today.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


     On yesterday's post of my poem SNAKE SNACKS I mentioned that the meter was off in a few places.  I said I'd show you a nifty way to work on that.  Does your computer have a spread sheet program?  If not you can make yourself a grid sheet of boxes like a spread sheet.  Use one row of the grid for each line of your poem.  Put the un-accented syllables in lower case and the accented words in UPPER CASE.  This will quickly let you see if you are forcing any of the words into unusual accents and you'll see if your line lengths are uniform.  It also makes it a lot easier to count the metrical feet in each line.

Here is what I did using the spread sheet with my poem.  See where the problems are?  Then once you can see the problems, it is a lot easier to fix them.

my PET snake if this is an iambic line snake is unaccented.


he LIKES to EAT my SNACKS. iambic

he EATS my CHEESE See how this line matches line2?


he EATS all

my PEA nut BUTT er CRACK ers.


are de LISH us See the problem?

lip SMACK ers

So your challenge for today is to take one of your poems and try putting it into a spread sheet.  If this sounds like too much trouble for a Sunday, write a poem instead and save this idea for another day.  But I must say it is fun to put the words into the little boxes.  Sooner or later you have got to try it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Robyn Hood Black, Children's Poet

     All my friends know how much I love, love, love THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY, compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.


     So many of the poems in the book make me laugh and give me ideas for writing my own poems.  One of my favorite poems in the book is by Robyn Hood Black

      With Robyn's permission, I'm sharing  her poem, Snack Rules with you.


Don't talk with your mouth full--
full of peanut butter.
Anything you try to say
will cmmm out as a mmmttrr.

Copyright © 22012 by Robyn Hood Black. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

     When I first read her poem SNACK RULES, my eyes played a trick on me and I read the title as SNAKE RULES and I thought it was the funniest thing to think of a snake with his mouth stuck shut with peanut butter.  When I wrote to Robyn and told her of my mis-sight, she suggested that I write the poem I thought I saw.  Or rather she said something like I always did have a thing for snakes.  (She is right, I've written about them often.)
    So I did.  But when I got done I changed the title to:


My pet snake,
I call him Drake,
likes to eat my snacks.

He eats the cheese,
he eats the nuts,
he eats all my
peanut butter crackers.

My snacks,
He says
are delicious

The only problem,
it happened quick,
the peanut butter
made him sick.

They made his lips
like glue stick.
Now instead of h-i-s-s-s-s-s
my pet snake hics.

A snake with hiccups
could cause fright.
His hic-ing keeps me up
all through the night.

     I'll admit that the rhythm is off in a couple of places, and if you come back tomorrow, I'll show you a nifty way I found for working with that. (I hope.)
     Your poetry prompt for today is to think of an animal and write a poem about something that happens to it.  What happens when the birds eat lemons, or the bear uses honey on his coat, or the dog rolls in the mud, or the hamster eats all your jellybeans?  Can you find an animal that sets your imagination running?  Happy Saturday.  Have fun playing with your poem.

     Thank you, Robyn for sharing your poem with us and for stimulating my creativity.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Weather Report

Trees are arched,
their branches sway.
Skies are cloudy,
covered in gray.
Dark clouds mumble
they even bray.
They moan and groan
and grumble away.
I think the thing
they are trying to say
is take an umbrella,
it will rain today.

     What is the weather like where you are?  Can you write a poem about your weather today?

     The gadget that counts my my posts indicated I have posted a poem a day for over 500 days now.  I want to thank you.  Every time I'd start to feel discouraged, or blocked, one of my readers would make an inspiring comment--or something would provide an idea to carry me on to the next poem.  You do make the writing a lot more fun. I appreciate your help.  I never could have reached that goal without your help.  Over 1,000 people come to the blog each week.  Thank you. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012


The crow by my house
no longer sings.
All she does is
ring, Ring, RING!

She built her nest
close to my home,
then she swallowed
my cell phone.

     I was working on a list of animals and strange things they could say, stutter, muffle or eat and this poem fell into my lap.  I originally wrote "bird" but in an attempt to be more specific (so more details would come to the reader's mind) I started thinking about one syllable birds and had dove, wren, crow to pick from.
     Can you make your own list of animals and pair them up with strange things they might eat--your dirty socks, grandma's false teeth, a flash light, a trumpet?  Now use that for the start of your own poem.  Oh, I like this exercise.  I'm having fun with it.  I hope you do too.  Post your poems in the comments below if you'd like to share them. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Poetry Books

    A while back the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona asked me what poetry books I'd recommend for parents and children.  I was limited to 10 recommendations.  They have posted my suggestions at :


Car Trip

My car honks beep, beep.
My car honks toot, toot.
You and I can travel 
along a magic route.

We'll drive through cities
and along the countryside
over hills and rivers
and up a mountainside. 

We'll stop for hamburgers
and to fill up with gas.
the trip that we're taking
will quickly pass.

But we'll take photos--
memories of our fun
and then we can see
our riding in the sun.

     On August 22, 1903 Theodore Roosevelt became the first American president to ride in an automobile, in Hartford, Connecticut.  Can you write a poem today about a ride?  Was it in a car, or some other vehicle? Where did you go?  What did you see?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy Poet's Day

I like to laugh.
I like to rhyme.
I like to giggle
all of the time.

Come join with me
in writing rhyme,
together we'll have
a jolly time.

    It is a very good day.  I hope it will be a great day for you.  I wouldn't know that today is Poet's Day except for my friend Linda Andersen who pointed this holiday out to me.  You can visit her and learn lots of more fun activities for the month of August at her blog at  http://lindamartinandersen.wordpress.com/
    Today is also the birthday of poet X. J. Kennedy and if it is your birthday, then Kennedy is your birthday poet.
   Try writing your own poem today.   Or take a poem to lunch.  Have fun writing and reading poetry.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mr. Scorpion

Who is that
on the floor?
Has he come in
under the door?

With a paper
and a cup
I scoop
Mr. Scorpion up.

And then I throw
 him out the door
I caution him
never come back
any more.

     One of the not so nice things about living in Arizona is living with scorpions.  Fortunately most of the time they stay outside, but every once in a while they creep under the door and come in the house.  Then we have to get rid of them.
     This picture is a dead scorpion I found on the road outside my house on my morning walk.

      Yesterday on the radio I heard a woman from Florida talking about the gators and water moccasin snakes where she lives.  Just about anywhere you live there is going to be some annoying pest.  What is where you live?  Mosquitoes the size of refrigerators?  Fire ants whose bites flare up brighter than a dance dress?  Today's challenge is to write a poem about one of the pesky things in your area--it could even be a younger brother or sister who is always borrowing your things.  Have fun writing, and as always if you'd like to share you creation, you may use the comments section below. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012


 A sunflower is a bit of sunshine,
a plate of butter,
a golden smile,
a yellow crown sparkling,
a large lemon lollipop,
a custard pie,
and a tasty feast
for the birds.

 Yesterday was a good Saturday.  I went to a program presented by children's poet Juanita Havill on the campus of the University of Arizona.  She met with about 25 children and their parents in the School of Education library.  The children flew poetry around the room, they memorized a poem, they did a choral reading and acted out a poem.  They illustrated a poem and they wrote their own poems.  It was a delightful morning for me and so much fun to listen to the children's creations.

     One of the things we did was write a poem about a sunflower seed.  I was so inspired, after writing my seed poem, I wrote the poem above about a sunflower. 

     Your challenge for today is to write a poem about a flower, a fruit or vegetable.  My poem is a list poem of all the ways to describe a yellow sunflower.  How many different ways can you describe your object?  How many metaphors can you find in my poem?  You're welcome to share your creations in the comments section below.

     I'm still reeling from the great party we had last Friday.  I know we were describing family members in the reunion photo,but I'm thinking what we have is a whole photograph album.  What fun.  I feel so grateful to everyone who dropped by, who came to the party and played along with me.  I'm feeling very much like Maurice Sendak's Really Rosie today.  I couldn't have so much fun playing with poetry if you weren't there to play along with me.  Thank you.  You're a wonderful bunch of friends.  Thank you for sharing your creations.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Post Party Fatigue

     WOW!  What fun I had yesterday with our poetry party.  Everyone had great suggestions for people, birds, and even a chair and a piano to go into the family reunion photo.  Thank you to everyone who made a contribution to the party.
We really need to figure out how to do some readings of the poems from THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY.                   
     Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, thank you for such a fun collection of poems.

Happy Saturday.

The party is over.
the guests have left.
I'm feeling sad
and slightly bereft.

     Do you like parties?  Many parties in Tucson have pinatas. What do you think the pinata for a poetry party would look like?  I know what would go inside--sweets, good words and great lines for poems.
    I keep an idea bowl on my desk.  I cut interesting words and phrases from magazines when I see them and put them in the bowl.  On days when I can't think about what to write,I grab some words from the bowl and see if I can fashion them into a poem.  Do you keep and idea bowl, jar or envelope to help you write poems?
   The poetry challenge for today is to write a poem about how you feel today.  Are you happy, sad, busy, tired, delighted,or just plain punked?  Have fun writing.  It doesn't have to be long just try to write something.

Friday, August 17, 2012


      Oh it has been an exciting week. I got my ARC (Advance Readers Copy) of a new poetry book.

THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core, compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. (If you click on the title it will take you to the publisher where you can learn more about the book.)

There are 181 poems in this book – 35 for each grade level K-5, and then some extras, written by 75 poets including Jack Prelutsky, J. Patrick Lewis, Jane Yolen, X. J. Kennedy, Arnold Adoff, Linda Sue Park, Georgia Heard, Gail Carson Levine, Eileen Spinelli, David L. Harrison. For a complete listing of the poets included in the book go here. (If you would like to purchase this book, or read reviews, this link will take you to Amazon.( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1937057682 ) There are a lot of the Poetry Friday crew in the book!

Can imagine the fun I'm having reading the poems by so many of my friends.

One of the poems that spoke to me from the kindergarten section was a poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Rebecca (  http://rebeccakaidotlich.com/  ) has kindly given me permission to share the poem with you.


Knock, knock!
Who's there?

It's Mrs. Betty!

She brought us a pot
of homemade

copyright ©2012 by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Used with permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd. All rights reserved.

I admire Rebecca's poem and the rhyming of Betty with spaghetti. This got me to thinking about rhyming people's names with foods.

Earlier this week (Wednesday, August 15, 2012), I wrote my own poem that rhymed names with foods, titled MY SIX UNCLES.
Several of my friends have tried this too. Thanks to Linda Andersen  and her grandsons Travis and Jonathan and to Jeanne Poland who has posted her poem at The Vibrant Channel Creator.

Yesterday I started thinking about using the names with other things, but keeping it all in the family with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Nieces, Nephews, Brothers, Sisters, Moms, Dads—any relative or friend you can think of.   Some how I tumbled to a family reunion, and there was the group photo.


See Uncle Matt?
He's wearing a hat.
That's cousin Lance
in the short pants.

Auntie Grace
has a smile on her face.

Her twin sister Aunt Trace
wears diamonds and lace.

My Uncle Kurt
is without a shirt.

My Cousin Piers
is making rabbit ears.

My Sister Pearl
has all the curls.

Cousin Jed
is the red head.

And Baby Claire
with the golden hair,
slipped out of her diaper
and is running bare

      Does Baby Claire make this an X-rated poem? Anyway, I'm sure you get the idea of how much fun it is to rhyme names with some trait or activity of the person. Who else can we put into the family photo? Who have we forgotten? 
      Here is your poetry challenge for today-- write a couplet to add to our family photo. You may leave your contribution in the comments below. 
     Oh, I forgot the dog and the cat.  You're welcome to try that. 

      Thanks again to Rebecca Kai Dotlich for sharing her delightful poem Mrs. Betty. Thanks for the inspiration. Happy Poetry Friday and I hope that you too will read and enjoy THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Old Wagon

Rickety, crickety
the old wagon creeks
carrying goods
over hills
and peaks.

Rumbly, grumbly
the wheels turn round
over stones and sticks
in mud on the ground.

Clackety,  clankety
the cart is full of pans.
I think it sounds
like a heavy metal band,
says the old wagon man.

     Can you draw a picture of this old wooden cart?  You might enjoy reading Donald Hall's picture book, THE OXCART MAN.  What other things do you think the wagon man carried in his wagon?  Try writing a list poem about five things that might go in the cart.  If you had a cart, what would you do with it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Six Uncles

My Uncle Billy
likes to eat chili.

My Uncle Drake
loves chocolate cake.

My Uncle Freddy
stuffs on spaghetti.

My Uncle Newt
eats grapefruit.

My Uncle Finn
is way too thin.
All he eats
is a vitamin.

My Uncle Matt
is way too fat.
He eats everything,
some of this 
and lots of that.

And my Aunt Dot
washes up the pot.

     It is fun rhyming foods with names.  You can do this with almost any list, rhyming names with the things on your list.  Do you want to give this a try?

I'm already thinking about a list of things I do in a day.

In the morning,
My Uncle Drake
gets up late.   (Oops, that's a slip rhyme or near rhyme--I'm going to have to work a little harder to find an exact rhyme.  Ah, My Aunt Kate!)

My Aunt Flower
takes a shower.

My Uncle Hawk,
takes a walk.

     OK, you try it.  Have fun.  Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


In the morning
I feel fine
I see my shadow
it's a friend of mine.

In the morning when 
my shadow 
is seen,
to me 
it looks

I think
my shadow
is pretty sweet,
it is attached
to my feet.

When clouds come
my shadow runs away
then we can
no longer play.
     Have you ever played with shadow puppets?  Can you write  a poem today about shadows?  Do have fun.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Muffins are tasty.
Muffins are sweet.
They're my favorite
food to eat.

poppy seed.
These yummy
are what
I need.

Be it a mouse,
a moose 
or me,
we eat every
that we see.

      Happy Monday.  What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Today can you write a poem about one of your favorite foods?

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Sunday is the fun day
the day I give thanks.
Sunday is the one day
that I don't play pranks.

I'm thankful for the birds,
and the flowers and trees,
but mostly I glad that
I get to be me.

Sunday I go to church
and there I pray
to give my thanks for
our blessings today.

     Happy Sunday.  I hope it is a great day for you.  Today, can you write a poem about your favorite day of the week, or your favorite month? 

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I like it when my mouth feels clean,
 a sparkling smile and teeth that gleam.

Brushing my teeth is not a waste,
especially since I like the taste
of my whitening tooth paste.

 The bristles brush down from the top
then to the bottom my tooth brush drops.
Up and up the bristles go
cleaning teeth the way they grow.

I have a smile, clean and bright.
Now off to bed, I'll say good night.

     For fun today try writing a poem,an ode in praise of your toothbrush, or your dentist.  Have fun writing.

Friday, August 10, 2012


On my way to school today
I saw policeman Dave
so I smiled and raised my arm
to give a great big wave.

Then I saw some street workers
rolling gravel flat to pave
so I smiled and raised my arm
to give a great big wave.

And I saw the ice cream man
with cold ice cream cones I crave
so I smiled and raised my arm
to give a great big wave. 

I made folks smile today
their memories I will save
just because I raised my arm
and gave a great big wave.

     When I was a child traveling with my parents in the car for vacations, I waved at the truck drivers we passed trying to get them to honk their horns.  I'd feel like a winner every time the horn blew.  Even now I still play the smile game.  This is where I smile at someone and give myself a point for every person who smiles back.  Have you ever played either of these games?
     Your poetry prompt for today is to write a poem about something that makes you smile, or someone you made smile.  Have fun writing and keep smiling.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Blow on it, blow on it,
some one said
as I sat and watched
my knee turn red.

I was running too fast
across the dirt,
then I tripped and fell
that's how I got hurt.

I shouldn't have been running.
I wish I hadn't fell.
My bleeding knee 
hurts like
stones in my shoes.

     Can you find the simile in the last stanza?  Today's writing challenge is a little different.  Either write your own poem about getting hurt, or try re-writing the last stanza of my poem. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Midday Magic

there was just one
hovering around the car.
It's body rusty brown
and wings as thin
as cobwebs.

there were two
and a third one
joined in.

The numbers kept
increasing until
finally there were more
than a dozen
all paused in flight.

All with their heads 
pointed my direction
to stare with huge eyes.

So fascinated,
all I could do
was stop
and watch
in awe at the green,
and red, and blue
bodies held aloft,
held in place
by fairy wings
as if their
whole purpose in life
was to amaze me
with their magic.

     Can you tell from the description what insect I'm writing about?  This is a good poem to use for playing with line breaks.  Are there better places to break the lines?  Does this poem work as well with out line breaks, as a prose poem?  Your challenge for today is to take a poem and try re-arranging the lines.  Try reading your poem from the bottom up.  Does it still make sense?  Do you like the poem better this way?  Does it give you new ideas?  Is there a better place to stop the poem? 
Do have fun playing with your poetry.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


(To be spoken all in a rush with only one breath, if possible.)

my best friend David
says I talk too much--all the time
I talk,talk,talk.
I don't think that is true
but David calls me
Yackety-Yak, Talk-Talker.
That hurts my feelings.
I tell him I don't talk too much,
I just enjoy talking.
I like saying words
and feeling them in my mouth.
I don't talk too much, I just talk.
So, what to you think, Mom?
Do you think it is true,
do you think I talk too much?
Am I a gabby person?
Is David right,
do I talk, talk, talk?
Come on, Mom,
what do you think?
Do I talk too much?
Do you think I talk too much?

       This actually is a found poem.  I heard this one sided conversation from a 7 year-old boy when I was out at a museum.  As I listened, I didn't see how this kid could believe that he didn't talk too much.  What do you think?
     So here is today's challenge--write a poem in which one person tells a lie.