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All material on this website is © Donna JT Smith unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Poetry Jam - How to Poems

Today's challenge at Poetry Jam is to write a "how to" poem...
and so here is my "How to Write a Poem"...and my "How to Be Six" poem embedded in it.

How to Write a Poem

first write down a bunch of things
all the zany little zings
that just wing
into your
brain
your fenced in frame
of mind.
when your fingers stop and linger
on a gritty, grainy zinger
let it sing
out of your
brain
unfettered frame
of mind.

How to be
How to stop a cat
How to pat a dog
how to clean the refrigerator
how to stuff a turkey
how to make coffee
how to climb a hill
how to try on shoes
how to comb your hair
how to brush a cat/dog
how to open a door
how to close a door
how to calm fears
how to eat a lobster
how to drive
how to crack an egg
how to watch a deer
how to talk to a cat
how to talk to a dog
how to be six

How to Be Six

take away your many years
put aside your grown up fears
look for silly where you are
make a vroom sound for a car
grin and make a funny face
start a rousing game of chase
put an olive on your finger
when its bedtime whine and linger
throw a rock that goes too far
almost hitting someone’s car;
lick your finger, rub your shoe
till it looks as good as new;
put your backpack on your belly,
stick your finger in the jelly;
put on shoes, left on right -
try to tie the laces tight;
put your toys and clothes away,
toss them where the monsters play;
ride a bike, swing on swings,
think of scary, funny things;
ask one question, then another,
when you’re finished, hit your brother;
use a sheet to build a tent
ask just what “inquis'tive” meant;
find a tree to climb real high,
sitting there, become a spy;
watch for strangers and for danger,
then become a forest ranger;
ride your bike so fast you crash,
dig to find a pirate’s stash;
see how deep a puddle is
shake a soda, watch it fizz;
muddy feet and dirty clothes,
clean them off with garden hose;
then
when
you’ve become your best at six
another number has some tricks;
time to see how you will handle
another year, another candle;
grab the next list of “How to...”
seven’s here to challenge you.

©Donna JT Smith, 2014, all rights reserved


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I Am

Here we go - Poetry Jam's prompt today is to write about who you are or are not...your identity.

Mirror Image

I look in the mirror and -
I am 5
wondering what I will
do when my friend hits me
my mother says "hit her back"
I cannot
I will not
"So sit on her"
I can do that
she does not hit me again
I am little
I will not hit my friend
but I will not be bullied.

I am 6
wondering why a stranger
would say, "Hi, chubby!"
I ignore him
my mother and mirror
assure me I am not
he does not know me
in my outgrown red shirt
my happy bare feet
and dirty fingernails
that have built miles of roads
for my Tonka truck.

I am 8
wondering at a stranger who
tells my parents I am so grown up
to give him comfort
on the side of the road,
when he has hit our dog
with his car
as we wait for the school bus
I assure him, "My dog will be all right"
though I am a bit worried
that our dog will die
I do not want him
to feel sad or worried.

I am 10
wondering why my friend
says I
cannot be
in her special club
so I make my own
special club that she cannot
even dream to be in
but I cannot keep her out
I can't be mean
to my friend.

I am 14
and wonder why boys
all seem to want to talk to me
and my father is outraged
when a 21 year old
at the hardware store
asks if
he can date me
he is embarrassed
to learn that
I am so young
I did not ask for this
new kind of attention
I just wanted to buy
some nails for my dad.

I am 17
wondering why a friend
talks behind my back
spreading hate
power dwells
in rumors
but I will not be bullied
I work my way back up
from depths I did not know
existed
she is not a friend
I should have seen that.

I am 21
wondering about the future
wearing a veil
I say “I do”
to someone
who calls me beautiful
I will let him think so
he calls me wonderful
I think “if you say so”
we buy a house
we begin a
happily
ever after
as best friends.

I am 30
with wonderment
I hear our firstborn’s cry
I hear exclamations of “It’s a boy!”
“I know," I whisper
this is not a surprise to me
and two years later
neither is his sister
they are beautiful
and wonderful
who needs ultrasound
when you are given dreams?

I am today
still a child
a little girl
a young lady
a new bride
mother of two
and grandmother
I am who I am
because of all that has been done
because of all I have done
my husband still calls me
beautiful and wonderful
but my mirror says
he is the beautiful and
wonderful one

I am ageless
and wonder what will
be added in the
time that I have
been given.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday - Woo-Hoo Day!

Yesterday afternoon I went in to town to work with second graders (I love that...I just walk in, grab a clipboard and go hunting for students available to do some extra reading or writing...) as a volunteer in my old school (from which I am retired).  That in itself made it a great day.  I have one kid who asks throughout the week if I'm coming to read with him.  I like that.  Someone looks forward to seeing me.  AND then I leave.  I don't have to keep Running Records, score anything, write a report, etc...none of that.  All the good parts of teaching without the paperworky quirky things.
So yesterday was already a great day.
But when I got home, there was a small UPS package waiting for me, leaning up against my front door.
As an aside, I do have to tell you this.  If I hadn't even seen the package, I'd have known someone had been on our front porch by the dog's reaction when I got home.  She was standing over as far away from the door as possible, looking at us from between the open stairs to the loft, barking at us.  She didn't come to the door.  She's a Golden Retriever, and older, and when we come home sometimes she'll bark a little bit, but then comes to the door to greet us with her tail end all wiggly-twiggly.  But when someone has been there - like UPS, FedEx or the oil man, she's hiding out as far away as possible, barking from a safe distance.  She's a great "delayed alert" dog.

Anyway, there was a small package on the doorstep, and it was my paperback copy of Winter Ways!  When I had torn the package open in my own special way (which will be a blog another day), it looked just right, better even than I'd imagined.  It was shiny covered, just right for holding sized, with real paper pages inside and my poems and my pictures and my name and an ISBN.  No, it does not get any better than that.  Not yet anyway.

I'm still waiting for The Fall of the Leaves of Fall.  I think they lost it, being 4 days overdue now.  For some reason it did not have a tracking number as this one did and the book my grandson got.  So I can't tell you about that one yet.  I do know this one is just the way I had hoped it would look - and I'm being assured FLF will be beautiful, too.

So this is a reminder for anyone out there with any iBook reader for iPad, iPhone or Mac computer...Winter Ways is available as a free download this week and next.  Just click on the book to the right and select ebook for $0.00!
Who knows, you may want your own paperback...
Here it is:
An ISBN! It must be a real book!

The cover - my front yard in winter

Here's Twinkly Sprinkly...

And two more where that came from!

I had a great day!  Now let's go make someone else's day great by reading other Slices of Life over at Two Writing Teachers today because it is Tuesday - WooHoo Day!

Friday, November 14, 2014

And Now It Must Be Friday...

My brain could be back on schedule.  I woke up knowing it was Friday and that I hadn't posted anything for Poetry Friday.

I've been reading lots of poetry for a while now.  You know, poetry is a funny thing.  I wrote "funny think" first and corrected it, but I think I am right.  It's a "funny think".  It isn't really a story, though it can be.  It's just a funny think; something that occurs to you - and mostly all in one sitting.  Oh, yes, you may edit and revise, but by and large the whole "think" comes in one sitting - in one huge think.
I am not a big fan of poems that make you think too hard on the receiving end though.  You know, where a tree frog is symbolic for how someone's life is going, but they don't say it, so I'm left wondering if they truly feel that way about frogs, or maybe I should be feeling that way, or maybe it's really a statement about pond life in general...  I guess I'm pretty superficial when it comes to art.
However I do like some word play and snippets of rhyme and a good rhythm.  And I like a good ending.  It doesn't have to be a happy ending.
Not all of these things are easy to accomplish in a poem, thus the final revisions and editings.  But the "funny think" came first.  And by "funny", I don't mean it has to BE funny...it just is an unusual, unique or "just struck you", interesting way of thinking about something.
This is one of my "funny thinks".  I wasn't sure I would ever write about it, but there he was again in my line of sight when I took the dog out this morning.  And the "funny think" happened.  This is not like the tree frog idea.  It really is just about a bird.

Sorry, Sparrow

I heard a thud on my window,
I knew it was a bird;
Now his body's in my rosebush,
I wish I hadn't heard.

One moment he was soaring free
So sad to see him dead
Windows showing him sky and tree -
Merely mirrored instead.

And now a poor little sparrow
Left in my rosebush thorns
Will not be flying home again.
Where is his mate that mourns?

I have a picture...but out of respect for his relatives, I will not be posting it.
Go read more "funny thinks" for Poetry Friday with Keri at Keri Recommends today!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Oh, It's Thursday?

Goodness...I feel like I've been rude.  I just got so caught up in being distracted that I forgot it was Thursday.  With Veterans' Day on Tuesday, I got off by a day, I guess.  There were things I wanted to remember to do today, and things that I thought were happening today but happened yesterday - so missed them entirely.

Anyway, I wanted to say thank you to Michelle Barnes.  She has my haiku on her site today for the November Ditty of the Month Club offering.  It is part of her collection of monster-inspired haiku this month.  Mine isn't exactly monstrous, but it does have a black cat.  Head on over to Today's Little Ditty and maybe concoct your own monster-y haiku to submit!  It's fun.  Who isn't up for fun...any day of the week...?

Phew!  OK, so tomorrow is Friday, right?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dreams

Poetry Jam has the challenge to write about the word "dream".


Dream

a dream is what is not but is
though all the world is in a tiz
I enter into dream of day
and let my mind in there allay
all fears and worries, roiling strife
and cut through foggy seams of life
and I return much saner, for
my quiet time with secured door
reopening I am renewed 
a world made fresh each leaf a’dewed
and I can see more clearly when
in dreams I’ve taken Peace again

©Donna JT Smith

And my dream, my second book of poetry is now available.
"Winter Ways" is a collection of  Cold and Snowy Poems for young hearts.
The iBook version is free from now through the Thanksgiving weekend!


Winter Ways by Donna JT Smith | Make Your Own Book

Thanks for looking and reading! 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

An Exercise

On Friday, for Poetry Friday, Margaret Simon explained how she used her students as "guinea pigs" (so to speak), offering them a writing technique/prompt she had seen done by their state poet laureate, Ava Leavell Haymon, at the Book Festival Wordshop.
Her explanation and results are on her page  Reflections on the Teche here.
I decided to try the exercise, since I had a pen and the back of a large envelope right here handy beside me.


Here's the final, short 6 line poem that I came up with out of some of the words jotted down:

Oh, the luscious feeling
Of sweet love
I hum
So softly enveloped
In the arms of serenity
Blessed I am.

And this - with only a couple of very quick edits, is my "free writing" in 7 minutes.  It was supposed to be free writing - not a poem (complete with rhyming), but this just came out.  It is always a wonder-ing feeling when this happens.  I can never explain why sometimes words are easy and others they are labored over.
Was it the exercise of the writing of the words, the disregarding of the internal negatives thoughts, was it knowing I was going to write something not planned out, that I'd spontaneously would put on paper - and that I didn't have to share it if I didn't care to - like if it was stupid and terrible as the voices had said it would be before I disregarded them?
7 minutes - With the rest of the exercise, it was probably 15 minutes total for prep and both pieces.  I may try it again next week.  It seemed to free up the brain.
Thanks for the exercise, Margaret and Ava!

My Wonder

Days are long in summers lost;
Evening comes at precious cost -
Quick the sun’s last rays are cast,
Now the time is going fast.
As the stars come out to play,
When the moon peeks out a ray,
I alone am left to wonder
At their glory, at God’s thunder.
All around me dark of night
Blankets me and holds me tight
Till my breath it will not come
And my heartbeat slows to dumb;
Then I hear the breath of night
Breathing songs into the white
Of stars and moon, oh, they too sing
And I have heard no grander thing
Than dark and light in chorus lift
Their voices smooth and soft and swift
Drifting to my ears on earth
Offering me a chance for birth
I can only hear them when
My hand is still, and God wields pen.

Donna JT Smith
Nov. 8, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

Poetry Friday and Winter Ways

We have already had snow here in Maine - my mother-in-law, up in The County (Aroostook  County to those out of the loop) - is seeing a foot accumulate today.  We were going up to visit for the weekend, but that weather has changed our plans.
I've been busy this week, writing lots and lots and doing the necessary laundry and dishwashing.  No vacuuming, so I think that must be today...cat and dog are of no help...

Anyway, after putting "The Fall of the Leaves of Fall" poems together in a photo quality book, I've decided to put "Winter Ways" in a trade book format.  This will mean a much better price point than the FLF book.  "Winter Ways" will have new poems, geared for the youngish and young at heart.  I'm sorry that most people don't go for rhyming books, but that seems to be what my brain does a lot of, so a lot of these are using that format.  I have written and rewritten and slept on it, and rewritten, hopefully to get the rhythm and reason for the rhymes to work out together.  There is nothing worse than making a rhyme for a rhyme's sake... except maybe reading it later and noting that the rhythm is off!

I have copied a page out of "Winter Ways" and am posting it here for Poetry Friday.  I know.  I'm late.  But I've been busy.
Hope you like it!  It's time for snow!

with Diane Mayr.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rock Pebble Stone



Today's Poetry Jam challenge is to write about pebbles.  I have lots I could write about pebbles.  I love them.  I don't have tons of them, but I do have a few favorites I have picked up over the years.  One of my oldest is my wedding rock.  My best friend gave me this rock for our wedding.  It is a rather large rock that has followed me around since 1972.  It has a line of quartz that runs through it - a ring - so it is considered a wishing rock.  Then I have rocks that I collected with my mother when we took her to Newfoundland on her last trip before she died - the one a doctor told her not to go on, and she got a second opinion on that!  They are sharp red rocks that shattered off the face of a cliff there.  I'm surprised we made it through security with them, they were that sharp!
Then I have shiny quartz and mica pieces and smooth white pebbles from Nova Scotia.  I try not to collect rocks anymore from beaches.  It doesn't seem right to deplete them, and could cause more erosion if everyone did it.  So I haven't gotten a beach rock in years.
I got a beautiful green rock from my daughter for my birthday one year.  Seems like it wasn't long ago, but I'm afraid it was probably 10 years ago... She was out walking with a friend and they came across this rock.  She knew I'd love it, and she brought it home and wrapped it up.  She was right, I loved it.  Her friend thought she was crazy - so I guess the friend must have thought I was, too!
My grandson brought me two rocks from the driveway.  I thanked him and set them on the table.  At church, I reached in for my Bible, and my hand touched something rough.  He had slipped the rocks into my church bag sometime before he left.
You can see all the rocks mentioned above, except for the white pebbles, in the picture - oh, and the acorn my grandson gave me, too, put there for size reference!

So, that's the history - my grandmother collected rocks, I collect rocks, my grandson collects rocks.  I have a picture of him on his way to Disney World this week, wearing his new sunglasses and holding up his treasure - a new pebble, stone or rock, whichever you like!

My Grandmother

Though she collected rocks, you see,
She never read a book to me.

While walking on the beach
Or when she went on trips
She'd find a special rock
To slip in her pocket if it were small,
Stash in the trunk if it were large,
Or just carry it in her hand
Walking back home.
I'd see her carefully
place the rock
on her garden wall
Or in a special nook
Rock, pebble, stone
She never read a book.

She came from Newfoundland
I did not see her school pictures
In any photo book she had
No pictures of her classmates
As I had for my parents
and grandfather.
Had she gone to school?
Perhaps not
Or not for very long
Sometimes back then for girls
School were locked
Stone pebble rock
I only heard her talk.

Each piece she had
Told a story
Of who or where she was,
Places where she grew up
Places she had loved
Maybe they were her books.
Reminders of days
Of what she'd heard or seen
Rock stone pebble
A bit of where she'd been.

Though she collected rocks with me,
She never read a book, you see.

©Donna JT Smith

Friday, October 31, 2014

FAILED!

It was a sad day yesterday.  My Mac has been shutting down randomly for the past few weeks.  I've tried figuring out what I had open when it would happen.  Finally, reading the crash reports and watching my usage, I determined it had something to do with my graphics card perhaps, as iPhoto and websites seemed to aggravate it.

I took it in to a Genius at Apple (where my husband and I worked for a couple of years), told him my computer's symptoms, and he said it was probably the video card.  To confirm it, he plugged it in and ran a test on it.  Suddenly, the screen flashed a huge FAILED from one side of the screen to the other.

There was nothing that could be done, short of a video card transplant.  So it has been sent in to the Apple Hospital to receive a new internal organ.  It will be back home in a few days.  Today I am working on my husband's old Mac.  I was going to just go without and maybe do laundry and clean the bedroom...but then I decided, nah!  Starbucks, a venti decaf latte and an old Mac sounded better.

So here I am latte-d and late, but here, online.  Happy.  Guess I'll write a poem for Poetry Friday - what's left of it!  But my friend, Linda Baie, is hosting so I don't want to miss it!

Computer o' Mine

We've ridden in cars
on trains
and on planes;
You've held all my pics
of fall
and of squall,
We've caught words mid-air
to write
and delight,
You've saved and found files
once missed
on some disk,
We've worked overnight
from sup
to sun up;
I'm missing you now,
it's bad
feeling sad;
I've bought you a card
that's swell
to get well!

(that would be a swell, getting well new video card...)

Ok, so not my best work.  But I'm sure my computer will appreciate it when it gets back after getting my "get well card"!
I should take it back in to the Apple Store and let them hook it up again, just so it can see the sign that says, A+!  No more failing grades!  Now that would make it feel really good!