Friday, February 28, 2014

For a Dead Moth in Winter



Poetry Friday!
Yea!
It's hosted today
by Anasta-
sia's Poet Poet.  You may
find a poem to say...
...that's enough rhyming, okay?

Here's my poem with a little video clip - I'm sure the clip will be here.

Ahhh.  There we go!
For a Dead Moth in Winter

On a summer’s night
I saw you fluttering -
Fluttering to meet my kitchen light.

In the morning light
I saw you resting -
Resting from your midnight flight

In the autumn’s blight
I saw you struggling -
Struggling in a silky plight.

In dead winter’s bright
I see you fluttering -
Fluttering as a tree strung kite.

©Donna JT Smith 2/28/2014


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Trains for Poetry Jam

The prompt today at Poetry Jam is to write about trains, a train trip, a train station, etc. - some story you have about a train!  And I do have a few train stories, having taken a few long rides from Maine to Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia; and even a day trip ride on our 1950's restored Rockland to Brunswick train.

Prior Train Posts:
A Train to Christmas (my favorite ride - picture me, husband, infant daughter, 3 year old son instead of just Millie and her mom - true story otherwise)
40th Anniversary Ride
Taking Tricky Trains and Tricky Teeth

But I digress.  (Don't you love that phrase?  Who invented that?)

Here is my poem for today with a train theme.

through the Maine Eastern Railway doors - in one, out the other

doorway
to another era
window
to a world gone by
step aboard
and see
more clearly
sides of life
with a new eye

back door stories
hidden lives
things unseen on
front door drives
trucks unloading
trash disposing
entries neat
rears awry

under bridges
cans of fire
warming, lighting
keeping dry
graffiti speaks but
not to rovers
on sceneshifters
such as I

backyard linens
doghouse, fences
children waving
babies cry
lakes and rivers
over bridges
turning gray to blue
of sky

undefiled space
few beholders
privileged there
to espy
deer and fawn
hawks and herons
unsurprised as
we speed by

back door stories
hidden lives
unbeseeming
should we spy?
undefiled space
peaceful landscape
unseen scenery
do we pry?

scene from the train window


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Piano Hands

It's Slice of Life Tuesday...March 1 is coming right up on Saturday for those who are offering slices of their daily life for the month of March!  Check in today with Two Writing Teachers to see what's up today.
This weekend I got this picture - well, the full sized one that included a father's watchful eyes and a toddler's gleeful face - of my grandson accompanying his dad on a grand piano.
He lightly touches the keys a couple at a time, and the look on his face is priceless.  You can see here, his open hands over the keys and two fingers tapping the keys beneath, two notes at a time.
Already, at (officially) 2 and a half years old, he is hearing the beauty of music and appreciating the delicate sounds that can be produced with a light hand.
How grand is that?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Déjà Vu

A Déjà vu post for Poetry Friday Poetry Friday hosted by Karen Edmisten- reposted from this past Wednesday.  Visit Karen's site to read more poetry offerings! 
This is a reminder that the deadline for competing in the March Madness 2014 Poetry Tournament is fast approaching!  And it is a reminder to all who would like to vote in the upcoming poetry tournament!
**********************************
I love to watch the Olympics, but feel so unlike the Olympians.  I am in awe of what they can do both physically and mentally.  I am sooo not them.  They are sooo not me.

Olympians

I feel I meddle
when I write
of those of mettle
and such might

honed of body
toned of mind
soul and muscle
all aligned

they do not falter
though they fall
they continue
through it all

when defeated
means no prize
above the rabble
they still rise

but when victory
is seized
and Greek history
appeased

a medal’s donned
bronze, silver, gold
metals precious
to behold

when I write
of those of mettle
I wish I didn’t
feel I meddle
 © Donna JT Smith, 2014

Do you write poetry for kids of all ages?  Do you like a challenge?  Do you like writing with a deadline?  Then maybe you should consider signing up for the March Madness 2014 Poetry Tournament coming up in March!
It's not too late to apply as a poet!  There are crazy hard words to incorporate into a kid's poem to be written in 36 hours!  The Challenge is great - the true Poet Winter Olympics!  It is fun, challenging and a good kind of exhausting!
Your short application poem will be judged by Ed Decaria for entry into this amazing event.
And if you don't apply, at the very least, please stay tuned in the month of March to vote on your favorite poems!  Classrooms and homeschoolers are invited to vote also.

***********************************
Post from Ed DeCaria, founder of March Madness Poetry:
March Madness Poetry 2014: Kids Poetry. Under Pressure.
  March Madness Poetry (#MMPoetry) brings the excitement of the NCAA March Madness tournament to the world of kids' poetry. 64 poets from around the world participate in the event; together, these poets write 126 new kids' poems in just 21 days: IT'S MADNESS!

This year's participants include THE LEGEND Jane Yolen, THE MASTER Allan Wolf, THE RHYMER Tiffany Strelitz Haber, THE ARTIST Samuel Kent, and THE PRODIGY Gloson Teh. The rest of this year's authletes will be revealed to the public on Selection Sunday, March 2, 2014.
APPLY TODAY to this "epic event" -- the deadline to apply is February 23, 2014.
Event overview: http://www.thinkkidthink.com/mmpoetry-2014/
Application page: http://www.thinkkidthink.com/mmpoetry-2014/authlete-application/
Thanks!
-Ed (event founder and organizer)
*******************************
Hope to read you there!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Writers of Kid's Poems Wanted - Olympians

Poetry Jam poem is below this announcement.

Do you write poetry for kids of all ages?  Do you like a challenge?  Do you like writing with a deadline?  Then maybe you should consider signing up for the March Madness 2014 Poetry Tournament coming up in March!
It's not too late to apply as a poet!  There are crazy hard words to incorporate into a kid's poem to be written in 36 hours!  The Challenge is great - the true Poet Winter Olympics!  It is fun, challenging and a good kind of exhausting!
Your short application poem will be judged by Ed Decaria for entry into this amazing event.
And if you don't apply, at the very least, please stay tuned in the month of March to vote on your favorite poems!  Classrooms and homeschoolers are invited to vote also.

***********************************
Post from Ed DeCaria, founder of March Madness Poetry:
March Madness Poetry 2014: Kids Poetry. Under Pressure.
March Madness Poetry (#MMPoetry) brings the excitement of the NCAA March Madness tournament to the world of kids' poetry. 64 poets from around the world participate in the event; together, these poets write 126 new kids' poems in just 21 days: IT'S MADNESS!

This year's participants include THE LEGEND Jane Yolen, THE MASTER Allan Wolf, THE RHYMER Tiffany Strelitz Haber, THE ARTIST Samuel Kent, and THE PRODIGY Gloson Teh. The rest of this year's authletes will be revealed to the public on Selection Sunday, March 2, 2014.

APPLY TODAY to this "epic event" -- the deadline to apply is February 23, 2014.

Event overview: http://www.thinkkidthink.com/mmpoetry-2014/
Application page: http://www.thinkkidthink.com/mmpoetry-2014/authlete-application/

Thanks!

-Ed (event founder and organizer)
*******************************
I love to watch the Olympics, but feel so unlike them.  I am in awe of what they can do both physically and mentally.  I am sooo not them.  They are sooo not me.

An Olympic Poem for Poetry Jam:

Olympians

I feel I meddle
when I write
of those of mettle
and such might

honed of body
toned of mind
soul and muscle
all aligned

they do not falter
though they fall
they continue
through it all

when defeated
means no prize
above the rabble
they still rise

but when victory
is seized
and Greek history
appeased

a medal’s donned
bronze, silver, gold
metals precious
to behold

when I write
of those of mettle
I wish I didn’t
feel I meddle
 © Donna JT Smith, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winter Daffodil


http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/16348/




This is the first time I've ever bought daffodils that were going to bloom in the house in the middle of winter.  I was just drawn to them in the grocery store.  $3.99.  Lots of green.  No blossoms.
And the very next day one stem with a yellow football started up the green highway between the leaves.  And another.  And they opened.  And then a couple more.  And more.  Until now I have 16 bright yellow daffodils looking around the kitchen or out the window - for they do look like they are peeking about.
I'm glad I got my mini-daffodils.  They make a nice sunny spot in the kitchen with a backdrop of white snow.
They make me smile, even though they are a bit daffy.

So here you go. 

Winter Daffodil

So daffodelicate
and daffodelightful;
They're daffodelicious,
More yellow, less whiteful.
Yet they're daffodelerious
If they think it is spring;
There's cold wind galore -
It's not bees with that sting!
Inside where it's warm
They're so daffodeluded
It's easy to think
That winter's concluded;
They have daffodelusions
Daffodwelling inside 
With warm air infusions
As in pots they reside.

It's Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers, so head on over to see what's going on in other people's lives today!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Lavender Light to Velvet Night

Today is Poetry Friday, hosted by Linda Baie at TeacherDance.  You must get over there and see what she has in store this Valentine's Day...lots of links to poems, too!
Happy Valentine's Day!

This first poem came to me as I sat looking out the front windows at the snow in the later evening, just as the sun had been rumored to set (but since it was snowing furiously who could tell that there really was a sun today).  I was thinking about puzzle pieces and how you can look at a picture and think, hey, that's light blue, but then you hold it up beside something you know is blue, and it isn't, it's lavender.  And that is what color the snow looked in the evening light to me.

Lavender Light

when crimson has set
but dark is not yet
it’s lavender light
before velvet night
lavender snow
on lavender trail
lavender trees
in lavender veil
it’s a lavender eve
when the sun's taken leave
and the snow keeps on falling
sweet lavender’s calling
watch it and see
how long it can stay
before close of day
it hovers and glows
until deeper it grows
and lavender’s melted away
as night's velvet curtain
is lowered on day.

And then, I started to write a serious poem, from the heart... but it dissolved.
Not that this isn't serious (okay, it isn't really) and heartfelt...  it is (yes, it is!).
But it is a bit lighthearted (okay very lighthearted) for this Valentine's Day!  I am sorry, but I could not help myself once I got started.  If I missed any good phrases, it's because I finally had to call a halt to it.  I called a halt to it about five times, maybe more, before I stopped.  Really.  I've stopped. I am going to bed.  Right after I click Publish.  Oh, one more... I think I'm "heartsick".  Anyone who writes this way has to be sick.

Lighthearted Heartthrob

A man after my own heart
Showed up one day.
My heart wasn’t in it.
“Come in, sit and visit,”
I could not be heartless.
"Tea?" I asked.
"Heartwarming," he dubbed it.
My heart of stone
Had a change of heart.
And soon returned his visit.
"Sweets?" he asked.
"Such a sweetheart," I murmured.
My heart skipped a beat.
And we began to talk
Heart to heart,
In heartfelt words,
Listening with our hearts.
It seemed that in a heartbeat
We got to the heart of the matter,
Yes, those matters of the heart.
And our hearts wholeheartedly agreed
And heartily declared indeed,
Straight from the heart,
That they would start
To beat as one
Forever.
What were we to do?
Our hearts were in it.
Forsaking
Our hearts.
Would be too
Heartbreaking.
So we listened to our hearts,
And we have followed them,
And we have stayed
With happy hearts
No matter where they led -
Our home is where the heart is!

(Happy Valentine's Day, Sweetheart!)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dandelions

These happy flowers will be out soon.  They are the first to spring up here, seemingly waiting under the snow for spring to arrive and melt the snow down to where you can see their sunny faces!  And if you would like to read more dandelion poems, head over to Poetry Jam, where Alan has links to other original dandelion poetry.  Check back throughout the week as more poems are added!
Find out more information about this flower, and other names it can go by in other countries here.
If you want to see how my husband and I learned to become responsible homeowners, you can go to The Lawn Less Mowed. There are dandelions involved.


How to Know a Dandelion

green teeth as
lion’s ilk,
hollow straw of
bitter milk,
yellow burst with
sunny face,
hoary head for
seedy race

©Donna JT Smith, 2014
********************
And here is an older poem I'd written and posted for the 2012 A to Z challenge for the letter Y, that is also about a dandelion.  It is written as a Yadu* - a tricky form.

Y is for Yellow

yellow sun floods
the field buds bright
in mud of spring
the birds sing of
the bling of yellow dandelions

© 2012, Donna JT Smith

*The yadu (ya-du and yatu) is a Burmese form of poetry which consists of up to three stanzas of five lines. The first four lines of a stanza have four syllables each, but the fifth line can have 5, 7, 9 , or 11 syllables. A yadu should contain references to the seasons.
It has a climbing rhyme. The rhyme is on the fourth, third, and second syllables of both the first three lines and the last three lines.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mouse Trails and Constellations

The  Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted at Two Writing Teachers.
Go there and check out what's going on today in people's lives.


Before the last two snows this week, we had a bit of warming and rain, and lots of the snow melted.  When it did, it revealed in the snow, down at the grass level, the trails of a mouse, or mice.  Then on a recent drive, in the fresh snow, I could see animal tracks all along the edge of the highway up past the ditch on the tree line.
I am always fascinated by all the activity that the animals carry on doing through the winter.  You know it happens when there is no snow on the ground, too - and quite possibly more so.  But in winter it is like a little time line, a recording of what has gone on, visible now because of the imprintable snow.
When I look at the mouse trail, I wonder what made the mouse turn in a particular direction and then come back.  Was there a little tender piece of grass, an acorn, a bit of lichen?  I know at one point the trail came to a halt and then you could see it go around a stick on the ground.  I guess he didn't want to go over it.  Too much digging?  Wasn't sure how high he'd have to go to get over it?

mouse burrowing in cold snow
making paths to go
safely, secretly below

Then we had more snow and covered the trails again.  The new snow that fell was the diamond kind.  The one that has the perfect, reflective snowflakes - the beautiful snowflakes, that when caught on your dark mitten, display their six dendrites, and are the models for the warmer paper flakes we make.  February 9th was "Wilson Bentley's" birthday.  Have you read "Snowflake Bentley"?
"Of all the forms of water the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied." -- Wilson Bentley (1865-1931)

As the snowflakes lay on the landscape, the sun struck some of them, and I could see stars on the ground.  Then the constellations appeared.

snowflakes, starflakes, bright snowstars
falling from the sky
form snowbound constellations


It is fun, even in the cold, to look around and see the good stuff there is to find and think about.  You might as well.  It's a long winter.
Something fun for the kids and even adults to do.... make an online snowflake (also printable). http://snowflakes.barkleyus.com/

Friday, February 7, 2014

Monarch Journey



Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Renee LaTulippe at No Water River.  Because I've been getting updates through email about Journey North for the past few days, and I read Michelle's Poetry Friday post on Today's Little Ditty, I decided to go with a monarch butterfly poem today.
My class used to do a Monarch butterfly project with Mexico.  You can find information about the Journey North program here: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/spring2014/update020614.html
The program involving school communications starts in the fall and picks up again in the spring.  Lots of good information on their site about the overwintering and the numbers of monarchs spotted.  Classes can send in Monarch sighting reports at any time though, to help with the tracking of these beautiful butterflies.
In years past the children of Mexico used to kill the butterflies, thinking that the butterflies were destroying the trees they covered when they wintered there.  That activity has stopped, but the butterflies are still decreasing in number.  The monarch population is dwindling, but there are things that can be done to help their survival.

Monarch

Milkweed pods erupt
Silky parachutes
Carry precious seeds
Spreading far their roots
Broken milkweed stem
Bitter milky bleed
Justifies the name
Of this humble weed
Monarch lays on leaves
Of this gracious host
Clear cream beads beneath
Overlooked by most
Eggs erupt to find
Food beneath their feet
Shelter from the rain
Shade in summer heat
End of summer brings
Needs for changing ways
Wrapped in green and gold
Metamorphing days
Chrysalis erupts
Wings, not parachute,
Strong for precious miles
On an un-flown route.
Monarch butterfly

At the journey’s end

You have earned your gold

Battered regal friend

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I Cannot Imagine

This is linked through Poetry Jam in response to the prompt to write a tribute to someone.  I immediately thought of my grandfather on my father's side, who came to this country from Newfoundland as a young man starting his new family and a new chapter of life.
I actually wrote two.  So take your pick.  I worked on these simultaneously - I don't know what that says about me - perhaps I am ADD?  They just had to both be done, and now I'm not sure that I'm finished.  There is something nagging at me about them, but I don't know what yet.  There may be another poem in me that is trying to work its way through my brain.  Could get painful!

The seal my grandfather kept on a shelf in the living room.

I cannot imagine
the cold
the fear
the determination
of setting foot on a floating world
of raising a club
to kill a seal
when you were yet a boy
but you knew
your family needed you
to put good bread on the table
to heat the cold house
to keep out the wild winds

you made your father proud
though he never said
and warmed your mother’s heart
though it could not have
quelled her fears

I cannot imagine
the bravery
the vision
the pilgrim heart
suppressing doubts
to transport your new family
to this country
pursuing
a beginning

thank you
for always being
braver
than we
could ever
imagine.


My grandfather, living in Pouch (pronounced "pooch") Cove, Newfoundland, was sent out on a sealing ship when he was somewhere between the ages of 9 and 12 to work on the ice floes in the North Atlantic.  Children were sent out at an early age to help provide for those at home. His family was large, and they needed the income from the sealing industry to support them.  He hated this job, but there was no alternative.  He never spoke of this to us, his grandchildren, so all I ever learned of it was through my parents later.  Most of his relatives eventually made it to the Boston area and moved out from there, with my grandparents ending up in Maine and then Florida.
Childhood.  It can be so different for different people.  Lifestyles, life trials.  Again so many stories, some told, some still untold.
I've included a few more bits of information here that help to round out his story a bit.
My grandfather's brother, Zack Thistle, was on the Viking when they were filming a movie, White Thunder, later named The Viking in 1931 that needed extras for the sealing crew on the ship.  He went and was one of the cast members that was killed during the production off the coast of Newfoundland near the Horse Islands.


To My Grandfather:

When I knew you
As a child
I did not know you
Your story filed
Inside you

I only knew you
Old and grown
I did not know
The life not shown

When only young
The sea you sailed
Hopped on icebergs
Wild winds wailed
Around you

The sealing life
You long endured
But when you married
You were lured

Away from home
And family
Away from the island
But not the sea
Within you

You brought your wife
And brand new daughter
To a new life
Across the water

Then came two sons
Soon after that
To your new home
A city flat
Not for you

Your wife was strong
And knew your needs
For home on cliffs
Beside the seas

The salty spray
In your heart and veins
Hidden from view
Eternally retains
Contains you.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I Missed Groundhog Day

I wasn't teaching first grade on this Groundhog Day, so I missed it.  Every year I've checked to see what Punxsutawney Phil predicted for the coming of spring.  But this year, because I'm not teaching (and it is the second Groundhog Day of not doing so), I didn't check.  The first year after retirement I did check.  It seemed the thing to do.  But this year I just let it slide.  Maybe it has something to do with not caring as much about the driving weather now.  If it is too "anything but wonderful" for driving out there, I just stay home and watch it weather at will.

I'm not sure the groundhog is the best predictor of the coming of spring, since any particular day can be whatever and doesn't mean that tomorrow won't be different.  If the groundhog sees his shadow (which I guess he did) on February 2 (meaning there will be more cold for longer than we would like), yet on February 1 or 3, only one day before or after, clouds cover the sky and he can't see his shadow (resulting in spring springing forth abundantly and sooner than skiers would like), how can we truly rely on this creature and this one day?  Does missing the clouds by a day mean we have to endure an extended winter? 
And though he saw his shadow in Pennsylvania, if he'd been in Maine for the winter, he would not have seen his shadow on February 2.  It was cloudy and dismal.  He would have stayed out to enjoy the ugly weather until the grass turned green.

I guess he's probably as reliable as the Internet or the weatherman, though.  Way back when they invented groundhogs for spring predictors, they didn't have the weather channel and the Internet.  Now that we have them we are so much better off (really?).  The Internet never lies (right?)...nor do the weathermen mispredict.  They're at least as good as a groundhog.

To be fair to Phil and his relatives, I'm sure Groundhog Day came to be because in the "olden days" of no Weather Channel, if people started to see animals becoming more active, they would know that spring was soon to follow.  And this is probably a better indicator still than our technology.