Today is day 12 of 31 in the Slice of Life Challenge to write a slice each day in the month of March.
It is also the day to write a poem for the word "pitch" at Heidi Mordhorst's My Juicy Little Universe.
There are about 6 more hours to vote on the first "Flight" of poems.  The second "Flight" went up yesterday and are open for voting now, too.  Poems galore are on coming up in Ed DeCaria's Think Kid Think March Madness 2015!  So, so exciting.  I won't know the results until voting for Flight 1 closes just after noon.  Results of the first bout will be posted online, so you can see how your favorites did.  So stop in there and read and vote all month.  You can't get more free fun than this!
If you are here for Poem for Poetry Jam - prompt "Eyes", scroll to the bottom where my poem, "eyes", is located.

The Pitch

The salesman made the perfect pitch
and sold me on a tent ;
I called my friends they all pitched in
and in the van we went .
We drove down to the town boat launch,
put rowboat in the lake
A storm came up as we set out
which was our next mistake!
Our little rowboat pitched and rolled
more than a little bit -
We tossed our cookies in the lake
and pitched a whiny fit!
We tried to sing some sailing songs,
our voices swayed off key
Along the way to camp, I fear,
Our pitch was lost at sea!
To shore we rowed and rowed some more
and pitched the boat on land.
We tried to pitch our tent upright
But we were on wet sand.
Pitch black, and raining pitchforks
and hammer handles, too,
No flashlight, nor a candle,
What were we all to do?
The home-run pitch to pack it up
Was uttered from some lips
We crossed the water to the van
parked under pitch pine drips.
We pitched the tent into the back
to head home for a towel.
I aired the tent and washed the van -
proclaimed the pitch was foul.

 ©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Now the Slice - about pitch...and climbing pine trees!

This is not the right pine tree to climb!

The trees in the picture might have grown to be selected as one of the King's trees if we still did that today.  It's in my front yard.  The King's trees were white pines that were very tall and straight, with  branches that started up very high.  They were used to make ships' masts for the kIng's Royal Navy since they were tall, straight, strong and lightweight.  The last stand of these magnificent tall pine trees is in Brunswick at Bowdoin College.

White Pines have needles in clusters of 5.

Do you remember climbing pine trees?  Growing up in Maine, with the White Pine as the state tree and the pine cone as the state flower, we had our pick of quite a few.  The best ones had big, old limbs down low; you could not help but be tempted to climb and sit up high to secretly, silently watch the goings on around you.  There wasn't much actually going on, where we lived, though, so the spy game had to be just that - a game.  Nothing much to watch besides birds and clouds from up there - and other trees - and none of them did much to watch.  But there still was a thrill being up high, feeling the breeze clean and more cutting than from down on the ground.  The sky was prettier, too - you know - being that much closer to it. The added bonus was the smell of the pine - heavenly.  Just like those little stuffed pillows you can buy to place around your house so you think you are outside, maybe up in a tree.

With all the positives about the pine, the climb down was a real "let down".  First there was my mother's voice calling, "Get down out of that tree!"  She would then go sternly back in the house so she couldn't see you risking life and limb (yours, not the tree's), as you figured out where to place your feet to descend.

Up was definitely easier than down.  On the way up, you could see where your hands and feet should go, and you could keep your eyes focused up mostly.  Down was always looking to the ground below, trying to find a foothold and handholds.  You also had to be aware of the fact that pine trees lose dead branches pretty randomly, but the whole branch hardly ever breaks off.  There are sharp 1 inch to 10 inch dead spikes sticking out of these trees between good branches.  Deciding that you are almost to the bottom and dropping or jumping down the last 4 to 8 feet can be deadly if you hit one of the branches sticking out.  Side note as a mom:  My daughter did that and scraped her belly from bottom to top.  She was fortunate it was just a scrape and nothing worse.

Another thing against climbing down a pine was that the breeze, of course, changed back to just regular old breeze with no freedom ringing in it, and the heavy feeling of gravity took over again (in more ways than one - as my mother's reprimand could bring you down to earth pretty fast).

The other negative about climbing the old white pines was the pitch.  By the time you got down, you had double the pitch on you that you had when you got to the top.  There would be pitch on your britches from sitting on a branch, and pitch on your hands, arms and shins.  This pitch was semi-permanent, only coming off as you created new skin.  An aside secret here: if you hadn't taken a bath in a couple of days, the pitch was more likely to come off when you washed up, because you already had dead skin under the pitch...our neighbors never could get pitch off, but we usually did.
Pitch was sticky, so it picked up dirt.  So if you had more playing to do, it worked to scrub your hands in dirt to cover the pitch.  If your hands were too dirty and your mother noticed, you would have to wash them before eating, exposing the pitch again.  It tasted horrible, so you didn't want to forget at supper and lick the ketchup off your finger where the pitch was hiding just below the tasty red stuff.  It would have been better to eat with ground in dirt on your hands.
All in all though, it was worth every scratch, every reprimand, every bit of pine pitch flavored supper.
I wish I could climb a tree again.

Link to Robert Louis Stevenson's Foreign Lands poem about climbing a tree - he was "my poet to read" when I was a kid.

Poem for Poetry Jam - prompt "Eyes"


The eye of the potato
to other plants gives birth;
The eye of the tornado -
destruction on the earth!
Hurricanes can have an eye,
and needles have one, too.
Mothers have four - two in back -
to keep an eye on you! 

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Done for today!  Now to close my eyes...Diarrhea Dog kept waking me up all night for trips outside in the snow.  I could almost do the whole procedure lids locked if I needed to.


  1. Very clever EYE poem. I had not thought about the eye of the potato or eye of the tornado; and, ha, of course a mother has four eyes!!

    1. Ha! I had my kiddos at school convinced I had a couple extra eyes, too. Nothing beats having good peripheral vision with first graders!

  2. That was a great trip down memory lane. How often I camped and trecked through forest of pine trees when I was young. We'd climb a tree, or hide behind it. At the end of the day our hands were sticky and we were filthy. I seem to remember having grim on my arm for several days thinking it was a tan, but finally realizing it was filth... and that was just last week (j.k.)

    1. You know, we just didn't take frequent baths when I was a kid. I swear it was only when Mom couldn't recognize us anymore that she marched us upstairs into bath rotation (one tub of water, 4 kids). I'm glad this brought back those special memories for you!

  3. The pitch poem is "pitch perfect", of course! I read it aloud to hear it, so good! Eyes too. You are a clever poet! I was a tree climber too, and students through the years have come back with pitch from our own pines - no white ones here. One time got my foot stuck between two big limbs-had to leave the shoe! Hope that doggie gets better!

    1. Hi, Linda! I'm glad you could get the rhythm of "Pitch"! It's always a challenge to try to get it right. And love that you remembered having to leave your shoe! You need to write about that one! So...the doggie was up a few times last night, too. Seems to feel fine, but not "doing" fine! I think she stole some of the cat food...and I caught her at it again this morning. Thought the mini door for the cat would be too small for her now, but NO - she can still get through it! Looks like one more day/night of this. I'll smarten up today, and the cat will have to jump OVER the gate.

  4. really nice "eyes" poem

    much love...

    1. Thanks, Gillena! Will be popping over to your place shortly! I always love your stuff!

  5. oh yes i agree mothers have two in back too.....a delightful eye poem :)

    1. They truly do seem to have some extras, and it's probably a very good thing for kids!

  6. You are an amazing prolific writer! I love, love, love the pitch poem! What a great mentor text for teaching kids about multiple meanings and using the context to understand which meaning to use. Then the story of climbing trees and ewww the sticky pitch. Followed by another clever word use poem. One word for you . . . AMAZING!

  7. The linguist in me loves how you explored the various meanings of eye. And the mother's eyes made me smile.

  8. Donna, your variety of pieces are amazing. The informational piece on white pines provided me with a wealth of knowledge that I never knew about and your antics as a tree climber is adventurous indeed. It is wonderful to have connected with you.

    1. It is fun in this community, to learn more about each other through slicing!

  9. Loved the pitch poem - and the story of trees that went with it. We had banyan trees where I grew up (India) and climbing those old branches gave me so many hours of happiness as a child. Thanks for awakening memories, Donna.

    1. Oh, banyan trees! You should write about sitting in those branches sometime!

  10. Your poems are terrific, Donna. I love how many meanings of each word into each poem, and Elsie's idea of using them as mentor texts with kids. I loved climbing trees when I was a kid, but we only had maple and apple trees in our yard. My mother was always afraid I'd fall and break my neck, but I never did.

    1. Thanks! There were two wonderful for climbing apple trees in our backyard, too. I laid claim to one and my brother to the other. Never gave it much thought that the other two siblings didn't "own" a tree!

  11. ha. my mom probably had those eyes in the back of her head...cause she always knew when you did something...ugh on trying to tent camp in the rain too...that can be miserable...especially it is raining when you are trying to set up camp...it just starts all wrong...

  12. My mother had more eyes than that, she could see things when she was not there. Great poem, got me thinking.

  13. Enjoyed your play on pitch poem! Also the eyes--I think mothers need about 8 eyes.

  14. Nicely penned, Donna! I liked all the word play in both poems, but the "Eyes" poem was my fave!


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