(More school-themed poetry — can you tell the school year has begun? This won’t be the last…)

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no
I grabbed a tissue, but too slow
Did the whole class see me miss?
I’ll just hold my hand like this
And I’ll act like nothing’s wrong
Class will end before too long
It’s okay. It’s all okay
I just won’t move my hand away
The teacher doesn’t seem to see
Oh please don’t let her call on me!
The bell! I made it! Class is done!
…Oh no! Here comes another one!

[Blog] Exciting news and requests for YOU

I started this blog to motivate me to write more. Well it worked: I couldn’t be more excited to keep growing this project…and I want to turn it into a book.

There’s a lot that will have to come together to make that a reality, but I wanted to share with you two awesome pieces of news.

The first is that I’m almost done: I set myself a target of 150 poems, and I’m getting pretty darn close. There’s LOTS I haven’t published online yet. Which is probably a good idea if I want to find a publisher. In the interest of keeping much of my material in reserve, I’m going to switch to a Saturday-only blog schedule, starting now.

The other — and much more exciting — piece of news: I’m not doing this project alone. The incredibly talented and acclaimed artist Anna Fox Ryan has started working on illustrating the collection, which we’re currently calling The Odd Shoe (named for one of my personal favorites from the collection). I can’t believe how amazing her illustrations so far are, and I know you’ll love them too. We may share some at some point, but for now, you’ll have to settle for the new website header logo, which Anna created.

In the meantime — if you’d like to help with this project, there are a few ways you can help:

  1. Send me ideas and requests for poetry! This is especially true for teachers — I want to create poetry that can be useful in the classroom (and if this gets published, I’m hoping to make a teachers’ edition as well), and the easiest way for me to do that is if I’m creating poems I know will fit teachers’ needs!
  2. Teachers: use these poems in your classroom! Then, let me know how it goes! I’d love feedback if you have any; I’d also love to eventually get testimonials, but for now, it’d just be useful for me to know who’s using it.
  3. Umm…Anybody know anything about getting published? Any advice or networking will help!

What Happened Here

A day ago, a vase of flowers
Sat right in that spot
A year ago, there were different flowers
In a different pot

Ten years ago, I’m told, that corner
Held a cozy chair
Fifty years ago, this whole house
Wasn’t even there

A hundred years ago, this spot
Was farmland, all around
A thousand years ago, it was
A fruitful hunting ground

Four billion years ago, the earth
Was just a lifeless ball
Five billion years ago, there wasn’t
Any earth at all

So when you ask, “What happened here?”
LOTS happened in this place
What’s that? You mean just now? Oh…
Looks like someone broke your vase

Request #4

Here’s a new request post, from Wyatt. In a previous post, I answered a request for poetry about inferencing/drawing conclusions. Wyatt asked for more on this topic, but with an extra stipulation. He writes:

I work with third grade ELLs (and my colleagues 4th and 5th graders), some of whom read at a first grade level. The big reason I ask is because it’s often hard to find materials that our students can read but deal with specific standards. We need to compile evidence so that we can submit it in lieu of them taking the reading SOL at the end of the year, which is at a much higher level than they can access.

Here are 3 poems about inferencing/drawing conclusions, aimed at a lower-elementary reading level.


Your Candy Bar

I am sorry
I don’t know
Where did your
Candy bar go?

You left it by me
But I swear
I just left it
Sitting there

I do not know
Where it’s gone
Say…do you have
Another one?

Welcome to Miami

The day Mia moved to Miami
She was a little scared
But when she got off of the bus
She had to stop and stare
There was a parade on the street
Singing and dancing around
“How nice of them,” she told her mom
“To welcome me to town!”
And Mia felt so happy
She forgot about her fear
She said “I hope they’ll do a parade
For me again next year!”
And sure enough, the next year she found
That her wish had come true
Because they had another parade
On that July 4th too

(This is actually based on an old family story, in which my Grandfather moved from Pender, Nebraska to Miami in 1945. He thought the whole city was celebrating his arrival. It was actually VJ day.)


(ed.: It’s been brought to my attention that nobody has any idea what I’m writing about in this one. Fair enough.)

My friend gave me a letter
And I did not know why
It said “Oh no!”
And then below
He drew a little fly

Was he afraid of bugs now?
Did one land on my head?
Maybe he tried
To swat a fly
But hit himself instead?

I did not understand, but then
He handed me one more
I hoped that it
Would explain a bit
But it said the same as before

Paragraph Blues


I have to write a paragraph??!!
How about I just write half?
Fine, but can we compromise?
I’ll indent but not capitalize
I’ll write at least three sentences
But won’t end them with periods
I’ll pick a thesis and I’ll state it
Then write things that don’t relate to it
Couldn’t that please be enough?
Darn…being a lawyer’s tough

Little Red Rhyming Hood

(I always teach a unit on literary adaptation, and I usually use Little Red Riding Hood as a central story that we then read many versions of. I just realized that it was about time I made my own contribution to the canon. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.)

Little Red Rhyming Hood walked through the woods
To bring her sick grandma a basket of goods
Her mother had told her to keep clear of strangers
And Little Red Rhyming Hood answered her, “Danger”

Then along came a wolf who said, “Oh, my poor dear
What’s a sweet girl like you doing somewhere like here?
And where are you headed to? Somewhere that’s near?”
But Little Red Rhyming Hood shook and said, “Fear”

“Oh my! Don’t be scared!” replied the vicious beast
“I swear I don’t mean any harm in the least!
So where are you headed?” Fangs gleamed in his mouth
And Little Red Rhyming Hood answered him: “South”

The wolf planned to beat her to her destination
He licked his cruel lips in fierce anticipation
So he quickly ran off, shouting, “Farewell, sweet child!”
And Little Red Rhyming Hood? She simply smiled

She watched the wolf leave, then the turned and walked forth
‘Til she reached Granny’s house (she lived far to the north)
Granny said, “Thank you so much for the snack”
And Little Red Rhyming Hood left, saying, “Back”

But as Red headed home, she saw something uncanny
The wolf leaped in front of her, dressed as a granny
He cried out, “How dare you! You tried to trick me?”
And Little Red Rhyming Hood giggled, “Teehee”

“Now see here,” the wolf yelled, “That’s not how this goes!
You’re supposed to yell, ‘Granny, what hairs on your toes!’
‘What long ears you have!’ ‘What claws!’ and ‘What tail'”
Then Little Red Rhyming Hood shrugged and said, “Fail”

“Then when you see my teeth, that’s when you start to fear
And then I say, ‘The better to eat you my dear!’
Then I gobble you up! That’s how this all should go!”
But Little Red Rhyming Hood firmly said, “No”

Then the wolf threw a fit, pacing madly around
Cried, “I wasted a costume!” and tore off his gown
And the wolf stormed away and was not seen again
And Little Red Rhyming Hood smiled and said, “End”

Let’s Have an Adventure

Let’s have an adventure
Let’s go to the zoo
We’ll climb with koalas
Jump with kangaroos
We’ll roar like the grizzly bears
And tigers too
Oh what beasts they’ll see
When they see me and you

Let’s have an adventure
Get lost on our street
Just walk where we feel like
Left, right, then repeat
Or use the wrong map
Or just follow our feet
We’ll find a new shop
And share something to eat

Let’s have an adventure
Let’s go anywhere
Go deep in the ocean
Fly high in the air
Or stay right-smack-here
‘Cause I really don’t care
Just as long as it’s fun
And as long as you’re there