Hummingbirds and Hope

About a month ago, I put out a hummingbird feeder. I hadn’t seen any hummingbirds in our yard, but I was hopeful. Sadly, no hummingbirds came. I felt like I had thrown a party and no one showed up. I left the feeder hanging in the tree and didn’t bother to change the nectar. No one was eating it and it felt too discouraging to give up and take it down. I didn’t want to see the empty hummingbird feeder on its side on a shelf in the garage. Then last weekend at dinner, my husband blurted out: “A hummingbird!” It wasn’t at the feeder. It was hovering at the cleome that grow just outside the window. That night, I cleaned the feeder and boiled more sugar water. The next day the hummingbird went back and forth to the feeder all day. I moved my laptop to the dining room to watch. That evening I discovered there were two. Seeing the tiny birds with their blurred wings flit across the yard feels as magical to me as seeing a fairy.


A few weeks ago Miss Rumphius challenged us to write a poem about faith or hope. Here’s my poem about hope (which doesn’t seem to want a title).


Hope is an egg
with a thin white shell,
easily crushed
if stepped on
or dropped.
It can be swallowed whole
by a snake.
And yet, the egg
is the best possible shape
to hold
the unborn.


I wonder if Emily Dickinson’s feathered hope gave birth to my egg.

What form does hope take for you?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children.

Surrounded by Friendship

If I have an anthem, this is it. If there is a poem/song I wish I had written, this is it. It even feels a little awkward to me that I didn’t write it, given how closely it expresses how I feel, but isn’t that one of the amazing things about art–finding yourself in someone else’s work?


Surrounded by Friendship written by Cynthia Hopkins

the trees are my friends
they offer up their limbs
to shade me from the sun
and whisper with the leaves on the wings of the breeze

and the breeze is my friend
it sings me a song
and carries along
the melody of the birds and the trees

and the birds are my friends
they chirp and they warble
they remind me to be cheerful
even when their wings are wet with the rain


The rest of it is on Dan Zane’s website where you can also hear him and Cynthia Hopkins sing it beautifully.


Here  it is performed by John Hodgman, yes, John Hodgman, and I even think he’s being sincere:


Do you have an anthem? Do you have a favorite poem you can’t believe you didn’t write?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Tabatha!

A Few Haiku














sidewalk race–
the boy slows to watch his sister
pull away


some sun–
his sister agrees to play
the wolf


flying home–
seeing the shadows
for what they are


I’ve had good luck with my haiku this year. I’ve managed to place a handful in a variety of wonderful journals. Notably, at least half were accepted by the second or third place I sent them. Still, some of my favorites have come back unaccepted time and time again. The three above fall into this category. Oh well. I hope you don’t mind my sharing them here with you.

I also want to mention that Kwame Alexander was on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on NPR yesterday with Heidi Powell, the manager of the children and teens’ department at my very own local book store, Politics and Prose. Their conversation about kids’ books and poetry and diversity in children’s literature was interesting and entertaining. It’s certainly worth a listen. Kwame and Heidi also posted summer reading lists.

I hope you are enjoying the summer and have a great 4th of July!

For more Poetry Friday, please visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe.

Summer Reading–Update

School’s out. The kids are home. We’ve been to visit family and had family visit us. We’ve been swimming, eating popsicles, and watching the World Cup. I haven’t had a second of time or attention to write but we’ve all been making progress on our summer reading. I wanted to share two of my early favorites: Laura Purdie Salas’ Water Can Be… and Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.











In a way Water Can Be… is exactly what it sounds like, a list of many forms and functions of water. But to think of it that way is to miss it’s charm which is its creativity. Laura has been incredibly creative in her thinking about all the things water can do; she’s been equally creative with her rhymes. For example, she writes, “Water can be  a..Tadpole hatcher…Picture catcher…” If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it.














I also recommend The Crossover,  Kwame Alexander’s novel in verse for kids 9-12. This isn’t a book about basketball. It’s a book about a boy who plays basketball whose life is getting complicated by his twin brother’s new girlfriend, his father’s health, and his own reactions to these challenges. I love all the complicated characters. I especially love the boys’ mom who is the assistant principal at school and does her best to give the boys guidance and limits. The collection even includes poems about interesting words like pulchritudinous and churlish. I recommended this book to a 12 year old boy who loved it. I hear from his parents that it’s now making the rounds among his friends.

I hope you’re all enjoying your summer activities. How’s your summer reading going?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Buffy’s Blog.




Daily Exercise–Two Cinquains











Great Elm

Hired wolves
sever your limbs
with their ravenous teeth
snarling as they grind your old bones
to dust.



I try
not to giggle
as she wriggles along
finding, step by step, the length of
my arm.


I have a friend who writes a limerick every day. I have other friends who write haiku every day. I like the idea of writing a short form poem every day. It reminds me of doing sit ups or push ups. But I’m not sure limericks and haiku are the best form of poetic exercise. Limericks are silly and fun, but they aren’t a good form for expressing more serious feelings. Haiku are brilliant for communicating through experience and inference, but they are not intended to use metaphor and other literary devices. So what might form might make a better daily work out? I’ve sometimes wondered if it might be the cinquain. The cinquain is short and requires the poet to work within formal constraints, but the cinquain can express a variety of emotions and utilize a variety of poetic devices. This week I gave the cinquain a try. It’s too early for me to report any results, but I can share a couple of my poems. As you cans see, they certainly express different emotions. (In case you were wondering, no, that’s not my tree.)


What poetic exercises do you try to do regularly?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Catherine Johnson.