Fog

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Fog

As I sit down to write,
a cat creeps in
and sits on my head.
She circles once,
before settling
on the hummock
of my brain,
tucks her head
beneath her feet
and purrs herself
to sleep.
I can’t think of anything
but fur.

 

Buffy Silverman and I are doing a month-long poetry swap. Every day we exchange poems and critiques. The accountability makes the process very motivating, as do the friendly and helpful replies. I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful partner. On the first day of the month, Buffy sent me a poem about fog (inspired by her gorgeous photographs) with the preface that she wished she’d written Carl Sandburg’s poem. Don’t we all? I thought, and how brave she is to write about fog when every time anyone sits down to write about it, that damn cat shows up and blocks the view. Did I mention that the swap is also inspirational?

Next Friday I’ll be at the SCBWI Conference in NYC. Will any of you be there too?

For more Poetry Friday, visit the Miss Rumphius Effect.

All the best,

Liz

Our Favorite Holiday Books

Today I want to share some of our family’s favorite holiday books. My kids are too old for them now, but when I bring them up from the basement every year, the three of them squeal or sigh and sit down to read.

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Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hymn

Let me begin by saying that I have read this book thousands of times, during the cold dark nights of the season and the bright warm nights of summer. My kids, especially my daughter, loved this book. The goblins are creepy and by the end downright scary, but Hershel cleverly outsmarts them again and again.

 

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Herbie’s Secret Santa written and illustrated by Petra Mathers

This is one of my all-time favorite picture books because it addresses a side of life that is so real and so rarely mentioned. Herbie makes an impulsive mistake. He feels bad about it, and he makes amends. Like the other books about Herbie and his dear friend Lottie, it’s authentic and quirky. Of course Vince is making Christmas pickles. Doesn’t everyone? To me this story feels deeply connected to the essence of the holiday.

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The Trees of the Dancing Goats written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco

I love this book because it acknowledges that people who celebrate Christmas and people who celebrate Hannukah live together as neighbors and friends (and even family members). When scarlet fever rages through their town, the central family celebrates their traditions and enables their sick friends to celebrate theirs. This is a deeply respectful and caring story.

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The Gift of Nothing written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

This book has charming characters (Mooch and Earl from the comic strip Mutts), clever language play, and in the end gets to the heart of what’s really important about sharing “special days.” It’s just been adapted into a musical, which I hope to see despite being well over the recommended audience age of 4.

 

I hope that you enjoy your holiday (no matter what you celebrate) and get to share it with loved ones and books.

For more Poetry Friday vist Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

Unseasonably Cold

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26°

Like a virus it crawls
along your skin
casting about for an easy
way in, like the holes
in your nose, which it finds
like a door you’ve oddly forgotten
and left unprotected.
It travels your length
on a highway of bones,
freezing your insides
down to your soul,
until all you can do
is shiver and moan
and retreat to the bed
you should never have left.

 

I’m heading to a soccer tournament today. Can you guess how I feel about the cold? I hope you’re keeping warm and don’t have 9 feet of snow outside your door.

For more Poetry Friday visit Becky Shillington at Tapestry of Words.

Dyslexia Awareness Month

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Note to the Teacher

Dear Miss Sinclair,
I’m sorry
I made that loud farting noise
after you’d told me
to stop
three times already.
I’m sorry
I fell out of my chair
and everyone laughed
so hard
that Louis and Elijah
fell out of their chairs too.
I’m sorry
everyone stopped listening
to you
explain about our new
spelling words.
It’s just that I suck
at spelling
and I don’t understand why
an O makes
so many sounds.

 

This summer we realized that one of our kids has dyslexia. We just couldn’t understand why our bright boy was so stressed about school. Now we know. We didn’t realize he has dyslexia because he reads. That’s one of many common myths about dyslexia. Once we heard the news I started studying. I quickly realized our son had many common signs of dyslexia–shockingly poor spelling, a terrible time with handwriting, writing far below his abilities, and low self-esteem. If I’d known a little more, I could have saved our boy from years of feeling badly about himself. So today I want to share this poem, and I want to share this link to a list of a wide variety of symptoms. Please take a look. It’s worth knowing the signs.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Cathy at Merely Day by Day.

Poetry from the Garden

Cherry Tomato, take one

the pop of skin–

a rush of sweet and sour
to your tongue

like when you bite
your ripe lip

 

Cherry Tomato, take two

the bite of sudden thunder
a skyful of rain—
sweet relief
tinged with the sour end
of blue skies

 

I love growing cherry tomatoes. I buy small plants in May, transfer them to large patio pots, and water them every day. For this small amount of work, the pay-off is huge. We get bite-sized red and yellow tomatoes for months. They never even make it into the salad because we eat them straight from the vine.

Before I wrote these poems, I went out to the yard and harvested all the cherry tomatoes I could find. I put them in a bowl next to my computer. I ate them one at a time, thinking: how do I describe the experience of eating one? How do I put a taste into words? I tried a bunch of different metaphors, including the two above. In the second version, I kept going back and forth between skyful and mouthful. Which version of the poem do you prefer? Which word–skyful or mouthful?

I’m happy to be back this week. I’ve missed celebrating Poetry Friday with all of you. Life and parenting has been a little too complicated and time consuming lately for me to blog as much as I’d like. While I was away I had a thought about the poems I post here. I think they’re kind of like sketches–they aren’t first drafts and they aren’t fully fleshed out and polished poems. They’re like the doodles you might find in the margins of someone’s biology notes. I’m not saying whose.

For more Poetry Friday fun, visit Amy at The Poem Farm.

Did you notice my new look? It’s all thanks to Gabe Seiden at Connect4Consulting. Thanks, Gabe!