Be brave
Be first
Burst out of the ground
Before anyone expects you
Catch the light
Stop people
Make them notice
Pretend its warm
Pretend you’re tall
Pretend spring is the only season
Bow out
Give the others a turn
Dissolve into tissue paper

Come back

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

At Wild Rose Reader ( Elaine Magliaro has a wonderful poem, “Things to Do If You Are a Grandfather Clock: An Original List Poem.” Before reading her poem, I had always thought of list poems as lists of items, like a list of groceries or a list of things in a pocket. Elaine’s poem expanded my horizons and inspired today’s poem.

Darling, for you!

I’ve built this nest.

For you, my starling,

Deserve the best.

I started with mud

To mortar the sticks

To make it strong

Like a house of bricks.

I’ve shaped it round

To comfort your end

As you sit and sit and

Our chicks you tend.

To soften your seat,

I’ve lined it with fur

From our neighbor the cat

With the deafening purr.

But that’s not all.

For you, there’s more.

I’ve added front steps

And a solid oak door.

I’ve found blue ribbons.

And woven them in

To match the feathers

Beneath your chin.

Darling, for you,

I’ve built this nest.

I hope you’ll agree

It’s by far the best.

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

Feet go thumping
To the heart’s strong drumming.
I make my own beat when I go



all the time.
I am growing like
a vine. I am climbing to the
space above the house, the ground, the clouds, and even you.

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

Today I have two additional forms that follow specific syllable patterns. Both were invented in the US. I wonder if that makes them more suitable to English somehow. The first is a cinquain which was invented by Adelaide Crapsey in the early 20th century. The syllable pattern is two, four, six, eight, two. Sometimes the first and last lines are the same; sometimes they are not. The second is a Fibonnaci poem which means that the number of syllables in the lines of the poem follow the sequence of Fibonnaci numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc. Do you see the pattern? You add two numbers in sequence to get the next one. Fibonnaci numbers describe the spirals in many things from the natural world, like pine cones, flowers, and nautilus shells. I wrote this in response to the Tuesday Poetry Stretch at the blog The Miss Rumphius Effect. There’s also a great video about the Fibonnaci sequence on the blog.


she says to copy

the night’s assignment

in my diary

a girl flies off

the point of my pencil

she says to read

the next twenty-eight pages

in the book

he tips on the edge between

tables in the lunchroom

leaving the orbit

of desks, white boards, and coat hooks,

he waves, explaining

black holes are extremely dark

but you can still survive them

raindrops spot the glass
with tiny gray-skied planets
one by one they fall
my outdoor voice is too big
for recess in the lunchroom
© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved
I’ve spent the week exploring tanka. I’m drawn to the idea of two resonating images. I think perhaps tanka lend themselves to expressing some of the dilemmas of being a kid in a grown-up world.

I think it might be fun to do a tanka activity in a class of older elementary or middle school students. I can imagine giving everyone the same first three lines (maybe the first three of the last tanka above) and asking the kids to write the last two. It would be so interesting to see what everyone came up with.

reaching for more
I topple the glass
spilling tears
not for the milk
for the sighs
in the hall
we all laugh
not seeing the boy
stuffing himself

in his backpack

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

I’ve decided to dedicate the week to tanka. Tanka is an ancient Japanese form, even more ancient than haiku. Tanka consist of five lines. The first three lines offer an image. The last two lines offer a commentary on the first image, sometimes through an additional resonating image. In Japanese tanka use 5-7-5-7-7 “sounds.” In English one might use 5-7-5-7-7 syllables or fewer.

I’m personally drawn to tanka for the double, resonating images. I think the form might be particularly suited to middle school students who often seem to be thinking about what’s happening and what they think about what’s happening.

Here’s a link to my current favorite tanka:

More later.


In the dark they sing
For the folded crocus
In the dark they sing
For the dim daffodil
In the dark they sing
For the somnolent tulip
In the dark they sing
For the imminent crowd
In the dark they sing
For they cannot wait
In the dark they sing

For the lingering sun

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

Dear Scout,
begs to go out,
not so she can hunt.

She doesn’t go
to fight a foe
or meet up with a friend.

She doesn’t run,
or stretch in the sun,
or nibble a blade of grass.

Dear Scout,
begs to go out
so she can sniff the wind.

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, 
all rights reserved

photo by Amos
photo by Naomi
Snow Cat

From the window she hunts

Snowflakes riding winter winds.

She leaps!

Pinning herself to the screen

Like a snow glob stuck to the glass

Before it seeps to the floor.

Snow Boy

From the window he hunts
Snowstorms riding distant winds.

He wishes!

Pressing himself to the cold

Like a breath that fogs the glass

Before it disappears.

Snow Girl

From the window she hunts

Snow angels riding glistening winds.

She peers.

Angling herself to the glass

Like a ray of sunlight that shines bright

Before breaking into color.

Snow Dog

From the window he hunts
Snow boots trudging through frigid winds.
He dreams!
Turning away from the cold
Like a door that shuts
Before the intruder arrives.

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved


© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

I am all cold hands piling, rolling, rounding happiness eventually accumulated.

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved