A Pumpkin’s Plea

I sit on the stoop,
meditating and waiting.
I don’t know who I am
or which way I’m facing.

I hope you’ll come soon
with a sharp silver blade
to hacksaw my head
and muck out my brain.

I’m desperate for eyes
like sad gaping moons
or slightly tipped triangles
threatening doom.

I crave a bright smile
and maybe some teeth—
a couple that dangle
or a set to mince meat.

A nose might make sense,
centered and friendly,
though a smooth empty space
looks disturbing and deadly.

Come, bring your knife.
Don’t make me wait!
I’m scared that you’ll leave me
without any face.

Last year I wrote a poem about my strong desire not to carve my pumpkin. My pumpkin was so perfect, I couldn’t imagine changing it. This year as I sat down to write my annual Halloween poem, I wondered about my pumpkin’s point of view. I suddenly worried: what if my pumpkin had really wanted to be carved?!

© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2014












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.


By Renato Ganoza from 郑州, 中国 (DSC_9655  Uploaded by Dcoetzee) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons












At first it’s nothing but a rag,
a worm uncurled along your hand,
but then you fill it with your breath—
it grows and grows, its skin pulled thin.

It swells with pride to be so loved,
it almost seems to glow and grin,
but then you give it one more blow—
too much for it to bear, it tears,

and then you have your rag again.


I’ve been crazy busy lately. That’s why I haven’t been writing and blogging as consistently. Given our family’s overwhelming situation, I felt I had two options. Option one: write less and don’t worry about. Honestly, I get kind of grumpy when I don’t write, so that option didn’t seem so good. Instead I went with option two: Sign up for a class! I know, in a way it makes no sense—I’m too busy so what I need is one more activity? But that’s not how I thought of it. What I thought was: I need some assignments and deadlines. Assignments and deadlines will keep me writing and growing. That’s how I found myself at Renee LaTulippe’s door, begging to be included in her Lyrical Language Lab. It’s only been two days, but boy am I impressed by her program, and so far my strategy’s worked. The poem above is my first poem for class. Can you guess what we’re studying?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Jama for some delicious and nutritious poetry and…hmmm…what else do you think she’ll be serving?

This image is from Wiki Commons. Here’s the link.


Veggie Soup

Outside the day is cold and wet.
The trees and flowers droop.
Mom says the weather’s perfect
for making veggie soup.

We chop the bright orange carrots.
We core the red tomatoes.
We trim the ends off all the beans
and dice the sweet potatoes.

We put it all in a big black pot,
along with some water and rice.
We stir and wait and watch and taste,
adding a dash of spice.

Outside, everything is cold and wet,
huddled against the storm.
Inside, we’re eating veggie soup,
perfectly cozy and warm.

Yesterday was the first nasty day we’ve had this fall. Just looking out the window chilled my bones. Thus it was also the first perfect day to make soup. Of course I couldn’t start cooking the soup, until I wrote a poem about it. (That should give you some sense of my priorities.) I confess I don’t really enjoy cooking. I can’t seem to get in touch with the feeling that cooking is a form of caretaking. To me it just feels like a chore. But since I like eating soup, I have to cook it.

My favorite soup is Gypsy Soup from the Moosewood Cookbook.  As you can see the recipe is well loved. You can also see I took some poetic license with my poem, which is, of course, to be expected.















For more Poetry Friday, visit Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids.

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.

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!














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.











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.

I’m looking forward to lots of things about the summer, including less homework and more time for reading. Of course we’ll be reading poetry! Below are some of the books I’m planning to dive into. In addition to these, I’ll be visiting the library regularly and bringing home plenty of poetry surprises.












Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas. Salas’ poetic appreciation of water came out this year. I loved her book BookSpeak! Poems about Books. I’m looking forward to reading this poetic nonfiction book for younger readers, as well as its predecessor A Leaf Can Be. Plus, the illustrations look gorgeous and Salas is giving 10% of her proceeds to WaterAid, a nonprofit organization working around the world to ensure there’s clean water for everyone.













Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems edited by Paul Janeczko. Everyone seems to be talking about this book and the exceptional poems Janeczko has included. I love short poems, and I often feel they get short shrift, so I’m happy to seem them highlighted here.











Hi, Koo! by Jon Muth. I love Muth’s picture book Zen Shorts, I love haiku, and I love cute and clever titles. Need I say more? I’m especially excited to see that these haiku break free of the 5-7-5 syllable rule!












Pirates by David Harrison. When my son finished David Harrison’s book Cowboys, he sighed and said, “That’s all?” Yes, that was all of the cowboy poems, but now we can read about pirates! I especially appreciated that the cowboy book had been thoroughly researched and included poems from a variety of viewpoints. I expect the pirate book will too.











Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. I can get quirky, crazy, well-crafted poems about vehicles by both J. Patrick Lewis and Doug Florian in one book? Sign me up.














Rutherford B Who Was He? Poems about Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer. My youngest loves history, and Marilyn Singer is the brilliant author of Mirror, Mirror and many other books of poetry. How could we not read this?














Miss Emily by Burleigh Muten. My interest in Emily Dickinson and her work was rekindled a few years ago when I visited her home in Amherst, Massachusetts and read White Heat, a fascinating book about her relationship with Thomas Wentworth Higginson. I’m curious to see how this book in verse for children 7-10 portrays the reclusive but apparently playful poet.














Good Luck Gold by Janet Wong. Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell are the editors of the Poetry Friday anthologies and tireless advocates for children’s poetry. Janet Wong is also an award-winning poet who draws upon her Chinese and Korean cultural heritage in her work. I loved her second book A Suitcase of Seaweed and Other Poems. I’m looking forward to reading her first book Good Luck Gold.














The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. I was completely sold on this book when I read the first four lines on the inside of the cover! Josh Bell plays basketball, and he rhymes, and he has a twin brother, and there’s a new girl in school. I’m guessing this novel in verse for readers 9-12 will interest lots of kids (and grown ups).














The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba by Margarita Engle. Over the winter holiday I read Engle’s wonderful book Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal. I loved Engle’s use of poetry to tell the story of the many different peoples involved in the project. She even included poems from the perspectives of the animals displaced by the construction. The information was eye-opening, and the poetry was lovely. This summer I’m looking forward to reading more of Engle’s novels in verse including The Firefly Letters which is for readers 10-15 and tells the story of Fredrika Bremer, a Swedish woman who visits Cuba in 1851 and forges relationships with Cecelia, the young slave from Africa who accompanies her, and Elena, the daughter of a wealthy Cuban family.













How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson. In this fictionalized memoir, Nelson uses 50 unrhymed sonnets to tell the story of an African American girl growing up in America in the 1950s. The book, for kids 12 and up, appears to tell an intimate personal story in a powerful historical context.


What poetry books are on your summer reading list?

For more Poetry Friday, please visit Carol’s Corner.

The Poetry Friday party is here!

I’m happy to be hosting today. Please leave your link in the comment section below, and I’ll be sure to visit and add your link to my post.

I’m also happy to share a poetry project I’ve been working on. It’s a talking bookmark, of course. If you’d like one, a handful, or 25, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll enter your name in the talking bookmark raffle.

That’s all from me for now. Let’s head out to the internet for more poetry fun.


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© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2014, all rights reserved


Robyn Hood Black has the last in this year’s series of wonderful student haiku poets from The Paideia School. Up this month is Madeline Budd Pearson. 

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty is featuring a post by Laura Shovan. Laura analyzes a poem by a great writer… who also happens to be in first grade.

Myra GB at Gathering Books is continuing with their June theme of a Buffet of Asian Literature with Rabindranath Tagore’s Wandering Wailing Heart and a Beloved Passing by Like a Dream. 

Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme shares one of his first poems for children, “If I Could Climb Up to the Top of a Tree.”

Diane Mayr is busy as usual this morning with three posts!   At Random Noodling she has a sequence of haiku inspired by a gorgeous painting by Felix Vallotton. At Kurious Kitty she shares of new anthology of baseball poems, Heart of the Order, edited by Gabriel Fried. And, at Kurious K’s Kwotes she has a quote by Francoise Sagan. Although it’s about “art,” it applies quite well to poetry.

Laura Purdie Salas is sharing a silly “Bathtub Car” from POEM-MOBILES by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. 

Karin at Our Amazing Days is posting every day for Amazing May on her book’s website. Today she has a Fibonacci poem about becoming friends.

Today MsMac is sharing two original and beautiful haiku.

At The Opposite of Indifference Tabatha Yeatts shares the poem For a Patient: You Said You Hated Poetry and lots of links to other sites that remind us that a broad definition of diversity includes mental health issues and experience.

Today is National Endangered Species Day. J. Patrick Lewis sent Renee LaTulippe his poem “Polar Bear” to share on her blog No Water River.

Over at The Poem Farm Amy Ludwig Van derWater has a poem about Manny the Manatee…and a Poetry Peek too. And will The Poem Farm adopt a pet?

Mary Lee is sharing a poem about encyclopedias, “Yard Sale” by George Bilgere, at A Year of Reading.

At Reflections on the Teche, Margaret is excited about sharing and writing poetry in math class!

Tara shares a lovely moment and the poem “Not Forgotten” by Sheila Packa at A Teaching Life.

Jama’s keeping cool with Calvin Coolidge and his wife’s crunchy cookies!

Irene Latham loves babies. She’s sharing three poems from baby’s point of view from Lin Oliver’s collection Little Poems for Tiny Ears.

April Halprin Wayland’s post at TeachingAuthors is about writing from the gut–which was where the poem written with the help of her 91-year-old mother came from…

Keri has lots of news and a hawk haiku at Keri Recommends.

Laura Shovan is blogging at Michelle’s Today’s Little Ditty today, but she’s been posting poems from her third grade residency all week at Author Amok. Check out Dylan’s Fib about the Robot Revolution… and his prediction for how it will end.

Karen Edmisten is a little teary this morning. Go see why and read “The Writer” by Richard Wilbur.

At Dori Reads Dori has a double dactyl about Roald E Amudsen and the rules for writing one.

Tamara Will Wissinger puts the spotlight on debut MG author Tracy Holczer’s new release, THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY. HUM features Grace, a girl who is mourning the loss of her mother and uses poetry writing and the words of Robert Frost to help her cope. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy at Smack Dab in the Middle Blog earlier this week where there is an active giveaway.

Anastasia Suen has another STEM haiku, “Humming,” at Poet Poet!

Little Willow at Bildungsroman has posted lyrics to Paris Carney’s song It’s Always the Quiet Ones.

Joy Acey’s gone fishing but she wrote and posted a poem before she left.

Oh no. Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town has another illness related post! This time: Chikungunya. 

Melissa Wiley has a short recap of the most recent Poetry Club meeting. Poet of the week: Langston Hughes.

Check out Project Chameleon where Kelly has posted a Tellagami she made. It’s an animated recitation of Night Comes by Deborah Chandra from The Poetry Friday Anthology.