Desk Clock

Tick, tock, tick, tock
Chatter the teeth of the big yellow clock,

Tick, tock, tick, tock
Or the spines of a porcupine knitting a sock,

Tick, tock, tick, tock
Or the nails of a grizzly bear picking a lock,

Tick, tock, tick, tock
Or the claws of a lobster repairing the dock,

Tick, tock, tick, tock
Or the feet of an ant highway transporting stock.

Tick, tock, tick, tock
My new teacher gave me this big yellow clock,

Tick, tock, tick, tock
To help me work faster, but I think it might not.


Maybe this works for some kids, but it didn’t help mine.

© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2015















This one pirouettes on pointe, tracing a graceful circle,
until my hand wobbles, wrecking its penciled orbit.

Where’s the one that will take me straight home—without going in circles?


This is my first sijo, a Korean form consisting of three lines of 14-16 syllables. The first line introduces a concept, the second develops it, and the third incorporates a twist. In some ways it is like a haiku but it allows the use of metaphor and other literary devices. The longer lines also give the writer more room to breathe. Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect featured sijo earlier in the month in her National Poetry Month series Jumping into Form.















He left me a note.
It only says “Hi,”
but I don’t care.
My heart hugs the sky!


© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2015












I can’t find
my thoughts–
cluttered desk


sparkling surfaces–
nothing left to do
but write


These two are for anyone who’s sat down to write and then cleaned their room, or the whole house, instead.

© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2015.












I try to follow
the model black lines.
I try to trace
their shape.
But what can I do
with my fingers tied,
roped together
like we’ve done
something wrong,
my acrobat hands
crammed into claws
that pinch and gnaw
the paper?
Everyone else
makes a smooth-edged
All I get is a ruffled, crumpled mess.


© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2015











Pencil Sharpener

Twisting and turning,
spinning and whirling,

throwing off heaps
     of wrap-around skirts
          with sun-colored trim at the hem.

Catching and keeping,
hiding and peeking,

saving the shavings
     that nobody wants
          in this little white box in my desk.


© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2015















Like a soldier it waits
to be called to duty,
even lying down
at attention,
its spine straight and stiff,
its uniform, pressed
and ready for action,
numbers in order,
ticks marked
at precise intervals.
It knows that you
with your untrained hands
can’t do this alone.
You need help.
Find it, call it up
from its dark drawer.
Order it
to assist you.


Everything in/on my desk is suddenly alive!

Happy Poetry Friday! Laura Purdie Salas has the round-up and another in her series of 30 Poetry Tips for Teachers.


© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2015











Box of Markers

I have a box of markers.
I use them all the time—
to draw a fleet of fire trucks,
a daffodil, a lime,

a mesmerizing tiger,
a purple plum, a tree,
but not another summer sky
above a glassy sea.

I have a box of markers,
but one of them is gone.
I wonder where it went to.
I wonder what it’s drawn.


I remember last year thinking I should have started my poem-a-day project a few days early so I could work ahead. This year, I’m thinking the exact same thing.

More tomorrow, I hope.

© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2015.











The Eraser

The eraser’s nature is deeply forgiving.
When you bellow and clobber your innocent desk,
the eraser feels neither surprised nor upset.

The eraser expects, even lives for, mistakes.
Hunkering down, it nuzzles them away,
like an old Labrador at the end of the day.

The eraser eagerly gives what it can—
turning to dust in the palm of your hand,
so that you may discover another chance.


I hope everyone is enjoying the surfeit of creativity around the kidlitosphere this month. It’s only Day 3 of National Poetry Month, and I’m already exhausted by all the writing and reading and exploring. If you’re still hungry, Jama always has more treats. Head over to her Alphabet Soup for the full menu of events and today’s special–peach danish. Amy is hosting this week’s stellar (forgive me) Poetry Friday party at The Poem Farm. She is playing a poetic name-that-tune game this month, so head on over to give it a try and contemplate her poem about the stars.

© all rights reserved, Elizabeth Steinglass, 2015

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National Poetry Month starts tomorrow! Are you ready? The Academy of American Poets has made it easy with these 30 ways to celebrate. Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup will have even more with her round-up of National Poetry Month Kidlitosphere events. Have you seen the photos of her bear Cornelius eating the poster?

I’ll be celebrating again this year with a poem a day. Last year I wrote about different things I saw in my neighborhood–a mailbox, a flower, a fire hydrant. This year, with little forethought, I’ll be writing about things you’d find in or on a desk. My desk? My son’s desk? We’ll see. (This feels a little like jumping off a cliff and hoping there’s water down there.)

I’m looking forward to getting back to blogging. I’ve been taking a break to work on a novel in verse. Now it’s time to take a break from my novel in verse to do some other writing. Did I just say I’m taking a break from writing poetry to write poetry? Seems fitting for National Poetry Month.

See you tomorrow,