Friday, October 12, 2018

WHEN I GET ANGRY: An Original Poem

 
Some time ago, I got an idea for a collection of poems titled The Animal in Me. In the poems, children would imagine themselves to be like certain animals at times depending on how they felt. For example, an angry child might feel like he/she was a grizzly bear--or a child being sent to his/her room as punishment might feel like a big cat trapped in a cage. The collection never went too far. Here is one of the poems from it.
 
WHEN I GET ANGRY
 
When I get angry, I’m a bear…
A grizzly bear
With coarse brown hair
And teeth that tear.
You best beware!
 
When I get angry,
I clench my paws
And snap my jaws.
I prowl and growl
Around my room
And fuss and fume
And stomp the floor
And slam my door…
 
Till
I’m not angry anymore.




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Friday, September 7, 2018

SAVING SUMMER: A Memoir Poem

Anna (Chalupka) Koziski

Today, I'm sharing a memoir poem about my maternal grandmother. She and my grandfather were Polish immigrants who came to America in the early part of the 20th century. Like many immigrants who were peasants, they had a garden and fruit trees and grew much of their own food. Years ago, a childhood image of my Babci preserving tomatoes inspired the following poem:

SAVING SUMMER

In the cellar
Babci sits on an old kitchen chair
made new with glossy gray paint.
Wearing an apron blooming with faded flowers,
she leans over the tub of steaming water,
plucks out plump tomatoes,
and peels off the wet, papery skins.

She fills shiny jars with soft red pulp,
stretches on rubber sealers,
presses down moon-round lids,
clicks closed the metal clamps.
She places the jars in a wire basket
and lowers them into a pot of bubbling water to cook.

On wooden shelves in a corner
she stores stewed tomatoes beside rows of pickled beets,
golden peach slices, green piccalilli,
and carrots the color of October pumpkins.

Standing there in late afternoon,
sunlight shining through a small side window,
I see her harvest preserved:
a rainbow glistening in glass.
Babci is keeping summer alive in jars.


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Carol has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Beyond Literacy Link.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Two Zebra Poems



I LOVE writing animal mask poems! I enjoy imagining what animals might say if they could speak to us. Here are two poems in which zebras tell us something about themselves:

 
ZEBRA 1
I love my snazzy black and white hide.
I wear it with a lot of pride.
My bold stripes help distinguish me
from other zebras that you see.
I'm truly unique--one of a kind.
We're not all the same!
Keep that in mind.

NOTE: No two zebras have the exact same pattern of stripes on their bodies. They are said to be as
different as human fingerprints.
 

ZEBRA 2

I'm black
            and white.
I'm dark
            and light
like night
            and day.

I may look like a horse
            but I never say NEIGH!
 

Which mask poem do you like better?
 
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Christy has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Wondering and Wandering.

 

Friday, July 27, 2018

SCHOOL BAKE SALE



I am happy to tell you that Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong's newest poetry anthology--GREAT MORNING!: Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud--has just been published. I am also thrilled that one of my poems is included in this book!!!

SCHOOL BAKE SALE
by Elaine Magliaro

We're having a bake sale tomorrow at three.
We're raising money for our school's library.
We'll have goodies to sell--goodies galore--
Better than baked goods you buy in a store:
Cranberry muffins and cinnamon rolls,
Pretzels, turnovers, scones, donut holes,
Sweet Danish pastries slathered with jam,
Calzones stuffed with cheddar and ham,
Frosted brownies--fudgy and gooey--
Tart lemon squares--tangy and chewy--
Flaky fruit pies bursting with berries,
Peaches, apples, rhubarb, and cherries,
Coconut cream cakes, cookies, and more!
We'll have goodies to sell--goodies galore.
Come to our bake sale tomorrow at three!
Help us raise money for our school's library.

Check out Sylvia Vardell's post about GREAT MORNING! at her blog Poetry for Children.

You can find out more about this book here.


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Catherine has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Reading to the Core.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Two Bee Poems: Revising for Publication




I had to revise a number of the poems in the THINGS TO DO manuscript that was submitted to Chronicle Books. A few had minor revisions; others required major changes. One that underwent a major change was the honeybee poem, which had originally been a "worker bee" poem.

Things to do if you are a WORKER BEE as it appeared in my manuscript:

Be yellow and fuzzy.
Stay busy. Be buzzy.
Tidy and clean.
Tend to your queen.
Be a working machine—
A syrup collector.
Go forage for nectar.
Reap pollen from flowers.
Don’t spend idle hours.
Don’t sit and relax.
Make honey and wax.
You must toil without end—
Yours is a lifetime of labor,
My friend.

My editor Melissa Manlove thought the poem was too long. She suggested I keep just the first two lines...and leave the poem at that. I decided to add two new lines to the beginning.

The final draft of Things to do if you are a HONEYBEE as it appears in my book:

Flit among flowers.
Sip nectar for hours.
Be yellow and fuzzy.
Stay busy.
Be buzzy.
***************
 

Sylvia Vardell has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Poetry for Children.
 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Two Original Beetle Poems

Today, I have two beetle poems for you. The first is a haiku; the second is a mask poem.


Beetle on a rose

in shining armor…ready

to battle sharp thorns

 


 

My love is this beautiful red, red rose.

Of all the blossoms, it’s the one I chose.

It has silky petals, leaves of emerald green.

It’s the yummiest flower that I’ve ever seen.

 ********************

 

Tricia has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Monarch Mask Poem


(Picture by Kenneth Dwain Harrelson)


One sunny day
I laid a wee egg
beneath a broad leaf.
It was a gem,
pearly and white--
a seed of new life,
a small bit of me
that I'll never see
grow wings and take flight.
 
Some time ago, I began writing a collection of mask poems tentatively titled Butterfly Days. The poems are told in the voices of a Monarch butterfly, butterfly egg, and larva--as well as a milkweed plant. I put the manuscript on the shelf and haven't worked on it for many months. The poem above is the fourth one in the collection at the present time.
***************
Karen Edmisten has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.
 

Friday, June 1, 2018

COTTON CANDY: An Original Poem

My older granddaughter didn't have school last Friday because of kindergarten screening. It was a beautiful day so my husband and I took the "grandgirls" to Salem Willows Park. Julia asked if I'd get them some cotton candy, which they really enjoyed. That little trip brought to mind a poem that I wrote about cotton candy for a poetry collection about sweet things that has never been published.




COTTON CANDY

Fairy floss,
pink puff of spun sugar,
cumulus confection,
sunset cloud
floating on a cardboard cone.


It's a great joy for Mike and me to take "our girls" to places we went to as kids to have fun.

 ********************

Buffy has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.



Friday, May 18, 2018

A Home for the Seasons: A Memoir Poem




I spent many of my happiest childhood days at the home of my maternal grandparents--Michael and Anna (Chalupka) Koziski. They owned a small duplex on a quiet street in Peabody, Massachusetts. They lived on the left side of the house. My Aunt Emily and my cousins Karen and Joyce lived on the right side after my Uncle Stanley passed away when he was in his late twenties.
 
After the death of my Babci and Dzidzi, I decided to write a collection of poems about them and their home in order to honor their memory. Here is the first poem from the unpublished collection:
 
A Home for the Seasons
 
My grandparents’ house seems to hug their shady street.
A white duplex, its twin front doors
stand side by side
just three steps up from the sidewalk.
We always enter their house through the side door.
Stepping into the kitchen,
we find Babci sitting at the far end of the table
spooning filling onto circles of homemade dough
and making pierogis, crocheting afghans,
or snipping lacy designs from paper—
a traditional folk art she learned in Poland.
Sometimes we see her painting flowers on the cupboard doors
or hanging starched curtains she embroidered by hand.
The aroma of stuffed cabbage or babka baking in the oven
often greets us at the door.
Most days, Dzidzi spends outdoors tending to his garden
or painting the shutters green
or mending the picket fence
or building a backyard fireplace for summertime barbecues.
My grandparents always busy themselves
making their place a special place
for the family to gather throughout the year,
making it a home for all the seasons.
 
 
Anna & Michael Koziski


Four Cousins
My sister Virginia is in the back row.
Front Row (L to R) Me, Joyce, Karen
 
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Rebecca has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Sloth Reads.
 
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NOTE: I want to thank my grandnephew George Blaney for putting many of our old family pictures on CDS for close relatives.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Afternoon on a Hill: A Poem for My Mother


 
Sunday will be the second Mother's Day we celebrate without my mother. I picked out the following poem to honor her because the simplest things could bring joy into her life: a colorful sunset, the scent of lilacs in spring, a crisp autumn day, taking care of her youngest granddaughter. I think she would have liked Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem about spending an afternoon on a hill enjoying nature.

 
Afternoon on a Hill
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
 
I will be the gladdest thing 
    Under the sun! 
I will touch a hundred flowers 
    And not pick one. 
 
I will look at cliffs and clouds
    With quiet eyes, 
Watch the wind bow down the grass, 
    And the grass rise. 
 

 Click here to read the rest of the poem.
***************
 
My mother's last Mother's Day (2016)
 
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Jama has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Alphabet Soup.

 

Friday, May 4, 2018

And the Winner of THINGS TO DO for the Fourth Week of National Poetry Month Is...


The winner of a signed copy of my book THINGS TO DO is Glenda Funk! Congratulations, Brenda! Just email me your address and let me know how you would like me to inscribe the book.

NOTE: I apologize for this late announcement. I came down with my second respiratory infection in a month and have been feeling really tired and out of sorts.

First Week's Winner: Books4Learning

Second Week's Winner: Robyn Hood Black

Third Week's Winner: Brenda Harsham

All winners should email me their snail mail addresses. Let me know how you would like me to sign your books. If you want me to send the book to someone other than yourself, that's fine with me--as long as it isn't overseas.
 
***************
 
Brenda has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Friendly Fairy Tales.
 
 

 

Friday, April 27, 2018

TWO PLANET POEMS




 A Martian Chronicle: Words of Earth's First Astronaut to Land on Mars

The sky is pink.
The rocks are red.
There ain’t no birdies
Overhead.

It’s bare. It’s bleak.
Don’t see no plants…
Or other green
Inhabitants.

It’s desolate.
The air is scant.
Except for me—
No life’s extant.

It’s dusty, dry.
I need a beer.
Houston,
Get me outta here!


INTERPLANETARY FAX

TO: Pluto
DATE: August 24, 2006
RE: Demotion to Dwarf Status

Sorry, Pluto, you’re way too small.
You’re just an itty-bitty ball…
An insignificant cosmic dot…
A speck in the Milky Way. You’re not
Considered a planet anymore.
Here’s your pink slip; there’s the door.
You’re off the list. Goodbye! Adieu!
Don’t go making a hullabaloo.
There’s nothing…nothing…you can do.
Accept your fate.

FROM: IAU

(NOTE: IAU stands for the International Astronomical Union)

 ***************

Posts from earlier this week:




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 Don't forget! I'm giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during April. All you have to do to qualify to have your named entered into next Sunday's drawing is to comment on one of the blogs that I posted during this third week of National Poetry Month (April 22-28). 
 
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Irene Latham has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Live Your Poem.
 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

TWO COW POEMS: Variations on a Theme


One writing exercise that I enjoy doing is writing about a particular subject in different kinds of poems. Here are two poems that I wrote about cows. The second is a mask poem. You'll see that the poems have some things in common:

 
THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE COWS

Graze on a hillside meadow
dotted with dandelion suns.
Breathe in the sweet smell of clover
and freshly mown hay.
Flick flies away with your tasseled tail.
Feel summer days pass by
like silk over silver.
Moo and chew
and chew and moo.
Relax…
enjoy
your grand green view.


COWS

Up here on the hillside,
We graze and we laze.
We laze and we graze
On warm sunny days.
We chew and we moo.
We moo and we chew
And ruminate on
This grand green view.

 ***************
 
Don't forget! I'm giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during April. All you have to do to qualify to have your named entered into next Sunday's drawing is to comment on one of the blogs that I posted during this third week of National Poetry Month (April 22-28). 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SOLE SONG: A Mask Poem about a Pair of Shoes



Here is a mask poem that I wrote back in 2010 for one of Tricia's (Miss Rumphius) poetry stretches.
 
Tricia wrote:

Shoes make great subjects for writing. Pick a shoe, any shoe, and it will tell you a story. It may want to tell you about a special event--a wedding, a prom, a soccer game. It may want to tell you about how it hid from the other shoe? It may want to tell you about a previous owner. If a shoe has traveled many miles, it will have many stories.

So, that's the challenge for today. Write a poem about shoes, or an event where the shoes figure prominently, or a pair you wanted by couldn't have, or .... there's just so much to choose from!


Sole Song

We’re the well-worn soles of shoes
reading all the sidewalk news.
As we go along our way
we broadcast headlines of the day:
intermittent
dots of rain
wad of bubblegum
bright stain
of cherry popsicle
that bled
its sticky sweetness
cool and red
concrete cracked
by root of tree
telltale clue
of injured knee
ghost of ant
whose remnants lie
flattened from a passerby
OH NO!
PEW!
Our bugaboo!
We just stepped in doggy do!

 
***************
 
Don't forget! I'm giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during April. All you have to do to qualify to have your named entered into next Sunday's drawing is to comment on one of the blogs that I posted during this third week of National Poetry Month (April 22-28). 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

FOLLOW THE LEMON DROP ROAD: An Original Poem from an Unpublished Collection


Years ago, I began working on a collection of poems about sweet things. There were two different versions of the manuscript. One included poems just about candy. The other contained poems about all kinds of sweet things--including donuts, pudding, popsicles, a birthday cake.

My good friend Grace Lin and I planned to collaborate on the project. We even took a "investigative field trip" to YUMMIES, a famous candy store in southern Maine where we found hundreds of different kinds of candies--some of which I hadn't seen in decades. You can read about our trip here: How Sweet It Is!: A Poetry Tale.

In 2011, when Grace was out in San Francisco, she spoke with Melissa Manlove, an editor at Chronicle Books. She told Melissa she had a manuscript written by a friend that she wanted to send to her. Grace had planned to send Melissa my manuscript of candy poems. After some thought, Grace decided to send her my THINGS TO DO manuscript. I will be forever grateful to Grace for doing that. My book THINGS TO DO might never have been published if it hadn't been for her! I might never have received a 2018 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor Award or the 2018 Margaret Wise Brown Children'sLiterature Prize.

 
NOTE: I also owe a debt of gratitude to my wonderful editor Melissa Manlove who helped me shape my manuscript into the book it became...and to Catia Chien, the talented artist who created beautiful, dreamy illustrations for my text.

Here is one of the poems from SWEET TOOTH, my unpublished collection of candy poems:

FOLLOW THE LEMON DROP ROAD

A good witch gave me directions to Candyland.

She told me to follow the Lemon Drop Road

Straight past Vegetable Valley

And Eat-It-It’s-Good-for-You Village.

She said to beware of the sugarless not-so-gummy bears

And bitter chocolate bunnies

Who often fool unsuspecting travelers

With their phony sweet talk,

And entice them to eat only healthful foods

Like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Oh…YUCK!

I’m glad she warned me.

I can’t wait to reach my destination.

 

I must follow the Lemon Drop Road…

follow the Lemon Drop Road

follow the Lemon Drop Road

follow the Lemon Drop Road

follow the Lemon Drop Road…

 ***************
 
Don't forget! I'm giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during April. All you have to do to qualify to have your named entered into next Sunday's drawing is to comment on one of the blogs that I posted during this third week of National Poetry Month (April 22-28). 

 



Sunday, April 22, 2018

And the Winner of THINGS TO DO for the Third Week of National Poetry Month Is...


The winner of a signed copy of my book THINGS TO DO is Brenda Harsham! Congratulations, Brenda! Just email me your address and let me know how you would like me to inscribe the book.

Friday, April 20, 2018

ROOSTER and CHICK: Two Mask Poems




I seem to "default" to the mask poem whenever I begin writing a poetry collection. On Wednesday, I posted four mask poems about spring peepers from an unpublished seasonal collection titled VOICES ALL AROUND ME.
The following two mask poems are the first two verses from another unpublished collection titled FARM TALK, which contains poems written in the voices of farm animals, a few wild animals, and a farmer and his wife. Most of the poems are written in pairs--for example, a mare and her foal, cows and a bull, mother duck and her ducklings, rooster and chick.  

ROOSTER

Cock-a-doodle-doodle-do!
The sun is rising. You should too.
It’s time to wake and shake off night…
To welcome in the morning light.
It’s the dawn of a brand new day.
That’s something to crow about, I’d say!


CHICK

Listen!
Dad’s calling up the sun.
Wake up! Wake up, everyone!
Night is over. Day’s begun.

 ***************

My other postings from earlier this week:



Four Mask Poems about Spring Peepers

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Don't forget! I'm giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during April. All you have to do to qualify to have your named entered into next Sunday's drawing is to comment on one of the blogs that I posted during this third week of National Poetry Month (April 15-21). 

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Tabatha has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Four Mask Poems about Spring Peepers


I enjoy writing mask poems. It's especially fun taking on the personality of an animal that I have learned about and speaking in its voice.

 
One of my favorite books of animal mask poems is Marilyn Singer's TURTLE IN JULY, which was beautifully illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. In this book, Singer speaks in a different animal's voice each month--a deer in January, a barn owl in February, a bear in March, etc. She also speaks in the voice of a bullhead fish in each of the four seasons.


 
TURTLE IN JULY and Karla Kuskin's ANY ME I WANT TO BE are the two books that got me hooked on writing mask poems. Unfortunately, ANY ME I WANT TO BE is out of print. You might be able to find a used copy online.  I think TURTLE IN JULY is still  available in library binding. I highly recommend both books!

Last year, I worked on a collection of mask poems told in the voices of familiar animals and plants that takes readers through the cycle of a year. I wrote four poems about spring peepers--one for each season.
Listen to spring peepers at this link:


SPRING PEEPER IN SPRING

Awakened from my winter sleep
And ready to mate—I peep and peep
At night to woo a lady fair.
My heartfelt singing fills spring air.

Above this vernal pool I wait
And eagerly anticipate
That special someone who will be 
The perfect froggy gal for me!
 

SPRING PEEPERS IN SUMMER

The day we hatched from jellied eggs…
We looked like fish. We had no legs.
We breathed through gills. We had no lungs.
We didn’t have long sticky tongues.
We didn’t look like frogs…for sure.
But then we started to mature.
And day by day we changed and grew.
To tails and gills we bid adieu.
Now we have lungs and four fine limbs…
And we can croak
and jump
AND swim!
 

SPRING PEEPER IN FALL

Summer was fun—so full of flies,
Beetles, ants, and sunny skies,
Cricket song…warm, lazy nights,
Dew in the grass and other delights.

But…
Now it is time to find a space
Under a log—a snuggly place
Where I can hibernate till spring
When I will reawake and sing.

 
SPRING PEEPER IN WINTER

Quiet please.
Do not disturb.
Don’t jog this log
While I’m asleep.
I need to get a good long rest.
In spring, I must be at my best!

 ***************
 
 
Don't forget! I'm giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during April. All you have to do to qualify to have your named entered into next Sunday's drawing is to comment on one of the blogs that I posted during this third week of National Poetry Month (April 15-21).