Monday, April 28, 2008

Earthworms: An Animal Mask Poem

Last year, before the start of National Poetry Month, I decided that I would post a poem every day during April--just as Gregory K. of GottaBook was planning to do. Then I began to worry that I wouldn't be able to write thirty original poems in thirty days. I began looking through folders of poems I had written years ago. I hoped to find some poems that I wouldn't be embarrassed to post at Wild Rose Reader.

What I hadn't realized until then was the number of animal mask poems that I had written over the years. That's when I got the idea of working on a collection of poems told from the perspective of different animals--including frogs, a snake, a lion, a grizzly bear, a spider, a butterfly pupa, and earthworms. I've already posted some of those poems at Wild Rose Reader.

One thing I often find problematic when writing poems is coming up with a clever or surprising ending. I'm always disappointed when a poem I'm reading builds up expectations and then falls flat in the last few lines.

I wrote most of this earthworm poem months ago. Actually, the poem nearly wrote itself--but I just couldn't come up with an ending that worked. I thought I would revisit that poem today...and finish it. I'm not sure that I won't rewrite the ending--but here it is in its "second draft" stage.

by Elaine Magliaro

We have…

No bones
No shells
No teeth, as well—
No lips, no beaks
No chins, no cheeks
No horns, no claws
No talons, jaws
No legs, no wings…
No fancy things
Like fins or scales
Or fluffy tails,
Or blubber like the big blue whales.

We’re soft.

We’re small…
Not much at all.
We’re nondescript—
But we’re equipped
To eat your dirt.
It doesn’t hurt
Us...not a bit.
In fact,
We like the taste of it.
We toil in soil.
We’ve got true grit!


Anonymous said...

I am smiling at the end of this poem. Earthworms are so remarkable.

Linda said...

Elaine, the list form works very well with your poem. Children will love this poem especially if the teacher teams it with a gummy worm!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I had a hard time coming up with an ending for that poem. I finally decided to sit down with the poem and my rhyming dictionary and to finish it yesterday.


Thanks! Yes, "Earthworms" is both a mask and a list poem. Gummy worms sound like fun.

Anonymous said...

I like that ending. Linda's right -- children will delight in that. Are you saying you're going to work on publishing some animal mask poems, as in an anthology? Wee! Hope so.

Jules, 7-Imp (who, yes, probably sleep-blogs, not unlike sleep-walking)

Elaine Magliaro said...


Thanks. I was hoping I'd get some feedback on the poem's ending.

Yes, I have a collection of animal mask poems. It has about twenty-five poems. A few of the poems still need to have their endings tweaked a bit before I send out the manuscript.

Charlotte said...

I like the poem, and I like the grit!

But when ever I hear a worm described as small, I think of the giant worms of elsewhere that are over 20 feet long...

Elaine Magliaro said...


Worms that are twenty feet long? EW!!! Perish the thought!