Tuesday, November 19, 2019

DMC: "Papa Slime" by David McMullin



Ding dong

“Gerry,” Mom twitters, “that sounds like the chime.
Would you be so kind as to get Papa Slime?”
Just what is she saying? Who can this Slime be?
He sounds like some mutant from deep in the sea.
Or maybe a ghoul from some bottomless caves.
Regardless, I’m sure it’s my brain that he craves.

Diiing dooong

“Gerry.” says Mom, “Where’s your reason and rhyme?
Just answer the doorbell. We need Papa Slime.”
My parents have lost it or possibly worse,
I’m thinking they’re under this Papa Slime’s curse.
He’ll rip me to bits (what a terrible guest),
then stomp on the pieces and feast on the rest.

Diiiiiiiiiiiing doooooooooong

“Gerald Jay Jones! I won’t ask one more time.
Now open that door and receive Papa Slime!”
I sink to the carpet and slink ’cross the room,
then fling the door open expecting my doom.
It’s only my neighbor (he’s gentle and cute),
and there in his hands is a little green fruit.
He smiles. “Hey Gerry, you’re moving so slowly—
Your dad needs this lime for his fresh guacamole.”
Oops! Now I get it—there’s no Papa Slime.
My mom simply asked me to get Papa’s lime.

© 2019 David McMullin. All rights reserved.

TLD reader Kate O'Neil has challenged us to write a poem with words at play—malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, clichés, etc. Read my interview with Kate HERE and add your wordplay poem to the padlet.

While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 29th.

Monday, November 18, 2019

DMC: "Pecan't" by Kim Norman

Pecans from Homestead and Gardens, by John and Anni Winings


Autumn finds me and my neighbors outdoors,
tackling raking and gardening chores.
Nobody weights the crop; nobody counts it;
the running debate is how to pronounce it.

The couple next door, who can't know more than WE can,
insists that their specialty pie is a PEE-can.
Ed, on the corner, contends that our lawns
are salted and peppered with pounds of pe-CAWNS.

HE says we can't agree, I say we CAN
achieve a consensus about the pe-CAN.
The point of this ditty, you may have inferred:
I've harvested three different rhymes from one word!

© 2019 Kim Norman. All rights reserved.

TLD reader Kate O'Neil has challenged us to write a poem with words at play—malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, clichés, etc. Read my interview with Kate HERE and add your wordplay poem to the padlet.

While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 29th.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018 + The Poetry Friday Roundup

It's here! It's here!

The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018 has arrived,
its pile of poetry paraphernalia in tow.

Our third "Best of TLD" collection is available in paperback for $9.95 or as a Kindle ebook for $5.95. Click HERE to purchase at Amazon.com. (As of the writing of this blog post, the two avenues for purchasing are not yet linked to the same page on Amazon, but don't let that stop you from grabbing the version of your choice!)

As usual, it was a team effort to make this book happen, starting with an uber-diligent ditty committee who reviewed more than 500 poems (527 to be exact) from 2017 and 2018.

This, and all sketches in this post, © 2019 by Miranda Barnes.

A wagon load of thanks goes to:
Matt Forrest Esenwine
Stephanie Farrow
Rebekah Hoeft
Kimberly Hutmacher
Michelle Kogan
Jone Rush MacCulloch
Linda Mitchell
Diane Mayr
Buffy Silverman
Margaret Simon
Liz Steinglass
and Tabatha Yeatts.
Each committee member was assigned several challenges to review independently and then I consolidated the results. As always, a few excellent poems were left out for one reason or another, but I think you'll agree that the final result is impressive nonetheless. I think this is our best collection yet. It's also the largest—96 poems by 57 poets! As our little writing community has grown in size over the last five years, it has clearly also grown in experience.

Thanks also to the twelve authors and editors whose DMC challenges were instrumental—

and to ALL the TLD readers who responded to them. You make the decisions about which poems to include VERY difficult indeed!

Once again, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Renée LaTulippe for her invaluable help throughout the process, including advice, suggestions, design expertise, editing, proofreading, and reality checks when needed. Thank you, Renée!

And to my daughter Miranda, thank you for giving this book its character with such an adorable cover and charming interior illustrations! (Read my interview with Miranda HERE.)

I'd like to give a shout-out to Helen Frost and Paul W. Hankins who were kind enough to provide such wonderful, blush-inducing blurbs for the back cover,

and last but not least, my heartfelt thanks to the poets whose work is featured in this volume:

As I say in my introduction to this book, for me you're more than fellow writers. You're friends. And YOU are what makes all the time I put into blogging worthwhile.

It's an honor to write poetry with you... and READ poetry together as well. So let's keep the party going with this week's Poetry Friday Roundup. Add your links below.

Click here to find out more about Poetry Friday.

We had another active week on our "Words at Play" padlet with new contributions by Janice Scully, Cindy Breedlove, Mindy Gars Dolandis, Karen Eastlund, David McMullin, Cory Corrado, and Tabatha Yeatts. Carol Varsalona has posted hers today at Beyond LiteracyLink. Read about this month's challenge and join in the fun HERE.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Welcome to the Fun Factory!

Luna Park, Sydney, Australia, photo: Sascha Grant

Calling all punsters, all witty-quippers, all wordspinners— 
the fun factory is open for business! 

Last week, Kate O'Neil challenged us to write a poem with words at play. (Read her TLD reader spotlight HERE.)

Someone very wise once said—

duncan c

(Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Jefferson, Babe Ruth, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and any number of others, including Anonymous.)

Kudos to whoever it was. I wholeheartedly agree! 

So in an effort to counter the process of aging (beauty sleep be damned), I've been thinking a lot about this challenge over the past several days. On Tuesday, I shared a playful couplet from Ogden Nash that fits the bill. I could have just as easily shared these two clever lines from Douglas Florian. The humorous and imaginative verse of Jack Prelutsky comes to mind for this challenge, Calef Brown's mash-ups, and several zany poems by J. Patrick Lewis, including this one. In a comment to last week's interview, Tabatha Yeatts mentioned Brian Bilston and Greg Pincus. While Kate suggested malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, and cliches as sources of inspiration, it occurred to me that wordplay can also be expressed visually—by playing with word sequence or layout, like these examples from Bob Racska's Wet Cement. I like that some of you on the padlet are going in that direction.

The early onset of Black Friday sales this month reminded me of a wordplay poem I wrote back in 2013. It's about the relentless Internet ads that pop up during this season of retail holiday cheer.  Indulge me as I repost it six years later—a brief little affair I call "Cyber Seduction."


It all began
with cookies. Now
and then, you popped up
unexpectedly.   It was cute,
you were sweet, and before long
you fell into step with my digital footprint.
Just a fling, I told myself, but you wanted more:
my time, attention, undying devotion, a credit card number
and personal security code.  And then it happened.  Black Friday.
It was late. There on my lap in the bedroom, aura glowing, you
told me I was glamorous, well-to-do, elite, and that XL or XS
didn’t matter. “2-for-1,” you said, “a limited-time offer.”
So I gave you my IP address, my credit card, the
works.  Who could resist those promises,
now as empty as my bank account? 
For a time I thought we clicked,
but now I realize I did all
the clicking. And what
once was 2-for-1,
is now just me,
50% off.

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.


Our fun factory is waiting for your wordplay poem! While there, enjoy the ditties already posted by Michelle Kogan, Linda Trott Dickman, Janie Lazo, Dianne Moritz, Linda Baie, Diane Mayr, and Cindy Breedlove.

Thanks to Irene Latham, our "still and steady" host of this week's Poetry Friday roundup. You'll find her and this week's offerings at Live Your Poem. Join me here for next week's roundup and a big announcement!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Two Line Tuesday: Ogden Nash

Matt Dowdeswell

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance,
Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

– Ogden Nash

Kate O'Neil has challenged us to write a poem with words at play: malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, cliches, etc., so I thought Ogden Nash would be a good choice to get the party started! Read Kate's reader spotlight HERE and add your poem to this month's padlet.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Reader Spotlight: Kate O'Neil + DMC challenge


According to her website, Kate O'Neil has written poetry, mostly for children, since her school days. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies—most recently, Moonstruck! Poems About Our Moon, edited by Roger Stevens. She has two poems in The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2016 and in the forthcoming volume as well. You can also read her work here on the blog. Last year a collection of her poems (113 of them) was published by Triple D Books, Wagga Wagga. Part of a series of "Reciter" collections by Australian poets, Cool Poems includes poems for a range of ages, chosen for their suitability to perform out loud.

Cool Poems and the family of "Reciter" collections, published by Triple D.

Until recently, Kate taught "Performing Text" in after-school lessons to students ranging in age from 7 to 21 years old. It involved tailoring programs of poetry, prose and dramatic monologue to each student for the purpose of exams, auditions or eisteddfod performances. It also happened to be the perfect excuse for spending hours reading familiar and new literature! But with an uptick in her writing time (and who can complain about that?), Kate's had to make some time management choices. She enjoys writing about the world around her (space, the Moon, etc), about the world within her (emotions, philosophical puzzles, etc) and about words and the act of writing.
Kate's lovelies: Joey-Leunig and Poppy-Houdini

Aside from poetry, Kate is passionate about her family, her adorable rescue dogs, and the future of this Earth we live on. At a loss for what her superpower might be, she asked her family. One said dog-whispering, one said dry stone walling, one said rhyming, and one was silent. (Who am I to doubt their expertise?) As for a book that everyone should read, Kate recommends The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

What do you say we find out a bit more about this multi-talented little ditty rhymer from down under?

Kate's five favorites:

  • Favorite sound: the sea
  • Favorite perfume: night-scented plants
  • Favorite music: "Dedication" (Schumann / Liszt) — listen HERE
  • Favorite film: Blade Runner (Did you know the story is set in a dystopian future Los Angeles of November 2019?!!) — watch the official trailer HERE
  • Favorite quote: 
But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think…
          – Byron, Don Juan
Poetry is—
... what results from a poet’s search for the best way to put into words an insight or perception or experience s/he wishes to share.

How did you come to poetry?
I remember being fascinated by words when I was very young. I loved nursery rhymes, (memorised the most appalling rhymed advertisements and wrote my own appalling rhymes). I loved ambiguity, puns, all wordplay and the way figures of speech could say so much so concisely. Studying poetry at school clinched the relationship.

Passing on a love of words and reading to her grandkids.
Five years later . . . same grandson, same reading chair.

Why do you write?
I write for so many reasons: to capture a thought or observation, to entertain friends, to enter competitions, to see what will happen when I do. Apart from writing that comes from an inside source, I like writing to prompts (yay TLD) and love the way the outcome can totally surprise me.

How does poetry fit into your life?
There’s a randomness about my writing and thoughts I’ll write about, so I make frequent use of the Notes app in my iPhone. (Beware—these are easily deleted. I have learnt to save them elsewhere as soon as possible). Listening to radio, conversations, reading, at weddings or funerals—ideas for poetry pop up anytime. Long road trips are wonderful for actually working on an idea. (Husband doing the driving).

On the road with Kate O'Neil (outback New South Wales)

Who or what influences your writing most?
I studied literature at university and the selection of poets I read gave me a basis for further exploration. Even the academic approach—lit crit, prosody etc, was grist to the mill. Entering competitions has led to meeting up with other people writing poetry now (especially children’s poetry) and I’ve done some online month-long, prompt-a-day poetry courses with UK poet Wendy Pratt. This has introduced me to another community of poets (adult poetry).

What is the best advice you can give?
Read poetry every day. All forms, subjects, eras. You’ll learn where you like to be. Read books about writing poetry – there are some fabulous ones. And read Nicholson Baker’s entertaining novel, The Anthologist.

What have you chosen as this month's ditty challenge?

Words at Play.
With this challenge I have in mind the enormous value of this site as "A poetry playground for the child in all of us." Yes, the child in the adult still likes to play. So my challenge is to write a poem based on the sheer delight of words at play: malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, clichés, etc.  Inspiration could be found listening to children, from newspaper headlines, lists of ‘howlers’ on the net, etc. As an example . . .


The garden tap is running—
we shouldn’t waste a drop.
Can anybody catch it?
We have to make it stop.

The garden tap is running
and I am running late.
Since I’m running out of time
please catch it at the gate.

© Kate O'Neil. All rights reserved.

This is going to be so much fun!
I'm expecting laughs and groans in equal parts, folks, so don't disappoint me. ;)

For those on the lookout for more inspiration . . .

"No Tears for the Puns" by Alan Levine

Darn! Seems they're all taken. Guess you'll have to find some "tearable" puns elsewhere.

What you will find here is the padlet—it's embedded below. Add your poem(s) at any point during the month, or scroll through to check out what others are contributing.


By posting on the padlet, you are also granting me permission to feature your poem on Today's Little Ditty. I'm not sure how often I'll be featuring poems from reader challenges, but I want to keep my options open. :)

If you have not participated in a challenge before, please send me an email at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com so that I can contact you, if necessary.

In the lower right corner of the padlet you'll see a pink dot with a plus sign. Click on it to open a text box. I find it works best to type your title on the title line and paste the rest of your poem where it says "Write something...". Single click outside the text box when finished. This board is moderated to prevent spam. Once your poem is approved, it will appear publicly.

Remember to include your name as author of any work that you post!

TEACHERS, it's great when students get involved! Ditty of the Month Club challenges are wonderful opportunities to learn about working poets and authors while having fun with poetry prompts. Thank you for spreading the word! For children under 13, please read my COPPA compliance statement in the sidebar to the right.

BLOGGERS, thank you for publishing your poems on your own blogs–I love that! Please let me know about it so I can share your post. Also remember to include your poem (or a direct link to your post) on the padlet.

If you prefer to open this padlet in a new tab, click HERE.

Made with Padlet

Such a clever one, this Kate O'Neil! I love her enthusiasm, her sense of humor, her playful approach to writing and life, and I love that she brightens up the TLD neighborhood whenever she's around. Please join me in thanking her for being with us today.

If you would like to be featured in a future reader spotlight, I invite you to complete this form.

I had a blast counting down to Halloween with daily ditties about monster fears! This week I featured my own poem, along with others by Janie Lazo, Jone Rush MacCulloch, and Matt Forrest Esenwine. There were also new padlet contributions from Buffy Silverman, Elizabeth Steinglass, Maria Marshall, Penny Parker Klostermann, Juanita Havill, Amanda Sincavage, and Mary Lee Hahn (who also shares her poem today at A Year of Reading). You'll find the entire collection HERE. Feel free to keep adding to it if you'd like!

Tabatha Yeatts has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. She shares a Samantha Reynolds poem called "My Four-Year-Old Poetry Teacher" that might also serve as inspiration for this month's DMC challenge! Thanks, Tabatha!

DMC: "Mummy Problems" by Matt Forrest Esenwine

Eric E. Castro


I’m just an old mummy
in old, dusty wrappings.
My sleeves are all tattered;
my coattails, a-flapping.

They sometimes get snagged
on loose nails or low beams.

And suddenly, I
fall apart at the seams.

© 2019 Matt Forrest Esenwine. All rights reserved.

That's a wrap, folks!

Kenneth Hagemeyer

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

TLD reader Rebecca Herzog has challenged us to write a poem about something a monster is afraid of. Read my interview with Becky HERE and add your poem about a monster fear to the padlet. Check out our entire monster menagerie HERE.