Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Christmas Calamity

Santa's workshop in North Pole, NY via Wikimedia Commons

Today's little ditty was inspired by Julie Larios' post last week.  At The Drift Record, Julie paid tribute to American poet John Hollander who passed away earlier this month.  One of the things John Hollander is known for is inventing the double dactyl form with co-conspirator Anthony Hecht.  Julie describes the form well (so I won't bother doing it here); but even if you saw her post last week, it's worth revisiting to check out the colorful poems that have collected in her comments.

I confess, at first I was intimidated by this form-- too many SAT words!  But when I took a closer look and saw how much fun others were having, I decided to pull up my boot straps and give it a try.  Little did I know, my boots would be the shiny black kind worn by a kindhearted man with a white beard, red fur-lined suit, and a special fondness for children and snack food!  Apparently my muse has had quite enough of this Florida summer.

                     THE UNFORTUNATE DEMISE 
                              OF OL’ SAINT NICK

                     Piggledy Jiggledy
                     Jolly Saint Nicholas
                     choked on his Ho Ho and
                     fell to the floor.

                     Baffling, laughable,
                     Elves know that Santa liked
                     Twinkies much more.

                               © 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.

Now won't you please join Tara at A Teaching Life for all the goodies at this week's Poetry Friday roundup?  Oh... and I'll bring the Ho Ho's.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Two Line Tuesday: Ogden Nash

Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for.

- Ogden Nash

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sky Calling

The Museum of Art, Kochi, Japan, via Wikimedia Commons

Last Friday, I was inspired by B. J. Lee's mask poem.  A mask, or persona, poem allows the voice of your chosen subject to speak its own thoughts and feelings, and B. J.'s poem is a wonderful example of how a writer can give life to an inanimate object through this form.  Having decided to give it a go myself, today's little ditty is about the skylight pictured above.

Sky Calling

Caught in the place
between here and beyond,
I show you vast worlds
of dream and possibility
which I, myself, cannot inhabit,
for I must stand strong
until I am shattered
and imagine what it might be like
to spread my wings and soar,
yearning for more,
while you stare right through me
as if I wasn’t even there.

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.

I Think in Poems is our beacon for today's Poetry Friday celebration.  Many thanks to Betsy for hosting the round up!

But before you go...

Anastasia Suen visited Today's Little Ditty earlier this week with a haiku for the Haiku Garden.  You can view that post here.

Also, I finally created a professional writer's page for myself on Facebook here.  If you're on Facebook too, how about liking me?  (I really am a nice person, I promise.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Haiku Garden: Anastasia Suen

Today we're getting back to basics, which seems fitting for "Back to School" week.  I can't think of many people as qualified to help with this task than today's special guest, Anastasia Suen.

As the author of 169 books for children and adults, a Booklist's Quick Tips for Schools & Libraries columnist, a literacy blogger, a children's literature consultant for several publishers, a former K,1,5, & 6 teacher who visits schools to teach the six traits of writing, and a former Staff Development for Educators, UNT and SMU instructor who teaches writing workshops online, I feel fairly confident that we are in good hands!

Here she is with today's little ditty:

                     WHY HAIKU?

                     Why haiku? This short
                     form only gives you enough
                     room for essentials.

                     Copyright © 2013 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Who knew someone so busy could find time to be clever as well!

The terse style of writing found on her poetry blog, Poet! Poet!, can be fun or insightful, but it is always a pleasure to read.  What's more, Anastasia's participation in Poetry Friday is simply dessert after a week-long blogging feast at Booktalking.  There, she writes every day about about fiction and non-fiction in the kidlitosphere, ranging from board books all the way through young adult.

Like I said, busy lady!  Thank you, Anastasia, for taking time out to grab a deep breath with us here in the Haiku Garden.

Rock Garden, by Russell Yarwood (Costa Mesa, USA) via Wikimedia Commons

If you would like to share a haiku on Today's Little Ditty in the future, please contact me at michelle (at) MichelleHBarnes (dot) com, or by commenting below.  I look forward to featuring you and your blog!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School

Where I grew up, in Westchester County, New York, school began after Labor Day (otherwise known as the day we put away the white pants).  As a consequence, I've always associated autumn with the start of the academic year.  Crisp morning air, stiff blue jeans, the crunch of fallen leaves, and the smell of new school supplies... it came as a package deal. 

Since becoming a parent, however, the first day of school has sneaked up on me every single year.  This is not because the fashion rules have changed regarding white pants.  It's because in both Sydney and Florida, school starts in summertime (January and August respectively) when the livin' is supposed to be easy if I am to believe George Gershwin.  Rudely awakened from my warm weather reveries, I am flung back into reality against my better judgment.

But enough about me-- I am determined not to make this post a nostalgic grown-up's whinge fest.  Instead, today's little ditty is about the enthusiasm of a child returning to school after summer break, meeting a teacher for the first time, and wondering what the new year has in store.  Knowing that whatever it is, it is bound to be great fun.

Advice for my new teacher

Today’s the day
before the day
before the day
school starts!

It’s almost here,
the time of year
to show off all
my smarts.

I met my brand new teacher
(she seems very, very nice)
and told her she can come to me
for lots of good advice.

And when she does
(I know she will),
this is what I’ll say:

The grown ups think
we’re here to learn,
but kids?
We want to play!

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.  All rights reserved.

Now pack your school bag, grab your lunch, and hurry on over to Steps and Staircases, where Lisa has today's Poetry Friday roundup.  See you next time!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Two Line Tuesday: Groucho Marx

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. 
  Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
— Groucho Marx

Friday, August 9, 2013

Five for Friday: Things I Learned On My Summer Vacation

"The cure for anything is salt water-- tears, sweat, or the sea."  -Isak Dinesen

Having recently returned from a wonderful week in Beaufort, South Carolina (thanks to Robyn Hood Black for the recommendation)

The Waterfront at Beaufort, SC

and Cumberland Island, Georgia,

Cumberland Island Beach, Georgia

I'd like to share five things I learned:

1: Live dolphins are best viewed not through the lens of a camera.

Captain Dick's Beaufort River Tour and Dolphin Watch

2. On the Pelican Express, there is no caboose. 

Pelicans above Hunting Island Beach, Beaufort

3. Sometimes the best treasures are hidden in plain view...

and sand dollars in 50 and 25 cent pieces are no less valuable.

4. Sometimes the call of the wild is a whisper... so as not to disturb lunch.

Wild horse at Dungeness Ruins, Cumberland Island

5. You can visit the place, but you must live the adventure.

Drying drenched bottoms on the ferry back to St. Marys

Walking the half mile from the beach on Cumberland Island to the dock, the sky broke open and we were caught in a torrential downpour.  In sodden sneakers, we splashed and splooshed through the six inches of rainwater that quickly flooded the trail.  

Drenched, but happy... similar, perhaps, to the boy in this limerick by Liz Steinglass featured on my blog earlier this week.  If you haven't seen it yet, please have a look... there are also illustrations by my daughter, Miranda.  Then, after you're done there, head over to No Water River, where Renée is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup.

So long for now....

Monday, August 5, 2013

Limerick Alley: Elizabeth Steinglass

I've got whales on my mind.  They've been there for the last several weeks.  You can find me reading about whales, writing about whales, watching movies about whales, and generally immersing myself in all things whale.  Why?  I'm not really sure... it just feels right. 

So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when today's guest poet, Elizabeth Steinglass, without even an inkling of my latest obsession, blessed me with a whale in today's limerick.  Is it also coincidence that I recently witnessed a 5-inch (!) snail crossing the sidewalk in front of me?  I'll let you be the judge.
                     There once was a boy with a whale
                     Who traveled by sea on its tail.
                     Back home he decided
                     His choice was misguided.
                     He now sticks to land on a snail.

                     © 2013 Elizabeth Steinglass. All rights reserved.

I love the whimsy of this little ditty and thought some cute artwork might enhance its playfulness.  Not being an artist, myself, I asked my 10-year-old daughter if she would give it a go:

Artwork by Miranda Barnes, 2013

Don't they complement each other beautifully?
Thanks so much, Liz, for bringing such fun to Limerick Alley!

For those of you who don't regularly frequent Poetry Friday, please be sure to check out Liz's blog.  Her talents extend well beyond limericks, and I often find myself stunned by her descriptive imagery. 

If you would like to share a limerick on Today's Little Ditty in the future, please contact me at michelle (at) MichelleHBarnes (dot) com, or by commenting below.  I look forward to featuring you and your blog!