Friday, January 30, 2015

January DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway

"Wisdom – Seeds of Light" by Hartwig HKD

At the beginning of this month, Joyce Sidman challenged us to try out a new verse form called a "Deeper Wisdom" poem.  Based on "What Do the Trees Know?" from WINTER BEES & Other Poems of the Cold, the form invites poets to state six greater Truths that are known to any given object, animate or inanimate.

Photo: © Kathleen Wilke, used by permission
At first the poems trickled in, but after about two weeks, it was as if some higher power opened the floodgates. From potato chips, to cuttlefish, to the stars in the heavens, a high tide of poems rushed forth, each carrying the gift of fresh perspective and deeper wisdom. As readers, we can all benefit from the expanded communal knowledge.  

Thank you, Joyce, for the opportunity to gather and celebrate so many Deeper Wisdom poems in one place.

All poems are copyright 2015, published with permission of the authors, who control all rights.


     by Buffy Silverman

What does the snow know?
     To blanket the field with a whispery hush. 
     White’s the best backdrop for cardinal’s bright blush.
     Secrets are spilled in the tracks by the brush.

What does the snow know?
     Feeding a stream helps it ripple and rush.
     Beauty will fade and transform into slush.
     You’ve worn out your welcome when earth turns to mush.

                              WHAT DOES THE RAIN KNOW?
                                   by Jone Rush MacCulloch

                              What does the rain know?
                                   Sponge clouds gathering moisture
                                   School children running between raindrops
                                   The pop-up gardens of umbrellas.

                              What does the rain know?
                                   The wind whispering secrets
                                   School children with open mouths catching raindrops
                                   The beginning and end of rainbows.

     by Sydney O'Neill

What does the wind know?
     That daunting peaks will weather low.
     Roots resist the gusting snow.
     Updrafts lead to vertigo.

What does the wind know?
     To blow seeds off so they may grow.
     Falling leaves still do-si-do.
     Playful breezes make hearts glow. 

                                                                      WHAT DO THE STARS KNOW?
                                                                            by Jan Gars

                                                                      What do the stars know?
                                                                           To sprinkle stardust on dreamers below
                                                                           The history of mankind long-ago
                                                                           How to set the night aglow.

                                                                      What do the stars know?
                                                                           How to eulogize the hunter and his foe
                                                                           How to course lost sailors as they go
                                                                           To illuminate the canvas of Van Gogh. 

                                                                      WHAT DO THE CLOUDS KNOW?
                                                                            by Jan Gars

                                                                      What do the clouds know?
                                                                           To drift on summer’s breezes to-and-fro
                                                                           To cry the rain of springtime making flowers grow
                                                                           In winter how to blanket earth with falling snow.
                                                                     What do the clouds know?
                                                                           To stratify the heavens drifting high and low
                                                                           To shelter from the blazing sun the fawn and doe
                                                                           That morphing shapes paint sky’s portfolio.

     by Matt Forrest Esenwine

What’s born above will soon be gone
to comfort what it falls upon.
Beauty blooms before the dawn;
this the snow clouds know.

Limbs are weak; snow is strong.
Days are short; nights are long.
Coyote sings a lonesome song;
this the snow clouds know.

                              WHAT DO THE SUNBEAMS KNOW?
                                   by Keri Collins Lewis

                              What do the sunbeams know?
                                   To dance with the ocean at dawn,
                                   and kiss a child’s nose with freckles,
                                   then snuggle with a napping cat.

                              What do the sunbeams know?
                                   To show themselves after the rain
                                   and wrap the heavens in colorful ribbons
                                   before trading places with the moon. 

                                                             WHAT DOES A STAR KNOW?
                                                                  by Peter Barnes  
                                                                       (I'm so proud of my poetic astronomer husband!)

                                                             What does a star know?
                                                                  To gather tendrils strewn with might,
                                                                  Richness, warming, sculpting light.
                                                                  Nuclear messengers in flight.

                                                             What does a star know?
                                                                  Grains and ices, planets growing,
                                                                  Children forming, becoming, knowing,
                                                                  Galactic seedlings for the sowing.


               by JoAnn Early Macken

          What do rivers know?
               To carve our paths through rock, through snow
               To carry everything in tow
               When ice forms, how to slip below

          What do rivers know?
               Dams are temporary, so
               Whatever happens, we still flow
               We find—or make—a way to go

                                   WHAT DOES A SEED KNOW?
                                        by Loree Griffin Burns

                                   What does a seed know?
                                        I do not fear the ice and snow.
                                        I trust the urge to rest and stow.
                                        In the dead of winter, life only slows.

                                   What does a seed know?
                                        The day will come again to sow.
                                        With earth and sun and rain I’ll grow
                                        and everything I need, I know.

                                                             WHAT DOES A SEED KNOW?
                                                                  by Tricia Stohr-Hunt

                                                             What does a seed know?
                                                                  To reach for sun, the warmth and light
                                                                  to wait until the time is right
                                                                  to send shoots through the earth.

                                                             What does a seed know?
                                                                   That germination takes some time
                                                                   that soon enough the stem will climb
                                                                   that flowers mark rebirth.

                                                                                      WHAT DO ICICLES KNOW?
                                                                                           by Tabatha Yeatts

                                                                                      What do icicles know?

                                                                                      Harden fast inside the cold.
                                                                                      Night rejuvenates your hold.

                                                                                      Sharp points don't always wound.
                                                                                      Dissolution is presumed.

                                                                                      Draw new drops into the fold.
                                                                                      Fragility can still be bold.

                                        WHAT A ROCK KNOWS
                                             by Maria Gianferrari

                                        What A Rock Knows:

                                        A rock
                                        Gray and unglamorous
                                        Take a closer look:

                                        Sitting on the sand
                                        Polished by waves
                                        Bleached by the sun
                                        Smooth and rough
                                        It’s heaven in my hand

                                        A rock
                                        Skimming the water’s surface
                                        And sinking
                                        Enveloped in mud
                                        Accepting algae

                                        A rock
                                        Kicked on the road
                                        Rolling sideways
                                        A pocket rock

                                        Gray and unglamorous
                                        But it endures,
                                        And just is.


     by Matthew, 5th grade

What does a seashell know?
It doesn’t know the Pythagorean Theorem
Or how to count by fives,
But it knows the ocean’s feelings.
It’s felt the sea god’s cries.
It knows it has an owner.
It knows that it’s a shield.
It has one life purpose—
to make the sea assassins yield.

                              WHAT DO SEASHELLS KNOW?
                                   by Catherine Flynn

                              What Do Seashells Know?
                                   To turn their bones inside out,
                                   and spin a swirling castle,
                                   armed with turrets and spikes.

                             What Do Seashells Know?
                                   To nestle within lustrous walls,
                                   tinged pink, like the sky at dawn,
                                   safe inside their sea-borne home.

                                                             WHAT DO THE WAVES KNOW?
                                                                  by Jan Gars

                                                             What do the waves know?
                                                                  That creatures lurk in the depths below
                                                                  The raging fury of the gales that blow
                                                                  The fate of captured pirate ships in tow.

                                                            What do the waves know?
                                                                  That drops of spray in sunlight glow
                                                                  The truth of tales that sailors sew
                                                                  How the shoreline’s etched by ebb and flow.


     by Katie Gast

What do hens know?
     Morning call is one cock’s crow.
     Their feed is scattered to and fro
     and all their eggs go to gateau.

What do hens know?
     To find a spot far from the flow,
     to hide their nests so chicks can grow
     to brood, to cluck, to let them go.

                              WHAT DO CUTTLEFISH KNOW?
                                   by Susannah Buhrman-Deever

                              What do cuttlefish know?
                                   We wear our wishes on our skin
                                   Truth and lies are tales we spin
                                   Sometimes we hide so we can win

                              What do cuttlefish know?
                                   Passions rise and then they dim
                                   We feel the world and take it in
                                   And show its colors in our skin

     by Keri Collins Lewis

What do the hawks know?
     To wait and watch, then zoom and munch.
     Talons pack a one-two punch.
     Not all prey has the same crisp crunch.

What do the hawks know?
     When spring winds blow, act on a hunch.
     Feathers may ruffle, wings bunch.
     Not every effort results in lunch.

                                                                                  WHAT DO GEESE KNOW?
                                                                                       by Joy Acey

                                                                                  What do geese know?
                                                                                       To fly south before they smell snow.
                                                                                       To eat grubs from lakes down below.
                                                                                       To listen for hunter's guns as they blow.

                                                                                  What do geese know?
                                                                                       Flying a "V" makes a good show.
                                                                                       Honking formation as they go.
                                                                                       To feel the river as it flows.

     by Maria Marshall

What do hummingbirds know?
     To zip and zoom thru the skies.
     The irrelevance of size.
     And life’s ephemeral disguise.

What do hummingbirds know?
     To sing regardless of your tone. 
     Be prepared to defend one’s own.
     And treasure sunny moments alone.

                                                 WHAT DO THE SQUIRRELS KNOW?
                                                      by Michelle Kogan

                                                 What do the squirrels know?
                                                      Self-reliant survival all on their own,
                                                      Rambunctious escapades above and below
                                                      Tenacious memories for treats that they stow.

                                                 What do the squirrels know?
                                                      Danger alert alarms spread fast and then slow,
                                                      Detecting leads to environments unknowns,
                                                      We encroach on their homes without quid pro quo.


     by Linda Baie

What does a child know?
     At school, you line up in a row.
     A ball’s to bounce and catch and throw,
     and most things happened long ago.

What does a child know?
     Of whispers saying ‘grow, grow’,
     but yearns to learn the facts that show
     why minutes travel awful slow.

                              WHAT DO MOTHERS KNOW?
                                   by Kristi Dee Veitenheimer

                              What do mothers know?
                                   The sweet scent of baby shampoo after bathtime.
                                   Soft breaths tickling the neck.
                                   The rhythmic rocking of baby nodding off to sleep.
                              What do mothers know?
                                   The belly-laugh of a happy child.
                                   Sticky kisses smack on the lips.
                                   Handprints on the window panes that will be gone way too soon.

by Charles Waters

What do Moms know?
For all their persistence
Plus all of our resistance
They happened to be right –
You can get further in life
By being polite.

What do Moms know?
When you finish your business
There’s a kindness that can’t be beat,
Every time a boy puts down
The toilet seat.

What do Moms know?
Being cool doesn’t mean
Making rude gestures,
Acting obscene.
By studying hard,
Doing our chores,
We’re transformed
Into coolness, plus,
Close friends and family
Will start to believe in us.

What do Moms know?
The way we treat women
Is a reflection
Of how we view our mother.
I would never disrespect my queen,
Neither would any true brother.

What do Moms know?
Be polite, be aware,
Study hard, never stare,
Respect all women,
Do the best you can,
Then you might have a shot
At being a man.

                              WHAT DO FAIRY TALES KNOW?
                                   by LeeAnn Blankenship

                              What do Fairy Tales Know?
                                   That each person’s a prince with his own charming ways,
                                   Or a beautiful princess whose talents amaze,
                                   And that stories can teach for the length of our days.
                              What do Fairy Tales Know?
                                   That the good are rewarded, and pure love is true,
                                   That courage and kindness are traits to pursue,
                                   And that fairy-tale endings can happen to you.

                                                              WHAT THE CAT LADY KNOWS
                                                                   by Diane Mayr

                                                              What the cat lady knows...

                                                              About clocks:
                                                              A cat is a morning's best alarm;
                                                              ignore its meow at risk of harm.

                                                              About feline food:
                                                              They love it, love it, love it
                                                              'til they hate it, hate it, hate it.

                                                              About stuff:
                                                              Never place it near an edge,
                                                              be it coffee cup, keys, phone, or veg.

                                                              About herself:
                                                              She knows that the term, "cat lady,"
                                                              will always be preceded by "crazy."

                                                              What the cat knows...

                                                              About the cat lady:
                                                              She's sometimes cranky if I clean my butt all spanky.
                                                              You refuse my kiss? What's up with this, you crazy lady?


     by Mary Lee Hahn

What do potato chips know?
     You can't resist us.
     There's power in crispness.
     Grease is delicious.

What do potato chips know?
     Our stay is brief.
     Life needs treats.
     Occasionally, salty conquers sweet.

                                        WHAT DO THE BEANS KNOW?
                                             by Joy Acey

                                       What do the beans know?
                                            Lima, Kidney, Navy, Pinto
                                            When they grow, they're not slow.
                                            Vines reach high, stay down low
                                            Where they grasp is where they go.

                                       What do the beans know?
                                            Wrapped in the blanket of a burrito
                                            Or nestled inside of a taco.
                                            Music plays wherever they go.
                                            And oh, the smell when we blow.


     by Elizabeth Steinglass

What does a teacup know?
     One fine dress is all you need.
     Waiting gives you time to dream.
     You are your best company.

What does a teacup know?
     A steaming cup draws people in,
     slows down time, and warms a chill.
    Those well-loved bear a well-loved chip.

                               WHAT DOES THE MAGIC 8 BALL KNOW?
                                    by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

                               What does the Magic 8 Ball know?
                                    Without a doubt
                                    Cannot predict now.
                                    Reply hazy, try again.

                               What does the Magic 8 Ball know?
                                    My sources say…
                                    Don’t count on it.
                                    It is decidedly so.

     by Heidi Mordhorst

What does the knife know?
     Red tautness of tomato's skin.
     Garlic's shallot's onion's kin.
     Juicy slick of vitamin.  
     Jolt of pit or stone within.

What does the knife know?
     Tender coarseness of the crumb.
     Whack of steel on boarden drum.
     Whorl and loop don't armor thumb.

     Better bleeding cut than numb.

                                                                                          WHAT DOES THE PEN KNOW?
                                                                                               by Jan Gars

                                                                                          What does the pen know?
                                                                                               Rhymes that are absurd
                                                                                               The still unspoken word
                                                                                               Stories never heard.

                                                                                          What does the pen know?
                                                                                               Poetry unwritten
                                                                                               Odes of heart that’s smitten
                                                                                               Prose that makes love grow.

                              HOW DOES THE CLOCK FEEL?
                                   by Joy Acey

                              How does the clock feel?
                                   To tick and tock and then to peal.
                                   Being watched 'til the next meal.
                                   Time is something that's not real.

                              How does the clock feel?
                                    At his tolling, people kneel.
                                    Wounds are things time can heal.
                                    Moments are what people steal.

                              HOW DOES THE BOOK FEEL AT NIGHT?
                                   by Joy Acey

                              How does the book feel at night?
                                   Knows his reader needs a light
                                   Turns each page, hoping for white.
                                   Dog-ears corners out of sight.

                              How does the book feel at night?
                                   Does anyone care about his plight?
                                   Knows the e-reader can cause blight.
                                   There's something to learn here, if you might.

                                                                WHAT DO WINTER SHOVELS KNOW?
                                                                     by Carol Varsalona

                                                                What do winter shovels know?
                                                                     To slice the new-fallen, glistening snow-
                                                                     Creating mounds away to go-
                                                                     Protecting humans from what nature bestows.

                                                                What do winter shovels know?
                                                                     That children enjoy making tracks-
                                                                     Undoing parents' diligent acts-
                                                                     Creating wonders of icy packs. 

Well.  That's probably enough enlightenment for one day, don't you think?

If you're feeling inspired, you have until tomorrow, January 31st, to send your Deeper Wisdom poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

Participants in this month's challenge will be automatically entered to win an autographed copy of Joyce Sidman's newest collection of children's poetry, WINTER BEES & Other Poems of the Cold. (One entry per participant, not per poem.)

Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below.  If you contribute a poem and comment below you will earn two entries in total. Comments must be received by Tuesday, February 3rd.

The winner will be determined by and announced next Friday, February 6th, when we reveal our new Spotlight ON interview and ditty challenge.  Good luck!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hey, have you seen this little beauty floating around social media?  I'm honored to be one of 115 poets whose work will be included in the upcoming Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, due out this spring. 156 poems in English and Spanish– that's a lot of reasons to celebrate!  Pre-order your copy now over at

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by Paul at These 4 Corners.


  1. WOW. Just wow. Back later to be more specifically wowed...

  2. It was quite a wonderful month, Michelle. I read most, & am happy you gather them so I can now read the rest of them.

  3. So many different takes and subjects of inspiration! What fun to read them. And thanks, Michelle for featuring Joyce Sidman--I just love her work. I have "How to Find a Poem" and its inspiring words tacked to the bulletin board above my desk :)

    1. If I featured Joyce each month of the year, we'd still be clamoring for more!

  4. Really enjoying these! "to comfort what it falls upon," "trading places with the moon," "shoreline’s etched by ebb and flow," "wear our wishes on our skin," " irrelevance of size" ... so many great words of wisdom!

  5. Reading all of these fills me with joy. So different, so lovely, so full of all kinds of wisdom. Thank you, Michelle, the founder of the poetry feast!

    1. Couldn't have happened without you, Joyce. xo

      And hey, I'm all for no calorie poetry snacking!

  6. Wow indeed! This is my favorite DMC collection. So many beautiful images and thoughts here. Thanks for hosting this every month, and thanks to Joyce for the wonderful challenge that brought out the best in these poets. :)

    1. This collection certainly does have a special quality to it. So much richness and depth. I appreciate that you let me know it was your favorite, Jama!

  7. Thanks for the challenge, Michelle! Also, congrats again for being in The PFA for Celebrations!

  8. Oh my goodness. They are wonderful. The poems are wonderful, and I also like just reading all the titles together. This would be a great project for my afterschool poetry class. I like that yours is a found poem. Thank you, and well done all the poets.

    1. Thanks, Karin. :)

      If you end up doing something with your class, let me know how it goes! For some time now I've been hoping these challenges will "catch on" with more students– either inside or outside of the classroom. Would love to be able to share more student poems.

  9. Some incredible imagery here, Michelle - and I have to say, I think I'm most impressed by that 5th-grader, Matthew's, poem! Some real talent that kid's got.

  10. Fantastic collection and what fun. Thanks Michelle for providing this opportunity.

  11. Wow! Now that would make an awesome anthology! Thanks to you for hosting the party and to Joyce for the inspiring challenge!

  12. What a feast! I loved that Matthew managed to work the Pythagorean Theorem into a poem. Impressive. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting and rounding up all of these delightful ditties.

  13. Are you keeping count? Does this beat all? These are wonderful and full of so much wit and wisdom. Thanks for putting together this collection.

    1. I don't think this challenge will break the zeno record, Margaret. But it's certainly up there in numbers!

      BTW, I hope you read the other comments. There are a couple that specifically mention Matthew's poem. :)

  14. Michelle,
    So happy to be included here. I'm not sure how I've missed the DMC, but I'll certainly be back each month.
    Thanks too for collecting all of these. I love how varied they are, especially when folks wrote on the same topic.

    1. Yay! So glad you'll be back, Tricia! The variety is what I fall in love with each month as well.

  15. This was another great challenge with some fantastic poems! Thanks, Michelle!

  16. Wonderful to read these all together--so much wisdom! Thanks for the terrific challenge, Joyce and Michelle!

  17. Wow that is a lot of enlightenment. These are great, thanks, Michelle.

  18. Wow - the wisdom has spread far and wide! You are a gem to connect us with amazing poets like Joyce and challenge our poetic skills, Michelle. Thank you.

  19. This has been a great deal of fun. Thanks, Michelle and Joyce.

  20. Thanks for inspiring this great group of poems. It was fun reading them all.

  21. Wow. What a collection! Loads of wisdom.

  22. These are great! Congratulations on P.F. Celebrations. I've sent you a not-so-deep wisdom poem.

    1. Congrats to you too, Diane! Delighted to hear you'll be in PFA for Celebrations too!

  23. I'm not positive about this, but I think you may have gotten more responses to this challenge than any other. I wonder why that is? I think it's partly that personifying the inanimate is so intriguing and natural to humans, but there's something else to do with the wisdom that really fires us up...

    I have so many favorites here I can't list them all. Congratulations to you and all the others with poems in the PFAC!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts and congrats, Heidi. :)

      Your comment prompted me to take a closer look at the two most popular challenges: this one and the zeno challenge from J. Patrick Lewis last October. I'm not sure if you saw that one, so here's the link:

      Pat's challenge had more contributors, but only by two. It was very close! (Pat's challenge also had an extra week.) Considering both of these challenges engaged readers with a new poetry form to try, it's probably fair to say that new poetry forms also get folks fired up!

  24. What a rich ditty Joyce gave us! WOW!

  25. This was one of the most fun forms to write from. I will be trying with students.

  26. What a rich array of Deeper Wisdom Poems, thanks for the prompts!

  27. What a challenge and what an overwhelming response indeed - you already have a book idea in your hands right here. Much to savor here. :)