Thursday, February 26, 2015

February DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway

At the beginning of this month, David Elliott challenged us to write a letter poem to a bird, animal, or other object of our choice.  He suggested we research our topic, no matter how familiar we were with it, in order to bring a little-known fact or unique angle to our work.

The results were delightful! You responded with humorous and wonder-filled poems, addressed to recipients as small as a snail and as large as the frozen winter.

Congratulations to everyone who found their way through the process, and thanks again to David Elliott for a challenge that not only keeping us writing this month, but kept us learning as well!

Here are this month's fabulous poems:

Dear Sir Roly-Poly,

I thank you for your inquiry
          about your pedigree.
Regretfully, appearances
          belie your family tree.

I’ve turned most every leaf and stone.
          My research seems to say—
you’re not a bug at all! Not
          in the ‘insect’ sort of way.

Instead you are crustacean!
          (Your kin are water-bound,
so how you came to live on land—
          that fact I’ve not yet found.)

Some further facts are needed. More
          ancestry should be followed.
But meanwhile I should caution you—
          don’t let yourself be swallowed.

Your rolling-up ability
          (that ‘conglobation’ skill)
Could cause some sickly creature to
          mistake you for a pill.


Professor O. Possum

© 2015 Damon Dean. All rights reserved.

                                   Dear Cat,

                                   I love you on my lap.
                                   I love to hear your purr.
                                   But must your play involve a snap
                                   And what’s with all the fur?
                                   Oh queen, aloof. You go your way
                                   You barely look at me.

                                   Best regards throughout your day,
                                   Your slave eternally.

                                     © 2015 Katie Gast. All rights reserved.

                                                                       Dear Dad,

                                                                       I’m having trouble fitting in.
                                                                       I feel unhappy in my skin.
                                                                       The kids at school all call me names;
                                                                       they carry torches bright with flames.
                                                                       Teachers chase me through the rooms
                                                                       with pitchforks, clubs, and wooden brooms.
                                                                       When I say, “Hi,” the parents flee.
                                                                       It’s almost like they’re scared of me.
                                                                       Sorry, I don’t mean to whine.

                                                                       your son,
                                                                               Jack Frankenstein

                                                                           © 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine. All rights reserved.

Dear Maggenpie, oh magpie dear,

Your song is heaven to my ear.
Enraptured by your melody,
I sing your praise adoringly.

A Siren, you beguile, entrance…
Poor heart! I never stood a chance.

This helmet is my badge of shame
for when you swoop and scream my name.

I watch you nesting up above
and though you don’t return my love,
all’s well, my dear – I don’t feel slighted.

Yours forever,


© 2015 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.

                                   Dear Frozen February,

                                   Bundled so barely my eyes see,
                                   bright rays met me on my walk, where
                                   I spied some beaming red berries.

                                   Baby steps traversed across the
                                   sparkling tundra, eyes tearing
                                   trudging through snowy scenery...

                                   Bouncing steps joyfully captured
                                   my eye a distance ahead, while
                                   swaying mirthfully, undisturbed.

                                   Above the snow covered birches,
                                   finally, the sweet chirping din
                                   of sparrows scouring branches.

                                   Searching for their shape, ones undone,
                                   for a moment, and stored in my
                                   memories imagination.

                                   Most humbly yours,
                                   Explorer of the outdoors

                                     © 2015 Michelle Kogan. All rights reserved.

Hello Mr. Snail,

Are you hiding in your shell?
Or, dwelling in the garden
The place you love so well.

Your skin is very slimy,
Antennae on your head.
Gliding ‘cross the mucous
On leaves of green and red.

Beware the lurking robin
Or a feast you’ll be.
Stay tucked within the foliage
Deep within the tree.

But if you choose to crawl,
Please hurry as you go.
Advice from your good friend.

U.R. Slowe

© 2015 Jan Gars. All rights reserved.

                                             Dear Mr. Penguin,

                                             Swim in your tuxedo.
                                             The water’s just a bit too cool
                                             For you to wear a speedo.

                                             Frolic on the shoreline
                                             And dive for fish all day.
                                             Listen to the gulls
                                             As tides are swept away.
                                             Set upon your egg,
                                             A chick be born real soon.
                                             Upon the frozen tundra
                                             With the rising of the moon.

                                             On slickest ice you thrive
                                             Where it’s rocky and it’s hilly.
                                             But just too cold for me,

                                             Your good friend,
                                             I.M. Chilly

                                               © 2015 Jan Gars. All rights reserved.

                                                                                           Dear Ms. Flamingo,

                                                                                           You rest while standing on a stilt,
                                                                                           Astride a nest of mud and silt.

                                                                                           You dig the sand with spoon like bill,
                                                                                           Then fish and clams your gullet fill.

                                                                                           On rising sun you swarm in flight,
                                                                                           A spectacle in morning light.

                                                                                           You shadow blue and pink the sky

                                                                                           Sincerely from,
                                                                                           An awestruck eye

                                                                                               © 2015 Jan Gars. All rights reserved.

Dear Elephant,

I'd like to have those ears that flap, to cool my body down.
'Cause when it's hot and sticky, I'm not fun to be around.
My brother, he can wiggle his, but mine won't move at all.
Maybe you can teach me on my zoo field trip this fall?

Sincerely, A flap-less Chap

© 2015 Leane Gill. All rights reserved.

                                        Dear Crows,

                                        Can't you find your own food?
                                        There’s no need for such a bad mood.
                                        This dish is the dog’s.
                                        I won’t leave! You’re hogs.
                                        Stop squawking!


                                          © 2015 Sydney O'Neill. All rights reserved.

                                                                                 Dear Cold,

                                                                                 It’s time for you to go—
                                                                                 you, and your friend, the snow.
                                                                                 We’re all sick to death
                                                                                 of your miserable breath.
                                                                                 So please, take your wind
                                                                                 and blow!

                                                                                 The Daffodils

                                                                                     © 2015 Elizabeth Steinglass. All rights reserved.

Dear Snow,

Welcome to Mississippi!
We’re delighted you are here.
Your welcome’s worn out in the North
our welcome is sincere.

We’ve waited all the winter long
to see your frozen face.
We canceled school and work today
to show you Southern grace.

Your gorgeous white against cedars green
paints our landscape in new hues,
please notice as you stay a while,
we’re even wearing shoes.

Oh Snow divine! Oh house so warm!
You fill my heart with gladness!
I’m sure the day you melt away,
my joy will turn to sadness.

Thank you, Snow, for dropping by,
we hope you stick around.
Next winter please don’t wait so long –
a warmer welcome won’t be found.

Love from your friends in the Magnolia State

© 2015 Keri Collins Lewis. All rights reserved.

                                       Dear Mr. Hammer,

                                       Please use your peen to release me.
                                       Crack me open. Set me free.

                                       Release the magic. Let out my song.
                                       Release the starlight. Show me you're strong.

                                      A jealous witch cursed, turned me to stone.
                                      I'm trapped in this rock and I'm all alone.

                                      Yours sincerely,
                                      Ms Geode

                                        © 2015 Joy Acey. All rights reserved.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Eagle,

The world has snatched the privacy

of your tree-top aerie;

While on a clutch of eggs you brood,

to our TV screens we’re glued.

We marvel at your fortitude,

braving wind and snow in solitude,

to tend your unborn chicks with care

one hundred feet up in the air.

Taking turns to hunt and fish,

you bring your mate a tasty dish.

Now it’s your shift on the nest;

roll those eggs, then get some rest.

We’ll be watching all month long,

waiting to hear your newborns’ song.


Your Nosy Neighbors

© 2015 Catherine Flynn. All rights reserved.
Watch the video that accompanies this poem at Catherine's blog, Reading to the Core.

Feeling inspired? You have until tomorrow, February 28th, 
to send your letter 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 a personalized copy of David Elliott's newest collection of children's poetry, ON THE WING. (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, March 3rd.

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

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


DEAR TOMATO: AN INTERNATIONAL CROP OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE POEMS, edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte, is ripe for picking and available for purchase on  I have three poems in this collection: "The Emperor's Greenhouse," "Compost Bin," and "The Plight of the Honeybee."

 I will be competing once again in this year's March Madness children's poetry tournament, which begins March 8th.  Please support our vibrant children's poetry community by following along at Think Kid Think.  If you are a teacher, I hope you will register to be an official voting classroom.

Also in March, I will be taking part in Carrie Charley Brown's month-long examination of picture books as mentor texts: Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo). Be sure to register by March 1st to be eligible for prizes.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by the incomparable Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe.


  1. What a wonderful group of letter poems! They are some of my favorites from your monthly challenges. I'm early and it was an especially nice way to spend time on a Thursday evening :-)

  2. Wow, that's quite a mailbag you have! Looks like a great response. Wish I had had the time to send you another!

  3. Michelle, I love the variety of these poems! I had a terrible time coming up with a topic, and then tonight, one was waiting for me on Facebook. I'm sharing my poem for Poetry Friday:
    Thanks to you and David for this challenge!

    1. I LOVE your poem, Catherine. I'm so glad inspiration hit just in time!

  4. This challenge brought out lots of talent!

    1. They always do! Looking forward to you joining in again at some point, Monica. :)

  5. What I love best about these poems is the creative sign-offs. :) I am really feeling Liz's "Dear Cold" poem... poor daffodils, all chipper one morning and droopy the next. :) And aren't you a busy gal, Michelle! Wishing you joy as you pursue all these wonderful word-y challenges. I can feel your brain expanding from here! xo

  6. I'm with Irene - so cleverly signed! (Like your "Unrequited"...) I LOVED roly-poly bugs as a child, so am particularly partial to Damon's, er, the Professor's contribution. Love Joy's Geode, and I can totally relate to Keri's - "we’re even wearing shoes." Thanks for all the fun to read this month!

    1. And thanks for stopping by to read them, Robyn! As usual, great variety and talent here this month. I feel lucky to be on the receiving end.

    2. Thank you was so much fun to write! I also (being a half-Mississippian) loved Keri's offering too.

  7. Replies
    1. My pleasure, Carrie. It's going to be a great month... if I survive, that is. ;)

  8. These are amazing! So many great ones. What an awesome challenge. I do love epistolary poems. In fact, did you see this contest? I don't know if being online would constitute "published." Some publishers say yes, others no. But it wouldn't hurt to try... or call to find out, I guess.

    1. Thanks for sharing the contest lead, Laura. I agree with you– lots and lots of great poems here!

  9. Congrats again on the anthology, Michelle--looking forward to reading your poems there.

    And so many fun poems here--what a great challenge! I wish I had had the time to participate, but I'm keeping note of it for the future!

    1. Maybe next month, Maria. I'm just happy to have you around. :)

  10. Wow! You and David inspired some terrific poems, Michelle! I especially like Catherine Flynn's letter to Mr. and Mrs. Eagle. (Congrats on your poems in the Dear Tomato anthology...I'm excited to be included as well.) =)

  11. These are so delightful! Love them. I grew up in Mississippi, so I especially like Keri's letter to snow. We never get it as far south as I am, so I know how much she loved seeing it.
    I hope we are not seeded against each other in MMPoetry. It's my first try. Feeling brave and feeling scared.

    1. Only if we both make it to semifinals, Margaret. It's possible, I suppose, but doubtful. I'm up against someone that's going to be tough to beat in the first round. You ARE brave, Margaret... that's one of the things I truly admire about you! And win or lose, you're going to do great!

    2. Thanks for your support. I win because of friends like you! I need to Google my competitor.

    3. Margaret, loved MMPoetry too the last two years! Out in first round in 2013 and 2nd round in 2014!
      Hung around the ring and cheered/laughed/sighed/grinned for the whole thing. THAT was the fun of it all. Good luck!

  12. Dear Dittiere (I hope you parler francais)--

    Your guests are most auspicious,
    your challenges delicious.
    I love to come and read the range
    of work you manage to arrange.

    These are all so fun, and I'm partial to the penguin and to Liz's note from the daffodils. Way to go, everyone!

  13. Michelle, I am impressed with the letter poetry challenge entries. They are delightful and just ripe for my picking. I am working with fourth grade teachers on a poetry unit so these poems may be just right ones with a humorous touch.

  14. I absolutely love Joy's Hammer. And the Frankenstein poem as well. Wonderful buffet of poetry, as always. Thanks Michelle.

  15. These are wonderful -- I like all the humor and sign-offs, as others have mentioned. Some very unique points of view, too. I think Keri's snow poem is my favorite. :)

  16. Wow! Michelle another great month of poetry inspired by your blog. Congratulations and thank you.

  17. I wish I could say I have one for you, maybe a letter to you and David would do? But I don't. These are all just wonderful, a terrific challenge. Thanks for the clever endings every single time.

  18. The first poem reminded me of the March Madness Tournament because I wanted to give him a prize for using "conglobation." Great batch of poems, Michelle!

    1. Ha! Tabatha, thanks for the thought! I had to find that word in my research...had never heard it before.
      I have been conglobating a lot lately on these cold frozen days in my normally mild southern clime.

  19. I never finished my poem this month. Guess I'd better get busy! As always, thanks Michelle for this monthly challenge. I thoroughly enjoy it!