Thursday, May 28, 2015

May DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway

"Game On" by Wendy, Flickr Creative Commons

At the beginning of the month, Nikki Grimes challenged us to try a wordplay exercise and create our own free verse poem.  She encouraged us to explore a word "from top to bottom, and inside out, considering every aspect."

It was a thrill for me to hear, again and again, just how inspired writers were by this challenge. For several of you, this was the first time participating in a DMC challenge. (I hope you'll be back!) For others, you seized the opportunity to try something new.  Some of you discovered talents you didn't even know you had!

Whether you're a seasoned DMC participant or a newbie,  

I am honored to share your work here. I only wish I could have featured more of these wonderful poems as daily ditties.  

And to Nikki, a special thank you, for your ongoing inspiration to us all.

With more than forty poems, if you need to take a break in the middle and come back to read the rest later, go ahead! Take your time. Believe me, they are worth savoring.

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


Bell is a ringing word,
a brass singing word.
*ding* the aroma of dinner
*ping* a jackpot winner
*dong* time to worship and pray
*gong* time to call it a day
Bell vibrates,
eardrums gyrate.
Bell quivers,
listeners shiver.
Bells are shiny, bells are weathered,
bells are held, bells are tethered.
Can a bell be unrung?
can a song be unsung?

– Bridget Magee

Bell is a word.
Bell is a word.
Sleigh in the snow, silvery cool.
Brassy and loud, first day of school.
Bride and a groom, rice in their hair.
Ringing in ears, quivering air.
Listen for bells. Quick, get the door! Suppertime, folks. Could it be four?
Bell is a word.
Bell is a word.

– Suzy Levinson

Bell is a clangorous fellow,
tolling time in his lofty clock-tower.
His golden voice sings out over the rooftops,

– B.J. Lee

                                                                       Bell is a shiny metal word
                                                                       It clangs across alpine meadows in a
                                                                       Moo-ving musical of bovine adventure.
                                                                       It jingles from a rooftop on a snowy winter's eve-
                                                                       A magical promise of stockings stuffed full.
                                                                       Laced to a shoe bell speaks of growth and change-
                                                                       A tinkling beat of toddling first steps; a
                                                                       reminder  of fleeting moments gone too soon.
                                                                       Bell whispers on the wind -God is waiting; Come.
                                                                       In a musical language of chimes and tones -Bell pleads.
                                                                       Find me. Follow me. I am here.

                                                                       – Janie Lazo

Bell is a bothersome word.

leaves chalked rectangles.

drags herself from first base.

drops his jump rope.

stills her swing.

Then that bothersome, Brrrring-ing word
marches us
straight to math class
where our brains calculate
the hours,
the minutes,
the seconds,
until our next recess.

– Penny Parker Klostermann

                                                                                     Bell is a heralding word—
                                                                                     Whether pealing in joy
                                                                                     or tolling in grief;
                                                                                     clanging on trains
                                                                                     or ding-donging on doors,
                                                                                     a bell says, “Listen to me!”

                                                                                     Bells are blue in the garden
                                                                                     and silver on sleighs.
                                                                                     Bells of brass
                                                                                     sound on ships at sea.

                                                                                     Bells wake us each morn,
                                                                                     they urge us to flee;
                                                                                     they can jangle our nerves
                                                                                     or proclaim angels’ new wings.

                                                                                     Once the town crier,
                                                                                     now they ping on our phones.
                                                                                     Whatever song they send
                                                                                     through the sky,
                                                                                     Bells cry out “Listen to me!”

                                                                                     – Catherine Flynn

                                  Lemon is a sunny yellow word.
                                  It speaks of summer,
                                  days sliced thin and swirled
                                  with sugar nights.
                                  I halve one,
                                  a stinging spray,
                                  raise the rind to my lips
                                  for a sour-pucker kiss,
                                  my hands perfumed with happiness.

                                  – Renée M. LaTulippe

The yellow brightly
Doesn’t perk
Up every situation.

Say, you’re driving
One to work
And need no aggravation

But, cheerfully
It adds the quirk
To liven taste sensation.

A pluralistic word
To jerk
One clear of dull sedation.

– Brian Esposito


Lemon hides her tartness within a shiny, dimpled skin.
Scrunching up your face at her initial rudeness
Before being won over by her zesty personality.
Once she’s gets to know you, her homemade pies
Never tasted so good.

– Charles Waters

Perky lemon, ripe with use
Zest and rind and citrus juice
Smooth or bumpy, dense and small
Oval like a pigskin ball
Glossy, bright and sunny yellow
Light, refreshing, jiggly Jell-O
Tart and sour, makes lips pucker
Analgesic, sore throat sucker
Squeeze it, squirt it, grate or slice
Wedge with water over ice
Polish copper, brass or chrome
Rid bad odors from the home
Nails pure white and highlights blond
Lighten age spots, blackheads gone
Happy mood enhancing aid
Sugar, water…lemonade!

– Mindy Gars Dolandis

                                                 When life hands you a lemon

                                                 You are not holding a mistake
                                                 reject, or serene yellow egg
                                                 but a blonde grenade
                                                 that explodes puckering sour
                                                 all through your mouth
                                                 acid that pales
                                                 pear, apple and peach
                                                 squeeze that brings to attention
                                                 potato, souvlaki, calamari.
                                                 Its zesty shrapnel trademarks
                                                 loaf and pie, square, drop and tart.
                                                 The pungent oil its leather hide releases
                                                 sweetens even garburator’s rancid breath.

                                                 Life, hand me more!
                                                 I could use a whole arsenal
                                                 of this kind of ade.

                                                – Violet Nesdoly

                                                                                        Lemon is a happy word,
                                                                                             a fun word.
                                                                                        It's lemon drops in the sunshine.

                                                                                        Lemon is a pucker-up word,
                                                                                             a squirting word.
                                                                                        It's fresh, homemade lemonade.

                                                                                        Lemon is a summer word,
                                                                                             an iced-tea word.
                                                                                        It's sliced and perches on the rim of my glass.

                                                                                        Lemon is a happy memory.

                                                                                        – Kristi Dee Veitenheimer

                              Lemon is a yellow word,
                              Sunny, sparkling,
                              Deliciously sour.
                              It's tanginess
                              from the inside out,
                              Bursting with puckery-sweet

                              – Becky Shillington

Meyer Lemon

Leaves shield against strident sun
Thirsty trunk, branches, leaves, small balls of green, suck water
M. Lemon hosts aphids, black mold, more murderous thugs
We nurture it nature’s way
Hold our breath about the pests

Will we win against attackers?
Defy drought?
Is spangled fruit ours to hold?

The dream - picked, squeezed, licked
each one

– Jan Godown Annino

                                                As the snow blankets the earth in winter,
                                                As the rain blankets the grass in spring
                                                           and makes the flowers grow,
                                                As the sunshine blankets the sidewalk in summer
                                                           making it hard to walk barefoot,
                                                As each leaf blankets my yard in fall
                                                           with the promise of bonfires and cider,
                                                So am I blanketed in love.

                                                – Lana Wayne Koehler

Blanket is a rectangular word
with hard corners
anchored by flip-flops

Its "B" longs for the beach
Blanket is a blank slate,
ready to fill in the ______
and B a tablecloth/game board/

Its flat, low center holds "an"
old blue cooler with winter inside
We lift the lid, not for the
roast beef, Doritos, and soda,
but for the chill breath
it exhales on our hot,
gritty skin

It gets crowded and wrinkled,
but everyone fits in the
sunscreened k-n-e-e presses against
orange-powdered a-n-k-l-e
Keeping us safe
       from the sand
             from the sea
             from time

– Laura Purdie Salas

                                          Blanket is a cozy comfortable word.
                                          I spread it on the ground and
                                          share a picnic with my best friend.
                                          We laugh, we share secrets, we dream, we become.
                                          At night Mom tucks me in and pulls it up close around my shoulders.
                                          She kisses me. I feel loved.
                                          A patchwork of softness and memories,
                                          I am warm and snug in it's embrace

                                          – Janie Lazo

                                                                                                      Blanket is a comfy word,
                                                                                                      wrapping me in warmth.
                                                                                                      I watch silent flakes
                                                                                                      blanketing the earth,
                                                                                                      providing protection
                                                                                                      for life beneath.

                                                                                                      – Laura K. Law

                                                         Shadow is a long word
                                                         stretching out behind the old shed,
                                                         keeping me a secret until
                                                         “Olly, Olly Oxen Free!
                                                         Shadow is a friendly word
                                                         sticking to my feet,
                                                         meeting my fingers as we tag base.
                                                         Shadow is a sneaky word
                                                         tugging me back
                                                         to a stretched-out, secret place
                                                         where we both disappear.

                                                         – Penny Parker Klostermann

Shadow is a word that hushes,
hiding in your arms and legs
until you swing them out into the sunlight.

Shadow is word that clings
holding your skin in,
Sewn on by Wendy Darling
on a day when you’d rather not grow up.

Shadow is a word that fools you
making you tall and skinny.
They all do that stretching-out business
as a ballerina on the bar.

Shadow is a surreal word,
a fantasy walking with his father,
the sun, making us all believers.

– Margaret Simon

                                               Shadow is a relaxed word -
                                               A “rest-awhile-from-your-play” word,
                                               A “take-a-break-in-your-day” word,
                                               A “bring-a-book-and-then-stay” word.

                                               Shadow is an inviting word -
                                               A “cool-off-your-feet” word,
                                               A “rest-if-you’re-beat” word,                 
                                               An “escape-from-the-heat” word.

                                               Shadow is a shady word -
                                               A “get-out-of-the-sun” word,
                                               A “rest-from-your-run” word,
                                               A “have-a-picnic-for-fun” word.

                                               – LeeAnn Blankenship

                                                                                                   Darkness cast by,
                                                                                                   Interference with light.
                                                                                                   Foe of sunbathers,
                                                                                                   Reader's delight.
                                                                                                   Shadow – an ominous word,
                                                                                                   Creeps over me
                                                                                                   as my skin tickles and comes alive.

                                                                                                   – Leane Gill


Scissors is a sharp word,
a thin word, a steel word,
an I-can-hear-it-click word,
a catching-the-light word,
a see-it-flash word, a fast word,
cutting here, clipping there,
a round-metal-eyes word,
a long-pointed-nose word.
It sews as it goes,
and it sings its own name:
Scisssssssssors --snip!
Scisssssssssors --snap!

– Julie Larios

                                      Sharp, metal, pivotal tool-
                                           heron’s bill, chopsticks, knitting needles, pincers -
                                      Cutting ribbon, thread, paper Valentines, the outline of a dress
                                      In seconds one piece becomes two,  as
                                      Snapping blades chomp alligator mouth serrations by children and
                                      Shooshing silky smooth stone skimming lines by grandmother -
                                      Oval holes house fingers together,
                                           thumb alone as they open and close, open and close,
                                      Rumbling through heavy cloth on a wooden table or
                                      Snipping fingernails and hair into the air.

                                      – Donna JT Smith

                                                                                      Two steel blades with ring handles,
                                                                                      Opposing yet synchronizing.
                                                                                      Chaw, chaw, chaw sound.
                                                                                      Speed varies.

                                                                                      Scissor – a hard, cold steel word.
                                                                                      A useful tool to create two of one.
                                                                                      When I scissor-hold a wrestling pal
                                                                                      My legs immobilize them!

                                                                                      – Leane Gill


Leaf is spring's shaped word,
a bold background of green-
framing delicate petals word,
a silhouetted tribute of spring word,
a gentle rustling in the breeze word,
pointing toward the sun word,
a fancy-edged,
vividly proclaiming renewal word.
Leaf is a silent spring word
anxiously awaiting its blossoms.
Hush! Wait! Blossoms blooming!

– Carol Varsalona

Willow Leaf


– Brenda Harsham

Leaf is a changing word.
So crisp and colorful in fall,
as I dash and descend
into crackling mountains.
Deep, strong green in summer,
as I dodge the blazing sun.
But best of all,
is the softness of spring,
stroking my face
as I read among suspended clouds
of pink flowers.

– Maria Marshall
                                                                                                              dry leaves rattle
                                                                                                              like castanets at play—
                                                                                                              autumn’s last dance

                                                                                                              – Stephanie Farrow


from a Sequoia
long, thin
pine needles

poke and jab
make us slightly

like the Indian legend
of talking leaves
genius, clever, brilliant

let me remark
upon his native intelligence
taught himself

to read--first in English
then devised script
for his Cherokee

taught his daughter
to read and write
in her own tongue

with his daughter
showed the Chiefs
usefulness of written words

convinced the Cherokee nations
to learn to read and write
and to understand
the power
of talking leaves.

– Joy Acey

                                                                     Leaf Maps

                                                                     Consider the veins:
                                                                     tiniest of lines,
                                                                     road map of leafy highways,
                                                                     echoing the plant’s branches -
                                                                     drinking long,
                                                                     creating beauty,
                                                                     glorious green energy
                                                                     to send back down the road.

                                                                     – Linda Baie

                              Sun is an "ess" word:
                              sneaking over windowsills at dawn,
                              striking at noon,
                              sinking at dusk.
                              Swaddled in clouds
                              or stark-nakedly shining.
                              Soothing or sizzling.
                              Simply sunsational!

                              – Diane Mayr

Sun can be your friend or foe
Sun decides when to appear, when to hide, and when to shine it’s rays out wide.
Sun appears for everyone, big or small, brown or black or white, even for your kite
Sun decides, dear mate... and never discriminates.
Sun wears its jolly face when it’s our friend
Sun f i l l l l l s us up with warmth inside,
Sun radiates through our lips and out beyond our fingertips.
Sun helps us grow, lifts our moods, and clears our mind so we aren’t too rude.
Sun’s sometimes stubborn, and stays inside, and we often wonder why?
Sun sometimes hides to calm our thoughts and cool our bodies.
Sun sometimes gets Mad and is our Foe– Watch OUT, oh no!
Sun sucks out all our juices, and turns our tongues to sandpaper ruses
Sun’s very, very, very old,
Sun, were you really born four and a half billion years ago?
Some think Sun can be lassoed
Some think Sun is a God
Some know Sun is our special star, and keeps our solar system where we are,
Sun with your many faces, shine for many seasons close and afar...

– Michelle Kogan

                              Ice is a disappearing word.
                              Hard and sparkling,
                              you hold it in your hand.
                              It bites back,
                              demanding you put it down,
                              but if you persist
                              it gives in,
                              slowly dribbling
                              through your fingers.

                              – Elizabeth Steinglass

Thanks to Laura Purdie Salas for sharing this and other wordplay poems
from students at the Young Authors Conference at Bethel University (MN).
You can read them all on Laura's blog: HERE and HERE.

                                                                                        Ice is a cold wintry word,
                                                                                        a sparkly, school-closing word.
                                                                                        It silences summer’s frogs
                                                                                        and sends autumn’s geese on their journey.

                                                                                        It speaks to your skates--
                                                                                        ice is slick and slippery,
                                                                                        a losing your grippery word.

                                                                                        Ice frosts the trees, enchants the forest,
                                                                                        until it shatters and booms;
                                                                                        ice is a thunderous, branch-breaking word.

                                                                                        Add a sickle and ice turns
                                                                                        into a sword-playing word,
                                                                                        a long and hanging,
                                                                                        magical word.

                                                                                        February sun softens ice,
                                                                                        changing it forever--
                                                                                        ice is a trickling, melting
                                                                                        stream-happy word.

                                                                                       – Buffy Silverman



Charming seductress-
Piercing, screeching, loud warning sound.
Awakens and warns me.
Siren-a cautionary word.
I yield to a siren song.
There is no way to turn back.

– Leane Gill

Siren is a
screaming word, a
bleeding word, a
needing word.
It lives
in the
hopeful and hopeless.
Wakes in the night
to answer
the call.
Set fire,
it rushes,
urgent and wailing, a
nightmare, a warning, a
desperate prayer.

– Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

It was only on the first Tuesday
of the month, when they tested
the alarms used to notify
everyone on the island
of hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis

that she'd dress in her shapely red satin
with the sparkles and the slit up the side
put on her tall spiked heels

to serve the firemen who rushed in
leaving their hook and ladder
back at the station, but they still
smelled of ash and burnt cinders of smoke.

They'd order the six alarm chili
with the spicy Sriracha sauce
and she would serve it to satisfy
a craving while humming
so softly, a sweet seductive song
like the serenade of sparrows.

– Joy Acey
                                                                                        Siren is a sonorous word,
                                                                                        it slides across the sea,
                                                                                        human and bird merging
                                                                                        into a creature of legend,
                                                                                        too beautifully dangerous for belief.

                                                                                        Siren is a crescendo,
                                                                                        it sings to sailors —
                                                                                        sultry promises ride waves of longing
                                                                                        to caress their ears and turn their hearts
                                                                                        from home to distant, deadly shores.

                                                                                        – Keri Collins Lewis

I am the sound
that wails and warns
with honks and horns
that shout

I am the sound
assaulting ears,
inducing fears,
I startle streets,
stuck on repeat,
stuck on repeat.

You understand my burst of song,
take notes,
but never sing-a-long.

– Suzanne Olivante


A volcano erupting
on my tongue
through skin
to my soles
where it
burns a hole
falling out
into a lump
of cold
obsidian hurt

– Linda Mitchell


Perfect is an imperfect word
with its soft purr beginning
to its hard -fect ending.
It crashes down on you
at the worst possible moments
when everything is clear as mud
and life has offered lemons.
Perfection is illusive
as the light shining through
the stained glass window,
pointing the way one minute
and spreading shards of colors the next.
I choose not to follow you, perfection.
I will find a path littered with debris,
broken into pieces by storms and crashing waves.
I will seek grace,
that smooth silky word that whispers softly
and leads me to knowing the one
whose spirit is in us all
seeking only love and to be loved.

– Margaret Simon


Papers are wafer-thin scrolls
That absorb your scribbled thoughts,
Helping you navigate life’s uncertain path.

– Charles Waters


Fog is a grey word, damp and cool.
Fog wraps ears and muffles sounds,
it wraps eyes and dims the light,
it tickles the nose with a salty pungence,
wrapping its long fingers around skin,
chilling all it touches.
Can you taste the sea in the foggy air?

– Rosi Hollinbeck
                                                                                                                            Floor’s Song

                                                                                                                            Violet strings
                                                                                                                            Stretch across
                                                                                                                            Floor violins
                                                                                                                            Keyes notes
                                                                                                                            Scribbling shapes
                                                                                                                            Into shadows
                                                                                                                            A symphony of
                                                                                                                            Light and dark
                                                                                                                            Mirror across stage
                                                                                                                            Seas of music
                                                                                                                            Bravo encore-

                                                                                                                            – Jessica Bigi

Feeling inspired?

You have until Sunday, May 31st, to send your free verse 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 Nikki Grimes' delightful new picture book, POEMS IN THE ATTIC. (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, June 2nd.

The winner will be determined by and announced next Friday, June 5th, when we reveal our new Spotlight ON interview and ditty challenge.

Good luck!

There's always something to celebrate at the Poetry Friday roundup. Many thanks to Margaret Simon, this week's host and community cheerleader, at Reflections on the Teche.