Thursday, September 24, 2015

September DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway

"magic mirror" by Rajesh Kumar

At the beginning of this month, Lee Bennett Hopkins challenged us to write a ME poem–
a poem based on a moment in our childhoods that changed us in some way.

We've had poems that express our many faces...

Steven Depolo

             wonder and fear, curiosity and contentment, 
                                      pride, disappointment, happiness....

Poems about finding our strength and poems about questioning who we are. Poems about people, places, and things we loved, and events that left a lifelong impression.

Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu

I'm grateful to have been trusted with all these precious memories and honored to be able to share them here today.

Many thanks to all those who participated, and especially to Lee, for inspiring us to remember and record these moments for posterity.

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

     by Lana Wayne Koehler

It was aqua and not blue
But for all I knew it was the finest,
Most beautiful,
Two wheels in the world.

Daily I would streak through town
Boldly going up and down the streets until
The lights came on.
Silent happiness.

                                                                          TUMBLING WITH DADDY
                                                                               by B.J. Lee

                                                                          Daddy taught me
                                                                          every Sunday morn.
                                                                               Perfect handstands
                                                                               straight and tall
                                                                               Tiger bends—
                                                                               watch out! Don’t fall!
                                                                          Daddy taught me
                                                                          every Sunday morn
                                                                          When Daddy taught me
                                                                          was born.

     by Linda Kulp Trout

Walking home from school
I found a kitten,
almost hidden,
beneath a bramble bush.

Lying on the ground
bone thin and shivering—
her tail was quivering,
as I wrapped her in my jacket.

Afraid she might die
I carried her inside—

I was happy and  surprised
when she licked
warm milk
from my fingertips!

Then she curled herself
into my lap,
and thanked me,
with a purr-fect

                                   by Michelle Kogan

                              sure wish
                              I left you
                              where you

                              But you fit
                              in my small,

                              you felt squishy,
                              and warm,
                              and wet,
                              all at

                              and your breath
                              inside my

                              my heart broke
                              when your
                              breath drifted

                              in your

                              but the
                              lump in my
                              felt like

     by Linda Mitchell

Down in the creek
no guppy was safe
from our plastic pails or,
fingers reading a braille
of moss, rocks and clay.

Side by side on our bellies
we were single-minded
about guppies
like never again, on
climate change
food allergens.

Those fish in pails
sloshed home in
bike baskets,
our sisterhood
peddled harder
uphill toward

You proudly showing
mom our catch
her smile wan
at my promises to tend
this batch better so they
won’t die and stink
up our room
like the last.

                                                                                              ONE BRONX LIBRARY
                                                                                                   by Michele Krueger

                                                                                              I used to sit
                                                                                              in one Bronx library,
                                                                                              on one small chair

                                                                                              I hardly even noticed
                                                                                              the other people there

                                                                                              I'd sit for hours dreaming,
                                                                                              where miracles happened
                                                                                              if only you dared or cared
                                                                                              to come and find them

                                                                                              I ran there
                                                                                              returning books,
                                                                                              to look for more
                                                                                              to take me to a world,

                                                                                              not the one I knew

                                                                                              it was long ago
                                                                                              but I still remember it
                                                                                              so sweetly

                                                                                              that one Bronx library,
                                                                                              that one small chair

                                                                                              with a happy child

                                                                                              reading there

                             RED KEDS AND FIREFLIES
                                  by Ellen Leventhal

                             First one to see the streetlights come on!
                             Knock on wood,
                             Our luck will be good!

                             I bounce about in my new red Keds,
                             the ones that make me strong.

                             The sun fades to darkness.
                             And then we see.
                             Flittering, glittering,
                             Twirling and flipping.

                             “I caught some!” he says.
                             “I put them in a jar.”

                             A knot in my gut,
                             and a tear stained face.
                             But, still
                             I find the words.
                             Loud, strong, formidable.
                             “Let them go!”

                            And he does.
                            Up, up, up to the sky,
                            winking and blinking
                            and looping figure eights
                            all the way home.

                            “Goodbye fireflies,” I call.
                            Standing tall
                            in my new red Keds,
                            the ones that make me strong.

     by Kristi Dee Veitenheimer

Six flags-

snaking lines.

Log flume-
straddle the seat.

splashing every turn.

Uh Oh-
chains pulling up incline.

frightened knowing what comes next.

anticipating the freefall.

losing my stomach racing downhill.

running, getting back in line one more time!

     by Doraine Bennett

We lie in grass
thick as August
cradled between
our two homes--
one summer blue,
one gray with age--
and watch while clouds
hurl in circles
slowly settling
into shapes
only we
can see.

                                                IN GRANDPA'S BACKYARD
                                                     by Linda Baie

                                                Splendid limbs of a backyard tree
                                                gave leaf-green shade -
                                                my summer A-C.

                                                Hidden me became
                                                a noticer-
                                                and I wrote;
                                                a reader-
                                                and I traveled;
                                                a climber-
                                                and I took risks.

                                                Blossoming tree,
                                                blossoming me.

     by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

Was it the snow that set you on edge?
     The swish of my pants?
     The crunch underfoot?
The day I took the shortcut.

Or was it the race–your hunger, my fear?
     The thrill of the chase?
     The moment I slipped?
The day I took the shortcut.

Things might have been different.
We could have been friends
     if you weren’t so mean
     and I wasn’t so tasty.
The day I took the shortcut.

SCARED OF COWS by Kathryn Apel  (click to enlarge)

                                                                                           A PASSING REMARK
                                                                                                by Donna JT Smith

                                                                                           I was a child
                                                                                           of field and truck
                                                                                           with fingernails
                                                                                           a’la dirt and mud

                                                                                           the neighbors had
                                                                                           a girlie girl
                                                                                           with skin so soft
                                                                                           and hair a’curl

                                                                                           pale of face
                                                                                           with body narrow
                                                                                           a shape that barely
                                                                                           made a shadow

                                                                                           rosy cheeks and
                                                                                           toned farm arms
                                                                                           should not have been
                                                                                           cause for alarm

                                                                                           but our neighbor’s visitor
                                                                                           said to me
                                                                                           as I passed by
                                                                                           “Hello, chubby!”

                                                                                           from that time on
                                                                                           I realized
                                                                                           it mattered if
                                                                                           you weren’t pint-sized

                                                                                           and that is when
                                                                                           my fight began
                                                                                           with body image
                                                                                           and who I am.

     by Jan Godown Annino

It padded on a sand road
that snaked
through summer pines,
a Jersey Barrens
fat and far ahead.

We bumped behind it in
Dad’s old blue Chevy with
one replaced door, pine green.

"It's big," I said.
Dad shushed me,
"It can hear."
He stopped the motor.
I hugged the back seat,

I wanted to sing
     the bear went over the mountain,
I sang it in my head.

"Could it be a girl?" I whisper-asked.
Dad whisper-said,
"It's a big ol' sow, is
what I think. And
she may catch our sent.”
All windows were open!

I cupped his ear,
“Can you see cubs?”
I'll never know if she heard
the whisper behind my hand.
Maybe she just decided
to look behind, anyway.

She lifted her snout high
I fingered the Tootsie Roll,

pushed it deeper
in my pocket,
heart racing.
Could she smell
all the way into the Chevy,
into my pocket?

a blur of brown fur
crashed away into the pines.

Dad started the car
rolling us to where she had been.
My nose hurt from
a smell
like the barn yard
at Cherryville Dairy.

"She stinks!" I said.
Dad laughed,
"You figure she takes bubble baths?"

"What was she doing here,
"Oh, I suspect she just wanted
to see if there was any
candy in a little girl’s pocket
out this way."

I sunk back in the seat,
all giggles.
"Oh, Daddy!"

I stood up. I knew why she
was here. I sang the reason loud,
    "…to see what she could see."
Then I warbled a line new to the song -
“and what she saw was me!”

                                                                                                   THE AUTOMAT
                                                                                                        by Diane Mayr

                                                                                                   One day, Grandma took
                                                                                                   me to Manhattan.
                                                                                                   Just the two of us.
                                                                                                   Lunch at Horn & Hardart.

                                                                                                   Up and down the rows
                                                                                                   of windows we'd go.
                                                                                                   Macaroni and cheese
                                                                                                   in small bowls oozing
                                                                                                   cheesy goodness.

                                                                                                   Sandwiches cut into two
                                                                                                   triangles, their fillings
                                                                                                   invitingly exposed.

                                                                                                   A hundred slices of pie
                                                                                                   on a hundred china plates
                                                                                                   behind a hundred
                                                                                                   sparkling glass portals.

                                                                                                   Feed nickels into a slot
                                                                                                   and any one of those
                                                                                                   was mine for the taking.

                                                                                                   It was enough to take
                                                                                                   my breath away.

     by Janie Lazo

The round moon was shrouded in mist,
The crisp air charged with mystery.
Streamers- orange and black- cast a spell of enchantment.
Leaves crunched underfoot as they came-
A princess- a pirate - a witch- too many to count.
The night unfolded with ghoulish drinks and fearful fare,
spooky stories and daring games.
All night long we celebrated, but we knew - He was out there.
The magic of this night always brought him out of hiding.
We never knew what form this shape shifter would take- Grim Reaper- the Devil-
or something worse that not even the farthest corners of our minds could imagine.
He would come and fear would come with him.
I saw him before anyone else-a shadowy figure at the window.
He burst in and roared around the room dropping candy and treats in his wake.
I ran. I ran fast and never looked back.
From my hiding place I could hear their screams. I covered my ears.
He slipped back into the darkness and was gone.
Then, amid laughter, a frenzy of diving and grabbing and wrestling for candy that
was strewn across the floor.
I crept out of hiding but the candy was all gone.
And I knew that next year I would face my fear.

                                                                     BABY BROTHER
                                                                          by Madison Rayne, age 6

                                                                     On graduation day a baby came and I was scared.
                                                                     Would he replace me? 
                                                                     Would my mommy still love me?
                                                                     Would he love me? 
                                                                     Would I ever have my very own birthday party again? 
                                                                     Will I be brave enough to hold him? 
                                                                     Will he cry? 
                                                                     Will he be mean to me? 
                                                                     Or would he be nice?
                                                                     Would I love him?
                                                                     But I was brave.
                                                                     I held him and closed my eyes and something changed. 
                                                                     And I knew that it would turn out alright.

                    ME, AFTER THE FALL
                         by cbhanek

                    Me.  Rolling ‘long the sidewalk, speeding fast of all.
                    Me.  Knees all bruised and bloody.
                    Me.  After the fall.
                    Mommy.  “Oh, no! Why? How could you!”
                    Mommy.  “Communion pictures will be spoiled!”
                    Me.  Tears.
                    Mommy.  Painting my knees in Mercurochrome.

                    Me.  Dressed all in white: veil, gloves, dress, shoes, socks, and shawl.
                    Me.  Nice. Smelling nosegay.
                    Mommy.  Proud picture-taker. Click!
                    Me.  Camera-ready. Flashing smiles.
                    Me.  Semi-toothless. Not camera-shy.
                    Me.  After the fall. Happy.
                    Me.  Knowing Jesus loves me. Orange knees and all.

     by Sarah Rudd Ragsdale
© Sarah Rudd Ragsdale

as my fingers
smooshed and smeared
the strange wet paints
across a slippery white surface
a row of purple hyacinths
began to march across the bottom
of a deep blue sky
that held a yellowish sun
a smiling face with glasses
and very, very large ears

all the better to love me

                                                                                            THIRD GRADE BUG PROJECT
                                                                                                 by Suzy Levinson

                                                                                            Tom and Jerry:
                                                                                            giant roaches
                                                                                            in a bucket
                                                                                            on my desk.

                                                                                            All my friends in
                                                                                            class are psyched but
                                                                                            Mrs. Smith says
                                                                                            they're grotesque.

                                                                                            Tom and Jerry:
                                                                                            giant roaches,
                                                                                            almost bigger
                                                                                            than my palm.

                                                                                            Time to feed them
                                                                                            fruit for breakfast—
                                                                                            Wait a minute...
                                                                                            WHERE'S TOM?

                              ME IN GRADE THREE
                                   by Kathryn Apel

                              in Grade Three –
                              marching with the
                              Grade Seven girls
                              as we form rows
                              from tallest
                              to shortest,
                              a wave of girls
                              in house colour
                              marching past
                              left, left, left-right-left,
                              tallest to shortest
                              and up near the front
                              is me –
                              in Grade Three.

                                                                                …I write her name in my notebook.
                                                                                         by Matt Forrest Esenwine

                                                                                I’m not sure why.
                                                                                What is it about her eyes,
                                                                                her lips,
                                                                                that makes me think
                                                                                she’s smiling at me
                                                                                even when she’s turned away?
                                                                                I write her name in my notebook.
                                                                                I’m not sure why.
                                                                                What is it about violets and – is that vanilla? –
                                                                                that make a girl smell so nice?
                                                                                I don’t even like vanilla, but still…
                                                                                I write her name in my notebook.
                                                                                I’m not sure why.
                                                                                Why do I crane my neck to watch
                                                                                as she walks away, yet hide
                                                                                my face
                                                                                when she sees me
                                                                                What would she say,
                                                                                what would she do,
                                                                                if only she knew…

     by Buffy Silverman

Whenever Amy came to play,
we hid in my bedroom
and spent the afternoon in our forts.

My closet was the perfect stronghold--
safe behind a mirrored door
you pulled a long chain
and a solitary bulb shone,
casting a dim light
on saddle shoes and PF Flyers
and the cool wooden floor.

I imagined sharing the cramped closet--
one of us curled on the floor,
the other perched on a painted shelf,
inventing stories of shadowy foes,
conquering an invisible enemy,

But Amy said we needed separate forts—
each of us in our own private sanctuary
equipped with stacks of books,

and Amy was the guest.
She rifled through my bookshelf,
grabbed my pillow
and retreated to my closet—
her fort.

I slipped into the narrow space
between bed and wall,
my cheek pressed against rough carpet,
enough room for me and a book,
and disappeared into stories
where Pippi rode the high seas
and Tommy and Annika were always welcome.

                                                      THEY HAVE TAUGHT ME
                                                           by Jessica Bigi

                                                      Some of the women in my life are strong,
                                                      aging so beautifully with their hair of silver,
                                                      my mind thirsts for their knowledge.
                                                      Vera's iron, heavy in her trembling hand
                                                      as it straightens each wrinkle in her slacks.
                                                      Learn to do this she says without words
                                                      for it keeps the blood young even at ninety.
                                                      She smiles a sweet grandmotherly smile.
                                                      Irene also, a young woman in her nineties
                                                      wearing a bright red kimono.  Gracing these young eyes
                                                      like a lady painted on a canvas she will not grow old.
                                                      Hannah's many talks of the birds and flowers of her homestead.
                                                      She has written like a poem inside my heart.
                                                      And my dear friend Anna May whose strengths and
                                                      will for living life to the fullest taught me to never give up.
                                                      Most of all, I admire my mother as she
                                                      mows the green path of her barefooted youth!
                                                      From her I am learning the secrets
                                                      that my grandmother taught her–
                                                      their blood flows my veins.
                                                      I will admire these women always
                                                      for the life they have taught me to live.

     by Jessica Bigi

When I was little Mom pushed me
© Jessica Bigi
on a swing I flew so high
I pretended I was flying I know
her love was links of a chain
Keeping me from falling Little
by little those links were shortened
Till she set me free on my own
Through my life struggles she
couldn’t always Be there to help
me up As I watch her in her struggle
with cancer I struggle to understand
why my hugs my words my prayers
Don’t ease her pain In a puddle of
my family’s tears Is a reflection
that breaks Into a million ripples of
emotions Inside my heart Fly mom fly
free from cancer I’m learning to let go

                                             As if I could knock out the Ocean
                                                       by Ed DeCaria

                                             I punched wave after wave —
                                             Punched them! As if
                                             I could knock out
                                             the Ocean
                                             with one




Feeling inspired?

You have until Wednesday, September 30th, to send your ME 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 JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES: A BOOK OF POEMS selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Jane Manning. (One entry per participant, not per poem.)

Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below.  If you contribute a ME poem and comment below you will earn two entries in total. Comments must also be received by Wednesday, September 30th.

The winner will be determined by and announced next Friday, October 2nd, when we reveal our new Spotlight ON interview and ditty challenge.

Best of luck!

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong are rounding up this week's poetry offerings at Poetry for Children. Join them for a celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.


  1. It's hard to find a way to comment on each, Michelle. What a wonderful group of memories, from the very youngest to adolescence. Thank you again, as I do each month, for the challenges. And thanks to everyone for the lovely memories.

  2. What a varied collection, Michelle. It's always fun to write poetry from the same start-point... and see where we end up. So many different journeys taken today. Lovely!

  3. Thank you, Michelle, for hosting and posting such an amazing array of poetic expression! I look forward to indulging myself in their reading during quiet time this weekend. What a gift! Thank you! Thank you, too, for the monthly challenge. Having been invited to discover your site, I am very glad and grateful to be able to push some personal limits, lightweight poet that I am, while learning and being inspired by your community of heavyweight pro's. What an unbelievable opportunity for me to commit to writing poetry. Thank you so much for tolerating this neophyte. Truly blessed is how I'm feeling. Thank you! God bless you!

  4. Wow - LBH knew what he was doing with this challenge. What an inspiring array - I relived much of my own childhood scrolling through! [If I come up for air at the poetry retreat this weekend, maybe I can lob a last-minute poem over before Wed... ;0) ]
    Thanks for this rich collection!

  5. What a wonderful collection of memories--so many bring me back to my own childhood fears, worries, and wonder. Thanks all, and especially to Michelle and Lee!

  6. THANK all of you for participating. Like others, like Robyn and Buffy, memories
    are evoked. AGAIN...I thank Michelle for the incredible work she does.

  7. So many of these experiences are totally relatable! We are more alike than we imagine!

  8. This was such a wonderful "trip to childhood" gathering of poems! Thanks to all who contributed to this walk down memory lane.
    What if you were to extend it... wouldn't it make a nice anthology? Surely there are more to be found! I know I have a few more memories that tap on my shoulder.

  9. What a wonderful collections. It was clearly an inspiring challenge.

  10. Michelle, what a wonderful collection of childhood memories you have collected and curated. I am so pleased that I was able to contribute. Lee's nod to you is truly deserved.

  11. What a wonderful array of memories! This was a very special month of ditties, Michelle.

  12. I need a LIKE button for your posts, Michelle!

  13. wonderful and beautiful group of poems and memories Thank you for letting us shear our poems and taking the time to type them on this page you bless our lives Michelle

  14. I loved reading every one of these. Thanks!

  15. This is overwhelmingly beautiful. All those memories that I get to travel into. Thanks Michelle for collating all these ME poems. It was a delight. It allowed me as a reader to also look into my memories. :)

  16. What an amazing collection of memories!

  17. Hi, Michelle, and thanks for joining our Poetry Friday fun this week! And WOW, you have posted a whole, beautiful anthology in your post here. AMAZING!

  18. Unbelievable! I am so impressed and feeling very nostalgic as many of the poems took me back in time.
    Love this ditty challenges.

  19. Some wonderful memories here. Thank you, Michelle and Lee, for this challenge...and many thanks to everyone for your kind comments!

  20. Memories shared and memories savored. Wow, what a collection, Michelle and Lee. The "Toady" poem resonates in our family...RIP Mr. Toad. =)

  21. I love seeing a different aspect of my wonderful PF friends in each revealing poem. The variety exemplifies our unique strengths and personalities! Thanks for collecting our community's "family album."

  22. THERE is SO much herein; SO much within; SO much therein. Thanks to all of you for reaching back, giving forward.

    1. Thank you so much for inviting us to share poems in calibrating your book it it's an honor to be among the poets that shared their poems

  23. Such talented writers are included on this page. I am excited to reads more from everyone!


  24. Thank you very much for sharing my photo from early childhood here. I am not a writer of poems for children, but if you wish to have a look at one of my attempts of this kind, here is my gift to you and your readers:

    1. Thank YOU for making your beautiful photograph available to borrow. And also for sharing your blue sky poem! -Michelle

  25. Congratulations to Jessica for the new poetry book JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES, which will jump into her life & appreciations to her for her two poems.

    In its entirety it's a wonderful world to dwell in here, Michelle, including your heartfelt poem. Was it a nip or a big bite? Sorry it happened & such a vivid story.

    I feel a surge of connections as I read these visits to child days.
    And what a glimmer of a treat to know that LBH read these pieces.
    And he is right about complimenting your organizing here, inspiring writers & readers. Lots of work on your part & much appreciated.