Thursday, March 24, 2016

March DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway

Photo by Diana K

Spring has sprung!

Here in Florida, the azaleas are in full bloom and our wreath nest has been occupied 24/7 by a mama house finch and some tiny blue eggs.

It's been a perfect month for Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's DMC challenge:
Small as a Chickadee:
Write a poem about something small, an animal or object you see every day and do not usually give much thought.

As usual, I'm gobsmacked by the wealth of poetry that found its way into my inbox! One of the aspects I enjoy most about DMC challenges is weaving these poems into a final presentation. I strive to find a sense of movement that connects one poem to the next, but until I put all the poems together and juggle them around a bit, I rarely know where that flow will take me.

This month we were fortunate to get a number of illustrated poems, so it's an especially colorful stream! It begins with the world of plants, moves on to animals, then to objects in our home and classroom, and finally, we end up back in nature with poems inspired by the waves and sands of time. Although I often add my own titles to narrate readers through the collection, today I decided to let the flow speak for itself. I hope you enjoy the journey!

Thank you to everyone who contributed a poem this month, and especially to Amy for bringing out the best in us.

All poems are copyright 2016 and published with permission of the authors, who control all rights.

                                       showy white blossoms
                                       dazzle the night gardener
                                       tender moonflower  
                                                                                          – Cynthia Grady

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Sweet, tart, tangy juice,
Regal sphere of indigo,
Nutritional star. 

           – Kathleen Mazurowski

                                                                            by Robyn Campbell

                                                                       Squatter, immigrant
                                                                       in a sea of gray and
                                                                       through the crack
                                                                       hero, stunner
                                                                       no small thing

     by Brenda Davis Harsham

Form a circle like a tree grove,
lean to the right, lean to the left,
and wake to spring’s song!
Zip and zoom around the room;
feel your spirits bloom!
Back to where you started and
wiggle, push away old leaves,
and stretch like new trees.
Turn toward the center,
tilt your face up to the sun.
Shake, bounce, have some fun.
Climb hands up high
like green shoots growing.
Bend forward and
droop like snowbells,
cup your hands into petals.
Now, pop up like crocuses,
hold hands closed high,
then drop hands outwards,
like petals unfurling.
Spin three times and
form arms into a circle,
sway like daffodils —
doing the littles dance.

Photo by David
     by Susannah Buhrman-Deever

Somber blossoms,
return stone
to earth

     by Mindy Gars Dolandis

You might have existed for hundreds of years
A conifer, giant and regal
Pneumatophores reaching up out of the swamp
Your tree top for raptors and eagles
You might have become a carefully crafted
Cabinet, fence post or door
But your destiny took you from bog to buzz saw
To chipper to packer to store
Now you live in my garden protecting the soil
In a pile beneath the plants
As small as a finger you still provide shelter
For lizards and spiders and ants
While adding dimension and water retention
For bushes with floral bouquets
You’re a small but integral part of the landscape
Until the wind blows you away

                                    SUMMERTIME HOCUS-POCUS 
                                         by LeeAnn Blankenship

                                    Shining signals in the night
                                    Kissing darkness with their light -
                                    First I see them, then they're gone:
                                    Firefly magic on my lawn.

                                                                                                               by Kate O’Neil

                                                                                                          This mosquito wants blood.
                                                                                                          She wants mine.
                                                                                                          Nothing will stop her.
                                                                                                          She is everywhere.
                                                                                                          So is her whine!

                                                                                                          I can’t believe her impudence,
                                                                                                          audacious pest.
                                                                                                          She’s driving me crazy.
                                                                                                          I’m flapping about
                                                                                                          like someone possessed.

                                                                                                          Aha. She’s landed on my arm.
                                                                                                          She looks so fine
                                                                                                          on her filament legs,
                                                                                                          but won’t fool me.
                                                                                                          I know her design.

                                                                                                          Carefully I take my aim.
                                                                                                          Now take that.
                                                                                                          I deal her a slap
                                                                                                          then lift my hand.
                                                                                                          Where’s the splat?

Photo: Yamanaka Tamaki
     by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

In the sizzle of summer
a cicada emerges
from seventeen years
Patience worn thin,
he unzips his skin
wriggles and stretches
and clickity buzzes
to capture the heart
of a pretty young thing
gossiping in the treetops.
Patience worn thin,
the seduction begins
he sets the summer on fire.

                                                                                               GARDEN SNAIL
                                                                                                    by Angelique Pacheco

                                                                                               Small little garden snail,
                                                                                               what do you see?
                                                                                               I see the grass tickling me.

                                                                                               Small little garden snail,
                                                                                               what do you see?
                                                                                               I see the daisies smiling at me.

                                                                                               Small little garden snail,
                                                                                               what do you see?
                                                                                               I see the daisies eaten by me.

                                                                                               Small little garden snail,
                                                                                               what do you see?
                                                                                               I see the madam frowning at me!

                                             by Janie Lazo

                                        Oh tiny mound of sandy earth
                                        How did you come to be?
                                        Each single grain - a curious birth
                                        This work, I did not see.
                                        But greater still the mystery
                                        what goes on below?
                                        A maze of grains placed gingerly
                                        By workers strong and slow.
                                        Success by pure resilience
                                        These workers carry on.
                                        Ants crafts their homes with brilliance,
                                        Hard work from dawn to dawn.
                                        In single file they march along
                                        Their tasks they must fulfill.
                                        I wonder if they sing a song
                                        When working on that hill!

Photo by Kurt Bauschardt

               by Mary Lee Hahn

          My tunnel wasn't flooded
          as you used to think was true.

          Your sidewalk's now my highway --
          step aside, I'm wriggling through!

          I'm on my way to somewhere else
          with roots and leaves to chew.

          I'm helpful, don't you realize --
          rich soil is earthworm poo!

Dear Spring Peeper,

Some mistake you for a cricket. Does that bother you?
If I didn't live in the eastern USA, I might not know of you.
If they'd listen very close to you,
you sing your name aloud, "Spp-rring Peeep, Spp-rring Peeep."
Many of you sing at once it sounds like quite a crowd.
I know that you're a little nighttime frog, who sings to find a mate.
When I hear your call before I sleep it reminds me of the date.
I silently sing along with your high-pitched whistle-like sound.
It soothes me how you repeat yourself and I feel on solid ground.
I'm also glad that you eat bugs.
I don't like bugs very much.
Bugs pester me when I play, bite or sting and such.

Loves-Spring Wintersgone

– Leane Gill

                                                                                       in between the greening
                                                                                             branches of a tree
                                                                                       an empty nest is nestled,
                                                                                             waiting there to see

                                                                                       if again this season
                                                                                             someone small may light,
                                                                                       line it full of fluff
                                                                                             and hope for future flight

                                                                                       – Heidi Mordhorst

                                   by Jane Yolen

                              Hidden on the top
                              of the green shade,
                              made of twigs
                              and shadows,
                              smaller than any
                              of my fingers,
                              lingers the tiny nest.
                              Best I not open
                              the window,
                              or let the shade down,
                              or that smudge,
                              nudged by a breeze
                              will be squeezed out of
                              Egg-laden, unwary,
                              it will slide down
                              onto the deck, unheard:
                              a wreckage
                              of unborn birds.

Photo by HarmonyonPlanetEarth
     by Joy Acey

The apapane sits
in the ohi'a tree.
He flies so quickly,
he's hard to see.

Red and black feathers
whir to the beat
as he pauses
for nectar to eat.

He loves to sing
all day long.
Can you can hear,
his lilting song?

                                              by Elizabeth Steinglass

                                         small, brown bird
                                         no cap, no crest
                                         no scarlet streak
                                         across his breast

                                         small, brown bird
                                         ho-humly dressed,
                                         but always near,
                                         so loved the best

                                                                                    BIRD NOTES
                                                                                           by Rosi Hollinbeck

                                                                                    Black birds settle on telephone wires
                                                                                           like notes on a musical stave.
                                                                                    They shift and flutter and what transpires
                                                                                       is a magical bird conclave.
                                                                                    My fingers dance on ivory keys
                                                                                           playing music bird by bird.
                                                                                    As they stir, I play new melodies
                                                                                       as sweet as I’ve ever heard.

                                                                                    Listen to "Birds on the Wires" by Jarbas Agnelli.

     by Damon Dean

on morning’s bedroom floor,
impatience played
between long stretches, yawns.

the tugs at bedside covers
pull my sheets,
beg for me to peek
—at least one eye—
to see a wide-eyed plea.

claws celebrate surrender.
Though reluctant,
I arise and stumble to the backyard door
in early-dark,
accompanied by staccato joy.

A caesura, fermata—a pause.

my slow wake,
my long-drawn-out capitulated yawn
breaks short at
sudden rhythms,
wood-scarring pleads
upon the door.

I let them in,
all four percussion-gifted paws.
My day begins
with music
to my

                                                                                                 DOGGIE HAIR
                                                                                                      by Karen Eastlund

                                                                                                 Doggie hair
                                                                                                 Is everywhere

                                                                                                 From socks to jeans
                                                                                                 From beds to beans

                                                                                                 It hugs, it clings
                                                                                                 It mutates things

                                                                                                 I’m sick of hair!
                                                                                                 Wanna share?

     by Linda Baie

A woeful wire wastebasket
sits lonely by my desk,
dejected and rejected.
Waiting for work.

Crumpled scraps of abandoned words
find home with another group nearby.
In the kitchen,
a charming red metal can
holds a colorful collage of trash,
ripe for making assorted acquaintances.

     by Catherine Flynn

A ceramic pig
sits in a shiny
green wash tub,
his ears and nose
the pale pink
of a winter sunrise.

Like Wilbur
as he licked
the buttermilk
into his mouth,
a blissful smile
spreads across his face.

                                        THE PIE BIRD
                                             by Catherine Flynn

                                        No squawks or caws
                                        from this blackbird,
                                        nestled in a puddle
                                        of fruit and spice.
                                        But the swirls of steam
                                        escaping the “o”
                                        of his yellow mouth
                                        send out the signal
                                        loud and clear:

                                        Pie is ready!
                                        Deliciousness awaits!

by Kielan

                                                                                                    SPOONS IN THE DRAWER
                                                                                                         by Kristi Dee Veitenheimer

                                                                                                    From scooping ice cream
                                                                                                    To plunging it in my mouth,
                                                                                                    Savoring the sweet coldness.

                                                                                                    From digging damp soil
                                                                                                    To throwing it in my pail,
                                                                                                    Building rivers and highways.

     by Tabatha Yeatts

She tucks the stack of
small, clear cups into my hand,
along with a packet of saltines
and fun-sized M&Ms.
Can you use these? she asks.
Sure, Granny, I say,
leaning over to kiss
her soft, cushiony cheek.

She used to peel tomatoes
before she sliced them
when she had a kitchen of her own.
It shows how much you love
the folks you're feeding
when you take the skin off, she said.

There's no counter here,
no knives, no tomatoes from the garden,
but there are meals,
regular-like-clockwork meals,
which come with a steady stream
of pill-holding cups she saves
to give.

It's been years
since she passed them to me,
but I keep using the little plastic cups
'til they break.
This morning as I tilted a bottle
to pour medicine for my son,
I thought, yes, Gran,
I can use your gifts

– cbhanek

by Emily

by Kaiden

– Michelle Kogan
     by Michelle Kogan

Pencils peering out
waiting patiently for
their purpose, or a
person’s poppycock to
not so pleasingly pour

out… But wait there’s more,
those indescribable
words winding off their points,
even poppycock might
please an unpretentious

pencil. And still more…
The sketch that dances off
the tip, sends the tool
into a tizzy for
an eternity, till…

Exhausted, pencil
rests, catches breath, and waits
again patiently,
with fellow pencils to
be discovered once more…

                                                                                          She gave me a rock,
                                                                                          a smooth small stone
                                                                                          on which she wrote a quote
                                                                                          from a book about a boy who was bullied.

                                                                                          If you have a choice
                                                                                          of being right or being kind,
                                                                                          be kind.

                                                                                          Thirteen words to turn
                                                                                          my attention everyday
                                                                                          to the world
                                                                                          of choices, that choice
                                                                                          within myself to be kind.

                                                                                          I take her small kindness
                                                                                          into my hand and wonder
                                                                                          about the river bank
                                                                                          the stone lived in before,
                                                                                          a place where violent waves
                                                                                          smoothed rock.

                                                                                          I wonder
                                                                                          about the larger truth:
                                                                                          Can violence smooth out
                                                                                          the edges and leave behind

                                                                                          – Margaret Simon

     by Vivian Kirkfield

Warm wet sand
molds my toes.
I listen to the melody of the beach:
waves lapping,
seagulls flapping,
far-off ships calling to each other
like long-lost friends.
My feet, sunk in a million grains of sand,
don’t want to leave their safe haven.
Yet home beckons.
I lift my feet,
brush them off,
slip into my shoes,
and walk away.
Soon I am limping.
How is it that a million grains of sand
feel like heaven,
but only one hurts like hell?

                                                  BURIED TREASURE
                                                       by Buffy Silverman

                                                  Nestled among stones
                                                  beach glass sparkles,

                                                  telling a tale of sand, waves,
                                                              sand, waves,
                                                  sand, waves,

                                                  until it settled here
                                                  waiting for eager fingers
                                                  and a pocket-ride home.

by Erin

     by Maria Marshall

Pulled apart, we each drift and shift down
through the opening back to the ground.
Slowly slipping, counting out eternity,
we gather together in uniformity.

Individuals, separately small,
together we have the wherewithal,
to delineate time, measure your moments,
count down your life, or increase your focus.

We don't need any gears, springs, or hands,
we stand ready, awaiting your command,
to always and accurately amass -
We are the sands in the hourglass.

                                                                                             LITTLE(R) THINGS
                                                                                                  by Matt Forrest Esenwine

                                                                                             Atoms, photons, quarks, bosons
                                                                                             have baffled many a scholar;
                                                                                             the more we see, the more we learn
                                                                                             there’s always something smaller.

                                          SOMEWHERE BETWEEN NIGHT AND DAY
                                               by Alayne Kay Christian

                                          As the morning light steals the night
                                          A new day is on the horizon
                                          I am drawn to the eastern sky

                                          In complete silence
                                          The bright morning star calls to me
                                          I am one with the Universe
                                          Of this I am never more certain than
                                          Somewhere between night and day

Inspired to write one of your own? 
You have until Thursday, March 31st (5:00 pm ET), to send your poem about a small thing to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

Participants in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a personalized copy of EVERY DAY BIRDS, by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and illustrated by Dylan Metrano (Orchard/Scholastic, 2016). One entry per participant, not per poem.

Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below. Comments must also be received no later than 5:00 pm ET on Thursday, March 31st. If you contribute a poem and comment below, you will receive two entries in total.

The winner will be determined by and announced next Friday, April 1st, when we reveal our new Spotlight ON interview and ditty challenge. Good luck!

Heidi Mordhorst is celebrating small things, big things, and all sorts of things at this week's Poetry Friday roundup! Join her at my juicy little universe.


  1. Good things do indeed come in small packages! Thanks for a grand assemblage!

  2. Oh, Michelle, another excellent collection. some of these collections really ought to be made into a book someday. Something about inspiration and the endless paths that come from it.

    I'm delighted and honored my poem is in such good company with these light-hearted and fun poems. Too many good ones to single any one out.

    Amy did a great job setting our focus on small things. I've ordered her book from the library, but I'd be even happier to own a copy. Count me in for two entries, please!

    I hope your new job is going well, Michelle. XOXO

  3. WOW. What a magical constellation of poems! Reading these reminds me once more that we are always surrounded by small treasures, and all we need to do is take the time to consider them. Thank you, Michelle, for your generous curating of so many delicious words. Thank you, poets, for taking on this "small" challenge. xo

  4. What a glorious peek at the diversity of our world and the talents of our poets!

  5. This is quite the collection, Michelle - wow! Such a HUGE group of poems about such little things...and so well-done. Very proud to be among the crew here!

  6. What a gorgeous collection of small-thing poems! Poetry is everywhere, isn't it? Thanks to all for brightening my morning. xo

  7. Just proves it's both harder and easier *and* more successful to write about those small things that ride just under our radar. Great collection. Glad you enjoy the editorial aspect of this!

  8. I love seeing my students' chalky poems spattered in this gallery. Makes me a proud Mama. Thanks for the opportunity to join in, to write, to share, to connect. Here's to the small things taking the stage!

  9. Wow! What a big collection of poems about small things. Michelle and Amy--thanks for inspiring them!

  10. I missed some of these this month, Michelle, so now am so happy to read & savor each one, unique & thoughtful. Thanks for all as usual. I have Amy's wonderful book so skip me in the drawing.

  11. Smallness begets greatness in this collection! What fantastic and diverse array of concepts and poetry. I love them all! My personal favorites include some hocus pocus and pencil magic. Thanks again Michelle 😍

  12. Wow, indeed! This was a great idea for a challenge and so many came through with outstanding poems. Thanks for assembling and presenting all of them to such stunning effect, Michelle!

  13. So much beauty in these small things! Reading this is inspiring me to write my own--will get 'er done now.

  14. Their are so many wonderful poems to welcome the smallness of life's treasures here all such wonderful poems I will enjoy rereading many times I agree they would make a wonderful book

  15. What a wonderful and diverse collection of verse--hey I rhymed!! Thanks for compiling these, Michell! I really enjoyed reading them! Wish I had had time to contribute!

  16. Gobsmacked, indeed! What a wonderful collection. Many thanks to you and Amy for inspiring and gathering all these celebrations of tiny treasures!

  17. Incredible! And I absolutely love how you format your post, Michelle...with some of the poems handwritten and on beautiful paper. The poems themselves are works of art...kudos to all of you wonderful writers. I will try would be an honor to sit at this table. ;)

    1. Thank you, Vivian, but I can't take any of the credit for the layout of the handwritten poems. Those are poems from some of Margaret Simon's students. If you click on any of their names, you will be brought to the post where Margaret describes their process of making the beautiful paper. Would love to have your poem up here with the others!

    2. Thanks so much for getting mine in the wrap up post, Michelle...that was kind of you!!!!

  18. What a lovely collection - all in one place. So glad to have stopped by.


  19. A treasure of small ditties, but actually quite grandiose, thanks to all the poets, and special thanks to Michelle and Amy Ludwig VanDerwater!

  20. Michelle, what a beautiful post. The poetry is magnificent. Some lilting, some bouncy, all so full of rhythm and life. Thank you for offering a platform for all these fabulous poets. Much love.

  21. Wow. So many different ideas from one simple suggestion. What a fun post. Love every bit of it. Thanks for the post and for including me.

  22. Such small gifts, so perfectly given. A joy to read!

  23. What a beautiful collection of small things! Delightful.

  24. 'Tis true: little things do mean a lot, especially when the little things are the poetic brain children of the PF community. Thank you for making it possible for us to enjoy the vitality and the variety of March's bigger-than-life little visions. God bless you!

  25. It amazes me every month how people run with the prompts! So many directions to go. :-)

  26. I love the variety of topics and the enthusiasm for small things. Thanks for the reminder to look closely!

  27. Thank you for a thoughtful month of petite poems. Can't wait for next month!

  28. I love reading all of these! What a gift you give all of us, Michelle.