Thursday, December 5, 2019

Sweet wishes (and plans) for the new year!

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"         Arol Lightfoot

These last few weeks (months, really) have been a whirlwind for me.
And miles to go before I sleep. 
And miles to go before I sleep.
                     – Robert Frost, read the entire poem HERE

It's been a struggle at times, but here I am! I've arrived at the end of year! And it's all the more special because I have so many friends who have been surrounding me with love and gratitude, helping me celebrate the release of The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018. Thank you for sharing Volume 3 in blog posts and on websites, spreading the word on social media, and purchasing copies for yourself or for poetry-loving friends and family for the holidays!

Thanks to Jan Godown Annino for this great photo to brighten my holiday season!

Christmas is coming!
The stockings are hung—
a ditty collection
tucked into each one.

If you already have a copy and can take a minute or two to leave a review on Amazon, it would help to get the book seen by more poetry fans like yourselves. (For that matter, did you know you can use the same, or similar, review for the other two TLD anthology volumes?)

If you have poems in any of the volumes and an Amazon author page, don't forget to add yourself as an author as well!

I recently received a beautiful gift from Donna JT Smith in the mail. She's given me permission to share it here. I love the way she so thoughtfully expresses her appreciation for these books and for the poets whose work is contained. She pretty much took the words right out of my mouth.


Sweet the poems
        Bound with string
Sweet the spirit
        Fresh as spring
Sweet the poets'
        Voices ring
Sweet the songs
        Given to sing
                Sweet the birds
                        Sweet the air
                Sweet the flowers
                        fresh and fair
Sweet the sentiment and thought
Sweet the peace these words have brought.
Sweet the sounds
Sweet the pen
Sweet the visiting again
Thanks to writer
Thanks to all
Thanks to those
        who hear the call.

© 2019 Donna JT Smith. All rights reserved.

Thanks right backatcha, Donna! Thanks to ALL of you who hear the call to take part in Ditty of the Month Club challenges.

This time of year is when I start thinking about what shape Today's Little Ditty is going to take for the coming year. I'd love to interview a few more of you for 2020 Reader Spotlights. If you ask Linda Mitchell, Jesse Anna Bornemann, Jane Whittingham, Rebecca Herzog, or Kate O'Neil, I think they'll tell you the process is easy, fun, and rewarding to read all the poems in response to your very own ditty challenge. Don't be shy! Complete this brief form to start the ball rolling.

I also plan to share more author/editor Spotlight ON interviews next year, more classroom connections posts, and... who knows what else!

An exciting bit of news for me is that I've been shortlisted for the position of Alachua County Poet Laureate here in North Central Florida. I interviewed with our local arts council earlier this week. The competition is stiff, but just to have been given the opportunity to speak about why poetry is important to me feels like a win all by itself. I'm proud of my local government for initiating this new position and, regardless of the outcome, I hope that it might lead to new poetry-related events and opportunities.

So I guess that's it from me for a while. I look forward to returning in late January. If you get a hankering to write some ditties in the meantime, don't forget that you can access links to all of the TLD spotlight interviews HERE and links to all of the final wrap-up celebrations HERE.

Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie

May your holiday season be festive and bright—
and filled with love, laughter, and poetry!

Tanita has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at [fiction, instead of lies].


Thursday, November 28, 2019

November DMC Wrap-Up Celebration

Dewolf Family

With this challenge I have in mind the enormous value of this site as "A poetry playground for the child in all of us." Yes, the child in the adult still likes to play.

                                     — Kate O'Neil

You do know what today is, don't you?

Mike Licht

Nah, I'm not talking about Black Friday. Try again?

Steve McFarland

Why, yes, it IS National Leftovers Day, but that's not what I'm talking about either. Give up?

It's our end-of-month poetry playdate!

University of Baltimore Special Collections and Archives

Now we're talking!

At the beginning of this month, Kate O'Neil challenged us to write a poem based on the sheer delight of words at play: malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, clichés, etc.  Inspiration could be found listening to children, from newspaper headlines, lists of ‘howlers’ on the net, etc.

I'm loving all the different ways this challenge was interpreted! Apparently the Ditty of the Month Club takes wordplay very seriously.

                                        See for yourself—

Daniel X. O'Neil

Gabriela B.

To peruse our fun factory, scroll through the poems below or CLICK HERE to open a new tab.

Made with Padlet

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the fun and especially to Kate for inspiring us all with such a lively challenge! 

For those of you who haven't yet, there's still time to get your ducks in a row and contribute a ditty... but you better get quackin'!


Visit Kate's spotlight interview for instructions and then click on the pink dot with the plus sign to add your poem to the padlet. While there aren't many days left in November, I'll be leaving this padlet open indefinitely, so feel free to add to it at any point in the future.

I'm feeling ever-so-grateful for friends who are featuring The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018 today! Don't miss Michelle Kogan's review with poems of thanks and hope, Buffy Silverman's review with seven poems from Melissa Manlove's "comparison poems" challenge, Christie Wyman's ditty from the "window poems" challenge, and Kay Jernigan McGriff's expression of gratitude at A Journey Through the Pages. Thank you, Buffy, Christie, Kay and Michelle!
Expat Bridget Magee is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup from Switzerland. (Road trip!!!) Join her for some fun of her own at wee words for wee ones.

DMC: "Let's Talk Turkey" by Janie Lazo



The thing that I’m most thankful for
On this Thanksgiving Day
As I gobble, gobble yummy food
And then run out to play
Is that I am The Who I am
And while that is still murky
I’m thankful that I wasn’t born
A plump Thanksgiving Turkey

© 2019 Janie Lazo. All rights reserved.

TLD reader Kate O'Neil has challenged us to write a poem with words at play—malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, clichés, etc. Read my interview with Kate HERE and add your wordplay poem to the padlet.

All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration tomorrow, Friday, November 29th.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Sweet Ending to "Playing with Your Food Poems" Week

"Summer" (1573) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

I've had food on my mind this week thanks to Rebecca Herzog's invitation to write a poem about a food that you feel is most deserving of its own national day. If there's one thing I've learned reading more than 1500 DMC poems over the last 5+ years, it's that food is always a popular subject!

So what did I do? I dubbed this "playing with your food poems" week at Today's Little Ditty and shared daily food-themed poems from this month's "Words at Play" padlet. Kim Norman's "Pecan't" was featured on Monday. (Enjoy National Pecan Day next year on April 14th.). On Tuesday, David McMullin treated us to "Papa Slime". (Sign me up for National Guacamole Day next year on September 16th!) Tabatha Yeatts' "Rosemarried" was featured on Wednesday. (Did you know National Herb Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of May?) And on Thursday, we enjoyed Cindy Breedlove's "Talking Turkey." The national day for turkey-feasting? Everybody knows that! (Time to stock up on pumpkin, squash, and stuffing, folks.)

"These are not the gourds you're looking for."

Today I'll be closing out our week of food ditties with three poems that appear in The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-1018.

Purchase your paperback or ebook copies HERE, or contact me if you'd like
one signed by me and Miranda (I have a few extra).

The first poem I'd like to share is Bridget Magee's excellent response to the "Personified Feeling Poems" challenge offered by Jeannine Atkins in February 2017.

Lisa Yarost

Embarrassment squeezes between Julio and me
at the lunch table.
The ketchup packet feels
the pressure,
bursting in such a way
that Julio wears
the flush of my cheeks
for the rest of the day.

          – Bridget Magee, © 2017

Why of course there's a National French Fries Day! Mark July 13th on next year's calendar.

Next we have Rebecca Herzog's sweet response to the May 2017 challenge, in which Melissa Manlove asks us to compare writing (or a book) to something else.


Grab a cup
So excited

Top it off
Mind ignited

Great big sip
Tale united

Big brain freeze

Wince in pain
Muse indicted

Shake it off
All doubt blighted

Push on through
ending sighted

One last swig
Scribe delighted
                    – Rebecca Herzog

As you might have guessed, July 11th is Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven! Maybe not an official "national day," but as good a reason as any to celebrate, no?

Finally, when J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen challenged us to write an epitaph poem in February 2018, Robyn Hood Black pulled this clever confection seemingly out of nowhere:



Pulled and stretched
in twists and turns -
picky permutation.

A chomp.  A chew.
The End. Of You.
(Sticky situation….)

                    – Robyn Hood Black

Yep. National Taffy Day is May 23rd on the 2020 calendar.

So there you have it. Although I would have liked to share a poem about a food that deserves a national day, apparently all seven of the food poems I've featured this week already have their own special days! Sheesh.

And now I'm hungry. Breakfast, anyone?


Be a good egg and join us, won't you?


If not a food poem with words at play, any ol' wordplay poem will do. Read Kate O'Neil's spotlight interview for more details, add your poem to the padlet, and stay tuned for next Friday's wrap-up celebration!

Many thanks to everyone who dropped by to help me celebrate the release of The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018 last week! I appreciated all of your kind congratulatory messages (and so did Miranda). Today I'm both touched and honored that Kimberly Hutmacher is showcasing the book and my poem "Don't Ask a Hopkinsaurus" at Kimberly Hutmacher Writes.

As previously mentioned, "Slurpee" poet Becky Herzog is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup. She's got more food poems and a smorgasbord of other poetry goodies at Sloth Reads.

DMC: "Talking Turkey" by Cindy Breedlove



Turkeys are jumpy and nervous this season.
They're feeling on edge but not sure of the reason.
They strut and act brave but I know they are bluffing.
On Thanksgiving Day they will be full of stuffing.
Their gobble is just a loud noise that they make.
Our gobble is how many bites we will take.

© 2019 Cindy Breedlove. All rights reserved.

TLD reader Kate O'Neil has challenged us to write a poem with words at play—malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, clichés, etc. Read my interview with Kate HERE and add your wordplay poem to the padlet.

While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 29th.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

DMC: "Rosemarried" by Tabatha Yeatts

Dandelion seed caught in a spider's web in a rosemary bush, by Sprogz


Rosemary married Dandelion
on a fine summer's day
and before Basil became Pesto,
they had a baby on the way.

With a fine prickly body
and a wild crop of hair,
this bright little fellow
made the whole garden stare.

They knew where he had been
no matter where he went
for this mane attraction
was truly heavenscent.

© 2019 Tabatha Yeatts. All rights reserved.

TLD reader Kate O'Neil has challenged us to write a poem with words at play—malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, clichés, etc. Read my interview with Kate HERE and add your wordplay poem to the padlet.

While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 29th.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

DMC: "Papa Slime" by David McMullin



Ding dong

“Gerry,” Mom twitters, “that sounds like the chime.
Would you be so kind as to get Papa Slime?”
Just what is she saying? Who can this Slime be?
He sounds like some mutant from deep in the sea.
Or maybe a ghoul from some bottomless caves.
Regardless, I’m sure it’s my brain that he craves.

Diiing dooong

“Gerry.” says Mom, “Where’s your reason and rhyme?
Just answer the doorbell. We need Papa Slime.”
My parents have lost it or possibly worse,
I’m thinking they’re under this Papa Slime’s curse.
He’ll rip me to bits (what a terrible guest),
then stomp on the pieces and feast on the rest.

Diiiiiiiiiiiing doooooooooong

“Gerald Jay Jones! I won’t ask one more time.
Now open that door and receive Papa Slime!”
I sink to the carpet and slink ’cross the room,
then fling the door open expecting my doom.
It’s only my neighbor (he’s gentle and cute),
and there in his hands is a little green fruit.
He smiles. “Hey Gerry, you’re moving so slowly—
Your dad needs this lime for his fresh guacamole.”
Oops! Now I get it—there’s no Papa Slime.
My mom simply asked me to get Papa’s lime.

© 2019 David McMullin. All rights reserved.

TLD reader Kate O'Neil has challenged us to write a poem with words at play—malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, clichés, etc. Read my interview with Kate HERE and add your wordplay poem to the padlet.

While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 29th.

Monday, November 18, 2019

DMC: "Pecan't" by Kim Norman

Pecans from Homestead and Gardens, by John and Anni Winings


Autumn finds me and my neighbors outdoors,
tackling raking and gardening chores.
Nobody weights the crop; nobody counts it;
the running debate is how to pronounce it.

The couple next door, who can't know more than WE can,
insists that their specialty pie is a PEE-can.
Ed, on the corner, contends that our lawns
are salted and peppered with pounds of pe-CAWNS.

HE says we can't agree, I say we CAN
achieve a consensus about the pe-CAN.
The point of this ditty, you may have inferred:
I've harvested three different rhymes from one word!

© 2019 Kim Norman. All rights reserved.

TLD reader Kate O'Neil has challenged us to write a poem with words at play—malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, clichés, etc. Read my interview with Kate HERE and add your wordplay poem to the padlet.

While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 29th.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018 + The Poetry Friday Roundup

It's here! It's here!

The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018 has arrived,
its pile of poetry paraphernalia in tow.

Our third "Best of TLD" collection is available in paperback for $9.95 or as a Kindle ebook for $5.95. Click HERE to purchase at (As of the writing of this blog post, the two avenues for purchasing are not yet linked to the same page on Amazon, but don't let that stop you from grabbing the version of your choice!)

As usual, it was a team effort to make this book happen, starting with an uber-diligent ditty committee who reviewed more than 500 poems (527 to be exact) from 2017 and 2018.

This, and all sketches in this post, © 2019 by Miranda Barnes.

A wagon load of thanks goes to:
Matt Forrest Esenwine
Stephanie Farrow
Rebekah Hoeft
Kimberly Hutmacher
Michelle Kogan
Jone Rush MacCulloch
Linda Mitchell
Diane Mayr
Buffy Silverman
Margaret Simon
Liz Steinglass
and Tabatha Yeatts.
Each committee member was assigned several challenges to review independently and then I consolidated the results. As always, a few excellent poems were left out for one reason or another, but I think you'll agree that the final result is impressive nonetheless. I think this is our best collection yet. It's also the largest—96 poems by 57 poets! As our little writing community has grown in size over the last five years, it has clearly also grown in experience.

Thanks also to the twelve authors and editors whose DMC challenges were instrumental—

and to ALL the TLD readers who responded to them. You make the decisions about which poems to include VERY difficult indeed!

Once again, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Renée LaTulippe for her invaluable help throughout the process, including advice, suggestions, design expertise, editing, proofreading, and reality checks when needed. Thank you, Renée!

And to my daughter Miranda, thank you for giving this book its character with such an adorable cover and charming interior illustrations! (Read my interview with Miranda HERE.)

I'd like to give a shout-out to Helen Frost and Paul W. Hankins who were kind enough to provide such wonderful, blush-inducing blurbs for the back cover,

and last but not least, my heartfelt thanks to the poets whose work is featured in this volume:

As I say in my introduction to this book, for me you're more than fellow writers. You're friends. And YOU are what makes all the time I put into blogging worthwhile.

It's an honor to write poetry with you... and READ poetry together as well. So let's keep the party going with this week's Poetry Friday Roundup. Add your links below.

Click here to find out more about Poetry Friday.

We had another active week on our "Words at Play" padlet with new contributions by Janice Scully, Cindy Breedlove, Mindy Gars Dolandis, Karen Eastlund, David McMullin, Cory Corrado, and Tabatha Yeatts. Carol Varsalona has posted hers today at Beyond LiteracyLink. Read about this month's challenge and join in the fun HERE.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Welcome to the Fun Factory!

Luna Park, Sydney, Australia, photo: Sascha Grant

Calling all punsters, all witty-quippers, all wordspinners— 
the fun factory is open for business! 

Last week, Kate O'Neil challenged us to write a poem with words at play. (Read her TLD reader spotlight HERE.)

Someone very wise once said—

duncan c

(Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Jefferson, Babe Ruth, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and any number of others, including Anonymous.)

Kudos to whoever it was. I wholeheartedly agree! 

So in an effort to counter the process of aging (beauty sleep be damned), I've been thinking a lot about this challenge over the past several days. On Tuesday, I shared a playful couplet from Ogden Nash that fits the bill. I could have just as easily shared these two clever lines from Douglas Florian. The humorous and imaginative verse of Jack Prelutsky comes to mind for this challenge, Calef Brown's mash-ups, and several zany poems by J. Patrick Lewis, including this one. In a comment to last week's interview, Tabatha Yeatts mentioned Brian Bilston and Greg Pincus. While Kate suggested malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, and cliches as sources of inspiration, it occurred to me that wordplay can also be expressed visually—by playing with word sequence or layout, like these examples from Bob Racska's Wet Cement. I like that some of you on the padlet are going in that direction.

The early onset of Black Friday sales this month reminded me of a wordplay poem I wrote back in 2013. It's about the relentless Internet ads that pop up during this season of retail holiday cheer.  Indulge me as I repost it six years later—a brief little affair I call "Cyber Seduction."


It all began
with cookies. Now
and then, you popped up
unexpectedly.   It was cute,
you were sweet, and before long
you fell into step with my digital footprint.
Just a fling, I told myself, but you wanted more:
my time, attention, undying devotion, a credit card number
and personal security code.  And then it happened.  Black Friday.
It was late. There on my lap in the bedroom, aura glowing, you
told me I was glamorous, well-to-do, elite, and that XL or XS
didn’t matter. “2-for-1,” you said, “a limited-time offer.”
So I gave you my IP address, my credit card, the
works.  Who could resist those promises,
now as empty as my bank account? 
For a time I thought we clicked,
but now I realize I did all
the clicking. And what
once was 2-for-1,
is now just me,
50% off.

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.


Our fun factory is waiting for your wordplay poem! While there, enjoy the ditties already posted by Michelle Kogan, Linda Trott Dickman, Janie Lazo, Dianne Moritz, Linda Baie, Diane Mayr, and Cindy Breedlove.

Thanks to Irene Latham, our "still and steady" host of this week's Poetry Friday roundup. You'll find her and this week's offerings at Live Your Poem. Join me here for next week's roundup and a big announcement!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Two Line Tuesday: Ogden Nash

Matt Dowdeswell

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance,
Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

– Ogden Nash

Kate O'Neil has challenged us to write a poem with words at play: malapropisms, ambiguities, unintended meanings, puns, cliches, etc., so I thought Ogden Nash would be a good choice to get the party started! Read Kate's reader spotlight HERE and add your poem to this month's padlet.