Many years ago one of my grandsons lived next door. He was home-schooled and sometimes I helped with his homework.
Writing was his least favorite subject. Fast forward to his first year in college and he loves his creative writing class. He sends me links when the Southwest Baptist University newsletter publishes his work.
His most recent publication was a poem, which reminded me of another homework poem, one I’d helped him with years ago. That poem was about a lizard.
Lazy lizards leap from leaf to leaf As green as a Sprite can Lizards like to hide under the weather Running, hiding, and sneaking around Crazily, hastily, and hurriedly leaving their tails behind them The miniature lizards are tiny compared to the big, blue sky
You can read about the do-your-homework challenge we had before he finally wrote the lizard poem here.
His newest poem is about seeing headlights and taillights as he journeys back and forth to college. I’ve copied it here, but you can also view it in the SBU Student Media Organization newsletter here.
As I drive down these roads Each day, every night, I look up, I look back, and I see headlights and I see taillights The taillights in front, the headlights behind When they travel this life with me, The headlights ahead and the taillights in back When going to places I've already seen. There might be a lesson here or there might be none, But I do know behind each pair of lights is a someone. He may be an old man with nothing but the past, Or she may be a young girl nervous about class, They could be a happy couple, but then again maybe not, Or it might be somebody having the same thought. Maybe they’re hurting, or maybe they're fine Maybe they've given up or maybe they're still trying. Will I ever know, and do I really even care? Because what do I give them but the occasional stare? Are they in need, and if so, why? Could I help them, should I even try? If they're as real and loved as I am, or maybe more, Then why is it they're so easy to ignore? Is it because I don't know them individually But can only speak in generalities? The answers to these questions I may never know But I frequently ponder them as along these roads I go And each day, and every night, I look up, I look back, and I see headlights and I see taillights
Looks to me like we have a budding writer joining his multi-published father, Dr. J.B. Hixson, and his Nana.
April is National Poetry Month. All month Poets.org has provided opportunities and activities to celebrate poetry and poets.
I couldn’t let the celebration pass without posting one of my favorite poems about a realio, trulio, little pet dragon named Custard.
I read Ogden Nash’s poem to my children so often they memorized it.
The Tale of Custard the Dragon
Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.
Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called hum Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.
Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio daggers on his toes.
Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.
Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.
Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
and Blink said Weeck! which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.
Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.
Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.
Belinda paled, and she cried Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.
But up jumped Custard snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm,
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.
The pirate gaped at Belinda’s dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets, but they didn’t hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.
Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim.
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pirate.
But presently up spoke little dog Mustard,
I’d been twice as brave if I hadn’t been flustered.
And up spoke Ink and up spoke Blink,
We’d have been three times as brave, we think,
And Custard said, I quite agree
That everybody is braver than me.
Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio little pet dragon.
Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.
I do love Ogden Nash for the nonsensical, humorous way in which he poked fun at the problems of American life in his poems.
Reviewers of his work often criticized him for taking liberties with spelling and rhyme. Things like “If called by a panther/Don’t anther.” Liberties with words that I find delightful.
I relate because I have this habit of adding things to names. Brooke becomes Brook E, Abby – Abby Me Gail, Faith – Faith-e-foo, Morgan-Morgan from org, Landry-Landy Pandy, J.B.-J.Beetle, Sara-Sa-RA, Steph-Stefoney, etc.
To me, nonsensical words and names are fun.
I hope you enjoyed The Tale of Custard the Dragon. If you’d like to read other poems by Ogden Nash, check out this chronological list of all his work: http://www.ogdennash.org/ogden_nash_titles.htm
I guess that’s why the Native Americans named it The Snow Moon. Read more about Native American full moon names here.
Edie Melson snapped another full moon picture and added a quote. She’s very generously allowed me to share here on One Word Wednesday.
Isn’t that a wonderful quote from Sandburg?
I wasn’t lonesome, but I did quote a poem I learned as a wee little girl, I See the Moon.
I see the moon, the moon sees me,
God bless the moon and God bless me:
There’s grace in the cottage and grace in the hall;
And the grace of God is over us all.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the next full moon – called the Full Worm Moon or Lenten Moon – will be March 27th.
Don’t miss the opportunity to go out and chat with our friend the moon.
Poetry plays a huge part of the romantic journey my husband and I travel, especially the poetry of Elizabeth and Robert Browning. You’ll find the words from the Browning’s poems not only in our pockets but other places too.
Around our garden, on stepping stones.
In framed silhouettes of us done at Montmartre Art Colony in Paris with the words of Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning between our figures.
In case you can’t read the small print, the first line of Rabbi Ben Ezra says, “Grow old along with me, The Best is Yet to Be.”
My pocket poem today is a love poem Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote to Robert in 1845 that carries extra special meaning for my husband and me.
Listen as I read Sonnet XLIII from Sonnets From the Portuguese to Jerry and you from my porch swing.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Now go find a love poem to put in your pocket and read it to someone special yourself…
On April 26th, schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues will ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets on PIYP day or Poem in Your Pocket Day. The idea is simple:
• Select a poem you love during National Poetry Month
• Print or write it out
• Carry it with you and share with co-workers, family, and friends
• Or tweet about your selection on Twitter with the hashtag #pocketpoem.
If you can’t think of a poem to carry, you can click here to download one or simply enjoy the funny, the serious, and the unusual choices when you click on one of the pockets pictured on the page.
At estate sales I often find books of poetry or handwritten poems in pockets, in desk drawers, framed and displayed, and any number of other places. My favorite discovery happened closer to home when my mother-in-love passed away. We found this poem glued in her Bible and another copy of the same poem in her husband’s.
Should You Go First
By Albert Kennedy “Rosey” Rowswell
Should you go first and I remain,
To walk the road alone,
I’ll live in memory’s garden, dear,
With happy days we’ve known.
In Spring I’ll wait for roses red,
When fades the lilac blue,
In early Fall when brown leaves call
I’ll catch a glimpse of you.
Should you go first and I remain,
For battles to be fought,
Each thing you’ve touched along the way
Will be a hallowed spot.
I’ll hear your voice, I’ll see your smile,
Though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand
Will buoy me on with hope.
Should you go first and I remain,
To finish with the scroll,
No length ‘ning shadows shall creep in
To make this life seem droll.
We’ve known so much of happiness,
We’ve had our cup of joy,
And memory is one gift of God
That death cannot destroy.
Should you go first and I remain,
One thing I’d have you do:
Walk slowly down that long, lone path,
For soon I’ll follow you.
I’ll want to know each step you take
That I may walk the same,
For some day down that lonely road
You’ll hear me call your name.
Rosey Rowswell wasn’t a Longfellow or Edgar Allen Poe. In fact, his real job was a broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 19 seasons (1936-54), but he did write books of humor and poetry. And, I love this touching poem.
More, I love the romantic sentiment of finding a copy in both Bibles. My husband’s parents were married for fifty-nine years before Otho passed away. I’ll guarantee you when Rose went to glory five years later she called Otho’s name and met him on that path.
Will you join us and share your favorite poem in a comment? We’ll pretend to hear your voice.
April is NATIONAL POETRY MONTH. I didn’t know. Did you?
Seems back in 1996 the Academy of American Poet established the tradition to highlight American poets and encourage people about the pleasure of reading poetry. It’s all explained on their website.
Though I’m not a poetry writer, I ♥ to read poetry. I’ve memorized many poems by my favorite American poets. I read poems to anyone, willing or not.
To further the observance of poetry month, I’ll be sharing some poems by friends and family. I’ll start with one written by my second oldest grandson.
I may not write poetry, but I am a storyteller so first a little story about how this poem originated.
We were sitting at the kitchen table discussing how he should be doing homework. He’s home schooled, and I promised his parents I’d work with him while he was visiting.
Unfortunately, like father, like son. I remember fighting many a homework battle with his daddy who also hated doing homework. The thought of poetry homework made the task even less appealing, especially when the swimming pool was calling.
He starred outside at the squirrel climbing the pole to the bird feeder. He ate a Pop Tart. He slipped away to play a game of chess with his Pepa.
I marched him back to table and the task at hand. No, I’m not your push-over Nana. Although resisting those big, beautiful brown eyes isn’t always easy!
Then I caught him at the window. Again.
This time he was watching a chameleon on the Maple tree.
I thought he was wasting time and prepared to pull out my mean teacher’s whip! Before I could speak, he pointed to the laptop on the table. “I wrote the poem already.”
And, this is what I read on the screen:
Lazy lizards leap from leaf to leaf
As green as a Sprite can
Lizards like to hide under the weather
Running, hiding, and sneaking around
Crazily, hastily, and hurriedly leaving their tails behind them
The miniature lizards are tiny compared to the big, blue sky
Amazing I think, don’t you agree? How quickly I’d forgotten how little boys multi-task when you think they’re playing.
YOUR TURN: Share one of your favorite poems!
Friday blog days will be silly or stream of consciousness or who knows what will strike my fancy. The idea comes from the years I taught elementary school physical education classes. Great job compared to my years of teaching reading and language arts with all those papers to grade. LOL
I wore shorts to school and lesson plans were easy because every Friday’s plan read Free Day. The other P.E. teacher and I put out assorted equipment and allowed the kids to have supervised free time during class. Things may have changed as far as teaching P.E. goes, who knows? But Friday’s on the blog will be free, crazy, and definitely fun.
Today’s topic is purple cows. I’m also testing a principal I learned from Kristin Lamb’s WANA class on social media–a snappy subject line. Did it grab your attention???
Why a purple cow blog? Because I’ve always been intrigued by the work of Gelett Burgess and especially his poem about the purple cow.
Burgess, a fascinating Bohemian, wrote other whimsical, nonsense poetry, but THE PURPLE COW is by far the most famous. I know I’ve quoted it a gazillion times. Though, like most people, I leave off the second line of the title: Reflections on a Mythic Beast Who’s Quite Remarkable, at Least. Pity too because that’s where the essence lies. Here’s the original the poem as published in 1895.
Purple cow is a metaphor for something that is out of the ordinary, something remarkable. Maybe Bugress didn’t personally want to be considered different. In reality he was. Some say his works inspired Dr. Seuss. The Gelett Burgess Center for creative expression, organized to honor his creativity, gives The Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards yearly. It’s not the Caldecott, but still a prestigious honor for a children’s book.
Too many people do not want to take chances and be that Purple Cow, to stand out from the rest. To conform is to be comfortable, and many of us like to feel comfortable. But, is comfortable the place to be if you are a writer?
I say no. Not with the publishing paradigm shift which allows anyone and everyone to become a published writer.
We have to be Purple cows. Different. Willing to stand out from the rest.Our stories need to be remarkable. Exceptional. After all, does the world need another ordinary writer, another ordinary story? I don’t think so.
Purple cow writers must be different at the same time consummate professionals. With the new reader-driven paradigm in publishing, we struggle to be noticed, to stand out in the pack. Often, we’re not traditionally published because our stories don’t fit the Big Six genre boxes. Agents scratch their heads trying to pigeonhole our work. Which makes us half purple. To be a realio, trulio Purple Cow writer, we have to
- create rich, absorbing stories with emotional impact to grab the reader
- know craft rules then break the ones that benefit our story
- never stop learning
- view every writing project as a stepping stone to something better
- be devoted to KL’s social media theory for getting our name and our work noticed
What about you? Are you a PURPLE COW? Do you dare to step out of your comfort?