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Poetry Friday: “Worm Tale”

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Some poems almost write themselves; the idea pops into your head, you start writing, and before you know it a perfect little masterpiece is smiling back at you.

And then there are poems like this one.

I wrote the first draft of this back in 2011. No sooner had I lifted pen from paper, when I decided to make some changes. And then a couple months later I made some more changes.

Then I thought about those changes…and made some more.

Do you see where this is going?

Well, I just finally completed what I believe to be the final draft – but of course, at this rate, that’s a rather tenuous statement. Many thanks to the Poet’s Garage, my online critique group, who helped me fix a few sticky lines. As with most advice, I took some of it to heart – and ignored the rest of it (no offense, folks!).  Hopefully what I ignored won’t come back to bite me!  For all of today’s Poetry Friday fun, be sure to visit Betsy at Teaching Young Writers!

“Worm Tale”

Mommy worm
was very firm;
she sternly warned her baby worm
to be aware of where one squirms
and stay away from dirty germs.
She said, “Where earth is warm and firm
is no place for a worm to squirm,
so do not go near sunny ferns
or you’ll get dirty, germy burns!”
But baby worm was unconcerned,
and one day from the dirt returned
with fern stains on her wormy shirt
and germs upon her dirty skirt.
Her eyes were sore, her head – it hurt.
She couldn’t even eat dessert!
So mommy worm told baby worm
it only takes one dirty germ
to make a tiny tummy turn.
But baby worm showed no concern
for mommy’s warning where to squirm;
next day, a naughty little worm
was back to squirming under fern.

I guess some worms will never learn.

- - © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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22 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Worm Tale”

  1. Giggling over here in Western New York! “Mommy worm/was very firm”. How funny and how clear that you’re the voice guy. This is great on the tongue and in the air!

  2. Fun to read and also fun for kids to learn the ways that words churn out /er/!

  3. That is awesome! I am curious about what you ignored now. Great journey of a poem and a worm.

    • I appreciate it, Catherine. Advice I didn’t take included little things like replacing the word “one” in the 4th line with “it” or “she,” because the critiquer didn’t think a mother would use that word – but I felt mom was using the word to teach her baby a lesson more than an actual dialogue – if that makes sense. Another suggestion was that it was hard to believe a worm would wear human clothes…but if you use your imagination, anything’s possible!

  4. So much fun to say! I think you ignored just the right advice, haha. I’m all for worms in clothes – anything to cover the slimy. Well done!

    And yes — “The Brave Little Toaster” is oddly, disturbingly compelling. :)

  5. Such fun! I think you should write a new series, “As the Worm Turns,” since it’s obvious this worm will never learn and will have many more squirmy adventures.

  6. Pingback: Poetry Friday: "Worm Tale" | Voiceove...

  7. haitiruth on said:

    How true! Some worms WILL never learn! Fun poem.

  8. margaretsmn on said:

    I enjoyed reading this one aloud, so many wonderful wormy words to wiggle over.

  9. It sounds like it came together effortlessly, Matt. That’s the sign of a good edit/rewrite! Love Jama’s idea of “As the Worm Turns” series of wormy adventures.

  10. Thank you all! I’ve been hoping it didn’t sound pieced-together – even though it had been!

  11. I love the cautionary tale, and if you don’t know ‘him’, there is a character in the Richard Scarry books named Lowly Worm, which my children and I adored. He wore clothes! I especially like that ending Matt!

  12. Funny, Matt. I wonder what worms eat for dessert?

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