Poetry Friday: The Found Object Poem Project, Day 5!

Poetry_Friday logoPoet and blogger Laura Shovan is once again inspiring writers with her annual February poetry prompt, and this year she’s using “found objects” – random, unusual, or even everyday items that various friends and fellow bloggers have come across and shared.

You can see all of this week’s objects (and the poems written so far) HERE at her blog, and today, I’m pleased to host Day 5 of the series!

Now, normally I’d share the photo of the object with my poem, along with all the poems that readers have contributed – and please DO contribute, in the comments section! – but I feel a need to do things just slightly differently, for good reason.

This time around, I need to share the poem first…and I’ll explain why after you read it.

Heirloom Moon

On sun-toughened vines
they hang, young
and glowing beneath
dark August sky;
midnight shines
against dewy skin, smooth
and glossy as Brandywines
while flesh swells
with thirst
and yearning.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

The reason I wanted to share the poem first is because of the ridiculous nature of the photo. Once you see it, you’ll sense a huge disconnect between the object and the poem. Ready?

Here it is:

Tomato-Moon
(click to enlarge)

When I first shared this online, I stated that I’d never been mooned by a vegetable before!

I’m not sure if this tomato was one big one that split into two, or started off as two little baby tomatoes that fused into one – but at a good pound or so in weight, it was one of the strangest-looking tomatoes I’d ever seen.

Two days ago when I started thinking about a poem to write, my mind kept wandering back to a tomato ‘mooning’ me – but I wanted something more serious. Once the title of the poem, “Heirloom Moon,” hit me, the poem wrote itself.

I was concerned that by seeing the photo, then reading the poem, there might be a bit of a disconnect. Switching from a goofy picture to mature free verse – and switching from very different definitions of ‘moon’ – was a challenge!

Now then, without any further ado, allow me to present YOUR poems…all the responses to this photo that are being sent in. And please, if you’d like to contribute, just post your poem in the comments below and I’ll add it here as soon as I can!

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We’ll begin with something from the Haiku Queen, Diane Mayr, who said, “When I gave up the idea of writing a tomato haiku, this one appeared!” Some great imagery here, too – skin stretching, mouths waiting – so enjoy:

Listen to a Tomato

Not even a whisper
accompanies the splitting
of its seed coat when
touched by the warmth
of a sunny April day.

Nor is there a sound
when a seedling snakes
upward shaking off
humus and loam as
its true leaves unfurl.

You won’t hear skin
stretching to its limits
as the fruit imbibes
summer rains, growing
round and pendant.

The only sound you can
hear, is the POP of a ripe
tomato and the EXPLOSION
of juice as it’s delivered
to your waiting mouth.

– © 2016, Diane Mayr

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Next up is a delicious poem from Jessica Bigi…you’ll be ready for dinner with these warm, homey images:

Garden Tomatoes Memories

Salt
Black pepper
Tangy vinaigrette
Drizzling oil
Beefsteak tomatoes
Our garden’s prize
Halves in a bowl
They’re best as
Dad told his story
Mouth-watering
Tomato juice smile
Italian bread baking
In grandmother’s oven
Slices of garden tomatoes
Thick slices of onions
Water my eyes
How the hobos left the Trains
knocking on her door
For homemade bread and
Tomato sandwiches
Dad’s mouth watered he
Loved his with onions
How I long to hear his voice
Whistle his story to me
How I love my dad and a bowl
Of garden tomatoes

– Jessica Bigi

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Margaret Simon says she was attracted not to the tomato but to the quilted cloth beneath, which was reminiscent of her grandmother’s quilts. This touching poem is proof that inspiration can come from anywhere!

Grandmother’s Quilt

Grandmother
quilted for hours
taking tiny stitches in and out
while gossiping
with the girls.

“Jesse harvested tomatoes today.
The largest we’ve had in years.”

“Whatcha’gonna make, Mary Glo?
Tomato soup or corn maque choux?”

Around that circle of friends,
patches from Granddad’s ties,
a piece of Margaret’s Sunday dress,
stories were told
and sewn into time,
feathered with fingers of love.

Margaret Simon

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Although summer won’t be here for another 5 months, Molly Hogan brightens up our winter with thoughts of sunshine and dirt and summertime smells:

One Plump Tomato

In the midst of winter
one plump tomato
stirs memories of
the sun’s caressing warmth
on berry-brown bare arms
and flush freckle-dusted cheeks
of toes dipping into rich earth
and of the enticing tangled scent
of robust green vines
and sweet spicy basil

In the midst of winter
one plump tomato
sings a silent song
of summer

– Molly Hogan

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Linda Baie is feeling the love – with an early-morning rendezvous:

Early Valentine’s Day

I rose early to go to the garden
for a breakfast harvest,
without the distraction of the kids.
Pants quickly wet from the dew,
I leaned into ripening tomatoes,
inhaling that tangy, piney scent,
the only one they know. Perhaps
it protects their sweeter taste?
They were falling over,
heavy red-ripened jewels.

There, among that rich roundness, this love apple.
The mist had blown off with the sun,
and I returned to the house,
lay my heart upon the bed,
pursed my lips for a kiss.

Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

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Laura Shovan herself stopped by to share her contribution – a fun little ode to my tasty monstrosity:
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Big Boy
.
Hello, tomato!
You’re the Wonder Twins
of the vegetable garden,
Miracle-Gro… activate!
Hello, tomato!
The slugs came out
last night and slathered you
in lip plumper.
Hello, tomato!
I love you best
cut into chunks
and served with salt.
Goodbye, tomato!
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– © 2016, Laura Shovan
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Carol Varsalona jumped into the fray with the following poem that she titled after my picture!

Tomato Moon

Not two peas in a pod.
Not two beans on a pad
but
two simple valentines
linked
creating
one tomato moon,
filling the spaces of
my February heart-
peacefully co-joined,
artfully sculptured,
waiting for a receiver.

– ©CVarsalona, 2016

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Last but not least, Mary Lee Hahn brings us a short but sweet love poem!

Double Tomato

We budded together and together we bloomed;
it just seemed natural that together we grew.
Together we look…unusual,
but together we’re unified — one outranks two!

– ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

NEXT UP, DAY 6!

Wondering what’s in store for tomorrow? Here’s the found object poem prompt for Sat., Feb. 6, courtesy of Laura, herself!

Many thanks again to Laura Shovan for the series of prompts this month, and for all of today’s poetry fun and links, please visit Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect for the Poetry Friday roundup!

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Poetry Friday: Visiting with Penny Parker Klostermann!

Before I say anything, I have to apologize to someone…

“I lost your comment, and I’m sorry!”

I was scanning through my blog’s “comments” filter and deleted a bunch of spam-type stuff…and just as I hit ‘DELETE’ I realized one of them was a real comment…Aaargh!

So whoever you are…please leave another one! It was a comment on my Tuesday post, when I listed some of the many things my kids and I have learned over the past few years of their existence. The comment made reference to raising 2-year-olds, and that’s all I saw before it vanished…again, I apologize!

Poetry_Friday logoFor today’s post, I’m very excited to share two poems as part of writer Penny Parker Klostermann’s blog series, “A Great Nephew & A Great Aunt.”

Granted, I am neither a great nephew nor a great aunt (nor am I even average), but Penny has been featuring a number of folks over the past several months who are related or connected in some way.

The premise is, one person – usually a child – provides a picture while the other person provides a poem to go along with it. When Penny asked if my kids and I would be interested in participating, I jumped at the opportunity! Both my 6-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter are little artists, and were quick to provide me with some creative material.

I hope you’ll take a look at Penny’s blog and see what my kids and I came up with! And if you’d like, Penny has all the past participants available for viewing, as well.

And if you STILL can’t get enough poetry, Catherine is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Reading to the Core, featuring an interview with Irene Latham and a couple of selections from Irene’s new book of children’s poetry, When the Sun Shines on Antarctica (Millbrook Press).

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Parenting: an educational experience like none other

As a writer for children, I am fortunate to be blessed with a non-stop whirlwind of inspiration every day thanks to my two youngest kids.

My two older girls are 23 and 20 and off doing their own thing these days, so taking care of my 6-year-old son and his 2-year-old sister allows me to not only revisit some of the joy, pain, and utter ridiculousness that I enjoyed with the older ones, but to be able to view their development – and mine! – with a fresh perspective.

It’s like watching the video of your wedding and discovering all sorts of things you never realized happened, because you were in the eye of the storm the whole time, and everything was swirling about you. Only when you get a chance to relive it are you able to truly appreciate the event.

That being said, I thought I’d share a few nuggets of wisdom my kids and I have learned over the past few years. Some of these have already spawned poems or picture book ideas; others most likely will, at some point!
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What the kids have learned:

  • If you walk backward without watching where you are going long enough, tragedy is inevitable.
  • A penis is not an appropriate body part when singing the Hokey-Pokey.
  • The punishment for lying is always worse than the punishment for whatever it was you lied about.
  • The cat is not a bean bag, and does not appreciate being part of any game that involves tossing.
  • In addition to creating pretty pictures, magic markers can also be used to paint your nails. And your lips. And pretty much any exposed surface.
  • One must never like the same meal two days in a row. If I loved pizza yesterday, I must despise it today. If we have mac ‘n cheese tonight, I must throw it on the floor tomorrow.

What I have learned:

  • A little girl wearing a Queen Elsa dress with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shell on her back is a beautiful thing.
  • Unconsciousness can do wonders.  No matter how loud, rude, impolite, destructive, unruly, or otherwise improper your little hellion was during the day, as soon as he falls asleep…your sweet, angelic Gift from God returns.
  • I may not like loud, banshee-like screaming, but when it’s happy banshee-like screaming…it’s music to my ears.
  • Reading 8 books before bedtime is not as exhausting as reading the same book 8 times in a row. Or is the other way around? Dang, I can’t remember.
  • When your 2-year-old daughter runs through the house shouting, “I laugh in the face of danger!” followed by a psychotic laugh…be prepared for anything.
  • Two-year-olds have only two speeds: asleep and lightning.
  • When feeding a toddler who dumps half her food on the floor, the family dog is an invaluable resource.

Ah, parenting. I have to admit, being a stay-at-home dad has its advantages when it comes to writing! These two are a never-ending source of stress frustration insomnia joy and happiness!

And as I’ve told many folks, I probably wouldn’t be writing for kids right now if it wasn’t for these two young ones. I get to watch them grow, be inspired by them, and then write about it.

What a career!

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Poetry Friday: “January Shoreline”

(click to enlarge)

 

I’d also like to thank Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for sharing a poem of mine as part of her series of poetry-song matchups. She finds poems and songs that have some sort of connection and shares them both at her blog. Today’s post features one of my poems paired with one of my favourite songs from Crowded House, along with poems by Liz Steinglass and Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and you can view it HERE.

Tara Smith at A Teaching Life is hosting poetry Friday today, and is also in a “winter storm frame of mind,” as much of the east coast is expecting a big Nor’easter this weekend. (Thankfully, here in NH, we are not expected to get any snow at all, although our neighbors along the seaboard – Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania – could get 1-2 feet!)

By the way, this past Tuesday night, I played my first game of indoor soccer since being sidelined 2 years ago with a torn ACL…I talk a little bit about the importance of patience in my previous post, if you’d care to check it out!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Back on the field…finally!

If your memory goes back to a few years ago (and you cared enough to even bother remembering!), I had a major injury on the soccer field two years ago. I tore my right knee apart – the ACL, MCL, and meniscus – while playing on my men’s indoor soccer league and needed surgery to repair the damage.

Well, the injury happened in late November 2013, the arthroscopic ACL reconstruction surgery was late March 2014, rehab took a little over a year, and I spent this past summer and fall continuing to strengthen my leg and hip muscles to ensure the knee would be safe to use in an aggressive setting like indoor soccer.

So after all this time, I’m finally back on the field tonight!

Don’t tell my wife.

Seriously, she supports me, but really doesn’t want to deal with another torn ACL – and I don’t, either, of course. No reason to think it will happen again, as the new ACL (fashioned from a piece of my right hamstring tendon) should be as strong as the original, but I don’t blame her for worrying.

Good things come to those who wait…but waiting only helps so much

Yes, patience is a virtue and the ability to wait patiently is beneficial, but that only gets you so far. One needs to take active steps to achieve certain goals.

For example, after years of writing poetry for adults and getting some published in various journals around the country, I decided in 2009 to make a serious effort to write for children. And not as a hobby; I wanted to make a career out of writing for children, which I knew was neither easy nor, for that matter, lucrative.

Lullabye coverBut I was determined, and set about doing whatever I could to make that happen. I joined an open SCBWI writer’s critique group, then joined SCBWI, started connecting with folks in the business, and learning everything I could. In 2015, I saw the fruits of my labors in the form of EIGHT children’s poems in FIVE children’s books, including my very first children’s publishing credit, Lee Bennett Hopkins’ Lullaby & Kisses Sweet (Abrams Appleseed).

I reached another milestone last year, when Rebecca Davis at Boyd’s Mills Press liked my picture book manuscript, Flashlight Night, enough to purchase it! With a Fall 2017 scheduled release date, it is a true test of patience, believe me.

Patience, patience…

– My new studio won’t be ready until later this year. When we had $20,000 worth of ice dam damage repaired this past December, the contractor volunteered to rip up all the upstairs carpeting – which we were going to need to do – at no charge. We took him up on the offer, but that means there’s no carpeting in my present studio space, so voiceover work is a challenge when it comes to sound dampening. I’ll just have to wait!

– Our 2-year-old daughter, whose nursery is going to be my new studio, no longer takes naps – which means I get no writing, voice, or marketing work done until after the two kids are in bed. She’ll start preschool in another two years, but until then…I’ll just have to wait!

– I currently have 8 or 9 manuscript submissions out there in kidlit land, sitting in the slush piles of various editors and agents. The wheels turn slow, so it’s possible 6 months could go by before I get a response, positive or negative. In some cases, I won’t even get a response unless there is interest! I have some names of people I want to send these manuscripts out to, but until I hear back from these others…I’ll just have to wait.

I could go on and on, but won’t. My point is, trying to have patience in a world of instant gratification is tough – and I’m not perfect at it. Far from it! I hate waiting, just like most people.

I think I’m at the age where I’m young enough to still be a bit impatient and impetuous sometimes, but mature enough to recognize that life is short and tenuous. Who knows what could happen between now and my picture book release date? What if i die before I ever have a chance to see the book in print??

Sorry – there’s that imagination again, coming up with all sorts of circumstances. But seriously, if I DID die before the book came out…there are plenty of things I could have been doing in the interim besides worrying about it! So I’ll try to be patient and wait.

After all, I have a new manuscript I need to work on…

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Autumn haiku

I know, we’re in the middle of winter…so what am I doing, you ask?

This poem originally appeared on Carol Varsalona’s blog, Beyond Literacy, a few days after Christmas – and although I hope you had a chance to check out all the contributors’ works, I wanted to showcase the poem here, as well. The photo has been going around the internet for awhile, so I wish I knew to whom it should be attributed; I must thank them for the inspiration!

(click to enlarge)

Again, you can view all the poems and photos in Carol’s gallery HERE, and please leave a comment so she knows you visited. And for more poetry and links, please visit Keri at Keri Recommends for today’s Poetry Friday roundup!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

2015 in review: Thank you!

2015 was another big year for my blog!

I had a visitor from China, one from Afghanistan, and one from Ethiopia…I had 300% more visitors from Thailand than I did from Botswana…and while the majority of my 9400 total visits came from here in the U.S. (7300), I had more from the UK than our neighbor to the north, Canada – in fact, I had almost as many visits from Australia as I did from Canada!

How do I know all this? Well, once again, the folks at WordPress.com have compiled my year-end stats, and I wanted to share them with you today, since I hadn’t had a chance to earlier this month…and because without you, I wouldn’t have ANY stats!

– Three of my most-viewed posts in 2015 were from 2012? Yep! Once again, for the 3rd straight year, the MOST popular post was a poem that had received a lukewarm reception when I first shared it. And yet, more people read that than anything else on my blog! Go figure.

– The most popular post was very special to me: In May 2015, I hosted Poetry Friday, which always attracts a huge crowd – but it was my announcement that I had landed my very first book deal with Boyd’s Mills Press that had me singing that day!

– What’s in a name? A popular search phrase: One of the most popular ways people have found me is by searching the term “rhythm and rhyme” via Google. While I knew this was common phrase (one of the reasons I chose it to use in my blog name), it never occurred to how useful it would be in helping folks find me! You learn something new every day, as they say.

I have to thank two of my perennial top-commenters, Linda Baie and Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, who I can always count on to provide their thoughts to the conversation! Also many thanks to Mary Lee Hahn, Diane Mayr, and Brenda Davis Harsham, who round out the Top 5, for their time and interest.

Three other folks I need to tip my hat to are Renée LaTulippeTabatha Yeats, and Irene Latham, a trio of women who are some of the most wonderful people in the world…one the primary reasons being that they have sent me more visitors from their blogs than anyone else! Thank you so much, ladies!

So please click HERE (or click the graphic) and take a quick gander at some of the other interesting details, and thanks again for taking the time to stop by and visit. I hope the New Year is a happy one, and please keep in touch!

Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme: 2015 in Review! Click the graphic for all the details.

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!