Poetry Friday: “Can You Saddle Up a Horsefly?”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllAmong the many manuscripts for children’s books that I’ve either completed or am currently working on, is a nature-themed poetry collection. I’m not sure that ‘nature’ is specific enough of a theme to attract the attention of an agent or publisher – these days, everything has to have a ‘theme,’ you know – but for now, it is what it is, and this poem comes from that collection.

I was thinking about bug names and how so many of them could be confused or misconstrued…and after several weeks of writing and revising, I ended up with this! Hope you enjoy it.

Monarch & black-eyed susans

“Can You Saddle Up a Horsefly?”

Are ladybugs all ladies?

Are there gentlemanbugs, too?

Does a praying mantis ever pray?

And if they do, to who?

Why is it every summer, lightning bugs light up the night,
But thunderbugs – they don’t exist! I just don’t think it’s right.

I doubt that dragonflies breathe fire and turn knights into roast.
And what about a butterfly?  Do they taste good on toast?

The June bugs buzz all summer long, not just the month of June;
If mayflies flew in April, would we say they flew too soon?

A yellowjacket’s jacket’s yellow – what about his pants?
And where does one buy uniforms for all the army ants?

We know grasshoppers love to hop, but can they leap or skip?
Can you saddle up a horsefly – then take him on a trip?

A honeybee makes honey; what’s a dung-beetle to make??
It’s questions just like these, at night…

that keep me wide awake.

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Looking for more poetry? Be sure to visit Amy at The Poem Farm for all of today’s Poetry Friday links!


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33 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Can You Saddle Up a Horsefly?”

  1. Darlene Gifford

    I more than enjoyed it, Matt! The child in me laughed. Great work and congratulations. I had a pacemaker put in last Friday, so I was feeling very sore and weak. But your poem lifted my spirits. Thanks.


  2. Janet F.

    As a teacher, Matt, I really loved this. I can see using it with kids. It will help them with thinking about words and vocabulary and nature in a fun and playful way! Can’t wait to share it. I hope to read it in a book some day!


  3. Oh, my gosh, I am cracking up, Matt. I love where this wondering about words took you. The yellow jacket’s pants — ha! I think the neglected thunderbugs should have their own picture book (or at least their own poem).


  4. So clever and funny, Matt.
    I’ve been battling carpenter bees — they drill such perfectly round holes that I would swear they have a toolbag hidden somewhere.


  5. Steve Peterson

    Lots and lots of fun, Matt! Like Janet, I’d love to use this with kids next year. How do I go about getting permission for such a thing?


    1. Just ask! You’re welcome to use it – I’d just appreciate you giving me credit for it, of course. And if you make copies, please include the “©” symbol with my name.

      Oh…and please let me know what the kids think! Thanks, Steve.


      1. Will do, Matt. Of course, for the attributions. And thanks! I’m thinking it would be a fun way to know that their questions are not just okay, but what it’s all about!


  6. maryleehahn

    “A yellowjacket’s jacket’s yellow – what about his pants?
    And where does one buy uniforms for all the army ants?”

    Those were my favorite lines, though there was cleverness all the way through. So fun!

    I’m curious about you sharing poems here that you will someday be submitting. Don’t publishers want shiny new poems that have never been published even on a blog?

    And while I’m asking, do you have an agent, and if not, how are you shopping your poetry around?


    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Mary Lee! To answer your first question…I don’t know! I can’t imagine that a publisher who might want to publish me would balk at poems that were previously read by only a few hundred people, at most. Although I’m trying to increase my visibility, I’m still a relative unknown! (But then again, who knows?) If I knew the answer I might, perhaps, be doing things differently!

      As for your other questions: no, I don’t have an agent – but not for lack of trying. I’ve been submitting my manuscript(s) to various agents and publishing companies who I think might be receptive, but so far, no bites. I’ve also submitted innumerable poems to Highlights and the Cricket publications, but also to no avail. I will have an original children’s poem included in an anthology tentatively due to come out in Spring 2015 – but other than that, I remain unpublished.

      Onward and upward!


      1. Not for long, Matt– not for long. With the quality and character of your poetry, I’m sure you *will* be published and will be well-loved by many!

        The question about submitting blog-published poems is a tricky one which I grapple with as well. I know that there definitely are magazine publishers who will not take poems that have been previously published online. My guess is it would be less of a problem with a book publisher that’s publishing a collection of your poetry, though I’m certainly no expert. I tend to be cautious with what I post… maybe overly cautious. By leaving out my “best” work, is my blog not fully representative of who I am as a writer? Maybe it comes down to whether we’re savers or spenders in life. Sometimes you have to spend in order to get the big payback. That’s a lesson I’m still working on!


      2. Just so you know, Matt. First priority for me is to get your publishing career going, not to use a poems. For me, it’s better in the long run to have lots of Matt Forrest poetry out here than a little. :) If you feel uncomfortable having me use it, I’m totally cool with that, too. Best to you!!


      3. Thank you, Steve – I’m not uncomfortable at all about it. Getting my poetry out there is all I’m trying to do right now, to give people an idea of what I do, my style, my ‘voice,’ per se. I want to retain my rights, of course, but I figure I can always write more!


    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michelle! The way I look at it, the blog is like my voiceover demo – a prospective client may only listen to the first 10 seconds of a demo, so you’d better have your best stuff right up front. That’s what I do with the blog, although I do tend to mix things up a bit…we’ll see if it works!


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