Poetry Friday: “Epitaph for a Mayfly,” a new poetry cover reveal, and a BOOK WINNER!

My friend and fellow writer/blogger Michelle H. Barnes has once again been hosting her Ditty of the Month Challenge, where she encourages readers to contribute poems prompted by her various blog guests. This month, she’s featuring J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, whose brand-new book Last Laughs: Prehistoric Epitaphs (Charlesbridge) is both hilarious and often surprisingly touching.

Jane and Pat suggested that Michelle’s followers write “epitaph” poems of their own – that is, words that one might expect to see on a tombstone. Michelle just posted mine the other day on her blog, so in case you missed it, here it is:

Click here to purchase a copy of Michelle’s latest anthology, personally signed by a guy named Matt.

Epitaph for a Mayfly

Was born for flight (and reproduction),
set off for a swarm seduction.
Lost his mate; could not locate her.
Sadly, died a few hours later.

– © 2018 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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Indeed, those short, one-day lifespans are a real bummer.

What’s NOT a bummer? End-of-year lists!

I was thrilled last month when I learned that Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017) had been selected by the New York Public Library as one of the 100 Best Books for Kids of 2017…and now it’s a children’s book NYPL Staff Pick!

I cannot believe that a book of mine is included with books from authors like Jane Yolen, Nikki Grimes, Mac Barnett, and others. My thanks to illustrator extraordinaire Fred Koehler, editor Rebecca Davis, and the entire crew at Boyds Mills Press for their hard work and support! This has always been a group effort from the very start, and I’m proud to have been a part of it. The fact that my very first picture book was published by the “Highlights” magazine family will always be special to me.

(Side Note: Remember, each of my books – including the ones I’ve contributed poems to – can be ordered and personally signed via my hometown independent bookstore! Click here to see all the books available. Can’t do that with those online retailers!)

In other poetry news…

We have yet another cover to another poetry anthology!

I’m excited about this book not only because I have a poem included, but because – unlike National Geographic’s previous poetry anthologies – was designed as an “all-ages” book. The first two, The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry (2012) and The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (2015), were geared more for school-age children, while this new book contains poems that will be appreciated by grown-ups as well!

Edited by former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, this book is a veritable Who’s Who of classic and contemporary poets, featuring poems and photos of people and places of the United States of America: the bustling cities, the out-of-the-way towns, the people, the monuments, the substance of what we call Americana.

My poem, for example, is a blank verse sonnet about the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel, and Tower – one of Las Vegas’ famous (and highest) landmarks. And I can’t wait til it comes out!

I also can’t wait to announce our winner of a copy of “School People!” 

If you visited my blog last Friday, you had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about Lee Bennett Hopkins and how he creates his anthologies…and you also had multiple chances to win a copy of his newest book, School People (Wordsong)! This book includes 15 poems about the grown-ups that children meet at school, like the Teacher, the Lunch Lady, the Librarian, the Custodian…and the “Bus Driver,” written by Yours Truly.

And the winner is…

Robert Schechter!

Congratulations, Bob – and thank you for your support of what I’ve been doing these past several years. Thank you also to everyone who commented and shared last Friday’s post…I had more entries than any other contest I’ve done here!

There’s more poetry ahead, folks – for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head on over to Liz Steinglass‘ little home on the web and check out all the links and fun!

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SCHOOL PEOPLE are here…and the DINOSAURS are on their way!

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR hits bookshelves April 17!

New dates continue to be added to the Dinosaur Tour! Don’t Ask a Dinosaur co-author Deborah Bruss and I have quite a busy schedule planned:

  • Sat., April 14, 11am:  Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Sat., April 14, 2pm:  Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Tue., April 17, 7pm:  Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur Dual National Launch Party!! (with Holly Thompson, One Wave at a Time reading/signing/discussion)
  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH, Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!
  • Sat., April 28, 10:30am: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., April 28, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing (with Sara Levine, Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones reading/signing)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing and discussion
  • Sat., May 5, 10am: Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., May 5, 1pm:  Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., May 12, 11am:  Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • To be scheduled: Barnes & Noble, Salem, NH
  • To be scheduled: Books-A-Million, Concord, NH
  • To be scheduled: Concord Hospital Gift Shop, Concord, NH
  • MORE DATES to be added!

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Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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Amazing new discovery: My childhood!

Well, ok – I admit, that headline is a bit misleading. As someone who spent 25 years in radio and now writes for children, one could make a case that I never really left my childhood.

Matt lunchbox
The only lunchbox I ever owned. Alas, it’s missing the special “silo”-themed Thermos! Ahhh, memories of lukewarm milk and room-temperature Beefaroni. It’s a miracle I lived through all the potential food poisoning.

However, as I mentioned this past Friday, I recently came upon a huge stash of papers and memorabilia from my school days, while cleaning out my parents’ house. Their attic has been a treasure trove of nostalgia, where I have discovered old school tests and projects, several of my old journals, and even my elementary school lunchbox!

The journals – portions of which I’ll be sharing throughout the summer – were only part of the story.

The folks saved darned near everything

If the strength of a mother and father’s pride in their only child can be measured in the number of school papers and knick knacks they save, my parents are superhuman. Among the additional artifacts unearthed:

  • Poems by Emily Dickenson, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and others that I was required to memorize in high school.
  • A printout of my senior-year computer class project:  a program I designed using BASIC (any geeks remember that??) to keep track of a basketball team’s stats. I actually went back to school the Monday AFTER I graduated to try to fix a bug in the program. I wasn’t going to get any extra credit for it, but it was one of those things that kept annoying me and I had to fix. Never did. >sigh<typewriter 1
  • The first typewriter I ever owned! Yes, we all have to start somewhere.
  • Copies of the high school newspaper, of which I was a staff member and editor-in-chief my senior year. (see below!)
  • A big, pink, construction-paper heart envelope filled with 2 or 3 years’ worth of elementary school Valentine’s Day cards. You know those cheap, dozen-for-a-dollar cards they sell every year? Mom kept them all.
IMG_1259
My mug shows up twice on these front pages…score extra points if you can find me! (click to enlarge)

I still have wonderful memories of working on the student newspaper:  spending days after school typing stories on the old word-processors; cutting and pasting the stories, artwork, and photos together; and being embarrassed during journalism class when our teacher, Mrs. Jencks, told everyone her two younger daughters liked visiting us after school because they thought I looked like Remington Steele.

Not sure why Pierce Brosnan gets to keep his hair these days and I don’t…but I suppose that’s just more proof that life really is not fair.

IMG_1260  IMG_1263

When I first joined the newspaper staff, I started out entering news stories on our clunky Apple II computers. (MS DOS, anyone?)  I also created word puzzles, which I absolutely loved to do. During my senior year, I was not only editor, but also provided some of the cartoons. The school faced serious overcrowding issues; hence, the cover art on the left! (click to enlarge)

When you suddenly realize none of the kids you knew…are kids

A very sobering aspect of these discoveries is that I look at names and faces and need to come to grips with the fact that none of these children knew what was in store for them.

The kids whose names fill that Valentine heart, in particular – barely older than my 6-year-old son – give me pause to reflect on life, death, and fate. April, who went on to marry her childhood sweetheart. Karen, who became our senior class Salutatorian when I became Valedictorian. Chris, who committed suicide before he had a chance to graduate. Eric, who, a mere 2 months after high school graduation, died in a terrible car crash that should never have happened.

I think about Chris and Eric, and I so desperately wish I could somehow go back in time and wrap my arms around them, these little 7-year-old boys, and protect them the same way I would protect my own little dude.

Hold them. Shield them.

Warn them.

But they grew up, as we all do, and made choices they should not have made…and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that.

typewriter 2So I’ll continue sifting through my memories, sharing them here, and hopefully creating new ones, as long as God or Fate allow me to do so. And as I watch my son tap excitedly on my old typewriter, making up stories in much the same way I did – albeit with a dry, 40-year-old ribbon – I pray that he, and all my children, and everyone’s children, may live to see their dreams come true.

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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)
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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: “At the End of Her Ninth”

We said goodbye to my cat, Cleo, last week. She was 17 1/2 years old – so it really felt like losing a big part of the family. She was like my daughter, my wife, my grandmother, and my angry next door neighbor all rolled into one.

At the End of her Ninth

Cleo - 17 years oldThe click of claws, wail
unmistakable,
proclivity for curiosity
unshakeable,
feline force of will
unbreakable…
mouths one last, silent
meow.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Please be sure to visit Tara Smith at A Teaching Life for today’s complete 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!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
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!

Poetry Friday: “Goodbye”

Poetry_Friday logoI mentioned this past Tuesday I’ve been rather busy lately, but I couldn’t let Poetry Friday slip past without sharing something! This is my newest poem; I hope you like it.

Goodbye

The cupboards, bare.
The counters, clean.
The table…gone.
……….The floor
is worn from years
of paws and soles
that scuttled through the door.
.
Boxes, packed.
……….Papers, tossed.
No food, no clothes;
……………no spouse.
With one small word
the home I loved
…..goes back
……………to just
…………………….a house.

© 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

My folks, who are both in their 80’s, are at a crossroads, trying to decide what to do with their home and property. Mom is in a nursing home, so dad needs to sell the home I grew up in so he’ll have the money to afford her care…but, as you might imagine, he’s having a difficult time making that decision. I wrote this last night, after visiting with each of them.

On a lighter note, Keri is hosting Poetry Friday today (in-between egg-gatherings and honeybee-swarms) at Keri Recommends – and shares a poem Irene Latham wrote about Keri’s “little” farm that is growing, growing, growing!

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SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)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) Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Candle at Midnight”

Candle at Midnight

ID-10020422 (candle)I light a candle at midnight.
Why?
Now, you can see
a radiant glow –
the smallest of blazes –
deep within
suffocating darkness.
Beyond the
shadows, beyond death,
what remains are
gifts of life:
extinguish the flame,
the scent lingers…
it becomes part of you
with one single breath.
Breathe.
Carry it with you,
your candle at midnight.
Carry it with you.
Breathe.
With one single breath,
it becomes part of you;
the scent lingers.
Extinguish the flame –
gifts of life –
what remains are
shadows. Beyond death,
beyond the
suffocating darkness,
deep within
the smallest of blazes…
a radiant glow.
Now you can see
why
I light a candle at midnight.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday…and also has candles on her mind! Visit her blog for all of today’s poetry links.

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo 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)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Revenge”

Poetry_Friday logoI don’t think I’ve ever used the word “spree” before in my life.

Why is this worth mentioning? Because “spree” was the Word of the Month over at poet/author David L. Harrison’s blog this past October.

I enjoy challenges, but have not been able to participate in the “WOM” for the past several months due to my hectic schedule. But since October marked the 5th anniversary of the “WOM” challenge, I really wanted to write something to share.

As it turned out, I didn’t get the poem completed until October 30 – which meant it only stayed posted for a couple of days before it disappeared to make room for the November Word of the Month, “brew!” So in order to keep the poem alive a little longer, I thought I’d share it here.

But be forewarned:  while most of the WOM poems are fun, children’s poems, this is…not. But I hope you like it! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links – along with a perfect November poem by John Freeman – please visit Diane Mayr at Random Noodling!

Revenge

I hadn’t seen the hornet, hiding
under the lip
of our watering can. Unaware, I was,
of paper wasps waiting
for someone like me
to open that old, weathered shed door
behind the woodpile.
Shaken, stung, yet
resolute and undaunted, I
set about to exact
vengeance.

Armed with hubris
and two giant cans of propellant-poison,
my killing spree began
under eaves,
behind shutters, beneath deck
and stairs – my hands
like machines, I
spared no mercy
on every wood-pulp nest,
every mud-dauber domicile,
every honeycombed bell
brimming with yellow-striped clappers
ready to ring.
.
I must have slain hundreds –
laying waste to their homes and families
in liquid immolation
to save my own
from the threat of pain
and fear
and anaphylaxis.
Proud Conqueror of Nature, I
smiled in satisfaction
when, turning to the back door,
one lone, weary hornet –
in a feeble attempt to fly,
only half-alive
but with double the fury –
came out from that old woodpile
and in an instant
was barely more than an arm’s length
from my face.

With one last drop of death
remaining, I finished off
the final can, spraying furiously, franticly
determined
to not let this lowliest of creatures
have the better of me.
I no sooner heard the hollow sound
of air discharging from the muzzle
when I felt a bullet – hard and organic –
slam into my temple
with a ferocious heat.
Brushing the enemy away, I
watched a spent casing
fall to the lawn,
destined for compost.

I stepped forward
and faltering, fell to one knee, ignorant
of my circumstance
as my vision became blurred,
my muscles, weak;
breathing, labored.
Sinking to the grass, I
wished I could call out
to my wife,
my son,
someone, anyone,
but all I could do
was watch my world darken
while beside me,
the wing of one lone, weary hornet
twitched.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo 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)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!