Poetry Friday: “Pumpkin”

If you celebrated Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. yesterday, I hope you enjoyed it! In honor of the holiday, I’m sharing a poem of mine from last year’s children’s poetry anthology, Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food & Agriculture Poems by Carol-Ann Hoyte:

Dear Tomato cover“Pumpkin”

Planted seeds.
Ground was dry.
Watered well and wished for pie.
Thanksgiving came,
I cleaned my plate!

Gourd things come to those who wait.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine

I hope you’ll be sure to visit Carol’s Corner for a short review of a new novel in verse, AND today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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Thanksgiving Day: The one blessing we overlook

This post was originally published on Nov. 20, 2013, but between food prep, writing, voiceover work, and chasing after a 3-year-old, my time is extremely limited this week! So I thought it might be appropriate to dust this off and re-post it for any of my followers who hadn’t caught it the first time around. I hope you enjoy your week, whether or not you’re celebrating Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and be grateful…that you have the capacity to be thankful!

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Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. will be here in two days, and everywhere you turn, people are talking, writing, and blogging about all the things they’re thankful for.  I, for one, am growing weary of it.

Now, please don’t get me wrong; it’s good to be grateful.  Indeed, we should be thankful – and display that thankfulness – every day of our lives.  We should reflect upon our blessings on a regular basis and never hesitate to show our appreciation for what we have.

My problem is not so much with the thankfulness; it’s that we’re missing an important reason to be thankful.

The Usual Suspects

Again, please don’t misunderstand me; I’m glad people are thankful for their blessings.  But there are certain blessings that show up on nearly everyone’s lists – our faith(s), our families and friends, our lives, our pets, our homes, our talents.

Some people may be thankful their loved ones made it home safely from being abroad; others may be grateful that they received a year-end bonus, or even have a job at all.

Even the poor and destitute among us may be thankful for things like the warmth of the sun or the kindness of a stranger.

I can say honestly that I am truly, truly, TRULY thankful for all these things…but you probably could have guessed that, even if you had never met me or had never even heard of me or this blog.

These are the blessings that most of humanity celebrates – and the acknowledgement that we should be grateful for these things is rooted in the love, compassion, and empathy that separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We recognize the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness.

A quick vocabulary lesson

Gratitude and thankfulness are not necessarily interchangeable.

I’m no lexicographer or linguist, but it has always been my understanding that these words had different meanings.  To be thankful means you’re appreciative that something that you wanted came about; to be grateful indicates you are appreciative towards someone or something.

(Any English professors in the house?  Please correct me if I’m wrong!)

The reason it’s important to know the difference is because gratitude is directional; thankfulness is not.  Feed a hungry animal and it may be thankful it received food, but it might not be grateful toward you for feeding it.  I know pet owners will disagree with that – having two dogs and two cats of my own, I’ll admit that some animals probably are grateful to the person taking care of them – but how many of these animals understand what it means to be grateful or thankful?

And therein lies the rationale for my previous statement that our recognition of the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness is one of the important qualities that elevates us above the rest of the animal kingdom.

Little blessings, and the BIG one

As I ponder this, I come to the conclusion that the human condition of feeling gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation is itself a blessing.

Yes, I’m thankful for all those things we talked about earlier.  I’m thankful for my family, our friends, and our pets.  I’m thankful I live in a country that promotes freedom of speech, religion, and personal excellence.  I’m grateful to God and Jesus for their love and sacrifices; I’m grateful to my wife and family for supporting me as a self-employed stay-at-home dad; I’m grateful to Al Gore for creating the internet.

(I’m also thankful – or grateful – to whomever or whatever was responsible for getting my 2-year-old to finally stop waking up at 5am…daylight savings time really screwed up the poor little dude’s internal clock for a couple of weeks!)

But I don’t want to overlook this very important aspect of our humanity; that is, the recognition of the importance of gratitude and thankfulness.

Thankful…for being thankful?

Yes, that is basically what I’m saying.  Chuckle if you’d like.  However, when you actually think about what it means to be thankful for having the comprehension of what gratitude, appreciation, or even indebtedness mean…I hope you will understand why I believe it is so important.

We humans are not simply grateful, or thankful.  We comprehend – and celebrate – the importance of being grateful or thankful.

So this Thanksgiving Day, while we’re giving thanks for all we have, think about why you are thankful.

Think about why you are grateful.

And give thanks that you are.

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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Poetry Friday: “Handsome Jack”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllWhat happens when you are sifting through computer files of photos from last fall, and stumble on one that makes you think, “Hey, this deserves a poem!” You write the poem, then and there!

Now, the problem with this scenario is that it’s almost 10:30pm and my brain is pretty much toast. But with a few minutes of thought, this came out of my head:

chest-hairHandsome Jack

The ladies love my body
for its rugged, manly size.
They love my smooth complexion
and never-wandering eyes.
My chest hair raises eyebrows,
my swagger gets me cheers –
alas, they leave when they learn
nothing’s ‘tween my ears.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

This was the scarecrow I put together for the front of our house last October – and yes, I deliberately gave him chest hair. He seemed to like it. Every year I try to do something different – one year he was a farmer, one year he was a politician – and I’m not sure what I’m doing this year, but I have some ideas!

If you’d like to enjoy more poetry (and much BETTER poetry, I might add), then please visit Catherine at Reading to the Core for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup, where she’s featuring Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s brand-new Grumbles From the Town: Mother-Goose Voices With a Twist (WordSong, 2016)!

house

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Poetry Friday: Autumn haiku, 2016

Having spent my Labor Day Weekend working at the local fair (you can find out how dinosaurs, high-tech saw blades, and “battered savs” all tie into this by checking out this past Tuesday’s post), I’m in a sort of autumn mood…

antique-truck-haiku-graphic
Photo courtesy of Katherine Esenwine, (c) 2012 (Click to enlarge)

I’ve had this photo sitting in my computer files for four years (this was taken in early Oct. 2012), so I’m glad I finally put it to use!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllFor more poetry, be sure to visit Today’s Little Ditty, where Michelle H. Barnes is hosting Poetry Friday with her own contribution to a poetic challenge from the inimitable Jane Yolen!

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Revelations from the state fair, Vol. V

hsflogo-lg

Every Labor Day Weekend, I spend Friday through Monday working at the local state fair as the PA announcer, a position that requires not just a lot of talking, but a lot of walking and a whole lot of preparation.

It’s one of the most fun jobs I’ve had in my life, and I look forward to it every year. One minute I’m heading over to one of the small stage areas to double-check times or check out an act I hadn’t seen before; the next, I’m inside the administration building chowing down on a loaded baked potato piled high with every ingredient known to mankind.

(Trust me, when it comes to fair food, one needs to pace oneself.)

As has been tradition here at Triple R, I always share some of the things I’ve learned from each fair, because it’s not just an enjoyable work experience – it’s a learning experience, to boot. In the past, I’ve learned the most despised candies in the universe;  why environmentalists hate truck pulls; and even the best time to “smell” the fair.

So what nuggets of wisdom did I glean this year?

  1. The threat of a hurricane drives up Friday attendance. There was a lot of talk about whether or not Hermine would make it to the New Hampshire coast, and when. We were anticipating getting hit Sunday and Monday, the latter half of the fair, which is why I think our Friday ticket numbers were off the charts. As it turned out, Hermine never even made it, and we had a stupendous weekend all four days!
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  2. sandtasticSand used for sand sculptures is not normal beach sand. As Sandtastic Sand Sculpture Company’s sculptor (pictured) explained to me, the sand they use is comprised of faceted grains, which help the sand to wedge together and stick to itself. Conversely, beach sand is worn smooth from being tossed in the water and therefore is much more difficult to work with.
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  3. Speaking of sculpting…chainsaw sculptors use specially-designed chainsaws. I was chatting with Ben Risney, whose chainsaw
    risney-1
    (Click to enlarge)

    carvings are masterful, when he told me that some of his smaller chainsaws are custom-designed, industrial-grade. His larger saws are standard chainsaws, but the smaller ones, like the one pictured, have an angled bar and run at twice the RPMs of a normal chainsaw. The primary benefit of using a saw with such high RPMs is that the cuts are so smooth, he rarely needs to sand the sculptures once they’re completed! You can see Ben in action and more of his handiwork HERE.
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  4. “Battered Savs??” Who knew? corn-dogs
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  5. Some folks take their fried foods way more seriously than others. I was walking along a pathway when I overheard two young women chatting behind me. The conversation went something like this:
    “So, so sad.”
    “Yes, it is.”
    “Such a sad situation.”
    “Things like that just shouldn’t happen.”
    It was at that moment I realized they were talking about a piece of fried dough that lay on the ground; perfectly elliptical, not one bite had been taken out of it. I shed a tear, as well.
    .
  6. Saw blades are high-tech pieces of equipment. One of the many attractions at the fair this year were the Axe Women: Loggers of Maine, featuring championship women loggers competing in axe throwing, log rolling, cross-cut sawing, and a number of other events. I learned that their crosscut saw (bottom photo) is made in New Zealand of a special metal alloy that is strong and smooth – but is extremely sensitive to moisture; in fact, if the blade is not kept properly oiled, under very humid conditions it will start rusting within 30 minutes.
    axe-2  axe-1
    axe-3
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  7. Deep-fried pickle chips are superior to deep-fried pickle spears. This is not a decision I came to haphazardly; I spent a number of years researching the merits of each. You’re welcome.
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  8. dino-2 Dinosaur costumes are a lot heavier than they look. Really high-quality costumes, I should say. I had an opportunity to chat with John and Chance Bloom and their family, who run (among other things) a business called Dinosaur Xperience – which brings a walking, talking T-Rex right to your event.
    Chance told me the lifelike suit is 80-100 pounds, and contains a metal cage around the  head and thorax, which allows for

    dino-1
    Yes, even dinos need ID.

    electronically-controlled motion and sound. She can tolerate about 30-40 minutes inside the outfit before she needs to get indoors to cool off and re-hydrate…so thank goodness her husband and their 4 kids are all part of the act, helping her!

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Well, I hope you enjoyed this little review. It’s amazing the things one can learn at the fair – and spending so much time at this one allows me ample opportunity to discover things I might never notice otherwise. And for writers, learning and observing is crucial!

Until next time, have a good week! (and seriously, let me know your thoughts on the deep-fried pickles!)

risney-3
Some examples of Ben Risney’s work, which were featured around the fairgrounds.

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National Poetry Month: “Young Adult Review Network” Poetry Contest Results!

national-poetry-month 2016

Me?

One of my poems?

One of the winners of a national poetry contest??? 

It began on World Poetry Day, March 21…the good folks at the Young Adult Review Network (YARN) began accepting submissions for a poetry contest they called “Enchanted Spaces and Places,” using the hashtag #EnchantedYARN.

Inspired by Margarita Engle’s award-winning memoir, Enchanted Air (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015), the editors at YARN invited writers to submit poems about their own enchanted places – where they have lived, visited, or even spaces they hold inside their hearts. (You can learn more about the contest HERE)

The poems were all judged by Margarita herself, who I have to imagine must have been worn out from entries pouring in from all over the world! Entries were judged blind (that is, names were not attached to the poems while judging), so Margarita had no idea who had written the poems while she was reading them.

She had no idea mine was one of them…

And the winners are:

Winner: London Shah, “Desi Donations” 
Runner-up:
Cynthia Grady, “Early Morning”
Runner-up: My poem, “Last Autumn!”

You can read YARN’s complete post HERE, along with all three winning poems. I hope you’ll check them out, because I’m very honored to be in such good company with these two other poets! Many thanks to Margarita for all her hard work, and to everyone who entered the contest – because ultimately, the important thing isn’t winning, so much as it is the writing. Remember what I always say, #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

Although in cases like this, it’s nice when they DO read!

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2016 Kidlit Progressive PoemDon’t forget: Irene Latham’s 2016 Progressive Poem continues today as poet/blogger Renee M. LaTulippe adds her contribution, so be sure to stop by the No Water River and see how it’s coming along!

You can follow the 2016 Progressive Poem at the following blog spots:

April

1 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

2 Joy at Joy Acey

3 Doraine at Dori Reads

4 Diane at Random Noodling

5 Penny at A Penny and Her Jots

6 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

7 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass

8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem

9 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

10 Pat at Writer on a Horse

11 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog

12 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

13 Linda at TeacherDance

14 Jone at Deo Writer

15 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly

17 Kim at Flukeprints

18 Irene at Live Your Poem

19 Charles at Charles Waters Poetry

20 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

21 Jan at Bookseedstudio

22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

23 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

24 Amy at The Poem Farm

25 Mark at Jackett Writes

26 Renee at No Water River

27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

28 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

30 Donna at Mainely Write

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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!