Poetry Friday: “Honesty” – and Billy Collins’ early birthday

poetryfridaybutton-fulllMy friend and fellow writer/blogger Heidi Mordhorst reminded me last week that former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, will turn 76 on March 22, and told me she was planning on a big shindig today to celebrate a little early. She invited a number of us to share a Billy Collins poem – or Billy Collins-inspired poem – which is precisely what I’m doing.

Collins wrote a poem titled “The Golden Years,” which begins:

All I do these drawn-out days
is sit in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge
where there are no pheasants to be seen
and last time I looked, no ridge.

The poem, which you can read in its entirety HERE, struck a chord with me, so I decided to write my own poem which expands upon some of what he writes about, but in a much different voice and context…

Honesty

Someone once said
the definition of suburbia
is where they cut down all the trees
and then name streets after them.
Truth is, it’s worse than that.
Everything that was once
is dismissed, removed,
or chased away; trees are only
the beginning.

I knew a family
who lived on Deerhaven Road,
an oxymoron
for there were neither deer
nor was it a haven;
habitat destroyed, the animals
moved on. I’m guessing
they didn’t use the freshly-paved route
connecting a half-mile of houses
bearing their name.

Then there was Rattlesnake Hill which,
once it was suitably transformed
into every urbanite’s impression
of what rural life should be,
contained neither rattlesnake
nor hill.

This is why I much prefer the city
or the country to the soft,
doughy middle. Out in the boondocks
where the bears, deer, fox, and pheasants
have yet to be honored with pavement,
one can watch them wander across streets,
worn and dusty, into the neighbor’s
front yard. Likewise, in the city,
there are no turkeys, moose, or coyotes, and everyone
is fine with that; no one
has taken it upon themselves
to recognize the lack of wildlife
by naming a parkway after them.
City or country, there is no pretending
to be one thing or another; it is an honesty
with oneself, with nature, with the streets
that connect us.

– © 2017, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Heidi is hosting Poetry Friday today, so you can visit the “All-Billy Birthday Extravanganza” – along with all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun – on her blog, My Juicy Little Universe!

========================================================

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

Poetry Friday: “Life and Death on the Living Room Rug”

Let’s be honest; if the title of this blog post doesn’t compel you to read it, nothing will…
.

Life and Death on the Living Room Rug

He should never have strayed.
Away from the herd, he was
vulnerable; young, naïve to the ways
of the enemy.
Stumbling clumsily
across carpet braids, searching for food
on this ancient Asian plain, he had no idea
what lay in wait.
From behind thick trunks of coffee
table forest,
two plastic Velociraptors attack
hapless Hadrosaur;
one bites at his back, the other
uses sickle-claws
to tear his sides.
Unexpected to all,
the Tyrant King arrives
(perched atop Grave Digger, appropriately),
spies the bloodless carnage,
disperses speedy thieves
with a toddler-sized roar,
and enjoys a duck-billed dinosaur dinner
before bedtime.

– © 2017, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

I wrote this little slice o’ life as a tribute to the imagination of my 7-year-old son – a poetryfridaybutton-fulllbudding truck-driving, superhero paleontology artist- and also as a way to practice some internal rhyme. Hope you liked it! For more poetry, be sure to visit Penny Parker Klostermann for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

========================================================

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

Poetry Friday: Look at what’s in paperback!

Look at what my 6-year-old just brought home!

ng-nature-paperback

Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago, when my son brought home a stack of Scholastic order forms…and they were selling the paperback version of The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Kids, 2015)!

What may be old hat for some writers was an absolute thrill for me – seeing a book I contributed to there, in my son’s catalog! I had to buy a copy, which just arrived a couple of days ago. Here is my poem, along with the one I share the page with, from Charles “Father Goose®” Ghigna (click to enlarge):

© 2015 National Geographic Society, Charles Ghigna, and Matt Forrest Esenwine; all rights reserved.
The original hardcover is still available everywhere, of course, so be sure to pick up a copy if you haven’t yet! Also be sure to stop by Carol Varsalona’s Beyond LiteracyLink, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!
.

========================================================

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

Poetry Friday: The Winter Poetry Swap, part II!

winter-poetry-swap

Before we get too far, let me first apologize to my Poetry Friday friends, whose blogs I have not been frequenting lately. I really want to check out everyone’s blogs – and try to get to as many as I can – but it’s been a difficult task these past couple of weeks.

You see, I’ve been busy…

Clockwise, from left: Pepparkakor (Scandinavian spice cookie), Sugar cookies, Peanut Blossoms (flourless dough!), Christmas Haystacks (A southern treat made with chow mein noodles, peanuts, and melted butterscotch chips), Chocolate-Peppermint Brownie Cookies (If a brownie was given the chance to be a cookie for one day, this is what it would taste like!), Serinakakor (Scandinavian butter cookie w/almonds), Strawberry-Oatmeal Jumbles,
And that’s not even all of them!
Made about 11 dozen of these, alone…if you don’t count all the ones I tasted in the interest of quality control.

Let’s break this down: 16 dozen pepparkakor, 4 dozen serinakakor, 11 dozen chocolate-peppermint brownie cookies, 8 dozen sugar cookies, 5 1/2 dozen strawberry oatmeal bars, 3 1/2 dozen peanut blossoms, and 3 dozen haystacks. That’s 51 and a half dozen cookies, in case you’re wondering.

And yes, I kept count!

That’s over 600 cookies, baked in less than a week, with a 3-year-old here at the house destroying everything she can get her mitts on. Add in Christmas shopping, decorating, trying to find time to write, and getting my voiceover work done, and…well, as I said, I’ve been busy.

But with the Big Day just days away, all that’s left is cleaning the house, wrapping the remaining presents, and getting food prepped for Sunday – so things are starting to slow down to the relaxed pace that we expect at Christmas.

My family & I will be attending a Christmas Eve-Eve service tonight, then settling in for a nice long weekend. I, for one, cannot wait!

So now, then…the poetry. In last week’s post, I told you about Tabatha Yeatt’s 2016 Winter Poetry Swap, where folks exchange poetry and a gift with others, and I shared the poem that Keri Collins Lewis had written for me.

Today, I’m sharing the poem I wrote for educator, blogger, and poet Margaret Simon! I decided that it might be interesting to read through several of her past blog posts about Christmas and create a found poem from some of the words and phrases I came across. Here’s how it turned out (click to enlarge):

Margaret shared this poem on her blog a couple days ago, so I wanted to share it here, as well. Hope you liked it! For more poetry, head on over to Buffy’s Blog, where Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday today!

========================================================

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

Poetry Friday: Tabatha Yeatts’ 2016 Winter Poetry Swap!

winter-poetry-swapI rarely, if ever, feature poetry by folks other than myself on Poetry Friday…it’s not a vanity thing, it’s just that I don’t usually share my work on any days other than Fridays, so I like to reserve this day for my own.

Today, though, I’m making an exception, thanks to Tabatha Yeatts and Keri Collins Lewis!

I was happy to once again take part in Tabatha’s annual Winter Poetry Swap, an opportunity to write a poem for someone and have someone else write one for you – and receive a little Christmas gift along with it. No one knows who has our names until a package shows up in the mail from that person!

This year, Keri was given my name; I learned this when a package came to my house with a jar of raw honey from Keri’s own bees, a very nice writer’s notebook, and this poem:

keris-poem
(click to enlarge)

Thank you so much, Keri! I really appreciate it. As for the woman whose name I was given…well, I’m not sure if she’s received her package yet, so I’m keeping mum for now. But I’ll be sure to share the poem once I know she has seen it first!

Speaking of the Winter Poetry Swap, Tabatha is hosting Poetry Friday today at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference – so be sure to stop by and check out all the poetry links – as well as some beautiful shadow box art!

========================================================

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

Poetry Friday: “The Best of Today’s Little Ditty!”

If you have spent any amount of time enjoying Poetry Friday, you have probably poetryfridaybutton-fulllcome across the blog of my friend and fellow writer, Michelle H. Barnes, Today’s Little Ditty. What started out as a forum to share her work soon turned into a showcase of interviews, repository of writing advice, and a community of folks sharing their own work.

And today, it becomes a book!

I’m very happy to announce the publication of Michelle’s The Best of Today’s Little Ditty, 2014-2015 – a collection of 75 poems by 55 different folks who have visited her site and contributed poetry over the past 2 years.

I encourage you to visit her website today and find out more about the book and how to get a copy! And in the meantime, I’ll share one of my poems you’ll find inside…this one from a challenge from the inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins to write a poem about a formative moment in my younger life:

…I write her name in my notebook.

I’m not sure why.
What is it about her eyes,
her lips,
that makes me think
she’s smiling at me
even when she’s turned away?
I write her name in my notebook.
I’m not sure why.
What is it about violets and – is that vanilla? –
that make a girl smell so nice?
I don’t even like vanilla, but still…
I write her name in my notebook.
I’m not sure why.
Why do I crane my neck to watch
as she walks away, yet hide
my face
when she sees me
watching?
What would she say,
what would she do,
if only she knew…

– © 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

(And by the way, HUGE congratulations to Lee for being the newest inductee into the Florida Artists’ Hall of Fame! This was just announced yesterday, and all of us in the children’s poetry community are thrilled!)

Congratulations again, Michelle…on the book, of course, as well as on your blog’s huge success! And speaking of poetry blogs, please stop by Brenda Davis Harsham’s little home on the web, Friendly Fairy Tales, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

========================================================

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

Poetry Friday: “Sunday afternoon, 1975”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllWell, I hope you enjoyed that little excursion into the past with my Throwback Summer series…many of you commented that you couldn’t believe I was willing to share poetry I’d written in high school and college, and my response is, “Hey, we all had to start somewhere!”

Granted, “Ode to a Dishrag,” “Ode to Lint,” and “Ode to a Poem I’m Writing Only Because I Couldn’t Think of Anything Else to Write About” were never Pushcart contenders…but I wanted to show readers how far one can develop through hard work, practice, and sheer determination.

As I always say, #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

Today we get back to my present-day writing, and the following is one of those poems I wrote specifically to submit to a journal. I’ve previously shared my thoughts about the value of submission requests as inspiration to write, and this was one of those cases; the journal was looking for poems about ice cream, so I put this together.

It was just a few weeks later that I went to the journal’s website and all references to this particular issue were removed, and even the contact person’s name was nowhere to be found. Sigh. Oh, well…no reason to let the poem go unread, right?

Sunday afternoon, 1975

Ice cream, again. One of them said
something wrong, I think, something the other
didn’t like;
I don’t know what. I don’t know why
they’re even here in front of the grocery store
instead of at home – one of our homes –
but we’re here, and people
I don’t know are looking
and all I can do is fight
a shiver in my chest. I try not
to make them mad, but it always happens
around this time
every second weekend.

Without warning,
mom snatches my hand and turns, walking
so quickly I can barely keep up; I turn my head
to look behind
and see dad, standing on the pavement
watching, arms
by his sides, right hand
angled in a half-wave
as if to say
he’s sorry
it’s ice cream again.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Poetry Friday is being hosted by the one and only Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm, so head on over for all of today’s poetry links, and learn more about a brand new book being published by the folks responsible for the Poetry Friday Anthology series, Pomelo Books!

========================================================

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