Poetry Friday: misty haiku

(Photo by Katherine Esenwine; click to enlarge)

Once again, my thanks to my daughter, Katherine, for providing another inspirational photograph! Today, Kiesha is hosting Poetry Friday at Whispers From the Ridge, so be sure to head over for all of today’s links and fun!

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Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 5, 2017!

Pre-orders are available now through Barnes & Noble and Amazon, or by clicking the image of the cover to the right. Of course, if you prefer, you can always wait til Sept. 5 and purchase it at your favorite local independent bookstore.

And thank you for all your support!

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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!

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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: Poetry Madness Returns!

poetryfridaybutton-fulll(Only, this time…it’s “Madness! Poetry”!)

What am I talking about? Well, back in 2012, Ed DeCaria at Think, Kid, Think! created a children’s poetry competition styled after the NCAA March Madness tournament, where 64 poets (or, “authletes,” as he calls them) would battle each other by writing poems using random words they were given for each round.

It was a lot of fun for 3 years – but then Ed decided to take 2016 off. Those of us who participated each year wondered what he was up to, but we knew he had some plans he was working on. Sure enough, it’s back this year, redesigned, reorganized, and renamed!

I encourage you to learn more at the Madness! Poetry website, where you can learn mroe about the competition, see who’s competing, and – once it gets underway – follow along with all the authletes and poems, and vote for your favorites.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share one of my past poems from the competition. In the competition’s second year, I had been given the word “verjuice” – which is an acidic juice made from unripe grapes or crab apples, or an alcoholic liquor made from that juice. Not exactly a word one would expect to find in a children’s poem, but neither were words like “catatonic,” “ignominious,” or “antediluvian,” all of which found their way into the competition. So I couldn’t complain…all I could do was write the best poem possible, within 35 hours:

Senescence

Drink from the cup of your youth, my child,
sup and be merry while young;
for the feast quickly cools
and verjuice of old fools
is sour and sad on the tongue.

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Yes, a bit heavy for a children’s poem…but that was what I came up with. (And I just had to use a $64,000 word as the title!) Fellow writer and Poetry Friday family member Robyn Hood Black and I battled it out, head to head, poem to poem, and she eventually went on to the next round. But I’ve always been proud of this little poem, so I hope you liked it.

Karen Edmisten is hosting Poetry Friday today, so for the complete Poetry Friday roundup, head on over and say hi and enjoy her “Snow Day” with Billy Collins!

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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: “Sledding”

sledding-graphic
(click to enlarge)


I took this photo of my son sledding at our next-door neighbors’ backyard almost exactly 2 years ago, and as I looked at it, certain thoughts kept coming to me: a long way down, a long climb up, his being undaunted in trudging uphill over and over, to enjoy the thrill of the ride.

030This poem came out of that. He was 5 at the time, and had never been tubing before – and had never worn a helmet and goggles before, either – so for someone who had been sledding almost as long as he had been walking, he was enjoying these new experiences.

If you’re looking for more poetry, head on over to Jone MacCulloch’s place, Check It Out, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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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: “Birthday (for my son)”

birthday-graphic
(click to enlarge)

My son is one of those folks whose birthday comes shortly after Christmas, so it takes some effort on his mom’s and my part to make sure he doesn’t get short-changed. (You know, the “Well, you just got a bunch of stuff for Christmas, so here are some new socks” kind of thing) So in addition to a few more cool toys and a nice cake, I wrote him a little something.

Hopefully he’ll appreciate it once he’s old enough to be able to appreciate it! Hard to believe he’s already 7 – so that day is probably rapidly approaching.

My neighbor to the north, Donna Smith at Mainely Write, is hosting Poetry Friday today, while we all dig out from a big pile of snow that got dumped on us yesterday and overnight. So please stop by and say hi, and check out all the poetry links and fun!

And please have a very safe, healthy, and success-filled New Year!

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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!

Oh, what one can accomplish when the kids actually behave

I want to take a moment and thank my two young children for whatever success I may have down the road with my writing career.

Granted, whatever success I may enjoy would probably have come sooner had I not had to keep stopping to tell the 6-year-old to stop running through the house half-naked while playing with the TV remote…and it might have come sooner still had I not had to tell the 3-year-old 67 times to stop pulling her clean clothes out of the dresser and throwing them all over her room and just take a nap, for the love of Pete.

But still, I would have no success at all without those two little devils angels because they – and their older siblings – are the reasons I write for children in the first place. Being a stay-at-home dad, I may barely have a career as it is…but I’d have no career whatsoever without them.

And no one to go sledding with, either.

“You got yourself down there, you can get yourself back up!”

So today, I just wanted to give thanks for the inspiration, love, and exhaustion that my kids provide me. For the past several months, I’ve had a difficult time getting any significant writing done; the 3-year-old is rarely taking naps now, so my work time is severely diminished, and now that she has been waking up at 2 or 3am every other night, I’m only getting 4-5 hours of sleep at night if I’m lucky.

But today, for some reason, went differently.

I don’t know if it was the fact we had our first real snowfall of the season (the 3-year-old spent a good hour outside with me in the morning before I’d even had breakfast), but for some reason she was exceedingly helpful today. And as it turned out, today was THE day I needed her to help me out.

Somehow, I managed to get some commercial television voicework recorded and sent off to an agency in Baltimore with whom I work on a regular basis…I wrote two boyds logoversions of a poem for an upcoming anthology due out in the next few years…made final revisions to the text of my upcoming debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press, Fall 2017)…began work on another new poem for another project…AND managed to shovel the property, twice!

Oh, and I wrote a blog post. 😉

And once the 6-year-old came home from school, I was even able to clip enough evergreens from around the property to fill our house’s four large window boxes, and start getting more greens together for our wreaths.

Granted, I got almost no housework done – hey, something’s gotta give, right? – but days like this are few and far-between lately, so I needed to try to make the most of it.

And if I know my 3-year-old daughter, I’ll be spending most of tomorrow doing laundry, dishes, and vacuuming. And picking up clean clothes off the floor. After all, I can’t expect her to give me two of these kinds of days in a row.

But the snow is still on the ground, so anything’s possible.

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

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!
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!