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My writing...reflections...poems...pictures...projects...life...in Maine.
All material on this website is © Donna JT Smith unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to School

For Poetry Jam, we are writing a poem about going back to school.  And here is mine.  I have been a student, a parent of a student and a teacher...all my life I've been going to school and having first days.  Retired now, I'm waiting for my grandchildren's first days of school that will be coming up in a few years (or a few breaths it seems).

I hurry down the aisle
for a good seat
on the bus
with a friend
oh, so good to see
a friend
I saw two days ago
wearing summer torn shorts
running barefoot
on the dusty, gravelly driveway
soles of feet tough as
sneakers
but now we shine
and sit on the edge of the seat
ironed dresses
new lunch boxes in hand
what’d you bring?
bologna and cheese
but I have a cookie, too
what about you?
I have a whoopie pie
I have been out-desserted
I’m going to ask for a nickel tomorrow
and hope I can get
a whoopie pie at Walter’s store
while I wait there for the bus
we will still be shiny tomorrow
but not as much
as today
our feet are already
growing softer
in our new shoes.
and our new shoes
are already dusty.

the smiling, freshly pressed
teacher
waits at school
with shiny, new shoes
and knows she will
be dusty by
day's end
her feet
will hurt
and she will need
to sit down,
wrinkled,
but happy
because
she still remembers
the excitement of the first day
of school
and because she remembered
to pack a whoopie pie
this time.


©2014, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved

Friday, August 22, 2014

Poetry Friday


Today is my favorite day: Poetry Friday!  And it is being hosted today over at Irene Latham's Live Your Poem.  Go there for some great links to some tasty poetry treats!  You won't be disappointed!
It has been a beautiful summer of poetry, thanks to Tabatha's Summer Poetry Swap.  I did the swap for the first time this year, and had such a blast writing and reading poetry!  It was  amazing to get mail in a mailbox that you wanted to read!  Real live people sent it, too.  Most of our mailbox fare is made up of bills, sales flyers and veterinarian/dentist/automotive reminders, so I don't look forward to mailbox time like I used to in the olden days.
I want to thank Buffy Silverman for poem swap 1, Linda Baie for poem swap 2, Mary Lee Hahn for poem number 3, Joy Acey for poem swap 4, and Anastasia Suen for poem swap 5.

And from me, to all:

My Wish

If ever I could wish
for the very bestest gift -
One that would fill my dish
And give my spirits lift -
By wave of wand and swish
What would appear to me,
Delightful and delish:
Some homemade poetry.

©Donna JT Smith, 2014


And here they are, some tasty bits of homemade poetry:


Poem #1 from Buffy, published here by permission:


Sapsucker Rap

Bill drumming
and tapping
ripping and rapping,
peeling the bark
of sweet birch trees.

Sap oozing
and flowing
dripping then slowing,
luring an army
of ants and bees.

Feast crawling
and jiggling
writhing and wriggling,
no place to escape
no path to retreat.

Tongue licking
and lapping
prodding and slapping,
sap covered ants
a six-legged treat.

Buffy Silverman, 2014 all rights reserved

I apologize, Linda, for sharing your poem without permission, earlier on.  You very graciously did not call me on it!  And I now, with permission, will share it again!

Transformation

Tiny fingers
tiny toes,
until arriving
no one knows
that a grandchild,
by giving the names
'Gran and Gramps',
start a magical dance,
seeming by chance.

It rearranges you
into

lullaby-singing (no matter the voice)
mud-puddle-jumping (not given a choice)
cookie-baking (a sugar success)
finger-painting (in spite of the mess)
toy-truck-racing (vroom sounds just right)
picture-book making (easy to write)

KIDS,
all over again.

by Linda Baie, 2014, all rights reserved

and Poem #3 from Mary Lee Hahn, by permission:

Summer Wish

When thunderheads tower
and chicory flowers,

when mulberries fall
and milkweed gets tall,

when goldfinches glitter
and flash at the feeder,

let there be monarchs, please.
And bees.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Poetry Swap #4 Joy Acey sent me a wonderful chapbook collection of her poems.  Too many to put here, but a "Joy" to read - she "acey"d it!

And finally, Anastasia's:

10,000 Steps a Day

Oh, pedometer,
you count the steps I take, but
not the worn out shoes!

©Anastasia Suen, 2014, all rights reserved.

Thank you one and all for "the bestest gift" - a delish dish of homemade poetry!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Path

Path - a poem in response to the Poetry Jam prompt to write about the word Path this week...


The path of a bird is not easily seen
Where is he going? Where has he been?
A path of a whale or littlest fish
Is only a ripple made by a swish
The path of a butterfly or buzzing bee
Is not the straight route that a roadway would be
The hidden tunnel of a worm or a mole
Is all dirt and darkness when they take a stroll.
But a mouse or a deer with feet touching ground
Leave footprints in paths that are easily found;
Tracks left behind in the wake that they leave
Are telling connections in stories they weave -
The roots of a life, routes over and under,
Twisting and turning, of blunder or plunder,
Of goodness and grief, of sweet and the sour,
All make up the lives on this earth every hour
Take lessons from airborne and fish in the sea
Stay the true course, let mistaken paths be
Just forge on ahead and do not look back
keep your eyes open, feet on the right track
Make a small ripple or create a big splash
Know that no life is made up of trash
Pick up the litter as you walk along
Skipping and humming a yellow brick song
The birds and the deer, the fish and the whales
All know the value of pathways and trails.
Even the ways that we cannot see
Are paths to a someplace that someone should be!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Almond Gray and Round Blue

It is nearing the first day of school, and though I am retired from teaching (mostly in first grade), I do remember and think of the first day of school at this time of year.
My first thought for almond, was "almond eyes".  And after looking it up here, I found there are six eye shapes.  Mine are almond.  Huh, who knew?  So there you go.
Almond for Poetry Jam today.


Almond Gray and Round Blue

I catch your glance, my gray almond eyes see
Little, round, blue eyes peering up at me.
What will I teach you, blue eyes, today,
When you would much rather run and play?
There are books to explore and learn to read
There are crayons and paints, whichever you need,
Letters and numbers to rearrange
And all manner of things that will be strange;
But you will learn, little round eyed sponge,
As we both take the first day of school plunge.
I caught your glance and my almond eyes see
Little, round, blue eyes smiling up at me.
©2014, Donna JT Smith

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Home Made

 This week's Poetry Jam topic is HOMEGROWN, HOMEMADE, HOME BAKED, HOMESPUN, HOME BREWED or HOME COOKED.

This is also posted to link to Poetry Friday over at "A Year of Reading" with Mary Lee Hahn. Check in for some great reading.  I love "Poem on the Fridge" by Paul Hostovsky Mary Lee is sharing there.  I love putting poems and artwork on my fridge.  Why, right there next to my refrigerator magnet poem about blossoms...I believe I see three poem swap poems!  Talk about home spun, home made...


I started out to do something about maybe baking bread or cookies, but my brain heard it a little differently.  So I went with it.
Maybe it's too literal, but I can't help it when my brain says stuff it wants to say.  You try shutting it up.  I've tried.  Not possible.


Home Made

What makes a home
when is it more
than just a house?
is it wood floor?
is it strong walls?
a nice front door?

Is it a dog?
a purring cat?
is it the roof?
the 'Welcome' mat?
is it some place
to hang your hat?

Is it the people
tucked inside
with all the problems
they’ve denied
and covered up
with family pride?

Is it pure joy
that splits the seams?
the bubbling laughter
shaking beams?
is it the years
and all the dreams?

What makes a home
not just a place
is that it gives
a special grace
and takes you in
its warm embrace.

A place where
they will take you in
no matter what
your life has been;
where even if
you've lost, you win.

A home that's made
of such a love,
caressing like
a kidskin glove,
is prelude to
Home Made Above.

©Donna JT Smith, 2014

You know, even now, my brain is saying "Hey, homespun...is that like in the Wizard of Oz?"
Shut up, brain.  Just shut up.  I'm not doing it.

The darkened clouds commenced to gather
The twister worked up quite a lather
The house was lifted off the ground
and set to spinning all around.

It would have been scary to me
To be poor little Dorothy
And not be able to outrun
A tornado's twisted homespun fun.

©2014, Donna JT Smith

I'm sorry.  I warned you.  I'm weak.




Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ordinary PP


Today's challenge over at Poetry Jam was to write a poem about something ordinary.  This morning my toast sat upon an ordinary paper plate...


Ordinary PP

slice
of tree
cradles cobs,
holds hot dogs,
and piles of fries;
shades squinty eyes,
fans you in a breezeless plight,
but in a breeze transforms to kite.
cut some holes and make a face,
or use it as an artist’s base.
short lived lively paper treasure
9 inch, snack-sized, what’s your measure?
white or color, fancy trimmed,
round or square, wavy rimmed,
how could anyone berate
this lowly, imitation plate
with rights to boast?
a morning toast for
white thin
slice!

©2014, Donna JT Smith

Friday, July 25, 2014

24/7

It's Poetry Friday!   Yea!  And it is being hosted by Sylvia at Poetry for Children.  Hope you can drop in and help celebrate at the poetry party! 
Thank you Margaret, for featuring my Poetry Swap poem on your blog, Reflections on the Teche, today.  It was a real treat to write it for you!
My poem is at the end... you have to endure photos I've taken.  Fortunately for you, I did not include all that I took!
Love the cloud reflections!
It was too warm in the house, so tonight before supper, my husband and I drove a few miles down the road to the local State Park and around the island a bit.  We got out at the park and climbed the stone steps to the point that overlooks the ocean.  And I again marveled at the wonderfulness of being on vacation 24/7.  Even when I was working, it seemed that we always lived somewhere that felt like vacation when I got home in the evening.
Minnesota was our horse farm in the country, New Hampshire and Rhode Island homes were in the woods, and now back to real home in Maine, we have been near or on the coast.
I have never "needed" a vacation.

A couple of weeks ago I saw this on our garage:

Luna moth sunning himself - herself?

Last week a I saw this:
Sunset by the dock
A couple of days ago I saw this from my front livingroom window:

Great Horned Owl - up high and very large and very loud!
 And this from my front door window:
A young deer on my front lawn - very quiet, very hungry!
 Then down the road about 6 miles, last night I saw this:
1 mile of beach - you can see a person on the edge of the water

I left a quarter here so someone could use the viewer.

How can you need to "get away from it all" when you are already there?


I thought putting these pictures up would help me with writing a poem.  But the visuals have quite taken over my brain and the words are not doing them justice.  Perhaps it is the variety
of pictures, perhaps the timeframes in which they were taken.  I don't know.  But maybe I'll try again, focusing only on yesterday's photos.

 (time has elapsed here and words have been written and deleted and rewritten)

Okay, here it is.  This started out about yesterday's time at the ocean near our house now,  but became a memory poem about my childhood times at my grandparents' house just a few houses away from where the sunset photo was taken last week.

Sea Memories

There's nothing more I that could want
As I sit upon these boulders
White clouds sail above the sea
And salt spray wraps my shoulders.
I hear the waves crash and hiss,
I watch the cormorants dive,
I smell the seaweed draped on shore,
And feel so much alive.
The taste of salt, the smell of rose
And I am drawn with waves
Back to a simpler, younger time
That my old memory craves;
Ah, yes, there's lobsters in the pot,
Some biscuits, and then tea,
And everyone is gathered round
Our table by the sea.
We eat our fill and grownups chat
The kids run off to play
To climb the cliff and skip some rocks
Way out into the bay
The voices hush and stars come out
It's time to load the car
And head inland to go to bed
It isn't very far
As I watch the seagulls soar and dip
And hear the roaring seas
I'm happy that these kinds of days
Bring back those memories.

©2014, Donna JT Smith

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trash or Treasure

At Poetry Jam this week, the prompt is to write about Trash or Treasure.  You know the phrase "one man's trash is another man's treasure"  -

I had so many ideas, and then when I sat down to write - this one just pushed all the others aside and an old memory came back.


Trash or treasure, what do you see?
I saw a treasure placed there for me;
An old leather Bible discarded in trash
Was it unwanted, who’d be so brash?

“I hope that you’ll treasure this as much as I”
But wishes and lives must have gone quite awry.
A treasure turned trash was now in the heap;
We rescued those words before their last sleep.

A Bible so carelessly tossed out that day
Was carefully, graciously set in our way.
I’ve read both her words and the Word that’s inside
And found Comfort and Peace and a Way to abide.

I hope that the son who tossed Treasure as trash
Has found Peace in his world, new Bible in stash,
And sometimes reflects on that day long ago
When he threw out Mom’s gift before he could know.

Trash or Treasure in life, which shall it be?
What ever you make it, that’s what you’ll see.
I choose to see Treasure when I look about;
With that Wonderful Peace, there’s no room for doubt.

Though a treasure to her, it was trash in his heap,
I pray what he’s sown, is not what he’ll reap;
For that day, though he saw it as useless to him,
It opened some eyes that were growing too dim.

I thank him for giving us his Mom’s finest treasure,
And hope that he’ll reap in a similar measure.
Some trash or a treasure, what do you see?
It looked like His Treasure placed there for me.

©2014, Donna JT Smith

As a side note just now:  I went to my online Bible to locate a verse about "treasure", then went to the actual "found" Bible to photograph it.  There was a paper in the Bible, so opened it there.  It was already marking the page I sought... 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

Today I'm Jammin' at Poetry Jam and participating in Poetry Friday at The Opposite of Indifference with Tabatha Yeatts...try out both spots for some great poetry today!  There's something for everyone!
At Poetry Jam, the challenge is to write about something unexpected "Life is full of surprises, good or bad, things we never thought would occur. So this week I'd like you to write a poem about unexpected."
And so I did.  I think it is the thing we hear about, but don't get to experience until we have a child.

You Should Expect the Unexpected

How can you love
someone with your whole heart
and then find that there was
a reserve -
a hidden place in the heart perhaps
that held more
more love
than you knew you possessed
and that your heart
could be so effortlessly opened
by someone so small,
so fragile,
and helpless?
Still when she arrived
in that tiny wrinkly package
she opened your heart,
and love tumbled out
surrounding her
and cradling her
and you wanted
to forever keep her from pain,
sorrow,
hunger
and tears.
This flood of love
so unexpected
and so sudden,
was there all along
but you had no inkling.
Yet you should have
expected it.
It happened before -
on the night your
son was born -
Why should you be surprised
this morning
at your daughter’s birth?

©2014, Donna JT Smith

Special note:
Thank you, Buffy, for the tappy Sapsucker Rap poem!  What a wonderful rhythm and rhyme this had.  We live in a log home, and a couple of weeks ago we had a pair of Downy Woodpeckers inspecting our eaves, rapping and tapping.  They evidently didn't get what they thought should be there, as the next day they were gone!
Mary Lee, what a unique way to send a poem.  I keep the poem magnet on my refrigerator and can enjoy the image of thunderheads and the wish for monarchs!  We've had plenty of thunderheads lately and they are so beautiful - in an ominous way!
Tomorrow I'm sending out my fourth Blog-Gem...at the end of summer I will post all the Blog-gems on a Poetry Friday.  But for now, here's what happens to create a Blog-gem:

I put your URL into Tagxedo and came up with the image.  Then I used the words found in the Tagxedo to construct the poem, which I call a Blog-gem.
I’ve found that in making the Tagxedo, I have to take out names and allow apostrophes.  I also increase the number of words to 300 and allow common words, so I have a good assortment of words from which to choose.
When I finish the Tagxedo image, I type out the words, sort them by parts of speech, print them, cut them out and start playing with them.  After a bit I leave them alone to continue sorting themselves on their own (or that’s what it seems) until they make themselves into a poem. 

Ah, yes, if you could only read the words, you might know who was getting this next Blog-Gem!
Each time I’ve thought, “Man, this is too hard.  I can’t do this.  What was I thinking?”  And then I’ve left them on their own, sitting on the kitchen table taking up all the space for lunch, while I go and eat lunch by my computer.   
Then the "unexpected" begins to happen.  A few words will call out to me and say things like, “Hey, look what do you think of this!”  and “Read us!  We sound good together.”  And then I will go over and slide a few more around until they all just start marching to their spots. 
Like a good hostess, I sometimes have to make different seating arrangements when I find that some other word has more in common than the one I originally intended for the spot. 
The words are very patient with me as I make mistakes and have to slide them into a new spot. They have faith that I will get them where they need to be. 
And the leftover words?  For some reason they have not gotten all pouty and huffy.  They know that their day will come in some other poem on another occasion.  I have not forgotten them.  At some time I will just use them in a thought or in the course of a day speaking to someone.  And they are fine with that.
Lucky for me, the blog words have all been so forgiving and unselfish and can take the revisions and editing that I deal out to them. 
What a wonderful groups of words!  So far every word I’ve worked with has shown true good sportsmanship, strength and character. 
It is truly an honor to work with these words.  They are champs!  And they all, whether used in the final copy poem or not, help to create each Blog-gem!

Today I finished creating my fourth Blog-gem.  I will miss working with these diverse word groups as the summer comes to a close.  I may just have to pick up some Blog-gem work on the sly...a little poetic moonlighting...

A little side note for today... I stayed up all night.  Why?  I don't know.  I just didn't get tired.  I wrote a bit, cleaned a bit and watched the sun come up.  I'm still awake.  This is going to be an interesting day!



Friday, July 11, 2014

RefrigerARTor

Poetry Friday is being hosted over at Linda Kulp's Write Time.  Head over there for some great links to poetry today!

First, I'd like to thank Linda Baie over at TeacherDance for the beautiful poem she wrote for me.  It was part of a poetry exchange that Tabatha Yeatts created and organizes, where people are matched up to write a poem for another person.  My first poem was written for Tabatha, and my second for Anastasia Suen.  The third is about to go out...
Anyway, Linda B. wrote and illustrated this wonderful poem:
Transformation

Tiny fingers
tiny toes,
until arriving
no one knows
that a grandchild,
by giving the names
'Gran and Gramps',
start a magical dance,
seeming by chance.

It rearranges you
into

lullaby-singing (no matter the voice)
mud-puddle-jumping (not given a choice)
cookie-baking (a sugar success)
finger-painting (in spite of the mess)
toy-truck-racing (vroom sounds just right)
picture-book making (easy to write)

KIDS,
all over again.

by Linda Baie, 2014

Thanks, Linda!

And in that vein... Here's
 RefrigerARTor!

I did it!
I did it!
I painted a duck.
Quack, quack!
I'll clip it right here
Then step back!
To admire that picture
Painted by me!
It makes the room beautiful, 
Don't you agree?

The only thing better
Than one piece of art
Is two, three or four!
Must get busy and start
To fill the refrigerator
With more of my stuff!
Being an artist
Can be pretty rough


Working all morning
Using my brush;
Masterpieces can't be
Done in a rush!

©2014, Donna JT Smith



Oh, there was so much more fun this past week...  I'll try to tell more about it all soon!