icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - (September Part 2) - We Did It!


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!


In last week's post, I featured Edgar Guest's "It's September" (which had a fun addendum added later, after my mother saw the post and shared with me her own experience with that poem). I also mentioned that Jeff and I were going to celebrate our engagement on Sunday, exactly 40 years later, by revisiting the place where he proposed.  As Furman students in the South Carolina Upstate, we had hiked up Table Rock, not far from campus and not far from where we moved this year. BIG thanks to everyone who left encouraging words last week for our hike!


Sunday morning, we donned our boots and grabbed our new hiking poles, and off we went! We were hopeful to make it to the top, but the trail is designated as "very strenuous," and I wasn't sure that some past injuries of mine would be keen on such an adventure.  But (drumroll...) - we did it! 


It was a gorgeous day with a bright blue sky and heaps of wildflowers.  We got there early in the morning.  They say to allow three hours up and two down; it's a 7.2 mile round trip.  We took our time and got to the top in four hours, stayed up there an hour enjoying the views (and a bald eagle fly-by), and then took three hours to make our way down. 


Did I mention, "very strenuous"? No way I would have made it without the poles. At the beginning, and at a couple-few points along the way, the trail teases you with regular ground at a gentle slope.  This never lasts long.  Most of the trail is literally huge rock stair steps that have been put on the trail, or carved out of existing rock.  Or, in more than one place, little indentations carved into a rock face, barely larger than an adult-sized foot (sideways).  Then, in other spots, there are just scatterings of rocks and boulders stacked up - and the red painted trail blaze close by on a tree. 


There were a few folks our age and older, with most younger, and, faster.  Most.  A few young ones did struggle in spots! It wasn't as crowded as I thought it might be on the first fall weekend, especially as reviews had mentioned crowds.  Reviews I'd read on the All Trails app ranged from accurate to aspirational to very funny.  One hiker said she experienced all five stages of grief on that hike.  Another said it was just several hours on a stair-climbing machine. 


Anyway, we made it up and down alive and enjoyed the challenge!  Jeff said, "Maybe we should do it every year."  I'm thinking every 40 years sounds good... so, I'll write about it again when we're 100.






     Decades of wear,

     decades of tear,

     but with more than a skip and a hop -

     we dug deep and dug in,

     put in all of our skin,

     and made it somehow to the top.


     Table Rock:

     You want wear and tear?

     Pull up a chair.

     (Though around me, I only saw stone.)

     The Rockies have nothing

     on what I once was.

     Her voice had a wistful tone.

     You talk about years?

     I shed waterfall tears.

     And yet, I still hold my own.


©Robyn Hood Black




We didn't see any bears or rattlesnakes, as had been mentioned in reviews, but one hiker ahead of us had seen a Mama bear and her two cubs, and some other young hikers had seen a rattlesnake. Shortly after we arrived at the top, however, we did see a couple of bald eagles, one flying very close to the few of us gazing at it from the rock outcropping. 




out of the blue

a bald eagle


©Robyn Hood Black


Please visit the one-and-only, creatively adventurous Jama at her Alphabet Soup for this week's Roundup. 

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - "It's September" by Edgar Guest

Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville, SC, in September.


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Fall is UPON us!  I'm not ready, but I welcome it nonetheless... my favorite season. 


Last weekend I had the good fortune to gather with some dear writer/illustrator friends in north Georgia at one of their homes.  My friend lives on 30 acres, and their land includes a waterfall!  It was a glorious afternoon, and then a few of us stayed over for a "slumber party"/campout. Another of our friends is a nature author and superb naturalist/tour guide, so we were immersed in edible leaves and so many gorgeous spiderwebs by day, and a romp through the constellations at night.  I still haven't washed my jacket, because it holds that cozy woodsmoke smell. 


Now that we live in the mountains, I've been falling into longer walks and more uphill bits with thoughts of more hiking.  In fact on Thursday, I broke out the hiking boots and my little pack and went for a 5 1/2-mile walk/wee hike around Furman, some of its woodsy trails, and the paved Swamp Rabbit Trail here. I've got my sights on Sunday, but we'll see how it goes. 


Next year, Jeff and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary.  But this Sunday marks 40 years since he proposed, up on Table Rock - a state park which is not far from here at all.  So, a-hiking we will go.  I've been saying we might not do the strenuous straight-up hike - I think that option is 7-plus miles round trip, and the first three are, well, straight up. Sometimes my legs and feet remind me that over the years I've broken a foot, broken an ankle, and torn an Achilles.  (Not to mention an even worse neck/nerves injury that came my way about nine years ago.) 


BUT... I'm not sure I'll be able to resist the challenge.  And I'd love to see the view.  I'm sure my hubby will be just fine with such a hike, and we'll be tricked out with hiking poles we'll be using for the first time.  Me? We'll see!  It's sure to be beautiful, whether we trek lots of miles or just a few. 


To celebrate the autumn equinox this weekend, here's a poem by Edgar Guest, born in England in 1881.  He moved with his family to the U.S. in 1891, where he grew up to become a newspaper writer and a popular columnist and poet.  He died in 1959.  I was a little surprised at the turn at the end of this poem - worthy of a good ponder. 



It's September

by Edgar Albert Guest


It's September, and the orchards are afire with red and gold,
And the nights with dew are heavy, and the morning's sharp with cold;
Now the garden's at its gayest with the salvia blazing red
And the good old-fashioned asters laughing at us from their bed;
Once again in shoes and stockings are the children's little feet,
And the dog now does his snoozing on the bright side of the street.


It's September, and the cornstalks are as high as they will go,
And the red cheeks of the apples everywhere begin to show;
Now the supper's scarcely over ere the darkness settles down
And the moon looms big and yellow at the edges of the town;
Oh, it's good to see the children, when their little prayers are said,
Duck beneath the patchwork covers when they tumble into bed.


It's September, and a calmness and a sweetness seem to fall
Over everything that's living, just as though it hears the call
Of Old Winter, trudging slowly, with his pack of ice and snow,
In the distance over yonder, and it somehow seems as though
Every tiny little blossom wants to look its very best
When the frost shall bite its petals and it droops away to rest.


It's September! It's the fullness and the ripeness of the year;
All the work of earth is finished, or the final tasks are near,
But there is no doleful wailing; every living thing that grows,
For the end that is approaching wears the finest garb it knows.
And I pray that I may proudly hold my head up high and smile
When I come to my September in the golden afterwhile.


*THIS JUST IN*:  Late Friday evening, my mother, Nita Morgan, sent me this text:


LOVED your Poetry Friday post!  Love Edgar Guest!  Love "It's September"... I read it in Senior Assembly (September 1955), relating the beginning of our senior year as our "September" of our high school life.  We could capture the essence of September to carry us through to graduation and blossom with the splendor of Spring or we could let the cold of Winter shrink and shrivel our dreams and ambitions and we would never know what could have been. Somehow this has stayed somewhere in my memory all these years.  It comes forth every once in a while when a word or event triggers it.  Of course, I don't have the poem or my speech memorized, but his is the general idea.  I remember what I was wearing that day. So... you stirred the pot really good today with your post!


Who knew?!  I did not. Grateful to my mom for sharing!


Please visit the amazing Carol at Beyond Literacy Link for this week's Roundup; she is the goddess of marking each passing season with amazing online collections of poetry and art!

Happy Fall, Y'all.

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Go See Amy!

Howdy!  Waving on my way to the airport for a quick trip; Amazing Amy at The Poem Farm has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.  See you next week! 

Be the first to comment

Poetry Friday - What is Hope? (& my Metamorphosis poem)


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Nope, I can't believe it's already September either... but it was nice to get a peek at the blue moon/super moon to round out August. (It was so cloudy because of the outer storm bands Wednesday night that it took three attempts. Prayers for all those affected by Idalia. My Florida family folks are all okay.)


The next time we'll have that super-blue combo treat, it will be 2037.  Our baby grandson will be old enough to get a learner's permit!


I have hopes for him, and for our world, as we face so many overwhelming challenges.  Hope lifts us up - it's the thing with feathers, as our Emily said a century-and-a-half ago. 


What is Hope? is also the newest title in the ekphrastic anthology series for young readers from Pomelo Books.  Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong have outdone themselves again, offering a collection of 40 poems written in response to photographs, and all sparkling with hope.  There's also a great section in the back with resources for readers, writers, and teachers. As with previous titles, 100 percent of the profits from the sale of the book will be donated to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund.  (That is hope in action, right there.) 


This book, along with others in the series, sprang forth from an online workshop led by Janet & Sylvia.  I was delighted to participate again in one of these magical gatherings, and I'm honored to have a poem included in the volume, pictured above.  (Sylvia made wonderful 'poem cards'!) The poems were penned by current and previous workshop participants, along with a few guest poets as well. The opening poem, "World," by Syliva, sets a perfect tone for choosing hope when the world offers so many reasons for anger and sadness.  Janet has a very fun poem livening up the middle, "Pickleball."  I really enjoyed this one because I had the good fortune, along with fellow contributor Matthew Winter, to get a personal pickleball lesson from Janet herself, and her quick-on-his-feet and fast-with-a-paddle husband, Glenn.  (That was in July, at the "Think Poetry" & more gathering at Janet's beautiful home in Washington state.  I mentioned this wonderful trip in a blog post here.)


Here's my poem:




     To look at me,

     you might only see

     my long body bunching up.

     Munching leaves.

     Lumbering along a branch,

     earth bound.


     What you don't see

     are my wings.




     They're there.

     Give me a little time.

     A place to spin.

     A thread of hope.



     I will stretch iridescent wings

     and dance in the wandering wind.


     ©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved. 


What is Hope? has just been named a Children's Book Council "Hot Off the Press" Selection for August 2023. (Each month, the CBC highlights new titles identified as great resources for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents.  See the whole August list here.)


Hop on over to Pomelo Books to learn more about this hope-full collection here.  You'll find several options for purchase.  Easy-peasey clicks, and you'll be adding to our world's supply of HOPE.


Ramona at Pleasures from the Page is gagthering up all the Poetry Friday goodness this week.  Thanks, Ramona!

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Go Dance with Linda!

Quick Wave!  I didn't quite get a post up for this week (been a week of artsy-making and studio-chaos), but please go visit our generous and lovely and talented Linda at TeacherDance for the Roundup.  She offers a poignant look at new beginnings as we begin transitioning from summer to fall.

Be the first to comment

Poetry Friday - My New Book of Fables for Core Essentials Values!


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I hope you don't mind a little sidestepping from poetry into another genre.  I'll try not to keep you long!


A decade ago, I wrote the following haiku which appeared in Acorn.



telling it slant
a ghost crab slips into
a hole


©Robyn Hood Black

Acorn, No. 31, Fall 2013



This poem was a grateful nod to our dear Emily's poem:


Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263)

By Emily Dickinson

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —



"Explanation kind" and slightly slanted truth can come in other forms, too.  Fiction.  Parables.  And... Fables. 


For well more than a decade, I've written several monthly components for Core Essentials Values, a character education program in more than two thousand schools across the country, and based in my old former stomping grounds in Georgia.  (Here's a link to their website.)  Programs are available for students from pre-K through high school, and my work is for the elementary school components.


For each month's value (say, kindness, or patience, or initiative), I choose an animal to represent it and compose a short nonfiction piece about that animal; a color, with a brief explanation of how it relates to the value; and quotations (usually quite old - 1. there's a lot of wisdom in generations past, and 2. I respect copyright!). It's a LOT of research and a good bit of writing, but I love doing it. Other writer/educators write the direct curriculum, and most of them have been around since the early days, too.


In years past, Core Essentials teamed up with a publisher and offered "book bundles" with trade titles as supplemental classroom materials, a fun way to reinforce that year's values. With changes at that publisher, this option was not really feasible moving forward.  The talented folks I answer to (Elizabeth Higgins and Leslie Bolser) wanted to come up with another books-related offering, if I would do the writing! After bouncing around varioius ideas via email and Zoom, we had a meeting last November that took a fun turn.  Producing a book for each month was not a very realistic goal, but I grabbed a thought from Leslie and then tossed out the idea of doing a book of fables - just one book, but with 10 chapters corresponding to each value for the year.  And, I'd make whatever animal I had previously chosen "star" in that month's fable. During this meeting, I happened to have within arm's reach several antique Aesop's Fables books, because that's how much of a nerd I am. I've always enjoyed sharing fables in author school visits. 


They were excited and asked if I could come up with a sample in a few weeks.  "Of course," I heard myself say, though with my online artsyletters business, November and December are downright crazy months.  I turned in a prototype, they liked it, and we were off and running.  After the holidays, I wrote the rest of the fables, in the chaos of a temporary apartment-more-like-storage-unit, as we were selling our house at the coast and getting ready to move here to the hills.


Those were a 'wild' few weeks, but I had a blast writing the stories (after purchasing and reading even more old books of fables, of course...). I enjoyed the challenge of some of the animals I had to work with; I always try to mix in a variety (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, the occasional fish, insects etc.), and I try to highlight North American animals familiar to US kids as well as animals in unusual habitats on other continents.  So that's how I ended up having to figure out how to make a decorator crab the central figure in a fable, among other wonderful creatures. 


At the end of each fable are discussion questions, thoughtfully written by Lois Brown and Leslie Bolser. Super classroom-friendly!


Jonathan Maloney, our curriculum illustrator, was eager to have a go with the book.  He makes amazing graphics each year, including the poster featuring all of the animals. His work is bright, accessible, clear, and kid-friendly.  I wondered how he was going to translate that simple graphic style into actual characters for the book.  Magically, evidently!  His compositions, character expressions, and fun small touches here and there make the animals visually endearing and add another layer of subtle humor. A youngster in my extended family saw the book recently and appreciated the "shoes on the alligator" in The Manatee & the Alligator. (That was one of my favorite stories to write, too.)


Here's a peek at the book's page on the Core Essentials website [ https://coreessentials.org/collections/all-resources/products/new-august-2023-may-2024-values-book?variant=40256881328174 ] , with a link to that first fable I mentioned writing, The Pika and the Bear.


This softcover/paperback book is tailored to be used with Core Essentials Values curriculum, but it's also offered separately. 


I hope teachers find this bonus book fun and helpful; I'm ready to tackle the next menagerie!  I also look forward to sharing OUT ON A LIMB with students this fall and discussing how reading and writing poetry helps us write across all genres, including fables. 


Our wonderful Molly is tackling the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Nix the Comfort Zone.

Post a comment

Poetry Friday: Go See Tabatha!

Well, my post last week all wrapped up in love seems appropriate for this week, too... I'm helping my best friend from college with her daughter's wedding this weekend!  Happy for the special couple, and not together enough to have done a post beforehand to share.  Hope you have a LOVEly weekend yourself - please go enjoy a fun poem and wonderful roundup hosted by Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.  :0)

Be the first to comment

Poetry Friday - A Little Love in the August Air

Photo by William B. Dyer in Riley LOVE-LYRICS, Grosset & Dunlap, 1905.

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!


Confesstion:  On Thursday morning, I blew off work to finish a book while rocking on the front porch.  We had a slow, steady rain all day and temps just in the upper 60s and low 70s, so can you blame me?  Everything is still lush and green. We'll be back to pushing 90 this weekend. 


I finally finished THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ Klune (website here.)  The book was published in 2020 by TOR, and my family members have been raving about it as it got passed from person to person. If you haven't read it, no spoilers - but one does learn early on that snuggled up into the main storyline is a quiet love story between main character Linus and oh-so-compelling Arthur. So count me in its large fan club! (I know the author has published two more books since then - and others before.  I didn't say I was particularly timely.)


With love in mind, I went searching for an old August-y poem for this week, noting in some of my dusty tomes in my studio that for our British friends, "traditional" harvest thoughts begin in August, and did for us Americans until we came up with Thanksgiving.  At any rate, I stumbled upon a poem by American author James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916 - learn about this popular poet and children's writer here) that jived with my love poem/harvesty/blue moon-super-moon-month sensibilities at the moment.  It's from RILEY LOVE-LYRICS, with "life pictures" by William B. Dyer, published by Grosset & Dunlap. The copyright goes back to 1883, but this edition is 1905.  The dreamy photograph above accompanies the poem.






When my dreams come true - when my dreams 

        come true - 

Shall I lean from out my casement, in the starlight and 

        the dew,

To listen - smile and listen to the tinkle of the strings

Of the sweetest guitar my lover's fingers fondle, as he sings?

And as the nude moon slowly, slowly shoulders into view,

Shall I vanish from his vision - when my dreams come



When my dreams come true - shall the simple gown I 


Be changed to softest satin, and my maiden-braided hair

Be raveled into flossy mists of rarest, fairest gold,

To be minted into kisses, more than any heart can hold? -

Or "the summer of my tresses" shall my lover liken to

"The fervor of his passion" - when my dreams come true?





When my dreams come true - I shall lie among the


Of happy harvest meadows; and the grasses and the 


Shall lift and lean between me and the splendor of the


Till the moon swoons into twilight, and the gleaners'

        work is done - 

Save that yet an arm shall bind me, even as the reapers do

The meanest sheaf of harvest - when my dreams come



When my dreams come true ! when my dreams come true!

True love in all simplicity is fresh and pure as dew; -

The blossom in the blackest mold is kindlier to the eye

Than any lily born of pride that looms against the sky;

And so it is I know my heart will gladly welcome you,

My lowliest of lovers, when my dreams come true.



And, finally, a feel-good love story gem in case you missed it.  I found in the Weather Channel app videos, but you can Google and find other references, like this one on Good Morning America's Instagram.  Seems a farmer in Kansas, Lee Wilson, wanted to surprise his wife with something special on their 50th wedding anniversary this month. With help from his son, he planted 80 acres of sunflowers - 1.2 million of them! - timing them to bloom right about now.  Sigh and swoon. :0)


For lots of swoon-worthy poetry this first Poetry Friday of August, and blessings from the natural world, visit the multi-talented Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Paddle on over to the Teche with Margaret!

Quick wave from the Road... I have the good fortune to go hang out with more writer/illustrator friends this weekend, so I don't have a real post.  But please paddle on over to see the lovely Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for this week's Roundup!

Be the first to comment

Poetry Friday - Meet Matthew Winter! (& Bailey)


Greetings, Poetry Lovers! It's so much fun to meet in person someone whom you've only seen in a little Zoom square. Especially when they bring their adorable dog along. 


Most of you know Pomelo Books and the power team of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.  (If you don't, please visit all the poetry magic here.) And many of you know about the online anthology workshops they've offered the last couple of years.  (Info here.)  Participants in these workshops have had the opportunity to submit poems for a book associated with each one, and now there's a nice collection of these user-friendly ekphrastic anthologies being shared in living rooms and classrooms, gathering a trail of awards as they go.  I've had the privilege of participating in a couple of these and meeting new folks through the Zoom gatherings.  When Janet and Sylvia recently offered a new "Think Poetry" workshop geared toward sharing poetry in schools as well as writing, I jumped on that, too, since I love sharing as much poetry as I can during author visits. 


Janet also graciously offered to host a bonus in-person Think Poetry workshop/gathering for anyone who could get themselves out here to the beautiful coast of Washington state this week.  My hubby graciously offered to give me all his frequent flyer miles. So here I am! Another participant and contributor to these recent anthologies, Matthew Winter, likewise boarded a plane from the East Coast and flew across the country to join in the fun. And, he brought along his adorable flying companion & canine connoisseur of poetry, Bailey.


Matt and I have been staying at the same friendly inn in town and did a little exploring at the small harbor Wednesday before working on some poetry adventures with Janet and Sylvia. It's been a blast!  As an elementary school teacher for 21 years, Matt brings not only his talent as a writer to the table but years of professional experience and expertise with young learners, particularly in the area of reading.  Originally from Maryland, he lives in New York.  


"I love to read and write stories and poems for children," Matt says.  Lucky for us, he's sharing them with the world!  Matt's poems are featured in these Pomelo books:  Things We Feel, Things We Wear, What is a Friend?, and What is Family?  While Matt can rollick and roll with playful poetry, as in his "Apron" poem in Things We Wear, he can also capture emotions more difficult to talk about.  


Here are two wonderful expamples. 





I want to roar and rattle

and get ready for battle.

I'm MAD!


No!  I don't want to talk.

I want to screech and squawk.

I'm MAD!


Breathe in




Count 1, 2, 3 -

just like magic

I'm back to me. 



©Matthew Winter

Things We Feel by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, Pomelo Books, 2022.






In lieu of flowers, please

















And - 


if you can spare - 


maybe a little bit of





for our family




 ©Matthew Winter

What is a Family? by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, Pomelo Books, 2023.



Look for more of Matt's work soon in the next Pomelo Books anthology! And for another great reason to purchase from Pomelo Books, all profits from this recent anthology series are donated to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund (IBBY.org).  Sylvia is the current president of IBBY (The International Board on Books for Young People), having served this organization for many years.  Founded in 1953 in Zurich, IBBY reaches across the globe to get books in the hands of young people.  The Children in Crisis Fund was set up in 2005 "to help children affected by natural disasters, civil disorder or war. The Fund seeks donations for projects that replace or create libraries/collections of appropriate children's books and provide bibliography, the therapeutic use of books and storytelling."


Many thanks to Matt, and to Sylvia and Janet, for their generosity.


For more terrific poetry, visit the oh-so-talented Marcie Flinchum Atkins for the Roundup!

Post a comment