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 - Go See Patricia!

Quick wave from the Where-Did-the-Week-Go Dept.... Well, I'm not sure, but Patricia knows.  She's been up to SOME good and she's also rounding up this week at https://patriciajfranz.com/blog-poetry-friday-is-here/ - Go plant your roots for a bit!

Be the first to comment

Poetry Friday - The Kindness of Strangers (& a Bit of Robert Browning)


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  May is well upon us.  In my corner, our flowers are blooming, the trees are leafy and full, and the first brood of baby bluebirds has fledged. And, storms have been rolling through.  [We've been fortunate; prayers for those who have lost so much this week.]


Are you familiar with those NPR/Public Radio "driveway moments?" You know, when you become entranced by a story and even though you've parked your car, you leave it running to listen until the end? Recently I had that experience with an episode of the "My Unsung Hero" series.  It has stuck with me. It was about the life-saving power of a very simple kindness - just a smile - extended by a stranger. Here's the link to the 3-minute recording, or you can quickly read the text. 


In looking for some poetic May morsels to share, I turned to my oft-mentioned copy of THE ILLUMINATED BOOK OF DAYS edited by Kay & Marshall Lee with illustrations by Kate Greenaway and Eugene Grasset (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1979.) There I stumbled onto the fact that May 7 was Robert Browning's birthday.  May 7 is also the birthday of our wonderful son-in-law, Matt! :0)


(Hang with me.  This all relates.) A romp through THE COLUMBIA GRANGER'S DICTIONARY OF POETRY QUOTATIONS (Columbia University Press, 1992) for a few inspirational Browning lines found me reading some familiar ones - but I must confess, I never knew the origin of the ones below!  They are from Pippa Passes, a four-part verse drama published in 1841. Here's the brief Encyclopedia Brittanica description: 


On New Year's morning, her only holiday for the entire year, Pippa, an impoverished young silk-winder, sings as she wanders aimlessly. In each section of the poem, people who are at critical points in their lives make significant and far-reaching decisions when they hear Pippa sing as she passes by.


Here's the excerpt from Robert Browning (1812-1889, British):


The year's at the spring,

And day's at the morn;

Morning's at seven;

The hillside's dew-pearled;

The lark's on the wing;

The snail's on the thorn:

God's in His Heaven --

All's right with the world!


I know it certainly doesn't feel like all's right with the world these days. 


I've just turned in some yearly freelance writing I do for a character education program, Core Essentials, and part of my contribution is choosing and writing about an animal to pair with each month's value.  For one of next spring's months, I picked the bluebird - a symbol of happiness but also of hope.  Last year, our pair of bluebirds built a nest, but babies never hatched.  (Perhaps a snake or some other mishap.) This year, I never actually saw the babies - but I heard their hearty high-pitched cries from the little nest box when I was outside.  Mom and Dad worked so hard feeding them, day after day after day.  I was afraid they might flege when I was out of town attending an SCBWI conference in Birmingham weekend before last, and evidently they did.  


I still think of them each time I take the dog out. Though I never laid eyes on them and the birdhouse is quiet now, I hope the young ones are making their way in the world to build their own nests some day.


Wishing you grace to receive a smile (or bluebird song) if you need one this week; appreciation if you're able to share with someone who does. 


Our gracious and mulit-talented Linda at A Word Edgewise has today's Roundup. She's sharing a fun tradition that makes poetic lemonade out of lemons!

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Go See Buffy!

Howdy!  HAPPY MAY!  This week has been a blur of wrangling deadlines, Etsy orders, and a big rambunctious pup to various vet appointments.  I didn't get a post ready for today!  But be sure to visit the ever-delightful and talented Buffy Silverman for the first Roundup of May.  Thanks, Buffy!

Be the first to comment

The Kidlit 2004 Progressive Poem Parks HERE today!


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Welcome to the next-to-the-last day of the 2024 Kidlit Progressive Poem.  Thanks to Irene Latham for beginning this communal adventure years ago, and thanks to Margaret Simon who coordinates it now. 


This year's poem is unlike others we've had in the past.  Each poet is contributing a couplet rather than a single line, and the subject and theme are tied to realities that are timely, important, and fraught for people living through them.


We've come to care for our young narrator and the narrator's brother, worrying for them and wishing them success as they make their way with a group to the border. I've been a bit apprehensive about contributing my line(s).  I've known a couple of migrant families over the years, but I don't know anyone going through this now, and I don't have time to do the deep research I would attempt if I were writing something about migrant families myself.  I watch the news and pray for those seeking asylum, for those who weren't born into the same opportunities I was.


I must confess I'm not entirely sure which side of the border our children are on here at the end of the poem.  In my reading, they haven't yet crossed the border into the US (assuming the US is the final destination), but have found a freindly village to wait in? 


The end of this poem could go in more than one direction.  It wouldn't be unrealistic to leave everything unresolved, and leave our young travelers wanting.  Real children experience this, and families might wait for years before moving on. Also, I wasn't exactly sure how to continue the involvement of a beloved uncle recently introduced and spotlighted in yesterday's lines from Dave.  Whichever side of the border the children are on, Tío is on the other side. An uncle in the US can't sponsor nieces or nephews, but perhaps he can visit family members waiting in a village across the border?


I'm not sure.  But the "yet" in a previous line offers a tiny shaft of light.  It's my own bent to leave a bit of hope in any writing for kids, so, while acknowledging that many children suffer in this process of seeking a new life in a place far from home, I want to continue in a positive vein for our poem's characters. (My lines are in bold.)



Cradled in stars, our planet sleeps,

Clinging to tender dreams of peace

Sister moon watches from afar,

Singing lunar lullabies of hope.


Almost dawn, I walk with others,

Keeping close, my little brother.

Hand in hand, we carry courage

escaping closer to the border


My feet are lightning;

My heart is thunder.

Our pace draws us closer

To a new land of wonder.


I bristle against rough brush—

Poppies ahead brighten the browns.

Morning light won't stay away—

Hearts jump at every sound.


I hum my own little song

Like ripples in a stream

Humming Mami's lullaby

Reminds me I have her letter


My fingers linger on well-worn creases,

Shielding an address, a name, a promise–

Sister Moon will find always us

Surrounding us with beams of kindness


But last night as we rested in the dusty field,

Worries crept in about matters back home.

I huddled close to my brother. Tears revealed

The no-choice need to escape.  I feel grown.


Leaving all I've ever known

The tender, heavy, harsh of home.

On to maybes, on to dreams,

On to whispers we hope could be.


But I don't want to whisper! I squeeze Manu's hand.

"¡Más cerca ahora!" Our feet pound the sand.

We race, we pant, we lean on each other

I open my canteen and drink gratefully


Thirst is slaked, but I know we'll need

More than water to achieve our dreams.

Nights pass slowly, but days call for speed

Through the highs and the lows, we live with extremes


 We enter a village the one from Mami's letter,

 We find the steeple; food, kindly people, and shelter.

 "We made it, Manu! Mami would be so proud!"

 I choke back a sob, then stand tall for the crowd.


A slapping of sandals… I wake to the sound

Of ¡GOL! Manu's playing! The fútbol rebounds.

I pinch myself. Can this be true?

Are we safe at last? Is our journey through?


I savor this safety, we're enveloped with care,

but Tío across the border, still seems far as stars.

He could not yet come to this new place

But Hermana moon, kiss his tear-stained face


¿Dónde está mi querido Tío? (Where is my Dear Uncle?)

¡Mi corazón está muy frío! (My heart is very cold)

Emerging from clouds, the sun warms my back.

A deep voice calls; Manu freezes and I spin around.  



In addition to providing those heart-touching lines in Spanish, Dave also updated the list of participants and links  in his post.  Thanks, Dave!  

Here are the folks participating this year, without the hyperlinks. (Sorry – been out of town at a conference and under a tight deadline.)


April 1 – Patricia Franz at Reverie 

April 2 – Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch  

April 3  – Janice at Salt City Verse 

April 4 – Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life 

April 5 – Irene at Live Your Poem 

April 6 – Margaret at Reflections on the Teche 

April 7 – Marcie at Marcie Atkins 

April 8 – Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town 

April 9 – Karen at Karen's Got a Blog

April 10 – Linda at Teacher Dance 

April 11 – Buffy at Buffy Silverman 

April 12 – Linda at  A Word Edgewise 

April 13 – Denise at Dare to Care 

April 14 – Carol at Beyond Literacy Link 

April 15 – Rose at Imagine the Possibilities 

April 16 – Sarah Grace at Sarah Grace Tuttle 

April 17 – Heidi at my juicy little universe 

April 18 – Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference 

April 19 – Catherine at Reading to the Core 

April 20 – Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect 

April 21 – Janet, hosted at Reflections on the Teche 

April 22 – Mary Lee  at A(nother) Year of Reading 

April 23 – Tanita at (fiction, instead of lies) 

April 24 – Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone 

April 25 – Rest 

April 26 – Karin at Still in Awe

 April 27 – Donna at Mainely Write 

April 28 – Dave at Leap of Dave 

April 29 – Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge 

April 30 – Michelle at More Art for All


I am grateful to hand off the poem to Michelle Kogan for its ending.  Through Poetry Friday and poem swaps in recent years, I've come to appreciate how Michelle's words and art are full of thoughtfulness, compassion, a sense of justice, and pleas for peace.  Take it away, Michelle, and thank you!

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - "The Mouse" by Elizabeth Coatsworth

Detail from the cover of DICKENS MICE by Kim Poovey, illustrated by Robyn Hood Black.


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Can you believe we are in the final week of Poetry Month?  How did that happen?


Also, apparently I have a teeny wee mouse in my studio in the basement.  How did that happen? 


Well, that's easier to explain, as the renovated basement WAS an unfinished garage space, and it butts up on three sides to the ground, including whatever space is under the front porch.  Ah, well. My hubby says he'll take a look at trying to seal some questionable cracks. A few weeks ago, I noticed some teeny bits of shredded paper and insulation inside the little compartments of one of the old wooden printer's trays (inside an old metal flat file) that I use for some of my way-too-many tidbits.  Cute, but I did remove the shreds and sprinkle some peppermint detergent in there.  This week I found a few little bitty "deposits" in the closet I've also taken over with my art/packaging supplies (the tiny room right beneath the porch).


In THE POET'S CRAFT ( Helen Fern Daringer and Anne Thaxter Eaton, 1935), I came across an unknown-to me poem by Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893-1986) which takes the mouse's side.  She wrote for both children and adults, and won the Newbery Medal in 1931.


The Mouse


by Elizabeth Coatsworth


I hear a mouse

Bitterly complaining

In a crack of moonlight

Aslant on the floor -


"Little I ask

And that little is not granted.

There are few crumbs

In this world any more.


"The bread box is tin.

And I cannot get in.


"The jam's in a jar

My teeth cannot mar.


"The cheese sits by itself

On the pantry shelf. - 


"All night I run

Searching and seeking,

All night I run

About on the floor.


"Moonlight is there

And a bare place for dancing,

But no little feast

Is spread any more."



Poor Mousey. But I do love the image of mice dancing in the moonlight!


Waltz on over to see our talented Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town for this week's Roundup, and be sure to catch up on the Progressive Poem, which is parked at Still in Awe with Karin Fisher-Golton today. (I have Monday's line - wish me luck!)  Apologies in advance if I'm not swift in responding to comments this weekend - I'm off to the SCBWI Southern Breeze conference in Birmingham!

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Little Birdie and Knockout Roses


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Here we are in the middle of Poetry Month, and I have something short and sweet.


This winter, I lamented that the rose bushes at the front of our house looked gangly and scraggly.  We didn't prune them as early as we had last year, and I wondered what they would look like come spring.  Also, my husband had added three more little bushes beside the driveway.  They weren't forlorn looking, but they were small. 


One day this week, I walked out the front door and was knocked out by all the knockout roses - it's as if they all buffed up and bloomed overnight!  Actually, I had been out of town a few days, and there was a fair bit of rain during that time.  But it still felt like magic to me. The picture above is one of the "new" small bushes - which transformed from a teepee-like bundle of sticks and a few leaves to this!


The roses reminded me of a song my mother sang to me, from my grandmother, and that I (and my daughter) now sing to our almost two-year-old Baby Grand, Sawyer. 

Was this little ditty in your family?



Little Birdie in the tree,

in the tree,

in the tree,


Little Birdie in the tree,

sing your song for me.


Sing about the roooo-ses 

on the garden wall.


Little Birdie in the tree,

sing your song for me.


I also recorded myself singing this for Sawyer's Tonie Box .  Do you know about those? It's a fun little box (no screen) that little ones can play songs and stories on, and there's a way to make your own recordings for them, too.


I wondered about the origin of this song and asked the Google.  I found a brief entry on a Library of Congress site.  The song was attributed to Ray Wood with a date in April (!) of 1939.  The lyrics are a bit different, though - I'll have to ask my mother if she knows how they came to be the more pleasing version above in our family.


Here's the recorded version:




Little birdie in the tree, in the tree, in the tree, Little birdie in the tree, Sing a song to me.


Sing about the robin, Way up in the sky; When you go out callin, Do your children cry?


(Repeat first verse)


Sung by Ray Wood, Houston, Texas, April 13, 1939.




I didn't do a deep dive to find Ray Wood, but I couldn't find anything in the shallow end of the internet.  Anybody know anything about him?


Well, I hope whatever ditties are passed down from generation to generation in your family bring a smile, and delight that blooms like April roses.


Happy Earth Day on Monday!


Our earth-loving and rosy Heidi has the Roundup today at My Juicy Little Universe, and Catherine adds a line to the Progressive Poem today over at Reading to the Core.

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Go See Jone!

Howdy!  I am traveling this weekend but Poetry Month marches on!  Please see Jone Rush MacCulloch today for the Roundup. Don't forget to follow along with the Progressive Poem, parked at Linda Mitchell's place this Friday, and check out Jama's Roundup of Kidlit Poetry Month Events.  Take good care, Robyn

Be the first to comment

Poetry Friday - Canticle of the Sun

The Graphics Fairy - vintage image


 Read More 

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Bonjour! April in Paris; Olympics in Paris...


Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Bonjour, Mes Amis.


It's almost Poetry Month!  And almost April in Paris… Sigh. I've not (yet) been in person.  And – the Paris Olympics are right around the corner. 


Pardon my French (it's been a few decades), but my thoughts are turning Français this week.  And items in my Etsy shop, too. (Click here to apply a shop-wide coupon code for Poetry Month if interested.)


I found a fun blog called "Snippets of Paris" with some thoughts about children and poetry there. 


And this gem below from Rosemonde Gérard (Louise-Rose-Étiennette Gérard, 1871-1953.) It's a New Year's poem, but since "our" calendar generally had the New Year starting in March until the 16th Century, I say it counts.  (You can learn more about that here.)



Bonne année à toutes les choses,
Au monde, à la mer, aux forêts,
Bonne année à toutes les roses,
Que l'hiver prépare en secret.

Bonne année à tous ceux qui m'aiment,
Et qui m'entendent ici-bas,
Et bonne année aussi, quand même,
A tous ceux qui ne m'aiment pas.

Here's the Enlish translation, compiled from various sites including the one above, but with a correction/tweak of mine, too.



Happy New Year to all things,
To the world, to the sea, to the forests,
Happy New Year to all roses,
That winter prepares in secret.

Happy New Year to all who love me,
And who hear me down here,
And happy new year too, anyway,
To all those who don't love me.


I just adore those last lines.  Our world could use more of that perspective for sure.


The author was a playwright as well as a poet, overshadowed somewhat by her husband, Edmond Rostand, author of Cyrano de Bergerac.  She was the granddaughter of a French prime minister.


Until this week, I didn't know she was also the author of lines that have run through my husband's family, and between my husband and me, for decades and decades. 


"More than yesterday, less than tomorrow."


Perhaps you're familiar with that sentiment, too?


Gérard wrote, in 1889 in a poem to her husband,


Car, vois-tu, chaque jour je t'aime davantage,

Aujourd'hui plus qu'hier et bien moins que demain.


While the poem was not immediately popular, the phrase was made so by a jeweler in the early 1900s.  He created medallions with mathematical signs replacing the words for "more" and "less."  These jewelry items became beloved tokens.  You can read more about all that here.  


You can still find the phrase on trinkets today. A few years ago, I found nice quality tags engraved with "Je t'aime plus qu'hier moins que demain" from a jewelry supplier, and I make bookmarks with these for my shop. Folks like them!  Of course, the first one I made was for my hubby, Jeff.


If you're a history buff, but sports are more your thing than jewelry, head over to this link. The second incarnation of the Olympics (our modern games) was first hosted in Paris in 1900, and France has hosted them four more times since then.  (It wasn't really called the Olympics, but had a long, boring name. The months-long event, however, kicked off the modern Olympics era.)


And since it's technically still Women's History Month, let's raise a glass to the fact that those games included women athletes for the first time!


As of this Poetry Friday, there are 118 days until the start of the Olympic Games and 151 days until the start of the Paralympic Games.  Go, Athletes, from all countries represented!!  Of course, over here we'll be cheering on Team USA, but I wish the best for "all who love (us)" and "all who don't love (us)." I pray for a peaceful gathering, spirited competition, and comradery.  Oh, and for lots of pretty blooms in Paris this April.


Now, vous allez over to The Miss Rumphius Effect, where Tricia has our Roundup and is sure to get us started on the write poetic foot for April. 

Be sure to consult Jama's big Roundup of the Kidlit Poetry Month events here!

Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and blessings to all.

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Bless Our Pets


Greetings, Poetry Lovers! I'm beyond delighted to share a new picture book poetry anthology from Eerdmans which launches on April 16, Bless Our Pets – Poems of Gratitude for our Animal Friends. This was one of the last books compiled by the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins, and he chose 14 gems celebrating our furred, feathered, and scaled friends.

(I might mention that I've personally had 10 of these pets as animal companions myself, so this book is right up my alley!)


This treasure includes poems by Ann Whitford Paul, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Linda Trott Dickman, Eric Ode, Ralph Fletcher, Sarah Grace Tuttle, Joan Bransfield Graham, Kristine O'Connell George, Darren Sardelli, B.J. Lee, Charles Ghigna, Lois Lowry, Prince Redcloud, and Lee himself.  


The watercolor and colored pencil illustrations by Lita Judge are warm and dreamy and full of expression.  I can't help but notice that the color palette, with fresh greens and yellows and pinks and blues and purples, feels just like spring! [Lita Judge's website is very much worth a visit, where she generously shares photos and process videos and behind-the-scenes peeks into the many books she's created as an author/illustrator and illustrator. ]


The poems in this book include prayers, hopes, blessings, and dreams – reflecting the important bond between children and their pets.


Rebecca Kai Dotlich's "Puppy" begins:


Those brown eyes, round as chestnuts,

Calm me, message me I love you without words.


In "A Prayer for My Gerbil," Eric Ode begins and ends with:


Watch over every tiny part.


I appreciate that in Ann Whitford Paul's "Kitten," in Sarah Grace Tuttle's "Hamster Hoping," and in Lois Lowry's "Mouse Dreams," each child-narrator imagines and sympathizes with a new pet's perspective, promising to care for their animal companions.


Ralph Fletcher's "Prayer for a Parakeet" acknowledges "some essential wildness" in a caged bird whose "wild cousins flit across/a thick jungle canopy." And in "Box Turtle," B. J. Lee affirms how difficult it can be when one might want to keep an animal that belongs in the wild. (Don't worry – a compassionate child, after helping a turtle get back on its feet, makes the right decision.)


As Irene Latham noted in her post about this book, Kristine O'Connell George's "Dreaming of Savannah" perfectly captures the wild spirit of a horse-loving youngster, in a particularly magical spread. Also, in another Poetry Friday post, Buffy Silverman offers peeks at several wonderful pages. An early and fulsome review by Tracey Kiff-Judson can be found here


From sensitive, sweet poems to Charles Ghigna's humorous "Pet Snake?," young readers will delight in this colorful menagerie.


This book reminds me once again that Lee Bennett Hopkins was an absolute master at creating anthologies, with his eye for each individual poem and his vision for a collection as a whole. Echoing themes, unexpected surprises, and a thread of tenderness are woven through these words from beginning to full-circle end.


Lee's own poem is the final one, "My Old Dog." It contains his usual simple but profound phrases, such as "let's cherish/the many wondrous/times we have together" and ends with:


I'll forever

recall each and every


I had with you.


I know you'll forever

remember, too.


As one who was lucky enough to know Lee (and who still hears his voice in my head), those last lines particularly got me. We will forever remember, and we'll celebrate that generations to come will enjoy this loving tribute to the non-human members of our families.


For the Eerdmans page about the book, click here.  And for all the goodness in the first Poetry Friday roundup of SPRING, flap on over to visit Rose at Imagine the Possibilities.  The birds are already there!

Post a comment