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

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