Laura Shovan is a poet who shares the love. For her birthday month, February, she commits to writing poems every day and shares the experience with anyone who dares to jump in to the party. Read her introduction to the project here.

I have joined in her project every year and find the experience challenging, inspiring, and enriching. I don’t know if I get better at writing poems, but I know for sure that this is a welcoming and passionate-about-poetry group. I am honored to host today.

In preparation for this month of writing, Laura called for images of found objects. I sent her this image of lotus seed pods I picked up out of the swamp on a winter canoe trip. They sit in a pottery piece that is also reminiscent of nature.

lotus pods

Diane Mayr was considering skipping today. And that very thought made her write a skippy poem. You never know where the muse may hide. I love the rhythm of the flower names and of course, the final truth.

Mama Planted a Garden
(a skipping rhyme)

Mama planted a garden,
but it came up weeds.
Oh, my silly Mama!
You planted the wrong seeds.

No, my little Missy,
they were the right ones.
A flower to a father
may be a weed to the son!

Buttercup, aster, and bergamot.
Maiden pink, dandelion, forget-me-not.

Columbine, bunchberry, periwinkle.
Violet, lady slipper, honeysuckle.

Always remember this,
my little daughter:
one person’s weed
is another one’s flower!
–Diane Mayr

Patricia VanAmburg did some research on lotus pods and found out there is a disease, Trypophobia—fear of holes. So she wrote a rather empty poem about that feeling of empty nest, one I know all too well.


Of what use this pod
Without her seeds
Temporary filler for
More fruitful flowers
But every life
Returns to earth
Fragile as the cradle
In an attic corner
Brittle as mother’s ribs
After every baby has gone
–Patricia VanAmburg

Jessica Bigi sent an image of a lotus flower while she takes us back to ancient rituals.

Photo and poem by Jessica Bigi, all rights reserved.

Photo and poem by Jessica Bigi, all rights reserved.

Carol Varsalona is cross-posting her poems on her blog. I love how she is digitally playing with the image as well. I imagine sitting with Carol enjoying a warm cup of coffee and the quiet.

A Hushed Quiet

As I sit by the window,
the morning sun
drifts on in,
singing the praises
of yet another day.
A zen-like quality emerges.
Rays bouncing from
winter white blankets
bring outdoors in.
A hushed quiet
envelops the room.
In a corner,
upon a mat of bamboo,
cut-open pods of grace
in triad formation
adorn a desk
of muted colors.
Indoor life merges
with outdoor sights
in a seasonal burst,
reminding me that
new life is waiting
in an early spring.

©Carol Varsalona, 2016

Violet also did her research on Trypophobia and wrote an erasure poem from an article on Mental Floss.  Who knew?  I certainly did not.  Thanks for the learning as well as the poetry.


skin crawls, heart flutters
shoulders tighten, I shiver
crazy revulsion to holes, bumps
images of holes, parasites
bot flies, worms, ravages of disease
pregnant suriname toad
lotus seed head
give people trypophobic
heebie jeebies
soap bubbles trigger

~ Violet Nesdoly

Heidi Mordhorst digs into the earth to consider how an anthropologist looks at things.

Day 10

once thought to be
an elaborately carved musical
instrument used
only on the wedding day
of a woman born under
the eleventh moon

it is now understood to be
a deliberately culled muscular
implement used
only on the winding way
of a man burned under
the oppressive soon

context is everything

Here’s another from Heidi. This one is a child’s wonderment at the things of this world.

Making Sense

First it’s something to see–
almost black among the greens and yellows,
scalloped around the edges like
crayon clouds or flowers,
clouds full of black hailstones–
or it’s a leopard-skin jellyfish.

Next it’s something to hold–
not weighty like a microphone
or a metal shower head,
but light and hollow, not plastic
and not wood, part smooth
and part ridged and rumpled.

Now it’s something to hear–
take it by the curving handle oh!
is that a stem? and shake, shake
shake–those blackish beads or
beans or oh! they’re seeds!
they make a marvelous rattling!

~Heidi Mordhorst 2016
all rights reserved

Donna Smith makes a simple poem reveal a truth of nature.  Love the alliteration, one of my favorite literary devices.  I think Donna is a little bit chilly in Maine, so she has thoughts of overcoats.


Purposefully plopping pondward
Out of open overcoat
Drooping, dropping down
Swamped seeds settle, silently sprout.

©2016, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved


And Mary Lee chimes in with this little ditty.  She is a master at metaphor.

Day 10

when your plate is full —
seed ideas lined up in rows —
give thanks for fulsome seasons

–Mary Lee Hahn


Linda Baie finds the music in the lotus pod, the sound that remains after the blooming is done.  Is this a metaphor for life?

A Lotus Life

I remember that delicate blossom;
You burst with all life’s colors,
and the minutes moved,
the days passed.
More beyond the hues emerged.
You nourished;
we were thankful.
You gave all you were able.
At the end, the music remained,
only the music displayed.
It was enough.
Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved



To write my own poem, I turned to form and tried out a Bio-poem. Laura Purdie Salas used this form with 3rd graders this week. See her post here.

mystical, pure, beauty, enlightened
Daughter of Bodhi
Lover of muddy water, sun, and spring
Who feels spiritual, open to the light
Who gives wisdom, joy, and peace
Who fears storms, drowning, neglect
Who would like to see the ocean (Is it as blue as me?),
tomorrow (My life is fleeting.),
and world peace (Doesn’t everyone wish for world peace?)
Who lives in Atchafalaya Swamp
Who knows noble truths
Lily of the Mud.
–Margaret Simon

And here is Laura with another of my favorite forms, a Fib poem. Read more about Fib poems here.

Lotus Pod Fibonacci
By Laura Shovan

pods shake
rattle, roll.
Seeds fly. We stomp them
into the ground, part of the dance.

Molly Hogan was flying under the radar with her first attempt at haiku. This challenge is pushing us all to find what form fits best.

Day 10 –My first attempt at haiku.

Autumn maracas
Invite you to merengue
Shake a leg, baby!
–Molly Hogan

Catherine Flynn found the lyrics to the life cycle of a lotus at the New York Botanical Garden.

Photo and poem by Catherine Flynn, all rights reserved.

Photo and poem by Catherine Flynn, all rights reserved.

Buffy Silverman offers another haiku, which is the ultimate nature poetic form. Hard to capture a moment in few syllables.

dried lotus pods
shriveled and moored in mud
cradle tomorrow
–Buffy Silverman

If you have a poem for today’s found object, put it in the comments and I will add it to the post. Thanks again for joining us and for reading all the way through to the end. Mardi Gras ended yesterday, but this is a joyful parade of poems to keep you passin’ a good time!

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Rumi quote

I am honored to be writing with friends.  Recently I read the book My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.  I loved this book, but I am not going to write a book review.  What I did was took a page, page 191 to be exact, and stole the first line along with the form.  “At times these days I think of the way the sun would set on the farmland around our small house in the autumn.”  The rest of the page is one long sentence beautifully flowing and drawing me in to the scene.

I am not Elizabeth Strout, but I can pretend for a moment that I am.  I wrote.

At times these days I think of the ways the trees look in winter, all that bareness, the blue sky open beyond as wide as the ocean, and how birds are exposed on the branches, last year’s nest an unhidden cluster, and I search in my own life for meaning, trying to make a life when things are not as they seem, when all the leaves are gone, the quiet branches of a tree in winter, and the sky above, open and alive.  –Margaret Simon

Then I invited some writing friends to write from the same prompt.  Here are their responses.


At times these days I think about the ways the ocean invites my attention, as the cliff rises up to meet the road, looking down I feel as if I could reach out and touch the blue stillness, and yet below the surface the cold Pacific digs and pulls showing an endless uncontrollable power calling me towards its vast space that was, is, and will be, long after I am gone. —Julianne Harmatz

At times these days I think about how I will be remembered and if it will be because I made them laugh or because I made them think as I talked and talked and talked when maybe I should have been listening and I think it’s because I am changing into someone who needs more time to reflect and be purposeful instead of someone who needs to charge ahead and get it all done and I guess this makes me seem to be going off in a different direction and I guess I am because it not only looks different but it feels different like somehow I am becoming that person I should have been had other influences not forced me to develop traits for survival and strength instead of personal fortitude and introspection. —Kimberley Moran

At times these days I think about the ways my children’s arms and hearts reach out to me…once their hearts beat inside my womb and mine kept time and half time to theirs, I knew each beat and pull of muscle, each twitch of nerve. Now, they live apart from me, but every fibre of every nerve reacts and responds as it did so long ago when they call about heartbreak, loss, love, and hope.  Again, in that moment, we are one body and our hearts beat in rhythm again. —Tara Smith

Then we talked about the process.  The writing of it and how we each came to it with our own unique lens.  The beauty of this.  And how we can do this for our students.  How when we write together in community, not only does our creativity flow, our connection is enriched.

But we also talked about trust.  How we wrote and shared because we trust each other.   When we write alongside our students and build a community of writers, trust must be present.  The students need to trust each other, and they need to trust me.  That I will honor their words and honor the place they came from.   Real writing comes from a vulnerable place.  We need to experience this vulnerability ourselves in order to understand it in our students.  A teacher of writing must be a writer. This is what I believe and this is what my friends writing together proved.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I have been “under the weather” lately. After I wrote that sentence, I had to tab over to Google search where that idiom comes from.

“To be under the weather is to be unwell. This comes  from a maritime source. In the old days, when a sailor was unwell, he was sent down below to help his recovery, under the deck and away from the weather.”

This cold that came on with laryngitis sent me below deck. Our gifted program is a pull-out academic program, so my students just stay with their regular teacher when I am not there. I sent an email to all the teachers asking that my students be allowed to use the computer. There I can keep connected with them through our kidblog site.

I know a lot of schools have become Google schools, but our district isn’t there yet. But kidblog works. Here is the screen to my posts this week. I can send an assignment with links as well as individual messages for students. And I shared that we won Douglas Florian’s book on Today’s Little Ditty! Yay!

Kidblog screen

Through our kidblog site, we can also connect across the miles with other kidblog classrooms. As we approach the March Slice of Life Challenge, I am pushing my students to pay more attention to these connections. If you want to connect your class with mine, let me know.

In what ways do you stay connected to your students?

Do you know about Digital Learning Day? Sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education, #DLDay is scheduled for February 17th, 2016.

Share your digital literacy posts below.

Celebrating Writing

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

I have been reading many posts lately about writing. As a teacher/writer, those are the posts that resonate with me. But I started wondering, I mean, really, how much more can be written about writing? At some point, don’t we all just have to do it?

I enjoyed Pernille Ripp’s recent post I am Not a Writer- On Developing Student Writer Identity. She writes about how her own writing process informed what she knows about students and writing. In her list of things to keep in mind about student writers, she points out that “All writers are writers.” At first this statement sounds like “well, duh!” as my kids would say, but when you really think about it, how often do I make this claim? When I make myself tell someone I am a writer, I feel awkward. I make excuses. I rarely say it with any kind of confidence. What does it take to claim the writer in me? How do I encourage my students to claim their writer selves?

I follow the Two Writing Teachers blog. There are now eight writing teachers, and each one has a unique writer’s voice. They are currently running a blog series on “Discovering the Writer’s Life.” Deb Frazier wrote a post this week “So, Why Do I Write? Discovering the Writer’s Life.” She wrote “As a teacher who writes, I know the power of an active writing community.” This has always been true for me. I have sought out other writers. I have had a number of different writing groups. Each has led me, fed me, and nurtured my writing life.

Most recently, I joined three other teacher-writers from different areas of the states in a Voxer chat. I have to admit, at first, I was skeptical. I thought, “We’re just going to talk about writing? No writing?” I was so wrong. We talk every day. I have more than a writing group. I have a support group. We do share writing, thoughts about writing, and ideas for later projects. But we are also becoming close friends. Today I celebrate this group. We call ourselves “Four Friends Writing,” and that is exactly who we are for each other–friends.

Through this life of blogging, I have connected with some wonderful people. Laura Shovan has invited me to participate in a daily writing challenge for February. I think this is my third year to do it. Nothing like a challenge to make me write. And this one is poetry. I love writing poetry. So each day I take a look at the found object image, open up the note pad on my computer, and compose something. Other writers are doing it, too. It’s never too late to join. This is another community of supportive writers. As I write this, I realize I haven’t written a poem for today yet. Guess I need to follow my own advice and do. it.

Join the TWT's Twitter chat on Feb. 8 at 8:30 EST. #TWTblog

Join the TWT’s Twitter chat on Feb. 8 at 8:30 EST. #TWTblog

Poetry Friday round-up with Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

Poetry Friday round-up with Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect


C,lick to order


The lovely Irene Latham shared her newest book of poems with me and my students.  We had a great time traveling to Antarctica this week.  We started in the glossary.  Where else would you start?  We learned new words like adept, baleen whale, and crèches.  My students made notes in their journals.

We read aloud a sampling of poems, such as “When the Sun Shines on Antarctica” and “Beware the Brinicle!”  Oh, how they hate brinicles, ever since they learned that “this frozen lightning rod…entombs all it touches.”

In the back of this amazing book there is a listing of websites to visit.  We visited Discovering Antarctica.  This site is full of videos, amazing images, and fun activities.  I asked my students to do three activities.  They jumped right in and were riveted.

To culminate the week, we looked back at Irene’s poems and talked about craft moves.  There was onomatopoeia in”Gentoo Penguin Jumps In.”  I showed how Irene played with the way the word appeared on the page (dive actually dives down the page).  We talked about rhyme and short lines, metaphor, simile, and personification.

Then they took a turn at writing their own Antarctic poems.  Thanks, Irene, for leading us on this adventurous discovery.

Antarctica page spread

(My kids love disgusting things like a bird that vomits while flying in the air.)

Southern Giant Petrel at the Seashore

doesn’t do
or suntans–
he’s more
like a flying
trash can.

His belly
is where all
the garbage
his beak
is the lid
that never
stays closed.

don’t come
too near–
or Petrel
will spew
a rotten brew
all over you.

–Irene Latham (used with permission from the author)

Now for student poems.

Antarctica Poem

Freezing water
cold temperatures
Emperor Penguins
Penguin chicks
The sound of silence
Being broken by sounds


Killer Whales eating
Penguins feasting
Petrel barfing
On its predators
Antarctic Galore!

by Andrew, 3rd grade

Adelie Penguins

Little gray balls
beaks with all.

Black and white tuxedos,
important yellow shoes,
they’re businessmen.

White and black gowns,
little golden slippers,
stylish as can be.

–Lynzee, 1st grade

Who am I?

Who am I?
Who am I?

The killer of krill
I eat thousands, in every meal.

My teeth are two plastic plates.
I sing a song to attract my mate.

My bestie is the barnacle.
He’s been here since he fledged.

You guessed it!
You guessed it!

I am the baleen whale.
Now I will end this poem
with the flip of my tail.

–Emily, 5th grade


I have been participating in Laura Shovan’s February writing challenge.  We are writing to images of found objects. Today, our poems are posted by Matt at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme.  


Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.


For Spiritual Thursday, we are writing about our little words.  Today is dedicated to Justin’s word for 2016, Faith. This winter I’ve had a few physical trials that have been frustrating to say the least, but not life threatening. I know I will heal. Sometimes faith is hard. Sometimes faith forsakes. Faith challenges.

Bayou reflection, January.  by Margaret Simon

Bayou reflection, January.
by Margaret Simon

Only in winter
with a certain slant of light
a forest reflection
mirrors a standing of trees.

My eye draws a straight line
up from earth
down to water, this perfect line
dissolves as the sun rises higher.

Yet, I am still standing.
I plant my feet into the earth,
walk a muddy path
holding bare arms out
to catch the wind.

I want to feel your breath
on my skin, Lord. Know you are
with me in all things.
Take hold of my hand.
Whisper all will be well.
All will be well.

–Margaret Simon

Found Object poem #2

Photo by Mary Lee Hahn

Photo by Mary Lee Hahn


Head over to Laura Shovan’s website to see a feast of fresh market, vegetable soup poetry.  I am writing my poems on the yellow notepad on my laptop.  Somehow this feels more like a quick draft place; I don’t have to commit to save it.  More playful. Less need for excellence.


Peppers purple
peppers green

I see ya, eggplant
think you’re hiding
in your shiny skin?

Market days
are silver dollar days
when fresh is
as fresh does.

Make me a salad,

–Margaret Simon



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