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A couple of weeks ago, I posted some pictures of the built-in bookcases that we had installed at our new home. I’ve already begun filling the shelves—even though we haven’t moved yet.
Julia likes to visit my “library,” look at all the pictures books, pull books off the shelves and “read” them. Sometimes, she insists on taking one of the books back over to her side of the house.
(BTW, we're planning to have another built-in bookcase made for our upstairs hallway. One can never have too many bookcases!)
I often grab my “gram cam” to snap pictures of Julia reading books.
Julia reading Miss Mary Mack.
Julia reading Merry Christmas, Ollie!
One of Julia’s new favorites isn’t a picture book. It’s Grace Lin’s Dumpling Days. One night last week, she refused to go to bed without the book. On Wednesday afternoon, she sat on the floor of the family room quietly flipping through the pages and looking at the illustrations/sketches that Grace included in her novel. That night, her dad told me she chose Dumpling Days over her favorite stuffed animal when he put her to sleep.
I know I’ve mentioned more than once on this blog that I LOVE writing animal mask poems. I have written dozens of them. A few years ago, I took the advice of my friends Grace Lin and Janet Wong and culled out all the poems about smaller animals and insects that children might observe in their backyards or find close to home for a collection. I also wrote some new poems. I had tentatively titled the collection Backyard Voices. Then I changed it to Listen! Listen! after I wrote the following poem to introduce my collection of animal mask poems:
Listen. Listen. Cup an ear.
Little creatures living near
Speak in voices we can hear.
One of the new poems that I wrote for Listen! Listen! is about insects that we hate to find invading our homes—TERMITES.
One of the things I remember most about the autumns of my childhood is the scent of burning leaves. I miss that today. The following poem is based on my memory of a time I spent with two of my cousins at my grandparents’ house. We raked up a pile of autumn leaves and sat on wooden crates watching—and smelling—the leaves burn at dusk on a cool October day.
By Elaine Magliaro
Two tall maple trees grow
in front of my grandparents’ house. In late October they shed their golden crowns. When the fallen leaves curl up like little brown bear cubs, we rake them into a pile at the side of the street. As dusk arrives Dzidzi sets our harvest afire with a single match. We sit on wooden crates at the sidewalk’s edge, watch the brittle leaves blossom into golden flames, smell autumn’s pungent breath. From the pyre summer rises, a small gray ghost, and drifts away into the darkening sky.
I wrote the first draft of the following animal mask poem last month. I kept fiddling with it over the weeks. I felt it needed a couple more lines—but hit a wall. Then, when I was in bed the other night, two lines just popped into my head.
Here is my most recent draft of that poem--which is told in the voice of migrating geese:
THE SOUND OF FALL
By Elaine Magliaro
So long…farewell. We’re on our way.
We must depart. We can’t delay Our journey to a warmer clime. Mother Nature warned: “It’s time!” We’re heading south before the snow… And winter winds begin to blow. We leave you with our parting call— Honk! Honk! Honk! THAT’S the sound of fall.
Yesterday, I watched my granddaughter Julia as she looked out the side door at two gray squirrels scampering along the old rock wall that serves as the boundary line between our “new” property and the property of our next door neighbors. It’s fun for me to look at a familiar scene like squirrels skittering around through the eyes of little Julia who gets so excited about such things. I enjoy listening to her excited noises when she gets wrapped up in the wonder of things that are new to her young eyes.
Today, I’m sharing an animal mask poem. In it, I tried to capture the voice of a squirrel busy scavenging for food in autumn.
By Elaine Magliaro
I’m a hurrier scurrier scamperer scavenger searching for acorns and maple tree seeds stashing them now for my wintertime needs.
I’m busy. I’ve much work to do. So sorry I can’t stop To visit with you.
Must scurry… Can’t chatter today. I’m busy…too busy Must be on my way.
Here are some pictures of Julia enjoying her first tastes of her Grampy’s yummy homemade lasagna:
Here are two pictures that I took of her when we vacationed in Maine in late August:
Here is a picture that I took of Julia at her first birthday party in August:
I apologize for being absent from Wild Rose Readerfor so long. It has been an especially busy and hectic summer for me. Just this past month, I’ve attended two family weddings, celebrated my granddaughter Julia's first birthday, vacationed in Maine, and bought a house! My husband and I hadn’t planned on moving because we love the house we are living in at the present time--and we love our neighborhood. I have, however, been spending a lot of time away from home living at my daughter’s and providing daycare for my granddaughter. That has left me little time to read, write, blog, spend with my husband, or visit with friends and other family. My husband, daughter, son-in-law, and I decided a few months ago that it would best for all of us if we could find a home where we could all live together. I didn’t think we’d find the perfect place so soon...but we did. It was the first property that we looked at.
Here are some pictures that I took yesterday of the grounds around the house:
My daughter, son-in-law, and Julia will live in the main house—a Georgian farmhouse built around 1790--with an addition that was built circa 1850. My husband and I will live in the in-law suite--the carriage house that was converted into an apartment in 1999.
The original owner of the house was a woodworker and an apple farmer. In fact, he had an apple orchard on our property. The thought of an apple orchard brought to mind a memoir poem that I wrote about my maternal grandparents and the apples that grew in their yard.
We tasted the green apples of summer,
watched the season pass through Dzidzi’s garden,
shared its bounty.
Now we help harvest the autumn apples.
Dzidzi places two large baskets beneath the tree.
He stands on a ladder and reaches for the highest apples.
Backyard Mermaids is a memoir poem. It relates a memory of one of the summer experiences I had with two of my first cousins at the home of my maternal grandparents. My cousins lived on one side of my grandparents’ house. We spent lots of vacation days together—running through the lawn sprinkler, picking vegetables in my grandfather’s garden, playing dress-up in the basement, meeting in our clubhouse under my grandparents’ front porch.
Every now and then, I like to write poems about a particular subject in a number of different ways. I have arranged the following three mole poems in the order in which I wrote them. The first poem is a “things to do” list poem; the second and third are mask poems.
One of my favorite sounds is that of crickets chirping on summer nights. I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to them lately because it has been so hot around here lately that we’ve had to run the air conditioner in our bedroom.
Here’s an acrostic poem I wrote some years ago about crickets strumming on summer evenings:
Last September, I wrote a post titled Cleaning House and Discovering Old Poems. Well, I’ve been cleaning house again—that’s why I’ve taken a brief break from blogging. This time, I am truly a woman on a mission. I’ve been throwing away TONS of stuff—except for old poems. My library/office in my basement had become so cluttered and disorganized that it was difficult to find things. (That wasn’t the only room in the house that needed attention!) It feels so good to be getting rid of things that I don’t need or no longer use…to be organized…to have room once more in my cupboards and drawers and closets…to be able to locate things easily.
While going through all my stuff, I found some old photographs and newspaper clippings. Memories came flooding back—memories of family…friends…times past…places we have traveled to. I also began to think about all the happy memories the house where I live holds for me. I admit that I have a sentimental attachment to my home of thirty-six years.
There is another house that holds a special place in my heart. It’s the home of my maternal grandparents where I spent many of my of my happiest childhood days. This Friday, I’m taking a stroll down memory lane with the following poem about my grandparents’ house.
A Home for the Seasons
My grandparents’ house seems to hug their shady street.
A white duplex, its twin front doors
stand side by side
just three steps up from the sidewalk.
4 Comments on A Home for the Seasons: An Original Memoir Poem, last added: 7/7/2012
My maternal grandparents got me my first bicycle when I was in first grade. I had a little bit of trouble learning how to keep myself steady on my new bike without training wheels. Once I learned how to ride it though—I rode it everywhere! I loved the feeling of freedom it gave me. I could imagine I was flying through the air.
My daughter LOVED riding her bike when she was young too. She’d whiz around our neighborhood—her blond hair flowing in the wind. She could pedal for hours and not get tired. I think she got the same feeling riding her bike as I did when I was a kid.
This “things to do” poem is for my daughter Sara and the fond memories I have of her speeding around our neighborhood on her bicycle.
When I was teaching second grade, we did a unit of study on butterflies and metamorphosis. My students and I enjoyed observing the development of tiny caterpillars into adult painted lady butterflies in the classroom. I’d take my class on a field trip to The Butterfly Place in Westford, Massachusetts every spring. We loved watching many different kinds of butterflies flitting around under the clear dome, settling on flowers, sipping nectar through their proboscises. It was fascinating!
I settle on a blossom.
I taste it with my feet, Uncoil my long proboscis And sip the nectar sweet.
I flit around in sunlight.
I wile away the hours Dining in your garden, Feasting on your flowers.
A few years ago, I wrote a poem titled Things to Do If You Are Night. This past week, I thought I’d attempt writing one titled Things to Do if You Are Day--which is composed of rhyming couplets. Here are both poems:
Things to Do If You Are Night
Be the shadow of day. Put the sun to bed and light the moon. Rouse sleeping rabbits and owls. Paint the oceans black. Sprinkle the sky with stars. Slip softly away before dawn.
Things to Do If You Are Day
Arrive at dawn. Bid stars goodbye.
Switch on the sun and light the sky. Send night creatures off to bed. Make morning rise like a loaf of bread. Wake drowsy bees in their honeyed hive.
3 Comments on Two original Poems: Things to Do If You Are Night & Things to Do If You Are Day, last added: 4/15/2012
This poem is dedicated to the memory of my maternal grandfather "Dzidzi." Dzidzi loved growing things--including fruit trees, flowers, bushes...and especially vegetables in he backyard garden. Dzidzi's Garden comes from my unpublished collection of memoir poems titled A Home for the Seasons.
After a long New England winter,
Dzidzi grows impatient for planting season. He enjoys working outdoors growing things— “like I did in the Old Country.” How Dzidzi loves his garden. He cares for it the way a father cares for his children. It is his other home, the one with a ceiling of sky and a carpet of brown earth. In late spring, in summer, and in early autumn, he spends his weekends and his hours after work at the leather factory here breaking up clods of hardened earth, sowing seeds, watering, weeding, and tending to his plants. During growing season, family and neighbors are always welcome to pick carrots, cucumbers, onions, peppers, beets, beans, and the fattest, reddest tomatoes in all of Massachusetts from my grandfather’s vegetable patch. We all reap the rewards of Dzidzi’s green thumb.
A few years ago, Grace Lin and Janet Wong critiqued my manuscript of animal mask poems. When they read Pterodactyl’s Wish, they got the idea that I should write a collection of poems about extinct animals.
I’m pterodactyl. I’m extinct. I’m just a fossil now… A relic of Earth’s ancient past. I wish that I knew how To break these rocky bonds Which keep me trapped in days of yore So I could flap my stony wings And fly again once more.
I got to work right away on the collection. I read nonfiction books about dinosaurs and other extinct animals. I also did research on the Internet. I soon began writing poems about different kinds of dinosaurs, fossils, the woolly mammoth, the dodo bird, Beelzebufo (a giant frog), the megalodon, the La Brea Tar Pits. I also wrote a poem about the coelacanth—a fish that was thought to have gone extinct over sixty million years ago.
Here’s some information about the coelacanth from National Geographic:
I have a good excuse for posting late this Poetry Friday. Look at the picture below.
Here's the background story. I was the second car in line at the drive-up window at the bank where we do business. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the car in front of me BACKING UP! I honked my horn--but too late. The driver of the car crashed into me and broke my passenger-side headlight. So it goes.
Now...from car crashes to poetry...about children's books.
One of the things that I enjoyed most about being an elementray school teacher was reading aloud to children. It's something that I still miss eight years after my retirement. These days I--like other family members--love reading to my little granddaughter Julia Anna who is beginning to understand books better now that she is eight-months-old. She does, however, still enjoy chewing on her favorite board books.
Me? I’m the month when spring is in full swing...when the sun batters up
And hits a home run nearly every day…when
You find summer in the bullpen warming up.
Win a Poetry Book!
I’ve decided to extend National Poetry Month until May 5that Wild Rose Reader. That means if you leave a comment at any of my poetry posts (except for the Poetry Friday Roundup) that I publish from Sunday, April 29ththrough Saturday, May 5th—I’ll enter your name in the drawing to win a copy of I Am the Book—with poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkinsand illustrations by Yayo.
7 Comments on MAY: An Original Acrostic, last added: 5/6/2012
I feel as if I’ve fallen off the face of the kidlit blogging world. It’s difficult finding time to write book reviews and new poems to post at Wild Rose Reader when I’m away from home so much and so busy taking care of my granddaughter Julia—who will turn ten-months-old next week!
Today, I thought I’d post an acrostic poem about June…as this is the first day of the month.
Just as spring grows weary, Mother Nature
Ushers in a brand
New season of sun and fun.
Everyone cheers for summer and the end of school.
P.S. Julia LOVES blackberries!
9 Comments on JUNE: An Original Acrostic Poem, last added: 6/2/2012
I’ve mentioned many times on this blog how much I enjoy writing animal mask poems. I have quite a collection of them. A couple of years ago at the suggestion of two friends and writing advisers (Grace Lin and Janet Wong), I culled the poems about smaller animals that children might observe in their backyards or close to home--earthworms, frogs, spiders, butterflies, etc.--for a collection that I call Backyard Voices. I also began writing more poems about little creatures that most children are familiar with for the collection.
In addition, I took the poems about bigger and/or boastful animals (grizzly bear, blue whale, lion, toucan) and put them in a separate collection tentatively titled Loud and Proud. As I was reading through my Loud and Proud manuscript this morning, I found a poem about a rooster I had forgotten that I had written. (I love finding forgotten poems!) Here it is:
The sun is rising. You should too.
Wake up! Wake up, sleepyhead.
Get your body out of bed.
I bring the morning news to you.
6 Comments on ROOSTER: An Original Animal Mask Poem, last added: 6/11/2012
My husband and I became shareholders in a local organic farm this year. We’re happy about being involved in CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). CSA has become popular around these parts. We had been on a waiting list for two years.
Last Monday, my husband, daughter, and granddaughter went to Appleton Farms to pick our weekly barn share of farm produce. They also "picked-our-own share" from the garden. One item they reaped from the garden was a basket of strawberries. Yum!
With strawberries on my mind this week, I decided to post a childhood memoir poem about picking the luscious red fruit in my grandfather’s garden.