My Grandmother

had
spades and trowels
and
watering cans,
clippers and rakes
and gloves
and
a wide, ribboned hat
of sun-dried
straw
which was
first
what we
saw
when we went
to her garden.

My grandmother
had
bulbs and seed
and
plants
to plant
and
weeds
to weed
and
flies to flick
from
her wide, ribboned hat
of sun-dried
straw
which was
first
what we saw
when we went
to her garden.

My grandmother
had
ants
and aphids
and
bumblebees,
shiny-backed beetles
and butterflies
and
spiders,
but
first
what we saw
was
her wide, ribboned hat
of sun-dried
straw
when we went
to her garden.

My grandmother
had
sparrows
and
hummingbirds
in the
flowerbed
and
an oriole
singing
overhead,
and swallows,
but
first
what we saw
was
her wide, ribboned hat
of sun-dried
straw
when we went to her garden.

My grandmother
had
daisies and
primrose,
tiger lilies
and
phlox,
bearded iris
and
hollyhocks,
foxglove
and
bright red poppies,
and
a rose
that was
our great grandmother’s
rose,
but
first
what we saw
was
her wide, ribboned hat
of sun-dried
straw,
her wide, ribboned hat
of sun-dried
straw
when we went
to her garden.

My grandfather mowing by my grandmother’s garden.

Grass Song

Witchgrass, Switchgrass, in-the-roadside-ditch grass;
Junegrass, strewn grass, waving-on-the-dune grass;
        Everywhere I pass, grass. Everywhere I see

Bluegrass, new grass, wet-with-morning-dew grass;
Stiff grass, sniff grass, growing-on-the-cliff grass;
       Everywhere I pass, grass. Everywhere I see

Foxtail, Squirreltail, standing-brown-and-stale grass;
Barley, Timothy, tickles-on-the-knee grass;
         Everywhere I pass, grass. Everywhere I see

Sweet Grass, peat grass, soft-beneath-my-feet grass;
Clump grass, stump grass, even-in-the-dump grass;
Shy grass, high grass, almost-to-the-sky grass!
       Everywhere I pass, grass – and grasses pass me!

                                                                        EBO

How many different kinds of grasses can you find in this song? *

Many poems become songs to sing, dances to dance, or games to play. 

Can you snap, clap, jump, skip, twist or turn as you chant this poem?
Can you make up your own little dance for it? 

Once, on an author visit in Nova Scotia, I was surprised by a grade three and four class who had created a circle dance with Grass Song. The children held baskets of different kinds of grasses as they danced and chanted to the rhythm of the poem.

* (9)  Witchgrass, Switchgrass, Junegrass, Bluegrass, Foxtail, Squirreltail, Barley, Timothy, Sweet Grass. (We could also count Ticklegrass  for “tickles-on-the-knee grass” and Dunegrass for “waving-on-the-dune grass.” That would make 11!))

Wind Dance, 1999,  Scholastic Canada

The Spittlebug

No one can see the spittlebug –

(Not that it’s such a little bug.)

    But it’s cleverly hiding

    And coolly residing

In just enough spit to fit-a-bug.

EBO

The Island

The island like a green ship waits
while waters wash its weary sides
and spray keeps soft its mossy decks;
while squirrels leap and climb the masts
and mice run ‘round its tangled ropes.

The island like a green ship waits –
    a green ship waits,
     a green ship waits.

The island like a green ship waits
while birds find bits of cargo scraps
and winds play long the ready sails
and high one sailor watches out
for who might lift the anchors up.

The island like green ship waits –
         a green ship waits,
          a green ship waits –
the island like a green ship waits.

EBO

The Snapper

That’s not a rock
under the dock,
but  a
Snapper –
a
     dinosaurus,
     megalosaurus,
     superlosaurus
     Snapper!
a    
     gigantiferous,
     ancient omnivorous,
     soporiferous
     Snapper –

Doesn’t anybody
care
that he’s waking
from his lair?

Everybody on the lake,
beware!

That’s not a rock
under the dock,
but a
Snapper –
and it’s just
his head.
It’s what I said –
a
  dinosaurus,
  megalosaurus,
  superlosaurus
  Snapper!

a  
  gigantiferous,
  ancient omnivorous,
  soporiferous
  Snapper!

See the algae
on his chin
and his
monstrous
muddy
grin?

Everybody on the lake,
come in!

That’s not a rock
under the dock
but a
Snapper;
and he’s
ready to rise
and take
before our eyes
everyone
on the dock
by surprise –

this
       dinosaurus
       megalosaurus
       superlosaurus
       Snapper –
this
       gigantiferous
       ancient omnivorous
       soporiferous
       Snapper!

Everybody on the lake, be wise!

That’s not a rock
under the dock,
but a Snapper!

And there they go –
(I told you so!)

uncles
and  aunts
and cousins
and chairs
and dozens
of towels
and numerous
pairs
of sneakers
and  socks
all caught
unawares.

They’re off for a ride
to the lake’s farthest side
on the
        dinosaurus
         megalosaurus
        superlosaurus
        Snapper –
the
        gigantiferous
        ancient omnivorous
        soporiferous
        Snapper!

EBO

The Frog Bog

There is
no room
in the
frog bog
for a poem –
not even
a line
or
a word
or a
space
of a poem
because
the place
is taken up
with
paragraphs
of rock
and pool
and
phrases
of legs
and arms,
jumps
and bumps
of
punctuation
marks
between
cousins
and cousins,

and cousins
and frogs

and frogs
and frogs.

There is no room
in the frog bog
for a poem.

EBO

The Storm

grumbles
from
far
and far away;
moves
closer,
burdened,
bold and gray

stumbles
and cracks
his crooked cane
scattering
fast
and frightened
rain

chases
us in
until he is gone
far away
stumbling,
grumbling on.

EBO

“Chickadee Magazine”  April 1994

Little Chipmunk

Perched in the sun, little chipmunk;
Ready for a run, little chipmunk?
Come, come, come, little chipmunk,
Come, come, come!
Your whiskers and your nose, your tail and your toes
are ready for a run,
so come, come, come!

Running here and there, little chipmunk;
Tail up in the air, little chipmunk;
Don’t be scared of a scare, little chipmunk;
Come, come, come.
See the little tracks of our watermelon snacks
we have scattered in the sun?
So come, come, come!

With furry cheeks plump, little chipmunk;
You can run and jump, little chipmunk,
Down your hole by the stump, little chipmunk,
So come, come, come.
You’ll have enough in your cheeks for many winter weeks
If you come, come, come.
Come, come, come!

Though your white stripes fly, little chipmunk;
You’re tame, not shy, little chipmunk;
So we’ll wait close by, little chipmunk
Until you come, come, come.

Come, come, come little chipmunk,
Come, come, come.
Come, come, come.

EBO

Summer Reading

I read a book this summer when we traveled to the shore.
I read it in the car till I reached page twenty-four.
I read it in the boat to the motor’s steady hum,
Until the water splashed and sprayed on page thirty-one.

I read it on the beach when we got ourselves to land.
Now page forty-seven is speckled brown with sand.
I read it with an ice cream in the hot and melting sun,
When drops of sticky chocolate fell on page fifty-one.

I read it in a hammock when a spider from the tree
Came down and crawled across the words on page sixty-three.
I read it by the fire roasting marshmallow quite late.
Now page eighty-seven sticks to page eighty-eight.

I read it in my sleeping bag (no one could see the light).
I read until I’d finished in the middle of the night.
Then I read the last page over and over one more time,
Until my head dropped down to sleep on page ninety-nine!

EBO

“Chickadee,” Summer, 1995

My Lollipop

Making Ice Cream

Here comes
the sugar
and
the cream
and
rock salt
and
ice
and
a bit of
vanilla
and
strawberries
sliced.

Here comes
the bucket,
and
the paddle,
and
the crank
to hold
to turn
ice cream
delicious
and
ice cream
cold!

Ribbon Seller’s Song

Ribbons, ribbons, plenty of ribbons!

Will anyone buy from me

       Ribbons of sunlight,

       Ribbons of seaweed,

Ribbons of bark from the tree?

Ribbons, ribbons, I sell ribbons.

Will anyone stop to buy

       Ribbons of rootlets,

       Ribbons of rainbows,

Ribbons of cloud from the sky?

EBO

Wind in my Pocket, 1990, Breakwater Books.  Wind Dance, 1999, Scholastic Canada