Two Poems for Your Pocket


It’s National Poem in Your Pocket Day! My school is closed for spring break this week, so we’ll celebrate next week. When we do, I’ll be carrying Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody, Who are you?” especially for a fifth grade student who asked almost the same question in a poem she wrote last week.

“I’m Nobody, Who are you?”
by Emily Dickinson

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – Too?
Then there’s a pair of us?
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

I was thinking of this poem while I walked this morning. When I heard an unfamiliar bird calling from the top of a tree, I automatically asked, “Who are you?”

Who are you,
flooding my dreams
with your rosy chee-chee-heeee?

Who are you,
bouncing through the apple tree’s
golden finery?

Who are you,
sipping the last beads of dew
from tender new leaves,
like it was nectar for the gods?

© Catherine Flynn, 2016

Poetry Friday: A Day Full of Poetry


“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley”
~ Robert Burns ~

I started working on the poem I planned to share today on Monday. I drafted two versions and played with them both throughout the week. I recorded different lines on my phone on the way to work. But when I sat down last night, nothing worked. The poem just wouldn’t come together and it’s still a muddled mess.

My day was filled with poetry, though. I shared Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem, “Wonder,” with teachers at our Language Arts Committee meeting this morning:


Water the wonder
that lives in your brain.

Water your wonder
with questions like rain.

Read the rest of the poem, and more about Amy’s 2016 poetry project, here.

Then the principal and I read this Douglas Florian poem during morning announcements:

Find this poem and more poetry ideas in Penguin's Guide to Poetry in the Classroom here.
Find this poem and more poetry ideas in Penguin’s Guide to Poetry in the Classroom here.

I shared many poems with my students throughout the day, but didn’t have a minute to think about my own poem. By the time I left work, my prime writing hours were long gone. The weather was writing it’s own poem, though. Dark gray clouds piled up in the northwest, while the sky was still bright blue in to the south. Impatient rain drops were falling and the wind was picking up. It was a gorgeous sight that made me think of this Emily Dickinson poem:

“A Drop fell on the Apple Tree” (794)

A Drop fell on the Apple Tree –
Another – on the Roof –
A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves –
And made the Gables laugh –

A few went out to help the Brook
That went to help the Sea –
Myself Conjectured were they Pearls –
What Necklaces could be –

The Dust replaced, in Hoisted Roads –
The Birds jocoser sung –
The Sunshine threw his Hat away –
The Bushes – spangles flung –

The Breezes brought dejected Lutes –
And bathed them in the Glee –
The Orient showed a single Flag,
And signed the fête away –

Emily Dickinson

Please be sure to visit Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at her lovely blog, The Poem Farm, for the Poetry Friday Roundup.



Poetry Friday: Witchcraft


If you read The New York Times last Sunday, it was hard to miss the fact that Stacy Schiff has a new book coming out. The Witches: Salem, 1692 (Little, Brown) published Tuesday, just in time for Halloween, “delivers an almost novelistic, thrillerlike narrative of those manic nine months,” according to Alexandra Alter.

This period in history has never interested me too much, but after reading the reviews, I’ve added this book to my “to be listened to” list. (Have to save my precious reading time for fiction and poetry!) So imagine my surprise when I found this a few days later as I was reading from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson:


Witchcraft was hung, in History,
But History and I
Find all the witchcraft that we need
Around us, every Day—

I love Dickinson’s sly use of the word “hung” and how she alludes to Mother Nature, that most mysterious witch of all.

Illustration for "The Green Forest Fairy Book" by Loretta Ellen Brady, By Alice B. Preston, 1920 ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Illustration for “The Green Forest Fairy Book” by Loretta Ellen Brady, By Alice B. Preston, 1920 ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Halloween, everyone! Be sure to visit Jone at Check It Out for the Poetry Friday Round Up.

Poetry Friday: National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry


I treated myself to an early birthday present on Tuesday, and bought a copy of J. Patrick Lewis’s latest anthology, National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry. What a treasure! Like it’s companion volume, National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry, it is filled with stunning photographs and beautiful, evocative poetry. And it’s exciting to see the work of so many Poetry Friday regulars in this collection! Congratulations to Matt, Kelly, Charles, Mary Lee, Julie, B.J., Laura, Amy, April, and Janet! (So sorry if I missed anyone!) And what would a collection of nature poetry be without poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Georgia Heard, Marilyn Singer, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jane Yolen, and more. I know I’ll be savoring this book for weeks to come.


Many classics are also included, and I was happy to see this old favorite:

“The Morns Are Meeker Than They Were”

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf;
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

by Emily Dickinson

One of our maple trees, wearing its “gayer scarf” in the morning sun.

If you haven’t gotten a copy of this gorgeous book yet, don’t delay! In the meantime, be sure to visit Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, whose wonderful poem “Petrified Forest” is included in the book, at The Poem Farm for the Poetry Friday Round Up.

Poetry Friday: From Cocoon Forth a Butterfly


Did you know today is Butterfly Day? Emily Dickinson, herself elusive as a butterfly, wrote many poems about these awe-inspiring insects. This is one of my favorites.

From Cocoon Forth a Butterfly (354)
by Emily Dickinson

From Cocoon forth a Butterfly
As Lady from her Door
Emerged—a Summer Afternoon—
Repairing Everywhere—

Without Design—that I could trace
Except to stray abroad
On Miscellaneous Enterprise
The Clovers—understood—

Her pretty Parasol be seen
Contracting in a Field
Where Men made Hay—
Then struggling hard
With an opposing Cloud—

Where Parties—Phantom as Herself—
To Nowhere—seemed to go
In purposeless Circumference—
As ’twere a Tropic Show—

And notwithstanding Bee—that worked—
And Flower—that zealous blew—
This Audience of Idleness
Disdained them, from the Sky—

Till Sundown crept—a steady Tide—
And Men that made the Hay—
And Afternoon—and Butterfly—
Extinguished—in the Sea—

Jan van Kessel the Elder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jan van Kessel the Elder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Please be sure to visit A Year of Reading, where Mary Lee has the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: A Spicing of Birds


One of my earliest memories is finding the remnants of a robin’s egg under a tree in my grandmother’s front yard. When I showed her my treasure, she “oohed” and “ahhed” and told me all kinds of interesting things about robins. 

I’ve been thinking about birds a lot these past few days. Now that spring is finally here, birds start singing in the tree outside my window before my alarm goes off. I don’t know as much about birds as my grandmother did, but they still fascinate me. So yesterday, when I stopped in at the library, my eye was immediately drawn to this book on the new book display shelf:

Schuman comp_final.indd A Spicing of Birds (Wesleyan University Press, 2010) is a gorgeous book. Jo Miles Schuman and Joanna Bailey Hodgman have selected thirty-seven of Emily Dickinson’s poems about birds and paired them with illustrations “by late eighteenth century to early twentieth century artists/ornithologists.” An introduction describes Dickinson as an “intimate of birds;” someone who “observed them closely and knew intimately their songs, habits, and characteristics.” Her poetry is filled with the fruits of her noticings. Here is one of my favorite poems from this lovely collection.

The Robin is the One

That interrupt the Morn

With hurried—few—express Reports

When March is scarcely on—

The Robin is the One

That overflow the Noon

With her cherubic quantity—

An April but begun—

The Robin is the One

That speechless from her Next

Submit that Home—and Certainty

And Sanctity, are best.

Please be sure to visit Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup for the Poetry Friday Round Up.