Of contests and dirt poems

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My thanks to everyone who is participating in this month’s contests. At the end of October I’ll draw a winning name from those who have signed my website guest book. The winner will receive his or her choice of an autographed book or a critique of some poetry or a picture book.Also at the end of October I’ll send an autographed copy of Partner Poems to the person who has left the most comments on my blog site during this month.

I’ve been delighted by all the poems you’re shared this month! It’s amazing how many ways the word dirt has inspired us. The first of November I’ll announce a new word so I hope you’ll participate again and spread the word to others who might like to join the fun.

I expect to see more dirt poems come in but here’s what we have so far. I thought you might enjoy seeing them all in one place. Let me know if I’ve overlooked anyone.


I liked you the first time we met,
at least I thought I would like you
if I got to know you,
except for your nails.
I couldn’t help noticing
the foul moon-rims of grime
clutching at your cuticles.
The thought occurred that dirt,
which you like enough
to pack at your fingertips,
might have a poem buried in it.
Honestly, I had little hope for my subject.
It’s hard to hold something in high esteem
that one tracks in on one’s shoes.
Only my respect for you kept me going.
Turns out there’s more
than meets the eye with dirt.
Roots slow-motionly wriggling down
like moles in the dark after water
prize off tiny flecks of bedrock.
Mix enough rock parts with humus
and you’re getting somewhere, dirt-wise.
Humus is a dry gumbo,
the handiwork of dentrivores,
a multiracial gang of ruffians, mostly
fungi, worms, bacteria, mites, and insects –
mercenary goblins that dine on decay,
slurping dead plants and animals
till you could easily mistake diner for dinner.
Thanks to dentrivores, not all dirt
tastes the same. But considering
the supply you keep on hand,
I may not be telling you something
you don’t know.
When you think about dirt,
and I can’t seem to stop,
dirt provides lodging for a zoo
of creatures that grub, grope, and burrow
through its gritty underworld.
Mixed with water dirt fortifies bird nests and
helps mud daubers stick their homes
in annoying places such as
above my garage door.
By contrast, dust courts the corporate crowd.
Swirling like a truant genie,
dust grants wishes to carwash owners
and supports entire industries
of polish, soap, and facial tissue makers,
but I digress. The thing is, I was right
about liking you in spite of your nails
crammed with limestone powder, worm goo,
and the odd molecule of bee leg or roach
(all in a day’s work for humus).
But I can’t resist suggesting that dirt
should stick with dirt and you might consider
returning your private stash to the garden
or perhaps to a trash sack headed to
the dump. Then, I believe,
at least I hope very much, that
I can put down this thing about dirt
and wipe it off of my worry list.
— David L Harrison


Just sitting here a thousand years – not doing much it seems,
But without me you wouldn’t see that field of flowing green.
There wouldn’t be a hilltop there and vessels made of clay,
No spot for seeds to hide and grow, no place for mice to play
Or other creatures great and small – from moles to bears in caves.
Some things would not know where to stop – like rivers, lakes and waves.
Just sitting here a thousand years – if you dig deep, than more!
I’d let you know so many things – if I had lips like yours.
I’d tell you if the dinosaurs were green or blue or grey,
What ancient people liked to do and what they had to say.
And how the Moon in eons past drew near, was giant-size!
I’d share with you the wonder of that very first sunrise.
I wish that you had all the time that I have sitting here
To slowly watch the changes taking place each million years.
And oh, the things that happen, if you have more time than this.
I’m sorry for those things you haven’t seen and all you’ll miss!
The earth, it moves! And mountains form! New creatures come and go.
Whole cities rise and fall and then will once more start to grow.
Just sitting here thousands of years I’ve watched a lot go by.
I know you cannot live this way, but sometimes, won’t you try
To think about the things I’ve seen and all that I might see.
Remember that I look to you and when you walk on me
The silent dirt that’s all around – the soil, sand and clay
Imagine all you’d be and share if you were me one day.
— Liz Korba


Young Bobby went outside to play
In a black-muddy, spring-sloppy way.
He took off his shoes
As he danced in the ooze
And gave thanks for the glorious day!
– Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved


concrete rivers hide
hungering, slumbering clay
sleeping gardens wait
– Susan Taylor Brown, all rights reserved


Did I hear you say,
“Eeeuuu, worm poop”?
Well, let me tell
you something, Missy–
worm poop is just
another name for dirt.
Dirt may be an odd
way of saying life, but
for me that’s exactly
what it is. So, if you
want me predicting
your love life, you’d
better be showing
those worms a little
more respect. Got it?
– Diane Mayr


The opposite of clean is dirt
Like ketchup dribbled on your shirt
Or grass stains on your favorite jeans
Or brown stuff stuck to fresh plucked beans
It’s bunnies made of dust and hair
And specks and flecks found everywhere!
— Tricia Stohr-Hunt


Dirt, Oh boy. mud pies!
I’ll make up lots and lots
and set them here to dry
When that kid down the road comes by
I’ll make him eat them pie by pie.
— Jan Gallagher


Pies for sale!
Mud pies for sale!
The finest mud pies
In the world for sale!
Mud pie cherry,
Mud pie peach,
Mud pie apple,
One dollar each,
Mud pie chocolate,
Mud pie lime,
Mud pie gooseberry,
Two for a dime!
How about you, Sir?
Give a pie a try?
Step right up
For a nice mud pie!
If you don’t like
How my pies are made,
Try a nice glass
Of my mud lemonade.
— David L Harrison


Mud is like Silly Putty
it is for playing.
Mud puddles after rain
a slpash delight.
Mud is for mud pies,
but who eats them.
To a cow,
mud is cool.
To a pig,
a beautiful thing.
Toe prints are nice.
Mud fights are not.
— Mary Nida Smith


When you talk about dirt,
You gotta talk about dig.
When you talk about mud,
You gotta talk about a pig.
Oh baby . . .
How do I make my way?
When I start with common dirt – I naturally head straight for a cliche.
My Grandma said, “You eat a peck
Of dirt before you die.”
But I say, “What the heck?!”
I can avoid that if I try!
Oh Grandma . . .
What can you tell me now?
I gotta write this dirty poem, but I cannot – figure out how.
I guess I’ll start from scratch.
With a wordy mud pie.
That way I’ll use a bit of dirt
And mix it with these tears
I cry . . .
Out of frustration and fear.
I’ve got a grimy little blues song – that no one else will ever hear.
— Mimi Cross


Yummy, yummy mud pie,
I eat it all the time.
It’s brown, watery, and smells real bad,
But I’d rather eat it with a lime.
Yummy, yummy mud pie,
It looks just like brown mush.
It’s getting weirder everyday,
Don’t step in it! Eww (Squish).
Yummy, yummy mud pie,
Now it’s on your shoe.
It’s getting green and ugly,
I wish I had some too!
Yummy, yummy mud pie,
Now it’s almost gone.
Yummy, yummy mud pie,
I guess I’ll make another one!
— Alyssa Kirch, 5th Grade


The dirt of earth is often thought
to be a thing not pretty.
It may be black or tan or red
and rocky, smooth or gritty.
But dirt is probably the most
important thing we’ve got.
Without it where would orchards grow
or clay to make a pot?
Or what would bricks to build a house
be made from without dirt?
Or sandbags to protect a town
and people from flood-hurt?
A mound of dirt piled up real high
could be a climbing hill;
a tiny rose might spring from soil
upon a window sill.
God even formed the first man from
the dirt of earth, you see.
So when we stop to think of it,
without dirt where’d we be?
— Reta Stewart Allen


The earthworm knows no books.
He chews, instead, hard news
That gravels through his crooks.
He grinds each borer’s bit
Of literary grit
And feeds wildflower’s muse.
— Steven Withrow


10 comments on “Of contests and dirt poems

    • Dear Steven,

      I appreciate your comments and support. Thanks for joining in.

      I’m still adding words to the list of poem starters so let me know if any come to mind.


  1. What an amazing collection of poems. I’m always amazed when I post a prompt and everyone comes at it from a different angle. The variety or themes and the risks people take make me love poetry all the more.

    Thanks for rounding these up for us.

    • Tricia,

      Well said. And to think that they all sprang from the dirt. From the ground up, you might say.

      November is nearly here. Any suggestions for good word starters?



    • Thanks Beth!

      Sometimes these things just happen. I’ve used this technique in my work and always present it at conferences and on handouts. When I heard Billy Collins mention that he sometimes uses it too I thought it was time to try the approach on a wider audience.

      This first month we’ve received eleven poems. I have a feeling that the number of contributing poets is going to grow.



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