Poetry Theme of the Month for May is . . .

Hi everyone,

Thanks to all who suggested themes for the newest poetry challenge. I’m listing everything I received.

State Parks


New poems written in a classic, American folk style:
Modern-day “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” or “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain,

Flowers and Plants (Everyone has at least one “Terrible Turnip” story)

Things that go “bump” in the night

I like seeing all the different things that can come out of a really specific theme, like “leaf” instead of the broader “plants.” So here’s some:
Mint ice cream
Vegetable soup
Swimming pool

Everyday changing of the weather
Weather moods

Animal sounds
Unclaimed or lost treasures
Comfort foods

Thanks again, everyone. I’ve selected seven theme ideas that have enough depth and breadth to support a rich collection of poems. I’ll announce them as we go along but for now, I’d like to see us begin with one of Don Barrett’s suggestions: FISHING. Thanks, Don!

This will be the post to which you can add your poems. Later it might be necessary to add a special box but for now we’ll make do. You are free to write in free verse or in verse. You may be humorous or serious. The theme is flexible enough to handle poems about fish, fishermen, fishermen’s widows, tall tales, the ones that got away, Daddy’s or Mommy’s helpers, baiting hooks, cleaning fish, cooking fish, picnics at fishing camp, boats, sunburn, etc. Don’t forget that we have many young readers who visit and sometimes contribute. You don’t have to write your poem(s) for a young audience but I expect that a majority of the posted poems will have boy and girl readers in mind.

So here we go off on a new adventure. Hooray! Got your pole?


62 comments on “Poetry Theme of the Month for May is . . .

  1. This is great, David! I drafted a free verse fishing poem the second I read this – it just came to me. But it’s been so long since I wrote “serious” free verse that I’m afraid it might be awful. 🙂 I’ll post it later after I think about it. Looking forward to this theme series!

  2. These are great ideas! By the way David, my phone is telling me that kindle titles are not available for my country (Canada) at Amazon.ca and they are sending me to UK site. I’ll try it the UK way and let you know.

      • Hooray! Catherine, thank you for hanging in there. Hope you enjoy the book.


      • It is beautiful writing all the way through, David. I love it. The descriptions before the poems are poetic too. What a lovely book to read over and over.

      • Thank you, Catherine. I’m happy that you are enjoying GOOSE LAKE. I loved writing it and am eager to share it with as many readers as possible.

  3. May 2013 Theme: Fishing

    We’ll Teach You Girls To Fish
    By Janet Kay Gallagher

    “We will Teach You Girls To Fish”
    My husband Harold and his Brother-in-law Webb
    Rented a boat and got it into the water
    My sister-in-law Norma and I were helped into the boat

    Given fishing instruction on how to land a fish.
    Shown how to bait a hook. Yuck
    The first hour we took off our jackets
    Added lotion to our already burned skin

    No fish were biting.
    The boys said, “we weren’t doing it right.”
    “We’re doing what you told us.” we replied.
    No fish biting, but the mosquitos were biting.

    Later Norma got a jerk on her line.
    The little boat rocked with our excitement.
    The boys gave instructions.
    She brought in a nice Crappie. First fish.

    Norma got the second fish.
    I got the third.
    Norma got the fourth.
    I caught the fifth fish.

    Our men caught nothing all day.
    Fifth fish was the end of our fishing forever.
    We cooked the five crappie and they wouldn’t eat them.
    Guess they taught us how to fish, too good.


  4. Great David. I love this idea of themes. This is a fishing (sort of) poem I wrote a while back, and tweaked it a bit for this. The type of shrub I mention here, caragana, is a legume, I think. It is hardy through frost and drought, and thus perfect for the prairie climate (Sask., Canada) where I grew up.

    by Violet Nesdoly

    Scraggly hedges
    with drought-bitten gaps
    outlined a multitude
    of prairie farmyards.

    One year after Daddy trimmed ours
    we fished the leafy boughs
    from the flat roof
    of the sandbox
    with poles, string
    and twisted wire

    discovering yet another reason
    with their tea-party-sized pods
    and suckable sweet blossoms
    were the most beautiful of trees.

  5. It’s a good theme, calling out in a variety of ways. Here’s one:

    Each Day
    Each day, this student hangs around my desk,
    holding a journal – waiting.
    She wishes a talk
    about her writing, often
    about life, too.
    She fishes for answers.

    Some days, she sits in my chair when
    I’m off to talk with other students,
    pretending that she’s me,
    imagining my surprise when
    I return to find my seat already taken.
    I say, “Oh my, there’s already a teacher here!”
    and “Guess I’ll need to find another classroom!”
    She giggles, says, “Oh, Linda, it’s just me!”
    I sit with her, reading her words,
    complimenting the craft of a line,
    the word choices at the beginning,
    the satisfying ending.

    I listen to her, too,
    about friends, enemies, parents, clothes, books, Facebook…
    Her words rush, the words no one else will acknowledge.
    She fishes for my attention,
    looking for compliments
    and answers.

    Although each day,
    she hooks my time,
    sometimes there is no fish that stays
    on the line.
    I can see it in her eyes;
    she comes up empty.
    ©Linda Baie, 2013

      • Daddy rocked and almost tipped
        his wild rides over the bar
        into deep water for
        scallops, fish and beer.
        Scooting around NZ islands
        the long cloud
        the long rod.

        Poor Matthew now in foreign land
        yearns to fish
        and catches nought in the lake.

      • Catherine, like how you throw in all ‘Daddy’s’ potential catches “scallops, fish and beer.” That last is a surprise, but speaks of good times and a touch of danger. Is Matthew a son, wishing he could be like his dad? That’s how it hits me. Much unspoken in this poem.

      • Matthew was so little when his dad went out on the boat in New Zealand. It was the perfect place for adventures and now we’ve moved before Matthew (our seven year old) got to go with him and he just happens to want to go fishing all the time and there’s never any fish where we go. My husband would move back in a flash too, but we’re permanent residents now.

      • Catherine, looks like fishing brings up the inevitable daddy memories, eh? I have one too, though about my own father. Love the scallops, fish, and beer! 🙂

      • Catherine, thank you for adding yet another dimension to our theme. Boys (and girls) grow up hearing about adventures that they can’t or didn’t participate in, and sometimes our strongest memories are of such times. I couldn’t go out with my dad either, but a fish he brought home inspired my first poem when I was five or six.

      • That’s great, David. You can live vicariously through someone else’s adventure.

    • Linda, what a wonderful character study of this student. You have caught her longing for attention and her search for connection. Your ending is interesting as we see her still looking for more. What a great interpretation of ‘fishing.’

    • Dear Linda,
      Loving your work. What a thoughtful, insightful way to employ our first monthly theme. I’m having a fine time watching all this unfold. Thanks!

      • Thank you Violet, Renee and David. I appreciate your response. It’s always interesting to me what appears when word prompts are given. This one from experience with middle-school kids-so great but also needy!

      • It’s a challenging age for everyone involved! One of my poems for middle school is called, “Leave Me Alone! Now Hug Me.”

    • Linda
      You must be an Excellent Teacher.
      “sometimes there is no fish that stays
      on the line.
      I can see it in her eyes;
      she comes up empty.”
      These words are sad—
      But in the end she will have caught
      many great lessons to use in her life.

    • The bar is a place you have to call the coast guard to say you are going over it into deep water. They nearly crashed there once and not knowing what it was I once dreamt my own version james bond style with sharks lol.

  6. Well, I just didn’t know what else to do with this for now, so I’m posting the first draft, come what may. I’ll put it in the pile for later revision. 🙂

    The Boat

    My father was not a fisher,
    though we went that one time
    together in the boat
    when I wouldn’t touch
    worm nor fish.
    Peaceful it was, bobbing
    together in the boat
    my father singing,
    his tenor light as the tug
    of the sunfish on my line.
    Together in the boat
    we floated through a day.

    When we got a bigger boat,
    we floated through more days
    no lines or tugs now
    just Willie Nelson
    singing us into the lake
    my father’s tenor
    bringing down the sun
    to join us
    together in the boat.

    • My dear Renee! This is far better than a draft! This poem, when finished, is one you simply MUST record for No Water River. And I hope you’ll consider reading it for us when you visit our workshop by Skype this fall!
      my father’s tenor
      bringing down the sun
      to join us
      together in the boat.

      Just lovely.

      • Thank you, David! I’m rusty, but appreciate the vote of confidence. Would you categorize poems like this as kids’ poetry, for teens, let’s say? I’m never quite sure where the line is…

      • Renee, sometimes I read to a group of teachers a couple of poems written by former U.S. Poets Laureate, Billy Collins and Ted Kooser, without identifying the poets. I ask the teachers to tell me the best grade level for the poems. It isn’t unusual for them to say third grade or fourth grade. When you write with beautiful imagery that is accessible to young readers or listeners, poetry covers a wide range. What you’re working on can be such a poem. A fourth grader might or might not know what a tenor is but you explain in the text, and every fourth grader would smile or laugh at the idea of not wanting to bait the hook. And every fourth grader would want to be in a boat with their daddy, floating along in the sun, listening to music and being together. At the same time, so would every sixth grader. I see nothing wrong with calling this a poem for middle school but would probably say it is for grades 4-6 or maybe grades 4 and up.

      • Wow, David, what a great experiment! Very helpful information here – thank you so much! Suddenly the “kidlit” world seems a lot bigger than I had thought…:)

      • It’s big alright, or should be, Renee. E. B. White said something like, “An author should never write down to his audience. Otherwise they might pass him on their way up.”

    • Wow, Renee that nothing short of stunning. It brings tears to my eyes. You’ll have to do free verse more often.

  7. Amazing memory captured, Renee. I love the image of these:

    his tenor light as the tug
    of the sunfish on my line.
    Together in the boat
    we floated through a day.

    I’ve been out with an uncle fishing now & then, and you’ve captured that quietude, ‘floating through the day’ beautifully!

  8. Hello theme poets!

    What goes “whack in the night?

    ‘Twas romance on the wild lagoon
    With largest catch from far to soon.
    Husband shows his wife the place
    Where magic lights upon his face.

    With largest catch from far to soon
    Those fish sure bite before the moon
    Raises frogs; makes turtles swoon.

    Husband shows his wife the place
    Which beckons nightly for his grace
    Canoe or kayak, rod in case.

    Where magic lights upon his face
    And beavers threaten with their “whacks”
    How dare you fish in beaver’s place?
    Jeanne Poland
    For the accompanying photos, please go to:

    • My dear Jeanne, you have outdone yourself! Getting mighty fancy with your format. Great contribution and I like it with your photograph on your site. Go there everyone. Thanks, Jeanne. David

  9. Thank you everyone. I am still reeling with pleasure from the variety and fun of this abundant catch and comments. I hope it is not too late to add to the challenge.
    It is still an early draft.
    by Cory Corrado

    Do you love deep-see fishing?
    Do you have the patience of time?
    Do you enjoy a good catch?

    Do not flounder.
    (Unless you have other fish to fry.)
    It’s always peak season
    Crowds flock to the banks
    Hungry for treasure.

    Fish of all kinds wait to charm and entice you:
    Tropical white, and angel gold
    Butterfly, moon
    Sun and shell blue.

    Find a perch
    Cast your gaze
    Reel in the glitter and glitz, the jewels and gems
    Pet and lovingly caress each find-
    There are no
    ‘Crappie’ finds by the Arno.

    The merchants are biting, ready to bait you
    Line, hook and sinker.
    Pack a strong net, (the catch’s sure to be abundant)
    Some euros and a no–limit Visa (or you may have to sell your sole).

    Come! fish by the Arno.
    Its Ponte might be Vecchio
    But the catch of the day —
    ALWAYS fresh
    Sterling- gold!

    • Dear Cory,

      What a delightful fishing trip you must have had! I’m sorry to be slow in responding to your clever poem. I read it, I enjoyed it, and then got busy. Thanks for sharing this different kind of fishing trip!

    by Michele M. Norman

    Fog graces the early morning lake
    Stillness surrounds
    No other sounds
    But the call of the loon.

    Pink-edged clouds shroud an orange sun
    Daylight fading
    Quiet men wading
    Into the tumbling surf.

    Garish beasts on the carousel turn
    Calliope blaring
    Child staring
    As magnetized fish float by.

    • Wow! Three poems, each painting a crystal clear vignette. Thank you, Michele! I especially like the child staring as magnetized fish float by. Something here to hear, see, and feel.

  11. This is young poet Adam’s poem on fishing.

    I’m fishing on a boat.
    but then the boat fell.
    I lost my coat,
    I hate this boat.
    I found a note,
    inside my boat,
    It said: “Do not use,
    I have to replace”
    I got so mad
    I broke my phone’s case.
    Until this day I pay attention to every detail.
    I still have a scare when the piranha bit my face.
    I hate fishing now.
    I really do hate fishing.

    Sorry I didn’t post this information earlier, both Adam and Wajeeha are my students. We are in a private school.

    • Saadiq, thank you for letting us know who these young mystery poets are!

      Adam, way to go! My goodness, what an eventful fishing trip you had! I guess it pays to watch the details. Good lesson for us all.


  12. Fishing, fishing,
    In my pond.
    Swishing, swishing,
    All along.
    Dipping, dipping,
    Here and there.
    Skipping, skipping,
    Without a care.
    Hopping, hopping,
    Into the night.
    Breaking, breaking,
    A new dawn comes.
    Wishing, wishing,
    To catch one.
    Finding, finding,
    The thing I want.
    Hoping, hoping,
    It will stay.
    Dreaming, dreaming,
    Of the prize.
    Thinking, thinking,
    How to save.
    Risking, risking,
    For that day.
    Wanting, wanting,
    To go back on my way.
    Giving, giving,
    In return.
    Pleading, pleading,
    It will work.
    Begging, begging,
    To keep it safe.
    Knowing, knowing,
    It cannot stay.
    Weeping, weeping,
    As my fish got away.

    • Well done, Saadiq. I must say that I’ve had more fish get away than stay on my line. Maybe it’s nature’s way of keeping us humble! Thanks. David

  13. I feel so bad killing all those fish,
    Then they become a seven course dish.

    I look at the water and stare at the lake,
    I see no fish, is this because the bait is fake?

    Then I feel a tug,
    Then I see a bug.

    I can no longer see,
    The bug is staring at me.

    The tug went away,
    and I lost my chance at a fish gourmet.

    This is a late entry from one of my students–Saadiq

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