Want to read October’s winning poems?

UPDATE: We’re moving along,Woza Woza-wise. Mary Nida Smith and I collaborated on line 7. But now we’ve run ourselves up a tree and need someone’s help to get back down or offer other suggestions about our mystery creatures surfing through the cinnamon leaves. Help!

Today I saw something I’ve never seen before,
A sea of cinnamon swirls surfing the forest floor.
Leaves you say? And well you may, but more it seemed to me,
Tiny brown-clad creatures surfed that swirling sea.

Tiny brown-clad creatures wearing leather hats
Trimmed with gold feathers! Can you believe that?
Could trees provide these wee folk shelter for themselves?

Now we need to consider who these diminutive, fashion-conscious creatures might be. Where did they come from? What are they doing? Where are they going? Remember, we are composing a 30-line poem so we can’t paint ourselves into any corners here. The story needs to remain open to further development, surprises, and adventures.

Hi everyone,

Sorry that I’ve not been as available as usual. Readers want to see the four winning poems from October so here they are.

The first two were selected by our panel of judges to be our first ever WORD OF THE MONTH POETS.

Our judges chose Barbara J. Turner as the October Adult Word of the Month Poet for this poem.


She came into the world
a dollar bill,
fresh and crisp,
hot off the press,
a brand new member of the
strong and steady Greenback family.

But something happened.
At sixteen, she changed,
turned into two quarters,
four dimes, a nickel
and five pennies overnight.
No one saw it coming.

She quit school,
ran off to the city and
joined a gang of nickel slugs
and Canadian quarters,
worthless folks, unwelcome
even in the grimiest payphone.

The penny arcade crowd lured her next.
Day after day she shushed
down slippery steel slopes
into the hot grubby hands
of pre-pubescent teens.
It was fun and exciting and she liked it.

But over time, she lost herself.
Just bits and pieces.
A nickel her, a penny there,
change so small
she barely noticed.
When she did, it was too late.

She’d become a fifty-cent piece,
copper with nickel plating
and no silver at all,
freakish and strange,
an object to gawk at,
as odd as a Susan B. Anthony.

She took up with a ruble
who devalued her,
brought her down even lower,
then kicked her to the curb.
In the streets, people whispered,
“Loose change,” and she knew it was true.

Her green was gone.
Even her nickel plating.
She was all copper now, a dull,
lifeless penny too worthless to save,
hovering on the edge of a sewer
ready to roll in and die.

And then she saw it,
a sign in a window,
bright green letters wrapped in dollar signs.
‘Bank with us and earn.’
‘Build your savings.’
Salvation was at her fingertips.

She could save herself.
She could check herself in.
It would take time, and work, but she could grow.
She could bounce back and become
the dollar bill she’d been before.
She could even become stronger.

Why not? There was nowhere to go
but up, and this was America, damn it!
her home, her country,
the land of the Almighty Dollar,
where cotton was king and . . .
No. . . . er, wrong metaphor.
But she could come back.
She would come back.
After all, tomorrow was another day.
(She’d read that once in a book.)
Oh yes. Tomorrow was another day.

Barbara J. Turner
New Hampshire

The nod for October Word of the Month Young Poet went to Claire Tipton for her poem.

The Run

As I step onto the path,
My adrenaline started
Rushing through my veins
I started running and
The cool breeze
Swept through me.
Leaves flew all over
The ground almost
ready to change brown.

Buckeyes covered the trail
As I tried to step
Over them like they
Were hot lava
Little children came
To play on the swings
Screaming wildly
Through the air

As I get to
My destination,
My lungs get cold
And it gets harder and harder
to push on.
And as I sprint up the
It all happens again.

The cool breeze,
The leaves
Flying all over the ground,
Buckeyes covering
The trail,
The children screaming
Wildly through the air,
And as I stop,
Take a deep breath,
I turn around,
And do it again.

Claire Tipton, 6th Grade
Maumee Valley Country Day School
Toledo, Ohio

October’s HALL OF FAME POET, selected by popular vote, is Silindile Ntuli. Here is Silindile’s winning poem.

This Change, Wishing It Away

I’ve seen the devil’s eyes,
Filled with hatred and hungry for torment.
I looked into those eyes; I was just a little girl.
Each touch, no each yank left a bruise on my skin,
Each drag made me scream out loud,
But my heart was suffering the most,
In a fog I could not understand.

A slap across my face followed by harsh words,
The smell of his body suffocated me,
That alone brought him to a smile.
I looked in the eyes of hatred,
Wondering what my crime was.
Till I found myself facing a knife,
I was not even five.
This sudden change was new to me,
But I knew it was evil at its best.

Send me down my angel,
Fling him down, throw him down.
I need help, because my soul is dying.
They told me about angels,
I need mine by my side.
Just a few minutes ago,
I was playing with my teddy.
Now my head is pinned to the dirty ground,
I am only a little girl.

Minutes later I’m sleeping on the ground,
Tightly holding my teddy.
My clothes are dirty from the dragging,
My body is in pain,
The kind I never knew existed.
My soul is filled with hatred,
And burning with anger.
Traumatized little girl,
Heart shattered into pieces.
I cry myself to sleep on the floor,
Clutching my brown bear.

Silindile Ntuli
South Africa

Our October Hall of Fame Young Poet award goes to Emily Rigby for her poem.

Four Little Rain Boots

A drifting leaf,
Mud sloshing,
Raindrop after raindrop,
Four little feet running out of a barn,
One little yellow boot on each,
Two little children.
Oh, how they run,
If only they knew,
How lucky they are.
Curly red hair,
Hiding the giggly face behind it.
If only they were aware of how much others envy them.
For, they still carry their innocence.
These happy expressions will stay happy for a while.
These two minds hold no knowledge of,
Laughter floating around the rustic red barn remains loud.
And they begin to
near the field.
Their lives are still sugarcoated.
And they should stay that way.
But change is imminent.
There’s no way around it.

Emily Rigby, 5th Grade
Maumee Valley Country Day School

Itchy poems so far this month

Announcement: At Drury University they’re building a page for me on the School of Education and Child Development website. I’ve been working to help establish a job description and to create activities I can do in my role there.  I now have an office — #303 — in Lay Hall on campus. Here’s the link. Let me know if you have ideas or suggestions. Thanks! http://www.drury.edu/multinl/story.cfm?ID=24824&NLID=145


So far this month our numbers are off — must be summer, huh? — but the quality of our itching is beyond compare! My thanks to you busy poets who have found time to contribute to July’s great scracth-off. For you slackers who are having too much fun to take up the challenge yet, you still have plenty of time. I won’t cut off this month’s entries until Monday, July 26, at 10:00 p.m. For now, here’s who and what we have to date. If you haven’t read our poets’ efforts yet, click on the Adult W.O.M. Poems and Young Poet W.O.M. Poems boxes above this post.

Here are the adult poems:


Steven Withrow: The Witch’s Itches
Mary Nida Smith: Bewitched
Gay Fawcett: Itch (written by Laura C., a former student)
Ken Thomas Slesarik: Itchy Dilemma
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater: Why Me?
Jane Heitman Healy: In the Mirror
Jane Heitman Healy: Letting Go
Barbara Turner: Mr. Poe’s Itch
Julie Krantz: Blood Brothers

And here is our lone — but lively! — young poet poem so far:

Taylor McGowan: Little Nuisance

Thanks to Ken Slesarik’s Guest Reader appearance last week we were joined by several new visitors from Arizona. I hope you folks in the hot west (where I once lived) will share your own brand of itching.
And thanks to Carol-Ann Hoyte’s recent Guest Reader appearance, we also welcomed a number of readers and writers from Canada. Do folks in your area have itch poems to share? I hope so!


Kansas SCBWI annual conference will be held in Overland Park September 17-18, 2010. For more information, here’s the link: http://www.kansas-scbwi.org/Conference