Let the voting begin

We had another stellar month of poetry. Who knew that so many poets were just itching to write a poem inspired by a single word! You’ll find the voting box below so have fun rereading all the poems and voting for your choice. To read or reread all the poems, scroll down below the ballot box. I posted them all there.

On a special note, Taylor McGowan was our only young poet who posted this month so we can’t have a vote. On the other hand, there is no law against telling Taylor if you appreciate her poem and her dedication to writing during her summer vacation!

Tomorrow I have a special treat. My Guest Reader goes by Souldose. You are going to love her.




An itchy witch, she never scratches,
Never scratches, never scratches,
The gnashiest of witchy rashes,
Witchy rashes, witchy rashes,
She pitches, twitches on her broom,
Upon her broom, up on her broom,
And howls unhitched her yowls of gloom,
Growls of doom to eldritch moon,
She’d gladly ditch her earthly riches,
Earthly riches, earthly riches,
Or switch her fate with sniveling snitches,
Sniveling snitches in stitchy britches,
To still that itch she never scratches,
Never scratches, never scratches,
That itch which glitches witch’s niches,
And de-mo-LISH-es witch’s wishes!
– Steven Withrow


Stop your itching
Mom said.
I can’t stop
I said
with a twitch.
There is a bug
living on my head
but, never in my bed.
I keep telling Mom
the itch witch
came in the night
put a curse
on my head.
Is it the
or the itchy
bitsy red spider?
I plan to ditch
the itch when I
soak my head
in be-gone soap,
removing the curse
of the itch witch.
— ©By Mary Nida Smith


Nothing frightened Bryon Biggers,
Not even lions, not even tiggers,
He spent his life exploring this land,
Knew these hills like the back of his hand.
Striding down the path he came
Always looking for bigger game
But in the end he met his match
In a lowly Ozarks chigger patch.
Byron laughed, “Ha ha!” cried he,
“No bug could be the death of me!”
But halfway through that patch of chiggers
And it was over for Byron Biggers.
He clawed those bites till his dying breath,
Sighing, “I’ve scratched myself to death.
Someday they’ll find me here alone
With chiggers gnawing on my bones.”
He died the way he lived – brave,
And few have seen poor Byron’s grave.
He’s buried high on a lonely hill
Where to this day he itches still.
Here lie the bones of Byron Biggers,
Eaten alive by hungry chiggers,
So if you see poor Byron twitch,
Scratch his bones ‘cause they still itch.
— David L. Harrison

This month’s word invites laughter! OK. I just can’t resist this. The poem below was actually written by a student of mine, in all the innocence of a first grader–years, years, years ago. It was so funny I still remember it. Maybe I’ll have an itch poem of my own to share soon.


Kids are nice,
Kids are grand,
Sharing lice
Marching in bands.
I am nice
I am grand.
I once had lice,
Don’t hold my hand!
by Laura C.


Our dilemma was daunting
resembling a haunting
with twitching and itching —
positively bewitching.
We were itching our itches
on our backs and our britches,
shedding clothes (every stitch)
yet continued to itch.
So we’d run in mad dashes,
scratching patches of rashes,
all the while we were cloaked
in poisonous oak!
— Ken Slesarik


My tasty blood attracts mosquitoes
bestowing bumpy bites in batches.
A buzzing fleet of small torpedoes
brings on a dance of sudden scratches.
They sew my skin with blotchy stitches
of polka dot embroidery.
This spotted Little Dipper itches.
Why are mosquitoes sweet on me?
— © Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

This month, I’m responding with 2–one fun, one serious. Yes, you can write a serious poem about “itch”!


I’m covered with spots!
They’re big red dots
On my legs and my arms.
Sound the alarms!
My face and chest
And all of the rest
Of me’s pocked
With pox!
Pass the Calamine lotion!
It’s like magic potion
To stop the itches
From head to britches.


Sorting the stuff
Of fifty-five years
Of family life into
What to keep?
What to give?
What to sell?
Item after item
For utility,
Old note cards,
Unopened Old Spice,
Silver service,
In the coat closet, hangs
The sweater Dad always wore.
Does it have his smell?
I hold it close and sniff.
Smells like wool,
Makes me itch.
— Jane Heitman Healy


It started with a tickle,
An itty-bitty prickle,
No bigger than a nickel
In the center of my spine.
I reached behind to scratch it,
But my fingers couldn’t catch it.
Like an egg about to hatch, it
crackled through that bony line.
It spread faster than a rumor.
It grew bigger than a tumor.
The Itch of Darkest Doomer
Expanded its attack.
Nipping, pinging, biting,
The itching burned like lightning.
I felt my body tightening
And decided to fight back.
With ragged bitten nails,
I raked my back in wails
Of agony because I failed
To ease the fiendish itch.
I poked with fork and finger,
But still that itch it lingered.
A pin cushion of bee stingers
Zinged the itch to fever pitch.
Filled with mad frustration,
I took on self flagellation
And began the degradation
Of that aggravating germ.
I destroyed its tickling bite,
Smashed its pinch in mad delight,
And with a swing of fiercest might,
I crushed it like a worm.
Now I sit in Bedlam’s halls,
And I stare at four white walls,
As a sterile bandage falls
upon my back so raw and red.
But I don’t mind a bit.
It was worth a raging fit,
Because that vile, disgusting itch
Is at last among the dead.
— Barbara Turner


Under the shade
of an old pine tree,
a squishy hill of pine straw
beckoned me.
I stared for a while
at the milk-blue sky,
studied all the wild things
flitting by—
a peek-a-boo hare
and a horny toad
a big gray owl
and a two-note bird.
But one little thing
I did not see
was the half-pint
skeeter watching me.
I think he waited
till I closed
my eyes,
then he zigzagged in
and bit my hide.
I screamed like the devil
when he sucked my blood,
but none of my screamin’
did any good—
’cause all he did
was lick his chops,
and dive back in
for a few more drops.
I swatted here,
I swatted there,
but all I hit was the
milk-blue air.
Still, I think he knew
I was on his trail,
’cause that l’il skeeter
quick turned tail.
When he left
I felt my knee,
a giant skin-welt
waited on me.
It itched and burned
but that’s not worst—
worst was when
the darn thing burst.
It hissed and spat
and spurted out blood,
then it itched some more,
so I rubbed, rubbed, rubbed.
That’s what happened
when I walked in the woods—
I got pinched and poked
and gave up blood–
to a hungry little skeeter
and a horny toad—
who ate that bug
when he ditched my bones.
— Julie Krantz


The lady suffered a terrible itch,
Found no relief, it was a bitch.
Clothes made it worse, she was such a witch,
So she roamed the house without a stitch.
She cleaned and cooked while in the buff,
With no one around it wasn’t tough.
She could reach all itches easy enough
With calamine lotion and other stuff.
One fateful day the postman came,
Carrying a letter for the dame.
“Buck naked,” he would later claim.
That’s how Lady Godiva gained her fame.
— Gay Fawcett


They had an itch –
The fish, the worm
Swish, swish – went fish
And worm – squirm, squirm
Swish, swish, squirm, squirm
All night, all day –
They couldn’t scratch.
They wouldn’t stay.
Some folks who itch
Behave this way.
— Liz Korba


Big Bart was a fearsome trail rider;
A rogue, a cad, and a fighter.
He swaggered and spit–
When crossed, threw a fit
And thrived on stogies and cider.
He ruled the bunkhouse with might and maim.
No one dared his manners to tame.
He hassled the crew,
Threw dirt in their stew
Then laughed as if playing a game.
One night around the campfire, talking,
The cowboys all began balking.
“This cruelty should cease.
We must restore peace
And send Big Bart on his way, walking.”
Now bunkhouse bedbugs are plentiful;
Always found by the bucketful.
They bite and they itch–
Invade every niche–
Make life on the ranch quite miserable.
The cowboys gathered bedbugs galore
From bedrolls and long-john’s they wore;
From corners and cracks–
Their search was not lax–
They intended to settle a score.
The men were pleased with their bedbug booty.
Eight to midnight, Bart had guard duty.
They’d fill his bedroll,
Discomfort their goal.
The plan was divine; quite a beauty.
The bedbugs feasted quite royally.
The trail hands laughed most heartily.
Big Bart had itches
In his shirt and britches
And groaned through the night most noisily.
Next sunrise, Bart looked like one big welt
Under his shirt, his hat, his belt.
He picked up his gear,
Beat a path from there–
Away from the revenge he’d been dealt.
— V. L. Gregory


I’m sitting very still,
trying to ignore it.
Telling myself to just
pretend it’s not there.
After all…
I can’t see it.
I can’t smell it.
I can’t taste it.
I can’t hear it.
But without a doubt
I can feel it.
That undeniable,
— Beth Carter


Scratch, scratch, scratch
Scratch, scratch, Scratch
Scratch, Scratch, SCRATCH
— Nancy Dailey


I have an itch
A soul itch
A create-and-make-life-better itch.
At the threshold of a new way of being,
the door closes to thirty-five years.
The past I leave behind, thankful for it all.
Lightly I travel; lessons learned-
the luggage I carry.
I itch to serve in an inspiring new way;
I yearn to do something that makes Life smile.
Carefully, I listen, for direction, for guidance.
Nature blooms and bears fruit in its time,
when all the conditions are propitious.
I trust that with every step I take I am being led;
directed to where and what I need to be and do.
I venture into the unknown, knowing
in my heart, that I am on track.
The inner flame burns brightly-
a soothing balm to my soul’s yearning.
— Cory Corrado


There’s an itch in my sweater, dear granny.
It’s climbing up my arm, dear granny.
There it is moving up my back,
Help me granny, it is spreading all over.
How can I help you now, dear grandson,
When I have an itch up my own sweater, dear grandson,
There it is tickling my back,
Making me jump around and round.
It must be those ants you’re standing on, dear Peter.
Move over to my side, dear Judy.
My side does not cause an itch,
But for now, jump around and get those ants off your backs.
Silindile Ntuli



He buzzes loudly in my ear,
All too easy for me to hear.
He hovers right in front of my face,
It’s his annoying smirk I’d like to erase.
He flashes around, left and right,
Up and down, then out of my sight.
Suddenly I feel a sting, pain courses through my arm,
I hate that little mosquito! He’s done me so much harm.
He flies away without a sound,
then lands silently on the ground.
With one final buzz, he disappears,
Where no one can see, I shed a few tears.
His little bite begins to hurt,
The pain is intense, I drop to the dirt.
But the soil enters the tiny little cut,
It begins to throb and sting… now what?
Here it comes… that dreadful feeling,
the aftermath of the mosquito’s blood stealing!
My hand comes up and scratches hard,
then flattens out and protects, like a guard.
But the sensation is too much to bear,
I want to slap that mosquito… but would I dare?
I continue to scratch, rolling over in pain,
Moving towards the gully, which was wet with rain.
I accidentally roll into the ditch,
all because of that dreadful ITCH!
— Taylor McGowan

This week at a glance

It has been a good week.

Monday I introduced a new challenge for anyone interested in composing Found Poems using pre-existing prose found in all sorts of publications. We have read several excellent poems so far and they continue to come in. Please don’t forget about this opportunity. Georgia Heard is checking that post to see if she can spot poems she could use in her upcoming book.

Tuesday I summarized our ITCH poems posted so far. Here they are again.


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


Taylor McGowan: Little Nuisance

Since then we have received these additional poems.

Gay Fawcett: A Lady’s Fame
Liz Korba: Which Itch?

Wednesday it was my pleasure to feature Wendy Singer’s remarks and poem. Wendy continues to receive many comments from fans old and new. She was my 6th Guest Reader.  These Canadians are doing all right for themselves! Where are my poets from other countries?

Thursday I re-featured the pictures of all six of my Guest Readers so far. That made a great looking page with talented people from New York, Florida, Arkansas, Arizona, and Montreal.

Friday I gave you a link to my three-day poetry workshop next June in Pennsylvania and announced the coming appearances of Nancy Gow (July 21) as my next Guest Reader and Gary Dulabaum as a Featured Friday Guest.

Not a bad week, considering that I’m supposed to be taking time off this summer to write more.

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