Last Word of the Month for 2021

Hi everyone,

Two girls reciting “It’s a Lollity Popity Day”

Believe it or not, we’ve come to the final poetry exercise of the year. You’ve done a splendid job throughout 2021 and I’ve enjoyed your poems and the many ways in which you’ve found stories in each of our eleven words: yes, replay, time, quarter, now, on, poem, weeds, light, change, and dirt. Jane Yolen and SU HUTCHENS have written a poem each month. Who else has? At the end of each month I add the new word and delete all the previous month’s poems and comments so there’s no way I can go back to see who else has blessed us with eleven new poems this year.

Time now to choose December’s word. Let’s go with EYES and see what we get. Go!

My Word of the Month poem is . . .

Hi everyone,

I finished the poem that began with a scrap of a thought, “I sing a song of dirt, rich and deep.” Remember it? I thought of it, lost it, remembered it, lost it again, and finally wrote it down. Here’s how it turned out. I finally settled on a villanelle.

Dirt Song

I sing a song of dirt, rich and deep,
where roots offer plants straws to drink
and bustling cities of miniature creatures creep.

To dirt I say, where puddles greenly seep,
full of life though we may think they stink.
I sing a song of dirt, rich and deep,

Rabbit-eager foxes pounce and leap,
rabbits pop down tunnels quick as a wink, 
and bustling cities of miniature creatures creep.

Dirt, being dirt, can never sleep.
Fine as dust it finds each crack and chink.
I sing a song of dirt, rich and deep,

Trees sprout on valley walls so steep
because of dirt that clutches to the brink,
where bustling cities of miniature creatures creep.

As gardens grow sweet vegetables to reap,
there’s much more to dirt than we might think.
I sing a song of dirt, rich and deep,
and bustling cities where miniature creatures creep.

(c) 2021 David L. Harrison

Some poems fight back

Hi everyone,

Two days ago, when I was somewhere without paper to write on, the opening line of a dirt poem for the November Poem of the Month began working in my mind. It was a good line. I repeated it numerous times as I went about my business to make sure I would remember it when I got home. I forgot to do it.

Yesterday, when I was back at work, that cool line had disappeared and I couldn’t bring it back. I could only hope it hadn’t forsaken me and would eventually return. I worked on a poem for the Teacher Created Materials book. No word from the runaway dirt poem line. Had I been in a punning mood, which I was not, I might have called it a dirty trick.

Later in the day, when Sandy and I were going somewhere in the car, the line showed up again. I couldn’t be sure it was the same one, but it sounded familiar and I liked it a lot.

By the time we got home, the line was gone. During dinner — pop! — there it was! I left the table, captured the line, and finished my meal a happy man. Here’s the line: “I sing a song of dirt, rich and deep.”

When I finish the poem and post it for you, we’ll see if this elusive first line makes it to the final version. Yes or no, either way it’s the thought that launched a poem. If it starts a poem for you, too, have fun.

The November Word of the Month is…

Hi everyone,

As I say every month, and mean it every month, “Where did this past month go?” And, “Thank you for all your poems!”

We started Word of the Month Poetry Challenge in October 2009 so at 12 months per year times 12 years, we’ve completed 144 months of poems. A handful of you have followed the blog that long and some have contributed a poem in almost every month since the beginning. My heartful gratitude for your longtime support and friendship.

Also, as I do each month, I open the beautiful booklet arranged and published by Cory Corrado in 2018, to remind me of all the words we’ve every used as I choose the new one. Cory, I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful gift.

Before Cory came to my rescue, I had inadvertently used the same word twice on six occasions — water, promise, sour, window, may, and renew. For November, for the first time, I’m intentionally choosing a word prompt we’ve used before. The first Word of the Month word, back in October 2009, was DIRT. It turned out to be a lucky choice. We had a number of excellent poems to help kick of what has now become a traditional part of this blog.

I’ll write a new dirt poem this month, but for now here’s the one I did for the original episode of Word of the Month. I’m seldom so wordy. Oh well. And to think that my book that came out in August, THE DIRT BOOK, might have already been fermenting twelve years ago.


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.

—       (c) 2009 David L Harrison