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JoAnn's Blog

Wordplay Poems for Poetry Friday


Happy Poetry Friday! I'm participating in the wordplay challenge presented by the Poetry Sisters. Today's poem is based on the exercise suggested by poet Nikki Grimes in this interview with Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. 


RAIN (a wordplay poem)

RAIN is a vertical word.

Its letters are streaks down a window—

except for proud R with its chest puffed out.

RAIN hangs out with CLOUDY and GRAY,



RAIN is a glittery word.

It glimmers. It glistens.

It gussies up TREES and UMBRELLAS.


(c) 2021 JoAnn Early Macken


These wordplay poems remind me of the brilliant animal poem collection Words with Wrinkled Knees by Barbara Juster Esbensen. Twenty years ago, I received the Barbara Juster Esbensen Poetry Teaching Award for my work with a third grade class using Esbensen's book A Celebration of Bees: Helping Children to Write Poetry. With the prize money, I was able to buy a copy of Words with Wrinkled Knees for each student in the class. I have such fond memories of the experience that it's hard for me to pick a favorite poem, but here's one:


What a moonstruck

word.    O W L !

Such round yellow lamps

for eyes  and the hoot

built into the name


Beaked and taloned

it leaves the page

at dusk     When blue light

turns to shadow

and wind moves

the empty paper    this word


opens soundless wings

s a i l s     o u t

to where the smallest letters

cower in the dark


--Barbara Juster Esbensen, Words with Wrinkled Knees


Linda has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at TeacherDance. Enjoy! 




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Chimney Swifts Drop In!

Chimney swifts roost together in fall before beginning their long migration.



Dusk. Look up. Listen:
whirling, chippering bird cloud.
Chimney swifts drop in.


Watch the video! 


You can find out more about chimney swifts from All About Birds or Audubon.


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Enjoy!


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These Days


These Days

Six in the morning

my neighbor's radio

interrupts dove's soft coo,

crickets' bright chirps.


I once had


These days I just putter,

hands plunged in holy soil,

heart full of birdsong,

believing in miracles,

watching them grow.


© 2021 JoAnn Early Macken


It's been a summer, hasn't it? I took a step back from writing and spent more time gardening, reading, and sewing, hoping that a bit of a break would help me refocus and the annual back-to-school hubbub would invite me back to work.


The night before our neighborhood school started, we spotted nighthawks flying over as they do at the start of every school year. In the morning, excited kids and parents walked past our house to the elementary school down the block just like they used to. And I woke up excited about writing again. 

Just what I needed, I guess. Lucky me!


Be sure to visit the Poetry Friday Roundup with Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe. Enjoy!



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Backyard Visitor, 8.30.21


hummingbird dashes
between socks and pajamas
clothesline obstacles


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Hillside Gardening, 8.22.21


perfect weeding day
except I keep misplacing
my garden trowel


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Morning Walk, 8.20.21


first one up the stairs
breaks through all the spider webs
after you, my dear


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April 30 Poems & Poetry Friday!


Happy Poetry Friday! In honor of the final day of National Poetry Month 2021, I'm posting three gardening haiku. Alas, this blog format allows only one photo per post; trust that they are all based on my personal experience. 



annual promise

I will pick my own tulips

before squirrels do



before it's too late

cage erupting peonies

corral the glory



whatever we plant

in our homemade compost

tomatoes come up



I'm happy to report that I've written and posted a poem each day for National Poetry Month. Please read on to see more!


I also wrote a guest post for Rochelle Melander's Write Now Coach blog about how you might turn a poem into a picture book.


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Enjoy!

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April 29 Poem


hyacinth perfume
follows me down the sidewalk
generous neighbor


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April 28 Poem


embrace abundance
time to catch up on reading
all those open tabs


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April 27 Poem


DIY lip balm
reusing old containers
no more plastic tubes


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April 26 Poem


Must all kitchens be
built for tall people? Forget
stepstools. Make them duck!


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April 25 Poem


marsh marigolds line
ephemeral waterway
mapping the flow


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April 24 Poem


winter survivors:
milkweed, lilacs, columbine,
maple trees, and me


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April 23 Poem & Poetry Friday!


hugs from my sister
+ 45 dinners packed
= well-spent day


I'm posting a poem each day for National Poetry Month. Read on to see more!


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Reading to the Core. Enjoy!


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April 22 Poem


oh to spend mornings
marveling at mayapples
best use of my time


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April 21 Poem


Rhubarb's growing.
My, oh, my!
Guess I'll bake
a rhubarb pie.

Snowflakes in April?
Guess I'll try
a Snowflakes-in-April
Rhubarb Pie!



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April 20 Poem


bright constellation
dandelion cluster spreads
conquers outer space


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April 19 Poem


giant snails return
weather forecast mentions snow
good thing they have homes


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April 18 Poem


Red-winged blackbird, from up in a tree,
announces himself trillingly.
His song sounds to me
like "Tweedle-dee-dee!"
Ornithologists might disagree.


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April 17 Poem


after the face masks
my hands still remember how
to make shopping bags


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April 16 Poem


skull-and-crossbones signs
would give a clearer warning
of the danger here


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Visit, read, enjoy! 


Read on--more National Poetry Month poems below!


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April 15 Poem


favorite gardens
+ view of water =
daily walking routes

Today's Equation Poem was inspired by Laura Purdie Salas. She's posting one every day on her website for National Poetry Month. And don't miss Laura's brilliant book Snowman - Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations.


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April 14 Poem


open this little
brown leather wallet and find
magic coins inside


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April 13 Poem


I raked the front hill
still some weeding to do but
the front hill is raked

I slept well last night
remarkable clarity
this morning's thinking


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April 12 Poem


no amount of nudge
can convince this dog to budge
when she stops we stop


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April 11 Poem


election's over
but one yard sign still displays
its timeless message


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April 10 Poem


10-year warranty—
if they're so durable, why
wrap them in plastic?


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April 9 Poem, Poetry Friday, & Book Giveaway Reminder!


just a little bit
out of my way this fine view
neighbor's hellebores


Tabatha Yeatts is hosting today's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Enjoy!


And remember to enter the Book Giveaway of my new picture book Grow, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman and published by Boyds Mills & Kane, at the Teaching Authors blog. Good luck!

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April 8 Poem


haiku in progress
what I want to say won't fit
maybe tomorrow



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April 7 Poem


I never label
my plants. Oh, look—Pasqueflowers!
I love surprises.



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April 6 Poem


oof I'd forgotten that
raking takes muscles my
arms not as strong as they
once were I fear


oh what a joy to be
working outside this is
truly my favorite
time of the year


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April 5 Poem


nose-to-nose greeters
side-by-side sidewalk walkers
puppy-pounce playpals



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April 4 Poem


Nothing overhead but blue.
Nothing urgent I must do.
Dog asleep in sunny spot—
better than the plan I've got.
Time for me to take her cue.
Nothing urgent I must do.
Let the list go in the breeze,
listen to the chickadees,
lie back, gaze up at the blue.
Nothing urgent I must do.


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April 3 Poem


heading home again
leaving sunset behind us
miss you already


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April 2 Poem


riverside sculpture
remarkable toothwork by
creative creatures


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