Bird mnemonics #ThoreaulyInspired #NPM #NaPoWriMo #NationalPoetryMonth #ProgressivePoem #PoetryFriday

Welcome to Poetry Friday, everyone! I am excited and honored to host the roundup this week and to be offering up the next line for the Progressive Poem. As usual, I’m sweating it out and crossing my fingers, eyes, and toes that everything goes according to plan. For those of you new to Poetry Friday, welcome, and here’s a link to our weekly hosting schedule.


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Each day during April, I will write a poem-ish piece inspired by a word or phrase mined from the pages of Henry David Thoreau’s jewel-laden journals. I have left my challenge open so that the poems may take any form — haiku, free verse, borrowed line, blackout –and who knows which direction they will go in.

Day #24: Bird mnemonics

I hear you (3)

A peek at my process

On April 24, 1852, Thoreau wrote in his journal, “Heard again (in the village) that vetter-vetter-vetter-vetter-vet’, or tchi-tchi-tchi-tchi-tchi-tchi-tchi’ very rapidly repeated, which I heard April 23d,’ and perhaps the same that I saw April 17th (described April 18th)? I am pretty sure it is the pine warbler, yellow beneath, with faint olivaceous marks on the sides, olivaceous above, tail forked, about the size of a yellow-bird. I have not seen the fox-colored sparrow for some weeks. Thought I saw a loon on Walden yesterday.” (The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Journal III: September 16, 1851 – April 30, 1852, Chapter VII. 1852, p. 464)

As a certified Bird Nerd, I am fascinated by bird mnemonics, as Thoreau appears to have been as well. There are many entries in his journal that include his attempts at recording the birdsong that became familiar to him. I am learning to recognize birds both by sight and sound — birding by ear. I wish Henry were around to teach me a thing or two! Some of the phonetic interpretations I have been studying worked their way into an almost-list-like poem. To learn more, check out’s “What Are Bird Song Mnemonics?

And now for…

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Our Poetry Friday family has launched the 8th annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem originally organized by author/poet, Irene Latham. Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche is taking over this year as the organizer. Many members of the #PoetryFriday family have signed up to provide a line for the 2020 poem, and now it is my turn! Dun-dun-duuuuuun!

Here’s where things stand with our sweet poem’s adventure thus far.

Sweet violets shimmy, daffodils sway
along the wiregrass path to the lake
I carry a rucksack of tasty cakes
and a banjo passed down from my gram.

I follow the tracks of deer and raccoon
and echo the call of a wandering loon.
A whispering breeze joins in our song
and night melts into a rose gold dawn

Deep into nature’s embrace, I fold.
Promise of spring helps shake the cold
hints of sun lightly dapple the trees
calling out the sleepy bees

Leaf-litter crackles…I pause. Twig snaps.
I gasp! Shudder! Breathe out. Relax…
as a whitetail doe comes into view.
She shifts and spotted fawns debut.

We freeze. My green eyes and her brown
Meet and lock. Time slows down.
I scatter the cakes, backing away
Safely exiting this strange ballet.

I continue the path that winds down to the lake.
Missing my breakfast for beauty’s sake

On Thursday, Ruth rather astutely noticed a lack of smell in the sense category. I’m going with…

But wait, what’s that delicious smell? (I chose this option because it leaves it open-ended which direction the smell is coming from. Ruth’s other option — But what’s that smell up there ahead? — was equally wonderful, but I believe lead to the shore of the lake. I wanted the mystery to linger longer!)

So I’m offering up to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, the poem’s next host…

  1. Something familiar, I know so well. (Could be food or a spring flower. Our explorer is getting quite hungry at this point, but the “whispering breeze” and “promise of spring” make me think more floral. What say you, Amy? Fresh biscuits, pancakes, muffins, or an early spring flower?)
  2. Lily of the valley pealing her bells. (Going with personification and a near rhyme. The spring flower route is in honor of May Day, the day after our poem ends. It also plays around with scent vs. sound. We wouldn’t have the gorgeous scent if the “whispering breeze” didn’t make the bells “peal.”)

Now I turn things over to Amy at The Poem Farm. I can’t wait to see what she does while writing in Betsy the Camper. That’s where the magic happens! Scroll on down to the bottom, so you can see where the poem heads next week.

Thanks for joining me for this week’s roundup. Click the link and bring on the poetry, friends!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

And here’s the itinerary for the final days of the Progressive Poem.

1 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
2 Irene Latham at 
Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, 
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at
7 Catherine Flynn at 
Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at 
Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at 
Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at 
Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at 
Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at 
A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at 
Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at 
Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at 
A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at 
Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at 
My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at
 A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at 
Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at 
Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at 
Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at 
To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth,
24 Christie Wyman at 
Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at 
The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at 
Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at 
Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Bigi at TBD
29 Fran Haley at 
lit bits and pieces
Michelle Kogan

And lastly, I am also excited to share that I have joined the Teach Write blogging team and will be writing a Poetry Ponderings blog post for them every month. My first offering, Finding Your Poetry Secret Decoder Ring, is now live and May’s post, about inviting poetry into your classroom, will be up soon. And my blogging teammate, Paula Bourque, offers up Quick Write Sparks to Kindle the Poet In All of Us for her first Think & Ink post in honor of National Poetry Month. I hope you will take a peek at all of the posts by the Teach Write team!

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