For the Love of Poetry…and A Farewell Post

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro

Much has happened in my life in the past few years. In July of 2010, my daughter, who is my only child, got married. A few months later, Jonathan asked me to be one of the three original guest bloggers at Res Ipsa Loquitor. In 2011, I became a grandmother…and a nanny granny. That year, I also signed my first book contract with Chronicle Books. In 2012, my husband and I bought a house that had an in-law apartment with my daughter and son-in-law. We did this so it would be more convenient for me to provide daycare for my granddaughter Julia. In 2013, my husband and I sold the house where we had lived for nearly forty years and moved into our new home.

Moving was not an easy task. I own thousands of books—many of which are books for children and young adults. A great number of those children’s books are poetry collections and anthologies. Although I donated hundreds of books to the Reach Out and Read program at a local health clinic and to some of the kids in my old neighborhood, I couldn’t bear to part with my poetry books. I wanted to share them with my granddaughter Julia in hopes that she will also develop a love of poetry like her “Gammy.”

Julia "Reading" a Book of Children's Poems
Julia “Reading” a Book of Children’s Poems
Julia "Reading a Book Written in Verse
Julia “Reading” a Book Written in Verse

I couldn’t say goodbye to my poetry books.

A Portion of the Poetry Books and Picture Books That I Have Collected Over the Years
A Portion of the Poetry and Picture Books That I Have Collected over the Years.

But I am going to say goodbye to my friends at the Turley blog with some of my original poetry—both published and unpublished. You see, I came to a decision recently. Because I had been spending so much of my free time researching and writing columns for Res Ipsa Loquitor and Flowers for Socrates, I had all but abandoned the writing of children’s poetry. And poetry has been my life’s passion. I was prompted to make this decision at the urging of my husband…and because I was contacted recently by two anthologists who asked me to contribute poems to the anthologies that they are currently compiling. One of the books will be a collection of space poems, which will published in the UK; the other will be a collection of poems for parents to read to young children at bedtime. It will be published by Little, Brown.

Although I’m sad to leave RIL, I’m eager to get back to writing new poems and to revisit and work on some of my unpublished poetry manuscripts..

In addition to my poems, I’m posting some children’s poetry videos and links to some articles about sharing poetry with children. Reading poetry and other fine books aloud to children is the best way to inspire a love of literature in them. It’s also an excellent way to help young children increase their vocabularies and to provide them with models of good writing.


From Dare to Dream…Change the World

Edited by Jill Corcoran

Illustrated by J.Beth Jepson

Published by Kane Miller

Note: Jill Corcoran’s inspiration for DARE TO DREAM…CHANGE THE WORLD came during a car ride, listening to NPR cover the uprising of the Egyptian people against their oppressive government. She has been to Egypt twice and remembers the extreme riches, and poverty, as well as needing to be escorted by gunman with assault rifles to keep safe. She was overcome by the courage of the Egyptian people and amazed by the role of social networking to bring their dreams and actions instantly to the rest of the world. To her, the tweets were like poetry, capturing the essence of the people’s hopes, fears, strength and determination.

On the Dare to Dream website, Jill wrote: “The title of this collection sprung into being during that car ride as well as the dream of a collection of poems by the best children’s poets living today to share the spirit of dreaming + action = change and that each one of us can make the world just a little better.”

Dare to Dream … Change the World “pairs biographical and inspirational poems focusing on people who invented something, stood for something, said something, who defied the naysayers and not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world.” My poem about Jonas Salk was paired with a poem written by my friend Janet Wong, an award-winning poet. Her poem is titled My Polio Shot.

Click here to find about more about Dare to Dream…Change the World, which was a winner of the 2013 Notable Books for a Global Society Award. It was also voted one of the Best Children’s Books of 2013 by the Bankstreet College of Education.














By Elaine Magliaro


The word “polio” spawned an epidemic of fear.

Worried parents

Asked, “How is it spread?”

Wondered, “Will my child be stricken?”

Hoped someone would find a cure.


I would be a problem solver,

Find a way

To vanquish the unseen foe—

A virus crippling so many.

I set to work in my laboratory.

Years passed into history.

Then time stood still

As I waited…waited to hear

The good news

That the vaccine I developed worked,

That it built a wall of immunity

Against the dread disease,

That it would protect the children—

Those who were most vulnerable.


President Eisenhower said he had no words to thank me.

I needed no thanks.

I had lived my dream to help mankind.

When asked who owned the patent on my vaccine, I replied,

“There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

It belonged to the people.


From Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems

Edited by Georgia Heard

Published by Roaring Book Press














By Elaine Magliaro


Be Sharp.

Wear a slick yellow suit

and a pink top hat.

Tap your toes on the tabletop,

listen for the right rhythm,

then dance a poem

across the page.


From My Cat Is in Love with the Goldfish and Other Loopy Love Poems

Chosen by Graham Denton

Published by A & C Black (London)













By Elaine Magliaro


Jack and June went to the moon,

Crash-landed in a crater.

Jack broke his nose and seven toes.

(He’s a crummy navigator!)


Jack cried in pain. June tried in vain

To soothe her injured mate.

She bound his toes and kissed his nose

And asked him for a date.


Jack and June began to swoon…

Fell mad in love and they

Returned to Earth, their place of birth…

And wed the very next day.


From Robert’s Snowflakes: Artists’ Snowflakes for Cancer’s Cure

Compiled by Grace Lin & Robert Mercer

Published by Viking

A note about this book, which is now out of print:

100% of the royalties from Robert’s Snowflakes went to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.

Grace is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator—and one of my dearest friends. Her first husband Robert Mercer died of cancer in 2007


(My first published poem)

By Elaine Magliaro

A snowman shadow

paints himself in blue upon

a cold white canvas



Here is a selection of some of my unpublished poems:

From my unpublished collection Excerpts from the Fairy Tale Files:


By Elaine Magliaro


Listen…Sleeping Beauty snoring

Sounds just like a lion roaring!

If I kiss her cheek, she’ll rise

And look into my deep blue eyes.

She’ll fall in love with me no doubt.

I’m the only prince hereabout.


Should I kiss Beauty? Should I not?

In this dilemma I am caught.

If I wake her now she’s mine—

A roaring, snoring valentine!

I know they say that love is blind,

But it’s not deaf. I’m disinclined

To rouse this maid. I’ll let her snore

And dream of me forevermore.


By Elaine Magliaro


You’re back again?

I knew you’d be.

You want my baby?

Let me see:


Her dirty diapers

Are obscene

And changing them

Beneath a queen.


She spits up food

And likes to drool.

Too bad that she’s

Too young for school.


Every day is

Such a hassle.

We have no daycare

At the castle.


She cries all night.

I get no rest.

No wonder I

Don’t look my best!


I’m so exhausted

And frustrated.


Is overrated.


Although I love

My daughter Ann,

I’ll keep my promise

Little man.


So…here’s the cream

For diaper rash

And here’s the baby.

Gotta dash!


From my unpublished collection Animal Talk: Mask Poems



By Elaine Magliaro


I am lion.

See my mane?

I am king

And here I reign

On the Serengeti Plain.


I am lion.

See my paws

With their sharp

And pointy claws?

See my teeth and mighty jaws?


I am lion.

Hear my roar?

I’m a cat

Of legend…lore.

I’m a fearsome predator!


I am lion.

Who are you?

You’re my prey!

How do you do?

You look plump…and juicy, too.


I am lion,

Royal beast.

Sorry that you’re

Now deceased.

You were one delicious feast!


This is a memoir poem that I wrote about my maternal grandmother who was a Polish immigrant. It’s from my unpublished collection A Home for the Seasons.


By Elaine Magliaro


In the cellar

Babci sits on an old kitchen chair

made new with glossy gray paint.

Wearing an apron blooming with faded flowers,

she leans over the tub of steaming water,

plucks out plump tomatoes,

and peels off the wet, papery skins.


She fills shiny jars with soft red pulp,

stretches on rubber sealers,

presses down moon-round lids,

clicks closed the metal clamps.

She places the jars in a wire basket

and lowers them into a pot of bubbling water to cook.


On wooden shelves in a corner

she stores stewed tomatoes beside rows of pickled beets,

golden peach slices, green piccalilli,

and carrots the color of October pumpkins.


Standing there in late afternoon,

sunlight shining through a small side window,

I see her harvest preserved:

a rainbow glistening in glass.

Babci is keeping summer alive in jars.



From my unpublished collection Sweet Tooth



By Elaine Magliaro





Lemon, lime, and tangerine

Cherry, orange, wintergreen

Grape, vanilla, licorice

Any flavor that I wish

Sitting in my candy dish

Every color looks delish!


From my unpublished collection Docile Fossil:


What a Pit-ty!

(A poem about the La Brea Tar Pits)

By Elaine Magliaro


I’m a…

Boiling pool of gummy goo,

Bubbling pond of asphalt brew,

Black and icky pit of pitch

Not concocted by a witch.


One of my intriguing features:

The horde of hapless Ice Age creatures

That stepped into my greasy guck,

Got trapped and were forever stuck.


Horses, smilodons and camels,

Woolly mammoths, other mammals,

Birds and mollusks…insects, too

Stumbled into my sticky stew.


Once engulfed in my thick sludge

The helpless creatures couldn’t budge.

Now here they lie entombed in tar–

And here, preserved, their fossils are.




(A poem of address)

By Elaine Magliaro


Woolly mammoth



Prehistoric pachyderm,

What did you in,

You hairy hulk?

A teeny tiny



Deadly germ?

A miniscule bacterium?



Elephant is till extant…

Hippo, rhino, tiny ant,

Kinkajou and caribou…

Gnat and gnu are living, too.


How come YOU

And mastodon

Are D-E-A-D

Dead and gone?



Two of my “things to do” list poems:


By Elaine Magliaro


Make your home

in the damp darkness


unknowing of snow

and stars

and summer breezes.

Live among roots

and rocks

and sleeping cicadas.

Excavate tunnels

in the moist brown earth.

Listen for the soft music

of seeds sprouting,

worms wiggling,

rain pattering on your grassy roof.

Spend your days in a world

of unending night.


By Elaine Magliaro



You dig?

What’s more—

You gotta ROAR.

Show your power.

Scale a tower.

Beat your chest.


Don’t forget to wear

A bulletproof vest!


A letter poem:

By Elaine Magliaro

Dear Lion,

I’m tired of doing the hunting, the preying
While your only job is to watch the cubs playing.
I’m tired of stalking the zebras and gnus
While you lie around on the grassland and snooze.
I’m tired of running, and pouncing, and killing.
I want a career that is much more fulfilling.
I’m tired, so tired. I’m spent to the core.
While I’m hard at work, you just eat, sleep, and snore.
I fetch all the food. You grow stronger…I thinner.
For the next seven days you can catch your own dinner!
I’m going away for a well-needed rest.
I’ll be seeing you soon.

All my love,


I often get inspiration from nature. Here’s a winter scene from the backyard of my former house–and the poem it inspired me to write:

004 - Copy






a pine
dips its bristles
in a bowl of sky
brushes blue
on a winter white canvas
paints a self portrait


During the winter of 2010-2011, we had a series of storms that covered us in snow up to our eyeballs! It inspired me to write a number of snow poems. Here is one of them:

005 (2)










It’s Snowing Again!

By Elaine Magliaro

It’s snowing again.
It’s blowing again.
It’s snowing and blowing.
The traffic is slowing.

The drifts keep on growing and growing and growing.
It just keeps on snowing
and snowing and snowing.
I don’t think it’s
to end.


You can read more of my original poems at my children’s literature blog Wild Rose Reader—which I haven’t posted at much in the past year. Still, you’ll find hundreds of my poems on various and sundry topics there.



Nurseries of Verse: The only way to grow poetry is to make it a habit.
by J. Patrick Lewis

Sharing the Power of Poetry with Your Child
by J. Patrick Lewis

So, you might ask, “What’s the big deal? Why is poetry so important?” Poetry is essential for children because it is “the best words in the best order.” The rhythm and rhymes can help children develop a love of language—and a love of reading. Once kids begin flexing their writing muscles, poetry can spark their creativity and let their imaginations soar!

You can read newspapers and magazines all you want, but nowhere else are you going to find words taken to such beautiful and sometimes absurd extremes as in poetry.

Children will not gravitate to poetry, poetry must be brought to them. Surround your home with as many books—and kinds—of poetry as you are able. Let a hundred flowers bloom. Then let your child decide whether free verse or rhyme, Silverstein or Shakespeare, most excites him or her.

Having plenty of books available gets you only half way, though. Poetry is aural (through the ears)! Parents and teachers who give oral readings are imprinting on children, who will then carry poetry with them into adulthood.

Another idea is to make the reading of a poem not a requirement, but an activity at dinnertime. Or, you might write or print out your favorite couplets or short poems and hide them in your children’s clothes, drawers or lunch bags. You’ll be surprised; kids will actively search for them. And if there’s no poem, they’ll be disappointed.


Mary Ann Hoberman: 2008 Children’s Poet Laureate: Whether writing about llamas in pajamas or befuddled fauna, her poems are always about the puzzlement of language.
by Michael Atkinson



Children’s Poem “Mosquito” by U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis

Children’s Poetry Video “The Ants” by Joyce Sidman

Children’s Poem “No Strings Attached” by Julie Larios

Make the Earth Your Companion (J. Patrick Lewis)



No Water River Youtube Channel


Note to all my friends at RIL: If you would like to contact me, you can do so via my children’s literature blog Wild Rose Reader. Just click on my profile page. I’ll also be posting at Flowers at Socrates from time to time.

35 thoughts on “For the Love of Poetry…and A Farewell Post”

  1. Elaine,
    I found a quote and thought of you:

    “I believe that a good children’s book should appeal to all people who have not completely lost their original joy and wonder in life.” ~Leo Lionni

    Not sure of the exact source since it was written in my daughter’s Quote Book.

  2. Thank you for sharing your poetry, Elaine. The Haiku captured a snowman perfectly. Your built-in bookshelf of children’s books is a rainbow-hued testament to your love of words and good literature (and I have bookshelf envy!). I will miss your posts and your comments–I hope you continue to comment on RIL in your “free time”! 🙂 Your writing is eloquent and insightful, and your perspectives keep the discussion thoughtful and always well-supported (I like following your links). Yet, to focus on writing poetry for children! As your poems demonstrate, there is so much beauty and joy in writing for children and in helping to engender in them a love of language. Your granddaughter is a lucky little girl.

  3. All the best with your new adventures Elaine. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to know you better, but hopefully I can still continue to read your wonderful work.

  4. Good luck and best wishes on this next chapter of your life, and congratulations on your work being included in two upcoming anthologies.

    Children’s poetry is a wonderful gateway for children’s imagination. Too often, kids spend their time in front of screens, with the creativity completed for them. Staring at at the TV creates less brain waves than staring at a blank wall. But children’s literature, especially poetry, can feed that creative side.

  5. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. Good luck with your future endeavors. You are an excellent writer.

  6. Elaine, I’ve enjoyed reading your weekend articles and your comments on others. Your poetry contributions today are very special. I will miss you.

  7. Elaine,
    Your snowflake book you sent for Reed was appreciated by our whole family, especially my older daughter, Reed’s mom. The paper snowflake rests with Reed forever, along with his Sgian Dubh (He often used it to cut his pancakes!) He who had looked forward to being eighteen, but is now seventeen forever.

  8. Elaine,

    Thank you for your perspective and time over the years. Your contributions to this blog have been exemplary. Good luck with all you and your family do.

Comments are closed.