Black Locust

“How do you know it’s a black locust?”

It was a sincere question
I had to think
for a few seconds 
before I answered.

The easy answer
the one I didn’t give
was it couldn’t be anything else.

With those compound leaves
it wasn’t any of the oaks
or maples
redbud was out of the question
as was beech
and tulip poplar.

With those leaflets
as small and numerous as they were
ash, hickory
box elder
buckeye and even pecan
were off the list.

But on that late April morning
it was more than just 
seeing what it wasn’t

It was seeing what it had to be.

With those dangling clusters 
of wondrous white flowers
laden with nectar, pollen,
and bumble bees

It had to be a black locust.
It couldn’t be anything else.

“It’s the flowers,”
I said with a smile.

Just a note:

I know and understand that most people don’t know how to identify the trees around them.  Or the flowers, shrubs, and grasses.  There are so many I don’t know . . . lots more than I do. 

In the early grades, we often use what’s known as “environmental print” to help students to read.  Environmental print is helpful because almost everyone, even children at a young age, can recognize it — it’s ubiquitous and you know it at a glance.  

When I learn with people — especially young people — outdoors, it’s my hope that they would develop a familiarity with the world around them.  Much like recognizing the M that is the golden arches, it would be great if, at a glance, we could recognize the plants and animals around us.  

To paraphrase Aldo Leopold, we can’t love what we don’t know.


Man vs. nature
I would write in the margins
back when I was made
to do such things

I remember that
along with man vs. man 
and man vs. self
— conflict

Now, some forty years later
as I walk the trails
and see 
what I see

I wonder why
I never wrote
nature vs. man
I wonder why

back when I was made
to do such things


Just a note: I understand we more-accurately say character instead of man these days.  This poem takes me back to the 70s.  A lot of things were different back then. (And a lot of things weren’t.)

2021 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

It’s the 26th of April*, and the 2021 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is down to its last few days. I’m excited to be a part of the effort this year, and it’s been great to watch this grow as the days and weeks have gone by. Thank you, Margaret Simon of Reflections on the Teche, for your organizational efforts!

The poem started back on the 1st of April and has progressed through 25 poets so far (the list is in the sidebar). Its last stop was with Shari Daniels at Islands of My Soul, and she left me with two lines from which to choose. In her blog post, she gave some insight into her thinking as she wrote them: “This poem is nearing the end, with a possible one stanza left and perhaps a closing line that leaves the reader lingering in wonderment. So, this last stanza feels like it must take a bend or pivot in some way.”

I certainly agree! Here’s the poem so far, with the two choices she’s giving me at the end.

I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!
Easily contagious – sharing smiles is my plan.
I’ll spread my joy both far and wide
As a force of nature, I’ll be undenied.

Words like, “how can I help?” will bloom in the street.
A new girl alone on the playground – let’s meet, let’s meet!
We can jump-skip together in a double-dutch round.
Over, under, jump and wonder, touch the ground.

Friends can be found when you open a door.
Side by side, let’s walk through, there’s a world to explore.
We’ll hike through a forest of towering trees.
Find a stream we can follow while we bask in the breeze.

Pull off our shoes and socks, dip our toes in the icy spring water
When you’re with friends, there’s no have to or oughter.
What could we make with leaves and litter
Let’s find pine needles, turn into vine knitters.

We’ll lie on our backs and find shapes in the sky.
We giggle together: See the bird! Now we fly?
Inspired by nature, our imaginations soar.
Follow that humpback! Here, take an oar.

Ahh! Here comes a wave — let’s hold on tight,
splashing and laughing, let’s play until night!
When the Milky Way sparkles, and the moon’s overhead,
we make a pretend campfire and tell stories we’ve read.

Here are the two choices she’s written:

You tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine.


Some stories are true and some myths of our time.

I’m going with her second choice! Here is her line with the two that I’ve written.

Some stories are true and some myths of our time.
Now let’s write our own — maybe prose, maybe rhyme!


Some stories are true and some myths of our time.
I love all of them, but my favorite ones rhyme!

I’m excited to see where Rebecca Newman takes this stanza, and how the poem comes to an end — just four more days!

* As I understand things from her website, Rebecca is actually bringing her 26th of April to an end down under in Australia as mine is just getting started in north Alabama. I know, I know . . . she still has the same 24 hours, but I’m publishing this early to give her some daylight before it’s her 27th!


There is wild blue phlox
rue anemone
shooting star and sweet Betsy
yellow trout lily and oak-leaf hydrangea

For the sake of being
there is a flower
beautiful, delicate, drawing pollinators
developing seeds

For the sake of being
there is patience 
waiting for spring rains 
and warming days

For the sake of being
there is germination
and there is growth
reaching skyward toward the Sun

For the sake of being
there is a flower

Renewed Life

During this National Poetry Month, Laura Purdie Salas has written and posted an equation poem for each day. I’ve really come to look forward to seeing them and wanted to try my hand at one before the month ended.

The north Alabama countryside is absolutely beautiful during the months of March and April, and in many ways that’s because of the rain we get. Mayapples are a favorite part of spring for me.

A Trio of Tankas

I think of greenbriar
in the early months of spring
their tendrils waving —
like me, they look for something
to bring them up to the light

Flitting in and out
of the brush beside the trail
the small bird beckons
entreating me to follow
where it knows I cannot go

I’m faced with a choice
two paths through the springtime wood
both calling to me —
I know, yes, I must decide
or simply stand there alone

Split Horizons

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Pocketful of Prose

Ponderings to Keep

Ms. Victor Reads

Reflections on my life as a teacher, reader, writer.

Merely Day By Day

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I hablo espanglish

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Lit Coach Connection

Connecting with Mindful Educators

Live Your Poem...

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Katie's Korner

Blogging my way through the year

The Biblio Bard Blogger

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Soapbox: The Way I see Things

shouting my heart out for all who may listen


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Lit On Fire!

Mar de Meditaciones

"It would be nice if you could just ravel out into time."

Writing My Way

Polonius got that one right...