Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Where Can You Find A New Nose?

Where Can You Find A New Nose?

                                                  by Ralph Fletcher

If you want a new mouth
Check the mouth of a cave.

If you want some new curls
Check the curl of a wave.

If you’re looking for hands
Try the hands of a watch.

But where can you find a new nose, a new nose?
Who knows where to find a new nose?

Do you need a fresh face?
Try the front of a clock.

Would you like a new lip?
Try the top of a cup.

There’s a nice soft shoulder
On the edge of the road.

But where can you find a new nose, a new nose?
Who knows where to find a new nose?

You can find a new tongue
Tucked inside your shoe.

You will find extra teeth
On the next saw you use.

There are plenty of ears
In a tall field of corn.

But where can you find a new nose, a new nose?
Who knows where to find a new nose?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Skipping Stones

Skipping Stones

Dad skips breakfast
Elizabeth skips rope
I skip stones

George skipped fourth grade
Brian skipped out of school
I skip stones

Flat stones sharp stones
Skinny as potato chips

          ing            wrin
Kick           up                   kles

          the                   smooooooth
on              glass                                  lake

                                      from Water Planet

Monday, April 28, 2014

Family Photo

Family Photo

One last picture
before we head off
in different directions.

One last group shot of
all of us, smirking,
with rabbit ears.

Three generations:
kids on shoulders,
a baby cousin in my lap.

And in the middle
Grandma and Grandpa
who started all this.

We’re all ripples in a pond
spreading out
from a stone they threw.

from Relatively Speaking: Poems About Family

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bad Weather

Bad Weather

They’re predicting a big term paper
due to arrive on Monday morning.

Tuesday the forecast looks bad:
intense DOL and grammar drills.

Wednesday will be a scorcher
when the state writing test arrives.

Thursday there’s a high probability
of five-paragraph essays.

Friday should bring some relief
when scattered poetry blows in.

                  from A Writing Kind of Day

Saturday, April 26, 2014

First Kiss

First Kiss

I’ll never forget
that empty barn
smell of dry hay
those long columns
of dusty light

for one whole minute
you and I breathed
the same breath

      from I Am Wings: Poems About Love

Friday, April 25, 2014

Scary Poem

Scary Poem

This poem frightens me
from the first simile.

Each metaphor
strikes fear to my core.

I’m deeply disturbed
by one evil verb.

The rhymes of this verse
make me fear the worst.

No use pretending…
I’m dreading the ending.

         from Crawl Space: Poems About Scary Things

Thursday, April 24, 2014

This Is Not A Love Poem

This Is Not A Love Poem

This is not a love poem no way
you need big words for that
like luminous and eternity
you need lots of serious rhyme
maybe even iambic pentameter
you need merciless stars
deserts on moonless nights
foamy surf on gusty beaches
you need to get smashed
into such tiny fragments
you can use only the small i
when you write
i love you

     from Buried Alive: The Elements of Love

Wednesday, April 23, 2014



I’ve learned a new word
(myriad: many, countless)
and fly it like a new kite
when I hike these woods

           myriad tiny twigs
           myriad swollen buds
           myriad insects stirring
           beneath the muddy earth

from Ordinary Things: Poems From a Walk in Early Spring

Tuesday, April 22, 2014



                                     by Ralph Fletcher

         Weeds in the sunlight,
        swaying in the breeze.

        Weeds pollinated by
        hordes of hungry bees.

        Weeds softly whispering,
        spilling secret seeds.

        Weeds multiplying:
        weeds, weeds, weeds. 
        Dandelion, ragweed,
        Queen Anne’s lace.

        Weeds in my dreams,
        weeds in outer space.

        Weeds on vacation
        but more staying home.

        Sneaky little weedlings
        sprouting in this poem!

Monday, April 21, 2014



I don’t mind snakes
or wriggling worms
though there is one critter
that makes me squirm.

In your intestine
the tapeworm waits
and eats the food
fresh off your plate.

No need to hunt—
it takes your food
and steals the meat
that you just chewed.
Tucked in your gut
it eats and eats;
tapeworms can grow
to fifty feet!

Most snakes are cool
and worms, no doubt,
but tapeworms
I could live without.

           from Crawl Space: Poems About Scary Things

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shaky Reassurances

Shaky Reassurances

What’s that mysterious knock?
It must be the grandfather’s

Did you hear that twig snapping?
Must be a branch on the window,

I heard a soft scream or a howl.
Please tell me it’s only an

The night sky has turned on the rain
but how do I turn off my

from Crawl Space: Poems About Scary Things

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Updated Speaking Schedule

Writing Teachers! I just updated my speaking schedule for the rest of this school year. If you’re interested, and want to see if I'll be in your area, go to:

Then click on the Events page.

Owl Pellets

Owl Pellets
                           by Ralph Fletcher        

A month ago
in biology lab
you sat close to me
knee touching mine
your sweet smell
almost drowning out
the formaldehyde stink
which crinkled up
your nose
while I dissected
our fetal pig.

Now I take apart
this owl pellet
small bag that holds
skin and hair and bones
little skeletons
what the owl ate
but couldn’t digest
and coughed back up.

You sit with Jon Fox
ignore me completely
laugh at his dumb jokes
let your head fall onto
his bony shoulder
while I attempt
to piece together
with trembling hands
the tiny bones
of a baby snake.

Certain things
are just about
to swallow.

      from I Am Wings: Poems About Love

Thursday, April 17, 2014



The sun sprays
summery light
but wind speaks
with winter’s tongue.

The pond reflects
so much blue
I can’t quite decide
whether it’s the sky

using the pond
as a mirror
or the pond wearing
a bracelet of sky.

 from Ordinary Things: Poems from a Walk in Early Spring

Wednesday, April 16, 2014



You see them in old Westerns,
blowing across a dusty road.

Their roots aren’t planted in soil
but curled up so they roll along
wherever the wind might take them.

If we move away from here,
I won’t be from Marshfield
or from Massachusetts.

I won’t be from anywhere—
         just a tumbleweed
                  blowing across a dusty road.

                                       from Moving Day: Poems about Moving

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Bravest Deed

    The Bravest Deed

     I’m shopping with Mom
     at the supermarket
     and we see a woman
     yelling at her kid
     who looks about three or four.

     She grabs the girl’s arm
     smacks her on the bottom
     BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!        
     about ten times, hard, then
     CRACK! across the girl’s face.

    The girl is screaming
     and the lady gets ready
     to smack her again
     but all of a sudden Mom
     sort of steps between them
     and asks: Is everything okay?
     You’re having a hard time,
     looks like. I remember…

     Mom points at me, laughing,
     actually calms the lady down,
     with that girl still sniffling,
     and me standing there hoping
     no one will notice my
     trembling hands.

        from Relatively Speaking: Poems About Family

Saturday, April 12, 2014



on Grandma’s coffin
a single blossom

as if I could

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Man-Cloud

The Man-Cloud

In the buzzing morning meadow
when the sun was not yet high
I thought I saw a man-cloud
walking in the sky.

My brother saw it differently;
he told me with a laugh
that what he saw instead
was an ice-skating giraffe!

“Can’t you see his long legs gliding?
Look close you’ll see him riding.
I distinctly see a tall giraffe
skating through the sky.”

I did not want to argue
or tell him he was wrong;
I saw a man-cloud walking
and wished to go along.

The Elephants

The Elephants

It gave me giddy thrill
to see that creature
emerge from the trees,
like a live dinosaur,
mythic and prehistoric,
with no regard for
or sensible scale.

It was like how I felt
when I first saw a whale
surface right next to our boat;
my hert seized
to see such astounding bulk.

Human may dominate this planet,
but we are not the
largest creatures on earth,
not even close to it.

Just look at them!
A line of huge, trunked creatures
rumbling along
like a prehistoric train
with a small baby as the caboose!
making me feel airy and light
and somehow free


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Water Lily

       Water Lily

         I am famous: the sacred lotus,
         a symbol of grace and purity,

                           though to croaking frogs I am no more
                           than a hang-out joint, an all-night store.

         My petals enfold stamens of gold.
         I float, serene, while down below

                           these roots of mine are deeply stuck
                           in the coolest most delicious muck.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014



I’m not moving.
Uh-uh. No way.

I’ve made my decision:
I’m staying right here.

Dad and Mom can move,
and Ray can go, too.

But I’m twelve and I can
care for myself just fine.

They’re selling our house,
so I’ll camp in the woods.

My sleeping bag works great
down to twenty-five below.

I’ll fix hot dogs and soup
over a campfire.

I’ll bathe in the the stream
and walk to school.

When I need lunch money
or my report card signed—

anyway, I’m not moving.

                                  from Moving Day

Tuesday, April 8, 2014



Help Wanted: sturdy individuals
interested in grass-roots work
at a number of rugged locations
(cliffs, desert, some tundra).
Good benefits. Must be strong
and adaptable, self-starter,
persistent, willing to relocate,
with no fear of high places
and no known allergies
to bees.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Rainbow In Ice

Rainbow In Ice

I found a little rainbow
trapped in a chunk of ice.
Iced rainbows are seldom seen;
I don’t expect to find one twice.

It stayed outside my window
where the wind would keep it cold.
There were seven strands of color
and a tiny pot of gold.

All winter long I studied it,
how the yellow rubbed the green.
Red and indigo made bookends
while the blue nestled in between.

I wondered where it came from,
this orphan rainbow child.
And though I longed to tame it
I knew to keep it wild.

One warm March day the rainbow left;
on brilliant wings it flew.
Perhaps I’ll see it, fully grown,
when summer storms pass through.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

First Lullabye

First Lullabye

In late afternoon
the sea breathes
onto the shore.

Lying on a towel
I feel the sand
still glowing
with the memory
of the day’s hottest sun.

The beach hushes
at this time of day,
and it sounds like the
world’s first lullaby:
the low throaty waves,
salty breeze in my ears,
and Mom humming.

                  from Have You Been to the Beach Lately?