Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Writing Kind of Night

It is clear tonight,
a writing kind of night.

There’s a moon stirring up
mysterious metaphors
in my imagination.

The heavens are jam-packed
with planets and black holes
that are still undiscovered,

and magnificent poems
still to be written. 

from a Writing Kind of Day by Ralph Fletcher

Thursday, April 30, 2015

There are many tasks you have to do when you’re about to move. In this poem defrosting the freezer unearths some important memories, and reminders of what will be left behind.

Defrosting the Freezer

One container of spaghetti sauce
Grandma made before she died.

Two old pieces of wedding cake
you couldn’t pay me to eat.

Three snowballs from last winter,
slightly deformed, no longer fluffy.

Four small flounder from the time
Grandpa took me deep-sea fishing.

Everything coated in a thick
white layer of sadness.      

from Moving Day by Ralph Fletcher

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spider Web

An elusive thing
at the birth of spring:
the first fine web
of a spiderling.

You can’t hardly feel it,
it’s almost not there,
caressing your face,
lighter than air.

          by Ralph Fletcher

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Two for Tuesday. The first one is a science poem, and gives
a good way to remember what H20 means. The second is a sad
love poem.


The recipe
       for water is
the same as
       it’s always been:

two parts
one part

       that’s the rule
to make a water

Waiting for the Splash

Last night
after you hung up
I wrote you a poem
hoping it might
change your heart.

This morning
I tell myself:
Get serious, man.
Someone once compared
writing a poem
and hoping it will
change the world
to dropping rose petals
down a deep well

waiting for the splash.

from I Am Wings: Poems about Love

© Ralph Fletcher. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 27, 2015

This is a poem about how it feels after you go to a
family reunion, and get to hang out with all the


We leave the reunion, go home
to a house that’s much too quiet.

No more tag or kick-the-can of
killer croquet with my cousins.

No more bloody war stories
told by my big-bellied uncles.

No more staying up late watching TV
while the grownups crazy-laugh
around the kitchen table.

Just us. Boring us.

Our family becomes
like a package of plums
at the supermarket—

so small and tight
I can hardly breathe.

from Relatively Speaking: Poems About Family

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Knife-dancing angels playfully fight.
Snails move slow and often stop.
Guppies gaze through watery windows
Hung with curtains of swirling light.

Fish hear secrets and never tell.
Most sleep and eat and keep in pairs.
They listen to me in perfect silence:
I should listen half as well.

I study my fish and they study me,
Our worlds bridged by heavy glass.
But I am dry and far too heavy;
I clomp to the kitchen gracelessly.

At times my land life seems out of whack:
No fins, no gills, with unwebbed feet.
Life on earth began in the water—
Today I swear I’d gladly go back.

                          by Ralph Fletcher

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Beach Baby

She’s one year old. One tooth. A total pudge.
She tries to get out of the water but her
soaked diaper must weigh
ten thousand pounds
so all she can do is

Later she sees me eating cheese puffs
and toddles over, towering above me,
a baby so giant she blocks out the sun,
sticks out her hand and yells: MINE’S!

Her mother hustles over, apologizes,
and hauls her back to their blanket.
Then the baby starts eating sand, grinning,
grinding the grains with that one tooth.

    from Have You Been To The Beach Lately? by Raph Fletcher

Friday, April 24, 2015


I don’t mind snakes
or wriggling worms
though one of them
sure makes me squirm.

Deep in your gut
the tapeworm waits
and eats the food
fresh off your plate.

No need to hunt—
it takes your food,
stealing meat
that you just chewed.
It knows one thing:
 eat, eat, eat, eat;
this parasite grows
to fifty feet!

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

            by Ralph Fletcher

Thursday, April 23, 2015

          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, but down below

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



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.

© 2015 Ralph Fletcher. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

               Bad Weather

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

Tuesday the forecast looks real 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 by Ralph Fletcher

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dig Down Deep

There’s water everywhere,”
Bobby used to tell me.
“It’s under the mountains,
even under the deserts
if you dig down
deep enough.”

I didn’t answer him:
he was my little brother
and I just let him talk.

But I found out he was right
when Bobby died a few weeks
after his seventeenth birthday.

My mother cried that night
and every night for a solid year.

Even the old dry faces
sprouted stony tears.

      © 2015 Ralph Fletcher. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Goodnight Poem

Now the long day
feels complete.

Tuck your feet
between clean sheets.

Tuck your body
into bed.

Tuck moonbeam dreams
into your head.

Tuck your covers
snug and tight.

Tuck the good
into the night.

                               by Ralph Fletcher

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Always keep my eyes alert
for the telltale tip of an

You can find them around here
sharp enough to draw

Strange that I know almost
nothing about the people
who first walked this land.

       their myths and songs
       the sound of their words

I’m looking for an arrowhead.
I want to hold one in my hand.
I want to touch the tip of history.

from Ordinary Things: Poems From a Walk in Early Spring

Saturday, April 18, 2015

New Baby

My baby sister
before she’s two days old
people start dividing her up.

“She has my olive eyes.”
“Got Grandma’s double-chin.”
“She has her father’s nose.”

Like she’s just a bunch
of borrowed parts
stitched together.

Well, I just got to hold her.
I touched her perfect head
and I’ll tell you this:

My sister is whole.

   from Relatively Speaking: Poems About Family

Friday, April 17, 2015

Taking Things Apart

The movers start
by taking things apart.

Our table lies on the rug,
legless and upside down.

Shelves get disassembled;
beds are left in pieces.

One mover dismantles
my Ping-Pong table, saying:

“Our guys in Ohio will
put everything back together.”

Which makes me wonder
about my ripped-apart life.

Exactly who’s going to put that
together again?

   from Moving Day by Ralph Fletcher

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Lifeguard

Like a god
on Mount Olympus
he sits far above
the common people.

Like an arrogant god
with a perfect body
he tosses down smiles,
crumbs to the girls below.

Like a bronze god
he studies the shore
deciding who will live,
and when to be a hero.

              by Ralph Fletcher

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Poets like to play with language. In this
poem I'm having fun playing with different
meanings of the word skip. 

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 like potato chips

        ing               wrin
Kick                up                 les

        the                 smooooooth
On              glass                        lake

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

This is my book on how to write a poem. Practical advice that will help young poets get a feel for the heart of poetry, and how they can create their own.

I’ve been posting one poem per day in honor of National Poetry Month. Today I’m posting two poems. The first one (Babies) was written for younger students; I’m thinking the second one (This Is Not A Love Poem) may appeal to older kids.


Faucet leak
       pools cool
springs bubble
       babies drool

Seas sparkle
       lakes glisten
streams gurgle
       babies listen

Rivers rise
       flood and worse
water falls
       babies nurse

Rain drenches
       waves crash
water quenches
       babies splash

Ice pelts
       cold creeks
hail pelts
       babies leak

   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 iambic pentameter
or at least some serious rhyme
you neded merciless stars
deserts on moonless nights
foamy surf on gusty beaches
you need to get smashed
into such tiny fragments
you can only use the small i
when you write
i love you

© 2015 Ralph Fletcher. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 13, 2015


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!

© 2010 Ralph Fletcher. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How To Bake A Flower

Stir seeds into well-drained soil.
Fold in a half-cup live worms.

Sprinkle in occasional rain
until green shoots appear.

Blend in sun mixed with shade.
Add a dash of moonlight.

Simmer on low four to six weeks
in the slow oven of summer

until sweet blossoms unfold.
Swirl in butterflies. Whip in bees.

© Ralph Fletcher. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Salmon hatch in a stream,
swim out to the ocean,

but they always return
to the stream of their birth.

Today I said: “Bye, Ma,”
and I got a funny feeling.

Then it hit me:
Ma was my first word.

As if the word swam back
to where it all began.

from A Writing Kind of Day

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Great Blue Heron

Even when we walk up close
he pays no attention to us
as he walks along the shore
peering into shallow water
looking for some juicy crab
or unsuspecting sushi.

He looks like a dorky professor
teaching advanced algebra,
all eyes and bones and beak,
lecturing to invisible students,
hungry for that one moment
when he will get across his

         from Have You Been To The Beach Lately?

             © Ralph Fletcher. All rights reserved.