Pick that Perfect Poem for that Special Someone!

My son rolls out of bed about twenty minutes before he leaves for school. How? He packs up his backpack and showers the night before, which saves a considerable amount of time. Oh, And…. He sleeps in his uniform.

I’m a big sleep proponent, but every now and then he comes downstairs particularly wrinkled or his hair has a serious bedhead vibe to it, and I reconsider.

Earlier this week, we had such a morning. The hair. It was standing up straight, reminiscent of Ace Ventura. And it only makes all the sense in the world that that day was school picture day because the Scary-Hair Fairy always knows just when to visit.

The Scary-Hair Fairy

‘Twas the night before pictures – those taken at school –
when kids want their hair to look stylish and cool.

The students were nestled in bed unaware
of what was about to become of their hair.

When up on the dresser top, who should appear,
but that messer of tresses photographers fear.

The Scary-Hair Fairy! That rascally knave!
That scoundrel whose magic makes hair misbehave.

More rapid than spritzing, he’ll straighten your curls.
He’ll give you six cowlicks and bangs all awhirl.

With a twist of his comb and mysterious gel,
you’re helplessly under his hair-raising spell.

He’ll tangle your ringlets. He’ll snarl and he’ll knot
and stiffen and crimp all your hair so it’s taut.

And then he’ll be off spreading split ends and frizz
to the next unsuspecting young Mister and Ms.

Yet as he’s departing, his warning is clear.
He snickers with such a cold scalawag sneer.

“Tomorrow will bring you the bleak prospect of
a school picture only a mother could love!”poem-snack

There is no better way to celebrate school picture day than with this poem, taken from Andrea Perry’s book, The Snack Smasher and Other Reasons Why It’s Not My Fault.

Poetry. I love the stuff. Poems often say exactly what you want but with so much more elegance and cleverness (and humor, too, sometimes).poem-nest

A few years ago, I read Hummingbird Nest by Kristine O’Connell George. George captures the beauty of these tiny creatures in a series of poems, from the bird’s arrival to a new nest to eggs to hatched baby birds. Nonetheless, her poem, Empty Nest seems to speak to humans as much as it does to hummingbirds. One of my friends recently dropped her firstborn off to college. I popped a copy of this poem into her mailbox:

Empty Nest

They’re gone.

No sign of them.

The time finally came.

My hummingbird family moved




whe dark seems filled

with cold and cat and owl.

Pocket-sized birds sleeping, alone,

out there.


This is how

it’s supposed to be.

So why do I keep watching

this empty nest in this empty tree?

I have no idea if George intended this double-meaning, but I see it, regardless. And you know what? There are a million articles about kids leaving for college. Plenty of blog posts about it. But in the end, I think we largely want to know that we’re not alone in our feelings. This poem does just that in a mere 53 words. Man, poetry.

Want to cheer someone up or let someone know you’re thinking about him? Find a poem to share! If you find the right one, there is nothing more powerful. Perfectly selected words in a particular rhythm and arrangement that truly pack a punch. Poems can make you laugh and take your breath away.

Years ago, my son had a teacher who took special interest in him. She was the right person at the right time; a teacher he will always remember. I happened upon this poem towards the end of the school year and shared it with her:

Ways and Means

How strange it is to see him here —

            Congressman J. Charles Witherford the Third,

            Known to his friends as Side-Shuffle Charlie,

            Powerful chairman of House Ways and Means,

            And confidante of four Presidents.

Now retired,

The congressman is a volunteer-reader at our school.

Every Tuesday and Thursday

I see him in the cafeteria

Reading to little Andy Roth,

And today,

Unable to resist any longer,

I introduced myself:

“My name is Debbie Abshire,” I said,

“I’m Andy’s teacher,

And I just wanted to say

What an honor it is to meet you,

And how wonderful it is

For you to volunteer your valuable time.”


The congressman nodded graciously,

Shuffled one step to the side,

And began to speak in that warm growl

I had heard so often on television.

            “For twenty-one years

            I walked the halls of political power.

            I was wined, dined, maligned, and revered,

            Yet each night,

            When I put my head on the pillow,

            I felt the ooze of futility

            Like tar in the marrow of my bones.

            But tonight I’m going to sleep like a baby.

            ‘My valuable time,’ you say.

            And for the first time in my life I agree,

            The time I spend reading to this child

            Is indeed a thing of value.”

Then he stood erect,

Took my hand in his,

And whispered,

            “So you see, Ms. Abshire,

            It is I who am honored to meet you.”poem-bow

I couldn’t have said it any better. Brod Bagert’s Rainbows, Head Lice, and Pea-Green Tile includes other really fabulous school and teacher related poems. Many others are also worth sharing!

So, next time you want to send a thought, feeling, or sentiment but aren’t exactly sure how, check our your library’s poetry section. Sit down smack dab in the middle of the aisle and start flipping through the books. Plan to stay there much longer than you think you will. Poetry hunting can be meditative and skew all sense of time. Bring a pad of sticky notes because once you start to look, I’m tellin’ ya, you’ll find poems for all kinds of situations and people.

You might even find a few for yourself! I’m always stashing aside a poem or two to review later or to paint onto my laundry room wall:


poem-tapLinda Sue Park’s Tap Dancing on the Roof is a gem of a poetry book; I love the size, shape, and contents of this dear little book, where you can find this Laundry poem.

Shoot one out in an email, write one onto a card, type one out and post next to your computer, read one to a friend. Poems just have a way of being that perfect something that fills you up.

Keep Reading,



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