Poetry for Children

with Robert Schechter

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The Story of an Apple Tree

An apple tree high on a hill and pithy with age

toppled over, and as it fell it flung out one

last apple, tough as a baseball, and it bounced 

 

downhill and rolled and stopped against a rock

where over the winter it came apart at the seams

and spilled its seeds. And one of the seeds found

 

a damp spot under the side and sprouted there,

and soon, by the measurements of sky and clouds,

it became a tiny apple tree that was already

 

trying to elbow the rock aside. And there it grew,

wild in the wind down the hill, scattering petals,

white with pink centers, with pea-sized knobs

 

behind those blossoms that by summer would be

apples. And the tree grew and grew, and grew

even more, and thousands of honeybees came

 

and went, and in winter deer scuffed in the snow

for the apples it dropped, but the tree grew old

and weak, as had the first tree, and it fell,

 

and one of its leathery apples rolled downhill,

and lay patiently under the snow where the deer

couldn’t find it, and in the spring it also sprouted

becoming a tree, just a small one, but with hope,

and it grew there, a hundred feet down the slope

from the original tree, which by then was no more

 

than a damp brown heap of bark and branches,

and this cycle continued, each apple sapling

lifting out of the skin of the last apple, and each

 

sprouting a few more yards downhill until

maybe a dozen generations later, an apple tree

came up at the foot of the hill where they’d all

 

been going, and it leaned against an old stone wall

at a meadow’s edge, pushing against the wall

but not able to move it, and that tree too,

 

as it grew, dropped its fruit in the long grass

around it, the deer coming far down the hill

to find them there, and then finally, as a very,

 

very old tree soon to lie in the shade

it bent over its very last apple, dropped over

the wall, and what was the name of that tree?

 

It was called the Seek-No-Further, and someone

found one of the last ones, long ago, but you

might seek and find one, too, at the foot

of a wall, still young with maybe two leaves only,

open like hands, on the warm sunny side.

 

Loosely based on a passage from Eric Sloane’s book, A Reverence for Wood, Wilfred Funk, Inc., New York, 1965.

Theodore J. Kooser is an American poet. He won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2005. He served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to 2006.

I Can’t Rhyme

I’ve never been able to rhyme.

Some people rhyme words all the . . . hmmm.

I can’t rhyme with “sunny” or “tree”.

It’s easy for some, but not . . . myself?

I can’t rhyme with “dog” or with “cat.”

It’s useless. As simple as . . .this?

I try and I try. It’s absurd!

I never can find the right . . . ugggh!

And so, there’s just one thing to do.

I’ll leave all the rhyming to . . . the person reading this, I guess?

Diana Murray has published over twenty children’s books including the bestselling UNICORN DAY series, and Junior Library Guild Selections CITY SHAPES and GOODNIGHT, VEGGIES. Her poems appear in Highlights, Ladybug, and many anthologies. http://www.dianamurray.com

Crocodile Excuses

There’s a crocodile in the bathtub.

He just ate up the soap.

And then he ate my rubber duck,

and now he’s got my boat.

 

There’s a crocodile in the bathtub

with a great big soapy grin.

He plans to eat me stem to stern

if I put just one foot in.

 

There’s a crocodile in the bathtub.

Why don’t you come and see?

I know for sure you’ll look and say,

no bath tonight for me.

Secret Snow

I almost never hear it fall.

It starts above the treetops tall.

And makes its way through cloud and tree.

Then settles down on little me.

 

It covers everything in sight.

It brightens up the darkest night.

But best of all, I'm glad to say,

it got me out of school today.

Paul Sivils is a librarian and poet living in southern Arkansas. He has been writing poems since 1972 which he calls “the year of first verse.”

The Umbrella

Your gelatinous brolly

imparts locomotion,

propelling your body

across the wide ocean.

 

Your brolly’s transparent,

pink, yellow, or blue.

You’re awesome. Yes, jelly,

I’m talking to you!

 

Tentacles under

your brolly, oh jelly,

sting legions of fish,

which end up in your belly.

 

But today you’re not jolly.

Your brolly can’t hide

your flesh from the sun,

washed up by the tide.

 

First published in Lighten Up Online.

Martin Elster, who never misses a beat, was for many years a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. A full-length collection, Celestial Euphony, was published by Plum White Press in 2019.

Under-Water World

I swam, down, down

through the whirling waves,

through turquoise and aquamarine,

past shimmery fish and shadowy caves

to a bed of Amazon-green.

There I found treasures from days of old —

sparkling silver and dazzling gold,

and the rusty daggers of pirates bold,

and all the coins their caskets could hold.

I found a lost world on the ocean floor,

not seen or heard or known any more,

in the deep and dark and cold.

Kate Williams is a children’s poet with contributions to many anthologies and a forthcoming solo collection with Otter Barry Books. She lives in the green hills of Wales, UK. Website: poemsforfun.wordpress.com.

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