Friday, May 22, 2015

Under the Freedom Tree

Finding an unknown bit of history is fascinating to me, especially when I realize I have even a small personal connection to it. As a teenager, I spent several summers with my aunt and uncle at Fort Monroe, Virginia. One of my most vivid recollections was the way all traffic stopped, both automotive and pedestrian, at the sound of the five o'clock reveille bugle. If you were in a car, you stopped in the middle of the road, opened your door, got out and stood at attention (hand over your heart if you were a civillian like me) until the bugler's call was done. Then life went on as usual. 

I recently read Susan Van Hecke's Under the Freedom Tree. It's a beautiful book, illustrated by London Ladd, published by Charlesbridge last year. Susan's lyrical picture book uses dramatic free verse to tell the story of three slaves who escaped a Confederate work team to cross the river to Fort Monroe. The author explains details of the story that couldn't be included in the short poem in her author's note. General Benjamin Butler, the Union commander, refused to return the three slaves to their Virginia masters because the state had seceeded from the Union just days before and declared them contraband of war. Others followed. Many others. They built the Grand Contraband Camp near what is today Hampton, Virginia. A missionary teacher, a free black from the North, came to the camp and taught the former slaves to read beneath a large, spreading oak tree. The celebration is contagious when a newly literate contraband reads the Emancipation Proclamation to the community. 

An excerpt from the book:

Days are for Union work,


Nights, they fall,
spent and hungry,
on cold dirt floors.

But here at Slabtown,
here at the Camp,
they are not
what they once were.

Matt Forest hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Find Royalty Free Photos

Davy Jones' Door-Bell
By Vachel Linsday

A Chant for Boys with Manly Voices
(Every line sung one step deeper than the line preceding)

Any sky-bird sings,
Ring, ring!
Any church-chime rings,
Dong ding!
Any cannon says,
Boom bang!
Any whirlwind says,
Whing whang!
The bell-buoy hums and roars,
Ding dong!
And way down deep,
Where fishes throng,
By Davy Jones' big deep sea door,
Shaking the ocean's flowery floor,
His door-bell booms
Dong dong,
Dong dong,
Deep, deep down,
Clang boom,
Boom dong.

You're looking for the perfect photo for your blog. Or you need an image to get your creative juices running, but then you want to post the picture with the poem you wrote. You can search Google Images, but you may not always find attribution information or usage rights. Here is my list of go to photo research sites. 

• MorgueFile Access to iStock, Getty, Fotolia, and some other paid photos, but plenty of free ones in the morguefile.

• Pixabay  First row of photos are Shutterstock, but after that all are royalty free.

• Unsplash Subscribe for 10 photos every 10 days.

• Foter  Using the embed code automatically inserts attribution information.

• StockVault  Shutterstock photos in the black boxes, but lots of free photos.

PhotoPin -  Shutterstock will pop up first, but this site searches creative commons photos. 

Death to the Stock Photos - Sign up with email, delivered monthly.

PicJumbo - You can pay for the plugin, but lots of free images.

CompFight - Searches Flickr photos and provides embed code for attribution.

Gratisography Some wacky photos here, all free. Something will surely grab your eye here.

FreeImages Must set up a free account to download images. 

• Little Visuals Beautiful images captured by a young man who recently died. Option to donate to Hands on Heart Charity.

I hope this is a helpful list!

Diane hosts the roundup today at Random Noodling. Lots more poetry for your weekend. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Feeling Like a Bit of Satire

Don't ask. Just have a good laugh at yourself today. 

At the Aquarium
by Max Eastman

Serene the silver fishes glide,
Stern-lipped, and pale, and wonder-eyed!
As through the aged deeps of ocean,
They glide with wan and wavy motion!
They have no pathway where they go,
They flow like water to and fro.
They watch with never-winking eyes
They watch with staring, cold surprise,
The level people in the air,
The people peering, peering there;
Who also wander to and fro,
And know not why or where they go,
Yet have a wonder in their eyes,
Sometimes a pale and cold surprise. 


Enjoy the Poetry Friday Roundup with Renee at No Water River.

Friday, April 17, 2015

It's Friday!

Oh, dear. I completely forgot it was Friday. Yep. It's been that kind of week.

So I'm scraping up a few lines from a poem I've been working on this week. I'm still tweaking, but I could be tweaking from now to the next time I sail to Antarctica.


Stop by Life on the Deckle Edge where Robyn is hosting the Roundup.

Sinking Ship

Decks heave
timbers scream
bolts break
steel buckles 
hold fills 
planks splinter 

She quivers in pain, 
retches, jerks, 
gasps like a dying beast. 

Those who love her 
curse the ice,
stand nearby and grieve.

© Doraine Bennett, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

2015 Progressive Poem

2015ProgressivePoem (1) copy

Welcome to my favorite National Poetry Month activity, dreamed up and monitored by the lovely Irene Latham

I love the progressive poem, the way each day a new poet wrestles a line from his or her interior journey, fixes a string of words onto the last, and waits to see how thoughts so simple, so individual, transform the whole, while at the same time are transformed themselves by this living, breathing poem.

This little mermaid slipping through bayou is just too safe and tranquil for me, so let's infuse a little intrigue! Maybe she'll wish for a net. I'm handing this off to RenĂ©e at No Water River to see what happens next. 

She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows,
snows in wild wind as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones, and steps through the curved doorway.

Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide… splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp–
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory.

Born from the oyster, expect the pearl.
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.

The surface glistens, a shadow slips above her head, a paddle dips

Follow the progress below:

1 Jone at Check it Out

2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy

3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog

6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson

8 Irene at Live Your Poem

9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

11 Kim at Flukeprints

12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

13 Doraine at DoriReads

14 Renee at No Water River

15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog

18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

19 Linda at Teacher Dance

20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots

21 Tara at A Teaching Life

22 Pat at Writer on a Horse

23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy

24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference

26 Brian at Walk the Walk

27 Jan at Bookseedstudio

28 Amy at The Poem Farm

29 Donna at Mainely Write

30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Friday, April 10, 2015

Birthday Acrostic

Yes, it's Poetry Friday. (Visit Laura Purdie Salas for the Roundup.)
Yes, National Poetry Month.

But more importantly it's my grandson Joseph's birthday. 

You can see my read-aloud choices. Both such fun books to read. I'm always wishing my grands weren't half a country away, but my voice travels far.

My acrostic for Joseph at six.

Jiggle and wiggle, be jolly and jump
Over the fence and the ditch and the stump
Seeking a serious somewhere to sit
Even though everyone else does not fit.
Please take the path that will bring you back home.
Help me to see where your feet like to roam.

Monday, April 6, 2015

National Poetry Month


I am playing catch up once again after a wonderful spring break mini vacation, time with my son and his wife, and a lovely Easter.

Here is the link to Jama Rattigan's extraordinary list of all the cool, exciting, poetic opportunities going on this month in the Kidlitosphere.

I will be working on poetry all month, but it will be quietly in my own little corner of the world. The stupendous Renee LaTuillipe set up a partner system among some of her Lyrical Language Lab graduates simply for accountability. As usual I was late to the party, but somehow lucked out and got Renee as my partner. So yeah, you can bet that's going to keep me writing.

I will also be contributing to Irene Latham's progressive poem. It's such fun to watch this poem develop as each poet adds a new line each day. You can follow along below.

And I'll check in occasionally, just because it's April!

1 Jone at Check it Out
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write