Monday, April 4, 2016

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

"Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest 
form of learning."— George Bernard Shaw

Welcome to Day 4 of FEET IN THE CREEK.

For each day I have chosen a favorite poem, a favorite poet, or a favorite friend. I will look at the work, decide what draws me to it, what makes it resonate for me, and then write my own poem about the creek with those techniques in mind. These are first drafts, so nothing will be especially polished, but they will be starting points for revision after the month is done. Feel free to follow along or join in.

Today's poet is Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. Michelle gave me permission to browse her blog, Today's Little Ditty, and choose an original poem for today's post. "The Story of Nothing" is one of my favorites, and it's a perfect follow up to Saturday's FEET IN THE CREEK Douglas Florian post as this was Michelle's response to Douglas' My Little Ditty Challenge in January. Click here for Michelle's interview with the man himself. 

       To Miranda on her 13th Birthday

At first there was Nothing—
not an inkling,
not a hint,
not even a whisper of déjà vu.

Then, Nothing grew.
It was hardly noticeable really.
Like a thought
perched on the kitchen counter
swinging her carrot peel legs,
wondering what’s for dinner.

In time, she became
an idea, a notion, a dream….
Such lofty aspirations,
though entirely unremarkable.
Nothing was a good girl.
She never stepped out of line.

                 Until the day she met you.

Born from a glorious wave
         of something,
together, you surged with the grace of a typhoon.

                           CHANGE minds!

                           Make a DIFFERENCE!

                           SAVE the EARTH!

         one crayon,
              one smiley,
                  one heart at a time.

And nothing about Nothing
stayed the same.

© 2016 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author.

My Intention: Since I didn't participate in the January My Little Ditty Challenge to write a poem about nothing, today I will write that poem about nothing--at the creek.

There's Nothing to Do!

Well, go and do nothing 
outside, my mother said.

So I sat on a rock
and did nothing until

an ant crawled over my shoe.
I watched and did nothing.

The ant scurried one way and scuttled
another on six tiny legs in a very big hurry

until he encountered another small ant
that reared up its head like my angry big brother

and threatened with mandibles striking
like claws. My ant turned and paused

looking for his advantage. He found a pebble
and climbed atop. The attacker stopped.

I'm king of this hill, my ant declared.
The other ant stared at my ant's great height.

The ant attacker lost the fight, he turned
and searched for a hole in the sand. He ran.

When mom called me in,
she said, What did you do?

Nothing, I answered.
Wouldn't you?

© 2016 Doraine Bennett. All rights reserved.


  1. Oh, don't I remember those days of "well, go out and do nothing outside". I am afraid that not many children are told to do that anymore. I found the butterflies and grasshoppers on those days.

  2. I can't count how many times I've said it with my four kids, all grown up and saying it to their own now!

  3. And to continue your conversation, how many times have we answered when children, "nothing". My granddaughter of six years is already doing it! I remember Michelle's poem with delight, Doraine, and now I think you yourself must have done "nothing" at your creek so you could write this poem. Love it!

    1. Yes. I did a little bit of nothing. Then I watched a couple of ant fighting videos on youtube. Who knew?

  4. How delightful, Doraine! Your poem reminds me just how much that word "nothing" can hold– entire childhoods of imagination. I'm honored that you chose my own story of nothing to inspire you. Thank you! I'll be sharing your post via FB tomorrow. :)

  5. Thanks. You definitely inspired me with this one.

  6. This is lovely! Nothing often means so much.

    1. Thanks, Liz. Agreed. I definitely need my moments of nothing.

  7. I love that poem of Michelle's and enjoyed the Nothing challenge. I like your nothing poem, too, with its epic ant battle and the child doing what children do best -- making something out of nothing.

  8. Your poem brought me right back to childhood...(although I still spend plenty of time outside doing nothing.) Thanks for sharing it.