Category Archives: Children’s Poetry

When the World Turns Upside Down

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When the World Turns Upside Down

When the world turns upside down, I’ll have to stand on air.
My heels will be over my knees, my knees over my hair.
Will the water stay in place or just come tumbling down
to fill up where the sky is now—where formerly was town?
Will gravity act just the same or will it pull us up?
How will it work when Grandpa tries to fill his coffee cup?
Will balls bounce up or down and will skiers ski uphill?
How will grandma’s old gray cat stay on the windowsill?
May I suggest the world stay just as it is instead?
It’s just too complicated standing on your head!

For: https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2020/03/10/photo-challenge-306/

Sunup Sundown Song: My New Book!!! Now in Print

My newest children’s book is now available on Amazon. Go HERE to order.

sunup cover final (Judy)

“Wake up, wake up, my buttercup, my flutterdown and flutterup, my painter and my cutterup, your sleepy time is done.” So begins this silly rhymed storybook by Judy Dykstra-Brown that takes a child from waking up to a go-to-sleep-lullaby, chronicling in between a day full of activities and then the bedding down of the child along with a recap of all the creatures they have encountered during the day at their grandparents’ farm, the zoo and in storybooks. “Humpa, humpa, haravan, the camels in their caravan and puppies on the spare divan are falling fast asleep . . . like the foxes in their lairs, with the fleas down in their hairs. . . . Like your playmates, your teacher, and every living creature.” Sunup Sundown Song takes a child through the entire busy day and lulls them to sleep. Charmingly illustrated with fine details by artist Isidro Xilonzochitl. Meant to be read to children of all ages.

How Not to Walk a Crocodile

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How Not to Walk a Crocodile

I’ll admit, it’s been a while
since I walked a crocodile,
so my technique is rather rusty
and my memory is dusty.
Still, I’ll tell you if you sit awhile
how not to walk a crocodile!

Don’t walk him through the butcher shop.
The butcher will just call a cop.
Don’t visit bakeries at all.
His roar will cause the cakes to fall.
That store where Mother bought her dress?
No place to walk your croc, I’d guess.

And though your pet may need some air,
it’s best that you don’t take him where
small dogs are left out for our viewing
just right for crocodile chewing.
Dog parks do not work for crocs
Find a new place for your walks.

Don’t walk him on your grandma’s floor.
She’ll sweep you both right out the door.
Don’t take him to your Sunday School.
He’s sure to break the Golden Rule.
And if you take him to the deli,
no saying what ends in his belly.

I’ll share a secret with you now.
It is, I really don’t know how
to take a crocodile for a walk.
All of this has just been talk.
And can I guess by your big smile,
you do not have a crocodile?

I guess it was the recent sighting of a croc on the beach at night that sent this little ditty rushing into my head this morning. I would love to have someone illustrate this.  Anyone want to try? Send a sketch of your vision of the croc in one of the given situations. You can either email it to me or put it on your blog and send me a link!
Here’s a photo of the croc that was on the beach near the house I rent. You could see my house in the background if it were light! Photo by Susana Vijaya. (She estimated the croc to be 3 meters long!)

Update: If you’re not ready to leave croc world yet, here’s an oldie but goodie. (Thanks to Marilyn for the memory jog.)

Sharing Mr. Teddy

 

image from internet                              

Sharing Mr. Teddy 

Caught in baby’s neck creases, clinging to Grandpa’s cuff,
escaped from Mr. Teddy are these little bits of fluff.
These airborne little clumps of fuzz go anywhere they please.
They catch in Daddy’s nose hairs, causing him to sneeze.
They wind up in the pancakes–an artistic swirl of blue.
A few of them are tracked outside under Billy’s shoe.
When he climbs onto the school bus, they go along with him,
and everywhere that Mommy goes, to grocery store or gym,
a piece of Teddy comes along to be left behind
somewhere in the wide wide world, but he doesn’t mind.
He has so many fluffy parts that he can share a few.
And when you come to visit, you can take some home with you!!

The prompt today was fluff.

 

The Year I Gave Up Childish Things

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The Year I Gave Up Childish Things

At the age of sixty-eight,
I’ve no wish to equivocate.
Is there a time when childhood ends?
When we give up playful friends?
Cease to lie in grass and dream?
Drink our coffee without cream?
Always do what’s reasonable
in order to avoid life’s trouble?
Say no to candy and dessert?
Cease to giggle, joke and flirt?
If so, I can’t remember mine.
Perhaps when I am sixty-nine!

The prompt: Write about a defining moment in your life when you were forced to grow up in an instant (or a series of instants).https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/when-childhood-ends/

For Red: The Summer Home

The Summer Home

Decaying Farmhouse in Missouri Soybean Field

Photo by okcforgottenman, aka flycatcher

THE SUMMER HOME

When my dad bought the land
where the Big White River and Little White River joined,
I couldn’t believe that we owned land with trees on it.
While he plowed the small field,
I walked the woods and found the abandoned shanty.
Its door was open; in fact it could not shut.
Inside was a mysterious, sweet and fecund smell–
a mouse smell new to me
that I couldn’t stop myself from breathing in.
The mildew and the dust,
the musk of warm linoleum,
every new smell and sight was magic.

I was enchanted by this house emptied
of chairs and tables and beds,
yet full of the accumulated energy of past tame lives
and present wild ones:
the moving of leaf shadows
across the chipped linoleum of the L-shaped kitchen,
the dents on the floor where the kitchen chairs had set,
as though someone had taken care each day
to line up the legs in their holders.
Upstairs I found crayon scribbles halfway up the wall–
the arm reach of a three-year-old.

When I asked about the house,
my dad said that it was our summer home,
and the next time we went to the field,
I brought a broom.

I cleaned out the mouse droppings and the tumbleweeds.
I collected the peeled tile fragments,
imagining gluing them back again.
I washed out a quart canning jar at the pump
and filled it with spring water
and sweet clover,
putting it on the floor
between the kitchen chair holes
in the exact middle of the vanished table.
With the old shirt I found in the corner,
I rubbed mud and river sand
from the linoleum counter tops.
More sand worked as Ajax to scrub out sinks.

All summer long I worked on our summer home,
and for that summer and many summers to come,
I waited in vain for our move to the river house.

I sat on its screened front porch.
Outside the screen grew spearmint and peppermint.
On the top leaf of the tallest branch was a grasshopper,
the kind that left tobacco stains in your hand
when you held it.
All around me were the trees–
the swaying shedding cottonwoods
and scrub chokecherries.
It was a wealth of trees I’d never seen before
in the town where we lived on the bare prairie
nor on the roads we traversed for hundreds of miles
to see a movie or a dentist
or to buy clothes.

Around the screens buzzed the heavy flies,
their motors slow in the heat of July–
all the flies on the outside
wanting to get in
and all the flies on the inside
pressing the screen to get out–
like I longed to get out
to the freedom of trees
where black crows
and dull brown sparrows
rustled their wings
and flew from branch to branch.

In the distance, meadowlarks called
the only birdcall I ever recognized.
No squirrels, no chipmunks; but, rabbits? Yes.
My father said no bears,
but he’d told me the story of Hugh Glass,
mauled by a bear,
walking this river for a hundred miles
past this very joining of the Big and Little White,
in search of help;
and I could imagine one last bear or two
hidden in my woods.

So at night, at home in our winter house in town,
when he told the story I loved the best,
I was the one who discovered the bears’ cottage,
and the cottage was our summer home.
The chairs–too hard, too soft, just right—
I sat upon in turn,
taking great care every time to nestle each leg
back into its correct place on the kitchen linoleum.
And when I lay in the perfect bed of the little bear,
I could touch the crayon markings on the wall.

So when the three bears found me asleep
in the little bear’s room,
they weren’t really very scary;
but I ran anyway,
into my dark and shadowed owl-calling woods,
my woods still echoing the day lit fluted calls of meadowlarks,
their music shaken from the snarled leaves
in the evening breeze.
I ran to trees–
their leaves frosted by moonlight and the Milky Way,
vibrating with the power of the Big Dipper and Orion,
the Seven Sisters and the North Star.

Into the trees
to where I stored my memories
in the frog-croaking depressions under clumps of grass,
in the tangles of Creeping Jenny
and the fluff of dandelions,
in the sand hollows
that crept up from the riverbanks,
in the cocklebur and the chigger-infested grass,
in the crooks of cottonwoods and caves of thickets,
in the tiny cupped palms
of sweet clover and purple alfalfa,
in the wheat grass and the oats and trefoil.

The year my dad decided to expand the field
on the river bottom,
I pleaded, I cajoled, I promised, I prayed
for the summer home
where I had lived for neither one summer
nor one night, in actuality,
but where, nevertheless, I’d had faith
I would someday live.

Of course, there was no saving the woods
and summer house.
It was rich river land, prime for irrigation.
The trees were a waste of soil.
The summer home–everybody’s gentle joke on me.

After the cats and bulldozers were through,
I went with my dad to see
where trees had been ripped out,
the house burned to the ground,
the soil turned and planted
with crops that would build the land.
Their woods now furrowed soil,
the crows and sparrows
had gone to some other shaded place;
the mice, back to the fields.

My former references of trees forever gone,
the present references of sky and fence posts
too wide and new,
I wasn’t sure where my summer home had stood.
The house’s ghost destroyed by the bright sunlight,
the woodland paths replaced by tractor treads,
I watched instead a meadowlark
soar over brown fields and settle on barbed wire,
claiming the new field for its own.
With no house or forest left,
my only shade was chokecherry bushes,
my only chair, the pickup running board.
And so my summers at the river
vanished in the smoke of my summer home
and smoldering tree stumps.

But every night, my woods again threw still shadows
over the summer house,
and I ran once more the corridors of moonlight
cut through dense trees
like parts in a small girl’s hair.
I ran in the wet dew of the condensing summer heat.
I ran on the fuel of my need for magic
and wildness
and rivers
and trees.
I ran fueled by my need to be with something
that lived outside my window
as I passed long nights in my winter house.

It lay in the dark tapping of the trumpet vine branch
against my window
and the crunching of gravel
as someone walked by on the unpaved street–
out past midnight and I couldn’t tell who.
It lay in the pricking of the hair on my arm
as I stuck it out from the bed
and pressed it to the screen.

Always, in town, it lay outside of me–
except for when I floated the paths
of the woods surrounding the summer house,
joining it in dreams,
night after night and then less frequently
until the dreams came once a month
or once a year–
in darkness, always recognized;
but nonetheless forgotten in the light.

So by the time I saw the river field grown lush with corn,
I was a teenager in my first grownup swimsuit,
floating the milky Little White in an inner tube,
down to its junction
with the clear and colder-running water of the Big White,
my best friend next to me,
our cooler full of Coca-Colas and ham salad,
our conversations full of boys and music.

At the border of the field, to get to the river bank,
we crawled over the border of large tree trunks
laid horizontal, half-buried in sand.
I guess I knew they were the bones of my midnight woods.
I guess some part of me felt
the ghost of my summer house.
But, as I lay on my back on the submerged sand bank,
the warm water flowed so sensuously over my shoulders
and down my legs
that my suit seemed to peel itself
from my shoulders, breasts, thighs, calves.
And in a dream I floated the muddy water
of the Little White,
turning in the current
until the water seemed to flow inside of me,
floating me down
to the cool clear water of the Big White,
farther and farther away
from the summer home.

This poem was posted specifically as a response to THIS post on Red’s Wrap.

“The Summer Home” is excerpted from Prairie Moths–Memories of a Farmer’s Daughter, which is available Available on Amazon in Print and Kindle Versions and at Diane Pearl Colecciones and Sol Mexicana in Ajijic, MX

 

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 Just as moths rise from prairie grasses to fly away, so did the author yearn to be free from the very place that nurtured her. Judy Dykstra-Brown’s verse stories and accompanying photographs give a vivid portrayal of rural life in the fifties and sixties, evoking the colors and sounds of the prairie and the longing a child with an active imagination feels for faraway places. From a small child curled up on the couch listening to her father’s stories of homestead days to pubescent fantasies of young itinerant combiners to her first forays into romance in the front seat of a ’59 Chevy, her memories acquire a value in time that she did not acknowledge while living them. Lovers of good poetry and those who miss the magic of childhood will relish Prairie Moths. (Excerpted from a review by Harriet Hart)

 

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                                                       On The Run!!!
If a grand slam is, as I think it is, a home run hit over the fence with the bases loaded that thereby also brings in three other runners, then I would say the equivalent in my life would be to find an agent who would find a publisher for all four of my children’s books! I am not a lazy writer, but I am a lazy marketer/promoter.  I would love to find someone to turn that part of my life over to!!!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Grand Slam.” In your own life, what would be the equivalent of a grand slam?