Oh, The Places Your Mind Will Go when you write a poem this month!

Oh, The Places Your Mind Will Go when you write a poem this month!

The cover of the notebook I put together for each of Mom's great-grandchildren:  EXAMPLES OF A LOVING, CREATIVE SPIRIT.

The cover of the 3-ring book I put together for each of Mom’s great-grandchildren: EXAMPLES OF A LOVING, CREATIVE SPIRIT

Dr. Seuss’s advice about writing should be the lesson for April, which is National Poetry Month. “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

One of the shortest poems is attributed to Shel Silverstein (and to several other writers, including anonymous). The title is “Fleas” and the poem is this: Adam had’em

Before dementia dulled my mother’s writing pursuits, she wrote notes, ideas, opening sentences and short poems on scraps of paper and tucked them in pockets, purses and notebooks. Recently I found details about limericks. “There are three types of limericks: those told when ladies are present; those told when ladies are absent but clergymen are present; and LIMERICKS.” This is another: “Limericks are 5 lines long, and lines 1,2,and 5 rhyme. Limericks can be true or not. Some are naughty.”   And this is my favorite: “Do not write a first line that rhymes with Nantucket.”

My mom wrote many travel and children’s poems, but very few limericks. In her writing box I found one that was a winner in the Kansas Authors Club Contest. It was in the Farm or Rural category, written many years ago. Here it is:

A little old man with six dogs   ~ Used his dogs to round up his hogs. ~ But the hogs in a fury, ~ Turned in a hurry,   ~ And frightened away the man’s dogs.

I write in almost all genres except poetry. But this is National Poetry Month, and April 5 is “Go For Broke Day,” when everyone is encouraged to take a risk and put it all on the line. In that spirit, today I wrote my first limerick. It is about my mother, a tribute to all her years of teaching Sunday school and helping children through hard times.

There once was a mother whose smile ~ Made even mistakes seem worthwhile. ~   She also had a sweet way ~ Of teaching children to pray ~ And making their heavy hearts smile.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I hope the brave ones among you will share a poem, especially limericks that don’t rhyme with Nantucket. Feel free to Go For Broke.

This is not just a war poster.  It's also a writing poster, so roll up your sleeves and write a poem!

This is not just a war poster. It’s also a writing poster, so roll up your sleeves and write a poem!

This does not apply to the hogs in my mom's limerick.

This does not apply to the hogs in my mom’s limerick.



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons for great-grandchildren, special days in April, special quotations


  1. juliabarrett

    I’m not big on limericks, not good at them. But I do love poetry. The shorter the better. Haiku works for me.
    I do love your mom’s limerick. It’s quite good. Remove the ‘also’ and the ‘of’ in yours and it will be perfect.
    The three-ring book is such a great idea. Your mom must have left so much of herself around for you to find. Does she like it when you read poetry to her? Did she like Carl Sandburg?

  2. Thanks, Julia. Limericks aren’t even my favorites to read, let alone to attempt to write, but I had to give it a try.
    My mom does still like some of Carl Sandburg, and also a few poems here and there by many poets. Her favorites now, though, are from Joan Walsh Anglund’s A LITTLE BOOK OF POEMS & PRAYERS. I think it’s the lyrical qualities; she snuggles under her covers, eyes closed, and hums along as I read to her.

  3. Glad you gave it a try. I love your limerick!

    Funny — I did not know it was National Poetry Month, and my first blog posts of the month were poems!

  4. Maybe I will have to break out a poem for the occasion. 🙂 I love ‘Fleas’, the poem, not the real beasties!

  5. Your Limerick was great Marylin, especially for a first try.I think your Mom wrote hers expecting both ladies and vicars to be present. I love the covers on your books for the great-grandchildren, some real effort gone into those and that’s something else you and your Mom have in common, a willingness to make an effort.
    I’m not good at poetry and I confess here and now in front of you I really dislike haikus, but maybe even I will make an effort on 5th.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • Oh, David, if you do get a poem written, will you post it…please. If you write it about your grandson Reuben, you could expand this fame on your blog…his pictures keep us all smiling. Massive Hugs back to you.

  6. Here’s a limerick for you and yours, Marylin. Happy Easter!
    A lovely young lady called Grace
    Awoke with a spot on her face
    Her Gran said “just smile –
    T’will be gone in a while
    And the spot disappeared without trace.

  7. Molly

    I love your poem about Grandma! Great job! I do not enjoy writing poetry either, but I love having my students write it, and really enjoy seeing what they come up with! I hope you challenge yourself, and try some more poetry and submit it…you are very good at it, just like Grandma!

    Love you, Momma!

    • Love you, too, Mookie, and I really wish Grandma still wrote poetry. When I visit her, we could sit together and she’d tell me what inspires her and how she gets started. Or, during our next trip to Kansas, we can all sit at the table after dinner and write poems. I’m sure Trevor and your dad will jump right in on that. 😉

  8. Wonderfully crafty post here as always. Two things stand out: the lovely notebooks you created for the great-grandchildren and your urging readers to create pithy poetry. I loved teaching limericks with my English Lit students. Years ago I also used the haiku with elementary students to great effect; we even made a spring-time bulletin board display of their creations.

    You’re such a good example of another interpretation of “show, don’t tell” with your lovely limerick about your mother. I would love to see her smile when you read it to her!

    • Oh, thank you so much, Marian. As one English teach to another, it’s nice to trade activities. Limericks are potentially pithy, that’s for sure. The poems of the commoners, but as long as they don’t rhyme with Nantucket, we’re off to a good start.

  9. Beth Baile

    This posting reminded me of a limerick I sent with a wedding shower gift for my sister Glee, another of Marylin’s cousins. She was definitely younger than 33, but the line needed to rhyme with her name, so some artistic license was taken.—Beth Baile

    There once was a teacher named Glee

    Who married at age thirty-three.

    Said she, “It’s not easy

    Being carefree and breezy…

    And besides, someone finally asked me!”

    • Oh, Beth, what a limerick you wrote! And how did Glee respond?
      This is a great poem for a wedding shower; only you would go that extra mile and write a limerick. Thanks for sharing this, and now Glee…come on, Cousin, how do you reply? 😉

  10. Claudia

    Nice limerick! And this was a fun post to find this morning too. I love Poetry Month although I don’t do much with it anymore. When I was teaching, I got brown bags (everyone used them then) and had the kids write their own poems to write on the sides of bags and let them add drawings and designs. Then I returned them to the store where they used them for purchases during the month…the shoppers took home a signed poem with each bag! Fun.
    I also used that shortest poem in my poetry unit. Ah, those were the days.
    Our corner of Kansas had a tornadic night Thursday…hate that part of this season. More to come I’m afraid. Happy Easter to you and yours, Marilyn.

    • Claudia, what an excellent idea with the brown paper bags! The young writers would be “published,” and the shoppers would be the first audience. Terrific!
      Fort Scott is already having early tornado warnings, and in Colorado the weather is still confused about whether it’s warm spring weather or snow.
      Happy Easter to you and yours, too.

  11. I don’t write poetry either, Marylin, but I admire those who do. I love the “Fleas” poem…that’s more my speed. 🙂

    Here goes:
    There was a little girl named Mary
    who grew up on the prairie.
    She soon learned how
    to milk a cow,
    so there would always be plenty of dairy.

    Have a wonderful Easter, Marylin!

    • Jill, you underestimate your talent for limericks! This one is so much fun. Thank you for jumping in to “Go For It” and writing a poem. I hope your Easter is sunny and bright.

  12. I love your tribute to your mother…as always. You are a loving a steadfast daughter of a woman who must have been a phenomenal mother.

    • She really was, and writing this blog has reminded me of all the ways she taught by the example of how she lived. Until I began diving into the memories to write them for Mom’s great-grandchildren, I didn’t realize what a phenomenal mother I had. Thanks for the sweet comment about us both.

  13. Love your Limerick Marylin, I also don’t write poetry but have been challenged to write a poem this month – we’ll see, but if nothing else I’ll commit to reading some!

    • Andrea, your posts are so close to being poetic already; I imagine you writing some excellent poems for this month. But I got my required “one limerick” out of the way, so the rest of the month I’ll enjoy reading others’ poetry.

  14. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  15. I love your mom’s and your limerick . Yours is very touching and I hope you read it to your mom on your next visit. I will try my best to write a limerick this month, but I’m not sure I can do it. Have a wonderful Easter, Marylin

    • I am going to take it with me to read to her this month, Gerlinde. I’ll also take the book of poems I read to her at night, knowing she’ll cuddle under the covers and hum along. Poetry brings out a special response with her.
      Limericks might not be sometime you want to try writing, but you might have fun trying Haiku poetry and even rhymed poems. I’m not into writing poetry, but I have to admit that forcing myself to writing something in honor of National Poetry Month was actually a good jump-start to work on other writing. Happy Easter to you, too.

      • I think I will stick with cooking but poetry is intriguing and I love reading it. Writing is extremely difficult for me but I’m trying. I’m a tactile person.

  16. Don

    Adam had’em – I like that, Marylin. 🙂

    That writing box of your Mom’s must be an absolute treasure chest.

    • It is, Don. Mom’s great-grandchildren are very careful when they look through it. And actually, at this point they have more fun reading the blogs about their Mor-Mor-Mor (mother’s mother’s mother in Swedish), and reading the comments others make.
      It makes it all very real and clear now.

  17. Jim

    Very fun blog-post, sweetie. I love Mary’s hog limerick, so I’m gonna take up your limerick challenge while keeping the hog topic. My limerick will recount one of your favorite stories about you and pigs when you were a little girl. Here goes:

    There once was a girl-cousin from a small city.
    She visited country-cousins, boys so witty.
    “Go pet baby pigs,” boys said with delight.
    Sow squealed and charged the girl frozen with fright.
    Boys barely snatched cousin up to go pet kitty.

    • Okay, just to be clear, honey, the “they” in the last line was my boy cousins who saved me at the last second, and not the mother sow who was chasing me. 🙂 Ah, the memories of visiting the farm. You have them, too, and we both very lucky to have the best of both worlds. Love you, honey. And next time we’re with the grandkids, you can help Grace and Gannon write their own poetry! 😉

  18. A poet in Kansas called Mary
    Brought joy to her children and many
    Others near and far
    She was really a star
    But of Nantucket she always was wary.

  19. Haha…no Nantuckets limericks here for sure!! I love your Mom’s and the one about the flea is priceless! And who can match Dr Suess? Priceless, just like this delightful post Marylin! I love the book you made for each of your mom’s great-grandchildren, what a beautiful, timeless keepsake. I would love to do something like this for my mum, what a wonderful idea! Well my friend, you’ve thrown down the gauntlet, so here is my limerick for you 😉

    There once was a wonderful writer
    Whose star shone all the more brighter
    When she imparted her wisdom
    To the WordPress blog kingdom
    And I just want to hug her much tighter.

    • Aw, Sherri, you are so sweet, and your writing almost made me cry. Thank you so much. I was feeling awkward and wondering if I should even propose writing limericks, but then I found the one my mother wrote so many years ago. So I gave it a try, and then the blogging friends of my heart stepped up and created such touching and wonderful limerick replies.
      A very Happy Easter to you and your family, Sherri. Many hugs.

  20. Hi Marylin, I love your limerick for your mother and the book you created is a beautiful tribute. Years ago, when I was in high school I wrote poetry. I wished I had saved my poems but I didn’t. Maybe I’ll try again. Thank you for the inspiration. 🙂 Joanne

    • Oh, Joanne, at least you wrote poetry in high school. I never did, even then. Fortunately, in my college classes on how to teach certain classes, poetry was included. I learned to teach all the various types of poetry, but that never lit the fire in me to write poems for pleasure.
      This limerick practice was strange, though. Not to write poetry especially, but to rev up and jump back into writing other things and finish other projects. I hope you’ll try again; you might be surprised.

  21. Marilyn … I love your tribute limerick to your Mom. Just beautiful and I think it is a perfect fit for her.

    Happy Easter to you and yours. 😉

  22. I’ve got to get going with writing a poem! As always, I enjoyed reading your post, Marilyn. Have a blessed week.

    • You, too, Elaine. And I hope you do write a poem for National Poetry Month…a limerick, Haiku, rhymed poem, etc. You might be surprised at the ideas it “shakes loose” to write other things.

  23. Fabulous post, Marylin! You’ve inspired me…I must write this month…at least one poem, that is! Great little inspirations from not only your wonderful mother, but Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. Happy Easter my beautiful friend!

  24. You are so thoughtful, Robyn. Thank you. And a Happy Easter to you, too.

  25. Hi Marylin, Easter weekend was jam-packed so I’m later than usual in commenting. This post was so fun! Your limerick was so sweet. And I enjoyed viewing your mom’s cover and her poems were lovely. 🙂

    • Thank you, Tracy. That was my first–and last–limerick. If I hadn’t found a limerick my mom had written for a contest, I never would have tried writing one. So much harder that it looks! 🙂

  26. I don’t usually write poems either. But yesterday one came up so I indulged myself with its creation. And somehow, they do feel a bit indulgent, like a sinful little snack of words. Happy Easter.

  27. A “sinful little snack of words” is such a wonderful phrase, Renee. You have a line for another poem! 😉

  28. It’s National Poetry Month and I’m actually celebrating it this month! You’ve given me an idea for writing a post, about how I’m celebrating.Thank you. It’s good to be back in your inspiring presence, my friend.

    I adore your mother’s advice about never opening a limerick with a first line ending in Nantucket. Here’s my lady-friendly limerick (not one I wrote, but one I enjoy):

    There once was a man from St. Clyme
    who tried to make limericks rhyme
    He tried and he tried
    but success was denied.
    It was all on account of his time-


    • And it’s wonderful to have you back, dear Tracy.
      I love your limerick. It’s comforting (and funny) that the man from St. Clyme and I both have the same problem with rhyming and timing! 😉

  29. I used to write reams of poetry – pretty bad poetry – to alleviate boredom during slow hours when I worked at JC Penneys as a clerk. I would send the little works of arts – drafted on small bags and the backs of return receipts and about observations of my new life in Oklahoma – to my parents for their entertainment. I was also the family go-to person to throw something rhyming together for those special occasions that called for an eye-rolling smile. I can relate to your mother’s habits of jotting down ideas on handy scraps of paper – some never to be seen again. I’m pretty sure many a great idea got tossed in the trash with the magazine or newspaper page it had been scrawled on! Loved you limerick tribute to your mom, Marylin!

    • Oh, thank you, Shel. My first–and probably last–limerick, but since Mom set the standard and it was National Poetry month, I gave it a try. I love that you sent your works of art on the backs of receipts and small bags to your parents. When I was in Colorado the summer after my freshman year in college, I constructed two “brochures” on index cards to show the highlights of where I was working. I even drew little illustrations, but I never wrote poems. I knew my limitations. 🙂

  30. jakesprinter

    Your Mom always doing great things in her life ..Like you do now Marylin …
    I inspired once again my friend for this post .Thank you for sharing 🙂

  31. Hi Marylin!

    Well done with the limerick! It is truly not easy to write poetry. And I love Dr. Seuss’s quote. ‘a chore for the reader…’ I am thinking of putting it somewhere on my computer.

  32. Poetry is a true struggle to write, at least for me, Ilka. But I do love Seuss’ quote and think it’s good advice for all writing.

  33. Pingback: Hands – my own; my inheritance | silkannthreades

  34. Your special way of using imagination and the limerick rules given by your mother, made me smile, Marylin. Such a nice and kind post today. I am catching up a bit, so forgive my late comment. I don’t write ‘real’ poetry but tend to use free verse or stream of consciousness writing, allows the facts to fly and the details to be kept to a minimum. Smiles and hope you are having a lovely April, Marylin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s