Category Archives: Poetry

September challenge: Some of my favourite IMAGINATIVE poems

Thanks so much for sharing your BOUNDING imaginations in the form of a poem.

Poems are HUNGRY for bounding imaginations.

I loved reading them all and it was hard to pick a few  (well this is quite a LOT!)


I have a book for Lily, Tom and Cale.


Elementor Leopards

Their eyes are like the stormiest nights,
like Poseidon and Zeus fighting, the water.
Their noses are redder than a foxes tail, fire.
The lips of this leopard are the darkest green ever seen, earth.
There is a swirl on their forehead whiter than cloud, sky.
It was wonderful.

Its rosettes are like all the elements in a ball.
Earth was in the middle then little stripes of fire, water and air
were curved around the sides.
It was beautiful.

Leopards of the elements.

Lily M age: 8 year: 4 Paekakariki School


A stone

A stone lay high on the mountain top

And it turned into a bright blue gem

And that gem turned into a carbon black flame

Which flickered bright as the distant stars

And that plane turned into a tiny beige leaf

And that leaf turned into a jaguar

And that jaguar ran down the mountain

And came to a sudden halt.

At the edge of a forest he stood there waiting

And turned into a piece of cobalt

And that miniature piece of cobalt

Was picked up by a drone

And that drone dropped it on a mountain

where it warped back into a stone.


By Cale Year 8, age 12 Rangeview Intermediate School


A Giol Called Scover
I saw a Giol on Sunday,
A Giol is a bird.
It looked at me as if to say,
Gee man, you’re absurd.

He looked kind of green
With pink spots all over
I said to him
“I think I’ll name you Scover.”

Scover climbed a tree
And then he climbed the sky
I said I thought it was impossible
And he said na- you try.

I climbed the sky but fell back
And yelled the bad word sciof
I came back down again black and bruised
And he said guiltily “Well I’d better be off.”

He never came back after that
I thought I’d changed his mind
But he came back on Thursday
But he was a whole lot less kind.

Sylvie King, age 10, Selwyn House School



The fluttering pack of birds fly away to open a magnificent wonder world of magic. I see a pack of whirling wolves and flying pigs. I walk forward to find a castle filled with colour. I then discover a dark room. I walk to the middle of the room then start flying. I crash through the window and into the world.

By Daniel F Age 9 Fendalton School


Wild Imagination
I woke one morning.
The moon was cooking me breakfast.
I went outside.
There was the sun playing Go Fish.
I raced to school.
Instead of my teacher, there was a seagull.
My school was just a school of sardines.
I raced back home.
The house next door was made of cats and yarn.
My room was floating on water.

Honor, age 10, Selwyn House School


My best friend and I used to make up stories,
Of dragons, princesses and knights,
Of beautiful maidens,
And ballerinas in shining lights.

We would be the main characters in each story,
Fighting dragons and slimy creatures,
Killing all the villains,
And all the evil teachers.

We would dance like elegant swans,
And sing like chirping birds,
We would leap like fierce cheetahs,
With emotion coming out from every single move or word.

My friend and I are older now,
Instead of books,
We have phones,
It keeps us busy every single day,
Keeping us prisoners in our homes.

There is no such thing as magic anymore,
No faraway lands to see,
That used to keep us up late at night,
Fidgeting in our beds with glee.

I guess everybody gets older someday,
And forgets about their childish ways,
Some people don’t see what’s happening,
When they waste away their days.

Zoe G 12 years old St Cuthberts College



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Kylie, age 12, Rangeview Intermediate


Burnt Toast

Burnt your toast?

Not such a bad thing

Look at what you have created

Or even better… imaginated


Carve a shape for a toast sculpture

Or use little pieces for a toast mosaic


With a pinch of out of the box thinking

You might find you’ve made a mask

Or a fly swat

Or a trail marker on the ground


Add a smear of peanut butter and it is a bird feeder

Or turn it into chippies for ducks


Look, you’ve made a new Frisbee!

Or grab a Ping-Pong ball and play toast tennis


Stack it up. Make a hole in the middle. Enjoy your candle holder.

Or perhaps it is a fire starter


You could even strap it to your feet and show the world your new shoes


Burnt toast

The end of the world

Or the start of something great

It’s all in the way you imaginate

Gemma, age 11, Adventure School



The Eeb Evih Needs

The Eeb Evih needs:
peanut butter ice cream
visiting its evih
travelling in swarms
from Cape Reinga
to Bluff

The Eeb Evih needs:
wings to carry it
to New Plymouth
to visit the Len Lye Gallery

The Eeb Evih needs:
legs to carry honey
to Te Papa
to show New Zealand
how clever they are

The Eeb Evih needs:
arms to repair the evih
after its journey.

Joshua P 12 yrs old Medbury School, Christchurch



I store the light

So it’s bright at night

Though I do feel sad when I’m on all night

I flicker and flutter

And run out of power.


I am happy when you are under me

I am comforted and not lonely

I would like to change my glow

So there is a soft light flow


But please don’t leave me on all night

Otherwise I won’t be so bright.

Daniel, age 9, Adventure School


Candy Man

Meet Candy Man
His name is Dan.
His hair is chocolate ice,
his head is chocolate rice.
Mentos eyes,
candy cane nose.
His mouth is in
two jelly bean rows.
Chewing gum scarf,
makes me laugh.
Candy floss tummy,
that’s so yummy.
M&M spots,
lots of dots.
Boots of jelly
for his welly boots.

By Philipp Age 9 Samoan Unit Richmond Road School


Wild Pet

My wild pet is a lion and a bird.
Together I call him Liord.
He has a long beak
a tired tale
It’s feathers fling
It’s wings go up and down
when he’s in town.
His fur is bushy
just like my hair.
That’s Liord!

By Alani Age 9 Samoan Unit Richmond Road School



Lamb and Genie, riding in a Lamborghini.
Bear and horse together is Borse.
Poster and book, a Pohook.
Water and fizzy is Wafizzy.
Apple and banana, a Panana.
Computer and iPad, Compad.
Black and blue, red an white
What do they have in common?
They are all colours.
What about Blaue?
and Rite?
Are they colours too?

By Videl Age 11 Samoan Unit Richmond Road School


Fruit Man

His feet are medium oranges
His legs are rotten bananas
His stomach is a humungous apple
His chest is a poisoned pear
His neck is a bumpy boysenberry
His head is a square strawberry
His mouth is a bearded banana
His nose is a little blackberry
His eyes are ice-cream blueberries
His ears are small pineapples
and his hair is black and yellow liquorice!

By Oliana Age 10 Samoan Unit Richmond Road School



The Imagination Road

The dim lights cover,
The Imagination road,
Where anything is possible.
Just take a stroll.
The candy floss may fall on your head,
The chocolate coated trees may be just divine,
But as long as you make it to the
Jelly pit,
And do 5 flips,
Until you feel bouncy,
And alive.
At the end of the day,
Animals will parole the streets,
And deliver you back,
To the Imagination station.

Evie Johnson age 11 Selwyn House School



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Tom, age 9, Hoon Hay School, Christchurch


The Golcher

The Golcher is a scary beast.
It lives in a cave under the street
and feeds
on chuckly bones and goblin meat,
and when it feeds
its scaly wings
flap with joy.
His body is the opposite…
as cuddly as a fluffy toy.

By Alexander M Age 9 LS7 Westmere School


The Land of Topsy Turvey

Sea in the sky
where dolphins fly
and little fish dive
and octopie jive.
Unicorns dance
and Pegasus prance.
Griffins from France
look on in askance.
At the land of Topsy Turvey
people come to ride a whale or
swim in the rainbow sea.
Kids come to eat
unhealthy, healthy things or
run around in an upside down tower
looking around at teacher’s dancing
and relievers prancing
at the land of Topsy Turvey.

By Sophie M-R Age 10 LS7 Westmere School



Endless eyes
endless flies.
The Labrasneel.
Is a snake
and an
Walking on the beach
with his ugly
webbed feet.
With his black labrador face
He’ll win every race…
Beneath the sharp teeth
Lies the toungue.
Number one!

By Mia M Age 10 LS7 Westmere School


Drip Drop

Drip Drop
Round the clock.
Tic toc
Tic toc
Mr Dun made a bun
Out of pungy lungy lung.
He started to lick
Then ate it quick.
Tic toc
Tic toc

By Taylor M Age 11 LS6 Westmere School



Jiggle juggle what a struggle
Here and there a flying pear.
Listening out, can’t get out.
The moon is so bright, like the sunlight.
Can’t get to sleep without counting sheep.
Shimmering here, limmering there.
My eyes are rocks, theyr’e starting to stop.
Tic Toc that’s the clock.
Stars are so bright, like the moonlight.
The phone is buzzing all night long.
I roll over from side to side.
Pitter patter, the rain is starting.

By: Genevieve age 9, Neve age 10 and Charlie D age 10 LS6 Westmere School



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By Aastha Year 8, age 13 Rangeview intermediate school



Standing in the cold damp darkness

I stare at the faint sunlight above

My slimy green legs stuck on the mossy green grass

I croak for Hungry

My long tongue slips out catching a fly that was hovering above

I’m tired

I sleep

And I never wake up again

Iris, Fendalton School

Annual 2 is just the ticket for the older reader (say 9 to 12)


Annual 2, edited by Susan Paris and Kate De Goldi, Annual Ink,  2017


Annual 2 has the coolest cover ever – it features two legs with stripy blue socks poking out of an open book.

It makes you want to dive into the ELECTRIC mix of comics, poems, stories, games, and essays inside  (and other curious things!!).


I would have LOVED this when I was a girl  – I would have scooted off to a hiding place to read and read and read until I got to the very end. And the next day I would have dipped and delved and reread all my favourite things.

I especially LOVE the LOOK of the collection but LOOKS are only the start if you are a hungry reader.

And the LOOK of this BOOK pays off because it is a VERY GOOD read.


I LOVE the poems.

I really LOVE the poems.


Nick Ascroft has written a poem about wealth – and it turns into LIST poem that shows wealth is not all about counting money but what you do with your TIME ! Here’s a taste:


Wealth can be counted, but in time

not in dollars or things –


days since you ate a macadamia nut,

hours since you last rode a bike


Lynley Edmeades has written ‘Island’, a poem about camping that is so vivid you think you are in the tent. Here is a sample:


It’s always yellow inside

and the nylon is an island

for the to and from the grass.


Kate Camp has written ‘Emergency Haiku,’ the best haiku ever that made me laugh out loud. Here is a sweet morsel:


In emergency

break glass. Unless the problem

is a smashed window.


James Brown has written ‘Cheat Sheet for My Enemies’, an acrostic poem, that is rather keen on fudging the truth. It is very tricky as the right-hand side shows the acrostic title going from bottom to top, while the left-hand side shows it going from top to bottom! Here is a little bite:

A prime number is the first one on a number line.

The Titanic was a famous lifeboat.


I highly recommend Annual 2 for readers that love to be challenged or delighted or amused.

Even though I am no longer twelve I scooted off to my secret reading hidey-hole and read the collection from cover to cover. WONDERFUL!

Welcome back to Poetry Box 2017 – a little letter and a little challenge




a blue sky at our place!



Dear young poetry fans,

I do hope you have all had a lovely summer even if the sun didn’t shine as much as it usually does, the wind was windier and the rain was rainier.

I have been hard at work writing my big book but after I did a stunt-woman routine in my bedroom (BY ACCIDENT!) and flew through the air like a frisbee and crash landed on the wooden frame of the bed – I injured my back! So I have not been able to sit at the computer and do all the things I usually do. Now I can have small bursts.


So I am going to start the year off with a small-poem challenge for you.


Little poems are like chocolates – they can taste sweet or sour but they do TASTE!

You can play with how many words you use on each line because that will change the SOUND and the LOOK of the poem.

You can HIDE a very tiny thing in the poem: a glorious word, a single rhyme,  an idea, an object.


The challenge: Try writing a bunch of small poems. Say no more than 16 words or no more than 10 words or no more than 20 words. YOU CHOOSE!

Give the poem a title. Those words don’t count in the total.

Try leaving the poem for a week before you send it to me and give it a sound check before you do. As a poet I always do this. I wrote a poetry ms last summer and I have left it for a whole YEAR!


Deadline: March 28th.

Email: write small poem in subject line

Send to:

Include: your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s email if you like.

I will post some favourites on APRIL 1st

and have a least one book to give away just because.


BTW I have finished my collection of children’s poems using the titles you all gave me! I loved doing it so much!


Warm regards,




Molly wants to go for a walk! No swimming lessons for her this summer in the wild west-coast surf.


Children write from the Earthquake: ‘Enormes Shaks!’

The other day I invited children experiencing quake shudders in New Zealand to write some poems. I have posted the invitation below in case you are in the mood to write. I will be sending out some comfort book packs.


Franka wrote this almost-acrostic poem the morning after the earthquake. She goes to Newtown School in Wellington and is six. Her mum wrote the version under it.

Enormes Shaks!

Enormes Shaks!
Ratl the wendos
Todles are shaking
Hot fies berning out
Chilgrin in bed awak
Anamls are fritid
Kitty croching low
Shated glas ol ova walitin
Intresting stores on the nwse
No! It’s to shaky.
Lowahat is in danga.
O how scry
Repd blbings ant sath!

by Franka Moleta, 14 November 2016

Enormous Shakes!
Rattle the windows
Toddlers are shaking
Hot fires burning out
Children in bed awake
Animals are frightened
Kitty crouching low
Shattered glass all over Wellington
Interesting stories on the news
No! It’s too shaky
Lower Hutt is in danger.
Oh, how scary
Ripped buildings aren’t safe.





Writing from the Earthquake

You might write about the sounds, what moved, what it reminded you of. You might write about something good that happened like I did (see below). You might try writing a really really small poem or a longer poem with lots of details.

You might want to write about something else to take your mind off things like shudders and storms.

send to Include name age year school. I will have The Letterbox Cat for some children and a comfort packs  of books for others (books are comforting too!). I will post some on NOW ON and during the following weeks.

Poetry Box – some of my favourite story poems

My story-poem challenge was so popular because I have spent hours reading though all my poem mail.  Thank you!

I loved the way your stories made me laugh, surprised me and sometimes made me a bit sad.

That is what poems can do.

I picked poems that told stories.

Sometimes there were very good poems that I loved but the subject was too strong or old for my blog. You need to remember that 5-year-olds read this blog!


I am sending a copy of The Letterbox Cat to a class entry this time: Mr Duncan‘s seven-year-olds at Seven Oaks School.

I am also sending a copy of The Letterbox Cat to Daniel from Fendalton School.


Congratulations if I picked your poem to share but remember every poem was a joy to get.

Do try my new challenge tomorrow.


Pickle cat goes to the Olympics

As Pickle cat woke up bright,
He got a large giant fright!
It was the day of many events,
“The Olympics!” he said. “Where are my tents?”
And when he found his camping gear,
He brushed and combed and tidied his hair.
And he set off in his car,
Which he called Avatar.
He arrived and he got into his running shoes,
He was certain he wouldn’t lose.
And when his race came he sprinted to the start,
Just quick enough to miss being hit by a dart.
3,2,1! Said the starter,
And he sprinted but people shouted re start her!
He sprinted across the finish line,
The gold medal is all mine!
But Pickle cat only got silver,
He was beaten by a cat called Builder!
“Wait wait, we have made a mistake!
The first place winner was that cat by the lake!”
And Pickle cat glanced up,
To see the starter handing him the golden cup!
“Oh, my luck!”
Exclaimed Pickle cat.” I thought I would be stuck!”
So Pickle cat drove home,
To where he could roam,
Without have pressure on his head,
So Pickle cat hopped into bed
He read the daily news paper,
With a massive heading The Great Olympics Muddle Up Caper
With a sigh he fell asleep,
As the newspaper dropped at his feet.

Scarlett, Y4, age 8, Chelsea Primary School




Her old cottage,
sits cold and still.
I stare through
the fogged up window.
Grandma is lying
on the hard aged couch .
My family sits
around her with
red puffy eyes.
A loud rumble
coming from under
her house.
Grandma sits up
and says goodbye.
She had a grateful heart.

Maddie S Year 8  12 years old Selwyn House School


Ski Day

Get up before the sun

Hop in the car

The mountains seem so far.


On the magic carpet

Up the hill we go

Then down the hill we go.


Time to go now

Hop back in the car

Now the mountains aren’t so far.

 By Isla Neale Age 7 Seven Oaks School


The saucepan man

The saucepan man
Has a clatter of pans
So when you see him
He will clatter and bang

The saucepan man
Has a clatter of pans
So when you see him
He’ll have his hands on his pans
And his pans on his hands

He hears things wrong
So he sings a funny song
“Two bees for a flower,
Two streets for a town.
Two showers for an hour.
Hi diddely gown.”
And that is the saucepan man!

Nell M Y4, age 8, Home school through Alpha. ‘I wrote a poem about my favorite character – the Saucepan Man from The Faraway Tree – it tells a story about how he likes pans and is a little bit deaf and sings funny songs.’


The Cat

The cat, the cat
It spits and spats.
Beware she’s a dangerous cat,
She spits and spats.
The cat sees a mouse in the middle of the kitchen floor.
She caught it, ate it and spits and spats

Teresa is a Year 3 student at St Andrews College, Christchurch



The Bread that Talked

I was having breakfast
And I buttered the bread.
I heard a voice.
What was that?
I realised it was the bread!!
It magically made me a king
With a bread
Suddenly my friend came
And said to me “My Lord”
And I was happy.

Soeren W Ilam School 7 years old


My Brother’s Tournament

Next weekend

Packing already

So excited


Let’s go now

We will miss you

I hope I don’t have to kiss you


I wish him luck

I love you

So much

By Emily Murray Age 8 Seven Oaks School


The Netball Game

Arrived at the courts
Puddles three inches deep
Seven minutes until we start
How are we going to warm up?
Shivering like an ice cube
Started now
Worst game
Numb body
Saturated from bottom to top
Everything gone dark
Fuse broken
Didn’t get to finish
Cut short

Alexis 9 years Year 4 Stanmore Bay School                       



Tomorrow  is Today

We know that tomorrow
Is always just today
from the sleeping on the ground
to the moping around
Our lives will never change
They will always stay the same

But there’s me and there’s you
And together we will make it through
From the illness
To the stillness of our lives
Sometimes it seems a little scary
And how you’re always really weary

You struggle to eat food
But I try to improve your mood
People in our shoes
have nothing to lose
And we will always have a say
In what will be our day

Except for the way
We survive and live
People are always willing to forgive
But not to give
No not what we need most
Not even like a piece of toast

But there’s me and there’s you
And we know that even if
Tomorrow will always just be
the same as today
We will always try
to make it our way

Amber J 12 years old Northcross Intermediate


Going to the Movies

Get in line

Smell the butter

What are we going to watch?


Say your choices

What seat are we sitting on?

Screen bigger then a jumbo jet


The movies are fun

I want to go again

Such an awesome treat


By Cooper Bunting Age 7 Seven Oaks School


Who Knows?

On the Way to School

Frost tickles the grass

Like little chunks of diamond

Maybe it is,

Who knows?


On the Way to School

Jaky’s little brother

Sticks his head out

Of their car

A mischievous grin

Scrawled on his face

As if he was

Devising an evil plan

Maybe he is,

Who knows?


On the Way to School

A boy with a

Bright blue backpack

Trots his way to school


Like a pony

Maybe he is one,

Who knows?


On the Way to School

Laughter fills the pathways

As if a clown was parading

Down the street

Maybe one is

Who knows?


On the Way Home

From school

The smell of baking

Wafts out of the house

Like cake

I bet it is cake

Trust me, I know!


Jasmine L 10 years old Year 5 Gladstone Primary School




One day I went to the river.

I found a piece of gladwrap and an old toy car.

I found a snail shell and two broken kites.

That night I wondered if I could find a seagull shell.

The next day I went to the river and found a seagull shell.

I noticed anything is possible if you BELIEVE!

By Daniel W Age 8 School Fendalton Open-Air school




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Sarah-Kate S, Age 11, Year 7, homeschooled

My poetry presentation for IBBY International Congress 2016





To celebrate National Poetry Day I am posting this. It was an interactive presentation and we made up a beach poem that had us all laughing. Joy Cowley said it filled her with a warm kind of glow. Maybe we should be making up poems together on Poetry Day to head off into the day with warm inner glows (especially as the forecast is for rain).

H a p p y  P o e t r y   D a y !





Josephine likes lyric poetry


Josephine likes the way a poet will pull in a bird or

a ladder or an old coat and the bird and the ladder and

the old coat will tremble and shiver and ebb and flow

just like the sea so you will fall upon the fullness of each

and it will make you shift on your chair and almost stop



This poem is from my new collection, New York Pock Pocket, a book that is as much about my travels in poetry as it is NYC. Poetry is music. It is encyclopedic. It is telling stories. It is leaving gaps. It is home, it is not home. It is pulling at the moon and digging dirt channels. Poetry is counting buttons, making patterns, feeling cold, letting the kite go free. There are no rules. There are no rules that cannot be broken. Poetry is the squelchy, shiny, rough edged, smooth piped, whizzwhirl, slow curve, exhilarating playground.

Children love it.

I love it.

I am the little girl on the stair reciting AA Milne to her siblings

Begin with the ear. Begin by listening because poetry is music. Each word a musical note that strikes so sweetly in its melody along the line. A poem, a book, an audience, and the poet begins with the ear to pull the listener in closer. Ask a child what a poem is and they will always say rhyme. A poem is rhyme and that rhyme is a source of both comfort and delight.  Rhyme makes your body move. It might be Dr Seuss rhyme where the goat in the boat can’t float because she wears an extra coat.

Or near-miss rhyme where the goat in the boat can’t hope to float because her chauffer and swimming coach are making cheese toasties.


The poet lays down rhyme on the end of the line like a plummeting waterfall, spray flying, or hides rhyme, salt and pepper style, throughout the poem.


Which Jack?


A Jack in the box

a Jack in his socks

a Jack in the moon

a Jack in tune

a Jack on the grass

a Jack’s gone past

a Jack on a camel

a Jack and his flannel

a Jack climbing rocks

a Jack in a box.


What happens when the rhyme is outside the poem and the children have to go hunting with their ears?




Where the Mild Things Are!


Last night I heard the wind in the meadows

talking to the lion in the willows

about Captain Holeypants

and the Lord of the Rungs.

The wind said he had found

a chamber of sea crates,

a very hungry cat

the caterpillar in the hat

and Georgia’s marbley medicine.

The lion said she had found

elastic Mr. Fox, an iron

an itch and a bathrobe,

and a series of fortunate events

over the pea and under bones.




I am fond of the word moon. I am fond of moon poems. The poet is always looking for an electrical connection when she places this word next to that word. Poems don’t have to rhyme. We know that. The aural spark is like a sizzle, a cackle, a whisper, a crackle, a wind bent pine in the ear. If I am with an audience of children, we are going to make poems on the spot so that the child becomes poet and itches to pick up a book or a pen and make words sing.


Find me a word that sparks with moon.      ___________ moon

Find me two words that spark with moon.


We are making chords and the musical note is the word and the word as sound makes your ankles twitch and your back wriggle and soon we will all be shuffling in time to the moon.



Poets like to repeat themselves. The comfort of repetition is a way of laying down anchors, a way of remembering, a way of building and then switching like a dart to make a change. Children love this. The way you can surprise yourself when you repeat your self.


When I Am Cold


When I am cold

I get goose bumps.


When I am very cold

I get tiger bumps.


When I am very very cold

I get rhinoceros bumps.


When I am very very very cold

I get elephant bumps.


When I am very very very very cold

I get whale bumps.


When I am very very very very very cold

I drink hot chocolate and wear thick socks.



Poets like taking walks when they write and sometimes the rhythm is di da di da di da di da di da di da but there are no rules and we don’t need to adhere to iambic pentameter because when we walk we might stop and stare or race to get to the oak tree or leap over the mud puddle or drop our sunglasses in the long spindly grass. When I am walking or running on the beach in the morning I sometimes stop and gaze at the Tasman sea. I might see a sleek black seal or a white cap sneezing.


Children start playing with syllables and the rhythm of the line dances and cavorts.


Think of the wind. Find one syllable words to go with the wind.

Think of the wind again but use words with longer syllables


Think of the wind for one last time and mix up one syllable words with longer words.


If I am mixing up rhyme and rhythm and repetition, I also like mixing up things. The ear always goes hand in hand with the eye.


The Bonnet Macaque: An Omnivore


What does the bonnet macaque

keep in her cheek pocket?

Does she store the rocky shore

a dining-room table and the horse’s stable

comic books and clucking chooks

basket balls and outlandish fools

DVDs and TVs

snowboards and Aunt Maude

lollipops and circus flops

snorkelling gear and a grizzly bear

sharp scooters and football hooters?


There’s no couch in her cheek pouch

for in her larder for a starter

she hoards a one stop shop —

luscious food for every mood.



Poets have an inbuilt telescope, microscope, set of binoculars because they are looking through windows and doors, real or imagined, stretching necks to reach tree tops or slithering chins along dusty tracks to see how ants move. Something catches the eye and we are off. Something catches the child’s eye and he or she is off. I can tell the story of my dog that needs swimming lessons every time we go to the beach and the way she can swim like a fish. Her black tail flicking. Her little paws gliding. Every morning she is the churning chunking concrete mixer.  Until she gets that swimming lesson. The child can picture my dog and laugh.

Your eye catches something and it can lead anywhere. It makes you feel something, think, discover, recognise. When you write from that physical detail, it is as though you hold a stethoscope to the world. You hear the heartbeat of the leaf or the balloon or the dripping ice cream and you just need to write. Like when I stood in from of a pair of boots at the immigration Centre on Ellis Island in New York.



The little boots


To see the little brown boots

—scuffed at the toes

from kicking stones

and falling over,

with soft red lining

and laces left long ago

goodness knows where,

oh dear empty boots—

is to fall into the hollow

your child’s head once left

on the pillow

as she dreamt of

secret things, and to fall

yet again, deeper still

into the mysterious hollow

of her adolescence,

with the moon overhead.



Your eye catches something and your imagination goes sailing. Children love that. Your eye catches something and it feels very ordinary like the red tractor in the yellow field with black birds squawking. Or the cold blue sea rushing through your toes. Children love that. The physical detail pulls you into what is comfortable and familiar and loved and when you put it in a poem it seems shiny and new. Then again the physical detail lets you leapfrog into daydream so that the cold blue sea curls like ivy up your cold blue legs. The cold blue sea writes a letter to the cold blue moon in the wet sand. Or the red tractor is so hungry it eats a mountain of nails and a river of tin cans and a glacier of cooking oil.

This could be story, poems love story, but I am saying it is a poem.

After rhyme children love similes and they are the kings and queens of finding good ones. A good simile is like a little flare in a poem— a bright light that gives the poem life. It flips the shoe so you see it in all its orange beauty. It somersaults the sun in all its raging heat. It skyrockets the cat in its breathtaking leap.




A Slow Sky Tonight


The clouds are moving

across the sky like tiny snails,

the trees whisper tiny secrets

that nobody can hear

and a pink light lights up

the faraway hills.

Dinner is nearly ready.



Let’s have a go. Let’s make up a poem on the spot.

Let’s say we are at the beach. Let’s say we are standing on the sand dunes looking at the beach. What will we see? Excuse the pun.


Three words at least one thing

Five words at least two things

Four words at least two things

Two words

Three words at least one verb

Three words at least one verb

Four words at least one thing

Three words



A last poem.


The Statue of Liberty

She pauses and lets her imagination go

because she is standing under the Statue of Liberty

next to a leaf that flutters.


Is it a religious experience, to pause

with your imagination drifting and count

your freedoms and notfreedoms?

The freedom to work and the notfreedom

to work, the freedom to love and

the notfreedom to love.


There, the little leaf is on the boy’s shoe.

He doesn’t move an inch, even when his

mother calls and calls. ‘Dance little leaf

dance,’ he whispers.


Two sisters stand in different poses smile

and wait for their photograph to be taken.



‘What if I were that person in the bright green suit

or this person slumped in the shade

of that person talking like a megaphone?’

Josephine whispers.



The poems are all mine and either from my NY book, or  The Letterbox Cat or the anthology I edited A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children.



Inside the Wild

Te Henga, December 2013



You see the grey clouds kiss and the ocean

go flying, the grey-cloud eiderdown and the metallic wild.

The old man bends forty-five degrees


into the west-coast wind, his golden Labrador

falling behind. A dotterel puffs out

to block your path. It stamps and trembles.


Then there is the abandoned umbrella splayed

liked piano fingers. The washed–up crate from Moana Fisheries.

Broken bottles. Even that. The black sand glint


and the cotton frocks that shimmy. A mad tui tries to devour a sparrow.

Kishawk. Kishawk. You are dazzled by the gull’s slow landing

and the knee-high foam. This is morning.


The grey ocean twists and the southerly slaps, and amidst

the rockaby collisions, you fall upon a blissful quiet.


Poetry Box July challenge: move p o e m move!

Special note: I won’t open any attachments or links if you don’t include your details of name and school etc. I keep getting poems like sent like this but I don’t want to risk a virus. Put the poem challenge title in the subject line.


p o  e   m    s           Ca N           M      o         V       e


This month I am giving two challenges. One for younger children and one for older children but you can do either or both! This is a challenge about movement as I love the way poems move!

Movement in a poem can make a poem spark or kick or jiggle.


A challenge for younger children (or older!):


Write a poem about something that moves.

Hunt for good verbs before you start writing.

Verbs will be the gold nuggets in your poem.

Listen to your poem when you read it aloud

The number of words you put on the line will change the way the poem moves!



A challenge for older children (or younger!):


Write a poem that changes in some way.

Perhaps the rhythm changes.

Or how you see something.

Or what happens to something or someone.

A change in a poem can be a surprise.

It might change the mood of a poem.

Don’t forget to use your ears and listen to the flow.

Don’t forget to use strong detail.

Real detail helps your poem glow.

Collect strong detail (nouns, verbs, adjectives) before you start writing.


An Extra challenge:

Try making a picture poem that shows movement!


SEND your poem to

DEADLINE Thursday July 28th

Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s email if you like.

P l e a s e    p u t   ‘Movement poem’ in the subject line of your email.

I will pick some favourites to post on the blog and have a book for at least one reader and maybe even a book for a class.

I will post on Sunday July 31st.