Friday, October 3, 2014

Emily's Autumn

This is a poem Emily Dickinson wrote in pencil onto the inside of an envelope addressed on the verso to a Samuel Bowles, his name clipped from the Springfield Republican and glued down. The stamp has been cut away and the poem cascades down the tilted envelope. Somehow the missing piece ties in with one theme of the poem, loss. I love the metaphor of a cricket as a gentle clock. Poetry Friday today at jama's alphabet soup.





1276

’Twas later when the summer went
Than when the Cricket came—
And yet we knew that gentle Clock
Meant nought but Going Home—
’Twas sooner when the Cricket went
Than when the Winter came
Yet that pathetic Pendulum
Keeps esoteric Time.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Waxing Crescent

Photo by Peter Rodney Breaux
A poem about our moon, currently waxing crescent on a Sunday.

Waxing Crescent

The Earth's moon 
Is waxing crescent:
Thoroughly thin,
But totally pleasant.
Waxing, Waxing,
Growing Fatter-
Feasting on
Celestial matter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lovely Library Tuesday: Royal Portuguese Library, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

For Lovely Library Tuesday we visit  The Gabinete Português de Leitura (The Royal Portuguese Library) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The two-floored metallic building was designed by Portuguese architect Rafael da Silva e Castro, and has a façade that is embellished with sculptures by Simões de Almeida depicting Prince Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Álvares Cabral and Luís de Camões.  In the amazing  interior, the three-tiered reading room reaches the full height of the building. The  galleries for the bookshelves all rest upon iron colonnades decorated with neo-Gothic motifs. A huge skylight of stained glass illuminates the three-tiered room below.The title of Real Gabinete Português de Leitura was given by  King Manuel II in 1906. With close to 400,000 titles, the library is the largest collection of Portuguese works outside of Portugal itself including rare original manuscripts, singular works of literature, and unique proofs.







Friday, September 19, 2014

Gravity and Levity

Giaconda by Rene Magritte, 1953

For Poetry Friday, over at Poem Farm, I'm posting another of my physics poems in the newly published Guys Read: True Stories, edited by Jon Scieszka (cover art below). It's titled Gravity, speaking of which I have a question. In Magritte's painting, Giaconda, are the bowlerized men falling, rising, or perhaps merely floating? Maybe they're turning in space, as they face different directions.

Gravity

The opposite of levity
Supposedly is gravity.
For levity means "lightness, mirth,"
While gravity means "down to earth."
And if it simply 
Wasn't there,
We'd float like blimps
Up in the air.
And though it's great,
I think, to fly,
The birds might hate
To share the sky.
And with your head 
Below your feet,
It might be difficult to eat.
To see your food float out of sight
Would surely hurt your appetite.
I'll bet your sleep
Inside a cloud
Would not be deep
When things got loud.
For thunderclaps
Would hurt your head
While you were sleeping
In your bed.
Let's stick with gravity instead.






Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Guys Read: True Stories is Published Today!

Jacket art copyright © 2014 by Brian Floca
Today, September 16th, is the pub date of Guys Read: True Stories, the fifth installment of the series. It is edited by the inimitable and terrifically prolific Jon Scieszka, who asked me to write some poems on any branch of science I wished. Naturally I chose physics, as so much is currently happening in our understanding of the physical nature of things. Just ask Mr. Higgs Boson.  I playfully called my cluster of fourteen poems Uni-verses, and there's two below. But first l'll thank my co-authors, Candace Fleming, Nathan Hale, Thanhha Lai, Sy Montgomery, Jim Murphy, T. Edward Nickens, Elizabeth Partridge, Steve Sheinkin, James Strum, and Brian Floca for his illustrations.

Relativity

The concept of relativity
Is rather simple, as you'll see.
It simply means that this and that
Are relative to where you're at.
And you and he,
And he and she,
Are relative to them and me.
And who and why,
And when and where,
Are relatively anywhere.
If you're CONFUSED
With what I give
Then go and ask
A relative.

Matter

Matter's puzzling to explain,
But I will try and rack my brain.
It is the substance of all things:
Protons, neutrons, electron rings.
It may have mass and volume too.
Get it?
No?

What's the matter with you?

Uni-verses with the poems "Relativity" and "Matter" copyright © 2014 by Douglas Florian


The Picture Book Museum in Japan

I don't think there's a more beautiful children's library than this one designed by Tadao Andō. 
The Picture Book Museum, also known as the Picture Book Library, and is located in Iwaki City, Japan, in an area noted for its natural beauty. At the request of a kindergarten principal known as Mr. Ray, renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando designed this privately-owned special library mainly to serve three local preschools. However, since the opening of its doors to the public in 2005, visitors have flocked to the library on its open-access days to see Ando’s design and to enjoy the collection of international children’s books. Ando was given only one instruction by Mr. Ray: that all the bookcovers face outward. There are no signs anywhere. The main reading room has wooden walls of book cubbies and the stairs also serve as seating for reading. The nearby seascape is visible in every part of the building. The collection of about 10,000 books, displays 1500 at any given time. In Tadao Ando's words: "It will help kids dream." 





Sunday, September 14, 2014

Omnivoracious yesterday posted about the legendary Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster Nessie, the Himalayan Yeti, and Sasquatch, inspiring me to post my poem, "Big Foot," from my recent book Poem Depot. Click image to see Bigfoot really BIG.

Poem "Bigfoot" and illustration copyright 2014 by Douglas Florian

Friday, September 12, 2014

Autumn Outta

For Poetry Friday I've jotted down a new poem for Autumn, since there was a nippy feeling of fall in the air this morning. I've always felt autumn is over far too soon.
Check out No Water River by Renee for Poetry Friday


Autumn Outta

Autumn outta last more long-
Since winter winds will be too strong.
Autumn outta stay a spell
So I could get to know her well.
Autumn outta linger more-
Since autumn leaves leave me in awe.
Autumn outta hang around
But autumn leaves without a sound.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Birthday, Bess!

Today, September 7th, is the birthday of Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland, sometimes known as Good Queen Bess. As the daughter of Henry VIII she was born into royal succession. But when her mother, Ann Boleyn, was executed by Henry, as he was wont to do, Elizabeth was declared illegitimate, and her half brother Edward VI ruled as king. Nonetheless, in 1558 she succeeded her half-sister Mary to the throne, and ruled as Queen until her death in 1603. Known for her tolerance, her motto was "video et taceo" ("I see and say nothing"), and she frequently appeared in videos. Here now is a poem for her on her 481st birthday. By the way, my drawing of a Queen Bee in  UnBEElievables was roughly based on this portrait of her.

Ode to Good Queen Bess

Though peasants called her Good Queen Bess, 
She wore a most resplendent dress,
And ruled her reign as Bess she could
By doing nothing, how jolly good!

Here's my Queen Bee from UnBEElievables (Beach Lane)
Click the image below to see the poem as well!

    Poem "Queen Bee" and art copyright © 2012 by Douglas Florian

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Waters of March/Águas de Março

When it's September in New York, in Rio de Janeiro it's March, the city's rainiest month. This collage poem is Jobim's English translation of his song Águas de Março, sung Elis Regina. Here's the Youtube link:  The Waters of Spring
Poetry Friday is at Author Amok.  

Marc Chagall, The Poet Reclining, 1915.

The Waters of March Águas de Março
by Antonio Carlos Jobim


A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road
It's the rest of a stump, it's a little alone
It's a sliver of glass, it is life, it's the sun
It is night, it is death, it's a trap, it's a gun
The oak when it blooms, a fox in the brush
The knot in the wood, the song of a thrush
The will of the wind, a cliff, a fall
A scratch, a lump, it is nothing at all
It's the wind blowing free, it's the end of the slope
It's a beam, it's a void, it's a hunch, it's a hope
And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the end of the strain, it's the joy in your heart
The foot, the ground, the flesh and the bone
The beat of the road, a slingshot's stone
A fish, a flash, a silvery glow
A fight, a bet, the range of a bow
The bed of the well, the end of the line
The dismay in the face, it's a loss, it's a find
A spear, a spike, a point, a nail
A drip, a drop, the end of the tale
A truckload of bricks in the soft morning light
The sound of a shot in the dead of the night
A mile, a must, a thrust, a bump,
It's a girl, it's a rhyme, it's a cold, it's the mumps
The plan of the house, the body in bed
And the car that got stuck, it's the mud, it's the mud
A float, a drift, a flight, a wing
A hawk, a quail, the promise of spring
And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the promise of life, it's the joy in your heart
A snake, a stick, it is John, it is Joe
It's a thorn on your hand and a cut in your toe
A point, a grain, a bee, a bite
A blink, a buzzard, a sudden stroke of night
A pass in the mountains, a horse and a mule
In the distance the shelves rode three shadows of blue
And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the promise of life in your heart, in your heart
A stick, a stone, the end of the road
The rest of a stump, a lonesome road
A sliver of glass, a life, the sun
A knife, a death, the end of the run
And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the end of all strain, it's the joy in your heart

 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

AUNTsy


I came across Truman's Aunt Farm by fellow blogger and gourmet Jama Kim Rattigan with great AUNTicipation, being a glutton for PUNishment, and sure enough I found this a delightful tale of a boy blessed with an abundance of aunts in his AUNT, not ANT farm. The AUNTics  are complimented by the dAUNTing illustrations of G. BriAUNT Karas, one of my favorite artists. All is resolved by the  AUNTsy AUNTagonist without resorting to an AUNTeater, AUNTagonizing the AUNTS,  or moving to AUNTartica.
Buy it Indie or Amazon.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fingerprint Girl

Fingerprint Girl

She's such a shy and sheepish girl,
But how her fingerprints all swirl.
Inside her shell she's like a pearl,
But how her fingerprints all twirl.
She seems so quiet, calm and meek--
If only fingerprints could speak!





My youngest daughter is very shy, but only on the outside!

Friday, August 29, 2014

On Turning Ten by Billy Collins















When do we lose our innocence? At ten? Twenty? Never? 
Ask Billy Collins, America's Poet Laureate forever.
Poetry Friday is at Check It Out and the photo is me and a friend, age about six.

On Turning Ten

by Billy Collins


The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light-
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that it is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk thought the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.


From THE ART OF DROWNING (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mark Twain indeed!


I enjoyed the Ken Burns biography of Mark Twain on PBS immensely, but didn't care much for his bio of Samuel Clemens. In any event here for POETRY FRIDAY is a Mark Twain poem, complements The Poetry Foundation. And I've thrown in a few Twain quotations, many of which he actually said. Quite a brain that fella Twain!
The Warm Summer Sun
by Mark Twain

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.


"I was born modest. But it didn't last.

To succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence.

Giving up smoking is easy. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

God's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.

Familiarity breeds contempt — and children."

All quotations verified by Wikiquotes and my Uncle Alex.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Blurb

First, I'd like to thank Becky of Becky's Books for giving my book Poem Depot a rave review on Goodreads. She LOVED LOVED LOVED the book and I love her for that. But now I turn my attention to THE BLURB. Over the years I have been asked to write many blurbs for people, but I must tell you, I don't enjoy it for quite often Blurbee writes God-awful stuff. In any event, although many seek blurbs, and many write blurbs, how many have written an ode to a blurb? None, I venture. Until now.
 

The Blurb

 
The blurb's a noun
and not a verb,
except for my
late Uncle Herb,
who loved to blurb,
and blurb,
and blurb.
 
 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dink's Song Poem

 
I love the lyrics of Dink's Song. From Wiki:  "Dink's Song" (sometimes known as "Fare Thee Well") is an American folk song played by many folk revival musicians such as Pete Seeger, Fred Neil, Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk, as well as more recent musicians like Jeff Buckley. The song tells the story of a woman deserted by her lover when she needs him the most.
It was repopularized by the film Inside LLewyn Davis, but I like Dylan's best

Farethewell (Dink's Song)

If I had wings like Noah's dove
I'd fly the river to the one I love
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

I had a man, who was long and tall,
Moved his body like a cannon ball.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

'Member one evening, it was drizzling rain
And in my heart I felt an aching pain.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Once I wore my apron low,
Been a-keep' you away from my door.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Now my apron is up to my chin,
You pass my door but you never come in.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Muddy river runs muddy 'n' wild,
You can't care the bloody for my unborn child.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Number nine train ain' done no harm,
Number nine train take my poor baby home.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Fastest man I ever saw
Skid Missouri on the way to Arkansas.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Here's the link to the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXcYp7dLHms

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seattle Sea Hawks

 
Early this Tuesday morning, while walking to my studio in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, I saw police had stopped all traffic on 9th Avenue? Why? A president? Prime minister? King? Justin Bieber? No. Six busloads of Seattle Seahawks rolled into town for Super Bowl 48. A poem ensued:
 
Seattle Sea Hawks
 
Police stopped all traffic, but why?
Six busloads of Seahawks rolled by.
     Their ultimate goal?
     The Great Superbowl,
But I thought that seahawks could fly!
 
 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sibert Medal for Parrots Over Puerto Rico!

Parrots Over Puerto Rico, written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore and illustrated by Susan L. Roth has WON the Sibert Medal!!! A splendid award for a splendid book!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Susan L. Roth's Parrots over Puerto Rico is my choice to win the Caldecott medal this year.
Color, shape, texture, expression, and history all weave a wondrous tale of the lovely island of Puerto Rico! Susan was recently featured in the amazing blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
I love all her books as she is the Queen of collage and a multicultural master.
 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Poem-Mobiles #3 Best Seller on Amazon's Poetry List

 
 
POEM-MOBILES,  my Car-laboration with J. Patrick Lewis, and illustrated by Jeremy Holmes, is now ranked #3 on Amazon Best Sellers in Children's Humorous Poetry list, sandwiched between four Shel Silverstein books. Vroom! Vroom!
The New York Times in a review said, "Lewis and Florian have written witty pithy poems that are funny too." http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/books/and-the-cars-go-and-poem-mobiles.html
And Publishers Weekly in a starred review said, " It’s all but sure to have readers dreaming up their own wild contraptions for land, sea, sky, and space." http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-375-86690-6

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ahoy, Matey! Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Ahoy, Matey! I almost forgot. Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. So I'm posting a poem and picture from Shiver me Timbers, me pirate book with illustrations by Robert "Scallywag" Neubecker, me old shipmate at The New York Times twenty five years ago. It's already stolen two starrred reviews. Let me know if you want an author-graphed bookplate from me, I've already sent some out.

Here's me poem about Blackbeard, all based on facts. Except, perhaps, the end. Poem copyright 2012 by Douglas Florian. Illustration copyright 2012 by Robert Neubecker.

Blackbeard

Blackbeard braided his long black beard,
Then tied the braids with bows.
He stuffed burning rope beneath his hat.
Put a ring right through his nose.

Blackbeard boarded many a ship
To pillage and plunder and steal.
He robbed with pleasure
Great troves of treasure,
Which he did his best to conceal.

Blackbeard feared no other man--
A pirate as cruel as they come.
One look from his eyes
Could terrorize,
But he always wrote home to his mum.