National Poetry Month Week 4: Let’s get real!

Obviously, poetry has been an important part of my life. Both reading and writing have gotten me through some tough spells.

As punishment, my mom once made me take my journal outside and write. I was taught to work through difficult situations and emotions by expressing them, owning them, and figuring out a way to deal with them if they decided to stay.

When I lost my grandfather words poured out onto paper. If I had trouble with a boyfriend, best friend, work colleague . . . I would grab my laptop and type. When our family moved across the country to a state I had never even visited, far away from known relatives, I wrote . . . usually in rhyme.

Journaling isn’t something that I do anymore (although, I should probably pick it up again), but if I’m somewhere and something hits me, I immediately search for the closest scrap of paper and begin to write. Then, I try not to lose it, so that piece of paper can make its way to the folder that contains these bits of my soul.

But what I’m finding, as I grow older is that sometimes you indirectly write about a problem. And if, with age comes wisdom, then wisdom also comes with a sense of humor.

My first collection of children’s poetry, was filled with silliness of childhood. I had moldy dancing food, dust bunnies, and smelly brothers. PS, I’m pretty sure I’ve got one of these dancing green guys in my fridge right now!

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When I started my latest book, though, I still wanted to capture those moments of childhood, but I wanted them to be real. I wanted this book to represent lots of different children, not just the ones in my house.

I’m having trouble with one poem in my book. It’s my favorite, and it gets very real, very quickly. I’m wondering if it’s too real for a children’s book. I think that kids can handle it, in that obscure positive way that they tend to look at the world.

But as a parent it breaks my heart. I’ll paste it below, and you tell me what you think.

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Counting stars up in the sky, close your eyes and wonder why.

Feel the fear, and maybe cry, it’s okay to wonder why.

Counting stars up in the sky, close your eyes and dream today,

Picture someplace far away, free from questions, free to play.

Counting stars up in the sky, close your eyes and make a wish.

Imagine floating through the night in a giant rocket ship.

Take a breath, count down from ten, feel the rocket trip begin.

See the planets, see the moon, see adventure coming soon.

Counting stars up in the sky, imagination overdrive.

Take you where you want to go, when life gets tough and you don’t know.

When questions don’t have simple answers,

When days are long and time has stopped.

Counting stars up in the sky, helps when you are wondering why.

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