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A tribute to an old friend. Go to this link to read 
It’s National Poetry Month and the Earth Day parade is rim-walking over the horizon. The tradition with my April column is to share students’ poems in celebration of this time of year. Here’s a down-to-earth story to introduce the poems.

Meeting a painted turtle is my first memory in life that amounts to anything. I was with my mother and her sister picking morel mushrooms, when we came upon this small turtle crossing the same meadow. 

Being three years old I thought it was a rock that had come alive.  Mom explained that a critter called a turtle lived inside the shell.  I got down on my hands and knees and peeked in. I saw two little eyes scowling back at me.  

For some mysterious reason that moment was printed on my psyche. I’ve felt a bond with turtles, especially painted turtles ever since.

On warm spring days when turtles start moving, you might find me parked along a highway rescuing or assisting turtles trying to cross the road.

Throughout the year using my Watershed Critters writing workshops I try to teach kids to bond with indigenous animals, birds, fish, reptiles or amphibians through poetry. In their imaginations they become the critter of their choice.

The students then write a free verse poem about their experience with my guidance. The poems are supposed to contain at least one fact and one simile, or more depending on the grade level.

I’d never tried this workshop with first graders before, until last spring at the Children’s House Montessori. With punctuation and spelling help from my aid and the teachers the results were quite remarkable.

The other student’s domestic critter poems came from a different workshop of mine called Talking to Write. Have a good Poetry Month.

Parker Francisco   (1st grade)

Saw-Whet Owl

I am a saw-whet owl

small as a squash,

but please don’t squash me.

My talons are sharp as knives.

They can catch mice.

As I fly I feel the cold space

between my feathers.

Elise Cox   (1st grade)

Screech Owl


I fly high into the sky.

I don’t want to rush things.

I see in black and white.

It feels like I can flitter

when I fly.

I dance in the sky.

I love flying.

Lola Ruoff   (1st grade)

White-tailed Deer

I leap across the grass.

My house is the woods.

I have a white tail.

The horses are my cousins.

I am mysterious.

My legs are like sticks.

I love plants.

My eyes are like diamonds.

In the winter I eat bark.

Try and catch me.

Sinead Bishop   (1st grade)

Monarch Butterfly

I land on flowers, drink nectar

and fly to the sky.

When I come back down

I land on your finger.

I fly from Canada

to California and Mexico,

then fly back in the spring!

I eat milk plants.


Xavier Hack   (6th grade) Glenn Loomis Montessori


In real life, I have arms and legs,

I imagine wings and a tail.

In real life, I have hair,

I think of light bulbs, each powered by thoughts.

I real life, I have eyes,

I imagine diamond lights.

Look at that, I’ve become an imagination.


Raya Bell  (5th grade)  Interlochen Elementary



That’s what they were.

Small, black, white and tan.

We had to have one.

Our old dog is dead.

Dad found the ad in the newspaper.

When we got home

there he was

small and black

like chocolate ice cream.

All we did was cuddle all day.

Mom got him new chew toys.

He’d have them ripped up

by the end of the day.

But we’ll always remember our old dog.

Neil Evans   (6th grade) Glenn Loomis Montessori

Hason the Panther

The panther used to climb

in bed with me.

Sometimes he would sleep on

my head.

Other times just far

enough so I couldn’t touch


Black, green eyes.

Nighttime, a panther.

Here to scare demons away.

During daylight Hason was my cat.

River Gresso   (4th grade) Interlochen Elementary

Playing with Bella


fur flying,

wet sloppy kisses

like raindrops

falling down.





Smelling dinner   Mmm.

Minutes passing.

Big sniffing nose!

Dinner time!

Oh, bye Bella.

Go to this link to see my March Record Eagle Lifelines column