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January, 2008

Yuk Yuks

Poetry For Kids - Choosing Format (Kid's Lit)
Father Goose lets loose with format madness
By  Charles Ghigna

Pumpkins on guard with smiles on their faces can bring poetic glee to children.
alk by any playground and you will be instantly struck by how much children love rhythm and rhyme.

Listen to their games of jump rope, hopscotch, one-potato-two-potato, and Red Rover and you will hear a lyrical litany of joyful patterns of poetic rhythm and rhyme. Those sounds are a natural part of a child’s world and of their early celebrations of life. 

It is no wonder then, why children prefer poetry that contains those musical elements. From nursery rhymes to the longer ballads, patterns of rhythm, meter and rhyme are essential ingredients in children’s favourite poems.

One of the most popular patterns is the couplet. Couplets have two lines that rhyme. Here are five couplets from poems in Tickle Day: Poems From Father Goose by Charles Ghigna.

            from Little Daddy Longlegs
            Little Daddy Longlegs played in the sun,
            Climbing up the front steps just for fun.

            from Turtle Trouble

            Tell me if you think you know
            How to make a turtle go.

            from Tomorrow's My Birthday
            Tomorrow's my birthday and I'll be four
            And I won't have to stay home anymore.

            from Nature's Shows
            Nature puts on little shows
            Every time it rains or snows.

            from It's Snow Wonder

            It's snow wonder that we cheer
            Snowflakes when they fall each year.

Here is a poem that has four couplets from my Halloween Night.

            Pumpkins On Guard
            Look at all the pumpkin faces
            Lighting up so many places.

            On the porch and in the yard,
            Pumpkin faces standing guard.

            Looking friendly, looking mean,
            With a smile or with a scream.

            Orange faces burning bright
            In the cool October night.

Tercets are another popular pattern. Tercets have three lines. Here is a poem with two tercets from Halloween Night.

            Witch Way

            With warts on her nose
            And sharp pointy toes,
            She flies through the night on her broom.

            With covers pulled tight
            In the shadows of night,
            I hide in the dark of my room.

The ballad stanza is also one of the most popular forms of poetry for children. A ballad stanza is a group of four-lines. That group is called a stanza. The ballad stanza has a rhyme at the end of line number two and line number four.

Here are three poems that have ballad stanzas. The first poem has three ballad stanzas. The last two poems have two. The first two poems are from Tickle Day, the last poem is from Halloween Night.

            The Bee Poem

            A poem is a busy bee
            Buzzing in your head.
            His hive is full of hidden thoughts
            Waiting to be said.

            His honey comes from your ideas
            That he makes into rhyme.
            He flies around looking for
            What goes on in your mind.

            When it's time to let him out
            To make some poetry,
            He gathers up your secret thoughts
            And then he sets them free.

            A Poem Is A Little Path
            A poem is a little path
            That leads you through the trees.
            It takes you to the cliffs and shores,
            To anywhere you please.

            Follow it and trust your way
            With mind and heart as one,
            And when the journey's over,
            You'll find you've just begun.

            Happy Halloween!

            I'd rather be foolish than ghoulish,
            I'd rather dress up as a clown;
            I'd rather wear clothes with polka dot bows,
            I'd much rather smile than frown.

            I'd rather be kooky than spooky,
            I'd rather be friendly than mean;
            I'd rather go greeting than tricking and treating,
            I'd rather have fun Halloween!

The if-you-were poem is a simple, fun poem that everyone can write. It invites you to compare (metaphor) yourself to something and to compare your friend to something else. Here are three if-you-were poems from my book If You Were My Valentine.

            If you were a shining star
            And I were your midnight,
            I'd let you shine above me,
            You'd be my only light.

            If you were a grand piano
            And I were a sweet love song,
            I’d let your keys tickle and tease
            My melody all day long.

            If you were the pages of a book
            And I were reading you,
            I'd read as slow as I could go
            So I never would get through.

Kids love riddles and riddles love kids! Riddle rhymes are poems that have a riddle. The answer to the riddle is at the end of the poem.  These riddle poems are created by using the ballad stanza. Here are three of my riddle rhymes.

            High Flyer

            I fly above the tallest trees.
            I'm not a bird or plane.
            I have no wings or feathered things.
            I do not like the rain.

            I play among the passing clouds.
            I like to rise and sail.
            I am a friend who loves the wind.
            I'm big and have a tail.

            I like the gusty month of March.
            I soar way out of sight.
            My shape is like a diamond.
            I am a brand-new kite.

            The Everlasting Light

            I shine forever free.
            I do not cost a cent.
            I need no bulb or battery.
            My light is permanent.

            You'll find me way up in the sky,
            When each new day's begun,
            But do not look me in the eye --
            I am the shining sun.

            Your Highness

            I am a free and open field
            That's never out of bounds,
            Where kites and planes and boomerangs
            Can do their ups and downs.

            I am the biggest yard of all,
            Where birds begin their play
            Of hide-n-seek among the clouds
            At each new break of day.

            I am the place called outer space,
            Where nothing is too high.
            I am the home of all the stars --
            I am the endless sky.IN Icon

Charles Ghigna (aka "Father Goose") is a poet, children's author, and nationally syndicated feature writer who helps promote the love of children's literature by speaking at schools, colleges, conferences, and libraries. Charles is the author of more than thirty books of poetry for children and adults. He can be found at

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IN This Issue
The Long Life Of Poetry
Marketplaces For Your Poetry
Haiku: Highest Art
What Am I Doing Wrong?
Lyrically Speaking
Writing Poems
The Mind Of A Poet
A Poem Is A Little Path
Seeing Like A Poet
Speaking In Tongues (Excerpt)

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Bald Ego
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Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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