The Many Faces of GLASS

We have thirteen poems about GLASS in celebration of Science Week.  Congratulations to all the poets who kindly participated, sharing their words of intrigue, history, science and beauty.  Please enjoy!

Corners that meet the eye
by Michaela

Glass
in the four corners
that meet the eye.

Rooms
filled with the
reflection of yourself
show who you really are.

Formed
with tiny pieces of sand with
the minerals changing its
colour in every corner.

Cracks
consume the many faces
like thunder and
lightning striking them.
And everything in its path

slowly builds it up again
but not as strong and
solid as before.  These
are the faces, the many
faces that meet the eye.

 

Mirror: more than meets the eye
by Ksenia

From one angle of the mirror, 
a young girl is studying. 
From another, 
an adult is partying. 

Only one thing can affect our decisions, 
one thing becomes a guide. 

Our Mind. 

Where we store dreams, hopes,
things we want no one to know.

Yet, it has
more secrets of its own.

More…
than we will ever know.

 

Glasswork Skin
by Jasmine (St Thomas Moore College, Sunnybank, QLD)

I am a stained glass terrarium.
From the outside looking in
my organs float,
structured with nature’s perfection
which is to say
exquisitely organised.

The glass itself is
streaked with human touch:
fingerprinted with ridges
fogged-up with breath
feverishly wiped
and repeated.

This body of mine is fragile
beautiful, in theory 
vulnerable, in reality
every scratch is disillusion,
making me undeniably
still life.

 

Cloak and Dagger 
by Cheryl Polonski

Glass manufacture goes back a long way. 
The skill was a secret, they kept it that way.
It appears that the knack from the Middle East came,
but when it reached Venice things weren’t quite the same.

1200 AD saw the Syrian men,
come under the rule of the Council of Ten.
The Venice Republic security arm,
made sure that the craftsmen would come to no harm.

When furnaces failed and caused fires uncontrolled,
they’d move to an island the craftsmen were told.
Because all the knowledge was fiercely protected,
what happened there next was still not unexpected.

The glassmakers stayed under threats to their lives.
This involved all their family including their wives.
They never could leave but were somewhat rewarded,
with several benefits being afforded.

The glassblowers’ daughters could marry nobility,
bestowing upon them a sense of tranquillity
Producing the best of all glass on display,
the fame of Murano exists to this day.

 

The Art of Glass   
by Sophia Healdgrove

The sandy mineral silica
makes stained glass for the basilica.

Melted with other elements
its colours and hues are brightly intense.

Hot glowing balls of fiery glass
Used in making scientist’s Erlenmeyer flasks.

Beautiful bowls, moulded and curved
a delight on which food can be served.

For hundreds of years, glass artisans toiled
As the glass in their furnaces boiled

They created such delicate works of wonder.
But recently trade began to go under.

The German city of Hamelin
has one glasshouse where many had been.

Machines taking over from made by man
will never achieve what humans can.

The craft of glass-making is precious and rare.
Hand-made, beautiful, intricate glassware.

So let us conserve this beautiful art.
Please trust that I give these words from the heart.

 

Obsidian spear head

Humble Beginnings 
by Cheryl Polonski

A natural glass was once found on the land
near the mouths of volcanoes which melted the sand.
Those obsidian pieces were sharper you see,
than anything else in 4,000 BC.

Our stone-age ancestors then used them for spears.
The benefits recognised down through the years.
For surgeries stainless steel scalpels are made,
but some still prefer an obsidian blade.

The earliest use was for jewellery and beads,
but soon ‘twas discovered, glass filled other needs.
By focussing through a shard, rays of the sun,
the lighting of fires was easily done.

When open wounds threatened life, it was thought wise
to make use of this method and thus cauterise.
The heat focussed through the glass stopped the blood seep.
Experimentation then took quite a leap.

So from humble beginnings there was such a race
for this startling discov’ry to find its true place.
In just about every conceivable science,
there is upon glass a specific reliance.

 

Curious Sand 
by Toni Newell

On a stormy night
If lightning strikes sand
Glass can be formed
On the beach unplanned.
Making glass commercially
Comes in many shapes
Can be a glass or a vase
Even a bowl of grapes.
Just add a few minerals
To make it coloured glass
Formed into a different shape
Sand of a different class.

 

Mystic Glass
by Toni Newell

Walking on the beach
Beneath our feet is sand
However those little grains
Can become a glass in hand.
Sand, lime and soda ash
Using extreme heat
Can form many objects
From which we drink and eat.
It can take a million years
For glass to decompose
That’s why we should recycle
And save our planet woes.

 

Prince Rupert’s Drop
by Myra King

There is a strange phenomenon,
that many may not know,
it’s a drop of glass, a rounded shape,
from firing’s heating glow.

Prince Rupert’s Drop a splendid name
in royal connotation
has a strength that’s way beyond
most imagination.

It can’t be wrecked or smashed by hand
in any way or form
but a fragile state belies its fate
way outside the norm.

Rupert’s Drop’s Achilles’ heel
is its tail long and thin
and if this is snapped the tension’s broke
from just beneath its skin.

a million pieces shatter
to burst the lovely drop
it all happens in an instant
in one explosive pop!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt-zvsGvtqg

 

Glassical Music 
by Sukarma Thareja

Fine glassy goblets for dinner wine
when gently tapped, will tinkle and chime.
If rubbed with damp fingers around their rim,
like an upside-down bell, they start to ring.

Their shape and their size dictate how each hums.
Large empty glasses might groan like a drum.
Pour in some liquid to make their pitch higher.
Together they’ll sound like an eerie choir!

https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/food-facts/question603

 

GLASS for the CLASS  
by Stefan Nicholson

You are tough and often stand guard within a frame,
Like as a window, or fronting a picture,
Or focussing our gaze, when our eyes are not the same.
And I often see through you, unless disguised by your coating,
Put on to dull your amorphous transparent mixture,
Of soda, silica, limestone and ‘fancier’ bits, you often say when gloating.

And it’s obsidian to say that you can’t be naturally found,
A universal secret without human intervention.
And your boast about rapid cooling makes my blood boil,
For when you were made, you were just too hot to handle,
Making parched lungs wait, for when you were of malleable intention,
Else creating such strange objects, as if made by a mischievous vandal.

Yet, I am overwhelmed by the stresses that you quietly hide
Within your new shape or moulded design,
Made whilst gooey like molten plastic, where no animal can abide.
Which makes for great fun when a glass animal is ‘born’
And you see its wonders in detail and colours and lines
Made by us humans, as we’ve been doing from time’s early dawn.

As an art, you are an object of delight in many ways,
Mimicking nature, abstract designs and useful objects to name a few.
Modern buildings tease out new conceptual uses for your display,
Fish swim within your bounds and plants bathe in wind-less sunshine.
You protect and make for easy cleaning – to let us enjoy a safer view
From the sky, on the water, where we can watch the world as we dine.

Broken items can be accidental and there is none more dangerous than glass,
With your warped sharp edges and shards that can stick you like a pin.
But no blame to you, as QA have given you a ‘pass’.
And your character can now be changed, by material science at its best,
To make you stronger, withstand heat and shock, and be made ultra-thin
But I wish that people knew you better, not as a product, but as our guest.

 

Handle Me With Care 
by Sukarma Thareja & Celia Berrell

Sea-shore sand and potash, soda,
made my common sturdy solid.
Crafted since Egyptian times,
my structure is non-crystalline.

My recipes of compound chemicals
make me practical and beautiful.
Sometimes heat-resistant, durable,
always totally recyclable.

Many of my forms are brittle.
Shattered shards of glassy needles
hurt and harm.  They stab and tear.
So handle me with care.  Beware!

 

Aliens in the Atacama Desert 
by Celia Berrell

This desert is dotted
with dark green glass
that came from an alien …
space rock blast!

Punching through air
so incredibly fast,
pressure, heat, friction
became so vast
the silica sand
on the desert below
melted to glass
as that comet explodes.

These alien minerals
scattered the scene,
which seems to have made
those glassy shards green.

Imagining a TARDIS for World Poetry Day

The lovely Saime Jung at Twinkl, where teachers create and share inspiring resources for students, has compiled a list of 15 favourite poetry blogs, which includes Science Rhymes!  She also asked “Why do you think that learning poetry is so cool?”  Poetry has so many styles, forms and facets.  Some sends our imagination into different situations, feelings and places.  One person may connect with a poem in a way that makes them laugh or gasp, whereas others might find the same words deeply emotional. 

What’s your answer this question? 

We might say rhymes help us remember; poems create crazy ideas or that verses can be shared over and over again.  What do you reckon to this suggestion for World Poetry Day?

Imagining a TARDIS  by Celia Berrell
(Time And Relative Dimension In Space)

What a wonderful toy
is the TARDIS!
It’s Doctor Who’s
little blue box.

It’s bigger inside.
So much stuff it can hide,
from a skate-park to
clean pairs of socks.

Owning
a magical TARDIS,
do you think it’s a
secret we’d keep?

Or would that depend
on inviting some friends …
and whether
we’d need any sleep?

With a
stay-or-go-anywhere TARDIS,
there are infinite things
we could do.

It has so much appeal,
for a toy that’s not real …
let’s imagine instead
that it’s true!

This poem was inspired by an article called The Physics of the Doctor Who TARDIS box and was first published in Australian Children’s Poetry.

 

OUR FRUIT & VEGGIE-VERSE

Science Rhymes grew a collection of YOUR SCIENCE POEMS about the fruity facts and leafy love we have for our fruits and vegetables, to celebrate this year’s SCIENCE WEEK (14-22 August).  Thank you to everyone who shared their poems.  Please enjoy our harvest of tasty poetry!

22 Delectable Fruits and Vegetables by Michayla
(St Peter’s Catholic College, Tuggerah, NSW)

I love these fruits and vegetables.
In great abundance they flourish.
Nourishing and delectable,
our Earth they have embellished.

Their juice trickles down our chin,
with flavours so divine.
Plump fruit with flesh so thin,
a taste like wine refined.

Beneath the earth those vegetables grow,
dug deep into soil and grime.
Nourished in the darkness below,
their roots and soil entwined.

Animals feast on these delectables,
spreading their seeds far and wide.
They grow and ripen, as they are able,
to tempt the creatures where they abide.

With fruits and vegetables life can flourish,
singing with their sweetest scent.
They help make Earth healthy and nourished,
so creatures and humans are well content.

 

Do your cabbages and other brassica vegetables sometimes taste a bit … bitter?  That will be the flavinoid (flavour chemical) kaempferol!

21 The Properties of a Cabbage  by Sophia

As I watch my cabbages grow and grow,
the hungry caterpillars add to their woes.

Then they sprout and then they’re picked.
For dinner they’re cooked and taste perfect.

Not all the cabbages grown for our dishes
are sweet and mild-tasting, just what one wishes.

Their taste’s from the chemical kaempferol
which doesn’t affect our cholesterol.

Whether eaten as sauerkraut or boiled with sprouts
some of their vitamins get cooked out.

If it’s boiled in water the chemistry changes.
Some soluble vitamins go down the drainage.

I’ve detailed their properties, please don’t ignore.
Go eat some cabbages, cooked or raw!

 

20 Glorious Potato  by Alma
(Pennant Hills Public School, Pennant Hills NSW)

I push the veg around my plate,
Where do they come from?
Who grew, who ate?
I open my mouth to ask my Mum …

But no! Instead, I shall consult a book.
I know where to go,
I know where to look.
My eyes grow wider, aha! Aho!

Growing below, deep down in the soil
Storing-up sugars from the Sun,
starchy tubers, hard to spoil.
But where do they really come from?

South America’s their native land.
By boat potatoes went
to USA, to Ireland.
A food that’s so convenient.

Mashed, fried, roasted, boiled,
Hark! This veg, let it glow,
We’ve all been spoiled
by the glorious potato!

 

19 Amazing Fruits  by Soha
(Mary MacKillop College, Kensington SA)

Fruits are so sweet
Make you jump into the air
With lots of colours

Fruits make you dream
Eat them with their shiny skin
Unable to resist

Fruits are the key
To make children more happy
To give them a treat

Fruits are the way
To sweet fructose cheer
It is happiness

Fruits are delicate
Leave them out too long
they will turn very sad

So, eat sweet fruit now!
It’s the way to be good
They are the juice of life

 

18 Fruit and Veggies  by Jacqui
(Pennant Hills Public School, Pennant Hills, NSW)

Before you begin your day
pick up some fruit and eat away.
Apple, peach and watermelon,
banana, mango and lemon.

Lots of veggies taste good too,
as a snack or in a stew.
Carrots, peas, lettuce and more,
veggies are awesome, so never ignore.

Apples are juicy with a crunch,
bananas are great, just to munch.
Fruit and veg are so nutritious,
not to mention that they’re delicious.

So, before you begin your day,
pick up some fruit and eat away,
When fruit’s your thing and you’re feeling hungry,
just don’t eat the ones with mouldy fungi!

 

17 Save Our Planet  by Braxton
(Brisbane Boys’ College, Toowong QLD)

The ocean is moping,
the reef is weeping,
the air is in pain
and we are to blame.

We can save them by using
sustainable electricity.
Stop burning coal,
and those fossil fuels.

Stop cutting down trees,
be more caring please.
This is how we do it,
how we
         Save Our Planet!

 

16 Tomato Decisions (Limerick)  by Gabrielle
(Mary MacKillop College, Kensington SA)

Is it a fruit or a vegetable?
It’s true they’re juicy and edible,
have a great tangy taste,
which can make pizza paste.
A collectable fruit for a festival!

 

15 Watermelon  by Corina
(Mary MacKillop College, Kensington SA)

A watermelon grows from the ground.
A succulent gourd that’s green and round,
it tastes so juicy, sweet and fruity,
one of Earth’s beauties,  the best fruit around!

 

Grapes are an example of a soft fruit that WANTS to be eaten!  That way, its seeds are dispersed far away from the parent vine.  So don’t feel sad for the grape eaten by this little ape.

14 Grape on a roll  by Emily
(Mary MacKillop College, Kensington SA)

Here comes a rolling grape
caught by a hungry baby ape.
Falling freshly off the vine,
this outcome is so NOT divine.
Let’s hope another rolling grape
gets to make a great escape!

Grapes are the perfect shape to pop in your mouth!  These ready-wrapped berries contain water, sugars (glucose and fructose) and organic acids (tartaric, malic and a little citric).  But berries naturally contain seeds don’t they?  So how can we grow seedless grapes?

13 Grapes and Crepes  by Lucy
(Mary MacKillop College, Kensington SA)

I love to eat grapes,

they’re a wonderful shape.
Some juicy and sweet,
while some are sour.

They’re my favourite thing
to eat with crepes.
Perhaps that’s why

I love to eat grapes.

 

12 Mango Stars  by Amelie
(Mary MacKillop College, Kensington SA)

Do you know how much I love mangoes?

I love the way mangoes grow on trees.
I love eating mangoes in a breeze.
I also love mangoes when they’re squeezed.

Unripe ones can be very hard.
Those mangoes end up in my pickle jar.
But every mango is a star!

Have I mentioned how much I love mangoes?

 

Here are three Haku poems by students from Mary MacKillop College, Kensington SA.

 

Have you ever heard of a cumquat?  It’s orange’s tiny cousin!

 

10 Cumquats and Wotnots  by Diane Finlay

Did you ever
tango with a mango
or mince with a quince
peel a lychee by the sea
or kiss a ‘blue’ berry?

Can you really
make rhymes with limes
or mix melons with lemons
blow GIANT raspberries
or get stuck in a strawberry jam?

Did you ever
scare a pear
or grapple with an apple
watch peaches on beaches
or discover plums have bums?

Can you really
tie cumquats with wotnots
feed grapes to apes
put a pawpaw on a seesaw
or be mean to a nectarine?

Did you ever
can-can with a rambutan
see grapefruits in suits
take kiwis to Fiji
or wonder why this rhyme began?

 

9 Apples  by Toni Newell

An apple a day keeps the doctor away,
Is a saying heard over the years,
But is there any truth to this?
Or just a slogan of profiteers?
Apples are beneficial,
Low cholesterol, sodium and fat,
However, eating them in excess,
May damage tooth enamel in fact.
Apples are acidic,
But are rich in vitamin C,
Also contain lots of fibre,
plus pectin, vitamins A and B.
Like anything else, another saying,
Everything in moderation,
Follow this saying and you will see,
The benefits of your gustation.

 

There are good and not-so-good vegetable smells …

8 Notorious asparagus  by Celia Berrell

Notorious asparagus.
A vegetable that’s good for us,
is packed with healthy vitamins
for energy and body cleanse.

Yet infamous asparagus,
you sometimes make a fool of us.
Your spear-like shoots, a delicacy
when eaten, give us smelly pee.

Asparagusic acid means
our urine smells a queasy green.
But fructans (carbs) within these plants
help do away with stinky farts!

 

7 The Versatile Potato  by Toni Newell

Potato is a favourite,
Can be cooked in many ways,
Roasted, boiled or mashed,
Baked in foil, in stews or braised.
My favourite is the chip,
French fries, wedges, straight,
Potato gems, potato cakes,
All worthy of the dinner plate.

Chips that come in packets,
Just to name a few,
Chilli, chicken, salt and vinegar
In different shapes and sizes too.
Such a versatile root vegetable.
20% starch, 80% water,
Contains antioxidants, vitamins B6 and C,
Magnesium, potassium and fiber.

Potatoes when they’re harvested,
Are alive, then in a dormant state,
They can be used to reproduce,
Which in itself is great.
Between 80 and 100 days,
A crop should be mature,
Can even be grown in a bucket,
Which is a great idea I’m sure!

 

6 Pungent Garlic  by Sukarma Thareja & Celia Berrell

My cousin is an onion!
I’m allium sativum.

My whitish bulb’s
found underground,
between the stem
and roots you’ve found,
growing segment cloves within
containing lots of allicin.

Some properties of allicin
even work like penicillin,
warding off some illness guys
like E coli and some fungi.

My sulphur compounds
you’ll know well
from garlic’s pungent
taste and smell!

 

5 When is a Fruit a Fruit?  by Toni Newell

Did you know that cucumbers,
and tomatoes are a fruit?
For they internally house,
the seeds from which they shoot.

We think of them as vegetables.
Their position on the shelves
with eggplants and zucchinis,
all being a fruits themselves.

It’s sometimes our perception,
the way some fruits are served,
mistakes them for a vegetable,
when hot, not raw/preserved.

Often it seems obvious,
an apple, orange, pear,
watermelon, cantaloupe,
all fruits which we can share.

It can get complicated,
by botanical classification.
Just observe what’s being served,
and gain an appreciation.

 

Three thousand years ago, celery seeds appear to have been used to make ointments and other medicines.  Back then, this wild herb from the parsley family was stringy and bitter.  But by the 17th Century, tastier versions were being cultivated.

4 Celery (Acrostic)  by Barbara Smith

Crunchy fresh
Emerald pale stalks
Lightly fragranced
Each juicy mouthful a
Ready-made meal
Your very favourite.

 

Can we tempt you with a Carrot?  As well as being a taproot vegetable, we use the word carrot (and the phrase carrot on a stick) to mean tempting or persuading someone to do something for a reward that’s just out of reach!

3 Healthy Orange Carrots (Pantoumby Toni Newell

Carrots grow under the ground,
Now yellow, white and purple seen,
Their fernlike leaves above are found,
They are high in beta-carotene,

Now yellow, white and purple seen.
Carrots contain lots of fiber,
They are high in beta-carotene,
They are an illness fighter.

Carrots contain lots of fiber,
May be eaten cooked or raw,
They are an illness fighter,
Roasted, boiled or in coleslaw.

May be eaten cooked or raw,
Their downside? Hardly any!
Roasted, boiled or in coleslaw,
Their benefits are many.

 

2 Carotene Carrot  by Jeanie Axton

There stood a carrot
on my plate.
It looked up at me
and said “Please wait”

before you take
your very first bite
Can I mention
I help your sight?

My carotene,
a nice bright colour,
will make you strong
like no other.

Vitamins and fibre
I’ll give to you,
so pick me up
and start to chew.

Consider the goodness
I contain.
Come back and eat me
again and again!

 

Sunflowers are loved for their fabulous flowers, sustaining seeds & oil and their amazing ability to face the direction of the Sun.

1 Sunflowers  by Sukarma Thareja & Celia Berrell

Look to the east
to greet the dawn,
then face the west
when twilight’s drawn.

Youthful blossoms,
left to right,
follow the Sun
from dawn to night.

Lopsided growth
on night-time stems
then turns their faces
east again.

Heliotropic flowers
when young,
move their faces
to follow the Sun.

 

 

Ice Flowers & Dr Jim Carter

Do you live somewhere that’s really cold in winter?  Dr James R Carter is Professor Emeritus, Geography-Geology Department, Illinois State University.  He studies beautiful ice formations in USA.  In 2017, he gave us permission to share some of his rare photos to accompany a poem about Ice Flowers, written by primary school student Evie  – which was also shared on the Australian Children’s Poetry website.

We are delighted to learn that Dr Jim Carter has now written his own poem, inspired by Dr Seuss!  If you have any fantastic photos of ice flowers of this nature, you can contact Dr Carter at Illinois State University by email at jrcarter@ilstu.edu.

Ice Poetry  by Jim Carter

Oh, it’s mighty cold today.
Why did the Lord make it this way?

Hmmmm, the ground crunches when I walk by
So I bend down to find out why.

Look at those needles shining so bright
Clear ice, glistening in the light.

But my nose reminds me what I must do
Dress right for a cold sky so blue.

Properly attired, I set out to see
What other forms of ice there may be.

Are those white flowers at the base of a little tree?

No, it’s ice on the stems of plants quite tall.
They had white flowers last fall.

Wow, that ice presents a lovely face
And it’s only one of many in this place.

A wavy ball of ice nestled in brown.
Camera out, I kneel on the ground.

How have I missed such ice for years?
As I marvel my eyes produce tears.

Perhaps from their beauty
… but probably from the cold.

Oh, there’s ice on what was a puddle.

In layers of perhaps two or three
With leaves underneath and some lying free.

Another presentation of ice seldom seen
Gosh, nature is neat, even when it’s not green!

Origins of the Future

The above picture is a working drawing for a painting by Sharon Davson and it is a catalyst to some amazing things.

Sharon started the full-sized oil painting back in 1985, but stopped about half-way through.  Inspired by this drawing, I wrote the Science Rhyme Mother of Invention which is displayed on the Environmental Poetry page, here on the Science Rhymes website.

In 2013 Mother of Invention was published in the Canadian school textbook NELSON ENGLISH 10 (see image below).

Fast forward to 2021 and that planned oil painting is still very – unfinished!  But is now to be sold with a value of AUD$1.4 million.  Along with another unfinished artwork by Davson, this transaction will be setting a new precedence within the art world!

As author, I will be honoured to recite Mother of Invention at an event being held at Parliament House Brisbane on Tuesday 18th May at 10.30am to celebrate the re-emergence of this artwork and the pledge by the artist to complete the painting for its new owner.

Davson’s image for Origins of the Future was inspired by William Blake’s God-like painting The Ancient Of Days.  I imagined a Stone Age man, forging his partnership with science and technology through insatiable curiosity.  Neoteny in humans refers to our juvenile traits that endure into adulthood.  They include things such as our unstoppable curiosity, desire to play and experiment, plus our incredible adaptability.

Writing the poem Mother of Invention, inspired by Davson’s Origins of the Future, was how my Science Rhymes journey began.

The Bee is not Afraid of Me

Are we losing 1 percent of the world’s insect population each year?  This suspected insect apocalypse is complicated.  We don’t have a simple answer, but suspect that pesticides, habitat loss and climate change are involved.

Many insects don’t have a good rap.  Have you got an aversion to creepy crawlies?  Unless they are majestic moths, fairy-like dragonflies or beautiful butterflies, we often wish them away.  Mosquitoes carrying malaria accidentally kill hundreds of thousands of people each year.  But mosquitoes are also important pollinators as well as food for other creatures.  And without pollinating insects, flowering plants and crops can’t flourish and whole ecosystems suffer.  And that includes us.

It might sound lazy, but simply cutting the grass less often can help boost local insect numbers, increase biodiversity and even reduce pests.  So there are plenty of little things we can do to help boost their numbers.  Being sympathetic and connected rather than alienated by their insect oddities can be an important step too.

How we think and feel about insects begins when we are young.  So having a children’s poetry anthology dedicated to the beauty, fun and fascination of these six-legged creatures is rather special.

The Bee is not Afraid of Me: A Book of Insect Poems published by The Emma Press, includes two Science Rhymes.   Ask a katydid (p12) and True bugs are suckers (p15).  Pyrophorus Noctilucus by Kate O’Neill (p34) delights as it informs us about the talents of this click beetle.  And Yoga for insects by Myles McLeod has plenty of word-play giggles while naming various parts of insect biology.  Poems are interspersed with snippets of apt facts making this book engaging, enriching and enjoyable.

I was delighted to receive these lovely words (and link) from one of the book’s editors, primary science educator Fran Long:

“I wanted to write and thank you for your fabulous contribution to, ‘The Bee is not Afraid of Me’.  It is exciting to see my initial idea for the book become reality.  

I must admit I didn’t know about the katydid prior to reading your lovely poem.  However, the other day a friend sent me a link to some wonderful footage (1 min 44 secs in)!

This species of katydid looks like a snow pea!

Your poem on true bugs is fantastic for addressing misconceptions about bugs and hugely informative.”

The phrase, The Bee is not Afraid of Me, began as the first line of a nature poem by Emily Dickinson (published in 1924).  Now, it is the proud name of an innovative insect anthology being launched on Friday 6th March in UK.

Fashionable Distancing

Many cultures have known for centuries that the best way to avoid catching disease or pestilence is through distancing ourselves from such threats.  Below are two poems on this topic.  The first is about something many of us have needed to do recently.  But the second safety strategy has definitely fallen out of fashion.

The word QUARANTINE means strict isolation to stop the spread of disease.  It originated in Italy in the 1300’s.

Forty Days in Italian  by Celia Berrell

Venice, in the Middle Ages
feared infection from the boats
that visited its harboured stages,
ordering sailors to “stay afloat!”

For forty days they had to anchor.
NOT set foot on Venice land,
to make sure none were sick and rank
or had bubonic plague at hand.

Quaranta giorni (Kwa-rant-a jee-or-nee)
Quaranta giorni (Kwa-rant-a jee-or-nee)
is “Forty Days” in Italian.
That’s where the word for isolation
known as QUARANTINE began.

Some instances of social distancing made certain items of clothing trendy!  Voluminous crinoline skirts prevented suitors from getting too close; elaborate broad-brimmed hats stopped others breathing down your neck and the wearing of elegant gloves shielded hands from germs.  They have all served as kinds of fashionable personal protective equipment (PPE) in the past.

One famous outfit, associated with plague doctors in the 17th and 18th Century, included a funny-looking long-beaked mask.  The foot-long beak could hold perfumes or herbs to keep nasty smells at bay.  Looking rather macabre, this mask has been a popular item for fancy-dress events.  Can you see our recent use of masks taking a trendy turn too?

Hats and headgear have many purposes.   From keeping our heads protected to indicators of social status.  But the wearing of indoor bonnets such as the humble mob cap in schools has definitely fallen out of fashion.   However mother-of-four, Leonie McDonald, laments this because of head lice!

Bonnets and Headlice  by Leonie McDonald

Bring back bonnets I say
For children at school every day
It used to be part of our kids’ daily wear
To confine their own nits to their hair.

To get infected with a case of lice
Is as we know not very nice
The only known cure was the old kerosene
Or before that indeed a full shave it would seem.

So to counter this dreaded social plague
Bonnets became quite the fashionable rage
For to get your head shaved every time kids got nits
Would annoy any female to horrible bits.

With chemical treatments we get so blasé
To have nits abound has become quite blasé
Well enough I now shriek with my duty of four
To afford all this nit stuff is making me poor.

Not to mention of course what all of us know
Repeated toxicity can make your health low
So spare me I beg you from pecuniary divestments
In chemists rewarding financial investments.

Give me a break and check your kids’ hair
And if they have nits then you keep them there
Don’t send them to school with their hair wild and free
If you must send them in, put on bonnets for me.

 

Perhaps wearing a hoodie could help instead?

A World Full Of Poems

 

Yesterday, I received a rather special poetry anthology.  A WORLD FULL OF POEMS is a luxuriously sturdy hardcover book, intent on enchanting early readers and listeners.  It is the kind of poetry book that someone, perhaps an aunt or grandparent, would ceremoniously give you when you are young.  It will faithfully serve you snippets of pleasure, wise philosophies and the joys of wordplay until you are old enough to gift it to a child or grandchild of your very own.

Towards the back is a whole section of Science and Art poems!  However, the Science Rhyme “Peace by Piece” is an environmental poem, so appears closer to the heart of the book (on page 83) in the section on Cities, Towns and Travel – next to another Australian contributor, Sally Murphy.

Most of the 153 poems are fairly short.  Many are created in rhyming verse, but not all.  Set out in large print, it yearns to encourage new readers to take the plunge.  Published by Dorling Kindersley (DK) in Great Britain, the collection was selected by Dr Sylvia Vardell (of Poetry Friday book fame in USA).  It includes some classics (such as “The Crocodile” by Lewis Carroll & “The Moon” by Robert Louis Stevenson), familiar favourites (including Kenn Nesbitt, Jack Prelutsky & Michael Rosen) and many others that provoke a tingle of delight.

My favourite discovery was on page 45 in the Feelings category:

Don’t Be Scared  by Carol Ann Duffy

The dark is only a blanket
for the moon to put on her bed.

The dark is a private cinema
for the movie dreams in your head.

The dark is a little black dress
to show off the sequin stars.

The dark is the wooden hole
behind the strings of happy guitars.

The dark is a jeweller’s velvet cloth
where children sleep like pearls.

The dark is a spool of film
to photograph boys and girls,

so smile in your sleep in the dark.
Don’t be scared.

 

The source of each poem is acknowledged in tiny print at the back of the book.  There, I discovered that three of the poems were first found on Australian Children’s Poetry.  That’s how “Peace by Piece” was chosen for this book, along with James Aitchison’s “Ratty Writing” and J R Poulter’s “Dive into a Book”.  This endearing anthology is full of friends, whichever way we look at it!

Awesome Possum

This cheerful image of a Leadbeater’s Possum (left) and Sugar Glider (right) is an excerpt from oil painting Time To Grow by Sharon Davson.  Toni Newell’s delightful Fairy Possum poem below prompted this blog … and a great excuse for me to share my own awesome possum poem!  Then there’s Meryl Brown Tobin’s Haiku after she encountered a young ringtail in Victoria – snapped by Hartley Tobin.

 

2021 will mark the 60th anniversary of the first sighting of a Leadbeater’s Possum Gymnobelideus leadbeateri (aka Fairy Possum) for over 50 years.  Ten years later, it was awarded the momentous status of Victoria’s faunal emblem in celebration.  We are sadly seeing their numbers in decline due to habitat loss.  Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum are working to protect their stunning forest environments in Victoria, so we don’t lose any more of these delightful endangered marsupials.  Our support for their cause can help too.

 

Fairy Possum  by Toni Newell

I’m small and cute,
With big brown eyes,
I weigh very little,
Which is no surprise.
I live in the Highlands,
And eat at night,
Sleep during the day,
In tree-holes, no light.
I survive on insects,
And sap from leaves,
Which mainly comes,
From Acacia trees.
I have brown fur,
I’m soft to touch,
I can live for five years,
Which isn’t much.
An enemy of mine,
Is the feral cat,
Who rob the nests,
In our habitat.
I’m a proud Australian,
As you may know,
I’m the faunal emblem,
For Victoria, on show.

 

Victoria’s Awesome Possum  by Celia Berrell

The Leadbeater’s possum is very shy
and spends its time in trees on high.
It likes eating bugs and nectar and sap
from gumtrees, acacias and mountain ash.

From pink little nose to attentive ears,
the friendliest face imagined appears.
With cute pudgy fingers and tiny nails,
they’ll keep their balance with long brown tails.

Crickets and spiders are favourite food
along with the gums those trees exude.
The sweetest of parties can go for hours
when sipping the nectar from perfumed flowers.

They socially sleep in a group of eight,
hiding in hollows of trees until late.
And getting around is a possum’s breeze,
making breathtaking leaps among the trees.

 

 

HAIKU

end of sweltering day
ringtail possum baby
seeks coolness of dusk

by Meryl Brown Tobin

Ocean Animals (book review)

OCEAN ANIMALS written by Blake Chapman and illustrated by Astred Hicks

When I first opened this book, it looked like a proper scientific resource with plenty of photographs and a handy glossary at the back – and it is.  But it reads like a Talent Show!

It’s as though the best ocean acts are waiting in the wings, ready to star in this amazing book’s performance.  I was half-way through before I came up for air!

Blake is a great host as she introduces the weirdest, smartest and sneakiest sea creatures.  She’s friendly, cheeky and fun to read.  Nearly every page has two or three exclamation marks, which just shows how fantastical and fast-paced the performances are.

Each chapter has a winning “Sea-lebrity”, such as the ‘poison breath skull cap’ on page 20 and ‘natural little water pistols’ on page 79 (including search words to access rewarding video links on the internet).

Astred’s illustrations make excellent backdrops for setting each scene as we learn about ocean environments, these creatures and their extraordinary abilities.

The Ocean’s got talent alright!

Celia Berrell
PO Box 830
Hervey Bay QLD 4655

Email:
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