The Monday Poems Go on the Prowl.

Monday Poems

A number of years ago, I attended a poetry retreat. The assignment was to write a poem about a small object we had brought with us. I stared at the origami boat my daughter folded for me. She said it was an imaginary vessel that could take me places where I could write fantastic stories and poetry. I rested the tiny boat on the palm of my hand and didn’t know where to begin my writing.

One of the instructors sat beside me and shared a secret. “Before you can write a poem, you need to ask yourself one question… What do you want to say?

What did I want to say about the folded, paper boat? What did I hope to accomplish with my poem? Did I want to draw a comparison to a real boat? Take my reader on a fantastic journey? Write about origami? Or did I want to reveal what my daughter’s gift meant to me? In knowing what I wanted to say, I also needed to know the destination of my poem… What thought did I hope to leave the reader contemplating? Did I know who my audience was? (That’s a big one, by the way.) If this poem was intended for children or adults, I needed to consider what questions each age group might have about my chosen subject. What could I say to delight and/or inform? What words should I use that my chosen age group would understand and relate to? What last stanza or last line could I write to bring a smile, evoke laughter, or stun the reader with through an unexpected revelation or twist?

Today’s poem isn’t about that little boat. My Monday poem ties into my book review from last Friday, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.

I thought about the ways I view the tiger and realized my thoughts about this magnificent animal have been shaped by its portrayal in literature and films. Was that all I hoped to express? Or were there other thoughts I wanted to include?

tiger leaning on brown tree branch

Photo by A Rama Krishna on


A flash of fire in the Mangrove woods,

striped in ashen-black.

Courage, strength, and stealth are not

qualities you lack.

Your crescent claws and iron jaws

are prized within your treasury.

Behold the jungle warrior’s wealth:

his sharp and deadly weaponry.

The rhythm pulsing through your veins

thrums like a beating drum.

Prowling while anticipating

what fine prey may come.

Beyond your fearless nature,

your heart knows how to weep.

When, at last, you’re craving rest,

even a tiger beds down to sleep.


By Leslie Leibhardt Goodman


Until next Friday. Be well.

The Monday Poems Dip Into a Special Jar

Monday Poems

Welcome to another edition of The Monday Poems.

One of the things my daughter loves about bedtime is the nightly poem I write for her. She opens a special jar she keeps on a shelf in her room. The jar is filled with little, folded slips of paper that each hold one word.

I sit at her desk with a pad of paper and pen and wait for her to give the jar a shake, unscrew the lid, and pull out my word. Last night, my poetry prompt word was ‘pie.’ The night before, my word was ‘book.’ I have only as much time to write my poem as it takes her to brush her teeth, wash her face, and change for bed. Five to seven minutes tops.

Yes, sometimes she reads out my word, and I am absolutely uninspired. She gives me her sweet smile, wishes me luck, and in my heart, the last thing I want to do is disappoint her. I mull over the word, try to imagine what it means, not to me but to her. I wonder what I can write that will delight her.  With that thought, the words begin to flow.

The poem I’m sharing today was inspired by the word butterfly.

School of Butterflies

The Monday Poems Explore Memories

Monday Poems

Where do ideas for poems come from?

Poems find their beginnings in the intensity of an emotion, whether brought on by a trauma or a moment of pure elation. Poems evolve out of words with multiple meanings, a funny situation, or random events that lead to a new experience, a discovery, or a friendship. Some poems come from a phrase, a comparison of two unlike things, a photograph in a family album, the imaginings of life within a painting by Renoir or Salvador Dali.

Ideas for poems exist around us and inside of us.

As I wondered about the poem I would write to share with you today, I hoped to choose a single memory to explore, but a myriad of moments played out in fragments. I brought them together into a list poem and discovered I had, in fact, given myself many jump off places for more poems. Not all poetry must rhyme, some pieces reveal guarded secrets, share feelings and impressions, offer encouragement, or tell of serendipitous encounters through a pure and raw outpouring of words.



Some memories were born beneath the waning moon

while others glided along a river through the surreal quiet of a cave.

I once

experienced elation

at the top of the Rockies,

swam amidst the fluttering fins of a school of fish,

rescued the forgotten,

cared for the injured,

released that which was born wild

back into the wild,

witnessed untouchable freedom,

was held captive in the eyes of a wolf,

longed to slow time,

forgot how to breathe

when the sun’s rays set the Grand Canyon on fire,

wept at the long-awaited birth

of my daughter,

broke at the death

of my father.

I have

celebrated accomplishments,


and given up

for an hour

or the passage of a day

before believing again.

Other memories I have never held,

though I have thought about them so often

they feel nearly real.

These are mine.


Leslie Leibhardt Goodman


Until next Monday

There’s Something New Over Here.

Monday Poems

During my writing hours, when I’m not editing one of my children’s stories or reviewing picture books for this blog, I write poems. Some of my verses are intended for children and have been published in magazines. But there are other poems, mostly unrhymed, that fall outside of this genre. These are the poems I write for myself. Each one sits undisturbed in a notebook or in a file on my laptop, and each poem shares a piece of me.

I was recently encouraged to explore and share areas of my writing beyond the comfort zone I so carefully stay within on this blog. I thought about the poems I write  for myself and felt something stir inside as the encouragement slowly grew into a form of permission.

Today, I’m happy to share with you the first of many Monday Poems.

The Lost OnesPhoto by A. Kanifatova 


In the small hours before first light,
an iron-gray sky fills my window.
The world breathes soft. Asleep.
I roll over under my warm covers,
exhausted and awake,
wandering through nearly forgotten memories
that grow like flowers along a path,
hoping to be discovered again—
seen again.
I gather the lost ones into my arms
like a fragile bouquet,
praying when morning breaks,
they are still mine to keep.

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman


Until next Monday.