Friday, February 14, 2020

Poems Can Grow from Special Dates

Thor and Me, 1971
Photo by Debby or George Ludwig

Baby Book Note 
by Debby Ludwig

(I will find a photo of Valentine to share!)

Students - Happy Valentine's Day! This morning I was thinking about my second childhood dog, Valentine, and the story about how she became part of our family. We really did get her on Valentine's Day, 1981, and Thor really did die the day before, which happened to be Friday the 13th. That date stuck with me for a long time.  To be honest, it's still with me. He was at the vet for an operation on his cancer...and he never made it home.

At first I was going to write simply the story of getting Valentine on Valentine's Day, but then Thor wanted to be in the poem. So did Eli. And Cali and Sage were here at my feet asking to be part of it too. So there you have it, a poem including my most special five dogs. And of course I also love my mom's dog Max who is the dog on which I based Betsy in last April's (to be published in a book by Eerdmans) JOHN AND BETSY collection.

I could have chosen to write this poem in quatrains and almost did...but then instead at stopping with four lines (lines 2 and 4 rhyming), I decided to tack on an extra unrhyming line at the end of each stanza. I rather like the feel and sound of this. Remember: read your poems aloud and play. There are no set rules, but working with rules and choosing when to live by and when to break them in poems is what makes for your own voice.

Do you have a story about when someone or something special entered your life? Is there a date that stays with you for some reason? A season that always brings back a certain feeling or memory? Such stories and dates and season-feelings can lead us to writing ideas of all kinds. In a way, this is also a timeline-poem, walking through the dogs of my life. Now I am thinking of other timelines from my life which might hold poem ideas.

Linda is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at TeacherDance with hearts everywhere and the sweetest, skinniest Valentine poem. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness each week of the year.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. My post today is also about losing a pet. It's so hard to say good-bye. I'm glad Valentine came into your life at a time when you needed her most. Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. Such a touching poem, Amy. Glad you've had many dogs in your life. You captured the day Valentine arrived so beautifully.

  3. I love the idea of our hearts having "dog-shaped holes", Amy. Thinking of my pets in the past, as you have, we don't forget them at all, do we? And I love that you let all your dogs be a part! It's a love poem that doesn't forget all the ones we still wish we could love on. Happy Valentine's Day!

  4. What heartfelt memories... thanks for sharing your poem and your thoughts in writing.

  5. Oh, this gets me right in the dog-shaped hole in my heart. My Dinah is getting on in years. I love her so.

  6. I love your dog-filled heart and how you named them all in your poem. I remember getting Lucky when I was 11. He lived a good, long life. He's a significant character in my novel-in-verse (unpublished).

  7. What a beautiful poem. The "dog shaped hole" made mine ache. What a beautiful way to remember your beloved pets.

  8. Amy- This is perfect! So, so, so true! I love, love, love the last line! I've already told them that when I have to give up my service puppy, Rooney, who is almost halfway through his stay with me, they better have another baby to put into my arms that same day, because otherwise I won't be able to bear it!

    And I'm sooooooo excited to hear that John and Betsy will be a book. I love them!!!!! When will it come out!

  9. Reading this with a dog-sized orange cat curled at my side. Feeling the love. Remembering all the cats in my life...

    And I'm as thrilled as Carol about John and Betsy! YAYYAYYAY!

  10. I love it that Thor and the others wanted to be in the poem, too.

  11. Lovely poem Amy, I especially like the ending with all your other dogs asking for a place. Our family dog was named Max also–I'll have to take a look at your "JOHN AND BETSY collection," thanks!

  12. Late to this post but I just love it. And I love how you played with the form and made it sing and made it clear. I should just read your blog every day and write from your mentor work. I would need to pay you, though, I'd feel guilty. You are a treasure!!
    Janet Clare F.