Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Poetry Stretch - Childhood Games

While playing some games with my son this weekend I had a chance to reflect on some of the games I played as a child, as well as some of the ways I amused myself when there were no friends to play with me. I was fond of Pick-Up Sticks, Tiddlywinks, and Jacks. I coveted my brother's Battling Tops and my sister's Mystery Date. When I was outside I loved hopscotch, my pogo stick, jumping rope, and blowing bubbles.

I'm sure if I set my mind to it, I could come up with other games I enjoyed, and I'll bet you can too. So, your challenge this week is to write about a favorite game or pastime from childhood. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

*Image courtesy of:


  1. Jacks

    I was no Jill at Jacks,
    tumbling gracelessly down a hill.
    Instead I swiped the little iron-legged tokens
    with a quick hand, snagged the ball,
    was on to the next round with hardly a wasted motion.
    Champion of my camp, of my elementary school,
    I privileged jacks over real boys,
    keeping my winning streak going
    until my first kiss the summer I was thirteen.
    The next time I played jacks
    was with my own children
    who could sit on the floor with an ease
    I scarcely remembered.
    The last time was at a conference,
    with two women friends,
    one of whom brought her own jacks and ball
    in a velvet drawstring bag.
    We sat on the hotel floor
    watched over by conference attendees.
    They cheered us equally.
    But two of us lost.
    We lost big.
    Never play pool with anyone
    who owns his own cue stick, Daddy had warned.
    It’s true in jacks as well.

    c 2009 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  2. Jane, I love your father's advice returning to you now, the images and changing stories of jacks through your life, "I was no Jill at Jacks"...

    Ouija Board

    My hands hover over
    hoping for hints.

    Who will I love someday?

    I close my eyes.
    I hold my breath.

    What will the Ouija say?

    my future is told.

    her secrets unfold.

    For me to make true.
    For me to blame.

    Ouija board –


    Or game?

    Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, 2009

  3. I wrote two poems this week. One is about my favorite childhood activity, which I am classifying as a game:

    In the beginning, breath.
    Out of the breath, worlds.
    I watch a universe take shape,
    Dancing the music of the spheres.

    Such possibilities ripple across these tiny worlds,
    Shimmering with opal reflections.
    What gardens bloom here? What creatures walk these lands?
    I could scry forever into these crystal balls.

    But Shiva dances his fiery dance
    Even in lands that know only air and water,
    And I become the destroyer of my own worlds,
    Bringing oblivion
    With a pop!

    I posted the second on my blog.

  4. Thanks for this stretch, Tricia. It brought back so many memories, I wrote two:


    hopping around
    how many times
    can I go-go?

    hopping around
    zillions of times
    on my pogo.


    One potato
    two potato
    three potato four
    rang around our yard
    on chilly
    autumn days
    in our northern
    Jersey neighborhood.

    Fists held tight
    we’d huddle in a circle
    ready-or-not to play
    the next round of
    hide and seek
    all wondering
    who would
    be IT.

    Tapping fist to
    chin and other
    eager fists
    it turned out
    the potato
    for sure.

  5. Mine's posted at my blog Across the Page. It's called "Boggle Dreams."

    Thanks for stimulating fun memories.


  6. Rope

    Skit skat
    One foot, four;
    Jump rope,
    Turn twice,
    Holler for more!

    Double Dutch,
    Never such,
    Ever such rhyme;
    One foot,
    Two foot,
    Four feet time.

    Hold hands,
    Back to back,
    Shake it sweet;
    Whip round,
    Skip down,
    Don’t miss a beat!

    The rope goes round --
    Faster, that
    Whirring sound

    Touch down
    Turn around
    Back against the wall
    Oh, no!
    Caught a toe
    Trip then fall

    Jump rope stall.

    Get up
    Dust off
    That’s how you learn
    Once more
    Jump back
    One more turn

    Turn once
    Turn twice
    Count each leap
    Skip day
    Skip night
    Skip in your sleep

    Skit skat
    One foot, three
    Inside a
    Jump rope’s
    The place for me.