Happy New Year and a Creative Challenge



Early this year when Australian Children’s Poetry founder Di Bates called for someone to take on the site she’d started so successfully, I tentatively put up my hand. I wasn’t sure I was the right person. I do occasionally write poetry for children and sometimes it’s published in magazines and anthologies. But I certainly don’t think of myself as a poet and taking on the role of site editor felt a bit presumptuous considering my approach to writing poetry is intuitive, not educated.

I’m so glad I ignored the niggling doubts. I’ve enjoyed reading the wonderful contributions for Poem of the Day by so many talented Australian writers of poetry for children. It’s been wonderful to have you generously share your work with others. Thank you. This site couldn’t continue to attract the interest it does without your support.

Since the site began in March 2014, it’s attracted more than 141,000 views and more than 42,000 visitors. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s rather impressive for a children’s poetry site. The Poem of the Day is the most popular of all posts, followed by the listing of poets.

Because I’m not always guaranteed to have a Poem of the Day to post every day of the year, I recently introduced the Words+Pictures creative challenge. These posts have inspired some wonderful contributions, with the snail theme by far the most popular. That’s prompted me to issue a more structured creative challenge next year. Throughout 2016, every Monday from January 4 I’ll post a poetry prompt for you. I’ll mix it up with words, pictures, themes and poetic styles. Are you up for the challenge? I hope so because I’m looking forward to receiving some inspired responses…and being inspired to write more poems myself.

Happy creative New Year!



Poem of the Day

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by Monty Edwards


I may not have a backbone,

But I’m brave as brave can be.

Just take time to observe me,

Then I’m sure you will agree.

My enemies are giants tall

And armed with hoes and spades!

They stomp around my picnic spots

And hurl their flashing blades!


Yet these will not deter me,

Since it’s clear that I must eat

The greens left lying in my path:

How beautifully sweet!

I bravely dodge the missiles

And the bomb-like boots from heights.

Such perils do not kill desire

To scoff down such delights!


When climbing I am carefree:

Though high may be the wall,

I cling to ledges upside down

And never fear to fall.

So do not doubt my courage.

Admire my spiral shell!

Call me “a mighty mollusc”

And “Supersnail” as well!

  • Submitted in response to Words+Pictures #5


Poem of the Day



By Di Bates

Our fast green car
Green world
Stomach churning
Head spinning
The world turning
Upside down
Downside up
Around and around
Wheels rolling
Streets passing
Blurred buildings
Blurred faces
Blur blur blur
Dad, stop!
I’m going to throw …

Too late.


Poem of the Day


Santa’s New Clothes

By Teena Raffa-Mulligan


Santa had a problem for his suit no longer fit.

It was snug around the tummy. When he sat, his trousers split.

One bight and early morning, Mrs Santa said:

“My dear, I must tell you something that I read.

I love you roly-poly, I love you as you are,

but if you took a health test you wouldn’t get a star.

It’s really most important to have a healthy heart

and if you want a long life, it’s not too late to start.”

Santa called in at the health club—the trainer checked him out.

She said: “We’ll plan a program that will work without a doubt.”

She booked him in for workouts three times every week,

then talked about his diet and told him what to eat.

He ate lots of fruit and vegies, chose grilled instead of fried

for every single main meal, with salads on the side.

He said no to morning tea cakes and had carrot sticks instead.

Whenever offered sweet treats, he firmly shook his head.

Santa also started walking quite early in the day

and soon those extra kilos began to melt away.

He said: “I feel fantastic, this year will be a breeze.

I’ll deliver all those presents without the slightest wheeze.

I won’t get stuck in chimneys or struggle up steep stairs

or stop to have a rest whenever I see chairs.”

Then on Christmas Eve, a problem as Santa dressed to leave.

His suit no longer fit him except for length of sleeve.

His top was loose and baggy where tight it was before,

and when he pulled his trousers up, they slid down to the floor.

He looked at Mrs Santa. “Whatever will we do?

Perhaps some safety pins? Could you sew a seam or two?

We need a quick solution for I really ought to go.

The children are all waiting and I can’t be late, you know.”

Mrs Santa nodded and tried to hide a smile.

“Thank goodness it’s late shopping. This will only take a while.”

So that’s why this year Santa won’t be wearing his red suit.

He’s got a brand new outfit. Mrs Santa thinks it’s cute.

It’s a bright red fleecy tracksuit for warmth in North Pole cold,

and a pair of sporty sneakers replacing boots of old.

For his head a woolly beanie instead of pom pom cap.

So if one Christmas evening you should glimpse a bearded chap

who looks a lot like Santa except he’s fit and trim,

don’t think that you’re mistaken, for yes, you’re right, it’s him!

Poem of the Day


Gargoyle Guile

Kate O’Neil


Like it or not

I am glued to this spot,

left in the lurch

on a perilous perch

exposed to all weathers,

bird-bombs and feathers,

no shelter at night,

a face like a fright,

with a monstrous chin

and a phony grin

that’s just an excuse,

a ridiculous ruse

for making a drain

to spew out the rain

away from the wall

of this cold stone hall.

Day in and day out

I do nothing but spout

the run-off and grime

and the muck and the slime

from up on this roof –

I feel such a goof.

In fact, I’m offended

at being wrong-ended

with backward digestion –

so here’s a suggestion:

if means could be found

to turn me around

I could hide my face

from the human race

and I wouldn’t need words –

I’d behave like the birds

and the message I’d send

would be through my rear end.

Poem of the Day



by Jenny Erlanger


You might like the Crunchie, an excellent pick,

this miniature, choc-coated honeycomb brick

or what about something the colour of cream?

If that’s sounding tempting, then try out the Dream.

There’s Dairy Milk, Picnic and Mint Bubbly too,

all of them sitting here waiting for you.

If fruit mixed with coconut’s what you like best

the Cherry Ripe option is what I’d suggest.

There’s smooth Caramello and crumbling Flake.

It’s not such an easy decision to make.

This might be the last time we’re offered such treats.

You’d better choose wisely from all of these sweets.

But just let me warn you, we don’t want a fight.

So stay right away from that Turkish Delight!


Poem of the Day


1960s Campbelltown

by Dianne Bates

On the highway to Appin
skies bled on summer nights.
The road hummed to town,
trucks sped coal to the coast,
and south of main street
silent on a bridge,
Fisher’s Ghost.

Weekdays we rose at five
blowing balls of warmth into winter air,
and milking the cows
I sang at the bails,
‘Rose Marie, I love you.’

Summer was blowies in the cream,
butter that melted,
eggs from gasping hens.
Mrs Tietzel brought the mail,
Campbell the bread,
the days moved sideways.

Saturday was cricket
or Menangle trots,
swimming at the Woolwash
and the Queen Street shops.

Bill was cockatoo for SP bookies in pubs
and kids lined up at the picture house,
game girls rubbing cheeks with bristling boys.
Paspalum brushed the sky
and we forgot ourselves.

In the showground cemetery
beneath the shadow of Ruse
who sowed the first grain
we made rubbings on tombs;

In Mawson Park
the band played Matilda,
someone scribbled his mind on toilet walls,
and, beyond trains that steamed to Sydney,
I dreamed a freedom of cities and age.

© Dianne Bates

Poem of the Day


Scribbly Gums

by Kate O’Neil

The scribbly gum is a eucalyptus tree with a very smooth, pale trunk. The distinctive brownish ‘scribbles’ are made by the larvae of the tiny scribbly moth.


Tall custodians of scribbled mysteries,

What can you tell us, silent trees?

What tunnelling scribes find sanctuary

within this covert library?


Mere larvae, small but diligent,

whose little lives are wholly spent

to leave these ciphers in your care

’til later times reveal them there.


What is the urgent need that drives

this tracery of transient lives?

What are the messages layered here

in darkness? Why, year after year


do you allow these prophets in?

Is there an itch beneath your skin?

Are you, tall gums, merely content

to give their need your nourishment?


Or do your lives and theirs conspire

to keep these riddles from our eye

’til when these poets take their leave,

you wear their heartsongs on your sleeve?