It's where I live. That's why I love to write Michigan poetry. In fact, I've written a complete book of poems about Michigan and the Great Lakes region, entitled Great Lakes Rhythm & Rhyme . Several of the poems from this book have been included on the MEAP test (Michigan Educational Assessment Program), which I consider to be a high honor.
The first Michigan poem is about Isle Royale, where moose are apparently more plentiful than people. This poem is on page 33 of Great Lakes Rhythm & Rhyme.
On Isle Royale, there's no excuse
for missing out on meeting moose
or wolves or loons, a jay or fox.
You'll likely meet them, and if not
you won't find temple, church or steeple.
Really, there's not many people,
just trees and bogs and inland lakes.
So drift on through, make no mistake.
It's fun to wander on the loose.
So take a hike
and meet some moose.
The following poem is about one of my favorite bugs -- the firefly. It wouldn't be a Michigan summer without fireflies. When I was a kid, I tried to catch one with a jar. (I wasn't too bright. You're supposed to catch it with a net and keep it in a jar!)
It might have been just as well. The beauty of fireflies is the mysterious way they make little lights in the night air. And that's all you see. No bug. Just the light.
If you're out by the lake
and the stars seem too close
and they twinkle and stop
like you've just seen a ghost,
please don't run to your mama
and ask for a hug.
Because that's not a star
or a ghost . . .
It's a bug!
So get out your jar,
punch some holes,
bring a net,
as a firefly makes
an enlighteninig pet.
by Denise Rodgers
Copyright© Denise Rodgers
Great Lakes Rhythm & Rhyme
Illustration by Julie Martin
Did you know that there are porcupines in Michigan? This poem is about a prickly critter that you touch at your own peril. I was thrilled when this poem was included in the MEAP test (Michigan Educational Assessment Program). It shares page 33 with "Meeting Moose," in my book, Great Lakes Rhythm & Rhyme.
It was interesting to see the questions students had to answer about the poem. For example, why did the author write this poem? My answer would be that porcupines are fascinating and I like the sound of the word, "porcupine." (That answer was not one of the choices on the test.)
The thing about the porcupine -
he has no pork. He has no pine.
He does have quills, these long thin spikes
that no one but the porc'pine likes.
He'll use them when he's in a mood.
(Like when you're loud or mean or rude.)
They won't feel good. They'll make you pout.
They go in quick. They won't come out.
So if a porcupine is present,
make sure that you are nice and pleasant.
Okay, this particular poem isn't actually funny (and this IS supposed to be a funny poem web site). But I will make an exception here because I like the following poem a lot. It is about a real ghost town called Singapore.
Singapore was once a prosperous lumbering town. It was founded on the western shore of Michigan's lower peninsula in the 1830s. When the lumber supply ran out in the 1870s, people deserted the town. It eventually was buried by Lake Michigan sand dunes.
I first heard of Singapore when I visited Saugatuck, Michigan, years ago. I was delighted to write this poem for my book, Great Lakes Rhythm & Rhyme.
In two hotels, they lithely creep.
The ghostly tourists come to sleep.
And now, shut down, forever still
are two, once-bustling lumber mills.
The pub, the band and so much more,
at least one well-stocked general store.
A city, once so proud and cocky,
like Chicago or Milwaukee.
and filled with sand
beneath the surface, once so grand.
No songs, no schools, no talk, no sport,
though once it was a Great Lakes port.
It was a town that lost its luck,
a town just south of Saugatuck.
And now it's sunk beneath the shore,
the ghostly town of Singapore.
When I write poems about Michigan, I have to consider the topography of this unusual state. It is formed of two enormous peninsulas. The lower peninsula forms the shape of a mitten. The upper peninsula (U.P.) is famous for its inhabitants who are affectionately called "yoopers," (translation: U.P.-ers)
This poem is also most certainly about all the unusual city names we enjoy in Michigan, many of them compliments of the early native American population.
MICHIGAN MAP POEM
Saginaw Bay is the crook of a mitten.
Port Hope is right up near the thumb.
Manistee sits right where you'd put your pinky.
The Lansing spot taps on a drum.
Sturgis is south, at the base of the wrist
and there's Mackinac at the tip top.
There are so many cities in Michigan's mitten.
Recite them and you'll never stop.
Mount Pleasant, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo,
Adrian, Midland and Frost,
Alpena, Kalkaska, Boyne City and Bath.
Keep driving until you get lost.
The mitten is grand, it is large, it is super,
but down there you'll never get close to a yooper.
A yooper's a person who's from the U.P.
The part of the state where there's much more to see.
There's Laurium, Skandia, Limestone and Tula,
Marquette, Iron Mountain and Gay.
There's Drummond and White Pine and Greenland
and Johnsville and Witch Lake and Keweenaw Bay.
So go for a ride, get out there exploring
no matter how long it might take.
And if you get finished with finding the cities,
then next you can look for the lakes . . .
There are many more poems about Michigan in my book,
Great Lakes Rhythm & Rhyme.
If you enjoyed the Michigan poetry on this page,
here are some more poems you might like: