Treed (A Cautionary Tale)

The Harrods had a horrid
Loud-mouth of a daughter
Who didn’t listen to them
Even when she oughter.
She climbed into a pin oak tree
And yelled at them, “You won’t catch me.”

And she wouldn’t come down
No matter what they bought her.
And she only pooh-poohed
The more that they besought her.
She hid within that pin oak tree
And yelled at them, “You won’t catch me.”

And she wouldn’t come down
When birds flew down and prod her,
And she only nyah-nyahed
At dinners that they brought her.
She stayed up in that pin oak tree
And yelled at them, “You won’t catch me.”

And she wouldn’t come down
Even when the days got hotter,
And she only hah-hahed
When offered drinks of water.
She settled in that pin oak tree
And yelled at them, “You won’t catch me.”

Since she wouldn’t come down
And she acted ever odder,
The Harrods they grew tired
And wondered why they fought her.
They left her in that pin oak tree
And went inside and let her be.

Still she didn’t come down,
So the squirrels came and got her,
And stored her for the winter,
And this is what it taught her:
If a ripe old age you wish to see,
Don’t act like a nut in a pin oak tree.

And finishing out the tree quintet, this narrative poem. Peace to your !

Mother Nurture

Come, my dear,
No need to hang your head.
Draw near to me instead—
I welcome you.

Here, my dear,
My trunk may not be wide,
Yet sit here by my side
And lean on me.

There, my dear,
My green boughs will shade you
While your heart is made new
By nature’s charm.

May the firm ground calm you.
May the sweet breeze balm you.
May the long view fill you.
May the silence still you.

Go, my dear.
When your cares assail you,
I will never fail you.
Come, come again.

The fourth poem of my Myra Cohn Livingston-inspired tree quintet, a dramatic mask. Peace to your !

Pageant Tree

In springtime when your buds first show,
Delightfully I watch them grow,
So fresh and new after winter’s gray
I want to laugh and sing and play.

Yes, in springtime I am young and gay.

In summer when your boughs are full,
Your beauty’s irresistible.
I gaze upon your crown of green,
The loveliest I’ve ever seen.

Yes, in summer I am like a queen.

In autumn when your branches gold,
What stunning pageantry I behold
As the leaves that cluster at your breast
Scatter like jewels east and west.

Yes, in autumn I am richly dressed.

In winter when your limbs are bare,
With childlike wonder I stop and stare,
Entranced by your graceful whitened frame,
No two branches ever the same.

Yes, in winter I am quite the dame.

Years ago, after reading Myra Cohn Livingston’s book Poem-Making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry, in which she describes five different types of poems, I wrote one of each kind using a tree-theme. I’ve previously posted “Truncated” (dramatic apostrophe) and “Possibility” (lyrical). “Pageant Tree” is a dramatic conversation. I’ll post the remaining two in the next two weeks. Peace to your !


Another “tree no more” is the pin oak in the backyard of the house I grew up in. I could see it from my bedroom window, and during summer vacations I would spread out a blanket underneath its sheltering limbs–an area I think of as “tree space”. Sometimes I read there, sometimes I lazed or gazed, sometimes I made lists of things to do should I become bored during the break. A few years ago, after the pin oak had been ailing for a while, my parents had it cut down. Peace to your ♥!


The afternoon stretches out
empty as a page in my notebook
long as my body on the sun-warmed ground
still as the air in this circle of tree space.

I am Snow White, encapsulated,
ready to wake to a princely possibility.
I am Kubla Khan, lord of all,
surrounded by my vast domains.
I am earth daughter, firmly rooted,
drinking deep of measureless time.

The afternoon fills with
line after line of invisible ink.

© Stephanie Malley


Our neighbors’ big front yard tree had to be taken down after half of it sheared off (no one hurt, fortunately, and relatively minimal damage to their house). It’s sad to lose such a beauty of a tree–and made me think of this poem I wrote many years ago. Peace to your !


You once had limbs
Now only roots;
Once had leaves,
Now phantom shoots.

You who were once
A mighty tree,
You must feel
Like an amputee.

I cannot bring
You back again,
So I remember you
With my pen.

© Stephanie Malley


Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem of over-the-top compliments. Since I’m not feeling expansive at the moment, I’m instead posting a visual poem I worked on yesterday [an audio description can be found here] and also including the link for an ode to summer I composed years ago for a contest. Written in the flowery language of a traditional ode, it fits the prompt pretty well, I think. Peace to your ♥ !

NaPoWriMo20 Day 16 - I didn't use the prompt. 


Given that I love metapoems and wordplay, it was inevitable, I suppose, that I write a poem titled “Poet-tree,” but not inevitable that it look like a tree. I stumbled across another poem with the same title, and it had the standard left justification. Some poems, however, lend themselves to more creative formats. It’s a matter of feeling out the poem as it takes shape on the page and seeing if it wants to literally take shape. Once it has, shifting it back is like letting the air out of a tire–it’s still a tire, but now it’s flat.

This poem was my first to be published, in the Summer 2015 issue of The Caterpillar, a quirky Irish fiction/poetry/art magazine for children. Peace to your ♥ !


when I feel quiet,
I take a handful of adjectives
I found on the ground, stick them
to a noun I had stored in a drawer
(some verbs knock at the door—
I ignore them), and I make myself
a poet-tree I can sit under,
and I

© Stephanie Malley