Jen's working hard on an illustrated book of children's poetry she's calling Please Don't Pet The Cactus. All her poems are inspired (and sometimes flat-out suggested!) by her kids, and other kids she knows, too.  Maybe you'll recognize yourself in one of these poems!



Mama said to wipe my chin

now there's nothin' 'neath my grin!

Mama said to wipe my mouth

I wiped so much, I wiped it out!

Mama said to wipe my nose

I wiped it good, now there it goes!

What happened next? Surprise, surprise:

my next wipe wiped away my eyes!

I wiped my hand across my brow

and I might have a problem, now

'cause when I went to wipe my face

there was nothing in its place

and now my hair hangs out

in space!

Jen's note: Wipeout! was featured on the KIDS CAST Weekly Podcast, Season 1, Episode 7, August 6, 2020.  Thanks for having me and Wipeout! on your awesome podcast, Katie! I highly recommend this fun and informative podcast just for kids!  Wipeout! was 100% inspired by my daughter Pippa, who once tried to wipe her nose all the way off ...


Cookie No

Can I have some cookie dough?

 –  That would be a cookie “No.”


Just one teeny tiny pinch? 

–  I’m not giving in one inch.


How ‘bout a chocolate chip… or two?

 –  They’re for the cookies, not for you.


C’mon, Mom, please? Just one taste? 

–  Sounds to me like a dough-waste.


Will you let me lick the spoon?

–  That will not be happ’ning soon.


Can I “clean” the bowl at least?

– I’m not leaving you a feast!


MOM! Did you just sneak a bite?


– (*gulp*) –

–  Just checking if it tastes alright!


Cotton Candy: A Puff Piece

Cotton Candy (A Puff Piece)

It’s pink or blue or yellow,

like finally, a rainbow you can touch!                  

Tastes of sweet, sweet nothing-ness,

berry jewel-drops and bright sugar rush;                  


It’s a personal, edible tornado,

a twisty-twirled tangle of cloud

relentlessly pulling the sweet-toothed in!

(Happily, we munch our way out).


It’s a toss-up of air and fun-at-the-fair

in a package that begs to be licked,

improbable puff of kaleidoscope stuff,   

wafted softly, loftily, ‘round a stick.


Can it have magical powers? 

One glimpse transforms kids -- here’s how:

they start pleading, “Please, please, PLEASE,”

and promising, “I’ll be good, now!”


It’s a not-so-secret cache of carried treasure.             

Proof positive that alchemy exists:                            

threads shimmering in tapestry together,

simple crystal spun to silken bliss.


It’s innocence, unsullied life-pleasure,    

sweet shorthand for joy and good fun;                              

last pinch meets fingers, stickily lingers,

a final, meltaway dazzle – and done.


Jen’s note:  This is the first poem I ever published!  Cotton Candy: A Puff Piece was rejected at first, but the editor kindly offer to work with me to improve it. Under her guidance I began to learn how to wrestle my poem-ideas into better-scanning poetry-formats. I’ll always be grateful to Seretta Martin for seeing the potential in my work, and for generously offering to help a poet she didn’t know (yet).


You Are A Genius At Just Being You

Shayna’s a leader, Philippa plays fair

Gavin writes stories, you feel like you’re there

Ranbir’s a cuddler, Zaney is fun

Aria, peacemaker, loves everyone;

Dylan can kayak, Levi’s polite

Sage is up reading like half of the night;

Owen is growin’, Clark’s learned to crawl,

soon he’ll keep up with the rest of you all!

Delilah does ballet, Ben’s truly kind,

he’s making sure Clark doesn’t fall too behind;

Maya bakes cupcakes, Mila can sing,

Jake is a surfer, Brooke remembers... everything!

Hayden’s a joker, Heath’s great at math,

Sarina’s a poet, like Angelou or Plath;

Jane is a princess, ‘least that’s how she plays

Zack is breakdancing while Mia crochets!

Will’s super-witty, Adam’s a ham,

Got a trivia question? The answer’s in Sam!

Connor’s a daredevil, Judah’s just cute

Johnny likes space and he’d love a spacesuit;

Astrid does accents, like British or French

Benji plays guitar; plus, he’s a mensch;

Lukas likes sushi, Emily’s funny –

like this one time, she dressed her cat up like a bunny!

Maggie’s determined; Trey is trés cool;

Leah’s learned words like "colossal" and "joule";

Oliver’s thoughtful, Jayce follows his heart

Olivia listens; Aliya’s all art.

No one can do everything,

but everyone can do something:

from the moment you’re born,

you’re an expert at one thing

and I’ve met enough kids now

to know this is true:

you are a genius at

just being you.


Goodnight Moonlight


Good night, bookshelf

good night, books

night-night, knick-knacks

in their nooks          

Good night, moonlight

good night, stars

good night, neighbors

near and far


Good night, window

good night, desk

good night, clean and

good night, mess


Good night, nightlight

rest up, walls

good night, pictures

of loved ones-and-all


Good night, toys

‘til tomorrow, lots of fun

good night, stuffed animals

good night, everyone




Good night to you, love

from your head

to your toes

good night to everything

as eyes start to close.



Good night, darkness

good night, space

good night, quiet

all over the place.


Good night, moonlight.

Good night, stars above.

I’ll see you in the morning.

Good night, my love.

Good night, pillow

sleep tight, bed

good night, blanket

tucked ‘round you,