THE FINAL FOUR: lachrymose vs. canoodle

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Voter Instructions:

  • The countdown at the bottom of each pairing indicates how much time is left to vote.
    • When voting closes, timer will disappear.
  • Read both poems as many times as you like.
  • Mark the poem you like best by clicking the circle next to its name.
  • Press the “Vote” button to record your vote.
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    • Classrooms should submit one vote as a class.
    • Students can then vote again individually from home.

Things to Consider in Making a Choice:

  • How well the poem incorporates the authlete’s assigned word.
  • Technical elements: meter, rhyme, form, shape, and other poetic standards.
  • Creativity: wordplay, imagery, unusual approach, etc.
  • Subtle elements that make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Your overall response: emotional reaction such as admiration, tears, laughter, terror, or some indefinable feeling.

Here are the poems:

Melancholy Chicken
By Renée M. LaTulippe

Farmer Brown can’t diagnose
why I’m always lachrymose.
It’s as plain as chicken feed—
a little love is all I need!

You see, about this time of year
a hopping foe with fluffy ears:

1. creeps into the sleeping coop
2. tiptoes through the chicken poop
3. steals my incubated eggs
4. skips away on fuzzy legs
5. dips my eggs in greens and blues
6. hides them in the kiddies’ shoes
7. basks in misplaced, mawkish praise—

which only adds to my malaise!

Do you see now? Can you guess
why my eyes are teary? Yes! —
the tail end of my somber story
is that the rabbit gets the glory.

Farmer Brown can’t diagnose
why I’m always lachrymose?
I think it’s plain as chicken feed—
a little love is all I need!


Nicholas Noodle
By Cheryl Lawton Malone

Nicholas Noodle whose brain could learn oodles
was happiest when he was lost in his doodles.

His marker made heros.
His pencils, a poodle.
He drew kissing fish who would hug and canoodle.

When Principal Jolly of Hollybrooke School
heard someone had broken the no doodle rule,

he took away recess.
He took away art.
He took away music. “And that’s just the start.”

The colors in Nicholas pushed him to fight.
The leaders were red and the twins, black and white.

His marker made monsters.
His pencils, gross snores.
He drew his way down to the Principal’s door.

Where every loud word made Nick angry and wild.
He erased Mr. Jolly; he drew in a child.

With the marker now capped and put out of the way,
calm Nick and the child decided to play.

Their crayons made gators.
Their pencils, a hook.
They laughed and they read through that make-believe book.

Then Nick and Young Jolly crossed out that old rule,
which made learning fun at the Hollybrooke School.


*lachrymose vs. *canoodle: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • *lachrymose (Renee M. LaTulippe) (45%, 256 Votes)
  • *canoodle (Cheryl Lawton Malone) (55%, 313 Votes)

Total Voters: 569

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  • Heidi

    I enjoyed Cheryl’s (especially the humorless Principal Jolly), but for sheer appropriateness to the season and for the finely-rhymed profile of the bunnicular villain, Renee gets my vote.

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Cheryl, you’re a tough rhymersary! (Ed, I just made that up. You may keep it to go with authlete.) Perfect way to handle canoodling in a kids’ poem, and I love the lilting rhythm. Well done, you! :)

  • Alvaro

    Awesome poems – extremely tough to decide!

  • Catherine Johnson

    Renee, yours is the perfect Easter poem and Cheryl yours is hugely entertaining and imaginative. Well done both of you!

  • Alison Hertz

    Well done to both of you. I love both poems! Tough choices but I bit the bullet and chose one. Good luck to you both!

  • Carrie Finison

    I really enjoyed reading both poems and I know how hard each of you worked. Congratulations! Renee, I think it was a great idea to go with an Easter theme, and Cheryl, your wordplay with ‘canoodle’ was so much fun!

  • julie rowan zoch

    Kiss or cry?
    Choose one?
    No fun.

  • joe isola

    Both are great but Cheryl’s is the coolest of the cool.

  • Marileta Robinson

    Wow! “Tiptoe through the chicken poop” vs “kissing fish who would hug and canoodle.”
    Tough choice!

  • Patricia Nozell

    Rabbits & chickens versus a defense of arts in education! A tough choice, indeed, and both so well-written!

  • Buffy Silverman

    Two terrific poems, ladies! No misplaced mawkish praise for you, Renee–your poem gets the glory. And Cheryl, oh how I love your kissing fish who would hug and canoodle!

  • B.J. Lee

    Wow! Great round, ladies. Both very funny poems. I love the canoodling fish and you’re right, Renee, the rabbit does steal the chicken’s glory!

  • M.Skelly

    Congratulations ladies! Both outstanding poems….my students went scrambling for dictionaries when the words were announced….BRAVO to both of you!!! I am agreement with Patricia Nozell’s comment….as well as Ms. Robinson’s.

  • Pamela Courtney

    My oh My! You’ve both served us well. Such attention to detail in both works. It really comes down to being EXTREMELY picky. However, it’s hard when each is done so well. So I’ll say congratualtions to you both. Well done.

  • Pamela Courtney

    By the way Renee, I knew there would be a chicken lurking about somewhere.

  • Linda Baie

    Both awesome story poems, delightful for kids, which is what it’s all about, right? Congratulations Renee and Cheryl! They were tough words!

  • Penny Klostermann

    Two more awesome poems that will delight the kiddos while teaching them new vocabulary! Cheryl and Renee, you continue to impress me!

  • Julie Hedlund

    You ladies sure do know how to make for a touch choice! Great job to both of you!!

  • Doraine Bennett

    Great job to both of you. Congratulations on getting this far. What a difficult choice this is!

  • DianaM

    Fantastic! Both extremely impressive. And Renee, how great that yours is so timely.

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Terrific concepts – congrats to both poets. Renee, I was all in at “a hopping foe with fluffy ears…” and then it got even better.

  • laurasalas

    Woohoo–these are excellent! In the end, I had to go with the pouting chicken, but these are both awesome. I know all our kid readers are having a blast with these stories in verse.

  • Kerry Aradhya

    Congrats to both of you for making it to the Final Four. Tough competition!

  • Quinette Cook

    Poor little chicken, does all the work and Easter Bunny takes all the credit. Renee, I loved the use of a list – list poems are fun to play with in poetry – and this was a hybrid of sorts. Love the word “mawkish.”

    Cheryl, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a fish canoodle, but it’s a lovely image and stopped me when I read the poem. Hurrah for the arts!

    Thank you ladies for all of your poems. Good luck to both of you!

  • Debbie LaCroix

    Great job to both of you! You are both wonderful poets. :-)

  • Damon Dean

    I like that list too…I’ve never attempted that, but it has such a great effect.
    And Cheryl,
    I was an addicted doodler…I still have old notebooks from college and high school that look like some of my totally-tattooed friends…the notes are lost among the images.
    I find this a difficult decision, but got to vote!
    Great work ladies.

  • Fred Bortz

    Wish I could vote for both!

  • April Halprin Wayland

    Oh, my, oh, my!
    The complaining chicken vs. some version of Harold and the Purple Crayon.
    I’m in awe of what you’ve both written in this short time frame–wowza!
    Chicken wins but Doodler, oh, so close!

  • Ed DeCaria

    A HUGE thank you to both Renée and Cheryl for contributing so many great poems to this year’s event — TEN between the two of them!

    Renée, you’ve made this the most poetic Easter ever!

    Cheryl … see you tomorrow!


  • Cheryl Lawton Malone

    Thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed the poems. Renee you are amazing!!!! Thank you for all your support. I’m going to need a lot of help in the next round.

  • Dave Crawley

    It’s trite to say both “teams” are winners…but in this case, it’s true! After five poems apiece, I feel as if I know you both!

  • Alvaro

    Congratulations Cheryl! This final four round was amazing. A huge applause to you, Renee and Dave!! Great job guys!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Well done, Cheryl! I hope you like the word I chose for you for the final round. I think you’ll have fun with it! Congratulations! :)

  • Janet F.

    Congratulations to Cheryl! Renee, I loved your poem! Can’t wait to hear about Poetry Month in your world at NWR!!

  • juliekrantz

    Two great kids’ poems! Can’t wait to see them in the MM Anthology!

  • Donna Smith

    You can’t see it, but I’m giving you a standing ovation! Great job, both!

  • Damon Dean

    Congrats Cheryl! Well deserved! Doodlers forever, unite!

    Renee, I have loved your poetry. Can’t wait to see Cheryl’s word for the final matchup.

  • Allen D. McGee

    Cheryl, I knew you were a skilled attorney and also very stylish with your dress and now I am amazed that you are a childreln’s poet and after reaeding your poem I can visualize the joy that you will bring to my grandson, Connor, ten years old, as well as many other children. Allen