The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

Punctuation. Punctuation! Punctuation?

Statements end in periods.
Abbreviations, too—e.g.
Need to show interrogation?
Aren’t those question marks the key?

Commas join “or,” “nor,” “for” clauses,
and they separate your lists.
Exclamation points add drama!
To interjections! Startling twists!

Hyphens link up compound numbers,
spelled-out fractions like one-third.
Parentheses are (often) useful
to de-emphasize (some) words.
Formal colons are too stilted
for your fiction use: steer clear.
Semi-colons bond two statements;
use one there, but skip one here.

If you’re showing something’s someone’s,
you must use apostrophes,
while quotation marks tell readers,
“I am speaking. Listen, please.”

Marks and squiggles clarify;
Dashes, dots elucidate.
Learn the rules, and rule your pages.
On your mark now: punctuate.

About the Writer

Helen Kemp Zax

Helen Kemp Zax loves to write poetry, especially poems that rhyme. She was thrilled to be selected co-winner of the 2021 YorkMix International Children’s Poetry Prize, the 2018 MG Katherine Paterson Prize winner, and a 2019 Finalist. Her poetry appears in many wonderful children’s poetry anthologies like Chasing Clouds and in many magazines like The Caterpillar. Helen lives in Washington, D. C. with her husband and their crazy Aussie-doodle Huckleberry Finn.