Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

The Caterpillar Flies – a poem by Fern Lebo

We worked with Fern Lebo of FrontRunner Communications to create a poem that captures our caterpillar metaphor and wraps around themes of personal change and personal growth. In addition to being a WAY better poet than anyone I know, Fern delivers presentation and writing skills workshops. She is the author of 6 books and children’s poetry published throughout the English speaking world and also likes my Square Wheels cartoons.

The Caterpillar Flies  1samiacyntiaa

by Fern Lebo © 2013  

Alyssa, they say, was feeling quite bad
When she looked at her feet and saw that she had
To tie up her laces – and ought to right now
And what could she do with those feet anyhow?
There were so many feet and so many laces
To drag through the street and through other places.
Like over the mountains and down ‘round the pond
And far past the lakes and the hills and beyond.
Alyssa felt awful and looked for a hand
But no one was there
“They don’t understand” thought Alyssa.1pterourusglaucus

Alyssa just pondered her fate for a while
Wishing that laces would go out of style
Computerized snaps would make shoes a treat
Or buckles or velcro would be rather neat
Or buttons or zippers or some sort of dial
To simplify shoe biz and make shoes worthwhile
“I’ll just ask around. I’ll be so discreet
I’ll find someone who’s handy to help with my feet
A friend who is eager to pitch in and care
A friend who will love me and always be there.
Thought Alyssa.1nokomisfrit

For feet can be tricky there’s simply no doubt.
And a friend is a someone folks can’t do without.
With two feet or more feet
A friend is a heart’s treat
They’ll give you a hand and they understand
Knew Alyssa. 1heliconiuschari

But Alyssa, poor thing, was not very bold
As she went off in search of a friend, I’ve been told
Through puddles and places
She dragged those old laces
And guess what she said when she looked into faces.

That’s right! gulffrit

That’s just what she said but nobody heard.
Not puppies or fruit flies or even a bird.
Not a hand moved to help not a wing waved her way
Not an owl by night
Nor a cricket by day

Still, Alyssa trudged on t_farfalle

She searched left and right
She spotted two cats in a terrible fight
She skirted a skirmish
Between horse and hen
And missed a great rampaging elephant when
She stopped for a second to watch the old gray
And if you were she, tell me what would you say?

That’s right! 1adelphabredowii

That’s just what she said and she didn’t stop there
Alyssa looked north and spotted a pair
Of Canadian geese that were headed down south
When she called to them brightly
What words left her mouth?

That’s right! 1eurytidesmarcellus

She said that exactly and said something more.
But sadly, she got no more help than before.
And she feared she would stumble or bumble or fall
And she worried she’d make no more progress at all.
Then she saw a big robin go flapping on by
And nicely called up to the bird in the sky
“Are you good at laces?”
She asked clear as day
But the robin ignored her and flew far away.

Alyssa moved on past a farmyard or two 1callosamia
And saw a big cow that was mooing and blue
The cow seemed forever somewhere in mid-chew
‘Til Alyssa called out thinking cow was quite through.

“Can you give me a hand?” she asked rather sweetly.
“My laces are dragging and I like them neatly.”
But the cow merely grunted
“This look like a hand? Get yourself glasses and get off my land.
It’s a hoof, can’t you see?  A hoof and it kicks.
It doesn’t do laces and doesn’t do tricks.
Now, haven’t you got something better to do?
I’ve lots more to munch on and much more to chew. Shouldn’t you?”

Alyssa thought that was too rude to be funny mon13
And tried not to weep when she spied a cute bunny
Up in a tree on a quest for some honey.
“Give me a minute.” he called as on cue.
“I’ll hurry right down and try to help you.”
“Thanks, no.” said Alyssa, “I see that your paws
Are sticky with honey.
But thanks just because.”

Alyssa kept walking and came to a wagon African Butterfly
Two men were pushing and two men were draggin’
She couldn’t imagine just what was the deal
The thing clunked and bumped as it thunked on square wheels.
It rumbled and rattled and clanked like a band
She doubted if someone could spare her a hand.
So she shouted to them as she went on her way.
And said something helpful.
Now, what did she say?

That’s right! butt8

That’s just what she said as she passed the old wagon
With a heart oh-so-heavy and laces all draggin’
So tired, she moved on and up in the sky
She watched as two beautiful creatures flew by
They looked like two gossamer-winged butterflies
As light as a breath or a breeze or a sigh.
And she wished you could be what you want when you try.

Alyssa smiled sadly and wondered aloud
What it’s like to be lovely and float like a cloud.
But Alyssa was tired and yearned for a bed.
“I’ll just stop right here and rest my poor head.”
So she spun a fine blanket made out of silk thread.
And the blanket was soft and as fine as a hair
And she settled right down in a swinging bed there
And the blanket she wrapped and tucked in oh so neat
Round her feet and her feet and her feet and her feet.

A short sometime later she awoke with a start
And wondered what stirring had fluttered her heart
As she saw that her bed had unzipped just like magic
Did she panic? Or scream? Or fear something tragic?
Oh no. She just yawned and quickly uncovered
New wonderful wings she was thrilled to discover
So gently she spread them and when they were dry
She lifted herself softly up in the sky.

Gone were the laces and sadness and doubt
Now it was easy to fly all about.
Now she was happy and light as a breeze
Did her attitude change? Did she find friends with ease?
Do you think that she thought she was somebody new?
Or was she the same though she’d changed?
Which is true?
And if you were she, tell me please, who are you?
And now that you know, tell me, what will you do?

That’s right!

Yep. That’s Right! And that sure walks through a lot of the issues around personal improvement and change and people and support.

Remember, Butterfly_Cluster2

Caterpillars can fly,
if they just lighten up!

Hope you like this and thanks, Fern, for sharing.

You can find her blog at

and you can email her at Fern Lebo <>

You can find a wide variety of teaching and engagement tools at the Performance Management Company website,

For the FUN of It!

Scott and Caterpillar Picture

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

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Seriously? How things work in most organizations.


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