Open Write for September 2020

I was the host on the #OpenWrite EthicalELA site for Monday and Tuesday

I always look so forward to the Open Write on Ethical ELA. It’s a five-day poetry-writing extravaganza each month.

In September, Barb Edler gave us the writing challenges last Saturday and Sunday. For Monday and Tuesday, I was happy to get to be the host. Yesterday, my prompt was to write a poem based on something in the news, which turned out to be a bit heavy. Today, we wrote Magic-9 poems, which are turning out a bit lighter. Tomorrow we will have a final prompt, usually by a poet or author. (Edit: It was Laura Shoven)

I am honored to be in this group of poet-teachers who know how to encourage each other, write poetry that causes us to dig deep into our hearts, and comment like crazy on each other’s poems.

Below are the poems I wrote for September. Please join us tomorrow or next month on the 17th of October.

Food Memories with Laura Shoven
Lemon-Mint

One dinar apiece
For a lemon-mint
We drove
Straight from AMH
Down Sheikh Isa
Turned right before Adliya Road
Just a short distance
Down the wrong way street
Parked in the alley
That smelled like fresh bread
And into Al Abraaj.
Appu and Lali ordered
Because they had the experience
Turkish bread, hummus, grills and more
But it was the lemon-mint that took our breath away
It looked like a bamboo forest in a frosty glass
It sounded like the fresh breeze at the sea
It felt like a handful of love and satisfaction
It smelled like a cleansing summer rain in Kerala
It tasted like a trio of goddesses–Cool, Sweet, and Sour.
Sit down, enjoy
Good drink
Good food
Good talk
Drink till there was nothing left
Slurping up the last bits of icy sweetness
And wiping the inside of the glass
To get the foamy mint
Onto our fingers to lick it off
We ate and drank
And you told us what it was like
To live and eat in Bahrain
You, smiling and encouraging
Us, pondering our futures

Magic 9 Poem with Me

When the going is hard and slow
The work of patience we’re creating
Warriors in waiting here below
Powerful warriors of patience
Too much wait time will show
Who has the stamina to resist
Laziness and fight to grow
The sweet time spent activating
Time and patience aglow

My Magic Word Quote:
“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Leo Tolstoy

News and New with Me

Say His Name–Ahmaud Arbery

“Come, son, grab your gun
There’s a black burglar
Bounding ’round the block”

In this land
Two armed white men insist on their
right to defend themselves
While one unarmed black man
is not allowed to exercise the same right
Nor to exercise

State laws made to justify
Two people
Chasing,
Confronting, and
Killing
a person
they’ve never met.
Usurping duties of
police, court, jury,
and executioner.

As long as the two
are on the safe side
of the racial contract in ‘Merica
they will be exonerated.
Always
Assumptions of white innocence
Always
Assumptions of black guilt
Always

Americans implicitly know
Who are bound by the rules
And who are exempt
Would your son be allowed to jog
in a new neighborhood?
I know
You know

All men are created equal
(If they are white and own property)
Crooked creed

All men are created equal
(But some are only three-fifths equal)
Crippling creed

Codicil in invisible ink
Yet penned visibly in red blood
On black bodies

Murder is illegal
But fine for white people to
Chase down and kill black people
If they have decided
That those black people scare them
Cowardly creed

These injustices
Push the racial contract into the open
Then it’s up to us to choose
Do we embrace its existence?
Do we contest its existence?
Do we deny its existence?

Hang on, white men.
Hang on, power-hungry,
To your fading entrenchment of
White political power to
“make America great again”

Father and son
Chased a “burglar” jogger
Shot him dead.
Acting in self-defense?

No.
Arrested and charged with murder
Because of national outrage
(But absent the video, then what?)

Centuries overdue,
But now is the time
for more
national outrage,
America.
It’s time for a
Courageous creed

Many words and phrases in this poem were found in the first half of this article in The Atlantic: “The Coronavirus was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying” by Adam Serwer.

Ego and Homage and with Barb Edler
Homage to My Birthmark

This birthmark is a badge of mystery.
I was initiated into a mostly girls’ club
in my mama’s womb, some secret shared by
Just .3% of all babies born.

This birthmark is the beautiful color of fuchsias
Or red wine depending on the air temperature.
A port wine stain is the official name;
Dry ice was the 20th century treatment.

Because we didn’t burn it off with the ice
And I rarely opted for cosmetic camouflage
This birthmark inspired nicknames by mean kids–
Patch Eye and Pirate–but they didn’t know.

This birthmark is the shape of Australia
For a map lover and Down Under fan like me.
But it is located on my left temple rather than
Situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans

This birthmark is becoming cobblestoned.
Exaggerated vascular activity paving
A thoroughfare across the pink plot.
I never even saw the masons at work.

This birthmark is invisible most of the time.
My hubby and children look puzzled every
Time new folks ask me about it,
‘Oh, yeah,’ they say.

Decisions with Barb Edler
To Teach or Not to Teach in 2020-2021

Though we only finished one semester
we already are thinking of the
new academic school year
2020-2021
Expecting good re-enrollment numbers
Pretty sure of our staffing needs
Need to hear from you
whether or not you want to
renew your contract
Kindly complete the form
no later than
23 February

To be sure
I was sad to leave Bahrain
but my husband’s visa would expire
during the
2020-2021
academic year, so
I won’t commit for half a year, I’d say
But it might be renewed. They might need me to stay, he’d say
Back and forth, we’d ponder

After days of musing
When the due date came
Enough was unsettled that
I opened the Google Form in the default purple
No, I clicked, I have other plans for the 2020-2021
school year. I will not be returning.
I didn’t really have other plans
I explained to admin
I’ll be here to help as needed

Two days later
Covid-19 ended our school year as we knew it

Now we’re five-weeks into the
blended / virtual learning
2020-2021
academic year
and I’m helping as needed
until the new teacher can get her visa
to travel here

It was a good decision

6 thoughts on “Open Write for September 2020


  1. I loved these poems! I love being part of the 5-day OpenWrite. Thank you for hosting!


  2. I’m so happy you’re in the Ethical ELA group. I love your prompts. Clearly, I didn’t get the “keep it light” memo today. 😉 Certainly, that group of poets model positive feedback. It’s highly motivating.

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