Tic Tac Toe

Two Writing Teachers for 4 May 2021

It’s May now, and I just finished my second April writing a poem each day for National Poetry Month. It made me very happy to have a beautiful new prompt open for me each day at noon. Then to have a community of teacher-poets there to celebrate in reading and writing poems all month was a gift of great value.

Once I started looking for poetry prompts, I realized the world is alive with poetry, all invitations to learn, grow, and write. So I began to write #MayPoems because I already missed April’s poetry emphasis.

“The Story of a Poem” with Poet t.l. sanders on National Writing Project Radio was my poetry prompt for today. His poem, titled “This”, was about four Black women in American history, all with connections to society’s transportation and society’s transformation–Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Rosa Parks, and Maya Angelou. You can watch his poetry reading and invitation to craft a poem here:

See more on Poet t.l. sanders’ website and with others at Ride KC Streetcar who presented this beautiful poem on Storytelling on the Streetcar.

After sharing the story of his own poem, Poet t.l. sanders gave a craft lesson and a half. So much great information! Be sure to listen all the way through to when he describes his craft of using allusion, anaphora, and alliteration. (Three A’s for you to do A-work! he told us. I was able to get two in my poem!) 

In his description of how we can have a go at our poem, he suggested we take the tools of form, structure, and devices that we know and want to use. He also suggested providing an image (I took one from my Instagram account) and choosing a list of homophones and multiple meaning words to play with. (I used book, spring, fall, toes, where/wear, and letters.) He also said sometimes he sticks in a limerick or haiku to change the poem within. (I did that too.) Play was something that came up often in the video so I chose an image from school that included play.

Here is my photo and today’s May Poem.

Tic Tac Toe

“Over there in that blue square, put it there”
Children chatter and play close together
No six feet separate them on the playground back
Before masks muffled our mouths
Before our days were booked with Covid-19
Before our days left our books on shelves
Before–back when parents and children
crowded together
at dismissal time,
Before–back when
the speckled cardboard
letters sent a message of
fun and connection
We once played at Al Raja School
Now such is forbidden–so cruel
We held X’s and O’s
Touched our tic tac toes
But now everything’s been retooled
The painted lines sit untouched
Where we left them on the playground.
Where they do not wear, waiting.
Spring and fall and spring again
Seasons of school coming, going, waiting
With a spring in our step
With a pounce in our positives
Perhaps we will soon have a drop, a fall
With a vault in our vaccines,
Perhaps next spring
we can
jump,
leap
and
play
again.

Are you writing #MayPoems? Please share them here.

6 thoughts on “Tic Tac Toe

  1. Love these rhymes and rhythms, Denise, and the embedded limerick and haiku (well-done!). Most of all, I love the positive message of hope – a ‘pounce in our positives’, in fact, in this utterly fun wordplay on play! Your poem is a delight, even in lament and reflecting on the anaphoric “before-back when”.

    1. Thank you, Fran. Yes, I like reading a pounce in our positives in a positive way. I wrote it because our positive rate is rising here. I like that you noticed that double meaning, and I appreciate your way to read it.

  2. I need to know more about the May Poems! I miss April, too, and I’m just writing on my own blog without any daily inspiration. Your pictures always do such a great job of showing what your poems show and tell in words.

    1. Kim, I’m just discovering prompts for May poems. I’m trying to write one poem a day and posting them with the #MayPoems tag and hashtag on Twitter. You are quite May poems too, I see.

  3. Denise, thank you for all that you posted. I’m always amazed how people get led down the path of the internet. I spend a lot of time with. poetry, but you have so many sites I have not seen and do not know. I appreciate all that you shared.

    Your poem was lovely – and sad. Oh, before. We all miss it! Let’s hope we are back to where we can jump and leap and play again soon!

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