Poetry Friday – Swaps and Sealey

Today is Poetry Friday. Thanks to Linda Baie at TeacherDance for hosting us today. She writes about school starting and a playful poem called “Resistance” about resisting growing up. Sweet.

First up, The Poetry Marathon is coming. 24 poems in 24 hours! Want to try? Learn more about it here and apply by August 28. (Don’t let that word “apply” worry you; if you apply, you will be signed up.)

Next, recently I received two wonderful poetry swap packages in the mail that I wanted to share with you (and with the poets’ permission).

First, Sarah Grace Tuttle and I swapped poetry. These sweet gifts came in the mail.

This beautiful bookmark I’ve used every day since it arrived.

These are all cards made from photos Sarah has taken on her world travels of what she calls “Unexpected Art” — The shoe display is one of my favorites.

This poem made me stop and appreciate the flowers–in real life or as painted on murals. It is a lovely reminder to  s l o w   d o w n.

A Nestling for Sarah
Red Blooms on Breeze
Smell the Slow Down

More on Nestling found poems:  This Poem is a Nest by Irene Latham / Learn more about nestlings on Irene’s handout.)

Next, I swapped poems with Linda Mitchell; she sent this beautiful handcrafted junk journal.
I received this precious junk journal from Linda.

What is a junk journal, you might ask? She explains in her poem:

Some of the ephemera she included:

Another sweet poem about what a prompt can be:

Thanks to the prompts at the Open Write at Ethical ELA this week, there are five more of my poems that wouldn’t have otherwise been birthed. In the process of writing and research, I learned about myself, my style, Emily Dickinson, nineteenth century history, and Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party.” All thanks to prompts that educators shared on the site. Thank you, Linda, for this poem that reminds us of the power of prompts.

Linda told me to use it and “don’t be precious with it.” So, I’m going to do just that and think of her when I hold its sweetness and add my own touches to her artwork.

A Nestling for Linda after “…Junk Journal”
find fun
pages into pages
you make new treasures

Finally, here are Sealey Challenge books I read this week, along with a found nestling poem from each of my favorite passages.

August 18They Call Me Güero, A Border Kid’s Poems by David Bowles

My nestling from a portion of “Ms. Wong & the Rabbit” in They Call Me Güero

Language has night birds
viewing world poetry
floating in the sky

August 19I’m the Big One Now! Poems about Growing Up by Marilyn Singer

My Big One Now! Nestling

big-sprays castle
doesn’t show how far
you imagine
that wide world

August 20It’s Not Magic Poems by Jon Sands (Selected and Foreword by Richard Blanco)

First two of five stanzas of “Decoded”

My nestling (based on words found in all five stanzas of “Decoded” by Jon Sands)

August 21Underneath My Bed List Poems by Brian P. Cleary

My Nestling of Hopes after Brian P. Cleary

  • Box electric
  • X-ray-sized breath
  • Fluorescent cheese that does world peace

August 22The World Began with Yes Poems by Erica Jong

My Nestling after “From the Danish Poet” by Erica Jong
still writing
Poet herself
still love
not death-breath
for-edge see clearly
with desire

August 23 Nervous System Poems by Rosalie Moffett

This was a difficult (and touching) read. Rosalie Moffett’s mother was a scientist and fell at the beach while studying snails. She had a  traumatic brain injury, and Moffett’s relationship with her sick mother is the backdrop of this book of poems. One quote on page 42 shows the complicated nature of their connection after her accident: “The mother I know is the mother who hit her head or who suffers from something that’ll come for me.” The following is a passage from one of my favorite pages:

My Nestling from two stanzas on page 51

beauty enormous
make a difference
ones I love

August 24The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Nestling of the Undefeated MLK, Jr. 

Unlimited dreamer-doers

who show majestic

promised land


Slice of Life – A Great Book with Remnants of a Hurricane

August 22, 2023 TwoWritingTeachers.org

Lakshmi Bhat at her blog, Mukhamani, recently shared how during a busy time she made time to finish reading a novel. About The Covenant of Water, by Abraham Verghese, she said, “It is one of the best books I have read in recent times.” I wanted a book  that I could say the same about, so right away I went to my Libby app and was able to check out the audio book. The 30-hour novel was narrated by the author, who had amazing voices for all his characters–English in all kinds of dialects–Scottish, British, Indian. Some Malayalam too, and probably other languages (I forget). From the beginning, his wonderful voice kept me enthralled, and then I started falling in love with a young bride named Mariamma and her patient and kind husband; and in Part 2, at first I was disappointed to leave the couple in Kerala, but when the story moved to Scotland, I quickly fell in love with a new character, an aspiring surgeon named Digby.

Taking time to listen to the story each day during the last two weeks was a highlight. I would highly recommend The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese. As Oprah said when she chose it for her book club book, “One of the best books I’ve read in my entire life. It’s epic. It’s transportive . . . It was unputdownable!”

I finished the book on Saturday, which was also the day we started watching for Hurricane Hilary (or tropical storm Hilary). She was coming through our area with predictions of  up to six inches of rain. (Our annual total rainfall is about eight inches.) We had some thunder, lightning, and showers on Friday evening, then a bit more on Saturday and Sunday morning. We expected it to be crazy winds and rains; I don’t know why we kept watching for it earlier than they said (which was Sunday afternoon), but we did. It was so long in waiting for it, that we began to think it was not going be so bad.

But by Sunday afternoon, just on schedule, the rain poured, and the wind finally blew. (We had battened down the hatches, shored up our little tree, and put everything away that would have blown to the next town.)  We lost power for a while. Then we went to bed and slept. The storm passed sometime in the night, and Monday morning was sunny. We had a total of four inches of rain over the weekend. It was quite uneventful, but thankfully the weather service prepared us and we followed the advice and stayed home so we didn’t get in on the flash flooding roads.

Schools were closed on Monday, as there were many roads closed. We took a bike ride later on Monday afternoon. On our bike ride, we saw just one uprooted tree, and lots of sand and dirt covered roads. There wasn’t as much damage in our area as there was in the lower desert, like Palm Springs.

This is where our dirt road joins the highway. The loose sand is usually so thick there at the opening, but this time a lot of it washed across the highway.
This is across the highway, the same road, but it’s paved on this side (under that sand).
Here is some of the sand that was removed from the paved road and pushed off to the side. (Here we use our plows for sand rather than snow.)
This is our dirt road farther up and closer to our house. The dirt roads become rivers during storms and leave us to drive on the dry riverbeds.




August 2023 Open Write

August 19, 2023
Hands with Denise Krebs

Pre- and Post-Retirement Hands

Yesterday’s hands
Shuffle 53 papers (3 haven’t turned theirs in yet)
Pour cold cereal for dinner again
Pump air as they move rapidly to my next class
Take notes in meetings (sometimes one after another)
Key boatloads of emails (while poetry sinks before starting)
Grade and record assignments (regardless of what I really believe about grading)
Strive to stay human to nurture connections with my students
Yesterday’s hands sacrifice in the name of indispensability
They always keep moving, spinning plates that threaten to drop
Yesterday’s hands produce, juggle, contribute, spill, repeat…

Today’s hands,
Today’s hands
Hold a cup of tea, patiently
pausing as I watch the leaves steep.
Steeping is a slow word
and today’s hands take time.
Today’s hands pause the book and wait
while that idea steeps deep inside.
Today’s hands crochet a baby’s toy,
turn to the next page in their daily poetry book,
and make seedy peanut butter sandwiches for the birds.
Today’s hands hold, thrive, create, make, wonder.

August 20, 2023
Nestlings: Hidden Poems with Gayle Sands

A found poem from “Decoded” by Jon Sands:Decoded White Fear You \ silence: take \ lose your \ the emptiness \ moon. & danger– \ Blood undress \ white your \ reached skin \ for the reality. \ gun. repeat \ Black lawlessness \ reality. Nestling poem after “Decoded” by Jon Sands

August 21, 2023
Ode to a Poet with Wendy Everard

Oh, Emily Elizabeth — Quiet and Elusive
Did you want her to burn everything?
The 1,800 – Poems – we now enjoy?
Hills, Sundowns, and Carlo made you Sing

As — Nervous Prostration — kept you Home
to Bake and Garden and tend the ill.
When your mother finally joined the Dyings
“Home is so far from Home” you distilled

your raw emotions. What would you think
About this Home today? Would you be upset
To see Thousands of volumes opining on you
Or your Wikipedia page on the Internet

Goodbye! Dear Somebody!
They’ve advertised, you know.
But under the field of buttercups
You can keep your sweet repose

August 22, 2023
Embodying Art with Scott McCloskey


In 1881, a lot happened—like,
Tunisia became our French protectorate.
And the Statue of Liberty got its first rivet.
And Hubertine Auclert started La Citoyenne because, yes,
of course, women are French citizens,
and we should have the vote.

And we posed for Pierre-Auguste outside of Paris.
In the U.S. in 1881, the President was shot and later died.
Barnum and Bailey joined forces, and
Booker T. started Tuskegee Institute.

And we sat at the Maison Fournaise Restaurant
holding still, pretending to party.
Do you see our smiles and the
eyes we’re making at those men?
It’s all staged.
In my line of sight I had to watch Aline eyeing that little pup.
She never tired of kissing him right on the nose.
And he may have licked her too.
That boor, Charles, thought he was all that.
I was sitting behind him,
but I could hear every word of his pompous talk.
I couldn’t get my wine glass full often enough.
I had to hold it up for hours, it seemed.
At least the wine was real.
And we never even went out on the boat.
And don’t get me started on the fact that
a “luncheon” should have more to it
than grapes and wine.

The next year Pierre sold our painting,
without so much as asking our permission.
Years later he married dog breath Aline.

And now we’re all helter-skelter,
spending most every one of our hours
in a triangular box in the game cupboard.
How absurd.

Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir 
Ellen still drinking her wine

August 23, 2023
Self-Perception: Concrete Poetry with Ashlyn O’Rourke

I don’t think anyone sees me as focused and single-minded, steadfast…wait…I want to visit Zumbo, the talking dog, where can I find him…Maybe in this pile of library books here. Oh, this one is short, I’ll read it now and think about my poem later. The author is fascinating. Look, she had all these famous musicians in her home when she grew up. Now she’s a professor. No, actually, Wikipedia says she died in 2018. Do you think that bridge is going out and will make it impossible to get to your doctor appointment on Friday? Maybe I’ll work on this blog post for Friday. Those bikes are looking ready for a ride on this unseasonably cool day. First some Grape-Nuts. Then a game of Bananagrams. Yes, no one sees me as focused-single-minded. But I do play all the games.

Poetry Friday – Sealey Challenge Update

It’s Poetry Friday. Molly at “Nix the Comfort Zone” is hosting today. She shares photos of Maine and a gorgeous bouquet of haiku in celebration of the nature of summer.

Here are the poetry books I read this week:

August 11, 2023The Land of Counterpane by Robert Louis Stevenson

August 12, 2023One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Dinosaur Dance! and dozens more board books of poetry and prose that my baby grandson sat and listened to. Or sometimes crawled around while I finished.

“Tiny little dino goes deedly dee.” So cute!

August 13, 2023What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer – This is a wonderful anthology in three parts (dating, marriage, and children). Kate is beautiful and brutal in her honesty. It was a gift of poetry from my daughter. Follow Kate at @KateJBaer (If you haven’t heard of her, you won’t be disappointed.)

I found these A. A. Milne books at a  library sale, and realized I hadn’t read them for decades, so they were two of my books this week.

August 14, 2023When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne

August 15, 2023Now We are Six by A.A. Milne

Look at those sweet dirty knees! Milo helped me keep on track this week in the Sealey Challenge.

August 16, 2023E. E. Cummings Selected Poems edited by Richard S. Kennedy.

I love this children’s rhyme. Be sure to read it aloud.

August 17, 2023Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Oh, my. I missed this beauty when it was published in 2010. It’s really a long found poem, created from the author’s favorite book of all time: A short story collection called The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz. The Author’s Afterword is fascinating and heartbreaking, and I cannot do it justice in summary here. Suffice it to say, the story of this book includes the Holocaust, the Wailing Wall, along with Schulz’s senseless killing and most of his creative work being lost during the war. In the Afterword, Foer writes: “At times I felt that I was making a gravestone rubbing of The Streets of Crocodiles, and at times I was transcribing a dream that The Streets of Crocodiles might have had.”

Here are two pages transcribed, which I think show the typical  poetic gems in  this book:

The earth was covered
with a tablecloth of winter
The hours of darkness
hardened with boredom
One cut them with blunt knives

August has passed,
and yet summer continues
by force to grow days.
They sprout secretly
between the chapters
of the year,
covertly included
between its pages.

For one who can’t imagine how the book was designed, like me, Tree of Codes is a feat of paper engineering magic.


August’s Ethical ELA Open Write begins this weekend. I will be hosting on Saturday, so I hope you’ll come and check out the prompt and join us with a draft of your own to share.

Slice of Life – If I Could Talk More

August 15, 2023 TwoWritingTeachers.org

An hour in the life of my 13-month-old grand baby this afternoon–

If I Could Talk More

I’d tell you that, yes,
I do want to play ball, and
after that, I want to drop the toy
forks and knives into the narrow slots
on the kitchen set and then I want to throw
balls out of the ball pit. Pick me up now, please,
and take me outside on the swing and don’t
forget to let me scratch off the lichen
from the patio light fixture. I won’t
eat it this time. Then I’d like
to crawl around your bed
again and laugh as
you try to keep me from
going too close to the edge.
Do you want to see how fast I can
crawl? You know, sneezes are about the
funniest thing I ever heard, whether it’s me,
you, or my parents sneezing. What is that funny
noise? I don’t eat that stuff anymore. Now I
just like to eat fruit. I want to listen to
that book you are reading, but I’d rather
move during story time. I like those
times before bedtime when I drink
milk from a bottle. It reminds
me of when I was a baby.
I might be getting
sleepy, Grammy.

Milo is helping me with the Sealy Challenge

Poetry Friday – So Much Poetry Goodness

Today is Poetry Friday, and the roundup is happening over at The Opposite of Indifference blog with Tabatha Yeatts hosting. She shares a funny poem “Prof of Profs.”

Look what I got from Australia! Thank you Kat Apel for this beauty. Look at that cactusy font she used, and I love the metaphors throughout. “Remember your soft centre / is sweet and refreshing, so… / Grow your heart!” is my favorite.

Kat also shared other poems about cactus and this, my favorite, about the arid land in her Queensland. It reads like it came from a blockbuster musical filmed out on the bush. I so love the form she used in this poem, which is an echo of “On Kiley’s Run” by Banjo Paterson. I’m sharing the first stanza below. Do read the rest of the poem here.

This Land
By Kathryn Apel

Horizons stretch forever ’cross
This sunburnt land.
The shimmer of a heatwave’s gloss
That melds with parched and tufted grass,
As hot winds blow and dust storms pass,
While brittle, yellow tumbleweed
Is swept along with careless heed
Across the land.


Thank you, Kat, for sending
your beauty across the world
landing in my heart

On Wednesday, I went to the virtual book launch that Patricia told us about in July. Earlier, on Poetry Friday she shared the poem, “The Big Box of Books”, she wrote during a Mindful Poetry Moment; it is one of two of Patricia’s poems included in the anthology. I had first learned about the Mindful Poetry group from Patricia last February on this post. In April I got busy with other poetry opportunities, and I didn’t participate in any of the activities. However, after spending some time with these mindful poets on Wednesday, I will definitely check out The Well for April 2024.

Patricia reading one of her poems at the Mindful Poetry Book Launch

My Sealey Challenge Update (with some photos of favorite poems)

August 4 – Where the Deer Are by Kate Barnes (a gift from Linda Baie)

I love this poem by Kate Barnes “In the Pasture”

August 5 – Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me and You by Lin-Manuel Miranda

From Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manuel Miranda

August 6 – Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney and (ill.) Brian Pinkney

From Martin Rising by Andrea David Pinkney

August 7 – I Offer My Heart as a Target by Johanny Vazquez Paz

From I Offer My Heart as a Target by Johanny Vazquez Paz

August 8 – Keep a Pocket in Your Poems, Classic Poems & Playful Parodies by J. Patrick Lewis

Keep a Pocket in Your Poems, Classic Poems & Playful Parodies by J. Patrick Lewis

August 9 – No Matter by Jana Prikryl – I had no favorites in this one. It was a tough read. I didn’t like it.
August 10 – The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy

Books for next week and beyond

Peace to all those in Maui. How awful to be on an island with the devastating fires. Praying for all. Here is the organization President Obama shared if you want to help: Hawaii Community Foundation

Slice of Life – Changes at Hadley

August 8, 2023 TwoWritingTeachers.org

After watching our niece play one of Ariel’s mer sisters in The Little Mermaid at The Old Town Temecula Theater on Sunday (it was precious, by the way), we drove home on Monday.

About 45 minutes from home, we decided we needed a break and stopped at Hadley Fruit Orchards in Banning, California. As a child visiting grandma, we made a regular stop here to buy all our raisins, walnuts, almonds, dried apricots–all things fruit and nuts. This is the old building, still on the premises:

Today, Hadley is owned by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and is located in a new building next to the old one. My grandma used to live on the other side of the highway, within walking distance.

Imagine the scene below without Chipotle, or the parking lot, or the landscaping, or the skyscraper casino. (Or the outlet malls behind me.) That’s what it looked like when I was young. Yesterday I wondered what it would be like if my grandma could be here and see all the changes. That is always fascinating to me to imagine changes over generations.

The inside has changed a lot too. There are still plenty of dried fruits and nuts, but there are also every imaginable snack food and drink and candy and souvenir and so much more. I wanted to buy a dozen different things, but instead…

I just bought a date shake. Everyone needs a date shake when they go to Hadley.

Poetry Friday – Poetry in Photos

It’s Poetry Friday, and the round-up is over at Mary Lee Hahn’s, where she shares the names of some of her beautiful neighbors.

It’s time for summer poetry swapping with Poetry Friday friends. What wonderful fun to participate! I received a package from Carol Labuzzetta with so many fun features.

Thank you, my apple orchard friend,
Cultivating love and hope for learners
at your blog and in the world. Thank you.

Carol sent these sweet photo cards, poems, bookmarks with so much love!

The next poetry swap was with Linda Baie. Another touching and love-filled gift arrived. Here are some photos:

She wrote a poem based on my summer travels
Photos of me during special times this summer
A sweet book of poems, one for the Sealey Challenge this month.
A bookmark
A thank you poem for Linda, made with some words she sent in a decorated box.
One pile of books for the Sealey Challenge this month

Sealey Challenge update:
Day 1: Grandparent Poems, compiled by John Micklos, Jr.
Day 2: Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
Day 3: Animal Ark, photos by Joel Sartorel, and words by Kwame Alexander (with two images below)

Such beautiful photos in this book, published by National Geographic
Kwame Alexander’s words really add to the beauty of this book, Animal Ark.