Poetry Friday – Poetic Thinking

Today is Poetry Friday and the roundup is over at Karen Edmisten’s clever blog with some autumn love.

I started a new book this week, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. This is a beautiful epic history of the Great Migration of Black people from the U.S. South to American cities over seven decades in the 20th century.

The title was inspired by the following poetic excerpt from Richard Wright’s  memoir, Black Boy, which documents his life from growing up as a boy in the South to migrating to Chicago as a young man and becoming a writer. It has a history of being banned in the United States for several reasons, the most significant of which is for the historical truth it tells from the perspective of someone who lived life as a black child and man in America:

 So, in leaving, I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns, and, perhaps, to bloom . . . And if that miracle ever happened, then I would know that there was yet hope in that southern swamp of despair and violence, that light could emerge even out of the blackest of the southern night. I would know that the South too could overcome its fear, its hate, its cowardice, its heritage of guilt and blood, its burden of anxiety and compulsive cruelty.

Wright, Richard. Black Boy [Seventy-fifth Anniversary Edition]
(pp. 420-421). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

From 1942-1966, Orville Prescott was the chief New York Times book reviewer. After Wright’s autobiography was published in 1945, Prescott wrote: “If enough such books are written, if enough millions of people read them maybe, someday, in the fullness of time, there will be a greater understanding and a more true democracy.”

It’s been 80 years since Prescott’s hope for the fullness of time to come. How many “such books” will be written? How many of those will continue to be banned? When will we “overcome fear, hate and cowardice” as Wright dared to hope?

On a much less significant note, “poetic thinking” was in my poem last week, and it’s in my NCTE presentation next week. I hope to meet you there!

And here is where I’ll be some for some of the other sessions! Do you have any recommendations? Or will you be presenting at any other sessions? I would love to meet you.



F.14 – “Building Networks: Bringing Together Teachers, Researchers, Families, and Communities to Explore, Expand, and Interrogate Writing Instruction” with Sarah Donohue and Margaret Simon and others
H.10 – “Acts of Assemblage: Bringing Art, Science, and History Together in the Storytelling Classroom” with Glenda Funk
I.18 – “Connecting English Language Arts and the Climate Crisis” with Trish Emerson and others

K.19 – “Authors are Real People: Connecting Students to Children’s Book Creators” with Margaret Simon, Sally Donnelly, Mary Lee Hahn, Heidi Mordhorst, Amy Ludwig VanDerWater, Laura Shoven, and Laura Purdie Salas and others.
L.29 – “Relational Poetic Practice: How Poetic Thinking Empowers Teachers to Author Their Own PD” with Sarah Donohue, Mo Daley, Jennifer Guyor Jowett, and me, Denise Krebs
M – 4:00-4:30 – Laura Purdie Salas signing Finding Family



Slice of Life – Bike Riding and NCTE

7 November 2023 TwoWritingTeachers.org

Yesterday, when I was out for a bike ride, I thought I had my slice of life for the week. We were riding up to Eureka Peak, the highest place in Joshua Tree National Park.  It’s only a bit less than ten miles from our house, so we ate a monster cookie and some M&Ms, and got started on our ride (on electric bikes!).  It is a 2000 foot elevation climb, and it was getting cold and we had about an hour of sunlight left. The sand became so thick on this uphill climb, that it was here I had given up. I asked my hubby to take this photo for today’s Slice.

But he started walking his bike and passed me. He discovered the sand became firmer just up ahead, so we walked a ways and then we were able to continue riding. We made it to the top and saw this nice view of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto, two of the most topographically prominent summits of California.

San Gorgonio
San Jacinto

On the way down the mountain, my husband paused for a picture for me. We didn’t get to stay up on top to enjoy the sunset, as we had a long sandy road home while it was still light. When we got to the bottom of Covington Flats and onto our road–just a stone’s throw from our house–I stopped to talk to my husband where we always wait for each other. When I braked, I fell over, bounced off my bike and hit my hip, leg and arm on the ground–fortunately, not seriously. I was able to get up and continue. That is what I’m grateful for today! That I had such a painless reminder of my aging body. I am delighted that we can hike and bike around this place we call home. I may not always be able to, so today I am grateful for the time I do have.

Who else is going to NCTE? It would be great to meet you in person.


Poetry Friday – Renewal

Today is another day to expect joy and hope.  I’ve just been watching a National Writing Project video interview with Stacey Joy and Gholdy Muhammad. It’s making me feel more hopeful. Peace to all of you this day–Spiritual Journey Thursday and Poetry Friday in one.

Reading these times through eyes of empathy
Engaging in poetic thinking, reading, and writing
Noticing God at work in a broken world
Embarking on a new chapter
Watching my kids and six of their friends drive up yesterday
Anticipating joy
Laughing in the midst of tears


Thank you to Fran Haley for hosting at her beautiful blog Lit Bits and Pieces.

Thank you to Buffy Silverman for hosting today and celebrating early-flying flakes.


Slice of Life – Spanish for Breakfast

October 31, 2023 TwoWritingTeachers.org

Last week we found this quaint little coffee shop/restaurant in Palm Desert, D’Coffee Bouteaque. It has a healthy and interesting menu, an amazing selection of coffee and tea drinks, and homey, eclectic decor. Everything is served on a variety of china dishes. We had a sweet server who we really made a connection with, and we knew he would be there today when we were going to be back in town for an appointment. So during the week, I made a plan to speak to our waiter, M, in Spanish this time. I had to look up a few words that I didn’t know because, as I told M, “Por favor, ¿Podemos hablar in español hoy porque quiero mostrar a mi esposo que puedo hacerlo? He was such a good sport, and it was a success. I ordered a chai latte with leche de avena and agave en el lado. He helped me with one of the many mistakes I made, but I forget it already. I think it was at the end of  the sentence above about how to say, “I could do it.”

Anyway, I felt like I am on my way to the next stage of learning Spanish. I will definitely feel more confident next time.

Now, because we have no trick-or-treaters in our rural area, I’m sitting writing this and eating the M&Ms I bought (just in case).

Burrito de desayuno
Una rebanada de tostada con hummus y la aguacate
M brought this over to us with four stamps from this visit and last week’s
The decor is an eyeful everywhere you look!


Poetry Friday – Beast

Oh, my goodness. Is there any goodness?

With the killing and dying in Israel and Gaza, the House of Representatives in disarray, mass shootings daily and now this horrific one in Maine, and an election-denying radical as the new Speaker of the House.  On the other hand, there was a bit of goodness for today–I submitted three poems to Carol L.’s Nature Poetry Anthology, I took a walk around a mountain, and I cleaned my house.

I couldn’t think of anything else to write about for my Inktober “beast” word today than about who was elected in the House. This is a Golden Shovel poem with a striking line from something he said yesterday. “At the end of the day it’s the problem of the human heart, not the weapons…we have to protect the second amendment.”

October 27 – beast

At the End of the Day,
Mike Johnson, that is B.S. It’s
definitely the
guns that are the problem.
As if people of
other nations don’t have the
same worries of human
mental illness and evil heart
condition. But in the U.S. we cannot
resist using the
we’ve stockpiled. We
must stop. We have
to keep and save humanity, to
lift life and protect.
It is well past time to abolish the
gun-worshiped second

More Inktober poems

Today is Poetry Friday, and I’m late, but I came anyway. Thank you, Carol, for hosting and bringing out the bats! 

Slice of Life and October Open Write 2023

October 24, 2023 TwoWritingTeachers.org

I spent so many years of my life overworked and overwhelmed, and now here I am in retirement and I needed more to do. I told my husband today that I wish we could spread retirement out over our careers and enjoy a little boredom, respite, and rejuvenation throughout the years. On that note, I volunteered for the Friends of the Library in our town. They needed someone to figure out how to do email blasts, so I said I could do that. I went to MailChimp (or as the FOL board president has started to call it–ChimpMonkey. I’ve started calling it that too.) It was not difficult to learn, and today I successfully added contacts and sent out different newsletters to each of the four segments of our audience. It was rewarding, and such a treat to have time to sit and work without distractions.

A few pictures of late:

I love an early moonrise.
These berries on this tree were so interesting. Using Lens, I think it is a cypress tree. Do you know?


This week is the Open Write at Ethical ELA is going on this week. Here are the poems I’ve written so far:

October 21, 2023
Found in Artwork with Erica Johnson


La Grande Vitesse–
great swiftness–
is on its toes
This suspect stabile
is a dancer
Even those
who don’t dance
Can walk around it
Walk up to it
Dance with it
Never the same

Found poem from this article
Images of La Grande Vitesse

October 22, 2023
If Your Shoes Could Talk with Tammi Belko

My Boots Are Talking

Hey, we’ve just gotten started–
These desert trails are great.
Hope you don’t grow again
Or we’ll end up in a thrift crate
before we’re properly worn,
just like your last sole mates

The inch I’ve lost in height
has been added to my feet–
An unfortunate birthright

October 23, 2023
The Luc Bat with Wendy Everard

Marshmallows burnt just right
Settled round the fire light—cold backs
Warm fronts, time to relax.
Then looked up, viewed star tracks—chatter
turned to higher matters
Universal star spatter, bright moon
Soul space, Divine commune

October 24, 2023
It’s My Birthday!! All Month with Donnetta Norris

Inspired by “August Moon,” a poem by Emma Lazarus. I used this striking line: “Look! The round-cheeked moon floats high in the glowing August sky.” Her poem reminded me of this moon last August:

Take a Look!
Time for a surprise, for the
calendar has yet to turn round
and this orb, full-cheeked,
is shining again–blue moon
they call it. Super moon floats
above the mountain, lighting high
and low across the sand, just in
time for popcorn on the
porch and the glowing
cozy comfort of this August
evening, falling up into the sky

October 25, 2023
Take a Word for a Walk with Anna Roseboro

Children buried in rubble of war.
Are children only flesh and blood
literally–just children born to bleed
die survive as children no more?
Adopting hatred of elders, children waste
Justice and peace! They’re our children!

Poetry Friday – #WhyIWrite

Today is Poetry Friday and the dancing, nurturing, running Bridget Magee, at Wee Words for Wee Ones, is hosting. (She has a birthday gift for us too.)

Today is also the National Day on Writing, and Day 20 on my Inktober writing small poems in October. Today’s word is frost.

October 20 – frost


As Kafka said, “A book
must be the axe
for the frozen sea
within us.”
A pen then is balm
for the axe wounds
I write to heal
to process
to contemplate
to go deeper
I write to leave
a small mark
I write to thaw
the frost that is left

Tomorrow begins the October Open Write–five days in a row to pick up your healing pen and write poetry witnessed by a nurturing community. Join us at EthicalELA.com


Slice of Life – Sourdough and Sad Thoughts

October 17, 2023 TwoWritingTeachers.org

The news this week is painful. So many questions, so much pain in Israel and Palestine. Pain for the past seven decades, and more pain in the future too. God, please help.

The slices in my life recently seem to include sadness and questions and worry about how to be a better global citizen, but here is a small moment that happened this morning. In 2020, for the first time ever, I made a sourdough starter in Bahrain, along with many other people who were home during the pandemic lockdown.

When I moved back to California, I brought a small bottle of sourdough with me in my carryon. I nurtured it, used it, and gave some to my daughter. Over the year in Minneapolis, she improved my process and products of sourdough bread. Meanwhile in California, inadvertently I let my own sourdough die.

When I came home from my daughter’s last month, I returned with a small jar of sourdough in my carryon. It’s from the same batch I started in 2020. Now it’s healthy again and living in my fridge. This morning I started a loaf of bread.

The sadness is getting into my Inktober poems…

October 15 – dagger
knocked, assaulted, choked, stabbed
dozens of times: mother and son
hate crime, unthinkable escalation
Gaza war exported to Chicago by a
monster of a man who once
built a treehouse

Read more about Wadea Alfayoumi with a gift article from me at Washington Post.

October 16 – angels
when times are oppressive
God’s protective calming cloud
peace in the world

October 17 – demon
Who will
cast out
the demon
of hatred?
How will
anyone be able
to pay for the
What will
bring justice
and peace?

more here