September and October 2022 – OPEN WRITE

November 23 with Tammi Belko “Color Personality Poems”

I am Orange,
optimistic and friendly
Yes, let’s do it.

I am Orange,
perceptive and nurturing
What do you need?

I am Orange, and
need to practice self-care
OK, I need a break

I am Orange

November 22 with Katrina Morrison “Ekphrastic Poetry”

Dark and pastel petals play
Filaments reach to the light
Your art journey grew that day
Dark and pastel petals play
Some of your future fears allayed
With Mr. Furlong’s keen foresight
Dark and pastel petals play
Filaments reach to the light

November 21 with Kim Johnson “Unphotographed”

Eyes

You were resting with four others
on the bench in the Souq at City Centre,
sitting at various levels,
one on the back of the bench
two on laps,
all looking in one direction
generations of faces,
or eyes, really–
black abayas
draping your bodies,
niqab veiling
your faces

My uncovered face passed by you all.
In my curiosity about this unfamiliar scene
I wanted to remember your striking family,
so as I passed by I filled up my eyes,
and you smiled at me with yours

 

November 20 with Kim Johnson “One-Word Poem”

How Many More Times Will Professor Kevin Nadel Wake Up to Yet Another LGBTQ+ Hate Crime?

#StopKillingUs

Screenshot_20221120_183246_Twitter.jpg
November 19 with Kim Johnson “The Monostitch: One-Line Poem”

NCTE

Old and new friends, free books, and great big ideas

October 19 with Scott McCloskey “(Bad) Advice”

How to Not Deal

Burn all your candles on both ends (at the same time, of course).
Don’t ever stop to journal, write, think, or pray.
Play loud music, while watching a scary movie on Netflix.
If anyone asks how you are–how you really are–don’t tell them.
Or, you can say, “fine” (that’s safe).
Eat the whole package of coconut caramel dreams.
Smoke a pack or two of cigarettes.
Blame others, it’s all their fault anyway.

 

October 18 with Denise Hill “American Sentences”

National Unity Day–it’s a day for standing up to bullies.
What if someone would have stood up to me when I bullied Mark Bailey?
I’ve come far since sixth grade, but tomorrow’s day reminds me of hatred.
How was I so empty and hurting that I wanted to hurt instead?
To attempt to make someone else more emptied and hurting than myself?

October 17 with Carolina López “I’ve Been Writing this Since”

I’ve been writing this since
I was too young to remember
you, with your toddler curls bobbing,
squeezing me with obvious pride.
You were finally a big sister.
And since we slept together in the same
big bed, sharing treats and secrets,
Since I took money from your giant-sized
piggy bank without asking.

I’ve been writing this since
you were a senior who thought
you were too cool for this
pesky freshman, but you told Mom
my bad news and she came to
pick me and my broken heart up
from school that day.

I’ve been writing this since
you cooked Mexican food for our
rehearsal dinner and chili and a
salad bar for our reception, and since
you wouldn’t come out for the family
photo until I got a little bridezilla, saying,
“In 30 years I won’t remember that the
chili was burned, but I’ll see that she
isn’t in the photo.” And you came and
managed to not burn the chili.

I’ve been writing this since you
were in the hospital for a hysterectomy
because of ovarian cancer
before you were able to have any
children of your own. While I had two
and you never did. Since you spoiled
my girls with expensive gifts like Gameboys,
and baked them cakes and took care of
them when I had surgery myself.

I’ve been writing this since that summer
when you told me the house next door
to yours might be for sale and we went to
the county office and wrote a letter to the
nephew of the owner who had died, since
you took care of it all those years we were
overseas, and now since I’ve come to live
here and be your neighbor.

I’ve been writing this since Saturday
when we went garage sale-ing and
filled up your truck with bargains and
treasures and since today when we
tore tiles and dry wall off the
shower walls at the Mountain house,
and I’ll be writing it still tomorrow when
you do your tile artwork and I help.

I’ll be writing this when I’m too old to remember

October 16 with Anna J. Small Roseboro “Living Between Two Worlds”

Peering down the hallway
at dozens of doors
lining both the left and right sides
so many of them bolted shut now

Once I oscillated back and forth
choosing the best possibility
regardless of affiliation
I valued nonpartisanship

Doors I used to seriously consider
are now permanently closed for me
The hallway has gotten so wide
absolutely cavernous really

I find myself on the left side
interested only in those doors
for democracy is under attack
our republic is at stake

Elections and peaceful transfer
of power are foundational
Other issues can wait
We need a blue tsunami

October 15 with Anna J. Small Roseboro “It’s All in the Mind”

The audacity of hope
Helps us cope
When all seems night
Hope holds us

Helps us cope
A smile, a shelter
Hope holds us
Safe in everlasting arms

A smile, a shelter
Unshakable and sure
Safe in everlasting arms
Wait and hope

Unshakable and sure
See the stars
Wait and hope
Sing boundless beauty

See the stars
When all seems night
Sing boundless beauty
The audacity of hope

Open Write “Do You Remember?” 21st of September 2022

Today is the 21st of September. The prompt is “Do You Remember?” with Susan Ahlbrand. Do check it out, and see all the forms she has pointed us to.

And take a moment to listen to Earth, Wind, and Fire singing “September.”

I thought of the 21st of June and wrote a nonet about the birth of my grandson.

Remember the first day of summer?
Just two drove to the hospital
Your dad stayed home with Covid
Breathe, push, rest, repeat. You
arrived, perfectly
untroubled by
viruses,
Babe at
peace

A Slice of Hope

20 September 2022 TwoWritingTeachers.org

This week it is time for Ethical ELA’s Open Write. It’s a five-day poetry writing bonanza. There are always great prompts, classroom-ready for you to glean from. Please join us today and tomorrow, if you are so inclined.  Visit here, all are welcome.

Today’s prompt was “This But Not That” by Susan Ahlbrand. I wrote about Hope, as I often do, like here and here.

Hope
(After some literary friends)

Hope is a thing with feathers
But not a broken-winged bird that cannot fly
Hope is not a feathered frenzy
Dropped in a pot of boiling water

Hope is a tree of life
Taller and fuller; yes, taller than we ever dreamed possible
Not a stunted, stingy, small-minded shrub

Hope is a smile from the depths of cold December
Not filled with regrets—
Not a sea of stories, excuses to drown in

Hope is good and honest and worth the wait
Hope is not a white-washed façade called good

Hope is a shelter of rest and safety
Not a storm without a Captain

Hope is dark night with a sky full of stars
Hope is not bright daylight (when the same stars
are there but unknowable)

Hope is improbable beautiful,
Afraid of nothing
Like a bird that sings and never stops at all

They called to Hope, “This could
have been about anything,
but it’s about hope”

Now there’s a glimmer
A hint of hope


In order of appearance above…

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
― Emily Dickinson

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.
–Langston Hughes

(…of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
e.e.cummings

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’
–Alfred Lord Tennyson

All human wisdom is contained in these words, ‘Wait and Hope.’
–Alexandre Dumas

You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
–Job 11:18

Only in the darkness can you see the stars.
–Martin Luther King

I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.”
–Mary Oliver

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
― Emily Dickinson

September 18-19 Open Write – Writing Poems in Multiple Languages and a Sestina

On Sunday, I hosted the Ethical ELA poetry prompt again. The prompt was using multiple languages in poetry. You can read more here: Multiple Languaged Poem. My sample poems have already been published here: Mi Cuchara Favorita and Into the Door.

Monday’s prompt comes from Wendy Everard: Sestina (and Semi-Sestina). She gives some good advice for how to choose the topic and words, which I did not know about when I wrote my first sestina last year about racism and the other -isms that divide our nation. Today I wrote about remodeling and life.

Remodeling Life

Our home now is full of sawdust
As my sister and I design novel
Remodeling, finding solutions
From found articles. (So, very few checks
Are needed.) Useful creations custom-
Made with each nail pounded.

Before this, I could barely pound
a nail, and now I have left in the dust
that person who had a custom
of letting others do the work. Novel
idea—that, at my age, I can check
my assumptions and create new solutions

Like cutting a hole through a wall, solutions
Like reusing old materials to pound
Out a new piece of cabinetry. Check.
Satisfied in learning new skills, dusting
Off my old goals of creating. A novel
Way to live and be. A new custom.

Remodeling as metaphor, a customer
Of thinking. How can my new solutions
Inform my living and thinking? A novel
Longing as I reach up and pound
Another nail amidst the flying dust.
Remodeling: House? Life? Check.

After almost a life, time to check
Up and check in–what customs
Do I keep? And which go to dust?
Time is limited, the solution:
To let go of fallacies and pound
Every good word into the novel

Life is like a mostly good novel
Each chapter written, a check
Paid for by Grace, pounds
Of grace and goodness, custom-
Fit for each person. A solution
Of spirit and hope and dust.

So, I want to check the progress of the novel
To live not according to custom, but to pound
Good life into the dust; that is, Grace’s solution


I’m so happy that I found my voice when writing poetry. As Irene and Charles say on today’s word: “Words have power.” I have not always been kind and cautious in my use of words. Today I am practicing realizing the power of words.

During each day in the months of August and September, I am responding to a different word from Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. Today’s word is Voice. A small group of people wanting to make the world a better place are reading and responding together. Join us! Visit Common Threads: Patchwork Prose and Verse by Kim Haynes Johnson for more information. Here is the word list I’ll be following for August and September.

September 17 Open Write – Ode to a Childhood Love

Today the Ethical ELA Open Write begins for September. Five days of writing, reading, and commenting on poems. It’s a five-day period each month that so many of us look forward to.

I had the privilege of leading today’s prompt. Because today is both National Play Doh Day and National Cinnamon Raisin Toast Day, I was inspired by those and other things I loved. I wrote this poem about one of those treasures I loved as a child.

Ode to My Cinderella Watch

You were there for me in first grade.
You kept running on and on,
even with all your facial blemishes and bumps.
Your pale pink hands went round and round,
And I learned to carefully wind you up
at the end of the day. Not too much.
I admired you, even though I had no idea how to tell time.
I begged older siblings to help me
buckle the pink strap on my wrist before school.

And later, when I was too old for you,
My mom bought me a replacement band–
A black patent-leather mod hippie watch band.
I rocked that band until you finally stopped.

Now, you sit in my keepsake drawer–
Fifty years later.

 

Read more here at the Ethical ELA site: “Ode to a Childhood Love

Tuesday & Wednesday 23 & 24 August – Open Write

23 August 2022 TwoWritingTeachers.org

Today’s poetry prompt came from Ann Burg at Ethical ELA. It’s called “Poems of Perspective,” and you can read all the details here. Here is my poem of perspective based on our remodeling activities:

Hang on to Me

You call me your favorite tool.
I don’t believe it–
you can’t keep track of me.
I have no legs, so I’m not going
anywhere you didn’t put me.
Most important tool, you say?
Yeah, right! You say, but
I find myself in
every nook and cranny,
every crook and nanny,
places you’re not likely to find me.
Never where you need me.
How about getting some
bigger pockets?

Sincerely,
Your tape measure

Of course, here I am by the coffee
Down here, right where you left me
Oh, yes, you left me on top of the ladder too
Here, on what used to be your desk

Here’s an update on this week’s projects. The electrician has been here, and the wires in the window are not hanging down any longer.

 

Our window to the kitchen is coming along!

Wednesday’s poetry prompt was by Scott McCloskey called “Today Years Old.”

The hour is late and
I haven’t learned much in a
month of Sundays, but
today I may have learned that
you can hammer one nail
53 times before it goes in.

Monday, 22 August 2022 – Transforming Art into Words

Transforming Art into Words was the prompt today by Margaret Simon. She challenged us to use space as we created our poems today, in the form of Dean Rader, “Did You Walk to Oklahoma” written “After Edgar Heap of Birds, “Ocmulgee” (2005).” I enjoyed the process of trying spaces and turn words over. I will come back to this idea and spend more time on it next time.

 

Sunday, 21 August 2022 Open Write – This Photo Wants to be a Poem

Margaret Simon has created the prompt on Ethical ELA today. She posts a regular feature on her blog called “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem.” and today we all wrote about this photo on Ethical ELA.

Her regular feature is open to anyone who would like to participate. Check out Reflections on the Teche each Wednesday.

Here is Margaret’s post on Ethical ELA. 

Photo by Margaret Simon

fuzzy, glowing seed pods
readying for the next generation
held by a green nest of elders