September Open Write 2023

September 16, 2023
Recuerdos de Comida y Amor /
Memories of Food and Love
with Stacey Joy

Gentle, round Abel, so
soft spoken, barely sweating
as he worked in the heat

Hermana, ¿qué pasa?
“Nada, hermano,”
as I munch a tortilla chip

fresh out of the oil
(he’s been frying pounds of
them so patiently)

now I look out my window
and see Joshua’s Perch
up on Abel’s Mountain

and I always think of you,
Hermano

September 17, 2023
There’s a Diamond in my Soup with Stacey Joy

Dear Sister,
You remember all the
food and love showered
on us by generations.
We knew we were
loved by our eating.
I’ve tried to forget many
of these rich delights,
but you make them
over
and
over
and
over
and you don’t let me forget.
You remind me how
delicious they were by bringing
them to me–tastier, I think than
Mom or Grandma made them–
macaroni and cheese,
tamales, lasagna,
chicken pot pie,
cherry cobbler,
lemon pie,
cinnamon rolls,
biscuits…
And today you brought
chicken tortilla casserole
and chile-cheese cornbread.
I try to forget,
I try to forget,
I try…oh, forget it.
Pass the cheese sauce, please.

September 18, 2023
For the Love of Words with Barb Edler

I was six years old
waiting for the mail
Maybe this will be my lucky day!
Sometimes it was, and the
mailman would pull out that
cardboard covered package
that made my heart swell.

Two beginning readers,
this time maybe it was
Hop on Pop and
Are You My Mother?
I couldn’t make out a word,
but I enjoyed the pictures.
I probably knew the letters,
and maybe I had memorized
some words from Dick and Jane
at school (Look, see, come…)
However, these books at home
were magical.

I don’t remember my mama
ever reading books with me, though.
She was busy with seven kids.
Cooking, cleaning, ironing,
knocking new doorway holes
in the wall and remodeling
with a perfectly crafted doorjamb,
as needed. That kind of stuff.

I read books with my sister, though.
When she came home from working
at the telephone company
and/or on Saturdays (I’m not really sure),
she would sit with me and my new books.
She would paint my fingernails and read.
She somehow made the symbols
not so scary,
not so impossibly gibberish.
She taught me how to read.

I often wonder how and why
my mom ever agreed to buy
those books for me.
How could she have afforded them?
Just for me.
They even came with
my name on the box.

I have always treasured the memory.
These books are still favorites.
Every time I see a copy, I smile and remember.
Sixty years ago, and the flood of love and support
come back.

Thank you, Mama.
Thank you, Chris.

September 19, 2023
How to Triumph with Barb Edler

Generations

My grandma was quiet,
fragile, and seemed to lean
on her daughter to provide
strength, muscles, and purpose.

Her daughter, my mom,
of my grandma, but not her

Mom would have loved to study
architecture, but she married instead.
Finished raising her family–five still
in the next when her husband died.

Me, of my mom, but not her

I went to college and finished
even if it took 6.5 years and
ended in a geography degree,
the first B.A. in my family

My daughter, of me, but not me

She just came down the stairs
hair slicked back in a pony donning
a stylish sweater and sweats below
grabs the coffee we brought home
then returns to her home office

She’s a marketing director because
she asked for the title and salary to
match her responsibilities–she makes
things happen, rather than watches

My daughter, of me, but not me

Gradually, the women in our family
become more powerful

September 20, 2023
Barbie You with Glenda Funk

Random Barbie Talk

K: Are you writing a poem today?

D: Yes, about Barbie.

K: Barbie?

D: Yes, Barbie. It’s Glenda’s prompt.
Remember, you sat by her at dinner
in Anaheim? And Ken, who also liked
the movie. He has a Kenough shirt.

K: Yes, sure I remember, but I still don’t
want to see the movie.

D: I never owned a Barbie. I had a Francie
and a Skipper. Skipper was
Barbie’s little sister,
and Francie was like a
young teen with small boobs.
Lori had a Barbie and a Midge,
who had a brown beehive and freckles.
Judi’s friend borrowed Lori’s Barbie and Midge
for a 4-H diorama and never returned them.
That’s one of those unforgivable offenses
of family lore for the Reeds.
My little brother had G.I. Joe. We played
together a lot, and I must say
G.I. Joe was better.

K: Is that why it took so long for
you to fall for me?

D: What?

K: Were you looking for a soldier?

D: He had boots that were easy to
put on and a backpack.

K: I had boots and a backpack.
He also had guns.

D: Oh, I forgot about the guns!
That’s gross.
I liked his wooden foot locker.

Open Write – March 18, 2023

Today at Ethical ELA, Stef is leading us in a provocative discussion about AI use in poetry. Why tech? we are asking over the next three days. You are invited to join us at Ethical ELA Open Write and add your voice to the discussion.

After today’s activity, I am thoroughly befuddled.

Because of all the hype about AI in schools, I was glad to see Stef’s prompt this morning about using an AI tool to help with our poem. It was my first time using ChatGPT. I expected I might be able to get a good start on a poem, get a list of words to use, or some such thing. I didn’t know what to expect.  But yikes! My prompt was “Compose a triolet poem about painting a door jamb”

While it was working

The final poem followed the abaaabab pattern of rhyming and was eight lines long. It made grammatical sense, and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to “turn it in.” No editing, it looks like this:

Painting a door jamb, oh what a chore,
Brush strokes smooth, with care and precision,
Soon the wood will be shining like before,
Painting a door jamb, oh what a chore,
But the effort is worth it, that’s for sure,
To freshen up a home is a noble mission,
Painting a door jamb, oh what a chore,
Brush strokes smooth, with care and precision.

Then I second-guessed my use of the word “jamb.” Did I spell it right? Is that really the door jamb I have to paint today, or is it the door frame? We recently had the door replaced, so after my mini research, I determined that most of the frame needs to be painted. I went back to my FrIeNd? at Chat GPT with a new prompt: “Compose a triolet poem about painting a door frame”

Painting a door frame, a task at hand,
A fresh coat of color, a sight to behold,
The brush strokes glide, so smooth and grand,
Painting a door frame, a task at hand,
Transforming the space, as if it was planned,
A touch of beauty, a story untold,
Painting a door frame, a task at hand,
A fresh coat of color, a sight to behold.

Oh, my word! I thought maybe they would just replace jamb with frame. But no. It’s a whole new poem! Recently I read an eye-opening review of ChatGPT and the use in the classroom by a Slice of Life writer, Lee Ann Spillane at the Portable Teacher blog. There is a site called GPTZero that detects AI use. I added my fully-generated poem to the detector and got this message, “Your text is likely to be written entirely by a human.” OK, that was disconcerting.

Then I tried another idea Lee Ann had given. Add a prompt to ChatGPI: “How likely is it that ChatGPT wrote this poem?” and then cut and paste the poem. So I tried that and got a rather non-committal response:

It is highly likely that ChatGPT wrote this poem, as it is within the capabilities of the AI model to generate creative and original poetry. However, it is also possible that the same poem could have been generated by another language model or human author.

Hmmm…what would ChatGPT say if I asked that about a poem that I wrote all by myself? So, I tried that with the latest poem I wrote for yesterday’s Poetry Friday post:

Our Mourning Doves

This is the doublet of doves,
cooing and pursuing,
who wait for their eggs,
their purpose renewing,
and fly back to their nest
with hope and love brewing.

Oh, I’m heart-broken. Here was the response:

It is also highly likely that ChatGPT wrote this poem, as it is a simple and straightforward piece of verse that falls well within the capabilities of the AI model to generate. However, it is again possible that the same poem could have been created by another language model or human author.

Earlier I had also dared to click on the “Regenerate Response” button:

Painting a door frame, it’s quite a task,
Sandpaper and primer, to prep it right,
Brushing on paint, with steady hand, I bask,
Painting a door frame, it’s quite a task,
The finish will gleam, no need for a mask,
My efforts rewarded, with hues so bright,
Painting a door frame, it’s quite a task,
Sandpaper and primer, to prep it right.

I may be here tomorrow regenerating poems, up to my eyeballs in a poetical existential crisis.

On a positive note, I noticed the poems it created at our Open Write session were always rhyming. I tried to get it to write a poem without rhyming. I asked it to write a poem like Mary Oliver would, then to write in free verse, finally I just wrote “stop rhyming.”

OK. Thanks for that.

Double Golden Shovel – Ethical ELA Open Write

Today’s golden shovel prompt came from the expert–Dr. Kimberly Johnson. Read all about it here, and be sure to watch her video explanation. My inspiration and Martine Luther King, Jr. quote came from an Instagram post today by Ibram X. Kendi.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ibram X. Kendi (@ibramxk)

It is time for a lesson for all us whites.
Is justice and peace better 55 years after he said it?
An unapologetic MLK prophesied. Listen we must.
Aspect 1 is that he was killed for speaking so frankly
of injustice and the complicity of white silence. Let his words be
their healing, our healing. It’s been said,
Sense of racism we all suffer. We all are
of the same truth–no justice, no peace. There’s not
superiority in having different skin color. Putting
that into perspective…is there superiority in
the size shoe you wear? Since 1619 similar
people have tried to justify injustice. A mass
of privilege led to silence and denial. The effort
America has taken to hide in white fears, to
believe whites are more. We need to reeducate.
They need, we need to know 40 acres and a mule would themselves
have been a much more productive effort. Old ideas out,
so we can educate ourselves out of
little and fearful thinking. We can humbly bow to their
to-finally-have-justice lives of color. We can give up fearing, own,
learn, act to take out white supremacy, and bury our ignorance.

Monotetra – Ethical ELA Open Write

Stacey Joy has given us another good prompt today. I wrote my poem based on my word for 2022: Simplify.

Advice for 2022

Note to self: Watch for what astounds
Make the high desert your playground
Let love guide you as hope abounds
Simply resound, simply resound

Curb your buyological urge
Leave Amazon and on love splurge
Let each day thoroughly emerge
Simplify surge, simplify surge

Goodbye clutter. It’s a new year
Make do, create, and have no fear
Do keep your priorities clear
Simplify here, simplify here

I wrote another monotetra in 2020. I’m still praying a miracle will happen and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act will be passed.

John Lewis

Racism’s scars and stains knew he.
Bloodied, unafraid, fighter free
Forging Beloved Community
Gift of esprit, Gift of esprit

The ‘Conscience of Congress’ is right
Which others will take up his fight?
Remain hopeful, not take to flight
Even at night, Even at night

The menace of his later years
Just one more foe he had to clear
Remained unconquered through our tears
Courage not fears, Courage not fears

John Lewis, determined tower
The unbowed master of the hour
Strong, but gentle as a flower
Rest in Power, Rest in Power

For the Love of Lists – Ethical ELA Open Write

Stacey Joy has shared an accessible poetry prompt using lists, inspired by Kwame Alexander’s poem “Ten Reasons Why Fathers Cry at Night.” You can read the whole prompt and Stacey’s mentor poem here at Ethical ELA.

Seven Reasons to Fix That Broken Thing

Because a new one costs more money,
and extra money can be used wisely.
Because it will save space in the landfill,
and the world does not need extra stuff.
Because we can call it retro or antique,
and it suits our dusty homesteader cabin.
Because when it’s finished it will be useful,
and it will make me happy to know I fixed it.
Because it is just like one that I grew up with,
and it reminds me of my grandma.
Because we’re not working right now,
and we have lots more time than we used to.
Because it is rewarding to work with our hands,
even though my hands
are now dry
and cracked
and splintered
from this
wintry
desert.
But that’s another list.

November Ethical ELA Poems

Ethical ELA’s Open Write for November is going on now. You are invited to join in the Open Write. Learn more about it here.

20 November 2021
A Nocturn Poem with Margaret Simon

To those who think our president is a devil:

When you lie down at night,
you know those quiet moments you try
to get comfortable before falling asleep?
But you notice that achy wrist
and the indigestion from tonight’s dessert,
and maybe your knee’s been acting up again…
At those times, do you ever doubt?
Do you ever feel a bit of shame
for worshipping that former
“perfect physical specimen”?

Do you ever wonder
if maybe this one,
who admits to reflux
and isn’t ashamed
to have a colonoscopy,
might really be more legitimate?

21 November 2021
Metaphor Dice Poem with Margaret Simon

Memory is a reluctant drum
and sometimes sporadic,
memories like Dad’s death
are regular beating bass drums
down to my foundation,
other sweet or sad memories
pop up irregularly like a
tiny tom tom,
which is to say
memory is no one’s
metronome.

22 November 2021
See – Think – Wonder with Linda Mitchell

Look at my sea.
I am master of the waves
and their sparkly constellations.
Why do you call me a scarecrow?



23 November 2021
Tricube Poem with Linda Mitchell

Roast chicken
Potatoes
and gravy

Casserole
of green beans
Pumpkin pie

So much good
to savor
Thanksgiving

24 November 2021
Nature Muse with Maureen Ingram

Soon Jackrabbit will bound on legs of spring, cooling ears alight
Soon Quail parents, adorned with topknots, will herd their little ones to safety
Soon Rattlesnake will own the back porch whenever he passes
Soon cunning Coyote will create a trap for bounding Roadrunner
Soon Ants will scurry up and over, in and out, busily taking crumbs home
Soon Hummingbird will flitter around our feeder, showing off her feathers

Later, if we don’t act, all will be quiet in the Mojave Desert

Inktober / Poemtober Small Poems, Week 4+

This week I decided to double my random poetry process. I went to a favorite inspiration post: “141 Ways to Play, Process, Stretch, Express, Disrupt Words and Form” and chose #23-31, without previewing them. Each day I attempted the linked prompts (below) and then also included the Inktober word of the day.

23 October, Saturday

Your surprise party today
did not leak, so you were blessed
with laughter and memories

24 October, Sunday

I am a mending people-pleaser
I don’t mind being an appeaser
but my own wishes are indistinct
May my imprecision become extinct

25 October, Monday – The word was splat, and I wrote about it for Tuesday’s Slice of Life Challenge at this link.

26 October, Tuesday

I miss you and can’t wait to
see you. In the meantime, your
painting helps connect us.

27 October, Wednesday

On her deathbed, my mom
got up again.
With a welcome spark,
she lived longer–
in her wheelchair,
at the dinner table,
with her kids all around.

Later, she said,
“I think it’s time for bed.
The wine’s made me a little tipsy.”

“Good night, Mama.
See you in the morning.”

28 October, Thursday

We’re here!
On the way over,
we made a plan for the day.
First, we’ll build pyramids.
Later we’ll have a pan band.
When it’s lunch time, Coconut
wants to eat crispy carrots.
(He can’t really eat, but I’ll eat them.)
You said we can have pancakes.
May I make my own pirate?
We have to build a zoo
with habitats for all the animals.
Then we’ll decorate gingerbread,
do the Makey Makey piano,
build a tower with the straws
and those yellow connectors.
If our dad comes too soon,
we’ll save some for next week.
OK?

29 October, Friday (A life memory, yes, but not from high school.) 

My mom had worried
when she saw her newborn
with a patch on her eye,
a port wine stain birthmark
I’ve hardly noticed.

30 October, Saturday

That approaching rattler isn’t a worry; it can’t bite and slither
at the same time. My coffee isn’t finished, but I guess I’ll
make a move. Wouldn’t want to find out if his opinion differs.

31 October, Sunday

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
By Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Summary Poem

Too much rain, crabs flooding into the courtyard,
A very old man with enormous wings appears in the mud,
And the new baby has been feverish for days.

Neighbors say the man is an angel coming for the child.
The priest thinks he’s a faker, just a carnival trickster,
But pilgrims come to pay five cents each to get a view.

A woman turned into a spider comes to town, so
Everyone loses interest in the old man angel.
The spider woman is a better storyteller.

The angel continues to live in the chicken coop
Until the hen house collapses, and the angel wanders
like a stray man, here and there, barely staying alive.

Years later, after a vulnerable winter, miraculously
his health improves, and his wings repair.
The angel flaps them clumsily, takes a risk and flies away.


Today is Poetry Friday, and Linda Baie at Teacher Dance, has the round up. She has written two sweet Halloween poems at her “Poetry Friday – Costumes Welcome!” post.

Slice of Life – Can We Change Now?

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 26 October 2021.

I’ve been writing a small poem each day in October using the Inktober prompt for the day. For yesterday’s word, splat, I went to a favorite inspiration post: “141 Ways to Play, Process, Stretch, Express, Disrupt Words and Form”. I randomly chose one from Andy Schoenborn. It was to write a story in 100 one-syllable words, and then add line breaks and enjambment to make a poem to help the reader pause.

Instead of a 100-word story, I wrote a prayer. It breaks my heart each day to see such effort to get school back to “normal”, when some parts of normal weren’t all that great.

A Prayer for School Change

How can things change
so much? We were just fine,
and then we weren’t. Splat,
like a moth that hit
a fast car, school stopped. Now,
we try to pick up
the cracked and rent
bits
and put them back
as they were.
But,
can we just stop
and find a new way?
A fine way to be
in this world.
Please,
Lord, help us give voice
to kids who do not yet
have one. Help us make
rules that just give
life. May the kids be free
to catch a glimpse of
who they can be.
So be it.

On another note, Blooket came through and added Hoor’s name to their computer system: