Ethical ELA Open Write – Two Poem Prompts by Tracie McCormick

Golden Shovel for Monday, 19 July 2021

Striking line is from James Taylor’s “Close Your Eyes” – You can sing the song when I’m gone.

My sweet daughters, you
have grown into activist women who can
and will join God to sing
justice over the
brokenness. Singing a new song
to fight injustice for Earth and her children. When
you are old and have left the world better, I’m
going to smile from the long gone.

Villanelle for Tuesday, 20 July 2021

In an opinion piece by Kate Cohen today: “The two numbers that could get people to take the vaccine” at The Washington Post. I found not all, but most of the words and phrases for this poem.

Numbers Tell the Truth: Deaths of Vaxxed vs. Unvaxxed

Life-saving vaccine effective and free
Urging us to avoid it is a powerful campaign
Opposing it, against all reason and morality

“Politicizing [this] is an act of outrage and frankly
moronic,” said Mitt Romney, his repute retained
Life-saving vaccine, effective and free

A running tally of who is dying would decree
the truth of the disinformation as inhumane,
Opposing it, against all reason and morality

Right wing lawmakers and talk-show hosts on a spree
to lie about microchips that will put us in chains
Life-saving vaccine effective and free.

Succeeding to a spectacular degree
is the lethal propaganda created to entertain
Opposing it, against all reason and morality

History-making, world-saving efficacy
Look at the facts; truth will remain
Life-saving vaccine effective and free
Opposing it, against all reason and morality

The final post was by Tracie and Mo: “A Moonlight Experience” I didn’t have much time, so I just wrote a few lines about a full moon I saw in the high desert that woke me up one night. I went outside and walked around thinking it was a cross between sunshine and moonlight. I had never seen such a bright full moon.

ripe as a pumpkin
full moon beams and shines
as bright as serene sunshine

Sharing our Stories Magic – No. 63: regroup

Sharing our Stories Magic #sosmagic

This regroup prompt came out from The Sharing our Stories Magic just after I pressed submit on my very last step in earning a TESOL Advanced Practitioner Certificate. Earning that certificate was a process that should have taken six months, but took me two-and-a-half years thanks to the pandemic and changes in my teaching status. I feel quite free today, and ready to regroup and think about the next big thing. Here is a post I wrote just two weeks ago with my summer to-do items (along with some to-feel items).

Instead of writing about the next big thing, though, I was reminded of a big thing that happened in my childhood. In reading Glenda Funk’s Slice of Life from last Tuesday, I was reminded of my brother-in-law, who helped me regroup after the death of my father when I was seven. Though my father was not very involved in my life, his death was quite a blow to a family of seven, five of them still at home. I wrote a decima, a Spanish poetry form, created by Spanish writer and musician Vicente Espinel. It has 10 lines of 8 syllables each with a rhyme scheme of ABBAACCDDC. It was the Ethical ELA poetry prompt today, hosted by Mo Daley.

Superlative Supporter

Would I have ever played the game?
What would I do after Dad’s death?
Wait for adults to take a breath…
And then: “Let’s play catch,” you exclaimed.
Soon-to-be brother, fanned the flame
My passion for softball began
Every game…you, my greatest fan
Ardent and lavish cheers ensued
While the shells of the seeds you chewed
Piled, like pictures, at your feet

Pictures of playing in the street
Your eager “Yes, let’s!” on repeat.
Giving me the glove of your youth
Did not make me catch like Babe Ruth,
No matter what you said. Upbeat
always in your belief in me,
Credibly, not hyperbole,
You were there to help save my life.
Softball, with its fun and good strife,
Has stayed my love and helped me be.

Poetry Friday: A Surfeit of Poems, Clunkers, and Manavelins

This week I wrote a lot of poems; I was not a student of meter. In fact, what’s meter? I was just cranking out poems. So, Linda, I’m sure I have lots of bad lines for the clunker exchange. Linda Mitchell is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today, and she has lots of “clunker” lines to exchange. Go on over and visit to join in the fun.

It was time for the June Open Write at Ethical ELA. That was fun! I have five days worth of poems from this lovely community of teacher-poets. Days One, Two, Three, Four and Five, if you are interested. Next Open Write will be July 17-21. You are welcome to join us.

There was also Margaret’s “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem,” where I pulled a couple of clunkers for Linda.

I was on the committee to create a keepsake book for our principal and his family who are leaving next week to go back to the United States. I wrote one for each of the family members. These are the pages from the book that I wrote, after I removed the photographs of family, students, and staff, for the sake of privacy.

Perhaps all my reckless poetry writing this week is getting me ready for The Poetry Marathon coming up on Saturday. Are you participating? Here is a link to my page on the Poetry Marathon site and a link to my follow-up blog post.

I did spend some time thinking about Poetry Friday before I got so busy this week. I wrote a definito poem created by Heidi Mordhorst. In Heidi’s words, a definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. Quite a fun way to learn and write about new vocabulary words. You can read lots of great examples here on her definito post.

This isn’t the first definito I’ve written. I tried a definito a few weeks ago at Margaret Simon’s blog when her post was about Rigmarole. Remember? In the comments, she asked us to try one with the word poignant. I tried, but I wasn’t happy with it and as soon as I submitted, I knew I hadn’t defined poignant. I’m trying again today on a brand-new-to-me word: Manavelins, which was one of Dictionary.com’s words of the day last week.

Merriam-Webster defines “manavelins– odds and ends of food LEFTOVERS

Manavelins

When your family’s had a busy week
and dinner plans look bleak, just bits and
smidges of food left in dishes in the fridge–
tofu tetrazzini, a few pieces of beet,
a tub of butter, stale bread of sprouted wheat
a bowl of Gramma’s pasta, some sticky, gooey treats,
a few peaches and some plums, so cold and sweet,
four hard boiled eggs, and just a shred of meat…
then dinner becomes a rehash of this mishmash.
All those leftovers for dinner are manavelins.

And finally, here is one more poem I wrote to read at a 5C class poetry slam, the only grade 5 class I continued to co-teach throughout the school year. I taped it up near my camera, and everyone thought I had memorized it. I’m developing some bad habits with Zoom! (Or at least habits I’ll miss after this Zoom chapter.)

5 C Poetry Slam Poem by Mrs. Denise

 

Have you ever used the word manavelins?
Do you think I captured it in my definito of manavelins?

Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise is the host of Poetry Friday today.

 

Composing from Compost

Anna J. Small Roseboro had the prompt for today at Ethical ELA: Composing from Compost. She asked us to think metaphorically about compost and how we can revisit writing to improve it. “Often what we have written in the past can provide nutrients or seeds for future writing.” I loved this line from her poem: “That even when scared, we still can be light” I added it to my compost for today’s poem.

What fun it was. I felt like a gardener! I went to my own compost bin and dug around old poems I had written. I found a poem I wrote at the end of April 2020, a ode to the #verselove community after writing with them for my first month. It’s the second poem in this post. My Golden Shovel below is made with these lines from that poem:

Your poems are cathartic
for the arctic
sea in me
reminding me of open wounds
yet to be restored when
given your remedy

I also took from the compost and planted an idea from Emily D’s dream poem this week in her lines:

I dream a world healed
where your scars are beauty marks.

Another thing I added was something my Arab friend translated for a speech I was helping her edit: “bouquets of prayers” From what I’ve learned, the Arabic language is filled with beautiful figurative language, poetry, and beautiful images like these. I keep thinking of bouquets of prayers, so you will see it here too.

A Letter to the Open Write Community

Your writing nurtures me. Your
poems bring healing. They
are catalysts of courage and
cathartic for the hurts we have endured.
For bringing hope,
the poems are warmth that thaws the
arctic of my soul, this
sea of iced-over emotions. Investing
in each other takes time, a gift to
me, and mine to you–
reminding me of family.
Me, the one who only wrote for the audience
of my students, but now I am
open to writing in this space and beyond. My
wounds become shared. The scars
yet to become beauty marks, multiplied
to become divided. They will
be claimed as victories, life
restored and filled with joy.
When ideas have dimmed, and I have
given up out of fear, the fragrance of
your poems, these bouquets of prayers, will be the
remedy and light for my heart and pen.

 

June Open Write – Monday, 21 June 2021

We are writing poems at Ethical ELA’s Open Write for June, and I have the privilege of leading the prompts for the first three days. Here is Day 3’s prompt.

Inspiration

Today we are going to choose a mentor poem to help us craft. These mentors can come from anywhere you have read them, but I’d like to encourage you to choose a mentor from a writing community you are a part of–with students, peers, colleagues, or someone here in the Ethical ELA community. For those who have been writing poems with Ethical ELA, I know you have been inspired by fellow teacher-poets in this group. Today I chose a poem by Stacey Joy that struck me. Stacey wrote a sweet and beautiful poem called Love…. I was touched with the beauty and simplicity of her lines of similes. 

Love…

Your love is tender

Enveloping like a patchwork quilt

Deep love like a poem

Sweet love like butter cookies

Golden love like sunshine

An agape kind of love

© Stacey L. Joy, April 24, 2021
Used with permission by the poet. All rights reserved.

Process

Look back in your memory for poems or poets that have touched you from this or other writing communities. Find a mentor you want to use and be inspired.

Ideas:

  1. Write a poem with your mentor’s poem as a guide. Go back to the prompts and poems from Saturday, Sunday, last April or anytime to find a mentor. Choose your own topic and try using their form. 
  2. Try choosing a poem from today’s offerings that inspires you. You will be writing a third-generation inspired poem!
  3. Instead of a full form mentor, choose just one favorite line from another poem and incorporate that into your own poem. 
  4. Use Stacey’s mentor form on your own topic. Here is a form to use for her “Love…” poem. 
  5. Please share a link or information about the mentor poem/poet you found, so we can enjoy your inspiration too.
  6. As usual, feel free to write anything you need to today. 

 

Denise’s Original Poem 

Alcohol…

Your alcohol is wounding

burying our family 

in a wet shroud

Penetrating alcohol like the coyote’s yip-howl

Bountiful alcohol like a wake of vultures at dusk

Choking alcohol like a heart attack

A ravaging kind of alcohol

©Denise Krebs, April 24, 2021

 

Your Turn
Come on over to the Ethical ELA site and join us today. Or add a link to your poem in the comments section.

June Open Write, Sunday, 20 June 2021

This weekend we are writing poems at Ethical ELA’s Open Write for June, and I have the privilege of leading the prompts for the first three days. Here is Day 2’s prompt.

I Dream A World
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

~Langston Hughes

Inspiration 

During the spring, a poem of the day on Poet.org was by Margaret Noodin. She was inspired by Langston Hughes to dream for the world. About the process she said, “With all we’ve lost and learned this past year, and all that remains to be repaired, I thought perhaps we should all sit down and dream harder and more often with more clarity and infinite diversity.” She inspired me to stop and dream awhile. That’s where our poem is going today. 

Margaret Noodin wrote her poem in both Ojibwe and English after Langston Hughes’ “I Dream a World.” Here is the first part of her poem. Do click the link to read or listen to her read her whole poem. 

Nimbawaadaan Akiing / I Dream a World
By Margaret Noodin

Nimbawaadaan akiing
I dream a world

atemagag biinaagami
of clean water

gete-mitigoog
ancient trees

gaye gwekaanimad
and changing winds.
continue…

Process

Today, let’s dream for the world harder, more often, and with more clarity and diversity. I look forward to reading your dreams today. 

Ideas: 

  1. Try a couplet poem in ABCB, like Langston Hughes did. I tried this, using his title phrase and last line of “I Dream a World” for my own poem. 
  2. Use Margaret Noodin’s inspiration by writing in two languages, one line after the other about your dream for the world.
  3. Choose any form you want to experiment with or free verse and write about your infinitely diverse dreams for the world. 
  4. Write whatever is on your heart and mind today.

Original Poem 

I Dream a World
By Denise Krebs
After Langston Hughes

I dream a world where peace
And justice will embrace
A world of hope, a future
Overflowing with grace 
I dream of a world where 
Yielding power prevails
A world where all peoples 
Will prosper, not in travail
A world all gathered with
Flags of peace unfurled
Hope born of love–not hate
Of such I dream, my world!

Your Turn
Come on over to the Ethical ELA site and join us today. Or add a link to your dream poem in the comments section.

June Open Write – Saturday, 19 June 2021

Today begins Ethical ELA’s Open Write for June, and I have the privilege of leading the prompts for the first three days. Here is a link for Day 1’s prompt as well as shared below:

Inspiration
The Hay(na)ku is a 21st century poetic form designed by Eileen R. Tabios, a Filipino-American poet, fiction writer, artist and more. The form, which Tabios first called Filipino Haiku. Eileen describes it in an interesting history of hay(na)ku. Lately I’ve been writing a hay(na)ku each day in my planner after the day, a quick and fun way to recap a memorable event or emotion. I was inspired by Tabios’ Counting Journal described in the history of the hay(na)ku. 

Process

Traditionally, Hay(na)ku have:

  • 3 lines
  • A total of 6 words – 1 in the first, 2 in the second, and 3 in the third
  • No syllable, rhythm, or meter constraints.
  • You can also write reverse hay(na)kus.

Examples of hay(na)ku:
Fruit
Goes bad
When left forgotten

Water
Clean, brilliant
Entices me in

Entrusted with independence
Children sprout
Wings

Think of a topic and write a collection of hay(na)ku to capture the many aspects of your topic. Choose:

  • A season of the year
  • A month of the year
  • A day of the week
  • A holiday or special day in the calendar (Juneteenth, Father’s Day, or whichever day you choose)
  • A family member
  • A pet
  • A particular class at school
  • A favorite book or television series
  • Any topic you would like to explore

As always, feel free to write in any form or topic you need to and want to write today.

My Example

Signs of Friday
By Denise Krebs

Two plates of food with veggies, rice or pasta and salmon.
Two Friday dinners

Islam
Jumu’ah Mubarak
Holiest of days

Church
Together again
Only the young

Salmon
Our treat
Once a week

Dessert
Ice cream
Usually ice cream

Reading
And relaxing
On the loveseat

Walk
The neighborhood
If weather’s bearable

Napping
Extra sleep
Like Sunday afternoons

Reading
poems and
commenting–Poetry Friday!

Your Turn 
Do you want to try hay(na)ku? Come on over to the Ethical ELA site and join us today. Or add your hay(na)ku in the comments section below.

February Open Write

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

It has been a month since I wrote on this blog. That’s the longest I’ve gone without writing a post during this past Covid year. Living with this pandemic has gotten so long and difficult. People are dying and we can’t even have proper funerals. I miss my family, my friends, and my church. There is only so much cooking and Zooming one can do.

This month I started watching The Man in the High Castle, which is a sci-fi, historical fiction, dystopian World War II series on Amazon Prime. My husband stopped watching after two episodes, but I can’t stop myself. Now I’m on Season 4, and I finally understand what it means to binge watch.

Tomorrow Lent starts and I am going to fast from sweets, even karak tea, which is sweet, spicy and milky tea that I love for a treat a couple of mornings a week. Today, Fat Tuesday, I ate a brownie, a cookie, a chocolate bar, and I had a whole pot of karak. I’m trying to decide if I also want to give up The Man in the High Castle, but I’ll probably finish Season 4 instead. I need more praying and being in God’s presence than watching this, though–that’s for sure!

March is coming. I’m excited to try the Slice of Life Story Challenge again. Last year was the first year I successful wrote each day in March for the SOLSC on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Maybe you would like to join us! Sign up here if you haven’t yet.

Also, poetry month is coming, and we have a month of Verse Love over at Ethical ELA. It would be great to see new people there.

We also write five poems a month. Today is the fourth day of the monthly Open Write. Here are my poems for this month:

16 February 2021
Alternate Names (A List) with David Duer

Alternate Names for My Piles

  1. Mightier than Mount Massive
  2. Everything Under the Sun
  3. Paper Snow Drift
  4. Fly Me to the Moon Pile-it
  5. Grim Reaper Lights a Match
  6. Megaphone of Distress
  7. Kafkaesque Quivering Castle
  8. Used to Be the Dining Room Table
  9. On Top and Now Underneath
  10. Just Throw Me Away Already

16 February 2021
Steps to Being (Insert Name) with Rachel Lipp

Steps to Being Denise Krebs

One: Be named Denise, not Lisa Lorraine because of that naughty Lisa in my mom’s scout troop. Wish your name would have been Lisa instead of Denise.

Two: Come to life when rock and roll was just a toddler and trouble was stirred up mostly by people like Elvis.

Three: Learn to be cute at all costs and run fast.

Four: Wear the same pair of blue jeans every day of sixth grade in honor of the first year you didn’t have to wear a dress to school.

Five: Be so angry that you see darkness when you argue with people who don’t deserve your respect.

Six: Let go of the anger and let Grace find you.

Seven: Wait too many years to realize that you and your white ancestors failed to own racism.

Eight: Own it and be better.

Now that I’ve identified these eight steps, they bring up eight or more questions, including who is Denise Krebs anyway?

15 February 2021
Out & Back with Rex Muston

Regrets

She studied geography, a college grad
Young and optimistic, though sad

A master’s in global food security
Was her sincere hope for futurity

She strayed before getting very far
Married, didn’t follow the North Star

She set off on this orbit, adulted a smidge
Now she can’t even manage food in her fridge

14 February 2021
Let’s Meet Somewhere with David Duer

Let’s Meet Somewhere
between Paullina and Orange City
where the odor of hogs occupies every pore
ubiquitous as it is noxious
and the gravel dances behind trucks
until it goes rogue and cracks your windshield

Let’s meet for burgers and fries,
where a veggie burger means
tomatoes, onions, and lettuce on your
all-beef patty with a homemade bun
at the greasy spoon that used to be called the Dug Out
Between the gas pumps out front and the toilet out back,
the one with the cracked mirror, no toilet paper,
a cloth roll for drying your hands that long ago was spent
and didn’t get replaced
and where the calcium deposits are so thick
you could chip them off with a strong fingernail

After lunch we’ll go to the ball park
pride of Granville
home of black soil and an immaculate diamond
and watch our Catholic boys beat the ego out of
the Protestants from down the road,
which has a bigger town and a richer school,
but they don’t know baseball
We’ll eat salty sunflower seeds and spit the shells under the bleachers
We’ll drink lemonade and eat watermelon
and stay for the second game of the double header

We’ll laugh and swear,
spit and eat,
talk and enjoy each other’s company

13 February 2021
Sonnets (Don’t Run Away) with Allison Berryhill

Elizabeth the Integral
Without you, we would be
Less than the whole
Your colleagues and kids
Respect and adore you
Reliable, gentle,
Relentlessly helpful
Consistent, responsive
Instinctively attentive
Keen
Adept
Perceptive
Delightful
Industrious
Compassionate
You’re loyal and sunny
To know you is to love you
And today is your day!
So we say,
“Thank you, God, for Elizabeth!”