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.

 

Pacific Ocean and the Summer Solstice

Margaret Simon’s regular feature “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem” is published each Wednesday. Today’s offering is this beautiful photo by Kim Douillard. I wrote a tanka.

Swell, breathe, spill, repeat
Summer solstice salty spray
Rhythmic, routine play
Sunshine kisses on sea brows
Cooling fresh on a hot day

 

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A post shared by kd0602 (@kd0602)

Dodoitsu for “This Photo”

Today is the day Margaret Simon posts a photo each week for “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem.” Today, I also read Carol Varsalona’s Slice of Life post with flower wreaths and bringing nature inside. She wrote a dodoitsu on that post, as well. I read Donnetta Norris’s Poetry Friday post with two dodoitsu poems. I tried one here with this photo giving me the inspiration:

 

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A post shared by Bonne Terre 🌎 (@bonneterrela)

I appreciate the beautiful photos Margaret shares–sometimes her own and something from friends with beautiful Instagram accounts to follow. I had never noticed elderflowers before, even though I grew up in southern California, where I read that they grow. Margaret’s poem taught about the medicinal value of the elderflower. I went to do a little more research on these beautiful flowers. I learned that Meghan and Harry had a lemon and elderflower wedding cake. I tried a dodoitsu, which is a four-line poem, no meter or rhyme constraints, with a syllable count of 7-7-7-5, and the poem can be about love or work with a comical twist. (Oops, I hope you don’t think my last line is funny.)

Elderflowers like snowflakes
What will each bud grow to be?
Spirits for a new pastry?
Stem to grace a grave?

Thoughts on Poetry Friday

This week I’ve been struck by all the small images, memories, and moments that inspire poetry for me and others. In “Supple Cord,” Naomi Shihab Nye remembered and shared this sweet childhood ritual linking her with her brother.

Supple Cord

My brother, in his small white bed,
held one end.
I tugged the other
to signal I was still awake.
continued

Margaret Simon is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. I have been inspired to write beside Margaret many times over  the past year. Inspired here by “Zen Tree” and here by “Peep Eye”, and so many times at Ethical ELA, like here and here for two. I will be going back to her “Today’s Poem” again for inspiration, the poem that “gazes beyond the trees imagining…”

Margaret‘s “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem” has been a fun challenge and further inspiration for me lately. On Wednesdays, Margaret posts a photo, and others write a small collection of poems about one image–each always unique, with rich imagery that goes deep into the photo. Each person interprets and sees something beautiful. This week the image was of a bird’s nest in the garden at Margaret’s school. I was impressed with her student, Kaia, who wrote a letter to the superintendent to get improvements made in the garden for next year. Thank you, Margaret, for encouraging Kaia’s voice! I don’t think there is much more important work teachers do than making space for children to recognize, develop, and use their voice.  (Of course, I do acknowledge that teaching history, civics, reading and critical thinking skills to know how to use that voice is vital, as well.) Here’s the poem I wrote copy-pasted here. It wasn’t about the bird nest photo, but about Kaia and Ms. Simon who assessed the garden after a long dormant Covid season.

Kaia’s voice

A voice can be
a power displayer
a truth conveyer
a path lighter
a garden inviter
a hardship remover
a world improver
Your voice can be

In addition, I wrote a sestina this week inspired by Liz’s post last Friday. Afterwards, I was searching for different poetry form generators. This one is the best I found for the sestina; it’s by Rena Mosteirin, which comes compete with the code. Here are two more good poetry form generators for Pantoum and Villanelle.

Speaking of generators: I ran across this interesting Poem Generator, so I gave it a try. It’s like writing a Mad Lib poem. The first time I wrote silly things with answers that came to me as soon as I saw the prompt, as they suggested. The second time I tried it with words that made me think of peace.  I actually thought the second one sounded like a bit poetic.

Rorschach Poem

creep home
know Houlihan’s to try sunny late afternoon
ceiling fan getting dark
an owl is deep wide

I would go home if I am without gasoline

somebody a cowboy
stalking you.

Peace in Knowing

whisper home
live for wide sky to sip sweet dawn
heavens shining
a dove is slow and deep

Bring peace if I need a hand

somebody helper
reaching you.

Here is an invitation for you to write poetry with the Ethical ELA community. On June 13 there will be an introductory meeting for anyone who wants to learn more, and an open mic/writing hour afterwards. Click on the images below for more information. June’s Ethical ELA Open Write will be June 19-23 this month.

Today’s Poetry Friday post is hosted by Margaret Simon over at Reflections on the Teche.

Today’s Poem of a Photo

Today’s inspiration came from Margaret Simon’s “This Photo Wants to Be A Poem.” Margaret shared this Instagram photo by Hope Dublin:

 

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A post shared by @hopesview2021

Our final rest is
elsewhere, but
among the dandelions
and wanderers
you are welcome,
where lichen
makes its home
on our headstones.
Sit here with them a while.
Read your magic, but also
study their history.
Listen to their hush.
They have stories to tell.

This Photo Wants to Be Poem

Lately I’m enjoying writing #PoemsofPresence with Margaret Simon and others on her Wednesday posts called “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem.” I anxiously wait for Wednesday morning, Eastern time in the U.S., which is afternoon for me. Today’s post has this picture of a dragonfly taken by teacher Lory Landry. You are invited to go and add your own poem!

 

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A post shared by Lory Frioux Landry (@loryla63)

In my Blackjack poem with 7-7-7 syllables, or also called a septercet, I imagine the dragonfly is on a hunt for its next meal.

Caution-tape tail gives warning
Skeletal wings bowed in wait
Eyes focused on its supper

A Month of Poetry 2021

Day 30 – Congratulations! with Jairus, Christine and Josie

Incendiary Introspection: Musings of Her Anger

Inflammable
Passion, fierce and spirited
Detonator of dynamite
Skipping stones across silent waters
On the mark
My combustible kindling
Looks to ignite.
Peers into conversations,
Dumpsters, everywhere–
Ready with a lit match,
Fierce and fiery,
Burning through
the mundane,
the righteous
and the idiot
with equal flare and fervor

“Where’s my speaker cord, Denise?”
“How should I know? Why are you asking me?”

I need to speak to Denise
and remind her
Of my power to explode, inflame
and burn through relationships.
I should remind her that she hopes for
Passion, fierce and spirited
against intolerance and evil.
Detonator of dynamite
Skipping stones across the silent waters of apathy
How she’s proud when
the flames are harnessed and
accountability and justice occur,
When rights are wronged, and
Unfair rules are reimagined
But then she lights my fire
with random hot-tempered explosions
against her loved ones

I am the one who happily and
promiscuously throws
my flames with aimless abandon.
But she longs for more
precision in pelting
profuse pyrotechnics
at inexcusable injustices.

Day 29 – Environmental Voices Poems with Susie Morice

This is a Golden Shovel poem using part of this quote from Samuel Hall Young, who attributes it to John Muir in his book: Alaska Days with John Muir, chapter 7:237 (1915)Keep close to Nature’s heart, yourself; and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean from the earth-stains of this sordid, gold seeking crowd in God’s pure air. It will help you in your efforts to bring to these men something better than gold. Don’t lose your freedom and your love of the Earth as God made it.”

What we keep
Is revealed in our close
Connections to
Our blessed oasis. Nature’s
Sacrifice, the whisper of her heart…
Calculates her capacity to carry on. She shivers–Wash
The carbon off your
Knife blade, murderer. Your spirit
must be clean.

Day 28 – How to Say It with Katie Turner

Coat hanger sculpture covered with painted canvas. One side with a starry sky and the other side with a sunflower
Katie’s Sculpture

A Letter to Katie from Her Artwork

Thank you for creating me back when seventh grade was a terror and you were quietly ready to fly back to Arizona where your parents had pulled you away from the only home you remembered. When you created me, sunflowers were shining in your center even if not in your circumstances yet.

You bent that hanger that used to hold your hoodie into one giant ear of understanding for the outcasts, the voiceless, and the refugees–all of us who longed to be counted, even if among the dusty.

Then you covered me with your mom’s pantyhose (of all things) and took away my shame by quickly brushing each square inch with a chromatic makeover right out of southern France. You, whose mother demanded to know why your seventh grade report cards were sprinkled with Cs, painted me with a swirling and dancing starry sky. The cypresses mourned the pitfalls of your unsure future. But paired with those uncertainties of the night was a sun of hope right in the curve of my listening ear. It said everything about what you held dear, what you longed for and believed in: a future.

You, who were to stay and keep learning and growing here in this provincial town.

You, who would keep growing a lifetime of compassionate love and  justice.

You, who make the world a better place as an activist, artist, and writer.

You, who would practice your French and independence by working  on an organic farm in Normandy, sleeping in a barn bedroom, bravely sharing your walls with scritch-scratching farm mice.

You, who moved from Iowa to Illinois to Missouri to Minnesota, while your parents were 7,000 miles away.

You, who have crossed fluctuant oceans and come back again and again to love.

You, who this very weekend with Thomas will go back to the town where you painted me.

Back to the birth place of your dearest friend since seventh grade, for whom you will have a baby shower.

Back to this dear friend who introduced you to her college friend, Thomas.

Day 27 – Secret Connoisseur with Karen Workun

A Fresh Fruit Atlas

Fruits from every land
Fill ships passing through
the Strait of Hormuz,
Destined for our produce stands.
I am a fresh fruit connoisseur.
Covered with playful filaments, the red rambutan
Nestles a smooth and sweet pearly gift from Thailand.
The Fuji apple from China, the size of a softball,
Is as sweet and crisp as a new day.
The tough rich purple of the mangosteen
Opens to show its flowery frosted petals from Indonesia.
Succulent neon navel naranja from Spain
is like opening my Christmas stocking every day.
Mangos from all over the world,
but the ones from Egypt win–
Green and dully camouflaged,
Creamy texture, color of marmalade
luscious and honeyed sweetness within.
The Elaichi banana from Kerala
Fits in the palm of my hand
and tastes like a firm bite of Eden.
The golden kiwi from Italy is like joyful sunshine.
Syrupy sweet melon from Iran,
the dripping juice as sticky as honey.
Yellow Rosemary pear from South Africa,
Delicate white peach from Jordan
Long juicy grapes from India,
Tart, sweet pineapple from the Philippines,
I could go on and on.
I am a fresh fruit connoisseur.

Day 26 – Who Do I Want to Become with Hanna Al-Jibouri

Who I Want to Become

Remnant of hope
pieced together with creation
Dispensing
experiences of love
and doing my best

Compiler of circumstances
Quietly reflective
Without fluster or flurry

Unsnarling the mess I’ve made
of my nest and rebuilding,
disseminating love and hope

Hope giver from the remnant left

Day 25 – The Labels That I Wear with Ellen Stackable

Poor
Angry
Much Afraid
Patch Eye, Pirate
Skinny, Tomboy, Boy
Liar, Reeder’s Digest
Critical, spiteful, ashamed
Self-conscious, inferior, weak
Labels glued on by me and others
Peeled off and traded, God’s grace at work
Denny, friend, youngest sister, daughter
Aunt, softball player, creator
College graduate, teacher
Chief learner, intimate, free
Courageous, powerful
Christian, wife, mother
Storyteller
Curious
Loving
Loved

Day 24 – Snapshots in Time with Susan Ahlbrand

Sisters
A Villanelle

Can we snap a picture, one asked?
Sisters by marriage, by choice, by birth
Hopes for tomorrow, hurts from the past.

Together again at long glad last
Unperceived by the world, our joy on earth.
Can we snap a picture? one asked.

Memories of broken promises recast.
Forgetting behind for this day’s worth
Hopes for tomorrow, hurts from the past.

My eldest’s wedding stole in, too fast
(Just yesterday it was when I gave birth.)
Can we snap a picture, one asked?

These sisters all came, in love unsurpassed.
Unafraid of the pain we may unearth.
Hopes for tomorrow, hurts from the past.

Love and forgiveness, newness amassed.
Put aside sadness and pain; choose mirth.
Can we snap a picture, one asked?
Hopes for tomorrow, hurts from the past.

Day 23 – Perspective Poem with Garin, Sarah, and Noah from OSU

Inspired by a quote in this poem Homesick: A Plea for our Planet
“How do we not mold our hearts after the first spruce tree who raised her hand and begged to be cut into piano keys so the elephants could keep their tusks?”  ~Andrea Gibson

I Did. Now It’s Your Turn, People
A Roundel
(After Andrea Gibson)

Mold yourselves after me?
I am sharply dressed,
But I am just a tree.
You? You aren’t guests.

What you’ve done has messed
Up our home. Don’t you agree?
Elephant isn’t the only one stressed.

Brains and hearts hold the key.
Stop and let us take rest.
Do it, so we can all be free.
You? You aren’t guests.

Day 22 – A Poem for…with Araceli, Deanna and Michelle at OSU

Josh who throws hope around like bells
ringing clear and bright
and asks how everyone’s doing,
who is a tall lighthouse and a shady forest
who is a peaceful hike in Saudi
and a good run on the beach
whose kind walls are made of faith
Josh who listens patiently
as we sit on the cushy chairs in Caribou
and I list all the reasons I can’t do my job.
Josh who believes in me,
sits with his sweet mocha untouched as he
enthusiastically tells of the latest research
and what books he wants to lend me from the
overflowing shelves in his office.
Josh who plans for success for all students
who gently high fives the little ones
who brings jokes for the teens
Josh who disciplines with sharp self-control
who astutely initiates staffing changes
who introduces us to literary giants and
gives us all wigs to put on as we contemplate
our Wildly Important Goal for the year
Josh who plans for success for all of us
whose big ideas surprise, scare, and scintillate
Whose presence brings comfort during conflict,
wisdom when we didn’t know we needed it,
and identifies strength
when we didn’t know we had it.
Josh who throws hope around like bells
ringing clear and bright
is leaving us,
Josh who prays for us
and with us
is leaving us,
Josh whose love and joy fill the school
is leaving us,
and his hope and prayers and love and joy–
his legacy–
will linger after
he’s gone.
Godspeed, Josh.

Day 21 – Haiku-Ode with Madison, Sarah, and Brittany (OSU secondary English education majors)

Chauvin Trial Verdict Day
To our future, on
Accountability day
One small step forward

And may it lead to
Giant leaps ahead for a
More perfect union

We fly to the moon
But so far we can’t keep our
Creed to all people

Created equal
with rights–Life, Liberty and
Happiness-pursuing.

Keep laboring for
Liberty and Justice for
ALL–Self-evident?

Not yet, but coming.
George Floyd will be remembered
New wave of justice

Day 20 – Duality Poem with Brooke, Bailey and Ryan (OSU Education Department preservice teachers)

Regular rotation
Moonth after moonth
Decrescent, increscent
Full wanes to youth

Unsung in radiance
High hopes are sunk
Never to be a beacon
How, when so shrunk?

Linked, but disunited.
Moon: reflecting only
the Light of our galaxy
When veiled, so lonely

Tsunami of shine
Moon unable to refine
As bright as the Sun,
Brilliance defined

Day 19 – Summertime Poem with Soshi, Betsy, and Abigail (OSU Secondary English teacher candidates)

The constant conversation:
How many more days?
We’ll leave the day after school’s out.

Finally the day arrives.
We get up early and
climb into the car.
Positioned on the back of the front seats
are the cloth slings my mother sewed,
each painted with our names.
They are filled with snacks
we got to choose ourselves,
plus brand new coloring and puzzle books
and a fresh box of crayons
Late that afternoon we stop half-way
at a cheap motel in St. George, Utah,
or maybe Cedar City if we made good time
The next day we get on the road
again early. Our travel bags and
snacks help the day pass
And that evening we arrive in
time for dinner in
Lander, Wyoming.
Here will be our summer home–
six weeks in
cousin-time
delight and wonder,
outdoor exploring,
Yellowstone camping,
sandstone carving,
rodeos,
swimming in the public pool,
even library visits
are magical here.

The forgotten conversation: How many more days?
Wait! What do you mean it’s time to go home!?

Day 18 – Wire Sculpture Writing Poem with Jennifer Jowett

Carrot cake:
the recipe of
anniversaries,
births, weddings,
baptisms of
Shredded carrots
freckling the kitchen
So many fluorescent flecks
threatening to spoil the
surprise
Z
O
O
M
into the meeting at 6:50 p.m.
Bahrain time,
8:50 a.m. Pacific,
for this
pandemic party
Carrot cakes
stealthily baked
with love
in tiny
aluminum pans
delivered to
participants
to celebrate
the anniversary of
the birth of my beloved–
this man,
so good
and kind
and passionate–
with carrot caky goodness

Day 17 – Living Traits Poem With Gayle Sands and Annie

Wisdom was born eons ago
in a small town called Adversity. She has
the bruises and scars
to show she is a graduate of
UWS–the University of the Way of Suffering.
When she gets to an impasse,
Wisdom braves the decision,
she persists and either turns back,
retracing her steps,
or finds a new route.
Wisdom splinters
the status quo
with her fierce and
piercing questions.
Wisdom is married
to knowledge. Though she
holds all the degrees,
she doesn’t assert herself
against pretenders. Wisdom
doesn’t always
outshine the imposters,
but she does outlive them.
Wisdom kisses love, joy, and peace.
Wisdom dines on patience, kindness, and goodness.
Wisdom wears faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Wisdom is
as quiet as a heartbeat,
as sweet as a hug after a loss,
and as gentle as a bell of mercy.
She listens more than she speaks,
but when she talks,
those close to her
sit up and listen and she spreads.
When necessary she thunderously
proclaims truth from the peaks
and topples over tables of injustice.
Wisdom leans on the
moral arc of the universe
and brings justice just a little nearer.

Day 16 – The Power of a Question with Angie Braaten

Question?
That question that haunts me to my very core,
the one I avoid.
The one that I shove back
into the depths of my ugly heart
And don’t let it surface.
But others dig deep and have been
doing so this week.

Susan inspired you yesterday.
Angie’s prompt reminded you today.
These and others have asked tough questions.
Why don’t you too, Denise?
Speak it, repent, reframe the question.
Not today. Maybe
Soon.

Day 15 – Title Poem with Stefani Boutelier

Please read the poem first and then read my title below.

Put it on the table
A staging of a fable

Donkey deity in the desert
Matching pants and shirt

Pieces in a collection
Go in that direction

Arrange the type for print
Vinegar will keep the tint

Pick it up and make it right
A string of LED lights

Hunting dog points
Relocate bones and joints

Concrete gets hard
Groups that score in cards

Earth’s star sleeps
That camera pose keep

Part of a tennis match
A whole cohesive batch

Start a campfire
A car’s new tires

Get ready and into the blocks
All the tools in your box

Your heart yearns for that
A suit with a matching hat

Pieces played in the band
Moving the clock’s hands

Direction of the wind
Rows of teeth above your chin

Choose a wedding date
Fix the value at a rate

We could go on for days and days
There are four-hundred, thirty ways

To use my little title word
Three letters–how absurd!

Title: Set

Day 14 – Hate, Outlived with Dr. Padma Venkatraman

Hate is the country with such a long scar
We dole out death sentences far
From courts of law
White power, our flaw
–Street-selling loose cigarettes, death
–Holding a sandwich taken as a threat, death
–Not signaling when moving to the right, death
–Using a bad twenty or having lofty height, death
–Going to the car wash with your new ride, death
–Eating ice cream where you abide, death
–Even sleeping in your own abode, death

Remember their names and the code:
Eric Garner
Casey Goodson
Sandra Bland
George Floyd
Daunte Wright
Botham John
Breonna Taylor

The code of hatred: White supremacy
Hope: Dismantle the enemy

My inspiration came from this Instagram post I saw this morning

Day 13 – What We Take and What’s Been Taken with Andy Schoenborn

Yes, I do want a chocolate-coated,
date-filled cookie, thank you.

Maamouls–a Ramadan gift from
my husband’s co-worker.
I take the wrapper off
and bite into the buttery goodness.
I take another.
How about some chocolate-covered hazelnuts?
Turkish delight and pasta flora?
Gifts of love from my friend.
The pounds I lost last year
are staging a comeback.

The year has taken a toll.

Day 12 – Writing Beside with Penny Kittle

The earthquake trembles under my feet,
not from the San Andreas,
but from my own faults.
Remembering when my seven-year-old
“embarrasses” me at Costco.
The middle-aged woman beside us–
intent on rifling through the mom tees–
hasn’t even noticed the child’s faux pas.
(What actually is the little girl’s blunder?)
But because Mom insists,
she apologizes.
Everyone awkwardly
walks away.
I’ve seen my faults shock and shake.

Day 11 – Day Poem with Scott McCloskey

Ode to Grilled Cheese
How glorious are your
gooey,
melty,
strings of goodness,
golden globs of
nutty,
buttery
deliciousness
nestled inside.
Outside,
thick slices of
homemade
sourdough
buttered and sizzling
in the pan,
crispy and brown,
becoming one with the
cheddar.
You are a wonder.

Day 10 – The Skinny with Denise Krebs

Vaccinated

I winced but smiled with the second dose.
Wondering
Hoping
Dreaming
Drifting
Wondering
Mutants
Spreading
Wildfire
Wondering
With the second dose, I smiled but winced.

Day 9 – Haiku with David Duer

Determination
Needed to survive a world
Blind to crucial needs

Day 8 – Things I Didn’t Know I Loved Poem with Barb Elder

On Noticing

Today I noticed details–
Like the smell of the cardamom
And saffron in my milky tea,
And the way the young mother
Stooped over again to retrieve
The blue binky for the
delighted warm baby,
who was the clear leader
in this game of fetch.

I noticed how much
I don’t like to wear lipstick, but not
Until I was able to stop
And put on a mask instead.
My one lipstick, already years old,
may last another decade at this rate.

I was never able to notice how much I liked to cook,
until I moved into my home last March.
It’s the same flat I had slept in for six years,
but I finally began to live here.
Now I cook, I plan, I write, I read,
I smile, I laugh, I listen, I pray
in this place.
I’m no longer a whirlwind of anxiety
about the next
appointment,
meeting,
service, or
responsibility,
for which I need to run out the door.
I never knew how much
I needed more peace in my living,
But now I know.

I never knew how much I appreciated
noticing these things until I joined
other teacher-poets in this
#verselove community
in the April of Covid, 2020.
I didn’t know how much
I loved poetry,
But now I know.
Thank you, friends.

Day 7 – Mirror Poem with Kim Johnson

Psalm 58 – A Prayer for God to Punish the Wicked
Do you rulers ever give a just decision?
Do you judge everyone fairly?
No! You think only of the evil you can do,
and commit crimes of violence in the land.

Evildoers go wrong all their lives;
they tell lies from the day they are born.
They are full of poison like snakes;
they stop up their ears like a deaf cobra,
which does not hear the voice of the snake charmer,
or the chant of the clever magician.

Break the teeth of these fierce lions, O God.
May they disappear like water draining away;
may they be crushed like weeds on a path.
May they be like snails that dissolve into slime;
may they be like a baby born dead that never sees the light.
Before they know it, they are cut down like weeds;
in his fierce anger God will blow them away
while they are still living.

The righteous will be glad when they see sinners punished;
they will wade through the blood of the wicked.
People will say, “The righteous are indeed rewarded;
there is indeed a God who judges the world.”

My 21st Century Mirror of Vengeance

I learned something about God from this poem,
placed in the good book, and read for eons.
God must have invited
people to speak their truth,
not to hide their emotions,
“break their teeth”
“blow them away like weeds”
“dissolve them like salt on a slug”
but
also
there was no need to
take vengeance in
their own hands and do violence.
“Give it to me,” God said, “I’ll take it from here.”
So, I wait and pray:
We’ve got some unjust and evil
people with power
who still need their teeth broken, God.

Day 6 – A World Trying to Deal Poem with Margaret Simon

I couldn’t get the photo I wrote about out of my mind all day. It’s the last one on the Glimpses of Grief and Resilience article in National Geographic. “This picture reminds me that domestic violence doesn’t start with bruises on the skin, domestic violence begins with words and takes many forms,” says photographer Irina Unruh. (I also alluded to Jenny in Forrest Gump, Jeremiah 6:14, and a reprise of this week’s shadow and mask poems.)

Hang On
Pray with me
fly, fly
away from here

Poison pulsing through the air,
Trampling and suffocating,
Cruelly wounded by words,
only to have them
superficially
dressed with
“Sorry” bandages.
“Let’s go for a drive, baby,
you know I don’t mean it.”
He speaks peace
where there is no peace

Masked by the thing with wings
Little glimpses of hope
Glittering in the sunshine
Come soon, Promise,
For she is still
Hidden in the shadow
Of the pandemic

Day 5 – We Wear the Mask Poem with Anna J. Small Roseboro

A Pantoum

I wore the mask of a bully
It hid my cheeks and shaded my eyes,—
I couldn’t speak truth to myself or you
I tormented the weaker ones

It hid my cheeks and shaded my eyes,—
It covered my heart, squeezed out love
I tormented the weaker ones
Fear’s seed grew into deplorable domination

It covered my heart, squeezed out love
I wore the mask of a bully
Fear’s seed grew into deplorable domination
I couldn’t speak truth to myself or you

Day 4 – Say to Them Poem with Allison Berryhill

Speech to the Spenders; Speech to Those Sinking Our Planet
Say to them,
Say to the private profit proliferators,
the conspicuous consumers,
the I-can’t-live-withouts,
and the empty souls needing something,
yet settling for stuff,
“More is not always better.”
Buying that thing will not satisfy your longings.

Try thrifting or bartering.
Wear out the one you already have.
Dig deep and see what’s really missing.
Free yourself by giving freely.

Day 3 – I Don’t Want to Be Poem with Glenda Funk

I Don’t Want to Be a Porcelain Bowl
I don’t want to be a
bowl of porcelain–
pale, translucent
and fully fragile.
I don’t want to be displayed
shamelessly on a
shelf, waiting in the shadows,
perfect but untried.
Smooth and without character.

I want to be a Kintsugi bowl,
flawed and fully fractured,
but gold-veined–
beautiful in my brokenness.
Scars and wounds do not
imply defect, but they
are the rich
integration of
wounded suffering, and
rising empathy.
Even the author of
the Resurrection
unabashedly chose to
rise with
His scars on.

Today’s poem inspiration came from by a New York Times Opinion piece I read today called “Why Is Jesus Still Wounded After His Resurrection?

Kintsugi art by Martin Howard (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Day 2 – Bop Poem with Mo Daley

Procrastination
It is my middle name.
How can I wait
to do the important
’til in a tizzied state?
It is my constant shame.

When will I learn?

Videos to make
Cakes to bake
Projects to grade
Bills to be paid
Bops to write
Fights to fight
Bees to crochet
May Day! May Day!

When will I learn?

Probably never!
I need to embrace it,
Write the bop
and get on with
the first thing on the list
OK, here I go.

When will I learn?

Day 1 – Shadow Poetry with Stacey Joy

I’ve had George Floyd on my mind all week. I watched and read the transcript of his encounter with the police. He was scared, not scary. And then there was the Filipino-American who was attacked in New York. My God, save us. When Stacey shared the list of metaphorical shadows, I was drawn to this verse in Psalm 91, which has always been a favorite of mine. Yet, today I wonder if it’s easier for me to believe God’s protective wings cover me because I don’t have to fear for my life because of my color.

He who lives in the secret place of the Most High
Shall stay under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Safe in
Heaven’s
Abode
Direct and
Omnipresent
Word

How do people of color in these
divided states get
to that secret Safe place?
Away from knees on their necks
and hate crimes against their very personhood?
Is God there in Heaven’s
reach? Is there an Abode
for all? Create a just and verdant place, God,
shady with your big wings’ protection.
Stir up good trouble–
Direct distress for us who feel
worthy in our whiteness.
Bring new Omnipresent
Truth in Minneapolis and
beyond. Word of God,
shine in the darkness.

Today is April 1. It is the first day of National Poetry Month. I am excited to Write, Read and Care with a lot of other passionate teachers. I plan to write my first drafts here on this blog post, and then copy and paste it onto a comment on each day’s prompt at the Ethical ELA site.  Do please give it a try and join us!

#OpenWrite for June 2020

June 20, 2020 – List Poem and Lift a Word prompt

Doctor Solomon
Servant of God and humanity
Older with underlying conditions
Did not stop his work
Urgent care physician
Contracted Covid-19
We prayed

  • for a miracle
  • for healing
  • that you would go home to your wife, to your grandchildren
  • for you to laugh and listen as always
  • for us to hear your wisdom again
  • for you to pray for us again

Again and again
But today you died
Rest in peace, dear Dr. Solomon,
Today you are with Jesus in Paradise.

My sweet teacher-mentor-fellow-poem-writing sisters left some healing comments and gratitude for Dr. Solomon. See them here.

June 21, 2020 – Father’s Day Small Fiction
I wrote this poem with another prompt for The Isolation Journals. See A Gift From My Father.

June 22, 2020 – Memory Poem

Playing House
Think playing house–
but maybe not that kind–
come with me to the
eucalyptus grove
at Grove Avenue Elementary School
a hundred trees planted so close
they barely have elbow room
aromatherapy for us
minty, herbal with a touch
of honey and lemon
no sun rays make it to the floor
so nothing grows
tamped-down, hardened clay
becomes our earthen tile
pencil-like leaves fall and gather
the floors swept with our hands
construction materials
readied for the building
we mound the leafy walls
zig-zagging willy-nilly
throughout the grove
the bell rings for us to go back to class
play as long as possible
before running to avoid being late
immediately start watching the clock
when is our next recess?
finally…run to the grove
choose our favorite spot and build again–
living room, den, bathrooms and
bedrooms, lavish and profuse
this forest is our mansion
gladness gleaned from the grove

June 23, 2020 – Marcher or Leaper?

Leaping Into the Story
The story is with us, with us for a lifetime.
The story is within us, much beyond
Our lifetimes. Story passed on to our heirs. Little or
Much property doesn’t matter, but generation after generation
All become heirs of our beliefs–
Tenets of toxicity,
Positions of poison,
Cesspools of say-sos.
Four hundreds years of unjust stories.
Let justice roll down like water.
Righteousness like an endless stream.
The story of humanity makes
Us alive to Truth. Will we listen to the Truth?
Will we make amends? Hear the story.
Tell the story. Tell
The Truth.
Tell the stories for the just world we yearn for.
March for Truth. Truth that will set
Us free. Then maybe we can
Leap into a changed storyline.

June 24, 2020 – Writing with Melanie Crowder

Rose of Saffron
Out in the open
In the full sun
Lies the costliest of all
Spices

For thousands of years
It is true
The Crocus Satimus corm
Initiates the process
First lying dormant
Through the heat of summer
Does its wizardry underground

Then the autumn crocus
Burgeons and blossoms
Six purple petals
Cradle the crimson stigmas
And yellow styles

Gentle hands
Carefully pluck out the
Three red threads,
Dry and store safely–
150 flowers are needed to make
One gram of spice
(400 flowers to match the mass of a penny)
Use saffron for
Fancy fragrances
healing and health
Creating golden ambrosial delights
Beauty of the beloved