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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Today, let’s dream for the world harder, more often, and with more clarity and diversity. I look forward to reading your dreams today.
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.
Use Margaret Noodin’s inspiration by writing in two languages, one line after the other about your dream for the world.
Choose any form you want to experiment with or free verse and write about your infinitely diverse dreams for the world.
Write whatever is on your heart and mind today.
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!
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.
Traditionally, Hay(na)ku have:
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:
When left forgotten
Entices me in
Entrusted with independence
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 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.
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.
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
Elizabeth the Integral
Without you, we would be
Less than the whole
Your colleagues and kids
Respect and adore you
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!”
When it began My childhood prayer
growing up in a
“Thief in the Night” church: Jesus, please don’t return until I grow up and get to have my own family.
When it’s focused Softball practice in the park,
softball games every Saturday
and one evening a week,
playing catch in the street until even
the streetlights didn’t make it
safe enough to continue.
Ironing, (yes ironing!) my
Bobby Sox Softball uniform,
getting it ready for tomorrow.
Begging someone to play catch again.
When it’s squandered
We never found the time
to sit together regularly and
talk about faith and life
and the Bible
like we always planned to.
Now those high school years are gone.
When it’s lingering
That falling asleep time being held in your arms
after we make love is the best sleep of all.
When it’s not enough Saying goodbye to my Mom in 2010,
a brother in 2012, a sister
and sister-in-law in 2018. No
more “see you laters.”
VI When it’s unsettled
Covid-19 in 2020, 2021? 2022?
What does the future hold?
Each of us scrambles to borrow a bicycle. Not that many years
Ago I would hop on my own bike and pedal to the start
Of the Go Pink ride. I am in a new time and place, though, so I
Borrow one. Sorry, there’s only one gear that works, my friend tells me.
We ram the old broken thing in my van and drive it
Home. It needs a new seat, says my husband. Ride it down
The street to the shop on the corner, and we’ll see if he has one. He
Walks along, I ride. The crank arm breaks
On the two-block ride. Two, three or three-and-a-half for the saddle;
Five for the gear shifters, ten for the crank, five for the
Derailleur. Why not take
A new one? Only 45 BD, the shop keeper says. OK, says my husband. This one is foldable, good for the car, the little man says, as we
Wheel it out of the shop. Back home,
We put it in our car. I set my alarm for
4:00 a.m. The alarm goes off, I stumble and
Pull on my pink tee-shirt backwards, extra wide shoes to
Alleviate pain from Morton’s neuroma, eat a banana and drive
To the Cycling Bees shop. Bahrain
is flat, the trip is ten
Kilometers, the seat is wide and cushy, my borrowed helmet is too big. I
manage to finish, in all my out-of-shape glory, at the end of the pack.
Thoughts of coronavirus
Haunt me as we talk, sometimes too close–them without
Masks. This is the first bicycle ride of my
Sixties. I remember rides in my
Twenties a bit differently. I devour
Huge plates of pasta at the campsite in Half Moon Bay,
Gorge on ice cream in Monterey—so much more gratifying
to fuel up on a bicycle than in a
Fossil-fueled vehicle. We pedal up
Hills, race down, and try to avoid semis through Big Sur,
80 to 100 miles a day. We do it all
Again the next day.
That was fun! The Cycling Bees have another ride next
week, how about it? The route looks charming, my friend says.
I always look so forward to the Open Write on Ethical ELA. It’s a five-day poetry-writing extravaganza each month.
In September, Barb Edler gave us the writing challenges last Saturday and Sunday. For Monday and Tuesday, I was happy to get to be the host. Yesterday, my prompt was to write a poem based on something in the news, which turned out to be a bit heavy. Today, we wrote Magic-9 poems, which are turning out a bit lighter. Tomorrow we will have a final prompt, usually by a poet or author. (Edit: It was Laura Shoven)
I am honored to be in this group of poet-teachers who know how to encourage each other, write poetry that causes us to dig deep into our hearts, and comment like crazy on each other’s poems.
Below are the poems I wrote for September. Please join us tomorrow or next month on the 17th of October.
Food Memories with Laura Shoven Lemon-Mint
One dinar apiece
For a lemon-mint
Straight from AMH
Down Sheikh Isa
Turned right before Adliya Road
Just a short distance
Down the wrong way street
Parked in the alley
That smelled like fresh bread
And into Al Abraaj.
Appu and Lali ordered
Because they had the experience
Turkish bread, hummus, grills and more
But it was the lemon-mint that took our breath away
It looked like a bamboo forest in a frosty glass
It sounded like the fresh breeze at the sea
It felt like a handful of love and satisfaction
It smelled like a cleansing summer rain in Kerala
It tasted like a trio of goddesses–Cool, Sweet, and Sour.
Sit down, enjoy
Drink till there was nothing left
Slurping up the last bits of icy sweetness
And wiping the inside of the glass
To get the foamy mint
Onto our fingers to lick it off
We ate and drank
And you told us what it was like
To live and eat in Bahrain
You, smiling and encouraging
Us, pondering our futures
When the going is hard and slow
The work of patience we’re creating
Warriors in waiting here below
Powerful warriors of patience
Too much wait time will show
Who has the stamina to resist
Laziness and fight to grow
The sweet time spent activating
Time and patience aglow
My Magic Word Quote:
“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Leo Tolstoy
Though we only finished one semester
we already are thinking of the
new academic school year
Expecting good re-enrollment numbers
Pretty sure of our staffing needs
Need to hear from you
whether or not you want to
renew your contract
Kindly complete the form
no later than
To be sure
I was sad to leave Bahrain
but my husband’s visa would expire
academic year, so
I won’t commit for half a year, I’d say
But it might be renewed. They might need me to stay, he’d say
Back and forth, we’d ponder
After days of musing
When the due date came
Enough was unsettled that
I opened the Google Form in the default purple
No, I clicked, I have other plans for the 2020-2021
school year. I will not be returning.
I didn’t really have other plans
I explained to admin
I’ll be here to help as needed
Two days later
Covid-19 ended our school year as we knew it
Now we’re five-weeks into the
blended / virtual learning
and I’m helping as needed
until the new teacher can get her visa
to travel here