Slice of Life – Making a Yo-Yo Quilt

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 24 August 2021

Remnants of history
(that blouse for the Sadie Hawkins dance,
the dress that I wore when I interviewed for my first job,
a scrap from the bridesmaids’ dresses my mom made for my wedding,
and hundreds more forgotten memories)
I’ve carried around for forty years,
cut into perfect circles,
each stitched lovingly around the edges
by Aunt Thelma, and now by me,
to make what she called a yo-yo,
now find new purpose.

Image by Mahmood Ali from Pixabay

This whole project is a scrap craft from things I have on hand. My inspiration is this landmark building in Manama–the Bahrain World Trade Center. It always leads people to Manama, the capital city. My Aunt Thelma was the quintessential crafter. She cut hundreds of circles and stitched them into yo-yos. Now, as I near retirement, I have finally got serious about using them to make something. It’s far from finished, but I’m having fun.

Tammi Belko was the host today for Ethical ELA’s Open Write. Her prompt was to create a One Sentence Poem. Since I’ve had this quilt on my mind lately, that became my topic for my poem. (I have no idea if it’s really only one sentence!)

Yesterday’s prompt came from Tammi too. She introduced a new-to-me Sevenling poem. She has students use it to share about a book they have read–as a hook or a character sketch. I thought it has great potential for that. Check out the link for many other examples of poems written in this form. Here is my sevenling about E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan.

Sevenling (He Works Hard)
He works hard to restore his honor,
Paying off his father’s debts, and
Waiting for his true love to respond.

He goes to school and takes on odd jobs—
Camp counselor where he learns to play, night club performer,
And Boston Public Garden entertainer.

Louis the swan became a trumpeter

 

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.

 

January Open Write

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

It’s already Wednesday, Inauguration Day. I have refrained from watching the news the last couple of days because of lots of other daytime and evening commitments. This morning I woke up thinking about this post and a poem I didn’t write yesterday. Since it’s still Tuesday in parts of the U.S., I got up writing a poem about walls.

The world is due for a big change after one more sleep for the United States. I’m praying for justice and walls to come down during the next administration.

I am also posting my “Walls” poem and others that I’ve been trying to keep up with this week on Ethical ELA.

Happy Inauguration Day, everyone!

19 January 2021
Mindful Walking with Stacey Joy

Walls

I walk mindfully
around the cemetery
and I see a wall

Separating us–
the living from the dead. Are
they also mindful?

My mind jumps across
Earth’s span to U.S.
politics and walls

Divides us from
All our neighbors to the south–
At least in spirit

Confines refugees
Hoping for a new start, but
Not life in a cage

Restricts a future
Hope that independents will
Bring some sanity

Splits up lawmakers–
MAGAs versus those who think
insurrection’s bad

Breaks up Washington
Protecting democracy
From rebels within

Fortifies the White
Supremacy legacy–
Make her great, again?

Encloses our hearts
Against the madness and fear
Will we trust again?

Crumbles under the
Weight of justice served up to
All of God’s children

18 January 2021
One Word with Stacey Joy

Gratefully
I open the letter
ever-flowing and
breathed by you

Gratitude
for love,
life,
learning

Gratefully
I sit at the seashore
and chew on the manna

Gratitude
for sustaining,
up-ending,
building

Gratefully
Gratefully
Gratefully

Welcoming the
flow of justice,
ever-flowing justice

17 January 2021
Evidence with Susie Morice
Read Susie’s poem called “Thin Ice” to take a sad journey with her (at the link above).

Buttermilk

Today’s sky was covered in buttermilk–
streaked, like the sides of a
finished glass of it.

I thought of my childhood when
three generations of relatives
sat around the table
eating beans and cornbread. Earlier
ancestors hailed from Georgia,
so we still remembered–
after dinner everyone got
a tall glass of buttermilk
so they could crumble another
piece of cornbread
in and eat it
with an iced tea spoon. Meandering
rivulets, like today’s clouds,
ran down the glasses as we finished.

Today’s buttermilk sky was
a welcome winter anomaly. I didn’t see
buttermilk white, but instead I saw passionless
smoky curdles. Gray tinged
with subtle pinks as the sun tried
to push through the foggy undertones.

Skies are small here. City buildings
take up a lot of room. Today’s
buttermilk sky was stunted,
and as I walked to school
between buildings,
trying to glimpse more of the soured sky,
I thought back to the giant skies
above Iowa’s farmland. Now there
was a place one
could get lost in the sweet sky–
Cirrus, stratus, cumulus
galore. The sky was
generous and gracious
and made room for all. Layers
and layers of clouds
fill the heights, depths,
and breadth of the expanse
in every direction, in
every shade of white
they dance across the azure sky

Thinking of buttermilk
and big skies
made me home sick today.

16 January 2021
Conversations with Susie Morice

Wisdom

The moon held me in her gaze tonight
as I walked through the city.
She asked me why I didn’t
pay closer attention to her
(sometimes I don’t notice her at all)
but here she was
on full display
even amid the screaming
glare and clutter of the city lights.
Her heart was full, and her
body was a sweet smiling sliver.

She spoke to me kindly, and
asked if I had any questions for her.

Yes, I did, and right there
in the busy street,
I poured out my questions.

Luna, you’re just a toddler today,
Do your cheeks hurt with that ear-to-ear beam?

How do you keep track of all your phases?
Which one is your favorite?

Did you have ears to hear the spoken Word
that made you ruler of the night sky?

Do you give quick comebacks for
jumping cow and green cheese jokes?

When Jesus was born, how did you feel
being subordinate to that bright star?

How powerful is it to ripple the oceans
with your constant pull on the earth?

How many wars have you seen?
How many rapes have your eyes endured?

Do you wish you had wind?
Have you ever seen an alien?

How many night skies have you lit up?
How many skinny dippers have made you blush?

Did you weep when the astronauts
left their footprint on you?

She answered me,
indulging me with her serene replies.

I continued, hoping for more wisdom…

How did we ever elect that man?
He’s made such a…

That’s enough, dear, she interrupted,
Get along now.

December Ethical ELA Open Write

Saturday, 12 December
A Gift with Jennifer Guyor-Jowett
This found poem is a collection of first lines by Emily Dickinson.

So much of Heaven has gone from earth
Faith is the Pierless Bridge
When I count the seeds
I had no time to Hate

You taught me waiting with myself
The way Hope builds his House
By such and such an offering
We pray–to Heaven

I see thee clearer for the Grave
The feet of people walking home
Trudging to Eden–looking backward
Heaven–is what I cannot reach!

There is a Word
As subtle as tomorrow–
Oh, what a grace is this–
That Love is all there is

Who has not found the Heaven below
I shall keep singing

Sunday, 13 December
Find Your Compass with Jennifer Guyor-Jowett

Political Journey

Spirit of ’76 Grad and first time voter–
With a month to spare, I was
Eligible to vote in my first presidential election
I registered as an independent

Jimmy Carter earned my vote
That was an easy choice even for
a teen who cared more about getting a date with
Rick than about politics
But I did notice Watergate and a pardon,
Gerald Ford didn’t stand a chance, I thought

I continued through the years as an independent–
always looking at the two candidates
voting at times for Republicans,
other times for Democrats

When Obama was running in 2008, though–
Yes, we can! Hope! I was enthralled.
I went out and changed my 30-year independent
status to Democrat, so I could caucus for
Obama in Iowa.

After the caucus, I went straight back
to being Independent.
I always thought there was strength in
independence,
I was proud to be discerning, diplomatic Denise
I saw both sides. I was a good listener
and autonomous thinker.
Presidential elections are personal,
aren’t they? I didn’t want the party to decide.
I wanted to decide for myself.

When trump came down the garish escalator
in 2015 and spoke of Mexicans the way he did,
I couldn’t believe he didn’t get ostracized and
chased away from the process.
Republicans ate it up
and he ate up their souls
Somewhere during that primary season,
I became a
Democrat for good.

Monday
Found in Translation by Glenda Funk

Translating the Bible

The Holy Bible,
MAGA Version, 2020,
Adulterated–
A Bible chock-full of capsized values for:

  • The power-hungry court packers
  • Those in fear of losing white power
  • Those who have ‘Merica confused with the Kingdom of God
  • Those whose guns are heavier than their God
  • Those who demand religious exemptions for loving and serving others

Despite that word adulterated–this version
has nothing to do with adults
but is babyish and petty at best
At its worst it exists to
usurp divine authority in order to
promote white supremacy

The MAGA version follows
in a long line of
bastardized translations–

  • Slavery version, 1850
  • Anti-science version, 1925
  • Jim Crow version, 1950
  • Moral Majority version, 1979 (Actually a de facto fight for the Revised Jim Crow version, but conveniently touted as anti-abortion in order to protect themselves from impropriety)
  • Tea Party version, 2010

My own personalized
contaminated translation
often needs to be
plucked out as well
Purged and replaced with
The real Word of God
Breath of Heaven
Word made flesh
Lived among us
Killed by false translations of his day
Died to love us
Love

Tuesday
Mapping Our Voices by Glenda Funk

Mapping Her Goodbyes

Her first move, she was just over one year old. She had no idea on that drive from Iowa to Michigan that her dad had added an extra three-hours to the all-night journey when he followed the road signs to Council Bluffs instead of Dubuque after dinner in Des Moines. She slept peacefully through it all in the car seat. When she woke up, the box of tissue entertained her throughout the early morning traffic in Chicago. She tossed each Kleenex whimsically throughout the backseat for an early snowfall while Dad took his turn sleeping on the camping mattress in the back of the pickup.

Four years later we did it again. Busy selling our winter gear at the thousand-dollar yard sale, we prepared to leave Michigan for Phoenix. She looked up and saw her big yellow school bus neglectfully leaving her behind. Marcus later told her he was afraid she was sick. “Mom, there goes the bus!” We raced into the house and got ready, driving to afternoon kindergarten. I stood outside Mrs. Bigler’s classroom and cried like a baby as I explained why we were late. This experienced kindergarten teacher tried to cheer the young mother, “Don’t worry. It’s only October. She will forget about us and just have memories of her new class.” What? That offered no comfort.

A few days later, she and I were sitting in the bathroom. She sobbing and me trying to find a quiet place to console her where we wouldn’t wake the household of new friends who were accommodating us until our house was ready. At home, on this Saturday morning, the sun was shining and the pancakes would have been on the griddle, but in this new time zone, it was an unearthly hour for crying. She wrote me a note with a blue crayon, “Keep Marcus.” I joined her in sobbing.

And then we moved again. This time after she finished her freshman year in high school of all indefensible decisions. My husband tells people she never forgave us for that move. But she did, at least outwardly, formally. We took her from Arizona back to Iowa, the town of her birth. The girl, who later became her best high school friend, at one time was a baby she had seen-not-seen at the doctor’s office when both of their mom’s held each other’s hands as they waited their turn to have their two-month-olds inoculated. Fifteen years after the shots, she did fine in her new high school. She joined cross country, drama, speech, quiz bowl, debate. She took AP classes and had some great experiences. At least I try to convince myself she did.

Before too long it was time for college. She packed her bags and hardly looked back. Sailing club on Lake Michigan, knitting club, including late night practice sessions and chats in dorm rooms with new lifelong friends, service and volunteer work, excellent success in classes. I asked her that Christmas, “How are you doing it? You are rocking your first year of college!” My firstborn’s answer stung but didn’t surprise. “I left home three years ago.”

Wednesday
Before Picture with Chris Baron

Before the Fireworks

No social distance to my lament
Seemed like a superspreader event

“There’s no COVID!” we labored to feign
Red and white! We celebrate Bahrain!

Flags, hats, sparkles for National Day
Couldn’t get out of everyone’s way

Then the show began, grateful we gazed
We left our fears–fleetingly unfazed

November #OpenWrite

Today’s prompt, “Heal” included the invitation to go back to another prompt I didn’t write before. I went back to April 1, 2019, both prompts from Sarah Donovan.

What is Good?”

Good Work

Good work–
Work, purposeful work,
Work that builds,
Not diminishes
I work with all I am–
Never just punching a clock
But I pour myself into the work

Good work–
Work, created especially for me
Good work assigned
Work and care for Eden, Adam
That was God’s directive
That is God’s directive to me

Good work–
Work, more than you did
Yesterday
Take care of the earth
Work to heal
To bring Her
Back from defilement
Take care of people
Work for justice
Repent
Plant peace–
Seeds of peace, that have
Not been planted–
Yet

Good work–
Work good
Get ready
Do good work
And get into
Good trouble

breath with Sarah Donovan

Brokenness and heartbreak, loss of job
Bickering teachers overwhelmed
Safety protocol mistakes
Covid deaths and counting
White House renegade
Friend triangles
Knotted neck
Breathe out
Breathe
Breathe in
Peace and hope
Healthy dinner
Thanksgiving (really)
Strolling along the shore
Cooperating with Truth
Foaming bubble bath to my neck
Leaning on the everlasting arms

receiving with Sarah Donovan

I couldn’t seem to do this prompt today, so I will use my Death poem I wrote this morning for The Isolation Journals.

giving with Sarah Donovan

Giving Learning

What I say to students:

Yes, yes you can!
I love your work.
I’m such a fan.

Do you know?
I don’t.
Let’s give it a go.

Please do.
I am not sure.
Yes to you
and you
and you.

thanks with Sarah Donovan

thanks

seeing my phone
slip from my hands into
the hearty
tomato saucy
goodness of
Amy’s Organic
Vegetarian
Baked Beans
in the microwavable
bowl

Was like watching
a phone
tumble over the railing
on the upper floor
at the mall but
Instead of smashing
on the tile
below, it
slipped
sidled
slunk
slithered
stole
shrinkingly
into the sauce
so smoothly
so stealthily

My first reaction
was to pull it up from
its shallow bath
It only took a half-inch dip
My phone barely waded in
Hardly got its feet wet
I don’t know beans about
how to save a phone
in a cooking calamity

So
It will be fine
I told myself
I took a quick lick
across the bottom
where the speaker
and charge port sit
because the slits were
looking crimson
and congested

I gave the whole phone
a once-over with the dish cloth
I sucked on the end to
extract more tomato sauce
Just to be sure
Then I promptly forgot about it

The phone worked fine all day
But on seeing the
15% battery warning.
I went to plug it in

Nothing
No power
No lightning bolt
I checked the plug for
electricity
I wiggled the cords
Beans!
Oh yeah, the beans

As my husband and I sat
through the rest of the Zoom
meeting, I thought about telling
him. (Our mic was muted.)
No, I better wait.

When we finished, I nonchalantly said,
I dropped my phone into the beans at lunch.
He said, You need a new phone anyway.
What? I said. No I don’t. THIS is my phone.
I just need it to charge.
He plugged it in and
I switched the cord
to a different outlet.
It worked.
It’s up to 83% now,
so I think the beans are history.

#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

My First 5-Day Quick Write

This month’s 5-Day Open Write at EthicalEla was led by Kim Johnson. Here are our poems for May.

I Remember

I remember when my newly-married sister brought home hippie gifts.
I remember the year was 1965, tumultuous and troubled. I was seven. I jumped for joy when she presented her gifts.
I remember the gifts were only something I had longed for.
I remember never thinking I would really own my own. They were more stylish than anything I had ever worn before.
I remember the granny sunglasses and maxi dresses for my ten-year-old sister and me
I remember them as if I were holding them in my hands now.
I remember mine was sunny yellow with small white designs. My sister’s was identical to mine, except it was sky blue.
I remember racing in to put on our dresses.
I remember slicking my straight pixie hairdo to my head so I looked like Twiggy.
I remember my sister with her longer unruly waves, opted to be more Janis Joplin.
I remember standing on the sidewalk, pretending to smoke cigarettes, head tilted to peer over my glasses.
I remember watching over many rooftops and across the river as the smoke rose over Watts.
I remember vaguely wondering if the world was going to end.

Duplex Poem

What if we never make it back home?
Will the sky remain blue and the sea tranquil?

The sky will be blue and the sea tranquil.
And the hope in our souls will not be lost.

Hope and love and joy will not be lost.
Even if one of us gets sick and dies?

No, even if one or both get sick and die.
The flowers would flourish, birds will call

Remember the blossoms and birds will call
They won’t be susceptible to viruses

Our cells can be infected with viruses
Might Covid give our nation’s soul a cleansing?

Maybe, but I need my own soul’s cleansing.
It may be a deep journey to get back home.

The Way I Felt poem

The Way I Felt
when my dad died
was befuddled.

My dad was
a hundred miles away
taking a shower.

My mom and the young ones
were at Grandma’s house
for the weekend.

My sister and I stood
under the window
listening to a conversation
we were not invited to.

Mom and Grandma sobbed.
“He was so young.”

My sister mouthed,
“Scotty?”

Mom and Grandma
drove away with her brother
Uncle Bruce and Aunt Lola.

We were left with
Aunt Lola’s sister.

“Aunt” Dorothy
would have to do
to break the news to us
and take us home.

Turn From inspired by Whitman’s Song of Myself, Stanza 32

Diapers

I think I could turn away from dirty diapers, they are so fetid and disturbing.
I stand and look at hundreds of crammed nappies that, in many cases, haven’t been changed in decades.
They do not work for 99% of the people, but are hollow gongs.
They do not serve, but are crafty, selfish liars.
They do not care about dismantling systemic racism and wealth inequality.
Not one is honest or empathetic, but rather cold and venal.
Not one feels the pain of the people they came to serve.
Not one is willing to walk a road of suffering to love others.
So these Pamper piles must be voted out of office.
They bring disgrace to our nation.

I wonder if I overgeneralized my disdain
Did I miss any worthy to retain?

“Politicians are a lot like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reason.”
~Tom Dobbs, Robin Williams’ character in Man of the Year (2006)

The Right Words at the Right Time

“Congratulations, life will get tougher!”
Title of fear at my high school
Baccalaureate service
Already worried for the future
Defeat, anger, discontent, failure
What did my future hold?
I was unprepared for college
I was unprepared for work
I was unmotivated, yet scared

In church for the first time in years
I left that night still afraid
But this “tougher” sermon
Went out the door with me
Somehow gave me a future

God found me in my angst
And placed me in peace

Click here to participate in the 5-Day #QuickWrite poetry challenges.