Today is Poetry Friday. Our host is Becky Herzog. She blogs at Sloth Reads. Thank you for hosting, Becky. Becky was the first to mention that today was going to be International Friendship Day, so I wrote the poem above. I also wrote a friendship villanelle and gave it to my dear friend for her birthday. She framed it and sent the picture below to me.
We’re writing villanelles on the topic of dichotomy – or, true opposites, if you will. Bifurcations. Incongruities. Paradoxes. Contradictions. We’re talking Luke/Darth (or is that a false dichotomy, and they’re two sides of the same coin??? Discuss), real or imagined, civilized v. savage, winter v. summer, function v. dysfunction. Interested? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else’s) with the rest of us on July 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master. Continued here…
Here is my poem, about something I’ve been following breathlessly this week. I know that, though it is in its third century of experimentation, a republic is not a hard thing to lose. I’m praying we don’t lose it on our watch.
Commission underway–All facts, the prize If left to some, our land may never know Will Truth and Justice win? Or bloodied lies?
Afraid to learn who knew and helped devise Perverse the plan to halt and overthrow Commission underway–All facts, the prize
Bipartisan committee will reprise This doubtful nation’s faith. Will Congress grow? Will Truth and Justice win? Or bloodied lies?
Already testimony will advise The Light of truth bears us out of shadows Commission underway–All facts, the prize
Do leaders fear being duly scrutinized? Our hope’s in newness — not the status quo Will Truth and Justice win? Or bloodied lies?
Choosing to fight lies should not polarize Awake to honor, revived faith bestowed Commission underway–All facts, the prize Will Truth and Justice win? Or bloodied lies?
It’s Friday! Time for Poetry Friday. Thank you to Kat Apel, who is hosting. You will be rewarded with goodness if you stop by and read her sweet snail and clever cat poems. She even started a new hashtag #petpicpoem. Alas, there are no pets in my house, but I may consider a snail pet.
This week I had to go back to last September’s Google Classroom archive and watch a first quarter sixth grade lesson at my school. I was doing research to see what pre-skills I need to include in my summer tutoring for a student going into grade 6 at our school next year. In the first and only lesson so far that I’ve watched, the students were writing a sonnet! There were my former fifth grade babies. Yikes! I know for a fact some of them were struggling quietly with that assignment, but as I looked around the Zoom room, I realized that many of them were also flourishing in this experience.
What was the hardest form I asked my students to write last year? I wondered. We wrote free verse, haikus, acrostics, metaphor poems, Fibonacci poems, and couplets. Some others too, but nothing as scary as a sonnet. I thought about my own sonnet experience. Can I even write a sonnet, I wondered? The last one I remember writing was in ninth grade. So, after watching that lesson, I wrote this sonnet. (If it even is! Haha! I didn’t even consider meter.)
Learning Spanish on Duolingo
Language learning is not easy
Duolingo helps me realize
Just how much my brain is breezy
True expression, my fancied prize
Even when I spend hours in study
I only make a pinch of progress
What’s missing is talking with a buddy
For now, Duo is the one I impress
I can buy a red dress: barato or caro
I can find a baño and get a table for dos
But could I help in one’s sorrow?
Would I ever speak to get close?
But like the tortoise, steady and slow,
I’ll build a foundation on which to grow
This week I visited the website of teacher-poet-author Cristy Watson in British Columbia. On Wednesday I noticed she was busily writing comments on The Poetry Marathon site, so I stopped to read her bio. She is a poet and an author of hi-lo books for reluctant readers and English language learners — books I never get enough of in my context. I went to her blog to read more. She also likes poetry contests. The annual “2-Day Poem Contest” was one she entered in April. It’s one poem in two days using 10 assigned words.
I decided to try this poem challenge for fun because Poetry Friday was coming. The words for 2021’s contest were: palm, embank, sheer, wrest, lacuna, whizzed, runny, mustard, balter, and nubivagant. After spending some time with the dictionary, I decided to write an ars poetica (the art of poetry) poem. I used this poem by A. MacLeish for inspiration:
A poem should be still
with sheer force, until
that lacuna of hope
is filled within a frenzied soul.
A poem should embank the heart
with love and joy to impart,
to wrest the indignant and bitter
from the toxic tank of hate.
A poem should be a seed–
a mustard seed of faith to plead–
held in a child’s palm,
so easy to lose,
but so much to gain.
A poem should be slow and steady.
Not whizzed through like a tempest
taking out a swamped ship–
Instead a calm, nubivagant journey,
a shelter from the stormy blast.
A poem should be license to balter,
open, unchecked, dancing at the altar.
Dulcet and dauntless,
liberating to Wholeness.
A poem should be free-flowing,
without fear of knowing,
Molten, melted and runny
in all the right places.
A poem should just be
and let the heavens decide.
Allusions and Inspirations:
Stanza 1 – Mark 5:1-20
Stanza 2 – Acts 9:1-19
Stanza 3 – Mark 4:30-32; Matthew 18:5-7
Stanza 4 – Mark 4:35-41; “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”
Stanza 5 – 2 Samuel 6:14-16
Stanza 6 – Luke 10:38-42
Last Saturday and Sunday I participated in the Poetry Marathon. It was rewarding to complete, and fun to try to keep up with drafting a poem, posting it on a WordPress blog at their site, and then doing a little living the rest of the hour, including trying to squeeze in sleep sometimes. It was suggested we wait until after the marathon to comment on others’ poems, which was good; I’m sure there wouldn’t have been time. I did manage to write 28 poems in 24 hours.
I always keep a list of poetry prompts and mentor poems handy, so I came with that list to the 24-hour event. That was a good idea because sometimes I didn’t feel inspired with the optional prompts they provided. Here are a few of the poems I wrote, these ones inspired by this Poetry Friday community:
After, write a chapter,
words and lines use summary.
Words describing a story,
a visual, a communicator
ready to ready thinking,
parroting powers of description
It doesn’t mean much, haha! It was from a page in a booklet of After Reading Comprehension Activities I put together for undergrad education students one year, but the process was fun.
Next, I wrote a nonet about hunger inspired by the post Laura Shovan wrote a couple of weeks ago. It was a call for poems about World Food Day with inspiring, forward-looking messages against hunger. You can read more about this call for poems on Laura’s blog if you are interested. The deadline is September 10.
Quivering, savage, ravaging pain
Intolerable, mean, and fierce
Hunger hollowing inside–
But…a just full world can
drive off hunger’s pangs
food for all;
When something is lacking or
more is needed,
when there is only a bit
of any particular thing,
a deficit of dimes for the coin collector,
a scarcity of snakes for the snake lover,
a shortage of shoes for your tired feet
a dearth of earths for the whole hot world–
then we can say there is a paucity of that thing.
Everything around you is
at the park–
a magical, generous, glorious,
windowful, open stream of joy.
Sitting in the tunnels,
worn smooth from years of
children sliding, crawling, playing,
imagining, creating, resting inside.
These concrete cylinders were painted in
bright primary colors–red, blue, yellow–
free, generous, worthwhile, relaxing,
Saved from an inelegant assignment of
stopping floods in a culvert somewhere.
serve as playthings.
Everything around you is a plaything
at the park.
Finally, one of the prompts at the Poetry Marathon was to write a self-portrait. The mentor text was by a Polish poet named Adam Zagajewski, “Self-Portrait”. I found it to be a great skeleton for my own poem. Have you read his work before?
By Adam Jagajewski
Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter
half my day passes. One day it will be half a century.
I live in strange cities and sometimes talk
with strangers about matters strange to me.
I listen to music a lot: Bach, Mahler, Chopin, Shostakovich.
I see three elements in music: weakness, power, and pain.
The fourth has no name.
I read poets, living and dead, who teach me
tenacity, faith, and pride.
Last week Linda hosted Poetry Friday and offered us a clunker exchange. This was my first time with a clunker exchange, so I wasn’t sure how to play along! I did love taking the line about Susan B. Anthony and doing research about her. I wrote a septercet sandwich poem about Anthony.
As a result, I continued to consider rhythm and rhyme. I tried two more triolets, inspired by Buffy’s rhythmic cicada song poem she wrote last month: “At the Oak’s Brown Skirt.” I also tried a triolet last month, but in that one I just counted eight syllables per line. This time I tried to be intentional and write in a certain meter. First, I tried iambic tetrameter, which is the common meter for English triolets:
No Algorithm for Rhythm
Afraid to write a poem today
I learned too much about the art
But not enough to bloom away
Afraid to write a poem today
Oh, will I ever find my way?
Remember I just need to start
Afraid to write a poem today
I learned too much about the art
I tried another one in trochaic tetrameter with truncated feet at the end of each line (that’s a mouthful, which I had never heard of before!)
Believe in Science
Give us science, real and sound.
Fauci, during novel strain,
Follows facts for virus round.
Give us science, real and sound.
Study will control the crown–
Vaccinate so health will reign.
Give us science, real and sound–
Fauci during novel strain.
I’m not sure how successful I was, but I will keep trying!
On another note, this week I cleaned out all the old drafts on my blog. I happened on one that I wrote in December 2013 about an event that happened in 2002. It seemed somehow appropriate for this Poetry Friday since I’ve been working on meter. Here is the post I wrote, but didn’t publish eight years ago:
I was sorting through my children’s things, scanning and purging after years of saving everything that came home from school. I found poems Maria had written in eighth grade. This paper with two scribbled poems was different from most of the things in her keepsake box. It wasn’t an assignment I had saved, but a scrap of paper that I recovered after she did her homework.
Her class was attempting rhyming with various rhyme schemes and rhythm patterns. She was struggling with the assignment. She didn’t want to write poems, and this was one of her first attempts:
This is a dumb assignment.
It needs some refinement.
You should put it in confinement.
Or sell it on consignment.
I was so excited and said, “I think that’s amazing. I’m going to share it with your teacher.”
She was quiet and continued working. Very quickly she passed her next poem to me:
Do not! I’ll get in trouble.
Don’t burst my bubble.
Sadly, I don’t know what she ended up turning in that next day because this post is all the memory I have of this scene.
Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol Wilcox. Have you read Carol’s beautiful 30 days of poems about Raising Rooney? During April this year, Carol wrote a poem each day about the service dog she has raised from a puppy–starting with “Beginnings” to when she realized “I’ve Got Rooney All Over Me,” as she had to say goodbye. Each poem tells a story, helps us get to know the ins and outs of raising a service dog, and touched my heart as a reader. This collection will be a lovely gift to the person who is blessed to receive Rooney as their service dog.
Last week Ruth Hersey’s post was so bittersweet and beautiful. I’ve been thinking of it all week. It inspired me to notice the birds (and people) here in Bahrain all week long. Thank you, Ruth, for the inspiration. Using a Maya Angelou quote that has been on my mind, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”, I wrote a Golden Shovel poem:
we have birds here, like they do
in detroit and haiti and all over the
world. we know birds are best
in their wild brilliance and you
will do well to realize these birds can
exist in this blasted heat, up until
their feet melt into the pavement. you
can measure this desert against what you know,
thinking your birds are better,
but linger here, savoring their coos and vision. then
take your cue from the birds who know when
and how their next meal will come. Do you?
they don’t farm or collect salaries, but they know
their father in heaven better
than I often do.
rain of mercy, fall on us so we receive better
After I wrote a rambling “narrative” sestina, I wanted to try to learn more about meter, so I went to Bruce Lansky. He’s the king of da-DUM-da-DUMs, in my opinion, as he really knows how to write in that sing-song rhythm:
I began to collect lists of words, seeing which syllable in the word is stressed. I’m not sure why I made these lists–perhaps looking for support, inspiration, patterns, or what-have-you. This week I’ve played a bit with using the words to make equations, a menu of sorts, perusing the lists and thinking of better words. (e.g., da DUM da + DUM da + DUM da + DUM + da DUM = iambic pentameter.) Is that right? I have been playing with rhythm in my waking and sleeping. I’m not sure how successfully. Here is a sampler of couplet sizes I tried out this week.
Iambic dimeter (2 iambs)
Beyond all hope
Afraid to cope
Iambic trimeter (3 iambs)
The Light of God aglow
And Evil takes a blow
Iambic tetrameter (4 iambs) (Inspired by a real conversation I had with a student this week after we watched this video.)
We have a pup and no hedgehog,
but not no more; she’s now a dog.
Iambic pentameter (5 iambs) (Pigeons on my window sill)
Their cooing comes in waves of ease and whim
Alive and free, no cage can stop their hymn
Iambic hexameter (6 iambs)
I am alive in sweet embrace, a lovely scene
Of morning quiet during spring, so fresh, so clean
Iambic heptameter (7 iambs) (Two lines rewritten from my sestina)
We battle systems over people, country’s soul is near;
Our hope portrayed in Kamala brightens every dappled fear.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Peace in Knowing
live for wide sky to sip sweet dawn
a dove is slow and deep
Bring peace if I need a hand
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.
I have never had to carry things as heavy as Ping describes here, things which refugees throughout history and today have to bear. This poem is heartbreaking and inspires empathy, and hopefully it will inspire me to take action. Please read the rest of her words, along with a lesson plan to teach it, at Poets.org: Teach This Poem: “Things We Carry on the Sea”.
We will be carrying some things home when we leave Bahrain, but chances are good because of our privilege we will fly in a jet across the ocean with a few suitcases of our special possessions to bring home. My May Poem for today is about my present and future homes inspired by Michelle Kogan. I love the words she creates and chooses, as she did on this post (rose-tipped and gypsy-stemmed), this post (cone-wove and beak-fluff), this post (ginger-spice-edged) and this comment (flicker-orange and tee-root). And on today’s post (poppiness and banana boats and strawberry spice). Such sweet words!
Because of Michelle, I wanted to try words with hyphens and also paint my own picture for today. I drew and painted a Kingdom of Bahrain door leading to my “magical” place inspired by the guided imagery on this episode of Art Date with Miss Kate.
When drawing with Kate, I thought of our home in Joshua Tree, California, where we will hopefully move at the end of 2021. Here is my painting and related poem. (I’m not sure if mine is considered an ekphrastic poem because I didn’t really describe the painting, but it surely inspired my words.)
Into the Door
The here-to-there Door
Where we will say our
Ma Salama مع السلامه
To two-Waters warmth,
Our hospitable Haven,
To sweet-hope Home
Wide open to where
Point to Life-drenched Promise
I decided on May 1 to write some #MayPoems, not knowing if I would do it for three days or further into the month. Well, so far I have written and posted each day in May with a different prompt, inspiration, or a response to some treasure I found while reading or observing. This Poetry Friday community has encouraged me and provided nourishment as you have read and commented on some of my May Poems. Thank you.