Poetry Friday – #Verselove 2024 – A Week of Poetry 4

Today is Poetry Friday with Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town, where she is dreaming of her beloved Haiti.

What a fun surprise I had in my mailbox this week! Thank you, Marcie, for the Haiku Zine. The photos and haiku are so precious and life-affirming.

Here are a few #Verselove poems from this week at Ethical ELA:

22. Thank You Mother Earth with Donnetta Norris

Who would have thought–
more than we wanted, more
than we needed of
the gifts of Mother
Earth would have led us here?
Has she not
bled enough to get our attention?
For she is speaking to
us not just on Earth Day.

The worry is every word on
Earth can’t poem enough,
is not loud enough for
the masses to do something
right here. Is there any hope that this
side of gasolinism and of consumerism and
of lithium and of greedium
history will ever not destroy us?


This golden shovel has two lines from Andrea Gibson’s “Homesick: A Plea for our Planet” for the striking lines: “Who, more than the earth, has bled for us” and “The earth is the right side of history.

Another Earth Day Blitz poem, where I tried to be more thankful…

Earth for Earth

Thank you, Mother
Thank you, Earth
Earth rising
Earth boiling
Boiling too much
Boiling in anger
Anger of depth
Anger justified
Justified this day
Justified forever
Forever creation
Forever healing
Healing despite
Healing strength
Strength to bury
Strength to overcome
Overcome indifference
Overcome pollutants
Pollutants of attitude
Pollutants of consumption
Consumption of greed
Consumption of fear
Fear of sharing
Fear of caring
Caring for earth
Caring for our mother
Mother of grace
Mother of mercy
Mercy rainforested
Mercy extended
Extended throughout
Extended worldwide
Worldwide growth
Worldwide grace
Grace of comfort
Grace of care
Care to try again
Care of renewables
Renewable energy
Renewable creation
Creation of hope
Creation of green
Green and blue
Green comfort
Comfort in our hearts
Comfort for Earth
Earth is our Mother
Earth is our choice
Choice
Mother

23. April Showers Bring May Flowers with Anna J. Small Roseboro

Louder than Hunger

Jake longed to be
Invisible. He heeded
the Voice shouting hate

FOOD’S THE ENEMY
His demons screeched their deceit
But Frieden listened

Step by step, sometimes
Back, finally crossed the bridge
Rejected the troll

Embraced poetry
Musicals, healing, light, hope
Grandma’s strength still here

John speaks up and out
To youth and all: Find your voice.
Find your people. Peace.


About this poem: I finished the book Louder than Hunger by John Schu, and the character’s life experience (and the author’s, as well) fit the prompt of April showers turned into May flowers.

24.  Writing the Night Sky with Kevin Hodgson

We, too, are made of wonders, of great
and ordinary loves, of small invisible worlds,
of a need to call out through the dark.

~Ada Limón (“In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa”)

Great Bear

We were traveling yesterday at about 550 mph
(Too fast for us to comprehend this 737’s power) but
Are we really? I am reading Edward Hays who

Made this book called Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim
Of whom I am one, I hope (she actually
Wonders as she writes this poem). It is

Of interest to remember the 3 constant movements of our
Great earth: 1) spinning on its sweetly-tilting axis at 1000 mph,
And 2) journeying in order around the sun at 66,600 mph

(Ordinary for us, for we hardly recall it.) And 3) Mother
Loves sailing together with the whole family
Of our solar system at 43,000 mph. That last

Small miracle means we hurtle further into the
Invisible space over a million miles a day, into
Worlds not yet in existence, daily new creation

Of our Divine Mystery. And yet, here we are in
A jet, feeling humanity is mastering science. We
Need to look up and remember, in awe

To live both body and spirit, day and night, to
Call to the creator within, and to live
Out loud in our exterior life. Ursa Major

Through time, has become mostly
The Big Dipper. We see his tail and rump, but
Dark on his head and legs, yet he’s all still there.


About this poem: That was a journey and a half through all the thoughts in my head this morning. I read Ida Limón and had to use her precious last stanza in a golden shovel and her form of three line stanzas. Then I was reading this expansive thought book yesterday that reminded me of today’s prompt “Writing the Night Sky.” Third, I picked the well-known Ursa Major as my constellation and couldn’t let him go, so they all just collided into this mess. I’ve trusted Edward Hays for the stats within. I love the Big Dipper, and even though the stars are great out here in the desert, I rarely can make out any other constellations. I learned today that the Big Dipper phenomenon (a part of a bigger constellation) has a name for that, an asterism. I’ve never been able to figure out the whole Ursa Major, even though its the largest northern constellation.

Photo by Nadiia Ploshchenko 🇺🇦 on Unsplash

25. “Where I’m From” with a Twist with Tammi Belko

I am Demon Copperhead
(After George Ella Lyon and Barbara Kingsolver)

I am from somewhere in Virginia
Southern Appalachia
from a too-hungry teen mom and a drowned father
whose demon was spawned by starving hearts
from a single-wide rental
and a soon drug-satiated dead mother
From the Dog of America getting kicked
I am from fucked up foster care,
child labor, and a dog urine bed
I am from snakes and hillbillies
(and with up-yours pride I wear the label)
From lovers of my broken life–
from Maggot and the Peggots
from June and Emmy
and from Dori and Angus
from my youth being used up way early
and my brief football stardom
I am from art pencils and markers,
the release found in creating
I am from busted knees, pain killers,
and sports doctor malpractice
I am from lost boys in a Dickensian tragedy,
from Fast Forward and Swap-Out
from big corporate greed
who blow the tops
off our mountains
who strive to remove
the cooperative land economy
of my once-thriving people
and green growing place,
from companies who demand
we use the taxable cash system of the city
I am from Redneck superheroes, like Tommy Waddles
I am from the moments marked from the get-out to lose
but turning out happier-ever-after than most


Italicized phrases are direct quotes from the book Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.

26. Poetry as Billboard with Scott McCloskey

The 21st Century Art of Poetry

The art of poetry according to Horace
is complicated and intimidating (my assessment).
In a 476-line poem, he instructs young poets,
“Whenever you instruct, be brief…”

Oh, he gives lots of instruction. One example,
A poem should have charm as well as beauty.
He gives ancient Greek lessons
on iambus and spondee,
Oracles and orchestras,
Wisdom and leeches, Diana
and how a play should have exactly 5 acts.

“If I fail to keep and do not understand
these well-marked shifts and shades
of poetic forms, why am I hailed as poet?” he asks.
(Actually, that is a translation of what he asks.)

I think poetic forms are great myself.
I like having parameters that help me write.
Maybe you do too.

But I would suggest that poetry
can be billboard length, as well.
(Thank you, Mr. McCloskey.)

“Cut a good story anywhere and it will bleed.” ~Anton Chekhov

“Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.” ~Robert Frost

“When you put your words to paper, they live inside my head” ~Jennifer Guyor-Jowett

“Every little thing is gonna be all write. Just write.” ~Fran Haley

“If someone says you aren’t good enough,
Laugh and write a limerick about them.” ~Leilya Pitre

“Take life by the shoulders…Write it a poem.”  ~Joanne Emery

A poem is a what we need right now,
And you are hailed as the poet.

27. Sounding Off with Jessica Wiley

I just read an article by Robert Reich, “Elon Musk’s Grotesque Distortion of Capitalism” so I am channeling Reich’s sounding off, as this is mostly a found poem.

All About Money
for mercurial idiot savant
unprincipled robber baron
sociopathic leader who
demands vast
wealth and power
scoffs at norms
wants total control
no regard for anyone
but self–demanding $47
billion salary package
with threats if
shareholders don’t agree

Tesla laid off 14,000
without warning
(parking key didn’t work
one day)
minimum severance package
with stipulations–
no lawsuit
no arbitration
no publicly defaming
Tesla.

American capitalism
coming apart because
of people like Musk,
extorting shareholders
and shafting workers

28. Strike & Write Poem with Glenda Funk

For Grandma  Mom
I’ve been writing this since
I was six years old born and we
young ones had to climb
and you had to handle into the brokenness of life
with really without a partner window
to unlock the door to get all
into the house where the birds
had taken up residence
then after Dad died you
became the go-to giver
of all things for Grandma,
one being to restore
the bird and rodent infested
old homestead
for her.

I’ve been writing this since
that house homestead Grandpa
built in the 40s became your home
after Grandma died in the 80s
and that kitchen where she used to cook
became where you cooked,
we watched you make
popovers being just one of your masterpieces–
you gently beating the eggs and milk
and stirring in the flour
until just moistened.

I’ve been writing this since
your index finger spatula-ed
out every last bit of the batter
you poured the popover batter
into the mismatched custard cups
not caring about wasting that last bit
(a clapback at the not-so-great Depression
of your childhood, perhaps)
and baked them for what seemed
(to my children) like hours
at two different temperatures

I’ve been writing this since
those popovers, with their custardy
interiors and crispy toasted outsides,
came out of the oven
into the history of a new generation
who broke them open and enjoyed
and added
honey
or boysenberry jam
or syrup
the steam rising as honey drizzled
and boysenberry jam glopped
thank you, Jennifer
and We ate our fill
on those slow moving much faster
deserty mornings
at first Grandma’s house later your house

I’ve been writing this since
I found those old custard cups
high on a shelf in Lori’s laundry room
and she welcomed me to take
them home, and now I’m
I became the grandma who bakes popovers
in the desert. And you would be glad
wouldn’t care at all to hear
that I’ve got your
Grandma’s magic spatula
finger so I don’t waste a drop

29. First Time for Everything with Fran Haley

Firsts I Considered Writing About Today
my first sister-in-law who died last month
or all the ‘firsts’ from this week alone:
     the first time I started an official bird watching life list
     the first time our cabin bedroom got a closet
     the first time I ripped out sticky vinyl tiles
     the first time I got myself stuck on a sticky vinyl-less floor
or any of the “firsts” on the list of memories
I wrote this morning before I got word that
my third sibling died yesterday

30. Congratulations, Verselovers 2024

I lost another sister this week. Three years ago I wrote a poem about my sisters here during Verselove: https://www.ethicalela.com/24-30-snapshots-in-time/#comment-38674 Today I used that poem to write a blackout poem, and it’s attached as an image. There were 7 of us in my family, and now there are 4. Each sibling has died suddenly, no illness and no warnings. While it certainly can be counted as a blessing not to die by inches, it’s still shocking for those left behind. It’s also humbling to see my own expiration date on the horizon.

Slice of Life and October Open Write 2023

October 24, 2023 TwoWritingTeachers.org

I spent so many years of my life overworked and overwhelmed, and now here I am in retirement and I needed more to do. I told my husband today that I wish we could spread retirement out over our careers and enjoy a little boredom, respite, and rejuvenation throughout the years. On that note, I volunteered for the Friends of the Library in our town. They needed someone to figure out how to do email blasts, so I said I could do that. I went to MailChimp (or as the FOL board president has started to call it–ChimpMonkey. I’ve started calling it that too.) It was not difficult to learn, and today I successfully added contacts and sent out different newsletters to each of the four segments of our audience. It was rewarding, and such a treat to have time to sit and work without distractions.

A few pictures of late:

I love an early moonrise.
These berries on this tree were so interesting. Using Lens, I think it is a cypress tree. Do you know?

 

This week is the Open Write at Ethical ELA is going on this week. Here are the poems I’ve written so far:

October 21, 2023
Found in Artwork with Erica Johnson

Dancing

La Grande Vitesse–
great swiftness–
is on its toes
This suspect stabile
is a dancer
Even those
who don’t dance
Can walk around it
Walk up to it
Dance with it
Never the same

——————————————————–
Found poem from this article
Images of La Grande Vitesse

October 22, 2023
If Your Shoes Could Talk with Tammi Belko

My Boots Are Talking

Hey, we’ve just gotten started–
These desert trails are great.
Hope you don’t grow again
Or we’ll end up in a thrift crate
before we’re properly worn,
just like your last sole mates

The inch I’ve lost in height
has been added to my feet–
An unfortunate birthright

October 23, 2023
The Luc Bat with Wendy Everard

Celestial
Marshmallows burnt just right
Settled round the fire light—cold backs
Warm fronts, time to relax.
Then looked up, viewed star tracks—chatter
turned to higher matters
Universal star spatter, bright moon
Soul space, Divine commune

October 24, 2023
It’s My Birthday!! All Month with Donnetta Norris

Inspired by “August Moon,” a poem by Emma Lazarus. I used this striking line: “Look! The round-cheeked moon floats high in the glowing August sky.” Her poem reminded me of this moon last August:

Take a Look!
Time for a surprise, for the
calendar has yet to turn round
and this orb, full-cheeked,
is shining again–blue moon
they call it. Super moon floats
above the mountain, lighting high
and low across the sand, just in
time for popcorn on the
porch and the glowing
cozy comfort of this August
evening, falling up into the sky

October 25, 2023
Take a Word for a Walk with Anna Roseboro

Children buried in rubble of war.
Are children only flesh and blood
literally–just children born to bleed
die survive as children no more?
Adopting hatred of elders, children waste
Justice and peace! They’re our children!

September and October 2022 – OPEN WRITE

November 23 with Tammi Belko “Color Personality Poems”

I am Orange,
optimistic and friendly
Yes, let’s do it.

I am Orange,
perceptive and nurturing
What do you need?

I am Orange, and
need to practice self-care
OK, I need a break

I am Orange

November 22 with Katrina Morris “Ekphrastic Poetry”

Dark and pastel petals play
Filaments reach to the light
Your art journey grew that day
Dark and pastel petals play
Some of your future fears allayed
With Mr. Furlong’s keen foresight
Dark and pastel petals play
Filaments reach to the light

November 21 with Kim Johnson “Unphotographed”

Eyes

You were resting with four others
on the bench in the Souq at City Centre,
sitting at various levels,
one on the back of the bench
two on laps,
all looking in one direction
generations of faces,
or eyes, really–
black abayas
draping your bodies,
niqab veiling
your faces

My uncovered face passed by you all.
In my curiosity about this unfamiliar scene
I wanted to remember your striking family,
so as I passed by I filled up my eyes,
and you smiled at me with yours

 

November 20 with Kim Johnson “One-Word Poem”

How Many More Times Will Professor Kevin Nadel Wake Up to Yet Another LGBTQ+ Hate Crime?

#StopKillingUs

Screenshot_20221120_183246_Twitter.jpg
November 19 with Kim Johnson “The Monostitch: One-Line Poem”

NCTE

Old and new friends, free books, and great big ideas

October 19 with Scott McCloskey “(Bad) Advice”

How to Not Deal

Burn all your candles on both ends (at the same time, of course).
Don’t ever stop to journal, write, think, or pray.
Play loud music, while watching a scary movie on Netflix.
If anyone asks how you are–how you really are–don’t tell them.
Or, you can say, “fine” (that’s safe).
Eat the whole package of coconut caramel dreams.
Smoke a pack or two of cigarettes.
Blame others, it’s all their fault anyway.

 

October 18 with Denise Hill “American Sentences”

National Unity Day–it’s a day for standing up to bullies.
What if someone would have stood up to me when I bullied Mark Bailey?
I’ve come far since sixth grade, but tomorrow’s day reminds me of hatred.
How was I so empty and hurting that I wanted to hurt instead?
To attempt to make someone else more emptied and hurting than myself?

October 17 with Carolina López “I’ve Been Writing this Since”

I’ve been writing this since
I was too young to remember
you, with your toddler curls bobbing,
squeezing me with obvious pride.
You were finally a big sister.
And since we slept together in the same
big bed, sharing treats and secrets,
Since I took money from your giant-sized
piggy bank without asking.

I’ve been writing this since
you were a senior who thought
you were too cool for this
pesky freshman, but you told Mom
my bad news and she came to
pick me and my broken heart up
from school that day.

I’ve been writing this since
you cooked Mexican food for our
rehearsal dinner and chili and a
salad bar for our reception, and since
you wouldn’t come out for the family
photo until I got a little bridezilla, saying,
“In 30 years I won’t remember that the
chili was burned, but I’ll see that she
isn’t in the photo.” And you came and
managed to not burn the chili.

I’ve been writing this since you
were in the hospital for a hysterectomy
because of ovarian cancer
before you were able to have any
children of your own. While I had two
and you never did. Since you spoiled
my girls with expensive gifts like Gameboys,
and baked them cakes and took care of
them when I had surgery myself.

I’ve been writing this since that summer
when you told me the house next door
to yours might be for sale and we went to
the county office and wrote a letter to the
nephew of the owner who had died, since
you took care of it all those years we were
overseas, and now since I’ve come to live
here and be your neighbor.

I’ve been writing this since Saturday
when we went garage sale-ing and
filled up your truck with bargains and
treasures and since today when we
tore tiles and dry wall off the
shower walls at the Mountain house,
and I’ll be writing it still tomorrow when
you do your tile artwork and I help.

I’ll be writing this when I’m too old to remember

October 16 with Anna J. Small Roseboro “Living Between Two Worlds”

Peering down the hallway
at dozens of doors
lining both the left and right sides
so many of them bolted shut now

Once I oscillated back and forth
choosing the best possibility
regardless of affiliation
I valued nonpartisanship

Doors I used to seriously consider
are now permanently closed for me
The hallway has gotten so wide
absolutely cavernous really

I find myself on the left side
interested only in those doors
for democracy is under attack
our republic is at stake

Elections and peaceful transfer
of power are foundational
Other issues can wait
We need a blue tsunami

October 15 with Anna J. Small Roseboro “It’s All in the Mind”

The audacity of hope
Helps us cope
When all seems night
Hope holds us

Helps us cope
A smile, a shelter
Hope holds us
Safe in everlasting arms

A smile, a shelter
Unshakable and sure
Safe in everlasting arms
Wait and hope

Unshakable and sure
See the stars
Wait and hope
Sing boundless beauty

See the stars
When all seems night
Sing boundless beauty
The audacity of hope

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