Archive for April, 2021

Poetry Month Day 30: Winding Down

April 30, 2021

All of the tasks about me are stacking up
I’ve made and abandoned my to-lists
there is email waiting, work to grade
and please don’t ask about laundry
or the comments and the posts
Oh, to inhale poem
And exhale relief
All I need are
the right words
but first –
sleep

Y’all, it’s been a long month. It’s been trying. I’ve been tested in ways new and old over the past weeks. I’ve been in the wrestling ring going different rounds with my idealism, my cynicism, with perfectionism and imposter syndrome. I’m glad and grateful I’ve given myself permission to write every day, to love what I write sometimes, and NOT love what I write sometimes.

Tomorrow, I’m making a shift from poetry. You’ll see verse, of course – I can’t escape my favorite genre for long. And I’ll still do my Sunday Sit-downs on race. But I *do* have a trick up my sleeve, and I’m excited to share it with you!

Stay tuned…

Poetry Month Day 29: Signs

April 29, 2021

This evening
I saw
out the doors of my gym
a sun shower
and after showing
a six year-old how
wonderful the smell of rain is

I dodged the drops
to my car
all the time looking
at the contrasting steel gray sky

Knowing this was the
perfect time and place
for rainbows.

I craned my neck
as I walked,
then drove,
scouring,
searching,
wondering
how there could
NOT
be one anywhere

And then it hit me
that there are some times
we want signs
we pray for them
and search for them
but that won’t make them appear

Until
I drove north
and was doubly rewarded
so I’m not sure if it’s a sign
to be guarded in my sign-seeking
or if it’s a sign
that maybe I shouldn’t
ever doubt
in the magic of signs

Poetry Month Day 28: There Are Worse Things

April 28, 2021

than the obvious sources of joy:

a box that arrives
out of the blue
with an armful of books
and a brainfull of ideas

or a pupper who plays,
overjoyed
with absolutely
every
single toy she can find
(especially when they squeak)

the smell of lilacs
coming to me
in odd waves
as I step out of the car
or turn the corner around the block

and some bits of joy less plain:

the kid
who originally gets the answer wrong
but makes you realize that yes,
masks can be wonderful
because they are scary
because some people have fun
in the scaring

or the teenage son
telling me I’m like cheese
or potato salad in human form
and knowing it comes
from love

because joy must be accepted
as a gift,
with both hands,
however it is dressed
or wrapped
or bagged
or handed over
or slopped on a plate

Joy,
even in its
least flattering forms,
is still joy.

Poetry Month Day 27: Once Upon A Time

April 27, 2021

Of the ohsomany
soapboxes I yell from,
there’s one that lies
at the bottom
the one upon which
all others stand

It’s the one I first uncovered
in the dimly-lit museum
at the base of the Gateway Arch
as I listened
rapt
to the storyteller

and I couldn’t even tell you
who it was
and I couldn’t even tell you
what they told
just
that I wanted to be
up THERE
doing THAT

And it was this soapbox
that got me my first teaching job
after the interview was over
when the principal came back into the room
and said
you said you were a storyteller
tell us a story
and so i did

And it is this soapbox
I get to dust off every so often
when I visit a classroom
and share in the magic

And it’s no surprise to me
the way they listen
the way the rowdiest
the goofiest
the trickiest of all to reach
the squiggliest cans of worms
stop to listen
rapt
(I knew they would)

And it’s no surprise when
the struggling readerwriter
stands on that soapbox and
flies
shines
thrives
when it’s their turn
to speak what’s in their bones
(I knew they would)

Poetry Month Day 26: Bouquet, Interrupted

April 26, 2021

A single dandelion
is just a weed,
poking its spiky leaves
right where it has
no business being

and yet

a field of them
is a wonder to behold,
I thought as I gazed at the
carpet of yellow and green
on my way in from
today’s fire drill.

And then I saw her,
her kindergarten fingers
clutched clumsily
around the stems
she picked
and held while she was in line
and wanted to carry inside
I didn’t see her go in

but

I found these where she had stood.

Did she get bored?
Was she told to leave the outside, outside?
Did someone tease her?
Was she startled when someone said boo?
Was there a grown-up too preoccupied
To see and recognize her gifts?

Perhaps one of those things.
Perhaps any of those things.
We will never know what she intended,
only what she left behind:

glimpses of beauty
yellow, fragrant, withering
along the sidewalk

Sunday Sit-Down #14:

April 25, 2021

Each Sunday, I’m working my way through my experiences with race. I’ll share stories and memories from throughout my life. I know I’ll encounter moments of growth that I wish I could relive. I’ll also have to think back on choices that I wish I could remake. Come join me each week.

I remember in college
having room in my schedule
for a couple of extra classes
so I signed up for
multi-culti studies

which is where I first learned

about white apologizing
and also what-about-ism
masked as curiosity

and I remember
how hard I worked
to understand criticism of
dominant culture

and I remember I tried so hard
with my Nation of Islam paper
to understand how people could
hate my people
so very much
that I almost explained it away,
rationalized the caricatures
in the Final Call comic strips

but Professor McCarthy said
no
sometimes prejudice is what it is,
regardless of
whether it comes from the disempowered
and I thought

huh

well I guess that’s something new.

And I remember trying to make sure
my student teaching experience
brought questions of diversity past
FOODFOLKSFUN
so we had a debate about immigration
which was actually pretty eye-opening
(as a matter of fact,
so were the swastika doodles
one of my loveys drew in his notebook)

and I also realized
that for most of my kids
the question was not about color of skin
but the freeness of their lunch

(and something tells me
much of that is still the case,
and that if people really figured out
that the shaft is given
to people across the racial rainbow
some folks would
really be in trouble)

so sometimes what they needed was
to keep making their
New Year’s Dragons, their
Kente cloths, their
tissue paper flowers

as long as the love poured free
and so did the morning snacks.

Poetry Month Day 24: Repairing the World

April 24, 2021

There was a lot that I enjoyed about writing today’s poem. For one, it came as a surprising counterbalance to yesterday’s post. I also gathered inspiration from my time today with an incredible group of educators through the Just Schools Cohort. The work my colleagues do inspires me to do better, to be better.

That, and the fact that I’m a complete math geek at the heart of things. It’s nice when I can flex that muscle every so often.

Those who wish to perfect this world
who wish it to be
smooth and round and beautiful
forget that a perfect sphere is only
a thing
mathematically:

understand. A circle
is but a collection of points,
the round world a fractal consisting of
infinite corners, with
infinite spaces between them

(and no matter how close those points stand,
we can find infinite points between them,
and points between them,
which is why pi is such a big deal anyway)

so maybe the question is not
about making our world
perfect and round

but

whether we can
connect those corners
those tiny spaces
within and
between
our selves
and others,
bending into formation,
connecting
point to
point to
point

and

perhaps,
rather than a sphere,
the shape of a perfect world

is an arc

Poetry Month Day 23: Draft Form

April 23, 2021

The poem I wanted to write
was an apology to my students
because today I was crabby and impatient

and how at first I thought it was about
technology
(because technology)

and not about how
there is so much about me
that is broken

and not about the outrage
that day after day after day
people are shot first and fought for later

and certainly not about the hopelessness
of knowing there are things I CAN fix
and nobody wants what I’m selling

and I wondered
why was I so angry
I didn’t have a reason to be
because it’s just jamboard and google slides

The poem I wanted to write
was angry
and seething
and resentful
and rage-full

and unwilling to be tamed by words.

Poetry Month Day 22: Pooped pup

April 22, 2021

Dog is crashed beneath my feet
but of course, that’s only
after a long walk,
a nice fat meal
some whining
and then
plop

playplayplayplayplayplayplayDROP

Poetry Month Day 21: On Opportunity

April 21, 2021

They say, sometimes,
that when God closes a door
He opens a window

(and yes I know gender is a construct)

but what I really want to say
is that sometimes
when God closes a door
what’s really meant

is for you to stay at home,
look around this place and say
hey
I kind of like this place
maybe I’ll spruce it up a bit