Posts Tagged ‘national poetry writing month’

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 20: On Storage

April 20, 2021

This poem is also an entry for the Slice of Life weekly writing challenge. Go give them a visit!

What do you do with all of your ideas,
they wondered
that you gather during the day?

She thought a moment,
pursed her lips
looked real hard to her left
(as if something were there)
then she shrugged her shoulders and said,

Depends.

The idea might be thin and wispy
so I’d carry it like a scrap of paper,
tucking it wherever it might fit best

Or it might be rough and scrabbly,
so I might work it with my hands,
roll it around my brain
until it’s smooth and shiny

For the one that might be handy
I’d plunk it into my pocket
and carry it around
with the keys
and the loose change
and the day’s worries
until I needed it

Some others still
just need to live in my mind,
traveling in and out of rooms
whispering when they want to
and shouting when they must.

Poetry Month Day 19: Litter-ati

April 19, 2021

Her head is littered
with poetic debris –
random shrapnel of thoughts
the daily barrage of metaphor
that obscures her vision:

the cairn of rocks from her nature walk
how trees grow through fences
(and how they’re like some teachers)
the many places where she stores her ideas
how grief attracts more attention than joy
the waiting-for of lilacs
the student who opens her eyes to hyenas, misunderstood
the giving-away of writing time
(and the pale ritual she’s resigned to)

She can’t not see things as a poet,
without lines and images swirling,
accumulating in staggering piles
so all she can do is
sweep up after herself
or open the door
and let them blow away

Poetry Month Day 15: Investment

April 15, 2021

When I was ten,
my grandma-from-California
paid for me to have piano lessons
and whenever she came in town she’d
sit me down at the piano bench and say

“Well, let’s hear my investment,”
and I’d play
And most often she would nod and smile
as I played
because I sure did practice
because she needed to get her money’s worth

And then in high school
I learned how to play guitar
on a four-dollar flea market cheapie
and I’d struggle in my room for hours
with guitar chord charts
torturing the life out of
Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Peter, Paul & Mary

until my mom brought me to the guitar store
before I went to camp, saying it was
“to get a better case for you,”
except it was for a new guitar,
a hundred-dollar one,
with a real case
with real fake furry lining
and I thought oh boy
I sure need to practice
because she needed to get her money’s worth

And now that I’m a writer
and I’ve poured myself into words
and I’ve started to understand
that even though I mostly shout into the void
I still have things to say

so I’ve bought myself a real live
domain and a real live plan
which might change the way my soapbox looks
or maybe it might not
but it might be a way to put my money
where my mouth is
where my fingers are
where my heart is
and I deserve to get my money’s worth.

Poetry Month Day 8: On Cockroaches

April 8, 2021

When you get down to it,
We really should like
Cockroaches
More than we do.
They are evolution’s rock stars,
Shining beacons of
Persistence and carrying on
And all that jazz.

I should offer nothing but respect
But
The very thought of them scuttling
(I can’t picture them doing anything but scuttling)
On floors
Over counters
In
My
PANTRY
Is enough to send me
Past the heebies
Into the full-on jeebies

And
I know this says something about me
And my lack of humanity, that
It is a metaphor for
Tolerance and compassion

And
Call me a monster
If you will
But
There is satisfaction
In a well-timed
Crack and
Squish.

Poetry Month Day 1: Untitled

April 1, 2021

is what you call a poem
when you sit down to write
and the words flutter
every which-way
despite your
pleas to
land

is when you have just wrestled
metaphor to within
inches of its life,
nailing it down
tying it
to a
chair*

is for words wriggling too fast
when you try to capture
them, but they keep on
squirming away,
writhing out
of your
hands

so you just shrug your shoulders
and you dust yourself off
and call it a poem
and set it free
and away
you can
go

*a reference to BIlly Collins’s poem, Introduction to Poetry

Poetry Month: Piece of Mind*

April 2, 2020

I sit on the floor, legs splayed,
Jigsaw pieces scattered
My work is cut out for me.

Most people open just one
But I wonder where the fun
Is in that.

Take out one box, two boxes,
Six
Dump the pieces out and
See how it comes together.

You say you like to sort for
Edges
Colors
Patterns
Good luck with that.

It would be nice
For pieces to make sense
Between themselves, but
Too bad they are now swimming
In different ponds.

You’ll find a match,
Make forward progress on
One
Two
Switch your attention
To the next
Or the other
Or was that the first?

No mind.
Plow through the jumble
Keep trying
Until something
Anything
Resembles anything.

It may not be prudent
Or efficient
Or practical
Or wise,
But think of the satisfaction
When at last
You have a fit.

—–

*I’m not going to lie. This is the kind of stuff that I did as a kid. I’d dump a bunch of puzzles together and solve them at the same time. My days of e-learning feel very much like that challenge.

When Poems Find Me

April 17, 2019

Sometimes a poem strikes me, and I’m able to write it in the moment. I get an idea for an image, a phrase or a metaphor, and I just can’t help myself.

Other poems are more coy. They want me to write them, but maybe I have too much to say and don’t know how to squish it all down. Or maybe I feel too strongly and the words haven’t quite yet translated.

I’ve been trying to write this poem for about three years now. It surfaces each time I ask my fourth graders to personify an attribute or emotion. I keep wanting to write this poem, but it’s eluded me. It doesn’t help that this assignment comes around the same time of year I lost my brother, and writing about grief while I’m feeling it is…well…messy.

This year, for whatever reason, this incredibly patient poem decided it was time. Enough with the nonsense. Just write already. So I wrote. Here goes:

Grief

I am Grief.
We may not
Yet
Be familiar.
But we will,
Some day.

When we first meet, I am
Everywhere,
Awaiting you in moments
Large and small.
I hold you tight enough
To steal your breath.
Or hide behind a corner
Waiting to spring you
In the off-chance you have forgotten me.

People know me by
That tell-tale dimple on the cheek
That one song that comes on the radio
The telephone call you go to make before realizing
You can’t.

People never consider
How attached I am
To Love.
But there we are,
Always intertwined
As best friends are.

People never consider
I am not one to be escaped
I am not one who should be escaped.
I want to whisper,

Come.
Sit with me.
Let me surround you,
Enfold you.
I am here, yes.
And so is Love.
As you sit,
And as you sink,
You might just fall.

Let us catch you.

-© Lainie Levin, April 2019

Right Poem, Wrong Assignment

April 24, 2018

Today I had my fourth graders write about something small, taken for granted, or unappreciated. We started with a poem I wrote and shared about lowly feet. Then it was time for the kids and me to get cracking.

I meant to do the assignment along with them. I really did. But I couldn’t think of ANYTHING to write. So after a few minutes of being blank (which felt like an eternity) it struck me that perhaps boredom itself goes unappreciated.

In I went to compose a poem elevating boredom through poetry. But then a different poem came out. It’s still one I kind of like, so I’m sharing it here.

The kids still have me on the hook for the real assignment, though.

Boredom

When my pencil
(poised above paper) awaits,
Anxious to do the bidding
Of my master/mind
Yet no command comes
A standoff:
As my hands
(eager to get moving) wonder
What is wrong with
The machine that moves them
And my mind
(unused to blankness) panics
When finding itself
In silence.

So my imagination
(relenting to this break in the action) sighs,
Succumbs to numbness,
Twiddles its thumbs
And waits
For a lost, lonely idea
To find its way
Home.

More Important Things

April 23, 2018

Once again, I got to enjoy composing alongside my students today. This group of fourth graders was also working on “important” poetry, but we decided on pencils as our object. Here’s my contribution:

The Important Poem

The important thing about a pencil
Is that it is sharp.
It’s long, it’s yellow
And you can twirl it between fingers
If you teach yourself how.
It gets shorter and shorter, especially
When you sharpen it to the perfect point
And blow on it
Because that’s what you do.
And whether it is
Fresh-out-of-the-box-new, or
Worn down to a tiny
Eraserless nub that you
Pinch in your fingertips,
It will still take
All of the pictures
That circle your brain
And give them to the rest of the world.
But the important thing about a pencil
Is that it is sharp.