Posts Tagged ‘poem’

Assigned Writing: A Poem

May 21, 2021

This May, I’m committing myself to writing student-assigned topics. Some of them might be cut-and-dried, some of them might be bears. And some of them will reveal themselves in the writing.

Today’s assignment: Write a poem.
(I’m not going to lie. I may have juggled things today so I could use it as an excuse for poetry writing.)


You know,

On days when you are adrift
in the sea
with nothing
but that horizon-perfect circle

you might catch
out of the corner of your eye
bobbing out there in the waves
a leaf,
a stem
with a timid bloom on top

and you wonder
what on earth
is a flower doing
way out here in the ocean
but you pick it anyway
and it gives you something to hold on to
in the middle of all this nothing

and then the current turns you around
and look there,
another leaf
another stem
another flower
was it there before?
and how did i ever miss it?

and the more flowers you pick
the more flowers you find
and the more stems you gather

until you realize

you are not in the ocean at all
but standing, planted
in a garden
of your own creation.


This week was a doozie. I felt adrift in many directions.

And then a colleague brought me some cake. And friends, I know that food doesn’t solve problems. I know that cake doesn’t make everything better.

But it does make SOME things better, sometimes. And on that rough morning, those bites of sweetness were a simple reminder that the love we put into the world sometimes does, indeed, come back in our direction.

And then a former parent reached out to me to tell me what her grown-up kid was up to (once a lovey, always a lovey).

And then my irises, sent to me by my dad, emerged to bring me a yearly reminder of him.

And then I sat with some friends for bubble tea and validation.

And then someone thought of me at the grocery store.

And then I got to see reluctant third graders roll their pride into a ball and play puppets like no one was watching.

And all of a sudden, I had a whole bouquet of wonderful, right there in my hands. More than I can even count.

Strange, isn’t it, how life works.

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 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 18: Poem

April 18, 2021

Today is a Sunday. Which is traditionally my Sunday Sit-Down day. But it is also April 18. So today, Sunday Sit-down will have to take a proverbial back seat.

Six years ago today, I was with my husband, enjoying a beautiful spring day while working the hostas in the garden. I received a phone call that my brother was in the emergency room in St. Louis, five hours away. Things didn’t look good. I lightening-quick packed a bag and jumped into the car, only to find out he was gone by the time I hit the highway.

After a seemed-like-forever road trip, and after a few heartbreaking hours at my sister-in-law’s house, and a weary, disconsolate landing at my parent’s place, I was alone, silent with my thoughts. Six years ago, on that couch in a darkened living room, I felt myself in the midst of everyone’s else’s grief and sorrow and this poem is what came to me. I’m sharing it again now.


So I heard this story the other day
About a guy
Who saw a lama for his pain.

And the lama
Had trained his heart
To grow big as the sea
So it could shoulder the
Burdens of the suffering
And replace them
With love.

The lama
Asked for the guy’s hands
And took them
Into his
And he asked for the guy’s grief
And took it
Into his heart
And the guy felt better.

I want to do that.

Not to be the guy.

The lama.

Let my heart swell
Limitless
Let love flood.

Place your hands into mine.
I will ask for your pain
And my heart will open wide
Wider
Wider
And swallow your pain
In love.

Poetry Month Day 13: A Win for Standardized Testing

April 13, 2021

*Special thanks to S.T., whose gratitude for her time together with classmates together inspired today’s poem

Dear Standardized Testing,

Thank you.

Thank you
for bringing me these loveys –

Thank you
for bringing me these loveys –
these loveys who miss one another

Thank you
for bringing me these loveys –
these loveys who miss one another,
who have not been together

Thank you
for bringing me these loveys –
these loveys who miss one another,
who have not been together
in this space, in actual human form,

Thank you
for bringing me these loveys –
these loveys who miss one another,
who have not been together
in this space, in actual human form,
in thirteen months

Thank you
for bringing me these loveys –
these loveys who miss one another,
who have not been together
in this space, in actual human form,
in thirteen months
so that once again they could play

Thank you
for bringing me these loveys –
these loveys who miss one another,
who have not been together
in this space, in actual human form,
in thirteen months
so that once again they could play
and challenge one another to relay races

Thank you
for bringing me these loveys –
these loveys who miss one another,
who have not been together
in this space, in actual human form,
in thirteen months
so that once again they could play
and challenge one another to relay races
and remember how easy it is to remember

Thank you
for bringing me these loveys –
these loveys who miss one another,
who have not been together
in this space, in actual human form,
in thirteen months
so that once again they could play
and challenge one another to relay races
and remember how easy it is to remember
how good it is, sometimes, to be a kid.

Relay races, stretch breaks, hang-out circles and general tomfoolery

This is also my post for the Tuesday Slice of Life challenge. Check them out!

Poetry Month Day 12: Why There’s No Poem Today

April 12, 2021

I was way too tired at the end of the day
from running around as the human pawn
in a Nintendo game,
and I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

I ran out of good words to string
together by ten a.m. and
ran on fumes ever since then,
so I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

I know that writing is the best way
to express all of those things
bubbling up in and around my heart
but I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

There are times when writing
just feels like another burden to shoulder,
something else I’m President of,
so I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

And if you ask me why I’ve written
neither stanza nor line,
just know that I’m skipping my poem
’cause I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

Sunday Sit-Down #13: All The World

April 11, 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.


All the world is a very narrow bridge*

between the world as I know it
and the one too many others live

between power of identity
and the insistent tug of justice

between guilt for sins of fathers and mothers
and the compelling urge to act, to do

between apologies for who I am, what I represent
and the abiding sense of right and wrong

between my moral compass
and true north, shifting beneath my feet

between the self I am
and the one this world needs me to be

the important part is not to be afraid


*Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

Poetry Month Day 9: Humor, Badly Timed

April 9, 2021

Humor.
It’s all timing and audience.

The feeling of having a joke
that is absolutely
hysterical
but having to one to tell it to
well that’s rough.

I mean, I know
what I’m saying is
WILDLY inappropriate.
Maybe even dark.
It’s also
really
freakin’
FUNNY.

And I can’t even laugh as loud as I would if I heard that joke myself because who laughs out loud at a time like this anyway, I mean board meetings and Yom Kippur services and brother’s funerals are all NOT laughing matters and how dare I laugh right now but I can’t escape the humor of some things so I swallow it down and half hope my face conceals the laughter below and half hope that someone will ask me why I’m almost smiling and half hope they’re a person who’d get it if I told them.

But just know.
if you see an certain expression on my face,
you don’t actually want to know what I’m thinking.
but if you’re the sort who would,
you asked for it.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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.