Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Today is day four of the Ethical ELA's July Open/Write, five days of poetry writing with other Teacher/Writers. Again, I step into the poetry wild! Our challenge is to compose a "monotetra" - which is described as follows:

The monotetra is a poetic form developed by Michael Walker. A monotetra poem uses quatrains (four-line stanzas) in tetrameter (four metrical feet) for a total of eight syllables per line. Each quatrain consists of mono-rhymed lines (so each line in the first stanza has the same type of rhyme, as does each line in the second stanza, etc.). The final line of each stanza repeats the same four syllables. This poem can be as short as one quatrain and as long as a poet wishes. 
For me, such writing is akin to completing a puzzle, as I wrestle with words, syllables, lines, in the midst of a message or theme. Truly, a challenge!

I continue to wrestle with this transition that I find myself in - no longer teaching, what comes next? This ended up being the focus of my poem. Amusingly, I keep hearing the refrain from the children's book/song "Going On a Bearhunt" - which inspired the title.

Can’t Go Over It, Can’t Go Under It


All that was true is now no more

Cannot return to time before

Saying farewell hurt at the core

Paused at the door, paused at the door.


So unsure, and scared to admit

No clear ideas, only tidbits

Like kids’ bear hunt, courage commit:

Must go through it, must go through it.


Dreams in the dark give a soft clue,

Forward beckons, this much is true

Think of it as a sweet redo

Trust in the new, trust in the new.

Here are the comments I received from Sarah Donovan's Ethical ELA website:

Denise Krebs

Maureen, what a hopeful poem in your situation. I love the courage, resilience, expectation. These monotetras are really lovely to read aloud. I really enjoyed reading yours today, as I am in a transition this fall too. Thanks!

Tracie McCormick


SO much to unpack here in this little poem!

First, I love that you are equating the big kid decisions you are making related to this pandemic/your retirement with the little kid decisions made in this well-known children’s book.


Because this HUGE challenge is so HUGE and powerful and scary that it has reduced us to being vulnerable young children without any control over our lives.

“All that was true is now no more
Cannot return to time before”

It is easy for us to advise youngsters about moving on from painful experiences and to let go of the past…that is until it happens to us as adults! Then, it is not so easy!

“Like kids’ bear hunt, courage commit:”

How often do we tell our youngsters to face challenges like the first day of school, or sports tryouts, or musical auditions and simply say, “Don’t be afraid.” As though summoning such necessary courage is so simple! It’s not! We see that now.

“Trust in the new, trust in the new.”

And what is the hardest thing for kids to feel these days? Probably trust! This generation knows disappoint every time they turn around: friends betray their secrets, parents separate their family, their heroes and idols commit crime…yet we tell them to trust that things will be okay. Again, as if we even follow our own advice here!

I think that is why I felt a special connection with my students from this past school year. We were not categorically separated as adult and child during the pandemic. We were simply equal partners going on a bear hunt together.

Mo Daley

Maureen, your poem gave me all the feels. Your first stanza is so sad- I genuinely teared up! The second stanza shows us your trepidation and determination. And the idea of a sweet redo is just beautiful. I want to keep telling myself to trust in the new!

Margaret Simon

I love the use of the bear hunt as a metaphor for this virus life. I hear a sense of hope in your final stanza, “The way is forward, that is true…Trust in the new, trust in the new.” I hope retirement brings you new adventures that you never imagined.

gayle sands

Maureen—I began reciting the entire thing, and how true—Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Gotta go through it. I retired unexpectedly for the same reason. I am having trouble with this going through thing. :-/

1 comment:

  1. The sweetness of your spirit comes through in this wondering poem. I am impressed by your ability to rhyme!!!