Saturday, February 27, 2021

February Poetry with Ethical ELA

Before this month closes out, I wanted to share the five poems I wrote for Ethical ELA during their monthly February 5 Day Open Write. Every month, for five days in a row, educators come together to share poetry. How I love this poetry writing community! Each day we are presented with a poetry inspiration and encouraged to create a poem of our own. I am introduced to new poets, reading lots of fabulous poetry, and stretching myself in whole new ways.

Here are my February poems:

Day One -

Allison Berryhill kicked off the five days of poetry writing with the inspiration Sonnets (Don't Run Away)  and, with Valentine's Day just around the corner, I challenged myself to write a sonnet for my husband. I'm not sure I ever wrote a sonnet before. It was very challenging! I seem to write narrative poetry - telling a story...

To Tony

You leaned out the window into cool night

Sweaty giddy tired from so much dance

I still see you pausing, precious that sight

Whisper wonder, do you dare take a chance?

Both of us stuck, weighing past hurts and pain

We took the risk lovers always invite

Something in the night air, a soft refrain

To be tender, open, to hold on tight

One night filled with laughter, music, and play

Birthday party, for a friend of a friend

Providence works in mysterious ways 

This is our tale told again and again

Love heals, love hopes, love laughs, love holds us still

Day in, day out, love is, love always will

Day Two -

David Duer provided the inspiration Let's Meet Somewhere, sharing a poem by Diane Seuss entitled "Let's Meet Somewhere Outside Time and Space." We were encouraged to begin our poem with those three words 'Let's meet somewhere.' Here's where my writing took me - 

Let’s meet somewhere
between the said and unsaid
your truth my lies my truth your lies
abandon the bright bombastic red
toss aside the condescending blue
shut down our echo chambers
slip through the barbed wire
dividing us
bloodying us
let each of us
to consort and contort
to lift all that is
precious in this world
above our heads
with one hand
while standing on one foot
while our other hand
reaches across the midline
towards one another
to hold this position
the quiet
unrelentingly off-balance
the mix of trepidation and trust
acute need for
one another
the ground we share
the hopes we hold
let’s meet there

Day Three -

Rex Muston provided the inspiration called Out and Back, and shared William Strafford's poem Traveling through the Dark

Here's my poem -

“let the children play”

to the untrained eye, there we were, teachers and preschoolers
on our one block walk to the community playground, however,

this minimizes the work of a wiggling, winding, weaving procession,
herding cats, really, with endless congestion and delays along the route

multitudinous mishaps with shoes and laces, hats and mittens, coats and
zippers, not to mention irascible line partners and unplanned sightseeing

oh my, truck, oh my, broken glass, oh my, everything, anything, fabulous things,
the scurrying full stop movement of preschoolers, one block becomes ten miles

We arrive jubilant,
me in the very front, when,
in one sudden, sly, and deft moment,
I see, grab, and hide

three bullets

lying on our path

a glance, entrance, in trance

and so ensues teaching as improv, teaching in two minds, staying composed while my
insides falter, a blur of joyful children run, laugh, play, and my eyes search the environs,

wondering if there was someone still here that was up to no good
wondering how might I protect these little ones
wondering how quickly I can get us all back to school

how far away school seemed

one clutching hand
touching fear

burning, searing, hating, hurting, devastating in my pocket

Day Four -

Rachel Lipp provided the inspiration called Steps to Being, sharing Brandon Leake's spoken word poem "Steps to Being Brandon Leake." It was very challenging for me to imitate Brandon Leake's approach, in large part because I am so much older! (The poem would have gone on forever...hahahaha) Here's what I wrote:

“a part of me”

I was born
long enough ago
to know that
details must be scrubbed
if attention spans will survive

a part of me
will always be
5 years old
at my brothers’ antics

a part of me
will always be
12 years old
by my mother’s mental illness

a part of me
will always be
17 years old
in my room writing

a part of me
will always be
19 years old
late into the night
with girlfriends

a part of me
will always be
22 years old
to be on my own

a part of me
will always be
27 years old
falling in love

a part of me
will always be
35 years old
by my young family

a part of me
will always be
40 years old
to become a teacher

a part of me
well, you get the idea,
the years go by
I grow, I hold

a part of me
will always be

Day Five -

David Duer provided the inspiration called Alternate Names - A List, sharing the poem "Alternate Names for Black Boys" by the poet Danez Smith.

Here's where I landed:

Alternate Names for Grief

all is well and then it isn’t
needing to be alone when with others
needing others when alone
enormous weight of empty
sudden onset of vivid memories
becoming comfortable with cold comfort
full stop in the midst of busy
elusive and resounding last words
realizing no one sees the holes throughout your body
solace of birds, tea, quiet
making one’s way through wilderness
lost in the middle of the night, without map or stars to guide
seeking company of bare winter trees
tendency to be two places at once
a time to be gentle with oneself

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