Poetry for Everyone!

In approximately a week, I will be wrapping up a unit on poetry I have been teaching to some of the important little people in my work life. The last month, exploring poetry as an educator, has been one of the most enjoyable times in my career. Having reawakened my love for poetry over the last few years and now living that love in the classroom has been surreal and magical. Watching young people express themselves through poetry has reaffirmed my belief that poetry is one of the most accessible and meaningful forms of expression.

Simultaneously, I saw playfulness, learning and confidence emerge…one eight year old who is so in love with potato chips, he had to make mention of them in every poem (and he made this work!)…another kind-hearted charmer who used his poems to bring a fresher, sassier side of himself to life…and a young, brilliant musician humming after each poem in an attempt to match her words to music.

There are so many places to go with poetry, so many spaces to occupy, so many people to be and become. Write on friends of all ages and share that love with everyone you know who will listen 🙂

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with a hand on my heart

i pledge allegiance to step forth
when asked to step down, to hold no flag
to hold this generation tight
make them accountable for apathy
(apathy=death) you see their faces everyday.

to remember the children
lost in the name of false allegiance
i pledge allegiance to anger
letting it blossom into something more than fruit
to eat beautiful.
because i know what it smells like to be spring.

one of the lucky ones, i pledge allegiance
to the human body, still attached
from birth to death. pledging for each one
i said i loved until death do us part
sweet sorrow, i lie parallel to you.
you, my country, have no right to speak
on behalf of the world.

I was inspired after reading Safia Elhillo’s masterful poem, Self-Portrait with No Flag. It comes to mind every morning lately when I need to stand for the pledge with my students from around the world. The hypocrisy is striking in relation to our current domestic and foreign policy objectives. So my loyalty is to the small ones, to the next generation. May we teach them to know their own self-worth, no matter their origin.

One Drink

I came to myself
the boiling pot whistling
profane massacres
across the hall.

and I never made tea again
I watched the emptiness
of the sky
and this room the air could pass a thousand
birds through its spaces
for the many days the
living had left.

There must be empty
spaces inside the body
for a single drink that doesn’t scream—
I win
in spite of the world.

Writing and Knowing

I’m feeling inspired by the poetic guidance in The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. Presently reading the chapter “Writing and Knowing”… hence the name of this poem.

Writing and Knowing

I know the kitchen, the confines of its smell
sometimes escaping the borders
of acceptable behavior. the waft, the clouds
the cycle sourced from my hands.
this delicate surgery has transformed into
an excellent prognosis, bubbling
but cohesive, wet without being soup
love without being complicated.
sit with your shoulders up. elbows
off the table, on the table—it doesn’t matter.
service is inconsequential, shape is a secondary thought.
we are empty stomachs and full hearts released
from responsibility.
our destiny is no longer in my hands, maybe it never was.

What Doesn’t Change

Moving orients as well as disorients. It provides reacquaintance with what you’ve kept hidden in both a physical and metaphysical sense. The objects, these passions of the past, reminisce as settings, complex emotional frameworks.

I found today a reading response journal, a piece of my journey into understanding. Pages and pages of epiphany as I was coming into myself as a young college student and a naïve visionary. I look back on my words in mystery and sorrow. How much passion we lose as life plays games with our resilience.

I want to share a bit from this with thanks to my favorite professor of the past for bringing these insights to the forefront, for opening my world. You guided my journey, wishing, with regret, that I could have done more.

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Course: Introduction to African Colonialism
Reading Response Entry 6/16/1999
In Response to Violence, Exploitation and Racism in Africa

Out of all the entries this gave me the greatest pause as it provides relevance for what is happening present day in the United States. More importantly, the professor responds by asking of my responsibility to share my understanding almost as a premonition of what our present day responsibility will be. As a nation, our people are being manipulated to hate and to fear the innocent among us solely for the economic gain of those who could care less about our lives and what the average citizen will suffer as a result of their propaganda machine.

In moving, in movement, we travel with the same understandings and the same responsibilities to speak with our hearts. Reaching out from the mindfulness of 1999 to the people of 2016: reflect, share and act. I, like many, have not said enough.

Saying Goodbye To Home

I lived in objects until they became voices
in the corners of every wall, and we woke
to understand that memories could contour
without letting go, indispensable partners in life,
mocks us in physical matter, until the humbleness unravels
at the sound of footsteps passing by.

I thought I was the only one to carry these babies
that space deserved no credit,
the warmth of a given setting was a consequence
of a secondary movement,
that feet grew through the floors in given years
the alignment of faces and windows,
smiles in how we counted growth, measuring sunshine,
your youthful beads of hair took hours to
be forgotten, this floor called to you to
crawl, this ceiling called to you to stand
my body was nothing when the door called
to you to run, to find a place behind my eyes
where you could whisper dreams, sleep
and wake to the kindness of morning light.

It lived inside, matter, where people grow into
bodies of flesh, thoughts and years to piece together
stories, that you knew me here and we talked of other places
never wanting to leave the one we knew.

The joy of doing nothing

dusk and dawn and
the pages in between
the perfect ambience
of a quiet day
I resolve to write you to sleep
wake these weary eyes
after the guilt
of clumsy fingers subsides
ah, what sensual guilt
to rest in indecision
the horizontal body
against the star-filled sky
I fear these eyes will not wake.
together. we may weigh more than the morning sun.