Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Yes, it's time for the Progressive Poem again!


2015 Kidlitosphere
Progressive Poem

1 Jone at Check it Out
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
17 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
23 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

And here's the first line, courtesy of Jone...

She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium deposits of the delta

Friday, March 27, 2015

Poetry Friday: Chocolate Cake

I can't seem to find any poems about the college application process.  Odd, because it has certainly inspired plenty of emotion, both joy and anguish.  The highs and lows of March with my daughter and her classmates have been dizzying.  We are ready for a calmer interlude now that all the responses are in, and it's time to choose among the yeses, and soothe away the nos.

National Poetry Month is coming!

It's time to eat some poetry.  Preferably brownie-flavored.

Here's today's roundup.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Poetry Friday: Tears

The school counselor told me today that I am known by my colleagues as a person who can cry.  He also said that's not a weakness.  I'm not thrilled with my tendency to burst into tears, or the red eyes and nose I'm left with after I cry, but I'm trying to see my tears the way he said he does.  His words reminded me of a poem I wrote a few weeks ago, based on something my eye doctor said to me.


The optometrist suggested eye drops
Because in people my age,
The eyes make tears less effectively.

This has not been my experience.

My eyes make tears quite effectively still,
And in fact, better than when I was younger
And with less experience of all there is to cry about.

I can cry multitudes.

I could donate tears to others,
Less fortunate people “my age”
Whose eyes have somehow lost the ability to produce liquid
When they wail and sob and mourn.

My tears are a salty ocean,
Spilling down my face.
Tears for loss, for goodbyes too often said,
Tears for suffering, my own and others’,
Tears for commercials, greeting cards,
Tears for onions, chopped and diced.

Like the nine-foot version of Alice,
I too can cry a puddle large enough to host a Wonderland swimming party
Of mouse, lory, duck, dodo, and eaglet,
And several other curious creatures.
In my case, perhaps loggerhead turtles (not mock),
Unicorns, a tiger or two,
All carried off in the torrent of my weeping.

Tears that soak handkerchiefs and pillows and shoulders,
Rivers and cataracts and seas of tears,
Tears flowing freely through the hallways and streets,
Rising to the window,
Where I sit looking out at the passing sailors
With these wet, aging eyes,
Eyes that have seen much, and cried about most of it.

Ruth, from

Here's today's roundup.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Poetry Friday

Publication dates, due dates, whatever you call them - today I'm facing huge mounds of student writing, plus big weekend plans.  I hope to be back to posting next week (we'll see), but in the meantime, here's what everyone else is posting for Poetry Friday.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Poetry Friday: Oenone

Source:  Scanned image and text by George P. Landow.

Today in eighth grade we reached the part of the story in The Trojan War where Oenone resurfaces.  Oenone, as you may remember, is the nymph girlfriend of Paris while he is living as a shepherd on Mount Ida, unaware that he is really the prince of Troy, cast out of the city by his parents when the prophecy said he would destroy Troy.  (Honestly, don't these people ever learn?  You can't undermine prophecy!)

Paris abandons Oenone when he heads off, panting, to meet Fate and Helen, after Aphrodite promises him the most beautiful woman in the world to marry him, in return for Paris choosing Aphrodite in the beauty contest whose prize was the golden apple.  But at the end of the story, Paris is wounded by a poisoned arrow, and guess who is the only person who can heal wounds from poisoned arrows?  Yep, it's Oenone!

Paris goes back to Oenone on a stretcher, and she asks him why she should help.  Can't Helen help?  Maybe she's too delicately beautiful to be much use in time of poisoned-arrow-induced suffering?  All Paris has to do, for her to help him, is to tell Oenone that she is just as pretty as Helen.  Oenone is waiting...

But Paris just can't do it.  He dies instead, while being carried back on his stretcher to spend his last few minutes with Helen.  Of course, as soon as he leaves Oenone, she is sorry she refused her aid, and she rushes to Troy, arriving too late, and then getting accidentally killed by the javelin thrown by a Trojan sentry.

Middle school lesson: nasty breakups can come back to haunt you years later.  Be nice.

I found out today that Tennyson wrote a poem about Oenone.  It's not about the incident we read today, but about the beginning of the story, when Paris has to choose among Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite to be the recipient of the golden apple.  In the poem, Oenone begs Paris to choose Athena:

Here she ceas'd
And Paris ponder'd, and I cried, 'O Paris,
Give it to Pallas!' but he heard me not,
Or hearing would not hear me, woe is me! 

He just can't resist Aphrodite. He chooses doom, for himself and for Troy, and for Oenone.

Here's the whole poem.

Or you could listen to it read aloud, if you have nearly ten minutes to spare.  Those Victorians liked their long stories as much as the Greeks.  (And before you ask, no, I'm not planning to read the Tennyson with my eighth graders.)

But, you guys, what a great story the whole Trojan War saga is!  And it's amazing how many eighth graders are drawn into it.  I heard Rick Riordan speak at IRA about how middle school is the perfect age for mythology (I wrote about that talk here), and I really think he's right. 

Today's roundup is here.  Happy Poetry Friday!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Poetry Friday: A Lemon

My daughter made me a lemon cake for my birthday this week, so in honor of that perfect cake, I present Pablo Neruda on the lemon.

 "Still Life with Lemons on a Plate," Van Gogh, source

A Lemon
Pablo Neruda

Out of lemon flowers
on the moonlight, love's
lashed and insatiable
sodden with fragrance,
the lemon tree's yellow
the lemons
move down
from the tree's planetarium

Delicate merchandise!
The harbors are big with it-
for the light and the
barbarous gold.
We open
the halves
of a miracle,
and a clotting of acids
into the starry
original juices,
irreducible, changeless,
so the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.

Cutting the lemon
the knife
leaves a little cathedral:
alcoves unguessed by the eye
that open acidulous glass
to the light; topazes
riding the droplets,
aromatic facades.

So, while the hand
holds the cut of the lemon,
half a world
on a trencher,
the gold of the universe
to your touch:
a cup yellow
with miracles,
a breast and a nipple
perfuming the earth;
a flashing made fruitage,
the diminutive fire of a planet.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Poetry Friday, Ash Wednesday

A friend posted this on Facebook for Ash Wednesday this past week.  It was appropriate for the strange week I had.  We had the week off for Carnival, and then early Tuesday morning there was a horrible accident that resulted in the rest of the festivities being cancelled.  Instead of celebration, the government called for three days of mourning for the sixteen who died.  Yesterday, I spent the day with pregnant women, observing prenatal care, teaching on breastfeeding - thinking about beginnings.  And of course, through the whole week, I watched the international news, horrified by brutality and suffering.  "This day - like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received."  Yes, every day is unpredictable, often overwhelming.  We are marked by ashes, and yet there is also hope. 

Marked by Ashes
by Walter Brueggemann

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.
This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.
We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.
On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.
We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

Today's roundup is at TeacherDance.