Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Knowing Things

My poem is not on topic for this week's Poetry Thursday. This was inspired today after a conversation I had at school. Perhaps a bit more narrative than poem but here's what I have for today.

Knowing Things

Brooke looked up from
The The Popcorn Book today
to ask if she could
write a letter to the president.

She had a question about popcorn.

Do you think the president
is the best person to ask
about popcorn? I asked.

Well he’s the president.
He should know things.

I couldn’t argue with that.

I wanted this spring hope
of writing a letter to the people
because they had sat
around a table, drinking
strong coffee and figuring
out the world--
global warming

I’d write letters
with questions
and watch the mail
like an old-timey sailor
counting the days
to shore.

But it is only us
with our fathoms
of unknowing
anchoring us to
this mantle of earth
trying to peer
over the side
of the world.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Turn Around Luck


Teya throws up in the middle
of opening circle.
Nell knocks over her
pink cup full of water.
The phone keeps whining
for attention...
the normal daily attendance
but then explaining Tyra
has to leave early and
Teya will be back to class
her grandmother wanting her
to stay longer and then
Ms Emily?
Pick up.
The boot. They're putting the boot
on your car.

There have been times
when I've had parking tickets
scattered through my life unpaid
when this would not be wholly unexpected.
Today I could think of no ignored bills.

Someone comes to watch my class,
I run downstairs.

The social worker is trying to stall
the booters, but it's already on.
Why did you put the boot on? I ask
What should I do?
Parking tickets they mumble. Call that number
they point to the orange signage
tacked to my car.

Back upstairs I dial while my class reads.
Your call will be answered in 29 minutes
the line drones. I can't think of
29 minutes I'll have together in this day
to wait for answers.
I hang up.

Daya knocks over her water.
Teya goes to the bathroom
and throws up again.

Ms. Emily? the phone calls again.
Can you pick up?
They took it off. They came back and
it's gone.

The day sommersaulted
over a zigzag morning
into a green afternoon.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Poetry Thursday: The Unraveling

This week's Poetry Thursday prompt is the body knows. I spent some time drafting a poem for the draft, but nothing worth sharing came out. So, I'm reposting a poem from the fall about skin...which was a direction my poems were heading in during my drafts.

The Unraveling

Bria is peeling off her skin
in strips, like an orange
from the tip of her index finger
across the canyon of her palm
scattering the refuse across her desk
like a thin curl of pencil shavings

That the skin can come off
with just a thumbnail is a puzzle
it is all that connects the insides
these muscles, bones, veins--
the very center the very heart
could tumble onto the floor
if this gauze disappears

One more layer and there will be
a prick of blood waiting, she convinces herself
this will be her smoky red earth
her something strong her something
good this will be her root
she digs like a child looking for China

there's not one scarlet drop

All this fragility
this is all we have


Monday, February 19, 2007

In Which We Take on Things Bigger Than Ourselves

Six weeks.
Six long weeks.

We wrote our fast food
anti-McDonalds play
and rehearsed it
into oblivion.

We learned lines
and practiced
keeping our faces
to the audience
(I was known to cackle
I'm looking at your back!
your back! your back! your back!)

We made backdrops
out of crayon and paper
and stuck it to the wall,
empty cups and Big Mac wrappers
served as props

After three days of ice and snow
they took the stage
giggly and nervous
hoping their lines would be funny
crossing their fingers
they wouldn't say the wrong thing
when the boys were in the audience

loaded with helpful tips
I gleaned from drama class
in high school sophomore year

sometimes we find ourselves in places
where a hundred other people
could do a better job
so we lean on what we know
say the lines, make a set with crates
and hope it's enough

Our cast photo


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Where We Lean on Our Hands Looking Out the Window

This week's Poetry Thursday topic was to write a prose poem. I must say I often skip over prose poems when I come to them in a book. I like my poetry to be poetry and my prose to be prose. However, I thought I'd at least try my hand at it.

This has been my week of pondering the snow day. On Tuesday we teachers were checking websites, watching weather patterns and whispering behind our hands, hoping for an early closing. Today we got a snow day and so I've enjoyed Jamaican rum pancakes and laying on the couch with my valentine...and even working on writing some curriculum. There is something perfect about having a day with no obligations. It's a gift. Here's my poem.

Where We Lean on our Hands Looking out the Window

Kneeling at the thin computer glow, teasing out the promises of meteorology, the low and high pressure areas stretching across the country in swaths of red and blue. I watch the changes like a presidential election then reach one long arm to fold the grey sky in half, six times, and trim it with scissors. Triangles and ovals, thin slits falling down like hole punch rings and moons. The streets are lined in blank paper. Salt. Rice. Popcorn. Milk. Ceilings laid end to end. All this dreaming for one cold perfect day.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Winter Scene

I pass this tree on my way home from school.
It reminds me off how much work there is to be done in this world.
It has me looking for spring.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Poetry Thursday: What Doesn't Change

The theme for Poetry Thursday is changeI decided to think of the absence of change for my poem. Somehow lately I've been struck by the things that I can't change.

What Doesn’t Change

the slant cold of February
sinking into socks

the war droning
like time at the mva

the test-- waiting
at the doorstep to

the streets wide and grim
looking for children
to swallow

the boarded houses
standing sentry

the eleven o’clock news
full of yellow tape
and glass stories

this is what
we glimpse
out our window

even the pavement
is groaning

we grip tight
this tired space

straining our necks,
looking for the green
of tomorrow


Monday, February 05, 2007

Little Tragedies

"She was beat with a belt"
after the consequences had been
passed out by me
the afternoon before

Of course there were marks—
bruises on the back of her legs
while she mistakenly asked to meet
rather than protective services

The police were called
to hear her story--
to record the official
to be stored
in a computer

These little tragedies
piling up
like laundry

this afternoon, so ordinary
and forgettable
seared into

the winter sun
slipping under
the classroom blinds