Thursday, May 20, 2010

"in the aud/i/tor/i/um"

in the aud/i/tor/i/um
for another music assembly

it's too late in the year for this
we've all got spring fever

and it's just too boring to listen
to musicians tell us how to say

music in five different languages
just play your music

and transport us somewhere else
because that's what we want now

have you forgotten how to read
your audience - or do you dismiss

that because they're just children
is this just another gig for you

that you want to be done with
because you played "Libertango"

beautifully and I wanted to be free

* * * * *

This poem is a response to the We Write Poems prompt to write a poem after listening to some music.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pacific Grove

In the excitement
of that first junior high
overnight field trip,
I ran up the hill by myself,
ahead of everyone else.
It was after dinner,
and I discovered the bus driver
playing the piano in the lobby
of our lodge.
He stopped
when he realized
I was there.
No one else heard.
I was the audience,
solitary, unwelcome.
I had broken something magical.
This is what I learned
on that field trip,
not the marine biology
that was the purpose:
Some people are far more
than they appear,
certainly more
than the work they do.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to day twelve's prompt to write about a city at Poetic Asides. It was one of the five poems that I submitted to Robert Brewer at the end of the month.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Things could be worse
for me I guess
At least my vision's still
good - and I'm getting better
at reading lips

Have you ever noticed
the overwhelming beauty
of human lips
and their diversity
I want to make a
documentary on lips

I can see their softness
and their strength
the supple flexibility
and the restraint
how small they are
where they leave off
and become face

I hope my doctor doesn't mind
that I don't look her in the eye

She must be used to it
still - I don't want her
to think me rude
but I can't afford
not to see
what she's saying
because I can only
hear about a third
of her words

She's telling me about the bundled
structures they've seen under
the electron microscope
so small even light waves
are too big - and how
they resemble stereocilia

Then I ask her
how soon a clinically
relevant therapy
will be ready
She tells me ten years

It's then that
my eyes wander
and now without
focus and attention
I may hear every third word
but I take none of them in

I'm not looking
to fill in the gaps

It's only when
I hear her tone of voice
change that I bring
my eyes up to hers
and the emotion
I see there
makes me cry
from them both

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the May 10 prompt at Big Tent Poetry about "listening to language." I was inspired by an article I read on Digg called "New Research Paves the Way for Cure for Deafness" which accounts for some of the language I used, including the title, as well as the theme.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Speaking of Boxes

My classroom is a box
If I were teaching math
I'd call it a rectangular
prism - but it's just a box
for teaching and learning

My dilemma now is
telling my students
to be themselves
and then minutes later
telling them to conform

What am I modeling
for them? I encourage
autonomy and then I
assert my authority

No wonder they're confused
even though I know
confusion is a good place
from which to begin learning

Is it a balancing act
one box in each hand?
one of reason and one of emotion
Or is it one big box
that is our burden?
What to put in and what to take out
our primary concern.

If the classroom is
that one big box
then what is our responsibility
in that shared space?
What do we add?
What do we take away?

And our houses and apartments -
what of those boxes?
And the blocks we live on?
The grids we drive on?

Maybe I'm just as confused
as my students.
Perhaps the box is
the wrong metaphor
for the classroom
too static
too linear
limiting rather
than expansive

I should have recycled the box
and moved on to real geometry
measuring the world
and talked of spheres

* * * * *

This poem was inspired by the boxes prompt at We Write Poems.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'll Show You

You left your back gate unlatched,
when you took out the recycling.
Even if you locked it, wood gates
and fences don't stop me.

I'm in your backyard now,
peering into your child's
bedroom, watching the slow
rise and fall of the sheets.

You think you're safe.
You think you're in control.
But you're wrong. Just you
wait until I show you how.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to day ten's prompt to write a horror poem over at Poetic Asides.

This also works as the day number three prompt over at ReadWritePoem to "write about something that scares you."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Media Diet

Over Mother's Day weekend, I read The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. I still haven't finished all of the Percy Jackson books, but I wanted to read this one quickly before all of my students had already read it. In case you're wondering, I'm about halfway through The Titan's Curse. The Red Pyramid is a good book. I certainly enjoyed it. If you liked the Percy Jackson books, then you'll probably like this one too. It has many of the same elements, young teenage heroes, mythology, action, saving the world, etc. And I liked how it was told with the alternating voices of the brother and sister main characters.

I saw Iron Man 2. I liked it. I didn't love it, but it was a good sequel. I wouldn't say better than the first, but, as sequels go, this was a good one. It had a lot of the same energy that made the first one enjoyable. It's worth seeing on the big screen. Plunk down your ten bucks, and then another ten bucks for popcorn and a soda, and enjoy.

I'm watching season two of Lost streaming on NetFlix. I'm late to the game as a fan of Lost, but man it's a good show. Last night, I watched episode 16, "The Whole Truth". I liked what we saw in the flashbacks of Sun and Jin, and Ana Lucia and Sayid as they go to find out if the guy they have locked up in the hatch is an "other" or not.

And I recently finished watching season four of Doctor Who, so now I'm all caught up and ready to start watching the new season with the new Doctor.

Today, at school, we had an assembly where we got to see this year's school play, Seussical, Jr. They've really put together a great production this year. Kudos to the students and parents who've been working hard on this play. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was pleased with how well the messages of Dr. Seuss came through. A person's a person no matter how small.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Message in a Bottle

Voyager was a bottle,
and it carried a message inside,
a gold disc,
ductile, malleable,
conducting bits of science
and art to the stars,
already quaint in our eyes,
in our world of wireless
everything except radio.

And now Mr Hawking warns
us that was a mistake,
as if some weren't already
thinking the same,
like Mr Leinster,
a science fiction writer
of the forties,
who imagined two space-faring
civilizations meeting in space,
and then covering the trail
back to their respective worlds.

Do we need to fear the unknown?
Aren't the odds so
(pardon the pun) astronomical
that we needn't worry?
A bit of hopeful thinking
just in case,
isn't that what a message
in a bottle is?

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the "message in a bottle" prompt at Writer's Island.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Poetry Prompts

Robert is continuing to post a Wednesday poetry prompt at Poetic Asides.

There appear to be three different groups that have continued something like what was going on over at ReadWritePoem. We Write Poems has a Thursday poetry prompt.

Big Tent Poetry has a Monday prompt.

And Writer's Island has a Saturday prompt.

I should have no trouble finding some kind of prompt to keep me writing. I'm sure there's more out there. I need to quit browsing and start writing.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"I walk, blinded by"

I walk, blinded by
hoping I don't stumble

this world is so dark
I can only

by always moving, looking
at where to place my feet

my own dark feet -
who have they left

who has fallen along the
are there yet some ahead

of me? I cannot see
their footprints in the

sand that threatens
and a slow, crushing death

so I keep trudging
towards that hope, that

of flight
of magic
of release

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to day six's prompt to write an ekphrastic poem. I Chose "Flight of the Witches" by Francisco de Goya as my inspiration.

Poem a Day Challenge Submission

I emailed Robert Brewer over at Poetic Asides what I think are the five best poems I wrote last month. While I think it would be cool if he chose one of my poems, I'm not going to get my hopes up. He's only going to choose 50, and I'm sure he's going to get submissions of at least 500 poems.

Whether he chooses one of my poems or not, I had a great deal of fun writing poems in April. I've never done anything like this before, but I truly enjoyed it. I've been writing poetry since my high school days, but I've never considered it a serious practice.

I took a poetry writing class with George Barlow at De Anza Community College, and I had one poem published in the student anthology the college put out that year, but that's the extent of my poetry publication.

I did try to take another poetry writing class when I went to UC Berkeley, but I was rejected. You had to submit a few poems to be considered for the class, which was being taught by Thom Gunn. I didn't make the cut. I kept writing poems, but once I graduated, my writing tapered off.

I have written a poem here and there over the years since, and as often as I've been able to manage it, I've written poems in my classroom when we've had Susan Sibbet from California Poets in the Schools come in to teach poetry writing.

But the Poem a Day Challenge certainly whet my appetite for more, and I'm having a blast writing poems, reading poems, and seeing how blogging and the internet are changing how people are writing and reading poems.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Did I Join Too Late?

So, this evening, I'm checking out all the poetry blogs that I've just discovered, and Lemon Hound mentions Harriet, kindly providing a link, and I go check it out. Lo and behold, it's a blog over at the Poetry Foundation, and it's changing into something else, not really a blog with places for people to comment anymore.

And, mid-month or so, I discovered ReadWritePoem, which also seems to have become defunct. I was very excited to discover it and learn that they hosted NaPoWriMo, which I didn't know about until I started poking around more as I was in the midst of the Poem a Day Challenge over at Poetic Asides.

And for reasons that I cannot find, ReadWritePoem "is no longer active." I'm not sure what that phrase means, nor do I understand why it's so.

Is the poetic universe sending me a message? Did I miss the boat? I'm just now finding all these great things that have been happening online, but they're changing on me just as I find them.

I'm trying not to be discouraged, because, frankly, I had a blast writing thirty poems in thirty days. And, had I known about NaPoWriMo sooner, I would have attempted sixty. As it is, I'm challenging myself to use those prompts to write another thirty poems over the course of May.

National Poetry Month may be over, but I'm just getting warmed up. I'm going to keep blogging, and now that I've started posting some of my poems, I'm going to keep doing that as well.

I don't know... I guess I was just starting to feel like I was participating in a poetry community, just getting my feet wet, and then they closed the pool for the season. Sorry, kid, you came too late.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Day Two: Water Poems

Here are some more poems and blogs I discovered:
* "Flood Stories" by Joseph Harker, who blogs at naming constellations
* "like water" by Chev Shire, who's blog is Whatever and ever
* "Regular White Paper" by Laura Kayne, who's blog is Life Distilled
* "Mixed Bathing" by Nancy Posey, who's website is Discriminating Reader. Her poem is not posted there; I read it at Poetic Asides.

I also like what I saw over at Pens and Pages Writer's Guild. Besides all the writer's blogs I've begun to follow, I'm also discovering many people who write about what they're reading.

Thirteen Ways

Less than a day's drive
from the snowy mountains
sits the city of San Francisco.

Water has three states,
a secular trinity
that provides life.

The autumn winds pull the fog
through the Golden Gate.

Hydrogen and oxygen
are one.
Liquid and ice and vapor
are one.

I do not know which to prefer
the beauty of thirst
or the beauty of slaking it.
Lifting the full glass
or emptying it.

Icicles filled the picture
above December's grid,
those barbaric teeth
of old man winter,
or are they instead
translucent carrots
growing in the sky?

O buff men of the city
surrounded by golden-skinned birds,
do you watch them as they drink
their vitamin water and sports drinks
after their runs along the bay?

I know the taste
of accented water -
the teas and coffees
and their rhythms
of afternoon and morning.

As the fog burned off,
its disappearing edge
was natural magic.

At the sight of the marine layer,
giving everything a gray light,
even the purples of pigeons
were a welcome flash of color.

He walked across the bridge,
stopping to look out at Alcatraz
-no glass cage for him-
and the fear
of too much freedom
and too much restraint
was the fog's shadow on him.

The sixteen rivers are moving.
The bay must be alive.

Then leaving in the morning
for afternoon snow-
and it was going to snow
they said,
watching the evergreens turn white.

* * * * *

This poem was inspired by the prompt to "write a water poem" at Poetic Asides.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

More Poems and Interesting Blogs

I just emailed a friend of mine with seventeen of the poems I wrote for the Poem a Day Challenge in April, asking him for his input. I don't know which five to select to send to Robert. My wife has already given me some input on some of the earlier poems, but she hasn't seen any from the last third of the month. She promised me she'd read them tonight.

For now, here's some more interesting poems I read this morning, or blogs that I've found intriguing. I like "and suddenly strange" at Whatever and ever. Over at Never Say a Commonplace Thing, I like both poems written for the last prompt of the month: "Flow" and "The Final Battle". "And suddenly, there were turtles" did not at first catch my eye when I read it in the comments at Poetic Asides, but I read it again at Emergency Metaphor Technician, and I like it. Two sites which I know I will return to because of the poems and the many links to other sites are: naming constellations and carolee sherwood. I enjoyed "Arbor Day" on the former and "Because she can't help it" on the latter.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

"the lonely poem"

the lonely poem
sat by itself
on a blog
with just one entry -

the poet never
came back
never gave the poem
any neighbors
any friends to talk to

it sat by itself
unnoticed, unread
a piece of internet
waiting still

perhaps you'll find it
and read it
maybe even share it
with someone you care for
and it will have
fulfilled its purpose

it won't be
the lonely poem

and you can carry
its thank you
for all of your days

* * * * *

This poem was inspired by the prompt "to write a lonely poem" from Poetic Asides.

* * * * *

So, today, I've started to post some of the poems I wrote in April. I won't post them all, because some of them just aren't any good. But there's a few that I'm willing to share.

Poem a Day Update

So, I wrote my last two poems last night. I successfully finished the Poem a Day Challenge. I wrote thirty poems in thirty days. (Yay me!)

I spent some time this morning reading poems over at Poetic Asides. I wanted to just focus on writing poems in April, but now that it's May, I want to go back and see what other poets participating in the challenge wrote.

I've added some more blogs to my blogroll based on the poems I read, and those were just ones I read posted in the comments for the twenty-ninth, the "and suddenly, (blank)" prompt.

I like "April Alumni" over at CrankyMango. I also like "And suddenly plumes" at our lost jungle. "An April Moon" at Across the Lake, Eerily is also a beautiful, well-crafted poem. "And Suddenly the World Was Big Again" over at surdus moved me. And, last for today, but certainly not least, is "And suddenly the ideas stopped" at The Ghosts of Silence.