Day 22: 30Poems 30Days

(Poet’s note: Sometimes, the writing of songs comes easy. It’s as if the song were there in the guitar and just needed a doorway out. Other times? Not so easy. Those are the days when I seem to have lost the key.)

Six strings humming
on a melody
with me strumming
in hopes that a song will fall
into my lap
and write itself.

You can listen to the poem in my voicethread.

Peace (in the poems),

Day 21: 30Poems 30Days

(Poet’s note: This poem comes from the parent in me watching my sons go out the door to school or play. We live in a very safe neighborhood, as far as that goes, but I still worry. And the metaphor here is about me and them and the world, I guess.)

I’m not afraid to say
that every time they walk out that door,
I worry.
If only I could tie a string to their belt,
harnessing them to me
so that I could gently tug them back
when I miss them.
But out they go, tucking my fears into their backpack,
forgotten in the moment of play.

Here is the Voicethread of this week’s poems so far:

Peace (in calming the fears),

Meeting Billy Collins — really!

I just had the pleasure of shaking hands and chatting with the wonderful Billy Collins — who will be speaking to the entire National Writing Project assembly in the next hour. Andrea, Aram and I (thanks to Aram for pointing him out) let Billy Collins know how much we love his poetry and we talked briefly about teaching poetry in schools and whether teachers in the NWP wrote poetry themselves (or, he asked, were we a small minority? We — he called the three of us poets, which we are but still … Billy Collins ackowledged it for us.)

For the record, he was very gracious and did not seem to mind being interrupted by us three writing teachers. I think. Who can tell, really? But it was worth it.

I called my wife to let her know. “I Met Billy Collins,” to which she quickly replied:  “Did you tell him that your loving wife bought you a Billy Collins book for Christmas last year?”

Gulp. Nope. Sorry, honey.

But I did once write a poem about Billy Collins, or about being inspired by Billy Collins’ poetry. This was back when I was starting a OnepoemPerMonthforaYear project.

Talking Billy Collins Blues

November 2006

I called on Billy Collins last night
And he asked me outright if I was disturbed
To which I replied,
Yes, slightly, sorry for the intrusion
but how do you write a poem

every month for a year
And where do I look for lost words

— the ones I have misplaced with time?
Billy slipped me a piece of paper when we were done

And disappeared
leaving me alone with nothing much but that paper.
I could just make out some red ink scribbles

and a few doodles
when I held that thin skin of a tree up to the light
and let the paper become a translucent buffer

between me
and the muse.
I held Billy Collins in my hand for hours,
nursing him

like the last drink of the night when daylight is looming,
afraid to even look
because if it did hold the key

then my search would be over
and why write poems after that?
So I crumpled Billy up

and tossed him into the street bin
(apologizing profusely for being so impolite)
and I chased my own shadow all the way back home
in the darkness of memories.

And that’s when I really began to write.

Peace (in the poems),

Day20: 30Poems 30Days

(Poet’s note: We have more legos than I care to count. Lego heads, lego legs, lego bodies, lego … stuff. This poem was inspired by the pain of stepping on one a few days ago. They may be small but they sure do hurt.)

I stub my toe on a Lego
and rue the day we ever brought them into this house –
these tiny creatures that come alive at night
while we sleep,
only to freeze in motion when my foot hits the floor.
I wish they’d at least have the courtesy of moving
to the corner.

And, again, here is the voicethread.

Peace (with the plastic people),


Day 19: 30Poems 30Days

(Poet’s note: Last week, our school (like most schools) held a ceremony for Veteran’s Day and I noticed how the number of veterans in attendance continues to shrink each year. I listened to one of my students play Taps on his trumpet with our music teacher, and heard another teacher explain to our entire school the meaning of Taps in ceremony. I thought of silence.)

The bugle plays
with no notes;
only silence

Here is the Voicethread with this poem added:

Peace (in the rememberance),


Day 18: 30Poems 30Days

(Poet’s note: This poem came from a conversation that I had with someone about how kids can use Magnetic Fridge Poetry for writing, as I was lamenting that my new Interactive Board led to the removal of my chalkboard, where I often would stick magnetic words for students to play with. Oh well. Then, I thought about what it would mean to “lose” a word from a set and what if that word were love?)

The missing word
from the fridge
is the Love Magnet
and I wondered where it had gone
so I went searching:
Under carpets;
Inside cupboards;
Behind curtains;
Between cushions;
until I was so exhausted that I collapsed in bed
and discovered “love” right where I had left it:
Beneath your pillow – right beside me.

Here is the Voicethread, if you want to hear my voice.

Peace (in the finding of love),

Day 17: 30Poems 30Days

(Poet’s note: This poem was inspired by a conversation at a literacy conference, where we were talking about struggling readers and how they sometimes can’t see below the surface of the letters on the page).

She reads the words,
not the text.
She zeroes in on the sounds,
not the meaning.
I’d like to shrink her down
so that she can dance inside the sentence
and tightrope among the twists and turns of the font
that holds the story up
when it often appears to her to be on the verge
of collapse.

Here is my Voicethread for this week’s group of poems, as I am away from home.

Peace (in the poems),


Day 15: 30Poems 30Days

(Poet’s note: I was writing this poem with a comic in mind and then realized that it would be best served on a comic medium (with fries on the side!). And, what the heck, I wanted it a movie, too!)

The poets would laugh at you
if they saw your words in a comic
because how could they take you seriously
when your words are shoved into speech bubbles
voiced from the mouths of funny characters?

Let ’em laugh, I say,
because poetry is no longer bound to the page –
it is alive with creativity
and, anyways, they’re dead and buried as mere echoes of the past
while I am alive and living here, in this moment.

You can go to the comic poem movie directly or watch it down below:
DayFifteen Poetry by dogtrax

Peace (in the bubble),

Day 14: 30Poems 30Days

(Poet’s note: I’m not sure why I was thinking of the giant trees in our front yard — maybe it is the dangling branches that have me worried. But, in the spring, our neighbor comes and taps them, and then we make syrup. It had me wondering from the tree’s perspective. So, a Haiku for you.)

In spring, when trees cry,
we collect tears as sweetness:
dripping on our tongue

Listen to the podcast poem.

Peace (in the flow),