(Poet’s note: I’ll write a longer reflection on another day but this is the last poem I wrote for the 30poems in 30days challenge, which supports a worthy group in my hometown. My sponsors are paying me for each poem that I wrote, which I sent them each morning. This final poem is for them — and you — those who spent a moment to read a poem here and there and followed me on this journey. I appreciated it.)
is the song I sing, dear readers,
for the encircling hands that you have held out
to prop up these poems.
Your eyes have guided me;
Your words have strengthened me
when my own thoughts seemed to flutter away
That which I might have discarded as meaningless
became instead something different
when I considered you, sitting there comfortably with an open heart,
ready for what I had written,
and so I gift-wrapped these ideas again and again to make them ring
like melodies from the distance,
and you — you, dear readers, were the harmony shimmering beneath the lines.
is the song I sing
and I sing it just for you.
(Poet’s note: I am almost at the end of this adventure. Today’s poem comes from a workshop that I was in last week around vocabulary instruction. One of the things we talked about was Semantic Feature Analysis. I was fascinated by the words on this handout that we were given, and created a found poem.)
(Poet’s note: I wanted to use Wordle this month for one of my poems but I could not figure out how best to accomplish that. Single words do not always a poem make, if you know what I mean. Then, by chance (?), I stumbled upon someone’s blog post that showed how to string words together (you use the tilde sign ~ between words). Now I could do it, with a love poem about books. I used the advanced setting of Wordle so that I could weight phrases, allowing some to be larger than others)
(Poet’s note: I was in a conference last week when the keynote speaker held up a couple of props: colored bendy straws. I forget now what she was saying — sorry — but I started to write a poem, inspired by the bends in the design. I was trying to pay attention … really.)
(Poet’s note: It’s hard not to come away from an exciting conference around technology and writing and not be influenced by the work and talk around you, and so I was after our recent National Writing Project meeting. But I still have questions as we think about young people in this age of digital tools. I don’t think the world has sorted itself out yet. That makes things both exciting and confusing, don’t you think? So, this poem tries to capture that, and what better way than via a digital tool.)
First, the poem:
will all this lead?
All these digital paths
pushing us in different directions
so that we can’t see the forest
for the trees
and therefore, we have no idea
what we have gotten ourselves into -
never mind getting ourselves out.
(Poet’s note: This is a longer poem than usual and one that I am not quite sure it works. It is inspired by a reading of the book The Numerati, which looks at how math and data is becoming more and more important as we move more of our world online. The phrases of Buckets, and Barnicles, and Butterflies stayed with me.)
In a book about data and how numbers are becoming us
as we become the math, if you can imagine such a thing,
the concept of “barnacles” and “butterflies” and “buckets” filled my head:
Buckets are us –
all of us put into digital piles by the Numerati
based on interest, habits and exploration –
I’m happy to make room in my bucket for you
if you share my routines and my algorithm.
Barnacles are some of us –
those of us who scour the Sunday news for coupons
and search for the deals so that they can pull
a daytime heist at the store in plain sight of the
anguished managers who wish to scrape them off the sides
of the cashier line.
Butterflies are some of us, too –
those of us who wander about, never showing allegiance
to a brand, or a store, or a product, just simply
an unreliable beauty moving down a wayward path
I thought about my classroom –
about who stands in which bucket:
Who is clinging to every word to know “exactly” what to do
to get the best grade possible
but never taking a chance for fear of failure;
or who it is who barely gets a glimpse of the ground
while up in flight of their own imagination
with nary a concern for anything other than the flight.
I stand here with a net filled with holes
as the ship gets weighed down
and is pushed hard into the iceberg of standardized testing.
And you can bet my bucket is full
with teachers just like you.
A local columnist at the regional newspaper did a nice piece last week on the 30Poems in 30Days fundraising challenge. Bob Flaherty (a novelist in his own right, by the way, with Puff) emailed me a few questions while I was away and then he checked out my voicethread and used some of what we talked about in his article.
It’s great to see the art of writing poetry on the front page of a newspaper.
(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.
(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,
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.