Slice of Life: Writing with my students

Slice of Life 2011(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers) We were able to sneak in a bit of freewriting in class yesterday. For about 15 minutes, the room was mostly quiet as my students worked on stories, poems, letters, comics and whatever it was that they decided to write about. My only condition for freewrite is that they are writing and they are quiet. The condition I set for myself is that I write along with them.

Yesterday, I had an image in my mind from last weekend, when some thick fog rolled into our area as the warm weather hit the cold earth. It was an eerie experience, like something out of Stephen King. My son and I noticed an old tobacco barn that had fallen down over the winter (there was a lot of that around here), and that scene of slow destruction amid thick fog was pretty amazing.

I tried to capture that in this poem.

Abandoned Barn
(listen to the podcast)

Soft light flickers through
the veil of fog,
Shimmering off the old barn
and seeping into my mind.

Boards, beams
and advertising banners announcing the sale
of tomatoes, turnips
and summertimes along the roadway

lay scattered on the ground,
a graveyard of wood and iron
and seeds.

The shotgun blast of rubble
instills in us a sense of fear, awe,
and curiosity.

I lean against the weight of winter —
the remnants of snow, sleet
and falling rains —

but it’s an illusion, too,
in this cloud cover that is as empty
as mist.

Spring warmth wrestles winter’s fury
and then, beneath the stillborn chaos,
a flower blooms:
slow, sturdy and strong.

Peace (in the poetry),

  1. Lovely…you captured me immediately as I have a passion for old and new barns. You also described the month of March here in Maine.

  2. Wow. Impact. Profound. Insightful. I believe, good sir, you have captured precisely the essence you were aiming for. I felt as if I was walking along a road as I came upon this dilapidated barn filled with memories from a different era. Very well written. Expressive language told through words. “stillborn chaos” — I love using oxymorons in my poetry. They can provide a certain kind of drama that isn’t easily achieved in other ways. They call it show AND tell for a reason. Props.

  3. Well, it’s even better when we can listen. Thank you for taking the time for the podcast. I loved the line, “graveyard of wood and iron and seeds” and “shotgun blast of rubble”. I enjoyed your verbs a bunch & will share this with my students: flicker, shimmer, seep, scatter, lean, wrestle, et al. Just a lovely image.

  4. I loved your poem, especially the lines about “the sale/ of tomatoes, turnips/ and summertimes along the roadway/ lay scattered on the ground. It made me remember similar scenes when I was younger.

  5. Spring warmth wrestles winter’s fury
    and then, beneath the stillborn chaos,
    a flower blooms:
    slow, sturdy and strong.

    What a stunner! Do you think that the power of writing with kids impacted on this poem?

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