Five Poems Walk Into a Blog

I’ve been enjoying the monthly poetry writing at Ethical ELA’s 5-Day Open Write project — mainly because it comes in five-day bursts, only once a month. A morning email update reminds me to write there. But I also appreciate it because the site is a lively writing community. There’s a lot of writing posted but also a lot of feedback and discussion threads, all spurred on by poetry.

This month of July, the five days of prompts were built around specific forms of poetry. I am a free-verse poet, for the most part, so it was a challenge. But again, it was interesting and fun, and forced me to slow down with my writing (and break the rules when I needed).

Here are my five poems:

Day One: Rondeau

Someone wrapped me up in Rondeau
Told me the rules, then let me go
But I’m not a poet like that
I see a rule; I break it, for laughs
Add a syllable or a line to the old weathered crow
and return to the rhyme when I want, like so

But now I think maybe I know
the path these words of poem must flow
I start at the top and end, last;
Words in motion

For what is a poem but a show
walker on wire; fallen domino;
or a rabbit pulled from a hat
form and function and all of that
I push myself in, take it slow,
consider constraints, let go;
Words in motion

Day Two: Ode

Ode to an Empty School Hallway

Hallway, I still remember you
as you left me, as I left you,
all bustle and chatter, and
dropped books and erasers,
my door opening into shared space
on the lost Friday afternoon

Oh, Hallway, how much silence
you have swallowed, since
then, since March, when the last of
the metal doors slammed shut;
there’s something close to sound
still reverberating

They tell me they’ve adorned you
with arrows, directions, paths,
signs for our feet to follow,
movement we must take,
and in my mind, at times,
we’re all masked wanderers now,
anxious passengers
on a train with walls barren of art

Hallway, someday, you will shout
again, and I promise to stand
at the end, like a fly on the telescope,
yelling one thing but holding the other;
my heart remembers

Day Three: Ghazal


Power switch conductor brings me ’round,
I’m awake again, midnight listening in surround sound

to music from the window fan, such noise
in the soft signal of deep summer, around sound

like faint music, and if this were the wire,
the Net, the stream, the dream, what found sound

would you be, in the night, with me
as my mind’s making melody, unbound sound

Day Four: Monotetra

It’s not too much, unions demand,
to review options in the plan,
even if we don’t understand
the twist turns of this fragile land

I am ready/ I’m not ready

of masking up, of space between,
of anxious teachers, broken dreams,
of quiet fret; we’re not machines;
the unknown becoming routine

I am ready/ I’m not ready

Day Five: Praise

All praise
to the shortened pencil,
the powerless point
with which to write,
scratching small poems and
stories, essays and plays,
sticking words on white

All praise
to the worn eraser,
telling time of thoughts,
such lost angles and false
prophets of ideas, shifting
compass of directions;
reconvene, writer, when lost

All praise
to the empty page,
playground of the possible,
and pause before its wonder,
for where nothing was
now something is,
move the rock to find what’s under

Peace (flows through poems),


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