Morning Poems, Collected, from Late Migrations

I really enjoyed the essay collection called Late Migrations (A Natural History of Love and Loss), and was working on poems as I was diving in through the book about nature and the world and personal stories (see my review of Margaret Renkl’s book). Sometimes, I write poems in the morning as a response to what I am reading.

– inspired by a reference to the sounds of grasshoppers in Late Migrations (A Natural History of Love and Loss) by Margaret Renkl

What I miss most
about the field before the woods
— where houses have been built
on soil, bulldozed, and rocks,
ripped clean of sand and mud —
would be the way you wrapped my hand –
such small fingers, gripping so tight –
as we took each foot, unbearably light,
triggering a tumult of grasshoppers in flight,
every step exploding like spores –
your voice leaping in laugh –
it might as well have been math
as much as magic at play,
the air becoming a perfect thrumming
following us all the way home

“Sometimes, when I haven’t slept or the news of the world, already bad, suddenly becomes much worse, the weight of belonging here is a heaviness I can’t shake.”
— from Late Migrations (A Natural History of Love and Loss) by Margaret Renkl, page 67

If only we were birds –
you and I in this wide
open sky –

then we might fly
without anchors weighed
on these tired feet,
this detritus of daily life
and shadows we can’t speak

Perhaps we’d bid the earth goodbye
to find the point
where horizons meet

— First lines are referenced from Late Migrations (A Natural History of Love and Loss) by Margaret Renkl, page 128

instead of

we don’t live
in a world
that values

to be a poet
contains a crazy

or worse,
a curse

Reclining into recluse
of inked words
and paper

we’re always
digging in,
to root the hurt,
to mine the

“He will keep on singing until someone accepts his song.”
— from Late Migrations (A Natural History of Love and Loss) by Margaret Renkl, page 132

All night, on it goes,
these notes
he throws,
his music into air

she listens
to love songs
he sings;
pretends not to care

“For months the land has been pulling away from the edges of the world.”
— from Late Migrations (A Natural History of Love and Loss) by Margaret Renkl, page 169

And our footing’s lost
and trembling, too,
for even as these days
sing longer towards night,
even as the earth pulls ever on
towards beckoning seas,
all we may do now is notice
where it is that we are
and then write our way
where it is we have been,
fill our hearts with hope
that collision isn’t calamity

Peace (and poems in flight),

Book Review: Squirm

Squirm by Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiassen sure knows how to cook up a doozy of a young adult book. In Squirm, another in his series of books with environmental themes and young protagonist thwarting the evil greedies of the world, Hiassen spins a tale worth a read.

Billy, the hero here, lives in Florida with his sister and his mother, who moves whenever she needs to follow nesting Bald Eagles. Billy traps dangerous snakes. For fun. And for use in tormenting his tormentors. Billy’s father? Long gone, sending checks to support Billy’s family but little else.

Or not.

The story unfolds around a family unification theme of sorts, and with Billy traveling to Montana, where his long-lost father is doing something mysterious with drones in the wilderness, and where the tale suddenly veers into saving endangered species — the panther of the Florida Everglades — and a Grizzly Bear family in the wilds of the west. Billy also learns about his step-mother and step-sister, and their American Indian roots.

So, you know, typical Hiassen, and that’s not a bad thing. While I still think Flush is his best work in this genre (and I teach Flush as a class novel and kids just love it .. some are reading it right now, in fact), Squirm holds up just fine with humor, plot pacing and a story where looking out for the world continues to be the right thing to do.

Just ask Billy and his family.

Peace (in the wilds),


Walking the Memory Path

The second learning activity for Walk My World centered around poetry and memory and culture, and I just went with the concept of a memory of childhood place — an isolated wooded area that our parents never went, and so we always were there, like our own insular outside world.

I actually wrote this as completely free-form poetry in the app (TypiVideo) I used to make the video (and had to reformat it all as stanzas later for the screen as text for my daily poetry site).

Interestingly, this transition out of the app to my screen forced me to “hear” the poem differently, in different rhythm and space and line breaks and flow when moved to writing the poem down. The app does all of the decisions about which words get its own screen, so it’s difficult to control when a pause might happen there. Moving to writing it myself, I regained some agency.

I like how the words are slowly moving there in the video version, dancing, to some original music of mine, though.

And in my mind
I try to find
my way back
to the paths
of the wood,

the place where
we could still be kids –
often kind –
sometimes mean –
navigating the in-between

of the world,
outside, and the world,
inside – stories lost,
but still believed

Peace (walking it lightly),

Slice of Life: The Camera Follows You Everywhere

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

As many have and are, we’ve grappled with the effects on the Pandemic in our school by mostly using a hybrid/cohort model, and moving to remote when the virus numbers deem it (we are just back to hybrid this week after a few weeks of remote). Next week, we shift to a third model — synchronous learning.

Thanks to a hefty technology investment by our school district, our classrooms now have Zoom Stations — huge screen televisions, mini mac computers, video cameras run by teacher control, and a powerful microphone/speaker — which will allow students in the home cohort to join in to the classroom via video feed. In a dystopian sense, if you tilt that way, it’s like we just installed Big Brother into the classroom, with an ever-watchful eye on us.

ZoomStation SetUp

This shift comes as worries about the independent learning days are not engaging enough students, and with new hours-on-learning by the state Department of Education come into effect (an average of 35 hours of teacher-student direct interaction over a two week span).

Some of my colleagues are wary of the new technology but I think it will work fine, from a technology standpoint. (There’s also been real tension about how this was rolled out by the School Committee with very little input from teachers or administration).

What I am still working on is how to best leverage the new technology for better teaching — how best to pull the Zoom kids into the classroom activities and how to use the time together to meet the needs of all my sixth grade students. An online webinar the other night with AJ Juliani and Catlin Tucker on Synchonous Learning was helpful (and with 1,600 other people in the webinar, I am guessing many people are in my same shoes). I have some ideas on synchronous learning like this but if you have resources, send them my way, please.

I can already see some challenges of where to put my attention, how to make sure I am engaging the Zoom kids in class discussions and sharing and collaborations, and the need for us to feel “whole” even as we still exist into cohort parts.

We did a test run yesterday of the set-up during snack time, and the kids at home got a chance to see the room from their perspective and the kids in the classroom got to see the kids on the screen. We just played around with the camera and chatted. And it went fine.

Peace (settling in),

Old Paths, Newly Revisited: NetNarr and WalkMyWorld

Walk My World 1I am dipping my toes into new iterations of two projects that I have participated in as “open participant” in the past — Networked Narratives: Net Mirror (with Mia and Alan) and Walk My World: 2021 (with Ian).

Like some others (such as my friend and collaborator, Wendy), I might tangle the two together, bundling my learning and explorations across platforms and networks and learning programs. Both NetNarr and Walk My World are situated primarily in college classrooms, at the university. I’m not there. I’m here.

I know there will be convergences around identity in a digital age; what learning looks like; how to be creative and collaborative; and much more. These are all things that interest me as a teacher, writer, learner, musician, creator.

The comic above, as I played with identity and media, was for the first introductory activity for Walk My World.

Peace (walking the net),

In Response To The Young Poet On The Hill

Words from an Inauguration Poem

(If you watched the Inauguration Ceremonies of President Biden and Vice President Harris, then you no doubt were struck by the words and voice of the young poet, Amanda Gorman)

The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

— Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb

From the Hill We’re Climbing
(Answering the Poet)

I hope your own pen
travels farther than mine,
that your powerful ink
finds water and spreads
into the minds of this nation,
that your voice is the voice
we remember most, years
later when in recall

of this moment of transition

as we sit upon this hill,
looking out in recognition
of how beautiful we are
and can become, if only
we’re listening to our young,
the ones who help us see
how and who we might be

More about Amanda Gorman’s poem for the Biden Inauguration

Peace (starts here),

Song: Hope Remains

The very morning after the 2016 election, I wrote this song to process my thinking  — Hope Remains — and as a way to to remind myself that better days would still be ahead. In 2018, I recorded it as a live video. Today, with the change I hoped for now here on Inauguration Day, I share it again, with lyrics.

Hope Remains

I’m doing fine, I swear
I’m just a little bit quiet out here
And I admit, I’m confused
I’m holding on tight to me and you
I can feel the winds of change
yet hope remains

Remember all the things we said
how we’d pick up the pieces and move ahead
and now that times are tough
let’s hope that our love is big enough
I can feel the winds of change
and hope remains

We feel lost
Turned around
I see how you’re reaching out
And I won’t let you down
We’ll raise our voice
Let it carry the sound
Out here in the darkness
I won’t let you down

We’ll find our way from here
The world we built wasn’t built on fear
I know the words won’t ease the pain
But we’re holding on tight – and try again
I can feel the winds of change
and hope remains

Peace (to the a new start in a difficult world),