NaPoWriMo: Empty Classroom Still Life

(I am participating in National/Global Poetry Month as I continue to write small poems each morning. – Kevin)

Day Four: Empty Classroom Still Life

I am here

wandering through this Still Life –
this classroom, our community,
this place of connection and caring,
this school, where we gathered together –

my eyes catch the vacancy:

a scene, frozen
in abandoned books
in scattered pencils
in forgotten papers
in steel chairs leaning
at odd angles against uneven desks
and in chatter, too, all your words like
ghost images still languishing on air

you should be here, too

All this and more, we left behind
on that Friday, the 13th of March,
in the year of the Great Pandemic,
this visual sculpture before me
just another unlucky reminder
of what our world was
before it was not

I leave it behind

Peace (filling in the empty spaces),
Kevin

NaPoWriMo: Anxiety Dances

(I am participating in National/Global Poetry Month as I continue to write small poems each morning. – Kevin)

Day Three: Anxiety Dances

Anxiety’s
dancing with
the data –
swerving left;
shifting right –
we’re forever
in motion, the
arrows forging us
towards night

Peace (looking downward),
Kevin

NaPoWriMo: Let the Last Note Linger

(I am participating in National/Global Poetry Month as I continue to write small poems each morning. – Kevin)

Day Two: Let the Last Note Linger

Get your anger out
in power chords –
frustration as
fretboard distortion –
but leave the last note
lingering, ringing
with hope’s resonance

Note: I was finishing up a song yesterday and getting into the recording of it — a protest song about the president and the times and how angry and frustrating it makes me to watch him not just spew lies to help himself but to do so and let people die from his inactions. This poem bubbled up from that cathartic songwriting experience, of using the strum of the guitar and some underlying distortion chords as a way to express emotion of the times. I had Woody Guthrie on my mind. Here’s a version of the song, if you’re curious.

Peace (singing it),
Kevin

Slice of Life/SmallPoems Day 31 (not one but many)

(I am participating in the March Slice of Life challenge via the Two Writing Teachers site.  Slice of Life is the idea of noticing the small moments. I have been a participant for many years and each year, I wonder if I will have the energy to write every day. This year, I am going to try to coincide it with my daily poetry writing, and intend to compose small poems on small moments. We’ll see how it goes …)

Day Thirty One

Not one wasted
word, but many
Not one wasted
rhyme, but many
Not one jaded
thought, but many
Not one poem
worth such love
but many
Not just one small
story unfolding
inside this insanity
but many
Not merely one of us
unaffected, unmoved,
unmoored, unafraid,
unbound, misunderstood,
but maybe all

Note: I was intending to write a poem, reflecting on the poems I’ve written this  month for Slice of Life, which started off in one relatively normal place on March 1 and veered unpredictably and out of control into a whole new reality. Which is where I find myself now, on March 31, writing a poem that didn’t want to play by my intentions. The lines just kept building, like a building about to collapse on itself, and I just went with the flow. For maybe it did what I intended, brought some closure to a month of writing poems of observation, that we are affected by the pandemic in the world. Not just one. But maybe all. Maybe all of us.

Peace (sending it your way),
Kevin

Slice of Life/SmallPoems Day 30 (little library)

(I am participating in the March Slice of Life challenge via the Two Writing Teachers site.  Slice of Life is the idea of noticing the small moments. I have been a participant for many years and each year, I wonder if I will have the energy to write every day. This year, I am going to try to coincide it with my daily poetry writing, and intend to compose small poems on small moments. We’ll see how it goes …)

Day Thirty

Sometime, we wonder
what the small house
on a stick at the edge
of the road says about
the people around us –

Who discarded the college
application guide? the
peanut-free cookbook?
the Learn Hebrew Now,
scribbled with blue note
marks? the spy novel?
the beach read? the picture
book gone grey with age?

And what does it say
about me, a reader
picking through the bones
of abandoned tomes
in this small home,
eyeing titles through
the glass door, wondering,
do I really need just
one book?

I do

Peace (in words and pages),
Kevin

PS — earlier this month, I shared a demo of a song: Beneath the Ruins (There Lives the Sun). Yesterday, I worked in a more polished and produced version of the song and then recruited my lovely wife to sing harmony vocals with me, all as a gift of hope for ourselves, for the world, for you.

 

Slice of Life/SmallPoems Day 29 (seasonal surrender)

(I am participating in the March Slice of Life challenge via the Two Writing Teachers site.  Slice of Life is the idea of noticing the small moments. I have been a participant for many years and each year, I wonder if I will have the energy to write every day. This year, I am going to try to coincide it with my daily poetry writing, and intend to compose small poems on small moments. We’ll see how it goes …)

Day Twenty Nine

Unexpected winds of winter
may be best remembered
by broken sticks and branches
and pinecone piles, long buried
since late December –
now debris, freed from snow:
a seasonal backyard surrender

Peace (picking it up),
Kevin

Slice of Life/SmallPoems Day 28 (generation pandemic)

(I am participating in the March Slice of Life challenge via the Two Writing Teachers site.  Slice of Life is the idea of noticing the small moments. I have been a participant for many years and each year, I wonder if I will have the energy to write every day. This year, I am going to try to coincide it with my daily poetry writing, and intend to compose small poems on small moments. We’ll see how it goes …)

Day Twenty Eight

Forever
changed is
what they’ll be:
these Children
of the Pandemic

Whether shaped
by panic or fear or
the greater good –
no child today
escapes where
the world once stood
and now, stands
at a fragile start

the hope for all
rests with open heart,
nurtured by together
and not by distance
dividing us apart

Note: I was listening yesterday morning to The Daily (New York Times) podcast, which had very young children sending in questions about the COVID-19 virus to the NYT science reporter. At the end, the host wrapped up some related news and then played part of a news conference from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that really struck a nerve with me. I listened to the section three times. I wrote down his words. Then I made the comic below. Then, I composed the poem. He’s right, of course. An entire generation of children are forever now impacted by this event.

Thinking of the Children comic

Peace (on us all),
Kevin

Slice of Life/SmallPoems Day 27 (teacher parade)

(I am participating in the March Slice of Life challenge via the Two Writing Teachers site.  Slice of Life is the idea of noticing the small moments. I have been a participant for many years and each year, I wonder if I will have the energy to write every day. This year, I am going to try to coincide it with my daily poetry writing, and intend to compose small poems on small moments. We’ll see how it goes …)

Day Twenty Seven

It’s just smile after smile;
just mile after mile –
streets and sidewalks
and lawns lined
with faces not seen
in weeks – you wave
and wave and wave –
you find yourself smiling
with hardly strength
to speak, just motion
of mobile movement,
settling in with disbelief;
your front seat sadness
colliding with this madness,
even in temporary relief

Note: You may have seen school communities organizing these Car Parades, where the school staff keeps the social distancing by driving (each in own cars) through the community, to see students again, if only briefly. We did that yesterday, thanks to the organization prowess of a colleague. We had more than 50 cars driving for two hours throughout our town, following bus routes across the entire community. So many kids were ready for us (a message had gone out) and it was heartening, uplifting to see families together, waving and shouting and holding up signs of support for the school, and teachers, and for each other. It was the first time seeing many of my students since our abrupt closure on Friday the 13th (yeah, that day). What joy, mixed with sadness, too, that we find ourselves in this situation. I think we teachers needed it as much as families needed it — that connection reminder. We do the best we can do. (more)

Peace (traveling the distance),
Kevin

Slice of Life/SmallPoems Day 26 (lost towns)

(I am participating in the March Slice of Life challenge via the Two Writing Teachers site.  Slice of Life is the idea of noticing the small moments. I have been a participant for many years and each year, I wonder if I will have the energy to write every day. This year, I am going to try to coincide it with my daily poetry writing, and intend to compose small poems on small moments. We’ll see how it goes …)

Day Twenty Six

This quiet is where
they used bulldozers
and floods to bury four
small towns – barn roofs
and fire-stacks, pieces of
people’s homes, still just
below the surface, drowned
but defiant against time –
all for the greater good
of somewhere else

Sometimes it feels
as if we are forever
living in metaphor

Note: We broke up our ‘stay-at-home’ isolation yesterday by driving about 45 minutes to the Quabbin Reservoir, a beautiful scenic space with lots of trails and lookouts over the huge reservoir created long ago to provide water to Boston by destroying and flooding four small Western Massachusetts towns. Some of the buildings are still down there. Communities around here still remember how Boston exerted its political might and removed people from their homes. Yesterday was a bit chilly but lovely in that early Spring/late Winter kind of way, with open grey skies and bracing air, and not too many people about. Everyone greeted everyone with smiles, a nod of the head and wondering eyes, a quiet: Are you doing OK?

Peace (and surface tension),
Kevin