The Mystery of the Poetry Book I Can’t Find

Post a Poem

This is so odd. I have written a few posts this month about this neat little book of poems that I bought from Scholastic Books from their catalog a month or two ago. It’s called Post This Poem. Essentially, it is a collection of 100 famous poems (or excerpts) on colorful sticky notes that you can hand out. It’s a great way to share out poetry and I used it last week with my students, who loved it.

Well, a number of teachers asked me where to find the book. You’d think it would be easy enough.

I went to Google and typed in the book title. Nothing. I went to the Scholastic book site and used its own search engine. Nothing. Amazon? Nothing. I grabbed the ISBN number, thinking: this will surely do the trick. No such luck. I got more of my nothing in Google and then an extra dose of nothing in a ISBN search engine. (This is the ISBN number: 978-0-545-46976-0 if you think you can help me out)

What is going on here?

I’m starting to think that the book is a poetic mirage of some sort, and I feel bad that I wrote about it with such glowing praise and now can’t send readers to find it. I suppose my next step is to call Scholastic directly and ask about it. But it is as if the book had vanished completely out of every system, or never existed.

Given that this is April and poetry month, this whole things deserves a poem of its own.

This book never existed –
the poems, never written –
you’re nothing but an imaginary reader
engulfed in an imaginary page
of poems you’ve stuck to your mind
as if that would help you remember
the space between the lines ….

Peace (in the mystery of the undiscovered book),

PS — seriously, though, if you have some ideas on how to find the book, can you let me know? I need to hire the Poetry Book Detective Agency.

Ode to Sliderule Angst

Bud Hunt put up an image of a sliderule this morning, asking us to write a poem. (It’s part of his poem-a-day visual inspiration project). I know my kids have trouble with rulers (!!!), never mind a sliderule. So, this humorous take is told from a student’s perspective because I had this visual of a kid looking for places to plug in their headphones as they did some math problems.

Batteries won’t work in this analog computer
you placed in my hands today
and I can’t find the port to plug in my headphones
so what music am I supposed to play
while I work out that problem you put on the board
on trigonometry, logarithms and roots?
I’m completely befuddled by this ruler-kind-of-thing –
The device refuses to boot.

The podcast of the poem is here.


Peace (in the rule),

Writing a Poem

Inspired (again) by Bud the Teacher:

Take wing –
Take heed –
Find the wind that leads you forward –
Take care –
Take stock –
Your journey ahead is marked by what it is you have left behind you after all this time –
Protection –
Hardly worn yet battered by the breezes, shaken yet never torn from where it stood among the trees –
You emerged anew as a child born again –
Take flight –
Take care –
Be gone now and follow the slow arc of the Earth towards your destination-
Take wing –

And the podcast version:


Peace (in the poems),


A Small Gift of Post-it Poetry

Post a Poem

I began class the other day by telling my students that I was going to be giving them a gift. There was an excited murmur. What was it? Pencils? Candy? Nope. Poetry. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I ordered a book from Scholastic called Post This Poem that is a collection of poems and pieces of poems on sticky note paper. I had been putting the poems up in the hallway trophy case, as a secret poetry project for our wing of the school, but now decided that since the art teacher needed the display case and since I had many poems left, I would give the rest of the poems away to my sixth graders.

I went through the room, passing out poems to every student. It may not have been pencils or candy (which we don’t give out anyway), but they were pretty excited about getting a poem (some were excited because of the color paper but you take excitement where you can get it, right?). “What’d you get?” they were asking. I gave them a few minutes to peruse the poems, and then I asked, “Anyone want to read theirs?”

I was expecting maybe one or two students to volunteer. I was therefore pleasantly surprised as more than three-quarters of each of my classes wanted to read their poems out loud. I also shared poems from the collection. They stumbled on some difficult vocabulary, and the Olde English in some of the poems tied their tongues up knots, and the lines and stanzas didn’t always flow the way it would with practice. Still, that didn’t matter. Wordsworth, Dickinson, Whitman, Rossetti, Tennyson and more joined us in the room that day as they read the words, and the rest of us listened, silently, to some of the most famous poems in the English canon.

It was a nice way to wrap up our poetry unit, and it was one of those lessons that started as a spur of the moment — “Let’s get rid of these poems” — and maybe touched a few students with the poetry bug.

Peace (in the poems),

PS — I still have not had any luck finding a link to the Post This Poem book online. I’ll need to grab the IBSN number off of it.

Making Writing Poetry Visible (or Maybe Audible)

This morning, as I got ready to be inspired to write poetry at Bud Hunt’s blog, I decided to do something a little different. I turned on Audacity and “talked through” the entire process of writing — from the first moments when I saw the picture that Bud had posted and his one word inspiration, and then as I was writing, I tried to verbalize my thinking.

So, if you want to crawl into my meandering mind for a bit, take a listen.

Here is the poem that came out the other end.

Red Crate, Abandoned

Nothings remains
for long …
not even red crates in deserted alleyways
on familiar spaces

The gaps inside
with past objects, leaving trails behind –
memories lost –
along the byways of the forgetting

If you should come upon this carriage
of history
be gentle with me
and overflow the space with
new thoughts

Together, we’ll fill the emptiness
with words,
and fill the alleyways
with ideas.

Here is the podcast of the poem itself.


Peace (in the alleyways of ideas),


Today’s Poem: Heavenly Body

Bud Hunt had a neat picture of planets this morning, as he encourages us all month to write poems every day. His image sparked this poem from me this morning.

Heavenly Body

You’ve been outside my orbit for years now –
a floating, beautiful body in deep space.
I have been so centered around the Sun
that I barely noticed you
until little bits
– words like meteors crashing into my atmosphere –
made me wonder what it is I have been missing,
out here, in my own system of heavenly bodies
too far away to touch.

If this poem is to become a telescope,
my eyes are now fixated on the ways our gravities intersect,
and I feel your pull more than ever.
I stretch my fingers until the breaking point
only to see you fade behind the shadows
of the moon,
so I wait … wondering …. worrying …
writing so that I may never forget
what you look like.

You can listen to the poem as a podcast, too.


Peace (in the poems),



Inspired Poetry with Bud the Teacher

I’m starting to write some poetry this month with Bud Hunt (aka Bud the Teacher). Bud, a friend of mine through the National Writing Project, is posting visual prompts each day, and he asks that we consider a poem inspired by the image, and his short bit of writing. What I have always liked about Bud’s poetry prompts (this is maybe the third year?) is how open the direction can be. It’s always cool to see how other people take the idea embedded in the image, and push it around in different ways.

I did write a poem yesterday, but it wasn’t anything too special.

This morning, he had an interesting image and description about water, and what I think is a pebble or rock. (I’m not quite sure but that’s OK. I saw it as I see it, and used what I think I saw.) I also added a podcast of the poem I wrote, using Cinch.

The pebble drops –
I fall with it
splashing, crashing into surface tension
as my outline echoes from the center
on out.
If I could, I would surf this surface viscosity forever,
and never let me fall
but gravity has other ideas –
family, and school, and the whole wealth of obligations
that keep me grounded day in and day out –
so I drop, the pebble,
twisting and turning until I hit the bottom
and wait.

You come, too. Each morning, Bud will be posting an image and inviting you to write a few lines of poetry.

Peace (in the poems),


Slice of Life: Thinking in Haiku

Yesterday morning, I realized that it was World Poetry Day. OK, so I am not sure what that kind of holiday is but it sounds good to me! (I’m a sucker for writing-inspired-days). I decided that I would spend the school day, periodically writing down haiku reflections as my students were doing some poetry writing themselves (which we had already planned.) I also began sharing the haikus on Twitter when I had a few moments. Haiku works well with Twitter due to the brevity of lines and words.

The first poem came from the moment when I made the decision to write poems.

I celebrate poems
Small lines that entwine my heart
released to the world

On the drive to school, it was foggy. Very foggy. I was reminded of Carl Sandburg’s famous poem, and used that as a hook.

Sandburg speaks of fog
I see the cat this morning
shining bright car lights

As I pulled into the parking lot at school, the sun was trying to poke its way through the fog and mist. You could just make out the rays extended through the cloud cover. I know it was illusion, but it looked like strings from a balloon.

Defused sunlight drips
like tether lines off balloons
we chased as children

Before the kids arrive, and as I am getting ready for the day in my classroom, I often play (crank/blast) music in my room to gear up. I chose The Gaslight Anthem, a hard-rocking band that echoes Springsteen.

The Gaslight Anthem
soundtracks my morning with blasts
of blue-collar lives

I turned off the music as the clock struck 8:30 a.m. and then …

Noises in hallways
breaks the silence of morning
the day then begins

During our writing time, I watched the room, observing my sixth graders, writing lines myself.

They’re all poets now
carving out space between words
rhythmic thoughts collide

After the writing, there is the independent reading of novels. I’ve been amazing at how quietly and focused they can read for extended periods of time. (OK, so not everyone. But most of them)

Silence gets broken
only by pages turning
slowly, in their minds

The temperatures outside were reaching 70s by the end of the day and even I was looking wistfully out the window.

Inside; the Outside
beckons you to stare, helpless
as Spring comes alive

And finally, the kids went home, the school calmed down, and I closed up my classroom, walked outside to my van. I closed my eyes to take in the sun. Now, it is family time.

Out into the air
the building releases me
my mind shifts its gears

And that is my school day in haiku. If you are up for it, and you want to comment as haiku, I would be thrilled. (no pressure)

Peace (in the poetry),


Beyond This Moment in Time: A Digital Poem

I was reading through the National Writing Project’s Elyse Eidman-Aadahl’s comments about digital writing over at the DML Central Blog. As usual, she has some interesting things to say about where we are, and where things may be going, and the increasingly important role that teachers have in these transitions.

Read the interview

I found myself stopping at some points in the piece, mulling over phrases and ideas,, and so in the spirit of remixing someone else’s content to create something new (I hope), here is a found poem from the article (with apologies to Elyse). I began it as a traditional words-on-paper poem, and then added it as a podcast, but then found myself trying it as a digital poem, with some powerpoint and a screencasting program. (In my old PC days, I had a nifty software program that would convert a PP with all transitions and animations into a video format for me. But alas, I have found no equivalent for the Mac.)


Peace (in the poem),


Poetry Podcast: Unplug the Machine

There has been a series of interesting discussions going around the National Writing Project’s technology community about computer software that scores student writing. A simple request asking if anyone has any suggestions for automated grading software seems to have hit a bit of a nerve (with me, anyway) and a sharing of a poem by Kate Messner inspired me to write my own. (Hers is better, so you should read “Revolution for the Tested” by Messner).

Here is mine. You can also listen to the podcast version.


Unplug the Machine

Please let me know when I can meet the machine
with the big red pen of ones and zeroes
crossing out my words that don’t meet the rubric
embedded in its main frame.

I’ll be sure to reach out my hand
so I can understand how my ideas, my words, my expressions,
just don’t fit with the expectations of the programmer –
compiling code with no view of the world that I write about …

and I’ll not-so-gently reach behind them, and pull out the plug,
so that sparks will fly, crackling and popping like my prose,
as I wait for somebody, anybody, to walk through that door
and tell me just what I have done.

Peace (in the poem),