Poetry For Our Time

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason. -Novalis

The When/then Method

with 5 comments

When I have time then I’ll:

read a book,
paint,
 start working out,
relax,
 get off my lazy ass

When I can afford to then I’ll:

Pay off debt,
Buy a car,
Go to the doctor,
Try to save some,
Take that trip,

When I’m not so tired then I’ll:

Clean the house,
Do my homework,
Pay these bills,
Do the yard work.

The only time the when/then method works:  When I stop making excuses then I’ll start living in the moment. When I start living in the moment then I’ll start really enjoying my life.  Good intentions, however, wrong.   Only when intentions are turned into actions can you be freed from the When/Then cycle of death.

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Written by arstal2

April 21, 2009 at 6:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

What happened on karaoke night (revision)

with 3 comments

Am I lame for re-posting the same poem? Maybe. But since I got such good comments, I kind of want to polish it. I sort of love it now.

You told me I seemed like the type of person
who takes everything in,
who soaks up the world, the way a sponge does water.

I don’t know how you,
you tall and lanky in that red t-shirt,
you looking at me in my blue v-neck
and jeans I’ve worked years to fit into again,
you of just a few conversations
on your and my singing and our little bits of history—
how you could know this of me.

I can’t understand how you,
you with that long coat
and black hair
and James Taylor voice,
you as you nonchalantly slip your long arm around my tiny shoulder,
how you can know this of me,
me with my big plans and no time,
me with my short body, you with your tall frame,
how you can know something
that some people I’ve lived with my whole life,
my whole life,
haven’t even begun to know.

I don’t get how I,
I who knows this-is-oh-so-wrong,
I who told myself I wouldn’t,
but I who finds your eyes
magnetically
across the room–
I don’t get how I can let myself
go here.

But I do.

You, you with that black hair
and piercing eyes
and red shirt
you with the long coat and lanky frame,
you with your James Taylor voice
singing husky and shy compliments to me,
you’re right. I am a sponge.
I take everything in,
I let in all the words, I let in all the thoughts and feelings
I can absorb.

And right now, I,
all I want
to soak in
is the sensation—
yes. All I want right now
is the sensation
of your smoky mouth
against mine.

Written by Molly M M

April 20, 2009 at 12:14 am

Posted in Poem

Teaching Poetry: The High School Version

with 10 comments

The poetry I will post this week is not written by me, but was brought about by me, so I think that counts. 🙂

First, the story:
Teaching high school students poetry can be a daunting task.  Most teachers hate doing it, partly because they hated poetry themselves in high school and college, and partly because they know off the bat that most students don’t delight in language the way we English majors do.  For two years, I taught “basic” English 1 (I put that in quotes because the students I encounter should never have been put in a basic English class, they are wonderfully intelligent if you can tap into what makes them tick and play from that), and this year I was assigned an English 1 GAP class, which was comprised of students who had been at the school for two years, but had failed English 1 previously.  With my students before this, I always had an easy time with poetry.  Our curriculum was a little looser at my old school, so I could pick and choose the poems I wanted and teach that way.  Here, it was a little bit different, so we got off on the wrong foot, focusing more on terms they would need for the test than the lovely language and “real life” situations one encounters with poetry.

Encountering much boredom and apathy from my students in learning terms they all probably knew from the year before, I changed my plan and started teaching poetry I liked: “Hanging Fire” by Audre Lorde, “The Fury of Overshoes” by Anne Sexton, “love poem” by Linda Pastan, “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, etc.  The kids were enthralled.

So, the other  day was a half day, and my students were particularly riled up, so I decided to scrap the poem I had planned to teach, and to try some of Dr. Theune’s pedagogy in a fun, in-class activity.

Second, the process:
I had to alter the process from Dr. Theune’s a little bit, because I find high school students do better with REALLY concrete directions, and they create better poems with shorter lines because it is easier for them to focus on fewer words.  So, first, we did the Exquisite Corpse activity.  For those of you who are not familiar: Exquisite Corpse is a Surrealist parlor game that explores unexpected combinations of words into a sentence.  This is also a great excuse for a grammar lesson.  On the board, I wrote: The exquisite corpse drank the blood red wine.  We briefly discussed subject and predicate, along with the parts of speech present: article, adjective, noun, verb, article, adjective, noun.  We also discussed “good” adjectives and “good” nouns – ones that will be amusing or complex in any situation.  I’ll spare you the whole grammar lesson.

Then, I asked them to each write  a subject in the format: article, adjective, noun.  Then, they folded their paper up so no one could see what they wrote, and switched with someone else in the room.  Without peeking, they needed to write a predicate in the format: verb, article, adjective, noun.  Then, they could look at the whole sentence.  After a few rounds, we had a great discussion about what words are powerful no matter what you pair it with, so we moved to the next step.

I asked them to each write a subject on one piece of paper and a predicate on another piece of paper.  They folded them up, and put the subjects in one box and the predicates in another box.  We shook them up and had two students randomly draw papers from the boxes.  What we ended up with was language that delighted the students, and poetry that they could take ownership of, as well as really good adjectives and nouns. 🙂

Third, the results:

1.
I saw a bully
eat a green potato chip

2.
The crusty feet
chased the mischievous kids

3.
The hairy mouse
smelled like Fritos

4.
The smelly bear
eats fingernails for a living

5.
The wild zebra
sat on the baby head

6.
The crusty toed biker
ate the ugly duck

7.
The fat cow
ran from the fish

8.
The pastor’s wife
goes to play with her smelly dolls

9.
The ugly-haired person
ate next to me

10.
The angry old man
makes me happy

11.
The musty man
ate up the furry cat

12.
The president of the USA
cried like a little girl

13.
The jumping cat
ate the celery-green piece of bread

Written by Ashley

April 18, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Poem

Bathsheba and David

with 8 comments

How terrifying to realize

that people have been so human

for so long.

Written by cd40

April 16, 2009 at 3:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

At The Wake

with 2 comments

It’s raining out, of course. My brothers, Ricky and Tom, and I walk across the wet, slick street to the pasty white funeral home. Tom walks with the swagger of someone who not only wears a suit constantly, but loves every moment of it. He smoothly reaches up and removes his sunglasses, lips pursed like he a badass mother fucka, because he knows if he walks inside with them on and Dad sees him, we’ll need to get another coffin for him. Ricky constantly pulls at his tie, his shoulders shifting so much it might look like a dance, if not for the uncomfortable look on his face. We get inside and the rest of the family is there. The children make quick last arrangements with the funeral home director, where the backboard of pictures should be placed, when the casket should be closed, while the young grandchildren, my three little sisters and the one little cousin, go off and start filling in the coloring books. The rest of us move on to the casket, for one last look at Papa. His hands clasp his holy crucifix and ever present rosary. A small bulge in his pocket marks where the holy water blessed by Pope John Paul II lays. His face, though, seems naked without his glasses, his usual joy devoid from the now waxy and lifeless face. i don’t stay long. The kids take our seats behind the parents, who must now face the lines of strangers offering their condolences. Tom immediately starts making trouble. He looks at me and asks, “Wanna hear a joke?” I give him the dirtiest stare I can muster. “No, I do not want to hear a racist joke, Tom.”

“Ok, well there was a black kid, a white kid, and a me-”

“Stop it Tom.”

“-xican kid in a preschool. The-”

“Tom, do you really want me to get your nice new suit all bloody?” He stops. But we all know that we won’t stay quite long. Only five minutes pass before I give up trying to rein them in and I go along with Tom’s joking. I laugh at how the night before, he had tried chugging a can of soda as fast as he could and threw up in the process, Ricky begins terrorizing out little sister Catie, and my older sister Marita and my cousin Joey begin swapping their best drinking stories. For a moment, I worry that we’re being uncomfortable with death, that we’re coping ineffectually with the death that we are surrounded by. But that’s dumb. We’re just being Calderons, Papa is in a better place, and I’m sure his beaming down on us, even if we’re being a little unruly at his wake.

Ok so not a poem and im not even really even sure whats going on with it. i just needed something to write i suppose. so let me know what you think, if you can pry any meaning out of it that i should liven up a bit. I might go into the actual funeral later

Written by gorditodelgado

April 14, 2009 at 3:01 am

Posted in Poem

This I Believe

with 6 comments

For this week’s poem, I was inspired by the “This I Believe” essays from NPR.  It needs some editing, and isn’t really a poem, but… oh well!

*********************************************************************************** 

I believe that people learn the best and most important things when they are not being assessed, and I believe the best and most important thing we can learn is love.  Love has no rubric save for the opinions of others, and until we have learned love ourselves, we can be harsh graders.  

It is so easy to see the young couple, the beaming bride walking down the aisle to her nervous groom, and think, They are so young.  They have no idea what is in store for them; they haven’t explored all of their options yet.  Perhaps we do this because we see ourselves in that young, happy couple, and our experiences tell us that the happiness most often ends in sadness.  But we forget about life’s ups and downs, and that the sadness will eventually give way to happiness once again.

We all know of the transient nature of relationships; we have experienced it ourselves, and trust in a relationship is not something that is learned easily.  It takes test after test, lesson after lesson, to make us believe that a lasting love exists, and can withstand those tests and lessons that life throws at it.  Once we learn that lesson, though, our hearts and minds are opened to endless possibilities.  Love, whatever its manifestation, however old, experienced, or tested, is the most important lesson life has for us.  This I believe.

Written by Ashley

April 13, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Poem

What happened on karaoke night

with 8 comments

This poem got eaten once… Let’s hope it makes it onto the site this time. I don’t think it’s real great, but I’m having a lot of trouble finding creative inspiration (aka a topic on which to write and a fitting way in which to write it) lately. This is what I could come up with.

You told me I seemed like the type of person
who takes everything in,
who soaks up the world the way a sponge does water.

I don’t know how you,
you tall and lanky in that red t-shirt,
looking at me in my blue v-neck
and jeans I’ve worked years to fit into again,
you of just a few conversations
on singing and our little bits of history,
how you could know this of me.

I can’t understand how you,
you with that long coat
and black hair
and James Taylor voice,
as you nonchalantly slip your long arm around my tiny shoulder,
how you can know this of me,
me with my big plans and no time,
me with my short body,
me with my closed-up heart,
how you can know something
that some people I’ve lived with my whole life
haven’t even begun to know.

I don’t get how I,
I who knows this-is-oh-so-wrong,
but I who finds your eyes
magnetically
across the room–
I don’t get how I can let myself go here.

But I do.

And I know that this is not
what I need or want right now,
that there are corners packed with dark and light inaccessible,
that I told myself I wouldn’t.

Yet I can’t help but think,
you, you with that black hair
and piercing eyes
and red shirt long coat lanky frame,
you with your James Taylor voice
singing husky and shy compliments to me,
you’re right. I am a sponge.
I take everything in,
I let in all the words and thoughts and feelings I can absorb.

And all I want to soak in
right now
is the sensation
so wrong, or maybe not wrong,
all I want right now is the sensation
of your smoky mouth
against mine.

Written by Molly M M

April 12, 2009 at 5:58 am

Posted in Poem