Poetry Poker: A Moonlit Season (collaborative poem)

Posted August 30, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

Listen to the shimmering dream season
Clash, storm, fire, compose,
Forget, break and burn, leap and smile
Whisper to myself, wishing life was gold and not sour
The heart of the sea possesses a deep vast roar.

A spring season frolic, hidden in a storm
Whispers to the twisted, swaying, gleaming mountain
The shimmering smoke causes trees to leap from the earth
Vast bliss in the shy moonlight of love
I smile gracefully as the smell of roses fill the air.

I scream and leap, forgetting to whisper,
Listen to the giggles of the moonlight in winter on earth

The stony smoke breaks and the crystal shines bright

A golden tree stares into the fire of bliss
While the shy lion prowls around the crushed mountain spring

I stare at the vast moonlight as it burns into dawn
My deep, sour life turns into a golden smile
Grace whispers in the bright frolic of a dream
The roaring sea rises in heartbreak
And the winter season is a time to compose love songs
In front of the fire

The mountains sway in sea air
Winter storms grace us with their whispered wishes
Terrorists try to break the strong earth with twisted fire
While the butterfly burns for a tree in a moonlit dream—
This is the season to smile and forget about being shy and hurt.

Collaborative Poem
by 11th and 12th graders

Advice on Conducting Oneself

Posted June 30, 2010 & filed under Notebook.


Advice on Conducting Oneself, or Views On Natalie’s Future,
From People Who Eat Snacks and Play with Rolly Pollies at the Same Time

By the Kindergarten and First Grade Students

Eat breakfast first thing. Because your stomach
needs to have something. If you have leftovers
in your stomach, you’ll throw up.
Eat Toaster Strudel for breakfast. Every day.
On Saturday morning, eat oatmeal or Honey Sunrise.
Then watch “Oprah” because you learn facts
about other people and all different kinds of stuff.
Read The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
When your food is in your mouth,
don’t talk, or you might spit on someone.

(Actually, when you talk, you are spitting.
In fact, the “p” gives off the most spit.)

If you have a hammer, hammer nails.
Don’t hammer yourself. The worst place
would be on a scrape that’s already there.
If the copy machine breaks, don’t tell anybody.
If you get a flat tire, push your car
to the mechanic and get a new tire.
If you have kids, make sure they have food.
Watch and make sure nothing goes wrong.

You should have a super-duper big house.
You’ll know it’s time to get married
when you’re twenty. Or fifteen.
Listen to the teacher. Be quiet. Do your work.
Take Aleve for headaches.
Be fun.
Too much TV burns your eyes.
Wear pajamas to bed. Unless you’re a pirate.

Don’t be a pirate.
Don’t let children bother you.
Don’t fight or you gotta go to the police.
Don’t answer the phone or text while driving.
Don’t be a housekeeper.
Don’t be a lawyer because you have to walk around in a suit.
(Be an art teacher.)
Don’t draw on your hand.
Don’t leave.

Group poem by Kindergarten and First Grade Students

Photo by Ann via Flickr

Mouthful of Flowers

Posted April 29, 2009 & filed under Poem of the Day.

We are downtown, we made it.
This is it, like a
Mouthful of flowers.

Locked up
in a bright new year,
Spidery highways
Where will we land?

Heavy traffic
Hot pavement
Engine motors and gears
Wood and metal, water and fire,
How do you sing your song?

Listen to our rebellion.
It is truth spilling like blood.

We are made of wood and metal
Cables inside our heads
Mouths full of flowers.

This is our revolution.
This is our song.

We have cables inside our heads
like the night train
going north, south, east, west.

If we can come together
we can clear the smoke
and put in air conditioning.

This world belongs to no one…
We can rise from the ashes
Trickle down, different, not dangerous—free fall.

Nothing comes between us, not even
love or brilliant blue, scarlet red trumpets.

The path is easy and wide.
Rally to the light.
We are owls.

We need one another
recycling our emotions.

Don’t skim the surface
Crack open the poem
under our skin.
Let us speak truth like wolveswallpaper-doodle-toes
wild, unkempt, loud and free.

We’re telling our story—do you remember fire?
The swimming sun shining on the salty sea,
The joy dripping off our tongues.

The damage done caused
our liquid happiness.

Night turning to day
Let’s focus on the present
Open up our souls so we can rest in heaven.

A crowd of individuals, nowhere for me to go.
Is there a way out or are we in a dark alley?

Who knows how it feels to get a kiss of rain?
Talking to strangers can leave your brain on fire.
Who can organize your shoes better than me!

Clouds of haze go round and round
Calm like the morning is a walk to the ends of the earth.

By Zhamere, Hector, Brianna, Darniece, Jared, Chesney, Leafollia , Charlie, and Marcia

Originally posted on 12/8/08.

This poem is featured as part of the 2009 A Poem A Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by WITS that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click on the logo to the left to learn more.

Fear of Dying

Posted November 19, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

fireworks-by-feebnap-via-flickrDo you know the day you will die?
Reaching out into the black death.
Reaching in for razor sharp fireworks.
My thick skin is a place of shelter.
A dirt trap underground.
Reaching out into the black death.
Feet on fire follow me.
My feelings are giants.
Separated by the fence between us.
The game of your life.
Do you remember the day you were born?

By Brianna, Charlie, and Zhamere (High School/High Tech)
[photo by feebnap via flickr]

Collaborative Class Poem

Posted September 29, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

I am the cloud that starts my brainstorms,

The smallest dew drop from the forest of grass,

A body of fingers,

A pickle in a glass jar,

A guard for King Tut’s tomb so no one can get past.

I am a battery of life,

The drum of my body,

A furry mountain on planet Pluto, always furry,

The wild individuality that sets me apart, like the rushing sea during a thunderstorm,

A lost soul upon my life,

A raspberry in a berry patch.

My back is the pathway for the flow of self-knowledge downstream to the sea of destiny.

I am an eggshell becoming stronger and stronger,

A thick rope pulling my body parts together,

A ticking bomb vibrating with life, about to explode.

My freckles are the stars that come out during the summer instead of night that twinkle and brighten up my face.

I am a roller coaster in a junkyard of old things from the 1968 city fair.

I am a college of smart people,

As flat as a deflated balloon left on a table after a party,

A candy cane, curved and straight.

I am just the beginning of my eternity.

– by the 6th Grade Class at the Summer Creative Writing Workshops

[collage by poet John Ashbery]

Lessons from Otabenga Jones and Associates

Posted December 11, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

p1010016.jpgOtabenga Jones and Associates is a Houston-based artist collective including Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Jamal Cyrus, Kenya Evans, and Robert A. Pruitt. These four artists, whose work has been featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial (both individually and under the auspices of Otabenga Jones and Associates), create installations that question our current perceptions of of African American history and experience, and open new spaces for discussing these issues.

Recently, the two WITS classes I work with at Jesse H. Jones High School visited the Otabenga Jones and Associates installation, “Lessons from Below,” at The Menil Collection art museum. It was a thrill to watch the students process feelings of awe, outrage, and intrigue as they explored the installation, which includes a classroom space, a library, a plethora of artwork and documents from The Menil Collection archives, a video display of scholars discussing various topics associated with the exhibition’s themes, and large displays of items from the artist collective’s own amalgamation of objects depicting African Americans in popular culture.

Fellow WITS writer and musician Jesús Arturo Ávila-Escamilla and I played examples of Gil Scott-Heron’s spoken word poetry for the students, then encouraged them respond to the Otabenga Jones and Associates installation in a similar fashion. Here is a collaborative work created by several students, which includes fragments of text found in the objects on display:

Lessons from Below
John Johnson was a champ
and he was a bus driver.
Grow an Afro, man, and no one
will ever call you boy.
The scribbles on the wall are
like my vision of the future.
You can kill the revolutionary,
but you can’t kill the revolution.
He keeps his weapon close to his heart,
but he doesn’t know why.
Está my pequeño para tener
un cuete.

What is black?
Black is beautiful.
Truth is on its way.
Three different scars mean
three different things for
three different cultures.

Through dealing directly with the potentially difficult and racially-charged subject matter of this installation, these students and I learned, together, new ways to interact and understand each other. I hope that we’ll all put the lessons we learned from Otabenga Jones and Associates into practice, revisiting our shared histories while creating new futures.

posted by Tria Wood, Writers in the Schools