Monday, October 29, 1979

Teaching journal, California Poets in the Schools, Day 1

Oct. 29, 1979 teaching journal for California Poets in the Schools. Observation notebook. My first observation is at Fitch Mountain School, two second grade classes with Lee Perron. today is create a story. He tells a piranha story with a mosquito who says I’m strong, and then we continue the story they were working on last week, and we talk about jungles, lions, elephants. 

Pam Raphael is also observing. We invoke magic and change characters. It’s a free-for-all. Lee asks have you ever been a piranha fish? Somebody tells us they were once a frog. We go with it. And we slog away to the north pole where a polar bear joins us and we keep adding elements to the story. Repetition is the key and that tends to get them enthusiastic enough to finish. Participation is important to draw the individual into the story. Imagination is everything. 

We wrote their own stories down and there were several different endings. It was an enthusiastic class and the kids were very willing to participate, the second class, the kids were more open and finished their stories. The kids then repeated the exercises.

The second class with Mrs. Carroll is a bilingual class. Lee picks up the story where he left off. And the Wolf said I’m going to eat you. Kay said please don’t eat me and then then Kay changed into lion and then Kay and the mosquito began to talk. Mosquito says, hey man I am strong, and you are weak. Lee says, I will tell you the story again later. So this was a continuation from the last class and participation is important to make up another line and make up all the possibilities and what would Kay do or say and everyone makes their own ending and then they draw their story if they can’t write— there are some that are less willing to write the story and I had to ask what it was they drew in order to tell the story.

We go over to Healdsburg Elementary School to meet Mrs. Sugars’ fifth grade class. Lee tells me we need to write up a lesson plan and I am confused because everything is all cattywumpus. He reads a poem from the previous week’s poetry lesson, which involves class participation. He asks who wrote it? And gives positive feedback. I tell the cumulative Welsh tale of Taliesin, the brew of knowledge and how everything changes into something else to escape danger, the knife, the rabbit, the fox, the barn, the rabbit, the stone that fell out of her mouth and rolled down the hill. Someone said she is the pond. 

Everyone makes up a line, and one kid changes into a witch and then runs away and the which changes into a purse, how, I don’t know. It becomes very complex and hard to remember the order. We did the exercise together first in front of the class to start them off. It is Halloween.

I can see there’s some confusion. How to pace oneself. Each class is utterly different. Yet all are willing participants. We visit other artists in the classroom at their invitation. The second grades are so different from each other but it doesn’t mean one is better than the other, both are equally enthusiastic though the progression rate is not the same—probably because of language barriers.

Friday, October 26, 1979


Blue eyes have always startled me
As if I could touch them with my hands
Are they cold and is my hand sticking to dry ice
Or is the flesh of my fingertips melting
And assuring itself to their surface?


Friday, October 12, 1979



was that a
blue bird in a
bay tree
or a jay bird
in a blue tree?


Wednesday, October 3, 1979

I AM A HAWK 3 takes Michael Dow workshop

I am a hawk circling upward in a thermal draft, 
and the sky is blue. You are a cricket on a dusty path in summer.
I am a feather spiraling down to earth from the tail of the red hawk
You are a red leaf floating in the breeze
The pileTed woodpecker knocks on the tree
and we drift into autumn, as one.

Michael Dow workshop

I am a hawk circling upon a thermal draft and the sky is blue.
I am a feather spiraling downward to earth from the tail of a hawk.
I have rested on the leader limbs of the Inverness pine
And I am the mouse whose tiny paws grew feathers
I become the hawk and launch into space
A blackbird and I head south as the storm approaches.


The roots of the Inverness pine were planted in t he earth by my grandmother when I was a child. Then, the free was no taller than me. Nearly two decades later, it looms up into the sky, the very symbol of strength and clarity. Many times I have been the hawk resting on the leader branches, I have also been the mouse who climbs up to the top to see what it can see. He is afraid of heights, still he climbs upward. The  top sways in the breeze, he clings to the pine needles, with tiny paws. He sees beyond his scope. His fur sprouts feathers, he becomes the hawk, and launches out into space.


I think I attempted to make this work several times over, to no avail. What I know now, compared to what I knew then. 11/2/2015