Saturday, April 4, 2009


Day Four of NAPoWrMo, my morning is spent
transcribing air poems from memory
postdating them to cheat the calendar, but not time.
By the time I got home, I was too tired to write,
but lasting images remained, as if burned 
on the retina of a murdered man,
flickering like old celluloid images.

Yesterday we talked about poetic dyslexia.
I mentioned how we misheard or read words, 
and how it was a good source of inspiration 
(and mindless entertainment if you're bored.)
As third graders read their poems aloud, 
we misheard some words for the better .
They borrowed divine dictation from the gods, 
claiming it as their own. As the Chinook winds 
whipped a frenzy through the open classroom,
I mentioned mishearing "celestial padlocks,"
and how I wanted to use it in a poem.
Teo grabbed it and ran with it during Freewrite.
Great artists don't borrow, they steal. That's the key.

Loudmouth Eli, new to the school and to poetry,
sidled up and told me he thought it was kinda cool.
Confessed, at first he thought it was worthless
but by Day 2, he was my most recent convert.
He has invested himself with living poetry.

It's a balancing act to generate good poetry
and keep kids engaged, and to teach the craft.
They write harder for me than anyone else.
Emmie, one of my natural poets, waits after class, 
confesses, "I don't understand metaphor." 
We fill the room with simile, create metaphor. 
She says, "Oh, so simple!"  This is how it begins.
I tell Emmie I can't teach metaphor, it's up to her.

Through a crack in the window, 
the northerly wind hisses like a snake,
it coils around us with its icy grip.
Papers fly off the desk like a snow flurry.
Poems scatter and undulate like waves.
How far can we go? The sky's the limit. 
The key to unlock celestial padlocks of the mind.

* * *

A third grader who
couldn't remember my name
wrote on her folder, 
Poetry with Merlin.
Who could argue with that?


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