Category Archives: Poems

A Little Girl’s Lament to Her Poppy

Amy VanDerwater is hosting the round-up:

Katya is hosting the round-up:

With a most grateful nod to last week’s round-up hostess Ms. Mac and her talented intermediate grade poet-students for inspiring thoughts of Veterans Day….  And with another most grateful nod to JoAnn Macken for modeling a tanka as part of the same Poetry Friday round-up…

Here, in honor of our Veterans and their families, is my first (deep breath) tanka.

poppy lament screen grab (2)

God bless our military families!

2 Beasties, Squeezed

Poetry Friday Tag

“Check It Out” is hosting this week’s round-up:

Since some of my elementary students really loved creating squeezed poems in response to Bob Raczka’s Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word, I couldn’t resist squeezing a poem of my own in response to Michelle Barnes’ 5-word Beastie poem challenge.

…Okay.  So I couldn’t resist squeezing two poems–one beast from land; one from sea. (Hmm… where’s the beast from air? … I guess that one flew away…)

beastie poems squeezed (2)

p.s.  In case “Squeezed Poems” are new to you, as they were to me, the quick gist, as I understand it, is this: Write a poem based on as many words as you wish that are derived (anagram, style), solely from one start word, which serves as the poem’s theme or title. Sequence the words, vertically (as if squeezed out of the start word), so that they relate to each other and the starting word (perhaps telling a story).

Concerning my squeezed poems, I might have cheated by adding punctuation. I’m a punctuation freak. Sorry.

Student Responses to Poetry

Amy VanDerwater is hosting the round-up:

Amy VanDerwater is hosting the round-up:

As an educator, I have a lot of frustration with the latest renditions of standardized testing. Since this is a poetry forum, I will confine my remarks to my frustration with the latest renditions of standardized testing relative to students’ poetry responses.

Just two years ago, students were required to make text-to-self connections within their open-ended responses to poetry. How a poem resonated with them, how it made them feel, how it reminded them of experiences they had—in these in other ways, students were expected to personalize their responses.

In a changed world, text-to-self connections are anathema. Explicate the meaning of the poem using evidence from the text—nothing more; nothing less. Denotation and figurative connotation are fair game. Personal interpretation: I think; I feel; In my opinion—forget it. No one cares about students’ thoughts, feelings, or opinions, as such. Just cite the evidence—objectively. Impersonally. “Just the facts, ma’am,” to quote an old television detective-icon.

For me, the essence of poetry goes beyond denotation and connotation of verbiage. That kind of explication might be appropriate for responding to prose selections but not to poetry. For me, the essence of poetry, the gift it is to humans, requires a personal reaction, albeit, such reactions are exceeding difficult to verbalize.

I read once, but cannot quote the source, that a response to a poem is best (as in most authentically) made with a poem. Surely, we do not expect students to respond in that way, and yet, why not break the exposition rules? Why not accept as an open-ended personal response to a poem a sketch, a poem, word maps, phrases, and so forth.

When it comes to substantive poems, the kind that leave audiences struggling to identify their reactions, and then groping for adequate words to express their reactions, how can words best describe a poetry encounter that touches the soul? What is the nature of the discourse it engenders?

deep calls (2)

The first four words of the seventh verse of the New International Version of Psalm 42 epitomize for me the answers to these questions. “Deep calls to deep.” Some responses cannot be put into words…at least not without considerable thought, a time for pondering, for letting the meaning of the words resonate–fall— deeply within to the core of one’s being. The time needed for that kind of reflection likely exceeds the limits and constraints imposed by timed testing.

So, as poets, what do you think? Since personalized poem-responses are difficult to articulate, are testmakers doing students a favor by eliminating text-to-self responses? Or should poems be respected for the text form they are, and should a variety of personalized response-formats be required?

Thanks for sharing your perspective.

Lily: Living up to Her Name-Acrostic

Poetry_Friday_Button_2-210 REDUCED

Laura P. Salas is hosting the round-up:

Creating an acrostic for a poetry assignment this week got me remembering another acrostic—one I composed this past April.

A first grader—daughter of a former student of my husband’s—was dying of a rare form of cancer. Besides the connection I felt through my husband, I felt my own connection with the child. As a kindergartner, she had won her school’s poetry contest. (Not that I ever won that distinction, but loving poetry from my youngest years—that would be something we had in common.)

Given the child’s tenacious response to her cancerous plight, the watchword for her fundraising campaign was fittingly based on the words of another poet:

shakes p for lily croopped (2)William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In response to the heart-wrenching news of the child’s Easter Monday “death” (Her family prefers to think of her release from the pain and infirmity that held her captive—free to be forever joyously alive with God.), I set about to write an acrostic in her honor.

The resultant poem “frightened” me—in an awe-struck way–in that the name-acrostic seemed larger than life—the life of hers that just had passed peacefully into eternity.

How poignantly the poem proclaimed what had been the child’s defining response in the face of adversity…As if her given name, the name she answered to for three months’ short of seven years, held the secret of who she truly was (in contradiction to the apparent namesake-connection with a delicate flower), as well as what was heart-breakingly, and equally inspiringly, to become her legacy in the ongoing fight against childhood cancer…

 lily screen grab (2)



If you feel inspired to learn more about this purple-loving little Shakespearean protégé, here are some links:


on being sea-riously gifted

gift no blue errors (2)

Private Screening

Ending #1

Ending #1

privatge creeening w=2 (2)

Ending #2

“between” Haiku

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bewtween still not working (2)

This “between” Haiku was written in response to Haiku Horizons Prompt: Thanks to , whose “liking” one of my poems brought me to her site and her invitation to take this Haiku challenge, too.