Category Archives: Poetry

April 2nd: A Bop Poem “No One Knows”

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No One Knows

No hot water anywhere in the school

And the soap we don’t bring ourselves

A diluted, suds-less, skin-drying potion

No red “stand here” circles or blue taped lines

To give little humans six feet of safe distancing

No way to believe in this “Safe Return to Schools”

 

No one knows what no one knows.

 

Families informed that their children will be safe

Teachers advised to get fully vaccinated

and work 15 extra hours to prepare for a safe return

Union agreed to place desks six feet apart

But desks were placed THREE feet apart in rooms packed for summer

Desk shields back-ordered for staff only

My school has no plan for before or after school care

And one grab-n-go meal will be a child’s only meal for six hours

 

No one knows what no one knows.

 

It’s not about learning loss when so many are gaining

It’s not about social skills if the silenced are now seen and heard

It’s not about students not receiving what they need

It’s about wanting to return to buildings

It’s about teaching and learning in storage spaces

It’s never been about valuing knowledge.

 

No one knows what no one knows.

It’s National Poetry Month!

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Prompt for April 1st: Rosamond S. King writes poetry using a form called “Shadow Poem.” This form asks you to write a shadow poem of a previously written poem. Today, I offered this prompt to my writers’ community. I suggested they write about shadows or try writing a new poem from one they’ve already written.

My poem below was originally written as an acrostic “ABUSEDWOMAN.” I divorced the form and found a shadow poem within that gives the original poem a deeper meaning.

In the Shadow of Abuse

After the Blood

dried Unseen by the world

She hid herself in pretty boxes 

and colorful Envelopes 

to give her dark Destruction 

a secret Way Out. 

Out from the Mirrors in her eyes 

showing silent Agony 

broken into Neat piles 

of suffering.

Transitions

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Today’s Prompt was a picture of a sculpture in the snowy woods. I focused on the slow process of death.

Transitions

 

She begins transitioning

From life to death

The process creeps

Like a slow morphine drip

 

Sentences shorten

To phrases

Phrases to mumbles

Mumbles to silence

 

Movement loses fluidity

Like a toddler’s first steps

No muscles pulling and pushing

Only bruised flaccid flesh

 

Until lying in a bed is all

Her dying body can do

In silence and waiting

For her soul to rise, free.

Hands I Miss

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Today’s Prompt: What thoughts do you have about hands?

Hands I Miss

Zoom’s hand-raise feature

No substitute for dirty pink palms

For the bobbing up and down

In the middle of my lesson

 

Zoom’s hand-raise feature

Some use it sparingly, like salt

Others keep it up constantly

Like my pressure after lunch

 

Zoom’s hand-raise feature

No substitute for sweaty smudgy skin

Or the open hand in the camera

Or a sweet voice saying, “Ooo, ooo!!”

To the Beat of Unity

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Prompt: Write a poem about bodies dancing. I watched a clip of Gregory Hines from White Knights to inspire my poem. I used the form “abacadaba” also known as the Magic 9 poem.

To the Beat of Unity

Grooving to the same song inside

Arms and legs sync tight and smooth

One clap, one tap, glide

One sound, two bodies in love


Come, world let music be your guide

Reflecting each other in unison

Stomp out hate, the pulse of your pride

Let spirit rhythms heal and soothe

America, rise up, let’s dance outside

February’s Poetry Challenge!

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For the month of February, I participated in a challenge to write a poem each day related to the theme of Bodies. I am grateful to Laura Shovan for creating the space to write with other poets, be inspired by each other, and to be encouraged to write every day! For the sake of time, I will post my poems and a simple description of that day’s prompt.

Memories of Mondays

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My Grandmother, Patsy Ann McPherson

Memories of Mondays

On Monday’s Chili Night
We’d drive down the hill
From our house to Nana’s
For a delectable family dinner
And bellies brimming with love
Five long miles later
Her old wooden door ajar for air and us
Enough to let the spices pique
We knew
It was a two-bowl night
A two-tortillas-and-cheese-on-top night
Some added Tabasco and black pepper
Nana’s Chili, always just right to me
Scooting up close to the table
My chin parked on the doily mat
All that good stuff
Nana’s family spread
Her “good bowls and plates”
Rolled up napkins because she’s fancy
Punch bowl ladle we couldn’t touch
Because our hands were wreckless
Mommie and Nana side by side
My sister and I eye to eye
Stepdad and cousin head the table
We’d eat
And laugh and talk
Joke about what Nana forgot to make this time
The cornbread or the salad
We would serve up round two
We’d eat again
And laugh and talk
I’d watch and remember
And make Chili Beans on a Monday night
Thirty years later

All The Things Left Behind

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©Glenn Carstenns-Peters

All The Things Left Behind

We saw their mail
Piling on the table by the door
Like if it didn’t
Make it into the living room
It wouldn’t have life

We knew he couldn’t manage
Living in empty rooms
Where memories floated
On dust particles caught
On sun rays
That never touched his skin again

We waited for that day
Like waiting for the elevator light to blink
And doors opening
To pour people
All over us
Because the piles spoke
Behind gluey seals
On certified warnings
That people were coming
To lock the doors forever

They gave him two days
To pack 40 years
Without enough boxes
Or back strength
We called our crews
Our village of warriors
Who moved fast
With fury and frustration
Until every car and truck
Filled to capacity

They made sure we didn’t leave anything
Important behind
Like my mother’s jewelry and coins
Her letters from our father
Her photo albums of us, them
Her artwork, statues, and ashtrays
Crystal punch bowls and the abacus
From our father’s many faraway trips

But what about the cement handprint
And our initials in the backyard tree
And the hopscotch painting out back
And holiday boxes in the garage
And the smell of the Christmas tree
Or the burning embers
In the fireplace

What about the splashing sounds
From summers in the pool
Music playing in earbuds
While sunbathing and daydreaming
And all the poems I wrote
In notebooks
In the backs of binders
That hid from hands and hearts
Other than mine
All left behind.

© Stacey L. Joy

Black Skin

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Black Skin

 

Standing in the mirror where age confronts memory

Beauty hides deep within the stories of my skin

 

Sunscreens and night creams slathered with care

Melanin needs help to protect a woman’s brown skin

 

Finding shades of caramel without greens and yellows

In makeup never mixed for the depth of Black skin

 

Shea butter and coconut oil line her shelves

Natural soothing salves bear the moisture of Mama’s skin

 

Draped in hip-hugging dresses and snugging pants

Captivate eyes in the rhythm of sisters’ skin

 

Paintings on my wall call my ancestors in

Dripping their blue-black and coal-black African skin

 

Tender caresses to calm our silent grieving

Born from the resilience inside beaten skin

 

Pure cotton sheets cradle my worn tired soul

Where I sleep and remember God is

the skin I’m in.

 

An Ode to Teaching and Learning Online

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Ode to Teaching and Learning Online

 

If teaching online

Could enrich young minds

I’d front line it

If Zoom morning meetings

Could beat in-person greetings

I’d co-sign it

If novel studies in G-Suite

Could light mind fires like Hot Seat

I’d design it

If blurry faces in gallery view

Could bring joy and love like hugs do

I’d refine it.

If “3 Quick Tips” in weekly office hours 

Could beat a teacher’s superpowers

I’d enshrine it.

If I’m forced into remote teaching

Could mean there’s no one I’m reaching?

I’d decline it!!

But if our lives aren’t worth saving

And the virus continues its graving

Retirement? Maybe I’ll find it.