Tuesday, April 22, 2014

POEM #22- Mount Everest

 Having spent almost my entire life in Colorado, I've had mountains in my front yard forever. I love watching how the colors change, depending on the time of day. I love watching clouds move in and cover the mountaintops before a storm. I love watching shadows shift.

I' also fear the mountains. I know the weather can change in an instant. I've slid down a mountain on my rear when a quick moving lightning storm surprised us.

And I know it's really easy to get lost.  Two weeks ago, a father and son visited Colorado for spring vacation. The boy was about to graduate from high school, and he and his father had come here, while his mother and sister went to Mexico for spring vacation. The mother and daughter came back from their trip, couldn't contact the father and son, and finally got in touch with authorities who spent a week combing the mountains. The search party never found the father and son and eventually the search was called off. The bodies will probably be found this summer.


Twenty nine thousand feet.
Thin air.
Bitter cold.
Gale force winds.
Ice fields.

Climb to touch the heavens.
Climb to prove you can.
Climb because I'm here.

The mountain speaks.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

POEM #21- Great Barrier Reef

Blue Linckia Starfish, Great Barrier Reef, by Richard Ling, found on Wikimedia Commons
 I apologize for the spacing! Blogspot is being difficult. I have tried several times to reformat with no luck and I don't have time to retype the whole post!

I'm participating in Mary Lee Hahn's OUR WONDERFUL WORLD poetry celebration. Today's wonder is the Great Barrier Reef.

Years ago, in Ralph Fletcher's What a Writer Needs, I read these words, "The bigger the issue, the smaller you write." Ralph talked about choosing one tiny detail; for instance, you don't talk about dementia, you talk about how your grandfather, who has always been an impeccable dresser, comes downstairs having missed a belt loop.

The Great Barrier Reef feels pretty overwhelming to me-- visible from outer sapce,  longer than the Great Wall of China, home to thousands of species of fish and marine animals. However, we are killing it through global warning, pollution, etc.

When I went looking for pictures on Wikimedia Commons, I found a beautiful photograph of the Blue Linckia Starfish, then noticed that the photograph was about ten years old. I know that the reef was impacted by an episode of Coral Bleaching in 2006 and I wondered, whether I would still see this spectacularly colored creature if were to visit today.

"Blue Linckia Starfish"
Flipping through photos
of the Great Barrier Reef
I find Blue Linckia Starfish
taken by Richard Ling
ten years ago
so beautiful
I had a dress this color once
I wore it until
it fell apart

And then I read
about coral reef bleaching
most recent outbreak in 2006
I read about global warming
those really hot summers
we have been having

and I wonder
if Mr Ling and I
returned to 
the Great Barrier Reef
today, ten years later
could we 
still photograph
Blue Linckia Starfish?

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2014

And then a list poem.

“Great Barrier Reef”

Thirty species of whales

dolphins, porpoises-

dwarf meinke,

humpback and

fifteen hundred fish,

coral trout, red bass

striped sturgeon

clownfish and

six species of sea turtle—

green, leatherback,

hawksbill, loggerhead

olive ridley and

saltwater crocodiles

sharks, stingray, skates

nine species of seahorses,

seven kinds of frog and

four hundred coral—hard and soft

Five thousand mollusks

seventeen species of sea snake,

 White bellied sea eagle, roseate tern
Twenty one hundred plants,
three endemic,

Fifteen species of seagrass…

How can we do nothing?

© Carol Wilcox, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Poem #20- Grand Canyon

 I'm participating in Mary Lee Hahn's "Our Wonderful World." Today's wonder is the Grand Canyon. Be sure to check Year of Reading today, because more people participated and there are several Grand Canyon poems to read.

It's also Easter. And in my mind, the Grand Canyon is a perfect metaphor for the separation between us and the Abba Father. Because it is such an important day to me, I wanted a really, really good poem. I messed around with several different forms this morning, spent the day with my mom in Colorado Springs, then came back and tried again. 



About that
that existed between
Light and Dark
Lovely and Loveless
Holy and Helpless

It isn't there anymore.

Love reached across
Sin's Grandest Canyon.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2014



Years ago
I stood on the rim
of the Grand Canyon
marvelled at multicolored layers
rugged rock formations
shifting shadows
orange red yellow
setting sun

breathtaking beauty

But there is that other
Grand Canyon
layers and layers
of rock hard sin heart
secrets no one
is allowed to know
unmentionable ugliness
dark depravity

breathtaking brokenness

And through that blackness
runs the river of Christ's love
wearing down
wearing down
wearing down
hardest of hearts
by the river
of His enormous love
(C) Carol Wilcox, 2014

I also tried a tanka.

Easter. Holy Love
reaches across Grand Canyon
of separation
between His purity and
my absolute impurity
(C) Carol Wilcox, 2014


And a  few haiku…

"Then Came Easter"
Grandest Canyon
between Holiness and sin
and then came Easter

Bridges Grand Canyon
Between His purity and
my depravity

So thankful for Grace
that bridged canyon between
Pure heart and dark heart

Easter. When Grace reached
across Grand Canyon between
Holiness and me



Almost midnight on a hot July night, two years ago in Denver. I have to present at a workshop the next day and should be home in bed. Instead, I'm stuck in a huge traffic jam in a construction project on I-70.

If not for Franki, I would not have been stuck in this mess…

I first "met" Franki years before, when I moved to New Hampshire. OK, so I didn't actually "meet" her then, or at least not face-to-face. Instead, I "met" her through JoAnn Portalupi and Ralph Fletcher I was doing my graduate work at the University of New Hampshire with JoAnn. Several times a year, Ralph and JoAnn would head to Ohio to present workshops. When they came back, they would always talk about Franki.

Eventually, one or the other would stop and say, "You know Franki, right Carol?" And I would say I didn't.

Then Ralph or JoAnn would always say, "Carol, you have to meet Franki. She's amazing."

We probably had that conversation twenty times in the four years in New Hampshire.

And then I moved back to Denver. And I am not exactly sure how I actually met Franki, but I did. Maybe it was when I decided I needed to start a blog. And I reached out to Franki and Mary Lee because I couldn't figure out how to insert a book cover in my posts (please note, I'm probably the only one who will not have the special Franki button Ruth created because I couldn't get it to download correctly, despite trying multiple times).  Franki and I became fast friends in the world of Kidlitosphere. And Franki was always so, so kind. And so, so gracious. She always made me feel like I had something to say.

If not for Franki, I probably would have given up on blogging a long time ago. 

And then there was the hotel breakfast in Denver.

Franki was in Denver for something. Maybe a workshop? She reached out and wanted to get together. And so we met for breakfast at the hotel where she was staying. I was doing Weight Watchers and asked for a bowl of fruit and an English muffin. I was thinking I would get a couple of pieces of cantaloupe sprinkled with a few strawberries and grapes. Instead, I got a giant bowl, $15 worth of fruit, probably enough for three people. And Franki was buying! Yikes.

At the breakfast, though, Franki and I talked about a lot of things. We are both adoptive moms and we shared the ups and downs, the good times and bad. I don't think we knew each other all that well at that time, but Franki was a place where I could share how hard it was to parent two kids with reactive attachment disorder. I think I told her things I had not told anyone ever. And she didn't make me feel like a nutcase.  And we have shared stories ever since.

If not for Franki, my journey as an adoptive mom would have been much harder and much more lonely.

That day, we also talked about the role of Facebook and Twitter in professional development. Franki said, "Carol, that's how all the young teachers communicate. If we want to stay current, we have to do it too." And I realized she was right and signed up for Facebook and Twitter accounts when I got home that day. I'm not as good as I should be about posting, but I certainly have learned a lot.

If not for Franki, I probably would not be using those two incredibly important forms of social media.

And then she came to Denver for CCIRA. And presented several sessions on 21st Century Literacy. And wanted me to attend every single CCIRA session on digital literacy. And opened up a whole new world for me and for my students.

If not for Franki, the teachers and students at my school would not be nearly as technologically literate.

And then there was that night on I-70. Franki had emailed that she was going to be passing through Denver. She would have a two hour layover at ten o'clock on that July night. And Patrick Allen and I decided that we needed to go to the airport to see her.

And we spent two hours sitting on the floor, drinking Starbucks, sharing book titles, and laughing, and laughing,  and laughing.

Because that's what Franki is about. People. Connections. Books.  And laughter.

May your day and year be filled with all of those things, dear friend!

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

POEM #19- Chitchen Itza

Chichén Itzá, by xtinabuena, Wikimedia Commons
As you know if you read my blog regularly, you know I've been participating in Mary Lee Hahn's "Our Wonderful World" Poetry Challenge. Each day, we travel to a different Wonder to write poetry; so far we have been to the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the Golden Gate Bridge, the CN Tower, the Itaipu Dam, the Delta Works in the Netherlands and lots more. Mary Lee and Kevin Hodgson and I have written every single day. Several other folks, Cathy Mere and Carol Varselona, have traveled with us some days.

Today we are journeying to Chichén Itzá, on the Yucatan Peninsula. I've been struck, as I have researched a lot of these places- pyramids, temples, mosques, etc.- by humans' search to know/understand/connect with their creator. Sometimes I've been struck by the beauty of their efforts. Other times, I've been saddened by the depravity or destruction involved. Today,  I was struck by both. I started with one poem, then felt like it was going in two entirely two different directions, so I broke it into two separate poems. I'm including them both.

"A Question"

Did Creator God’s
eyes twinkle
as He watched
small humans
chart movement of
His great fireball
across earth dome
measuring three hundred sixty-five
two or three or ten times
discovering precision
of Patterns
millions of years

© Carol Wilcox, 2014

Chichén Itzá”

Great Holiness
Humans seeking
to understand
Creator God
chart movement of
great fireball across earth dome
then construct temple
 to honor Sacred Precision
Great God smiles

Great Depravity
Humans seeking
to please Chaak,
giver of Rain,
hurl bejeweled beauties
into sinkhole wells
human sacrifice
Great God weeps

© Carol Wilcox, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014


Alpacas, by Philippe Lavoie, from Wikimedia Commons

This month I'm dragging myself, kicking and screaming, through Mary Lee's "Our Wonderful World," poetry challenge. Actually, as much as I've complained, and as hard as it is to find the time to write a poem every single day, I really am enjoying the challenge. I love making myself write every day (I wrote in the Slice of Life Challenge last month, so I've blogged 49 days in a row, but who's counting??). I love learning about all of these places. It's fascinating to think about how these ginormous edifices were built, mostly without modern machinery. Most of all, I love the little community that has formed- Mary Lee (you can also read her poems at her new Poetrepository) , Kevin (Kevin's Meandering Mind), and I, just kind of tromping vicariously all over the world writing poems and cheering each other on.

Today, as I researched Macchu Pichu, I thought about the big stuff- the Inca civilization, the incredible construction, the audacity of Spanish conquistadors, etc., but I was particular struck by this teeny tiny fact. Each night, after the tourists have left, alpaca, who I think are a native species, are led into the funerary hut, where they spend the night grazing, to keep the grass in the area short.


One thousand years ago,
when the highlands of Macchu Pichu
echoed with cries of White-Tipped Swift,
and Collared Trogon
and rainbow winged butterflies
flitted through lush tropical forests
we were there

And seven hundred years ago
as Inca craftsman hauled
enormous blocks of stone
up steep slopes
to build temples and tributaries
and observatories
we were there

Six hundred years ago
Spanish conquistadors arrived
plundering pillaging
decimating ancient civilization
and we were there

One hundred years ago
a little boy
led eager anthropologists
eight thousand feet
up steep mountain slopes
to vegetation covered ruins
and we were there

as darkness fall
three thousand tourists
will cease their climbing
and exclaiming
and clicking
we will still be there

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2014

Poetry Friday today is at Robyn's Life on the Deckle Edge.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

POEM #17- Petra

Petra, by David Bjorgen, from Wikimedia Commons

Three hundred years before Christ
Arabian nomads,
abandon goatskin tents
chisel homes into cliffs
build elaborate conduits
create a new way of life.

Fifteen hundred years
and a half a world away
the Anasazi
abandon the ways of nomads
build houses that climb the side of cliffs
learn to farm and create pottery
create a new way of life.

Looking at those worlds
of cliff climbing houses
I cannot help but believe
we are all connected

(C) Carol Wilcox

Mesa Verde, Colorado

A little about my process.

I am and always have been a morning writer.  That said, at this point, writing poetry in the mo just is not possible. This is that crazy busy time of year in schools. I'm working three jobs right now (literacy coach, managing the after school clubs, and also teaching for our ELL department). Every weekend, I drive to Colorado Springs, usually both Saturday and Sunday, to be with my mom, who has had some major health issues and has just been moved into assisted living.

So this year, my poetry writing has pretty much looked like this:

1) Get up in the morning. Read Mary Lee and Kevin's latest creations. Feel amazed at their brilliance.
2) Google the place we are writing about. Skim a few websites until I find one or two that are interesting to me. Today, for Petra, I am especially liking the American Museum of Natural History.
3) Sometimes I copy the article into a word document and highlight or mess around to see if there is a found poem waiting to be writing.
4) Kind of put the place in the back of my head for the day. Think about it as I am going about my day. Yesterday, I got some ideas while I was sitting in a huge traffic jam on the way to work (45 minutes on I-70). The day before I had some thoughts while I was proctoring our states blessed event (then had to try to remember them for a whole hour because we are not supposed to write anything down while we are doing the test).
5) Get home from work at 6. Eat. Walk the dog. Sit down to write at 7:30 or 8.
6) Procrastinate for 30 minutes or so.
7) Wish I would never committed to this dang poetry challenge.
8) Reread the article.
9) Try to write something.
10) Post about ten o'clock.