Thursday, October 7, 2010


Welcome to Poetry Friday!

My computer was in the shop for about ten days,
so I've missed the last two Poetry Fridays.
I'm glad to be back
and I'm doubly glad to be hosting Poetry Friday.

My most important writing and teaching mentor and dear, dear friend, Donald Graves passed away last week. Don published many, many books about the teaching of writing. He also published BASEBALL, SNAKES, AND SUMMER SQUASH, a book of poems about growing up. I've used that book as a mentor text for kids and adults again and again and again. I know I've bought the book at least five times, but this week, when I went to get it, it wasn't there. I couldn't let this Poetry Friday slip away, however, without honoring one of the dearest poets and friends I have ever known...

by Donald Graves

Bobby Nelson is the toughest kid in our class;
I am the smallest.
His hoarse voice finds me every day
on the way to school and home again.
"Hey Rabbit, whatcha doin'?"
A rock drops into my gut.
He walks next to me,
throws his elbows into my ribs
and edges me into the curb
hoping I'll take a swing at him.
I tried once
and he flipped
me like a toy dog.

One day, Jim, my best friend, gets fed up
with Nelson's jabs and taunts.
Someone on the playground yells, "Fight"
and a ring of kids surround them.
"Hit 'im Jim."
"Take him, Nelson."
They shove back and forth
saying, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah."
"Think you're big."
"Think you're tough."
Nelson takes a swing.
Jim catches his arm.
and twists him to the ground.
The dust flies. The circle cheers.
Jim sits on Nelson
like we own the playground
the school, and everything in it.

Travel well, dear friend, travel well.

Leave your link in the comments below. I will update periodically throughout the day.


Charles Ghigna said...

Thanks, Carol. Two small poems. One in honor of Columbus Day at Father Goose and "The Magic of Poetry" at Bald Ego

Marjorie said...

You have written a beautiful tribute and no doubt Don's legacy will continue. It's a great poem that I think will be good to show my cub scouts during anti-bullying week - it poses lots of questions, doesn't it?

We're in on Poetry Friday over at PaperTigers with a look at "A bit of nonsense from Sukumar Ray" Thanks for hosting - I'm glad you got your computer back in time!

Tabatha said...

What a great smile he had! In the poem you shared, I especially like the toy dog comparison, and the ending. Thanks for hosting! (Rainforest poetry today)

jama said...

So sorry to hear about Don's passing, Carol. The poem is perfect in light of recent events. Thanks for sharing it and for hosting today.

Over at alphabet soup, I'm celebrating John Lennon's 70th birthday, which is tomorrow:

Mary Lee said...

My poem is perfect for you -- it is about being away and coming back:

"Did I Miss Anything?"

You missed nothing. You missed everything. We are glad you're back!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I am sorry to hear of Grave's passing. His books on writing and his poetry have been a guiding light. Your post is very touching.

I have a post on Calef Brown's new Hallowilloween up at A Wrung Sponge, with a YouTube of him reciting some of his silliness.

Thanks for hosting this week!

Author Amok said...

Lovely tribute, Carol and what an empowering poem to share with kids!

I'm heading to the Dodge Poetry Festival this morning. They always include international voices in the line-up. One poet I want to hear is Iraqi-American Dunya Mikhail. My post features her ironic ode, "The War Works Hard."

Ruth said...

I have a Shakespeare sonnet today here. Thanks for hosting!

Amy L V said...

Dear Carol, I, too, have thought about Donald Graves so many times over the past week. (Last Poetry Friday I forgot about Poetry Friday and my series of poetry poems to write a poem about him.) How lucky for all of us that he was here and continues to be our teacher. Today I'm in with #19 in this poempoetry line.
Thank you for hosting and for offering up this perfect poem for these times. A.

Diane Mayr said...

At Random Noodling I highlight the Dodge Poetry Festival happening this weekend.

Kurious Kitty shares an old poem, MINE HOST OF THE "GOLDEN APPLES" by Thomas Westwood.

Kurious K's Kwotes features a portion of a poem by Lucy Larcom.

I was sorry to hear about Donald Graves. He was a longtime NH resident and did much for NH writers.

Barbara said...

Sorry for your loss, Carol, but how lucky you were to have had him!

Over at The Write Sisters we have an original poem about change.

Thanks for hosting!

laurasalas said...

Thanks for sharing that, Carol. I taught 8th-grade a lifetime ago, and I had a couple of Graves books that were my bibles. I think that was back when he was just becoming known.

I'm in with a found poem ("The Insult") at

and also 15 Words or Less poems at

Thanks for hosting!

Linda said...

Donald Graves was a wonderful teacher. I was fortunate enough to take a workshop with him many years ago. I still use his books with my classes every year.

I'm in today at
with a poem about bullying (I guess it's on all our minds right now.)
Thanks for hosting!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Hi, Carol.
Farewell to a man because of whom writing fares well in many a classroom.

I'm in today with art/writing connections at [uptoFIFTEENonline-listservs]

Jeannine Atkins said...

Carol, Your words about Donald Graves touched me. What a loss. As a grad student at UNH I never managed to take a class with him, but his presence was felt everywhere, and my office mate was always quoting him. I'm going to look for more of his poems now. Thank you.

I wrote about a recent visit to Steepletop, the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay at

Sally Thomas said...

Beautiful tribute. Meanwhile, at Castle in the Sea, I've got Seamus Heaney, who just won the Forward Prize, reading on video.

Stenhouse said...

This week on The Stenhouse Blog we have another original poem titles The Rolling Pin by Shirley McPhillips. Enjoy and happy Friday!

Karen Edmisten said...

May he rest in peace, Carol -- such a lovely tribute to him.

I am in this week with George Bilgere, here.

Thanks for hosting!

david elzey said...

what a nice tribute to a lost mentor. thanks for sharing this with us.

i've got another original this week, inspired by a couple memories from when i was a teen.

thanks also for hosting, carol.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Thanks so much for doing the roundup this week!

At Wild Rose Reader, I have a review of Rita Gray's "One Big Rain: Poems for Rainy Days" and a bunch of my original children's poems about rain.

Julie Reinhardt said...

Thank you for hosting, Carol, and for sharing your dear friend's poem! Today I've shared and original poem called, October Berries at She-Smoke:

Liz Garton Scanlon said...

I have posted a Tony Hoagland poem this morning. And I LOVE this poem -- thank you for sharing it. It is an inspiration and a tribute...

Elaine Magliaro said...

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a video of Shel Silverstein performing his poem "Sara Cynthia Sylvia Stout."

Tricia said...

Hi Carol,

Thanks for hosting this shindig. I'm in today with a poem by David Baker entitled Neighbors in October.

Have a good weekend!

Pattie said...

What a beautiful tribute...
I have a website at and invite everyone to visit and share your work on my 'submit a poem' page.