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Monday, March 1, 2021

SLICE #1/31- I wasn't going to slice this year


 I wasn't going to slice this year. Life has been a bit much-- hybrid teaching with kids remote and kids in person half day, and coaching teachers the other half day, taking Spanish classes two nights a week so that I can be more effective at my job, parenting two semi-adult/adult sons who are struggling mightily, being the daughter to an 87-year-old mom who had a major health crisis in February, training a service dog puppy-- it just seemed like plenty. And so I decided I wasn't going to slice this year. 

As recently as yesterday, when I read several people's Facebook posts and tweets about getting ready to slice, I wasn't going to slice. Last night, when I went to bed, I wasn't going to slice. This morning, when I woke up, I wasn't going to slice. I really wasn't. I just don't have time or energy to spin one more plate this year. 

Then, somehow, this morning, when I was having my coffee, I wandered over to TWO WRITING TEACHERS. Just to check out some of the slices. Over fifty people had already posted. I recognized some names, but there were lots of newcomers too. I remembered how much I loved reading other people's slices. Following old friends. Making new friends. Getting wrapped up in some people's stories and following their blogs for the entire month. Dipping into other people's stories just one or two times. Marveling at people's creativity and craftsmanship. Trying to steal some of their moves to up my own game.

And then I went back and read a few of my slices, ok, actually most of my slices, from last year. And then a few from previous years. I've been slicing for almost ten years, so I had a lot to choose from. In 2011, when I started slicing, I was administrative assistant at an inner city school, parenting two high school sons, and chasing my two Houdini Labs around the neighborhood. There were lots of single parent posts, and posts about disciplining kids at school (I wasn't very good at it because I always laughed). Rereading some of them, I still laugh. 

And now, in 2021, much has changed, but much has stayed the same. I'm still teaching, one of the last of my friends, I think, that hasn't retired, but I still really, really love the kids; and  I don't want to retire. I'm still doing the single parenting thing, and my sons, who I adopted at 7 and 9, are now 25 and 27, and still struggling to launch. I'm still the mom of two dogs-- but Ramsey, and Maggie, and Jack, and most recently Star have all crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and now there's Rooney, the two-year-old yellow lab that's only kind of mine, and Galaxy, the German Shepherd mix puppy I adopted in November. And there are still stories about trying to figure out my relationships with my mom and sisters...

I wasn't going to slice, but somehow I couldn't imagine not sharing stories. Not being a part of the slicing community. 

And so I clicked on the link to fill out the participation form. Here we go again...

Friday, January 1, 2021

Poetry Friday

 2021! A new year! I don't really make resolutions, but I do spend time thinking about the last year, and about what I want to do differently. This year, I want to get back to writing, and back to blogging more. I want to participate in Poetry Friday, hopefully with some of my own work, but if not, at least something. I think that's going to be my biggest goal for the year, is to let go of perfectionism and just put myself out there somehow. In that spirit, I don't have anything original or new or surprising today, but I do at least have a poem I love. So here is today's offering, a poem prayer for 2021. 

For more poetry, head over to Ruth's Blog, "There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town.



Ring Out Wild Bells

by Alfred Lord Tennyson


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

POETRY FRIDAY IS HERE!


It seems strange to be hosting Poetry Friday after I haven't participated, at all, for almost six months. Haven't even written on my blog for the last six months. And yet here I am. Eight months into the pandemic. Months and months and months of remote teaching. Nine days into quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive at work. The week after a fabulous virtual NCTE. The day after Thanksgiving. 

I decided I would share a new favorite poetry book, WOKE: A YOUNG POET'S CALL TO JUSTICE by Mahogany Brown, with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood. 

From the introduction

 What does it mean to be woke? 

In the simplest sense, it means to be aware. It means to see your surroundings and challenge how we strengthen our relationships with the government, with community, and nature.To be woke is to fight for your civil rights, and the rights of your neighbors...

To be woke is to understand that equality and justice for some is not equality and justice at all. We must stay alert. We must ask hard questions. We must stand for what is right, even when it is difficult and scary. 

The poems in this collection come from three women writers with varied perspectives of justice. 


The opening poem:


"Activism"

by Mahogany Brown


Our voice

is our greatest power


When we stand together

We can speak up against mistreatment


We are saying that we will not be silent about the mistreatment of people

We are saying we will not be silent


We are standing tall and firm because we believe in equity and equality

We are standing tall and firm


We are not yielding or bending because the conversation is uncomfortable

We are not yielding or bending


We understand activism happens online and offline

In the streets picketing 

and in the classrooms teaching

on the blogs writing

and on the internet sharing information


It happens everywhere

It is active

It is energy

It is resisting to be comfortable

Until we all feel safe and free.



I’ve Been There Before

By Olivia Gatwood


when a person is in pain

sometimes the best cure

is to hear I’ve felt that too

from someone else. 

when you cry and your best friend

puts their hand on your shoulder, and

says I’ve been there before

suddenly you know you are not the only one

sometimes, we don’t know the people

we feel for. sometimes, we’ve never been

where they are, but we don’t need

to look like each other or speak like each other

or live like each other to know what it feels

like to be sad, to be hurt, or to be in need of a friend

instead, we can simply say the words

I understand, we can make a secret club

out of our sadness, we can let everyone in

who wants to join, we can sit in a circle

and laugh and share, sing over and over

you are not alone.


Thanks for coming by today. Add your link below.

(I have never done it this way before, so if it doesn't work, feel free to put your link in the comments and I'll do an old-fashioned roundup tomorrow!)


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Poetry Friday

 I'm that crazy person who plans my Fourth of July week around fireworks. Fireworks at the Rockies games, fireworks at Civic Center Park, fireworks in different municipalities around the Denver metro area. I'm a little sad, then, that this year there are not going to be many displays, only two that I know of, anywhere close to Denver, and I probably won't get to see either of them. This poem is an oldie but a goodie in honor of what should be a special day. 

"Fireworks"

First
A far thud
Then the rocket
Climbs the air,
A dull red flare,
To hang, a moment
Invisible, before
Its shut black shell cracks
And claps against the ears
Breaks and billows into bloom
Spilling down clear green sparks, gold spears,
Silent sliding silver waterfalls and stars.

Valerie Worth

Linda Mitchell has the Poetry Friday Roundup at her place this week

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros


Efrén Nava could be one of my students. The bilingual, American-born son of two undocumented immigrants, he's a straight A student and a loving big brother. His parents are poor, but work hard to provide a loving home for Efrén and his younger brother and sister, five-year-old twins, Max and Mia. Amá makes sure her children's pants are always ironed and creased and provides a home cooked breakfast every morning before her children head off to school. One day, though, Amá doesn't show up after school and Efrén's family soon learns that she has been deported. 

I loved this book. So many of my kids struggle with this reality-- either living in the shadow of constant worry about people being deported, or living with huge heart holes from parents or other family members that actually have left the country in this way.  Often, they are afraid to open up about these heavy secrets, and try to carry them completely on their own. I really cannot wait to share this book with my students this fall. Thinking it might be my first read aloud!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

POEM #5/30- REBUKE

This month I'm doing "Poetry Pairs." My original idea, which still feels kind of half-formed and still doesn't have a cool logo, like everyone else's was that I was going to find a poem I liked, and use it as a mentor to write off of. I was thinking, I think, that it would be more topic related, but so far, there have been several form related poems. Today's is another one of those. I had never heard of the Etheree, until Mary Lee posted Gratitude on Year of Reading. She got the idea from Liz Garton Scanlon's poetry prompt.  Tonight, when I was walking Rooney (and yes, I was alone, and yes, I was practicing appropriate social distancing), it was absolutely beautiful outside- warm, that right before dark light, the moon just rising, gorgeous clouds-- and I kept seeing people on their phones, totally missing the beauty that was right there. And it made me sad, and this poem came to me, pretty much as I walked.

Rebuke
Glorious
Spring evening.
Full moon rising.
Pink tinged clouds fading.
Bird chorus sings bedtime melody.
Yellow lab tail enthusiastically signals joy.
Pig-tailed toddler dances across baseball diamond.
You miss all this sweetness, thumbs pounding frantically,
Eyes held in rapt attention, as you worship Lord Screen
Surely He cannot offer more than all the richness here.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2020

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Poetry Pairs- Day 4/30


So I'm trying to do a "poetry pair" where I take a poem every day, and try to use it as a mentor for my own poems. My thoughts the last few days have been more than a little rambly. When I saw this poem this morning in my email from Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, it fit where I am trying to live. Totally content.  Finding small pleasures. Centered with those who I love and with my God. The dogs are kind of that way. Roo doesn't care about COVID. Star doesn't care about COVID. All they worry about is that I am here, and there is food and water in their dishes, and treats in my treat pouch. And a walk every afternoon. If those things are true, all is well in their worlds. Adele Kenney captures it with such brilliance. I tried to mimic her style tonight. 



If There is Such a Thing
by Adele Kenney
(After a Woman Feeding Her Dog, by Mary Cassatt)

If there is such as thing as forever, I will be here by this high window,
this dog beside me, sun on our faces. Everything important will
spread out beneath us: gazebo and fountain. Each will be held in its
own moment of beauty like the Yorkshire Terriers whose pictures
hang on my kitchen wall: three no longer with me and this one who
chews his rope giraffe to pieces with no regrets, no sentimental
attachment-- the chew worth whatever loss it incurs. Informed by
his own spirit, he sees in things only things and wants nothing more
thank his leash and long walks, a game of throw the ball. He needs
nothing more than to sleep on the floor beneath my feet or curled in
the right angle my arm and elbow make when I hold him-- the
happiness he was made for.
If only forever were a choice we could make, I would choose this
dog's world (and my place in it)-- absolute innocence-- no other life
to plan for but this. Nothing but this: love without reservation-- his
world and mine as it it ought to be and, in this moment, is.
This poem first appeared in Paterson Literary Review. 



"If There Is Such a Thing"
by Carol Wilcox, 
modeled after Adele Kenney

If there is such as thing as forever, I will be here by this pond,
watching this dog paddle, sun warm on our backs. Everything important will
spread out beneath us: the pond, the sun dancing across the rippling water, 
then glinting off your wet black fur, your faded red collar restored to its
original glory.  Each will be held in its own moment of beauty, 
like the Heinz 57 mutts whose collars parade across the wall in my study: 
Ramsey, Maggie, Jack Black, Boo- no longer with me and soon you, old Star, 
snoring deeply at my feet and then Sweet Roo, you who find enormous joy
in dismembering  your stuffies within minutes- absolutely sure that the sole 
purpose of such toys is to remove the plastic balloon inside, so you can race around the yard,            
 squeaking delightedly, until someone grabs you and rips it from your mouth.
You see in things only things and want nothing more than a full bowl of kibble, 
a leash and long walks, a good game of tug of war, then to sleep on the floor 
beneath my feet or sneak onto the couch and press your nose against my thigh--
 the sole happiness you were made for. 

If there is such a thing as forever, I would choose this dog's world 
(and my place in it)-- total contentment-- no other life to plan for but this. 
Nothing but this: love without reservation-- his
world and mine as it  ought to be 
and, in this moment, is.