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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. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

3/30- POEM PAIRS- Learning from one of my favorite poetry mentors

Bryant Webster Dual Language ECE-8, where I really teach
So tonight I am feeling like a total cheater pants. My plan was to take 30 published poems, write off of them myself and then use them with my students. I have a list of poems. But then this week, I remembered that some of my favorite poem books are in my classroom at school. And I found some of them online, and then some other poems. This morning, I was having a hard time writing off of any of them. I gave myself an hour. I read one of my favorite poetry mentors, Mary Lee Hahn, and watched Liz Garton Scanlon's video, that had inspired Mary Lee's poem. Finally, I gave up and moved onto other things, namely trying to plan for the next six weeks, and transform my family room into a place that could do double duty as a classroom. I also helped other people plan, because half of my job is coaching. Mid day, I heard that we weren't going back to our physical building this year and my thoughts became even more divided. Tonight, Mary Lee's double cinquain became my mentor poem. And here is the best I could do. 

Let Remote Learning Commence

next week
fifty-seven
sixth graders arrive in
my messy cluttered family room
welcome

come in.
read, write, rest, dream
print's power can transport you
to place of new wisdom and peace
dwell there

Carol Wilcox
(c) April, 2020

Thursday, April 2, 2020

POETRY PAIRS #2



I've played around with several different themes. I thought about doing "Dog Days Revisited" and writing more dog poems. I thought about choosing a different subject and trying to write 30 different poems, in 30 different formats. I finally decided I would choose 30 poems I like, and try to use them as mentors to write my own poems. Which may be trickier than I thought, given that today I realized that most of my favorite poetry books are in my classroom at school, and I'm not allowed to go in. Hmmmm. Tonight I started reading through favorite poems I had collected on my blog. Irene Latham is a poet I have admired forever. I tried to use her structure. Not sure I was successful but...

"This Is the Hour"
Irene Latham


This is the hour
where sun dreams
when river
sings
its silky song.


This is the hour
Duck wades
into warm
whispery grass
settling
onto its nest


This is the hour
Duck asks:
        What is yours?
        What is
           mine?


River answers
        Look how 
        your wings
        glisten.


        How my eyes
          wink.


Yes, Duck says.
                Now I see--
                this is the hour
                  almighty sun
                gives itself
       
                to everything. 


Irene Latham

*************

“This is the Hour”

This is the hour
where world screams
healthy die
economy is upturned
children are afraid
streets are silent

And this is the hour
where dog climbs onto couch
stretches out next to me
presses head against human thigh
sighs in contentment 
and sleeps deeply

This is the hour
Human asks:
Will this end?
Will we hope again?

Dog responds: 
We are here together
on this soft couch
our bellies are full  
All is well.

Yes, Human says.
Now I see,
this is the hour
when we must
draw close 
breathe deeply
and give thanks.

All is well.

Carol Wilcox
(C) 2020

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Poetry Partners- #1


This year, I want to explore the idea of Poetry Partners. I want to take a poem from a published author, and use it as a mentor to write my own poem. My goal is to use some of these with kids.

Today's poem showed up in my email this morning.

"Spring Tonic"
Julie Eger


Listen for sandhill cranes.
Count the robins.
Pick dandelion greens
for Grandma’s spring tonic.
Praise the peepers.
Count the robins.
Open the garden gate.
Till the soil.
Search for asparagus.
Count the robins.
Smile at the first morel.
Catch bluegills with a cane pole.
Count the robins.
Put lounge chairs on deck.
Sit down in the sun.
Roll up pant legs.
Lean all the way back.

Count the robins.


“Spring Tonic”
By Carol Wilcox

rejoice in yellow crocuses
drink in grape hyacinths
worship  pink and red tulips and
delight in daffodils

watch lawn green and grow
listen to bees buzz in lavender
smell spring shower sweetness
go barefoot and
delight in daffodils

spend an afternoon on the patio
read, nap, then read a little more
let sun paints health your cheeks and
delight in daffodils

park on a sunny  bench
nibble sugar waffle cone
lick ice cream 
from sticky fingers and
delight in daffodils


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

SLICE #31- Confessions of a Night Slicer

OK, I think I'm just going to say it.

My name is Carol and I was a night slicer.

It's not that I really wanted to be a night slicer

I much prefer to write early in the morning.

I've always been a morning person. Even now, with nowhere to go, I'm almost always awake around 5:30. I think better, and write better, early in the morning.

But somehow, that just hasn't worked for me this year. In January, I committed that the first part of my day, every day this year, was going to be devoted to growing my spiritual self. Specifically, to reading my Bible and praying. I guess I could have written after that, but at the first part of the month, there were papers to read, and lesson plans to finish, and well, you get it. I was already getting up at an hour my sons affectionately call the "butt crack of dawn" and I didn't want to get up any earlier than that.

So I wrote at night.

And then, when the school closure happened, I think it was on March 13th, I really thought I would switch over and write in the morning. But somehow, it seemed like there was always stuff to do-- meetings and conversations about remote learning, talking to my mom, who has been in solitary confinement at a senior center for the last thee weeks, online Spanish class, etc., etc., etc.

So I sliced at night.

And now, it's March 31st. The month is over. And I'm writing my 31st slice. At night.

My name is Carol and I'm a night slicer.

And truthfully, I don't think it was that big a deal.

I wrote every night. I tried to write something reasonably significant. And I always commented on at least ten slices. Usually, I tried to comment on the last ten slicers because I knew they probably wouldn't get very many comments.

And I'm not sure why, but this year I felt like there was kind of a stigma about being a night slicer

Like people who were night slicers are somehow slovenly, or not serious about their writing, or maybe just lesser citizens of the slicing community.

And I am really not sure why people thought that.

My name is Carol and I was a night slicer.

Monday, March 30, 2020

SLICE #30- Tomie de Paola died today

This afternoon, I heard that Tomie dePaola had died.

Not from COVID, which is what I expected to hear next, but from a fall.

And I felt sad.

Because Tomie is one of the first children's authors that I remember loving.

And because I met Tomie dePaola.

In an elevator.

In Wyoming.

And I was a baby teacher, just beginning my career.

And he was a huge rock star artist.

And yet was so, so kind and gentle.

I had gone to Wyoming for some kind of reading conference.

I was with one of my local heroes, the woman who was the head of Title One in my district.

And I truthfully can't remember whether we went for the school district, or for our state reading organization. I think probably our state reading organization, because I'm not sure why someone as important as Colleen would have taken me, a first or second grade teacher, with her to an out-of-state conference.

I do remember that we drove to Wyoming, maybe Casper or Cheyenne, after school.

And that we got there in the early evening.

And I was in the elevator by myself.

Holding a Tomie dePaola book that I had brought with me, or maybe even bought at the conference.

A gentleman got on with me.

He was in his fifties, and I was twenty-something.

He smiled at me.

I must not have recognized him, or maybe I acted a little nervous, because he said, "Do you know who I am?"

And I remember feeling a little concerned that someone I didn't know was asking me, in an elevator, if I knew who he was.  I said I didn't and then the elevator door opened.

I started to get out

And he told me he was Tomie dePaola and asked if I wanted him to sign my book.

And right there, in front of the elevator, he signed my book, and drew a picture, I think he drew Strega Nona, although I'm pretty sure that the book he signed was THE LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET.

And over the years, I have loved so, so, so many of his books- STREGA NONA and all of his other folk tales, but also THE ART LESSON, OLIVER BUTTON IS A SISSY,  NANA UPSTAIRS AND NANA DOWNSTAIRS, NOW ONE FOOT AND NOW THE OTHER.

Recently, some of Tomie's "vintage art" has been showing up on my Facebook page. Except I don't think I figured out that it was "vintage." It still seemed fresh and lovely and comforting, amidst all of the current craziness.

And then today, I heard that he died.

And somehow, the world seems a little less lovely tonight.

RIP, dear Tomie.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

SLICE #29/31- Maybe I am not quite as ok....

Tomorrow we start our third week of staying at home.

Last week, our governor issued a "Stay at Home" order.

Essential businesses only. No public places open. No parks.

I think I'm doing ok.

I've kept myself on a schedule.

I've read, and written, and practiced my Spanish, and walked both dogs every day.

I've gotten ready for remote learning and emailed my kids and read some of their previous work. I think I've been reasonably productive.

Every morning when I wake up, I recite kind of a little mantra to sort of situate myself in time. Today, for example, I said, "Today is Sunday. Usually I, go to see my mom on Sundays, but today I am going to watch church online, then I am going to take my bag of groceries to the More Life center."

And that's where the trouble began.

My church has a food pantry, called the "More Life Center."

Every month, on the first Sunday, we are supposed to take a bag of non-perishables-- spaghetti and canned chili and vegetables-- to church. There's a pick uptruck parked out in front of the church, and you put your bag into the back of the truck, and grab an empty green "More Life" bag for the next month. We have been doing that for at least five years. Maybe even longer.

Yesterday, when I was at the grocery store, I made a special point of buying things I could put in my "More Life" bag. I threw in a little extra, because I'm feeling really grateful that I still have a job and a paycheck, when so, so many people don't.

My son always puts the groceries away when I get home from the store. I forgot to tell him about the "More Life" groceries, so he put those away too. Last night, I got out a grocery bag and refilled it, so I wouldn't make noise banging around the kitchen this morning. The bag was so heavy that I thought about breaking it into two smaller bags, so it would be easier to carry. I left it by the front door, so I wouldn't forget to take the groceries today.

This morning, I got up about 6:30. I read my Bible and drank my coffee, then watched church online. The first thing the pastor did was to hold up the green "More Life" bag. "Remember," he said, "Next week is 'More Life' Sunday. We really need you to come by the church with your groceries. We will have a team of volunteers, wearing masks and gloves, to take your bags out of the back of your car."

Actually, I only kind of heard the pastor's announcement. I got lost right after he said, "Next week..."

Next week??? Next week??? "More Life"is supposed to be today. What is he talking about?

And then I realized that today is NOT the first Sunday of the month. I am NOT supposed to bring groceries to church today. I'm supposed to bring them NEXT Sunday, which actually is the first Sunday of the month, and the Sunday I have been doing "More Life" groceries every month for the past five years.

Maybe I am not quite as ok as I thought I was....

Saturday, March 28, 2020

SLICE #28- Happy birthday Roo!

As people who have read my blog for any length of time know, I'm raising a service dog for Canine Partners of the Rockies. Rooney will live with me for about two years, and then if he passes all of his training (only 50% of the dogs actually do), he will become a mobility dog for someone in a wheelchair, or an autism dog. Here's a photo essay of our first year together. 


On May 26th, I picked this guy at from the airport. He had left California at 5 am, flown to Dallas, and then on to Denver.  He cried all the way home, then fell asleep in my arms. 



He was the greeter at CaPR's graduation when he had been here about two weeks. 
He lasted about ten minutes, then fell asleep.

He instantly decided Star, my 13-year-old Lab mix, was his new mama.

She's still his favorite!

He helped with a presentation at the Denver Country Club when he was about four months.
I sat on the curb outside and waited for him to come out. 

At the Scholastic Reading Summit!

He loves the Rockies!

Everybody into the pool!


Hanging out with his girlfriend, Olivia, and Auntie Val at the park.

He loves his babies, but he is a little rough, 
and they usually end up dismembered within a few weeks. 

First day of school!

Dog tired on Halloween!

Rooney loves shoes! I have to remember to close my closet because when he's bored, 
he grabs a shoe and heads out through the dog door!

Cuddling with A, his favorite seventh grade girlfriend in my office at work.
I wish I could show her face-- they adore each other!

November- First snow! 

Christmas- with a stuffie from his girlfriend, Nina, 
our night facility manager at work.

And somehow he has magically become this guy! 
Yesterday was Rooney's first birthday!
Happy birthday, Sweet Roo!



Friday, March 27, 2020

SLICE #27- Lessons from Distance Learning

It is Friday.

The end of a long week of remote learning.

Yesterday, between classes and meetings, I was online for 13 hours straight.

Today, I am in my second of six classes, and I am tired.

The presenter is great, but I am having trouble concentrating.

My eyes are drawn to the participant thumbnails on the side of the Google meeting.

Most people, myself included, turn off their cameras, so all that you see are their names, and some kind of initial or photograph.

My eyes are drawn to movement from one of the people who have not turned off their camera.

It is a woman, about forty, standing in her bathroom.

She is wearing dark colored leggings

and nothing else…

I watch,

along with I don't know how many of the other 250 session participants,

as she grabs a lacy white bra off the counter,

and fastens it,

leans forward several times to adjust her girls,

and pulls a long-sleeved t-shirt over her bra.

The show goes on for almost two minutes,

and I keep waiting for the tech guy to darken her screen

but that doesn't happen.

All day I have been thinking about that poor woman

who by now is probably mortified

by her digital indiscretion.

Her friends and colleagues

are probably all talking about her,

Her principal has probably heard.

I am sure she is considering moving to another state

or perhaps changing professions.

I shudder thinking about all of the mistakes

I have probably made this week.

I have decided that rule #1

of remote learning should be

"Always put your bra on before the session starts,

because you never know who might be watching."