Thursday, December 30, 2021

Poetry Friday is Here!

 I thought about Poetry Friday a couple of days ago. And then this happened about ten miles from where I live today. And about six hundred families have lost their homes. And in between tracking down people I love, and seeing if any of Rooney's buddies might need shelter. I just kind of forgot. Leave your posts in the comments and I will round up in the morning. 

Thank you for all of your kind words and prayers and your patience with what has to to be the world's worst Poetry Friday hosting ever. In spite of several suggestions that I could skip the roundup today, I'm at least going to try. Thank you for all of your kind words...

An update on the fire- We have had about six inches of snow since yesterday afternoon, our first snow in over two hundred days. It's also bitterly cold. Right now, I’m absolutely heartbroken thinking not only about the 600+ families that have lost homes, but somehow, the thing that is bothering the most is the animals. Some pets have been confirmed dead, however, some are believed to be alive, and wandering the neighborhoods around the fires. People aren’t being given much access yet to the fire area, but some have managed to build little shelters, in case their pets happen to come home. Thinking about all of those poor animals, looking for their people, out in the cold, makes me so, so sad. Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s poem about building forts for pets was written with an entirely different intent and context, but even so, it  made me cry. 

The Bell Sisters

In the spirit of collabellation (according to Heidi Mordhorst) and/or tintinnabulation (Carol Varsalona, The Poetry Sisters and, I think, a few friends, are writing about bells this month:

  • Michelle Kogan joins the Bell Sisters with a really clever rhyming list poem. 

  • Bridget McGee not only has a really clever rhyming poem, but she has lots and lots of plans for 2022. I think her journals will make great gifts and will definitely be ordering a few!

  • Janice Scully gives a history lesson, about the “salt bells” around Syracuse, New York. I love history wrapped in stories and think this would make a great picture book! Plus, she has an original poem, “Bells.” 

  • Sara Lewis Holmes started her combination poem/history lesson/life lesson with a sculpture, The Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon. So much history! So much truth!

  • Heidi Mordhorst wrote in a new-to-me genre, the “Blitz” poem. Plus, she has a not-to-be missed bonus offering, a “Blessing for the New Year” by Nadia Bolz-Weber. 

  • Carol Varsalona enriched my vocabulary with a new word  “tintinnabulation.” I love her story about Santa ringing the bells on her Christmas tree as much as I love her bell poem.

  • Laura Purdie Salas has an original poem, “Bell Song” published on top of a beautiful photograph. 

  • Mary Lee went a different route than most of the bell poems. Her haibun (combination of prose/haiku is about family Christmas traditions, including a very special homemade ornament. 

  • Over at Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia also wrote her bell poem based on a story from her life. She wrote in another new to me genre, the Bob and Wheel. I'm definitely gathering some ideas for forms I might want to try this year!

  • Tanita Davis brings the final (so far, anyway) bell poems. She includes a beautiful list poem, "Canticum Camapanarum" and then an original poem, where she connects bells and joy.

Endings and Beginnings

  • Tabatha Yeatts’ offering, “Dispensable Other,” is more than a little sobering. I’m feeling more than a little discouraged by all that is “unlovely” about our world right now…

  • Linda Mitchell is wrapping up her “Year of the Ox” poems, and will be moving on to a new word, “Star.” Can’t wait to see what this new series will hold. 

  • Fellow Coloradoan, Linda Baie, is just finishing a collection of nature poems, one for each day of the year, that she read in 2021. She sharied an intriguing new collection, TIGER, TIGER, BURNING BRIGHT. This volume, collected by Fiona Waters, features a year’s worth of animal poems. I think I might need these books!

  • At Reading to the Core, Catherine Flynn used a quote to write a golden shovel, perfect for the threshold of 2021/2022.

  • Donnetta Norris also has a beautiful end of year golden shovel prayer-poem, "Calm."

  • Irene is wrapping up her Artspeak year and promises to share her new theme next week. She has a lovely original poem, “Map to a New Year,” written in response to a Mary Cassatt drawing. 

  • Ruth and her family ended their year with a visit to a new-to-me place, Cheekwood, in Nashville, Tennessee. Photographs from her visit include a sculpture called “Tree Poem.”

  • Matt Esenwine is celebrating a very successful year and looking forward to the publication of his newest book, I AM TODAY, on January 25th. 

  • Tim Kulp reflects on the word, “Enough,” which so many of us have said often this year. And then he gives us the gift of a very clever story poem!

  • From her cozy cabin deep in the woods, Carol Labuzetta sends the gift of a holiday alphabetic, inspired by Maurice Sendak's class, ALLIGATORS ALL AROUND.

  • I’m closing with Robyn Hood Black’s Rainier Maria Rilke quote. Her Instagram video is really fun, for those of us who are typewriter nerds. 

 "And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious, and great things."

Friday, December 24, 2021



I haven't posted much recently. Ok, actually I haven't opened up my blog in six months. However, it looks like possibly I am going to have a little more time in my life, so maybe I will dabble in poetry again. Today, I'm stopping in to make you aware of a new poetry book published by students at North High School, which is the feeder school where many of my students attend.

I teach in North Denver. When I started working there, ten years ago, the neighborhood was like many others I had worked in before-- working class families crowded into tiny houses, some more than one hundred years. At least once a month, someone would get evicted and we would watch as the neighbors dug through possessions piled on the front lawn. For several years, we watched as one little house slid, inches at a time, off its foundation until finally it was condemned. The school where I taught was about 95% free and reduced lunch. 

That has all changed in the past decade. About twenty years ago, they built Coors Field, the stadium where the Colorado Rockies play, about a mile away across the highway from where I teach. The neighborhood around the stadium changed rapidly, from a land of factories and railroad tracks to upscale lofts and restaurants. LoDo/Rhino, as it was called, became a hipster neighborhood where everyone wanted to live. 

When the developers ran out of room, they went across the highway, into the neighborhood where my school is located, tore down all of the little houses, and built what I call saltine-cracker structures. I call them that because of their shape- tall and narrow, like a saltine-cracker box standing on one end. The roofs are flat, with patios or decks that are advertised as having a city view. Most of the structures are duplexes, which sell for upwards of $800,000 apiece. People can walk or bike across the 20th Street Overpass into downtown.

Sadly, the families who lived in that area, many of them for generations, can no longer afford housing in their own neighborhood. They've been pushed north ten miles to Federal Heights or east to Aurora. Enrollment at my school has dropped dramatically. I doubt that we will even be open in another five or so years-- the people who currently  live in the neighborhood don't, as a general rule, even have children. 

Recently, students at the local high school, created a poetry book around the gentrification of our neighborhood. Each student in a Latinx Leadership Class was asked to take a picture of the neighborhood and write a poem to go with it. Their work, our sacred community, is stunning.

You can read the whole book here.

It was also featured in The Denver Post last weekend. 

And in an article on the local news

Check it out. These kids have something to say. 

Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday today. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Welcome to Poetry Friday!


"Columbine Flowers" by wcurrierphoto is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Welcome to Colorado! I'm excited to introduce you to Jeannette Encinias, a new-to-me poet, whose glorious, richly detailed sensory images, remind me more than a little of one of my all-time favorite poets, Mary Oliver. Jeannette lives in the Pacific Northwest and has a book, Queen Owl Wings, coming out in November. I discovered Jeannette when a friend posted "Beneath the Sweater and the Skin" on Facebook earlier this week. This morning, when I was thinking about what I might post, I immediately thought of Jeannette's poem. I emailed to ask if it would be ok to share her work and link to her website, and she very graciously responded, within an hour. So here, without further ado, is my absolute favorite new-to-me poet!

"Beneath the Sweater and the Skin"

How many years of beauty do I have left?

she asks me.

How many more do you want?

Here. Here is 34. Here is 50.


When you are 80 years old

and your beauty rises in ways

your cells cannot even imagine now

and your wild bones grow luminous and

ripe, having carried the weight

of a passionate life.

Read the rest of the poem here

Jeannette Encinias

I went hunting on her website and discovered nine more poems. It was hard to choose only one, but I finally did. You will probably want to go to her site and read the rest though, because they really are lovely. 


I worry seriously
about only a handful of things.
Eyes to the ground
furrowed brow
beating heart

Then I remember
that I am here right now.
with good work and a big, bright love.
With a dog who just had a bath
after running in the mud
(Read the rest of this gorgeous poem here).
Jeannette Encinias

And now, include your link in the comments below and I will round them up! 

Thursday Night Posters
  • Linda Mitchell was first today with some found haiku from what seems like a gorgeous new picture book from Brain Pickings author, Maria Popova. 

  • Tabatha Yeatts reminds us that yesterday, June 10th, was Empathy Day. She shares a Nikki Grimes quote and also a Kim Stafford poem, “Curse of the Charmed Life.”

  • Michelle Kogan, whose lovely art shows up on my Facebook page several times each week, has not one, but two original poems today. One is inspired by the wind and the other one came from a photograph that Margaret Simon posted on her blog.

  • Ruth has “Vanishing,” a sobering poem about the disappearance of birds from our world.

  • Jone discovered a poem she wrote about ten years ago and revised it. The crafting is terrific!

  • Janice Scully reviews EVERYWHERE BLUE,  a novel-in-verse, about a 12-year-old oboe player whose brother has disappeared. I immediately had to go to my district’s ebook collection and check out! Sounds terrific! 

  • Michelle Heidenrich Barnes is featuring  a poetry graffiti project in Philadelphia. What a cool project! Take five minutes to watch the video with people’s reactions. 

  • Robyn Hood Black has all kinds of fun craziness- graduations and family celebrations, plus a new home in the mountains, and then she is moving out of her artist’s studio. I’m tired just reading about all of the business in her life, but she managed to find time to post an Emily Dickens’ poem besides! 

  • Sally Murphy’s poem, “Leisure” by WH Davies makes a perfect companion to the poems I shared today. Be sure you leave a minute to walk on her beautiful winter beach (via video anyway!)

  • Matt Esenwine is headed to Maine, one of my favorite spots in the whole world, but first he stopped to share a poem about his wife that he first shared nine years ago, when, coincidentally, I was also hosting Poetry Friday! A crazy world. 

  • Catherine Flynn is pushing toward the end of the school year. Sitting on her back porch, she spotted her first firefly, several weeks earlier than usual, and wrote about it. 

  • Fellow Coloradoan, Linda Baie, who often works at a bookstore only a few blocks from my house offers a Russell Hoban poem with some great advice on puzzles and life!

  • Carol Varsalona is the final late-night poster, in with a collection she calls “Winters and Sprinters.”


Mary Lee, the ever-faithful tender of Poetry Friday, has posted the new Poetry Friday Host Sign-up calendar. Be sure to stop over and choose a date. 

  • Jama actually posted last night, but her link didn’t go live until 6:00 this morning, so I’m including it in the Friday offerings. Her poem, “The Blue Garden” by Helen Dunmore is more than a little bit magical, as are Jama’s musing’s about the poem. And the accompanying art is also ‘blue-tiful!” (To steal Matt Esenwine’s words)!

  • Denise Krebs comes to us all the way from Bahrain, in with a poem-prayer (one of my favorite genre), inspired by Ruth’s post last week. And then she goes on to play around with stress words (iambic or otherwise). A world unknown to me, but I know a lot of you can probably offer advice!

  • Mayra comes to us from the United Arab Emirate, with Elizabeth Acevedo’s “Unfurling People” from the beautiful poetry picture book WOKE: A YOUNG POET’S CALL TO JUSTICE. Mayra wonders how the book might have been different if written by women poets from an Asian background. I agree with her, a new book ready to be written!

  • Sending lots of love and good wishes to Molly  in Maine. It’s been a difficult spring, but she writes that poetry, both at work and at home, is saving her. Today she has an original poem, “After the Diagnosis.” 

  • Elisabeth Norton takes us on a stroll to her pond (in my next life I am so going to live by water!), where she’s discovered a new creature, and written a s-s-simply s-s-superb original haiku. 

  • Irene Latham has completed what seems to me the Ironman Triathlon of poetry- she’s writing to a specific topic- Spring; she’s found a gorgeous piece of art- Mary Cassatt’s Spring: Margot Standing in the Garden;” and then she’s used Carl Sandburg’s “Summer Stars” as a mentor text to write “Margot Says Hello to Spring.” I’m exhausted thinking about this!

  • Margaret Simon, who hosted last week, is going through a bunch of rigmarole learning to use Word Press’ changes to their platform. And so she borrowed Heidi Mordhorst’s format, the definition, to write about it. 

  • Karen Eastlund is having a super-fun week with her grandchildren, who are very talented and also funny poets! Drop by her blog to read a poem from each of them. 



  • Another Carol, Carol Labuzzetta, witnessed a small miracle this week. She took lots of beautiful pictures and wrote a story poem. Be sure to stop by to read it. 

  • April Halprin Wayland posted a poem that she promised would blow our minds. Man oh man, was she right! DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT miss this absolutely glorious poem!!! Wow to the wow to the wow!

  • Jonathan, an ELA teacher from Hampton, Virginia, has been visited by an old friend that I think many teachers are facing right now! At least he has the gumption to write an original poem about it, which is a lot more than I am doing right now!

  • The brilliant and oh-so-creative Mary Lee has started PoemPairs, a new series on her blog. Earlier this week, she paired a picture book with a podcast, today it’s an original poem with a podcast about learning languages, and in particular, languages that are disappearing. Oh, and did I mention she’s learning Arabic?!? And while you are there, sign up to host Poetry Friday one week during the next six months. 

  • Donnetta, like Jonathon, expresses many teachers’ realities in her original poem, “Summer Break So Far.” I can definitely relate!

  • And last but not least, let’s welcome Marilyn Miner, who is posting on Poetry Friday for the very first time! She has an original poem, “The Shed,” that makes me wonder if she has somehow been in my garage!

Thanks so much for posting all of these lovely poetic offerings this week! I feel like the Universe is speaking to me about being more alert and more present in my life! OK, OK, I get it!!!

Be sure to stop by Mary Lee's blog to sign up to host Poetry Friday!

Friday, May 21, 2021

#MarvelousMaryLee #PoemsforMaryLee

This week, I'm joining Christie (Happy Birthday!)
and a whole bunch of Poetry Friday friends,
celebrating the career of my dear friend,
Teacher and Poet Extraordinaire,
Mary Lee Hahn.

Earlier this week, a good friend gave me Linda Sue Park's terrific new book,THE ONE THING YOU'D SAVE. It's a short novel in verse. Each poem is a sijo, a three-line Korean poem, with thirteen to seventeen syllables per line. THE ONE THING YOU'D SAVE starts out:

“Imagine that your home is on fire. You're allowed to save one thing.

Your family and pets are safe, so don’t worry about them. 

Your Most Important Thing. Any size. A grand piano? Fine.”

I used THE ONE THING YOU'D SAVE as inspiration for my #MarvelousMaryLee poem. 

"If My Home Was On Fire…"

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

A million quiet kindnesses, gathered over fifteen years.

Another million life preservers, tossed to a woman drowning. 

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

Those first emails, when I was trying to start a blog and boldly

 contacted the only blogger I knew, repeatedly, to ask stupid questions,

and Mary Lee responded, graciously, again and again. 

And I would take the introductions to a zillion opportunities--

friendship with Franki, CYBILS, Poetry Fridays--

doors opened, connections made, relationships formed.

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

The red velvet cupcakes carried in a shoebox from Burlington

consumed in minutes by my football-loving high school sons.

A decade later my oldest still asks when Mary Lee will visit again. 

And I would take the memories from walks at the Botanic Gardens,

I watched as she changed lenses, leaned in, marveled,

drew extraordinary from what had been previously only ordinary.

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

I would take the CD of hopeful songs

sent from Ohio in one of my most un-hope-filled times  

I would take pieces because I played the CD so many times, it broke.

And I would take reminders of April Poetry Month when Mary Lee

created community, dreamed up themes, posted prompts,

and we all sat around, roasting marshmallows at her poetry bonfire. 

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

I would take my frantic pandemic emails, sent last March

to the most famous teacher I know, when I was feeling totally lost.

Her calm responses- schedules, ideas, formats. Cow pictures? Who knew?

And I would take retirement ideas. Start thinking now, Carol.

Do the things you love. Plan new chapters. Dream big.

And so I have Rooney. Write poetry. Imagine art classes.

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2021