Monthly Archives: April 2018

At Not Quite Sunset: Day 21

After a long and productive day spent with my local writing project colleagues, Geoff and I set off for a quick dinner at a local dive.  Afterwards, I talked him into a stop by the beach–even though it was not quite sunset and we were not willing to wait to experience sunset.  (And to be honest, it was a bit grey so the certainty of even being able to see the sunset was in question)

But it didn’t stop me from wandering down the path from the cliff to the shore and snapping some pictures as I breathed in some fresh sea air and stretched out those legs that sat too much today.

not quite sunset

At Not Quite Sunset


At not quite sunset

when the clouds gather like cotton candy

blushing pink before the sun dips low

surfers rush

down the narrow cliffside path

in the ocean, they bob and wait for the perfect curl

to launch them toward shore

and I wander, seeking treasures through my lens

finding inspiration in the gray

in the blue, as the waves breathe in and out

at not quite sunset.


Douillard 2018

It looks like Max was also inspired by the ocean.  Here’s his poem:


Let the sunbeam shower on your back
as you fly like a bird with the flow of dolphins
finally, you lay down on the sand to rest for tomorrow
as you hear the waves screaming to the shore.


Where do you find inspiration?

Things to Do: Day 20

You might remember that I bought the book, Things to Do, when I was at Powell’s in Portland last week.  (See this link for the post I wrote then)  Today I was feeling like my students needed some poetic inspiration…and pulled out the book to read to them.  They were immediately enamored, many of them remembering the poem by the same author, Things to Do if You’re a Pencil, that we read last year.  We noted the poetic techniques used in each poem and then set out to write our own.  As I started hearing the students’ poems, those tingles started running down my spine!

Here’s a sampling, starting with Lauryn’s poem about dolphins.

Things To Do If You Are A Dolphin


Play around,

swim, jump,

watch surfboards float over the water like clouds in a race,

use echolocation to have conversations,

be silly, be fun,

and soar out of the water like a bird gliding into different worlds,
pretend to be a shark

and put your fin up so it sticks out of the crystal clear water,

perform a parade at the end of the day

when the sunset leans over the water

admiring itself

until it shines bright

onto the dolphins jumping
in the air at the same time


Here’s Sadie’s about an idea.

Things to do if You’re an Idea

Tiptoe into someone’s mind, hatch like a bird in an egg.

Start to grow big and lively, like the moon does in the darkest night.

Break free from your hidden cage, make an impact on the world.


And who can resist the poem from our resident Hamilton-obsessed student! (Think: the musical)

Things to do if you are Hamilton
Stand out from a crowd
fight for what is right
never forget what you are or who you are

do the things that you believe


My own poem was also inspired by the reading of the book–along with a photo I took of some bikes when I was UCSD yesterday.


Things to do if You are a Bike


Balance on two wheels

as feet pump

the pedals

Let air rush past

as you glide

downtime steep hillside

Obey traffic rules

without question

And when you are done

Rest in a rack or in a stack

with your bicycle brethren


Douillard 2018

We invite you to try out a “things to do” poem…feel free to share yours in the comments!

Sweet Peas: Day 19

I found myself searching for the flowers without knowing they were there.  The distinctive smell of sweet peas wafted through the office, and even as I headed out the door, I had stop to both smell them and take a photo.  I’m wondering if they came from our school garden.

sweet peas

Is it Summer Yet?


I could smell them

before I could see them

fragrance afloat

drifting down the hallways of my mind

a time machine of smells

taking me back

to those warm carefree


backyard days

when the smell of sweet peas

spring’s perfume


that summer is near


Douillard 2018

Some of my students have gotten quite playful in their poetic compositions–both created as found poems.  The first about dogs…

Tail Wagging Fun

Puppies, dogs all
All chasing their tails
Wagging tails this is
Cutie the cure for boredom
Companion circle time!


and the second about dance.



Musical instruments

An art form

Music in the air

The grace, strength, and poise of the dancers

The art form


Balance, flexibility, posture




Day 19 is a perfect day to play around with topics and ideas for your poetry.  What will you write today?

More Found Poems: Day 18

As promised in yesterday’s entry, today’s post will include some of my students’ found poems. This was not an easy process–many students expressed frustration with not having all the words they wanted to use.  Many stuck to the topic of the Wonder they picked, a few branched out to a different topic.

Koa read Do You Like Grapefruit? and “found” this poem in it.


Grapefruits are

so sweet

so large

and kind of sour

the forbidden

fruit sinks

into your teeth

a citrusy snack

of wonder and joy


in big clusters



Grayson chose to learn about pandas and wrote this poem:

China Pandas

Cuddly bamboo lovers

black and white

adorable creatures

with love and peace

they climb giants

and spread happiness

in China.


And Avi, who has a passion for motorcycles, choose an article about motorcycles to “find” his motorcycle poem.

The Motorcycle




a motorcycle

full of force

maintaining stability

keeping upright

a motorcycle


I sent my students home today with an invitation to explore a math wonder and “find” a math poem in the process.  Here’s my poem, “found” in this article about triangles.


Sides, angles

square, rectangle, triangle


great minds

classify, name

a variety of triangles




and angles




combine and count

it’s geometry

the experts decided

Douillard 2018

And all that thinking about triangles and angles reminded me of the bridges I saw and crossed in Portland last week.  So here’s some geometry in action!

bridge angles

Take a look around for some mathematical inspiration for your poetry!


Found: Day 17

Inspired by blogger Molly Hogan over at Nix the Comfort Zone, I decided to try my hand at some found poetry…and to introduce my students to this process as well.  To ensure student choice and accessible reading, I decided to head over to Wonderopolis and choose a Wonder of the Day as my source for a found poem.

I picked the article, Where Does Sea Glass Come From? and set off to select words that would become my own original poem.  Following Molly’s model, I decided that I would only use words I “found,” not changing word endings or adding any words of my own.

sea glass

Sea Glass



Works of art

Ocean recycles

Frosted, smooth

Mermaid’s tears



Water, waves, and sand



Bottles, jars



Collect glass

Collect art


Examine colors




And clear



Sea glass


Douillard 2018

My students selected their own wonders today and started reading and selecting the words they would use for their own found poems.  We ran out of time before they finished, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for some examples of their found poetry.

I do have a couple of Haiku from the two students who have not yet had a poem appear on my blog yet this month.  The first is a Haiku about Haiku:


a Haiku makes you
use cuts and say five seven five
made 12th centuries
The other was inspired by a plant:

Lush green reaching up
to the shady blue, never ending
sculpture with stained white
Where are you finding poems today?

Buoyed: #litterati Day 16

Daily beach walks make me keenly aware of the ways that trash finds its way onto the beach. Straws and plastic wrappers are common, along with bottle caps and bits of aluminum from decomposing cans.  Sometimes I find more interesting bits of trash–plastic toys, sunglasses, pieces of surfboards and more.  Today I found an escaped boat bumper or buoy being tossed in the surf…and it became today’s poetry inspiration.

Taking a photo of trash and then disposing it properly is the habit of many camera wielding activists…the #litterati.  Small acts add up to a big difference.

buoyed litterati



Bobbing in the waves

an escaped boat bumper

heads toward shore


Styrofoam bullet


spreading harmful trash

in its wake


We can all help

one photo

and one piece of trash at a time



Douillard 2018

And a student photograph and poem…inspired by the palm tree that stands tall in the center of our playground:

tyler pineapple palm tree

A Pineapple Palm Tree

Way up high in the sky
A pineapple sits on a stem with leaves swaying every which way,

held high by the stem

about as wide as your hug and as high as the
Seagulls soaring above

a rainbow of thought to feed
Your imagination


Like photography, poetry offers new perspectives on ordinary objects and actions.  What can you see anew today?

Seeking Silence: Day 15

Today marks the halfway point of my self-imposed 30 day National Poetry Month challenge. And as always happens for me, the more I write, the more easily I’m able to write.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I know these poems are not masterpieces…they are, in fact, all first drafts that would benefit from feedback, revision and more revision.

Returning back to school also means that I can involve students in the revision and feedback process as well.  What will happen when we take the time to select some of our poems to rework and improve?  How can we take inspiration from each other and from published poets as we tackle the difficult task of revising our writing?

Today also marks the last day of spring break for me.  It was a lazy day spent reading and running a few errands…with a lovely beach walk squeezed in too.  As is often the case, I found myself drawn to the seabirds…

sandpiper silence

Seeking Silence


In a world of noise and constant motion


I seek silence

in the roar of the surf

as turquoise and blue

tumble to frothy white


I seek silence

in the laughter and squeals

of children

plunging headfirst

into the chill of the spring tide


I seek silence

in the bobbing sandpipers

searching for snacks at lowtide

crying out warnings

when my camera comes too close


In the solace of the ocean and its noise and constant motion

I find a way to quiet my mind

and breathe in silence


Douillard 2018

And on this last day of spring break I found a photo and poem from a student in my inbox.  (Thanks to the parents who allowed their children to email poems to me over the break.)

Amelia dew


Resting its head on its cold plant pillow

Sparkling as the sun shines in them

like a diamond shattered into a million tiny pieces

Showing its power



How are you spending this mid-point Sunday in April?



Abundance: Day 14

Coming home means time for reflection and time to return to the daily routines.  When I woke up this morning I was greeted by the overflowing mound of laundry…which led me to thinking about the abundance of the last week.




Days of abundance overflow

wild rivers carry infinite grains of sand

mixing rain and sea water

nature’s elixir

coating my eyes

my throat

my being

freezing to icy whiteness

as we climbed the mountain

high above the city

head in the clouds

droplets run like rivers

down my cheeks and back to the sea

overflowing in a crash

of waterfalls

Traces followed me home

in my head

in my photographs

and in the pile of laundry

overflowing the basket.


Douillard 2018

And I came home to an email…a fun little list poem from a student.

A berry on a bush,
A sizzle from a pan,
A woof from a dog,
A little ladybug’s plan,
A fine line land,
A click from a clock,
And that is how my poem stops.
What abundance have you been experiencing?