Tag Archives: Ethical ELA

Summer Rainless Song

I like the way the syllable count forces language, creates opportunity for new thinking. Today’s prompt from Ethical ELA asked writers to come up with a line of a poem and continue with poem using the same number of syllables in each line. As I walked the beach this morning, I kept thinking about the monsoonal moisture promised by the weather forecasters–and the fact that I know it won’t result in the rain we need so much. I found myself obsessed with rain as I walked, counting syllables in my head. Here’s the resulting draft and the beautiful sky last night that fueled today’s obsessive thinking.

Summer Rainless Song

A pitty pat pat

the sound I don’t hear

except in my dreams

water all around

but not on the ground

Monsoonal moisture

parched earth, cloud-filled skies


promised rainfall – gone!

no pitty pat pat

Tinderbox of fear

drought-dried brush, fire fuel

inferno rages

in my brain, waiting

wishing for the sound

And the smell of rain

pitter patter pat

living in dryness

monsoonal moisture

waiting for rain


Fountain of Youth

Word association, make a list…it all seems too simple. But it’s not. It’s actually genius! Many thanks to the folks over at Ethical ELA and the Open Write for yet another day of inspiration. Today’s prompt took me to a favorite ice cream place in Ventura…and then back in time.

Fountain of Youth

My tongue tingles as we drive by

McConnells might just be

The best ice cream ever

Pick your treat

Creamy, cool


Santa Barbara strawberry

Eureka lemon and marionberry

Jostles memories

And I become a child again

Time stops

And I’m in the Thrifty

On tippy toes

Picking my scoop

5 cents for a single

Dare I splurge

Spending 15 cents for a triple?


Morning Treasure

A treasure hunt is the perfect way to start a day! That’s how I felt when I read the Open Write prompt today on Ethical ELA. I took a little different pathway on my treasure hunt and let my walk this morning uncover the treasure.

Morning Treasure

Morning light slanting

to warm my shoulder

making a mirror of wet sand

reflections in full color

Water pulls back

revealing rocky flower fields

anemones clustered

nature’s jewels

Blue upon blue upon blue

color like breath

oxygenating my blood

morning treasure


Things you can do with a wave

After my experience with #verselove in April, I have been looking forward to the Ethical ELA open write (5 days in June with writing invitations like those in April). I eagerly opened my email this morning and followed the link to the blog post where the invitation offered Things you can do with an orange as a mentor text provided by Allison Berryhill.

I spent my morning at the beach–first with a gorgeous low-tide walk and then staying to watch the Switchfoot Bro Am surf contest. As I watched the surfers play on nature’s waves, a poem began to form. While this is certainly still a first draft, it was fun to play around with the idea of things you can do with a wave.

Things you can do with a wave

Ride it like a pony

up white-topped salt water mountains

and down into

deep cerulean valleys

Swim like a dolphin

holding your breath

exploring the depths

noticing another world

under the water

until you rise into

the matching blue sky

and breathe deeply once again

Hear its music

whoosh and patter

with the thunder of pebbles

rolling with the bass

Tumble and turn

feelings earth’s energy

in the cool saltiness

Imitate the shore birds

as they stomp and splash

Let the pinks and oranges and red

crown you each evening

as day gives way to darkness

paint the world with hope

and start anew tomorrow


I Sing: Writer NPM22 Day 30

On this last day of April, Sarah over at Ethical ELA has invited us to claim the title writer or poet modeled on the poetry collection I Sing: The Body edited by René Saldaña, Jr. The collection of poems thread struggle and celebration within what we are told and what we believe about ourselves. The poems uncover memory and anger and hope. I decided to explore the identity of writer in today’s poem.

I Sing: Writer

As a child I played with words

tossing them

bouncing them against each other

sharing them

experimenting without fear

I learned later

words could be weapons

sharpened to aim

or twisted back

piercing the heart

silencing the tongue

Today I wield my words

with care

gently guiding them

squeezing them together

splaying them wide

freeing them to find their own rhythm

testing both friction



redefining myself

as I write


What a Poem Can Do: NPM22 Day 29

Who doesn’t love a poem about a poem? Today’s #verselove prompt at Ethical ELA was presented by Glenda who also shared a mentor poem and video by Darius V. Daughtry, what can a poem do? Daughtry’s poem begins with a series of explanations of what poems don’t do, then pivots to what poems can do. For my own poem, I decided to focus on what poems can do without the examination of what they can’t or don’t do.

What a Poem Can Do

A poem can peel back skin

revealing he heart




A single word

can taste like childhood

licking up


in the swirl of memory



to breathe in


to breathe out

tapping the melody of


against the rhythms

of all the yesterdays

A poem can paint the world

in every shade of blue

until color


in new opportunities to see


Self Love: NPM22 Day 28

Today’s #verselove prompt at Ethical ELA is just the kind of challenge I tend to resist with poetry: a formula and rhyme. But I pushed myself to give it a try anyway…and maybe learned some things about myself in the process.

When I’m by myself

and I close my eyes

I’m breathing in the quiet

looking for the perfect pic

walking miles and miles

thinking all the while

playing with words

trying to make myself heard

hitting my pace

making peace with this place

I’m here and now

still learning how

to be

and when I open my eyes

what I care to see

is me


Beach Re-Encountered: NPM22 Day 27

Today’s #verselove prompt, hosted by Shaun over at Ethical ELA invites poets to “re-encounter the familiar.” I’m guessing it will surprise no one that I chose to re-encounter the beach. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny spring day…until I got to about 2 blocks from the beach. There, a heavy, dense, thick fog stretched along the coastline, nestled next to the blue sky, so close…but also so far away.

Beach Re-Encountered

Revealing itself one step at a time

under a veil misty wet, thicker than it seems

bare feet navigate water’s edge

air like a shower without drops

swirling, coating every surface

turning technicolor to monochrome

Landscape etched in pencil

blurred in the distance

the world slows


forces focus

stay in the moment

Breathe in the quiet

punctuated by waves

ebbing, flowing

wash away the day

let bare feet lead the way


I Feel it in my Bones, a Found Poem: NPM22 Day 26

Today I went in search of a found poem, a poem where words are borrowed and arranged to create something new, something fresh, something meaningful out of the words collected from others. I printed the article, The Power of Teaching Poetry: A Conversation Between Renee Watson and Linda Christensen from Rethinking Schools and as I read, I marked words and phrases that spoke to me. Later, I typed those words and phrases into a document and then started arranging, rearranging, repeating, excluding until I came up with a poem that says something that matters to me.

Many thanks to Amy over at Ethical ELA and #verselove for today’s prompt and the inspiration to find my own poem in my own way.

I Have it in my Bones: A Found Poem

Writing is not a competitive sport

Everyone has their own voice, different stories

Who have you touched with your hands?

What are the stories of the scars on your knee?

Our memories, the recipes, a space to enter

I have it in my bones

Poetry can be a container for emotions

We’re angry

We’re sad

We’re confused

All of me was welcome

My joy and my pain

My frustration, my questions

I weave poetry

A raft of poems

Eerie medley, location-notes, love calls

Whistles and grunts

Sounds that all melt into a liquid

I have it in my bones

I’m not perfect

Courage is contagious

Joy is resistance

Play with language

Eyes of poetry

Outrageous verbs

Repetition, listing, repeating

Writing is serious

It kind of explodes

Planting seeds, fanned the flames

Feel free

Wild and risky

Nurtured me

I have it in my bones

Cormorant: NPM22 Day 25

I love science! I think in another life I must have been a scientist. Questions are always my entry point–so today’s #verselove prompt was perfect. Linda at Ethical ELA listed steps in the scientific method and then encouraged us to use all or part of them to craft a poem for today. Yesterday as I walked on the beach, I saw a cormorant in an unusual place…on the beach. In the past, cormorants on the beach have signaled illness for the bird, so I was concerned when I saw this one. I turned my cormorant sighting into fodder for my scientific method poem today.


I see you sitting on the beach

alone, on the sand

are you lost? are you ill?

Most days you fly against the horizon

like a jet plane, pointed due north

wings in constant motion

Today you are still

feathers like midnight

eyes like stars

unperturbed by my approach

Is it avian flu?

Bird dementia?

Or just a relaxing day on the beach?

Relief pulsed through my veins

when I saw you later

floating in the surf

looking for a snack

before blasting back into the sky

continuing your coastal journey

Thanks for stopping by

and posing

for a portrait