Tag Archives: Ethical ELA

Quirky: NPM22 Day 11

Quirky is a word I love, but still, when I saw it as the #verselove prompt by Kim over at Ethical ELA I felt at a loss. What poem will I write that fits this category?

It’s our first day back after Spring Break–and my first April day with my students. We primed ourselves for National Poetry Month before Spring Break at the end of March by writing a collaborative Poetry Is poem. And today, I brought out a favorite Eve Merriam poem, Peeling an Orange to serve as a mentor text for students. (You can see my experimentation on day 1 of National Poetry Month.) We’ve studied a poem each week of the school year, laying down an appreciation for and familiarity with poetry and the interesting language it is known for. And we write poetry regularly–I love short writing forms (for all ages) and the permission to break rules that poetry allows.

I lay out all of this to establish my own quirkiness as a teacher of writing. My expectations for the 6 and 7 year olds in my class are sky high–and when it comes to writing, they seldom let me down. I establish early on my love for egrets–they make a great writing topic that my students come to know and expect. While they didn’t know much about them early in the school year, they are quite familiar with them now.

Finally–get to the point already! When I picked my students up after lunch today they rushed me, so excited they simply couldn’t stay in line. Mrs. Douillard–there was a snowy egret! What?! I was looking around the playground. Really? A snowy egret on the playground? No–it was flying over the playground. I missed it–but they loved it and loved knowing that I would love it. So, inspired by my students and their excitement, my quirky poem is a Haiku capturing this moment.

snowy egret flies

yellow footed pistons tucked tight

playground showoff


And here I circle back to the first grade poets I love and teach and their Peeling an Orange inspired poetry.

B wrote about lizards

Catching a Lizard

skittering like

the second hand

in all different

shapes and sizes

not very easy to see

but they are still very


R wrote her own quirky piece


A fuzzy bushy fearless fighter rodent

when he bites you you immediately put your hand on your cut

and you will get rabies

chattering in the trees

gathering nuts for the winter

And C chose turtle as a topic

Finding a Turtle

A turtle’s shell is hard.

But inside it is soft.

It’s slow but

its heart is fast.

Some turtles

have strong shells

some are weak.

May Gray: NPM22 Day 10

Today’s poetry prompt is to write a definito, a definition poem, as described by Margaret over at #verselove at Ethical ELA. As is usual for me, I was inspired by a walk on the beach today…a walk in the deep gray of a thick marine layer that has blotted the sun. Here’s my definito (which likely is breaking all the rules of a definito).

May Gray

A weather term in frequent use

in Southern CA

characterized by






marine layer

tightly wrapping the sun in its cloak

keeping light rays at bay

May Gray can be sneaky

whispering its way into the day

in swatches of clouds

graying a brilliant blue sky

often settling only on the west side

of the freeway

Sometimes May Gray is protective

pushing forecasted heat waves back

into inland valleys

keeping the coastline cool

under its gray covers

May Gray is moody

dampening Spring Fever

cooling anticipation

of beach days

It might even be the reason

for the prevailing fashion:

short shorts and tank tops

paired with Ugg boots and puffer jackets

Just when you hope that summer is near

you remember that

May Gray is followed by its close cousin

June Gloom

and when it arrives in April…


Go away, May Gray

May Gray in April

Heron Blue: NPM22 Day 9

Heron Blue

Misty tendrils

the softest breath

caresses my arms, musses my hair

exhaling as I inhale familiar saltiness

Not eggshell blue of soft pastels

or jay blue of bright flashes

today is heron blue

almost gray


but not quite

after the sun fades

but before night arrives

In the distance

curved neck, sharp beak

unmistakeable silhouette

I hurry but not too fast

Your silence matches mine

while wave songs play in the distance

You stretch, becoming a roller coaster

of twists and turns

searching, scanning



In a slow motion

stretch of wings

you lift

effortlessly launched

shape shifting into flight

I watch and wonder

energized by the power of stillness

and the reverence of blue

from sky to sea

to feathers

heron blue

Great Blue Heron in Flight @kd0602

Somehow Dixie over at Ethical ELA conjured this heron into my path today…the day she offered bird as our #verselove poetry prompt. Thanks Dixie–readers here know I love my egrets…and their cousin, the great blue heron is a welcome sighting any day!

Each Footstep: NPM22 Day 8

Participating in #verselove over at Ethical ELA feels like a daily workout, faced with innovative approaches to poetry that I might not otherwise attempt. And today is no different. Today Scott has challenged us to show something without telling. So here goes…

Each Footstep

Don’t let them fool you

It’s all about the shoes

pulled on over two pairs of socks

a smooth, thin inner layer

and soft cushy outer layer

crissed and crossed

hooked and tightened

tied in a double knotted bow

These boots are made for walking

And they log miles

on dirt

over rocks

through snow

into squelching mud

across crunching gravel

beside trickling streams

Heading nowhere and everywhere

filling my ears

with birdsong

and windy symphonics

the scritch of lizard toes

echoing thump, thump of woodpeckers

the chasing race of squirrels

My faithful friend

gives me a lens

to see anew

snapping scenic vistas

noticing nature’s intricate and unexpected artwork

heightening awareness and concern

for Earth’s fragile beauty

Each footstep connects me

to my breath

to the planet

to these booted feet

These feet were made for walking


(Showing hiking without telling that I hike…with my camera!)

Joshua Tree: NPM22 Day 6

Today’s poem was inspired by the desert beauty of Joshua Tree National Park and the poetry prompt from Mo over at Ethical ELA as part of April’s #verselove. Today’s poetry comes in the form of a cherita–as Mo describes it: a 6 line story in 3 stanzas. First stanza is a single line, second stanza has 2 lines, and the third stanza has three lines. WordPress sometimes fights with me over formatting–so hopefully this will bear out as intended!

San Gorgonio Mountain view from Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree

In this land life is hearty: thin and sharp

When water–life’s blood–arrives

natives drink their fill, not sure when the next sip will arrive

Living in this harsh world, extremes equal balance

hot and cold hold hands / wet and dry play tag

beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everywhere if you know where to look

Cholla cactus, up close and dangerous!

Joshua Tree blooming

San Jacinto: NPM22 Day 5

Today’s prompt for #verselove on Ethical ELA is to craft a 4×4 poem: 4 lines, 4 syllables per line, 4 stanzas, and a repeating refrain that moves from line 1 to 4 through the poem. As I hiked San Jacinto today, I found myself thinking about words and ideas that might fit this new-to-me poetic structure. Here’s my draft:

San Jacinto

On San Jacinto

desert dry surrounds

mountains touch the sky

beckoning welcome

Alpine gondola

on San Jacinto

lifts to altitude

snowy spring hiking

Slushy slidy snow

melting in cool pools

on San Jacinto

desert far below

Descent to Palm Springs

desert wonderland

after day’s hiking

on San Jacinto


Collage Myself: NPM22 Day 4

Once again I took my poetry inspiration from #verselove at Ethical ELA where I found seeds left by Jennifer. I found myself thinking about photography and exploration and identity and the ways that words are intertwined with all of those.

Collage Myself

Collage myself upon canvas

places in pixels

lighted and enlightening

dots on a map

pinned in my synapses

clipped and pieced

negative space/positive space


developing images


collage myself

upon canvas


I’m Not a Music Person: NPM22 Day 3

On this third day of National Poetry Month, #verselove via Ethical ELA focused on the idea of collaborative inspiration. I love the way that Gae and Lori inspired each other by “poeming” each other and then using the poem as a starting point for their own writing. I definitely felt poemed this morning as I read through the poems already scattered by the participants in this month-long poetry fest. It’s interesting to me that I’m not sure exactly what triggered my own piece…and idea, a word, a comment left by someone on one of the poems…

I’m Not a Music Person

I’m not a music person says the one

who keeps the radio set on talk


the first strains of Fur Elise transport her back to childhood

and the roommate–the stocky second (or third) hand upright

where her hands learned to make music


rifs from Take the A Train and other classic jazz

set her toes to tapping and fingers snapping

and she remembers listening to them move from noise to music

and that unexpected Christmas morning duet,

a gift from the heart

Until…she bursts into song (off key of course)

when The Sound of Music comes on TV

and her sons are dumbfounded that she knows

all the words


grandbabies come and she croons to them

the lullabies from her childhood and their fathers’ childhoods

tunes traced through neuronal pathways

I’m not a music person

until the music comes on

until the music plays

I might be a music person


Things I Know by Heart: NPM22 Day 2

Imagine my surprise this morning when the post by Ethical ELA was hosted by friend and colleague Emily Yamasaki! I was immediately drawn into both the mentor poem, things I have memorized by Maria Giesbrecht and Emily’s poem, Things I Know. I dove deeply into the cool pool of poems that emerged from Emily’s provocation, reading and feeling, admiring and analyzing as I began to think about my own writing for this second day of National Poetry Month.

Things I Know by Heart

The sleek curve of the egret’s neck

in the tidepool at low tide

The smells of love that fill our home

emanating from the kitchen

The silence of his last breath

matching the empty space in our family

My daily commute, etched in the recesses of my mind,

requiring no conscious thought

My childhood phone number

but not my passwords–they continue to elude me

The sweetness of little boys

now into the second generation

Fear of fire, seared into my memory

brought back by ashes that rain down like snowflakes

Fog’s gray blanket

an indicator that spring has arrived

Each of the traffic spots on the 5 between our house and theirs

no matter how long it takes, every trip is worth it

Sunset’s fiery sky painting

celebrating endings and promising new beginnings