Tag Archives: writing

Oops: NPM #19

A week or so ago I experimented with 6-room poetry with the poem Yellow Bird. Today my students and I tackled this approach–using a moment from our weekend as the topic for the poem. I wish you could have heard my students’ efforts–the one about the dead rat (really?) described as a mountain of fur, the outdoor haircut, and more.

Of course I wrote alongside the kids, using my unexpected dousing by a rogue wave on my walk on Sunday as my moment for the poem. And here it is:

Oops

April beach day

full sun

birds squawking

kids squealing

laughter floating

on the gentle sea breeze

Sun’s shine sparkles

dancing on the endless blue

birds dine

darting in and out of the surf

I squat low, creeping close

slowing turning my lens

to focus

on those long beaks, curved like straws

Out of the corner of my eye

I see it

I hear the rush

whoosh, shush

My movements seem

like slow motion as I stand

and run toward the shore

Too late!

I feel the cold

creep up, soaking

my leg from ankle to thigh

my jeans heavy

from the briny wetness

Surprise floods my brain

Phew! Luckily my camera

is dry

Click, click, click

®Douillard

Roadside Attraction: NPM #17

A Saturday drive led us to a roadside attraction–and a poem.

Roadside Attraction

Not to be missed

pepto-pink dinosaur

large enough to house a gift shop

garish T-rex

with a view through

carnivorous teeth

visible from the back seat

on an endless car ride:

the perfect stop.

Who imagined

concrete dinosaurs

as large as life

beckoning

drawing us back

to the land before time

with a perfect robin’s-egg blue sky

and rocky, snow-topped mountains

as the backdrop.

®Douillard

Odes: NPM #16

Today my students were introduced to odes. We began with the picture book, Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and His Muse by Alexandria Giardino. The book shows Neruda finding inspiration in an ordinary onion from his garden.

After reading and discussing the book and thinking about the ways ordinary things are often overlooked and under appreciated, my students and I headed out to the school garden in search of the ordinary, knowing we would return to the classroom to write after snapping a few photos.

While Neruda’s original Ode to an Onion was a bit intimidating–it is a LONG poem for 8 and 9 year olds–they were excited to elevate the ordinary subjects they identified. We had poems about a roly poly, a stump, ice plant, a bucket, pea pods, a pine cone, and so much more. My own featured dandelions.

Ode to a Dandelion

Dandelion

ferocious queen of the urban forest

you stand strong and tall

in the face of all who

see you as nuisance

shape shifter

changing from brilliant yellow sun

to bleak crater of the moon

long witch fingers draw me in

after all my wishes

have blown to the wind

Dandelion

your medicinal qualities

have been lost to history

your nutritional benefits

discounted

with the label: weed

But when you polka-dot my yard

I smile

and see hope

in strength and resilience

When you are a giant puff-ball

children can’t resist you

they pluck you

inhale, then exhale

sending you out

planting seeds

of dreams for the future

Dandelion

like stars in the sky

you are too many to count

you thrive where you land

in sidewalk cracks

alongside abandoned buildings

Ferocious queen of the urban forest

grow tall, shine bright

let survival tell your tale

®Douillard

Snowy Egret Questions: NPM #15

Today was my first day back with my full class, full day, now on a 5-day a week schedule. I’ve challenged them (and myself) to writing a poem-a-day during the month of April. Today I started by reading them Little Black Crow by Chris Rascka–a picture book written entirely of questions. And we revisited the poem Yellow Weed by Lilian Moore–a question poem. Then we set off to write our own question poems.

I love writing with my students–and I love when they make no hesitation before beginning to write. And better yet, when after 7 minutes, I asked who would like to share their question poem–more than half the class shot their hands into the air! What fun to hear their question poems and the variety of topics they picked to write about. And they were not surprised at all to hear than I chose to write my question poem about snowy egrets.

So here is my poem:

Snowy Egret

Feathery friend, what brings you to the beach today?

Is it the tasty orange shrimp in the low tide soup?

Feathery friend, do those bright yellow feet

bring critters near as you stomp and stir?

Are they a beacon shining bright in the salty sea grass?

When you spread your delicate white wings

do you feel like a plane

or a kite lofted into the gentle sea breeze?

Feathery friend, what do you think when you see

my eye pressed to my camera lens?

Am I intruder or a familiar-faced friend?

Feathery friend, where do you go when you leave the beach?

Do you fly away home? Do you live alone?

I look for you on all my beachside walks

my lucky charm

a sign of good fortune.

Good bye snowy egret,

will I see you soon?

®Douillard

Face-to-Face: NPM #14

Sometimes a photo holds a story–or wants to be a poem. This one that I took over the weekend keeps speaking to me. I’m not sure yet whether this is the story or poem it wants to be…but maybe it is a start.

Face-to-Face

In the slippery world of the sea

sea lion barks and seagull screeches

complex conversations

like those you have

with your father

about politics, where you’ll 

never

reach agreement

or with your sons

about their diametrically opposed choices

for a family car

A face-off, face-to-face, FaceTime, about face

familiar faces

we recognize beyond seeing

contours engraved in the mind

connections beyond confrontation

Love that is the warm salty 

blood that runs through your veins

the briny fluid that feels like home

where life began

splashing, swimming

One slides onto the rocky shore, the other

swoops down from above

joined by

difference

joined by connection

joined by

the slippery world of the sea

®Douillard

Not Quite Rain: NPM #13

Today was one of those gloomy, gray days. There wasn’t quite rain, but the air was saturated and left a fine mist of droplets on everything…including me. A busy work day left me leaning on a short form for today’s poetry: Haiku (with some literary license).

Not Quite Rain

Extra-ordinary

paper-thin blossoms tipped with

tiny wet kisses

®Douillard

Tag: NPM #12

Inspired by this blog post, I had my students write a slice of life poem this morning. They had plenty of fodder, coming off our spring break. And while they wrote, I wrote too. Here is my slice of life poem.

Tag

“You’re it Grandma”

they squeal and I chase them

“chase me” “and me too”

“you have to tag both of us!”

Spring green grass

tickles my toes

5-year-old giggles

fill my heart

I run

they run

We chase each other

until we collapse

in a pile of

hugs!

®Douillard

Yellow Bird: NPM #11

Today I decided to use Georgia Heard’s 6-room poetry strategy as preparation for writing my poem. This is something I have used with great success with students in the past, but hadn’t thought about it in a while. I happened upon this beautiful yellow bird (apparently some kind of an oriole) who posed for me while I was exploring along La Jolla Cove this morning, and knew I wanted to try to capture something of that experience for today’s poem.

Here’s my poetic effort for today:

Yellow Bird

Waves crash, swoosh, hush in the distance

background music

ambiance, Sunday’s soundtrack

A flash of yellow

banana

lemon

Tuscan sun

in the local brush

wild mustard waving

nasturtiums covering

and you

regal in your bright brilliance

trimmed with black epaulettes

Waves crash, swoosh, hush

steel gray skies and seas

a monochromatic backdrop

for your golden brightness

my eyes drink in your honeyed sweetness

sunshine on a cloudy day

Is that tiny hummingbird on a nearby branch your friend?

Do you make your home nearby

or are you stopping by on your migratory path?

Waves crash, swoosh, hush

and I wonder

®Douillard

LA Traffic: NPM #10

I have a love/hate relationship with LA freeways. They are constantly unpredictable, predictably overcrowded, unnecessarily complicated, outdated and constantly under construction…and they connect me to my children and grandchildren.

Maybe this poem begins to capture some of those contradictions.

LA Traffic

The stutter-step of LA traffic

inches along

ribbons unspool

crisscrossing the city

braided twisted snarled

Arteries, veins, capillaries

lifeblood of connection

flows along miles of roadways

lub-dubbing in time

to the city’s breath

You can hate it, avoid it

or go with the flow

especially when family

is at the other end

®Douillard

Photo by Tamara Menzi via Unsplash

Climbing Poems: NPM #9

Climbing Poems

I climb

rung by rung

collecting words

wearing them like necklaces, strung together like pearls

I stretch higher

one foot pushing

one hand reaching

the blues:

cobalt, cerulean, azure

sing to me

a poem painting a layer of calm

a soothing lullaby reaching my ears and eyes

waves hush and roll onto the shore

step, reach, step, reach

breathe in the blue

and sing out nature’s wonder

as I climb poems

®Douillard