Friday, May 24, 2013

out of time

time_travel_ink0I don't really have a post today, and it's not about poetry.  I've been reading, you see, and watching, and there's only so much time in a person's last month of the school year.

A while back I read  A Wrinkle in Time to Duncan (which turns out not to be such a great read-aloud, but we made it work; any thoughts on that assertion?); then we did Percy Jackson 4 (my favorite so far) and most recently we read, quite slowly, When You Reach Me

Simultaneously, and after working to get into it for some weeks, I was reading The Time Traveller's Wife, which has been Daisy's favorite book since the middle of 7th grade.  (We'll go back some time to how I felt when I realized that my barely 13 yo was reading and rereading this adult work of fiction; it felt the same as when I realized she had watched six seasons of "How I Met Your Mother" before I even knew that show existed. Oy.)  Alongside THAT, I've been watching "HIMYM" with Daisy, which is essentially a time-travel experience, and the modern "Doctor Who" with Duncan.

So I have no poetry post today, only a report about how I can't stop thinking about diamond chips on a gold ring and the broccoli patch, Aunt Beast and the Laughing Man and Henry, and whether Rebecca Stead and Audrey Niffenegger have ever exchanged emails, and what it is exactly that Daisy is learning about the art of narrative from Ted (and I hope NOTHING from Barney), and how this whole two-Marcuses or two-Henrys-in-the-same-place-in-time is a slippery concept for me in the same way that subtraction is really slippery for some kindergarteners (including the 5-year-old me).

In the meantime I do have an OIK poem brewing, about the kangaroo's porch...but Calef Brown has probably already written it.

Enjoy Poetry Friday with Jama today!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

OIK Tuesday: backpacks in love

It's been a while since I took up the challenge of writing poems based on the things I hear in the classroom, but as our year is coming to a close I have to slow down, pay attention and grab a few more bon-mots from the mouths of kindergarteners.

It just so happens that the two girls beginning with K in my class sit side by side at the moment.  The other morning they came to me to untangle their backpacks.  In the course of unpacking, in a way that you could never achieve even if you made it your day's work, the zipper tab of one backpack had hooked itself through the mesh pocket of the other.  I separated the backpacks and we went to work trying to formulate Big Questions about The Little Red Hen.  (My favorite this year was Indi's:  "Why didn't the Little Red Hen get angry?")

That afternoon at packing-up time, the two K's came to me from the closet where their backpacks hang side-by-side.  They held up their backpacks, again connected by zipper and pocket, and one K said,  "We think our backpacks are in love!"  The other K added, "Maybe it's because they both begin with K."

Gosh, I love kindergarteners!

Backpacks in Love

zip on over close to me--
               I'll hold your heart capaciously
pop into my pocket
              I'll never ever drop it
pack your hopes and dreams in me
              I'll carry all you ever need
wear me out and wear me down
              I'll always hang around

Heidi Mordhorst 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

sunday morning slam

Last month I shared poems written during Religious Education classes at my UU congregation; last week you got poems in the key of kindergarten.  This week I can leap off from both those points to share a piece from a couple of Sundays ago at the annual Youth Service, where high-schoolers take the whole service and the seniors leave us something of themselves and then cross over into young adulthood.

There are always impressive performances of various kinds at the Youth Service:  musical offerings, reflections, skits, dance numbers, and yes, poetry.  But I was surprised this year when senior Alek Zherka stepped away from the lectern and delivered a subtly powerful performance of his piece, "Strive to Be Me."  I wish I could share with you a video of his moment--it was brief, since he didn't include the long last section--but it sure sounded like a poem to me, and that's what Alek calls it. You'll see that it doesn't look on paper [or on screen] the way I expected it to when I wrote to ask for a copy.  Still, while Alek's delivery wasn't showy or stagey, he moved to the composed music of his words and created, for me anyway, an experience that was Louder Than a Bomb.

Strive to Be Me | Alek Zherka
Where is home? Home is where your heart is. The size of one's fist, yet it has so many parts that very few can list. The wrist up, seems pretty small, but it answers the call when you call on it to keep you living; breathing the same air that Lincoln breathed while thinking how to bring two halves to make a whole. One plus one is two, or so I've been told. Are we different, him and I? His goals aren’t mine, because his are his and mine are mine. Mine are for me and me only. That’s why I strive to be me.

Why can’t addicts stop? Why do kids want to be cops? Why do people destroy one another just to reach the top? Because that’s life, no meaning, just meanness; madness yes, but seamlessly so. The to and fro, the ying and yo, of the daily life we live. Living is seeing, and seeing is believing. Therefore people live to believe. That’s why I strive to be me.

How does one define the value of a life? Is it what one can give to a wife? He buys a diamond, stained with blood. Every kiss begins with slave. Taken away, over the waves, to a cave. Mining them, cutting them. Cutting fingers. The children’s screams linger. It's daunting, forever haunting those who know. But the feelings go, when one sees the bright shine of a diamond. So we say never forget, but we never do anything, something we say we will forever regret. But in reality we barely care. Girls will always want a reason to do up their hair. So a diamond is bought without a thought, it is always sought by those who ought to know not. So the small kids rot away, day by day. That’s the value of a life. The couple is forever happy under the sun. The kids can’t remember the last time they had fun, or even saw the sun. Does the ring fit? The closest thing is a candle once lit. If it doesn’t fit don’t fret, a new one only costs four kids. Next time you see one, a diamond that is, think of me, think of this. I hope I have made some difference today, talking about those not yet free. That’s why I strive to be me.
I'm thinking a lot about slam poetry this week because I've organized the annual visit of Gayle Danley to Daisy's school for a performance and workshops, and then Teacher Appreciation Week isn't complete without another viewing of Taylor Mali performing "What Do Teachers Make?"

The Poetry Friday round-up this week is at Booktalking with Anastasia, I think...