Thursday, December 5, 2019

sunday swaggers challenge: the beauty in the ugly

Our critique partner Molly Hogan set this month's challenge, called “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” She writes, 'I participated several years ago in a photo challenge from Kim Douillard to “find beauty in the ugly.' This month, I invite you to reinvent the world around you (or one aspect of it) by shifting your lens to see the beauty in what at first seems to be ugly or unnoteworthy. My [original] post is here. Happy Writing!"

Thanks, Molly--this was a perfect one for me over the last couple of weeks.

punching balloons

I didn’t like to go to school.
I didn’t talk.
The teacher was nice, SO nice,
but some children were not.

They didn’t share.
They didn’t listen.
All around me ugly talk
and even sometimes punching.

Every day got worse
and I got scared.
The teacher got scared too.
And then one day she YELLED.

Not at me.  At them.
And they listened!
Especially about the tiny treats.
Everyone wanted a tiny treat.

The ugly went away, almost all
at once, and then we all won stars together,
one, two, three four FIVE!
Our balloon party was beautiful, 

just like we are beautiful 
punching all the colors gently up
in the cozy calm air of our classroom.

©Heidi Mordhorst 2019

Please gently punch your colorful way over to these Swaggers' blogs to enjoy more beauty out of ugly!

Catherine Flynn @ Reading to the Core 
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone 
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise 
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche

Our host this week is Tanita over at [fiction, instead of lies].  Thanks for rounding us up, Tanita!


  1. I loved this poem and the punching balloons idea so much I took it right to school to my colleagues. So many things on the mental decks of our kids that need to get cleared before learning takes place. Balloons are cheap! I could allow a few balloons to be punched about sometimes. I want to hug every kid in your classroom.

    1. Uh-huh! My next poem is about underrated, oldfashioned winners like balloons and cabbage...

  2. I love how you took on the voice of a child in your class, knowing that not all of them were the cause of disruption. The balloons are a great finish. We may steal the idea for our Christmas visit with our adopted Pre-k class. What a fun idea!

  3. I'm intrigued that you chose this image - the kids punching balloons is adorable. I don't see the image even as non-noteworthy - but I like you borrowing one of their voices to tell the story of how the balloons got there.

    1. Tanita, this is actually a true story, and that photo is my actual AM PreK class not hitting each other and running out of the school building. The photo is not the ugly but the beautiful!

  4. I often find classrooms like this one when I am substitute teaching. I love how the teacher in your poem found a way to bring the class together so these young students could find the beauty in their togetherness.

  5. What a wonderful story this poem tells, Heidi. I could hear the voice of that child moving from anxiety to joy.

  6. It is my granddaughter's voice in the those first verses, sad to write. I wish that her teacher knew to find some magic like the 'punching balloons', just once, to show the joy that can happen instead of always the other. Your poem moved from ugly into goodness so beautifully, Heidi. I love it!

  7. School days can be cruel days. I'm so glad you could write about it and find a transition to a cozy calm classroom. Thanks for sharing this...

  8. I love those punching balloons at the end, and the wise teacher who found a way to bring the class together.

  9. I also love the child's perspective and the story this poem tells. I really admire the craft that moves us through it. The repetition of the word "punching" in such different ways is so effective--it really captures the change. Yay to "cozy, calm" classrooms! (and fingers crossed that this comment doesn't disappear like the last one did!)

  10. I like this poem and the idea of kids being able to punch balloons. teachers need to as well sometimes.

  11. Oh, heart melt at that gorgeous photo. Lots of tiny treats right there! Thankyou for sharing your poem and helping to make the world a kinder place.

  12. I'm glad the teacher's solution worked out so well. Here's hoping for continued success!

  13. There is nothing uglier than meanness, but I can't think of anything more beautiful than a preschool balloon party! How lucky those children are to spend time in the "cozy, calm air" of your classroom.

  14. Balloon magic—with a little help from a clever teacher of course! Love your poem, Heidi. Wish our president could be so easily incentivized.

  15. Your poem sheds light on a great way to turn a trying situation around, and the last line brings comfort to the tumult above–nice mix Heidi, thanks!

  16. Whoa, this one brought tears to my eyes! I love how the teacher restores order in the "cozy calm air of our classroom." You've captured such a truth about teaching in this poem.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!