Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Not the best way to start the day, if you're a teacher . . .

Arrived at school to find 3 out of the 5 class tadpoles dead. Belly up. The tadpoles the third graders observed every day for the past couple of weeks. The tadpoles we wrote about and drew pictures of in our "Tadpole Journals." The tadpoles we studied in books, online, videos. Dead.

I was on my own.

The other teacher in the classroom was out today, and the sub she scheduled got pulled to another class that needed her more. I'll be fine by myself, I said. But I wasn't fine. I paniced. Oh my god, they ARE dead. Compose. Impromtu ceremony in the garden near the small pond to release the two survivors. Discussed the life cycle of frogs, reminded the children about the rate of survival for tadpoles in the wild - not so good. Turned the situation around into a celebration of the two healthy frogs we raised. Hooray! Avoided the death discussions brought up after: shootings in the news, "rotting body" found.

Onward with the day - to the standardized tests we were scheduled to take. Noted on the testing irregularity form - "Class tadpoles died, discussed as class before testing." This kind of thing rocks a third graders world. Teary eyed, they filled in bubbles. They were soon fine, said the tests were fun.

After the testing, we read the book The Tenth Good Thing About Barney that handles the topic of death of a pet - Barney the cat. Then we all wrote ten good things about tadpoles - some lists, others poems in two voices - then we buried the poor poles near a plant to help it grow. We placed a rock on top, and everyone patted the rock and said goodbye.

I am never getting a class pet ever again!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Here is a LangPo inspired sentimental mommy poem - an oxymoron you say? Perhaps. At the Rosmarie Waldrop reading last Saturday (the last in this years Desert City series), I noticed the phrase "that is to say" sprinkled throughout her work. I was enthralled with Rosmarie's reading and began to "get it." She balanced narrative (no not the "I"!) with word architecture and play. I am in no way comparing myself with Rosmarie with the following attempt, that is to say, I really don't "get it," that is to say, oh hell, here's the poem:

this is to say
J.B. Rowell

i miss my babies
my babies are not here
that is to say
i am not there
my babies are
at school then
strapped in car seats
then sink hands
in mud
wash hands
eat bathe & sleep

my babies are not
babies: 3 & 6
growing bodies grow
nightly soul
expands pushes
inside fingertips that
push toward &
reach away

that is to say
my babies are older
& i am the one
their one
with answers
or rather none
my babies are old
souls and i
grow young
younger & shrink

this is to say
no choice for right
or wrong
home or work
just missing babies
i missed


Eventhough Ben and Jerry's is no longer owned by Ben and Jerry (see co. timeline), who can pass up a free scoop of ice cream?

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Nancy Willard, IN THE SALT MARSH:

The Ladybugs

It's true. I invited them into my home,
four thousand ladybugs from the Sierras.
I paid for their passage.
I paid for their skilled labor.
I was desperate when I read the notice
in a mail-order catalog showing flea zappers
and organic devices for vaporizing mold.

Are pests killing your trees and shrubs?
Ladybugs are the answer.

They arrived, famished and sleepy,
in a muslin bag slim as a pencil case,
or a reticule for opera glasses,
or very small change.
For once in my life I read the instructions
for sending my private army into the world.

The ladybugs will want a drink
after their long journey.
Sprinkle the sack before releasing them.

I shook handfuls of water over them.
Drops big as bombs pounded their shelter,
a mass baptism into our human ways.
They did not buzz or beat their wings,
but as the warmth of my house woke them,
I saw a shifting of bodies, of muscles rippling,
like waves adjusting themselves to a passing boat.

Do not release the ladybugs during the heat of the day
or while the sun is shining.

Under the full moon I carried my guests
to the afflicted catalpa waving its green flags.
I untied the bag. I reached in and felt a tickling,
a pulsing of lives small as a watch spring.
I seized a handful and tossed them into the branches.
They clung to my hand for safety.
Their brothers and sisters,
smelling the night air,
hung on my thumb, my wrist,
and my arm sleeved in ladybugs, baffled, muttering
in the silent tick of their language,
Where are we? What does she want of us?

Do not release too many at one time.
A tablespoon of ladybugs on each shrub
and a handful on each tree should keep them
pest-free. Keep on hand, always, a small bag
of ladybugs in your refrigerator.
Do not freeze.

I have made my abode with the ladybugs
and they have chosen me as their guardian,
because the meek shall inherit the earth,
because I found one at rest in the porch
of my ear, because I did not harm the one
that spent the night under the deep ridge
of my collarbone, or the one that crossed
my knuckles like a ring seeking
the perfect finger.

I'm glad someone else finds inspiration for poetry in ladybugs. I'm reminded of the 2 poems I wrote and posted January 1 and January 9.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


"it's a circle all the same . . ."
Tim Peeler


My kids' voices are somewhere in this week's Goodnight Show - listen for them - it's like an audio Where's Waldo?

Friday, April 21, 2006


poetry readings

Charles Bukowski

poetry readings have to be some of the saddest
damned things ever,
the gathering of the clansmen and clanladies,
week after week, month after month, year
after year,
getting old together,
reading on to tiny gatherings,
still hoping their genius will be
making tapes together, discs together,
sweating for applause
they read basically to and for
each other,
they can't find a New York publisher
or one
within miles,
but they read on and on
in the poetry holes of America,
never daunted,
never considering the possibility that
their talent might be
thin, almost invisible,
they read on and on
before their mothers, their sisters, their husbands,
their wives, their friends, the other poets
and the handful of idiots who have wandered
from nowhere.

I am ashamed for them,
I am ashamed that they have to bolster each other,
I am ashamed for their lisping egos,
their lack of guts.

if these are our creators,
please, please give me something else:

a drunken plumber in a bowling alley,
a prelim boy in a four rounder,
a jock guiding his horse through along the
a bartender on last call,
a waitress pouring me a coffee,
a drunk sleeping in a deserted doorway,
a dog munching a dry bone,
an elephant's fart in a circus tent,
a 6 p.m. freeway crush,
the mailman telling a dirty joke



J.B. Rowell

poem is written to fill
this space
comes sputtering forth
in fits and spurts
becomes whole somehow
circular because
everything wants to be a circle
rounds upon itself tentatively
filling until
full until the only
choice is rupture
air retreats to corners

* * *

Busy weekend here in the Triangle:



Monday, April 17, 2006


From Brooks Haxton's book, UPROAR: ANTIPHONIES TO PSALMS.


So will I compass thine altar, O Lord: That I may
publish with the voice of thanksgiving. Psalm 26

Thine altar is to me this bathtub
where my four-year-old twin
girls tip back their heads.
They close their eyes.
I read their faces from above,
in trust and fear, in holiness,
heads tipped until the waterline
has touched their hairlines, cautious.
Look: their hair flows underwater
like the scrolls unfurled in heaven.

* * *

What Haxton describes in his poem above is called "mermaid hair" in my house. He catches and expands this moment just right - into holy heights.

Knopf sent this on Easter as part of their poem-a-day series for National Poetry Month. It is nice to see a parenting theme in a poem so legitimized. But I ask, could a woman pull this poem off AND have it be published by a big-name publisher? Or would it be considered too sentimental? I know, I've been beating the gender drum on and on lately. I can talk about something else, promise.

This poem reminds me to pay more attention to those day-to-day moments that are taken for granted.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Nothing like
for breakfast
to start
a day off
just right.


Thank you Michelle and Didi for encouraging the use of Odeo for audio - yes it is easy! I haven't thought of anything clever to send on the subject of boots, but I did record a couple of poems only to discover how strange I sound. I still have a midwestern nasal sound from growing up outside Chicago, combined with a bit of a southern twang from my Birmingham days. Eeek.

Looking Over
J.B. Rowell

The young couple's chins
just clear the wooden fence
they built themselves
with the help of a few friends
and a few beers.

Now they are cutting
a garden into the grass,
hauling in dirt, but I can't see
what they are planting
just on the other side
down where they disappear.

Maybe something fell over
onto our side, or maybe
they are discussing
the state of our yard,
maybe they can't understand
the overgrown grass, dead patches,
clover, strewn toys,
but they will.

Send Me A Message

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Lest we think gender clashes only happen in the poetry blogosphere. E.J. Graff at TPM Cafe comments on the politics of gender lately here and notices:

" . . . that when we write about feminism or women's issues, we get truly vicious commentary, far worse than when we write about anything else. Personally, I was shocked to discover how much more verbally violent the response is on on women's issues (even simple things like equal pay) than when I write about gay issues. The anti-women hate mail is much much worse than the antigay hate mail. Why would you think that is? I honestly don't understand this phenomenon."

A civil discussion at Lee Herrick's blog has restored my hope that Mars and Venus can get along. Thank you Lee for being one of a few men who haven't deemed this issue unworthy, silly, irrelevant, not worth their time, etc.

And thank you Reb for not backing down despite personal attacks, and for insisting that you should be allowed to make your points without having them be twisted and used against you.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


The Silver Swan
by Anonymous

The silver swan, who living had no note,
When death approached unlocked her silent throat,
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:
Farewell all joys, O death come close mine eyes,
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006



. . . a mote. A little world. Dusty. Dusty.
The universe is dust. Who can bear it?
Christ comes. The women feed him, bathe his feet
with tears, bring spices, find the empty tomb,
burst out to tell the men, are not believed. . . .

My husband the scientist pointed this poem out and said he thinks it ties into the issue of women being neglected in the PW poetry on the web article. Perhaps it's that the women in the poem are doing so much work and not getting any credit. From Christ comes male-dominated religious/political structures (but that's a whole 'nother topic). Perhaps it's that, right now, women bloggers are crying foul and are not being believed . . .


The writer of the PW article responds . . .

Monday, April 10, 2006


Publishers Weekly covers poetry on the web and specifically in the blogosphere with the usual male suspects. Surely there are women who have been around and have paved the way along with these guys? I have only been at this for half a year, so someone please tell me - where are the women OR why aren't they taken seriously in this arena?

* * *

And on a somewhat related note:

Thing With Feathers
J.B. Rowell

Would it help if you knew I had a tattoo
on my ass, crested H-D flying on black
wings? I'm unhappy more than not, more
than most. So there. It is difficult
to get out of bed to go to work, but easy
at 2 a.m., when I rise and slip out without
jostling my husband from sleep. Have I
impressed you yet? Will you read my poems
knowing the poet's soul perches atop barstool,
swivels, peers through cigarette smoke, flaps
to backroom to play poker with strangers?

Saturday, April 08, 2006


One of my favorite blogs is rolling again . . .

Living Poetry

Friday, April 07, 2006


They Have Each Other
J.B. Rowell

The poem that's asking to be written
will basically say I suck
at being a mom—so of course I don't
want to write it but if I don't
then I can't write anything
else—you see—so I'm letting
this one loose hoping
that you—reader—realize
that I'm not really a bad mom
or—at least—I could be worse
but this is just one aspect of me
launched onto the page
and then held up
like a butterfly Rorschach
that could also be
demonic—it's just
the way you look at it.

Now—I actually don't want to get
into all of it—how
I've always wanted to be
the stay-at-home kind
but that's not the way it worked
out—and when I'm finally
with them I fail miserably:
let them watch too much TV,
yell, lose patience—and no—I don't
want to play trains on the floor
one more time—damn it—but then
at times—I surprise myself—
cook dinner even—iron linens—
play baseball—go for walks—
and sometimes I say the right thing—
I think—and here's
where the poem turns

into the unexpected aha—to be
expected—this is why
this poem calls—life can be lost
in the fall between expectation
and this moment
as I type and they serve each
other hot, hot tea in tiny cups.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


National Poetry Month starts today and I'm thinking of ways to celebrate:

Write a poem a day.
I think this goal may be more do-able for me than writing for a certain amount of time and/or journaling. When I journal, I freeze up, if I sit down with the intention of writing a poem I feel more at ease. Wonder why?

Attend the NC Festival of the Book.
At Duke and throughout Durham, April 26-30 - I love my new state. Think about it - a festival of the book. It's like a poet's dream come true . . .

Read, read, read.

I am back into freebie books - the library - currently I'm reading the Beat Book and listening to Junie B. Jones on tape. Nice mom/poet balance, huh? My small, local library actually has a decent poetry section compared to most bookstores, and an excellent children's section.

Podcast Poetry - how positively hip!
Michelle e o is spinning audio poems with music as a PJ (podcast jockey) for The Goodnight Show: Miporadio's Top Ten Countdown. My favorite poem in this week's top ten is Mairead Byrne's poem titled Religious Poem, With Holes.

Share the love.

This is easy for me. I am, after all, a third-grade teacher, and I plan to read poetry during our daily read aloud time, and also invite the kids to bring in their favorite poems and read as well.

Let's collect more ideas for ways to celebrate and post them in the comments.