Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

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Mother’s Milk

I woke up on the Earth today
planted my two feet
in the soil
of warm slippers
dragged them forward
to the kitchen
opened a new carton of milk
poured forth into the mug,
not my favorite today;
that one is dirty
because it’s Saturday
and the rain is still falling,
the dog wants to play ball
Milk in the green mug–
a gift from a student–
heated and frothed,
sweetened with raw sugar,
still and waiting
for the coffee to brew,
the sound of steam pumping
through grains of sand,
like time
Time slows
on Saturday morning,
and milk burns my tongue
I am mindful
of each movement,
my feet, my hands,
my tongue, my voice
on Saturday morning

(draft) Margaret Simon

Process notes: I sat down to write with my cup of coffee beside me and the idea of “mother’s milk” from Laura Shovan’s daily prompt on Facebook.  This prompt came from Ann Haman. I read Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s Poetry Friday title “A Poem for the Earth.” So the words milk and earth were sitting with me and my cup of coffee.  The rest flowed out of me.  That’s how poetry happens sometimes.  I usually write them and let them sit and go back later to see if any of it makes sense.  This time I just copied and pasted.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

“Today is Pi Day,” My husband greeted me Thursday morning.

“Oh, no!  I forgot.  I always like to do something for Pi Day.”

“I know that. That’s why I’m telling you.”

So once again, flying by the seat of my 31 years of experience, I opened up our class time together with “Guess what today is?”

Some kids knew, but didn’t know why.  I wrote on the board, “Pie Day or Pi Day?”

We discussed the meaning of Pi, the irrational number 3.14 and so on, and the relationship between diameter and circumference of a circle.

Then we got to the fun part.  Each student chose a piece of colored paper, and we brainstormed ways to make a perfect circle.  Then the hunt for possible patterns- the pencil cup, my coffee cup, the lid of a game.  Kaia suggested using a paper clip.  If I had once known how to draw a circle with a paper clip, I had forgotten.

Place a pencil inside one end of a large paper clip. Hold the pencil point in place on this sheet of paper. Place another pencil inside the other end of the paper clip. Ask your helper to hold your paper still while you draw a circle by moving the second pencil.

I asked the students to use their imagination to create something with the circle and use it as the topic for their Pi-Ku.  A Pi-ku takes on the syllable count of Pi, 3.14159….

While we didn’t produce great poetry, we did have a good time playing with circles, wacky drawings, and syllable counts.

I combined this activity with the daily poetry prompt in Laura Shovan’s poetry project.  The prompt for Thursday was honey.

My honey sweet
Pouring all you have
Into joy-light for my morning cup.

Karson’s elephant Pi-Ku:

cabbage and trees.

Karson, 4th grade

Jump! You feel
You hear music,
bird. You think nothing lives
Tweet, a moon bird singing is soothing.
by Landon, 5th grade

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Happy Book Birthday to In the Middle of the Night by Laura Purdie Salas!

I met Laura a few years ago at NCTE and have followed her ever since.  She is gentle, kind, and generous, everything a children’s poet should be.  I am inspired by her every week on her blog.  On Thursdays she posts an image with an invitation to write a 15 words or less poem. It’s a great space to show up in each week to read other poems and interact with the children’s poetry online community.

Laura is also a pretty awesome presenter.  In November, 2018, we presented together on a panel at NCTE, Writing Poetry in the Wild.  Here’s a link to the slides.

In her presentation, Laura encouraged us to look around and write about what we see.  Well, that’s not exactly what she did to write this latest book.  In the Middle of the Night requires more than just observation; it requires an imagination.  The poems are all written in the point of view of some object doing something during the night.

Twenty-six poems share the wild adventures that toys, food, and other household objects have at night while you sleep. Everything from stuffed animals to clothing to writing utensils comes to life under the cover of night. An overdue library book searches for the perfect place to hide. A paper clip skydives with a tissue parachute. A fruit snack unrolls to create a tricky racetrack for toy cars. Come sneak away for some moonlit adventures!

In my class, I wanted my students to experience this fun idea and Laura’s poetry. From the Table of Contents, my students selected a few poems they wanted to hear. I always start with “What do you notice?”  They noticed that the poems were written in first person (Cha-Ching! for that concept), and I reminded them that they are called mask poems.  They noticed rhyming and rhythm patterns.  With a little more prodding, they found alliteration and imagery.

In addition to working on close reading skills with poetry, we stretched our writing muscles.  We used this activity sheet from Laura to write our own poems.

Laura has a Padlet for contributors’ poems here. We placed links on the Padlet to our Kidblog site.  If you have a minute, stop by and place comments for my kids.

Made with Padlet

Click here to go to Laura’s web page.

Monday, 3/11           Mile High Reading

Tuesday, 3/12           Reflections on the Teche

Wednesday, 3/13    Poetrepository

Thursday, 3/14        Check It Out

Friday, 3/15              Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Sunday, 3/17             Great Kid Books

Monday, 3/18           Simply 7 Interview/Jena Benton blog

Tuesday, 3/19          My Juicy Little Universe

Wednesday, 3/20   Live Your Poem

Thursday, 3/21         Reading to the Core

Friday, 3/22              KidLit Frenzy

                                    Beyond Literacy Link

In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House Author: Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrator: Angela Matteson
Publisher: Wordsong (3/12/19)
ISBN: 978-1620916308

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It doesn’t take much to bloom–
a space in the yard
tucked away from plain view
safe from weeds and snakes.

Just stretch out your branches,
bend to the light,
open your eyes
and be white lace, clouds of lace

woven on air
swept up in a tangle of wind
waiting for hope.
That’s all it takes to bloom.

(c) Margaret Simon

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See more Spiritual Thursday posts with Doraine at Yoga Inspired.

This is the first Thursday of the month, so the Spiritual Journey gathering is happening at Dori’s site today around the topic Balance.


photo by Danne from pexels.com


Balance is a levitated word
held between my fingers
with no space for doubt.

Balance doesn’t lean or lose;
it’s always in control.
Gravity is its guide.

Balance grows on solid ground,
strengthens while it weighs nothing,
suspension in space and time.

So how is it, then, that balance
eludes the seeker? Here for a second,
then gone, out of reach.

We request balance in our lives
of diet
of things-to-do lists
of spinning plates.

But balance is only of God,
of true peace
of kindness
of mercy.

Balance can not be achieved alone.

(c) Margaret Simon

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In addition to the Slice of Life Challenge, I am writing a poem each day with a Facebook group for Laura Shovan’s annual birthday project.  This year we are writing about food.  The prompt yesterday from Laura herself was sourdough bread.  Not having much experience in sourdough bread, the baking or the eating of it, I took the option to write about any bread.

I am currently in New Orleans with my girls celebrating Mardi Gras.  A staple pastry during the Mardi Gras season is King cake.  King Cake is symbolic of Epiphany, the season of the church year following Christmas.  On Epiphany, the three kings arrived to worship Jesus.  The dough is baked in a circle symbolizing unity of faith.  The frosting is colored sugar in purple, gold, and green.  Gold represents power, green is associated with faith, and purple illustrates justice. (Southern Living)

Of the many Mardi Gras traditions, this is one of my favorite.  In our small town of New Iberia, there is a donut bakery that makes King Cakes like a donut.  My son-in-law brought one yesterday that he swears weighs more than his 2 month old.  It’s infused with cream cheese and strawberry jam.  There are two more on the kitchen counter each with its own flavoring and pastry recipe.  The tradition is that a plastic baby is placed inside the King Cake to symbolize the search for baby Jesus.  Whomever gets the baby in their piece is obligated to buy the next King Cake for the next celebration.

I’ve decided to forego my no carb diet just for this weekend.  Let the good times roll!


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Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda at Teacher Dance.

Today is the first day of March, so you know what that means: The annual March Slice of Life Challenge at the Two Writing Teachers!  I will be writing a blog post every day and linking it up to Two Writing Teachers.  What’s the point?

  • Writing every day is an important discipline for a writer and for a teacher of writing.
  • Connecting to other teacher-writers inspires and informs my teaching and writing, and I usually make new friends along the way.
  • There are prizes! 

I first met Jen Vincent through Kate Messner’s Teachers Write, a virtual summer camp for teachers who want to write.  If I remember correctly, we did a Google Hangout with other writers and read a section of our work.  I further connected with Jen through blogging and Twitter and met up with her at NCTE in 2014.  These connections are invaluable to me as a teacher and a writer.

One day I saw that Jen was teaching a workshop.  Silly me, I thought it was virtual, so I replied to her message on Facebook, “I want to come.”  Since Chicago and South Louisiana are pretty far apart, that was not feasible, but Jen thought of a way.  She created a virtual workshop.

We met one Saturday morning by Zoom meeting.  She led me through an exercise from Teachers Write by Tracey Baptiste.  We made a graphic organizer in our notebooks and labeled three places we had been recently. We then divided each column into two columns. On one side we wrote descriptions about the places and the other side we wrote emotions we felt about the places.

I chose school, dance lessons, and a restaurant where we go dancing.  I decided to connect the three places with the thread of dancing.

Dancing Days

I dance through my days…

Halls of smiling teachers
greet my wobbly walk
weighed down with backpack,
lunch bag and Yeti cup.
Miss Marie says, Show me that grandbaby!
After we view the latest pic on my phone,
I dance down the hall to my classroom.

At Dance Around the World studio,
bright purple walls of mirror on mirror
reflect my partner and me.
Miss Lou says, Right. Left. Back step.
We follow along,
find our balance–
weightless in a jitterbug twirl.

I dance my way to Friday night,
Nouveau String Band at Joie de Vivre,
wooden floors echo the sounds
of greetings, giggles, and two-steps.
Buck says, This waltz is for you.
The weight of the week disappears
to the beat of fiddle, mandolin, and drum.

(c) Margaret Simon

This workshop was a test run for Jen for her new Patreon page, Story Exploratory.  If you’d like to find more ways to write, I highly recommend Jen as an instructor. You can view this workshop and others by visiting Jen’s patreon page, Story Exploratory.


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