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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Welcome to a weekly writing prompt. The steps are easy, if you choose to try them. Listen to your muse. Write a small poem in the comments. Leave encouraging responses to other writers. This is a safe and sacred place to write. Begin.

Butterweed by Margaret Simon. I took this photo on my iPhone using the app Camera+ 2.
Cypress knee with butterweed, photo by Margaret Simon

I took these photos in my backyard on Bayou Teche in Louisiana. These are wild flowers known as butterweed that grow before my yard man (husband) has a chance to mow. Sometimes he will mow around them because he knows I love them. They offer a bright spot in a winter yard of bare cypress trees and brown lawn. Here’s a bit of research I found.

Weary of its winter bed
bursts of yellow whisper
secrets of Eos.*

Margaret Simon, draft *Goddess of dawn

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I don’t live in a cold climate, and with our lows in the early 30’s last week, I was grateful for sweaters and scarves and hats. I don’t love cold, but I love photos of snow and ice. Amanda Potts lives in Ottawa, Canada. She walks every day (making me feel like a wimp when I don’t want to walk in the cold). She posts wonderful photos on Instagram. Most of her photos are close up. This one was so close that you can make out little ice sculptures in the branches. There’s a whole fairy tale world right there in the photo.

On the Merriam-Webster website, there is a quiz about words for snow and ice. I failed miserably. Perhaps if you want to challenge your knowledge, as well as gather words for your poem, take a chance: Words for Snow and Ice Quiz.

Join me in writing a small poem. Leave it in the comments. Be sure to support other writers with encouraging words.

Glimmer*

Ice birds
peck at thorns
finding the silver lining.

*ice newly formed in cracks, holes, or surface puddles of other ice

Margaret Simon, draft

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

As a teacher-poet, I am most fulfilled when I have inspired a young person to write a poem. My colleague and friend Beth was recently entertaining her two granddaughters, Annie and Eliza. Their mother, Beth’s daughter, would be coming home soon with their new baby sister. Beth read to them a poem from Bayou Song, I am a Beckoning Brown Bayou. Beth is a wonderful teacher, and possibly she talked to them about poetic elements, but I also know these girls have been read to as long as they have been alive, six years for Annie, and four years for Eliza. Lyrical language is a part of who they are!

Beth sent me a text with each of the girls’ poems. She gave permission for me to publish them. I sent an email response to the girls naming the things I noticed in their poems. Beth said they read my email over and over. Every writer, even ones as young as four and six, love to get feedback.

I am a flower dress
I decorate a pretty pony tailed girl
I twirl and spin around
I move when she does
I wiggle like a snake


I am a flower dress
I am pretty pink and purple
I have sparkles shining like a colorful rainbow
I am beautiful like rose sapphire

by Eliza, age 4

I am a dinging doorbell
I am squeezed in my belly button
I am rung by a little girl with brown hair and a checkered dress
I giggle when people press me to be funny


I am a dinging doorbell
I am shy when visitors come
I am happy when I am answered
I ring when I am pressed.
I get excited whenever I am used
I am a dinging doorbell

Annie, age 6

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So much can happen in a week. I took a photo last Wednesday, January 6th in the early morning before the sunrise. Capturing the moon peeking between the arms of an old oak tree, I was in a good mood. The week was going well, back to school after the holidays, and my spirits were lifted to the sky. Since that morning, my country that felt safe became unsettled and moving in a violent direction, attacked by American citizens, our own people, our neighbors. I’m struggling with how to feel, how to move forward, how to teach.

But today, I was looking for a photo to post, a photo that wants to be a poem. Maybe you are, too. Please join me by writing a small soul-searching poem, only 15 words, maybe fewer. Leave your poem in the comments and respond to others. Thanks for giving me hope, the thing with feathers…

Moon and Live Oak, photo by Margaret Simon

An acorn buried long ago
reaches out
toward the moon
hopeful
to shelter
another day.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Last weekend we toasted in the new year with some friends around our fire pit. I had taken down the tree ornaments earlier in the day, and my husband usually carries the dry fir tree out to the curb, but this year, it seemed appropriate somehow to burn it.

A new year also brings about changes in my teaching routine. For whatever reason, I hadn’t used photo prompts with my students yet this year. So this week I posted my photo on our Kidblog and directed them to respond. In Paula Bourque’s book Spark, she encourages teachers to use their own photos because it helps kids get to know you a little better. It was fun to hear my students’ questions and connections to this photo. I think I’ll do this with them every week. Click on the Kidblog link above to read their responses.

Fire sizzles flames
Christmas fir tree
forever skyfree

Margaret Simon

Please write your own small poem response in the comments. Leave encouraging comments to other writers.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Ruth in Haiti.

Happy New Year! If you are looking for a way to feed your writing life, subscribe to Poets & Writers’ The Time is Now. I do not do their prompt every week, but this week when I was feeling out of touch with writing, I opened it to find a prompt that worked well for me.

“Mars Being Red” by the late poet Marvin Bell lyrically explores the color red as a state of being, likening it to a list of images that both physically resemble the color and provide memories, such as that of youth. In this compact, twelve-line poem, Bell begins what seems to be a portrait of the planet Mars and then delves into a series of digressions that find resolve in a meditation on the possibility of change: “You will not be this quick-to-redden / forever. You will be green again, again and again.” Inspired by Bell, write a poem that serves as a portrait of a color. Use physical descriptions to begin and then personal memories to develop a transformation in this study of hue.
From The Time is Now

Bayou Being Green

Being green is the color of an amaryllis
bud before blooming. Color of time lost
in growth, of soul lost inside
meditation. Green of grassy meadows
we walked with the dog, while our steps
made time disappear for a moment.
Contemplation becomes green in your eyes,
emerald of stars, early light reflects
sage from the bayou surface where green
water darkens as we stroll west toward
sunset, away from dawn into an age
of white on white on white. 

Margaret Simon, draft after Marvin Bell “Mars Being Red”
Bayou Teche in November, Margaret Simon

If you are looking for a weekly photo writing prompt, subscribe to my blog, I am posting a photo each week on Thursdays and invite you to write a small poem response. This Photo Wants to be a Poem.

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I took last week off of blogging to be with family for Christmas, but Christmas hasn’t let go of me yet. This slower week I’ve enjoyed looking at the tree, crocheting on the sofa, and watching Christmas movies on Netflix. I think the slow down was good for me, but I worry that the routine of writing will leave and never come back. So, I am committing to this weekly prompt for me and for you.

Ann Sutton is one of those friends who feeds my spiritual life. She is a Methodist minister, watercolor artist, and has a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice. (We met in a community choir years ago.) Christmas worship looked different this year. In her wisdom, Ann didn’t forego the candle lighting on Christmas Eve. She reinvented it. With a variety of candles in buckets of sand, families lit their own candle as they entered her church.

Christmas Eve, by Ann Sutton

What we carry
is heavy; lighten it
with match to flame
then blow.

Margaret Simon, draft

Write your own small poem in the comments. Read and encourage other writers by responding.

Happy New Year! May the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds on the love of Christ.

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One of the bloggers I follow is Kim Douillard who lives on the west coast of California. She takes beautiful photographs and posts a “Silent Sunday” photo each week on her blog, Thinking Through My Lens. Last Sunday I was fascinated by the beach labyrinth in her photo. I thought about the impermanence of it, how the ocean will eventually wash it away. Like the Tibetan monks who create sand mandalas. The creation is the prayer.

Image by Kim Douillard

Please write a small poem reflecting on the photograph. Write encouraging comments to other writers.

Footsteps mark
lines….
…..eternity

Margaret Simon, a pi-ku

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

This month’s Ethical ELA Open Write began this weekend. Jennifer Guyor-Jowett led us in writing prompts. On Sunday, she asked us to consider a journey. See the full prompt here. I spent Saturday walking our neighborhood with my 2 year old grandson, Leo. It was a journey of discovery.

A walk with a two year old
is a journey of discovery.
Take the wagon with you.
Pose with your nose in the air
like the reindeer on the lawn next door.
Pick up sticks, a few gumballs, fall leaves.
Stir with a stick–“Cooking bumbo” like Da Da.
Smile when Mr. Jim waves through the window.
You will never get lost.
There’s always a hand to hold.

Margaret Simon, draft
Leo reached up and said, “Hand.” I turned around to see this. My husband, Jeff, known as “Papére” hand in hand with Leo. My heart melted.
At five in the morning, Leo asked to paint. With a set of dot paints and glue stick, he created this masterpiece.

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I introduced the concept of a golden shovel poem to my students as we discussed On Friendship by Kahlil Gibran.

Because friendship is such a universal topic, most young students have experience with it, so the tough puzzle of a golden shovel was eased somewhat. I’m sharing a few results today.

To write a Golden Shovel, borrow a line or phrase by someone else, and use each of their words as the final word of each line in your new poem. You must keep the original order of the words intact, and you must credit the author of the original line or phrase. Peter Kahn

Friendship

When you need help, and when 

you are in trouble, he 

will be the one who is 

going to help you. And when you are silent,

he will know that your

mind and heart 

are in trouble. He ceases not 

to understand your emotions. He loves to listen

to what you have to 

say. His 

love for you is as big as your heart.

by Daniel, 6th grade

Friends are there for
you in
sprinkles and the
storm.  They are the dew
that softens hardness of
the darkness, like a little
sunshine when things
get tough. The
best friends know your heart.
The true friend finds
a way to reach you even when its
a dark time, offering morning
to your night, and 
assuring you all is
refreshed.

Margaret Simon, draft

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