Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

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Social Studies is not my area of expertise, so last week I found a way to let poetry come in the door.  I pull a group of gifted students for their Social Studies class. I needed to teach these kids about the Civil Rights Movement.  Equipped with website links, videos, and articles, we explored three major events: Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, March on Washington, and the Montgomery bus boycott. As a way to synthesize the information, we wrote poems together.  Our discussion about these events included what important information to include and how to make it into a poem.

In the Woolworth’s store,
four brave students,
as brave as can be
sat at the lunch counter
and would not leave.

Several more the next day
sat with those brave boys
they took Mr. Woolworth’s
breath away.

News spread, far and wide.
Three hundred more stood by their side.

To get their minds straight
and stop segregation,
they worked hard, stood strong.
It’s not time to have fun.
There is still work to be done.

–Mrs. Simon’s class

Dear Rosa Parks,

You are a hero for all of America.
I really appreciate
that everyone can ride together.
You refused to give up your seat.
You inspire us to fight
for what we believe in.

Because of you,
segregation on buses ended.
You befriended yourself in my eyes
through your bravery in the Montgomery Bus Boycott
sewing together minds for integration.

Mrs. Simon’s Sea 

Another group of my kiddos was featured on Today’s Little Ditty with their dinosaur poems.

If you would like to participate in a round up of poetry about photos, join the photo/poem exchange on my blog, More than Meets the Eye. 

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National Poetry Month 2018

Heron in Flight by John Gibson

After Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. 



Taking flight,
one heron, great and blue,
lifts on kite-wings.


At daybreak, he stalks
early risers
stealthily staring
at the water’s surface.


The heron looks long
at his own reflection,
beauty knows beauty.


Straight as an arrow on a hunt
for its mark, heron’s beak
pierces the sky.


Sun beams dance on waves
winking at heron’s stature,
inviting his participation
in the day.


My totem, Heron,
teach me
your lessons of grace.


As evening falls, heron
circles back
to tell me good night.


Times with heron
I value silence
and know God.


Heron’s squawk
scrapes on Goose’s last nerve.
A cacophony on courthouse steps.


At the sight of heron flying,
barely skimming water’s surface,
even playful children
stop and admire.


Heron lifts his wing
to preen like an awkward teen
crumples over his tall body
to tie his shoelace.


A storm raged during the night,
heron stood still
never losing his grip
on the fallen log.


I haven’t seen Heron for days.
He will return. He may not return.
The light on the lake fades.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

If you are interested in joining a photo-poetry exchange I am hosting, click here.

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National Poetry Month 2018


I didn’t post yesterday.  I needed a day off.  The week was long, and my well was dry.  I took the day for myself.  I started with a much needed yoga class.  I’d been away from this practice for too long.  I had lunch with my daughter and son-in-law, then ventured over to an art show, The Big Easel.  There I saturated myself with art and art talk. After the art show, I had a luxurious massage.  I feel a twinge of guilt about this indulgence, but my monthly massages keep me healthy and pain free.

When I arrived back home, I watched hummingbirds at the feeder and other birds around the bayou and just chilled out.  My notebook was nearby, so I did write a poem.  I was comforted in knowing the muse hadn’t left.  I just needed to fill the well back up.

Quilt painting by T. Chase Nelson

One of the artists I talked with painted the painting I am featuring today for ekphrastic poetry, T. Chase Nelson. When I first saw the painting, I thought it was a quilt.  He explained to me that his inspiration was the quilts of Gee’s Bend.  I am familiar with these quilts through a fellow poet-blogger Irene Latham who wrote Leaving Gee’s Bend.  

For my poem, I took a line from Elisabeth Ellington’s Poem “Where do you Come From?” She wrote that each line of her poem was the translated name of a real place.  I responded that each line sounded like the title of a poem, so I took one to begin my poem and used it as a title first line.


Land Beside the Silvery River

where Nettie sews pieces
together like a life
of patchy soil, a garden with
a shady oak and a rope swing
for the grandchillen’ coming
for supper.

Across the river, life
rolls onto a highway.
But in Gee’s Bend,
an inlet of fertile soil,
life slows to the rhythm
of the silvery river.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018



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Star by Sarah Hazel

In a field of bluebonnets,
cockerpoo smiles for the Sky.
Royal Star of prairie grass.

Joy twinkles in his Star-eyes,
Inspiration for Sarah’s
hand to oil majestic poise.

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

This pet portrait looks just like my childhood dog, Lucky.  I was drawn in immediately, but the poem was elusive.  When I struggle with a poem, I often turn to form to guide me.  This one became a septercet, stanzas of three lines with seven syllables each.  Jane Yolen created the septercet.

Words are another hurdle, so I Googled bluebonnets and collected words.  The dog’s name is Star, but I decided to also capitalize Sky as if it is a character in the poem.  Sarah is the artist, and Joy is one of her daughters.  To see more of Sarah Hazel’s art, click here. 





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National Poetry Month 2018


After Vespers by John Gibson


The mist calls them forth
from Vespers into evening.

Prayers echo like bells,
rising like incense before them.

Brother Anselm hums Hodie
holding tones with his breath.

Together they pray, again and again
invoking blessings, psalms, forgiveness

for a world in peril, a world outside the mist,
a world released from her sins.

Now, Lord, let your servant depart in peace.

This drawing is set at St. Joseph’s Abbey near Covington, LA. where my father’s best childhood friend, Billy, was a Benedictine monk.  Brother Anselm, as he was named in the Abbey, is the short one in the drawing. I remember fondly visiting him there.  He was a musician, organist and cantor, so I can imagine him humming after the service.  He also had a hilarious, ironic wit that I couldn’t capture in this poem.  Brother Anselm died a few years ago, but his spirit lives on in the music of St. Joseph’s Abbey.

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National Poetry Month 2018

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .


Afternoon Light by John Gibson

Sometimes it’s in the details of the day,
these spokes of wheel, pattern of brick, leaf fall.

Sometimes it’s the conversation you hear,
standing by, eavesdropping, that gossip-talk.

Sometimes it’s the way you walk to and fro,
wandering through tall grass and stepping into light.

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

“A poet needs to keep his wilderness alive inside him.” Stanley Kunitz

As I write a poem every day to my father’s incredible art, I feel unworthy, like a child waiting for a parent’s approval.  When I wrote the poem above and many of the ones I’ve done this month, I hear the echo of a first line in my head.  I go with it and follow it through the path to a poem.  Sometimes I don’t think it’s really me writing.  More like scribing.  The Stanley Kunitz quote above speaks to this wilderness inside me where poems live.  I’ve decided to trust this voice even when I don’t really understand her.






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National Poetry Month 2018

Raven by John Gibson

Raven lights a fire
before dawning of sunrise,
forewarning of death,

calms darkness before released
hatred causes senseless grief.

Tanka: The Japanese tanka is a thirty-one-syllable poem, traditionally written in a single unbroken line. A form of waka, Japanese song or verse, tanka translates as “short song,” and is better known in its five-line, 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count form. From Poets.org

“The Irish goddess, Morrighan, had a number of different guises. In her aspect as bloodthirsty goddess of war, she was thought to be present on the battlefield in the form of a raven.” From Trees for Life, Mythology and Folklore.


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