Friday, January 13, 2017

under the sea

In 2nd grade we have been working on a group of related projects with "a special place" at the center.  The class voted to study coral reefs way back in November, and in addition to writing information brochures about this ecosystem, we are now writing a version of Stone Soup set on a coral reef ("Seashell Soup") and we'll make a display for Multicultural/International Night about a country where the people's culture depends on the their reef.

After all the research, I like to offer an opportunity to express understandings in another form--poetry.  As I Tweeted last Friday, part of our inspiration came from Kate Coombs's book Water Sings Blue, and you'll see echoes of her "Coral," "Shark" (what a poem!) and "Nudibranch."  And it must be said that some students did not know the factual information as well as they felt the wonder of the reef--a helpful check-up!

So here are the Diamond Miners' coral reef poems, their first "assigned" poetry writing of the year, after months of steeping in excellent models.  As always, I consider it a success when the great majority of kids blast off on their own, knowing that they are the boss of their poem, its concept, its language, its mood.  This year my young writers needed most support in bossing their poems' form--most started at the left margin and wrote straight across their chosen paper, so our revision conferences focused on arrangement.


by Angel O.

I’m a new world, maybe a galaxy
I’m beautiful like stars
I’m like a new world to millions
I was born to shine
    “I want to meet you.”
        by Ollie S-F.

People call me pretty.
Thank you for the compliment.
I don’t like that much attention.
I don’t move from this spot
for my whole life.
My species is endangered
but you can help.
My name is Coral.
What is yours?

Coral Reef
     by Erick P. F. 

The polyp is big
the polyp is long
the polyp is bleaching
all day long

by Kayla B.

I am round
I have no end
I just want
to be your friend
to the end


                    Colorful Coral Reef Hotels
                            by Angelina H.

    Purple,                   green,
               orange,                       blue,
yellow,     red,        magenta  too
       Hold your breath until you fall
We’re like a town of underwater colorful hotels
  or even a world
Hold your breath until                        you see like a
       you rise                                            galaxy
We are corals, we are hotels, we are a world of colorful hotels

                      by James A.

              A squid is fast
but always last.      A squid is
like a tube that shoots smoke.
A squid is fast and past other
sea animals.  It is big    it is red   it is like
a big coral reef.  Some day
 it will be bright, gold, happy, and
an escaper.  If a squid was in
jail it would just flush down
the toilet, down down down into the blue
big wavy ocean and get fast again!!!!
Are you like a squid?

Who am I?
by Jacob L-M.

I am squishy
and wet
I have no shell
I live under water
who am I? ……

               a sea slug!

Sea Cucumber
by Kelly M.

organic orange
sea cucumber
I’m rough
I don’t move
I suck up the sand with my mouth
like a vacuum

The Coral Friends
by Roselyn H.

we are busy   we
are growing   we
don’t care what
you are doing    we are
growing and our friends
are too   when we

grow up we will play too.

Coral Shark    
     by Andy M.

I swim fast and slow...
I hide in the shadows...
waiting to attack!

Clown Fish
by Nathan Z.

A clown fish is a wish
When you catch
it, it shakes you
Such a glory
such a fish
When you smell it
it smells deelish
remember when
you caught that

     Sea Slug
        by Watal F.

I am a sea slug
   that is blue
that has no shell
I live in a cave
      in the

Sea Turtle
      by Joey F.

I am
a sea turtle with a shell
I swim calmly
with others
and what I see
is bright colors
and we are
different shapes
like different

The Coral Flower
    by Angela S.

a bright flower
that shines
across the water

to catch the sunlight

Sea Cucumber
      by Madelinne A.

keeps sand clean
and it is orange
and oval
wet and squishy
smooth and bumpy
skin has circles

The Reef
by Joseph S.

He lived in a shell,
breaking out to swim.
Deep-down ocean water blue.
Salty sun light.
Star-coral loved to swim in
the reef with his colorful

Don't you feel all warm and watery now?  The Round-Up today is hosted by Keri at Keri Recommends--drift on over to the colorful reef of posts!

Friday, January 6, 2017


farewell, tree
farewell, lights
farewell, candles
farewell, bright
windows of my darkened house.

snow this morning would have been
a way to let new brightness in,
but not to be--there's only frost,
and no delay.  all is lost.
today I start to say goodbye
to years of certain going high,
to neighbors I could trust to be,
however different, just like me.
this morning optimism fails
and easy hope goes off the rails.
I sign, I share, I think of writing,
I think of fires I should be lighting--
the wall is tall.
I don't feel Tillie.
my soul is small
and willy nilly
looking for a place to hide
from come what may.
I can't decide.

fair weather friend is what I am.

farewell, sir. farewell, ma'am.
you led with grace. you led with art.
hello, winter of my heart.

(c) HM 2017

Saturday Morning Addenda:
Thank you, friends, for your compassionate responses.  Friday morning improved with the addition of some optimistic-sounding music played loud in my empty classroom, followed by Poetry Friday (when Angel's coral reef poem began with "its a whole new world it looks like galaxys" all came right with the future).  I also have reason to believe that these moments of despair and depression mean I am staying "woke."

Here are a couple of articles that speak to what I'm feeling (and if the state of your own soul is fragile, consider waiting to read until you're feeling stronger).
A Society Too Complex for Its People
We Are All Stepping Into a Broken Future

Sunday, January 1, 2017

haiku finale: fondue in the fog

new year cheese fondue
look how many different forks fit
into the melting pot

deep fog all day
can't see the end of the street
much less the year

Thursday, December 29, 2016

haiku catch-up

Holiday travel this year--all the way to Seaford, England, courtesy of Grandma Treeze. I've just about managed to stick with the daily #haikuforhealing, which also serves as a sort of December diary.  Here's what those not following on Twitter may have missed.

each morning we wake
to see what star is fallen
sky blues anyway

..and Carrie and Debbie and...

south downs: more like ups
here at the seven sisters
mutton on the hoof

chilli pickle
thali platter mutton curry:
brighton highlight

boxing day:
let's celebrate by letting
everyone out

misty, moisty
Christmas Day--sea breeze
whips the walled garden

airplane universe:
chorus of voices
fails to reach Syria


airport universe:
some of everyone shining
in long weary lines


revelling late
the shortest day becomes
the longest day ever

rogue elector
I *choose* to shop at the discount store
at rush hour
          Electoral College

haiku harmony
arranging layered words we
rage and marvel on

Reflections on the Teche  and read the comments

winter traditions:
devised by peasants with no
fields to plow, no school?
          (The more I wanted to just sleep from 6pm until 7am, the more there was to do...)

I'm posting early this week because we'll be busy overnight with visiting rellies.  Thanks to  Donna at Mainely Write for hosting.  See you in 2017!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Time this morning only to wish everyone a bright Solstice--which I described to 2nd graders as the winter holiday we can ALL acknowledge:  light the dark, green the grey, warm the frigid world!  (The northern hemisphere, anyway.)

This week's microprocessing...

on the 14th, seared,
I lay down rows of cookies
iced with salty stains
          Newtown Anniversary

strange light spreads
in my dark December room--
oh! it's the fat friendly moon

welcome all
the world is spicy
brown and sweet

a player, ready
palms and feathers greased
exxonus rex

Rex Tillerson

who needs intelligence?
you get this, Mike--
I'm busy trying on suits
          The President's Daily Brief

note to self:
hurrying towards everything
I hurt someone

Today the round-up is with my pal Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.  A visit to her blog is always intriguing, always uplifting (slothlove!), always healing.

Friday, December 9, 2016

#haiku (and book launches) for healing

My effort to respond creatively to the news of the world continues;  you can read about how Mary Lee started it all here.  You're invited to scroll down to the previous week's minimalist commentaries --and of course, you're invited to join in.  It wasn't clear to me at first, but the tiny discipline of slowing down to craft a response (rather than just banging the steering wheel and yelling at the radio) has been empowering.


first college news
we both prefer denial
to rejection

And from yesterday:


gold star winks out
leaving a long bright trail
holding in orbit

Joining in this project are all the brave women below; I hope they will pardon me when, during the week, all I can manage is to Like their Tweeted haiku.  It's good to work alongside you all!

          Mary Lee Hahn at Poetrepository
          Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today's Little Ditty
          Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
          Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
          Buffy Silverman at Buffy's Blog
          Jone Rush MacCulloch at DeoWriter
          Diane Mayr, posted on Thursdays at Random Noodling
          Julie Johnson at Raising Readers and Writers
          Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
          Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink
          Carol Wilcox at Carol's Corner
          Julieanne Harmatz tweeting @jarhartz          Linda Baie at Teacher Dance

Our hostess with the postest is Jone at Check It Out.  She reminds us that haiku fits nicely on a postcard. And now, in other news...

I was delighted to join Jacqueline Jules, Marty Rhodes Figley and Laura Murray on Dec. 1st for a holiday book launch at One More Page in Arlington, VA (what a delightful place).  Here we are, festive and fierce with a bunch of fun books for holiday giving and receiving.  Each book you see earns its place on the bookshelf, but if I may reveal all my biases:  every home with children needs a copy of One Minute till Bedtime!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

a fine kettle of
hawks we have here,
rising on hot air


and also

generals and majors
drone on with military decision
just following orders, sir

Here's my inspiration, deceptively upbeat, by the ever-clever XTC.  The song remains a stroke of genius, although the video is goofy--can you spot a really famous British entrepreneur?



looks like pizza, smells
like pizza--but let's shoot it
just to be safe

Comet Ping-Pong
I have a ton to say about this one, primarily that in order to effectively distinguish fact from fake it helps have to have an excellent grip on metaphor.

Monday, December 5, 2016


sing on
little bird of Aleppo
fly safe

Bana al-Abed

Sunday, December 4, 2016


loud and solid
an army of rock stands, chants,
sends the snake around

Saturday, December 3, 2016


so dam busy in
December--maybe this
will save me some tooth

"Beaver Wreaks Havoc in Maryland Dollar Store"

Friday, December 2, 2016


Mary Lee said: "My creative spirit, who has been sitting out on the porch with her head between her knees for the last couple of weeks, looked up and nodded. Yes, that seems right, she said. A response to the news of the day, shared in the concise metaphorical form of the haiku."

Thus daily  #haikuforhealing in December was born.

My creative spirit exclaimed, "Dang, that sounds like a good idea! News, concise, metaphor, daily.  You can do this!"   And also: "Isn't Mary Lee wise, brave, and planful?"

So here we go, with no promises that I can manage every day.

fire, flood, tornado
no one says
"punishment from God"


skies clear: no dove.
on the ground jackass
brays at mad dog

Hmmmm.  Those are perhaps not extremely healing.  Let me try again....


stone soup simmers
villagers add their vegetables
to the deep pot of Friday

And here are last week's warm-ups, featured on Today's Little Ditty by Michelle:


not by hiding
from the world but by living
widely in it


refuge & solace:
today I don't turn on
the news


gathering light
around the long table
let's take this outside

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One Minute till Bedtime Blog Tour!

To help celebrate the release of this beautiful book, contributor Jackie Hoskings has organized a blog tour!  Please join the poets on December 1st as we share a one-minute poem that didn't quite make it into the book.

Find her round-up here, and enjoy!

Dig Me

I open
at the end of your stick--
little dent in the dirt

I open
wider, deeper, darker—
a hole that might

shout out
the round echoes
of a grand canyon

or whisper
the small secrets of
the soil

©Heidi Mordhorst