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6-4-2022 - Poetry and Randomness - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


I used to write a lot of poetry, especially in high school and for the first few years after. I don’t really know why I stopped. Maybe it was because I became a lyric writer and didn’t write ‘poems’ after turning 23 or so.


I think I’d like to get back into writing some poetry from time to time. I really enjoy writing haiku, for example, and will occasionally churn one or two out on social media. It’s such a cool form of expression. The news of the world has me thinking about these things a lot and how delicate life is for each of us.


One bad idea is

All you need to make the world

Darker and less safe


One good idea will

Scare the pants off the ones who

Hold the power, too


Somewhere I have boxes of poetry I wrote while growing up. Part of me is scared to dig it out and read it. I know there is at least a few that I would still like, but I’m guessing a lot of what I wrote would make me cringe. In the early days of Hillbilly Devilspeak we cranked out so many songs that I used some pre-existing poems for the start of some lyrics, but I started moving away from that pretty quickly.


When I write lyrics now, they always come after the music has been established. I don’t think of them as ‘poetry,’ but maybe some of them are exactly that. I also haven’t read much poetry in a long time. I don’t even know who I could say that I like anymore. I took a few poetry classes in college and there was a lot I liked, but I’m so removed from that now. There was a time when I would have said, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, that I wanted to be a poet.


So here goes…


The sky is up so high,

What does it mean?

Can I look at it?

Will it make me go blind if I stare too long?


I wish I could crawl through

It on my hands and knees.

The bluest blue washing over me

And sifting through my fingers and toes.


Why does it make me feel so small?

I’m not even so impressed by clouds

That I cannot think straight in their presence,

But I still feel like looking


And wondering.

I’ve crossed the sky and it has crossed me.

I tried to kiss it, too,

But I don’t make the guitar weep.


At night, I like it best.

Under the Rangeley stars I dream

Of never-ending sunsets where the sky explodes

with a kiss from my true love.


*****


When I was a kid, I loved the book, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary. I’ve probably read it a dozen times and I even picked up a copy earlier this year to share with my students. I read it again when I bought it at Bookman’s and still enjoyed it. My students liked it, too, and I think some of them will probably want to own their own copy someday, too.


I don’t know much about Beverly Cleary. I’d like to think she was a kindly, older lady who wanted to write stories for young people like I was back in the 1970s. Her use of humor in regular, everyday type activities is one that I completely respect. She made even the simplest things seem exciting to me as a boy. Case in point, what could be better than a mouse riding a toy motorcycle?


I think writing for children would be an incredible challenge. One of the ideas I have for a book would require me to go down that path and it’s one of the (many) reasons I have not taken the leap yet. Perhaps I will give it a go later this year since I still have over 200 blogs to write.


*****


Taking apart my classroom has been bittersweet, for sure. As the days have dwindled down, I thought I would be happier about this process but, alas, I am not. Creating a safe place for the kids was important to me this year (as it should be for every educator, parent, pediatrician, etc.), but I didn’t realize how much I would come to need the comfort of our classroom, as well.


I have spent a big portion over 200 days in this classroom this year. That’s a lot of time to be in any one place that isn’t home. I suppose I’ve spent more time in other workplaces, although none of them were as large as my classroom or decorated with things to make an eight-year-old happy and, hopefully, smart.


*****


One thing I will not miss is small children asking me, constantly, if they can pee. If you have never taught younger (or really, any of the) grades, you have no idea what a joy life is when you are not in charge for 30 people’s bathroom accessibility. You’ve clearly taken this for granted and for that, I hate you right now.


*****


The other day, I was showing the kids a Disney film from the 1955 called Man In Space and it was super racist. There was a part in the beginning talking about fireworks and how Chinese people kept making bigger and bigger rockets. There were two caricatures, super Disneyed-out, with huge buckteeth who were blowing each other up. The kids thought it was hilarious. I thought to myself, “Should I stop this and explain why it is totally wrong?”


I didn’t. I did end up stopping it a short time later when they couldn’t stop talking, but that’s an entirely different problem. Hopefully they don’t figure out that Herr Maus is a Nazi anytime soon. Childhood is rough enough as it is, especially for my students. Wonderful World of Disney, my ass. More like wonderful world of “If you’re not like us, we’re going to make fun of you.”


See you tomorrow.



Pic by Rhondi. Poetry in a picture, really.

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