Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Funathlon tritina

Saturday, grab a paddle;
carve the river water like a sharp ski.
Down Arkansas rapids, we ride.

Sunday, a short car ride
leads to snowfields, wide as a paddle,
softening in the sun to ski.

Monday, after that delicious ski,
time to ride
bicycles; each pedaling foot, a flagging paddle.

Three days in Colorado outside: paddle, ski, ride

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hair today, gone tomorrow

But at my back I always hear / Time's wing├Ęd chariot hurrying near --Andrew Marvell

Carrying out the barber's mission,
Scissors snick with cool derision.
Down in my lap, I smirk to see
snipped silver locks,which came from me.
My thoughts turn dark, my smile galled:
Will I first go gray -- or just bald?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I'd like to thank the universe and the library

I live around the corner from a public library, which is a blessing and a curse -- but mostly a blessing. Monday, I stopped there heading home from school because I needed two items.

I checked out a To Kill a Mockingbird DVD. It will be the viewing prize when (if?) students crack a book-related digital breakout. I also borrowed both copies of Go by Chip Kidd, to use as in-class resources during a design project that culminates our study of symbolism, literary or otherwise.

Heading for the exit, I followed a woman ambling into one of the library's gallery spaces. She was, to my eye, joining co-workers in the process of mounting a new exhibit. Her voice giddy with enthusiasm, she said, "This is the most beautiful, inspiring library I've ever been in. And that's just walking to the bathroom."

I smiled and silently thanked the universe for reminding me of such blessings.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Beating a dead (grading) horse

Here's another idea collage, cobbled together from recent reading.

About two weeks ago, in the May 2017 Atlantic, I read a review of new-to-me poet, Patricia Lockwood. One line in the piece touted Lockwood's flair for Pun Lightning -- "that jolt of connection when the language turns itself inside out, when two words suddenly profess they're related to each other, or wish to be married, or were in league all along." (28)

Yeah, I needed to spend more time with this writer. So on a foray to the local library last week, I tracked down a poetry collection of hers; therein, I found "The Hatfields and the McCoys" and this bruising bit:

I chuckled and wondered: Are grading exchanges truly feud-worthy? These lines nevertheless packed extra punch since, just the day before, I had received an email from a student. It was a response to my prior alert that the student's grade (for the moment) might look distressingly low due to missing work from absences accrued while on a school-sponsored trip. "I want to avoid any unnecessary panic," I had written and gone on to sketch out the requisite catching-up steps. The message I got back: "Thank you for the email. I am currently panicking as I write this so I will be coming to office hours to solve this." At first, I wondered if there was dry irony to be gleaned from this note. Knowing the student, however, I was skeptical. Turns out a panic attack actually precipitated the student writing to me.

These two messages - Lockwood's and the student's -- juxtaposed in 24 hours strengthened my resolve to keep seeking alternatives to grades's scarring influences in schools; to help learners see grades as fungible, not tattoos.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New way to write short about something old

At the tail end of National Poetry Month last week, I encountered a new verse form from Korea, called a sijo. I put it to use to capture a quirky, mundane Monday moment.

My welcome mat today held, unexpected, a thick phone book--
this annual anachronism that signals spring, even as time
(in certain unfathomable moments) seems stuck in amber.