Friday, November 17, 2017

live from #ncte17

Like many of our poetry posse, I am lucky enough to be in St. Louis for the annual National Council of Teachers of English convention.  I arrived in time for a walk around its most famous landmark in beautiful crisp sunshine, and then I attended the Elementary Get-Together, which is not just "Hellooo!" and [HUG] and chat but which includes the presentation of various awards.

The specially honored yesterday were Katherine Bomer and Randy Bomer, and rather than summarizing the significance of their work or their talk, I'll pull out one small thing that Katherine said, about how, since her first NCTE in 1989, this event seems to come along just when teachers really need it. "Is it that way for you, too?" she asked, and there were nods and "Mm-hmms" and not exactly any "AMENS," but the room said "yes."

So I'm going back to understand why this 3rd week of November event has felt so important to me over the years, and see how it turns into a poem!

2009 Philadelphia
2010 Orlando
2011 Chicago & boots
2012 Las Vegas
2013 Boston
2014 Washington DC
2015 Minneapolis
2016 Atlanta
2017 St. Louis

November Poetry Town

Next week--Thanksgiving--
the whole country travels,
travels home for our
"American holiday."
Even the least blessed among us
have something to be thankful for,

But before that travel
some of the more blessed
travel home to English Town,
to Reading Town, to Writing Town,
wherever it may be this year,
and some of us most blessed

come home to Poetry Town.
We meet at the foot of
something large and shiny:
lowly LOVE, a faceted globe,
a bell tower domed in gold,
a gateway arch that leads into
a lofty cloud which opens

onto a village green,
surrounded by little cottages
built of books, filled with windows
and mirrors made of words.
We greet each other,
sighing with relief.

In back are the chickens,
which we feed every day
unless something gets in the way,
but we know that our neighbors
will take care if we are distracted.

And there is so much to distract:
the world outside seems made of guns,
made of floods and flame and hate.
We take a knee,

crushed up like velvet
under the weight of statues;
we poets fire back with delicate,
plush, lustrous words, risking
everything with an air of expectancy.

We poets put on our boots
with the transparent, permeable
soles that let in the grass, the puddle,
the crackling leaf, the sand, the snow,
the road less traveled, the mile
in another one's shoes

and we march back out of Poetry Town
towards thanks-giving
leaving the gate on the latch
for any passerby who needs
to come into the house of our poem.

draft HM 2017

The round-up today is with Jane the Rain City Librarian.  Put on your poetry boots and march on over for a visit to Poetry Town!

Friday, November 10, 2017

all the shades of pride

We're pretty stubborn

 All hail the Democrats of Virginia and New Jersey!

Carl Sandburg has a sage comment that seems apropos to the moment, and which also includes boots--which regular readers may remember hold a special charm for me.  I especially must heed Granddad Carl's advice, as must Republicans.

Primer Lesson | Carl Sandburg  1922

Look out how you use proud words.
When you let proud words go, it is
        not easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots; they
        walk off proud; they can't hear you
Look out how you use proud words.

The round-up today is with Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup, always a delicious dive into culiterary treats.  Yes, I just made that word up, and I think Carl will enjoy today's offering of coffee and donuts.

I'm attending next week!  Are you?  Let's get together!

Friday, October 27, 2017


click to enlarge for a laugh

 Things feel a little dis-integrated in the world right now; perhaps this has always been true, but you know how sometimes you feel unhinged from your usual stance, kind of off-the-hook and floating? This poem is part of a collection I've been working on now and then for almost 20 years.  It considers perspective, and maybe patience.


Every now and then you see a thing—
what is that?—
that you can’t take in,
that you can’t read right.
You look and look, but you don’t see
what you’re looking at.

And then all at once
the parts of it are moving,
moving in small ways
into new places,

as if a hand were 
moving those parts around,
as if a hand were putting you 
in the right place to see.

And then all at once
you can see it, you find that
a new thing has come together
with all its parts in the right places,
and you have to ask
why you couldn’t see it before.

(C) HM c.2005

The round-up today is with Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales.  I hope a hand puts you in the right place to see...