You know

it’s not true what you said
gay teachers are not
converting your children

and Muslims are not our enemies

they’re not true, so
quit saying those things

yeah, yeah, it’s still a free country,
but it wouldn’t be
if we put you in charge

yeah, well, free speech
applies to me, too,
and I’m tired of exercising it
fighting your bigotry
and narrowmindedness

oh, yeah, that’s good
resort to name-calling
you know what
you can call me
faggot commie liberal
but it doesn’t change what I said

yeah, well, I’m done
with you too

(you’re probably racist too)

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the “it’s not true that ___” prompt at Big Tent Poetry. I also incorporated the quit what you’re doing prompt at Poetic Asides.

“the only one in the world”

the only one in the world
is the world itself
there is no other like mother Earth

I know I’m unique
that genetically speaking I am
the only one in the world

just like me, but I am small
and what sustains me
is the world itself

we neglect her at our peril
there is no escape if we kill her
there is no other like mother Earth

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the “only one in the world” prompt at Poetic Asides. It also fits with the escape prompt at Big Tent Poetry.

As the month is coming to a close, I’m starting to think about which five poems I’m going to submit to Robert at Poetic Asides as my top five for the month, so I’ve been focusing on those prompts more over the past few days.

Shameless plug: If you want to read the other three poems I posted today, you’ll find them here: Message in a Bottle, falling poem, and a little trifle I called Second Thoughts.

Message in a Bottle

It depends, of course, on which bottle you
are holding and what is within. Some harm,
some nourish. Some open the senses while
others dull. Some will loosen your tongue and
lead to words of regret. But I have yet
to find a liquid within a bottle
that will inspire a poem. Quench a thirst,
toast a loved one, yes. But create, no. The
bottle messages are ephemeral.
They must be consistently replenished.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the message in a bottle prompt at Poetic Asides. This is also my attempt at what Robert has called “The Big 10”, a poem with ten lines of ten syllables each.

Looking In

I found
a poem
that had

a mirror
in it
and that mirror

looked in
at a mirror
in me

that had
a poem
in it

* * * * *

This poem is in response to the mirror poem prompt at NaPoWriMo.

I wrote this one about a week and a half ago. I was in Barnes & Noble doing my usual evening writing. For National Poetry Month, I’ve been browsing their poetry section and looking at various books. That particular day, I had picked up Poetry in Motion: 100 Poems from the Subways and Buses, and I stumbled across a poem titled “Reflective” by A. R. Ammons. My poem is a mirror of his.

Two from school


so many paintings
Two Fingers
The Lovers
Frieda and Diego Rivera
what you’d expect

but what catches my eye?
the two black
and white photographs
of crepuscular rays
and clouds
both titled

how do the docents
end the trip
for my students?
staring at a flag
with green and black
stripes with black stars
on an orange field
then looking at
a whiteboard

* * *

Jazz Talk

   Wealth and fame
   he’s ignored
   Action is his reward

the thrumming of those four strings
walking that bass line
under four-color animated lyrics

thank goodness it wasn’t
the Simpson theme
it was time for another
song to take its place

   Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk,
   Talk about things you’d like to do.

eleven octaves on the electric keyboard
the melody in the right hand
but not held – palm turned down
as ephemeral as sound
as short as memory

it’s a good thing students
don’t have a sustain pedal
I’d never have any quiet

   All aboard, get on the “A” train
   Soon you will be on Sugar Hill in Harlem

Billy wrote this one
on his way to see Duke
but it was Joya who penned the lyrics

Everybody should know Duke’s music

   Potato, potahto,
   Tomato, tomahto

not just listening to the vocalist
but us singing too – call and response

gives new meaning to auditorium

   Seven steps to heaven

riding that rhythm
and brushes on the snare drum

that’s one of the sounds
that makes me love jazz

   It don’t mean a thing,
   if it ain’t got that swing


* * * * *

The first poem was written in response to the prompt from We Write Poems to write a yin/yang poem based on any kind of pairings that are complementary.

It was inspired by a field trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. We’re participating in a program called Visual Thinking Strategies, and a field trip to a museum to use those thinking strategies with actual art pieces, as opposed to reproductions in the classroom, is part of the program. While my class was split into small groups, led by docents, I was free for an hour to walk around the museum on my own. It was heavenly.

The second poem was not written to any prompt. The San Francisco Symphony has a program called Adventures in Music. It includes a trip to Davies Symphony Hall, which we’ve already done, but also visits to our school by professional musicians. This poem was my attempt to capture the magic of live music as performed by the quartet that called itself Jazz Talk.

These two poems seemed to go together, as they were inspired by art and music, were made possible by the experiences I have as a teacher, and were my attempts to reflect in poetry that art and music (and maybe a little teaching snuck in there too).

Hymn to Boeuf

O glorious animal that God has set for us,
we honor you by taking your life
and making it our own, your flesh our flesh.
This is as it has been and how it shall be.

We sear your flesh, drive the evil out,
so that our nourishment is pure, only love,
just as your milk nurtures our children.
This is as it has been and how it shall be.

O divine cholesterol, we take you in,
as God has prescribed, for we have dominion
over the animals of sea, air and earth.
This is as it has been and how it shall be.

The protein builds our muscles so we
may worship and praise God. Our arteries
clog so that we may die and go to heaven.
This is as it has been and how it shall be.

We thank you for this divine gift,
life, which we take with swift mercy,
so that we may live with compassion.
This is as it has been and how it shall be.


* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the Day 15! prompt at NaPoWriMo:

write a poem… in the form of a hymn to something that is bad or that you dislike.

Full disclosure: I am vegan. I do not eat animal flesh or anything that comes from animals, like dairy products. So, I am not being a hypocrite here. In fact, what I’m complaining about, the thing that I dislike, is the hypocrisy of people who claim to be compassionate but who do not extend that compassion to animals. I will apologize in advance if you find my “hymn” offensive, but I’ve had people quote the Bible at me to justify their actions.


we played with pinwheels
in the afternoon sun
running down the grassy slopes
a cheap entertainment
but fun nonetheless

a gentle breeze came over the hills
like a squeeze of lime in ice water
something ordinary and simple
to replenish our bodies
every cell, tissue, and organ

and our eternal souls
bound in these imperfect forms
never quite enough
not quite quenching
the thirst inside

then the bugle tattoos, calling us in
as dusk begins to creep into our midst
and we overhear a piquant word
as we dash by, and as a sharp memory
floods us, the tears are a laugh
in the left eye and a cry in the right

wiping them away
though no one will notice
in the diminished light,
we steal closer to the front,
so we can see
the catherine wheels fly

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the first A Baker’s Dozen wordle prompt at a wordling whirl of Sundays. Brenda, over at Beyond the Bozone (you should go read her poems), has been posting wordle prompts every Sunday in April, and now she has dedicated a new blog, a wordling whirl of Sundays, to posting these wordles to inspire us. I encourage you to go check it out; I’m certainly going to play along.

Public Service Announcement

Drivers, start your engines!

Show pedestrians and other drivers
your inattention and rage.
Driving with two hands is not permitted.
Your dominant hand must
at all times be occupied
with something other than driving.
Options include texting,
changing settings on your stereo,
and applying make up.
You are not limited to these options;
we urge you to be creative.
Do not bother signaling lane changes.
Tailgaiting, honking,
flashing your highbeams,
and flipping the bird
are expected and encouraged.
Excessive speed is required.

This is an open course.
You are amateur drivers.
Please drive irresponsibly.

Thank you.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the Big Tent Poetry prompt about what you would shout down the street.