“if i wur uh bel”

if i wur uh bel
i woodnt ring

id sit at th end
uv uh trumpet
and curv th notes

sendin them out
for u to hear

spelin dont mater
in jaz
nor gramer neether

it haz to swing
thats al

just maik u
tap yur toes
snap yur fingers

just maik u smile
for Miles and milz

/ / /

This is a poem I wrote yesterday while my students were writing their poems. The prompt from Susan Sibbet of California Poets in the Schools was to use sound. My first thought was to play with homophones, words that are spelled differently but sound the same. I brainstormed a list of those, and somehow that got me thinking about the spelling of words and how they sound, so I tried to spell them as they sound, rather than worrying about spelling.

The other inspiration was “If I Were a Bell” by the Miles Davis Quintet, which I had happened to hear on my iPod yesterday morning on my drive in to work.

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Seven Ways of Looking at a Dragon

The dragon has a scaled body.
What must it be like
to be protected all the time?

What does it hunt
with its claws?
What flesh does it rend
with its teeth?

Or does it live
on air, earth,
fire, or water?

That sound I hear
as I fall asleep –
is that dragon song?

Do dragons curl up
at night surrounded by clouds?
Or do they sleep upside-down
underwater, like whales?

How must it feel
to have such a long tail?
Do they chase their own tails
when they are young?

Are they born wise?
Or do they learn
like us?

/ / /

This is a poem started last Thursday in my classroom, and finished this morning. Susan Sibbet, of California Poets in the Schools, was teaching a poetry writing lesson, inspired by our talk of dragons, connected with the new lunar new year, and using Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and Steven Siu’s “7 Ways of Looking at a Butterfly” as inspiration for form.