NEW INVITE to WRITE #12
A mule deer fawn scratches its head with a polished black hoof.
All of us mammals itch, and we scratch those itches all day long.
We all use whatever tool or surface we can manage—the bear stands against a tree to scratch his back—the whitetail rubbing velvet off on a sapling—dogs & cats—yourself, torturing your arm trying to catch the itch on your back (or backside). Birds itch too, and look no more elegant than do we.
Contemplate this photo, and see where it takes your writing. (Do write about this fawn if you like.) And do not itch and scratch while writing. Don’t even think about it.
If you have not yet sent your writing, please take the risk. I’m easy. It’s the sharing that’s important.
Entries due next Wednesday, April 6. Email to
RESPONSES to INVITE #11
You wrote strong and varied pieces again. Many schools were out this week, so there are few kids’ poems to share. Thank you all for writing and sharing. Strong words. Enjoy.
Hot Summer Rain
Dry desert dust has its own aroma
So different from forest where rain comes often
Dry desert waits hoarding its artifacts
Its signs of life
When the rain comes
When the high clouds that only promised
Relief for weeks and days and nights
Finally let down their burden in a torrent
Then the creeks fill rush even boulders
In their roiling encounter with the storm
And as the waters wane as suddenly as their rise
The whole land trickles drips in sweet surprise.
Peggy Osborne Heron, Montana
Painted ochre on bones
to sanctify remains.
A Gift to Gods -
Thankful for the Gift of Life
Gods once gave.
Is this one forgotten...
To be painted?
To be sanctified?
Forgotten by Gods to take?
Red ochred earth surrounds it.
A sanctuary in itself.
Hungry for more.
Death, appropriately dressed in ochre.
Alexandra Prinssen, the Netherlands
I step in
to a wee glen--
where little bones,
And broken branches and twigs lie
Dried and blanched
Just the way my bones wish to be
sometimes, one day.
I find tiny shrines
here and there
Beautiful little dedications;
appreciations before me in the sand
a white pebble-laid labyrinth
I enter --
hear my soul cry
This is it !
Edi Ryagard , Culloden Inverness, Scotland, UK
We walk the fields at Sayler's Creek,
dried blood on the floor of the house
where officers laid in wait
to have their bones removed, with chloroform.
Outside, enlisted souls still rest,
holy ground enshrouding arms
which peek up every spring,
theirs the long travail, from moon to moon,
watching for the coming light
without respite, without end,
beneath thin, layered earth
where they lay down.
I pick the violets from the grass,
where soldiers camped before the clash,
and float them on the lilting moss,
which covers men forgotten for their cries,
and mourned in azure dawn.
Judith Mosby, Virginia
Circle of Life
With this bone, I will beat the drum of life
and rejoice in the sequential journey circle.
Through rain and acid soil, I will once again
become the ear-piercing screech of hawk,
the lonesome wail of coyote, the
succulent cactus flower, the
stiff-legged jump of mule deer and the
regal stealth of mountain lion.
With this bone, I will celebrate
those before and after.
Brothers and sisters, all are we, bound to
walk in balance and beauty.
Jan Hammett, South Carolina
as if imbedded in stone
the small head of a mouse rests
in the curve of a thigh bone
long stranded under desert sun
were you nibbling on this
hot white anchor of mule or horse
from a cattle drive hard driven
along the oregon trail
but tiny mouse with eyes open
still in startled ending
who snapped off your head
and then slithered away
did i imagine you there
or has a trick of the light
formed a vision where
only a bit of dried tendon
clings as if it mattered
in this high deserted place
between ocean and mountain
between then and now
Nan Montgomery, Minnesota
what if other bones heaved up
like an earthquake
shaking awake the memory
of the ancestors
bone dry memory
that says a life ended here
and another began.
Marcia McEachron, Minnesota
Bone in the Desert
Left alone in thirsty dirt
Skin and muscle melted
A fossil of life
A reminder of death
Elaborate lives evolve to bone
Florencia Ramirez, California
Minding his own business
Maybe from a dinosaur?
On the desert
the white shiny bone lays still
Isabella Tonantzin Rodriguez (8 years), California
he staggered out of the bar
mumbling to himself
"I'm gonna git that bitch
an kick the crap out of her.".
Weaving down main street
reeking of beer
stumbling past crumbling shacks
to the edge of town,
he finally reeled into the desert,
on burning sand.
They never saw him
on a photo shoot
in the desert outside of Tijuana,
I stumbled upon these cranial fragments
and this one withered old legbone.
The marrow sucked out of it
by scorching sun,
it lay, dry and brittle,
ignored even by small rodents
wary of lurking
an old lady now,
resides in New York
living lavishly on money
she lifted from drunken old codgers
back in her wilder days
Clarissa Cole, Minnesota
A poem about a bone?
An ode to old scaffolding?
Dust to Dust
But what proud spirit was wrapped about it?
What gleaming prime muscles attached?
What was its life story before
it was stripped bare and left to vermin?
Fragments of expiration quietly spread
Like torn book pages on the dirt.
The story long forgotten.
Kathleen Huntley, Montana
Once upon a time I carried
a being of spirit.
Now I lie atop this dry ground,
among the stones and weeds
that traveled not.
But though I travel no more,
I receive a story of time unbound,
from the brassy arc of sun all day,
and the clear bright moon at night.
I am informed by winds
being buffeted or caressed
according to its telling.
And as I accept them and their tales,
I can remember
That I am a story too.
Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
Arid evidence of life
Drenched in dust
Sun soaked death
Flash of life upon the ground
One purpose served
Sheri Ward, California
Lying in the sun
Covered in dust,
It will lie there
In the middle of nothing
Until someone finds it
& puts it in their pocket
Emily Ward, age 11, California
All spikes and thorns,
flower buds themselves
sharp enough to blood,
a crested poppy
thrives in desert sand.
How the sun splashes
petals with shadows
of clustered anthers gold.
Each petal has just unrolled
like a sail unfurled. They own
a strong survivor’s beauty.
Close up, fine creases show.
When I glance out the window
a pair of sandhill cranes
walk the snow in my backyard.
Late snow has squeezed their bellies,
dared a human house. I am blessed
and sad, the response to the wild
one can’t avoid these late days
of the war we make on Nature.
Still, blessing wins, in spite of...
Note: Many states now allow sandhill hunting, and this year Minnesota joins Texas, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, Kansas, Colorado and others in this manly insanity. Last year, hunters “harvested” some 17,000 sandhills. The NRA refers to sandhills as “ribeye on the wing.” The sandhill crane is the oldest species of bird known, at least ten million years without change. Should we last that long?
I watch the dancer turn
to see her partner move
on this crust of snow.
As she lifts one foot
she lets her toes fold.
She keeps her line.
Hunger does not deter
her elegance nor her care
for her mate. Soon snow
will melt and she will probe
for snails to grow eggshells.
Soon the pair will dance, bow
and leap into air, cry loud
across miles of Earth to affirm
that rebirth has returned.
The branch is desert bruised
and looks long dead,
or did before a flower bud
erupted from the ruin,
and leaf buds joined
What an affirmation
this shiny blaze of bud.
touch tongue, fly away.
This is Adam’s tree, ocotillo’s cousin. Flowers without leaves.
The gimlet osprey eye
finds me like a laser,
knows me with the acuity
of a mother for her prey.
Her disinterest in me is clear,
for I am not fish nor likely foe.
But I do stand below her nest, so
my each twitch imprints the raptor eye.
Praise to her hooked black beak,
echoed in her nest thorns,
Praise to her black bandit’s mask,
which damps the glare of waves,
All praise to her fierce intensity.
This lovely raptor lives by Magdelena Bay, Baja Sur. Mexico.
INVITE TO WRITE #12 & 13
Is this just dead driftwood on an ocean beach, or did the sea carve a sea serpent with a neck, head & eyes & mouth, and strong shoulders? Are those teeth? Could it come alive? The root question for writers is “What If?”
See where this photo and your imagination take your writing. Ask yourself “What If ?? Play.
Bear in mind that Invite to Write is not a competition, nor is it a challenge; both terms smack of rivalry. Instead, Invite is an invitation to share with an online community.
Entries are due next Wednesday, April 13. Send to
You wrote an extravagant variety of pieces for this photo of a fawn, many personal and deeply felt.
dis Grace full
and wonder (fully)
aching for simplicity
contortionist creeping towards a decrepitude mirrored in brittle, dry, stale, brown
yet in this twisting mortality need
dis Grace of mine
a comforting copilot
a soothing second
for in our aching creeping towards decrepitude
twisting needing full of wonder
for guiding growth.and.friendship frank.
Will you scratch my need for Grace?
~Chelsea Rae Prax, New York
Little deer, come here. To my land of
Sanctuary from the fall thunder of guns
And the crush of wheels.
Up here in the woods you would be safe
At least from man’s disgrace of
Callous disregard for your fine
~Frances Stroscio, Maryland
Deer Nation v. The Disney Company
$700 million judgment upheld.
Damages: Unauthorized use of Deer Nation
in “Bambi” movies and materials since 1935.
Following this judgment the parties entered into
a stipulated settlement agreement of the deer
herd action suit which called for the creation of a
free, permanent wireless telecommunications
system for Deer Nation, North America.
Each North American deer shall be fitted with
a ‘cow phone’ in the rear hoof of their choice.
• All services provided by DeerTracPhone.Inc.
• All services provided in Hopi Deer Whisperer
language, universally understood by all deer
•.Benefits include ‘Antler Alert’ automatic text
• messaging services provided by Smoky the Bear,
alerting Deer Nation to any missing fawn.
• In the picture above, Daisy Deerfield calls her mom to
see if Dad is coming to pick her up from her after school
~Bruce Peck, Minnesota
She walks in her world this morning
luxuriating in smells that float in breezy riffle,
in the call of a nearby crow, that echoes
from another somewhere over there.
She responds in the way that earth's creatures do.
Is she aware of something small,
another of earth's creatures,
that takes an opportunity
that crawls into her fur,
that digs in and stays?
She carries the small thing, willingly or not,
as it imposes itself, as it steals her blood,
until the itchy niggle of its bite
becomes a burden
that must be excised.
~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
Messages are sent to us by deer and friends.
Floating into our yards, swiftly, soundlessly,
As if clouds that might be listening to us.
With quick licks of the tongue, the deer, tall
As if on stepladders, mother and fawn
beat the squirrels to the new bird feeder
But leave plenty for the songbirds.
They stare at us, mother and fawn, with large, dark eyes,
Wondering, I’m sure, what we are doing inside
this sunny day, looking pale.
~Donal Heffernan, Minnesota
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
A solitary doe steps out of the trees,
dainty on platform hooves, attached
by a miracle to her twigs of legs,
silent on the pavement, up a narrow rise.
Startled humans sidestep into the bike lane.
She doesn't care. By her reckoning,
there will soon be leaves enough for everyone.
~Denise duMaurier Washington state
Sylph of the antlered ones,
Legs as graceful as ballet,
Leap now in Spring!
Show your grace
Run with the herd
Know the joy of breeze and cloud
A whole summer, before
The blast of guns,
Terror at every turn,
Harsh voices shouting hurrah to your demise.
shame to man, not worthy to be called "animal".
~Peggy Osborne Heron, Montana
Oh dear, deer....
A tick in your ear?
I hate those too!
~Sarah Zucarrelli,New Hampshire
From Timothy Deyle’s grade 5,Roosevelt El, Fargo, North Dakota
Baby, baby all alone,
Baby, baby please come home.
Baby, baby walk along
Baby, baby sing a song.
~Destiny Luttrell and Alexus Nicholas
This deer is quite unique in many ways.
For the gleam of his eye and his sandpaper skin.
His checkerboard black and white tail,
And the small shine of his dark, black nose.
It’s fall for the leaves are brown, and dead on the ground.
The brown symbolizes that it is coming into the season of fall,
And now we can leave our beach days and vacations alone.
There is a deer,
It has no fear.
He is near
With no fright
In the night.
He will see
All the light.
~Taylor Black and Gabriella Schilling
From Pat Fondren’s class, Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences, Denver, Colorado
Itch, itch, scratch, scratch
I can’t wait until
I get these antlers out
Itch, itch, scratch, scratch
Finally I got the
~Yasmine Pikes, Gr 6
I itchy itchy
I have a patch
~Nygel Aigner Ray, 8th grade
Look at the deer standing in grass
Scratching its head looking at me
Nah man I am looking at you standing in
The grass, sniffing the ground while
Itching your head like an adult deer
~Chester Banks, 8th grade
This is a picture
Of a male deer that’s
scratching his ear.
in his family he is a weird deer
To get attention he scratches his ear
Like right now he is kinda
awesome but he is a Deer.
~ Pattrica Serrano-Bann, 7th grade
Snowdrop lifts under snow,
thrusts oak leaves aside,
and opens with the melt.
A dainty yellow bee zips in
to take nectar and pollen
within the tube of inner petals.
She clambers out, able now
to feed colony and self.
Snow has a way of melting.
We all have our pollinators:
Spring itself, first petals,
for my heart today, first bee.
The raven surveys his patch
from the top of a tall cardon,
both beings feeling the long drought,
no daylight scamperers to hunt,
not yet the eggs of small birds,
no rains to swell deep cactus pleats to round,
no arroyos that overnight bubble and roil.
A raven is a realist. He knows you never know
what the day will bring—what creature may drop
from infirmity and age, having lived its time.
You never know, so eyes keen you perch up high,
watch every bush for trembling, every lizard’s dart,
every vulture swaying down toward ground.
She graces the Sea of Cortez with pirouette
and roll, shows off her shapely flippers front,
enchants with that flex of mermaid tail.
She hopes that other cow watching
rues her supple vanished youth
when no twisty fish could slip her snapping jaws,
when fine young bulls roared and bit their peers
for her favors while the beachmaster hunted his lunch.
She knows she is a pretty thing, and strong.
Her flippers caress the sea. The sea has no regrets.
Note: She is a sea lion, California style, in the Sea of Cortez.
On its skinny branches you could strum
botanical guitar, but only after dark
and only if you’re tall with big green thumbs.
The boojum tree is quite a plum,
plucked from that poem of Snark, The Hunting of,
that the poet might have abstained from.
A question for the narks who hide in teens’ parks:
What was in Lew Carroll’s chewing gum?
But back to the tree by Gringos called Boojum ,
In Spanish, it’s Cirio, a tapered candle in the ground.
Green to boot, it has all the spin and charm of quarks
INVITE TO WRITE #14
Responses to #13
A sea otter mother holds her pup close as they surface in the Elkhorn estuary in Monterey Bay, California. The pup is of a nursing age. Contemplate this image and see where it takes your writing. No experience is required. The sharing within community is the important thing.
Entries (no attachments, please) due next Wednesday April 20. Email to:
RESULTS of INVITE #13
Thank you for this fine array of imaginative play.
Ahh – Earth notes I hear you
My wee velvet ears hear you
I hear the sighs of lovers hand fast walking
Barely discernable feet rearranging the sand
I hear your contented infants sucking
And the bubble giggles of the chubby kneed young
Surprise as I cock my head to hear your man sounds
As waves lap caressing on my shape-shifted tail
I lift my head high and to this day I sing
Song of new moon darkens the sky
I’ll then slip quietly back to the sea
I’ll slip from your myth to my reality
Shape Shifter am I – The Selkie
~~Kathleen Huntley, Montana
My eyes are tired and old,
years of drifting...
Coming up for air these
need to get back into
water to soften and wet.
~~Wendy Caddy-Stock, Minnesota
Today the sun slants from too far south.
Shadows are fleeting, faint absences that round driftwood
from slivers and prone logs to imagination manifest.
Involuntarily we look for beings with stories
to explain what we see in clouds
in boulder faces, in masses of wood
discarded on the beach
that stretches away to the limit of sight.
Intimations of transience,
snags must be transformed, even to monsters
that snag feet of the somnolent.
At sea edge where water loses its hold
light shatters, the world starts to move, a hint
of salt reaches out. Disguising its power
to carve, the wind is feather soft
cold over crabs abandoned at the surf line.
Under our feet, dry eel grass and clam shells
scrunch. We are not the first to pass this way
leaving hollows that sand rolls into.
Cheeks redden. Eyes water. Even so
we revel when the silver wood grows
into an eagle perch grasped with sun yellow talons.
A bald eagle with eyes piercing, but adolescent brown
(a curiously gentle tone that reminds me of you)
scans the beach and sea and sky.
His beak is sea gray, hooked for tearing.
Stupidly young, he (why do I assume he?), turns
his eyes away as we drift closer, mesmerized.
Why do I assume stupid, with those talons
and beak and wingspan wider than I am tall?
Across the strait, veiled in salt air
Mt Baker looms, volcanism softened
by luminous snow, dream ski runs, and when I turn back
the driftwood is bare, one of many
gray creatures aware of departed wings.
~~Jenny Wolpert, British Columbia, Canada
In ages past you worshipped
the world to which I belong.
I gave it into your keeping.
In recent times there are certain vibrations,
and I must notice.
So I rise.
Will you notice my presence?
If you acknowledge my reality,
will you care?
Look at my face,
Do you see what I show?
Do you think my expression benign?
You think me benign.
But now... are you sure?
Look longer... Look deeper.
~~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
Always my heart leads
to see what I will
and I distinctly see
a contemplative sea creature
to the unknown and untried
while letting the breeze fill his lungs
and his mind ponder
and dream the What If dream.
Hardly could this be just
the why of that
leads to bare walls or empty cells
soul with nothing to imagine
nothing to inspire the
What If dreams of my heart.
~~Betty Hartnett, Minnesota
A small bear
born and rejected
mother decided not to care
loved by men
loved by many
Only four years old he died.
A gentle giant not meant for eternity
Was his mother right, did we not see what she thought obvious?
I see him in many places
a piece of wood
resembling his gentle giant’s head
tilted to the skies
as to call his maker.
Is there sense in short living?
~~Alexandra Prinssen, the Netherlands
I am the tree that was
The Love of Dancing Bear,
Whose skin rubbed into mine,
Revealed by cradling seas,
The Bear skin song of ecstasy.
~~Nicky Moss, England
POEMS BY THE BRIEFLY SHORTER
From Pat Fondren’s class,
Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences, Denver, Colorado
Dark thundering clouds
It scares me
I am getting very irritated
Please put me back in my home
I need water fast
I am lonely
~~Chris Flores, 6th grade,
As driftwood crosses the beach
I wonder how far it’s going to reach,
each and every week.
The tide pushed it across the sea.
It wants to stop floating now.
I can see.
~~Izell White, 8th Grade
This picture looks like
a sea on an ocean beach.
It looks like he is saying
that he needs help on the
ocean beach. When I
go to the ocean beach
I help this Sea
because if I don’t then
he will die. Maybe the sea needs
food, water and different animals
on the beach. The Sea looks like it is drying
out for food and water.
~~Anahi Morales, 7th Grade
The driftwood looks like a big fish coming
out of the clean blue water wanting fresh air
Smelling the beautiful fresh air
Doing side flips
as it goes back into the water
it’s big body in the clean blue water
and as it comes to the top it turns into drift wood
~~Torrence Green, 8th Grade
The driftwood flows down the sea.
Big waves come and what do you see?
Is it real or fake sitting on the beach all day?
People may walk by and get scared but
it’s just driftwood over there.
Look here and look there
It is a seal so don’t be scared.
~~Marcus Lewis, 8th grade
The dead driftwood looks like a
Wolf crying for his loved one. The
driftwood is a dragon following
the river. The trash in the river is
hurting the animals and us.
That is what I see.
~~Eduardo Martinez, 7th grade
From Timothy Deyle’s 5th grade,
Roosevelt Elementary, Fargo, North Dakota
A little girl pushed me into the water,
A shark smashed me in two.
I got annoyed but didn’t fight,
I told him he should be in a zoo.
I started in South America,
It was annoyingly freezing.
But since there was no blanket,
I felt like coughing and sneezing.
Now here I am,
Telling you my story.
To you little fish,
And this is the end of my story.
Conversation Between a Boy and the Driftwood
“Why are you drifting way out in the sea?
It is a very dangerous thing for a boy like me.”
“For a boy like you,
I’m sure you can do it.
Just give it a try,
And don’t deny.”
“I don’t know, maybe I’ll try.
But I’ll try not to deny.”
“Good for you. It’s not good to deny,
It’s a good thing to at least give a try”
~~ Alexus Nicholas
Wood, wood it looks like a snake,
That moves very quietly across the sand,
By a patch of sea weed,
Hunting down a crab in the deep blue sea.
Once upon a time in the middle of the ocean,
Lived an ugly whale with rotten teeth,
And giant lumps all over his body.
One day in the middle of winter,
The ugly whale was looking for his mom.
He swam all around his home, neighborhood,
And finally all around town,
But his mother was nowhere to be found.
After two days of searching,
He got so desperate to find his mom,
That he went up and down,
In and out of the water,
But as it was winter time,
On his thirty-first jump,
He froze half in and half out of the water,
And so here he is today.
~~ Katrina Witt
I see a log,
I’ll write it on my blog.
I see an arm,
How could it do harm.
I see a thing ,
That could be a bling.
By Cody Wurgler
Hepatica has pushed up through leaves
as it has done ten thousand years
since glaciers melted north.
A beetle has eaten a scoop of petal,
and furry bees already zip in for pollen.
Clusters of blue toss in cool sunlight
to relieve the wintered browns of leaves
and pull my eyes and feet across land,
here pale blue, here white, there
buds promise purple deep.
I want to kneel before them all
and revel in the spring we share.
Dolphins race our bow wave,
trick out our turbulence
with arched leaps and plunges.
Exhilaration is contagious,
each spirit here lifted into joy
by the rollick of the dolphins.
Photo credit John Horrigan
Shapes of Gaia’s dreams
seduce the marsh with maroon
forms that enter our deep minds:
quintessential forms of tears,
then the passage into darkness
we are afraid to see or know,
the curve stretching up as if
the drawn gold of a pearl
of amber resin from a pine,
the tip’s recurve of release we yearn.
The river flood to the limit of eye,
two pairs of Canada geese each decide
this patch of water is their home water,
where they will mate and hatch a clutch.
Only hormones can birth such rage,
they weep into blood like lymph from burns
when Spring pulls her trigger, the red tongue.
Territory and home so often prove illusion.
The river drains to parking lot, the bank
steals the house without knowing it’s a home,
the kid with new stainless legs wonders why.
But we do love the passion, the lie of no control,
true for geese and turkeys--for us, not so much.
Invite to Write New #15 and #14 Results
On an ocean beach, vultures pick at the huge skeleton of an elephant seal. Vultures had nothing to do with this death. The seal’s eyes seem to be gazing at the near bird. Contemplate this image and see where it takes your writing.
Your writing in response (no attachments) is due next Wednesday, April 27.
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Response to Invite to Write #14
You will recall that I first posted a photo of a little boy. Some of you quickly wrote from that. I’ve decided to print them. Find them after your responses to the mother otter and her pup.
Some brilliant writing this week. Thank you for the sharing.
MÊRE DU MER
We don't have days or weeks to cuddle into.
So drink, my darling, drink me thin, while you
grow round as the moon. You master the swim
so soon, and I can scent my sign to let you go—
whether or not I sense you could go faster fatter.
You promise me that you will not get lost,
nor scattered by the sharks. Secretly, I fear
for both. For you, for me—for we shall be apart,
and never know. Memorize your mark:
return another year to search for urchins—
call for me. We'll masquerade as strangers,
that we may toss our catch again, and scratch
our silly whiskers on the rocks.
~~Denise duMaurier Washington state
she presents an aspect of motherhood
both sweet and fierce,
as she holds her child so close,
a beauty admired of the animal realm
since the earth was young
But I am held as I see
mother and child together
sharing that glisten, as though in embryonic sac,
as though of the moment born,
born entwined, one trusting,
one watchful, looking at the world,
held in a gentle sea
which can be so fierce.
~~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
In the shallow waters
of Monterey Bay,
this mama sea otter
swims with her baby
under her arm.
Her usual playful antics
until he can swim
they will frolic,
Diving through waves,
twisting and twirling
over and over
in the surf,
floating on their backs,
even holding paws
under the morning sun.
No more oneness can there be
Than the warmth of me and thee
I must guard thee with my life
I must mitigate all strife
Till you grow so large and strong
That I need never hold you warm.
You are my all, my world ,my worry
'Till on your way you scurry
And the next pup will be born.
At top of stairs there was a door
It was his room, but is no more
Leave it open? Leave it closed?
Neither could give my heart repose
Years, and years,
(he would be old now)
And miles have passed
And the question I still ask:
"Leave it open? Leave it closed?
“Which can give my heart repose?"
~~Peggy Osborne, Montana
Poems from Classrooms
From Pat Fondren,
Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences, Denver, Colorado
Me, me and my Mom
Spending time together
I love my Mom
She loves me
~~Dylan Frost, 7th grade
I’m getting tired Mama
Trying to swim back to shore
We float back
Mama tells me a story on how we were born
If we get hot or get cold no matter what
We will be together
No matter what happens
~~Trevon Johnson, 8th grade
Look at the otter holding
her baby on her stomach
looking around while she’s
in the ocean
~~Chester Banks, 6th grade
Yes I see you. Mom’s
Hugs, kisses, and more hugs
Love felt in
You won’t leave
Mentally or spiritually
You are my Beautiful
~~Khalil Kelley, 7th grade
The sea otter is helping her baby
Teaching her to swim in the big, big sea
But the baby sea otter is scared to swim
So she knows to get on her Mom’s back
She thinks that she is safe
~~Jose Puente, 7th grade
a big sea otter
she is nursing
she is watching out
if anybody touches her
she will go crazy
~~Chris Flores, 6th grade
Two sea otter animals
One’s a baby pup and
One is the mother
As you can see the baby is by the mother
A very scared baby
But it is by his Mommy
~~Pattrica Serrano, 7th Grade
Look at the baby with his mother
It is so cute
I think to myself
Why can’t he swim?
~~Matthew Garrett, 6th Grade
when I look at this picture the water is as blue as the sky
the seal that is in the ocean swimming with her son on her belly
the baby seal is dying in the ocean
~~Anahi Morales, 7th grade
From Tim Deyle’s 5th grade, Roosevelt Elementary,
Fargo, North Dakota
Otter, otter in the water,
Lying with her baby daughter.
In the blue marble sea,
Now you must flee.
So they can take their nap,
In their seaweed wrap.
Seal or otter?
With its bitty baby daughter.
Water, water in the sea…
Has this pup yet
~~Abigail Grieger and Emilie Schaaf
Sea otter, sea otter pulling on a log,
Bring it to the island for your family.
When he gets home to the island,
You will be soaked and cold from the journey.
Then you can throw the log on the fire,
And get all warm and toasty again.
Otter, otter come by me,
Otter, otter swim by me.
Otter, otter play with me,
Otter, otter please, please,
Come home with me.
~~Alexus Nichols and Destiny Luttrell
RESPONSES TO THE AU NATURAL BOY
Bud to flower Leaf to bower
Credo to questioning-Belief--
Most earth things begin small
Curl upward ' til they stand tall.
From this height
There is no end
Only metamorphism, to wit:
The chrysalis hides the butterfly
The worm preceeds.
Everything turns to something else
Matter is not lost, but on the shelf.
End and beginning are but one
The babe becomes the man, then has a son
To carry on when he is gone.
In between the death and birth
A changeling circles all the earth
Looking for his home---
An angel in victorious pose
Not yet received his human clothes.
~~Peggy Osborne, Montana
~~Elizabeth Strootman, Minnesota
I step freely
into this world
not caring that I
am a boy
nor afraid of those called
I open my eyes
and point my way
not caring if
I need go or stay
I march at the beat
of my own feet
not worrying about the time
not worrying at all
about whether it's yours
or it's mine
a peaceful start
no need of fear
just a happy joy
of being here
that could slow me down
no worries of judgement
just plain old me
no fake image
for the world to see
no pretend cover
for my shy being
just all of me
for your seeing
I come untainted
from words unknown
from people who talk of habits
foolish and outgrown
I come to experience
this great new life
without the fear of pain and strife
I come without ideas
just one simple thing
that I point the way
for in my life
I am king
~~David Gustafson, Minnesota
As the last lake ice goes out,
a jeweled host of it rides waves
to land where wind gusts hang
necklaces on shoreline curves.
Sun finds green beneath the jewels
and together they reduce necklaces
to plain wet that in sun still gleams.
Talk about your desert double-take.
Snail shells on the sand, shell size
a testament to seasons of survival
here, in unremitting drought and heat.
I imagine being coiled in hard shell,
white a help against the heat,
my operculum door locked tight against loss,
traveling each diurnal cycle chasing green:
Sheesh! Talk about your desert double-take.
Note: The corrugated sand is a biological soil crust,
living fertilizer of the desert. Google it.
She is beauty and power,
She has birthed twins.
Two sacs of sea lion
slipped out from her.
It’s all on her now.
Twice as much milk to
grow blubber for two,
hunt fish for three,
Soon she will mate,
eleven moons gestate.
To these human eyes
she looks strong and sure.
She will need to be.
It is all on her.
A wise bird has nested within
a host of long acacia thorns,
a kind of pocket nest
with a hood against the sun
like a baby’s wicker buggy .
Feathers the colors of dry leaves
and seed silk hide the nest as if debris.
Will it work? Will it work this time?
INVITE TO WRITE #16 and Responses #15
A Snowy Egret and a Great Egret observe one another on a boulder jetty in Malibu. Dark Heermann’s Gulls ignore them. Contemplate these two beautiful birds who landed by chance on close rocks. Will either bird extend its long neck? Does this photo call up schoolyard memories? Does their size difference concern either bird? Or is their difference only of interest to humans? Explore this photo and see where it takes your writing.
Emailed responses (no attachments) due next Wednesday, May 1, Beltane to Celts and Pagans, May Day to others.
Send to email@example.com
Responses, Invite #15
Scavenging for a living is a job description in nature that we should honor. You writers took several voices to respond to this photo. Thank you.
Here are vultures, looking for morsels.
They or those like them stripped my bones
and still they come.
What can they find in my emptiness.
Perhaps a small life crawled among my ribs for safety.
And attracted ever-hungry birds.
My hollow eye watches them finish their search,
sees them lift their wings,
and as they fly into their welcoming sky,
in dream I bring my own by-gone body
to the nearby sea, to dive and flow with
the rise and fall of the wave, to dance
in the ocean's deep world.
I return and succumb to this drift of sand,
knowing that the vultures too,
will leave their bleaching bones
someday, somewhere, beneath their wheel of sky,
and we may share the welcoming mysteries
of earth's beyond.
~~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
How to become sand
Lie down on a beach.
Let the high tide roll you over
until you are covered with sand
and bull kelp wraps around you.
Now you smell like sand.
Let the sun bake you.
Let rain fall on you.
Let your breathing slow, very slow.
You cannot become sand on your own.
Watch birds circle overhead
calling to each other.
They will land near you, hop towards you.
Hear a tiny scratching
from small crabs.
They will help you become sand.
Even tinier organisms burrow into you.
Parts disappear and become holes.
You won’t remember what else comes
to take away
what can’t become sand
waves, always the waves
to clean you for the next feast.
And when you become only bone
waves will wash you against rocks
until you are just the suggestion of bones.
And when you are only the suggestion of bones,
waves will tumble you across the beach
until you are nondescript white pebbles.
And when you are pebbles,
waves will scrape you with shells
until you are sand.
~~Mary Drew Powers, Montana
Ugly is ugly
God's creature or not
Eating carrion is not so hot
Opportunity is all
Most prey is small
Bonanzas are few and far between
Still we feel lucky if it’s not green
But we have feelings just as you
Though lack of fashion embarrasses few
of us, we often cuss
the damn fools who do not see our iridescent beauty,
Our radiant red noses.
~~Peggy Osborne, Montana
The black caped Social Worker stares at me unblinking
I nod to him - eyes meeting in common acknowledgment
Yet a repulsed shiver escapes my neck
As I appreciate him
He does me a favor - unbinding the responsibility
The never ending circle of clean up work
Necessary Earth Carrion
I scurry gratefully out of view
~~Kathleen Huntley, Montana
Clan of the Vulture
It is not our way to worry
what you think.
You call us scavengers who
prey off others;
But it is your species who are
greedy and unscrupulous.
Without us you would be overrun
with vermin and disease.
We clean and sanitize your world.
There will come a day when we
will clean your remains
From the face of the earth
and file our report with the Universe.
~~Bruce Peck, Minnesota
Oh, happy death, to die instinctively, into soil,
awash with dust of stars and seminal gusts
begetting yet more breaths of life and lust.
Dream not, my love, since you have washed yourself
into the oldest trust, where God and man
invite our stuff to stir itself, amid the darkness
of our final hush.
Weep not for those who weep and send their tears
to bless your flesh. We have our rest soon enough
and then our feet will tread again the soft mush of marsh,
the wet and fervent plain of stream with gush of spring
and wedding spot where we will lie amid the anguish
spent on smaller things: the bee, the worm, the frog,
and death will keep us, too, a brew for mighty draughts,
elixir of all sorrow in the scum of ponds.
~~Judy Mosby, Virginia
What a treat
for these two hungry vultures
to spy from miles above
the remains of this old elephant seal
half buried in the sand.
In no time flat
they dive down,
devour the dead flesh,
and lick its bones clean,
a dry and brittle skeleton
for the sun to suck dry.
~~Clarissa Cole, Minnesota
Poems by the Briefly Shorter
From Timothy Deyle’s 5th grade, Roosevelt El, Fargo, North Dakota
Little vultures, little vultures pecking at some bones,
Little vultures, little vultures’ blood and meat is shown.
Little vultures, little vultures picking at the meat,
Little vultures, little vultures not enough to eat.
Little vultures, little vultures one dies, the first,
Little vultures, little vultures the others die from thirst.
Vultures by the Sea
Vultures by the sea together,
What a pretty type of bird they are.
How they are fighting over the food.
You should leave or nothing will be
Left of you to be able to flee.
Elephant seal talking:
Now please, please just flee.”
“I see you, you see me.
Now we both know,
I’m not going to flee”
Elephant seal talking:
“Please, please I’ll do no harm,
I’ll even try to live on a farm.”
“Oh silly, silly you can’t live on a farm,
That would do you a lot of harm.”
~~Alexus Nicholas, Kendall Faulkner, and Destiny Luttrell
Vulture, vulture flying high,
Vulture, vulture in the sky.
Vulture, vulture flying low,
Vulture, vulture gliding slow.
Vulture, vulture diving now,
Vulture, vulture lying down.
Vulture, vulture food at last,
Vulture, vulture eating fast.
Vulture, vulture lunch is such,
Vulture, vulture ate too much.
Vulture, vulture now is lying,
Vulture, vulture he is dying.
Vulture, vulture the birds are crying,
Vulture, vulture because he’s dying.
Vulture, vulture is in pain,
Vulture, vulture help is in vain.
Vulture, vulture has a son,
Vulture, vulture’s life is done.
Vulture, vulture in his grave,
Vulture, vulture was so brave.
~~Emilie Schaaf and Katrina Witt
Elephant lion, elephant lion in the sea,
Come watch the vultures chase me.
Maybe if you come and see,
We could have some tea,
If you don’t eat me.
~~Taylor Black and Gabriella Schilling
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