Self-Pity vs. Original Poem 7: Empathy

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Self-Pity

D. H. Lawrence

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

 

Empathy

E. N. Davis

I never saw a human thing
who didn’t care for someone.
A small child will cry when a bird drops frozen
though the bird is not sorry for itself.

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Original Poem 6: McFlurry Squirrel

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Squirrels tend to get themselves into some pretty hilarious predicaments. For example:

McFlurry Squirrel

November 24, 2013 

A squirrel,

scurrying

up and down,

up and down,

up and down,

in a fury,

a flurry of amber,

a fluffy, Butterfinger tail,

a neck surrounded by dried vanilla,

stuck to a plastic lid

  

What a predicament you are in

scurry, clunk,

scurry, clunk,

scurry, clunk,

like a frustrated mutt post-surgery,

cone collared and crazy,

your furious eyes

forced forward,

your head colliding

between bicycle rims

Scurry, clunk,

Scurry, clunk

Scurry, clunk

 

And me,

who happened to stumble upon such a sight,

laughing

at your misfortune

Original Poem 5: Hats

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This open form poem is about my mother. She underwent brain surgery when I was about 4 or 5 and was unable to drive. To get around town, she pulled my 2 year old brother and me around in a red wagon.

I wrote this in the fall of 2009.

Hats

A mother in recovery

knows nothing but uncertainty.

Her dark brown hair will grow again

and curl to hide the plateau line,

although for now her neck grows cold

without its under tows. Along

her head are metal tracks, composed

of staples, cold and flat. And so

for months she wears nice hats,

like Derby women with easy lives.

And like a horse she pulls her colts

on wagon wheels across the town.

Her calves grow stronger week by week,

her shoes worn down, her children large

and tiresome. But when the kids

are old enough to walk beside

their merry mom, her mane is long

and she is glad to rid herself

of woven hats,

feeling a sense of certainty.

Original Poem 4: Skipping

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Preface: Use Lawrence Ferlingbetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind, #15” as a model for an open form poem. Shape the lines so that they convey a kind of movement, just as Ferlingbetti uses his form to convey balancing. Write the poem in the present tense. Include a couple internal rhymes and alliteration.

Note: When writing this alliterative, open form poem, my goal was to create a metaphor. As the poem took shape, I felt that the poem captured the devastating illness of anorexia and the effects that the illness has on the individual, as well as those who love someone with the disease. Each line follows a 4, 3, 2, 1 word length pattern, with a final line of 5 words. In my original, the font size goes from big to small, but I could not figure out how to format the font on my blog, so sadly that stylistic piece is missing. Additionally, my original does not contain the dashes, but again, I could not for the life of me figure out how to format the lines on this blog. Each time I previewed the post, the lines all shifted back to the left, erasing the length. I kind of like the dashes though. They’re like the skips of a rock on water.

Finally, I would like to note that I just decided to change the word “waveless” to “wakeless” in the second to last stanza for two reasons: a) because “waveless” is not a real word and b) because “wakeless” is a wonderful play on words. The word is normally used for continual sleep and not in the context of wakes in water. The use of the word “wake” also alludes to a funeral. Bada bing bada boom.

(In order to view and read the poem correctly, you must click on the post. Otherwise the lines are jumbled.)

Skipping

Fall 2009

————————————————————————————lightest,

—————————————————————-who’s the

————————————-compete to see

Flat, stick-skinny rocks

———————————————————————————-weightless.

——————————————————————-as if

————————-farthest, who flies

who can skip the

—————————————————————————————–rifts,

———————————————————————-through unseen

———————————————blue despair, seep

They sink into bottomless

—————————————————————————————–Discreetly,

———————————————————————-carry them.

————————————their slender bodies

no matter how far

————————————————————————————–dry

———————————————————————to warm,

———————————————–to shore, clings

they disappear. Driftwood floats

——————————————————————————————wakeless,

———————————————————————-plunge into

———————————–the fearless rocks

sand, and cringes as

—————————————————————————————tombs,

———————————————————————-their own

————————————-skeletal stones become

grave dressed water. Their

——————————————————–and the driftwood mourns silently.

The Silver Swan

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Image from: http://violscraper.deviantart.com/art/The-Silver-Swan-150466597

‘The silver swan, who living had no note’ by Orlando Gibbons is one of my favorite poems. I came upon it when asked to memorize a poem for a short course poetry seminar. I read it and determined that the length was short enough for memorization… a succinct six lines. But within six lines there is much to think about and enjoy. This beautiful poem captures the timeless and elegant image of the swan, alluding to both the fragile dancing swan and the ugly duckling-turned-swan childhood image. I love the juxtaposition of these images as they lead up to the final line and moral of the poem.

Readers can interpret the silver swan however they wish, giving the poem that wonderful quality wherein the interpretation of the viewer is critical. This is part of the joy of the poem.

When I first read this poem in college, I believe that my view of the swan was that of a romantic, something along the lines of the swan as a sad lover, a philosopher, or some other important figure.

However, reading the poem now as a teacher, it’s easy to see the swan as the voiceless teachers and lost educators who fail to speak up against a broken system. The world of education is cluttered with geese and the swans have swum away or are dying. The new generation of teachers (especially in low-income schools) have failed to learn from the wise (or are being taught by geese)–the art of tradition, the art of wisdom, the process of learning, all of these things are being thrown out of the window for data-driven assessments and “proof” of learning. Education is becoming a product-driven, business model endeavor. Learning is supposed to be art-like in form; it is a unique process. Yet today, education is viewed as a means to an end–the means to a test score, the means to college. As the art is lost in education, so is the joy of it: “Farewell, all joys.” Education should be joyful and challenging. The words “rigorous,” “college-prep,” and “disciplined” fail to capture the true joy that could, and should, exist in schools. These words are illusions of success if not paired with the true “joys” of natural, holistic, creative, and expressive learning. Yet many teachers and administrators are doing nothing to change the system. I fear the silver swans will continue to stay too silent.

‘The silver swan, who living had no note’

by Orland Gibbons

The silver swan, who living had no note,
When death approached unlocked her silent throat;
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sang her first and last, and sung no more:
Farewell, all joys; O death, come close mine eyes;
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.

Original Poem 3: The Jealous Wolf

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The Jealous Wolf

October 31, 2013

The jealous wolf inside a double heart,

the kynde wrong that settles never down,

grows wilder now with days and years apart

and seeks attention formerly hers to own.

You are a hidden gem, a gem now lost,

and if she could, she’d hoard you for herself.

She’d keep you unavysed for solas

and soak the seeds of knowledge from your shelf.

But be it that our boundaries are best unbroken

The wolf at bay remains at bay bemused

by howls of a sikerly heart unspoken

and calmed by distant waves, a light diffused.

But is the wolf at fault for her own sadness?

The question rests or brings about some madness.