Shoes of the Dead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoes of the Dead

empty shoes
flat and gray
amassed in monstrous piles
like schools of dead fish
dumped out of nets
missing the life
that gave them meaning
bring me your stories
the one we know
and can’t understand
the ones we don’t know
and would understand
teach me to count six million
teach me to count one

© Elizabeth Steinglass 2018

 

Yesterday, my daughter and I spent the day at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum bearing witness to the past and worrying about the future. It was a profoundly moving experience. The museum was designed so thoughtfully. I couldn’t help but notice that as we advanced through the museum to the most difficult spaces, the exhibit shifted from documentary and narrative to art and poetry. When we came home I wrote the poem above in response to the shoes. I used the “bring me magic” prompt from Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge‘s book PoemCrazy, which Laura Salas blogged about last Friday and used so effectively in a workshop.

Wishing you all strength as we move forward.

Carol will have the roundup this Friday.

 

Liz

World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day

Who would choose
to leave their home—
the place they live
with those they love?

Who would choose
to leave their beds,
their alters,
their ancestors’ graves?

Who would choose
to leave their lives?

No one.

Only a man running
from a gun,
only a woman running
from starvation,
only a child in the arms
of the running

leaves their world.

And how will we receive
those who survive,
those who arrive
at our door?

Will we pretend
they are strangers,
unfamiliar,
unwanted,
unrecognizable
as humans?

Or will we see
our cousins
as cousins?

Will we allow ourselves
to see the pain
in their faces?

Will we allow ourselves
to feel the pain
they feel?

Will we dare to say
come in,
share my shelter?

Will we dare to give
something of ours
to someone else?

 

I wrote this this morning in honor of World Refugee Day.

Liz

2018 KidLit Progressive Poem–Day 1!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy National Poetry Month!

In 2012 Irene Latham launched the first Progressive Poem to celebrate the month, poetry, and community. Every day in April, a different poet adds a line, and together we compose a poem. It’s a mysterious and surprising process that results in a beautiful and unexpected piece of writing. (You can read all of them here.)

I was surprised and honored when Irene asked me to write the first line this year. I was also a little nervous. I wanted to write something poetic and unique but also open-ended, something that offered a solid first step along a path that could head off into the woods in any number of directions.

You can read more about Irene’s inspiration and my agonizing at Heidi Mordhorst’s blog My Juicy Little Universe. Last Friday, as host of Poetry Friday, Heidi posted an interview with Irene and myself. She also suggested we add a little twist this year.

New for Progressive Poem 2018:  Participants, when Liz posts her Line 1 on Sunday, April 1, please take a minute to record your first impressions of how the line strikes your imagination and what you think the poem might become.  A few lines should do it, and that’s Step One.

Step Two is to hide this reaction/prediction from yourself until your day to add your line arrives.  : )

Step Three is to bring it back out and include it in your post  that day, with a little commentary about how your initial expectations have to be adjusted now that each person has altered the trajectory of the poem. 

 

Are you ready? With great thanks to Irene and Heidi and to all of our participants, and without further ado (drumroll, please) …

 

Nestled in her cozy bed, a seed stretched.

 

Jane, you’re up!

I hope you’ll all follow along for the rest of the month to see where this poem takes us.

Happy National Poetry Month!

Liz

 

 

April

2 Jane at Raincity Librarian
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
Jan at bookseedstudio
6 Irene at Live Your Poem
7 Linda at TeacherDance
Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
21 April at Teaching Authors
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
28 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
30 Doraine at Dori Reads

Golden Triangle Haiku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now here’s something that doesn’t happen everyday. Each spring the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District runs a haiku contest and then prints the winning entries and many, many honorable mentions on signs and posts them in tree boxes all over the neighborhood. They are literally beautifying the neighborhood with poetry. I love that they are putting poetry out in the world where people can see it during the course of their day. I love that they do this in March just before spring really arrives. The haiku are like the earliest flowers, helping us wait just a few more weeks for the daffodils and tulips. I want to thank the Golden Triangle BID for celebrating the city, spring, and haiku. I encourage you to follow the link to read the wonderful haiku. I also want to thank the store Shop Made in DC for having my haiku on their window. I love being part of a store that celebrates local makers by selling their work and hosting their events. The store sells fabulous jewelry, ceramics, clothing, cards, etc. And chocolate! Did I mention the chocolate? I’m feeling super appreciative!

For more Poetry Friday fun, visit Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty.

Welcome to Poetry Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Here

I’m here to make pancakes
when it’s hard to go to school.
I’m here to save the crossword
and talk about the day. I’m here
to be calm when others can’t,
to hug and find what’s lost.
I’m here to listen. I’m here to cry.
I’m here to make a warm chair
for a spiraled, sleeping cat. I’m
here to walk in the woods and find
the purple crocus hiding in the snow.
I’m here to pet the ancient pug
and say hello to the gray-haired
woman who lives across the street.
I’m here to sit at my desk and stare
at a blinking cursor on a white page
and tap, tap, tap the keys to make
letters, images, melodies. I’m here
to tinker and reshape, to follow
unintentional leads. I’m here
to share my words and hope
someone will understand.

 

I hope you all know George Ella Lyon’s beautiful poem “Where I’m From.”

I love that poem. I love the powerful connection between the intimately concrete, her heritage, and her identity. I know many schools use the poem as a model for student writing. I’ve used it as a model to write about my family and identity too.

It’s also a model and inspiration for the poem above. In our busy rush-rush world where we’re all racing to get through our lists of things to do, I think it can be hard to remember why we’re here. It can be hard to connect to the important things that give our lives meaning. I wanted to take the time to think about why I’m here. As with George Ella Lyon’s poem, I’ve tried to use the particular and the concrete to connect me to my deeper commitments. I was hoping to connect the things I actually do to the why I do them.

I think I’ve wanted to write this kind of poem ever since I saw this TED talk by the artist Candy Chang. In mourning for a loved one, she got some friends together to paint an abandoned building in her neighborhood in chalkboard paint. She then stenciled the phrase “Before I die I want to __________” all over the building. By the next day the building was covered in answers: some humorous, some concrete and manageable, some tender, and some hugely ambitious. She doesn’t say it in her talk, but I saw the building as a poem written by a community. Other communities, inspired by the project, have made their own versions.

With all of this in mind, I wrote “Why I’m Here.” I hope maybe some of you will want to write a “Why I’m Here” poem too.

Please share your links below, go visiting, leave lots of comments, and have a wonderful Poetry Friday!

Liz

 

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