Editors Blog

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 144

Earlier this week, Reese started second grade. He’s the type of student who was looking forward to getting back to school. Of course, not every student shares that view.

For this week’s prompt, write a school poem. The poem could be an ode to school, an insult poem directed at school, or it could just have school as the setting while exploring some other topic. Don’t forget about home schooling or the school of hard knocks. School of fish? I can’t wait to see your textbook examples of schooling me with your school poems.

Here’s my attempt:

“Bus 18″

“Take a seat,” she yells, “take a seat,”
but most of the kids don’t understand
because they march to their own beat.
“Take a seat,” she yells, “take a seat,”
though they can’t stay off their feet
or control the use of their hands.
“Take a seat,” she yells, “take a seat,”
but most of the kids don’t understand.

*****

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*****

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200 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 144

  1. taylor graham

    LOST YEARS

    It caught the old dog off-guard.
    He’s known so many summers, but this one
    came so hot and sudden, unexpected
    as the new puppy who shares
    his cedar-bed, his fence to run, his aging master –

    you, who wandered off, confident
    the old dog would follow as he always had
    before. “Track your daddy!” But
    now the old search dog seemed as lost
    as a walk-away from the rest home.

    I put him back in the car, caught the puppy
    by her collar, attached the long-lead.
    “Track your daddy” –
    nothing we’ve ever taught her. But
    she’s nose to the ground, and off we go

    up the gravel path, across blacktop
    to a chain-link fence; a gate –
    it swings open
    into a kindergarten play-yard;
    down wooden steps

    and there you are, old man
    wandering between jungle-gym and
    swings as if searching for your childhood.
    And here she is, in puppy-form,
    just graduating kindergarten.

  2. taylor graham

    THAT THESIS YOU NEVER FINISHED

    “…the stars aura in the northwest quadrant…”
    See Journal p. 205. The constellation in question
    could not be construed as anything but four-square
    in spite of strange phenomena in the northwest sky.

    “And heaping snow crystals in waves and dunes
    beyond horizon, flakes becoming stars…”
    Ibid., 349. One more instance of the
    millennial bent his thought began to assume.

    “…from silkworm to cocoon to moth, a silken
    industry…”
    Ibid., 511. Hegel all over again, but
    misinterpreted. No wonder Marx found fault.

    “…as the imagination of mankind evolves, he
    feels incipient wings as the itch of pin-feathers
    or angel-…”
    Ibid., 749. I rest my case.

  3. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    for markie-ann
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    six and a half and waiting for
    a big yellow bus to appear on the horizon
    as if by magic, precocious
    in the freckles stretching across your face.
    after months of negotiations
    convincing your mother
    you were old enough to
    venture out and ride alone,
    she stands next to the road
    still holding your hand
    fussing with your perfect red hair
    trying to prove to herself that
    you still need her,
    knowing full well
    the days ahead
    a teenage uprising
    will tell another story.

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  4. taylor graham

    SCHOOLING, 1817

    It starts when the young boy watches
    his farmer-father suddenly
    martial, in uniform, marching off
    to join “the trainers.” Memorial/preparation
    for whatever war is past or coming.

    His schooling has begun. He dreams
    of nothing but things military. Cannons,
    pewter buttons.
    Fusibles, combustibles.
    And then comes the patriotic day
    again, on the village green.

    Fourth of July. Marching bands.
    For the younger children,
    a game of tug of war. This leads
    to fight for mastery of
    the village swivel-gun, whose muzzle

    they stuff with bricks and clods –
    these young heroes already dreaming
    of greater things
    next Independence Day.
    the next war.

  5. Buddah Moskowitz

    Early Education

    In Mrs. Brown’s
    first grade class
    we had to learn
    two-place addition.

    Adding one-place numbers
    vertically
    like

    3
    +
    5
    _
    8

    was easy enough
    but

    11 +
    22
    __

    well, that was
    from another
    planet.

    I didn’t understand
    and I was kept
    after school
    struggling with this puzzle

    until
    the light finally

    came on.

    I arrived home
    late,
    scared as hell
    because I knew
    the fate
    awaiting me,

    because
    according to my father

    only bums and
    miscreants
    stayed after school.

    I was summarily
    beat
    with the thick leather belt

    and, in time,

    I became an
    overachiever,
    an anxious, nervous-stomached
    overachiever.

    Today I am
    a dean
    at a college
    my father could only
    dream of attending,

    and
    as my 14 year old daughter
    struggles to complete
    her homework

    saddled with
    cerebellar dysfunction
    dysarthria
    dysgraphethesia
    dysstereognosis
    dyspraxia
    obsessive compulsive disorder
    general anxiety disorder
    and sensory integration dysfunction

    I remind her
    that while I like that she’s smart,

    I love her
    when she’s kind.

  6. Mr. Walker

    My body is a school.

    The principal and teachers are meeting
    in the faculty room of my brain.
    They are discussing the best ways
    to improve their students’ faculties.

    My eyes are a vision
    of a brighter future,
    but right now it’s raining
    and the visibility’s not so good.

    My ears have the capacity
    of an auditorium,
    for questions, music,
    problems, poems,
    and confidences kept safe.

    My shirt is brightly colored,
    a primary color with short sleeves.
    There are no tricks up my sleeves,
    just grease on my elbow,
    and copier toner under my fingernails.

    I have a full, satisfied feeling
    in my cafeteria stomach.

    There are students running
    through my intestinal hallways.
    It tickles, stirring up serotonin.

    My hands are empty.
    There are no more supplies
    to carry upstairs
    from the supply room.
    But they are open,
    full of compassion and giving.
    They are ready to reach out
    and help someone up.

    One foot is stuck in the mud
    of public apathy,
    while the other is unstable
    on the shifting sands
    of governmental mismanagement.
    My balance is good
    and my legs are strong.
    I’ve had lots of practice
    traversing this land.
    And somehow
    I keep moving forward.

  7. taylor graham

    DUCK AND COVER

    One of our first lessons
    in kindergarten: what the long, hard
    ringing of the bell meant.
    I was quickest
    under my desk, head tucked tight,
    hands clutched at the nape
    of my neck,

    waiting for the end. Nuclear
    bomb – what could a five-year-old
    understand? But
    even a kindergartner knew
    we couldn’t be saved.

  8. cstewart

    Eugene Field Elementary, Grade Five
    Muncie, Indiana, September: Memoir

    Mrs. Mausy, Mrs. Schroyer, Mrs Author,
    Mrs. Duncan, Mrs. French, Mrs. Heaton.
    These were the names of my first 6 teachers.
    Before that, Mom, who taught me to read.

    Dr. McCoy, established a library at our
    laboratory school for research with his
    Doctoral grant.
    The highest scorers on last year’s aptitude tests,
    Worked for him for candy bars –
    12 to 24 a week, lots of cavities those years.
    On Friday, the candy was carefully distributed.
    Curious, seekers of sugar – with a countenance of longing,
    (Some faces were the same ones I taught) –
    I was always besieged on the hour-long bus ride home.
    Reese cups were the favorite and 24 was a lot –
    It required some juggling to keep a few of them.

    Always reading juvenile renditions of classics,
    The Flamingo Feather, The Gold Bug,
    Daniel Boone, Captain’s Courageous –
    In the old chorus room on the second floor,
    We taught the slow kids in grades one and two,
    How to read,

    Creaky, wooden floors and seating,
    It was frustrating teaching reading at ten years of age,
    Not having any idea what I was doing,
    (Slight suspicion of being observed through the dark glass) –
    Always told we did a good job.

    As high up as you could go, by the joined roof –
    A small window opened like a book to the sky.

  9. Tracy Davidson

    Better late than never!

    My Schooldays (a Hay(na)ku)

    My
    school days
    sucked big time.

    I
    sat alone
    in a corner

    keeping
    quiet, trying
    to be invisible

    trying
    to escape
    attention from bullies

    and
    questions from
    stern faced teachers.

    Now
    I’m a
    stern faced teacher

    encouraging
    shy ones
    at the back,

    taking
    no shit
    from the bullies.

  10. SalvatoreButtaci

    I HAVE SEEN THE WISE

    Galaxies dotted with stars?
    I know little of the constellations.
    In school no doubt those lessons I had missed.
    Not to mention causes and results of wars
    And boring international relations,
    But let me tell you: ignorance is bliss.

    Mensa whizzes, IQ’s passed 140,
    Take pleasure in the puzzles they can master
    While winning tic-tac-toe games is all I wish.
    I have seen the wise acting much too haughty
    As if life were a race to see who thinks faster.
    As for me, let me repeat: ignorance is bliss.

    Some want to know what people are saying
    Behind their backs when they are not around.
    Then there are those who must analyze a kiss.
    What I don’t know is far outweighing
    The little I know now or am bound
    To learn, but I must repeat: ignorance is bliss.

    #

  11. Dyson McIllwain

    Teach Your Children

    This code that we must live by,
    to be true to ourselves,
    to live with compassion
    and fill this life with passion
    for the things we do that make us
    vibrant and vital; this tidal wave
    that will save our souls. An S.O.S.
    to all alerted. We will not be swayed;
    not be diverted from our charge.
    It is a large order to fill. but
    if we instill these qualities
    into our progeny, they will be
    on the road to a proud humanity.
    The world’s sanity will be dependant
    on their survival. Await their arrival,
    it will be a grand parade! Crack the code.
    Teach your children well.

  12. Ann M

    Nova Scotia Schoolhouse, Watertown CT, 1903

    Up on the shelf
    a line of books,
    Dickens, Poe, Twain.
    She reached up,
    week by week,
    reading them again
    and again.

  13. Miss Mel

    “School Politics”

    She sneers at me from the top step
    Urging everyone to laugh at my splayed body
    10 steps down from where she knocked me.
    I lay battered yet, thankfully, not broken.

    A superintendent’s bully daughter,
    A kickball game gone wrong –
    Her caustic smirk sends a chill through me.
    She knows no one will touch her.

    My favorite teacher ever
    (And for some reason still, after)
    Tells me I must be more careful and to
    Watch where I’m going.

    The teacher completely ignores my insistence
    That I was pushed.
    Hence, my first lesson in
    Political power plays.

  14. AC Leming

    Bruce,

    Love this one! I especially hated going back to school when I lived in Alaska, going from nearly 24 hours sunny days to nearly 24 hours of darkness. And missing those vital hours of sunlight for school!

    1. AC Leming

      Evidently, I didn’t believe the first reply hit the web when I posted again. Although it bears repetition that this is a great poem, Bruce. “)

        1. AC Leming

          Heck, you bring your experience to prose works as well. One of my favorite books in college was Wide Sargasso Sea, because it retold my least favorite classic (Jane Eyre) from the mad wife’s point of view. And having grown up in post-colonial Alaska, I understood the main character’s situation, begin caught between the culture my parents imported with them (home & school) and the Inuit culture through which I had to navigate (schoolyard & village as a whole). I wrote one of my best papers on that book. I should have submitted with my grad school app. Maybe I would’ve been accepted to UofO…

  15. Bruce Niedt

    Struggling through a dry creative period now, but finally came up with something:

    Little Renaissance

    This was our Age of Enlightenment,
    the longer days of July and August
    that seemed so short.

    We learned our lessons at curbside
    on suburban streets, in ball fields,
    or the mystery of woods.

    No one taught us what skinned a knee,
    which girls liked us,
    what candy to throw at a friend’s head
    during the Saturday matinee.

    We learned about baseball cards
    between our bicycle spokes,
    how far we could swing out
    over the pond on that rope,
    how to avoid the neighborhood bully.

    For two blissful months,
    no one mentioned long division,
    Teapot Dome, prepositional phrases,
    or the atomic number of boron.

    But this little renaissance had to end,
    sure as the sun began to choose
    an earlier bedtime.

    And so, shoulders slumped with backpacks,
    we dutifully trudged like monks every year
    into the Dark Ages of September.

  16. Willy

    PRE-SCHOOL MEMORIES

    The ride from somewhere
    I can’t remember,
    to Mrs. Brown’s, and
    toast, and jam and juice,
    to a time each day
    when all would go play
    together Doggy,
    Doggy, Where’s Your Bone
    or Duck, Duck, Goose ’til
    lunch with milk, crackers,
    soup and fruit, onto
    a snuggy rug for
    napping followed by
    holding hands as we
    walked and sang loudly,
    “Go tell Aunt Rhody…”
    to softly “…the old
    gray goose is dead…”, slaked
    with a glass of cold
    water, to the car
    which took me somewhere
    I can’t remember.

  17. PKP

    Knocking off the hours

    used to teach her little brother
    sometimes hitting him upside his head
    as they “played school”
    beside her bed
    practicing in sadistic edged fun
    for that day when her career as
    a real teacher finally would have begun

  18. AC Leming

    Pot Head Blues

    Years after graduation, 
    a childhood friend told me
    one of his teachers stopped
    him in the middle of the hall
    to tell him, “I can’t wait 
    for the day you go to jail.”

    This jerk didn’t know what I did.
    My friend numbed himself 
    with alcohol and weed.
    He sought to blot out 
    the afternoon he watched
    his Grandfather drown 

    in their family pond.  Joe stood
    helpless on the water’s edge
    while his Grandfather gestured 
    him back.  My friend screamed
    his fear to their family out of 
    earshot.  His nightmare walks 

    next to him, whispering in his ear, 
    “You could have saved him if you
    had not listened, had waded in anyway.
    You could have joined him.”  
    Which would be easier to endure?  
    No one should judge a man, 

    a boy really, until they’ve felt
    the memories which haunt his soul.  

      1. PKP

        Very nice juxtaposition of cruelty without knowledge. If you’re considering a rewrite maybe just removing the very powerful voice of the friend and letting even more powerful story tell itself?

    1. PKP

      Hmm there’s something solid about tis poem and delightful about the actualization of the book worm..not sure why the switch to “0f ” instead of “in”. … The shift is confusing to me and breaks a terrific flow…

  19. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Dilemma

    I bought a book of poems
    that I’m just dying to read
    the problem is, its occupant
    won’t allow me to proceed

    If I try to touch the cover
    or even turn the page
    this eecky-ucky creature
    just flies into a rage

    If he crawls up my fingers
    and slithers down my back
    I fear he’ll be the death of me
    from a senseless heart attack

    I thought of ways of killing it
    and have tried incessantly
    but his squirmy slimy ways
    are just too fast for me

    I cannot handle fear and stress
    The book I’ll just return
    They’ll either give me my money back
    or get rid of this bookworm

  20. Mike Bayles

    Central Campus

    From Sociology to English
    I walk, in the morning
    across a grassy mall,
    and when bounded
    by facades of university halls,
    old and new,
    thoughts of assignments
    stream through my mind.
    Worries take pause
    when I look at the beauty
    of what surrounds me,
    and dreams stir
    of what I can become.
    I look at others
    met in other places
    following appointed paths
    like me.
    A sense of wonder fills me
    when I think of destiny
    and everything learned
    along the way.

  21. seingraham

    Home In School

    Your digs will be primitive
    We were told; I pictured
    The wilds, nature, a tent

    In fact, we had the corner
    Of a classroom
    In an elementary school

    Used, during the day
    As the “clean apothike”
    A makeshift lab
    For cleaning small finds
    Shards of pots, tiny bones
    The odd arrowhead

    I learned how to stay quiet
    And remain in our corner nest
    Eavesdropping; auditing
    A post-graduate class

    On archaeology; assessing
    Drawing, tracing,
    Describing in detail,
    All manner of discovery

    A summer of being
    Home schooled
    In our school-home
    Invaluable

  22. Colette D

    ~ Old-Schooled by Dad ~

    Dad’s drug instructions:
    “Tell them you took a hit last week and you’re still coming down.”

    Dad’s advice for drinking alcohol:
    “Never drink before dark,” and “Anything in moderation.”

    Dad’s rules of the road:
    “Don’t fuss with a buss, and the other one concerns trucks.”

    Dad’s sex education:
    that pile of magazines down in the basement.

    Dad’s birds and bees speech:

  23. phawkenson

    After Our Field Trip

    Our science teacher says that
    Paramecium are so tiny
    that we need a microscope
    to see them living in water
    like lakes and puddles,
    and they have tiny hair-like things
    called cilia that they beat back and forth
    to make them move.

    He says they reproduce
    by a process called binary fission
    splitting in half
    becoming two new Paramecium
    that continue to reproduce into a swarm
    that swims around
    until they find a place to attach.

    He says they are eaten
    by larger organisms in the water,
    or by little kids who swallow
    too much lake water
    if they suck at swimming.

    I would have said
    Paramecium can make you puke,
    but by the growing blob on the floor,
    everyone already knew.

  24. taylor graham

    ETHICS OF ART

    To kindergarten comes a quiet child, except
    for color. Red and blue horses in her
    head. Hands smudged with primal muck
    of finger-paints yellow, brown, purple.
    Poster-paints galloping across a white field.

    Afternoon runs bright through windows,
    so many colors of light. Teacher announces
    the clock-hour of art, bids the boys bring out
    the easels. A child quiet except for color
    squeals with joy; is sent to sit head-on-table

    in the corner, daylight streaming down
    for the entire hour of art. Maybe there isn’t
    ethics in this lesson, but function and form.
    A child learns how not to let her colors out.

  25. foodpoet

    at the turn
    when hair is no longer soft
    but just at the turn between
    blond and grey
    I watch the back to school sales
    snarf up cheap notebooks to
    write poetry on the cheap
    glad that fall and crisp weather is here
    but glad that
    at the turn
    toward saving and retirement
    poetry notebooks are my only back to school item
    here
    at the turn

    Megan

  26. MiskMask

    Queen of the Playground

    She’s the one with the right mix
    of genes that gave her
    a bright straight smile
    and glistening hair that sways
    in the breeze. Nine years old
    with an entourage of fine
    little maids at her side,
    bathed in her glow,
    same hair,
    same bronzed bare bellies
    pierced and bejewelled,
    the same cut of the cloth.
    They’re a gaggle of girls
    lurking in the shadows,
    same tonal chirps and clucks,
    strung out like pearls
    on a high tension line.
    If she moves, they move.
    When she speaks, they listen.
    What she does, they do.

    But I don’t –
    I’m the tetherball champion.

  27. Colette D

    ~ One of Those School Dreams ~

    In the dream, I knew I’d neglected my studies,
    as I sat at my desk feeling frightened and meek,
    dazing at a test that looked like Chinese.

    Upon waking, I knew I’d studied all week,
    and this realization gave my soul some ease,
    even though the test now looked like Greek.

  28. SaraV

    Lessons Learned

    My children are mine
    But are not me
    Listen to John Lennon
    Let it b
    c, d kids march
    To their own key
    And things work out
    Eventually

    Fish Tales

    Head to tail
    Tail to head
    Swirl, serpentine
    Circle and then
    Retrace, splash
    Nip, play
    The liquid way
    To spend a day

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