Wednesday, April 25, 2018

POEM #25- Censored.

So I have been working, almost since the beginning of the month, on a series of shardomas. Tonight I worked for over an hour, and got nowhere. I finally reverted to one of my old favorites, the story poem. Actually not even sure this counts as a poem, but it's the best I can do tonight.


My mother and Marge Wisby,
who lives up the street
are reading
The cover picture,
an eerily glowing bassinet
with a bold red title
on black cover,
intrigues me.
(And, if truth be told,
scares me a little).

Linda Wisby and I
emerge from the basement playroom
to find our mothers talking about the book.
The conversation stops
as soon as we enter the room.
I wonder what what the book is about.
My mother will not tell me.
I want to read the book.
My mother will not let me.
"When you are older, " she says.
She has never censored my reading.
I wonder what the book is about.
I cannot wait until I am older.

I am reading Tinkerbelle,
the story of a man who sails
a small boat across the Atlantic.
I wait until my mother is out of the room,
take the dust jacket off of Tinkerbelle,
and switch the two books.
Much scarier than anything I have read.
Too scary for me.
My mother was right.
After one hundred pages
I switch the covers back
and return to Tinkerbelle.

I am censored. By me.
(C) Carol Wilcox

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

POEM #24- If you don't learn to read…

"If you don't learn to read…"

So I could just say to you,
"Listen, if you don't learn to read,
you will have to blindly sign forms
that people stick in your face,
you know, things like rental agreements
and car leases and insurance papers
then later, you will be told
about ginormous penalties
that you have incurred,
and when you protest,
someone will wave the paper in your face
and say, "You agreed to it.
It's right here."

Or maybe I could say,
"Listen, if you don't learn to read
you will not be able to figure out your tax returns
(and ok, yes, it maybe true that you may not be able to figure them out anyway)
but if you don't learn to read
you definitely will not be able to figure out your tax returns
and you will end up having to pay someone else
to do what you could probably do for yourself.

Or perhaps I could say,
"Listen, if you don't learn to read
you will not understand
when you get notices saying
you make too much money
so your medicaid has been cancelled
and no, you can't just throw those notices out
or dump them into a drawer
because at some point
those choices will come back
to bite you in the butt."

If I say those things,
will that make you want to learn to read?

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

POEM #23- Betrayal

I have been loosely following Amy Ludwig VanderWater's theme, ONE SUBJECT, 30 DAYS. A couple of days ago, she used a "back and forth" structure. I don't think it worked nearly as well for me as it did for her, but at least I tried.


In sixth grade
we sit, in order
best readers,
front right side of the room
Billy O and I
switch seats 1 and 2
every week.
Readers are leaders.

In seventh grade
Bernice Rosenhoover
wears frosted pink lipsticks,
miniskirts, and
platform heels
at lunch 
she necks with boys
on the railroad tracks
north of the junior high.

I do not even own a lipstick.

In sixth grade
finished assignments
mean time to read
from the messy overstuffed bookshelf
 in the back of the room.
I race through
The Borrowers,
The Yearling,
a hundred others.
The books are my real work.

In seventh grade
there are no real books
only anthologies.
I like the stories in those
but they are not books
and they are not very long
and we get in trouble
if we read ahead. 

In sixth grade
there is status to be found
in being the first person
through an SRA color level.
I enjoy that status.

In seventh grade
no one reads.
Reading is boring
Reading is uncool.
Reading is for nerds. 

I do not want to be a nerd.

And so I become Peter
denying my biggest truths
to please an angry crowd.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

POEM #22- rules for readers

Not sure they are considered "real poems," but I have always loved messing around with abecedarians, and usually at least one shows up every April. I've been messing around with this one off and on for a few days…

"Rules for Readers"

always allow ample time for reading
build a budget for book buying
constantly carry reading materials
don't devalue the power of a few minutes
"ear reading" is excellent, as are e-books
find friends and form a book club
genre and author studies are great
house a stack of "next reads on your nightstand
ignore those who insinuate that reading is not important
juggle multiple books if that works for you
know that reading is as essential as breathing
literary is lovely, but not always, it's important, sometimes to
make time for things like mysteries and magazines
never pass a bookstore without going in
observe what others are reading
plan for poetry pretty much every day
question, constantly, what you see in print
reread, review and recommend your favorites to other readers
stories are salve, mirrors, and windows for the soul, so don't
take truths you find in books lightly
unless you absolutely love a book, don't read it
value the opinions of others, but don't let them dictate your book choices
wish and wonder while you read
exit books that just aren't working out for you
you don't need to defend your reading choices
zzzzzzz- end each day with a little reading

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Saturday, April 21, 2018

POEM #21- Endless

If you teach a child to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless. 
Barbara Bush (1925-2018)


sometimes it seems as if
there is no way you
will be able to teach
that recalcitrant reader how a 
single book can change a person's entire world because that child
resists endlessly, but you hold big truth, and so you are compelled to 
keep looking for that perfect read
and then
one magical and unforgettable day their 
eyes are opened to the opportunities 
waiting in
books and all of a sudden, that student's life,
previously limited, will
never be 
the same, the horizons have become endless 

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Friday, April 20, 2018

POEM #20- If I were a book

For the past two weeks, I have mostly been proctoring session after session after session of our state's "blessed event." Definitely not my favorite thing about teaching. We aren't allowed to look at the screen while we are proctoring, but I can't help but wonder what the kids are reading. On other tests,  in the past, I've been surprised more than once, to see the names of authors that I love. And truthfully, I always feel a little betrayed by that. I always wonder why an author would ever sell her work like that...

And as far as style, I've been reading Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's poems this month. Amy writes rhyming poems, pretty much every day, and she's really, really good at it. I hardly ever write rhyming poems, it just seems way too hard to me. Somehow, tonight, I decided I would try rhyming…

"If I were a book"

If I were a book
I'd want to face out,
and show off my cover
my worth I would flout.

If I were a book
I would want to be read,
in classes, on buses,
I'd want my words spread.

If I were a book
I'd hate corners turned,
but notes in the margins
would show lessons learned.

If I were a book
I'd want a few smudges,
they'd show I'd been loved
I wouldn't hold grudges.

If I were a book
I never would be
a passage to dissect
from a test factory.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

POEM #19- Blueberry Pie Elf

When I was a little girl, my mom took us to the bookmobile parked at a nearby shopping center every single week. I couldn't wait to go. I'd check out as many books as my library card would allow, and carry my treasures home. I would spend the rest of the day and probably most of the week, simply reading.

My sisters read very differently. My middle sister did not read much at all. My youngest sister read, but she had one book, THE BLUEBERRY PIE ELF, that she read over and over again, for many, many months. When we got to be adults, I found that book online, and gave it to her for Christmas one year.

Today is my sister's birthday. This poem is for her.

"Blueberry Pie Elf"

Monday afternoon.
I couldn't wait
to clamber aboard
the bookmobile
to exchange
my teetering pile
for another million treasures. 

My sister,
a much more
faithful reader.
Every week,
she'd climb the stairs
with her paltry pile,
two or three books at most
and proceed directly
down the narrow aisle
to the checkout desk.
She had to know, for sure, that
Elmer, the blueberry pie elf,
was coming home
with her again,
before she would check out
anything else.

She was a one book kind of gal.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018