For my grandmother when I was in my twenties:
Age-worn white hair, tired dark eyes, and
A mute mouth drawn in concentration,
She rocks and she stitches.
Her needles clink
As they kiss through the yarn,
Her hands expertly guiding,
Her head rhythmically nodding.
I watch folds of talent
Slide from knee to floor,
And what used to be a ball of yarn
Has soon become much more.
My eyes search patterns,
My brows knit questions
Which never get answered,
Yet, she rocks and she stitches.
I sit and watch,
I wait and wonder:
How long can she just rock and stitch?
How long before I know her?
Bobby Parrish was one of my bright, charismatic, sophomore students in Alvin. He always wore a red wind breaker and headphones when he wasn’t in class. One morning he was tragically killed on his way to school. I wrote this poem for his parents, and it was published.
At the flash of red
My head turns.
There is no crimson parka chasing blond hair and long legs,
Those confident blue eyes
No longer dance to the rhythm of radio headphones.
There is just another empty desk,
And just another bruised heart,
And just another shaking head,
That will always turn
At the flash of red.
This next poem has no personal meaning to me. I just played with it for a few months to see if I could elicit pathos. It was published.
The Loss of an Older Brother
Your shirts don’t fit me,
Never did, you know,
The shoulders were always too wide.
Mama dresses me in them,
And Daddy drapes his name on the sagging fabric.
This next poem I wrote about my creative writing teacher and thesis advisor when I was working on my master’s degree. His name was John Gorman, and he was as Irish as Irish can be.
Your blue eyes spoke to me for three years.
Said it again and again.
So profound in their silence,
So fragile, I once thought.
So afraid . . .
Of what? To be hurt?
“They’re really blue,” I said, “but . . .”
It came only after looking in them,
Again and again,
My cast-iron ego dressed in translucent blue.
And suddenly, I knew they knew
That I would burst or burst forth
By his words:
“It’s really good, but . . .”
Ms. Goldspeak’s Take on Teaching in 2019
I teach pullets and cockerels. Each will ultimately grow into a chicken, a chook, a cywiar, a calis, a pollo, a sicin, a hahnchen, a poulet, a kip, a kufe or whatever they are called elsewhere around the world. Hopefully, they have caring keepers, communities and teachers like me and Ms. Marceaux. I understand I am just a fictional bird with a fictional class, but teaching is not a fictional job, just as English students are not fictional. Home school teachers are very real, as well, and, as all teachers, carry an enormous responsibility to educate all manner of children around the world in how to master particular skills so they can succeed in their personal lives and in society. This will strengthen their cities, states, and national communities: start small with specific language and social skills and aim high until we have conquered careers and tolerance. I teach chickens not to judge each other by color or social habits because bias and stereotyping encourages bullying. Bullying hurts those who are most vulnerable. They have a difficult time deflecting cruelty and are least likely to see it as the cowardice it is. Here are my students new understanding of the values Mixed-Up Chuck taught each of us by the end of BeakSpeak:
Re-Say Renee – love all like you love you
All-the-Same Jayne – we’re all in this together
Nothing-New Sue – we all bleed red
Street-Talk-Walt – we’re all strutting in the same treads
Short-Cut Sean – I can’t talk; don’t make fun of me
Fill-the-Space Chase – uh, don’t laugh because I’m short
Mixed-Up Chuck – be kind