52 Poems: Weeks 33 and 34 Lucille Clifton

God, I love Lucille Clifton. Her lines are short and her poems are brief, but the references she makes to the strength of women raise me up. She makes me want to live, remember, and write better.  I needed a lift this week and Ms. Clifton provided that. Hopefully she will lift you up as well...

By Lucille Clifton
if i be you
let me not forget
to be the pistol
to be the madwoman
at the rivers edge
be free or die
and isabell
if i be you
let me in my
not forget
to ask my brothers
ain't i a woman too
if i be you
let me not forget to
work hard
trust the Gods
love my children and

By Lucille Clifton

ask me to tell how it feels
remembering your mother's face
turned to water under the white words
of the man at the shoe store. ask me,
though she tells it better than i do,
not because of her charm
but because it never happened
she says,
no bully salesman swaggering,
no rage, no shame, none of it
ever happened.
i only remember buying you
your first grown up shoes
she smiles. ask me
how it feels.


Thank you, Patriots: Our Public School Parents

The first day of school has passed, is today, or is quickly approaching. This morning when I checked in on the internet, I read headline after headline about first days, teaching, and the state of education. As a public school teacher for over 15 years, I've given the topic pretty fair consideration and despite the bleak picture painted by many, things don't look all that different today than they have for many years. Public school families recognize this.

I want to thank them. I want to thank public school parents for doing what I think may be the most patriotic thing you can do today: sending your kid to a public school.

It shows you trust your skills as a parent and the judgement of your child to navigate a multitude of different situations. It shows that you value the good of the whole over the good of a few. It demonstrates that you trust your most valuable resource, your kids, to a system the elites claim to be failing on every level, because you understand that with a public education your children have much to gain.

You don't believe the hype that public education is for other people's children. You don't believe your child will suffer from being around other people's children. You don't believe in segregating your children away from our country's socio-economic and cultural diversity.

Thank you for not fleeing our public schools because you've heard a couple of unsubstantiated rumors. Thank you for being involved, for showing up to school events and seeing first hand that your child is learning and thriving, or has a few missing assignments.

Thank you for believing in the value of a free and fair education for all.

You are public education and so am I.

Here's to a great school year.


52 Poems: Weeks 30, 31, and 32 William Carlos Williams

It's the first day of school and I need to start the year right: caught up on my poems and back at writing on the daily. I'm thinking a lot about public education and it's perceived success or failure, but I'm going to write about that later. Today I want to post a few poems by William Carlos Williams, short and sweet like a small, cold, ripe plum which you might recall from your school days...

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white

This Is just to say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

To a Poor Old Woman

munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand

They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her

You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her