K ‘Bye!

K ‘Bye! or If Only I’d Been Prudent
(NaPoWriMo2017 – Day 3)

Breakthrough
Adieu
Untrue
Withdrew
Wishing for a breakthrough? – Adieu! – See?
Knowing you’d been untrue withdrew me.

 

This is a Tyburn Poem, which is a six-line poem. The first four lines consist of  a single, two-syllable word, each rhyming with the previous and subsequent word. Line 5 has nine syllables, with the fifth to eighth syllables using the words from lines 1 and 2. Line 6 has nine syllables too, with the fifth to eighth syllables using lines 3 and 4.

 

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Training


(NaPoWriMo2017 – Day 2)

5 years friendship
12 miles bike path
4 gym shoes, slightly worn
2 caps baseball
3000 milliliters water

Locate 6-mile bike path, and confirm that at least one end has parking.  Fill 2 water bottles for each person, set aside.  Dress comfortably.  Be sure to use baseball caps to protect eyes and face from the sun.  

Walk together. Share funny stories. Ponder aloud. Reveal fears and worries. Discuss emotions.  All of them.  Listen.  Provide pep-talks.  

Pause

Notice the breeze.  See the color of each leave, noting the differences since the last walk.  Celebrate the slivers of sunshine that drip through the canopy of trees above. Pay attention to the beauty around you.  Declare the metaphor among long walks and important friendships.

Continue walking to the end of the path.  Drink more water.  Turn around and make 6-mile return hike.

Prompt for 4/2/2017

Today, I’d like you to write a poem inspired by, or in the form of, a recipe! It can be a recipe for something real, like your grandmother’s lemon chiffon cake, or for something imaginary, like a love potion or a spell.  NaPoWriMo.com

Later (#NaPoWriMo2017 – Day One)

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     Two pine trees stand next to each other, like best friends who have walked next to each other for a lifetime — buddies, pals, comrades.  I can practically visualize their outstretched hands, in the form of a hammock, reaching to each other in perfect backyard bliss. Immediately, I know that I must go shopping. Several stores later, I find the colorful hammock that promises rest and relaxation.  The tropical colors sing Caribbean beaches and mango-flavored moments.  This is the one.  I buy it, bring it home, and put it in the garage.  It is getting dark and there are papers to grade, dishes to wash, and laundry to fold.  The afternoon of spring warmth and hope sets with the sun, and the hammock will get hung up the next time I have an hour to spare.


Backyard hammock bliss —
Roped between trees and wishes —
To enjoy “someday.”

“The haibun is a combination of prose and haiku. It was originally developed as a sort of travelogue or character sketch , in which the writer would first describe a place in prose, and then pen a haiku appropriate to the place or scene.”  –  (This was actually the prompt from 3/31, not the one for 4/1, but that’s okay.)  http://www.napowrimo.net/

Later

When I Grow Up, I want to be a Fire Truck

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-6-22-30-pmFire truck

I remember looking through
an old childhood book,
In which I had added
My two cents.
With all of my sense,
And my backward-letter
Penmanship, I had plotted
my plans
on the page.

“When I grow up
I want to be
a firetruck.”

Since then,
I had laughed at
Such silly, sophomoric
Sentiment.

“Look,” I’d say, and point
at my self-prescribed,
Pre-school script.
“I really took it to heart
When they told me I could be
Anything I wanted.
A firetruck?
What could I have
Been thinking?”

But, tonight,
As I listed and lamented
The long list of
Other occupations

I had once considered:

Interior designer,
Psychologist,
Cultural anthropologist,
I realized something. . .

Haven’t I since,
In a sense,
Become all of these things?

Except for the fire truck.

But that, perhaps, is
What I am to become.

I still
Want to be
A fire truck!

You see, of a fire truck,

Nobody has ever said:

“Don’t listen to her,
she’s just overreacting.”

“He’s making all of that noise,
Because he didn’t get his way.”

When fire truck wails and screams,
nobody says:

“She has become angry and bitter.”

“Maybe he wants something to really cry about.”

“She’s probably about to get her period.”

“He’s being irrational and crazy.”

As the fire truck
Declares an emergency,
Nobody dismisses it with:

“I don’t know why she is crying. It was her own fault.”

“There he goes, getting all political again.”

“She has no reason to be upset.
She is just being manipulative.”

“Dude, seriously?
Are you complaining again?”

But, a fire truck is respected,
Heard, heeded, honored.

The fire truck is a warrior,
Shouting out
An alarm call,
A barbaric yawp,
A siren cry to save lives.

The fire truck is
not a second-hand good.
Not a victim,

A fire truck is not
Something to be seen and not heard,
But instead,
Is a voice.
A voice that matters.

A voice that pushes through denial
Saying
“Hey!
There is something wrong here.
I can point it out.
I can lead the way.
Hear me.”

I still
Want to be
A fire truck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

Love Letter to America

Dear America,

Love can save us.  Trust me, I know.

My childhood was not a lovely one.  I was the youngest, and therefore the most helpless, child of a very broken family.  Alcoholism, domestic violence, and several types of abuse were some of the secrets we kept (or thought we kept) hidden within our household. When life was not a place of fear and terror, it was a place of shame and doubt.  Love saved me. One of the first times that I confronted love was in the book Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.  I know it seems silly that a book about a donkey and a little red marble could show me what love looks like.  It was Sylvester’s parents who got through to me. They grieved when their adored son, Sylvester, couldn’t be found.  I realized that love could look like grieving.  My next encounter with love was the Frances books by Russell Hoban.  Frances was lovable, though she was sometimes stubborn, selfish, and childish. Frances had wise caring people in her life who helped her grow and change. I learned that love is not abrasive and that love can transform.

I watched my dad encounter love in the Alcoholics Anonymous book (the Big Book) as he read accounts of other recovering alcoholics sharing their experience, strength, and hope. Yes, I ended up reading the whole book cover-to-cover, too.  I was watching it transform my father, so I just had to read it.  I knew there was good stuff in there!

Book by book, chapter by chapter, page by page, I have been transformed as I have encountered love in books.  I have realized that I am not alone. I have realized that my shortcomings don’t have to be permanent.  I have learned that people are resilient, and I can be too.   I learned that there is hope.  Since then, I have tried to share this love with others.  I like helping my students and friends find the right book. The book that will speak to their hearts.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon Donalyn Miller’s words that put voice to what I was trying to do with books.  On page 9 of The Book Whisperer, Donalyn explains how she and her husband have use books to express themselves and their hearts to each other with “Books are our love letter (or apologies) passed between us, adding a layer of conversation beyond our spoken words.”

For over a week, I have been beyond words. I know that to heal, to move forward, I need to use my voice, but there is too much to articulate.  I also know that I need to love. Fearlessly.  So, America, I want to express my love for you.  Here is my love letter to you in the form of books.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Even when it seems that the world (or in Melinda’s case, the entire high school) is against you, and you are hurting alone, find your safe place, your safe person, and speak.

Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

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Sometimes the best way to help a friend is to listen to what she is not saying.

 

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

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When a friend encourages you to be yourself, your toughest critic might finally accept you as you are, even if your toughest critic is your own father.

 

Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

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Wait, do you really expect me to tell you a tiny little thing about each book on this list?  Just read this one!  Trust me!

One For the Murphys by Lynda Mullay Hunt

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Even those of us who feel we are undeserving of love, are indeed loved.

 

Love the Baby by Steven Layne

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Jealousy can cause hatred, but seeing another’s vulnerability and humanity can sometimes be what we need to help us love.

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

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“If you plant a seed of kindness, in almost no time at all, the fruits of kindness will grow and grow and grow.”

 

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

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Sometimes love looks like a bald, chipped-tooth, taxi-driving coach who pushes you to be better.

 

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

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Love, especially sacrificial love, trumps everything no matter how terrifying, dark, and powerful a certain force may appear to be.

 

A Perfect Season for Dreaming/Un Tiempo Perfecto Para Soñar by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-8-35-17-pm

Find someone you trust and share your dreams.

My Secret Camera: Life in the Lodz Ghetto by Frank Dabba Smith, with photographs by Mendel Grossman

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-7-34-19-pm

Even in the worst of times, connecting with others, laughter, and love helps us persevere.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

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Pay attention to how you treat others, and remember that even small amounts of kindness can ripple outward and change the world.

 

America, this is a teeny tiny list, and there are countless books that will remind you who you are to the world, and who the world should be to you.  These are just a few that I have on my coffee table right now, reminding me that there is hope. Start with one of these, or choose another book, but read, love, transform, and be transformed.
Fondly,

Julie Hoffman

 

 

 

Open Letter to the “Men Along the Journey”

The other day I posted a video on Facebook, tagging a crew of men to whom I was expressing gratitude.  As I watched the video of a young boy, fatherless, being held up by “A Village of Fathers” I began thinking of the men who have supported my son, Bryan, throughout his journey.  The list includes friends, teachers, pastors, leaders, uncles, coaches, neighbors, a grandpa, a brother, and an adoptive father.

The thing is, I didn’t really explain why I tagged so many of you, and I did not explain how you fit into the overall picture.  As a matter of fact, I started picturing each of you guys thinking “Uh, was it a mistake that Julie tagged me in this?  What was she thinking?  As far as I know Bryan was never in a Training Academy and I most certainly have never done push-ups with him on my back!”  Here’s the thing, though.  You have!  You have done push-ups with my son on your back.

Every time that you
Pushed Bryan to excel,
Challenged him, or
Taught him something new,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you chased him at the park,
Included him in your game of catch,
And high-fived his efforts,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you picked him up,
Dropped him off,
Or sat in the passenger seat while he drove,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

Every time that you said “Hello,”
Celebrated his birthday,
Reached out to him,
Listened, joked, supported, helped,
congratulated, encouraged, or coached,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you taught him
the quadratic formula,
how to mow a lawn,
how to get the ball in the net,
How to run faster,
Think smarter,
Speak louder,
Read more,
and to listen to great music,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

You were there when he
Hung drywall,
Asked questions,
Won a bet,
Broke a bone,
Waxed philosophical,
Painted walls,
Calculated algorithms,
Broke personal records,
Used power tools,
Volunteered his time,
Invested his money,
and learned that he was

worth the investment.

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you
worried about him,
corrected him,
prayed for him,
laughed with him,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you went running with him,
Met him for coffee,
Or made chai for him,
Fed him,
Played Chess, Stratego, and Capture the Flag with him,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

As he continues to grow,
Learn, explore, change,
and transform into the man
he is to become,
I will be eternally grateful
for your role
in Bryan’s journey.

When I could not provide for his every need,
Because I could not teach him everything,
You stepped in.
You showed up.
You came through.

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Mike, David, Doug, Charlie, Dan, Ryan, Charles, Tom, Jon, John, Kyle, John, Dan, Donnie, Michael, Jay, Zack, Craig, Martin, Don, Chris, Dave, Dave, Dave, David, Kareem, Ben, Bob, Bobby, Dan, Dale, Ken, John, Odis, Scott, Chris, Ed, Thom, Hubert, Keith, Seth, Dale, Pat, Tim, Adam, Sean, Scott, and the countless other men who have been there through the journey.

Arlington Heights (NaPoWriMo – Day 29)

I remember days on bicycles
Riding from edge to edge
Of town.

I remember pool passes
The smell of chlorine on our towels
And in our hair.

I remember legendary rounds of
Capture the flag, with every kid
In the neighborhood.

I remember Banbury Road
The one street allowed to angle and curve
Through Scarsdale.

I remember the Frontier Days
Parade, Carnival, music
Then fireworks at the track.

I remember hide-and-seek
In the stacks of books at the
Public library.

I remember Green River sodas
And onion rings at the best restaurant
Eros.

I remember the friendships
That have continued through decades
Real and timeless.

 

Jeep (NaPoWriMo Day 28)

JEEP
Buggy
Four-wheel drive

Plowing over fear,
Playfully cruising through,
Handling wild, worldly weather.

“All-purpose motor vehicle”

“The Clarity Pyramid is a poetry form designed and constructed by Jerry P. Quinn.
A Clarity Pyramid is a poem consisting of two triplets and a single line (7 lines in all). Usually, this poem is center aligned when displayed.
The first triplet has 1, 2, and 3 syllables. The title of the poem is the one-syllable word of the first triplet, which is displayed in all capital letters. This line is followed by a two-syllable line, and then a three-syllable line, both of which clarify the definition of the poem, or are synonyms for the title.
The second triplet has 5, 6, and 7 syllables. Its design is based around a life event contained within the triplet which helps give a poetic view or outlook on the first line (title).
The last line is 8 syllables, and is in quotations as this line contains a quote that defines the first word (title).” http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/pyramid.html

Reading (NaPoWriMo Day 27)

New book—
Pages to read,
Plot hook!

The words
Splayed on the page—
Songbirds.

Immerse,
Capture my heart—
In verse.

 

 

The Musette consists of three verses, three lines each. The syllable pattern is 2/4/2.  The rhyme scheme is a/b/a; c/d/c f, and e/f/e.