Category Archives: Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday: The Firefly Letters

cover for Firefly LettersEver since I glimpsed the cover of this book, I wanted to read it. The book is based on a real event, the 3-month visit of Fredrika Bremer to Cuba in 1851. The narrative is mainly told from three perspectives: Fredrika, Cecilia, the slave who is assigned to translate for her, and Elena, a privileged girl whose parents own Cecilia and are hosting Fredrika.

The language is lyrical and spare, yet I don’t know that this story needed to be in verse. It would have succeeded equally well in prose, in my opinion. Even so, I am sharing my favorite poem from the book. It is told by Cecelia, and expresses the theme of the book beautifully.

We go out at night
to rescue fireflies.

Children catch the friendly cocuyos
and pull of their wings
or put them in bottles
to make little lamps
where the insects frow and fly
until they starve.

Women tie living cocuyos
onto their ruffled dresses as ornaments
and girls weave them
into their hair
like flashing jewels.

Fredrika and I
feel like heroines in a story,
following people around
buying captive fireflies
and setting them free.

I notice Elena
peering down from her window,
smiling as she watches
us rush around in circles
rescuing hundreds of small bright creatures
from the sad fate of all
living captives,
even those
with wings.

Catch more poetry offerings over at The Small Nouns.



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Poetry Friday: Jump-Start

Today I chose a poem that captures my rough start to the day. It’s from the collection Behind the Wheel: Poems about Driving by Janet S. Wong, a core book in our poetry collection.


can’t turn over
battery’s dead

jumper cables

clamp them on
start me up

pour some coffee
in my cup
dark strong coffee

start me up

I love how the short lines echo the stutter of a stalled car. I really could have used some jumper cables this morning!

Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Dori at Dori Reads. Head over there for more great offerings from poetry fans.

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Poetry Friday: SIMS: The Game

Today I had to shovel a lot of snow. And then run errands. I didn’t really want to. Through the bizarre pathways of my synapses, reflecting on these actions reminded me of a poem I shared with my students. I selected it for them because the game is familiar to them, and the irony is accessible to teens. It’s structure and topic set it apart from their expectations about poetry, so it is excellent to use at the beginning of a unit.

Revisiting this poem has inspired me to check out more of Elizabeth Spires’ poems, starting with the volume that this particular poem comes from, The Wave-Maker.

(Disclosure: the formatting is quite different in the published version of the poem, and does affect one’s reading experience. I highly recommend reading the original).

excerpt from “SIMS: The Game” by Elizabeth Spires

In some ways it’s Life Real Life
in some ways Yes in some ways No

Adults never get older & old people can do
anything young people can do
Adults don’t have to have jobs they can cheat:
push the rose bud & money appears

Job objects like pizza ovens earn you money
or you can be an extra in a movie a soldier
a doctor an astronaut a human guinea pig

& there are goals: not to run out of money not to die
& to buy more stuff for the house
(like a pool table or an Easy Double Sleeper Bed)

To have a Baby click Yes or No & a baby carriage
rolls up

Everyone has to eat sleep go to the bathroom etc.
if they live alone & don’t have friends
they get depressed & begin waving their arms

If you give them Free Will you don’t have to
keep track of them
but it’s strange what they’ll do:
once a player fell asleep under the stairs standing up

& sometimes they go into a bedroom that isn’t theirs
& sleep in the wrong bed then you have to tell them:
Wake up! That is not your bed!

If they are mad they stomp on each other or put each other
in wrestling holds but no one gets hurt

If you have Free Will you can starve or drown yourself
then you wander around as a ghost
until another player agrees to resurrect you

In some ways it’s Life Real Life
in some ways Yes in some ways No

Head over to A Teaching Life for more Poetry Friday links.

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Poetry Friday: Light-Gathering Poems

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The poetry collection I am highlighting for this week is Light-Gathering Poems, edited by Liz Rosenberg. In the introduction, Ms. Rosenberg states that the book is “intended as a healing answer, poems that in one way or another turn toward the light.” The myriad styles and subjects, as well as the various poets represented, create a thought-provoking collection.

With a class, it would be interesting to read a few of these poems and discuss why they were included. How do they fit the theme? Probe further by asking students, “What other poems could be added?” That might involve a poetry hunt.

A project that draws on student choice and critical thinking is a songbook. Each student in the class is tasked with selecting a song that fits the theme. A short explanation of why the song was chosen and how it fits the theme would accompany it. Creating a CD of the songs for the class would further extend the project. Hmmm… maybe I’ll try that next year!


My poem today is “Wishing Well” by Kate Schmitt. This is my first encounter with Ms. Schmitt’s poetry, but I will definitely be seeking out more.

The mesh of the blanket tangles
and lumps of comforter
two-toned flannel and bedspread
twist and slip.

I haven’t slept in a week
so I wear my brown hooded
sweatshirt with the hoodstrings
pulled tightly around my face.

I picture a wishing well
with edges of greening minerals
and coins dull with old water.
I throw my wish in a copper arc.

After I’ve thrown it I lie
unconcerned. These things take time.

I am hosting Poetry Friday this week! I tried to use Simply Linked, but that didn’t work. Please leave a comment with a link and a hint about your post. I will add links to the post on Saturday – I will be traveling all day Friday. Thanks for participating!


  1. Father Goose offers the poem “Air Ships.”
  2. Linda is featuring a poem by William Stafford.


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Poetry Friday: Honoring Mom

It is nice to be back! In honor of Mother’s Day, I am selecting a poem from the book Dear Mother, Dear Daughter: Poems for Young People by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple. The book deals with a variety of issues teens experience, explored from two persepectives. Some of the poems are funny, some are poignant. The one I chose makes me smile because of my own need as a teen to set myself apart through piercing.

“Can I Please?”
I don’t want to dye my hair bright blue
or get a nose ring
or a tribal tattoo.

I don’t want to sky-dive from a plane
or touch a live wire
in the rain.

Nothing dangerous.
Nothing to cause tears.

All I want is to pierce my ears!

Visit Random Noodling, today’s Poetry Friday host, for more poems!

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