Tag Archives: poetry

if i could

a discussion in class about choices,



second chances,


and if you could do it over

would you?

should you?

could you?


said many students

they’d love

they’d want

they’d die



not sure

don’t think



wishing when it happened,

that it had gone differently.

that I said something else.

that some things didn’t happen at all.


those moments with the pause

of shame

of frustration

of desperation


smiles not meaning happiness

but, sarcasm,

but, grief

but isolation


people ask,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Only the good die young”

“She’s so sweet, but suffers so”


the unsatisfactory answer:

they can handle it

G-d loves them

it’s a test


i don’t know

if i’m a “good” person

if i “handled” it

if i’ve passed


i do know i’m here


just now

this moment


because of what

i’ve done,

didn’t do,

gone though,


all is

for better or worse,

the good with the bad

the joy in the sorrow


i am me,










and i kinda like me.

so no,

so sorry

so, whatever.


i choose

no reset

do over

groundhog day.

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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Musings, Poems


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Profiles in Personality

Every year I teach, somehow, Don Marquis poem “Takes Talent” comes up, and I end up reciting it to the delight of my students, who aren’t from the era of memorizing your favorite poems, or prose (they’re not even from the days of memorizing the preamble to the Declaration of Independence or Gettysburg address).  Sometimes I tell them how I first read this poem when I was in 8th grade, and have been quoting it ever since, sometimes I tell them I recited on a bad date and the guy conceded that he was of the first kind described in the poem. Sometimes I tell them it was written on the wall of bedroom (when I was single), and sometimes, I just tell them about Archie the cockroach who Marquis wrote under the guise of, skipping my personal connection. The poem is a follows, for those of you (most of you, I’m assuming) who are not familiar with it.

 Takes Talent
by Don Marquis

there are two
kinds of human
beings in the world
so my observation
has told me
namely and to wit
as follows
those who
even though they
were to reveal
the secret of the universe
to you would fail
to impress you
with any sense
of the importance
of the news
and secondly
those who could
communicate to you
that they had
just purchased
ten cents worth
of paper napkins
and make you
thrill and vibrate
with the intelligence

Every time without fail, I always end up thinking about two friends of mine, sisters, who, while I wouldn’t totally confine them to the paper napkin variety, as they do possess a mass quantity of intelligence to balance them out, however on day to day interactions, there is always something of dramatic interest to relate. There’s no such thing as an average day, or just a conversation, when walking away from any interaction there’s always something to say and comment on. And sometimes I walk away questioning myself, and my interpretations in life, who is right? Am I an unobservant, middle-road, never too extreme kind of person? I don’t think so, with most things, but relative to them, I’m a stick in the mud.

One time, after an interaction with the princpal she turns to me,“Hello, she was furious with us, did you see her eyebrows?” Eyes wide, her eyebrows perked up, and mouth open in intense question. Ummm…well, I think, she wasn’t happy with us, but she didn’t seem too upset, yes, she sugarcoated some words, but the situation is workable, as for her eyesbrows, I dunno, she pencils them in, they’re always extreme.

Telling over one story from our road-trip, “Hello, it was miserable, we’re sitting there, on the side of the road, cars just flying by, too fast for us to wave forlornly at them, and them, and then it hit us, like DING, call AAA. It must have been at least an hour, maybe longer, when AAA showed up, but then in like seconds we were up an’ running. But seriously, until they came – despair!”

Yeeeeaaah, I was there. We were singing every children’s song we knew, and having  a blast, eating all the mike and ikes, and then AAA showed up, and we were on the way. Ye, we might’ve flipped for a moment when the car broke down, and we weren’t sure what to do,  but it was a minute, really. Calling AAA is common sense, not genius, why are you exclaiming, “ooh, that’s so smart” when she tells you we called them?

And then there was the time one of them got me a job giving private swimming lessons. I’m very capable of doing it, and I did a good job, but I wasn’t looking for the job, she just happen to meet someone by a pool we were swimming by who commented she was looking for someone to teach her 4 year old swimming basics. I swam by, doing my umpteenth lap, and heard my name being called, and then as if I wasn’t there, she went on singing my praises – I was a lifeguard for years, taught tons of kids, my whole family is major swimmers, and on and on. All of it was true, but I would have never phrased it that way.  She also kept using words like, amazing, and the best, and bashert that we had met up today, which I wasn’t comfortable with. Yes, I’m good, I’m skilled, but really, the best, I don’t think so. Amazing? What does that word mean anyway in this context.  But the woman was sold, and I had a side summer job. I’m not complaining, but but—

The other night I was working with one of them on a project – changing the lyrics of a musical to fit a play we are working on. I think we did a good job in keeping the core of what made the song great in the first place, not perfect, there  are a few rough spots, and I don’t like all the transitions, but overall, really good, and I’m not embarrassed take credit for it. She though, was ecstatic, “It’s beautiful,” she tells me, “You’re so good at this,” “That line is brilliant, I don’t know how we did it”, and“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited about this!” I really think we may win a Tony now.

I feel like they’re living on a different plane of existence, even if we are experiencing the same thing, the way we interpret them and relate them, the dichotomy, is the clichéd night and day. To them a day is never a day, there’s always something fabulous, stupendous, horrendous or dreadful. You will talk to them, and you won’t think they’re drama queens, they’re not, they just know how to talk. And you will listen, and wish you had been there with them, or done when they did when x,y and z happened.

Am I missing something?

I ask my student’s if they could choose only one of the personalities presented in the poem, no in between balance, which would they choose? Most couldn’t decide if they wanted the intelligence, but no one caring to hear a word they said, or to talk total fluff and have everyone’s neck craned forward to hear your next utterance? I try pressing them for a definitive answer, but then they ask me for my choice, and I can’t decide either.

Good thing mutually exclusive things don’t come along that often, and that there is balance to most things in life…but still…if I had to choose… Is it really about how you talk, or how you experience life, which affects which?… If I had to choose…


Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Teaching


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My Life: In Verse

I found some notes I took at a Literacy seminar over the summer.


The speaker had us quickly jot down where we found poetry in our lives.


This is what I wrote:


My hate the world days

Standing by a friends chupah

Insomniac night wishing I could fall asleep

The things I do to procrastinate

The silent moments between friends

The awkwardness of first impression

Taking off new shoes that hurt so much but look so good

Walking away from a tiff and coming up with the perfect retort a moment later

Watching a storm from safety of my window

Cold fingers that are outside my blanket holding my book

The anticipatory moment before I eat something

Waking up to the smell of brewed coffee


Where is the poetry in your life?

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Posted by on December 15, 2008 in Poems


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I Can’t Keep

I can’t

keep a manicure (chip-free)

for more than

2 days

but I am




2 days


I can’t

keep my hair (frizz-free)

for more than

2 hours

but I am




2 hours


I can’t

Keep my nylons (run-free)

for more than

2 wears

but I am




2 wears


I can’t

keep myself from caring (conscious- free)

for more than

groups of 2

but I am






Posted by on December 9, 2008 in Poems


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I Like Me (Ergo)

We were having a discussion in class about choices,



second chances,

and if you could do it over again

would you?


So many of my students said

they’d love to start over

Do it again.

I didn’t want to.

I can think of so many things that when they happened,

I wished had gone differently.

That I had said something else.

That had known something.

That some things just didn’t happen at all.


People always ask,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

and then the defeating


“because they can handle it and Hashem loves them.”

(that answer never satisfied me)


I don’t know if I’m a “good” person

or if I “handled” it…

Hashem loves me,

that I do know,

but I’m here today because of everything,

I’ve done,

didn’t do,

gone though,


                    for better or worse,

                    the good with the bad…


I am me, because of it…


And I kinda like me.


                                                                                 So no,

                                                                                 I’m not gonna go for a

                                                                                                              do over.


Posted by on December 5, 2008 in Poems, Teaching


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Everybody Tells Me Everything

I was searching for poems I could read to my class last night, and found this poem by Ogden Nash. Besides for the guy being the sharpist wit, this side of the Atlantic, and me loving him, this poem is just too perfect for today.

Everybody Tells Me Everything




I find it very difficult to enthuse
Over the current news.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.

Ogden Nash



Posted by on November 5, 2008 in Poems, Uncategorized


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Fat is Not a Fairy Tale

Fat Is Not a Fairy Tale

Jane Yolen

I am thinking of a fairy tale,
Cinder Elephant,
Sleeping Tubby,
Snow Weight,
where the princess is not
anorexic, wasp-waisted,
flinging herself down the stairs.

I am thinking of a fairy tale,
Hansel and Great,
Bounty and the Beast,
where the beauty
has a pillowed breast,
and fingers plump as sausage.

I am thinking of a fairy tale
that is not yet written,
for a teller not yet born,
for a listener not yet conceived,
for a world not yet won,
where everything round is good:
the sun, wheels, cookies, and the princess.


This poem is another favorite of mine, and my students. I actually have it written on my bedroom wall. I love how she uncornified puns, the visual imagery, the consistant structure and most of all the message.




 I’ve (still) been getting an awful lot of hits through the search term of the title of this poem. Apparently a lot of people are looking for a little elucidation and explanation to this poem. I’m going to expound a little on. This is not necessarily the “right” answer, but it’s definitely my answer.

Jane Yolen is taking a satirical and harsh stance on fairy tales. She starts off by taking the reader into her thoughts, letting you know that this is not reality. Through her word play on the names of popular princesses and fairy tale characters she expresses her love, or the need for healthy/ normal role models, and disdain for the cliché. She goes on with this parallelism for 2 stanzas.

The last stanza is the sharpest where while she’s still in her thoughts, she is talking directly to the reader and criticizing them. Saying, oh yeah, you think you got my point, you think you are listening to me, you’re not, you are still stuck in the same mentality, even if this did open your eyes a bit. (You’ll nod you’re head and say, “This is an amazing poem! And then skip lunch) This story was never told, the reader who would read this hasn’t even been conceived yet, and the world to which I want to tell this to has not yet been won over by my argument (that round is good, too).

Then she ends beautifully using bringing a common theme between 4 round objects to reiterate her message, each one representing something else, the sun – nature, wheels – inherently round, nessesity, and cookies – emotion, common love and affection, and traditionally round. She includes the princess in this equation, that it should have the acceptance that the previous items have. Where their “roundness” is never questioned, it simply is, and wouldn’t be otherwise.  “Where everything round is good the sun, wheels, cookies, and the princess.”  

Something to think about, consider Pixar’s Shrek. How many of you were disapointed that Fiona chose an Ogre’s body if that meant she’d have love. How many of you wished Shrek would stick to his human form. That would have been a real happily ever after wouldn’t it? Little twisted, no? Seems like Pixar’s got the right idea, don’t think most people are listening though.

Hopes this is what you were looking for. I’d appreciate if you left a comment just letting me know if this WAS what you were looking for, and if it helped 🙂





Posted by on October 19, 2008 in Poems, Teaching, Uncategorized


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