Signs

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When the pencil skirt fits,
but doesn’t sit
at the hips,
as does the cyclist,
who would rather
be caught dead
than with a bulge,
even if it’s just
an extra bunch
of fabric;
and so she walks,
in measured steps,
passing where
the sidewalk ends,
and then, drops off
into dirt,
until the final block,
where precision goes
to posture,
and so go the toes
– over the lip –
and then,
the heals,
and then,
one palm,
one knee,
and the
stack of crepes
planned to be
for everyone.

When the rice is simmering,
and asks for stirring,
just occasionally,
and so she drops
the wooden spoon,
takes up the sword,
and decides,
right then,
and there,
to prepare
kimchi
for winter,
which is yet
months away,
unlike the hand
on the timer,
which begets
a ten-second
countdown,
“Oh shit,”
and the other
on the blade,
“Oh shit,”
there is
salt
in a wound,
and it is time to move
back to the pot,
with rice searing
to its bottom.

When the appetite,
stirs the night,
she slips
to the cupboard,
looks in,
up, top,
middle,
bottom,
but sees nothing
with nearsighted eyes,
which is why,
her past self
put out
the one-half
cocoa-carob
energy bar,
on the counter,
where apparently
it is heir apparent
for ants play,
because something
tastes like
plus two grams
of protein,
and feels like
soda,
“Fizz,
boom,
pop!”
on her tongue.

When she arrives, at last,
not merely late
but also hungry,
and asking
for further
accommodation,
like a band aid,
a courtesy call,
a chance to sit,
it might be
a sign of immaturity,
or being irresponsible,
or at the end
of a misguided hike,
but more likely,
of the universal struggle,
of learning to live
outside the bubble,
where there
are new types
of pressure,
on the air,
to focus
on marks
in the floor,
to tune out
the sink of dirty dishes,
empty the mind,
and then,
get back to work.

Natural Interruptions

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When the Old Man fell,
it interrupted all scheduled programs,

including Britney’s 10th birthday party,
where I was one minute feeling,

to pin the tail on a donkey,

and then waiting,

to hear the sound

of a pin
falling.

Falling,
like ashes,
ashes
from the sky
in Oregon.

Fifteen years later,

children circle around me,
as if I were campfire,

to tell stories of their favorite hikes,
as if they happened yesterday.

I circle around what happened yesterday.

 

“Climate-Change-Fueled Wildfires

Pollute the Air, Make People Sick.

74 Acres, and Counting, Burning.”


The air thickens.

 

Upwards, the sky is gone.

We, too, are clouded

by emotion – Pride

in place, Resolve.

 

Quietly, I close my eyes.

I try to access

My Place,

My Trail,

My Childhood

interrupted, as they may be

by nature,

(the freeze and thaw)

and by choices
(to leave,

to have adventure,
to participate in activities
that exacerbate
the change).

These may have occurred
several times per year,
until the breaking point,
or in one dramatic season;
but, what difference does it make?

 

I have stopped trying,
to look through smoke,
to find the answer to:

“What is really happening?”

or even forecast

through the weekend.

Instead, I navigate

with the nose,

toward a little bit of sense,  

smelling
for what the present
has to offer,
by way of remembrance.

When the Old Man fell,
it fell on our plates,

of pizza and cake.

It stopped Britney’s mom

from slicing.
Leaving just enough

for one slice per child

– no seconds for anyone –

except I,

who grabbed two slices of pizza,

and two slices of cake,
because I was afraid.

Sequoia

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The sequoia stands so stately
that all humans ooh and ahh.

They have not seen the sun lately.
Above, birds hoot and caw,

knowing not where to find water.
Creatures cradled in her crown

can attest the climate hotter.
In ashes, most fall down.

Except she, who is too thick
to catch colds – let alone fire.

Her hardy bark, red as brick,
seems to announce something dire,

like: “If you don’t see me soon,
better send a search party,

or a rocket to the moon.”
Now, Sequoia, don’t have me croon.

When Men See a Face

When men see a face tear up,
their hands curl in,
the way one might ball
a tissue, glut with gum,
or something else soft.
They have nothing
to cry on
or hide.

When men see a face get small,
their hands get big,
as if to swat a fly,
if not block the sun
that attracts it.
They are repellant
and attractive.

When men see a face flood,
their hands open,
like floodgates, so calm,
in the palms, yet furious,
in the fingers,
where it counts,
five times
as much.

When men see a face speaking,
they go silent,
as if to say:
“Talk to the hand,
or just shut up,
if you know better.”

When men see a face sighing,
their hands do nothing,
so she sings to herself:
When the moon hits your eye,
like a big pizza pie,
that’s amore.

When men see a face
turn blue,
on the other hand,
their hands turn yellow,
imbued with the energy
of the sun; at last,
enlightened.

 

Red

written by Eva, Romeo and Ollie in Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

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Red is the color of
a ripe cherry,
falling
from a tree;

cinnamon candy,
sizzling
on your tongue;

a lobster,
drifting
in the ocean.

Red is the color of
a red panda,
climbing
a bamboo tree;

an apple
on a branch;

pepperoni pizza,
melting
in your mouth.

Red is the color of
lava,
engulfing homes
and,
unfortunately,
people.

Orange

written by Eleanor, Santi and Beka in Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

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Orange is the color of
coral,
in the deep,
indigo
sea;

hot coals,
in a campfire;

a pumpkin,
fresh
from the garden;

A sweet,
juicy
mango;

a beautiful bird,
swooping low,
over the trees.

Orange is the color of
sunrise —
bright,
blazing;

a clownfish,
swimming
through seaweed;

Garfield,
from the comics;

the tangerine,
in your lunchbox.

Orange is the color of
a tiger,
prowling
deep in the jungle.

Yellow

written by Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom at Trillium Charter School
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

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Yellow is the color of the sun’s rays,
reflecting off the ocean,
after its nighttime slumber;

a solo goldfish,
in the midst,
of other kinds of fish,
in a faroff pond,
away from all human settlements;

Homer’s head —
shiny,
glistening,
bald;

the warmth of your heart,
when you eat
buttery,
crunchy
popcorn.

Yellow is the color of
a pufferfish,
expressing its emotion,
in the fresh,
salty
sea;

A bumblebee,
flying,
in a field
of bright,
blue
flowers;

cheddar cheese,
falling
from your sandwich,
its potential,
suddenly,
wasted;

Draco Malfoy’s hair,
turned bright,
by a horrible childhood.

Yellow is the color of
the first leaf
fallen,
the first sign
Autumn has arrived.

Blue

written by Emma, Asa, Blue and Kaya in Bijal’s 4th & 5th grade classroom
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

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Blue is the color of
fresh-picked blueberries;

the ocean,
shimmering in sunlight;

a recess ball,
waiting
to be played with;

a clear sky.

Blue is the color of
a bird,
chirping
from a high tree;

thick paint,
in a metal can;

and denim jackets.

Blue is the color of
Satya’s hair,
lighting
up the room.

She gave us inspiration to write this poem!

 

Pink

written by Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom at Trillium Charter School
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

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Pink is the color of
cotton candy
at the fair;

tulips,
basking in sun;

and new erasers.

Pink is the color of
a beautiful,
flowing
dress;

flowers,
on a peach tree;

hearts,
on a Valentine’s card,
for your best friend;

and bubblegum.

Pink is the color
of a piglet,
before it rolls
in the mud;

a hummingbird,
whizzing,

or a crocus,
peeping,

all signs
Spring has arrived.