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Living in the Layers

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Ben Curran

on 2 August 2011

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Transcript of Living in the Layers

Question: Which of these is important to you and your teaching? poetry Improve reading, listening,
writing, and verbal skills Boost standardized test performance Provide a source of
inspiration, solace, and joy Increase self-esteem Help with the nuts and bolts of literacy:
spelling, punctuation, and
grammar Improve vocabulary
in a meaningful way Provide a lifelong love of language Provide the background knowledge
necessary for understanding more
complex levels of text Develop emotional intelligence Grant the ability to see
the world through the eyes of vastly different people Form a connection
to history We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon. Fame is a bee.
It has a song--
It has a sting--
Ah, too, it has a wing. Like a net my fingers skim
tap water, cleaning mung bean sprouts
the way you showed me.

From my palm I find the whole
ones, fetal curvatures with scalps
blossoming on tiny yellowed skulls.

My nail bisects the vertebrae
from primordial tail, roots
cast away in the sink.

Though I never learned
the purpose, it's a habit that reminds me
of a time you let me in. The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to the silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do. Lesson One: Reading Poetry 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 Lesson Two: Writing Poetry Go to sleep. Night is a coal pit
full of black water--
night's a dark cloud
full of warm rain.

Go to sleep. Night is a flower
resting from bees--
night's a green sea
swollen with fish.

Go to sleep. Night is a white moon
riding her mare--
night's a bright sun
burned to black cinder.

Go to sleep,
night's come,
cat's day,
owl's day,
star's feast of praise,
moon to reign over
her sweet subject, dark. Alligator pie, alligator pie,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna die.
Give away the green grass, give away the sky,
But don't give away my alligator pie.

Alligator stew, alligator stew,
If I don't get some, I don't know what Ill do.
Give away my furry hat, give away my shoe,
But don't give away my alligator stew.

Alligator soup, alligator soup,
If I don't get some, I think I'm gonna droop.
Give away my hockey stick, give away my hoop,
But don't give away my alligator soup. from "Afraid So"
By Jeanne Marie Beaumont

Is it starting to rain?
Did the check bounce?
Are we out of coffee?
Is this going to hurt?
Could you lose your job?
Do you know who betrayed you?
Is the wound infected?
Are we lost?
Will it get any worse? This Is Just to Say

I have stolen
your cargo carrier
that was on
your car

and which you
were probably
for a trip

Forgive me
it helped me a lot
so strong
and so helpful This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the cookies
that were on
the refrigerator

I knew that
I should have
them for my lunch

I was hungry
and too lazy
to make
for my breakfast This Is Just to Say

I have stolen
your cheeseburger
from the top
of the fridge

I cannot
give it back

(because I ate it) This Is Just to Say

I have stolen
a candy bar
that was in
your store

and which you
were probably
to sell.

Forgive me.
It was chocolatey
so inexpensive
and so free There is this place I know
where children go to find
their deepest feelings
they look behind the trees
for hiding wants and angers
bashful joys
this place is quiet
no shouts may enter
no rolling laughter
but only silent tears
to carry the feelings
forward in waves
that wash the children
whole The poem tells us what
questions to ask of it
--H. vendler INterviewer: mr. stafford, When did you start being a poet?
William Stafford: When did you stop? poetry the pleasures of poetry poetry circle poems found poems List poems visual response poems bitterness poems persona poems this place I know
where it's

dark and

cool and nerdy

weird and

noisy and quiet

This place I know
where I belong Night is a black shirt that
fills up the sky
Night's a pen's ink that spills
everywhere Night is a little dark monster. Night is a flashlight
reminding you of your youth.

Night is a moon flower
waiting for its chance to bloom. Night is a cold towel,
not comforting at all.

Night is a sky,
empty, but full Night is an instrument
full of crickets. Apples

Nuts Pencil

Speed bump
School bus
Math class
#2 Light
colors Adam

Wedding gown
Eve "It's hard not to
see my dad every
day," Danielle tells
Scholastic News.
"He emails and
tries to call once
a week, but it's
the same as
talking to him
in person." hunter-turned-beggar
a wolf
accustomed to handouts
on vegas island
stares down
photographer Joel

in vain for
one of the
a camper It's no fair
friend This is Just to Say

I have gone
to the
amusement park that
was by the mall

and which you
were probably
to go to

forgive me
you would have enjoyed it
so fun and so
exciting A Tree Falls

When a great tree falls
Who has seen the wind?
When the night begins to fall
The night is long
The night is white
Snow makes whiteness where it falls. Twilight

When twilight comes to Prairie Street
When the pale moon hides and the wide wind wails
Goblins on the doorstep
gray as a mouse
The goblin has a wider mouth
I raised a great bit hulabaloo
"Of what are you afraid of?" the kindly teacher inquired

Don't tell me I talk too much!
I've got a rocket. Day by day, step by step, we live with our president by our side.
Day by day, step by step, we see great sights.
Day by day, step by step, we walk and talk in our country.
Day by day, step by step, we cry together.
Day by day, step by step, we love America together! Smooth as glass
the prettiest
blue-green hue

Waves like little
diamonds glinting
in the spring air. "Torn"

I was a poor farmer
now I'm a part time soldier.
We're out on the battlefield
I heard a cry
Gosh, it's my brother.
I feel torn and my heart has now lost
a part of it. From the depths
of my soul,
this curse, from
the lightning in my eyes

Arise now
and feel the power
of my words

You have wronged me
to the highest

The cold in my heart
the revenge in my mind
embers burning inside
icicles long as my hatred
will last

CREATED curse you
you evil

you germ
you are
the definition

of rat This curse has been on my
back forever
It has cursed me
but now
I will curse him
I wish I had one wish
I wish I could curse
the curse Two word poems eye
trophy Grandfather
pipe Hands
pizza Underground
World Icy fingers beckon
for warmth to melt
their hearts of ice
Sensible animals are
warm in cozy abodes
but the brave ones seek
food to prove themselves

People come indoors after
an afternoon of
rosy cheeks &
happiness that
some people can find
in the frozen outdoors--
to come inside to cheris
Family "No Use"

the bus has an air freshener on
I say they're
wasting money buying air fresheners for a
bus. There's
way they would work. "Crazy"

is how
we describe the man on the bus
"la la la la la la la la la" he sang then he
"I look like Tupac?" He continued,
"I sing like the Temptations. Tupac ain't got nothing on
Neighborhood bum. That's
his official name. sources: Word Playgrounds By John O'Connor A surge of language By Baron Wormser & David Capella Teaching adolescents poetry By Joseph Tsujimoto Lesson Three: Dictation Lesson Four: Recitation Sounds Personification
Alliteration Assonance
Metaphor Simile
Rhyme Meter/Rhythm
Wisdom Poignancy
Structure Wordplay
Exaggeration Humor & Wit
Images Allusions
Words Symbols
Connection Complexity Questions to ask about poems... What word intrigues you most?
What word(s) confuse you?
What word surprises you?
What word seems unnecessary?
What word is most important?
What is the most physical word?
What is the most metaphorical word?
What is the most specific word?
What is the strongest sound word?
What is the most dynamic verb? Are the sentences related to each other?
How are the lines broken? Are they expected or unexpected?
What kinds of images are there?
What feelings does this poem leave you with?
Who is the speaker?
What is personified/compared?
What does the title have to do with the poem?
If the word ___ is removed, does it make a difference?
What are the important adjectives/adverbs/verbs?
Where is the lens focused? Close? Far? Does it move?
How does the poem end? Does it end where it should?
What does this poem remind you of?
How is punctuation used?
What sounds are repeated?
Are there any patterns? Does the pattern break anywhere?
Is there a turn?
What tense is used? question: What is it that people
have against poetry? Alligator cake, Alligator cake
If I don't get some, I think I'm gonna break.
Give away my leaves, give away my rake,
But don't give away my alligator cake. Alligator feet, alligator feet
If I don't get some I think I'm going to sleep.
Give away my bat, give away my cleats,
But don't give away my alligator feet. Alligator smock, Alligator smock,
If I don't get one I'm gonna have a shock.
Give away my concrete, give away my rock
Just don't give away my alligator smock. Alligator mice, alligator mice,
If I don't get some I'm throwing in the dice!
Give away my drink, give away my ice,
But don't give away my alligator mice! Alligator peas, Alligator peas
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna sneeze.
Give away my crackers, give away my cheese,
But don't give away my alligator peas. Alligator shoe, Alligator shoe
If I don't get some, I think I'm going to poo.
Give away my ice cream give away my chocolate fondu,
But don't give away my alligator shoe. This Bauble was preferred of Bees--
By butterflies admired
At Heavenly--Hopeless Distances--
Was justified of Bird--

Did Noon--enamel--in Herself
Was summer to a Score
Who only knew of Universe--
It had created Her. What if... My Poetry Rules No rules No accidents No wrong answers Just enjoy... Choosing Poems I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk into a poem's room
and feel along the wall for the light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of the poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do is
tie the poem to a chair with a rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means John had
Great Big
Boots on;
John had a
Great Big
John had a
Great Big
And that
(Said John)
That. Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken winged bird
that cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
for when dreams go
life is a barren field
frozen with snow. In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes. living in the layers: a new approach to poetry Benjamin Curran
University Prep Academy Popcorn-can cover
screwed to the wall
over a hole
so the cold
can’t mouse in Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or skin
to throw away. Mr. O'Brien
(red brick house
across the back fence)
tries to train his grass--
not his dog to fetch
or his son Paul to pitch
but one million blades of bluegrass--
to behave!

Twice a week
he cuts it down
whips back the edges
blows the cuttings and
sweeps the strays.
He even
claps his shoes
like dirty chalkboard erasers
out in the street
so the whiskers of grass
can't follow him home.

I know I shouldn't
but when the puffs of dandelions
appear in our yard,
I twist their rubbery stalks and
blow the seeds
light as snowflakes
across the back fence. In the small beauty of the forest
The wild deer bedding down—
That they are there!
Their eyes
Effortless, the soft lips
Nuzzle and the alien small teeth
Tear at the grass
The roots of it
Dangle from their mouths
Scattering earth in the strange woods.
They who are there.
Their paths
Nibbled thru the fields, the leaves that shade them
Hang in the distances
Of sun
The small nouns
Crying faith
In this in which the wild deer
Startle, and stare out. the back wings
of the

hospital where

will grow lie

in which shine
the broken

pieces of a green
bottle The Branch of the World

The branch of the world
makes us wonder

Is it born in the world?
You are a very handy tool

The piece makes us happy
while it sits there and dreams

The branch of the world Monster Jaws

In a lot
freezing cold
a car

It serves
no purpose
poorly rusted

its jaws
something to

Monster Car Let planets loop around you.
Be Earth's very own star.
Keep things warm enough for people.
Keep things cool enough for penguins.
Slip away to end the day.
Light the moon at night.
Let people and animals sleep.
And at the crack of dawn,
wake up the world! Things to do if you are a rat

Run from cats and people
scare people
dodge rat traps
live in a house
find cheese
dig in a trash can
avoid birds. Things To Do If You Are A Duck

Be Loud!
Swim upon the lake.
Let people feed you!
Eat what the people feed you!
Have an nice shade of color on your skin.
Be kind.
Flap you wings upon the surface of the wind. But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam's twin is blood...
...And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother's,
it will always whisper, you can't have it all,
but there is this. you can
have a heart filled with joy, have
the people who love you very much,
and you can have the love around you,
you have knowledge in your head,
you can have the best vacation ever and you can have money and be a millionaire, you can have a servant or a maid,
have a skate board or park, you can talk to the sun or the moon
and have a star to talk to about your troubles,
you can have a painting of a flower and you can have the words that come out your mouth but I’m telling you,
you can’t have it all. Haiku and other forms Odes change poems Loss poems Love That Dog Things to do if you are a hat

Sit on your owner's head
Be attractive and stylish
Sleep on your hook
Fall apart if a dog chews on you.
Be great with a long white suit. Should I yell for help?
Should I just stay here?
Should I just stay hungry?
Should I even stay cold?
Am I even on this earth?
Can I even talk?
Am I even scared?
Can I see you?
But you can’t see me. it is cold up here I wish it was warmer
my life has change my life has ended
I am free and ,
lonely AUTUMN
like butterflies
ice. Brown Bagged




Salmonella Your silver hair still
shines to me,

Your smile is
bright as the sun

I always think of you
when the day is done

I can still feel your
warm caress across
my face

I miss you Earth
The ground erupts like
a volcano and it's veins
pop out with dark soul

The gust picks me up
and carries me to heaven
to rest peacefully

The scorching flare will
light up hearts and build them more
bloomy with great joy The covers
display the keys
to knowledge, hidden, some forgotten

mean a
thousand words,
mentally or physically
mean trillions more

Words turn into
timeless tales
needing to
be preserved

creates dreams
for all wordle poems multimedia poetry Book Spine Poetry Some thoughts on Revision ➢What if the poem were longer/shorter?➢
What if more/less metaphor is used?➢
What if one moment in the poem is expanded?➢
What if more detail is used?➢
What if the poem begins at a different place?➢
What if the poem changes its point of view?➢
What if the verb tense changes?➢
What if more adjectives are used?➢
What if more strong verbs are used?➢
What if all abstract/subjective words are deleted?
➢What if all the senses are used?➢
What if the soundscape is intensified/lessened?➢
What if form is used?➢
What if the architecture (stanzas) changes?➢
What if more/less punctuation is used?➢
What if appositives are used?➢
What if line lengths change?➢
What if syntax is changed?➢
What if fragments are used rather than complete sentences?➢
What if questions are asked in the poem?➢
What if the ending changes? Poetry on the Web Poetryfoundation.org Poets.org Writersalmanac.org thesmallnouns.blogspot.com Velma Shaggy Fred Daphne
they're scared of everything
Scrappy isn't as scared as they
are. What is a snow monster???

They are so lame all you have
to do is get a huge light
turn the light on it can't
see anything run towards the trap move out of the way and you
could find out who is
up to this stuff.
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