even my lists turn into poems

for the past few weeks i have been working through How Writers Write Poetry, a MOOC offered by the Iowa Writers Workshop.  each week there are two sets of craft talks, 20 minutes of working poets telling their best writing secrets.  i think the quality of the offerings has been a bit uneven, but that’s really only because some of the videos have been out of sight!  this last week featured Michael Dennis Browne.  he’s such a wonder.  he says he doesn’t write good poems very often, but he writes all the time!  one of his poems has been made into a picture book.  it’s called Give Her the River.  it was the inspiration for my work this week.  it’s really just a list of homeschooling goals for this next year disguised as a poem!

Grace Year


Flour and sugar, eggs, butter

blueberries and yeast

pans of scones and pots of tea.

Houses, forts, temporary structures,

cardboard and paint, rope, fabric, paper, tape.

Tin whistle, rhythm, jump rope, trampoline, the bicycle.

Give her books and conversation and questions,

notebooks life-filled.  Spiders, leaves, afternoon naps.

Books on tape: voices speaking her life into being.

A new world, a new planet: unseen, unknown, uncharted.

New questions, old questions, your questions.

Dinner, dishes, sink full of water and soap.

Long stories, warm bed, strong dreams, peaceful waking

in the quiet dark of a young day.


Bird song, story books

rhymes, number, sequence, song.

Drawing at table: color,

liquid space, music, silence.

Stories with new endings.


Puzzles, paints, songs, walks,

leaves, birds, bubbles, butterflies

come spring.  Dough for bread,

carrots for soup, white lights in

fir boughs, new speech on your lips.



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