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Hi there! I’m April Halprin Wayland…welcome to my 2010 Outdoor Poetry Room!

Make sure you check out my teacher Myra Cohn Livingston’s poetry reminders here,
and Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong”s game of Poetry Tag

…then take your shoes off and stay awhile ~

APRIL is National Poetry Month. And I, personally, think Aprilis an excellent month

in which to upside-down-see-the-world-in-a-new-way-9-10-09-by-april-halprin-wayland3celebrate poetry!

In keeping with the Poem-A-Day Challenge, I wrote a poem a day (duh!)

(Details about the Challenge and more Poetry Month events below…scroll to the bottom)

GULP! Okay…Here I go. I’m putting on my safety helmet because “poetry is an extreme sport!”

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April 30th

This is the last poem for this year.  I am continuing to write a poem a day, but instead of posting them here, I’m sending them off to one of my best friends, author Bruce Balan, who is sailing around the world.   To read all the poems for the month of April, scroll down to the bottom and begin reading them bottom up.  I know, I know…next year I’ll set it up more conveniently…sorry!

So.  Before I share the last poem,  I have a beautiful story to tell you.

On April 20th, I posted a poem called BIRTHDAY. I started by reading William Stafford’s beautiful poem, CLASS PLAY, tried to mimic the poem, and eventually the poem turned into something completely different.

I wanted to share CLASS PLAY with you but I couldn’t find it anywhere on the internet and I didn’t want to infringe on any copyright, so I emailed the William Stafford Archives and asked for permission to post the poem.

I got a lovely email back from his son-HIS SON!-poet and Lewis and Clark College professor Kim Stafford, who gave me permission to post the poem as long as I attributed it to William Stafford and gave the copyright information (for Greywolf Press).

Since then, Kim and I have traded books and I have just begun reading his beautiful memoir about his father called Early Morning-Remembering my Father, William Stafford

And do you know why it’s called Early Morning? Because William Stafford got up early every morning to write a poem. William Stafford wrote a poem EVERY MORNING OF HIS PROFESSIONAL LIFE.

Every morning. Not just every morning of National Poetry Month.

Heavens. I met Kim through this project. Out of the blue sky, Kim sent me his book about his father. His father wrote a poem a day all of his life. My own life might be changed forever.

All because of the Poem-A-Day Challenge!

Wow.

So here’s my final poem for the Poem-A-Day Challenge. It’s not about birthdays per se. But in my mind it’s about the birth of a new day inside my exploding brain. About the possibilities open to me. About stepping over a threshold and into a new life.

I won’t post my poems after this…but…

EVERY MORNING
by April Halprin Wayland

Every morning
I don’t make my bed.
I don’t wash the cream off my face.
I don’t even brush my teeth.

Every morning
I tie the soft belt
of my navy blue robe
around my waist,

turn on this loving computer,
tell it something.
A prayer, perhaps.
A morning prayer.

A prayer poem.
Why?
Because William told me
hard things first.

For me, the hard thing
is the joy, too.
For me,
the hard thing is this.

So
this
is what

I do.
xxx
poem and drawing © 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved
goal
xxx
Are you writing a poem a day, too? Even if you’re not, please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 29th

Hello.  In case you’re just joining us, I’ve been writing birthday poems, mostly.  You can scroll down to read them.

Today I’m excusing myself from all rules.

This is not a birthday poem, as far as I can tell. This is not a structured poem. This is not written in any poetic form. This is not a children’s poem. And it does not rhyme (sorry, husband-of-mine).

This is what I have been thinking about when I meditate, when I’m trying not to think, but I want to tell you about how not thinking feels…

Pointing to that center in my meditation and labeling it, “there” takes me away from there…but I still want to point…

It’s the feeling of being released into the dark sky.

IT DOESN’T MATTER
WE ARE NOT MATTER

by April Halprin Wayland

Sometimes, I peel off my skin,
not in a painful way,
but in a tasty,
peeling-off-the-skin-of-a-sweet-green-grape sort of way

I peel all the skin off my fingers, my face, my chest
and step out of me
float out, really
released of the me in me,

lighter, softer, in a foggy sort of way,
drifting in the backyard,
merging with the persimmon leaves,
swallowing the swishy high grasses against the fence.

I froth, I’m a yard-sized cloud,
I’m foam on a giant latte, my house.
I umbrella over,
I am
air,
air,
air all around.

I know, I know.
It doesn’t matter
…it doesn’t matter.
Not the spread sheet I can’t use,
not the cell phone I need to reprogram but Verizon says it’s not registered,
not if Uncle Davie moves into a new apartment,
not the car that shouldn’t be ahead of me in traffic but is,
not your lips.

Your lips?
Well.

So nothing is matter
but it all matters in an effervescent sort of way,
an it’s-okay-if-I-just-swim-here-for-a-while way.

I want to swim here for a while,
swim in your lips
with your lips

this matters

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Are you writing a poem a day, too? Even if you’re not, please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 28th

Last week was my birthday.
xxxxx
“What do you want to do when I get home?” asked my husband. I could have said, “You know that tiny, expensive French restaurant?” Or maybe, “Nordstrom’s.” He’s a good guy. He’s a smart guy. He would have said yes.

He’s lucky. I said, “Go to the animal shelter.”

We’d adopted Rosie when our son was four years old and she was eight months old. She was 17 years and one week when she died this February. A good, good dog.

We’re ready.

So we went to the shelter. You can’t replace a daughter dog in one day. It was a beginning.

I wanted to learn a new form of poetry. I found an elegant website called Patterns in Poetry researched, written and created by Constance Curran, of Cranberry Designs.

I learned what a ghazal is.  Briefly:
• It usually contains 5 to 15 shers (couplets). [Mine only has four]
• Each sher should be able to stand on its own as a poem. [I deviated from this rule]
• A radif (refrain) is repeated at the end of the second line of each sher.
• An internal rhyme appears just before the radif in each line.
• The final sher, called a maqta, contains the poet’s name or takhallus (pen name).

Here’s my first attempt at a ghazal:

AT THE ANIMAL SHELTER ON MY BIRTHDAY
by April Halprin Wayland

Papa holds my hand, we walk on cement past wire cages.
Who is fierce, who’s a crier, who is our dog?

Whimpering ones. Sleepy ones. Growling ones.
Friendly lapping tongue. Not whining, not howling…our dog?

Run across to the office! Then wait. Finally they unlock the gate.
I toss a ball…is this chasing dog our dog?

April blossoms on the grass. I shriek–Papa fills out forms!
This dashing-around, licky dog at my cheek? Our dog!

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Are you writing a poem a day, too? Even if you’re not, please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 27th

Continuing the Birthday Poems theme!

The marvelous thing about this challenge is that it’s catching me off-guard in my other writing. Today I began doodling around, trying to find a poem, when I stumbled on a picture book. I sipped apple spice tea in the coffee house and played and played with words.

Here’s today’s birthday poem, lite.  And remember, it’s raw, raw, RAW–not ready for prime time!

I’M NOT ALLOWED TO PLAY WITH IT
UNTIL I WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE

by April Halprin Wayland

I didn’t even get a vote-
I’m supposed to write a thank you note.
I wish I knew what Marty wrote
when he was writing thank you notes.

I don’t know why I have to write
my mom says it is impolite
if I don’t take the time and say
whatever I’m supposed to say.

The words are stuck inside my throat.
I wish I had a funny quote
to write in this dumb
thank you note.

When thinking about how to thank,
I come up with an empty blank.
If I don’t write one I can’t play
with what it is you gave to me…

a thank you note CATASTROPHE!

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Are you writing a poem a day, too? Even if you’re not, please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 26th

I keep looking at website calendars for famous people’s birthdays. April 26th is the birthday of a famous mathematician, lots of celebrities and John James Audubon, the bird watcher and artist. But with apologies to Audubon and the rest, I feel nothing towards them. And I can’t write a good poem if I feel nothing about the topic. Believe me, I’ve tried. So I looked on my own calendar. Four of my friends celebrate their birthdays this week.

Ruth Lercher Bornstein is a fantastic artist, writer, poet. She’s been my friend for eons. I took her class on writing and illustrating picture books through UCLA Extension in 1987 or so, we both adore our local folk music club, and we’ve been in a critique group together (“The Poetry Circle”) for years.

Ruth is an original. One of the things she does for her friends is to make cards and presents out of found objects. The door in my home office is covered with Ruth’s cards. She gave me a lovely sculpture once made with abalone shells which, she whispered, was stuck together with chewing gum.

So even though her birthday isn’t until April 28th, I’ve written my friend Ruth a poem. This one was easy-I feel full of Ruthie’s richness when I think of her.

WHY I AM GIVING YOU A POEM FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY
by April Halprin Wayland

You save things.

Thin cardboard boxes that once held
Plantation Mint tea,
aspirin, cold remedies,
matzos!

You open them,
flatten them,
turn them over to their blank sides.

You play,
cutting them into books,
creatures, flowers.

You poke holes at the top,
thread string through them,
give them to me.

To me! My heart…blossoms.
I hang them on my door.
You keep giving me more.

I save things, too.

Words.
Byssus, lilac, doup,
triskaidekaphobia.

I open them,
smooth them,
turn them over.

I play,
making them passage ways,
animals, roots.

I mix them up,
string them together,
give them to you.

I hope
your heart
blossoms, too.

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Below are some of the cards Ruth has made me over the years…

My door full of Ruth's cards!


ruths-cards-013

ruth's-man-holding-doll-card

ruths-cards-005

Ruth's giraffe with wings card

Ruth's Big Guy card

Are you writing a poem a day, too?  Even if you’re not, please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 25th

Hello! So, if I’m going to continue writing poems about birthdays (peruse below), I can’t ignore the birthday of the world.

earth-turning1

No matter what country or culture, we all celebrate New Year’s Day.   Some celebrate on January first, some celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year (in January or February), Iranians celebrate Norouz (or Nowruz)–the spring equinox–in March, while Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year,  is celebrated in September or October, based on the Hebrew calendar.  (My latest picture book is about tashlich, a joyous part of the Jewish New Year about apologizing, forgiving, and letting go of our mistakes of the past year.)

In Venezuela folks wear yellow underwear, in Mexico and Spain they eat twelve grapes at midnight.  For more ways we celebrate the birthday of the world across the globe,  click here and then click on “New Years Rituals Around the World.”

Here’s my tiny poem for this big topic:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EARTH!
by April Halprin Wayland

New Year’s Day, when you
wake up…do you make a wish,
then blow out the stars?

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 24th

Yesterday, April 23rd, was Shirley Temple‘s birthday.   You’ll want to watch her sing “On The Good Ship Lollipop” (2:34 min),  sing “Animal Crackers in My Soup” (4:46 min), and tap dance with Bo Jangles Robinson in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (3:12 min)

How can I resist writing a poem to her?

(Remember, gang, this is the raw material…I spent several hours tossing out ideas that weren’t working; it will take several more hours–or days–to make it a good poem.)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHIRLEY!
by April Halprin Wayland

There’s Shirley Temple in sailor cap–
tappity tap
sunny, dimpled, she made the world laugh.

She danced with Bo Jangles on anything flat;
tappity tat
everyone wanted her autograph.

These days she pours over colorful maps–
tappity tap
happy birthday, tap-dancing diplomat!

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. Are you a poet, too?  I’d love to hear about it~)

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April 23rd

MORE Birthdays!   Earth Day was on April 22nd, and our blog, TeachingAuthors celebrated a birthday, too!  TeachingAuthors is offering you the chance to win a free critique in honor of our one-year blogiversary!

Birthdays.   Earth Day.   Our blogiversary.    So many riches!

BLOG-I-VERSE-A-TREE
by April Halprin Wayland

How does it feel to cross over this creek,
to fly from tree to tree to you?
To find, in the midst of the jungle a few
readers discerning, kind and true?

How does it feel, week after week,
to water a seed, now one year old?
To watch its young, green leaves unfold
as it gives me back a thousand fold?

I feel I’m Bird, just opening her beak,
at the top of a tree, on the first day of Spring,
easily found on Google or Bing,
joining five friends to Tweet, to sing!

 

april-on-her-book-by-april-halprin-wayland

poem and drawings © 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 22nd

Amazing…I’m still on the birthday bandwagon!

My father’s birthday was the day after mine. I have a favorite memory when we celebrated together at Will Rogers State Park.

A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR DADDY AND ME
AT WILL ROGERS STATE PARK
UNDER THE EUCALYPTUS TREES,
NEAR THE SMELL-GOOD HIKING TRAIL

by April Halprin Wayland

Mama, with her crinkly smiling eyes made the cake
Daddy’s favorite: chocolate with butter cream in between
my favorite: lavender frosting

Everybody’s walking from the parking lot
across the grass to these red wooden tables
Uncle Art with his cane,
Auntie Cissy, waving a stuffed puppy and laughing with Mama’s eyes

Uncle Izzy pats Peanuts and Bingo as they lick lick lick
he is beaming with Mama’s eyes

Cousins running across the grass
blowing up balloons, eating carrots and chips
big hugging from big Uncle Raphael, Uncle Chuckie
big kissing from Aunts Sylvia, Francis, Polly
and Aunt Fanny (her hair reaches her fanny but she coils it in a bun)

After all the balloons are popped
all the cousins have chased the dogs round and round
after Uncle Davie has passed out all of his two dollar bills to all of the cousins
after we’ve stuffed ourselves silly with Aunt Sylvia’s chicken casserole
and Uncle Max’s homemade challah

Mama serves everyone a lavender slice on a pretty paper plate
Daddy and I each get a corner with mostly frosting
there’s chocolate in Uncle Avrum’s mustache

Then we are lying under the eucalyptus trees
all our tummies are full, full
all of us content
all of us with Mama’s crinkly smiling eyes

 

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 21st

Before my day started, I went to a coffee shop and treated myself to a rare decaf latte.
“Name?”  The barista asked. “April,” I said.

“It’s your month!” he said as he wrote my name on the cup in black marker.

“Actually, it’s  my birthday,” I said sheepishly.

“Then let this coffee be on me,” he said.

I don’t know if that was company policy, but it started my whole day rolling. Whatever I wanted today? Poof-done!

I ran out of steam (or steamed milk?) at the end of this poem. But hey, it was my birthday.  It’s okay.

YOUR DAY
By April Halprin Wayland

On your birthday you get to choose
your favorite soap and which shampoo,
your favorite way to wear your hair,
your favorite speckled underwear.

The thickest piece of toast and jam,
your favorite cousin Abraham,
your grandma’s softest handkerchief,
your favorite brother…(HA-as if!)

You get the best seat on the bus,
the zoo gives you their platypus.
Your favorite clouds, your favorite sky
And (when you’re still) your favorite color butterfly.

Your favorite walk to get back home
Your favorite cat, her favorite comb
Your favorite time to nap…and wake.
And then?
Your friend makes you your favorite cake!

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 20th

I’m still thinking of birthdays.   Today I read William Stafford’s beautiful poem, School Play.    I couldn’t find it on the internet so I emailed the folks at the William Stafford Archives website.  They are graciously allowing me to reprint it as long as I give credit to Graywolf Press.  So first, here is his poem:

School Play
By William Stafford

You were a princess, lost; I
was a little bird. Nobody cared
where we went or how we sang.
A storm, I seem to remember, a giant
wave, some kind of crash at the end,
I think we cried when they took off our wings.

If time should happen again–and it could;
we’re still in a play, you know–maybe
we’ll hide so well the wave will pass
and after the storm we’ll come out. We both
will really believe what, even then, we knew:
not the princess, not the bird–but the song–
xxxxwas true.

© Graywolf Press all rights reserved

This poem touched me and opened me. At first I tried to imitate it, but then I just floated downstream, where words lead me…back to a memory I come back to over and over again. One of my favorite days.

BIRTHDAY

By April Halprin Wayland

My French was lousy.
I could never remember which accent
went up, which went down.
But I found a raft on the Feather River,
just as you’d imagine a raft:
fat branches and rotted two-by-fours
roped together. I lay down
in my chartreuse bikini with white polka dots,
my ten-year-old tummy bare against the wood,
the water seeping up.
I pushed off from the shore, pushed off and into the current,
the brown current of the Feather River.
Sun beat down on my back,
my fingers trailed in the cool water,
little gnats softened the look of the sky,
I smelled cotton wood trees, muck, dead fish and river.
If ever there was a day,
this was the day.
xxx
poem and drawing © 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

thurberesque-girl-leaping-by-april-halprin-wayland

Please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 19th

There are all kinds of birthdays.  Today I was thinking about how a book is born.  But this poem didn’t want to be about all the edits, the changes, the stumbles.  It wanted to be about getting the initial idea.  So I let it be about what it wanted to be about.  And the thing was, as I was letting go, letting the poem be what is was insisiting on being, the  metaphor grew and it felt as if my body was filling with light.

BIRTH OF AN IDEA
By April Halprin Wayland

I am cold.
It is night.

I see your cabin
down the trail far away.

I see your window.
I see the closed blinds.

I wait.
Light slips through the grey clouds.

It spills across your blinds.
They move.

Your eye peeks through a small opening,
blinks, disappears.

You raise the blinds.
You sit on the bed, put on shoes.

You stand.  Squint.
I think you look directly at me.

You leave the window.
I shiver.

You’ve come back.
You push open the window, step through.

You begin to walk towards me,
up this trail.

But then you stop,
crouch down, look at something.

A chill breeze blows.
Look up. Look at me.

You do.
You stand and walk.

A red bird lands directly in your path.
It is beautiful.

It is too beautiful.
But you walk around it.

I grow warm.
I can’t help it.

The clouds have gone.
You stop.

You look down the trail towards your cabin.
You look up the trail at me.

You wipe your brow.
You walk faster.

Now you are here.
You sit beside me.

You pick me up.
I try not to burn your palm.

You hold me.
I glow.

I think you are glowing,
too.

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 18th

Another birthday poem–yay!   And this one rhymes, which will make my husband happy.

I read somewhere that George Washington refused much of the glitz of a monarchy as he created, modeled and lived the role of President.

I always loved the guy for that.

So today I began writing a poem saluting that side of him…until I ran into some facts…and ran out of ideas on how to end it.  (Again keep in mind that this poem is just a few hours old…a raw, raw newborn that needs work, work, work!)

ABOUT GEORGE WASHINGTON ON HIS BIRTHDAY
By April Halprin Wayland

Until today, what I liked about George
wasn’t his time at Valley Forge,
or that he was one of the tallest of all
(he stood over six foot two inches tall)

Nope. What I considered his very best thing
Is when he was firm, “Don’t say ‘Excellency, King.’”
He meant what he said and he said what he meant:
“Please simply say: ‘Mr. President’.”

But today I learned as I Googled around
that what I was told is simply not so.

During George Washington’s presidency,
He was often called His Excellency.
Even now when our president goes overseas,
He (or she) is called His (or Her) Excellency.

So happy birthday, George Washington…
How I wish you played the accordion.

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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I’m back to birthdays. And please be forewarned…the following poem is a raw, raw draft of a poem. Who knows what the final poem will become? Maybe a limerick or a haiku or a villanelle.

But that’s okay. As my very smart husband says, “You can’t be Robert Frostette every night.”

Last month, when I was on a panel with TeachingAuthors.com at the Illinois Reading Council’s annual conference, everyone told me that I HAD to go to the Lincoln Museum.  I did and WOW–what a fabulous museum!

There is so much to love about this intellectual and playful and visceral dream of Lincoln’s life and presidency.

A docent walked me through the reconstruction of his famous log cabin home.

FEBRUARY 12th
By April Halprin Wayland

When Abraham Lincoln was two years old,
he
and his parents
and his four brothers and sisters
and their dog
moved into
an itty bitty
teensy weensy
cabin on Knob Creek Farm.

When little Abraham snuffled
as he slept between his brothers and sisters
on the cabin’s wood floor
next to his parents’ bed in the bedroom
which was also living room,
dining room,
playroom,
homework room
and smoky kitchen,
did his parents ever think he’d grow so beanstalk tall
he’d have to stoop to enter his future wife’s house?

Did his step-mother lie in bed thinking,
One day, little Abraham will be
the 16th President of the United States?

When Abraham’s father watched him
sleeping snug as a bug in a rug
in their itty bitty
teensy weensy cabin
with his wee mouth open just a bit
and his little legs moving all about,
did he ever whisper into that dark cabin,
Happy Birthday Mr. President?

 

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Please leave a comment on www.TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’m posting or one of the five other authors is. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts~)

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April 16th

I’m still thinking about birthdays.  But my mind wanders.  I was thinking about when I was in New York a few years ago, when cell phones were still new.  A couple was walking towards me, each on a cell phone, each talking to someone else.

Funny.  And weird.

And I was thinking about a woman I know who blogs all the time.  She’s built an impressive following and now her career depends partly on blogging.  At conferences, when a group of us are relaxing in an intimate circle, she’ll suddenly jump up, snap a photo, and post it.

At first it was a thrill.  I felt sort of famous to be posted on her blog.

At the same time I felt…icky.  As if I were covered in slime.  It felt like the worst parts of Hollywood.  It reminded me of Angelyne, who became famous in Los Angeles for the billboard she commissioned-of herself.  She was famous for being famous.

And it reminded me of the first line of that poem by William Hughes Mearns

Yesterday upon the stair

I met a man who wasn’t there

So all of those thoughts went into today’s poem:

GHOST GIRL
by April Halprin Wayland

I know a girl who isn’t there.
Perhaps she breathes a different air,

or has distinctive DNA.
She documents all night and day

so she can show us what she’s done.
She snaps her camera moon and sun.

She clicks and clicks and posts all those
‘cause what she sees the world must know

We pass a fragrant yellow rose
I lean to breathe it with my nose.

When I look up so I can share,
she takes a pix…
xxxxxxxxxxxxxbut isn’t there.

 

© 2010 April Halprin Wayland.  All rights reserved

 

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April 15th

My beloved Santa Monica Traditional Folk Music Club is holding its annual White Elephant sale during the May hoot.  I write a monthly column for the Cat ‘N Banjo, which is the SMTFMC’s newsletter, and it’s due tomorrow.

So here’s a poem for you and a poem for my column to encourage our members to bring in their stuff.

ALLEY TREASURES
by April Halprin Wayland

I found a drum with just two dents.
You found a flute-ish thing that hums.
Zak found a bell, a little bent.
Sam picked us each a purple plum.

I thump my drum,
You hum-dee-hum,
Zak rings his bell
Sam dribbles plum.

The kid who threw out all this stuff
Could never ever understand
That her old junk was just enough
To make our back street bebop band

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

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April 14th

Back to birthdays. How about our nation’s birthday?

How many of the five senses can I cram into one poem? And how many “s” words?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, USA!
by April Halprin Wayland

Set down the straw basket,
unhook Buster’s leash,
toss him the flexed frisbee!

Help spread
this fuzzy blanket
across the grass.

Bite into a big, red strawberry,
wolf down a chunk of white banana,
toss plump blueberries into your mouth!

See the sun
go down
and the blackness fold around.

Look up!
Red! White! Gold!
Spiraling,

S
xL
xxI
xxxD
xxxxI
xxxxxN
xxxxxxG,

Swirling
Spinning,
S * P * R * E * A * D * I * N * G,

crisscrossing the sky
like stirred
stars.

Whoosh, whistle, hiss!
Tat, tat, pop!
Crackle, boom, bang!

Spit, sizzle, fizz…
smell the smoke-
what a night!

What a DAY!
Happy birthday,
USA!

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

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April 13th

TeachingAuthors’ Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford’s blog post reminded me that it’s National Library Week! (April 11-17th 2010)…and TeachTalk’s Jason Epstein posts a FABULOUS 57 minute audio about school libraries…called Circulate This!  Stories From the School Library. The stories in this audio journal are beautifully collected by Joe McHugh and Connie Williams in cooperation with the California School Library Association.  (and…ahem…I’m interviewed about 20:07 minutes into it…)

Today’s poem is a haiku in honor of the wonderful little Montana Branch library in Santa Monica where I grew up.

WEEPING WILLOW IN FRONT OF
THE MONTANA BRANCH LIBRARY
DURING NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK

by April Halprin Wayland

Celebrating this
branch, she sways to a green song
swinging her branches.

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

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April 12th

I’m trying to sustain this theme of birthday poems. I’m not always successful and yesterday I didn’t even try. Today I tried…but you don’t want to know what I was playing with before I came up with this poem.

You do? Really? Okay—you asked for it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. So first up is the reject. The one below the reject is the real poem for today.

warninglabel-not-a-poem-i-didnt-write-it

WHICH BIRTHDAY?
By April Halprin Wayland

Some1 ran 2 the store 4 candles.
5 and 7 helped 6 decor-8 the living room.
“Here he comes!” whispered 5, who’d been paying a-10-tion.

They counted, “1…2…3,”and just as 9 opened the door,
they jumped up and shouted “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Boy, was 9 surprised!

He folded his arms across his hairy chest.
He looked pissed off.
“Nice try, guys. My birthday was last week.”

“Oh, great,” said 1.
“I spent all of my allowance on these stupid candles.”
“Can we light them anyways?” asked 4.

So they lit the candles. And when they all moved in to blow them out,
9 caught on fire,
and all the numbers were burned alive..

The End.
© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

Okay…here’s today’s real poem:

THE PERFECT GIFT
by April Halprin Wayland

I bought my friend some batteries
that recharge when they’re low.
I got my friend a charger, too.
I wrapped it with a bow.

When I feel defeated,
rejected, frail, lost,
bereft of friends (I can’t pretend)
and downright double-crossed,

my friend walks up to see me,
and makes a pot of tea.
Just sitting, just the two of us.

My friend recharges me.

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

 

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April 11th

A group of us were planning to drive two hours to Wind Wolves Preserve near Bakersfield, CA to see the wildflowers.

But one by one, friends dropped out because we’re all so darn busy and it was too much to cut out for a whole day to hike through meadows of wild flowers.

So it was my friend Kathy and me. And since neither of us had much energy, we decided to drive the 20 minutes to Palos Verdes (aka PV) instead. We parked near the golf course and found a path.

2010-april-8th-pv-hike-001

 

So today’s poem is a summary of our hike.

My husband says “If it doesn’t rhyme, it’s not a poem. It’s just a long sentence.”

One of the classics of American literature ranks among his top ten poems: “I’ve never seen a purple cow / I never hope to see one / I can tell you anyhow / I’d rather see than be one!”

He is smiling but he mostly means it.

warninglabel-heavy-use-rhyming-dic

HIKING IN PALOS VERDES
By April Halprin Wayland

Pepper trees, grass and bees
Edging golf course greenery
Panorama of the sea
Pacific ocean majesty

Finding paths of secrecy
Horse trails track geography
Shade from Eucalyptus trees
Chopped up branches, wood debris

Inhale fragrance from the trees
Frozen lizards poised to flee
Newfound bubbling energy…
We’ve found PV poetry

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

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April 10th

My friend Lara Hall is an orthopedic nurse, an exercise instructor and a masseuse. She knows all the muscles and ligaments and tendons and bones and she knows exercise (she teaches a challenging class that just about kills me but makes me feel great when it’s over…which, come to think of it, is sort of how writing feels some days…)…I feel safe in the hands of someone so smart.

It’s more than that, though. I feel loved because she’s also a deeply wonderful human and she’s my friend.

A mask poem is a poem from the point of view of an inanimate object. I thought it would be fun to see what Lara’s hands were thinking.

Sometimes I begin writing a poem, then open my rhyming dictionary and list words that may relate to my topic…sometimes these words help me find my way. Today they did.

This mask poem is in two voices. It’s best read by two people, like a duet: one person takes the lines on the left, the other reads the lines on the right. If you print this in color, one is blue, the other green. Lines in the center are read in unison (black).

LARA’S HANDS
By April Halprin Wayland

I am Left.

I am Right.

Your muscles warm

When we unite

We sometimes pause in our massage to be polite.

xxxxxx

We pound.

We press.

Our fingers tuned

To each caress.

They listen for your muscles’ “Yes!”

xxxx

 

To give our gift

We work as one

Between us

Your soft skin is spun.

The tightness of the day undone.

xxxx

And now we pause in our massage to say goodnight.

We hope you liked

This gift massage.

No payment!

xxxxxxxx(But…perhaps…applause?)

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

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April 9th

It’s funny how birthdays lodge in my mind.  April 9th is the birthday of Frank Constantino, a boy who went to my school.  Energetic, original, jumping-up-on-the-desk crazy, loud, poetic, talented, and brilliantly far ahead of the rest of us.

So of course I had a crush on him.

TODAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY
By April Halprin Wayland

I walk by your desk.
I walk past you in the hall.
I’m pretty sure you don’t know me at all.

At all.
But I know you.
I do.

I can’t look in your eyes-
but here’s a strawberry.
For you.

I want you
to know me,
too.

© April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

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April 8th

I woke up with the words, “fruit pizza” in my head. Why? Maybe because it was gloriously spring in Southern California: windy, warm, and clean-after-the-rains skies. So I began thinking about kids with allergies.  I mean, of course I did. If there’s something to worry about, I’ve got it covered.

One of my friend’s kids has allergies to practically everything on this planet. I wondered…what did mothers of kids with allergies do for a birthday cake? And then I thought again, “fruit pizza”.  I mean, admit it—you would, too.  So I googled “fruit pizza” and discovered some beautiful creations.

In poetry you get to fictionalize stuff.  So in my head, this kid can eat dairy and fruit.

FRUIT PIZZA
By April Halprin Wayland

My friends are the hem.
The next circle’s uncles, aunts, cousins and kin.

They orbit my brother, dad, sisters, and mother-
circles in circles in circles within.

They all helped to make me this spiral dessert
(peach juice is smeared over Junie’s new shirt).

Berries ring apricots, grapes surround pears.
Cream cheese, bananas and honey and there’s

one thing at the center: a perfect sliced kiwi.
In my circle of family and circle of friends-

circles in circles in circles within-
in that center, most center, lit by flames “One, two, three!”

is the one who is blowing them out
and that’s me.

© April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

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April 7th

Hmmm…what to write about.

I could write about procrastinating. But wait. I have to go to the post office.

Okay…now I’m back. So now that I’ve looked up the date the postal service was established (maybe I could write a poem about the post office?) and watched author Lisa Yee’s video about the dangers of Peeps and microwaves, and sent the link to my son and my sister, now I’ll write.

Okay…I’ve got it. I’m going to write a mystery poem. What errand did I just run? What do the bold, underlined letters in this poem spell?

NEXT WEEK IS YOUR BIRTHDAY

by April Halprin Wayland

 

Waiting in this

massive

mega line

is mostly

okay, because

after all, I have

literally

a gazillion

fermenting

text messages

to destroy.

And when do

you

ever have the

opportunity

to get rid of

those

excess

texts?

I mean really…when

do you ever stand this still?

xxxxx

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

 

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April 6th

Elsie's sardine birthday "cake"

Our cat Elsie just celebrated her 13th birthday!

CAT ON HER BIRTHDAY
By April Halprin Wayland

My tail leaves a trail of elegant catness
My dangerous eyes are a light shade of green
It takes work to maintain my sinuous fatness
Though I may look youthful, today I’m thirteen.

I prowled in the ivy-no whisper of ratness
Now, while I lick my lower leg clean,
my owner prepares me a long-whiskered catfish
for my birthday (she knows it’s my favorite cuisine.)

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

 

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April 5th

Today is my son’s birthday-hip, hip hooray!

BECAUSE YOUR BIRTHDAY
By April Halprin Wayland

Because I put on winter underwear, a purple turtleneck and a magenta ski jacket and went for a walk hoping to find some stuff to make a way cool card for you

Because I slumped home, no perfect piece of wood, bit of blue glass, weird spiky caterpillar or rain-dampened page with a funny word

Because when you were little you were silly, serious, laughy, pondering, bouncy, excited,
focused and kind (always kind) and now you’re tall and all of these

Because I didn’t really like the drums and you really like the drums and now I like them, too

Because you texted me to remind me that I was doing everything okay when I didn’t think I was

Because when you walk into the kitchen, my eyes have to adjust to your brightness

Because just walking down the sidewalk with you to get that thing to fix your bike is wonderful

Because of all these things and none of them

I had to write this poem

xxxxxxBecause I’m so lucky

xxxxxxxxxxxxBecause you’re you

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxBecause I’m glad that’s true.

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

 

 

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April 4th

Today I wanted to see if I could write a new birthday song. I tried…and tried…but it didn’t go anywhere.

To shake the cobwebs from my brain, I went for a walk with my sister and her dog in the fields near her house.

It was gloriously spring: spring clouds, spring sky, spring sunlight, spring winds, her dog dashing after rabbits through

spring-green fields.

When I got back, I opened my “poems for inspiration” file and found Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem,WINDY NIGHTS.

I like that it’s short. I like the way the rhythm and rhyme gallops you forward. I started by copying the poem, then finding my own.

SPRING DOG DREAMS
By April Halprin Wayland

Today while the sun and the clouds chase about,
and the wind is a mousy mild,
four puppies and I, we fly through the fields
while the trees stand single-filed.

Tonight when it’s dark and the sun’s gone out,
the puppies are piled in a heap.
They’re zipping through fields, their legs going wild
chasing rabbits in their sleep.

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

 

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April 3rd

This P-A-D is an interesting challenge. What’s changed for me as a result of the challenge? I’m paying more attention to my surroundings. I look around thinking, okay…what’s today’s topic?

Today I noticed how much I love my car. (Yes, I do live in Los Angeles.)

I began to write about a beloved old car I had, and how everyone convinced me I “deserved” a new car…even though I knew I really loved my old one. The only things I envied in other cars were automatic windows.

So…I bought a fancy, decked-out new car. It was beautiful, elegant and white. It had all the newest electronic stuff and leather seats. I was set….except that it was hard to park, it had an uncomfortable headrest, and a terrible blind spot.

I drove it for a few years hoping I’d get used to it. People kept telling me how lucky I was to own such a wonderful car.

Finally, one particularly bad day when my novel was majorly rejected, I realized I did not like this car. At all. Not one bit.

So I started looking for an old car. And I found one. A dependable, clunky car just like my old one except for one thing: it has automatic windows.

I named him Mortimer and I’ve been driving happily ever after.

MY BIKE’S NAME IS MORTIMER

by April Halprin Wayland

The best thing about him

(besides his name)?

He’s not the same

as Rebecca’s or James’.

He’s faded-that’s fine.

Mort’s perfect–he’s mine.

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

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April 2nd

I started, this morning, by writing whatever came out of my brain…here’s a sample of the Alice-in-Wonderland-ness of it all:

I dreamed about being naked (not a surprise as I am writing these drafts of poems and sending them out into the world, unclothed), could I write a poem about April 1st from the perspective of April 2nd? Strange giraffes in my bedroom. The rocking chair I nursed my son in. My husband buying me that rocking chair. My Uncle Davie.

Then I wrote about Uncle Davie and how his memory is fading. I wrote about his WWII experiences as a pilot flying B-25 on missions over Italy, about how he used to push the Model-T out of the garage while his father was on the front porch, so focused on playing chess that he appeared not to notice, about the scar on his chin from his time in the boxing ring, about all those girls he charmed and kissed.

I played with the format of Langston Hughes’ poem, April Rain Song and I played with the chorus of Irving Berlin’s song, Blue Skies, which Uncle Davie sang me this week.

I wrote about my secret knock that I only use on his door, and how his eyes crinkle up when he opens it for me.

But I finally chose this:

UNCLE DAVIE AND ME
by April Halprin Wayland

The rain has stopped.
It’s beautiful outside.

“Let’s go for a walk, Uncle Davie.”
His eyes sparkle.

“Do I have a hat?”
We find his hat.

Where are we going?”
“We’re going for a walk.”

I put my arm
in the crook of his.

We walk…slowly…
…around…the block.

My Uncle Davie
and me.

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

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April 1st

I have been thinking a lot about the word Dayenu, which we hear each year at the Passover seder.

What’s dayenu? Here’s a definition condensed from Wiki:

“…The word “dayenu” is Hebrew for “it is enough for us” or “we would have been satisfied.” The song lists the miracles…performed for the Jewish people…The song follows the format “If G-d had done x and not done y, dayenu. If G-d had done y and not done z, dayenu,” and so on. This…expression of gratitude… helps to inculcate a mindset of thankfulness that is appropriate outside the confines of the Seder as well.

I decided to copy the original format (which you can read here) and apply it to one day in my life. Warning…this is pretty long. My goal in writing poetry and picture books is to condense, condense, like a soup stock. But, ironically, this takes time–if I had longer to work on the poem it would be shorter! So here is a first version of a poem incorporating the idea of Dayenu. What could be a better writing assignment? Relive a really wonderful day.

DAYENU (pronounced: die-Ay-new)

 

by April Halprin Wayland
xxxxx

If we had driven along the jungley road

And not found the hiking trail

Dayenu

If we had found the hiking trail

And had not reached the hill overlooking the ocean

Dayenu

If we had reached the hill overlooking the ocean

And hadn’t noticed the turquoise water, the hundred shades of green and that red dirt

Dayenu

If we had noticed the turquoise water, those greens and the red dirt

And we not hiked down, down, down to the water

Dayenu

If we had hiked down and climbed over the round grey rocks, right to the water’s edge

And had not gone swimming

Dayenu

If we dove into those turquoise and deep blue waves

And not built cairns when we were done swimming

Dayenu

If we had built the cairns

And had not hiked up, up, up and then dowwwwwn again, back to the car

Dayenu

If we had hiked up, up, up and then down-down-down, back to the car

And had not found the farmers market

Dayenu

If we had found the farmers market

And had not bought fresh ahi tuna, avocado and mangoes

Dayenu

If we had bought fresh ahi, avocado and mangoes at the farmers market

And had not cooked it together, all of us chopping and marinating and setting the table

Dayenu

If we had cooked the yummy dinner together, all of us helping

And had not taken a good hot bubbling bath

Dayenu

If we had taken a hot bath to soak our sore hiker legs

And had not had soft beds to sleep in

Dayenu

If we had soft beds to sleep in

And not had kisses on our foreheads

Dayenu

Thank you, thank you and thank you

For this day.
xxxx

© by April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

 

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The Original Poem-A-Day Challenge was started by Irene Latham…and is further energized by the amazing, energetic and inspired Laura Evans, of www.teachpoetryk-12.com. Check out Laura’slist of Poetry Month events! And here are answers to Frequently Asked Questions about National Poetry Month, such provocative questions as: What is National Poetry Month? Who started National Poetry Month? How can I obtain a copy of the National Poetry Month poster? And thirty ways to celebrate National Poetry Month (including, “write a poem in chalk on your sidewalk.”)

© April Halprin Wayland 2010 all rights reserved

Please leave a comment on TeachingAuthors.com (You can leave your comment after any of our posts…it doesn’t matter if I’ve posted or one of the five other authors has. Just scroll down to the first place you can comment–I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ )


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