"A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom."  -Robert Frost

What Pleases me? 
What One word, phrase, line stands out?
What Enters my mind as I read this?
What Message/Meaning does the poet communicate to me?


Week 1 - How To Eat a Poem

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
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 seed
or skin
to throw away.

- Eve Merriam

Week 2 - THE MOUNTAIN AND THE SQUIRREL

The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter
"Little prig."
Bun replied,
"You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track.
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Week 3 - I Meant To Do My Work Today

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
So what could I do but laugh and go?

-- Richard LeGallienne

Week 4 - The Naming of Cats

The naming of cats is a difficult matter, 
It isn't just one of your holiday games; 
You may think at first I'm mad as a hatter
When I tell you a cat must have three
different names.

First of all, there's the name
that the family use daily,
Such as Victor, or Jonathan, 
George or Bill Bailey-- 
All of them sensible everyday names. 
There are fancier names
if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, 
some for the dames;
Such as Plato, Admetus, 
Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.

But I tell you, 
a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that is peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he
keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, 
or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind, 
I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quazo or Coripat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellyrum-- 
Names that never belong
to more than one cat.

But above and beyond
there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you will never guess;
The name
that no human research can discover--
But The Cat Himself Knows, 
and will never confess.

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, 
of the thought of his name: 
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

--T.S. Eliot

Week 5 - Hope is the thing with feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune--without the words, 
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.
-- Emily Dickinson

Week 6 - The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (excerpt)

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Week 7 - Swift Things Are Beautiful

Swift things are beautiful:
Swallows and deer,
And lightening that falls
Bright-veined and clear,
Rivers and meteors,
Wind in the wheat,
The strong-withered horse,
The runner's sure feet.

And slow things are beautiful:
The closing of day,
The pause of the wave
That curves downward to spray,
The ember that crumbles,
The opening flower,
And the ox that moves on
In the quiet of power.

- Elizabeth Coatsworth

Week 8 - The World Is Not a Pleasant Place to Be

the world is not a pleasant place
to be without
someone to hold and be held by

a river would stop
its flow if only
a stream were there
to receive it

an ocean would never laugh
if clouds weren't there
to kiss her tears

the world is not
a pleasant place to be without
someone

Nikki Giovanni

Week 9 - In Flanders Fields

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields. 
Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-- Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD

Week 10 - The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities Frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

--- Emma Lazarus 

Week 11 - You've Got a Friend

When you're down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night.

You just call out my name,
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there…
You've got a friend.

If the sky above you
Grows dark and full of clouds,
And that old north wind begins to blow.
Keep your head together
And call my name out loud
Soon you'll hear me knocking at your door.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running, running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, yes I will.

Ain't it good to know that you've got a friend,
When people can be so cold.
They'll hurt you, yes, and desert you,
And take your soul if you let them.
Oh, but don't you let them.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running, running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
All you have to do is call,
And I'll be there, yes I will…
You've got a friend.

-- Carole King

Week 12 - THE EAGLE

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

- Alfred Lord Tennyson

Week 13 - Stars

Alone in the night
On a dark hill
With pines around me
Spicy and still,

And a heaven full of stars
Over my head
White and topaz
And misty red;

Myriads with beating
Hearts of fire
The aeons
Cannot vex or tire;

Up the dome of heaven
Like a great hill
I watch them marching
Stately and still.

And I know that I
Am honored to be
Witness
Of so much majesty.

-- Sara Teasdale

Week 14 - If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
But make allowance for their doubting too; 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, 
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating, 
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; 
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; 
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim; 
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same; 
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, 
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, 
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools; 
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, 
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss; 
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone, 
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on"; 
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, 
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch; 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; 
If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - 
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, 
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! 
-Rudyard Kipling

Week 15 - The Funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr.

His headstone said
FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST
But death is a slave's freedom
We seek the freedom of free men
And the construction of the world
Where Martin Luther King could have lived
and preached non-violence
-- Nikki Giovanni

Week 16 - TAKE OFF YOUR MASK

Study the face behind it.
The one that has no flesh or bones.
The one that feels what the universe feels.

Take off the mask. Discard it.
Useless shell that it is.
An old skin. A cover.
Subject to weather distortions.

See for yourself
the you inside no one else can see.

--- Sandra Maria Esteves

Week 17 - the drum

daddy says the world is
a drum tight and hard
and i told him
i'm gonna beat
out my own rhythm

- Nikki Giovanni

Week 18 - Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know. 
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year. 
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake. 
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. 

- Robert Frost

Week 19 - I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
-Emily Dickinson

Week 20 - Lincoln Monument: Washington

Let's go see old Abe
Sitting in the marble and the moonlight,
Sitting lonely in the marble and the
moonlight,
Quiet for ten thousand centuries, old Abe.
Quiet for a million, million years.

Quiet - 
And yet a voice forever
Against the
Timeless walls
Of time - 
Old Abe.
- Langston Hughes

Week 21 - Haiku

Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in a rage
with no leaves to blow.

--- MusoSoseki

Haiku

An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

--- Basho

Week 22 - To James

Do you remember
How you won
That last race…?
How you flung your body
At the start…
How your spikes
Ripped the cinders
In the stretch…
How you catapulted
Through the tape…
Do you remember…?
Don't you think
I lurched with you
Out of those starting holes…?
Don't you think
My sinews tightened
At those first
Few strides…
And when you flew into the stretch
Was not all my thrill
Of a thousand races
In your blood…?
At your final drive
Through the finish line
Did not my shout
Tell of the
Triumphant ecstasy
Of victory…?
Live
As I have taught you
To run, Boy -
It's a short dash
Dig your starting holes
Deep and firm
Lurch out of them
Into the straightaway
With all the power
That is in you
Look straight ahead
To the finish line
Think only of the goal
Run straight
Run high
Run hard
Save nothing
And finish
With an ecstatic burst
That carries you
Hurtling
Through the tape
To victory…

- Frank Horne

Week 23 - Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

- Carl Sandburg

Week 24 - This Is Just to Say

This is just to say
I have eaten the plums
that were
in the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams

Week 25 - Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's
song and the white sail's
shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face
and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again,
for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call
that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day
with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown
spume,and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again
to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's
way where the wind's like a
whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn
from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream
when the long trick's over.

-- John Masefield

Week 26 - Sick

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more - that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue -
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke -
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my spine is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is -
what? What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is ... Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

-- Shel Silverstein

Week 27 April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night -

And I love the rain.

--- Langston Hughes

Week 28 - I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

Week 29 - The Butterfly Jar

We had a jar with a butterfly.
We opened the lid and it flew to the sky.
And there are things inside my head
Waiting to be thought or said;
Dreams and jokes and wonderings are
Locked inside, like a butterfly jar.
But then, when you are here with me,
I can open the lid and set them free.

-- by Jeffrey Moss

Week 30 - Mama Is a Sunrise

When she comes slip-footed through the door,
she kindles us
like lump coal lighted,
and we wake up glowing.
She puts a spark even in Papa's eyes
and turns out all our darkness
When she comes sweet-talking in the room,
she warms us
like grits and gravy,
and we rise up shining.
Even at nighttime Mama is a sunrise
that promises tomorrow and tomorrow. 
-- Evelyn Tooley Hunt

Week 31 - Bleezer's Ice Cream

I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
I run BLEEZER'S ICE CREAM STORE,
there are flavors in my freezer
you have never seen before,
twenty-eight divine creations
too delicious to resist,
why not do yourself a favor,
try the flavors on my list:

COCOA MOCHA MACARONI
TAPIOCA SMOKED BALONEY
CHECKERBERRY CHEDDAR CHEW
CHICKEN CHERRY HONEYDEW
TUTTI-FRUTTI STEWED TOMATO
TUNA TACO BAKED POTATO
LOBSTER LITCHI LIMA BEAN
MOZZARELLA MANGOSTEEN
ALMOND HAM MERINGUE SALAMI
YAM ANCHOVY PRUNE PASTRAMI
SASSAFRAS SOUVLAKI HASH
SUKIYAKI SUCCOTASH
BUTTER BRICKLE PEPPER PICKLE
POMEGRANATE PUMPERNICKEL
PEACH PIMENTO PIZZA PLUM
PEANUT PUMPKIN BUBBLEGUM
BROCCOLI BANANA BLUSTER
CHOCOLATE CHOP SUEY CLUSTER
AVOCADO BRUSSELS SPROUT
PERIWINKLE SAUERKRAUT
COTTON CANDY CARROT CUSTARD
CAULIFLOWER COLA MUSTARD
ONION DUMPLING DOUBLE DIP
TURNIP TRUFFLE TRIPLE FLIP
GARLIC GUMBO GRAVY GUAVA
LENTIL LEMON LIVER LAVA
ORANGE OLIVE BAGEL BEET
WATERMELON WAFFLE WHEAT

I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
I run BLEEZER'S ICE CREAM STORE,
taste a flavor from my freezer,
you will surely ask for more.

Jack Prelutsky


Week 32 - A Time to Talk

WHEN a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk, 
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed, 
And shout from where I am, What is it? 5
No, not as there is a time to talk. 
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground, 
Blade-end up and five feet tall, 
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
--- Robert Frost

Week 33 - The Circle of Life

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done

Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give

In the Circle of Life
It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle, the Circle of Life

Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars

There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps the great and small on the endless round

In the Circle of Life
It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle, the Circle of Life
- Tim Rice

Week 34 - YOUR WORLD

Your world is as big as you make it
I know, for I used to abide
In the narrowest nest in a corner
My wings pressing close to my side
But I sighted the distant horizon
Where the sky-line encircled the sea
And I throbbed with a burning desire
To travel this immensity.
I battered the cordons around me
And cradled my wings on the breeze
Then soared to the uttermost reaches
with rapture, with power, with ease!

--- by Georgia Douglas Johnson

Week 35 - Unfolding Bud

One is amazed
By a water-lily bud
Unfolding
With each passing day,
Taking on a richer colour
And new dimensions.

One is not amazed,
At a first glance,
By a poem,
Which is as tight-closed
As a tiny bud.

Yet one is surprised
To see the poem
Gradually unfolding,
Revealing its rich inner self,
As one reads it
Again
And over again.

Naoshi Koriyama