Onward and Upward – an Ode to my classroom

Well, I’m over that last entry. Peter says I don’t whine here, and I have something new to post. So, I guess I’m not dumping my blog.

Today in the First Thursdays meeting of the Northern California Writing Project (which is held on second Wednesday because that’s just how we roll), Peter suggested we do an ode. The idea was based on a particularly disgusting Walt Whitman poem in which what you see on the outside was not what was on the inside. We also had the option of using a vignette from The House on Mango Street as a model, but we chose poetry for today’s venture. Not knowing the details of ode writing, I looked it up on Wikipedia and learned that an ode has a strophe (view of one side), an antistrophe (view of the other side) and an epode (the middle view, or reflection.) Traditionally it is written in iambic pentameter (?) with an ababcdecde rhyme scheme, three stanzas of ten lines each. Whew. So here is my ode:

Ode to the Kids of Portable 216

The door, which is of metal, doesn’t want to close,
Step inside, look around,
You’ll see what you’d expect, desks all in rows
Kids in old chairs, not much new to be found.
They chatter and eat, Hot Cheetos they sneak.
Their pencils are broke and their papers are torn
Two girls are crying and a boy wants to sleep.
And if inside the desks you happen to peek
Textbooks you’ll see, all tattered and worn.
With the markers and scissors and garbage they keep.

But under the chaos, if you give them a chance
Inquisitive minds bubble and burn
They’re looking for more than when’s the next dance.
They ask what you know, then taking a turn
they clamor to read and write on the board.
Their questions they ask and want to discuss
Just give them some time and they’ll tell all they know.
They’re generous in spirit, nothing they hoard
Whether you want it or not, information’s a plus
They want more and more, and they share it just so.

At the end of the day, when the door finally closes,
Room 216 echoes their laughter and noise.
There’s trash on the floor, you’ll never find roses
Just the slightly rank smell of seventh grade boys.
I open the windows and straighten the chairs
Clean off the whiteboards and get ready for more
Shaking my head and marveling a bit
At the myriad of kids with all of their cares
They all are so different, all fifty and four
I hope I have served them from here where I sit.


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