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Poetry in the Schools

13 April, 2019: Poetry in the Schools



by Charles Malone
This mad openness, 116 voices blooming—no,
bursting into leaf, warming the air in the belly
of the balloon. And then comes ache,
the child’s abandonment becomes my own.
His well-schooled stuckness. Her mom’s
spaghetti. Spaghetti is a word I’ve never used
in a poem before. Your senses coming through mine,
a dash of crushed red peppers. The bright acid
of your grandfather’s tomatoes. There’s a bit of piracy
in this, a touch of nomad. Those beige hotel rooms,
rough interstates, short phone calls. I ask you
to find that killer last line, the can opener,
the heartbreak, the clock and the bell. Signals—
This wild ventriloquism coming to an end.
“Poetry in the Schools” by Charles Malone. Copyright Charles Malone, 2018. Used by permission of the author.

Charles Malone grew up in rural Northeastern Ohio, headed west to the Rockies, came back to the Great Lakes and has loved all of it. His chapbook, Questions About Circulation, is forthcoming with Driftwood Press as part of the Adrift Chapbook Series. He edited the collection A Poetic Inventory of Rocky Mountain National Park with Wolverine Farm Publishing and has work recently published or forthcoming in Hotel Amerika, The Best of Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac, The Sugar House Review, The Dunes Review, Saltfront and Matter: Nomad. Charles now works at the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University coordinating community outreach programs.


The Oxford Dictionary 2018 word of the year was toxic. See if you can make a poem of that. If not, try some of the runners-up: gaslighting, techlash, gammon, cakeism, overtourism.

N. K. Hasen
Toxic Waters

Mother Nature cries her tears
She has had many fears
For her waters have become toxic.

She tries to cleanse them with her rain
But she feels it is all in vain
For people have accelerated too much junk within.

She pleads from above
Hoping young generation will find love
In stopping toxins from her waters in the end.
4/25/2019 8:03:55 PM

sharon bell
Me Making Zombies

First, to make a zombie
you have to be a zombie,
or it just wont work.
Its a law of nature.
No problem there,
Ive been a zombie since the beginning.
Not one of those “turned" over night zombies.
the squishy walking dead,
oozing, messy...loose.
Just one life horror and there they are
...bloodless, vacant eyed.

No, my hardness took years to perfect.

Next I have to find an ' innocent",
to be drawn to my agony.
That won’t be hard,
moth to the flame and all that..
He's never seen anything like me
so blindingly beautiful,
so complete in my suffering.

No, he won’t have a chance in hell,
but he will have quixotic goals,
a pathetic confidence in his abilities,
and no idea what he's up against…
the steel of a zombie like me.
Im tight, so very tight,
fiercely protective of my suffering,
no spaces between the molecules of me.

Yet, he'll start chipping away
with his ineffective tools,
understanding, patience
trying to pry me open
make me human between the cracks,

Buoyed by his noble cause,
a Galahad sure of his ability,
Oblivious in his quest,
his knives are dulling on my skin.

I wait....
the dead have all the time in the world.

He'll keep hacking away.
In short time he'll begin to tire,
it's inevitable
he’s only human after all.
Determination will falter,
uncertainty puts a boot on his throat,
a toxic coat of doubt pulls him down.
Weariness sits on his chest
,an out of tune piano.

He'll gather himself for one last stand,
roll in the heavy artillery.
Frustration and anger fortify him.
He'll throw everything he's got at me
empathy, mercy,
even forgiveness.

Still I wait,
the dead don't hurry these things.

I'll hold back,
gathering, tighter and tighter,
waiting, waiting.....waiting,
for the thing that will bring him to his knees.
When the fool dares love.
That's when I cut him down.
That's when I turn him.
That's when I send another zombie into the world.

Then I'll start on the next one,
then the next,
one zombie at a time.

that 's how you made me?

isn't that how she made you?
4/13/2019 3:37:44 PM

Cuyahoga County Public Library prompt 41319

Write a poem using the word 'toxic,' the Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2018.

Our toxic city
Serves carbon profiteers not
Carbon-based life forms
4/13/2019 1:09:12 PM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.