30 April 2008

Last Tanka of April 2008

thirty days of poems
imagination’s vault is
now nearly empty
there’s less than an hour to go
and I’ve just made the deadline

©2008-Art Belliveau

29 April 2008

Who Am I? (4/29/08)

Who Am I?

I am...
Sarah’s hubby
Molly’s dada
Barbara’s son
Bob’s brother
Sarah, Sean, Jenny, and Kelli’s uncle

I am...
a teacher
a poet
a blogger
a reader

I am...
hairy
graying
large

I am...
perspicacious
show-offy

I am...
me

©2008-Art Belliveau

Can't Write Blues

sitting at the keyboard
and no words will come
sitting at the keyboard
and no words will come
its an awful lot like
my hands have been struck dumb

trying to squeeze some words out
but they don’t wanna go
yes, trying to squeeze some words out
but they don’t wanna go
words stuck in my head now
they trickle out too slow

wanna get a poem done
before the night is through
said I wanna get a poem done
before the night is through
cause when I get this poem done
I can crawl in bed next to you

looks like I got the words out
you sure inspired me
looks like I got these words out
you sure inspired me
please help me get my words out
until after the end of eternity

©2008-Art Belliveau

27 April 2008

Off the Beaten Trail

I am given a
curriculum map
To guide me
and my students
through the wilderness
of knowledge and learning

I observe the map
look at the neat straight
paths through tangled thoughts

Can it really be this easy?
Will following this map
faithfully
lead me
and (more importantly)
my students
to the secret treasure
of understanding?

I've always preferred to
follow Frost rather than I-85
The little side trips
      The dead ends and
            turn arounds
                  the hidden treasures uncovered
                        along the way
have always seemed more
valuable

I have always appreciated
the trip
more than
the destination

And so I look again
at the map
at the safe way
the "sure" way
      figured out by "experts"
            who have never met my students
                  never even heard of them

I smile ruefully
quietly
fold it up
put it away

Knowledge
and its acquisition
is never safe
      nor sure
And getting it
And getting to it
is more
than 1/2 the fun

©2008-Art Belliveau

Foot in Mouth Disease

Too often before my brain can think
Of just the right word to say,
My mouth is going full speed ahead
With no thought to lead the way.

Thoughts rattle around my barrel head,
And out through a hole with no bung.
I've put my foot in my mouth so many times
I've developed athlete's tongue.

©2008-Art Belliveau

Speed

Rushing--always
hurrying--scurrying
from one second
to the next
from one chore
to the next
from one event
to the next

little time for
reflection
less time for
contemplation
none at all for
meditation

too busy doing
too busy reacting
too busy peering into the future
so busy living
that I am
too busy to
fully live

©2008-Art Belliveau

25 April 2008

Time Traveler

I ride the tick of the clock
Moving on it forward through time
Never physically turning back
Only visiting the past in my mind

I ride the tock of the clock
Relentlessly toward the grave
Whether the ride will be short or long
Down the road that the seconds pave

Is out of my hands--I have no control
Of this creature bearing me on
Leaving only my words and my daughter behind
When I am finally gone

My words and my daughter--my legacy--
Will remain long after I’ve passed
Though they in turn will take entopy’s ride
Until we’re united at last


©2008-Art Belliveau

A Flawed Sestina

I’m trying to force the words out; it is very hard work
I am more the waiting-for-some-inspiration type
A dogged sense of self-discipline eludes me
At least, though, I have the decency to feel guilt
For the hours the I am not writing
For the days spent in unconscious contemplation

I find that after the contemplation
I can make myself pursue some work
I will myself, for a time, to sit at the computer, writing
Madly, frantically I type
Trying to outpace the sense of shame and guilt
That being unproductive so long has caused me

I wonder if there is something wrong with me
This thought invades my contemplation
Almost paralyzing me with guilt
Making it that much harder to do any work
Even of the simplest type
When I know I should be writing

Because part of my soul is in love with writing
Even when doing it is tough for me
Even when I have to force myself to sit and type
After being lost in contemplation
And the forcing out of words doesn’t want to work
Again I am left there, feeling the guilt

I hate the cycle of writing and guilt
I hate the cycle of guilt and writing
Sometimes I’d like to finish just one piece of work
Something that tells the world a little more about me
Something that will inspire them to contemplation
When they read the words I type

When I read these words I type
I can almost overcome the guilt
As I see what has come out of my contemplation
A new piece of writing
Born to the world through me
I am creating a new, if flawed, work

If I produce flawed work, I just continue to type
And let all flow out of me--good-bye shame, good-bye guilt
For if nothing else, I’m writing--which will lead to gentle contemplation

©2008-Art Belliveau

22 April 2008

My Sister Married a Monkey

My Sister Married a Monkey

or

Everything's Relative

My sister married a monkey
Now that just isn’t right
My sister married that monkey last year
And she’s not the least contrite

My sister married a monkey
I think that I’ll get drunk—hell!
My sister and he just had a kid—
Now I’m a monkey’s uncle!



©2008-Art Belliveau

21 April 2008

Advice to My Writing Students

Think
Reflect
Write it down
(It's not in stone)
Change it
Re-arrange it
Cut words out
Put 'em back
(but only in you want to)
Feel it
Mold it
Live it
Birth it
Be real
Be free
Be you

©2008-Art Belliveau

20 April 2008

More Insomnia Complaining

Once I fall asleep
it’s good
and deep
and solid
for the most part

But getting there
to my dreamland
is never quite
as easy
as
it sounds

©2008-Art Belliveau

Tanka

Bright, sunny day out
As my vacation concludes
I want to stay in
To relax just one more day
With nothing to do--nothing

©2008-Art Belliveau

18 April 2008

Self Portrait 4/18/08

Bearlike scholar
wild and tame
Entertainer's surface
hides tiger-trap mind
Shallow, silly wordplay
disguises hidden depths of spirit
Innocent questions
lead to labyrinths of thought
What you see
Ain't all that I got

©2008-Art Belliveau

17 April 2008

Seeking the Impossible

I read:
fiction
nonfiction
poetry
science
religion
blogs
opinions

because I want to understand.

I write:
poetry
fiction
nonfiction
opinion
blogs

because I want to understand.

I speak with:
scholars
students
teachers
priests
friends
strangers
scientists

because I want to understand.

I work at it incessantly.
I try to put disparate pieces
into some meaningful array.

I doubt that it will ever happen.

But still--

I want to understand.

©2008-Art Belliveau

Looking for a Poem

I read in a poem
that poems hide
so early this morning
I went looking for one

I stood in the
bizarrely chilly
Alabama April predawn
looking at a bushful of
purple-pink azaleas
beneath a dogwood tree
blooming white.
Surely, I thought,
a poem must be hiding there.

I waited,
regretting not putting on a coat.
And waited,
wondering what had gone wrong
with the weather that
it was so close to freezing.
And waited.
But the little effer
refused to come out,
if indeed
it had been hiding there
at all.

So I went inside
and warmed up.

Maybe in the pile of dirty dishes
I had decided the night before
to put off until today.
A nice little domestic poem
could be hiding in there.
So I pushed the dished around,
looking. I found
nothing but fetid water
hardened grease.
Plates with food cemented on
where I had forgotten to
soak them.
But a poem?
Nada.
Damn! There had
to be one somewhere.

I wasted my whole
day
trying to find that one
damn hidden poem.
I looked everywhere:
in my daughter’s eyes
and laughter--
in the dirt between
her toes and her newly
painted toenails;
in my dogs
eating their meals;
in my wife’s
eternal patience;
in the dirty laundry and
under the garbage cans.

Nothing.

Finally, as I was about to give up,
and go to bed empty-handed,
I realized something.

Poems aren’t always beautiful
or even comfortable
sometimes they just are
and sometimes the quest itself
becomes the poem

©2008-Art Belliveau

Tuesday’s Poem

I awake
in my bed
in the early
evening
from a nap taken
post-colonoscopy

In my head is
a poem
half remembered
written in a
dream

the words are
erased by the
sour smell of
stale urine
drifting in from
the open
bathroom door

©2008-Art Belliveau

14 April 2008

Monday’s Poem

Monday’s poem arrives
Late, as usual for a Monday.
Rude, no apologies,
“I’m here already,
Get off my frickin’ back!”

It is late and Monday’s poem
Could not care less
If offered money to do so.
“You should be glad
I came at all.
I could have stayed
in bed.”

Ironically
until the arrival of
Monday’s poem,
I could not go to bed myself.
But now that the little
S.O.B. has finally shown up
I can leave the computer
And get some rest

©2008-Art Belliveau

Double Trouble

Double negatives,
We are taught,
Imply together
A positive thought.

Like two negative numbers,
When multiplied,
Always come out positive
On the other side.

But it doesn’t seem to work
The other way around.
Is there a double positive
Out there to be found?

When two positives are used
In a sentence together,
Shouldn’t that mean a negative?
Or is that too clever?

The English professors say
"Never happens," then sit tight.
All I can say to that is--
Yeah, right.

©2008-Art Belliveau

A Usage Lesson, Long Ago

“If you don’t have nothing,”
I asked the drowsy class of
seventh graders, in the period
right before lunch,
“What do you have?”

“Nothing,” came the
listless reply.
And they fell into my trap.

“No,” I said.
“That can’t be right.
You don’t have nothing.
So what do you have?”

One or two
roused from the prelunch
stupor and said more insistently,
and more slowly,
as though speaking to someone who’s
a little bit slow, “No-thing.”
Then heads descended again,
confident that this time
I must have understood.

“No,” I said again,
“You Don’t Have nothing.
What do you Have?”

And for the first time
in a long time
I began to see the light bulbs
as they shone above a few heads.

“Something!” One called out.
“Yeah, if I don’t have nothing,
I must have something!”
Agreed another.

Most still looked confused,
annoyed at being awakened this way.
Annoyed that others were now
getting it wrong as well as that
goofy teacher.

And those that got it
began to quiz their friends
a note of exasperation
and hinting in their voices.

“C’mon! Figure it out.
If you don’t have nothing,
what do you have?”

And like a slow moving virus
it moved around the room.
Newly interested students
who got no more of a hint than that
began to get it, too.

And so for the next week or so,
until all had it figured out,
I was greeted in the hallway
before and after school,
between classes,
with new light bulbs.

“I’ve got it! I’ve got it!
If I don’t have nothing,
I have something!”

And after that lesson,
I had something, too.

©2008-Art Belliveau

Found Poem Variation

On Friday in my class we worked on a version of found poetry. I put the lesson on my teacher blog. Here is the poem I wrote from the words I cut out on Friday. I will italicize the found words in this version of the poem. Maybe after I put it together in its “publication draft” form I will be able to take a pic and post it here.

When meeting new people
How do I begin cracking the ice?

How do I loosen my control?

Is there some secret art that
helps to supercharge full disclosure?

And, if so, do I even want to know it?

Maybe if I concentrate on
improving my focus,

If I travel the path between
proffering false praise
or being overly critical,

I just might find there is no magical way
for souls to become
familiar
with one another.

Except through time
and the real power
of honesty.

©2008-Art Belliveau

10 April 2008

Friday, Fourth Block

Friday, Fourth Block

Speaking in a voice,
No one wants to hear

Spreading a message,
No one wants to receive

An analog signal
Sent to a digital receiver

Just a place to be,
Until the buses arrive.

©2008-Art Belliveau

Humorous Poems

From yesterday...

Humorous Poems


I’ve found my poetry needs to rhyme
If I want to make it funny
Humorous poems that lack that trait
Just never hit on the money

To make the rhymes work in these poems
Clich├ęs are often needed
Or follow the example of Ogden Nash
And use strange forms of words, like “pleaded.”

Serious poems don’t need to rhyme, no
But humorous verses do.
And somehow or other my jocular poems
Often seem to include the word “poo.”

©2008-Art Belliveau

08 April 2008

Insight

And, finally, today's contribution to this monthly write-athon.

Insight

Looking at the heaps of paper
flowing over my desk like some obscene landfill
which has escaped its boundaries
and invaded my life, my desk
I sometimes get the feeling
that perhaps, just perhaps
procrastination may not be
the virtue I thought

©2008-Art Belliveau

Haiku for NaPoWri

Here's one from yesterday, 4/07/08.

Chaotic classroom--
why do I even bother,
right before spring break?


©2008-Art Belliveau

The Moon

She is on a roll. After getting a taste of writing that first poem, she insisted on writing another poem, this one about the moon. The NaPoWriMo entry for 4/06/08

The Moon

The moon glows like a lamp,
Round as a lid for a jar of blocks,
Black and white like a zebra in the sky,
Like a flying boat sailing through the sky.
I love the moon like I love my doggie.
They both follow me around.

©2008-Molly Belliveau and Art Belliveau

Carousel Pony

I am inordinately proud of my daughter, four-year-old Molly. We were at a Red Robin restaurant getting lunch and we wrote this poem together. Over the booth we sat in was a carousel pony. Most of the images in the poem come from her (after I asked a few leading questions now and again). So, here it is, Molly's first poem. The NaPoWriMo entry for 4/05/08

Carousel Pony

The pony's eyes are like the black sky at night.
It's harness is as beautiful as a rainbow.
The jewels shine like the sun on a lake.
The pony's fur is as white as a cloud in the sky.
I would like to ride the pony to California,
Its hooves hitting the ground with the sound of a drum,
And pet it and love it and ride it forever.

©2008 Molly Belliveau and Art Belliveau

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN FOUND!

This comes from an exercise I do with my classes. They are to pick from a collection of tabloid headlines and write a poem using one of the headlines as a title. I have several on my teacher blog. Here is one I worked on as my 4/04/08 poem. Took me a while to post it--busy weekend and week.

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN FOUND!

The way to heaven I was told,
Was to be as good as gold.
Don't make waves and follow the rules--
To get to heaven, those were the tools.

So imagine now how foolish I feel,
After all those years I was made to kneel.
In the North Downs of England the Stairway was found.
An easier way to travel for those Heaven bound.

But how Did Led Zepplin know it was there?
And why would they tell of the heavenly stair?
Perhaps they were sure no one would ever believe it.
I admit it is certainly hard to conceive it.

And what will come next in these Revelations?
Are there to be more of these divine observations?
Perhaps we should believe AC/DC as well,
And all watch out for that Highway to Hell.

©2008-Art Belliveau

03 April 2008

If (for teachers)

If you can wake up before dawn each morn
And often work 'til after dark
If you can deal with constant aggravation
And resist the urge to bite and bark

If you can eat a five course meal
In less than a quarter hour
And silence thirty yelling voices
With nothing more than a menacing glower

If you can make out the smallest handwriting
And decipher the messiest chicken tracks
If you can survive for days on end
Consuming nothing but sugary sodas and snacks

If you can grade a mountain of papers
Or on a bad day, maybe two or three
If you can face a room filled with hostile adolescents
And resist the awful urge to flee

If you can maintain your temper
When most others would have blown their tops
If you can return home each evening
And not drown yourself in hops

If you can take the constant striving
For monetary goals forever out of reach
And not feel overly despondent
Then, perhaps, you are fit to teach

©2008-Art Belliveau

Apologies

This is just a note to say

sorry

I fell asleep last night

after reading to my daughter

please forgive me

the bed was so comfy

and

it was so peaceful and dark

©2008-Art Belliveau

01 April 2008

A Boy and His Best Friend

It was love from the first glance.
Those deep brown eyes, full of hope
Behind the wire bars of the cage
Saying, “Take me home!” Your tail wagging.
Your tongue eagerly licking my offered hand.
A life’s journey began for us then
We knew we’d never leave each other.

Over more than a decade we met
Your puppy days have long since gone
Your step is slower, you’re tired more,
But still in your eyes I see
The joyful puppy within your canine soul.
Your tail still wagging happily at night,
Each time you see me return home.

And I dread that day to come
When you are no longer with me.
Our shared journey over in this world.
Waiting until we rejoin in the next.
A boy and his dog merrily playing
Never to part each other’s company again.
Forever young. Forever content. Forever friends. Amen.

©2008-Art Belliveau