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The Gift of Words: A Haibun


Words are the building blocks of thought—and stories. Words spoken by a blind poet around the campfires of old celebrated the cunning ways of a rogue named Odysseus. Words written by Hebrew poets on parchment still tell the tale of the origins of our world: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
 
My special education students use words every day, not to tell stories, but for far more mundane purposes: “May I go to the restroom?” “I need to sharpen my pencil.” “Can I get a drink of water?”
 
My students’ vocabularies are limited, and one of my jobs is to help them increase their vocabularies, because words are the building blocks of thought—and stories.
 
I select five words at random from a list—wrinkles, envy, odyssey, untidy, falcon—and ask my students to find the definitions, and use each word in a sentence. When that task proves too daunting for more than half of them, I make up sentences, write them on the board, and ask my students to copy them.
 
“Get acquainted with these words,” I say, “because tomorrow we’re going to use them to write a story.”
 
And we do:
 
Once upon a time there was a falcon named Julian (although sometimes he called himself Joshua). He was a very confused falcon—probably because he lived in an untidy nest. One day he decided to start an odyssey. The odyssey would take him to a magical land where the phoenixes rise every morning. The odyssey lasted so long that wrinkles appeared on the falcon’s face. He grew wise, and became the envy of other birds who lacked wisdom.
 
“I like that!” I exclaim as we finish our story. “I think I could turn what we’ve written into a book.”
 
Even if I never expand the story of Julian the Confused Falcon into a book, this little writing exercise engages every student—even my non-readers. Like the blind poet of old, they eagerly share their ideas orally as I write them on the board. Unlike Homer, however, my students tell their tale briefly.
 
Who’s to say that a long tale is better than a short one—or vice versa? What’s important is giving my students the gift of words so that one day, without my help, they will be able to tell their own tales as their eager children gather round to listen.

 
Overcast morning:
I search for a new story
in the blackbird’s beak.


 

Haibun © 2019 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Midweek Motif at Poets United: “Gift”

Three Couplets


I.
Daylight, and the drunk man falls forward on his face;
He lacks a map to guide him to a better place.
 
II.
Sometimes a hearth that’s spacious holds only hints of fire—
Little coals that soon grow cold like everyone’s desire.
 
III.
Anywhere is nowhere when money creeps inside;
Beware when words become a place for your lies to hide.

 
  
Poems © by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Sunday’s Whirligig #210
 
More Poetry Pantry #448 at Poets United

Words Are Her Companions


Words are her companions,
She takes them everywhere:
Stone and pine and blackbird,
Porcupine and bear.
  
Words are her companions,
She hugs them to herself:
Living room, dining room,
Bathroom, kitchen shelf.
  
Words are her companions,
She treasures every one;
Verbs and prepositions
Roll right off her tongue
  
Along with a salacious
Adjective or two;
Words are her companions—
She knows what words can do!

  
Poem © 2018 by Magical Mystical Teacher
  
  
More Midweek Motif at Poets United: “Word”

Reunion

Bible044-1
An old King James Version Bible, open to James 1:22-24
 


her open Bible—
getting together again
with words that instruct

 
Haiku and photo © 2017 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Macro Monday 2
  
More Midweek Motif at Poets United: “Reunions”

Books

Photobucket
A boulder surrounded by birdsong in a remote location, Apache County, Arizona
 


Some books I found in passing
Contained disturbing words:
The end is near, they seemed to say,
Pay heed to stones and birds;
 
For in this warming climate,
Where things are changing fast,
Not even stones and blackbirds
Have stamina to last.

 
Poem © 2017 and photo © 2011 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More SkyWatch Friday
 
More Midweek Motif at Poets United: “Books”
 

Six for Sunday

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Unusually early blossoms on a palo verde tree, November 2016, Yuma County, Arizona
 
 


  
~~ 1 ~~
  
words to nourish me
on this November morning—
a poem by Keats
  
~~ 2 ~~
  
Sing, little sparrow!
How could I despise your voice
this frosty morning?
  
~~ 3 ~~
  
This frosty morning
I am dumb before the wren
and its trills of grief.
  
~~ 4 ~~
  
Without any means
to support itself, the wren
enriches my life.
  
~~ 5 ~~
  
noise at the corner—
a thousand hungry blackbirds
clamoring for crumbs
  
~~ 6 ~~
  
joyful not plaintive—
the voice of the old woman
at her husband’s grave

 
Haiku © 2016 by Magical Mystical Teacher
  
  
More Macro Monday 2
  
More Sunday’s Whirligig #86
  
More Poetry Pantry #329 at Poets United

Footbridge

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Footbridge, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve, Riverside County, California
 


a scrap of paper—
scribbling some words as she walks
across the footbridge

 
Haiku and photo © 2016 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
More Shadow Shot Sunday 2
 
More Sunday Scribblings 2: “Paper”

Tokens of the Way

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~~ 1 ~~
 
Rocking in her chair,
the wizened grandmother
dreams of growing tall.
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
each Sunday morning
stirring the pancake batter
with a wooden spoon
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
Halfway to nowhere,
while longing to be somewhere,
she loses her map.
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
needing words of grace
to sustain her famished soul—
bread is not enough
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
on a rock alone
daughter of the sea lion
fending off suitors
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
sipping from the glass
while slapping at mosquitoes—
sloshes of whisky
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
the seams of her dress
unthreading in the brilliance
from a thousand suns
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
crisp October air—
she hikes the mountain pathway
breathing clouds of frost
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
shattered glass and thorns—
beneath her feet these tokens
of the way to come

 
Haiku © 2015 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #274
 
More Sunday’s Whirligig #29

Whirling On

 photo 196_zps9de814c5.jpg
 
Each haiku begins with a Wordle word.
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
Maybe a raven
knows more about nasturtiums
than ever I will.
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
miles beyond this place
thirty or forty or more
a ruined garden
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
words lost long ago
under bison bones bleaching
on Kansas prairies
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
scorch marks on his shirt—
first signs of her defiance
of his tyranny
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
chime and tambourine
and incense in the temple—
bridges between worlds
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
trite conversation
over day-old glazed doughnuts
at the sad café
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
spell of cold weather—
taking out of the closet
her wool kimono
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
land covered with snow—
corn hidden from hungry geese
and foraging mice
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
spirit of the quilt
wrapping her in dreams of peace
though she sleeps alone
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
aim of the hunter
sighting a mandarin duck—
how his bow trembles
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
mind of the pilgrim
distracted by the bedbugs
in the wayside inn
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
sign of good fortune
the year’s first calligraphy
brushed in crimson ink

 
© 2015 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #236
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 196

Beyond

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Indigo bush at sunrise, Sonoran Desert, Southern Arizona
 


What the trees whisper
in a language beyond words
no mere tongue can tell.

 
Text and photo © 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
More SkyWatch Friday
 
More Carpe Diem: “Shiba Sonome’s ‘An Oak Deep in the Woods'”