California Poets in the Schools 1993 Statewide Poetry Anthology

I sit alone in a green field of grass,
listen to music of the animals,
and feel a refreshing breeze
from the heavens. I sigh
under the echoing oak and
edge up against the cool
brick wall behind me.

I feel the bricks, smoothed
by years of loneliness, resting
on my bare shoulders.
I look to the horizon as the sun
escapes my view behind the soft
hills in the distance.

A jack rabbit brushes the blades
of grass as it wanders into
the gnarled thicket to the east.
Beauty and serenity surround
me, yet I'm not satisfied with them.

I ponder what lies beyond
the wall behind me.
Maybe something more
magnificent looms there,
maybe the answers to all my
questions reside in a place
I'll never see, never know.

Even though others might be
happy here, I know
something of a greater
consummation lingers
behind the bricks that keep
me cold and frozen.
They turn me into a block
of ice that even the sun couldn't
melt. My last thought:
what can melt me?
maybe love
on the other side
or is it really inside me—
waiting to leap out?

— Tami Strack, 11th grade
Woodside High School, Redwood City

I am blocked
from a sea of words
by a wall as big as my life.
It stands around me
extending endlessly in all directions.
Perhaps I will climb it
or dig under it, or maybe
I'll just jump over it.
It's just another decision.
Behind this wall
I am safe.
I don't want to drown
in a sea of words.
Decision, decisions...

— Geoffrey Andrews, 11th grade
Woodside High School, Redwood City


CPITS Poet-Teacher Peter Y. Chou presented a workshop “Writing Through Walls and Windows,” containing three poems: Louis Jenkins' “Walking Through a Wall” (1987), Lovelace's “:To Althea: From Prison” (17th century), and Rumi's Quatrain 511 “The clear bead at the center” (13th century). He told the 11th grade students: “Circle words in these poems which evoke the strongest response within you (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual). Use the trigger points and write a poem about the walls and windows in your life. Fantasize and imagine fresh ways that you'll overcome your barriers and obstacles.”

These two poems were selected for publication in On the Other Side of that Window: California Poets in the Schools 1993 Statewide Poetry Anthology (Edited by Perie Longo). This book has a wonderful Introduction “The Future is Here” by Philip Levine on his poetic process and insightful comments on students' poems.

Poems Copyrighted by individual authors & California Poets in the Schools

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