Thursday, January 23, 2020

Displaced




This week construction on a new development of townhomes began in my neighborhood.   This place, where I pass every day on my morning walk, filled me with peace and beauty.  Today, I feel a sense of loss as bulldozers dig the earth and uproot trees.  I worry about the wildlife, especially the deer.  Where will they go?  How long before they are displaced again?



a crop of new homes
replaces forest, meadow, stream

clanking equipment
drown bumblebees and birdsong


deer don't live here anymore


A huge thank you to Kathryn for hosting this week's Poetry Friday.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Christmas Wish


Dear Santa,



We don’t have money for a Christmas tree.

We can’t buy presents for Mommy or me.



But—

I’ve heard of the magic you can do,

so I’m writing this secret note to you.


(Mommy would worry if she knew.)


Sometimes,

when she thinks I'm sleeping, I

hear my Mommy sit alone and cry.



Please help her find a job and then

maybe she will smile again.


And Santa, 

if you could bring me just one thing, 

this is what I would choose


one pair of not-too-tight

fit me just right 


shoes.


I know you have a lot of letters to read,

and there are things that other kids need.


So if you can’t make my wishes come true—

it's okay.


I'll still believe

in you.



©Linda Kulp Trout


Well, the poem still needs work, but I wanted to share it today because the topic is important to me.

Years ago, I overheard a conversation in my fifth-grade classroom that broke my heart.  A group of girls were talking about making their wish list for Christmas. One little girl just sat there listening. When her friend asked what was on her Christmas list, “J” lowered her eyes and said, “I don’t make a list anymore.”  Of course, the other girls wanted to know why.  “J” whispered, “We don’t have any money for presents.”  The bell rang, and the conversation ended, but “J’s” words stayed with me.


I knew “J’s” family and the hard times they’d been through.  Each year our faculty adopted several families in our school community for Christmas. That year, “J’s” family was one of them.  I’m sure there were many families like hers that we didn’t know about.


According to the Children’s Defense Fund, “about 1 in 6 children in America live in poverty.”  Those of us who are teachers don’t need statistics because these children are in our classrooms, and we see their struggle every day. Many of them are too afraid or too ashamed to ask for help.  I know I was. 


Growing up, I never wanted anyone to know how poor we were.  But I was one of the lucky ones. We were a big family, but no matter how tight money was, my mother somehow found a way to put presents of some sort under the tree.  


I’m grateful for the work of groups like The Salvation Army and Toys for Tots that help ensure millions of children have a gift to open Christmas morning. Still, I can’t help thinking about all the children who will wake up on Christmas without a single gift to unwrap.


A big thank you to my very talented friend, Buffy for hosting this week's Poetry Friday-The Almost Solstice Edition!


I wish all of you a joyous holiday and a happy, healthy new year!















Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thinking About Dreams



Dreams

                 

It’s hard to dream

with an eviction notice

on my front door.



It’s hard to dream

when I sleep on

a living room floor.



It’s hard to dream

when I’m still hungry,

but there isn’t any more



It’s hard to dream—



But one thing I know

for sure,



when I grow up

I don’t want to be poor!





©Linda Kulp Trout




Today's poem comes from a combination of my own childhood experience and that of my former students.  


As a child, I was a dreamer.  But, like many children born into poverty, I didn’t think my dreams were possible. So, I pushed my them aside and did what I needed to in order to get through each day.   I started babysitting for money when I was eleven and by twelve, I was employed at my first job.  I didn’t mind working because I was determined to live a different life than I had.  Dreams would have to wait.


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams and why we push them to the bottom of our to-do list.  For most of my life, my dream has been to write books that make a difference in the lives of kids. Now that I'm retired from teaching, I'm going to give my dream my best shot. I used to think about my childhood and resent the things I didn’t have.  Now, I choose to be grateful for what I did have. That has made all the difference.  I want to give a voice to the child I once was and the children I used to teach.


What I’ve learned is that no matter how busy our lives are, even taking the tiniest steps toward our dreams makes life so much richer.  This blog post, "Where Have You Been?" inspires me to make time for my dream.


If you have time to leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your dreams and what you’re doing to achieve them.

A big thank you to Jama's Alphabet Soup for hosting this week’s Poetry Friday.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today would have been my mother's 83rd. birthday. She has been gone for more than six years, but I still think of her every day.  Although the scene in the poem I'm sharing today never actually happened, it is a love poem to my mother, part true, part the way I wish things would have been.

Mom was often lost in her thoughts.  I regret never asking her about her dreams. I'm sure she had some. She liked to write. She enjoyed music and dancing. She loved animals. One time she told me that she wanted to go to Africa to see the lions in the wild.  It never happened.

By the time Mom was in her early seventies, she had dementia. She was only 76 (just twelve years older than me) when she passed away. I think about that a lot. It both motivates and scares me, and it's one of the reasons I keep working toward my writing dreams.  Mom inspired me more than she ever knew.  She did the best she knew how, and I'm grateful for the good times we shared.
 This poem is for her.

A Vow

staring out the window it seems
my mother is lost somewhere between
us and her own private dreams

she once told me she'd like to see
Africa where lions live uncaged-- free
just the way they were meant to be

and she wants to write a book someday
but she's just to busy to start it today
with kids to raise and bills to pay--

sometimes I think she secretly wishes
for freedom from housework, diapers, dishes
always the giver of goodnight kisses--

suddenly seeing me standing there,
she calls me over to her chair--
and points to a piece of sky where

the Evening Star waits with a vow--anything
is possible-- her loving smile says everything
as she beings to sing--

-Linda Kulp Trout


A big thank you to Cheriee for hosting today's Poetry Friday at Library Matters. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Harvest Moon

When I was a little girl, I loved riding in the backseat of the car watching the moon follow us home. There's something spiritual and magical about the moon.

It's been cloudy here the past few nights, so I'm hoping the sky will be clear enough to see the harvest moon (my favorite!) tonight.  In anticipation, I wrote a quick little poem.  I not sure if the meter works but here goes.



Too Shy 



Tonight

I watched

a harvest moon

tiptoe

across the sky.

It hid behind

a wisp of clouds,

looking very

shy.



I said,

Don’t worry

Harvest Moon,

for I’m a lot

like you.



When I’m  feeling 

shaky, shy—

    

I try

to hide it

too.


-Linda Kulp Trout





Here are two beautifully written  and illustrated moon-themed books you'll want to check out:  HELLO, HARVEST MOON by Ralph Fletcher and IF YOU WERE the MOON by Laura Purdie Salas.






A big thank you to Laura for hosting this week at Writing the World for Kids.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Dreamers



Several years ago, I had an idea for a novel-in-verse inspired by the experiences and dreams of some of my students. I wrote a bunch of poems, but I had no idea how to weave them together into a novel.  (It’s so much harder than it looks!)  I saved them in a file and almost forgot about them. Today I'm sharing a poem from the collection.  The title comes from my belief that we should all be dreamers!  (Please forgive white background behind some of the words in the poem.) 


Dreamers

In El Salvador,
my parents
worked and saved
to come to the U.S.
Thieves stole
their money,
they walked
nearly 2,000 miles
on blistered feet
carrying baby me
and a backpack
full of dreams.

Today
I carry
a backpack
full of books.
My dream:
first in my family
to go to college.
Will I be
a doctor,
scientist,
teacher...

It’s up to me!

Papi says
the best thing
about dreams is
no one
can take them
away.

-Linda Kulp Trout


Last year, I discovered a beautiful picture book titled DREAMERS by Yuri Morales.  Yay!



After reading this description on Amazon, I had to have it.

Dreamers is a celebration of what migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It's a story about family. And it's a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own gifts wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.

Both the text and the illustrations are gorgeous. I wish I had DREAMERS when I was teaching.  Yuri's story is similar to the ones I heard my students tell. This book gives their stories a voice.

Here's a video I think you will enjoy.






A special thank you to Sylvia and Janet for hosting this week's Poetry Friday at Poetry for Children.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAIN


I read a lot of novels in verse.  My favorites are character-driven stories with a lot of emotion like the one I just finished reading,  THE COLORS OF THE RAIN by R.L.Toalson.  It is everything I hoped it would be, heartbreaking, hopeful, and unforgettable. I didn’t want the story to end because I felt so connected to the main character's authentic and powerful voice. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, so I’ll just share just a bit of the blurb inside the book jacket.  






Ten-year-old Paulie Sanders hates his name because it also belonged to his daddy, who killed a man and crashed a car. With Mama unable to cope, Paulie and his sister, Charlie, move in with Aunt Bee and try to make a fresh start.  But it's 1972 and their new school puts them right in the middle of the Houston School District's war on desegregation. 

Here is an excerpt from the first poem:

RAIN

Most nights
I sleep just fine
because most nights
it doesn't rain.

The last time it rained like this
we drove past that curve
Gran always called dangerous
and saw lights flashing red and blue
and people walking around
and a body covered
with a white sheet
that glowed in the dark.

Mama didn't slow down long enough
to look at the twisted car.
It was too dark to see, anyhow.
We didn't know who was
under the sheet, but Mama said
a prayer for their family
as we drove on by.

-R.L Toalson

Doesn't that just grab your heart and make you want to know more?  You can read a few more poems from the beginning of the book here.

Go here to read an interview with R.L.Toalson, and be sure to watch this inspiring video where the author shares her writing process.




I'm already looking forward to reading more from this very talented writer.  I really hope she writes a sequel to THE COLORS OF THE RAIN because I want to know more about the next chapter in Paulie's life.

A special thank you to Kat for hosting this week's Poetry Friday on her blog Kathryn Apel.