About Hands on Stanzas

Hands on Stanzas, the educational outreach program of the Poetry Center of Chicago places professional, teaching Poets in residence at Chicago Public Schools across the city. Poets teach the reading, discussion, and writing of poetry to 3 classes over the course of 20 classroom visits, typically from October through April. Students improve their reading, writing, and public speaking skills, and participating teachers report improved motivation and academic confidence. You can contact Cassie Sparkman, Director of the Hands on Stanzas program, by phone: 312.629.1665 or by email: csparkman(at)poetrycenter.org for more information.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Poems on Narrative: Annibelle Lee by Edgar Allen Poe

An oral tradition, narrative poems tell great stories of love, and war, and legends. We read Poe's love/grief stricken poem and I passed out headlines cut from the newspaper. The students wrote their own narrative poem based on the headline they drew from my bag.

Mrs. Bunkowski, Grade 3

Veronica M

If It’s No The Pickpockets, It’s the Killer Ants

Every person lost their things
People thought it was the pickpockets
They were not sure
So they looked closely
But nothing
People took their pants
Their purses
To the scientists
Scientists were so smart
The scientists were looking for fingerprints
But they found tiny, small, footprints
It was tiny, small.
Smell like killer ants
Scientists were so worried
Because killer ants bite
And if they bite you
You can turn into a killer ant, too.
Three days later people
Or, should I say ANTS
Killer Ants came
So worried that all the people on Earth
Were not people anymore
People were ants
No more people
And then a big noise
Appeared louder and louder
A little girl
Turned off her alarm
And it was just a dream

Eddie O

He Can’t Stop Looking Over His Shoulder

I am so mad
Because I don’t like
Her looking over my shoulder
It is annoying
I would like her to go away
And I will be happy
When she goes away
Oh no! She came back
Now I am mad
Now I hope she doesn’t come back
Because it makes me mad
When somebody looks
Over my shoulder

Vivian M

A True Outsider

A true outsider has a dream
But it has to have a stem
A true outsider
Can have an idea
To do a poem
Like a dream
But a true outsider
Can sometimes be quiet

Fernando S

Did He Or Didn’t He?

Did he read my book
Or did he look at my picture
Or didn’t he?
Did he get grounded
Or did he slap me
Or am I just dreaming
Or did I…
Was it a dream?
My mom
Did she have another baby
Or didn’t she?

Edgar R

The Secret Of Shalloboi

Shalloboi everyone is asking
What is shalloboi?
I say hobo’s
There’s a secret to the hobo’s
Some say they are poor
Some say there’s no more
Hope for them
But I discovered their rich.
When they dirty their clothes
They wear it on the streets
So they could get some extra cash
They’re injured because they
Had an accident
So that’s the secret of shalloboi

Mrs. Cantu/Mrs. Rawls Grade 6/7

Fabian J

Placing my bets
What I bet
I’ll never forget
I lost my fortune
To my friend Gordon
My house, my cars and all
I know I can’t fall
Deeper into bad luch
I was a drunk duck
7 beers and whine
I paid a fine
53 million
I thought I could’ve won
But I lost
Now I hat black jack
And even shot Jack Black
I can’t believe
Poor and in jail
There’s no deeper Than a jail cell

Daniel M

He Can’t Stop Looking Over His Shoulder

Did he commit a murder?
I think so
I’ve been sitting here
For quite some time
Call some back up
That man just can’t stop
Looking over his shoulder
He looks suspicious
I’ll follow him
Every step of the way
To see where he’ll lead me
He can’t stop
Looking over his shoulder
I think he committed a murder
He looks very suspicious
And looking right at me
I think I should do something
To see what’s going on
I should question him
Man oh man
He looks so very suspicious
Minute by minute
Hour by hour
That man keeps looking
Over his shoulder
The next day
He got away
And for me to find out
He committed a murder
To be continued….

Juan R

Welcome To The Darkside

Welcome to the darkside
Where there is a lot
Of nightmares
And there’s a lot
Of death
Where you could die
For a lie
And where you could
Die for a death

Mario C

$320 Million To Burn, But There’s A Catch

It was Feb 14, 2008
In a store by my street
There clerk said
I won $320 million
But there’s a catch
He said I have to
Run with no clothes on
I didn’t want to be embarrassed
In that store by my street

Carlos A

To Pull A Thorn From The Side Of The Planet

To pull a thorn
From the side of the planet
Is like a bomb
And pulling the ring
And you
Blowing into a million pieces
In the air
Floating in space
For years and years
My love waiting
For all those years
Knowing I would
Never see her again
I know she is thinking about me
And my million pieces
Were thinking about her
Aliens found me
They put my body back
And send me back to Earth
When I went looking
For my love
She was with another man
I felt like
A million pieces again

Fernando G

A True Outsider

A true outsider
Is like a stick of apple cider
A true outsider
Wouldn’t hide herself
She tries to cover herself
With fur
It’s all over her shirt
She doesn’t want to get hurt
A true outsider
Stays away from the insiders of the world

Mrs. Salinas, Grade 8

Angelica R

Local Girlfriend Always?

Finds her boyfriend cheating
She yells and cries,
And forgives him
She’s heartbroken
Her boyfriend leaves
Her for another woman
She’s devastated
And can’t take
Anymore sadness
She decides to go to the park
She stays there til dusk and…
Sweet sweet girlfriend
Never to be seen again
Who might know
What really happened for sure
We’ll never know the truth

Lance P

The Beach Party Moves Indoors

The beach party moves indoors
Why go to the beach
When I can bring the beach to us
We can have a beach party
In my house
I will order a sand truck
And flood the house with water
My parents are out of town
Until next week
The house is flooded
With water and sand
I don’t know how
I’m going to clean it up
We were partying
The day away
My parents walk in
I’m busted
I thought I was in big trouble
But my parents joined the party

Ricardo Z

Te despido por faltarme al respeto I
Y por no benir atrabajar sin permiso a faltar
Te despido por que
Una de mis cameras
Te grabaron cuando
Estabas buscando problemas
Y el otro dia
Te miro una camera
Cuando estabas robando

I fire you for being disrespectful
And for not showing up to work
Without permission
I fire you because
One of my cameras
Taped you when
You were looking for problems
And the other day
The camera saw you steal

Poems on Character: A Boy's Head by Miroslave Holoub

Holub's poem focuses on the random things that float through a boy's head: a spaceship, a project for doing away with piano lessons, etc. I asked the students to consider the heads of others, like a dog, a baby, a teacher, a scientest. What kind of things do these beings think about?

Mrs. Bunkowski, 3rd grade


Race car drivers
think about winning
life is in danger
do not care about car
passing the flag

Ivan A

A hobo thinks about his wife
and his kids
The thinks about
how he got like this
He thinks about
looking in the trash can
About sleeping under a bridge
About eating from the trash
I wish to give
a hobo a s'more

Mrs Cantu 6/7th grade

Christian G

In my uncles head
There's lots of stuff
Like scary, deadly, bloody movies
He thinks about
Rock and Roll and metal
He thinks about
Drawing scary stuff
He thinks about
Drinking beer and alcohol
He thinks about
Football and soccer
He thinks about
Making fun of people
And those are the things
My uncle is thinking about

Mrs. Salinas, 8th grade

Jesse H

As I sat by the porch
My brain burning like a torch
I asked myself
“Why do my dogs act so crazy?”
Suddenly, they came up to me
and spoke
“If you wish to seek our knowledge,
simply ask”
All of the sudden
Bones of all shapes
And sizes
Popped out
Along with toys
I asked
“Why do you guys
Chase cats?”
“We don’t chase,
We’ve been playing tag
for over a hundred years,
yet we cannot catch them.”
This confused me so,
Yet I was happy

Jasmine W

In the head of a psycho
There’s a master plan
For doing away
With all his enemies

For thnking of how
To steal some drugs
Or thinking about where
He’s going to get money
To get high

In a head of a psycho
He’s worried how he’s
Going to escape, escape to
Somewhere far or just
Thinking about going away

Dying, killing, stealing
For drugs, giving up on life
There’s no one to love
No one to cherish
No one to hug

He’s thinking in his mind
About why his family is gone

An Addict
Raquel S

He sits there with
A needle on the table
Why should I do this
I should not do this
But by that time
His arm is tied up
And a needle
Has pierced his skin
Why did I do this
I hate this!
I can’t stop!
I can’t stop!
Why did I do this!

In the head of a cat
Lance P

The cat is thinking…..
I’m hungry
What does this do
I wanna chase something
I’m gonna jump on the table
Will someone please clean my litter box
I need my claws trimmed
I need to groom
I’m going to be lazy today
I’m going to be hyper today
I want cat nip
Oh, and I want to see
My parents and siblings

Poems about Metaphor: Dickinson's I Like to See it Lap the Miles/ Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Metaphor saturates every day language. We use metaphor to compare abstract conecepts like love, and anger, to something more tangable.

Mrs. Salinas, Grade 8

Erika H

Cats are fun and cuddly
Love is the same
You cuddle with your loved one
And have a good time
A cat may attack
But never leaves too much damage
As in love
You may argue,
But it almost always gets resolved

Korina A

My mom is a sundae cone
Sweet like sugar
But watch out
Cold as ice
She’s also a tiger
Protecting its prey
From the world
And persons that might
Harm her
Or her family
And a giraffe
Watching over us

Jesse H

I saw you cry
A rain of tears
You did not stop
And caused the thunder
As I wondered what made you cry
I looked at you,
A beautiful angel
You looked at me
A shaggy bum
I asked you to please stop
Yet you couldn’t
You merely cried
You said
“My life is ruined,
I can only cry”
I answered
“Please a cup of coffee
would be just fine”
you looked at me
I looked at you
Your tears vanished
The sun came out
And then I knew
You were the one

Angelica R

Every day while I’m at school
It seems as if time is going
As slow as a turtle
I wait and wait
Tick tock
There goes the bell
I race out of the school
As if I were a cheetah
I get home
I sit on the couch
And watch tv
I’m like a couch potato
That never seems to leave
My brothers and sisters
Are arguing and yelling
It sounds as if
They were roaring lions
Then finally dinnertime
I can’t wait
I race to the table for a seat
And sit myself down
I eat and eat like a bear
That hasn’t eaten in days
The final things on my day
I get ready for bed
And then there goes
Another yesterday
Now my day ends
And another tomorrow is waiting

Mrs. Cantu, 6/7

Cierra T

When I wake up
In the morning
I feel like a sleepy bear
Fix my bed
And eat breakfast
Like a cheetah
Really fast
Then go to school
Smart as a German Shepard
Get out of school like a snail
Then eat dinner
Finally the day ends
I feel like a lazy lion
And go to bed
And wait
For another day to come

Nancy G

Hearing my mom roar
At me like a lion

Confused like a donkey
Did I do something wrong?

I’m too lazy like a bear
To hear her

My mom talking to much
Like a parakeet

She won’t stop!!!

Making my face
Like a sad kitty

I am innocent!

Mrs. Bunkowski, 3rd grade


Pills are as small as ants
Scissors cut as sharp as a knife
Blood is cold as a winter day
I am cool as ice
As mad as a lion

Ethan R

I’m dizzy as an out of control, exploding car
I’m silly as a cartoon show on tv
I’m nice as my friends in a few streets in the country
I’m hungry as a homeless person
I’m crazy as a clown

Isaiah W

Smoke is like burned cooking
Snow is like feathers
Anger is like lightening
The clock is like a snail
I run fast like a cheetah
Sweet cream is like juice