Cleaning the Closet

She hung pieces of soul

on fading collar bones

with the same care

she used to organize her closet

in the days when it seemed to matter–

Neatly pressed cotton print


buttoned at the top, all

facing the same direction.


And, she sorted through dreams

on rose petal cheeks

with the same

nimble touch she once

used to fold tissue paper

for the tiny boxes

that held diamonds

tucked deep under the silk


in her drawer.


At a loss I asked —

if she wanted

to change out the painting

that hung at the end of the bed —

Or turn towards the window

to gaze toward the Zinnias

she coaxed from the garden

that summer

she gave us the sun.


But, instead as her August waned

she whispered of linens, and

never shared layers of lace she had stored

in the attic – using

eyes that twinkled secrets

from the depths of

deep pockets

like the ones in her

trousers still hanging there

all facing the door.


When The Oldest Left for College …

Morning Ritual

Creaky sounds of a new day

move through smooth plaster walls

and doorways left open to

each other in the night.

The eldest, always the first

to rise

stretched etched arms

toward the morning

after his return

to warmth of the womb

and the memory of being

launched toward the world.

The younger

still tucked

in eider down comfort

Dog on toes —

angel dusted


fluttering, but sealed tight

against the dawn’s light —

until the whisper of

broiled bacon

mingled into his morning fog —

and too, the pulse of

his brother’s morning music

we would soon come to miss

when silence filled the

doorways we

still leave open

to him in the night.

A Year Later


It was presumed insignificant —

In the manner of young men

seeking security from

the warmth of a well-worn hoodie

in the cool of an evening–


pocketing a packet of sweets

to share




Instead, inconsolable whispers of

downy rage

have arise

on the back of necks craned

Holy in their attention —


another Native Son, who

among others passing before him,

stays in perpetuity

beneath a shroud of pale lies.


Perhaps it is the angularity of the moment

that shocks me most, as

when parallel lines stretching out

toward infinity,

break all

mathematical rules

and intersect with a perpendicular


and we look up to notice

the sky

leaked truth on canvas in

so many shades of wrong.

August Harvest

Photo by Mary Marjerrison


Smooth and glistening from the dew

Pale green (gorgeous) grapes

sit plump

warmed and ready on their August vines

for You

to pluck them up

and set them gingerly into the

wooden bowl stained from this use

where they will overtake the sides

of their confinement

and beckon once again

for you to hold them

before they are gone.

Mini Marathon — Part II



Here is the second writing from the Mini Marathon mentioned below.


Shopping / Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages.

Ten-thousand invitations

displayed on tables and shelves

asking us to share

in the daily breaking of bread with

Ten-thousand women and their families.

I feel my Indigenous Western roots

in this space


because it’s unnecessary, in part,

and silly for us

to save the glossy material that

shelters a package of Lifesavers. 

Yet these women


and delicately



our discarded


tossed unaware of their value

litter blowing in ten-thousand directions

treasures picked from dust and ash

to make a life of beauty

for us and through us — because we will

buy back our own trash

crafted into decorative bowls

and earrings and trivets.

My God!

They make trivets from our trash

to fill empty stomachs.

We open a jar of marinara and sup.

Consciousness raised — women of the mind

spending the day



wandering this one square inch of Earth.

Mini Marathon — Part I


, ,

We are writers.

Mary from Milan, Sandra from Brasilia, and I did a mini writing marathon (2 writings instead of 4) in Central Square, Cambridge, MA on Sunday, July 29.  It was as powerful as I recall the full marathon having been with my writing group from the LMWP — only half the opportunities.

Here is the result of my first writing that day.


The whirling scream of the siren

and the impending catastrophic feeling at the other end of that trip


a panic in the otherwise aimlessly pecking pigeons

that fill the red-bricked square of city rush.

So clearly the intruder in this landscape

where fifty-eight pigeons (the ones I can see)


confine much of their living

watching us

watching them.

How easy it is to

stare at these uniquely configured birds–

red-pinkish legs, crowned heads, mottled and gray

sitting again, now, so still

above my head in the iron-wood branches.

I stare boldly at them.

Me in their space taking up room

following their motion–

the air reeking of old cigarettes, damp

from this morning’s rain.

And, the homeless man

I do not stare.  I do not even watch.

I pretend he’s not there

in this space — of his — that I am invading.


I put on my raincoat.

For Matthew Hazelwood

In Memory of Matthew Hazelwood


A Remembrance


 Janet Navarro



A pale hush barely louder than

a whisper 

floated past blank watery eyes

as my brother voiced

the first thing that

came to both our minds


The pie.

He said. 

I saw him make the pie.

As if this particular wisp of words

Would allow the

Blood to flow back up

to our heads,

And return warmth to our fingertips 

numbed by this

all too

sudden shift in the world.


With cloven heart I wondered –

Could it really be, this

Unexpected loss

of a creative world-renown

conductor, colleague, husband,

brother, father, friend-

Mateo –

man living an enviable life

uplifting so many with hard

– oft unrecognized – work;

moved by an unflinching faith in the human spirit.


Could it really be in the face of this


we spoke of pie?

Who does that?

What kind of spirits turn first

to thoughts food they’ll be missing?

But, we did –


A tribute and a parry to the initial shock of passing.


It took longer that I thought it would.

My brother reflected-

on the baking process he witnessed a Christmas ago. 


Of course it did. I said.

Matt transcended time. I said.

He aimed to get things right –

as long it took. 

Pie-that-tastes-so-good-it- can-save-a-soul

doesn’t come together quickly!

Nor does work that saves save the spirit.


Mateo honored the integrity of the process – whatever he was making

In the world

However long it took

Letting the works of his life

His scores

Take the necessary moments

To gain momentum

To coalesce 


A percussionist by trade

He beat a radical path

of visionary syncopations

with a distant reach across time and space

farther than his body could ever travel –

Gently guiding others with care

toward their own

percussive synergy—in their own time.

He rehearsed

orchestras in the round

a radical idea

removing the hierarchy

from the music.

Because that’s the way it was with Matt.


Radical movements at ease

in their simplicity.


Then my brother sighed. 

I saw him make it

but I don’t think I can do it

He didn’t follow the recipes I’ve seen.

He stirred a little.

He tasted – thought – added some more of this or that.

Let it sit.




Let’s try until we get it.  I said.  Tomas saw him too. 

We can work on it together


That’s what he did with his life.

No recipe

He stirred, added, mixed, and waited. 

Prompted, reflected. 

Forged ahead.

Mateo left us with the memory of his

Soul-saving grace

An idea pondered

A laugh shared

Kind words uttered

A push to do it better

To keep working


Growing from his deep faith in You-

The inherent goodness of the human spirit.

He brought his whole being into his days– inspiring oceans.


He leaves us poised

With tools—mixing bowls

and stringed bows for violas

and cellos

and orchestral batons which bring

joy to a crescendo

Batutu –

Poised to move the world

His life a service

children, colleagues, family, friends,


His vision

melding them – stirring them

in collaborative synergy –

to empower the human spirit through music.  





I am a Mentor Text…

… and an elder in my community!  Yesterday after the read around someone said “I am so using what you published as a mentor text.”  Wow!  That’s a wonderful compliment and an exciting thought.  I’d love to see what kids do with a similar structure and idea.  And then I was asked to be a mentor — a personal one — my life as the text, life being lived as mentor text — and if there is a higher honor I don’t know what it is.  Thank you.  I am so looking forward to how this opportunity is going to play out over the years.  



Strategies Used In Writing


This (above) diagram is published in Janet Elliott’s book (shown below).  Notice the green arrows and how they begin to spiral around — this is how the writing process seems to me.  Ideas come in via experiences.  If and when we pick up on any of those ideas and write — then we start moving through the phases that Elliott lays out.  As I write, I feel this spiraling process as an idea emerges and gels, joins with other ideas, is expressed, that expression is “judged” and revised, a new idea enters and is joined, we read again, check meaning, toss ideas out…..until we are at a point to send a piece of writing off the loop — toward publish.  That the ideas come in seems a given to me.  It seems that part of the process is letting ideas in — and then finding a way to record them (i.e., the notebook, but it could be something else), develop them, think more about them, and around and around UNTIL you decide to send a piece out — but sometimes you can get a piece caught in the loop and it doesn’t get sent out.  Or you could send a piece out and bring it to life again in a new way….



Using the Writer's Notebook in Grades 3-8: A Teacher's Guide

The spiral inserted below visually expresses the process I think Janet Elliott lays out in the diagram.  It also visually expresses the way I feel when I’m working on a piece of writing.  It seems that writing is an ongoing, generative process, that flows, and ebbs, and connects in fascinating ways through loops and twist, and turns of phrase…until a whole is made from the parts (I got this photo off the internet after typing spiral into my search bar)
Now, given that the diagram and the image reflect my process — I can say — that when I think about strategies I use in my writing, I think about how is it that I escort ideas on the spiral so that they are transformed into writing and that writing transforms them…
These are some of the strategies I use to take ideas around the spiral with me. I’m wondering if you use any of these strategies and if not, what strategies you do use as you write.

X I use outside resources to find different forms and then try to write using that form (i.e., Haiku, couplet, etc.)

X I ask friends to give me prompts and write to those.

X Word association.  I list pairs of words and then see how they might fit together in sentences and listen to how they sound.

X  Fast writes / developing fast writes

X Decided on a topic in my head and then just started writing about it.  Went back, reread, crossed out things, looked for the flow of it.

X Got an idea in my head. Mulled it over for a few days.  Mulled it over running — in fact, I fell on one of my runs I was so engrossed in the pre-writing of something.

X I wrote with a person in mind.

X Started with a “feeling” — wrote to understand that feeling better.  Wrote for myself.

X Five senses sensory association lists.

X Chose words on a list that I liked best and started to write a poem.

X Used the alphabet to run through possible rhyming words

X Used an image that I was observing outside

X Pushed myself to write in a different genre — tried an essay.

X Thinking about Purpose, Audience, Genre’ and Exigence

X Set a deadline

X got a friend to write with me

x told myself that doing the dishes was NOT more important than writing (made time).

Book Review: Making Thinking Visible by Ritchhart, Church and Morrison.


, , ,

Book Review II


 Making Thinking Visible:  How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independent for all Learners, by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, Karin Morrison (2011).  Jossey-Bass.

 I was so excited when this book came out last summer.  I had been waiting for it and ordered it immediately to see if I would use it in my classes as a text.  Then, I flipped through it, verified that it was a good book and put it on my shelf awaiting some chunk of time to read it.  That time came in the guise of the LMWP.  Thanks!

My purpose for reading it was to sit my own work within a broader context of thinking.  I want to be part of the larger conversations on thinking and read this book to see where my work might fit.

This book was worth the wait and I recommend it highly.

Similar to Intellectual Character, also by Ron Ritchhart, Making Thinking Visible is for those who are interested in the thinking students do and how to promote deeper engagement (thinking) and deeper understandings of subject matter (thinking).  But, it takes readers beyond understanding subject matter as the goal of schooling, showing us how the content of our lessons can be understood as well as used to move students toward the internalization of dispositional thinking.  While Intellectual Character thoroughly lays out the theory and the rationale Making Thinking Visible is all about HOW TO DO IT!  Yea!

Part I: Some Thinking About Thinking

This book has three main parts.  Part I provides an easy-to-access background on thinking going “beyond Bloom” for example, and argues for a kind of teaching that puts thinking “at the center of the educational enterprise” and helps the reader to know what is meant by “visible thinking.”

A Quote from Part I

“When schools take on the mission of cultivating students’ thinking and enculturating the habits of mind and dispositions that can support lifelong learning, the issue of how students construe thinking and their general metacognitive awareness comes to the fore.” (15)

Part II:  Using Thinking Routines to Make Thinking Visible

Part II, which is the bulk of the book, takes a deep look at “thinking routines” (which in many ways are all the rage in education today – even if you don’t know that term of use it like this – routines are similar to thinking protocols – which you might be familiar with as well).  Thinking routines are different from other kinds of classroom routines (such as managerial or compliance routines) and can be used as “tools” “structures” and/or patterns of behavior.

A Quote from Part II

“Although the word routine carries with it notions of ordinariness, habit, and ritual it would be a mistake to characterize thinking routines as simply mundane patterns of behavior…with use, these tools become flexible rather than rigid, continuously evolving with use.”  (48)

Part III:  Bringing the Power of Visible Thinking to Life

This part of the book is important as it places the individual routines into the larger context of the classroom culture across the day and over the year.  My favorite part is the section in Chapter 7 that discusses the “Forces That Shape Culture.”  They are outlined as









Language catches my attention in this list.  While around all of these forces we can assess our classroom for “cross purposes,” to me thinking about the language we use with students (and in the educational community more widely) is the most important.  (See Choice Words, by Peter Johnston another amazingly fantastic book).  I find this odd to say given the “watch what I do, not what I say” phrase.  Or maybe BECAUSE of this phrase.  When we can bring language in line with our actions we are more apt to be on point with our goals.

A Quote from Part III

“Through language, teachers name, notice, and highlight the thinking and ideas that are important within any learning context, drawing students’ attention to these concepts and practices in the process.” (243)


This book comes with a DVD that is helpful.  It connects to the examples in the book so watching it provides a visual image of that which is discussed.  This is nice.  However, given all of examples of teaching using “visible thinking” routines that are available all over the world, I am not sure why these particular teaching examples were chosen.  I have seen better teaching than the clips they include from some of the teachers highlighted in this book.  I’m sure the reasons for selecting the examples they did were sound – I would like to know them, however, so that I could perhaps get more from the DVD clips.  It’s possible to look for visible thinking on YouTube and find other clips.   Sometimes DVD’s are included just because it’s the “thing” and it helps to see the book – perhaps less thought was put into the DVD than was put into the book.


There is a nice “shout out” to Michigan teachers in this book.  There is a lot going on in Michigan right now with both Visible and Artful thinking.  It’s worth knowing more about for those reasons alone.  The book is based on years of research in classrooms, which is a plus.  I will be ordering it for a class of mine winter semester.  I think it’s essential information for new teachers and for experienced teachers who want to experience the joy of freeing up their students to think within structure.  Whether or not this book is the be-all-end-all source, however is debatable.