Student Poem

Ode to S
by Kate (3rd Grade)

S swirls around each star,
it dances on the rain cloud of the
you hear it coming
when S streams by,
as if it was late for something
almost as important as a new
born baby stepping into the light of
the universe.
S has the texture of dew
in the morning,
as the mist streams out of
the night before,
S dives into the depths
of children’s words


Kate wrote her poem, “Ode to S,”  as a third grader at View Ridge Elementary in Seattle. I had the privilege of working with Kate through Writers in the Schools, a wonderful program that inspires students to write creatively and powerfully by placing professional, passionate writers in the classroom.  In the 2011-12 school year, 24 writers-in-residence taught poetry, fiction, comics, memoir, and playwriting to 5,520 students in the greater Puget Sound region.  WITS will celebrate the publication of a new student anthology on Sunday, September 30 at 5:00pm at Benaroya’s Recital Hall, with a reading by student contributors.  The event is free, open to the public, and unforgettable.

WITS is part of Seattle Arts and Lectures, who will be honored with a Mayor’s Arts Award on August 31 at Seattle Center.  Congratulations SAL!

Student Poem

Today’s poem is by Rose, age 16, who participated in the Pongo Teen Writing Project in the King County Juvenile Detention system. Her poem is featured in There Had to Have Been Someone, one of 13 print poetry anthologies that Pongo has published over the past 17 years. Please watch a short video by John Sharify, Poetry flows from teens behind bars, featured on KING5 News yesterday, for more information about Pongo’s important work with distressed youth.


Ice Cream Man

I just thought you should know
that sometimes I’m afraid of you.
I don’t mind you rep’ing the gangs,
but sometimes when I look into your eyes,
I see violence against me,
I see violence against your grandma,
and it hurts me inside.

I just thought you should know,
I want to work in here someday,
helping kids that went through what I went through,
help them understand why I ran away from home,
because my parents beat me,
because the stress in my life
made me do something stupid.
I was the girl who stopped going to school,
I was the girl who stopped listening to her parents,
who started drinking and smoking.

I just thought you should know
that one side of me wants to be with you
and one side of me does not,
and the side that does not is confused,
feels like a lost sheep.

I just thought you should know,
I see myself with a happy family
in a park, Oakland, CA, eating barbequed lamb
next to the swimming pool while dads play tennis
and moms talk and serve food
and all the Tongan people speak to the ice cream man.

I just thought you should know
I’m tired of seeing what people do on the streets,
and I’m tired of being part of it.

I just thought you should know,
I want to say hello again to the ice cream man.

Dedicated to Z


“Ice Cream Man” previously appeared in There Had to Have Been Someone, 2011.


Rose, age 16, wrote “Ice Cream Man” with the Pongo Teen Writing Project, which teaches and mentors personal poetry by distressed teens all over King County, especially those who have a hard time expressing themselves. Pongo is the brainchild of poet Richard Gold, who has worked tirelessly to create, maintain, and promote this program that helps  youth understand their feelings, build self-esteem, and take better control of their lives. Pongo’s trained volunteers establish writing projects inside juvenile detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites.  The Pongo web site provides writing opportunities and invites youth to write poetry on the web site.  They also happily share resources and teaching methods with counselors and teachers, all for free. The program was featured on KING5 News in Seattle yesterday.

Pongo Teen Writing Project from Richard Gold on Vimeo.

Student Poem

True Music


Playing an instrument is like reading a book
With each stroke, the plot thickens and creates a hook
It starts off happy, until disaster comes
Music explodes like thunder then is followed by quiet hums
Caused by the disaster no one knew would come

Music begins returning as a hero appears in the gloom
Slowly, a magnificent crescendo fills the room
For the hero began the battle with the dreaded evil that lay before him
The song’s intense, as well as the battle
But the hero is winning, and his rival starts to cower

For the battle is finally over
As peace is restored to the land
Both with song and story
Beginning to end



Kevin is an eighth grader in Janet Freece’s Language Arts class at Mt. Solo Middle School in Longview. I visited last month and had the pleasure of hearing Kevin and many of his classmates recite their own poems as well as classic poems like “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service and “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. They had also worked on a project “interviewing” dead poets, and turned some of their questions on me. Congratulations to Janet for creating so much enthusiasm in her classroom for poetry!