Tag Archives: Thoughtful Thursday

Thoughtful Thursday: Never Forget. Talk to Your Sons About September 11

The young men and women entering college this year were in kindergarten on September 11, 2001. This means that many of our children have limited to no personal recollection of the horrific events of that day. One of the phrases most frequently quoted in reference to 9/11 is “Never Forget”. But how do we make sure our school aged sons (and our daughters) know about and remember the events of September 11th?

911memorial.org, the site of the 911 Memorial Museum and Sculpture in New York City, found here, has a lot of good tips and articles to help you talk with your children about the events of September 11. Of particular interest to parents should be the “Teach and Learn” section of the site. There you will find suggestions on how to talk to your children of varying ages about 9/11, lesson plans about the event designed for students in grades K-12, teaching guides, webcasts, and lots of other helpful materials.

Although the actual day has now passed, your sons may come home more curious about 9/11 after hearing about it in school. Take some time to check out this site, and spend some time this weekend chatting with them about what our nation endured. The older students may be particularly focused on this issue in view of the current ISIS threat. Be sure to take a look at the War/Terrorism materials on the National Association of School Psychologist website, found here, for help with managing your son’s questions and concerns about terrorism.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Spring Poems

Notwithstanding the strong chill in the air and the whipping winds that continue to greet us each morning on the East Coast, it is Spring, so it is about time that we pay tribute to the season on Thoughtful Thursday. We shall do so with a hodgepodge of poems about Spring.

We begin with two poems by classic African American poets: “Spring Song” written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Langston Hughes’ ode to Spring, “In Time of Silver Rain”.

We conclude with two contemporary poets’ works, “In Perpetual Spring” by Amy Gerstler, which was included in her book of poetry which won the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award, and “Today” by Billy Collins, who served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. Enjoy.

Spring Song

A blue–bell springs upon the ledge,
A lark sits singing in the hedge;
Sweet perfumes scent the balmy air,
And life is brimming everywhere.
What lark and breeze and bluebird sing,
Is Spring, Spring, Spring!

No more the air is sharp and cold;
The planter wends across the wold,
And, glad, beneath the shining sky
We wander forth, my love and I.
And ever in our hearts doth ring
This song of Spring, Spring!

For life is life and love is love,
‘Twixt maid and man or dove and dove.
Life may be short, life may be long,
But love will come, and to its song
Shall this refrain for ever cling
Of Spring, Spring, Spring!

Paul Laurence Dunbar

In Time of Silver Rain

In time of silver rain
The earth puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads

Of Life,
Of Life,
Of life!

In time of silver rain
The butterflies lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth new leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,

In time of silver rain
When spring
And life
Are new.

Langston Hughes

In Perpetual Spring

Gardens are also good places
to sulk. You pass beds of
spiky voodoo lilies
and trip over the roots
of a sweet gum tree,
in search of medieval
plants whose leaves,
when they drop off
turn into birds
if they fall on land,
and colored carp if they
plop into water.

Suddenly the archetypal
human desire for peace
with every other species
wells up in you. The lion
and the lamb cuddling up.
The snake and the snail, kissing.
Even the prick of the thistle,
queen of the weeds, revives
your secret belief
in perpetual spring,
your faith that for every hurt
there is a leaf to cure it.

Amy Gerstler

Today

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

Billy Collins

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Thoughtful Thursday: It’s National Poetry Month!

epc_poetry-month

April is National Poetry month, and in honor of this, today’s Thoughtful Thursday will feature two poems about writing poetry. John Brehm’s “The Poems I Have Not Written”, and Billy Collins’ “Workshop,” use humor to offer insight into the poetry writing process. Enjoy.

The Poems I Have Not Written

I’m so wildly unprolific, the poems
I have not written would reach
from here to the California coast
if you laid them end to end.

And if you stacked them up,
the poems I have not written
would sway like a silent
Tower of Babel, saying nothing

and everything in a thousand
different tongues. So moving, so
filled with and emptied of suffering,
so steeped in the music of a voice

speechless before the truth,
the poems I have not written
would break the hearts of every
woman who’s ever left me,

make them eye their husbands
with a sharp contempt and hate
themselves for turning their backs
on the very source of beauty.

The poems I have not written
would compel all other poets
to ask of God: “Why do you
let me live? I am worthless.

please strike me dead at once,
destroy my works and cleanse
the earth of all my ghastly
imperfections.” Trees would

bow their heads before the poems
I have not written. “Take me,”
they would say, “and turn me
into your pages so that I

might live forever as the ground
from which your words arise.”
The wind itself, about which
I might have written so eloquently,

praising its slick and intersecting
rivers of air, its stately calms
and furious interrogations,
its flutelike lingerings and passionate

reproofs, would divert its course
to sweep down and then pass over
the poems I have not written,
and the life I have not lived, the life

I’ve failed even to imagine,
which they so perfectly describe.

John Brehm

Workshop

I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title.
It gets me right away because I’m in a workshop now
so immediately the poem has my attention,
like the Ancient Mariner grabbing me by the sleeve.

And I like the first couple of stanzas,
the way they establish this mode of self-pointing
that runs through the whole poem
and tells us that words are food thrown down
on the ground for other words to eat.
I can almost taste the tail of the snake
in its own mouth,
if you know what I mean.

But what I’m not sure about is the voice,
which sounds in places very casual, very blue jeans,
but other times seems standoffish,
professorial in the worst sense of the word
like the poem is blowing pipe smoke in my face.
But maybe that’s just what it wants to do.

What I did find engaging were the middle stanzas,
especially the fourth one.
I like the image of clouds flying like lozenges
which gives me a very clear picture.
And I really like how this drawbridge operator
just appears out of the blue
with his feet up on the iron railing
and his fishing pole jigging—I like jigging—
a hook in the slow industrial canal below.
I love slow industrial canal below. All those l’s.

Maybe it’s just me,
but the next stanza is where I start to have a problem.
I mean how can the evening bump into the stars?
And what’s an obbligato of snow?
Also, I roam the decaffeinated streets.
At that point I’m lost. I need help.

The other thing that throws me off,
and maybe this is just me,
is the way the scene keeps shifting around.
First, we’re in this big aerodrome
and the speaker is inspecting a row of dirigibles,
which makes me think this could be a dream.
Then he takes us into his garden,
the part with the dahlias and the coiling hose,
though that’s nice, the coiling hose,
but then I’m not sure where we’re supposed to be.
The rain and the mint green light,
that makes it feel outdoors, but what about this wallpaper?
Or is it a kind of indoor cemetery?
There’s something about death going on here.

In fact, I start to wonder if what we have here
is really two poems, or three, or four,
or possibly none.

But then there’s that last stanza, my favorite.
This is where the poem wins me back,
especially the lines spoken in the voice of the mouse.
I mean we’ve all seen these images in cartoons before,
but I still love the details he uses
when he’s describing where he lives.
The perfect little arch of an entrance in the baseboard,
the bed made out of a curled-back sardine can,
the spool of thread for a table.
I start thinking about how hard the mouse had to work
night after night collecting all these things
while the people in the house were fast asleep,
and that gives me a very strong feeling,
a very powerful sense of something.
But I don’t know if anyone else was feeling that.
Maybe that was just me.
Maybe that’s just the way I read it.

Billy Collins

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Thoughtful Thursday: Classic Expressions to Share with your Sons

Yes, we know it is not Thursday. But we so love Thoughtful Thursday that even though we were not able to post yesterday, we are posting it today. When we were unable to post, the old expression “a day late and a dollar short” rang in our ears. So, we’ve decided to devote today’s Thoughtful Thursday to favorite expressions our parents and grandparents always used, which got to the heart of so many matters. We’ve included brief definitions in case you haven’t heard them. Do you know all of these? Do your children? Enjoy.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short— late and unprepared

That and 50 cents will get you on the subway— A New York City based expression (established some time ago, since it has been a while since the subway fare was 50 cents), meaning don’t get too caught up with yourself.

Don’t spit on my head and tell me it is raining— don’t try to fool me

You make your bed hard you lie in it hard –you must suffer the consequences of your actions

(Give it) a lick and a promise— a quick cleaning

Between a rock and a hard place— having a very tough decision to make

(I have) a bone to pick with you — an issue which needs resolving

Champagne tastes and beer money (or beer budget)–big budget tastes on a small budget

If wishes were horses beggars would ride–if you could wish your way to success everyone would do so

That’s the pot calling the kettle black–you’re accusing others of things you do

They put their pants on one leg at a time–no one is more special than anyone else

Are the favorite sayings your parents or grandparents said here? If not, please share yours!

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Thoughtful Thursday: Christmas Poems

Season’s Greetings, Everyone! This being the last Thoughtful Thursday before Christmas, we bring to you three Christmas poems by very well known poets. Maya Angelou read her poem “Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem” at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House on December 1, 2005.

“Carol of the Brown King”, and “Shepherd’s Song at Christmas”, both by by Langston Hughes, are found in a collection of his Nativity poems for children. Enjoy!!!

Choose-One-FOr-Celebration

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

― Maya Angelou

Carol of the Brown King

Of the three wise men
Who came to the King,
One was a brown man,
So they sing.

Of the three wise men
Who followed the star,
One was a brown king
From afar.

They brought fine gifts
Of spices and gold
In jeweled boxes
Of beauty untold.

Unto His humble
Manger they came
And bowed their heads
In Jesus’ name.

Three wise men,
One dark like me –
Part of His
Nativity.

Langston Hughes

Shepherd’s Song of Christmas

Look there at the star!
I, among the least,
Will arise and take
A journey to the East.
But what shall I bring
As a present for the King?
What shall I bring to the Manger?
I will bring a song,
A song that I will sing,
In the Manger.
Watch out for my flocks,
Do not let them stray.
I am going on a journey
Far, far away.
But what shall I bring
As a present for the Child?
What shall I bring to the Manger?
I will bring a lamb,
Gentle, meek, and mild,
A lamb for the Child
In the Manger.
I’m just a shepherd boy,
Very poor I am—–
But I know there is
A King in Bethlehem.
What shall I bring
As a present just for Him?
What shall I bring to the Manger?
I will bring my heart
And give my heart to Him.
I will bring my heart
To the Manger.

Langston Hughes

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Thoughtful Thursday: Autumn Poems

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday is brought to you by Autumn. It was a blustery late afternoon here in New York City, and the swirling leaves remind us that fall is truly upon us. A childhood favorite about the wind, which should be shared with all little ones, joins another poem and a few quotes about this lovely season. Enjoy!!!

images

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Christina Rossetti

November Night

Listen…
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.

Adelaide Crapsey

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
George Elliot

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
John Muir

Autumn asks that we prepare for the future —that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go—to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness. Bonaro W. Overstreet

Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.
William Cullen Bryant

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Thoughtful Thursday: Inspirational Quotes

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday thoughts were found in a small blue book called “Famous Black Quotations and some not so famous” which has graced my shelf for as long as I can remember. Here are a few quotes to think about and share with your sons.

Frederick_Douglass_c1860s

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
Frederick Douglass

Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get.
Frederick Douglass

Strategy is better than strength.
Hausa Legend

One feels his two-ness–an American, A Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
W.E.B. DuBois

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
Ralph Ellison

Your world is as big as you make it.
Georgia Douglas Johnson

A child who is to be successful is not reared exclusively on a bed of down.
Akan Proverb

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.
Malcolm X

Mastery of language affords remarkable power.
Frantz Fanon

Nothing succeeds like success.
Alexandre Dumas

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