Thoughtful Thursday: Summer 2020

Thoughtful Thursday: Summer 2020

A bit of a hodgepodge for Summer 2020 poems in today’s Thoughtful Thursday:  two poems celebrating familiar visions of summer (Fireflies!  Kool-Aid!) and one prayer/poem that reminds us that our focus this summer must include more sobering and critical visions.

Jacqueline Woodson, who brings us “Firefly”, is an award-winning of over 30 books for children and young adults, who served as the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.  Marcus Jackson, who delights us with his “Ode to Kool-Aid” , teaches in the MFA program at Ohio State University.  His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review and The New Yorker, among other publications.  Nikki Grimes (“You Still Dream”) is a New York Times bestselling poet and author and recipient of the 2017 Children’s Literature Legacy Medal and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.

Share these poems with your children–read them aloud together–and enjoy.

Firefly

It’s almost May
and yesterday
I saw a firefly.
You don’t see
them a lot
in the city.
Sometimes
in the park
in the near dark
one comes out
you’ll hear
a little kid shout
Lightning bug! Firefly!
It’s almost May
and yesterday
I caught a firefly in my hand.
First firefly I
seen in a
long, long time.
Make a wish,
Miss Edna said.
Make a good one.
Firefly wishes always come true.

Jacqueline Woodson

Ode to Kool-Aid

You turn the kitchen
tap’s metallic stream
into tropical drink,
extra sugar whirlpooling
to the pitcher-bottom
like gypsum sand.
Purplesaurus Rex, Roarin’
Rock-A-Dile Red, Ice Blue
Island Twist, Sharkleberry Fin;
on our tongues, each version
keeps a section, like tiles
on the elemental table.
In ninth grade, Sandra
employed a jug of Black Cherry
to dye her straightened
bangs burgundy.
When toddlers swallow you,
their top lips mustache in color
as if they’ve kissed paint.
The trendy folks can savor
all that imported mango nectar
and health-market juice.
We need factory-crafted packets,
unpronounceable ingredients,
a logo cute enough to hug,
a drink unnaturally sweet
so that, on the porch,
as summer sun recedes,
Granddad takes out his teeth
to make more mouth to admit you.

Marcus Jackson

You Still Dream

Here, poem meets prayer.
We are exceedingly comfortable
with posturing and self-defense
that masquerade as apology.
But what’s needed in this moment
is unmixed confession
of our nation’s sin,
deep and indefensible.
“Now I lay me down to sleep”
must make way for
something more muscular:
sack cloth and ashes,
prayer and fasting,
naked prostration.
Daniel understood
radical repentance begins
with this unvarnished profession:
You are righteous,
and we are not.
Please heal our nation.
Cleanse our stubborn hearts.
Show each of us what part to play.
Broken as Judah and Jerusalem,
we cry and come bending our will
toward the good
you dream for us still,
no matter our sin,
no matter what skin
we’re in.

Nikki Grimes

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