First Grade Impressions

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Teachers thrive on order…
When I was young on my first day of school
One little boy cried tears to fill a pool
The classroom was a scary place that day
Marching in line // no time to poke or play
Our small wooden desks were in long straight lines
Like staunch rigid backbones of long straight spines
Evenly spaced with seats that folded down
Waiting for life where none was to be found
Not a soul whispered //no one made a sound
We all sat stiff and rigid as the teacher made her rounds
Every child’s little heart was now beating fast
I wondered in my mind if this would last
Turns out I’m not made for rigid rows of desks
nor for all those difficult tests
I seem to have one foot outside the box
With a mind running free to write my thoughts

Painting: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse we are looking at the word order and applying it to poetry. Lara asked us to write a poem that reflects how we feel about order.  I have never been one to stay inside the lines so order for me has always been difficult as you see in my poem above. You can see First Grade in school made quite an impression on me!

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Two Falling Stars

IMG_E8285Two falling stars in a universe of billions
Sometimes clashing like two knives cutting
Bleeding rightness // then finding we are wrong
Seeking forgiveness //pledging to get along
Entangled in the night like the roots of a tree
Holding on to the foundation that keeps us free
We are two bodies // waves of ebb and flow
In an ocean of night, as days come and go
Age brings with it // fossils // embedded in stone
Looking back with nostalgia as the sun sets all alone
We are pieces of the universe on collision course
When two falling stars embedded with great force
Forever lie together in the dust of the earth

Today at d’Verse we are looking at international poetry. It is easy for poetry intent to get lost in translation.  Lara gave us poems from three different international poets and asked us to pick one that inspired us and write it in our own perspective. I chose, Two Bodies, by the Mexican poet Octavio Paz.  You can read the original version below:

Octavio Paz (1914-1998) – Another Spanish speaker and more recent Nobel prize winner. Born in Mexico, he was a political activist, ambassador and essayist so that much of his poetry reads like prose poems, “written within the perpetual motion and transparencies of the eternal present tense.” 
Two Bodies
Two bodies face to face
are at times two waves
and night is an ocean.

Two bodies face to face
are at times two stones
and night a desert.
Two bodies face to face
are at times two roots
laced into night.
Two bodies face to face
are at times two knives
and night strikes sparks.
Two bodies face to face
are two stars falling
in an empty sky.


Painting: Dwight L. Roth

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First Grade Impressions


I found it very interesting that Amaya from d’Verse asked us to write about our memories of School. I just painted this large paddle from the Habitat Restore yesterday. The manager at the store gave me the paddle and said paint something on it. I decided to paint my first grade classroom as I remember it.  This was in 1953 and we did not have kindergarten.

First Grade Impressions
How well I remember my first day at school
Where I learned to read and to follow the rules
Stern Mrs. Honsaker our teacher for the year
Standing there on the stoop // although no one cheered
How Frankie cried // he did not want to come in
With sister’s gentle help class could finally begin
Old wooden desks rode on 2 x 4 rows
Seats that lifted and holes for inkwells
Reading circle of chairs in the back of the room
We Learned to read Dick and Jane stories very soon
Potbellied coal stove hid behind teacher’s desk
And a steel surround wall dried gloves that were wet
Black slate chalkboards with printed letters above
At the bottom were erasers and chalk trays with grooves
Our coats all hung on metal hooks in the back
A place for my face when my work got slack

Our big fat pencils didn’t have erasers
Mistakes were not made //we had to be sure
Fear causes many different reactions
Chewed nails and chewed pencils hid my distraction
I did learn to read and a few of my numbers
But writing was a killer // at that I was a bumbler
I made it through first grade and passed on to second
But my teacher the next year was the same as the first one


Painting: Dwight L. Roth

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Illusions of Truth



Life a series of abstract images

Some realistic some absurd

Reality eludes the ideologist

Illusions of truth plague the pragmatist

Do we seek the photo image

Or blurred lines of enhanced color

Abstractions of truth stand alone

In the minds of all who follow

Distortions also stand alone

In media and pulpit

Abstraction better left

To paint slingers and sculptors

Leaving voyeurs of truth

To speculate on what they perceive

And claim it as their ownIMG_9804

Paintings: Dwight L. Roth

Leaving Our Mark


I believe most of us want to be remembered after we are gone. At least we hope our family will remember us for the short term. Perhaps some of our grandchildren will dig up a little of our past history, but we all know that after two or three generations what we thought were lasting impressions will have faded away. This is why it is so important to write our memoirs. They might sit on a shelf for fifty years, but at least they are there if someone in the future wants to get a glimpse of who we were and what we believed.

 Our Mark

Raindrops overnight surf falling leaves

Landing in the yard pasting to the driveway

Nipped by overnight frostbite they lay

Beautiful accents of brown and gray

On winds late-day

Leaves take their leave from the pavement

Visiting our neighbor’s yard instead

Imprints marking the concrete where lain

Tattooed fossils of rib and vein

Beautiful reminders not seen again

Just like us taking our leave of life

Having left our mark imprinted

On the lives we’ve touched

To be remembered in detail for a time

Only too soon we fade from the minds

As others make their mark

In our place and their time


Photos: Dwight L. Roth


Impressionable Minds


Children come into the world without bias, prejudice, or hate. Their minds are dry sponges in a world of wet experiences. Everything that goes into those sweet little minds determines how they will function as adults. Parents have an immense responsibility to make sure that what they soak up are values that will give them a foundation for life.


Impressionable minds

Virgin brains

Unpenetrated by bigotry or hate

A clean hard drive

Sponging up every detail of life


Impressionable minds

Seeing everything

Forgetting nothing

Imitating parents

Repeating what they hear

The good

The bad

The ugly


Tainted minds

Polluted with underlying bias

Picking up the hate

Imitating  bigotry


Impressionable minds

Can be filled with goodness

Bathed in Love

Full of Compassion

Exuding grace and forgiveness


What kind of parent are you

Your children will be

Your reincarnation


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Sticks and Stones



 One thing that I find disturbing is when parents talk ” junk” about their children. Apparently they don’t realize what they are stamping into those little beautiful heads that they brought into this world.  Labeling them as “the mean one” or “the dumb one” or “the bad one” is so destructive and will be with them all their life!  The Sticks and Stones poem is a farce. Words make a difference.

Sticks and Stones will break your bones

But names will never hurt you


Sticks and Stones will break my bones

And words will hurt me even more

Bones heal

Remembered from time to time

Words leave scars on the soul

Indelible marks

Never erased

Perhaps forgiven

But, always there

Just like it was yesterday