A Teacher's Writes

by Geoffrey Sheehy

Category: Poetry I’ve Written

Filling out report cards, I’m inspired to write a poem


Entering a student’s grade,
I examine the empty comment-box
and consider my options:

Pleasure in class.
Enjoy having this student.
Has trouble staying on task.

Who invented this genre?
How far back does it go?

Did Mary stow in a chest a secret pile of scrolls
from her son’s schooling –
qualitative tidbits inserted into the margin by a row of alphas?

Excels at sharing.
Memorizes Torah like he wrote it.
Speaks with confidence and authority.

But if she had them,
they’re now lost,
possibly because they were not kept by my mother,

who has preserved even that most inaccurate message
I brought home during kindergarten,
slipped into the margin beside the letter S:

Shy and withdrawn around others.


Image Attribution:

Original image: ‘steph04‘ by: Stephanie Pakrul

A haiku celebrating how much one can fit into Japanese forms

One trip to Menards,
One Toyota Corolla,
One tired husband.

Watching a Storm: a poem

I plan to edit this post unapologetically as I allow this poem to sit with me, so if you read my blog even semi-regularly, you might find it oddly interesting to see how it grows

To my neighbor at the coming of a storm

To the window we come,
the rain has called us.

Or was it the hail we saw when we arrived,
leaping off the pavement like oil from a skillet?

Whoever called, it was the plinking on the air conditioners
that alerted us,

that notified us of the grandiose show
outside our picture window.

You must have heard the same call,
because you’ve stepped onto your porch and are looking around the corner,

inspecting the potential damage
before sitting on a bench the wicker chair to enjoy the spectacle.

Here we are: you, Ellen, and me I,
Three meager frail creatures awestruck before the power of a storm.

Why, then, am I not watching it anymore?
Why, then, am I only watching you,

sitting with your legs crossed,
your hands flat on the arms of the chair,

looking out across your porch’s railing,
a peaceful island untouched by a raging storm?

Mothers at a Playground – a poem


Mothers at a Playground

What if, instead of a rugby team crashing
in the Andes mountains of Chile,
these moms here
at the playground
were trapped together?

There, at the picnic table munching
at her children’s Happy Meals as they spin
satisfied on the merry-go-round,
a thief.

Unwittingly, she’d snitch
through the rations while listening
to the radio for help.

But in front of her,
with the magazine-cover looks, puffing
a cigarette like an inhaler, barking
with the Wolfman’s scratch at her daughter
the savior,

Toughened by life,
prepared for desperation,
able to climb a mountain
to run for help
because it is nothing new.


Hear the Podcast


Original image: ‘Rings‘ by: Jaaaaaaaaaaaaay

The Coldest I’ve Ever Been

Too often I assign interesting writing prompts to my students, prompts I find intriguing and worth doing, but I do not write them myself. Today I did differently. I showed them this No Traces photo and asked them, What is the coldest you have ever been?


One Who’s Done Cold

I want to be a guy who has done cold,
Who lives in Jack London stories
But knows how to build a fire.
Sleeping in a snowbank, climbing with axes, burying mercury.

But I haven’t done that.

I did work in a warehouse with no heat,
wrapped in long underwear and Carhart’s best,
sliding boxes
inch by inch,
row by row,

just to make my blood cells flow.

By 2:00 I’d guzzle gas station hot chocolate.
By 3:30 I’d tap-dance a frozen sole tune.
By 4:00 I’d race Jim,
a fifty year old father of four,
down the aisles,

And we’d both lose.

By 5:30 I’d be done,
Ready to head home and read
The year’s best adventure stories

by a heating vent.


Photo credit: Stumped by NoTraces, released under an Attribution, Non-commercial Creative Commons license

An Image of Plenty

Ah! The bagels!

In my joy at remembering
pancakes, I forgot
these bits of bready goodness

until, while returning the butter,
the cream cheese alerted me
of my mistake.

Tomorrow, my friends!
Tomorrow, I meet you
for coffee.

Copyright 2007- Geoffrey Sheehy

Photographing Western South Dakota

I stop along 44 –
I’ve chosen the out of the way route across the state –
and snap a photo of an abandoned shack.

It’s as perfect a composition
as I’ve ever captured:
on each plank of vertical siding, grey, weather worn edges frame
rich streaks of golden brown.
The entire structure leans right
towards the plot’s one tree, 20 yards off:
a reach for solidarity,
and a danger to any occupant.
The tree stands straight,
and I include it prominently,
a defiant foil to the defeated, long absent tenants
and to their desperate house.
Behind the house the plains slope up,
a light tan backdrop suggesting
the beginning of an endless, undulating ocean
of grass.

Smug again on my two-lane highway,
having taken another shot that proves my route
makes all the difference,
one wonders:
Am I an artist with a discerning eye
for originality and beauty?
Or am I like the mother robin
nesting beneath that shack’s battered eve,
regurgitating what I have found elsewhere?

Does it matter?

The newly hatched robin, squawking desperately
in its nest,
will eat hundreds of its mother’s old meals
before ever gulping an original worm;
and this photo, when I blow it up to a 5×7
and matte it in a Hobby Lobby frame,
will hang only in my hall,
to be considered only by my wife, kids,
and a few compassionate friends.

This poem is the property of Geoffrey Sheehy should not be republished in any form without the writer’s consent.