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Monday, April 1, 2013

National Poetry Month: A running list of guest poems

Throughout April to celebrate National Poetry Month, the America SCORES National Poetry SLAM! April 8, and the spoken-word aspect of our after-school program, we're asking supporters of our program to submit their original works to us. We will republish this blog each time we add a poem. Interested in submitting a work? Email Communications Coordinator Jake Lloyd.

4.30.2-13 -Rhapsody in Black and Blue
6 years ago a preteen tupac biggie smalls jay z wannabee living in a maryland suburb who still manages to dress like a complete neanderthal hobo hot headed jerk
kicked my butt in summer camp.
thinking back to it now
all I can say is
I didn’t really know what insecurity tasted like at the moment
I’m somewhat grateful for your hells kitchen of a reality check
I must’ve upset the balance somewhere
in between idly sitting at your snack table
and pretending not to notice the insults
but no
that didn’t really matter to you
I could hear it in your eyes
2 black holes begging for an excuse to break something
like your home
as your father attempts to crack open a beer bottle with the back of your head
my skull and your attempts to crack open your inferiority complex
with the back of my head
nothing like the rhythm of your own blood thrashing against itself to remind you that
some people hurt others only for the sake of hurting
I don’t hate him
don’t even remember his name
just sounds
a sonata
of two fists ricocheting against my spine in harmony
with every time you were taught that
you weren’t useful unless moving something
training conductors of discord
things would have been different
if the teacher would have taken the time to listen
to the melody in his heartbeat
it could have stopped the crescendos in my skin  
teachers have no idea how easy they can change someone
bullying is like music
the more you’re exposed to it
the quicker it defines you
I’d know
trained in the way of sticks and stones
breaking smiles while breaking bones
learned that instilling fear is the only way not to be afraid anymore
I was trained well
6 years ago
by a kid who didn’t realize how contagious his knuckles were
and the counselor who didn’t bother to ask why he hit me
just another fight
it’s always just another fight
never more than a problem with too quick of a solution
stop it, and go...no need to ask questions
so we raise our hands
like we were taught
no one can hurt you if you hurt them first
in Kung Fu
my instructor taught me that my body was an orchestra
and all of the violence I seemed to spray with every step
was only making the ensemble sound bad
so I now lift pens before I do palms
a conductors of discord turned to rhapsody
bullying is like music
the more you’re exposed to it
the quicker it defines you
so teachers be the song you wish to hear in this world
because you have no idea how easy you can change someone
if you just sit down and listen

By Kosi Dunn
DC Youth Slam Team 

4.29.2013- Upside Down

Rubber pounding on pine needles.
Blithely recognize "it's a beautiful day".

Pause. Breathe. Lay Down. Sit Ups.
Inverted eyes to the sky.

Blithe beauty turns to stunning sublime.
A Van Gogh kaleidoscope of azure and green.

Runners recline.
Dead poets rise up.
Preachers listen.
Soldiers meditate.

Inversion to clarity.

By Lynsey Wood Jeffries, Executive Director 
Higher Achievement DC Metro

A Triplet of Soccer Haikus
Haiku #1
Jersey to her knees
The littlest on her team
Waiting patiently

Haiku #2
Sweat on their faces
The whistle sounds for half time
Breathing, “Finally”

Haiku #3
Hustle to the ball
Running, sprinting, trying hard
Never sub me out

By Emily Schulman, Community Outreach Coordinator

Education Haiku
 All kids can excel
We must help make it happen
Best job in world

 By Chancellor Kaya Henderson
DC Public Schools
The Story of DC SCORES

In 1994 a young teacher stood
And gazed out her window, at her desk made of wood.
Spotting eight girls idle on the field at Marie Reed
She immediately identified extracurricular need

Out the corner of her eye, a soccer ball she spied
And memories from her own childhood warmed her inside
She picked up the ball, put it under her arm
Could it be the key to keeping eight girls from harm?

Ms.  Kennedy switched out her flats for some sneaks
Thus starting a tradition that would go on for weeks
That’s right, every day the girls would play soccer
Ms. Kennedy was a doer, and not just a talker

Then along came November and with it Jack Frost
And when 3:30 came the girls they felt lost
They went to the door of Ms. Kennedy’s room
With looks of frustration and distress and gloom

“There’s snow on the ground and the temp’s below zero
What will we do now, Ms. Kennedy, our hero?!”
“What could replace soccer when the weather got bad?”
The young teacher thought. An idea she had!

The girls could write poems, and recite them with flare
She knew that they all had ideas to share
They filled writers’ notebooks with odes & haikus
Poetry & Soccer? This combo can’t lose!

So news began spreading of the girls’ team at Reed.
And teachers at other schools said “THAT’S what we NEED!”
She named it D-C-S-C-O-R-E-S
An afterschool program!  We think it’s the best!

Combining academics, athletics, and arts
The demand for the program was clear off the charts
Principals adopted it, Ward 8 to Ward 3
The largest OST CBO in DC

But as large as the program grew, t’was but a seed
Conversations began around deeply felt need
For a national program called America Scores
With affiliates in New York, New England and more

DC is still at it, in 42 schools
With the program components Ms. K gave us as tools
“If it’s not broke don’t fix it” ‘s what I like to say,
So Viva America SCORES & the DC SCORES way!

By Cory Chimka
DC SCORES Program Director

4.28.2013 -- Eggplant
I remember the first time you cooked eggplant.
It was disgusting.

I ate that over cooked vegetable smiles and all,
and told you it was perfect.
Know that I hate lying to you.
I remember staring at that sloppy goop that you called food.
It didn’t really fill my hunger,
but it filled my love.
Overflowed it actually.
I told you I wanted to try eggplant.
And you did your best to make a food you had no interest in,
and we ate it together.

You’re moving to Alabama on Saturday.
And I’ll still be here in DC.
Make sure you tell your new friends of when you made eggplant
for a little sister 
that tried her best to keep you like memories,
and tried and still trying to understand like you do to her mistakes…
and mistrials…

Big sister,
just don’t forget about me.
Don’t you dare do it.
Keep my pictures as if they were me, you can scream at them if needed.
Alabama is 13 hours and 46 minutes and 809 miles away.
You told me that Skype has the ability to make distance
only computer screens away,
I’ll take your word for it.
You’re gonna be gone for a year.
There’s gonna be a lot we both are going to miss.
Like rugby games and slams,
and a boyfriends we both may have.

I cried, 
a lot,
when you told me.
The tears sometimes flow when realization 
decides to knock on the bedroom door where you are supposed to be.
I love you, remember that.
We’re both scared, and that’s okay I guess.
Only failed Internet and missed calls can separate us,
even then I’ll mail you.

I love you,
so I understand you need this.
I guess it’s time for me to grow up, 
grow more into myself.
And when you visit,
be prepared for my failure of an eggplant being served.

By Mariam Coker
DC Youth Slam Team 

4.26.2013 -- Haiku
A delicate wind
Blossom heavy branches dance
DC awakens

By Maggie Riden

Executive Director
DC Alliance of Youth Advocates

4.23.2013 -- Do you count your change?
there are
puddles at dead end avenues, where
no rays of light show longitude or direction

and boundless expansive annual practices endeavor, 
seeking and looking for balance through 
belief in growth and perseverance

he steps along the curb working on each word
to recognize the one who counts her change
Does your change count?

a moment in a moment eyes focus on a thought
life bounces along the street where a person needs
just another one
to meet

freely divulging across rocks in the river
working toward the bank inside
blindfolded leading each to a new side
time works with patience as a journey, unfurls inside

By David Grosso
At-large Councilmember
District of Columbia

4.23.2013 -- DC SCORES Diamante

exciting, competitive
dribbling, passing, shooting
teamwork, goals, emotions, ideas
writing, sharing, performing
expressive, creative

By Sean Hinkle, Associate Director for Program Quality

4.22.2013- Message to Boston

By Hannah, age 7

4.21.2013 -- Where I'm From
I am from the Golden State
Where seagulls fly
And trees tower high in shades of red

I am from winding mountain trails
That rise up
To overlook the crystal blue bay

I am from scraped knees
And sunburned summers

I am from a home
With maple wood floors
And the love of many generations

I am from a long line of storytellers
With humble hearts 
And pasts untold

I am from a golden state

By Jacqui Kemp, Program Coordinator

4.18.2013 -- Game Day
Friends, Family, Fresh-Cut Grass

By Amy Nakamoto, Executive Director


4.17.2013 -- DC SCORES Pride

This is for team awesome yo
This is how we roll

By Tim Spear, Carlos Fonseca, Libby Watkins

Soccer Operations

4.15.2013 -- Soccer Haiku

Running down the field
Wind is whipping in my face
Soccer makes me smile.
By Carlos Fonseca
Program Manager, Soccer Operations

4.12.2013- "snapshots inside a volcano"

write what i can’t say
be tomorrow what i can’t today
fly when i can’t cry
cry when i can’t speak
a prayer written on air
stretched across a field of visions
what’s under my skin
for reviewing measure
i would…i don’t know what i would do without it i guess
find another way to breathe
find something else to give myself to like a husband
faithful and grateful
how she listens
i tell her everything anytime anyway
i wanna say it
it’s ok
she doesn’t mind at all
she isn’t mine at all
i don’t want to own her but i owe her freely
know her deeply
show her the real me
she shows me the real me
i write my reflection
snapshot with a caption

By KoM, Spoken Word Artist
Founder, Spoken Word Radio

4.8.2013 — "Eager for Spring"
Seeds sprouting

Pollen dusting
Bulbs bursting
Birds chattering

Sharp blue afternoon sky
Calls for cleats
To thunder over moist earth
Hearts racing
Feet flying
It's soccer spring!

Cherry blossoms raining down
Call for legs
To stretch and pivot
Muscles flexing
Blood pumping
It's soccer spring!

Together again with my team
I laugh and huddle 
Feeling safe
Feeling strong
Feeling eager
Ready to take the field.
Let's get out there!
By Jessica Trevelyan, Grants Manager

4.6.2013 -- "Black is Beautiful"

How can anyone hide, deny, beg to differ with, or refuse to comply with the fact that Black is Beautiful?

They say beauty is skin deep but how can we not breath a sigh of relief, and say thank you God for features so unique that no medical procedure, tanning booth, lip injection, butt implant, or botox can replicate, re-create, duplicate, simulate or  carbon-copy?

So, why must my people be dissatisfied with the fact that our skin glistens when the sun kisses it as it protrudes from the sky? Bleach your skin, WHY?!?!?, My little niece came home from school one day  and said she was dissatisfied with the darkness of her skin and she’s not even five.

Why must  my sisters cry when ignorant, insolent individuals poke fun, or try to make them feel insecure about being blessed with big lips, big hips and big thighs?

Why must my brothers perpetuate stereotypes that make all black men look like they get high, have criminal minds, and are morally, ethically and spiritually deprived?  

We need to teach our children that they are a prize, sent to earth by the most high , and that their vessels so divine, to be used for the betterment of man kind, and that their forces to be recognized, not denied, so like John Legend said, let them shine.

I want a Son and when I give birth to him, I will name him Zion, a name often defined as the highest point.  I will raise him to have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to be treated like a prize. I want him to study the lives of his ancestors and to know that his blood line derived from a pipeline of slaves and a country rich with Diamond mines. I want him to know the history of his people being robbed blind, sought of like what’s happening now, just a little more disguised.

I want him to defy stereotypes, tell racists to take off their blinds, confidently look them in their eyes, and say I love you, but my love for you is not blind.  I want him to love even those who hate him, even though unconditional love is something I still battle, but that DOES NOT take away from the fact that I am black and I am beautiful

So no, I will NOT  hide deny beg to differ with or refuse to comply with the face that black is beautiful.

I can’t change the fact that I’m black nor do I want to

Because black people are made of the richest blood, the toughest skin and boldest courage. Exclusive characteristics passed down from generation to generation.  From generations when we were enslaved,, whipped with chains, put on boats and sold for spare change, to a generation when we worked on plantations , were divided and conquered,  taught to hate ourselves, and beaten for wanting to learn how to read, now we are authors, we write books, we write symphonies and poetry. 

Lets go back in History shall we

Remember Black Wall Street, Tulsa Oklahoma, the beginning of the 20th Century, 1908 specifically?  Blacks owned flourishing businesses, sold goods and services to one another and kept money flowing within the Greenwood community. But then in the early 1920s  racist white mobs burned down that community, the result of deceit, hatred, bigotry, and jealousy.

Remember the Harlem Renaissance flourishing in the 1920’s and 1930’s when this literary, artistic, and intellectual movement fostered a new black cultural identity?,

Remember Chuck Berry, the blues sped up also known as “ rock and roll” and when white folks stole it and said it was a creation of their own?  

And we cant forget about 2008, we made history, when President Barack Obama successfully defeated John McCain and became the first African American to lead our country.

I love that, regardless of past, present and expected future hardships, black people remain strong, solid, and shining just like black onyx.  Relentlessly pushing forward, all the while smiling

So, how dare you hide, deny, beg to differ with, or refuse to comply with the fact that Black is Beautiful?

By Kavon Ward, DC SCORES coach

Kelly Miller Middle School


Torches held up high 
Warming hope's aspirations 
Go now! It's that time. 

By Pierre Vigilance 

DC SCORES Board Member

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