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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

National Poetry Month: A time to highlight everyone's self-expression and creativity

Throughout April to celebrate National Poetry Month, the America SCORES National Poetry SLAM! April 7, and the self-expression aspect of DC SCORES, we're asking supporters of our program to submit your original works to us (they can be already written or you can pen them now!). Poems can be about anything and can be any length. That's the beauty of poetry -- it's liberating! We will republish this blog each time we add a poem and will choose certain poems to feature on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Interested in submitting a work? Email Communications Manager Jake Lloyd.

April 30
What inspires me
Parents celebrating their children
Poems of 10-year-olds
My father-in-law's cooking
My parents' partnership
Alumni soccer games
Poetry Slams
Coaches' commitment
My sisters' joy
Relationship building
My unborn baby's movement
My husband's unwavering support
DC SCORES patches
Team shields
Other people's journeys
Creative teaching
Problem solving
Game day ties
The hope in our children's eyes

Katrina Owens
Senior Director of Programs

April 29
My Confession
I have a deep secret, and this is my confession,
Words thought but never uttered, of a self-taught lesson
Even the strongest can get sucked into a deep depression
Using smiles as denials to cover inner expressions

It’s hard to remain happy in a world of bad news
Any action can be the act in which lights ones fuse
Massacres happen daily out of the blue
Never knowing if the next victim could be you.
These thoughts used to consume my inner peace
Where’s hope for our children in a world infested with beast?

So I have this deep secret and this is my confession
Words thought but never uttered of a self-taught lesson

I lost faith in our children, humanity as a whole
I judged every walking being as a man without a soul
Only darkness could be seen with no light in sight
I felt like a lonely soldier defending the good fight
Defending the belief that if you try with all your might
You can excel in this world,
The black and the white
The poor and the wealthy
The sick and the healthy
The weak and the strong
The right and the wrong
I kept looking for answers but kept seeing the same faces
Not realizing that I was looking in all empty places.
I found hope in the dreams of the children on this earth
Dreams embedded in their minds from the moment of birth
But where’s the worth in a dream never fully outlived?
What’s the fairness in competition if the outcomes are rigged?
They say that every generation should upgrade from the last
But this generation in this nation is retracting to the past
The best scores on test scores are from children overseas
We pass kids to the next course making barely C’s and D’s
If violence swarms our news daily like a hovering storm
Should it be a shock that school shootings are becoming a norm?

But instead of solving the issue, the problems still linger
No one to take the blame, just the pointing of fingers
“It’s the parents fault; no let’s blame the teachers,
No let’s blame the church, put it on the preachers!
No let’s blame Obama, let’s blame the laws"
Let’s blame the economy and all of its flaws.
Yet we drop our jaws when the results arrive
Children placed in a world not equipped to survive

I had to share this secret, express my confessions,
I grabbed a mirror and began my courses of a self-taught lesson
Instead of making excuses for our children’s regression
I ask myself, what can I do to provide them progression?
Now, class is in session

Charity Blackwell
Soccer Coordinator

April 28
Panthers Proud Powerful
We are Panthers
What do we see?
A crisp vision of us making history
A determined group of children
Striving for excellence
No one or nothing can stop us
We preserve.
We leap over challenges
We claw at our fears
We wrestle with hurt
And embrace our tears
We are panthers!

We are Proud
We hold our heads high
But bragging is a NO
We turn our brains on and just let it flow
We work hard each and every day
To make ourselves, parents and teachers
Proud in every way
We show respect to ourselves and our peers
Our accomplishments are always followed by supportive cheers
We are proud!

We are Powerful
How can that be?
We fight a peaceful fight
And stand up for what’s right
We put our minds to all that we do
With undying hopes
That our dreams will come true.
Together we are super natural
We are strong beyond belief
Breaking down barriers making our voices heard
Believing that we can do it with every powerful word.
We are Powerful!

We are Poets
We express ourselves in words
We are rhyme, rhythm and beat
We put words together to DEFEAT!

Group poem 
Marie Reed Elementary School

April 27
See, Think, Wonder
I see segregation at the doorstep of my house
Dressed in what we call “modern times.”
I think it looks different, not the same as before
Because people are not so vocal.

I wonder if people of our time realize that segregation can become the obstacles of our life.

I see equality reaching the corners of our land.
I think it is needed because we are all different.

I wonder if people will become fair if we all joined together to make our world more peaceful and fair.

See, think, wonder.
What do we need to do?
To make our world more peaceful and fair.

Seaton Elementary School 
Group poem

April 26
The quiet one
shy? nah
aloof? maybe
observant? yes
sensitive? definitely yes

delicate in nature
bullish in attitude
sarcastic in practice
loving deep down
thoughtful always

a tall task of three
young, old, mature, baby
all mixed up
finding his way

quiet? nah . . .

Amy Nakamoto
Executive Director

April 25
First World Cup Problems
The internet slows
Random screams in the office
The World Cup is here

Sean Hinkle
Program Director for Quality

April 24
Game Day
It's about that time
Games start Thursday and Friday
See you all out there!

Carlos Fonseca
Program Manager -- Soccer Operations

April 23
The ultimate team
in sync, ebbs and flows
each one pushing at their own pace
bound by commonalities
flourishing by individuality

a fearless coach
or quiet leader
role by role
each member important

joy of success, defining winning
joy of defeat, learning from losing
brush each other off, high five for the good stuff

come back tomorrow
bound by friendship and respect
the ultimate team

Amy Nakamoto
Executive Director

April 22
Clint Smith's Ted Talk
Teacher and spoken word artist Clint Smith was the emcee during one of the nights of December's Poetry Slam!. In the embedded Ted Talk below, Smith sandwiches poems around a brief and enlightening talk about education. Give it a watch!

April 21
drowning, confused, hurried
think calm, slow breaths
find your way
step by step
to air
to light
to joy
over and over, drowning
and breathing

waves of people
waves of emotion
waves of love
waves of sadness

and breathing
to joy and light

Amy Nakamoto
Executive Director

April 20
Grandpa's Flag
The sun meets the horizon
Hues of pink bleed into the blue
He pauses.
Briefly: There is work to be done.

And the darkness approaches
His task beckons, his help arrives
He pulls.
Carefully: Every action precise.

Land of freedom, bravery's home
His heart beats to the song of pride
He's dedicated.
Always: Faithful deep down to his core.

Fold over fold, progress is made
Red and white disappear slowly
He supports.
Lovingly: He's teaching a new skill.

From grandfather to grandson
A tradition is being passed
Brightly: Shining on from sea to sea.

Retiring the colors
Generation to generation

Kara Dunford
Communications Intern

April 19
We are DCAYA
We type, we blog, we Tweet, we repeat,
We research, we report, we testify, we meet,
We do all these things so the youth of DC,
May live in a city where their needs are seen.

DC Alliance of Youth Advocates

April 18
Another Day on the METRO
Just missed the train by one min!
Still feel the fresh wind from the doors closing and being left behind.
Now I have to wait an extra 10 min
If it wasn't for that extra ESPN highlight
If it wasn't for that extra bite of cereal
If it wasn't for that extra scroll on my phone
If it wasn't for that extra trip to go back for my phone
If it wasn't for that extra goodbye to my pup
I wouldn't have missed it by one min
I wouldn't have that fresh wind from being left behind
I wouldn't have this extra 10 min to write this poem today!
.......Everything happens for a reason..........

Ron Thurston
Soccer Coordinator

April 17
A Recipe for Me
Mix four cups of willpower
with three cups of perseverance
Add one cup of sifted courage
Defrost 1 cup of honesty
Add to large bowl of strength

In separate bowl
Beat adventure until light and fluffy
Pour over 1/2 cup of packed loyalty
Add three heaping tablespoons of laughter

Heat friendship until softened
Two tablespoons of California sunshine
One dash of DC spring
Add daydreams to taste

Bake on 350 degrees until loved

Jacqui Kemp
Program Coordinator -- Training & Logistics

April 16
#42 — The man who changed the game
A ball sails into the distance,
children sit wide-eyed
wowed, basked in brilliance

Jackie Robinson.
The man who changed the game.
broke the color barrier
gave birth to
Hank Aaron's home run record,
Rickey Henderson's stolen bases.
Dwight Gooden's mastery
Heckled by fans when he stepped on the field
the target of death threats
thank GOD no email
hotels made him stay
in houses with black folk
alone, alone.

the ball spins toward equality
yet restaurants won't welcome him
told him to eat food in the alley
blacks watched him from:
back corners of ballparks
obstructed by poles
couldn't see hero up close

the ball careens through Brooklyn
yet black cats thrown on field
sharpened spikes directed for blood
balls aimed for head
not helmet but head
"kick him off team"
petitions pleaded
players don't want black man
stealing fame

the ball flies through the air
Jackie Robinson triumphs over all doubters,
proves Branch Rickey's gamble,
dominates National League,
steals home and slides into Cooperstown.

CRACK... the ball rises..
and rests on 18th green
Tiger at Masters
Augusta racist as they come
sign "no women" still stands
yet black admitted
golf now more diverse sport
clubs open like home
fees same-price, all colors
all classes all types

ball zooms over net
ace, Serena Williams
U.S. open champ
crowned on court named after black man
as black as they come
greatest women's tennis player ever
beats opponents so bad
no time to escape

bone set back in place
black doctor at work
white patient on table
life in hands of black
lawyers blacker than night
owners rich as black coffee

The ball travels over 50 years,
Barry Bonds' 73rd long ball dives into:
thousands of diverse fans
who paid same for their tickets
drink out of same fountains
attend same food joints
have similar jobs
42 can't see it
he's been dead 30 years
died younger than most
lived bigger than most
bigger than most
bigger than most...

Jake Lloyd
Communications Manager

April 15
My first notebook
My first notebook came as a surprise.
It found me hiding in the back of the classroom
Obscured by standard English writing composition

Nervous thoughts,
Quiet poetic melodies,
Unliving memories.
Beautiful lifelike portraits laying still,
All ready to be captured.

If it had not been for the one believer,
The teacher,
I may have never seen the true me.
I revealed and unbounded my talents for others to see.

My first notebook,
Oh, the smell,
Like a ballerina with her first pair of pointe shoes,
I was brand new.
No grading scale or writing rule
Free to jump across the paper in any fashion
I set my own standard.

My first notebook
Finally, a coping mechanism for my emotions.
A personal survival tool.
It caried me everyday.
Always with a blank stare,
No judgement,
Black and white.

My first notebook,
My first writing experience done the right way.
My beginning as a writer.

Jessica Gilbert
Middle School Poetry & Service-Learning Coordinator

April 14
Race against the sun
The field lights on my life don’t turn on until the sun goes down
Because until then, I don’t need that light.
We don’t need that light.

The sun covers the field
In the same way that paint marks the end lines.
They go up and down
Keeping the ball and keep the chaos contained.

I race the sun before it sets
And my cleats are mere extensions of my feet
They protect me from the ground
But power me to go forward

And when that sun does set?
That’s when the game starts.
That’s when we play.
That’s when it counts.

And when the game is over
The lights go back down
The sun is long set
And we wait until tomorrow
When the race begins all over again

Zaryn Jennings
Former DC SCORES intern

April 13
A new season
The drums get louder
The wild cheers, the games begun
DC SCORES is here

Justin Feltman
DC SCORES volunteer

April 12
Kittens Haiku
Batman and Robin
Two brothers from the shelter
Superhero cats

Katie Dunn
DC Alliance of Youth Advocates

April 11
For the Love of the Game
Kick, play and pass,
I run through the grass.

As I sprint the breeze hits my face,
Chasing the ball at a fast pace.

Teamwork is why I love the game,
Even if we lose I have no shame.

Perseverance is key,
Working hard gets you to where you want to be.

I grab my cleats, put on my jersey,
meet me on the field in a hurry!

Alyssa Morse, DC SCORES staff member
& her sisters Sammy and Emily Simon

April 10
Dear Exceptional
Just in case your mother forgot to tell you,
You're special.
And even if your father isn't around to remind you,
you’re beautiful.
You are exceptional enough to defy all stereotypes and to contradict all statistics
You are exceptional enough to devise creations that can’t be duplicated.
They only tell you you’re stupid because they see a light within you, they can’t comprehend
And they only pump negative images into your head to block your exceptional vision.
You see, you have a fire inside of you that only offends those reluctant to be different.
They know and you know that you operate from a platform where your potential is limitless.
So keep your focus and your vision, and your strength will lead you down a path where opportunities are endless.
Now don’t get it twisted, you’ll land in some valleys difficult for you to climb out of but they’ll prove to make your peaks more rewarding.
And you’ll run into some roadblocks and obstacles but you have what it takes to get around it.
And if those roadblocks are too wide, and those valleys too deep, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
Because you’re way too exceptional to let anything stop you from fulfilling your purpose.

Kavon Ward
The Poet Activist, and former DC SCORES coach
United Speech Nation LLC

April 9
Racing against time
Searching for answers
Scrambling for safety
Eyes closed
Wanting more because...
Blurred images
Bumper sticker slogans
Survival is paramount
Opportunity is knocking
Plotting, Planning
Keeping score
Defend your choice
Mindfulness is tricky
Embrace the mirror
Miracles are small
Eyes Open

Anthony Brown
Board Member

April 8
Is That Hail?!
Me, I curl my toes in my sheets
Snuggle on up with my pillow
Kick my half-asleep, cold self out of bed
Till fifteen minutes in, my blood runs hot
My muscles stretch...& my thirteenth sip
Finally gives me the power to go all out.

My daughter, my son?

They've been ready. They burst out of chairs
Out of cars, around tables, up in hopping bursts
Like puppies in need of a good old run
The field calls them all day
And we all just wish for no more snow!
No soggy fields, no black-top only.

Hello, Spring!

Jessica Trevelyan
Grants Manager

April 7

It's Time
The sun rises
And one begins to waken.
Yawns, stretches
Opening up to welcome the warmth.

Suddenly awake
And nudges his neighbor.
“Hey, bud. It’s time!”

Like the old “telephone” game
Word spreads quickly.
But the message stays the same
“It’s time! Look your best!
They’re counting on us.”

Soon all are awake.
More yawns, more stretches
Primping for the show.
The greatest show in the city.

It’s time!

Long-awaited. Worth the wait.
Opened up, in full bloom.
The cherry blossoms
Looking their best.

It’s time!

Daniel Meloy
Senior Director of Development & Communications

April 6
DC Haiku
Poets united.
Teams built on and off the field.
DC SCORES and wins.

Though the game now won.
The work is just beginning.
Mentoring leaders.

Tomorrow's leaders.
Planted seeds from long ago.
Kennedy's smiling.

Beautiful smiles.
Our youthful exuberance.
We are all enriched.

The Product Poet

April 5
You arrive, late of course
Stockings off, leggings on
Sports bra? Check
Matt out
You sit, legs crossed
Focus on your breath
What should I have for dinner tonight?
Set an intention
The chicken?
Downward dog
Maybe the pasta
Do it again
I dare you
Because that belongs in a beginner class
Into a handstand
Warrior 1
Warrior 2
I’m having the pasta
Do you enjoy seeing others in pain?
If it’s in your practice go ahead and take a headstand
Does it look like it’s in my practice?
I’ve died
…I’m definitely coming back next week.

Emily Schulman
Former staff member

April 4
Ode to DC Sports Teams
You pull my heartstrings.
So close. Yet so far away.
From winning it all.

Karen Lovitch
Board Member

April 3
Lasting moments from DC SCORES
It's the end of a long day
And I'm walking down the street
I hear a little, "Hey!"
And who do my eyes meet?
A smiling boy dressed
In his entire soccer kit
If I could have guessed
He probably sleeps in it!
"Ms. Libby, Ms. Libby,
I remember you!
You helped us with our dribbling,
I'm sure that it is true!"
I grinned from ear to ear
High fived him AND his dad
It'd been more than a year,
But to him, that time was rad.
Moments like this one
Never fail to resonate
DC SCORES brings so much fun
To kids in Wards 1 through 8!

Libby Watkins
Program Coordinator -- Monitoring & Evaluation

April 2
Determined, driven athletes dribble across the field.
Courageous, caring poets chant throughout the city.

See how self-expression surrounds the stage. How
Cooperation and creativity can help us discover
Our endless opportunities.
Running, writing, reading--we are a radiant team. We are
Energetic and encouraging, empowered and enthusiastic.
Soccer, service-learning, and poetry. DC SCORES.

Rachel Klepper
Elementary School Program Coordinator

April 1
Poblanos from seed
Specks of life, pushed gently in fertile soil
pack tightly,
add water, sparingly until
weather (so cold) dissolves into seedlings, sprouting,
sitting on a radiant radiator
waiting for longer days just out of reach of the dog’s teeth!

quarter inch to 2 inches
7, 8, 9 - tall enough to go out for a walk?
tough enough?
Days left, months to go!
how many sunsets until poblanos bulge from flowers
Pick peel fill roast

David Grosso 
DC At-Large Councilmember

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