Seventh-graders in Rachel Cummings’ language arts class spent some time this spring reading poetry and working on writing using poetic devices. After students read the short story Raymond’s Run — the narrator of which loves running — Cummings challenged them to write poems or paragraphs about something they feel passionately about, and to do so using poetic devices.
The bumpy grip is wearing
on my blue field hockey stick.
The ball is in view;
I give it a whip.
It flies toward a teammate
and they cut for the goal.
I sprint forward as
they fake, dodge, and roll.
But suddenly the ball’s knocked
by the goalie in orange pads.
Again we dart for the ball,
chasing it, like a game of tag.
The other team has gained it,
they’re moving fast;
a thrilling thought
as I dart on the grass.
The ref blows her whistle;
The sound is a knife through the air.
We slam to a stop,
stillness in the air.
The ball is placed
where the foul occurred.
We give them some space
as both teams stir.
The girl rockets down the field,
as soon as the whistle sounds,
and energy jolts through each player
as if lighting struck the ground.
Winning is our fate
as our defense steps up
like batters to home plate,
a one-on-one shakeup.
With tied-up ponytails
and sweaty hands,
competition’s in the air
as the crowd yells from the stands.
I race down the field,
tired and worn
I cut for a pass;
Opportunity is born.
The ball meets my stick again,
and every inch of me aches.
I dribble down the grass,
making a fake.
I pass to a player,
watching it travel on the ground.
I hear my teammates cheering;
What a thrilling sound.
With a burst of energy,
the fatigue is gone.
The world moves in slow-motion
as we play hard on the lawn.
A bird without feather
White as marble, hard as steel.
On the green grass lying still.
Hit hard by an iron head.
Up I fly, far ahead.
Higher and higher I fly,
Scaring the birds I pass by.
“Whence comes this strange fellow,
flying high without feathers?”
Down below on the green,
a waving flag is clearly seen.
Below the flag a hole grins,
waiting patiently for me to go in.
Seeing my goal, I stop.
Aiming at the hole, there I drop.
Lots of bipeds started to cheer,
amazed at my sudden veer.
An opened box sits a few feet from the people,
adrift and unwanted,
like a piece of floating debris.
A board is opened, money is given, and little plastic cars are taken.
While people argue over what color of car they want, the aroma of the turkey from a dinner long forgotten drifts through the room from downstairs.
A wheel spins, once, twice, three times, on and on again.
And when some are already married, others have just graduated,
but soon enough, they’ve all found jobs,
some pay less, some pay more.
Some start building families, while others decide to attend night school.
The only thing that has been consistent through the game is that the wheel
has never stopped spinning,
like the tires on a car that never stops.
Some become billionaires overnight, and some vacation in Mexico, Switzerland, a ski lodge.
A few are still homeless, and one has just been fired from her job.
And yet, the wheel keeps spinning,
a 7th time, an 11th time, a 27th time.
Yet at some point they have all retired, some rich owning 3 houses, and some still living in their car, with only a few thousand dollars under their belt.
The wheel has now stopped spinning, the tires have come to a halt. A closed board, piles of cash, and little plastic cars, are stuffed inside the box that had once been abandoned.
And the aroma drifting through the room is now not one of a dinner long forgotten, but one of a dessert long awaited.
When I read I see,
into a world of wonder and depth
that entertains and charms me.
When I read
Quiet sounds around me.
Ruffling of paper pages,
A faint cough,
And that person
who produces the most annoying sounds
and aggravates me.
When I read
Exquisite cover art
that invites you in,
promising magic wars,
Mystery knocking on a door,
maybe even an adventure on the way.
When I read
and raw scent
of a book freshly delivered to my door.
The smell of my favorites,
Wrinkled and worn,
calling me for another read,
offering familiar characters and memories.
When I read
the emotions and tension,
rising out of the words.
Anger like lemons
and Love so sugary and sweet,
like a powdered sugar cookie.
Some make my breath stand at attention,
others make my stomach flutter like a bird.
I travel to places far beyond our
yet I never move,
I experience their ventures from a birds eye view,
coming along the way.
Sometimes there are tears and rage,
On occasion laughter and jokes.
they are miles away,
so how come they feel so close?
I read for many reasons,
But mostly to enjoy,
The never-ending beauty and imagination,
Encased in the pages.
When I read,
it’s like I found a very important detective lead.
Just the feeling of a great book,
especially when it ends on a hook.
You can make a book whatever you want,
feels like eating the world’s best croissant.
Relaxing yet entertaining,
but yet not at all draining.
When I read it’s a out-of-body experience
authors displaying their brilliance.
When you finish the book,
the emotions are mixed,
thinking about that superb book.
But mostly just transfixed.
The hugs of encouragement from my family feels like a warm blanket
I walk to the middle of the floor
Will this be my best Rhythmic Gymnastics performance yet?
I get a sudden surge of energy;
I am a cat about to pounce.
The instrumental music starts and I hear my cue to start;
tika tika boom
tika tika boom boom.
I catapult then catch the clubs
I leap through the air as the silky ribbon rapidly ripples besides me
My small blue ball bounces beyond my reach
subsequent to the high toss I previously threw
and I try to stay confident and focused.
In my finishing pose on the white, carpeted floor
my thoughts are people;
They are all different
I dropped the ball, which is a major deduction to my score.
Although, my movements were sharp and on the balls of my feet!
I hope that my hard work and sweat will result in a smooth
Shiny gold medal
And although I might have had a suboptimal performance
I won't give up because
I can't go a day without thinking about rhythmic gymnastics.
The ball arcs over the net,
a perfect rainbow
We run to intercept its journey,
bump it high to the sun
Set it even higher,
and spike it over the net
So fast that the opponents can't move
So coordinated that we look like a machine
So excited, that everyone knows we care
the ball soars towards the other team
But they aren't ready,
they pile on top of each other and
Whiff the ball completely
The game is done
And we are proud,
we won and tried our best
And it paid off!
on the bus back to school we blast music and
Sing along to the piercing notes
on the top of our lungs
We say goodbye,
Taking our worn-out knee pads off
Knowing we'll be back next year,
Loving our team
Loving our victory
Loving the fun
And loving the game.
I’m up to bat.
Up on the plate, nervous as I could be.
Like the success of a team and a whole season
depend on me.
All the thoughts rushing through my head.
What if I miss?
What will my teammates think about me?
The pressure of expectations weighing on me like a load of rocks.
The chants of my teammates, so loud, carrying me along like a piece of music.
Yet… so peaceful and low, almost like I can’t hear them at all.
I want to hit this ball more than ever.
Suddenly, everything gets quiet.
A fastball cuts straight down the middle through all my thoughts,
like a jet soaring through the sky.
But I’m in my stance and I’m ready to take a swing.
I swing… the ball flies perfectly off the bat.
Almost like I can’t feel the bat hit the ball at all.
And I start speeding around the bases,
as fast as a crack of lightning through the sky.
The weight slowly lifts off of me…
I feel as light as an astronaut in space.
The baseball field is an important place to me.
A place full of teamwork and fun
and sometimes the smell of gum.
A place where everlasting friendships start.
A place I can be me.
playing hockey is a team sport
having fun with friends
every game is like a group project
like a science fair
you lose together or you win together
scoring goals seeing friends happy for you
smiles on their faces, fist bumping my way through the bench
after a goal
thumbs up from the coach
the swish of the puck when it hits the net is
the happiest two seconds I get
especially in a game
the celebration as I slowly turn around, face my teammates and
enjoy the feeling of being the hero
I slouch on the couch watching television,
letting my life float away
like a feather in the wind, watching my favorite show for the one hundredth time.
I try reading a book, but that doesn't seem to fulfill the endless feeling of boredom.
I stare at a blank wall, thinking of nothing, not moving a muscle, like snow in Antarctica.
I walk up and down the stairs and wander through all the rooms, I sit down and try to draw a flower or find a new recipe in one of my many books.
I walk to the front of the house and sit down on the old wooden bench.
I place my hand on middle C without even thinking.
My fingers go up and down the piano over and over, until I feel ready to play a piece.
I turn the page in my favorite piano book
I stride over to the phone and call my grandparents because I know they always have time to hear me play their favorite songs.
I let my hands hover on the first note, ready to let my mind and fingers do the talking.
I take a deep breath and look back at my grandparents who are watching me, and encouraging me to play over a FaceTime.
I look at my fingers as I press down the keys.
The sweet sounds of the dusty wooden block echo throughout the house.
The peaceful melodies that flow off my fingers bring a smile to my face and it just makes me want to play song after song.
Finally, the song starts to end. I slow the pace of my fingers on the pearly white teeth of the piano, making the notes softer and softer until they cease.
I enjoy playing tennis,
While playing tennis,
I feel the wind blowing by me, a lost ship in a hurricane.
I feel the sweat dripping off my head,
All while the ball flies over the net like,
An airplane over a cloud.
The point is silent except for the voice in your head
And your feet hitting the ground...
Once it is over it starts again,
With a serve downward toward the other player like lightning in the wind.
The ball then comes right back at you
And you swing...
You feel hand on the racquet hit the ball
Like a smack from the ocean at the beach,
You feel the tension of the point
Like an owl hovering above its prey and then it ends.
Pump fake to the right.
they know I tricked them,
I can see the look on their face.
They thought I was going left
but they went to the wrong place.
They're on the floor in embarrassment.
me, ready to shoot my shot,
my heart racing back and forth.
There in the stands is a basketball college coach,
this was my chance to prove I could make it to college.
It was always my dream to play basketball.
With my mind drifting away I can still hear the faint noise,
my name being called over and over again.
I wake up with a strong mindset.
My hand palms the ball.
and out the corner of my eye I see a defender race to me,
I fake a shot and get them out of my way.
I finally shoot the ball in the air.
with fear in my mind I feel faint,
I open my eyes and see it went in with sway.
I'm running down the court in excitement “YESSSSssssssssssssssss.”
when I get down the court and turn around,
someone on the other team runs into me with a speed of Mach 3
the referee blows the whistle “tweeeeet.”
I throw myself out of bed and scream, I fall to my knees.
I look around and notice I am in my room,
I am confused at first.
but then I noticed it was all just a dream.
The time stopped. I picked up my bow and started slowly sliding it along the thin tense cold strings. At that moment, the music was the only reality that mattered, the violin the only segment of the universe. Even though the violin was very stiff under my chin, it felt like I was sinking into it and dissolving into the sound. A strange sense of happiness settled in me at that moment. In that phenomenal second, everything else seemed unimportant. It felt like the world could cease to exist, and it would not matter at all. Underneath my fingers, I could feel the strings vibrate; the sensation of total happiness consumed my mind. Then I felt the resonation of the ebony, rosewood, maple, and spruce enter my fingers and slowly but steadily travel up my arms and into my whole body. The music swallowed me completely, at that moment I lost the ability to look around me. I could only focus my eyes only on my violin. Then the sounds around me faded into the darkness leaving me with only the music. After that, I lost the senses of touch, smell, and taste. I was in a blurry space where the only important occurrence was the music. It no longer mattered where I was, with who I was or what I was going to feel. I cared only about the music. My biggest wish was to continue playing, to braid magic music from the sounds. My biggest fear was the stop of it. All of a sudden, the universe converted into a sound substance made of warm and cold tones, shining and fading colors. That was the most wonderful occurrence that ever happened to me.
It’s a kind of language.
A language that speaks to a lot of people, to me.
The chords, the notes, the sounds, the singing, all a language.
The rough ukulele strings and the smooth piano keys under my fingers each give me a wonderful feeling.
The soft chords and the calming noises being strummed, the jazzy sounds coming from the black and white keys.
The planned and unplanned melodies.
Both instruments are very different but they both have the same amount of my love.
Words that come into my head when I play: love, heartbreak, hatred, independence, imagination.
All the words spilling out of me like I’m a waterfall at the end of a river.
The songs that are played to my stuffed animals and me, never to anyone else.
I get lost in my own world when I'm playing.
The whole world disappears and it’s only me and my instrument.
Suddenly, I’m in my dreams. I’m on a stage on Broadway, the lights are shining bright in my face and the crowd is going wild as I sing my songs about following dreams and passion.
Although I have not mastered everything in music, I still have my dreams about singing and being heard that float around in my brain like a boat drifting in a great, big ocean.
A player runs at the rim looking like flash from the movie
Dunks it, hanging on the rim with one hand
Falling down, pumping his fist in the air
Like he won a million dollars
The whistle gets blown
“Travel” the ref yells
The crowd goes wild
Screaming as if their house is on fire
Dribbling, feeling the smooth textured leather ball on my finger tips
passing the ball
Thinking of the ball as a wheel in the air.
My teammate catches and shoots it
The balls go in, the sound of the ball going in passes my ear
He jumps around pumping his fist while going back to defense
I grab the ball off the backboard
Throwing the ball to my teammate like my life depended on it
He moves unpredictably, like a dice rolling through the defense and scores
My hands feel dirty and dusty
My feet can barely move, the court as slippery as a slip and slide
My opponent throws a short pass, I intercept the ball
Down by one
I get the ball, drive to the basket
I shoot it and the ball and it bounces off the rim
The whistle blows
“Foul, Two free throws” the ref shouts
First free throw goes in
Opponent’s parents barking like dogs
So hard to concentrate I feel like I am half asleep
I watch as the free throw
Rolls around the rim like those penny things in the mall
I close my eyes, the ball went into the basket
My Teammates screaming and chanting
The score is 39–40
I won the game, I thought to myself
This will be one of many.