Angel of Grief - Hill Family










Michael Schaffner via Compfight

I promised my students I would write a poem as inspired by The Book of Qualities by Ruth Gendler as I had asked them to do. They wrote poems about anger, guilt, joy, pleasure, excitement,  courage, and others. I told them they could choose which quality I should write about and they all voted. Grief won.

This is timely: I have lost two grandparents this year and more recently my dog Buddy, so it was both easy AND difficult to write about grief in a personified manner. How did they know that I needed to write this? (They didn’t.)

I read it to them today and they snapped—beatnik-style—for me. This is my poem:


by Jodie Morgenson


Grief greets you at the door.

She whispers in your ear as you fall asleep.

She reminds you of people and animals and places

—everything that you miss—

everything that leaves a space in you.


She brings you packages wrapped in brown paper and string,

or a silver jewelry box,

or a blanket, under a mulberry tree.


She shows up unannounced and uninvited,

though sometimes you suspect she might be on her way.

She surprises you at times with a conversation about a memory.


She makes you cry

—not out of meanness, but out of what she forces you to remember—

what she forces you to face.


Pictures. She loves to bring out pictures of the people you love.

Of the limp figure of your cat.

Of the first time you held your child.

Of the last time you saw your grandma.

Of the only time you saw your father cry.

Of the lump of a body wrapped in a blanket under the mulberry tree.


A shot gun.

Why didn’t anyone take his bullets?


A question.

Why didn’t I get to say goodbye?


An open grave.

An urn full of ashes.


She is blunt. She is forceful. She is gentle.

She is necessary.

She’ll leave flowers, and notes and baskets of food on your porch.

She leaves, but she never completely goes away.


Author’s Note for “Grief” by Jodie Morgenson

This poem was inspired by The Book of Qualities by Ruth Gendler. In her poetry collection, she explores emotion through personification. Last year, I had my students write about anger, guilt, joy, pleasure, excitement,  courage, and other qualities. When I told them they could choose which quality I should write about and they all voted. Grief won.

This was timely: I have lost two grandparents this year as well as my dog Buddy, and most recently my cousin Mark, so it was both easy AND difficult to write about grief in a personified manner. How did they know that I needed to write this? (They didn’t.)

The purpose of the poem is to personify grief. I was trying to give grief a personality. I had been meeting with grief pretty regularly during the time I wrote this, so I sort of “in the thick” of a relationship with “her” at the time. In a way I think the purpose of this poem was to help me deal with my grief too.


Diamonds: The Beautiful Thing About Today

Joy is not in things; it is in us.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Tc Morgan via Compfight

I would like to say that Maya Angelou’s worldview shaped mine, including the way I view what it means (and how awesome it is) to be a woman.

I love Maya Angelou.

She is and always will be one of my favorites. She was one of the LIVING poets that I shared with students. I love many of the things she said over the years during speaking engagements and interviews, such as the idea that people won’t remember what you say or do, but they will always remember how you make them feel … about how we can be a rainbow in other people’s clouds … about how we are only as blind as we want to be … about how growing up means we stop blaming our parents … about the greatest agony of all–bearing an untold story within oneself … about how we can change because of something that happens to us, but it doesn’t mean we have to be reduced by it … about how love knows no boundaries … about how we should seek life’s laughter. There is more.

I would like to say that Maya Angelou’s worldview shaped mine, including the way I view what it means (and how awesome it is) to be a woman.

MY all-time favorite Maya Angelou quote comes from my all-time favorite Maya Angelou poem, “Still I Rise.”

It goes a little something like this:

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

When I read those lines for the first time … I was just like BOOM. YEAHHHHH. Still. I. Rise. I am woman! THIS, ladies, is how you SHOULD feel … most of the time. THIS is how you should approach life.

Maya Angelou captured the POWER of the WOMAN. WITH WORDS.

The beautiful thing about TODAY is that from this point forward Maya will live FOREVER through her words and through the worldview she shared with her readers and loved ones.

#slowchated Poetry is for everyone (AND this is a party)!

This post is cross-posted here: #SLOWCHATED BLOG.

You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.

~ Carol Ann Duffy

April is National Poetry month, which means that April is a month that ONLY English teachers should be interested in … right?


Poetry is for EVERYONE … even you, and you, and especially you … and your grandma, and your best friend and your grandma’s best friend. So let’s get this party started with some personal definitions of poetry. Nothing says PAR-TAY like defining words. #W00t! <smashes generic cola can into forehead>

Remember: It’s a party, so be raw; be honest. If you hate poetry, tell us why. If you love it, wreck a guitar and tell us about it. Wear a jaunty hat, and flirt with the idea of wearing false eyelashes–just for this week–just for our party. Also: Glitter. There can never be too much glitter. Consider all of this as you think up your definition of poetry.

I’m going to to ease you into this with a question, but FAIR WARNING, much of what I’ll be asking of you this week will not be so much questions as they will be TASKS or better yet … PARTY GAMES. Consider DAY 1 the ice-breaker-mingly-honeymoon-fancy cheese-and-crackers phase of the party.

Day 1 (Q1): What is Poetry? #slowchated


Lawrence Ferlinghetti said, “Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” Carl Sandburg said, “Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.” Bob Dylan said, “I think a poet is anybody who wouldn’t call himself a poet.” Emily Dickinson said, “If I feel physically, as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” Rita Dove said, “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” Marianna Moore said, “Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.” Leonard Cohen said, “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

How do YOU define poetry? Feel free to be straightforward or … poetic. I want to hear from some English teachers, of course, but I for sure want to hear from EVERYONE else too.


Q2.1: What is your fave poem or if you hate poetry (WHY?) what is your most palatable poem? (Provide a link, if possible.) #slowchated

Q2.2: Tell us WHY said poem is your fave or more palatable than others … For a bonus points, do an interpretive dance. #slowchated

(Yes, it’s THAT kind of party.)

DAY 3/Question 3:

PARTY TRICK TIME–>Q3: How is education like a poem? Education is like a poem because …

Q3expansion: You can insert any edu-term in there, if you so desire … Learning/Teaching/Education is like a poem because … #slowchated

DAY 4/QUESTIONS 4, 5, and 6

I’m going to add QUESTIONS 4, 5, AND 6 on DAY 4 because I’m AGAIN breaking the rules … which sort of makes me a poet, eh? Eh? EHHH? I’m viewing questions 4, 5, and 6 as a “CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE” because I know that we are all busy people and there’s probably a good chance that none of us will have time to do ALL THREE (four really –hehehe) of these things because, as I stated before, they are more so TASKS than they are QUESTIONS, so if you would choose just one of these things, it would make me infinitely happy. I’m also hoping that by giving you a head’s up about Question 6.1 and 6.2 that it will increase the likelihood that more of you will do it (since you have three whole days to do it! Of course, if you were able to get to all three, you would get the PARTY HARDY award from this here poetry party.

Q4:Let’s brainstorm a million or less ideas for ways to use poetry (especially in the non-ELA classroom).

Q5: Write a less than 140 character poem about the topic of your choice and tweet it at us.

Q6.1: Capture a video of yourself doing an oral interpretation of your favorite poem by someone else.


Q6.2: Capture a video of yourself doing an oral interpretation of a poem YOU wrote.

Can you imagine what a fan-freakin-tastic archive this will be, if we all made a video?










Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.

~ Jack Kerouac