About Me

I am a second-career teacher. In my other life, I crunched numbers as an accountant. Probably would have made a great math teacher had the thought occurred to me. No matter, I'm where I'm supposed to be; teaching third grade. Before that, 2nd grade and before that kindergarten. I have 2 grown daughters, 2 poodles, and 1 hubby. I live and work on Long Island.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

There's No Room for Passengers

I've played with blackout poetry on this blog before. I don't know what I was thinking when I didn't explain the process nor did I credit the inspiration.  Alan J. Wright breaks it down on his blog livinglifetwice. If you haven't read his blog, do it now....come back to mine later but you must visit his. 
Anyway, here's the idea of blackout poetry, in Alan's words.

Here’s what happened.  First, I photocopied a selected page. Then I blocked out those words and phrases I found most appealing to my eye, my ear and my heart. This part of the process was somewhat surgical. Only those words that suited me made the final cut. Every word had to contribute. Every word was required to pull its weight. There is no room for passengers in a poem. It’s about the effect of powerful words in tight spaces. 

My poem was originally a piece in The New York Times Magazine.

No Room for Passengers

the Friendship Train-
LA bound for Europe,
cross North America,
boxcars of Colorado wheat, Nebraska beans, Wisconsin milk.
reach New York 
amass 40 million dollars of food, clothing, fuel
from people across the country.
load onto ships.
head for Italy and France.
back onto trains festooned with American flags.
the beneficiaries – starving from post  WWII food shortage.
their free lunch.

a year later,
France returns the gesture.
a Thank You Train.
one boxcar per state
plus one for Washington, D.C., Hawaii
painted with provincial coats of arms
filled with bonnets, dolls, schoolchildren’s merci notes.

no takers on board a You’re Welcome Train.


  1. I love this poem form and future slice idea. "Festooned" is one of the words I pulled out and wrote in my notebook. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. I tried blackout poetry after Alan had written about it. It's something I should try again... I haven't done it in probably a year or so.

  3. When we share something with fellow writers we are never quite sure what will come of it. It makes my heart sing to think you found in this post about black out poetry something you could apply to your own writing.

  4. Love the new idea! Thanks for sharing. Such a beautiful way to work with words.


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