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 FRESH FROM THE INKWELL 

KANSAS VOICES

This poem was published in KANSAS VOICES 2011, a book of winning poetry and prose from the annual Winfield Arts & Humanities writing contest. I wrote it while living in The Colony and teaching 3rd grade in Carrollton, north of Dallas, Texas. The judge's comments appear below.

CRYING FOR CRIDER (Adult Runner-Up)

I’ll miss you, Crider Road,
when you close for good tomorrow.
I’ve grown to love your curves and turns;
each bump and crack feels like a friend.
Today I took you extra slow,
admiring morning glories.

As green makes way for asphalt,
glass, and brick—a shopping strip,
a parking lot—I’ll miss the gentle herds
that grazed, their chestnut heads arched
over the fence, to taste the juicy grass
beside your sloping shoulders.

One afternoon at the top of the hill
all traffic stopped for a cow who jumped
the wire and crossed to the old white house,
now gone, burned down mysteriously.

I’ll miss the black-eyed Susan, daisies,
Indian blanket, along this slice of country
not yet dozed or razed for office blocks
and gated homes. Dear Crider, you weathered
water, drought, and hail throughout
my three years’ rural commute.

Sunrise lit my way accompanied by trumpets
as I conducted March of the Day on WRR.
Avoiding mudslides at the last bend,
I skirted ditches, ever expecting
an ambulance and diversion signs.

Laid off, redundant, dead you’ll lie, blocked
by barriers. The Josey Lane extension beckons,
broad, straight, flat. Swoosh! The traffic whispers,
Join us. This is progress. This is good.

"Hazel Spire's poem, 'Crying For Crider,' has the quality of a slow reverie. It successfully evokes the sadness of a pensive woman recalling details of her daily commute on a country road the day before the road is 'laid off' for good.

What strikes me most about the poem is its remarkable musicality. The poem's speaking voice, believable and natural, flows smoothly in and out of a lulling iambic pentameter: 'I'll miss you, Crider Road,' the poem begins simply. A few lines down, the rhythm changes; 'I've grown to love your curves and turns; each bump and crack feels like a friend./Today I took you extra slow.'

In this poem, Spire, a fine wordsmith, manages many poetic devices: assonance (curves, turns), consonance (dozed, razed), alliteration (sloping shoulders, weathered, water). These devices never seem overdone, but work together with rhythm and tone to create a longing in the reader for beautiful, temporal places like Crider Road."

~ Nedra Rogers, Poet & Teacher, Lawrence, Kansas. Read More 
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JANUS AT THE CROSSROADS

As a 2nd/3rd grade teacher, on the first day back at school each January, I would borrow bells of all sizes from the music teacher and let my class ring in the New Year. Later when I taught art, I had 5th graders paste the double face of Janus (Roman god of gates and doorways) in the top center of the paper, looking forward and back. They would draw a memory (good or bad) from the old year on the left, and one thing that might happen in the New Year on the right.

Since retiring, I’ve had the luxury of time in which to reflect on my life and write more chapters of a memoir, BUGSY, SLUG, THE BEATLES AND ME. Last year my old my high school class in England held a reunion that I couldn’t attend. Instead, I sent this prose poem listing memories from 1st Form thru 6th Form (the equivalent of grades 6-12 in the US) at Sandown Grammar School:



NOSTALGIC ACROSTIC ©Hazel Spire
S triped summer dresses and swimming at the Blue Lagoon.
A rt teacher Mr. Binch’s encouragement: “That’s interesting!”
N eville Anderson’s solo “O Valiant Hearts” in the Little Hall.
D ancing the foxtrot, Virginia Reel and Strip the Willow in the gym.
O ut on the field in all weathers – jolly hockey sticks!
W illie Wiseman our heart throb, along with Adam Faith and Elvis.
N etball practice for Sandham house, Grassy towering over the net.

G erman with Hinny and Helmut; my penfriend Gerlinde.
R omantic poets with ‘Lit’ English. Did she have a first name?
A nthems I still remember from the choir in Assembly.
M r. Fennelly (Flan) scrabbling in the dirt at an archaeological dig.
M usic with Pastry, including a song he wrote for Speech Day.
A lgebraic and chemical formulae, unused, long forgotten.
R ailway crossing on a blue Raleigh bike, my 13th birthday present.

S ewing a yellow gingham apron with Buster Rogers.
C od Cooper’s bulging briefcase; Bert Ayling’s red cushion.
H at that I dared not remove because I lived opposite Miss Tovey.
O ld Owens (Taffy) tapping his ring on the radiator; and the
O M skipping in plimsolls at the Inkies’ Christmas Party.
L atin declension, conjugation and Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

Our Prairie Writers homework this month is A NEW BEGINNING, for which I wrote a similar piece, but looking to the future:

OPTIMISTIC ACROSTIC ©Hazel Spire
A nticipate everyday miracles.

N o recriminations over last year’s failures.
E very nook and cranny of the office filed and dusted.
W riter’s Market on hand with homes for manuscripts.

B ooks to finish, books to publish, books to read.
E xpand my speaking/teaching platform.
G oals to be set, goals to be met, but with grace periods.
I magine myself a morning person, fit and trim.
N ever neglect the arts—painting, piano, poetry.
N ational Gallery visits, via calendar and in person.
I sle of Wight in May for a high school reunion?
N ephew’s gift, a journal to record my journey.
G ear up for 2013. This could be the best year yet! Read More 
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