War is like a drug
that controls people
Their scream is like
A scary movie that
Terrifies you every second
Fear is in our minds.
Violence so severe that
It leads to destruction
Dead bodies seem to
be the main objective
The sounds of missiles
Startle people as they sleep
Blood splashing everywhere
Like a balloon that’s been
Stephanie Lopez continues her poem with an intense, driven kind of sweetness. She’s ten years old. I’m stunned by the aptness of her balloon metaphor, which demonstrates her ability to link the larger world to the world she knows.
A member of Luis Brizuela’s fifth grade class at John Muir Elementary School, Stephanie has learned the power of words, personification, metaphor, and simile.
On Friday, March 4 the class held a poetry slam at Café Bolivar on Ocean Park Boulevard at 18th Street. The corner coffee house was packed with families and friends, drinking hot chocolate and coffee. The young poets’ excitement was palpable
The majority of students’ poems were focused, deeply felt, and well-crafted. Brizuela uses poetry as a teaching tool to help 4th and 5th graders understand the world and themselves as they move into puberty and the self-consciousness that is synonymous with it. With Mr. B for a year and a half, these students have become accomplished poets.
In class, the day of the slam, Autumn and Jessica discovered their Rain poems were more fun when read together:
J: Pit pat pit pat goes the rain
A: Split splat split splat go the riotous raindrops
on the pavement
J: the clouds’ tears descend
A: as they keep sobbing
J: they make a lake
A: Rain drops are like microscopic
Bird seed falling rapidly off the
J: with my reflection in it
A: rain is a faucet
J: Palm trees blowing in the wind
A: when the knobs are turned
J: like a metronome when it ticks
A: it’s like the starting of a rainstorm
J: the clouds start coughing up phlegm
J: making booming noises
A: A time just right for hot cocoa
J: The clouds cry harder than before
A: I want hot cocoa
They continued as rain poured down outside the café, the audience sipped their hot cocoa and applauded. Valerie Graves, student MC, moved the poets along with minor direction from Mr. B.
Nightmare’s waiting to attack a little kid’s mind, hearts broken…what impression do we make, the red, white, and blue
War does not want to be my friend, War is a wrong word, war sucks
blood, red as a lollipop that’s just dropped on the floor
Jordan’s Who Am I?
Who am I? The Mexican, the African, the Indian, the kid in trouble or the wuss?
Do you know?
the jackhammer ameliorating the ground
The vast sky is now blushing, and opening one eye, the moon begins to pack up its things and head for home.
I can’t take notes fast enough. I’m deeply moved by Paola and Rosalba’s Friend poems, dovetailing each other. The students all read one poem, then, having conquered stage fright, clamor to read more. Valerie struggles to choose with help from Mr. B, and they wrap it up around 8 p.m.
The café’s owners, Norine Sakai and Jose Carvajal, have been hosting student poetry slams and student art shows for three years.