Cleaning Out My Locker [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

This month, we needed a last minute change to our plans, and someone (I think Liz? It’s usually Liz who keeps us blessedly on track) suggested a list poem that had to use two of the following words: paper, stars, messages, promises, dirt, flour, rum, hope. I’m not sure where the idea of things in a school locker came from, but it welled up from some mysterious place. 

I’d still like to work on the ending…pause on that nothing for a moment longer before moving on to summer. But this is what I’ve got right now:>) I’m looking forward to seeing what my Poetry Sisters have come up with–right along with you guys!



Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 

Don’t forget to hop on over to visit Liz, who’s hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at Elizabeth Steinglass.




26 Responses

  1. I love everything about this poem from the countdown form to the origami stars and that promise of summer. And how you seamlessly worked the words in.

  2. I love list poems and this one will be such a wonderful poem for students, Laura. They will want to write immediately about their own cleaning out. It’s nostalgic and gritty and just enough of the list to show the student and want to know more.

  3. I like the feeling of striving, and not feeling quite good enough, and the evidence of that crumpled and discarded, contrasted with the wide open emptiness coming. It makes me wonder what kind of promises are expected from summer?

    1. I wondered the same thing, Andi, as I was writing it. It was taking me back to 7th grade. I kind of want to write a list poem about summer, then, too. I like change. The change of the seasons is what I love most about having moved up north (from Florida, where I was born and raised). As a kid, I was definitely ready for summer break (even though I hate hot weather), but then very ready for school to start again, too!

  4. Oh gosh, this really resonates with me. I love the numbers and the things, but especially the feelings.

  5. Those A- tests! You tell us so much about the speaker of the poem in that small moment, Laura.

    1. Thanks, Laura. That and the gross Lifesavers are the details from real life in this poem. I have trouble finding the “telling detail” to reveal characterization, but I think that one works.

    1. …seriously, though, this is, for whatever reason, one of my favorite of your poems, and I am a huge Salas poetry fan. “Nothing but the promise of summer” is one of the feelings I most miss in the world — something you can’t tell kids to savor, because they just don’t know how much they’ll miss it when it’s gone.

      1. Aw, thank you! Yeah, it’s been a looong time since I’ve had that feeling. Because even vacations and days off are short and packed full now.

  6. The decreasing numbers in your list made me think of a countdown, too. I especially enjoyed “hanging by paper clips and hope” and “welded to grit,” which also applies to the bottom of every purse or backpack I’ve ever owned.

  7. Oh, this poem is fantastic! I wish you lived closer to me and my students. They would tell you that the poem is just right. We even have a sixth grade writer’s guild forming. My favorite line is one that describes me some days—hanging by a paper clip and hope.

  8. The first half definitely has an air of empty ending, a little regret, a little “what was it all for?”…
    and then yes, I agree the turn in the 2nd half wants a bit more attention, so that the contrasting openness of the summer’s promise carries e*ual weight. I agree with Linda that this makes an enticing model for kid poets!

  9. The first half definitely has an air of empty ending, a little regret, a little “what was it all for?”…
    and then yes, I agree the turn in the 2nd half wants a bit more attention, so that the contrasting openness of the summer’s promise carries e*ual weight. I agree with Linda that this makes an enticing model for kid poets!

  10. Love the countdown and the very specific details (“Butter Rum Lifesaver,” “A- tests, not good enough„,”)

  11. I love your” origami stars hanging by paper clips and hope,” the “crumpled A- tests,” and “promise of summer” wrapping it all together at the end–lots there, and lots to ponder on!

  12. Love how you “cleaned out” the odds and ends and made something poignant from them. Brava. Also, this reminds me of the year I asked for Butter Rum lifesavers for Christmas and my hubbie couldn’t find just one roll, so he bought me an entire CASE.

  13. I’m late getting to read all your poems. I’m fascinated that we all went in wildly different directions. This poem is bittersweet and honest. I’m not sure it needs a pause at that nothingness, as that countdown to the end and the clearing out happens with such joy and anticipation for most kids.
    I’m going to be thinking about this poem as my semester comes to an end.

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