Friday, December 8, 2023

Stare With Your Heart

Claude and the Fire
Photo by Amy LV

Once again, I am thrilled to welcome my faraway friend Gart Westerhout, a musician and English professor who has composed a song for this poem. Enjoy!

Students - Today's poem focuses on one moment of gratitude for one repeated moment I love on winter days. We heat partially with wood here in snowy Western New York, and all of us cherish the warmth and beauty of a fire, big or small. Even our youngest cat, Claude. This morning I saw him just sitting there staring into the flames, and so I stared at him. And then...I wrote.

Consider trying this during the week sometime. Look around your life for a small moment that repeats itself, something so normal that you might not even notice it. Stare at the moment. Stare at it with your writing heart. Then...write.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have meet virtually with the thoughtful fifth grade poets taught by Tricia Pricken and Gail Cordello in Wyckoff, NJ. They have been reading and writing poetry and asked me some thoughtful  am still thinking about. I asked their permision to share these questions and the way they arrived at them. Here are the questions:

1. What is your favorite poem you have written?

2.What inspires you to write your poems?

3. Where do you go to get your ideas for your nature poems?

4. Do you use a notebook to remember your writing? 

5. Do you have any tips to make writing poems easier?

6. Is it easier to write a poem with or without rhyming?

This class works in table groups, and earlier in the week, after each of the students had written down a writing question, the tables met to eliminate duplicate questions and to select their table's one favorite question. Their ability to work together in this way resulted in some interesting thinking, and their curiosity made me think about how I would like to ask these same questions of others. You might wish to ask some of these - or other questions - to your writing friends. We can all learn from each other, no matter how old or young we are.

As it turns out, these fifth grade poets are also big notebook keepers...we had a lot in common. Thank you, notebookers, and thank you Tricia and Gail, for your time and generosity. I would love to be a daily writer in this room! (Thank you, too, writers, for the push to write a non-rhyming poem today. Your questions are affecting me.)

Patricia is hosting this week's Poetry Friday with an enchanting Christmas list poem. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.

Here you can see Claude sitting beside the small Christmas tree I made from my ancestors' old costume jewelry. He looks quite serious, don't you think? 

Posing Claude
Photo by Amy LV

I wish you softness and moments of peace...



Please share a comment below if you wish.
Know that your comment will only appear after I approve it.
If you are under 13 years old, please only comment 
with a parent or as part of a group with your teacher.


  1. Thank you for a few moments of peace...your wish is exactly what I want. This poem resonates with me. My family has new 10 month kitten brothers with orange eyes. We are in love with them and they've been keeping me company. I do enjoy watching them and imagining what they are thinking as they sleep, stare, chirp. Those 5th grade questions are wonderful! Hooray for curiosity living on in cats and kids.

  2. This poem exudes warmth. I often spend early mornings with the dog and two cats, and it's a time I really love.

  3. Your poem makes me think of the phrase: watching you watching me... I wonder if Claude knew that he was being watched - I suppose not. Those magnificent orange flames would be enough to keep anyone's attention. Thank you, Amy.

  4. Love the conversational quality in your poem Amy, makes me feel like you are right next to me sharing about your cat–and such a warm feeling penetrates from it too. Wonderful questions from the 5th graders, thanks for all!

  5. It will be good if students read and listened to your advice, Amy, to sit and watch, like you, your cat, or some other part of their lives that touches them. It's a sweet poem highlighting a special moment.

  6. "Stare at a moment with my writing heart." That's what I wrote in my notebook to guide my later-today writing. Thank you, Amy and Claude and warm fire.

  7. Amy, how fun it is to ponder what animals, especially those close to us are thinking. The list of questions posed by the class with whom you visited immediately made me stop and think about how I would answer, and they made me curious what your answers were! Lastly, what a clever idea to create a Christmas tree from heirloom costume jewelry. I wish I had thought of that while I still had the materials available to me.

  8. Thank you for inspiration, Amy. I'm borrowing "In the Dark of Morning" for my small poem today. Claude is so handsome (and I think he knows it)!

  9. I love that repeated line, Amy. And your writing advice. Thank you <3