Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cruising Away From the Madness -- 4th Graders' Poetic Escapes

In 2003 at Columbus Elementary School in Chicago's Ukrainian Village neighborhood, I was working with 4th graders. We read Naomi Shihab Nye's poem called The Rider -- about a boy who leaves his Loneliness panting on a street corner because he's riding so fast away from it on his roller skates. So I asked these guys to think about what they wanted to get away from and what mode of transport they'd use to get away -- how far would they go and what would whatever they escaped be doing if/when they were finally gone?

The Boy Left

I wanted to get away from war so I got in a

spaceship and flew over the world and

the war disappeared.

I wanted to get away from the world so I

borrowed a flying machine and I flew

all the way through the atmosphere and

the world followed me all through the

galaxy. And it caught me and smashed

me in a thousand pieces.

Tomasz B.


anger anger dries up like a solid

stone. broken up like fearful

tone. having pain and wonder

of the torturing cold. being an

angel of the goodest poem

i’m stone can’t break my bones.

so i hop on a flying poem

my body’s wondering where i’m goin’.

my soul is heading to the north pole..

who knows where i’m goin’?


I Wanted

A wise man told me he wanted to jump in

his red truck and go so fast just to get away

from fear. He said he would be going so fast

that fear would be left in the middle of the

earth panting. It didn’t sound so wise to me.

That night I thought about what he said and

thought about my fear. I thought of what the

old wise man said and it kind of made sense.

So I hopped into my red roller skates and

went so fast that I went half way across

the world and I did it. I left my fear

swimming across the Pacific Ocean.

Gianna S.

Trying to leave my soul behind,

I hop on a hot air balloon and took happiness.

Trying to get away from love,

I left my soul and she’s still trying to find me,

Looking all over the world.

She said, please Alyssa, find me oh please,

Banging her hands, having a fit for me.

I tried to get away from love but

Love still found me under a rock

So little you can’t see me.

Alyssa R.

I was really, really so sad that I hopped to my

Airplane and traveled all around the world. And my

Sadness was left on top of the ceiling.

I was really, really so angry that I hopped into

A motorcycle and I traveled to the moon and my

Anger was left in a garbage can.

I was really, really so shy that I hopped into an air

Balloon and flew to Mars and my shyness was

Left in the sink.

I was trying to get out from an enemy’s house.

I got on my bike and traveled to China and my

Enemy was left in a pile of garbage.

Anahi R.

I want to get away from loneliness.

I got on my boat and I went to Hawaii, leaving

loneliness swimming in the ocean.

Michael L.

I wanted to get away from an enemy.

I got in my limo and went around the world and my enemy was sitting on the front


I wanted to get away from a bully

and went on an air balloon and went to

the Great Wall of China and the bully

was crying out loud.

I wanted to get away from sadness

and went on a helicopter and then

came back and my sadness was down

in the basement trying to get out.

Sandra M.

One day I was so bored so I got on

my roller blades and I rode 400,000 miles

and my boredness got tired and went away

from me forever.

I tried to prevent war but a nuclear bomb

blew the world up so I got on a train

and flew out to space and landed on


Lyubomir S.

The Loneliness

I had a big anger to

I go on my motorcycle and

went all over the world.

Anger started spinning away from


I had a big sadness so

I got on my jet plane

and sadness was burning

in the clouds.

I had a big cold so

I hopped on a bus that

went so fast, cold couldn’t

keep up and it got freezing in the


Xavier M.

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