Friday, January 27, 2006

Poetry Fridays, installment 2

In addition to being a highly accessible poet himself (that is, people who don't "get" poetry "get" him), Billy Collins in his turn as poet laureate established Poetry 180, a program specifically designed for high school students. But I ask: why should teenagers have all the fun?

One of my favorites from this program, and one that has gone over well with my students, who are, after all, barely out of high school anyway, is Julie Lechevsky's "Dandelion," currently #156 on the Poetry 180 list. What young people see in this poem is a little fascination all of its own:

---Julie Lechevsky

My science teacher said
there are no monographs
on the dandelion.

Unlike the Venus fly-trap
or Calopogon pulchellus,
it is not a plant worthy of scrutiny.

It goes on television
between the poison squirt bottles,
during commercial breakaways from Ricki Lake.

But that's how life
to my home.

where they make you do
what you don't want to do.

Moms with Uzis of reproach,
dads with their silencers.
(My parents watch me closely because I am their jewel.)

So no one knows how strong
a dandelion is inside,
how its parts stick together,
bract, involucre, pappus,
how it clings to its fragile self.

There are 188 florets in a bloom,
which might seem a peculiar number,
but there are 188,000 square feet
in the perfectly proportioned Wal-Mart,
which allows for circulation
without getting lost.

I wish I could grow like a dandelion,
from gold to thin white hair,
and be carried on a breeze
to the next yard.

Comments, anyone?


lostinthemiddle said...


I came to visit you from jo(e)'s. I didn't know about the 180 poems. Thanks for the info.

This one *is* especially nice.

jo(e) said...

Oh, I want to use this poem next fall. (I teach a writing course that is integrated with a botany course.)

Bitty said...

lost--I forget where I learned about Poetry 180. NPR, probably. :)

And jo(e)--enjoy! I'm sure it'll go over well.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic poem. Love it. Really, really love it.

Anonymous said...

I'm Julie's granddaughter. I greatly appreciate the comments and will be sure to relay them to the author. :)