Thirteen ways of looking at blackboards

Two lonely lines
on a blackboard can be
both beginning or end.

The attar wrung from a rose
can be sensed
from a poem scribbled in haste
on a blackboard.

Colored chalks
could only be used
on the blackboard on Fridays.

Every blackboard was cleaned
when students had left —
that’s why the mornings were empty.

Some blackboards were green,
but the whiteboards are white.

Even when numbers are gone
the sound of chalk
on the blackboard — remains.

When I taught
my fingers where dry
from filling the blackboard
with numbers.

It’s was never the words
that were said
but the ones on the blackboards
that filled our notebooks.

A blackboard, a teacher
the hours —
what happened to youth?

An empty blackboard
like the students —
has the potential to be filled
with equations

When dust from the blackboard
dances in sunlight
it’s spring.

On the right side of the blackboard —
an old organ
both prepared for a hymn.

Wisdom is not what is written
on blackboards
and neither in books or what’s told —
wisdom has to be lived.

Blackboard by Winslow Homer

Mish want’s us to write about learning at dVerse today. Are we ever ready? Can we learn more? As a matter of fact poetry is one thing I learn and as part of that I have put in some references to the workshop I attended during the past weekend with Moira Egan. One of the things was the joke I used as a title for this poem.
May 8, 2018

27 responses to “Thirteen ways of looking at blackboards

  1. I like this very much indeed. I kept thinking “that’s the best one…no, that’s my favourite…no that’s the one” all the way through. It’s the way they work together, though, that makes this so special.

  2. The ending is delicious, so complex the relationship between knowledge, learning and wisdom, sometimes the wisdom comes from the unlearning of the knowledge. I think I would rather spend five minutes talking with someone who had wisdom rather than 5 minutes with someone who had knowledge.

  3. I love all that you say about blackboards, especially the empty blackboard hold potential. And I love the image you selected.

  4. Oh I love this. The cleverness of the play on Stevens but most of all the nostalgia of sitting in a classroom, learning. I confess, as I am left-brain deficient, I have wept over blackboards filled with equations. Really.

  5. Each one was a treat to read. I like the contrasts of interesting blackboard facts, images that resonate from my old school days and then to ponderings about youth. This also introduced me to the poem that inspired your work. A lesson learned! Thank you.

  6. You make me glad. If life ran on my math skills it would look like my checkbook, bankrupt. But here’s to men of learning, like yourself, without whom I would be writing this on a blackboard still, (in the dark as well).

  7. I love this, B. I long for fingers covered in chalk, sometimes. My kids have no idea. All these dry erase markers now.
    LOVE this line, which caught my heart:
    “that’s why the mornings were empty.”

  8. I really love the feelings this one evoked in me. I spent many years teaching using the slate black boards, and later the green boards. You have so many good lines. I liked the dust dancing in the sunlight announcing spring! Very well done Bjorn!

  9. Love this take on Wallace Stevens’s blackbird poem—and your delightful blackbird/blackboard quip. Favorite lines that moved me:
    “A blackboard, a teacher
    the hours —
    what happened to youth?”
    Been there, asked myself that…

  10. I love these poems as much as I love poems about the librarian, Bjorn. As Sarah said, it’s impossible to decide on a favourite stanza, even as an ex English teacher! As a poet, I think I’m drawn to numbers ii and xi.

  11. What an interesting “take” on Wallace Stevens’ “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. Very clever … and quite thought-provoking. Well done!

  12. “Wisdom has to be lived..”. so sad that many of today’s youth don’t live long enough to even have a chance to acquire it? Caused much thought!

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