Thirteen ways of staring at a blackboard

I.
Two lonesome lines
on a blackboard can
converge to
both beginning or end.

II.
The scent of ambergris
and sandalwood
can still be sensed
from a teenage poem
secretly scribbled on the substitute
teacher’s blackboard.

III.
Colored chalks
should only be used
drawing soldiers and flowers
on the blackboard at Friday’s

IV.
Every blackboard was
cleansed
when every pupil had left —
that’s why the mornings felt void

V.
Some blackboards were green,
but chalk on a whiteboard
doesn’t make sense.

VI.
Even when divisors
are sleeping
the sound of the chalk
bruising the blackboard
still echoes with angst.

VII.
The math of
my fingers wrinkled
from filling the blackboard
with proofs.

VIII
It’s was never the poetry
spoken
but facts copied from blackboards
that filled our notebooks.

IX
A blackboard, a teacher
blue sky through windows
were hours —
what happened to youth?

X.
An empty blackboard
like the students —
has the potential to be filled
replacing their dreams.

XI.
When dust from the blackboard
dances
in afternoon sunlight
even the teachers are sighing.

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

XIII.
Wisdom is not what is copied
from blackboards
it’s absent in books or what is told —
wisdom grows
from sunshine and rain

Albert Einstein’s blackboard

For Frank at dVerse I do a bit of imitation poetry. This is also a rewrite of an earlier entry from me.

And this is obviously a rip-off from Wallace Steven’s thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird.

November 21, 2019

17 responses to “Thirteen ways of staring at a blackboard

  1. Wow, I remember reading this one the first time. It certain smacks of Stevens, a clone of his style. I dug the third stanza. It made me smile, but it was a sad one.

  2. I recently used Stevens’ “13 ways” to describe a tree, Bjorn. I like this look at a blackboard. Stevens gives us a challenging format.

  3. I think VIII is my favourite – the curse of education. You’ve made me remember chalky fingers and the smell of it. So evocative. I’ve seen you use this structure before, the linked verses, each coming at a subject from a slightly different direction, it’s very effective.

  4. I love this poem Björn, strongly and sensitively you take us through
    the growth via the blackboard. Brilliant.
    The last stanza is my favourite, so true.

    Miriam

  5. Not only an incredibly clever riff on “blackbird,” but also evocative of every “13 ways of looking at” whatever we were all assigned in every poetry section ever.

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