Loud and Clear

The afternoon of my day with Rose Cappelli and Lynne Dorfman was devoted to poetry. They highlighted three types of poems:

  • Walk around in the author’s syntax. Here you are immersed in the writer’s world. Here is an example they shared.
February by Charlotte Otten
February turns everything to gray:
gray lakes, gray fog, gray sun.
Gray squirrels lose their bearings
hunting for acorns buried 
beneath thick gray snow.
  • List poems, these are so fun to create. Think of a topic and create a list. One of my favorites is below.

Bad Beds    by Doug Florian

Bench in a park

Mouth of a shark

Garbage pails

Bed of nails

Elephant’s trunk

In range of a skunk

Underneath birds

Near stampeding herds

Of course there is a poem called Good Beds too, but I will let you discover that one.

  • Narrative poem was the third type Rose and Lynne presented. These poems tell a story. Usually they are a slice of life caught in the poetic web.

The challenge was to create a poem that fits one of the types we’d been studying.

I’ve had a story rolling around in my head for several years, just waiting for the right format to tell it. I found it with the narrative poem.

Loud and Clear

“The only place

to stop

is McDonald’s,”

my husband announced.

With a I’d-rather-eat-nothing attitude

I stroll into

the crowded eatery.

Joining an endless line

we snaked our way 

to the register.

Glancing around reveals 

a boisterous bunch in a booth.

Kids shove, smack, shout.

Dad’s last nerve frazzled,

he lashes out,

“Sit down!


We are in a restaurant

for goodness sake!”

Bodies stilled,

startled eyes with

what-are-you-talking-about looks

turn to dad.

A hush falls over the dining room,

a small voice pipes up,

loud and clear,

“No we’re not,

we are at McDonald’s”




30 thoughts on “Loud and Clear

  1. I loved the child’s response….and the different perceptions of what a restaurant is…his father’s and his. I think Mcdonalds is set up for more active behavior. I guess I don’t think it is a restaurant…but just fast food. Fun poems…all of them.

  2. Ok, so this is probably not the time to admit that about once a year, I love a Big Mac. Such a funny poem, Elsie! And I love the other ones too! Can’t wait to share these with our fifth grade teacher, who just started a poetry unit this week.

  3. This made me laugh out loud, Elsie! I haven’t been to McDonalds in years, but there was a time when Happy Meals were a treat. Thanks for sharing the other poems, too. Douglas Florian is one of my favorite poets!

  4. Such a fun slice! I can’t believe that Tara has never eaten at a McDonald’s. We used them often on road trips because the kids could play and stretch their legs, the restrooms were clean, but it didn’t qualify as a restaurant in my book. I was so glad when my kids grew too big for the playgrounds.

  5. Out of the mouths of babes (and older children)! Loved your narrative, and I would agree that you chose the perfect form for the telling. The other poems are inspiring too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. alwriting says:

    So much here that makes poetry accessible and enjoyable. When we demystify poetry we add power to it. Thanks for sharing these important poetic pearls Elsie.

  7. Tam says:

    How things have changed in this world! Yes, it’s still a restaurant to me! Great story for McDonald’s. Nice topic for March slicers–choose one to try! Thanks for your comment on my OLW. I love doing that. Yes, I’ve been collecting ideas for extending my thoughts on “define.”

  8. Now this is the kind of day I would like to have. A day devoted to poetry study like this? How your creative writing juices must have been stirring! I like this slice and how it’s both a documentation of your day and it’s an example we can use with kids.

  9. Loved that punch line! I have never been in a McDonald’s (count me lucky) and can see why the kids’ response was perfectly correct. Thanks for sharing your poetry session, Elsie, it sounds inspiring.

  10. The list poem is one of my favorites and I just realized I’ve haven’t turned to it for awhile. Thanks for the reminder (and of course for the chuckles from the McDonald’s piece!)

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