In the last few months, a plethora of cross-divisional collaborations expanded Moses Brown’s annual visiting poet events, which welcomed former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine and Rhode Island Poet Laureate Rick Benjamin on May 1. Upper, middle, and lower school students explored Levine’s poems and themes together, wrote original poems and forged new friendships. “Our poetry initiative resonates with Moses Brown’s Quaker philosophy,” says Ransom Griffin, English teacher and project director. “It manifests the interplay of art and science in the pursuit of personal understanding, communal responsibility and the ‘third way,’ the synthesis that may be forged between two opposing extremes, in all human endeavors.”
Crossword by Will ’14
A stocky 23-year-old collapses
onto the couch, crossword in hand, mind
whirring like conveyor belt gears.
He sinks into the cushions and releases
a sigh, expelling the five-day work weeks
that have chipped away his adolescence.
You see an average college guy, chest
chiseled like a weather-beaten
statue, skin tanned like the skin
of your friend who lounged in Florida
over spring break. But the skin of
your cousin, here, was bronzed
in Western Pennsylvania. His muscles
were fleshed out on factory floors, heaving
boxes of glass onto truck after truck that
he watched roll out of town. Your cousin grew
those quarter-sized calluses for his mother, divorced
and unemployed, unable to puzzle out the answer.
Your cousin snatched the steady paycheck,
running in place
while his little brother studied abroad.
Millions of boxes later, he returned to college, though
he lives a half hour away and commutes from home
to save costs. You read his Facebook post,
a straight A transcript, as he declares
“look who’s still got it,” a coyote howl
to the blissfully ignorant world. You watch him
here, an intent surgeon dissecting the
clues, pen tapping with mechanical purpose. But
he stops short at 21-across, frowning. When
you leave he smiles warmly and waves
from the couch, but as you accelerate away
he is staring at the crossword, stuck.
In April, the freshmen helped fourth graders write poems about what we take for granted, considering all they’ve learned from their Kenyan buddies. Here are some from Elizabeth Grumbach’s class.
Conserve Water by Harry
Water keeps us going. If we didn’t have it none of us would be here
I take advantage of water
I get it from a bubbler
You walk half a mile to get it from a river or well.
Here, it just magically appears
I don’t like that.
Why can’t we conserve water like you?
Same and Different by Sadie
We are different
You walk far to get water under the hot sun
I walk to a sink to get water under a roof
You have some school materials
I have so much I cannot keep track of it all
You help plant, help grow, help harvest your food
I get most of my food at a large store
You feed many animals
I just feed my dog
You live in a warm place
I live in a colder place
But I realize
And I hope you realize too
That we are not that different
Have a home
Have a sister to play with
Have survived 10 long years
Get to go to school
Each other to talk to
Water by Brigid
I’m home from school.
My mom calls
“Fill up a pot of water
Kenyan buddy home from school.
Her mom calls
“Please get some water
I go to the sink
Fill up a pot of water
I put the pot
back on the counter
ready for my mom
to put it on the stove.
Kenyan buddy puts shoes
Walks out the door.
Goes back in to get
big yellow container.
Walks out again.
the bore hole.
the bucket down
by a string.
as a rock
Pull it up.
Back at home.
Pouring water into
but we are
What Does Matter? by Jaden
Education can be many things
It doesn’t matter about the materials
What they teach can be unique and wonderful
Where you are
Is a non-mattering factor.
Providence, Rhode Island
Who you are
Is what matters
The Necessity of One Drop by Casey
A turn for me
Is a pull for you.
What I waste,
A cup from the drawer for me
A bucket down the bore hole for you.
I don’t realize
How much I waste
Until I think of you.
Although we may have differences
We both rely on the necessity of one drop,
March to their work
Through the dim lights of Flint
The city’s blue collars cloaked by promise
The Cycle of Flint or Paradise
Tearing their wings
Stuck, unable to fly
Men, women, and children of Flint
The very smart children
Preparing for what is ahead