I have been doing the 'Magic Box' activity with students for almost two decades. It's an exercise that gets students playing with language and putting ideas together in random ways. Every time I do this activity, I play around with my own ten words and walk myself through all the steps to get the language moving. The result for Day One of this week's Young Adult Literacy Lab for Poets with Attallah Sheppard and Gina Forberg is
The Moon Is Our Hope
Sometimes it’s a bummer,
the way summer makes us dumber
without having a coffeehouse for our souls.
We write to grow and tumble,
in this intellectual triathlon, we rumble,
with word-play, although it may crumble,
or melt like ice-cream from our sweat…
How much do you want to bet
we’ll need a dictionary, a library
(some Pictionary with a strawberry)
while we work our way to this Friday
as plumbers who unclog brains?
Oh, as Gina explains, “It’s crackerjacks
and sea scallops,
cotton candy, a writer’s palate,
especially with sips of wine.”
Thumper hops, and blubber bops,
we writers, take whatever drops
to sprinkle upon the page.
“Poetry,” she says out loud, “is good for any age.
Together, friends, let’s contemplate and rage”
The moon is the hope,
the mother to the madness,
who is mesmerized by Pandora’s box -
she is a fox with the potential for
friendship and memories.
She is a maniac
who is moved by angels,
meandering with lawn gnomes
through the gardens of a good book,
and, like a rainbow, she
makes us magnificent like a nap.
The Diva has her magic rings,
and like Alisha Keys she sings,
and brings us possibility, its supremes,
in the wishful ways such music brings
passionate pianos and a
the miracles, the monologues,
& the ways the voice will grow,
from bursting forth - the renaissance -
all of us are destined to explode
in the melodic, theatrical dreams
upon the BET Harlem road
granting us to know,
what’s civil and right
while the symphony marches within us.
This is the voice of CWP -
it’s you & us, both you & me,
who serendipitously skip
along the shoreline…
It’s the poet who must design the miracles
along the Sound.
Yes, it’s summer vacation,
but the creations abound and
fly with the magical birds -
your words - those brain turds -
coasting along the waterfront
of your soul, ya’ know?
as you doodle your world
and find the sand-songs dunes
that trickle along the beach…
and for this reason we must reach
u gotta write for what’s right
& fight with all u’r might
to insight incite
and to ignite a spotlight
to put yourself in the limelight
outright & forthright,
because there is no other way.