Friday, September 13, 2013

And We're Back . . .

Welcome back to sevenatenine for the start of a new school year at Holicong, a year that heralds two new principals (welcome!), newly renovated student bathrooms (farewell forever to the tinfoil walls!), and a whole new crop of student poetry and art.

To begin our year, we bring you a poem from ninth grader, Sydney E., a poem that reminds us that happiness is within our grasp despite the challenges.  It is inspired by the painting The Journey by Selma Bortner. 

The Descent
“The descent into hell is easy.”
~Virgil, The Aeneid
To my right I see the beasts
The beasts of grief and misery
To my left I see the beasts
The beasts of hope and happiness

 The beasts of grief and misery beckon
The wolf’s growl is seducing
The snake’s hiss is mesmerizing

But the beasts of hope and happiness call
The zebra with his kindly eyes
The duck squirming in the zebra’s grasp
Trying to pull me away from the darkness

My boat is floating closer
Floating closer to the darkness
I want to reach out to the beasts

 As I reach out to the beasts
The beasts of grief and misery
A bolt of lightning strikes the boat
The boat of hope and happiness

I know the end is near
I am drifting closer to darkness
The beasts are calling my name

I hear a woman’s voice
A woman is calling my name
I hear a man’s voice
A man is calling my name

 A man clothed all in red
A woman in the nude
Are on the boat of hope and happiness

They want me to join them
On the boat of Hope and happiness
They want me to leave my boat
The boat of grief and misery

I turn back to the beasts
The beasts of grief and misery
I do not want to join them

I reach out my hand to the beasts
The beasts of hope and happiness
I reach out my hand to the man
I reach out my hand to the woman

I do not want to join the beasts
The beasts of grief and misery
I want to join the boat
The boat of hope and happiness

-- Sydney E., grade nine

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Time to Say Goodbye!

It's been a great year at Sevenatenine, but all good things must come to a close.  Enjoy this beautiful day, and let's allow eighth-grader (soon-to-be-ninth-grader) Victoria V. sing us out with one last "What's In My Journal" poem.

artwork by Tori V, grade 8

What’s in My Journal?

Flights of wonder soaring across the pages.
Ideas that burn brightly for only a moment, then fizzle out.
Words as plain as bread.
Thoughts that flutter down on the page, with no place or purpose.
Only when I rake them up do they make sense.

Victoria V. , grade 8

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Spiral Poem

This poem is meant to be read in a spiral.  It began with a pattern in the middle, and a line written across the top of the picture.  Keep sprialing to find out where a simple pattern led this eighth grade writer.

by Trent H., grade 8

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Reflective Poem

After a year of working in a Writer's Notebook, students in Mr. Vogelsinger's eighth grade English class are asked to reflect on their work, much in the manner of William Stafford in his poem, "What's In My Journal."  Nolan approaches this reflective work with a keen eye and a coy wit that is characteristic of his creative work. 

artwork by Gabrielle S., grade 9

What’s In My Notebook

Torn pages, and scribbled-out words,
A book in a foreign language
Known only by me.
It is a code, waiting to be cracked,
For if someone cracked the code
They would know everything about me
The things I love, hate, and fear.

But until that day. . .
I write in this language of lines and circles
Where the words only mean something to me.

I still write.
I write because I know no one knows my language,
For no one has found and cracked this code -- yet.
The only door to my mind still remains closed,
The way I want it.

Nolan C, grade 8

Monday, May 20, 2013

Springtime Sonnet #2

What is it about Spring turning freshmen into sonneteers? It's the last one for a while, we promise! What is your favorite line?  Tell us in the comments.

Artwork by Alexa M., Grade 8


The wind massages flowers on the trees.
The early morning light awakens Spring.
The snows of winter melt; the grass is free.
Resounding in the woods the birds calls ring,

Awakening the world from its slumber.
The midday sun awakens wildflowers,

Gold is the hour, mighty as thunder,

All things shine brightest in their early hours.

The gently trick’ling creek quenches thirst.
The laughs of children break the silent dawn .
The water always flows fastest at first .

It is a hopeful time of year for all.

Summer’l come, school’l end, their best days will come.
They’ll still cherish those spring days in the sun .
by Jared J., Grade 9

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ever Feel This Way?

Sticking with our Tuesdays With Morrie theme, here is a sonnet, written by a ninth grader, about the exhaustion we sometimes impose upon ourselves, always trying to keep up.  So sit down, take a deep breath, and enjoy sipping this sonnet to the last drop.

The Race

Everyone runs for their entire life,
Chasing that which we truly desire.
And though the pace may bring all of us strife,
We never stop, despite how we tire.

For the very objects of our pursuit
Are our suns, our centers, our brightest dreams.
And if one denies it, the point is moot;
The prize is one for which every soul screams.

And although countless people choose to run,
Very few manage to claim their reward.
Some will fall, or by pressure be undone,
But all will finish by their own accord.

The finish line crossed, when all has been done,
But few will catch the object of their run.
by Sydney L., Grade 9
If you're interested, here is an op-ed article from the New York Times, an excellent link to the poem : The Busy Trap

Artwork by Riley H., grade 8

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chalkboard Aphorisms

In honor of Tuesdays With Morrie, eighth grade students had a challenge:  In only three words create and visually design an aphorism for a chalkboard desktop.  Here are the best ones!

Another Sonnet

Let's be honest -- sonnets are always in season, so here is another!

Artwork by Claire A. Grade 8
The River Styx
Upon its murky darkness heroes swear.
An honor-bound promise no man dare break,
An avowed oath made out to ladies fair,
Assertion of loyalty with high stakes
The legacy of vast Titans befell ,
Fashioned by pacts of the Gods during war,
A thin line crossing, the gateway to hell,
Honorable mentions in quests and lore.
A great blessing unknown, power  bestowed,
From its water the bold Achillies shaped,
A coin beneath tounges to be allowed.
The ferry of Styx no man can escape
An everlasting flow, a constant stream,
Bittersweet remanants of broken dreams
by Torin L, Grade 9

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Sonnet for Spring

artwork by Andrea G.
After a long, lugubrious winter, everyone is basking in this nearly perfect springtime (well, except for the torrents unleashed from the sky today!)  Yeri, a ninth grader, captures the season in a well-crafted sonnet, chosen by students on the sevenatenine staff.

Spring Rain

Love comes to me like a spring rain in May;
My frozen heart is melting in silence.
I'm drenched in the rain on a sunny day;
Your warming hand is my only guidance.
When the spring rain is falling, I miss you;
Your scent is everywhere, I feel your love.
This heartwarming love, do you feel it, too?
Oh, you are the only one I think of.
I have never felt this way before,
I don't know what this is, it just might be love.
This flutter, I want to feel more and more;
This is the love from the heaven above.
My love takes a journey backwards through time,
And the rain keeps falling, can you be mine?
By Yeri H., Grade 9

Monday, May 6, 2013


Every now and then, we need a little snow in all of this sunny weather!  Enjoy this vignette by an seventh grade writer . . .

I put my goggles down and look at the ski lift; the only thing standing between me and the lift is the biggest hill I have ever seen. With that, I am off - soaring down the hill. I feel like a model with wind blowing in my hair and people taking millions of pictures of me.  I'm a STAR! 

I go around the first corner and the snow flies up like hundreds of bees buzzing around me.  I slow myself down because I'm about to go off a ramp, but I don't.  I'm scared, so I go the easy way down.

I turn the corner and whiz off of the next jump and I land face first in the snow.  The stinging, white crystals burn my face, and I think that it will be so much easier if I just give up.  But I won't. 

I get up and push on to the next jump.  For a second, I feel like an angel, floating over all the other people, looking down on the white blanket of snow.  I see other people flashing by, and that gives me strength.  I soar down the hill, much like an eagle chasing a snake. I was chasing my dream to make it to the bottom of the hill.

My dream comes true as I turn the last corner and see the lift, which I will soon ride over and over again.  I ask myself why is this all worth it, and the answer is simple:  JOY.  It's the feeling when you are going faster and faster down the hill. It gives you joy.  Isn't that why you should do everything?  Not because your friend likes to do it, or your parents are making you.  It's because of those few seconds that feel like magic when you are free, and you know that everything is going to be okay.

By Elizabeth G., Grade 7
(No, she is not Kenny G's daughter!)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Medieval Tale

Writing in a setting that is different than the present day can be a challenge for any writer. Enjoy this tale by eighth-grader Gracie H., set in an age of knights, castles, and theives in the forest.

Artwork by David D.

The Thief

           The fog’s smoky tendrils crept out across the worn, dirt path. I watched in silence, as the horse of night rode across the sky. There, I thought, as the queen’s carriage came into my view. The trees whispered as it drew nearer, as if sharing in my excitement. I nock my arrow, and pull back the bowstring. Breathing slowly, I focus on my target, the wheels of the rolling carriage before me. I let go. My aim is true, for the arrow gets caught in the wheel and forces it to halt. The soldiers come around to see the trouble; meanwhile, I slip into the carriage, unseen by the guards. I snatch the chest of gold they were to bring to the palace, and vanish into the woods, never to be seen.

            The news of my thieving soon made its way to the castle:

 “Your Highness,” exclaimed a messenger, his hat flew off his head as he hurried into the throne room, “The soldiers sent to collect the gold from the town have returned with nothing but an empty carriage. A thief is running about I tell you! A thief!”

            The queen whirled around, her eyes flaming in outrage. “What?” she shrieked, “How could you have let this happen. That was hundreds in gold and silver, and you just give it away? Something must be done.” The queen paced the stone floor.

He asked, “Your Majesty, what do you suggest I do? We have no way of knowing who could have done this.”

            The queen smiled wickedly. “Then send a skilled hunter into the forest,” she ordered. “He is to bring this gold thief before me.”

            The messenger made his way outside to the courtyard. There the soldiers were gathered, speaking amongst themselves. The messenger cleared his throat, “Her majesty wishes to send a hunter to catch the thief who has been ambushing the carriages,” he announced. “You,” the messenger pointed to the closest soldier, “Go into town and find a man capable of doing such a job.” The soldier nodded and rode off on his horse.

            I was in the tavern when he came for me, the soldier. He sat down at the table and tried to strike up a conversation.

            “I have heard that you are an impressive hunter,” he commented. I shrugged. The soldier informed me I was to come to the queen’s castle and perform a task for her. Only an insane man would not do her bidding, for fear of losing his life. Hesitantly, I agreed to leave with him.

            The queen’s castle was nothing like I had imagined. Everything seemed dark, gloomy, and ominous. Inside, every wall was a mirror, and candles were the only light. I was taken into a throne room and left to face the queen.

            I bowed low, not daring to look her in the eye. “Are you the hunter for whom I have sent?” she asked me, her voice ice-cold.

            I affirmed, “I believe so your Majesty. What shall you have me do?”

            “I want you to rid me of a thief dwelling in the forest.” She continued, “If you find this being, bring them to my castle. I shall decide their fate.” I froze, fear seized control. My heartbeat sounded loudly in my head; I was surprised she couldn’t hear it.

            “Yes, your majesty,” I was finally able to mutter, and left in haste. I made my way to the woods, not knowing where else to go, for I was conflicted.

            Throughout that week I remained in the forest. I was not going to turn myself in. Positive she would never find me here, I continued to raid the queen’s carriages. I convinced myself I was safe. Little did I know, during one of these raids, a soldier by the name of Cador saw me escaping into the forest. He recognized my face from when I was at the palace the other day.

            Cador rushed to the castle on foot, leaving the damaged carriage behind. He tore into the throne room and told the queen of his discovery.

            “I see,” the queen replied after hearing of the news. “Being that you were the man to discover this, I order you to bring this man to me so that he may receive his proper punishment.”

            “Of course, your Highness,” Cador answered as he departed from the throne room.

            Cador decided to make the trip into the woods once again with a royal carriage, and use it as a lure. I bought it. Hiding amongst the trees, I saw it coming. Once again, I damaged the wheel and went in for the taking. Suddenly, I was on the ground, my hands and feet bound with rope. It tore painfully into my skin. I was lifted by two soldiers and hauled into the carriage. They quickly replaced the wheel and carted me off to the palace.

            When we arrived, I was made to bow before the queen. My body trembled as fear raced up my spine. The guards unbound the rope which cut into my wrists. The queen noted my fear, and laughed aloud. “You are nothing,” she hissed into my ear, she paused, “but I have always loved a good show.” The queen spoke to the soldiers as well as to me. “If this man can defeat my best soldier in battle, I shall set him free.”

            Stunned, I gazed up to see her looking down upon me, a clever smile on her face. “For now, take him to the dungeon until his battle tomorrow,” she commanded. At that, the guards came and led me to the prison.

            If possible, the dungeon would be described as even gloomier than the castle above. The darkness was overwhelming and smelled of death. I was thrown into a cell and left until morning. The only sign of light was the small torch that the soldiers held, which was quickly fading into the distance, bringing my hopes of survival with it. It was then that the cold came. I shivered. My breath snaked upwards and mixed with the air above. I didn’t sleep at all that night, for fear of never waking.

            I cannot say exactly when they came for me, but I saw the torch bobbing along in the blackness. I stood up, hopeful. It was the soldiers; they had come to bring me to the battle.

            As they unlocked my cell, I asked them, “Who am I to fight?” I got no answer. I assumed they did not know either. When I stepped into the light of the court yard, my eyes stung and watered. I felt as if I was blinded. Moments later it passed. I looked around me. I noted the queen and her guards, with a front row seat, as well as the crowd of her loyal followers in stands behind them.

I zoned out, all of the crowd’s cheering blended together into a confusing roar. The world spun as a wave of dizziness swept over me. I was led over to a table. The guards were oblivious to my condition. On the table, weapons were displayed. I saw a sword and reached for it, my hand closing around the hilt. Turning, I realized who my opponent was: the man who had captured me in the forest, Cador. He too held a sword, which glinted in the sunlight.

            It was then the horn sounded, and I found myself in the center of the arena with Cador coming in for the kill. I braced myself. His sword clashed with mine; his weapon was like a viper, lashing out at its prey. I was no expert with a sword, especially compared to him. Panicked, I tried my best to defend myself. His blade gashed my side, and blood started to flow, covering my shirt. I sunk to the ground, breathing painfully. I knew I had been defeated. The crowd cheered; they cared not for my death. I looked up at Cador, the victor. He held up his sword in triumph, celebrating.

I would not let him win. While his back was to me celebrating, I brought myself up with the last of my strength, and plunged my sword forward. He looked at the wound, shocked. The crowd gasped; their hero had been slayed. Cador’s eyes glazed over and he plunged to the ground. I pulled out my sword, his blood on my blade. I looked down at Cador’s dead body, unmoving on the ground. Sick, I turned away. Blood continued to escape from my wound, onto the grass beside me. I collapsed beside Cador’s body on the field exhausted and shaking from fear and pain. Just as I drew my last breath, I saw the queen standing a few steps away. Her eyes held no sympathy, only amusement. The last thing I saw was her smiling face as she applauded my death.

by Gracie H., grade 8

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Life Redeemed

In this short story, eighth-grader Jessica R. introduces us to a man who has become discouraged and disillusioned.  What will motivate him to engage in the world again?

Artwork by David D.

The Key to All Happiness

These days aren’t easy like they had been once before; days go by and time just seems to crumble as I grow older with each inert day. My memories of childhood seem to just vanish, and even my memories of just a few days ago seem to slip through my fingers like sand, lost amongst the billions of other grains that have fallen down onto the soft beach of lost memories and sadness. Sand is quite easy to pick up, but it will eventually fall through your fingers once again as time passes. I feel like each time the clock ticks a small bit of energy is sucked out of me and it won’t stop until I am completely gone. I guess there is nothing to look forward to about growing up after all.

Well, I suppose now is a good time to introduce myself. My name is Tristan. I have lived alone since the day everything became a bland inconvenience to me: nearly my entire adulthood. You see, when you’re a child, you have your whole life to look forward to. But when you’re a crippled old man like I, you might as well just crawl in a hole of gloom and despair because you have nothing more to live for. I have not accomplished most of the things that I wanted to and I never will. Times of opportunity and happiness are gone for me; they disappeared in a single wave on the beach of lost memories. As each wave hits, more sand is taken out with it and will forever be lost at the bottom of the dark blue churning sea, unable to be found again.


 I remember the days when I was new to my job. Oh, how much I enjoyed it. Those times were the best times of my life; many years ago, I remember the first day I went to my job. It was excellent, until every memory and day of excitement at work has been shredded into nothing but small pieces of torn paper. Once a paper is ripped, it’s able to be put back together, but it will never once again be perfect. My enthusiasm, happiness, and effort are now all bolted inside an iron vault and forever will be unless I find the key to unlock it again; it will be very hard to try to relocate my long lost key since it has been missing for so long. I suppose now is about the time I should consider retiring. 

I lost my key many years back. I used to be in a small band that many people enjoyed. It consisted of a few of my close friends. We used to go out every week and play jazz music on the busy streets of New York. After work had become a burden, my band was the sunshine in my gloomy life. Playing music was what made myself me. I remember that one day my band and I had decided to perform once again on the streets. I didn’t know that that would be my last time ever preforming a piece of music as a band. I remember that there were many people watching us on that musty day. But there was one man that stood out to me most. The man’s eyes seemed to emerge from its darkness as I played the relaxing jazz with my partners. The man told us that our band was stellar. This was what encouraged me to move forward with my band. But unfortunately, as time went on, we had to break up; as a result of our jobs getting in the way, our band had only become a lost memory. Well, it’s not like we had a chance anyways. We weren’t good enough. Our dreams had become a smashed memory that no longer brought joy but only hurt and terrible feelings. Often now, I don’t listen to music. It brings back a wave of sad memories that I don’t want to remember. It seems that the things that I remember most are the things that I don’t want to remember. It’s funny how it works out that way. Thinking about my past often makes me grow drowsy with mourning. Perhaps I shouldn’t think of it anymore.

My eyes suddenly sprung open from darkness. Where was I? I immediately realized that I was in my dimly lit apartment: it was another day. I slowly but surely deserted my bed and I staggered into the bathroom. I looked horrifying as I stared into the sad eyes of my reflection in the mirror. I tried to sculpt something out of my hair to make it look the slightest bit presentable. I rummaged through my closet to find a business suit that didn’t have a stain on it. Boy, did I need to go to the cleaners. Adjusting my tie slightly, I clustered my papers into one distorted pile and smashed them into my suitcase. I sighed deeply and looked at the clock. It was almost eight o’ clock. I closed both locks below my windows and closed both blinds and turned away. I wallowed over to the door and then twirled around to face my empty, dark house. Oh, how lonely it looked…

I opened the door and I walked down the never ending hallway that leads to the lobby. I opened the front door of the hotel and squinted as light flooded into the room. The day was damp and cloudy after the pelting rain last night. Oh, how I despise days like these. The ominous clouds embraced the world in grey. The noises, smells, and sights in the city were absolutely grotesque; it was like a metal jungle of smells and sirens. There was never a moment of dead silence. Cars gunned past me and taxis zigzagged in and out of traffic and honked their horns for no particular reason whatsoever. No matter what time of day, morning, noon, or night, the air always reeked of gasoline and hamburgers. And every so often, if you’re lucky, you’d find a tree. Yes, a real tree if you can believe it in the middle of this metal, technological jungle.  And finally, the ringleader of the show: the lights. There are so many lights, that the energy they use could power my home for years. It gives me a headache to look at all the screaming neon signs in my face whatever way I turn. Oh, how I hate the city…

I meandered down the street a little longer as inconsiderate business people shoved past me, and with a sigh, I decided that I should move out of the way until the people began to slow down and leave. I turned down a small, more nonchalant road that was occupied with a few small shops simply trying to escape the noise. As I sat on a small, rusted bench next to a coffee shop, I rolled my eyes. What on Earth was I thinking? This is the city. There is no way to escape the chaos. I suddenly jolted to my senses after a brief moment of day dreaming and I realized that I had seen that coffee shop before somewhere…perhaps I was merely experiencing déjà vu.

As I sat in silence absorbing all the commotion going on down the main road next to me, I noticed that a couple of young men with large bags and papers parked themselves right in front of the coffee shop. They put all of their belongings down and began shuffling papers around and looked like complete fools. What were they doing organizing their stuff here in the middle of the city? I then realized what they were actually doing. One of the men accidentally dropped his papers on the ground in front of me and I saw music notes dancing across the page. My eyes widened and my heart started pounding. Music…Oh, how long it had been since I had seen actual music on a page…

The man hunched over in front of me and frantically picked up his countless papers. “Oh my, I’m sorry sir. Uh, I’ll be out of your way in one minute.” His eyes met mine, and I realized that he was strangely familiar. Had I seen this man somewhere? His eyes were full of light and they shone into mine.

“Please, don’t worry about it,” I sympathized with a chuckle. “I used to be in my own band, believe it or not. It’s been so long since I’ve seen music.” The man paused and looked up at me.

 “Really?” he questioned. I smiled a little bit at him.

My heart missed a beat, and I lowered my head down, trying to avoid eye contact with the young man. “Yes, of course. Sadly, I had to disband my band many years ago. I haven’t read music since then.”

The man quickly raised his eyes to meet mine. They didn’t look quite as joyous as they had seemed before. His happiness was replaced with a different emotion that I quite often experienced. “It would truly be a shame if something was to happen to my band. Honestly, music is my life. Despite my job that I have just started, I keep it a part of me.” He pushed away the sadness in his eyes and tried to replace it with jovialness. “If you would like, could you listen to my band play? It’s been a while since we’ve been able to play together and I hope we still are ok. It would be great if we could have someone with experience tell us how good we are,” he described. “It would help us get better!” Butterflies suddenly began to flutter in my stomach. I was going to listen to true music again…this was actually happening. I glanced over at the other members of the band. They had their instruments out and were ready to play. One embraced a large cello, and another held a guitar. The shortest man held a gleaming trumpet, and the man that I had been talking to glided over to his chair and sat down, his saxophone lying in his lap. They all shuffled around nervously and then were positioned and ready to play. They all had an eager look on their faces and grinned at me. “So, will you do it for us?” the man with the saxophone said, bubbling with excitement. Well, what could I say?

“Of course, but I’ll warn you, I give harsh advice!” I laughed truly for the first time in quite a while. “I wasn’t that bad of a music performer back in my day.” The men smiled at me and they counted each other off and then it began. At first, I didn’t know what to expect. I was overwhelmed by the thought of being able to hear music again. The toots of the trumpet and the saxophone were perfect. The strums of the guitar and cello were exactly on time and in tune. I recognized that song from somewhere, but I’m not quite sure where…I felt myself slowly tapping my foot in sync with the strums of the cello and I found myself humming the tune of the song. The sound was beautiful…they could’ve been almost as good as my band had been… At first, they made it hard to smile because they made it hard to breathe. My eyes began to sparkle with excitement and my mouth began to curve up into a wide grin. It was hard for me to believe that it was still able to do that. People from the main road had heard the mellifluous sounds of the band and a huge crowd had gathered to watch. I stood there in front of the bench tapping my foot and began to laugh. That was the most fun I had in a while.

The song sadly came to a closing after a very short few minutes. The smile still lingered on my face and the butterflies stayed trapped in my stomach. The crowd clapped and cheered and threw spare change into the suitcase that conveniently sat openly on the ground. After the people had begun to disappear and flow back into the main stream of people on the busy street, the group began to prepare another song. The song that they played had repeatedly blared over and over in my head like a stuck record for a long while. The man that had talked to me earlier quickly bounded towards me.

“So, what did you think?” His eyes were brighter than the sun, and he seemed very eager to her my advice.  

“My rating for you is beyond words: that was stellar. I cannot tell you how much joy your band has brought me. Don’t give up, no matter what. A band as good as you has a great chance at becoming a truly amazing hit! Please, don’t give up music like I did. Don’t let your job take over your life, take some time to do something that you enjoy,” I complimented.

“I will try to keep music in my life, no matter what it takes…” The man looked around to see if anyone was watching, and leaned in closer to my face and began to whisper in my ear. “I have been extremely low on money lately which is why I tried to pursue a better job at a big office building. Hopefully, this will be what I have been looking for.” He stood back upright again. “Thank you so much for your advice, I will try to make my band even better than it is now.”

I smiled. It felt good to do something good for someone else. I hoped that that band would stay together and maybe even become famous one day. They were too good to crumble. “No problem.” The man walked back towards his position, readied his saxophone at his lips, and began to play another smooth-flowing jazz piece. I walked away in silence, the butterflies still flying in my stomach. After I was long gone and far from the band, I found myself humming the song they had played. The saxophone that played reminded me of myself. Ah, those were the good times…I remembered that since I was in my late fifties, I had tried to play a specific song on my saxophone: The Joy of Life, by Kenny G, a famous saxophone player. I remember I used to question my own sanity when I tried to play this because of the skill level that it takes. It had been many years after my band had broken up, and it was the little thing that I did in my spare time to keep me happy, but now it was just a terrible memory. I am now 70, and it has been so long since I have actually played my saxophone. I wonder if I still can play…

I continued walking down the crowded streets until I noticed something peculiar happen. I heard a strange beeping noise inside of my head, and I couldn’t quite tell what on Earth it was. I tried to block it out, but it didn’t stop. My vision started to suddenly blur, and everything suddenly went black.

My eyes suddenly sprung open from darkness. Where was I? I immediately realized that I was in my dimly lit apartment: it was another day. I buried my head under my pillow, annoyed by the blaring noise my alarm clock was shrieking at me. Why can’t I just go back to sleep… I threw the pillow off of my face, and looked at the clock. It was 6 o’ clock. I jabbed the snooze button in frustration, and I rotated out of bed. I don’t remember anything. I wonder what I dreamt about…suddenly, I remembered: the band. Maybe they were there today…maybe they would play for me again, too!  The butterflies soon reawakened and began to flutter uncontrollably. I flung myself out of bed and I hurried to get ready. I can’t miss them! I was just about to throw my front door open, and it suddenly hit me like a tidal wave that emotionally knocked me down fiercely. I began to shake and tears brimmed in my eyes. It was all a dream…a silly dream….The second wave suddenly hit. I saw it all clearly. The coffee shop, the young man, the pieces of music…what I had just experienced was a flashback. I had become the old man on that day to watch my own band play when I was just a young man…tears tugged at my eyes. And oh, how good that band had been…maybe we weren’t so bad after all…I brushed tears out of my eyes and dropped my suitcase to the floor. I was blind the entire time. We were a truly amazing band…

I sprinted into my bedroom and flung my closet door open. As the cloud of dust settled, I found the string attached to the light bulb that I had wired to the ceiling. After a few weak flickers, it shone on. I stood on my toes and looked on the very tallest top shelf of my closet and I smiled in relief. It was still there where it had been for all of these years. I slowly lowered the large black case down onto the floor, and I stuck my hand up on the shelf searching for a folder. After the dust caked onto my hands, I found it. I picked the folder up, and the dust once again exploded into a huge cloud and I wheezed. Slowly, I bent over and picked up the heavy case and folder and ran out into my bedroom without shutting the light out.

Click. Click. I slowly lifted the lid of the case on its hinge to reveal the precious key that was lost inside for so many years. This is the very case that changed my life. And this will be the very case to change my life in the future. A shimmer of brass greeted me. The clouds in my eyes had been blown away and my enthusiasm, happiness, and energy all came back to me in a single sweep. Welcome back, old me.  I haven’t been expecting you, but I am sure glad that you are here. I lifted the heavy brass saxophone out of its soft case and laid it gently on the bed. I picked up the folder, and I fingered through the papers that were inside. The left hand side was completely jammed full of papers. The two papers on top were ones that I recognized instantly: The last pieces of music that I have ever played for other people with my band…the music I had heard in my dream…I quickly looked to the right pocket of my folder, and I realized that there was nothing there. Now, isn’t that strange…I peeked slowly into the pocket and I saw a folded up paper. The butterflies in my stomach were pounding to be free. I slowly unfolded the paper and I saw the bold, black text at the very top that read something very familiar to me:


The straight mouth that had been painted onto my expressionless face instantly curled up into a wide grin. I took a quick glance around my room and  spotted a very dusty music stand in the corner. I dusted it off and I placed the piece of music onto the stand gently, and positioned myself in front of it, saxophone in hand. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams, no matter how old you are. It’s never too late to change. I walked a lonely road, the only road that I have ever really known. My shallow heart was the only thing that was beating, and my shadow was the only one that stood beside me on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. But that is soon about to change because I’m about to turn off of this road onto a new one.

And right then, I played my first note for the first time in years. And from there, I never stopped playing. I played my saxophone for the next 15 years after that day and I pleased the lives of hundreds. I began to question myself once again when I realized that I was able to play more saxophone solos that were just as good as the ones that Kenny G had played. There is just as much to be happy about as a kid when you’re an adult. There are plenty of opportunities for everyone, no matter what age or status you live at. I am currently in my 80’s, and I fear that my day is coming soon. I see that many years ago I said that there was nothing to live for when you grow older, but I realized that I was wrong. I lived the best years of my life, by far, in the past 15 years. When I thought that I couldn’t accomplish anything and when I thought my life was over, I managed to make many people happy and I managed to do things that I never thought I would be able to accomplish. And for that, I give myself a pat on the back. I promise that I will never once again lose everything I love. But to do that, I need to never lose my key to all happiness: music.

by Jessica R., eighth grade

Friday, March 1, 2013

Suffering From Writer's Block?

Eighth grader Anthony sincerely felt that he had nothing to write.  Yet the teacher assigned the class to write an extended complex sentence with multiple dependent clauses, trying to shape the sentence3 into a poem.  This poem is the result, reminding us that just playing with words sometimes helps us escape our worst case of writer's block:

Notebook Entry, 2/27/13

Although I began this poem well,
Because I have no idea what to write,
As I've been thinking about many issues,
When I should be writing about a peaceful time,
If I can think of any peaceful issues,
Since I have been very hyper lately,
Whenever I hear about a crazy topic,
Where I had been imagining new ideas,
Until I can get my mind straight,
I can't think of a good poem.

Anthony S., eighth grade

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Is a Pentatina?

Today's post features a bit of irony.  The pentatina is not a "real" form of  poetry.  The sestina, featuring six stanzas of six lines apiece and one three line stanza, has been around since the 12th century, but in Poetry magazine in October 2012, Campbell McGrath published a humorous twist on the form: Pentatina for Five Vowels.  Each stanza features a rhyme based on a different vowel. Eighth grade students read and studied the patterns within this poem, then teamed up to imitate the form, and the three boys published below did so with a much more serious tone.  Look for another Pentatina coming soon!


Life is a debt with death you must pay,

Death is the light that leads you astray,

Light is the force to push darkness away,

Out of the darkness and into the gray,

And gray is the place life finds its way,


Life will die almost instantly,

When death squelches light that used to be,

When the light is gone, darkness runs free,

The dark of the gray that will always be,

And into the gray life hopes to flee,


The life of the world will eventually die,

Death, a distraction from the light of the sky,

Light flows to dark and lets out a cry,

The greatest dark in gray is a lie,

And gray and life in an eternal tie,


From life to death a person will flow,

Death leads to light that no one shall know,

In the absence of light darkness does grow,

With darkness to gray there is no glow,

Gray is to life, as dove is to crow,


Life and death are stuck in the glue,

From death alone the light will imbue,

When light turns to dark it loses its hue,

From darkness to gray no one has a clue,

And gray to the life you never knew.
by Noah D. , Jonathan X., and Gregory H. -- Grade 8

Monday, February 11, 2013

Figurative Darkness

Ninth grade students at Holicong have recently been exploring figurative "darkness" in some concise but thought-provoking poems.  What could better capture the doldrums that haunt us at winter's end? Hang in there everyone!  Spring is just ahead!

In the Dark

Trapped, on a winding road that never ends
Lonely, no consultations with friends
Confused as to what leads next
Like reading lines but not understanding the text

Lost in your own state of mind
Reliving mistakes far back in time
Ideas scramble in your brain
Trapped, feeling anything but sane

Brook B., Grade 9

In the Dark

The sun fades away,
Takes over does the night.
No more stars that shine brightly,
Not a beam of light.

Lost and alone,
With the forest's eerie cry and tune.
Yet there is still hope,
We still have the moon.

Casey Z., Grade 9

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Snow in the Forecast!

Will we get to experience the essence of this poem tomorrow? 



I feel the air as I walk.

Soon, I feel it’s everywhere.

I can’t help thinking

that I am sinking.

Everywhere that I see

snowflakes are falling from the sky.

They drop down onto me

as I look up to see

that what I am seeing

are all these snowflakes are not the same.

I try to find someone to tell

but I soon realize

that I am




Sierra R., Grade 9