“Teacher Poet: Advice Upon Visiting Her Classroom,” “Back to the Roots” and “Sunrise”

“Teacher Poet: Advice Upon Visiting Her Classroom,” “Back to the Roots” and “Sunrise”

Teacher Poet: Advice Upon Visiting her Classroom

Framed diploma and teacher’s license,

taped on the institutional wall,

these credentials face the stars.

The star-struck welcome board posts a message:

Practice safety.

But will these stars fade, fall into the waste basket?


Hand sanitize the room,

cherish the stars like “Hope

is the thing with feathers,” says Emily Dickinson.

But the Dickinson banner is losing some of its red-colored shapes,

while it looks up to the battery-operated clock.

Pandemic time ticks

like paper-made dreams sleep, stashed away, on file.


Pull these dreams out of the file cabinet.

Spread them like the real peacock feathers,

retrieved from the farm.

They fly high on the dry erase black board.

The eyes of the feathers point to the sky,

chalk and eraser ready for pick up.


Room keys dangle on noodled paper chains.

Tasks crumple up into paper sacks of worn masks


teacher’s desk pristine,

no papers in sight, all things remote,

like a train of passengers stuck in empty box cars,

or sailors stuck at sea for seasons,



That’s not for you.

Flag the muse.

Contact trace your purse and chair.

Lie back to embrace silence

like smelling wood,

nose pinned to the pages of a new book

when you first open it.

Head outdoors.

Breathe deeply

beneath your kn95.

Pick up a yellow legal pad,

number 2 pencil.

On your mark, get set.


Back to the Roots

My heart aches

to be like a tree swinging

its willowy branches in faint, misty air.

After a storm, my tree travels

like a rainbow stretches

its pastel green, yellow, peach

hues across the sky.

My tree, its foliage free to change,

needs less sunlight,

embraces the sunset years,

stops the food-making work production

of the leaves’ younger years,

but still finds the courage

to fortify a solid trunk.

The tree lets go,

knows a peace

with living and dying.

It releases its red-orange-yellow leaves

that once showcased beauty.

My tree sings like a singer

in an orchestrated symphony,

the melody of the swan song

as the leaves drop deep

into fertile soil, make a path,

new seeds to grow.

I no longer need

a mustard seed to grow.

My interior tells me,

the time has come to shed the exterior,

like the full-blown tree knows

it must give up its centerpiece

cornucopia, its fruits and flowers,

so that the tree returns to its roots.


The moon has gone to bed,

and I am dreaming of stillness,

a time of waking up

to the gift of Sunrise.

My internal clock tells me

when Sun touches

the earth, streaks

its burnt-orange stripe

across the sky at dawn,

72 minutes before Sunrise.

Sunrise whispers

like a voice of an old friend

calling me on my cell phone to say


Sunrise draws me into its orb

like a handwritten invitation,

beautifully stroked with the penmanship

of accents and swirls.

I long for mornings like this

when I exhale a welcome sigh.

Sometimes Sunrise appears

after a few hours of 3 am turmoil,

persons and places I remember

as a time of danger or opportunity.

These containers of memories leave me

a little dazed, unsure of my footing.

I really want Sunrise to appear.

Sunrise announces its presence

through my white-lace curtains,

dainty enough to surrender

to the ray of the new day.

I go over to my bedroom window,

roll back the curtains, take a peek

because I do not take Sunrise for granted.

If I have the extra time

to wait for stillness,

I go out onto my open front porch,

feel Sun nourish every living thing

like a prayer prayed back to silence.

Sun streams into my heart

like a flicker of light fans

its own flame. One solitary light

beams bright before the busy pace of the day begins.

About the Author

Karen Carter

Karen Carter teaches high school English in Tyrrell County near the Outer Banks, North Carolina. She was the first female to earn a PhD in religion at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, and is a seasoned teacher in post-secondary and secondary education. Her poems have appeared in The Broadkill Review, Miller’s Pond, Wild Roof Journal, and The Avalon Literary Review.