As I left my first Thursday piano lesson, I asked the mom if she liked Indian food. I’d seen a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala that I wanted to try, but I knew I needed to share because it would make so much.

She said she loved it, so I told her I’d bring some over, and she said, “Just come over for dinner!”

So I made dinner (sooooo yummy) and took it over. Her husband had returned early from a deployment, and he also loves Indian food. It was a fun couple of hours…and this recipe is so easy to make that it will become a staple in my rotation for sure.

It would be nice if dinner with friends becomes a staple in my rotation, too. I forgot how much I enjoyed that–before grad school, nearly every Sunday I had dinner with my friends Matt, Debbie, and Jen. It forced me to not grade or plan lessons, and was a relaxing way to start the week. I didn’t realize how much I missed those dinners until tonight.


by Paulann Petersen

Pale gold and crumbling with crust
mottled dark, almost bronze,
pieces of honeycomb lie on a plate.
Flecked with the pale paper
of hive, their hexagonal cells
leak into the deepening pool
of amber. On your lips,
against palate, tooth and tongue,
the viscous sugar squeezes
from its chambers, sears sweetness
into your throat until you chew
pulp and wax from a blue city
of bees. Between your teeth
is the blown flower and the flower’s
seed. Passport pages stamped
and turning. Death’s officious hum.
Both the candle and its anther
of flame. Your own yellow hunger.
Never say you can’t take
this world into your mouth.

Piano Festival

I’ve been a member of the local Music Teacher’s Association for three years now, but I’ve never actually had students participate in their events. School or sickness always got in the way. But this year I was determined to do at least one event, so I worked with my oldest student to compete in the National Federation Music Festival.

Our competition was today, and I was worried. Thursday’s lesson was a bit of a train wreck. And when I asked (out of politeness) if she wanted me to watch her, she said yes. I was hoping she’d say no, because I get so nervous watching my students perform. Couldn’t stand watching my speech kids, either.

I’m half-asleep as I’m writing this, so I’ll just get to it: she played. No memory lapses. A few dynamics I wanted her to use were absent. I need to remind her how to pedal. And she was being adjudicated by a judge with very high standards. Standards that my student must have met, because she earned a Superior rating–the highest possible rating.

I was thrilled. So in honor of this first successful venture into a competitive piano event, here’s a poem about what music can do.

In Commendation Of Musick by William Strode

When whispering straynes doe softly steale
With creeping passion through the hart,
And when at every touch wee feele
Our pulses beate and beare a part;
When thredds can make
A hartstring shake
Can scarce deny
The soule consists of harmony.

When unto heavenly joy wee feyne
Whatere the soule affecteth most,
Which onely thus wee can explayne
By musick of the winged hoast,
Whose layes wee think
Make starres to winke,
Can scarce deny
Our soules consist of harmony.

O lull mee, lull mee, charming ayre,
My senses rock with wonder sweete;
Like snowe on wooll thy fallings are,
Soft, like a spiritts, are thy feete:
Greife who need feare
That hath an eare?
Down lett him lye
And slumbring dye,
And change his soule for harmony.


It’s April. This is one of two months where I try to blog daily, and I find it a strange coincidence that November–when I write daily pieces of gratitude–is one month before the end of 1st semester; April–when I post daily poems for National Poetry Month–is one month before the end of 2nd semester. I usually start November and April feeling somewhat bleak, but striving to blog every day somehow lifts me out of my funk.

But today’s poem is gonna be bleak and funky. And not the good kind of funky.

It was a hard week, and I walked out the building today feeling like a complete failure. Just top-to-bottom, can’t-do-anything-right kind of failure. So here’s a little poem about failure. Enjoy.

“To Failure” by Philip Larkin
You do not come dramatically, with dragons
That rear up with my life between their paws
And dash me butchered down beside the wagons,
The horses panicking; nor as a clause
Clearly set out to warn what can be lost,
What out-of-pocket charges must be borne
Expenses met; nor as a draughty ghost
That’s seen, some mornings, running down a lawn.

It is these sunless afternoons, I find
Install you at my elbow like a bore
The chestnut trees are caked with silence. I’m
Aware the days pass quicker than before,
Smell staler too. And once they fall behind
They look like ruin. You have been here some time.

Def Poetry

My goal for my poetry unit with my students is this: to realize that not all poetry is about death or angsty teenage girls with broken hearts.

So we end each day of our poetry study watching a clip from Def Poetry (I think it used to run on HBO). I love that Slam Poetry can be silly, poignant, or political. This one is political. (It’s PG-13, FYI.)