Sunday, April 14, 2024

Traveling Progressive Poem

The Progressive Poem has traveled for 13 days this month. It is my turn to add lines to the community poem that is a journey of courage. Reading through Days 1 through 13, I am reminded of a poignant story told by one of my elementary students years ago. Amid civil unrest in El Salvador, the child and his siblings left their homeland to move to Long Island. 

Join me as I integrate the student's story into my lines for Day 14. I also added the art of Juan Lopez-Bautista's Border Stories presented at the Sella-Granata Art Gallery, Woods Hall, UA campus (October-November 2021). Be sure to click here and here to view the full exhibition that touched my heart. 

cradled in stars, our planet sleeps,
clinging to tender dreams of peace
sister moon watches from afar,
 singing lunar lullabies of hope.

almost dawn, I walk with others,
keeping close, my little brother.
hand in hand, we carry courage
escaping closer to the border.

My feet are lightning;
My heart is thunder.
Our pace draws us closer
to a new land of wonder.

I hum my own little song
like ripples in a stream
Humming Mami's lullaby 
reminds me I have her letter

My fingers linger on well-worn creases,
shielding an address, a name, a promise-
Sister Moon will find always us
surrounding us with beams of kindness

But last night, as we rested in the dusty field,
worries crept in about matters back home.

Day 14
I huddled close to my brother. Tears revealed
the no-choice need to escape. I feel grown. 


Juan Baptiste Lopez from "Border Stores"
at the Sella-Granata Art Gallery

I pass on the torch of writing to Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities.

The Kidlithosphere Progressive Poem was started in 2012 by Irene Latham as a way to celebrate National Poetry Month as a community of writers. In 2020, Margaret Simon became the organizer of the Progressive Poem. Margaret created the above gorgeous graphic for the 2024 Progressive Poem .

Meet the writing team creators of the community Progressive Poem 2024. 

April 1 Patricia Franz at Reverie
April 2 JJone MacCulloch
April 3 Janice Scully at Salt City Vers
April 4 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
April 5 Irene at Live Your Poem
April 6 Margaret at Reflections on the Techee
April 7 Marcie Atkins
April 8 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God Forsaken Town
April 9 Karen Eastlund
April 10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
April 11 Buffy Silverman
April 12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
April 13 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
April 14 Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink
April 15 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
April 16 Sarah Grace Tuttle
April 17 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
April 18 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
April 19 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
April 20 Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
April 21 Janet, hosted here at Reflections on the Teche
April 22 Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading
April 23 Tanita Davis at (fiction, instead of lies)
April 24 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
April 25 Joanne Emery at Word Dancer
April 26 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe
April 27 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
April 28 Dave at Leap of Dave
April 29 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
April 30 Michelle Kogan at More Art for All
I hope more of my poetry friends, plus writers, bloggers, artists, photographers, and friends join in the Poetry Parade. The Poetry Parade Padlet is available for your artistic expressions. Laura Purdie Salas and Denise Krebs added their image poems to the gallery.


  1. That last, "I feel grown" shows the sad burden of many children in the world, Carol. The voice is strong, showing that there was the strongest need to take this dangerous step to escape, a call for sympathy, too! Thanks for opening the door to another part of their lives.

    1. Linda, in my aministrative post one of my responsibilities was to oversee the ESL program. I heard many stories from the children but none as sad as the little child from El Salvador. It breaks my heart to now see so many immigrants trying to leave their homelands. Thank you for understanding why I wrote what I did.

  2. I, too, was touched by "I feel grown." The harrowing experience of escape and wandering alone with a brother to protect most definitely would bring about this feeling.

    1. Thank you, Margaret. I am always grateful for the reassurance from my poetry friends.

  3. Beautiful lines,Carol. This experience is changing this child- “I feel grown.”

    1. Janice, so many of the ESL children I've know had difficult experiences leaving their homes. I even have friends who recount their journeys escaping from Cuba without their parents. This PP child is representing the plight of all those children.

  4. Thank you for your lines which have me thinking deeper of the responsibility this child is carrying. I hope tomorrow's lines do this poem justice.

    1. Rose, my best wishes to you. I know that I struggled with my lines. I felt this was a pivotal part of the poem. I felt it needed a deeper dive into the child's fears and responsibilites.

  5. Oh, Carol! You looked deep into the heart of our character!

    1. Thank you, Mary Lee. I tried to do just that. I can still remember the various children and my friends who needed to escape from their conditions in their homelands. The child's plight is representative of all of those children.

  6. Carol, thank you for sharing this story of your former student. The empathy you have for him is palpable in our poem. This stanza's ending, "I feel grown" is perfect.

    1. Denise, I must admit the turn you took had me thinking for hours. This stanza now shares the plight of our little character who had important responsibilities.

  7. What a journey and we're just halfway there. You have pointed out the juxtaposition of Sister Moon's kindness to the grown-up responsibilities our child, almost grown, older sibling is shouldering.

    1. Ramona, the child that told me of his struggles to get out of El Salvador was around 8 years old. Can you imagine our little grands taking on that type of responsibility when they reach 8? Thanks for commenting on the PP lines I wrote.

  8. Thank you for bringing your student's perspective to this. I am struck by the phrase "no-choice-need to escape." It is profoundly sad that so many people, including children, are put in such situations.

    1. Karin, even two friends of mine were placed in that position as children when they were sent on a plane from Cuba to America to flee from Castro's regime. I can reach back farther to WWII when another friend fled France and traveled to Portugal and then to America as a child.

  9. So powerful, Carol, and an experience, sadly, still so relevant.

    1. Robyn, thank you for stopping by to comment. Yes, the fear experience and the tears shed are unfortunately still a reality.

  10. Carol, the tears, the huddling contrast so strongly with "I feel grown." That simple statement shows both challenge and determination. Wonderful.

    1. Heidi, I am sorry that I missed your comment. So many children and adults I've known all experienced the jolt of separation and the fear of loneliness throughout different time periods from World War II to this present day.