Friday, March 12, 2010

A Poem for Pat Moon

Pat Moon has encouraged many people with his story. After riding as an Iditarider in 2006, he decided he would like to race in the Iditarod someday. This goal proved more difficult for Pat, since he had ulcerative colitis, and then was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of cancer. Still he pressed on, and this year he stood on Fourth Avenue in Anchorage, this time as a musher. Unfortunately, he had to scratch after running into a tree in the infamous Dalzell Gorge.

I always feel a sense of loss when a musher has to scratch, but I was especially sad when I heard about Pat's scratch. So I wrote a poem in his honor:

The Dream
by Marcia Claesson
Dedicated to Pat Moon

A dream took flight on a chilly day
For a young man crouched in a sled
That he would return as a musher one day
With a lead dog at the head.

The dream soared high in the next few years,
But the challenges did too.
Still the man pushed on through his doubts and fears
Till he stood on Fourth Avenue.

The dream that he kept through sickness and pain
Ended far too soon
In a tree-lined gorge with a rough terrain
‘Neath the cold Alaska moon.

But the dream lives on in the young man’s heart
Even with a different tune.
Though he may not stand ‘neath the burled arch,
He’s one tough Chicago Moon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Student Poems for the 2010 Iditarod

I’m teaching a unit on the Iditarod for a small group of homeschooled kids (grades 4 through 8) in our city. One of the assignments was to write a free-verse poem about the Iditarod using at least three of the following poetic elements: simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia, repetition, unusual words together, and using the five senses. While not all the students included three elements, I thought they did an awesome job on their poems. Here they are:

Alaska’s Big Race
By Jeremiah

Alaska is cold
The mushers are starving
The dogs are barking and ready to go
The first one to Nome gets the titanic truck
They don’t care what the color is
They just want the cheers

The Starting Line
By Jessica

Trembling, I step into the light, the cheerful sun welcoming me.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
My boots tread on the awakening snow.
Time ticks with the beating of my anticipating heart.
I am caught in the chorus of chaos as the countdown begins.
Five . . . hearing the chirping of songwriters singing to the Creator . . .
Four . . . feeling the tingling thrill of mushing through mayhem . . .
Three . . . seeing the sun rise after riding in dreary darkness . . .
Two . . . the aromatic smell of pine trees, their branches waving me on as I rush past them . . .
One . . . the joy of crossing the finish line . . . Go!
I awaken from my dream as my dogs mush on to be swept into a veil of needles and snowflakes.
Will I win?
I cannot think about that now.
I only hope to soon see the welcoming sign to congratulate my long journey.

Snow Shadows
By Alexa

The trees brush their arms against the snow.
Images dance around, then disappear.
Murmurs sound wherever you go.
As stops come and go
You fall into the deep shadows of snow.
Snow sparkles wherever you go.
Don’t slow
Let’s go, go, go.

All About Lance
By Simon

Lance is in Takotna
There’s thirteen stops to go
Until he reaches the Safety
Of the finish line in Nome.
He’s not wearing 13 like the three years before now.
He’s wearing 49, a way off from three years ago.

Iditarod Race
By Nathan

I am an Iditarod racer.
I duck and dodge obstacles that don’t exist.
I yell to others who disappear into thin air.
The finish is coming, the finish is coming,
I know it, I know it, I know it.
Whoosh-my panting pals run faster.
I see the amazing aurora borealis.
I see a looming figure, it looks like safety.
I start again. My dogs see the finish line. They bark joyously.
I finish the Iditarod race.

The Iditarod Race
By Kaitlyn

The snow is cold.
Dogs run fast.
My hands burn and are as red as a raspberry.
I’m scared as I see this hill upon me.
I speak “Lord, be with me as I face this hill of burning cold snow.”
My dogs, my faithful friends.
I trust them when they speak to me with their eyes.
I whoosh as I go over this hill.
Crunch, crunch, crunch goes the sound of my dogs and sled as they run through the snow.
My darling dogs with their pulling paws.
Cheers, cheers, cheers, I hear them call from city to city.
I catch them all.
We cross the finish line.
Hurray ! Hurray! We did it!

Mushing in the Iditarod
By Emma

Mackey won last year,
The year and the year before.
There are lots racing,
Young and old,
Veterans and rookies,
Girls and boys.
All in hope of covering
The finish line together
With their beloved dogs.