Appreciate Dogs, Cats, Poems and People – We Come in All Shapes and Sizes
By Riley, ACE Poetry Contest Mascot, Alpha Public Schools, Assisted by Martha Sessums
I’m a dog. A fuzzy white dog, kinda mid-sized.
I have friends who look different. Like Lobo at San Francisco International High School, who is a mid-sized black and white Husky with really straight hair. I love to hang out at parks like the one in San Jose where I often see a little brown Chihuahua chase a green ball. There is also see a small black poodle; several tan and black German Shepherds; a sad-faced brindle Bulldog; black, tan and brown Labs; large and small muscular pit bulls, a couple that have some old scars; and there’s even a white terrier with really short legs and black fur around one eye.
We’re all friends, chasing balls and sticks, hanging out with the people that feed and pet us.
Cats come in lots of different colors too. Breakfast, who hangs out at Oakland International High School, is a yellow tabby. But there are lots of black, white, grey, stripped, spotted, furless (yup, a cat without fur is a thing), mixed colors, long fur, short fur, even those with ears that fold down. They are mostly the same size, but there are some big ones, just like there are little ones.
Poems are pretty diverse too, with lots of shapes and sizes. There are small but disciplined ones, like haiku, sonnets and limericks, which have to follow rules. There are really long ones too, like epic or narrative poems that tell stories. Wild ones, like free verse, have no rules. They don’t have to rhyme, and syllable count, punctuation, line and stanza numbers are totally up to the poet. Spoken poetry is cool, where the poet performs her poem. It can be any style, including slam or hip-hop.
That’s the cool thing about poetry. It’s as diverse as cats and dogs. It’s been around for a really long time. In fact, the first poets performed their poetry because it was before most people knew how to write. Poetry helped tell stories, outline laws and record history.
Cats, dogs and poetry have a lot in common. We come in all shapes, sizes, types and colors, and are appreciated, respected for our differences, and hugged and given treats. I think it’s interesting that people make judgments about each other on these things, but not about dogs, cats or poetry. They accept the fuzzy white dog and the tall black Lab, or the grey cat with ears wrapped downward like a scarf and the stripped kitten that steals a lick from an ice cream cone. Who doesn’t like a good limerick, or the performance poetry of Rihanna and Queen Bey?
John, the nice guy who gives me treats and takes me to the park, is kind of a history nut. He always wants to know what happened. Gee. Sometimes things just happen. Like when the raw steak just falls on the floor. Not my fault it wasn’t secured on top of the kitchen cabinet.
So I do my version of performance poetry to tell him what happened. The steak did a slam jam and I just caught it in my son-net. I’m scolded, but I continue to get respect for my fuzzy self, and pets and hugs. And, arf!, steak is a nice treat.
See, the diversity and acceptance of poetry, cats and dogs is everywhere.
Enjoy poems this National Poetry Month. Write poems this month. And always treat yourself to a poem.