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Children's Poetry
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Poetry Break # 23

Poetry by an Asian American Poet

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Introduction: Talk about different cultures having unique foods and ask students to give some examples. Also, ask students if they ever dream about food.

Turnip Cake

On the table
I find a slice of turnip cake,
its bits of color,
orange shrimp
and red sausage,
glowing almost
against the pale
mashed turnip.

The salt in it
bites the back of my mouth,
my soggy mouth,
watering over
this lo bak go like no other,
this dim sum of my dreams,
crisp to the teeth
and soft to the tongue,

and I wake up
hungry.

Poem by Janet Wong

Wong, Janet S. Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams. Illustrated by Julie Paschkis. N.Y.: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2000, p. 25. ISBN: 0689826176.

Extension: a) Introduce students to some of the foods mentioned in the poem and to other Asian foods. Provide samples if possible. Have students write about what the foods taste like to them. b) If possible, take a class field trip to an Asian market.









Introduction: Ask students if they ever feel like they are running or falling in a dream.

Falling

I am running, running running
trying to catch the bus to school
in time.

Running, running, running,
running late.

I am running, running, running
when I stumble.
Now I'm falling
down,
falling
and I fear I'm going to break-

and I jerk
wide awake
in my soft warm bed,
sister snoring,
teeth all right,

sky turning pink
in the morning light.

Poem by Janet Wong
(Citation: book title noted on this page, p. 17).

Extension: After you have read the poem, break the class into six groups or ask for six volunteers. Have each group read a line. The first three groups will stop at the period. The fourth group will stop after "I'm going to break." The fifth group will stop after "soft warm bed."