Community Collection 1: CHOICES with Margarita Engle

Welcome to Poetry Month 2018 at No Water River!
A couple of months ago I was reflecting on all the various and important movements happening in the world right now — people working together to effect change — and it came to me that it would be so nice to work together with you to build a single work of art. And that’s how the idea of Community Collections was born — from the desire to build with you something singular and beautiful … every single day for 31 days.
I am so grateful for the generous poets who didn’t hesitate for a moment to join the project, offering their poems and prompts to get us started each day. I am continually astounded by the big-heartedness of the poetry community.
I’m excited to begin, so let’s stop yakking and get writing! Here’s the lay of the land: each day you will find a simple post that consists of…
THE POET’S SMILING FACE (to welcome us to the day)
THE POEM (to use as a model if you wish)
THE PROMPT (the day’s theme)
THE COMMUNITY COLLECTION BULLETIN BOARD (where you will add your work!)
THE POET (bio)
THE BOOKS (books by the poet that we should all read!)
Please take a moment to peruse the how-to below, and then let’s dive in! Happy writing — and thank you for helping to build our collection(s)!


Today’s Guest


Young People’s Poet Laureate





Write a poem about making a choice. It can be a simple decision, or a difficult one.



1. Paste it into the comment section below. I will gather the poems and add them to this post. OR
2. Email it to me at and I will add it to this post (graphics welcome)!

Beat your own drum
no matter who hears it,
Follow your passion
   no matter who defies it,
Pick yourself up again
   no matter if it’s the 100th time.
Now… move a small mountain–
   Stand with your friend
     no matter if you’re the only one,
Be the beacon that lights a path!
© 2018 Michelle Kogan
The cross
The empty tomb
Real symbols
What is this about?
A sacrifice
A miracle
A reminder…
All the immense love
A God
A Man
A Spirit
What a mystery!
Maritza M. Mejia@2018
Chocolate Chip
………………………Butter Pecan
Rocky Road
………………………Cookies ‘n Cream
Tutti Frutti
………………………Raspberry Ripple
Lemon Ice
………………………Peppermint Dream
Take your pick.
Make up your mind.
What do you want?
………………………A little more time.
© 2018 Doraine Bennett
You can choose to stand and fight.
You can choose to walk away.
You can choose to be the single voice that lifts above the fray.
You can choose to join the crowd.
You can choose to walk alone.
You can choose to build a bridge of peace across the battle zone.
But not to choose at all
is to silence your own voice –
to surrender all your power that is brought about by choice.
So no matter where you go
and no matter what you do,
remember that we need your choice, that’s chosen just by you.
© 2018 Kate Talbot
a skinny poem, 
My teacher says
make good choices
be healthy, safe and strong
eat a good breakfast
come to school
make good choices
be kind instead of cruel
polite, not rude
She smiles when I
make good choices
and I smile back.
Linda Mitchell 3/30/18
Squeezed together
Going up
Should I comment?
What to say?
Number Seven,
Anyone else?
What a beautiful view!
Look at the sunrise
Reflecting on the tower
So Beautiful.
They say the rains coming,
And Spring.
(c) Wendy Bokovoy
Drive-through service:
luxury for me,
hot coffee,
juicy burger,
……….minimum wage
……….for the face
……….in the window.
I search for the connection
that will spark a smile.
          Can you enjoy this sun soon?
          Only you can be this sweet!
          Maybe you get off soon?
          Perfect voice.
          Lovely smile.
          I look forward to seeing you!
          Maybe you could use this.
          Eyes that sparkle
          Nice to see you again!
          Thank you so much!
(c) Sherry Howard
Like or Love ?
Should I like it? Should I love it?
Which is the better form?
The gamut of my options
is luke or very warm.
But hey! The right emoji
might add required finesse
and supplement my comments
without the need to stress
about the subtle meanings
that lurk in actual words –
puns and hidden meanings –
that stuff’s for the nerds.
But what about my own posts?
Should I then conclude
that a ‘liking’ friend is lesser
than a love-heart-happy dude?
Have they weighed this in the balance?
Have they really thought it through?
Is this a matter of the heart?
Or an idle passing-through?
© Kate O’Neil
Could you take a moment now,
Hasten to own a world of wishes
Overlook the list–laundry, dusting, working late–
Install ‘be kind’ and ‘listen well’?
Could you look beyond and fasten
Everyone’s lives as part of yours?
Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved
Conscious choices
…..are open voices.
Voices risking all its brilliance;
…..lifting us up,
…..letting us down,
…..trial and error resilience.
Subconscious choices
…..are hidden voices.
Voices trusting all its brilliance;
…..whirling inside,
…..bursting outside,
…..trial and error resilience.
©2018 Claudia Noriega
Two long legs
standing stiff and ready
to take me places
If only
I could get up onto those platforms
(a trapeze artist
the instant
before launching)
one foot
now two feet
Choose to cry?
Or choose to try—
to get up and go
like my own legs have grown
into two steady poles?
And if I fall
(and when I fall!)
I learn to do it
with control.
On Off On Off On Off 
And go!
Falling was the thing
that finally
let me
I’m glad I tried.
© 2018 Heather Kinser
We make choices every day.
To live, laugh, run, play.
Choices good. Choices bad.
Choices happy. Choices sad.
Choices affect us through the years.
Choices from love, choices from fears.
Our grandchildren. Rebirth.
Our planet. Mother Earth.
Choose whom we serve. Choose how we live.
Choose what we take. Choose what we give.
Choose hate or love for one another.
Choose to serve, to help your brother.
I made the choice to follow you.
Amazing love – you’ve brought me through
(c) Yvona Fast
(c) Joy Moore
Come in different times,
Have diverse stages.
Only you will know
Inside of you.
Close to your heart,
Exhale, inhale…
Silence will talk

Maritza M. Mejia @2018

To tell or not to tell?
I struggle to decide.
What seems a simple choice
has torn me up inside.
Nadine’s my closest friend;
I don’t want that to change,
but telling her the truth
just feels a little strange.
At last I tell myself:
as friends it is your place.
“Nadine,” I say to her,
“There’s ketchup on your face.”

Colleen Murphy


What to write
What to say
I muddle through this every day
Where to walk
Where to run
Where to find the perfect fun
When to stay
When to go
When to listen, say: “I know.” 
How to love
How to share
How to show I really care
Why to shine
Why to show
Why to let my spirit glow
© Kirstine Call 2018
My choice
is love
not war.
Not hate
just peace
and quiet.
No one to cross
swords with,
but compassion,
care and concern.
Passion and trust
and emotion.
Choose love!
© 2018 Robyn Campbell

Driving home last night
I chose to pause
to pull over on the berm
and sit and watch as
four slender deer
foraged in the misty fields
while cars whizzed by
buffeting me with their wake
Last night
I chose to linger
while the deer peacefully grazed
stepping through
tendrils of languid fog
that drifted and twined about them
as the world rushed by
and dusk descended.
© 2018 M. Hogan
The choice is
Love, the Sisyphus road
Hate, downhill and easy
Slipping into the flow
Of the other
Choices around you
Sliding into hate
Fighting into love.
It isn’t always easy to love
Let’s hear that again:
It isn’t always easy to love.
And again.

© 2018 K. Marcus

My sprout has declared
uprooting timid childhood
room for adventure
Live with Mom?
Live with Dad?
Why do I have to choose?
Live with Mom?
Live with Dad?
Either way—
I lose.
@2018 Linda Kulp Trout



Margarita Engle is the national Young People’s Poet Laureate, and the first Latino to receive that honor. She is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, including The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner, and The Lightning Dreamer, a PEN USA Award winner. Her verse memoir, Enchanted Air, received the Pura Belpré Award, Golden Kite Award, Walter Dean Myers Honor, and Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, among others. Drum Dream Girl received the Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book text.

Her newest verse novel about the island is Forest World, and her newest picture books are All the Way to Havana, and Miguel’s Brave Knight, Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote.

Books forthcoming in 2018 include The Flying Girl, How Aida de Acosta Learned to Soar, and Jazz Owls, a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots.

Margarita was born in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during childhood summers with relatives. She was trained as an agronomist and botanist as well as a poet and novelist. She lives in central California with her husband.

Learn more about Margarita and her books at



(blurbs from the author’s website)

Thousands of young Navy sailors are pouring into Los Angeles on their way to the front lines of World War II. They are teenagers, scared, longing to feel alive before they have to face the horrors of battle. Hot jazz music spiced with cool salsa rhythms calls them to dance with the local Mexican American girls, who jitterbug all night before working all day in the canneries. Proud to do their part for the war effort, these Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors—until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder.

Suddenly the young white sailors are attacking these girls’ brothers and boyfriends. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence—when in reality these boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin.



Story of a Cuban-American boy who visits his family’s village in Cuba for the first time—and meets a sister he didn’t know he had.

Edver isn’t happy about being shipped off to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows. The island is a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh, but travel laws have suddenly changed, and now it’s a lot easier for divided families to be reunited. Technology in Cuba hasn’t caught up with the times, though, and Edver is expecting a long, boring summer.

He was NOT expecting to meet a sister he didn’t know he had. Luza is a year older and excited to see her little brother, until she realizes what a spoiled American he is. Looking for something—anything—they might have in common, the siblings sneak onto the Internet, despite it being forbidden in Cuba, and make up a fake butterfly. Maybe now their cryptozoologist mother will come to visit. But their message is intercepted by a dangerous poacher, and suddenly much more than their family is at stake. Edver and Luza have to find a way to overcome their differences to save the Cuban jungle that they both have grown to love.

BRAVO! Poems about Amazing Hispanics
Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot—the Latinos featured in this collection come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!

Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, Tomás Rivera.

Available in Spanish and English



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