Transformations: Poetry

Laura Bonazzoli: Spelling Lesson

Posted:  Friday, November 8, 2013 - 8:45am


That’s what the sign said

and the tattered blanket

and the worn camo jacket

and the broken teeth

visible though I was keeping my distance

crossing to the market on the other



In the cookie aisle, Jimmy Blanchard froze

at the blackboard, second—


We tell stories.

We tell stories to make sense of our lives.

We tell stories to communicate our experience of being alive.

We tell stories in our own distinct voice. Our own unique rhythm and tonality.

Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students. Our stories will be about family, love, loss and good times. We hope to make you laugh and cry. Maybe we will convince you to tell your stories.

— Kathrin Seitz

“Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there.” — Henry Miller

Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at

third grade spelling dessert

like the place where he died

fifteen years later, not

firing his gun.


How many soldiers, poor and good spellers,

come home to sleep under stars-and-stripes blankets or wander

misspelled and misspelling, seeing

the lines and the dots and the curves but finding

no reason, no pattern, no stripes

or stars?


I skip the cookies, call him Sir,

give him a five. God bless you,

he says and touches his heart, saluting

the St. Michael’s 7th grade spelling bee champion

who's never choked on desert sand

nor labored to print


on a cardboard sign.

Laura Bonazzoli is a freelance writer and editor, mainly in the health sciences. Her poetry has been published in Epiphany, Red Dancefloor, and other journals. She lives with her daughter, Lizzi, in Camden.