The Dog Poop Blues
Sometimes life can be pretty hard
My neighbor’s dog went and pooped in my yard
I sent my brother out to scoop
That nasty piece of charcoal poop
He came to me with a pale, green face
I knew right then I should get out of his space
And to my horror what did I see?
My brother upchucking on me
And so my friends I’m sad to say
This is how dog poo ruined my day
Hailey, 6th grade
Let's admit it, even the most optimistic of us out there sometimes get the blues. We can let little things, annoying things, and big things, stew for a while, sometimes for a long while. It feels good every now and then to vent and let our troubles out. That's when a Blues Poem can be the perfect antidote for a cloudy day, week, or month.
Blues music is an American genre of music. Although no one knows who invented the Blues, it has its roots in African-American work songs, spirituals, and field hollers. The music expressed the struggles, pain and hopes of slaves, tenant farmers and rural America. At the turn of the century, it began spreading out of the Mississippi delta and Texas Piedmont area. Blues players were mostly acoustic guitar players, or part of a jug band. Jug bands created instruments out of everyday work objects like jugs, wash bins, spoons, washboards, etc. As African-American people migrated out of the south and into larger cities like Chicago, Blues music began to express the troubles of a more urban existence. Electric guitars and bass were added to the Blues' sound. The rhythmic and soulful quality of Blues music makes it, and Jazz music, the foundation for rock and roll. Rock and Roll bands in the 1960s like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin covered old Blues Songs and revived interest in the musical genre.
The Fart Blues
My name is Darren and I try not to fart,
to hold it in and be a sweetheart.
The lunchroom served chili and I have to say,
they’re the reason that I feel this way.
My stomach is moving and grooving and doing the jig,
and I feel as bloated as a big, fat pig.
The bus ride home goes on and on.
I can’t wait to see my own front lawn.
I run to the bathroom and turn on the light.
I’ve never felt better to my delight.
When we write Blues Poems in my classroom we first look at a few examples of Blues Songs. We notice the rhythmic quality of the lines by clapping out the lines as we read them, and highlight the end rhyme. End rhyme is rhyme that occurs at the end of a line of poetry. We then play around with rhyming words as a class. I am always a bit amazed that some of my students don't know how to rhyme. Rhyming is a skill, I always practiced with my daughters when they were little. In fact, my five-year-old and I often practice rhyming games in the car or when we take walks. She picks a word and then we brainstorm as many words as possible that we can rhyme with it. For example she might say, "I saw the sun." Then we rhyme as many words as we can with sun. Fun, run, done, pun. Here is a practice worksheet I created to help students investigate their rhyming abilities. Rhyme Worksheet
Then I brainstorm with my class, about some things that give us the Blues. Chores, dying pets, homework, and annoying siblings usually top the list of things that give elementary and middle school students the Blues. I share with my students a few of the things that get me down like falling on the ice or getting paper cuts, which for some reason I get all the time. We look at how I used end rhyme and couplets to write my blues poem. Sharing your own work with students encourages students to write and take risks themselves. I think it is vital to model your own writing in front of your students. Let them see your process, your failures, edits, and embarrassing moments. It creates a classroom climate where students are more willing to take risks and share their writing with others, or at the very least you their teacher.
Ice Walking Blues
Every day the sidewalks full of ice
All that slipping and sliding it sure ain’t nice
Even when I try, I slip on my boots
Gives all of my neighbors the hollers and hoots
That nasty ice makes me fall on my bum
You can’t wash it away like you can with soap scum
You’ve got to get out and shovel and salt
Otherwise you’re gonna fall and it’ll be your own fault
Oh I’ve got the ice walking, the ice walking blues
That ice will make you slip even when you refuse
Oh I’ve got the ice walking, the ice walking blues
My poor hands and poor hips that ice wants to abuse
My requirements for a Blues Poem are pretty basic. I ask my students to write a blues poem about something that gets them down. They should write a minimum of 10 sentences, 5 couplets, and the poem should have at least 5 rhymes at the end of the line. Blues Poem Assignment.
Writing about the Blues can be cathartic and fun. Students practice their rhyming skills, we all get a little time to commiserate in the small and annoying things that get us down, and we get to dabble in an old and American writing tradition.
Spider Rejection Blues
By: Joseph, 3rd grade
Whenever I try to pick up a spider,
they run away and leave me a crier.
They never think it’s a joke,
when I go to give them a poke.
When they see me picking them up,
they run like one scared little pup.
I’d pay with any big jewel,
to get them to stop thinking I’m cruel