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est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

BOHS English Teachers Share Favorite Poems on World Poetry Day

Katie Chao

In 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established March 21 as World Poetry Day to “honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, [and] promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry.”

To celebrate this day, the Wildcat asked BOHS’s English teachers to share the poems that inspire, move, and delight them.

English Department’s Favorite Poems
Summer Teal, AP Language and Composition

[since feeling is first] by E.E. Cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention 
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate 
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis


E.E. Cummings broke away from traditional poetic conventions like rhyme patterns, rules of punctuation, norms of diction and format. This poem, in its content and message, is a beautiful example of Cummings doing just that.  Appropriately, it argues that we ought to champion emotion over rules or logic, because "feeling is first" or paramount.  The poem argues that we ought to "wholly kiss," and "wholly...be a fool" as we enjoy our lives, because time is fleeting; "death...is no parenthesis" but the actual end of things.  We need to live and love fully, "leaning back" with abandon into the arms of those who adore us. This is my favorite poem because it paints a beautiful picture of unapologetic, uncalculated, and unafraid love -- in my mind, the only kind of love there truly is. 

Summer Teal AP Language and Composition

Amanda Hefner, AP Language and Composition

A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.


"A Noiseless Patient Spider" is my favorite because I love the way Whitman places the spider into the role of a romantic hero, sending out its thread to create a web over and over again until the anchor holds and connecting that to the very human experience of throwing out our souls to connect with someone else and make a bond with them. I always remind my students that we are all like the noiseless, patient spider in the poem because it's important to keep trying to make connections, even when it feels like it's impossible or too difficult -- it's rewarding when you find the right person to bond with. Whitman's poem is sweet and profound, which is a rare combination and it has remained one of my favorite poems to teach because of how much a little spider has readers reflect on their own humanity.

Amanda Hefner AP Language and Composition

Chris Schaadt, ERWC

Operation Punctum by Don Mee Choi

The television in The Deer Hunter is in Clairton, Pennsylvania. Everything is still at Welsh’s Lounge: the clouds, the sky, the unlit neon sign outside the window. All is calm, all is bright. I sing in English while my father is in Vietnam. American wives are in immeasurable pain and so is my mother. American soldiers are pushing a helicopter to the right side of the TV screen. Behind the soldiers is number 19. It stands for USS Hancock: its nickname, Fighting Hannah. Helicopter whirring. It sounds like Godzilla crying. My father is nowhere to be seen because he’s behind the camera, behind the lens. His eye’s filled with the green ocean. It zooms in on the soldiers, some in uniform, some shirtless, on the decks with number 19 behind them. They’re calm and bright, looking down at the flight platform below. Nobody is crying. Number 19 goes beyond Yi Sang’s number 13. History is hysterical. The-13th-child-also-says-it’s-terrifying. 13+3+3. 19=13. A modest, shared hallucination. I’m still the 13th child. And Godzilla is still crying. Hannah ditches the helicopter in the sea. Now everything is happening on the left side of the screen. Nobody’s in the cockpit of the helicopter. The chopper blades tilt, making a diagonal line across the entire screen. That strange cry. It wants to go home—O like me, like my father. Now the helicopter and its blades are perfectly vertical to the South China Sea. The chopper is now engulfed by the sea, white with foam. Sayonara, Saigon! THIS SEEMS TO BE THE LAST CHAPTER IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT IN VIETNAM. Now everything appears in the center of the screen. Helicopter is everything. Hannah is everything. My father’s framing never sways even when flowers call to him. He edits as he films, he often told me. He’s still nowhere to be seen. Missing in action somewhere in Cambodia, filming carpet bombing, my mother said. O the chopper’s belly convulses. O it’s in immeasurable pain. The chopper’s door open and the pilot and men in white shirts and dark pants spill out. IT’S ALSO BEEN THE LARGEST SINGLE MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICA ITSELF. The chopper’s blades are swirling in every frenzied direction. O suicidal lines. Sayonara, Saigon! HILARY BROWN, ABC NEWS ABOARD THE ATTACK AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS HANCOCK IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA. White with foam. Now I see buttons on History's blouse.


I like how she depicts conflict from the point of view of the camera lens.  Like many of us, I have only experienced war this way which has dulled me to the actual tragedies that happen every moment.  The power of the mundane that she homogenizes with the chaos happening “off-screen” is powerful.

Chris Schaadt ERWC

Susan Luce, Honors Literature and Composition 2

Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


You are perfectly alright exactly as you are. No forgiveness is needed. We all despair and listen to each other hoping for some relief. We all despair. Life always goes on in the midst of all the terrible and the good and we are all apart of it. We all leave a place like the water, the wind, the seas and the sky.

Susan Luce Honors Literature and Composition 2

Kristen Dedmon, Honors Literature and Composition 1

My Honest Poem by Rudy Francisco

I was born on July 27th.
That makes me a Leo. I don’t really
know what that means.

Iʼm 5ʼ6”
I weigh 145 lbs.
I donʼt know how to swim

And Iʼm a sucker for a girl with a nice smile and clean sneakers.
Iʼm still learning how to whisper.
Iʼm often loud in places where I should be quiet

Iʼm often quiet in places where I should be loud.
I was born feet first and Iʼve been backwards ever since.
I like ginger ale… a lot.

Iʼve been told that I give really bad hugs.
People say it feels like Iʼm trying to escape.
Sometimes it’s because I am.

Secretly, I get really nervous
Every time someone gets close enough to hear me breathe.
I have this odd fascination with things like sand castles and ice sculptures

I assume itʼs because I usually find myself dedicating time to things that will only
last a few moments. It’s also why I tend to fall in love with women who will never love me back.
I know that sounds crazy but itʼs easier than it seems

And to be honest I think itʼs safer that way
You see relationships they often remind that Iʼm not afraid of heights or falling
But I am scared of what’s going to happen the moment

That my body hits the ground. Iʼm clumsy.
Yesterday I tripped over my self-esteem
Landed on my pride and it shattered like an iPhone with a broken face

Now I canʼt even tell whoʼs trying to give me a compliment.
Iʼve never been in the military but I have this purple heart.
I got it from beating myself up over things I canʼt fix.

I know this sounds weird but sometimes I wonder what my bed sheets say about me
when Iʼm not around. I wonder what the curtains would do if they found out about all
the things Iʼve done behind their backs.
I’ve got a hamper thatʼs over flowing with really really loud mistakes

And a grave yard in my closet.
Iʼm afraid that if I let you see my skeletons
Youʼd grind my bones into powder and get high on my fault lines.

Hi, my name is Rudy.
I enjoy frozen yogurt, people watching, and laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
But I donʼt allow myself to cry as often as I need to.

I have solar power confidence.
I have a battery operated smile.
My hobbies include:

Editing my life story,
Hiding behind metaphors,
And trying to convince my shadow

That Iʼm someone worth following.
I donʼt know much, but I do know this:
I know heaven is full of music.

I know God listens to my heartbeat on his iPod.
It reminds him
that we still got work to do.


My favorite poem is "My Honest Poem" by Rudy Francisco (my favorite spoken word poet). "My Honest Poem" is a raw reflection of what it feels like to be in the process of becoming who you are and being ok with the idea that you are a work in progress. It speaks to the fear of showing our true selves to others in case they might pass judgment on us and about our deep desire to feel seen by others as someone worthy. I love it because so many people can relate to this particular experience of being human.

Kristen Dedmon Honors Literature and Composition I

Laurel Batchelor, AP Literature and Composition

This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


Every word counts. What a simple and creative triumph. Ironic, sweet, hilarious, yet twisted.

Laurel Batchelor AP Literature and Composition

Kim Ofcacek, Literature and Composition 1 / Drama

Pretty Ugly by Abdullah Shoaib

I’m very ugly

So don’t try to convince me that

I am a very beautiful person

Because at the end of the day

I hate myself in every single way

And I’m not going to lie to myself by saying

There is beauty inside of me that matters

So rest assured I will remind myself

That I am a worthless, terrible person

And nothing you say will make me believe

I still deserve love

Because no matter what

I am not good enough to be loved

And I am in no position to believe that

Beauty does exist within me

Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think

Am I as ugly as people say?


I love the poem “Pretty Ugly” by Abdullah Shoaib.  What is unique about this poem is that you can read it two different ways.  If you read it from the top to the bottom, it is about all of the negative thoughts the speaker has about himself.  If you read it from bottom to the top, the speaker has changed and refuses to let others thoughts influence the way he feels about himself.  He finds beauty in himself and reveals that he is good enough. I think this is poem that many people can relate to as we all experience self doubt and the poet is encouraging us to find the beauty in ourselves.  I am also impressed with the poet’s ability to work with the words to make two different poems.

Kim Ofcacek Literature and Composition I / Drama

Jonathan Quiming, ERWC / AP Seminar

If-- by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
   And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
   If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
   Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

(c. 1895)

"If—" by Rudyard Kipling s a poem that resonates with me; it exemplifies perseverance, grit, belief, faith, authenticity, and humility—all vital topics/themes that can be applied to any life experience.

Jonathan Quiming ERWC / AP Seminar

Alex Koers, Literature and Composition 3

Bright Star by John Keats

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature's patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.


I discovered John Keats while taking a course on Victorian poetry in college, and while I enjoyed a lot of the poetry I read that semester (especially the poetry of Christina Rossetti and Elizabeth Barrett Browning), I fell in love with John Keats's "Bright Star." 

"Bright Star" is a Shakespearean sonnet inspired by Keats's muse, Fanny Brawne. The poem -- believed to be the last that Keats wrote -- is deeply romantic, with the poet wishing he were a "bright star" to watch over -- "steadfast," eternal -- his lover.

Keats' story also stuck with me: He was a young, not-yet-successful poet who fell in love with his muse, then passed away at a tragically-young age (25). "Bright Star" wasn't published until 17 years after his death and it was only posthumously that he achieved renown as one of the great Romantic poets. Keats wrote, near death, "I have left no immortal work behind me – nothing to make my friends proud of my memory – but I have lov'd the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remember'd."  

Alex Koers Literature and Composition 3

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Azilynn Fuerte
Azilynn Fuerte, Staff Writer
Azilynn Fuerte, freshman, is a cheerleader and a staff writer for the Wildcat. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and cheerleading at sporting events, which she hopes to do this for the rest of her high school career. Post-high school, Azilynn wants to be a family lawyer and attend Hope College.
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