Friday, October 16, 2015

Poetry Friday -- The Belly of the Whale

Wikimedia Commons

Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
by Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices.

If "the belly of the whale" is the point of no turning back in a hero's journey, then that is definitely what October is like in the classroom. Except I think someone forgot the supernatural aid...unless those are the literacy and numeracy coaches!!

I like the attitude of the speaker in this poem. If you've got to be in the belly of the whale, then at least you should kick back and rest...maybe even get a little work done!

Amy has the Poetry Friday roundup today at The Poem Farm, and remember, Jone will have the roundup on the 30th, not me.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm definitely feeling myself in the belly of the whale; it's nice to have some suggestions on what to do. The "R" word as in Rest, Relax--or as you said, too, "kick back," those are words that call for more vocabulary practice. Your students *and we) are lucky to have you as their hero! God bless you.

  2. "Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,"

    There's a lot of wisdom there in the belly of the whale. I think you might like this new book I am so enjoying, Mary Lee. It is called THE ART OF POSSIBILITY, and I feel it is changing me here in this belly of life. Hugs and Happy Poetry Friday. xo

  3. Interesting poem. And interesting, too, to compare it to the hero's journey.

  4. Mary Lee, you reminded me of a poem I wrote from Gepetto's point-of-view. I didn't realize there were other whale-belly poems :-)! I love the connection you made between the belly of the whale and the classroom.

    1. I STILL think about that poem from time to time, Tabatha!

  5. What an unusual poem. Much to ponder! Thanks for the intro to a new-to-me poet. :)

  6. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Happy Friday! Here's to everyday quiet heroes.

  7. Seems like sound advice to me! Especially "Listen for the sound of your heart." What better place to do that and listen for the echo. Thanks, Mary Lee.

  8. That 'making small fires with the broken hulls of small fishing boats' adds much to the imagination, Mary Lee. Love the analogy to the classroom.

  9. I'm with Michelle, the line about heart caught me. I'm trying to slow down and do that! You are loved by your PF friends, Mary Lee! And think: transformation is on the horizon!

  10. Yes - this is the perfect poem for October in a classroom. Feeling it right now!

  11. What a clever pairing with the graphic of the hero's journey. And take heart. Supernatural help always appears at the exact right moment--not a second early or late.

  12. Anonymous7:58 AM

    You are so wise, Mary Lee. I do feel like I'm in the belly of a whale lately. I will heed Albergotti's advice and "listen for the sound of [my] heart."

  13. This comparison seems so natural that I can't believe I've never thought of a year of school as a hero's journey. Poem cycle ahoy!

    I too like the speaker's attitude, as if finding onself n the belly of the whale is commonplace and many will benefit from these tips... nice find!

  14. I loved the line: "Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound of gears and moving water", which captures that moment when things change, but we can't really understand it yet, like, when "something's happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear" and now I have Buffalo Springfield going through my head. Thanks for the poem!

  15. Love the line:
    "Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
    where you can rest and wait."
    Thanks for sharing, Mary Lee!

  16. At first I was not comprehending the point of the image, the poem...the connection to October, then I realized we are here in the belly, all of us jumping in and keeping time to the rhythm of our days in the classroom. Thanks for this creative way of looking at things.


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