Poetry We Admire: Teachers


It’s Back to School time, whether that be in person or online this year. Palette’s Editor-in-Chief Josh and his wife both worked in the Teach for America program where they met. My best friend is currently a public school teacher at a middle school in Virginia. It’s a challenging but important job and, as we know, this school year is rife with unusually difficult obstacles.

For our September Poetry We Admire, we have selected several recently published standout poems from around the net on the theme of Teachers. These poems explore teachers of all kinds.

As readers and writers, we know that books can be teachers. We also learn from our parents, our children, our pets. We learn from our grief and our hardships, and from own bodies when we listen. Often we teach ourselves. Often the roles of teacher and student are shared and interchangeable. May we always keep learning from one another.

This month’s curation includes stunning poems from Abby E. Murray in The Adroit Journal, Marlin M. Jenkins in Sporklet, Kathy Fagan in Waxwing, Krysten Hill in Poem-a-Day, Theo Dorgan in The Night Heron Barks, and Elizabeth Hughey in SWWIM Every Day.




and my last ten dollars
can’t buy what my students
really need to survive:
Kevlar, protein, mothers
who come home, luck,
birth control, milk
and doors that lock,
but today I can afford
a tiny paper bag full
of purply-gold ametrine

                from “Buying Rocks For My Students”

by Abby E. Murray in The Adroit Journal




I question each potential

truth no matter the source. There were formulas

in the textbooks, but what I taught myself

in class was how to turn pencil to drumstick

in lieu of the singing lessons I wanted

but never got. I wish I could hear the drums

and not think of battle.

from “Reprise”

by Marlin M. Jenkins in Sporklet 12 from Sporklet Press



These days, just before dawn, I find myself

Asking mom if I can stay home from school.

I teach school now and mom is dead, but

When I was a kid and said I didn’t want to go,

She wouldn’t make me. She’d pass a cool palm

Over my forehead and get on with her day.

from “School”

by Kathy Fagan in Waxwing




My mama said that if I became a poet or a teacher, I’d make nothing, but 
I’ve thrown words like rocks and hit something in a room when I aimed 
for a window


from “Nothing”

by Krysten Hill in Poem-a-Day




Maybe best of all is that I remember what I read. It all goes on.
When the clock is moving so slowly, when I’ve done my sums
and I’m staring out the window, fidgeting and trapped,

I can be back in yesterday’s book, riding my pony with cowboys
or driving a race car or hiding from pirates in a cave and,
if Miss Coffey doesn’t catch me dreaming, free as a seagull.


from “Early Days”

by Theo Dorgan in The Night Heron Barks




I take a note to my son’s teacher that says help and she gives it right back with her red ink covering mine. Help. On my forehead, I write, What? I write on the school walls, I hate you words. You are not worthy of my love, anymore.  And the words are quiet. So, I say them out loud. I yell all the words I can yell.

from “Now Kiss the Word Lips On This Paper”

by Elizabeth Hughey in SWWIM Every Day



We here at Palette wish to honor and thank all the teachers we admire; the hard-working, patient, endlessly flexible and giving teachers who are too often overworked and undervalued.

With these poems, we sing their praises. 

Kim Harvey