Picture This

For our penultimate class, we read and discussed “A Sunset” by Ari Banias. One of the first, off-the-cuff comments from many students remarked on the poem’s single stanza, and we talked about what the immediate effect of one (instead of two or more) was; the words are the same, as well as its linebreaks, but that lone stanza compartmentalizes everything, suggesting the import of unity. In the poem, the speaker “watch[es] a woman take a photo / of a flowering tree with her phone,” then adds three lines later, “I have taken photos of a sunset.” We’ve all grown so accustomed to the ease of photography with our phones, it’s hard to imagine not that long ago people needed a separate device for picture-taking. Now everyone’s a photographer! Perhaps the ubiquity of cameras has affected how we truly ‘see’ things. This could be part of what Banias, or the speaker, argues, saying, “In person, ‘wow’ ‘beautiful’ / but the picture can only be / as interesting as a word repeated until emptied,” suggesting that no photograph can ever replace experiencing something in real life. This is confirmed when the speaker declares, “The flowers are diminished by the lens.” Appropriately, one definition of “diminished” is to “make (someone or something) seem less impressive or valuable.” With a seemingly endless variety of choices of filters and effects, a picture is still a picture, far removed from the “flowering tree” and sunset we can appreciate up close.

I asked the students to think of a picture of something, describing what they see but also what’s missing from it.

Ms. Kawa, 4th Grade

The Confusing Rubik’s Cube
Alexander C.

The majestic colors of the Rubik’s cube.
The colors are so shiny,
it looks unreal.

But there’s no shadow.
Is it a drawing?
A painting?

The picture is as confusing as a
detective’s mystery.
The voices are saying
“Pick me. Pick me.”

Inside a Vase
Mayumi F.

The picture can capture
the smile on your face.
Is it real?
Or is it fake?

The picture can capture
the statues
and monuments.
But it can’t capture
the ringing
of bells in the chapel.

Looking at a picture.
Like looking through a vase.
A cropped photo—
no room for the
details outside.

Sure, a picture captures
the frosty winter day.
But photos cannot capture
the tickle of the snow on your nose.
Nor the burning of your
cold cheeks.

It captures the image.
But the photo is a vase.

That One Picture
Aadhya H.

Every photo is perfect.
Every picture carries a perfect moment.
Every moment tells a story.
The story of my life.

One of love, one of hate.
One harmony, one debate.
One of sorrow, one of joy,
Except for one employ.

That one picture.
I mean, it looks wholesome,
The sunny meadow of blooms,
And a swarm of butterflies.

But the bluebird,
Sitting still, on the stick,
Why won’t it fly?

A Picture
Hannah J.

A picture can catch all of your
But we all comment the same
We always look, but don’t see.
You never see the true thing.

Chloe M.

I take a photo of a tree
but what’s to the side
can not be seen.

The forest fires,
burning until they can’t.

Animals going extinct.
Until they can’t.




We look but don’t see
hear yet not listen

it hurts . . .

What It Can’t Do
Charissa N.

In my hand
I hold a photograph
that brings back memories.
Terrible ones.
The picture itself is pretty.
A setting sun
across the sea.
This is me.
I am the sea.
My initials: SEA, sea.
Siberia Evangeline Aruel.
My parents named me after
somewhere in Russia. First name, Siberia.
What is it like there?
Is there a sea?
But always,
this picture brings back memories.
Of you, your obsidian-black
hair which flipped in my face
when you were annoyed.
The photo definitely couldn’t capture
our conversation
we had that day.
Remember me,
the sea.

Rylee S.

Something is missing
a flower
I planted it with my own two hands
I watered it with care

so why did it die
I knew it was gonna die soon

But . . . why in my darkest times

Soon we will all drift away
like the flower.
Like me
we will get plucked out the earth
like the flower

so I will say goodbye.
Like. The. Flower.

Ms. Ball, 4th Grade

Basia B.

My dad took a picture of me
in front of a school.
It was my summer break and
he took a picture.
But the picture didn’t show
the school that I was at.
It didn’t show the year, day,
or month. It didn’t show my dad
or my mom. It didn’t show
what is behind me. But the
picture did show me.

Here Is a Picture of Me and My Family
Matt B.

The backstory
so basically my
mom and her siblings
planned on going on a
family vacation which
cost $5,000 and
we got on a plane. And
we landed. We got off got
2 rental cars and a
big house that is
a rental. We went
to Universal
Studios Theme
Park and
Disney World.

Justin D.

I took a photo
of the Statue
of Liberty the sun
was as bright as
someone’s smile.

It was as
big as
a cloud and as
green as seaweed.

Pictures Describe NOTHING!
Leticia L.

I have lots of pictures.
Pictures, pictures, pictures!
I want to explain 1 of my pictures.
I was smiling in the picture.
I looked like the happiest girl in the world.
But in reality, I was heartbroken.
Lesson is, people aren’t always happy
OR joyful, they might be upset or not feeling well.
Make sure they are OK.

The Picture
Zoë R.

When you see a picture you
think it’s pretty, amazing, beautiful, etc.
But you don’t see the process of it.
It’s amazing to see the process of
when it’s becoming pretty, amazing, beauti-
ful, etc.

A Picture
Olivia W.

A setting sun
a mixture of
blue purple
red orange
with a
black hill
with a pure white border
but the cold wind
against your back
is nonexistent

A Globe
Emma W.

A circular object I see
a spinning machine.
Has places I’ve heard of
spinning machine.

Europe, Africa, South and
North America, Asia.
Gives me a simple reference.
Where do I want to go
what do I want to see.

Mr. O’Brien, 4th Grade

Sasha G.

A picture—
is our beautiful

It’s our happiness
like when we passed
any exam

Haley K.

When I see the beauty
it is gorgeous
I take a picture
it’s for capturing beauty
but it’s different

As you try to capture it
you see wrong
the beauty you saw
a sight
not to be seen
what happened to beauty?

Yes or No
Carys M.

Yes it can capture you and
your past
no it can’t capture your
voice or movement
yes you are little, yes
you are cute
no you may not remember
but it’s there with you
you may giggle or laugh
you can be embarrassed
no it’s not in your age
but it’s you
happy or cute
you may see it as different

Victoria M.

Pictures remind me about
times that happened in my
life. They can be good things

and bad things. Pictures are
your life.

Lyric W.

I want to see a younger
photo of me. I looked
so cute. I said I look
amazed and I don’t
look like me when
I was a baby

Mrs. Johnson, 4th Grade

Mystery Girl
Veda B.

I have a photo of me and my fish
I have an orange fish.
But there is a person behind.

Who is she? That is a mystery.
She has black hair.
She looks young. Who is that girl
that walked past?

Sydney D.


hey look at this beautiful
picture of my fam in Yellowstone
National Park!

oh cool how were
you feeling at this time?

oh yeah I was feeling
amazing but this
pic does not capture that

yeah it’s sad when a
photo can’t capture the


you should not spend
time taking a picture
you should enjoy the

ok I’ll think
about it

ty = thank you btw


Lea K.

I was at a mountain.

I took a picture of the mountain.
There was snow and loud wind.

You couldn’t hear the wind.

But you could see the wind mixed
with snow.

The photo was beautiful.

That’s What’s Different
Alina L.

I look at the picture.
Something’s different.
Dimmer, somehow.
Not as . . .
It’s still significant though.

The eyes are different.
I guess it’s like that because it’s so faded.
Everything’s faded.

That’s what’s different.

Everything’s faded,
and that’s what’s different.

Pictures’ Memories
Ella M.

I am told, and I know,
that my memory is bad,
and I usually can’t keep certain memories.
Sometimes I believe pictures solve this,
capturing the exact moment so I can’t
forget, although my mother tells me,
“Look with your EYES.”
I look back at a photo now,
one of the memories to keep.
I guess it’s not the same,
because pictures let me see the moment,
but the feelings I remember
are mine, and will stay.

Moving Photogram
Sarah O.

The photogram I took moves,

nobody believes it’s true.

It’s a blossom tree that is blowing in the wind.
The pink flowers are changing colors day by day
from pink to dark pink, from dark pink to light brown,
from light brown to dark brown, from dark brown to
a dead tree as the days turn from warm to

Now I will look at the moving photogram in the
summer when everything is beautiful.



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.