Unanswered Questions

For our final classes of 2014, we read another poem with an unusual title, Randall Mann‘s “?” When it was first distributed, some students asked if the poet had forgotten to give it a title, or if perhaps the whole poem was one big question? The first line doesn’t begin with a capital letter, so I asked if that also might be some sort of mistake? A few students suggested that the title might be interpreted as “question mark,” and if so you could read the title as the beginning of the first line, which would explain why it isn’t capitalized. I read it aloud that way, and reminded the class about imagery in poetry, asking about some of the images here. As we discussed them, I focused on the first one—“something on which to hang / your long overcoat”—and asked what that could mean? When someone said “a hook,” I drew one kind on the board, and then a question mark next to it, asking if they looked alike? Once students noticed the similarity, we went through other images in the poem—a snake, an umbrella, a black swan—and descriptions, such as “cousin to the 2” and “half of a heart,” deciding that they all could be considered similar to a question mark, even the “dead armadillo by the roadside.”

I then asked each class if they could tell me what the most common question words are? As students answered, I wrote them on the board: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, WHICH, and HOW. I also added others, such as CAN, MAY, or IS. The idea this week, then, was to write a poem where every line is a question. How do you think they did?

Ms. Rupp, 2nd Grade

Julia C.

Why do I have to wear glasses?
Why are my eyes bad?
Why did I ever have an eye test?
Why, why, why?

Why are veggies good?
Why can’t I see without glasses?
Why do I love sweets?
Why do I hate my glasses? Because
if I do not have them I cannot
see? Why, why, why?

Vincent L.

is only a stick
with a dot how was
it made and why?

I wish I knew but
I don’t so long
how long I wish but
it was just not enough

so bright as a tree
I wish I could see
but it was all something

Lillie M.

What happened to the house?
Why are you running?
Who did this?

Where did this come from?
When did this happen?
How do you do this?

Which one is it?
Can I have water?
May I borrow your money?

Maura S.

When will I get
a snack? Why do you
have to whine? Will this
ever stop? When
will it stop?
Can it stop now?
May you give me a cookie?
What cookie do you want?
Who is this person?
Where do you live?
Why can’t you go?
I’m getting so annoyed
so can you stop? Can this
ever end?

Michaela W.

is the ocean in my heart?
Can it be far from me?
May it be where the road
never stops? How far did it go?
Do you know where it went?
Could it go to the lake?
Or perhaps it went to someone else?
Did you see it?
What happened to it?
Can you help me find it?
How could it go?
Did it grow legs and walk away?
If it did can you help me find it?
Where did it go?
How did you find it?
But did you find it?
How could someone find it
except me? Where is it?

Ms. Beaudry, 2nd Grade

Tai C.

Why did the man eat applesauce
on the street? How come he
could not eat it at the
park? How come he did
not get run over?

Maddy D.

How long till we are there,
Why did you pull her hair?

What did you say to me,
Who got stung by a bee?

Where did you get than can,
What are you frying in the pan?

Which cat is mine,
Do you know the time?

Did you slap her in the face,
Can you tie my shoelace?

Does anyone know how to tie,
Did someone say time to die?

Umar S.

Mom, who ate the cookies
who stole the bread who took
the pizza under my bed
mom I have a ? where is
Ted I think he stole
the pizza from under
my bed

Ethan W.

Why do I have to work?
When do I have to work?
Where do I have to work?
How do I have to work?
Is it going to be long?
Can it be quick?
Do I have to work with
If yes, who?

A Related Question
Elisa X.

What is that? Where does it live? Can it be a pet? Is
it at the zoo? How does it feel like? Can I keep it?
How tall is it? What is the width of that? What is that
animal’s habitat? Or does it live on a farm?

Is it feral? Is it a carnivore? Is it a herbivore? Or
omnivore? How does it move? What sound does it make?
When does it come out? Day or night? Why oh why
am I writing all these questions?

Ms. Schwartz, 2nd Grade

Esteban G.

What are you doing?
Who are you?
Where are we?
When are we there?
Why are you talking to me?
How do you know me?
Which candy do you like?

Lindora K.

What do you want for dinner?
Who is that?
Where is mom?
When do I go?
Why do you bowl?
How much do you pour?
Which way do you go?

Frank K.

How can I do this?
How do you know?
How can I read a book?
How can I say hi?
How can I know how to read a Just Rite book?
How do I get here?
How can I sleep?
How can I do a great job?
How can I get money?
How do I get pie?
How do I get free food?
How can I read a new book?
How can I read 700 books?
How can I get 100 boxes of books?
How did I get Fly Guy new?

Onix L.

Is it a wuzz?
Am I a bee?
Do I live in a house?
Do I have to live in a boat?
Is it a Doquhoyuuh?
Am I a doll?
Am I alive?
Am I a toy?
Am I pizza?

Tailur W.

How are you today?
What time is it?
Who is it?
Where are you?
Where are you going?
Why am I here?
Which is it pizza or rice?

Angel Y.

What is (ice cream)?
Do people like it?

Ms. Ward, 2nd Grade

Roman C.

Why are two Romans
in reading and math class?

What else should I
write in my poem?

How else should I
write my poem?

Harmony H.

Why does a snake hiss at people?

Why is a lion and a tiger so serious?

What type of tree grows apples
on them?

Who is John Smith?

What do people do when they are

Aarav N.

Why? Like falling in
a chasm. Why?
Like jumping in a
pit. Why? Like slap-
ping my behind.

Questions for a Poem
Andrew P.

Why do I have
to write this poem?
What will you give
me if I do?

Where am I?
Who is going to
write it?

How will I write
it? when do I write

All your answers are ^.
Wait, what? All of these
No answers!


What Are You?
Emmy T.

Who do you think my personality is?
Where do you think I live?
Why was I born? To do things.
Which school do I go to?
When to live? That’s what
I think?

Maximo T.

Could I do this? No
this? No so then what? No. Gee!
You’re crazy no person. No. Yeah
you are no … (sigh) … no stop it
where are your batteries? Noo
oooooo! Power off. Yay!



“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.