‘with twigs and mud and worms for eating’: Video-Inspired Poems

Students watched a bear cam video similar to the one described in the poem we studied, ‘There was this bear cam’ by critic and poet Sandra Simonds.  Sandra Simonds charts the formations and deformations of the social and political through the observations of the poem’s speakers, interspersed with the language of social media, news reports, political speech, and the dialogue of friends, children, strangers, and politicians. Then, students crafted their own poems based on videos they watched using the vernacular. 

LESSON NOTE: ‘Poetry is a body of unprecedented experiences, ‘ said poet Kevah Akbar in a writers’ workshop I attended. Authors Jack Collom and Sheryl Noethe agree:  ‘Much of the fun [of this type of exercise] is the juxtapositions, which can be jagged or unexpected but can point to new meanings.’

Mrs. McClain, 7th Grade

The Speedrun

by Elijah K.

One day, I was playing a videogame

I was struggling to beat the levels and frequently lost

I decided to look for some help on Youtube

And scrolled through to find something useful

I clicked on a speedrun for help

They were always fast and efficient, so it would help me


I could see it now, me, victorious,

Standing over my enemies’ bodies

Swinging my sword through the air

And saving all the princesses

Restoring peace to the kingdom.

But as I looked on, I realized something.

I didn’t have all the things I needed.

Nor the right character.

I tried to do what the player had done,

But died over and over again

So now, it’s back to YouTube, looking for tips

just beginner’s guides.

I had to find a video

by Harber D.

I had to find a video for an assignment

so I went to YouTube

I started looking, but all I saw were

tik tok trends from 2021

all I wanted was to find a cute or

moving video that would change my perspective

on life.

I thought about seeing those selfless people

doing something amazing and everyone loving them,

Or those cute cats that fit into tea cups.

But I was met with a girl putting

ice cream and chocolate into her water bottle

I sit and scroll and keep tying

to find a video.

Mrs. McClain, 8th Grade

One Little Penguin

by Jayden V.

There was a penguin.

Oh, so little and so small

Struggling to get along

The narrator states

“in order for it to gain independence, it must gain friends.”

“Birds can dive 600 meters

and hold their breath for 20 minutes.”

My mouth is open wide

My eyes are stuck to the screen

I am amazed.

“It’s the smallest of them all.”

I see some other penguins

Skinny or fat

tall or small

leader or follower

This little penguin was the star.

The dog no one wanted

by Kendall D.

A dog that no one gave a chance. Over 600 days in the

shelter, a dog that didn’t get a chance. The dog

finally had a chance because of his sweet and spicy

personality. When given the chance. He was foster

failed. The dog that no one gave a chance. What do

you know, he was foster failed. The dog no one

gave a chance.

Mrs. McClain, 8th Grade

“bird chirps”

by Alice F. P.

I want to hear the beautiful chirp

and the vibrant colors of the feathers

I want one to fly on my windowsill

And I want it to stay there no matter what the weather.

I can imagine one flying onto my hand

and peck on seeds lying in my palm.

I imagine it flying in big, large flocks,

soaring through cities and roads and blocks

They nest in tall trees and buildings

with twigs and mud and worms for eating

“A Very Hungry Man”


Iris Z.

I clicked on a video of a man eating Raising Canes

only to find this man scarfing down 6 pieces of

chicken tenders, 3 Texas Toasts, 3 orders of fries

and another chicken sandwich.

I was shocked by this

I never knew someone could eat

so much in one sitting

Even though the sigh of the man

devouring the food grossed me out

It also made me extremely hungry

Because the chicken looked so picture


I wonder if the man always has

such a big


Mrs. McClain, 7th Grade

Kitty Cat

by Estrella K.

Cute as cute can be

A fur baby, they call it

The red can shining bright in the dark light

A head pops out

peek a boo I think

then, the man–holding the can

there, with a smile big as can be

the cats head popping in and–

our of the can

how adorable!

Cheeto, Chicken, Cheese

by Sergio H.

As this intimidating man put cheese-dipped chicken with Cheeto dust

He ate 3 before he sipped his water

He pulls out a bowl of ranch

He dips it in with no shame

and with this came another sip of water.



“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.