Works of Art

Last week, we read “Short-Order Cook” by contemporary poet, Jim Daniels. This poem made quite an impression on the students, some even calling it their favorite so far! We determined that the speaker wasn’t necessarily the poet (though he may well have worked as a cook in the past), and I asked what the title character’s attitude was in the poem; why, for example, does he wait for his customer “to pay before I start cooking” and decide “He ain’t no average joe” after doing so? And finally, why does the cook “grab a handful of ice, toss it in my mouth / do a little dance and walk back to the grill” at the end? Who are the “counter girls” Daniels mentions? We also discussed the difference between being a chef or a cook; it’s subtle, but important. I also pointed out the poet’s use of slashes in the poem, asking what the effect was?

For composing their own poems, I asked the 4th graders to write about work in some way. Here are some of their responses.

Ms. Carlson
Room 316

Make It Work!
Maya B.

Fix the machine, now
Wipe sweat from your brow
Get to work
Make the machine do the same!

Leave home
Drive to the office alone
Girl, I’ve got work to do
some is old and some is new

Get to the clinic
cause I’m the vet!
Right there waiting
is a pet!

We’ve Got Work
To Do!!!

Larissa G.

Work is something you do,
the action of something
being done. Or getting done, specifically.

But that is not what
work is, to me.
Work is anything; not specific;
you do, for, work
is the action of getting
things done. Not specific.

If you are doing
something, something
is getting done.
For work
is the action of getting
things done, not specific.

Emmett S.

Heavy bookbag; lots of books
I come home with tired looks
I dump my bookbag on the floor
Books fall out, more than more.
I don’t care about homework anymore.
I run outside, with my friends
No more work – until my mom comes home
Mom’s car pulls up, in the street.
I hide behind a bush that’s the right size for me.
Mom walks in and calls “Hello!”
I run into the house right behind her,
as fast as fast
Run to the kitchen and grab my bag
With it I hide myself behind a chair
Mom walks through, and gives me a scare.
I run up to my room, with books in my hands
I start writing as fast as I can
I am safe, for today with a little
play it’s okay

No One Is Lucky
Julia S.

Kids think babies are lucky.
Grownups think kids are lucky.
Elders think Grownups are lucky.
But, we all work.
Babies work hard to learn
words and emotions.
Kids work hard at school
and at home trying
to get good grades.
Grownups work at their jobs.
Even stay-home parents work.
Even Retired Elders are keeping the
house clean and helping others.
Life is full of work.
Work, Work, Work, Work, Work, Work
No one is Lucky.

The Definition of: Work
Solomon W.

What does it mean?
It’s something that
Might actually break your

No one wants to do it.
No one at all. It’s hard
It’s boring. It takes way
Too long!

What do it!?!
No one will tell.
But guess who has to do it.
Me, you, every kid in the world.
Not adults. They’re the ones who make
You do it.

So you want to know
what you have to do?
You got to
take out the trash,
clean the dishes,
walk the dog,
clean your room,
and much much more.
That’s the definition of work.

Now you’ve heard.

Hope W.

Work, Work, Work
You have to be
here you have to
be there
I’d rather spend
time doing my hair
You have to be
professional you have
to be kind you have
to go with work is style
I quit, quit, quit
I’m starting my own business
Fashion that’s it
I’ll have all the latest hits
scarves, skirts, pants, boots
we’ll even have photo shoots
We will have fashion shows
and everyone will know
lipstick, hair, nails, eyeshadow
I sit on my patio
dreaming all day
about this dream
can I wait

Mr. Chau
Room 220

Olivia C.

Bees work,
getting honey,
we work,
earning money.
Kids work, all day
long, builders
work, wake up
at dawn.
Oxen work,
crops. It’s
very hard to be
a cop!
work, drinking
from flowers,
weathermen forecast
showers! Everyone
works, all day long.
It is hard, but you
can play ping pong.

Quick Draw Animator
Alex I.

A rich business owner comes
into my office,

He wants me to make him
a comic book,

I take out: special paper/pastels/
favorite pencil type,/A giant
eraser and I start to draw,

Animals, people, buildings and trees,
Now I am done,


I then staple the 1-5-2
pages, I go give it to him,
I earn 1-5-2 Billion!

Leah J.

Love to work at gymnastics
I do flips that are fantastic.
Man oh man I moved up a level
Someone has called me the flip devil.

Analyss L.

There is
a man I
always see
by Sears

He’s homeless
but he still
sweeps the

I don’t don’t
know if he
gets paid.

All I know
is I offered
some money
and he said
he didn’t
need it.

Working at Burger King
Amaria M.

Working at Burger King. All by myself
kind of bored and can’t get the
orders right and people are getting
mad at me. I don’t know why everybody
makes mistakes. Time to go home getting
until I find out I get paid $1.

I Can’t Tell You!
Skye W.

I think that it can be fun,
but maybe hard,
I think you may run,
or make a good card.

You can’t guess what I am,
isn’t it too hard,
only if you haven’t read my title.
So hah! I got you.

Goodbye I need to go
do my home “work”
guess it or not.

You get 1 million dollars if you do.

Mr. Cox
Room 312

Lila A.

get ready
time to go
and start the day
before my boss gets here
at home
ending the day
time to eat dinner
and ending the day tonight
get ready
time to go
but wait my keys!
My boss will be upset
at home
ending the day
eat dinner slowly slowly

Dead Fingers
Grace C.

Typing all day
fingers cramped
need a vacation
far far away

Mug of tea
sip n stretch
yawn for a moment
and fingers cramped again

Fancy building
shiny glass doors
smells like newness
then more work

All I do
every day
when I work
this routine

The Works
Jackson H.

A man comes in ’bout twenty-two
His face looks like he’s had the flu
He walks to me and says “Give me the works”
Something that makes me perk

I grab the dog and cook it good
And grab every vegetable from the
Shelf of wood.

Sarah H.

Get on stage
Feel the light on my face
See the fans cheering for me
Oh what a world it would be
If the person on the stage,
was me

Off to Work
Sophia R.

The alarm beeps,
I shut it down.
Get dressed, get ready, and
off to town.

Catch the 9,
don’t have the time,
to stop and grab the paper.

I jump off and walk,
when suddenly…
It’s nothing, just my phone,
my daughter said for me to know
she’s awake at home.

It’s 6:51,
I’m on the run,
towards the office building
where I run/step/open/close/
(watch the door, don’t bonk your
nose) push/wait, for #8/open/
open again/pass door #9/still look
for ten/open/sit/push/
close. Sigh
I forgot my phone.

Jeanette W.

Sunday night
lamp burns bright
in the midst
of darkness
a single sheet
white as snow
as my mind
ticks into
pencil up
mind clogged
putting fast ideas
onto paper
work all day
until the sun peeks out
a full paper
full mind
sense of pride.



“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.