THE INNER CITIES POETRY ARTS PROJECT: There’s a Soul Arising in My Mind (Part 2)

Oct 14, 2015 by


There’s a Soul Arising in My Mind (Part 2)

From the public radio show, “Poetry-In-The-Morning” on WNYE-FM,

Sponsored by the Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York City

Part 2 continues with There’s a Soul Arising in My Mind from The Inner Cities Poetry Arts Project: Here you will find, as in Part 1, my students’ contemplations or prose juxtaposed with their original poetry. The selections come from “The Contemplation Writing Project,” which sensitizes children to themselves, the inside world, others, and the world around them. In a recently published book, Teaching Mindfulness Skills to Kids and Teens, edited by Christopher Willard and Amy Saltzman (Guilford Press, September 2015), there is a chapter on my original work in contemplation music writing. For more information and to see the contents of the book, go to:

Project Summary

During the contemplation periods, music lays the foundation for relaxation, visualization, reflection, concentration, and contemplation, enabling kids to illuminate their minds and imaginations with the spotlight of the inner eye. Students visualize experiences as mind-pictures and become aware of the “charge” of emotions and thoughts within and around them.

After several weeks of Contemplation Music Writing, where children listened to their favorite music, contemplated inner experiences, wrote about whatever happened inside, and then talked about it, poetry reading and writing were introduced. Contemplation prepares students for studying and appreciating poetry. Throughout our music, contemplation, writing, and discussion sessions, we expressed and conveyed some of the basic elements of poetry—images, feelings, thoughts, and real-life experiences.

Presentation of Student Contemplations and Poetry

In Part 2 of There’s a Soul Arising in My Mind the writings will be presented in the following manner: contemplation—poem—contemplation—poem—contemplation—poem, and so on, to demonstrate the relationship between the contemplations and the poetry.

Contemplation #24

I thought about what Mr. Pflaum told me about my father. And I think he is right in a way, but I still don’t have anything to do with him. I have his telephone number, but I don’t want to call him. My mother tells me to call, but I don’t want to, and I don’t. And I don’t want to write any letters because I know he isn’t going to have time to answer them. I will tell you the reason why. It is because he hasn’t come around on my birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. If I don’t call him and tell him what date my graduation is, he wouldn’t even know about it or come. I know he loves me because I am his only daughter left. My other two sisters are dead. He didn’t even bother to tell me I had sisters or a brother. And don’t get me wrong, I love my father with all my heart, and I know he loves me, too, but he has a funny way of showing it. To tell you the truth, I don’t want to see him for the rest of my life. I haven’t seen him for six years. Last year I started to see him and then I stopped because he has a wife now. They think that they could start playing mommy and daddy and I’m the daughter. I would love to tell him this, but I have too much of a heart. I am so happy that I got this out in the open.


I’ve lost my Girl

Cause I stoled

her pearls

I needed the money

to buy me a car

a home and food

I’m sorry

for being

so rude




for the shoes

I washed them

with chlorox bleach

I thought they were


But they were red

I’m sorry

So sorry

forgive me


Contemplation #16

I felt horrible. You see, my parents are thinking of getting a divorce, and it makes me sad. I feel as if I’m being pulled in all directions. I’m being torn from limb to limb and it hurts. I see them fighting all the time. Every time he comes home, my sister and I go to our rooms so we don’t have to hear them—even though we do. My sister and I start crying because just listening to them gets us upset. Yesterday, they really went at it. My mother was very upset. She looked like she was going to explode. I feel as if I made them angry and it’s my fault, but I know it isn’t. I just wish that they would stop fighting. My mom said that we are going to move out.


Think beyond

the borders of reality.

Look to him, yes him,

the Rebel of Truth,

an Outcast to all.

See him weep,

See him sob.

That is a man of Truth.

Contemplation #35

While the music was on, I thought about my cousin. He’s nice and all, but he’s always

correcting me. He thinks he’s perfect. It’s kind of like a pencil writing and another pencil is behind it, erasing away all the words the pencil wrote.



I don’t know enough about myself

Is that a crime

No but my mind tells me it is

I don’t understand

Stop all of this



no mercy you show



I know enough about



Contemplation #29

I was thinking about myself, how sometimes I want something, but I don’t know what. Or, sometimes, I am in a sad mood and I don’t know why. Sometimes I don’t want to talk or hear anyone. I just want to escape from everything, but there is no hiding place. There is no door with a key to lock yourself inside because someone always knocks on that door. Sometimes I feel isolated when I feel that I don’t know anything at all. I feel…confused.


run, run

for life,

but how

without shoes?


Contemplation #22

I pictured myself on a beach and there was a red, purple, orange, and blue sky. The ocean was

clear and very quiet. Suddenly, I felt my soul rising from the ocean. I saw myself standing in the ocean—not me, but my spirit. Was I dead? I must have been. The spirit went away in my dream and I said, “It was just my mind.” I returned home and everyone was dressed in black. They were going to my funeral. I thought it was real, and then I really woke up. I looked at everyone and remembered we had to do contemplation.


A glass of milk,

Shining like the sky,

As white as the snow,

And cold like the breeze,

Goes down your throat,

Everything you thought

Now is nothing.


Contemplation #15

Five minutes ago that flathead, dummy Johnny, messed up my book cover. It started this morning: I bought three books from the Book Fair and one book cover. After lunch, I was finished with my work, and started to color in the cover. Then Birdo (Johnny) asked if he can color. I said, “No!” When the teacher walked in, she read a story and had us write a Greek Myth. She said if we wanted to work with a buddy we could. So I sat next to Jose and Birdo started to color my book cover. He messed it up. Good thing it was a wheel. He made a rainbow-colored wheel. I colored it black. I am MAD! Angry!!! Upset!!!!!!

Contemplation #20

When the music was playing, I thought about yesterday when we came back from lunch. Willie got me mad. I felt like a bomb ready to blow up because he said that I am always sweatin’ Jose. He started ranking me by the way I dress. He called my sneakers “Burger Kings” and I have a nerdy haircut. Then he said to me, “What do you have to say?” I stood quiet, but in my head I said, “I have a few things I can say about you, but it’ll start trouble.” So I kept quiet. I felt like killing him.



too tired to learn

too tired to work

too tired to play

I’m tired

tired of those kids

they have to tease me

I’m too tired to fight back


Contemplation #21

I really got into the music. I fell into a very good mood. I felt like dancing. I was really relaxed. It was great. The music burned a smile on my face. It just woke me up. I felt like the music was inside me. It lit up my day. I mean if it weren’t for the music, I wouldn’t get into anything. I never thought that contemplation could be this much fun.


The radio was on

I was just sitting there


to the words

and the beat

of the song

It was quiet

I sat there


thinking how to write my life

in a poem

how could I explain it

in words

the poem would never end


Contemplation #11

I had a picture of a lot of bubbles, and inside of them were kids from the class. Everyone was trying to get out. But suddenly someone came. Nobody knew him. Everyone said, “Who is that?” He took out a giant pin and started popping everybody’s bubbles. We were all free. But I didn’t find out what happened because the music went off.


My, my Clara,

everyone looks for the woman

who feeds the cats,

the homeless

and the poor.

My, my Clara,

everyone looks for Clara,

the woman with

tender eyes

and warm smile.

My, my Clara,

the woman who cares

for the wounded hearts

and troubled minds.

My, my Clara,

the woman who travels

from Williamsburg to Borough Park,

and back again

with just $1.15,

and returns again

with shopping bags

of clothes and toys

for all the street children.

My, my Clara,

the woman with such love

and kindness

for the human race,

such courage and loyalty,

Clara treats everyone

the same.

My, my Clara,

what will we do




Contemplation #27

While the music was playing, I thought about the letter Mr. Pflaum wrote home to me this weekend. His last line on the letter really said a lot about what I’m doing in school—which isn’t much. He wrote, “I’m an old song which can become a sad one if I keep doing what I’m doing in school.” Now I think I understand about putting more effort into all my work instead of just saying, “Well, this is easy so I’ll do it another time when I can do it quickly.” I also found out that my father went through the exact same thing I’m going through now. I said to him the next day, “If you know what happened to you, tell me before I go through that phase of life.” I realized that I have to get my butt back on course before I end up working as the guy in the zoo who picks up after the elephants.


The Art

Of Illusion


The Mind:

What may

the Truth



Contemplation #10

As the music played, I felt the sound of the flute go into my head. I thought about whales in the deep blue sea. I just imagined the whales going in and out of the water. The splash of the whales was gigantic and their skin was sky blue and the sea looked so wonderful. The flute always makes me think about the wilderness or something peaceful like that. Just thinking about their tails swinging across, and then splashing back into the sea makes me relax and feel so calm. The flute always echoes in my ear.


I am at peace with the world,

Concentrating on the soft sounds of music,

Silence is all I can hear.


Contemplation #25

I imagined a beach in the night. I saw the left side and it looked like a black shade—the right side, too. Over the middle of the beach was a full moon. The middle appeared to be dark blue, and the sea was black. You could see the moon’s reflection in the dark water. There were only a few stars out that night. It’s weird because I started picturing flowers coming out of the sea, and then a soft breeze hit me in my face.


A tingle

a touch a feel

of a touch

with a flower

a hand a piece of

velvet against

your face

a touch


Contemplation #15

I felt extremely relaxed. I felt the flute within. It was a beautiful feeling. It was like I was

floating in air. I felt so light and relaxed I almost fell asleep. It was a strong feeling, a feeling I

never had before. It was fantastic. It’s a little weird to explain, but it was great. I wish everybody would feel this way.


Another day to pray

to days of glory

days of suns

days of prayers

whispering to day or night

of splendid colors to shine


Contemplation #13

I felt good and happy. I saw myself fly like a bird and call all the other birds. I was light as a feather drifting in the air. And then I started falling and landed on a big pillow that looked like a gigantic marshmallow, all soft and bouncy. I fell asleep, one, two, three…


white and golden

bursting light flying high

wings streaming through the heavens

driving to God with all his children


Contemplation #31

As I listened, I remembered a dream I had. I was on a beautiful island with no people. There were just trees. It was only me. I got scared for a minute, but then I started to think: “I’m all alone, no harm or evil, and no television to hear about the war. I was in complete peace. If only life was peace…


The last man

who stood on Earth

left because

of feelings

that were abnormal:

The man left Earth

for peace.


Once again, you will find that the contemplations/prose and poems included a variety of experiences prompted internally by the students themselves. I did not ask them to write on a specific subject or topic, that is, there were no prompts. They were free to write about whatever crossed their minds and imaginations. Contemplation Music Writing is a spontaneous form of writing that uses music to calm kids at first, and secondly, to inspire and ignite an inner narrative describing what experiences they are going through as the music plays. Here is a list:

childparent relationships, divorce, sadness, criticism, knowing yourself, confusion, moodiness, escape from one’s self, dreams, illusions, reality, teasing, putdowns/rankouts, rivalries, inner peace, happiness, selfcontrol, contemplation, thinking, surreal worlds, kindness, giving/caring, sensitivity, courage, reflection, selfrealization, courage, reflection, peace/relaxation/calm, music, concentration, silence, imagining, touching/feeling, positive thinking, optimism, and heavenly fantasies.

In Part 2 of There’s a Soul Arising in My Mind, you begin to appreciate the after-effects/affects of contemplation, poetry, creativity, thinking, feeling, experiencing, reflection, visualization, recall, and concentration.

Interested in learning more about “Contemplation Music Writing”? See the following articles on EDUCATION NEWS:

Julianna Lyddon interviewed me about the Contemplation Music Writing Project on the radio show, “Connect With Julianna” (Toginet Radio Network). Choose the following link to take you to the podcast page and download it onto your computer, iPad, iPhone, etc.: You can also go to iTunes and download it for free and play the show this way: Or, go to Connect with Creative Educator and Author, Jeffrey Pflaum 07-06-2012 and download the podcast.

For more information about the “Contemplation Music Writing Project,” please check out

my posts on The BAM Radio Network’s blog, ED Words, at:

Two additional articles/blog posts can be found at

Link for “Using ‘Music Writing’ to Trigger Creativity, Awareness and Motivation” (4/2/12) is:

The link for “Build Reading and Writing Skills with Music” (6/6/12) is:

For more background, articles, published student poetry, samples of student contemplation writings, themes culled from their contemplations, and supporting documents about “Contemplation Music Writing,” go to the author’s web site at

If you are interested in other programs in mindfulness and contemplation, check out the following:

  • The Mindfulness in Education Network at, and The Association for Mindfulness in Education at, for more information about EI/SEL, and to make connections with other educators interested in this vital area.
  • CASEL, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, at, for information about the different EI/SEL programs across the country.
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