Special Note

In this story, Lonnie Collins Motion, Locomotion, speaks to the reader through his poems. As he writes, we get to know him—his joys and sorrows, struggles and triumphs. Two important elements of poetry are the author’s intent, and the readers interpretation. With good poetry, as with all good art, the reader may see and feel things beyond what the author or artist intended. With this in mind, many of the questions in this guide are subjective, asking the student to make observations and give opinions. The following answers are a general guide, but you may have different answers in many instances, and may even disagree with some of the answers given here. Ultimately, we hope this exploration into the world of poetic literature speaks to you and inspires you.

Section 1: Poem Book – Epistle

Poem Book
  1. According to Lonnie, a poem is a short way of saying what’s in your mind.
  2. A Poem is a piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, usually metaphorical, and often exhibits such formal elements as meter, rhyme, and stanzaic structure.
  3. Lonnie compares his ideas to a candle in his mind that is blown out and disappears.
  4. Lonnie writes down the string-of-smoke thing because Mrs. Marcus said it’s good, and not many people say that to him.
  1. This poem is about Lonnie remembering his parents. When he sees the stars flickering, it reminds him that his parents are still out there looking back at him.
Line Break poem
  1. According to Mrs. Marcus, line breaks help us figure out what matters to the poet.
  1. This poem is set in Lonnie’s family’s apartment. Specifically, by the window, staring out into the city.
  2. Lonnie’s mother is protective of her children, yet still loving and warm towards them.
  1. I think this poem is about how small things remind us of the ones we love. Lonnie needs only the smell of his mother to remember all the great things they did together.
  2. Lonnie goes right to the cosmetics lady to see if she has the powder that smells like his mother.
  3. After smelling the honeysuckle talc powder, Lonnie leaves fast before the security guard asks him to empty his pockets.
  1. This poem is similar to Mama, how small memories remind us of the greater memories we have of somebody.
  2. Yes, every line in a poem counts. As Lonnie said, poems are short, so making sure all lines matter is important.
  1. Line breaks help isolate the things that matter to Lonnie on their own lines, such as when he says, “I used to talk all the time,” on one line and, “That don’t happen too much,” on the next.
  2. Miss Edna is Lonnie’s foster mother. From the poem, we can see that she was stern with Lonnie when he was young but misses the young, loud Lonnie.
  3. Miss Edna’s apartment is small and lightly furnished. Smattered across the walls are old posters and pictures of her now-grown children.
  4. This poem is titled “First” because it is Lonnie’s first memory of living with Miss Edna.
Commercial Break
  1. Lonnie thinks Mrs. Marcus contradicted herself by telling him to use lots of description then calling him out for calling the lady white.
  2. Mrs. Marcus says it’s important to use a lot of description in poems.
  3. Lonnie inserted the short stanza to give the reader a break from the description and see what’s really on his mind.
  1. A Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.
  2. Student’s poem
Group Home Before Miss Edna’s House
  1. Lonnie says the monsters in the group home are the older boys, The Throwaway Boys, who steal his things and bully him.
  2. Two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit.
  3. Lonnie uses couplets to mirror the beat of the daily routines at the group home.
  4. The news that sits, “hard and heavy as Group Home food” is that Lonnie is a Throwaway Boy.
Halloween Poem
  1. This poem is about how Lonnie wants things in his life to go one way, but they seem to always go the other.
  2. Fifth graders are supposed to not want to put up pictures of pumpkins and ghosts.
Parent’s Poem
  1. Lonnie’s parents died in a fire.
  2. Lonnie’s father worked for Con Edison, his mother was a receptionist
Sonnet Poem
    • There are 14 lines
    • There are 10 syllables per line
    • The rhyme scheme is ABAB
  1. Studen’s observations
  2. A poem of fourteen lines using any of a number of formal rhyme schemes, in English typically having ten syllables per line.
  3. Mrs. Marcus says you have to write things a bunch of times before they sound the right way.
  4. Lonnie wants to be seven again because that’s the last time everything he loves was in his life.
How I got a Name
  1. A group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit in a poem; a verse.
  2. This poem has 5 stanzas with 4 lines in each stanza.
  3. Lonnie is named after the song, The Locomotion, that he and his mama used to dance to.
Describe Somebody
  1. This poem has no stanza breaks because it is a single train of Lonnie’s thoughts.
  2. When he looked around the room, Lonnie noticed Eric and Lamont having a pen fight and Angel staring out a window.
  3. Lonnie’s poem is about himself trying to figure out what to write about.
Epistle Poem
  1. A poem or other literary work in the form of a letter or series of letters.
  2. This poem is Lonnie reminding himself of the great times he had growing up, when his family was still with him.
  3. Student’s research and observations

Section 2: Roof Poem II – Just Nothing Poem

Roof Poem II
  1. In this poem, there are 4 sentences broken into 19 lines.
  2. In “Roof Poem II” Lonnie is worried about the strange places he may live next.
Me, Eric, Lamont & Angel
  1. In this poem we learn that Eric thinks about tragedy different than the others.
  1. Student’s poem
New Boy
  1. The whole class starts laughing when the new boy says, “Good morning,” because he says it in a very country manner.
  2. Clyde is a country boy who dresses the way he talks. He unfortunately becomes ashamed of his style when the class mocks him.
December 9th
  1. This poem is about how Lonnie remembers the anniversary of his parents’ death. The poem explains how it has been four years now and Lonnie cannot release the burden.
List Poem
  1. Student’s poem
Late Afternoon In Halsey Street Park
  1. Student’s poem
  1. Lonnie hates pigeons because they are overcrowding the city and they like to poop on people’s heads.
  2. Lonnie is fascinated by the way pigeons fly and by the way they sound.
Sometimes Poem
  1. This poem is about how Lonnie and Miss Edna like to bond and have fun with the small amount of money Miss Edna makes, and how the small things stick in Lonnie’s mind.
War Poem
  1. Miss Edna prays that not too many people die in the war because one of her sons is fighting in it.
  1. Student’s poem
New Boy Poem II
  1. We learn that Clyde has a little sister who looks and dresses like him.
  2. The new girl is just like Clyde, she wears country clothes that don’t fit in with other people’s outfits. She reminds Lonnie of Lili.
  1. Lonnie likes to write because it makes him feel like his family is with him again.
  2. Eric has a brown leather jacket with brown sleeves, just like the one Lonnie wants.
  3. When Eric asks Lonnie what he’s doing, Lonnie closes his notebook and says, “Nothing.”
  4. Lonnie thinks of Eric’s church singing voice to remember that he’s not so scary.
  1. This poem is about how Lonnie only gets to visit his sister on occasion. Lonnie is sad because they cannot relate the same anymore because they have been raised in two different houses.
  2. Lili, unlike Lonnie, has started to come to terms with the fact that she is going to remain separated from her brother.
  3. Some of the words in this poem are italicized because they are not Lonnie’s words, they are words he heard from those around him.
  4. Lonnie takes out his earring on Saturdays so that he looks more respectful for Lili’s family.
  5. Lili hopes that they can be together again one day if Lonnie finds God.
  6. Lonnie thinks Lili’s new mother will never take him in because he looks like a troubled kid.
Just Nothing Poem
  1. Lonnie describes the day like he’s inside a dark grey box with a Reynolds Wrap sky.
  2. In this poem, Lonnie is wishing the teacher would say something to him so he could get mad.

Section 3: God Poem – Happiness Poem

God Poem
  1. This poem has 11 sentences broken into 8 stanzas.
  2. There is glass on Ms. Edna’s roof because people throw their empty bottles up there when they are done drinking.
  3. Lonnie is up on the roof waiting for God to show himself to him.
All of a Sudden, The Poem
  1. Ms. Marcus is praising Angel’s poem so all the other kids start copying him but when things go too far she becomes frustrated. Lonnie is frustrated and maybe jealous of the praise Angel is getting.
  2. In this poem we learn that Ms. Marcus, just like Lonnie, can get fed up with poetry from time to time. She liked Angel’s idea but got tired of everybody copying him.
  3. In this poem we learn that Angel is able to be a poet, if he is willing to put his mind towards it.
Hey Dog
  1. Student’s poem
Occasional Poem
  1. In this poem we learn that Lamont, much like the other students, has a hard time thinking of anything other than the painfully cold weather.
  2. This poem is set in a cold classroom on a cold January day.
  3. The conflict of this poem is between Ms. Marcus and Lamont, who doesn’t want to think of a poem.
Haiku Poem
  1. Student’s poem
  1. The line breaks separate the last part of all the sentences from their build up. It gives it a good rhythm and sets the mood by constantly changing what we think the sentences are going to mean.
  2. The last stanza of this poem is Lonnie wishing he could find God, not for any reason other than being with his sister again.
Poetry Poem
  1. Student’s poem
Eric Poem
  1. Eric is absent from school because he is in the hospital being treated for sickle-cell anemia.
  2. The words Ms. Marcus is saying are bouncing off the walls and flying around in Lonnie’s head.
  3. Last time Ms. Edna came home and found Lonnie crying, she told him to think of all the things he loves.
  4. Every time Lonnie tries to get Eric out of his head, he keeps thinking about him again.
  1. Lamont is in an angry mood that is made worse when he remembers Eric is not there.
  2. Lamont’s mood makes the class not want to pay attention to Ms. Marcus.
Hip Hop Rules the World
  1. This poem has 5 stanzas with 3 lines in each stanza.
  2. Ms. Marcus says rap is the most creative form of poetry.
  1. Lonnie thinks he knows something bad is coming when he sees he’s not smiling in the photograph.
New Boy Poem III
  1. In this poem, Clyde is calling out all the people of the class for calling him mean names rather than his actual name.
Happiness Poem
  1. Lonnie is worried when he sees Ms. Edna dancing with the broom because he thinks she has lost her mind.
  2. Lonnie feels relieved because he finds out Ms. Edna is happy that Rodney is coming home for Easter.
  3. In this poem we learn that through Ms. Edna is often stern, she can be happy and loving too.

Section 4: Birth – June

  1. Lonnie ended each stanza with two words to help with the rhythm of the long lines before them.
  2. Lonnie is remembering the story about his birth his mom used to tell to him.
Lili’s New Mama’s House
  1. Lonnie thinks the bus coming early, the heat being on in the bus, and the end of the bus ride and seeing Lili are all God.
  2. This poem is set in Lili’s new mom’s house, which is pristinely cleaned.
  1. This poem is written in two-line stanzas to mimic the rhythm of a church choir and preacher.
  2. Student’s poem
  3. The last stanza is a single line because that’s when Lonnie loses focus on the preacher and focusses on what he wrote on his hand.
New Boy Poem IV
  1. In this poem we learn that Clyde is very skilled at soccer.
  2. This haiku is an observation of another person.
  3. Student’s poem
Teacher of the Year
  1. In this poem, a news crew comes to the school because Ms. Marcus won teacher of the year.
  2. The newsman is very well dressed, with lots of hairspray. He sticks out at the school.
  3. Lonnie says he likes when Ms. Marcus teaches him poetry, not math.
Easter Sunday
  1. The conflict in this poem is Lonnie not understanding why the death of Jesus is considered a sacrifice when he knew he would come back to life.
  1. Rodney is big, tall, and strong yet still looks like his mom, Ms. Edna.
Epitaph Poem
  1. In this poem, the second, third, and fifth lines all rhyme.
  2. A phrase or form of words written in memory of a person who has died
  1. This poem is set outside on a warm night, when the first fireflies of the season can be seen.
  2. Ms. Edna says firefly wishes always come true.
The Fire
  1. Lonnie and Lili spent the night with Pastor Marshal’s daughter because they were going to the zoo the next day.
  2. Lonnie and Lili’s mother and father died in a fire in their apartment.
Almost Summer Sky
  1. Ms. Marcus inspires Lonnie by telling him he has a poet’s heart.
  2. Rodney loves that trees give him a beautiful green vista while giving him shade.
Clyde Poem I: Down South
  1. Clyde and Lonnie both have memories of Georgia in common.
  2. Lonnie and Clyde sitting up against a fence, throwing stones, thinking about Georgia.
First Day of School
  1. Eric is no longer comfortable around the class. He is skinny and frail now. He sits alone and does not talk to his friends anymore.
Dear God
  1. Student’s poem
Latenya II
  1. LaTenya is worried when Lonnie asks about the bumps on her hands because he might call her a freak.
  2. Lonnie responds to LaTenya by grabbing her hand and saying he doesn’t think she’s weird.
  1. Lonnie is looking forward to the times he’ll get to be with his sister over the summer.