Skinny poem: Lunch in the school cafeteria during COVID-19

A Skinny Poem, on Day Twelve of National Poetry Month. For me this is an indelible image.

Lunch in the School Cafeteria During COVID-19

Unmasked, they sit, all facing the same direction to eat
all facing the same direction, they sit to eat, unmasked


with thanks to Denise Krebs for the inspiration in #VerseLove on Ethical ELA.

How to write a Skinny Poem:

  • Write to a strong image, experience, emotion, event, a work of art….consider the image you want to write about and describe the situation in the first line.
  • Only lines 1 and 11 have multiple words. Lines 2-10 are each one word only
  • Line 2, 6, and 10 are each the same word.
  • Line 11 uses the same words as line 1, but it can be rearranged for your purposes.
  • You can also write multiple Skinnys for one longer poem.

4 thoughts on “Skinny poem: Lunch in the school cafeteria during COVID-19

  1. Fran, your skinny poem is haunting and chilling. I received a chill and goose bumps while I read it. I feel your pain and despair. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must be to see children not socializing, to not hear their laughter, to see them not smile in a place that is supposed to be a respite for them. All of your words moved me, but “spectral, dystopian, and automatons” bring forth the horror children have been living through. I have felt and told my friends and family since the beginning of the pandemic that it feels like we’ve been living in a sci-fi novel or living in a sci-fi movie.

    I feel for these children too young to fully comprehend a pandemic and wondering why they can’t be near each other. My nephew is twelve and has lung difficulty. My sister-in-law told me how he begs her to go into a store. My nephew at twelve doesn’t understand if he goes into a store he could die. But then I still find it difficult to wrap my head around that we have been living in fear of dying just by being close to a friend, family member, or stranger for over a year. Rereading your poem and my response has brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing. Reading your poem and responding has been therapeutic. I am trying to remain hopeful. I’m finding joy in our early spring. I read the skinny poems on Ethical ELA, also and I want to write one of my own. In fact, I might write more than one. Thank you for your honesty, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been a costly pandemic, Gail – so costly. I try to remain hopeful as well. It was suggested that a person might write several Skinnys toegther as one poem – I can see you doing this! Many thanks to you for thse thoughts.


  2. Writing several skinnys together sounds like a good idea. Thank you. I sometimes write 3 or 4 haiku in a sequence as you did recently. When does school end for you in NC? Up here it doesn’t end to the third week of June. I hope you have AC in the schools there. Pre-Covid my friend’s niece went to school near Phoenix, AZ and they went to school all year so they had AC. The students rotated in groups of three, I think. When a group was in school the other groups had vacation, or maybe two groups were in school at the same time. I’m heaving a senior moment. Anyway, it was strange. Take care.


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