"Portraits in Poetry-Our Wicked Ways" TCC - Clarke Spring 1997

Cisneros Poem, Assignment, and Student Conversation
Wicked Ways Book CoverCisnero Photo

My Wicked Wicked Ways by Sandra Cisneros

This is my father.

See? He is young.

He looks like Errol Flynn.

He is wearing a hat

that tips over one eye,

a suit that fits him good,

and baggy pants.

He is also wearing

those awful shoes,

the two-toned ones

my mother hates.

Here is my mother.

She is not crying.

She cannot look into the lens

because the sun is bright.

The woman,

the one my father knows,

is not here.

She does not come till later.

My mother will get very mad.

Her face will turn red

and she will throw one shoe.

My father will say nothing.

After a while everyone

will forget it.

Years and years will pass.

My mother will stop mentioning it.

This is me she is carrying.

I am a baby.

She does not know

I will turn out bad.

Questions for Discussion

Step One
Answer two of the following questions in about 100 words each for a quiz grade.

email your answers to the class distribution list, including me.
Use the subject line Cisneros Questions (Yourlastname). If you choose to send an attachment, save as either a txt or rtf file and name the file cisnquxx.txt or cisnquxx.rtf (but use your initials not xx). Be sure that the appropriate student identification appears at the top of the document either way. If using a word processor, double space all. Don't forget to provide a title for your paper. If you have questions, contact me.

Step Two
After you have read your classmates' responses, select one that answered a different question from your own and write a letter or memo addressed to that person and signed by you--but mail it to the entire class, including me. Credit: a check for 75-100 words that relate your own thinking and experience directly to your classmates' message and to your own understanding of the poem.

Use the subject line Cisneros Letter (Yourlastname). If you choose to send an attachment, save as either a txt or rtf file and name the file cisnltxx.txt or cisnltxx.rtf (but use your initials not xx). Be sure that the appropriate student identification appears at the top of the document either way. If using a word processor, double space all. Don't forget to provide a title for your paper.

Step Three
Discussion with Katie Fischer's class at Clark College, details TBA.


  1. Visualize this photograph. Imagine you are the mother, the father, or the "woman, / the one my father knows." Describe this photograph in this other voice: what you see, what you think and feel when you see it.
  2. What is the allusion of the title? How does it appear in the poem and how does it help us understand more about the people in the poem? If you had to look up the reference or ask somebody about it, be sure to give credit to your source.
  3. This poem has absences as well as presences. Pick one of them "She is not crying" or "The woman . . . is not here" and reflect on the significance of the speaker seeing here what is not here.

Responses to Step One Questions


As the father, when looking at this picture I see myself standing there, clean-cut, handsomely dressed, yet I am hiding behind my appearence. My wife and I have been having marital problems for quite some time now, and we are beginning to drift apart from our anger towards each other, and I am pretending that they don't exist by hiding behind my attire since most people often act "fake" in pictures because they are supposed to convey happy thoughts. I am wearing those awful shoes, the two-toned ones my wife cannot stand. I wore the shoes to irritate her and "stoke the fire," making matters worse between us, as I honestly wanted to. I am trying to look good, and hide what I'm really feeling for the benefit of the picture.

The phrase, "She is not crying," signifies the sorrow and pain that the wife is experiencing. Although she is not outwardly crying it is visible that she is holding back her true feelings. You could relate this to what will be passed on to the unborn child that could have made a contribution to her turning out bad. Her built up emotions transgressed to the child.

This picture here was taken shortly after I had the baby. It's sad to think what problems that little one caused between my husband and I. It seemed that once I became pregnant he lost interest in me almost as if he was ashamed of me. Look at him standing there with that smug look on his face. That is the look that once atracted me to him. If I only knew then what I know now about that look and the special attention he gives to his appearence. I would've stayed clear of that womanizing fool! But now I'm stuck with the memories of a failed marriage and a child who could've turned out a lot better if there had been a good father around more often.

Although the mother is not crying in the photograph it is visible that she is a very unhappy woman. She has been thrown aside by her husband. He needs her only for child that they conceived together. The mother knows that this is true and is ashamed that she has kept for only this reason. This truth is the sun that is bright. The speaker knows this just by looking at the posture and the appearance of the parents in the picture. The speaker noticing that the mother is not crying could also indicate that the mother did spend a lot of time crying because of the unhappy marriage in which she was trapped.


"The Typical Husband"

There I am. I look like the typical husband with my pregnant wife by my side. Who could tell by looking at this picture that I felt trapped forever in this pose, against my heart and will. I love another. Unfortunately, I could not think of myself at this time. I had to think of my unborn child. Never in my wildest dreams could I have known that this decision would also trap my child in a loveless family. Maybe if I had gone with my heart that day, I would have been able to be a more loving father.

"She is not Crying"

When people pose for pictures, they smile for the camera or strike a pleasant pose, thereby creating a warm memory. The speaker knows the old adage that "a picture paints a thousand words" is not always true. He sees beyond the black and white photograph, realizing that it must have been difficult for her mother to put on a happy face when she was probably crying on the inside. The speaker knows the truth behind the faces in the photograph, and knows the deceptive pose did not reflect the reality of the situation.

Kimberly K

The father sees himself dressed as he was so long ago. The description is vivid down to then rememberence of how his wife hated hte shoes. He likes what he sees in himself. The woman, whom he sees in the picture is his wife but not necessarily the one he is in love with. Not noticing what his wife is wearing, but otherwise her attitude, is how he remembered her in this photograph.

"The woman is not here", reflects on the fact that while looking through the photo album and reflecting on years past, the speaker in the poem knows how the situation has turned out. The other woman was alreadly present in her father's heart but not in the photograph. The anger that caused her mother to get red in the face and throw a shoe has subsided because many years have passed. This photograph was a symbol of a family that looked normal to those who looked at a glance but far from the normalcy if the story was to be told.


The allusion of the title "My Wicked Ways" by Sandra Cisneros prepares the reader to find some sort of vile tendencies to be present. It appears in the poem when the other woman which her father knows is mentioned. ˘My mother will get very mad. Her face will turn red and she will throw one shoe÷. The father is withdrawn, and the mother eventually surpresses her anger. We find at the end that this will affect the way their child will turn out.

There is an absence and a presence in the statement which refers to the mother, ˘She is not crying÷. The significance of the speaker seeing here what is not here relates back to the absence and the presence. Although the mother is not crying there is still sorrow and pain present within her life. The unborn child sees the mother not crying yet knows the tears are flowing vigorously inside. The statement didnĂt portray the actual truth that clearly existed. The importance of this shows the influential affect it will have on the unborn child in the future.


As the father, I see myself in the photograph as a young handsome man. I obviously care about my appearance because of the way I am dressed. I have a lot of self-confidence, and at the same time I am arrogant. This is evident by the way I am wearing my hat, which is tipped on one side. I feel appearance is important because it impresses people, especially the ladies. My wife and I are not in good terms, and sometimes I would do things just to make her angry. For instance, I purposely wore the two-toned shoes for this particular picture because I knew she did not like them.

The phrase "she is not crying" in the poem "My Wicked Wicked Ways" is subsequently an indication that the mother is unhappy. The speaker is describing a photograph, therefore; the mother's emotions are hidden and would not be displayed in the picture. This is significant because it is a way for the speaker to inform the readers of what he sees that is not visible in the picture. The speaker knows that there is a problem between the mother and the father. Although the speaker did not actually go into details, it is obvious that the mother's unhappiness was caused by a marriage that has fallen apart.


The Allusion of the title "My Wicked Wicked Ways" by Sandra Cisneros

The allusion to the title is not in the speaker's behavior, but in her father's. Her mother has spent many years with her father's adulterous and uncaring ways. Her anger and resentment are taken out on the child, until she (the child) starts to think that she is bad. She grows up thinking that her father's behavior and her mother's reactions are her fault.

The Significance of "The woman [who]...is not here" in "My Wicked Wicked Ways" by Sandra Cisneros

The fact that the speaker sees what is not here is significant in itself. She knows there is another woman her father sees and that "she does not come till later." The speaker sees her mother getting mad and lashing out. Even though she is of tender years, the speaker sees this woman as someone her father replaces her for. She believes she is not worthy of his love and she is actually in the way of his happiness. Her mother unknowingly encourages the child's belief by her behavior. This is a conflict between husband and wife with a child caught in the middle. It is sad to feel the child taking on so much blame.


The mother

I see my husband wearing his favorite hat and suit, and his baggy slacks. He's wearing those ugly shoes that I wish he'd throw away. Then there's me. Looking away from the camera because of the bright light. I'm thinking about the other woman my husband knows. For if she shows up, I will be mad as fire and may even throw something, and my husband will just sit there quietly. I'll eventually forget about her, and go on with my life. I look forward to having my baby, and stop living in the past.

The speaker says "She is not crying" because lately it's mom has been crying so much. The speaker's mom has been upset because of this woman her father has been seeing. The speaker's father has been seeing this other woman behind his wife's back. Somehow the mom has found out about this and she has been crying so much after finding this out. Her and her husband have not been able to get along since then. It seems as though she has gotten over the awful ordeal, and she is beginning to cope with whatever lies ahead for her.


In the poem, "My Wicked Wicked Ways" the mother is angry and trying to forget. It appears the husband is seeing someone else or possibly left home for another woman. When she is reminded of the event she gets very angry but holds back her tears. Her face may turn red but again she does not cry. She hopes that in the years to come whatever reminders her will disappear and she will not have to think of it anymore. She hopes the feeling of anger will leave her.

The phrase, "The woman Ó is not here" talks about the absence of the other woman. The other woman appear to be a woman the husband was or is seeing. She either shows up or is mentioned from time to time around the house. As the writer is talking she in not present but could reappear at any time. The thought of her being around still angers the mother as the baby can see it when the mother thinks about it. The father sits in silence hoping it will all pass over.


First, I want you all to know how pleased I am with your responses to these questions. You show insight into the emotions of the speaker and you have been able to visualize the photograph and the people and the stories of their lives based on the diction and syntax and images of the poem related to your own life experiences. The various angles from which you "see" the photograph through the lens of the words of the poem really made the scene and the lives of the people in the scene come alive for me. Thank you.

What does it mean to "see" a photograph? What truths and lies, presences and absences are conveyed? Falseness and truth in what we see, what we project to the world are motifs in your responses to this poem. The cliche that "things are not always what they seem" is painfully true here, isn't it? How would we express the themes suggested by this poem?

In your responses to the discussion questions, several of you mentioned the appearance of the father, the dashing man irresistible to women. Some emphasized the father's demanor as false, for, as Billy said, "people often act 'fake' in pictures because they are supposed to convey happy thoughts." This falseness was noted too by Jerry, who speaks in the father's voice: "I felt trapped forever in this pose." Greg focuses on the mother's perspective, responding later to "that smug look....that once attracted me to him." More than one of you mentioned those shoes, spectators, which were fashionable once upon a time (30s? 40s?) and come back into style every once in a while. Rod sees the shoes differently, however, reflecting the misery of the mother: "I purposely wore the two-toned shoes . . . because I knew she did not like them." Look at Daphne's similar perception of the mother's attitude: "He's wearing those ugly shoes that I wish he'd thrown away."

What is not seen? Sherri points out "the tears are flowing vigorously inside." It's as if the image of the poem-- "She is not crying"--makes us feel the pain more intensely. I'm reminded of Emily Dickinson's poem "A certain slant of light" with its line about "heavenly hurt" that leaves no scars. The spiritual and emotional agony of people's lives may not show on the surface always. If we "see" their absence, we share their agony. Why would the speaker bother to tell us the mother isn't crying here? As Greg points out, this feature highlights the many times the mother was crying. Again, we see that the photograph gives false facades. Kimberly K. emphasizes another absence, the "other woman," "already present in her father's heart but not in the photograph." Woody notes the father "sits in silence," surrounded by the presence of his family and the absent physically but present emotionally "other woman."

One feature of your responses that interested me especially was the lack of awareness of the central allusion of "my wicked, wicked ways," a phrase associated with the dashing rogue character of Errol Flynn, a film actor with dark handsome alluring roles on screen and off. Look at the term "allusion" in your book and on the Web. The language of the image works just fine without your knowing about Flynn; however, the father's features and demeanor would likely be somewhat different if you knew. The duplicity would be emphasized. The glamor would be heightened. The sense of emotional detachment in his passions might be even more strongly conveyed.

Kimberly K.

1. The father sees himself dressed as he was so long ago. The description is vivid down to then rememberence of how his wife hated hte shoes. He likes what he sees in himself. The woman, whom he sees in the picture is his wife but not necessarily the one he is in love with. Not noticing what his wife is wearing, but otherwise her attitude, is how he remembered her in this photograph.

3. "The woman is not here", reflects on the fact that while looking through the photo album and reflecting on years past, the speaker in the poem knows how the situation has turned out. The other woman was alreadly present in her father's heart but not in the photograph. The anger that caused her mother to get red in the face and throw a shoe has subsided because many years have passed. This photograph was a symbol of a family that looked normal to those who looked at a glance but far from the normalcy if the story was to be told.


2. The title "My Wicked Wicked Ways" gives the reader the allusion that the speaker is a wicked person. After reading the poem, I feel that she was not really speaking of herself necissarily. The wicked ways the author is talking about is actually the way the speaker was brought up, and the family she has. Her family brought her down because they were wicked themselves.

3."The woman. . . is not here" When the speaker talks about the woman not being here, it is really just a different personality of the woman. The person that her husband knows is different than the woman in the picture. Of course, the entire family in the picture is different than the family that they really are. The picture is like the lie they are trying to pretend is really their life, when in reality it is a very different life than what can be seen with the naked eye.


The old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words holds true in the poem Sandra Cisneros "My Wicked Ways". In this poem on the themes of a picture from her days as an infant with her parents Cisneros reflects on attitudes and feelings of her parents. The moment of time captured in the photograph will never come again. New knowledge changes the meaning of this moment. As the "woman,/the one my father knows" looking at the photo I see my lover. He stands with his family. The family that he will not leave. Wife and child chosen over me. I loved him. His wife although upset about us in the beginning, came to accept her man's stray into my life. I am not in the picture. Never did I belong in the picture. Shut out of the life with his family. "The woman....is not here." No I am not in the picture, nor am I in their lives. The tempest I set in motion with this man has faded. He is yet a family man. Never will I forget. They also will not forget. I was not there for I did not belong there. This photograph captures a moment in life that passed. The memories of this moment are changed by events that occur. In turn the meanings that are held in the photo change. Although the moment stays the same, the view of the moment changes. The photo does not change. It is the viewer that changes. These changes make the photo mean more than the moment that it captures. A man and his family are pictured. The woman he knows is excluded. Significantly this exclusion is continued as the woman remains but a memory to the family.

Kimberly C.

I despise this picture. Don't they look like a happy family? They are all there together, in the sunshine. All dressed up. His wife is holding their baby. They should have never had that baby. He told me he never loved her. He told me he only married her because he had to. They look like such a happy family. They aren't. I know because he would never have come to me if they were. That child was a bad seed from the moment she was conceived. Bad news, that one. He had a chance for real happiness with me, if he had never had that child. She is just like her mother, if you ask me. We could have been happy, he and I. We had real love. If it wasn't for that child!

Although the woman is absent in "My Wicked, Wicked Ways," by Sandra Cisneros, she is significant because she made an important impact on the family in the picture. The speaker mentions her while viewing the family picture to clarify that looks can be deceiving. While the picture of the father, the mother, and the baby look nice, the speaker felt that the woman caused problems for the family that hurt not only her parents' marriage, but her life, as well. The reader senses that the woman's relationship with her father indirectly caused the speaker to become wicked.


"The Good with the Bad and Ugly"
I am the woman you see in this picture, his wife. I am smiling in this picture because I only see the handsome, charismatic man that I met, fell in love with and quickly married. At that time, I didn't know he liked things in twos; two toned shoes and two separate lives with two separate women. There I was, not even four months pregnant while he was already running around with Ms. Thang. One particular day, I noticed the intimate and possessive way in which she greeted my husband and I knew without a doubt that he had been with her. When I realized that everybody knew except me, I took one of his two toned shoes and threw it at him. The hurt and humiliation finally subsided, but it took me years to get over the bitterness I felt towards the situation.

"The woman ... is not here" signifys that the other woman has no real place in their family pictures, yet she maintains a place in this family's mental portrait. Her affiliation with this family is one of a presence felt by all but seen by none. Although the other woman remains unseen, the speaker realizes that her presence leaves an undeniable negative influence on the speaker's immediate family. The full consequences resulting from this situation will not be seen until the next generation.

Letters to Classmates Step Two

Hi Sherry,

I read your response about question 2 the allusion of the poem. I could tell by the way the speaker describes the mom that she was very angry. I sense when this picture was taken there was alot of tension between the couple due to this other woman. The baby (which is the speaker) knew what was going on even before it's birth. The tension has bought anger to the baby as well. Daphne


I agree with what you have found in this poem. The child in the poem has been affected by the bad relationship between the parents. I believe that the child has somehow turned the blame on himself/herself which would explain the allusion of the name of the poem, "My Wicked Wicked Ways." Just from reading the name of the poem the name of the poem I was led to believe that the speaker had done something awfully wrong and could do nothing to change. However, upon reading the poem I can see that the speaker does indeed accept the blame for the bad family whether it was brought upon by the speaker or the speaker was openly blamed by the parents.




"Sins of Her Parents"

I agree with your observation that the allusion in the title is that the speaker blames herself for the sins of her parents. All the speaker knows is that she lived in a loveless and angry family. Her parents resented each other and may have even alluded to the fact that if the child had never existed, they would have been able to live happier lives apart. Children can sense anger and resentment. The speaker obviously thought that her existence was the cause of the pain in the family, and therefore she was "wicked."



Although it is hard to believe, many children will blame themselves for either one of their parents leaving or their parents getting divorced. In my opinion, you have touched the allusion of the title in "My Wicked Wicked Ways". The father is mainly the person to blame as far as the unhappiness of the mother, but both the parents are at fault for not explaining the situation to the child. In many cases, the child gets neglected and left out to try to understand why their mother and father are not together. The speaker foreseeing bad behavior later in life is due to the emotional effect caused not only by the father, but by the mother also.


Hi Daphne-

I read your response to question 1 and I agree with the fact that the mother at first would become enraged if the woman her husband knows were to show up. But then later she does try to forget and go on with her life as if this anger never existed. She is obviously is looking forward and trying to forget the past. Her life with her husband may be empty but she does have a baby on the way to be there for. Sherri Jayne


In your answer to Question 1, you place yourself in the father's picture. You call this "The Typical Husband", but do you really believe this behavior is typical? I agree that it is sad that someone feels trapped in a relationship when they love another, but I don't think this is typical of a man. Some men would feel obligated to stay in a loveless family because of a child, but another majority of men would not have thought twice about leaving. When we speak of typical, we stereotype and judge them because of their sex, color, etc. Although a large number of men would have acted as this one did, a lot of others would have acted differently. All men are different and react differently to every situation, just the same as women do. If this particular man had acted differently and "gone with his heart that day" as you said, maybe a lot of pain would have been spared in the long run.



I agree with you on your statement that the title "prepares the reader to find some sort of vile tendencies to be present." I had to read the poem over several times to decide whether or not there was anything wicked going on. I then realized that the affair the husband was having was one of the wicked items going on and then the anger the wife was feeling and suppressing was another. I am still not sure though how all this has affected the child.


Kimberly K

Dear Sandra:
I have the unfair advantage of having read Donna's responses before writing this letter. I did not pick up on the allusion of Errol Flynn's wicked ways, but felt that the father and the child were the wicked ones. I agree that father's actions indeed "affect[ed] the way the child [turned] out." I have several memories of the sad times in my parents' lives that led me to similar mistakes. They say that the sins of the fathers are visited on their children. I have led a life quite similar to my mother, who married, had children, and divorced at a young age. Maybe our lives are in some way destined to be formed not only by our parents' teachings, but their actions, as well.

Kimberly C.

To Wanda

I agree with your allusion of the title "My Wicked Wicked Ways" by Sandra Cisneros. Upon my first two readings of this poem, I had not given much thought as to how she (the speaker) acquired these wicked ways. After reading your response, I reread the peom and realize that your interpretation could be close to the truth, especially since the child was not yet born. I like the way you gave both the mother and father the responsibility for the feelings that the child grew up with.


Exchange TCC-Clarke Step Three

Part I has three elements for you to include in your first posted message to your group. Be sure to post your Part I messages no later than April 4, 9 p.m. and to use the subject line My Photo (yourlastname). For example, mine would read: My Photo (Reiss). And please remember to include your name and email address in the body of any message or file you send.

1. Please describe in detail to group members from both schools the photograph you have selected from your own album. Select any photo from at least 10 years ago that you appear in along with at least two other people who have a lasting relationship with you. Please do this without opinion or bias creeping in. Tell just the physical aspects:

For example: The photograph is black and white. There are four people in it, my father, my two aunts, and me. In the picture, my father is about 50, slightly overweight. . . etc.

2. Explain the significance of the photograph you hope to bring out to your writing group members including both your reasons for the choice and also what you want to convey in your own poem.

For example: The picture was taken at our lake cottage, a place I both loved and dreaded. In my poem I will try to bring out both emotions and root them in reasons. . . etc.

3. Please explain your overall plan for your own poem. You might tell group members what kind of images you will focus on, how long a piece you envision, other details.

Student Response to Part I


1. The photograph I selected includes four people, my father, my brother, my son and myself. My father wears glasses, he is approaching his fifties and
is holding my newborn son, with his other arm he is grasping my brother's arm. I am sitting next to him with my arm around him, I have tired smile on my
face, I look exhausted. My brother is sitting on the edge of the couch on the other side of my father he has hair to his shoulders and seems to have no
expression on his face.

2.The significance of the photograph I want to convey is the absence and presence that is in this picture. I was happy because I had recently given birth
to this precious child. I was also happy to finally be with my father again after 7 years of barely communicating with him. There was also a sadness and a
distant feeling between my brother and I with my father. I want to express the feelings of myself and my brother that may not neccessarily be visually

3.My plan for writing my poem is that I want to focus on those inner emotions without rambling on. I want to express in detail the happiness sadness
and anger that is present. I will try to express my feelings so that everyone will either understand or possibly be able to relate to the story I will tell.


Hello Everyone!

My photo is one that was taken on my eleventh birthday. My dad and youngest sister are in the photograph. My dad has one arm around me in an
embrace and my sister is sitting in the background looking at the candles on my cake. I am laughing in the picture. My dad is about 39 years-old, my
sister is about five, and i'm of course turning 11. My dad has black hair with sideburns, average built, and glasses. My sister looks sort of tired; she is
holding her head in one of her hands. She has light brown hair and a baby face. I have long, brown hair parted in the center, glasses, and an old red
t-shirt on. The photo was taken at our old house. It was a farmhouse. The cabinets are wooden in the background. The three of us are sitting at the
table. My sister kind of is being ignored when the picture was taken. My dad is smiling and looking proud. In my poem, I think I'm going to try and
bring out the relationship I had with my dad then to what it is now. When a person looks at the photo they can sense a loving, warm feeling being
evoked. This is just a beginning. Can't wait to hear from all of you!


The picture that I have picked out was in color. There are four people in it, my brother, my mom, my moms' best friend, and me. At the time my brother
was seven, my moms' friend was wearing a bathing suit which was riding up her butt crack, my moms face was a bright red from laughing so hard, and I
was about ten.

This picture was taken right outside of our house in Ft. Lauderdale, and the day that this picture was taken was the funniest and sadiest days that I can
remember. In my poem I will try to show how the good times outweighed the bad.

I am trying to picture that night with everyone while, my mothers friend was still alive, my poem should be no more than one entire page. I hope
everyone enjoys my writting!!!!!!!

1) The picture I have chosen has three people in it. My mother, brother, and myself are in the picture, and my dad was the one who took the picture.
We are at the zoo and are standing in front of giant wire-like statue of a rhinoceros that is yellow with orange polka-dots on it. My mother is wearing a
pink shirt and shorts and is also wearing sunglasses, my brother is wearing a blue shirt and black shorts, and I am wearing a light pink shirt and dark
pink shorts. It is a sunny day without one cloud in the sky.

2) I like this photo because it reminds me of the days when our family was always together. We never fought when we were together, we always got
along and had fun doing it. We were a wonderful family team. Today, were are all grown up and our busy with our own lives. We all don't get together
as often as we used to, and that makes this picture all the more special.

3) The piece will focus on the happiness of our family and love that is between us. It will also focus on the way things used to be, and the way things are
now. It will make the connection we feel for each other come alive.


1. The photograph that I have chosen is in color. The photograph consists of two people, my youngest brother Doug and my daughter Erin. My brother
is twenty-one years old, 5' 9" and approximately 185 lbs. He is a mixture of American/Filipino which gives him the natural tan presented in the
photograph. He is wearing a tank top which he loves to wear often and a pair of black shorts. In the photograph he is laying on his side beside my
daughter, and playing with her hair. My daughter is seven months old in the photograph, and by looking at her cheeks, It is easy to tell that she is a
chubby baby. She too is a mixture of American/Filipino, and have the same skin complexion as my brother. They also have the same hair color, which is
brown. My daughter is wearing a pink baby summer outfit and laying on her stomach playing with one of her key rings.

2. The photograph was taken at my house in the living room where my brother loves to play and spend most of his time with my daughter. In my poem,
I will try to bring out the sadness of my brother Doug who knows that he will have to leave Erin, the baby he knew since birth. The sadness of not only
leaving her, but also to know the memory she will never have when she sees him again. My brother, who is in the Navy knows that the day would come
soon enough.

3. The plan for my poem is to focus on my brother's love for my daughter, and the innocence of a baby not knowing what is taking affect. I am going to
try and write the poem based on the fact that Doug knows he will be leaving and will miss Erin. Right now, I do not know how long this poem will be.


This is a photograph of me and my brothers and cousins. I am wearing a white shirt and my hair is in two pony tails and I'm looking away from the
carmera. My cousin is also wearing a white and she is looking toward the camera. My little brother, Bobbty, is in front of the camera wearing a green
and brown stripe shirt, and he is holding a balloon. My older brother, Darryl is sitting between me and my cousin and he is looking down toward the
floor. Behind, me is my cousin Broderick and my cousin Duvonne is standing by the stereo. This picture was taken at my little sister's four year old
birthday party. She is not shown in the picture. In my poem I will elaborate on the memories of that day.

In my poem I will focus on the kids who were at the party and some of the things we did that day, without making it an extended and boring poem.


My choice is a color picture taken at my wedding. There are six people standing on the church altar. Pictured from left to right are my father and
mother-in-law, my new wife, myself, my sister, and my father. My father-in-law is in a gray tux, wearing glasses with his eyes shut. He is medium built
and very young looking for his 40 years. His arm is around my mother-in-law, also a young looking 40 year old women. She wears a short light blue
dress, white gloves and heels. Her hair is black and she is smiling broadly. My wife is wearing her white wedding gown and holding a prayer book. Her
eyes are cut toward me and she is giggling. She is short and petite with long brown hair. I am wearing my black tux and smiling. My hands are crossed
and my eyes are looking down. Long sideburns emphasize my narrow jaw line. My sister, 16 years my senior, is wearing a white dress and white fur
stole. She has short brown hair and has a slight smile. My 50 year old father is wearing a brown suit. He is very thin, with sunken cheeks. He is not

I chose this picture because it was one of the most important days of my life. I was leaving a home where their was not much love shown and living
conditions were very difficult, to become part of a family that was loving, caring, and close knit. I was definitely looking forward to a brighter future and
I was never going to look back.

I intend to write a short poem expressing my tormented feelings toward my family and my extreme desire to better myself and my future.


1) My photo is of my sister, her friend, and I. it is taken in the summer of '85. My mom took the photo. It is inside of the little pop-up camper we use to
own. The photo was taken by my mother at a campground we use to go to all the time in Bagley, WI. The three of us are playing on a travel board
game like checkers or something. We are all sitting on the bed.

2) The part that I will bring out in my poem is that when my sister and I were younger, we never were really close even though we were the only two
kids in our family. In fact, most of the time we were not getting along especially when she was around her friends because I always was trying to show
off in front of others. Besides that, she didn't want her little brother arounf embarrassing her in front of her friends.

3) I am going to focus on the fact that as we got older, we both learned to get along and help each other out. We still are not real close, but when one is
in trouble (usually me), the other is there to help. I'll probably talk about how she used to try to get me in trouble and when I got into my teenage years
was trying to get me out of trouble. Basically, I'm going ot show the picture as kind of a turning point.

Susan P.

1. My photo is black and white. I don't know the exact date, but it was taken sometime in 1974, I think. There are three people in the photo: my great
aunt, my brother, and me. I am about two years old, I don't have any visible hair yet, and I am running out of the shot when the photo was taken. I am
running because my brother is chasing me. You can't see my face in the photo, just the back of my head and my dress flying wildly behind me. My
brother is laughing. My aunt is sitting with her legs crossed in a folding lawn chair. She looks lazily into the camera, a cigarette between her fingers. One
corner of her mouth turns up and her gaze could be described as smoldering. She must be about fifty years old in the photo and her lover holds the
camera. Her black hair is peppered with grey and her legs are long and slim. There is something quite elegant about her.

2. This photo is signifcant to me because it is the only one I have or have ever seen with my aunt and me. She died when I was 5 years old and I hardly
remember her but I've been told over and over that she left something of herself in me -- her passion for writing, her constant state of hysteria, her
yearning for something else. Another thing I like about this photo is all of the activity going on outside of the actual photo. There is me, a baby, running
wildly out of the picture because no one could ever get me to sit still. There are also little detail things, like I know that in her purse there is a
lipstick-stained tissue and spearmint gum, and in the corner of the photo a branch of a willow tree swings into the picture. But perhaps most signifcant is
the expression on my aunt's face. I always thought it was an expression of exasperation, of resignation, but recently I've discovered it as an expression
of passion, of heat. I always thought she must be annoyed that I ruined the photo. But then I realized that her expression isn't about me. She's looking at
her lover holding the camera. That expression is for him.

3. I guess what I want to focus on in my poem is something about how I remember my aunt in a child's way, playing the piano and nightclub stories and
cigarettes, but I want to try to read her now from an adult's perspective. I want to reflect on this relationship of how my perspective of her has changed
as I've grown into an adult, how I see things now that weren't visible to me in my youth. I plan to focus on small details, like the way her dress gathers in
a pile at her feet and the way the smoke from her cigarette twists upward and pulls away in the breeze.

Hi everyone! I'm Elizabeth. I hope this works, here goes.

1. The picture is sixteen years old. It is in color and the people are myself, one of my playmates at the time, and my cousin(best friend). We are all three
years old. We are sitting outside at the local park. Hannah(my playmate) is wearing a white and purple checked dress. She has her hair in braids.
Karen(my cousin) is in a yellow, long sleeved shirt with white ruffles on the front. It has gotten dirty. Her brown hair is up in a ponytail, but it's falling out.
I am wearing a white, stained, v-neck t-shirt with rainbow colored suspenders. I also have on brown knickers. My hair is blond and barely up in a
ponytail. Karen and I are looking straight at the camera and smiling. Hannah is smiling, but looking at us for reassurance.

2. I would like to bring out the differences between the three of us. I would like to point out the way our looks show how we all grew up in different
environments. I would like the bond that we shared as little girls to come out. The fact that we all came from different surroundings, but were still able to
get along and be friends. I would also like to show the similarities that my cousin and I share, but that Hannah doesn't. This is one of my favorite
pictures, because today we are still just as different as we were in the picture sixteen years ago. At the time the photograph was taken we all lived in the
same small town and the park was where we went to play together.

3. I think that my piece will be longer than most of the pieces I've written, just because it's something that I have a lot of memories and emotions about.
My main focus will be on the differences between us all as little girls and how those differences have changed throughout our lives. I would also like to
bring out how at the time all of us seemed to be happy about out differences. It didn't really matter. We were all happy, no matter what.


1. My color photograph is of my ex-husband, my oldest daughter and myself sitting. It was taken at one of those department stores that made family
portraits at bargain prices. My ex-husband has a short afro haircut with sideburns that run into his beard and a thin mustache. He is wearing a white shirt
that has blue shoulders and a strip of blue accross the chest; he is smiling. In this picture, my daughter is a toddler, slightly overweight, wearing a blue
dress outlined in red. Her hair has been pulled into a puff on top of her head; she is not smiling. My top is black and white with red and blue strips
accenting the shoulders, breast and sleeves. My hair is in a medium sized afro; I too am smiling.

2. This photo is one of the few that I am in. I chose this one because when I look at it it reminds me of happy times. The past that was filled with joy,
trust and innocence. This picture also envokes feeling of melancholy. I hope to convey both the happiness of those times and the regret for the loss of
those times.

3. My overall plan for this poem is to focus on the backgound fo the picture, which looks like a sunset and to use comparison or to tell each persons
point of veiw when they look into this picture of the past.


1. I have chosen a photo of my two children when they were both young. It is a color photograph taken in a studio. My son was only 8 years old at the
time. He has dark brown hair that blends into the background of the picture. He is wearing jeans and a print shirt. He has one arm behind his sister and
one in front of her in an effort to hold onto her. He is sitting and has a slight smile with big green eyes. My daughter was almost a year old in this picture.
She is standing beside her brother. She has on her pink Easter dress and bonnet. What little bit of brown hair she has is showing from the top of her
bonnet. She has a big grin, as if someone made her giggle. This shows her two little front teeth, that have not been in long. Her big, dark brown eyes are

2. I chose this picture because it was the first picture taken after my son went to live with his grandfather. Even though it was a mutual decision at the
time, I have regretted it ever since. This picture represents the pain I have felt over the last 9 years of missing out on my son's life and all the hurt of not
having my two children together. At 17, my son has just come back to live with me. I hope to convey in my poem the pain of being separated from a
child and the joy of being together once again.

3. My poem will hopefully convey a Mother's love for her children, the deep desire to be able to fulfill their dreams, and the pain of not being able to do
all the things for them that you feel you should.


1. It is a picture of my mother's wedding. . Me, my mom, my step-dad, and his son and daughter are in this picture. I think I am about seven years old.
Stephanie (my step sister) and I are wearing ruffely long yellow dresses, We both have shoulder length brown hair, but mine is curly, hers is straight.
Roy (my step-brother) is wearing a grey suit. He has light blond hair. My step-dad is very tall and thin, he is wearing a tan suit and a bowtie, his hair,
light brown,. is straight and shaggy. My mother, slightly heavy, is wearing a white off the shoulder dress with a peach floral sheer shaul draped over her
shouldrers. She has very dark brown, short curly hair.

2. Everyone in the picture was truly excited about the wedding, and momentarily happy. It was only later that evening that I saw the dark side of my
new step-dad. His own kids didn't even like him. I think my mom remembers this as one of her happiest days, but looking back we con both see that it
was one of the sadder too. In my poem, I will try to convey the unhappiness that has come in to our lives since that day.

3. I am having a hard time deciding exactly where my poem is going to go. I plan on writing of my fathers alcoholism, bad temper, and the way this has
torn our entire family apart.


1.) The photo I have chosen for this assignment includes my twin sisters, my brother, and myself. I am located at the top of the picture. I am standing
up. The twins are seated to my left and to my right, and my brother is in the middle of them, creating a diamond effect. There are mountains and trees,
as well as a lake, on the fake backdrop behind us. In the picture, I am 17, the twins are 15, and my brother is 7.

2.) The significance of this picture is that we are all so young and innocent here. We are also very happy. We are a family. The background is important
to me because it represents a serene and beuatiful quiet and restful spot where I would like to reside someday.

3>)For my poem, I plan to focus on how simple life is when we are young, and how it is much easier to be happy when you don't have to deal with the
pressures of adulthood. I will also focus on my personal quest for the quiet serene place in the picture, and how I wonder if I will ever actually get there.

John C.

1. Since all the photographs of me that are more than ten years old are with my mother 780 miles away, I had to use the oldest one I have. It was taken
in 1989, on the front patio with a red brick wall behind us. This was the house I spent all of my life in. My mom and dad are in front, sitting down in
white plastic lawn chairs, left and right respectively. The rest of us from left to right standing behind are: myself, age 17 standing 6'2" tall, wearing gray
casual pants, a black long sleeve oxford shirt, with dark red hair (natural)extending past my shoulders, and tipping the scales at a massive 140 lbs (not a
typo.) My sister is next, at least 6" shorter, the same weight, wearing a black dress and smiling profusely. My sister-in-law follows wearing a white shirt
and dark skirt, is sharing the load of holding a tank, my 2 1/2 year old nephew Scott, with my brother dressed in his Navy dress white uniform, a typical
sailor suit from almost any movie, with a Petty Officer Second Class insignia on the left arm.

2. This picture was taken on the day of my high school graduation. Since my brother, 8 years older, and my sister, 5 years older, both live far away
from Toledo, OH, (Hawaii and Chicago respectively,) this was to be a big family gathering. It was a great day, lots of fun and family stories, but looking
at the picture now, there are only a few things that are similar and even less that stayed the same. I guess the two things that remain the same are that the
wall is still red brick and my nephew is still a tank. This is what I hope to describe. The changes that have happened since then were unthinkable at the
time. 8 years later my parents are divorced, my brother is out of the navy (with long hair and a bald spot), I'm in with short hair, 40 more pounds and 2
inches of height among other things. Change happens so fast you never see it coming, but so slow that you can't watch it happen.

3. I don't have any plan for my poem right now. I'll just try to reflect on all the changes since June, 1989, and see where it takes me.


1.) This photo was taken about ten years ago. My father is in the middle, I'm to his left and my sister is to his right. We had just finished remodeling the
dining room. The background of the photo is freshly hung country blue wallpaper with large pink and green floral patterns on it.Each of us is wearing
shorts and t-shirts and look sun burned.

2.) This picture was taken in the house that I grew up in while my parents were still together. I will try to include pre and post divorce feelings about my
dad and sister.

3.) I want to capture what my life was like before the divorce, after the divorce, and my present feelings in th poem-in that order.


Part II Be sure to post your message no later than April 9, 9 p.m. and to use the subject line Photo Poem Plan (yourlastname). And please remember to include your name and email address in the body of any message or file you send.

Please read the messages from all members of your group and respond briefly to each person's message in one collective message that you send to the whole group, not just to the individuals. Ask whatever is unclear and comment on plans that you find particularly potent toward writing poetry.

For example: Pat, I wasn't sure why your kitten was wearing a hat in the picture. I was able to tell how much you love her from the way you compared her to a garden. Kelly, your hamster's death clearly haunts you to this day. You didn't say how old he was when he died. Is that information important or did you mean to leave it out?

Part III Be sure to post your message no later than April 14, 9 a.m. and to use the subject line Photo Poem Draft (yourlastname). And please remember to include your name and email address in the body of any message or file you send.

Write your own poem modeling after the Cisneros poem "Wicked, Wicked Ways." Write from your photograph and include a sense of the presence of absence as well as the telescoping time factor. Once you have revised sufficiently, please send the poem to your group members.

Part IV Be sure to post your message no later than April 18, 9 p.m. and to use the subject line Photo Poem Response (yourlastname). And please remember to include your name and email address in the body of any message or file you send.

Respond to the poems of each member of your group--addressing a separate email message to each person but sending copies of the message to every person in your group. In your response, highlight those images and parts of the poem you found particularly fine and tell why you found them appealing.

Part V Format your final poem and send it electronically to both Katie Fischer and Donna Reiss to be included on the Web page for this project. Include your poem's title and your name as you want it listed. Give your teacher a photocopy of your photograph as well. We will try to scan these photos as a collage for the Web site. By April 23, 9 a.m., post your poem to your teacher as directed. For your subject line use Photo Poem (yourlastname). And please remember to include your name and email address in the body of any message or file you send.

"Portraits in Poetry: Our Wicked Ways" TCC - Clarke Spring 1997
developed 1997 and modified November 3, 2004