4 Poems by Mari Evans


In response to a recent post about the value of “at least trying” someone sent me the poem If There be Sorrow by Mari Evans.

After reading, I just had to share it along with a few more of her poems.

#1 If There Be Sorrow 

If there be sorrow

let it be

for things undone . . .




to these add one;

Love withheld . . . 

. . . restrained

heartcross anonymous

The boys and I enjoyed this poem, which reminds us to “keep on keeping on” and to not grieve if things do not always work out, but to grieve if we holdback and stay restrained!


#2 Where Have You Gone  by Mari Evans

Where have you gone

with your confident
 walk with 
your crooked smile

why did you leave 

when you took your 

and departed

are you aware that 
with you
 went the sun

          all light

               and what few stars 
there were?

where have you gone

with your confident 

crooked smile

rent money 
in one pocket

my heart 
in another . . . 


mari evans_poet#3 CELEBRATION
 by Mari Evans

I will bring you a whole person
 and you will bring me a whole person 
and we will have us tiwce as much 
of love and everything

I be bringing a whole heart 
and while it do have nicks and 
dents and scars, 
that only make me lay it down 
more careful-like

And you be bringing a whole heart 
a little chipped and rusty an’
 sometime skip a beat but 
still an’ all you bringing polish too 
and look like you intend 
to make it shine

And we be bringing, each of us
 the music of ourselves to wrap 
the other in

Forgiving clarities

Soft as a choir’s last 
lingering note our 
personal blend

              I will be bringing you someone whole 
and you will be bringing me someone whole
 and we be twice as strong 
and we be twice as true 
and we will have twice as much 
of love
 and everything

This next poem,When in Rome, is most frequently taught in middle school:

#3 When in Rome by Mari Evans


Mattie dear

the box is full


whatever you like

to eat                (an egg 

                          or soup

                                 …there ain’t no meat.)

there’s endive there


cottage cheese

                        (whew! if I had some

                          black-eyed peas…)

there’s sardines

on the shelves

and such



get my anchovies

they cost

too much         (me get the

                         anchovies indeed!

                         what she think, she got –

                         a bird to feed?)

there’s plenty in there

to fill you up.

                        (yes’m. just the



                        Hope I lives till I get


                        I’m tired of eatin’

                        what they eats in Rome…)


mari evans

Teaching Tips:

 #1. When in Rome:

Teaching idea: Students may want to reflect on the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do,” which is what Mari is “playing off of” as she writes about “when in Rome.” This old saying is used to suggest that at times we need to go with the flow.  Mari is noting that yes, sometimes we yield and modify what we do for the sake of grace and social smoothness. As Mari’s choice words also show the inner struggle of “going with the flow” we get a sense of humanity – we get a feel for a healthy person who can express not being on board with the current situation – and as she says “I’m tired of…” – we also share in her social angst, albeit mild, but we have all been there – uncomfy and stretched; consequently, in this very individual view there is also a universal appeal as we all have our preferences.


Teaching idea: The “When in Rome” poem can be used to talk about the gift of food. As Mari refers to the fortifying sardines, she touches upon not just enjoying food, but also in the fortification of different items.  For example, “Me get the anchovies indeed! what she think, she got – a bird to feed?”  We feel a sense of the sound nutrition she wants from the dense, tasty meat.

After talking about the food – read the poem again and see if anyone is hungry.  This also allows the students to feel the literature – which occurs when we spend time with it!!  Have students talk about cultural differences with food and maybe even share family favorites – or times they were out of their comfort zone regarding food options. (Check out Amy Tan’s Fish Cheeks for more on culture at the dinner table).

You also may want to discuss what a “comfort zone” is and why it is good to have one, but also why it might be good to be challenged from staying there all the time.

celia in tokyo blog

Teaching idea: Have students note the diction and words used.  Mari purposefully lets us feel the grammar and language of the everyday environment from her neighborhood –  which aligns with the food selections and adds to the tasty cultural setting she paints with her words.  Also, the specific references to the foods she does prefer, like anchovies and black eyed peas, is added on purpose – and in a way it celebrates these foods to memorialize them in writing – while it adds to the rich cultural feel of this poem, where her tasty cuisine reflects a bit of her heritage as well.

sirloin burger


Teaching idea: Distinguish the difference between colloquial, slang, and jargon (and maybe talk about auxiliary language).

Teaching idea:  Note the message of adapting here is NOT the same thing as compromising beliefs – this just means that regarding some of the smaller issues, like food and etiquette, it is “good manners” and socially nice to adapt and yield a bit.

Teaching idea: It is beneficial for us to adapt to the customs of a place we are visiting and Mari Evans touches upon this – and so use this poem to talk about social graces and times we give and yield – it is a good thing!

Teaching idea:  Mari splits up the poem with her thoughts inserted among the dialogue, and so we also get a bit of a cultural comparison among the differing foods. This can lead to discussion about types of cultures and food prefs, but also TYPES of poems, use of imagery (representation through language of sense experience), tone (writer’s attitude toward the subject, the audience, or herself; the emotional coloring/meaning,), subject matter, culture poems, social learning poems, free verse, etc.

look down 2

#2. The Celebration Poem

The Celebration poem is special for a few reasons.

First, it is just fun in the romantic way – “And we be bringing…. each of us
 the music of ourselves to wrap 
the other in…” ❤ 

Second, teens can talk about how relationships take two “whole” people.  Yes, we merge, yes we yield, and yes we give our all to become one – but if we lose a sense of who we are and if we give up the wholeness we have – well the relationship suffers.  So we need to keep our cup fill – but NOT at the expense of the union – instead, as a complement to the union!  And as Mari notes – so “we be twice as strong 
and we be twice as true 
and we will have twice as much 
of love
 and everything.”  

Third, this poem talks about baggage and how we all “do have nicks and 
dents and scars” – and so this may lead to talking about how healthy natural it is to have bumps and bruises from a  well lived life.  We fall and have bumps when we take risks and when we are fully alive.

Fourth, the boys and I read this poem earlier this year, and the the two fleas and dog analogy came up – or the triangle analogy – where the Lord is the third part in any successful union.



#3. Poetry terms and words to review:

This can be set up as a matching exercise.

connotation     denotation       simile        metaphor         imagery        personification

symbol   sarcasm           satire               allusion            hyperbole  understatement

rhythm     alliteration       stanza              sonnet             haiku               limerick

1)     repetition at close intervals of the initials consonant sounds of accented syllables or important words

2)     something that means more than what it is; may be read both literally and figuratively

3)     fixed form of fourteen lines, normally iambic pentameter; two main types: Italian, English

4)     reference, explicit or implicit, to something in previous literature or history

5)     figure of speech in which an implicit comparison is made between two things essentially unlike

6)     fixed form consisting of five lines of anapestic meter; riming aabba; exclusively for humorous or nonsense verse

7)     figure of speech in which exaggeration is used in the service of truth

8)     figure of speech that consists of saying less than one means, or of saying what one means with less force than is warranted

9)     wavelike recurrence of motion or sound

10)   figure of speech in which an explicit comparison is made between two things essentially unlike; made explicit by use of like, as, than, seems, etc.

11)   bitter or cutting speech

12)   figure of speech in which human attributes are given to an animal, object, or concept

13)   representation through language of sense experience

14)   what a word suggests beyond its basic definition

15)   three-line poem, whose lines usually contain respectively 5, 7, and 5 syllables; Japanese in origin

16)   group of lines whose metrical pattern is repeated throughout a poem

17)   kind of literature that ridicules human folly or vice with the purpose of bringing about reform

18)   the basic definition or dictionary meaning of a word



#4  Poetry Terms

Poetic Devices
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE:  Language using figures of speech and it cannot be taken literally.
IMAGERY: The representation through language of sense experience; language that appeals to the senses.
FIGURE OF SPEECH:  Any way of saying something other than in an ordinary way.

The following is a list of common figures of speech
SIMILE: A comparison between two unlike things using words such as: like, as, than, similar to, resembles, etc. I.e. Quiet as a mouse

METAPHOR:  An implied comparison between unlike things. I.e. He’s a house.

ALLUSION: A reference to something in history or literature. I.e. She had a Cinderella wedding.

ALLITERATION: The repetition of initial sounds.  I.e. Seven steaks sizzled.

CONSONANCE:  The repetition of end consonant (every letter that is not a vowel) sounds.  I.e. first and last, odds and ends, stroke of luck.

ASSONANCE: The repetition of vowel sounds. I.e. My words like silent raindrops fell.

PERSONIFICATION: Giving human characteristics to an animal, object, or idea. I.e. The hours crawled by like years.

PARADOX: An apparent contradiction, which is nevertheless somehow true.

ONOMATOPOEIA: “Sound words”; Words whose sound suggests their meaning. I.e. buzz, click, snap, chop.

OXYMORON: The setting together, for effect, two words of opposite meaning. I.e. burning cold, screaming whisper.

OVERSTATEMENT (or hyperbole): An extreme exaggeration used for effect. I.e. I’ve told you a hundred times…; I’m starving; The suspense is killing me.

SYMBOL: Roughly defined as something that means more than what it is.  I.e. A wedding ring is a symbol of commitment, love, honor, etc.  It is not just a ring.  It’s shape (a circle) is also symbolic; a circle never ends and therefore the love is not supposed to.

PUN: play on words.

UNDERSTATEMENT: Saying less than what is meant, for effect.

More literary terms HERE


Care to read more poems?

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41 thoughts on “4 Poems by Mari Evans

  1. These are wonderful poems. Kids really love the mystery and creativity of poetry. I would open a until but having as many books of poetry that I could find available with lots of post-its. Kids could lie on the floor or sit where they were comfortable and put signed post it notes on their favorite poems. Then they would share with their group or the whole class.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. now that sounds really cool- the post-its – and not only do they get to contribute, but they can glean front he other post-its (and learn a bit too) and what a fun socially enriching idea – how very cool. thanks for the visit. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Quite neat the structure of the poems, and I love the little teaching class you give us, how you deconstruct the poem. Now, I save these things and put it into the folder that´s called “poetry related” in my old Mackintosh. Also have the “publish tips related” “writing related” and on with ending all in related. Just weird…

    Thanks for sharing Mr. Prior. Even if it was not your work, it sure helps me.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. God thank you for Poetess, Author, Musician, Television Host, Educator, etc. Mari Evans! She is authentic, brilliant and one-of-a-kind!!!
    I Am A Black Woman, is my favorite poem by Mari Evans.
    She is a blessed woman of God…
    —-Dr. Gwendolyn West

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love seeing Mari’s work shared here. She lives in the same neighborhood as I do. I’ve been blessed to hear her read some of her work. She’s a sweet soul who loves poetry with a passion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. are you serious – you live the same neighborhood?

      how every cool – and glad you were able to hear her – ❤ – I love her work for the essence of her that is imbued in each line – and she doe snot try too hard to come across all intellectual or "academicy" – just sprinkles out words about life through her eyes, which has rich cultural tastes….. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi! I found you again! I wasn’t’ getting your posts but now I will. I love the ‘Where Have You Gone’ poem and the ‘When In Rome.’ Thank you for sharing, I have not read these before. Hope all is well! Is this your main blog sight?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. well thanks so much for coming back – woo hoo – and for some reason I think there is a glitch to where a few folks said they have had probs with followers or with posts in the readers. But I am so happy to see you – and I did not have time to leave a comment on your recent post – but I soaked up your show photos- 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh my how lovely! Thanks for the promise. I look forward to when you get to it and I do thoroughly understand the sense of being swamped by too much to read. I “get” it physically as I look at the stacks of books at various sites around the house, to say nothing of the back-up on my Kindle.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to connect in blog land – and thanks for checking out my post!
      This is a popular post for my blog! And I am so glad because I love Mari and her work!
      Have a great day!

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I loved the first line of “Celebration”: “I will bring you a whole person
 and you will bring me a whole person and we will have us tiwce as much of love and everything” >> GREAT!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. oh thanks dear friend – and I think of you often – and I know our friendship is only a sprout – God has good things in store for us…
      in the meantime – happy new year and hello to your wife and son

      Liked by 1 person

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