Saturday, December 14, 2013

polaroid: brownie hawkeye and fallen leaf

vintage Polaroid SX-70 camera and Impossible Project PX680 film

Friday, December 13, 2013


bittersweet dream
in Polaroid hues, flashes
of light and memory

Sunday, December 8, 2013


is bitter cold,
a wind that blows
in and out of my life.

Friday, November 22, 2013

tonight I feel

like a little too much wine
and a cheap, easy read –
something sentimental
and predictable
with lovers destined
to end up alone.
Perhaps that’s
the happiest of endings –
for a heroine
to find herself pining
for the one who got away
before the novelty
and the good manners
and the romance wears off,
before the man who
only talks during commercials
comes groping for a quickie
between reruns of Seinfeld.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

haiku (modern): morning

daybreak beckons
with creature stir and bird song,
earth exhale and morning dew

Saturday, October 26, 2013

haiku: time

alligator breath
and rumpled sheets – my last born
grows much too quickly

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

haiku: routine

just before daybreak –
starlight in my morning sky
tennis balls for fetch

Monday, October 7, 2013

when you see me

put on my black lace panties
and paint my lips bright red,

when you wonder

what you’re missing
but make no effort to engage,

know this:

I would rather

sit across a crowded room
from a man I cannot touch,

a man who clearly sees me,

than next to you in our living room
and be ignored.

Friday, October 4, 2013

haiku: marrakech

in the marketplace
of Morocco's Marrakech,
one finds more than fruit

Thursday, October 3, 2013

haiku (modern): puerto rico

Puerto Rican traffic –-
nothing to do
but blow our horns

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

haiku: hong kong

the streets of Hong Kong --
cacophony of voices,
traffic jam of words

Thursday, September 26, 2013

to a neighbor upon refusing my plea for help

What were you thinking when you heard me plead
to speak to your husband? Do you recall?
You should ensure you are never in need.

Is flooding one’s house a femme fatale’s ploy
to coax men within, to woo and enthrall?
What were you thinking when you heard me plead?

Perhaps broken hoses, gushing full-speed,
spew forth soggy love shacks with nymphs wall-to-wall.
You should ensure you are never in need.

Does abundance of water make jealousy feed?
Marshy my office! So squishy my hall!
What were you thinking when you heard me plead?

The main, now closed, let the waters recede
despite your reply, indifference withal.
You should ensure you are never in need.

Misfortune’s a bitch. I hope you pay heed
if karma repays impervious gall.
What were you thinking when you heard me plead?
You should ensure you are never in need!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

sentimental value

There comes a point

when it no longer matters
who is right or wrong,

but who
has the most to gain or lose.

When choosing
between logic and sentiment,

I venture a guess

that sentiment claims
more value from the start.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the annunciation

Holy Mother, when the angel Gabriel
greets you in Nazareth, you seem
more fearful of his presence
than the news he brings.
Was he not soft spoken? Were his wings
not magnificent, their silken feathers
glistening in the sun? If only
an angel had counseled me. Perhaps
I would have chosen differently, assured
by his beauty that all things
are meant for glory, even a child born
to a young girl steeped in sin,
whose longing for her lover’s touch
gleamed more brightly,
more beautifully than the flames
of hell are horrid. If only I had laid eyes
on those ethereal, silken wings.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

to the modern prometheus

The Fall of man shall e’er decree my fate,
For evil dwells in aspirations ill.
To know thy place beneath His Heav’nly gate
Is well believed to be our Master’s will.
Though I am Creature, Adam I am not,
No grace from you, nor fellowship received.
Forsaken, Fallen Angel soon forgot,
In graves of pain and death was I conceived.
From dust we art to dust we must return,
So I from wicked origin am bound –
Returning harm whilst e’er my soul must yearn
For Eden’s wealth, inheritance profound.
     So mark this promise made on Montavert,
     'Tis you, Sir Victor, e’er I thirst to hurt.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

riddle of a sphinx

She, daughter of the mighty Typhon,
womb-sharer of the 100-headed dragon,
tucks wings beneath haunches, waiting
for the one to unlock a burden of ancestors.
Stumbling on swollen feet, he comes
not because he knows the answer to her riddle.
This man is answer manifest.

For there at the foot of Aetna lies a father,
sinew-thief, Cadmus’s fool.
Belching forth his pitiful fire,
he singes her lion heart.
Soon she will cast herself from these rocky cliffs,
and all will be fulfilled.
Damp eyes scan the horizon,
settling on the gates of Thebes.

    Which creature,she demands,
    moves in the morning on feet of four?

‘Twas man, a man named Cadmus, treading first
on the four-footed dragon to mark the dawn
of his noble city, planting teeth of ire
upon an accursed house. Such a city embracing
ignorance breeds a volatile, damned throne.

    What animal,she queries,
    walks at noon on two?

Look you, to the lustful Laius,
and be not blind to Chrysippus,
a man-child raped.
Witness drunken lust that denies a wife
her first-born son. Poor Jocasta,
she is but a pawn ensnared in this wicked net
cast to right a reign of wrongs.

    Who then, (but Oedipus)
    comes stumbling late on three?

Four doomed generations seeded
beneath this Theban Royal Roof,
all to breed a carnivore.
He is but a prophecy fulfilled,
consuming father, mother, self.
This is the honor among beasts
mortals fail to understand.

Friday, September 6, 2013

the hope of a dream

is almost as sweet
as the dream itself

save the ache of anticipation

and sleeplessness

and this restlessness in my legs
from all my waiting.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

when I told you I was pregnant

    You asked me
how that happened, as if
this were somehow my fault, as if
I had done something wrong, as if
two people sharing the same bed,
the same name, the same life
should not expect this
    as a natural course of action.

    You told me
not to tell anyone, as you
walked out of our kitchen, as you
spent three days in your garage, as you
spoke little to me…then more…
but still scarcely a word about the life
inside of me,
    until I almost miscarried.

you laid your head in my lap, as I
waited for the morning, as I
held my breath for a miracle, as I
bit my tongue and fought back tears
when you said this was your fault
for not wanting our son

    After months
of secret keeping, I could
finally tell our friends and family, I could
stop hiding my swollen abdomen, I could
engage in rituals of expectancy
save one…
I have never known the joy
    of the discovery.

You stole that from me
    and can never give that back.

Monday, September 2, 2013

the goodness of humanity

I believe in the goodness of humanity.

Listen to morning radio. Watch the evening news. Scan the daily paper, and one is bound to find stories of tragedy, injustice, and ignorance. “Bystander Shot in Gas Station Robbery.” “Family Forced to Live on Streets after Father Loses Job.” Everywhere we turn, we are reminded of man’s pitiful fall from grace. Yet, if we are willing to pay attention…if we are willing to walk through our daily lives with both eyes open and our ears unplugged (from iPods and cell phones), we just might notice the countless, random acts of kindness all around, those simple gestures that repeatedly restore my faith in humanity.

I knew a boy in college who never wore a coat. Oh, he had a coat. He had several coats actually, but he couldn’t keep a coat for more than a couple weeks. Not because he lost them. His mother told me one afternoon that he just simply gave them away. He gave them to fellow students who hadn’t thought to bring one from home. He gave them to strangers he met on the street. He gave them to people in need. And while this seems a bit extreme, even to me, I could not help but admire him. He was, indeed, his “brother’s keeper.”

I should also mention the boy dressed like a “gang banger” who offered up his seat on the train so that my husband might sit next to me, a tourist in a “strange, new city.” Or the man at the gas station who paid for my son’s Snapple because I’d forgotten my wallet when packing the diaper bag. And I will never forget the gentleman dressed in his blue, mechanic’s uniform who changed my tire in the rain, refusing to let me finish what I had already started. These are the types of stories that should be on the news. These are the tidbits I want to hear on talk radio. For some warped reason, though, it’s the crime that sells…which is really a shame if we think about it. What good can come from thirty minutes of heartache and theft? Now consider the alternative. What good can come from kindness?

If “ignorance breeds ignorance,” couldn’t kindness breed kindness?

I believe in the goodness of humanity because I have experienced it. I have known a helping hand. I have met a generous spirit. Each of these offered acts spontaneous, each without expectation of return.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

if a smile could speak

Too sparse the days when visage calls,
so often rare , ‘tis such a waste.

I’m always here, in constant wait,
but fear your heart does quite forget
the comfort and the power I bring
to you and those for whom I shine.

The youthful you did know me well;
and reveled in my fairy form.
You offered up my soulful birth
without restraint to everyone.

Then the uttering tongue took hold
and adolescence urged you seek
the edge that cuts and bites and wrecks
and leaves destruction in its wake.

Remember me when days seem bleak,
for I am joy personified.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

haiku: abbey

ancient stone abbey --
relics of wood and paint,
echoes of prayer

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

haiku: everest

the mountain stretches
beyond a blue horizon,
seeks the face of God

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

haiku: northern lights

Behold! northern lights –
aurora borealis,
nature’s neon night

Sunday, August 25, 2013

bitter from sweet

The burgers sizzle on the grill
while I down swigs
of a cold beer, enjoying
the sensation;
he grimaces as his goes down –
"too bitter,"
he complains with a frown, but I
like mine that way.

Flames leap and lick
as smoke rises
and conversation flows from work
to rebuilding
the deck to next week’s grocery
list to nothing
of importance, until finally
we settle on
when we should purchase a smoker.

Though I have lost
the taste for meat, this game and fish
craves a new tool for preparing
his spoils – one small
purchase that polarizes how
little we have
in common. I smile, recalling
when differences
of opinion and politics
would vex me, give
me cause to second guess my vows.

But I mellow
as hair turns gray and nipples turn
south and tastes turn
to bitter from sweet – for aging
teaches that mouths
in youth too hastily speak,
and I find sustenance
in one neither poetic, nor
artistic, nor
even philosophical for
that matter, but
in one who just simply loves me.

Friday, August 23, 2013

coffeehouse crisis

What if Joe Foxx is right in You’ve Got Mail?

If a person can
for two-ninety-five get, not just a cup
of coffee, but an
absolutely defining sense of self –

what, exactly, does that
say about me? Am I incapable
of cultivating

committed relationships? Does it mean
I am weak-minded
if I happen to like variety?

If I am defined
by what’s in my cup, I must think this through...

The choices are vast:
tall, grande, venti; non-fat, low-fat, whole!

I need a coffee
that says I am not just any woman,

that says I am fierce in the boardroom, a force in the bedroom,
gentle on the eye.

I need one that says I am low maintenance.
So there go my half-cafs,

along with the soy, sugar-free lattes
and cappuccinos.

Iced drinks are definitely out! I’ll just order mine to go:

double-shot Espresso Macchiato,

bold and confident,
cuts to the chase and has a smooth finish,

– quickie in a cup.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


“Chocolate is the devil,” he says.
Then I must be hell bound.

My wanton lust for cacao bean
leaves reasoning unsound.

She beckons in the black of night
and when the skies are blue

to altars brimmed with pastries sweet
and coffee drinks imbued.

I genuflect in reverence
while all the while, I know

her siren songs and fragrances
will soon my soul o’erthrow.

These scales, they tip t’ward gluttony;
alas, my mortal sin.

This wantoness cannot be quenched
when chocolate lurks within.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

well we don't have to be so pissy about it (reprint)

(from Simon Says, January 19, 2010)

I am happy to report that our cold weather let up this weekend. We enjoyed temperatures in the sixties, and Simon finally got to go outside for a walk. He loves walks. He loves slowing to sniff and nibble, and he loves bursting forth until he reaches the end of his leash. He loves walking in circles around bushes and trees and lamp posts, winding the slack in his leash around each new object of his amusement. And he loves it when I walk around said objects trying to unwind his leash...because all the while, he has tracked my circling steps, rewinding his leash in the opposite direction.

Walking (and playing) in the park is a lovely pasttime for both of us. But getting there has become another experience entirely. Simon is now six times larger than when he first rode home in my lap, and he just doesn't understand why sitting between me and the steering wheel now puts both us and those around us at risk. Unhappy with his new riding arrangements and unable to express himself with words, Simon now expresses his bladder all over my cargo floor.

While I should be annoyed with Simon, I find myself waxing philosophic about how humans communicate and relate frustration. What if we ALL responded to life's irritations by hiking our leg? It is perhaps in better form than succumbing to road rage or hurling obscenities at grunt-level, customer service reps. And it would have been kinder than when my husband, waving his arms wildly, exclaimed with biting sarcasm, "Oh my God! The world's coming to an end!" (We couldn't agree about soup ladles...freakin' soup ladles, and while I was trying to map out a plan B in my head, he got pissy all over my feelings.) Today, as I consider the absurdity of all these situations, I prefer the puddle every time.

Human beings can be truly awful; it is in this that dogs are superior. We have opposable thumbs and command the spoken word, but dogs are far more civilized. We store up and unleash our worst behaviors upon those who love us most. Dogs know not to bite the hand that feeds. We are often calloused and petty; they are innately intuitive and loyal. Zen-like, dogs know how to live in the moment. They live for love and affection. And they don't know the first thing about biting sarcasm.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The tulips have bloomed
their first time

this season, peeking

from under meaty leaves.
Each morning

they yawn and stretch
slender necks

toward Heaven –
sending up silent prayers.

Ah, to be young
and full of wonder,

to greet each day
with head held high,

to have no motive
save seeing the sun.

Friday, August 16, 2013

a valediction to petty slander

This is my missive to the throng
of those who think to slander me –
with ill-conceived heresy
flung childishly along.
Your surly mess, your tantrum song
reveals your shallow poverty.
Does petty incivility
feed egos? Make you strong?
If I've failed to meet expectancy,
fallen short, or missed your mark
and given you an axe to grind,
then try some common courtesy!
Seek the source and there embark
upon your need to speak your mind.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


around the corner
in my mind’s eye
sits a house with white shutters
and three small porches
where I sit
sipping Malbec
while Coltrane croons,
where I swim in your eyes
and in the velvet of your voice,
where I whisper
dark secrets and dreams
from my past
while you caress my arm
with the tip of your finger,
where you trace my lips
with the edge of your thumb
and cup my cheek
to draw me close
for a tender kiss,
where I melt
in that which is you

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Nelly Belly waits in the kitchen window,
expecting your return.
Swishing and twitching, her tall
marks the somber cadence
of a pitter-patter heart –
each beat a whisper,
“You are gone. You are gone.”
If only we could help her understand
that which is difficult for us.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

she thinks of dreams at twilight

When twilight comes to nestle at her door
and bids her lie, to settle into sleep,
she thinks of all the dreams she had before.
Her youthful dreams and schemes were filled with more
than laundry piles and tiles still needing sweep.

As twilight comes to nestle at her door,
the children tippie-toe across the floor
at hours when they should be counting sheep.
She thinks of all the dreams she had before
and wonders what else life might have in store.

While waiting for her evening tea to steep,
the twilight comes and nestles at her door,
stirring within a yearning to explore.
Of all her schemes, which ones might she still keep?
She thinks of all the dreams she had before.

With hair turned gray, she can no more ignore
the wrinkles ‘round her eyes she slowly reaps.
When twilight comes and nestles at her door,
she dreams to think of all she did before.

Monday, August 5, 2013

cowboys and indians

Let’s play Cowboys and Indians.
You wear the bandana
and carry the pistol
loaded with red
paper strips that go, “Pap!”
I can wear the feathers
and carry your paw’s axe.
Then I’ll dance and chant
and say, “How!”
‘til you take my teepee
and tie me up
under that there feeder
hangin’ high
in Maw’s tree. Later,
let’s go swimmin’
in Johnny’s pond
and catch tadpoles.

Let’s play Cowboys and Indians.
I’ll wear the ego
and carry the sickness
that wipes out your people.
You teach me
to plant corn – help
me survive the winter.
Then when I have
no more use for you
and your savage ways,
I’ll take your land
and make you my prisoner,
an example
to all who follow –-
wretched “heathens” I can hogtie
in the name of God.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

not a young buck anymore

We camped for the night at Powder River
with nearly five hundred head needin’ water
and ate beans and threw back moonshine
from Earl’s still.
That shit burned like hell goin’ down,
but I never let on.

A few good swigs, and I was up
for ridin’ that new young bronc.
Jed bet me twenty
I’d not make eight.
So I wrapped that rope ‘round my fist,
said “I’ll take that bet!” and dug in my spur.
There on that cold, hard ground,
even my underwear hurt.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Bellies stuffed, we gather 'round
the antique grand where I composed
ditties in childhood. Leona plucks
ill-tempered keys, their intermittent plinks
piercing lyrics from “Somewhere
Over the Rainbow” as I listen
from my corner of the bench.
She and I are performing, once again
at the Metropolitan - the best kind of frolic
for a woman of eighty-three - bridging four
generations with a song. This brood
is our audience, donning
best behavior for the occasion
until she takes out a handkerchief,
blows her nose casually, and tucks
it away. “Aren’t those your panties?”
I squeal. She blushes and explains
how holes render them unfit to wear
but good for noses. Repurposing things,
my great-grandmother is once again
a problem solver. (And those men said
the lumber yard was no place for a widow!)
Each act of self reliance, I feel, is a message
for me to be a strong-minded woman.
A strong woman is an independent
woman. Strong women are able
to care for themselves when men don’t.
Remember the time she chopped the
trunk with an axe to get those car keys.
Remember how he defied her
to drive those children around all day,
and remember how she did it anyway, her red,
Irish temper streaming from the roots of her hair
to the slim fingers wielding that axe.
I too have this plucky, Irish gene,
waiting deep within,
growing impatient and ready.
East of her house, the train whistles
down the tracks where I once laid
pennies. It’s pulling heavy loads
of coal for its journey north. Oh, how I long
to hitch a ride in an empty car and hobo
from stop to stop, seeing beyond these red clay
hills of Cohutta, but it fails to kneel and crawl,
so I can climb on its back for the trip.
Clackety-clack, (pause), clackety-clack.
The cadence echoes 'round the bend where I fish
at the hatchery, strangling minnows with my fists.
I am left behind to find my own way,
to follow the echoes of a dream
to defy these naysayers with my own Irish hands.
“In time,” I say,
“time has a way of working things out."
For now I am a mother,
and fleeting feet tread quickly.
So play me another song, Leona,
and sing its lyrics in that crackled vibrato,
thick like tar.
Then, let me say, “Good bye,” this time.
I was too young the day your music stopped.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013



of Rembrandt hues
and Western skies,

golden. touch.

the world spins on,
and I can think

of nothing else.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

haiku: summer rain

after summer rain,
flower petals glistening,
nature's string of pearls

Friday, July 26, 2013

fall morning

Silent pasture, wet with dew,
awaits the morning light

as soft footfall finds its way -
that of a father,
and eager son,

before deer come nibbling
on tender shoots.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

narcissus: dead broke

Narcissus lingered long
before her mirrored self

reflected in a river's bed,
lapping, lapping all the while,

her thirst unquenched
as if some fairy spirit wept

and swept away the blinders
man had forced upon her,

binding up a young mare's heart
and fixing her eyes on work.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

chasing rabbits (reprint)

(from Simon Says, January 12, 2010)

We haven't had a winter this cold in twenty-something years, so when Simon first came to live with us, he shivered and shook. He shivered until his little body could acclimate to our thermostat setting (I think my husband was a polar bear in a former life). He shook violently when he slept. I thought he was having a seizure the first time I saw this, but the shaking stopped when I spoke, and that put my mind to rest. Now Simon chases rabbits. There in the warmth of a favorite, furry blanket, Simon drifts into a deep sleep. His four feet flop. His nose twitches. His cheeks puff, and once again Simon is fast on the scent of woodland rabbits, barking and tracking them to their woodland homes.

I love rabbits. I love their long ears and fluffy tails. I love to watch the wild ones venture from our woods to nibble on the tender grass. But I think I mostly love rabbits for the memories they bring, memories of a once-close friendship. Beautiful in spirit and authentic in Southern charm, Sondra was one of those people who made my life brighter. And...she loved rabbits. Throughout her house, there were elegant rabbit statues and fine rabbit paintings. Still today, I cannot venture into specialty stores and what-not shops without being drawn to their rabbit-themed merchandise. These things remind me of my long-lost girlfriend.

But I don't have Alice's tenacity or courage. Marriage and family and all Sondra's burgeoning family activies pulled her into a life of charity balls and European vacations, and I could not follow. I last saw Sondra in a dream after my father passed. Oddly, I dreamt it was she who had passed and I was attending her estate sale. That morning, I awoke with fresh, hot tears on my face, having wandered from room to beautiful room, having touched all of those precious rabbits with my fingertips, having found none I could afford to buy. Perhaps it was foolish of me to let her slip away. But if anything, I have learned to value my present friendships more. I am fortunate to have found two good girlfriends, gals with whom I can laugh and cry and rant and rave, friends who live and work and play on my side of the rabbit hole.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

the art of love

his hands fold her
like rice paper,
and she becomes
what he desires

as fingers glide,
and meditate
with every stroke.

she is because he does.

i long to be a swan
emerging with your touch,
to feel your hands,
precise and strong,
along my neck
and down my spine.

if only you
could think of me

as a thing of beauty.

if only you
would give me wings.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

silence comes

Silence comes

to fill
the space
where once

our laughter stood –

a presence in its own right
reduced to an echo
I strain to hear.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Mankind is but an ill-fated race,
learning nothing from the flight of Icarus.
Cast on throes of greatness, he assumes
he understands Passion, can control her,
but time and again he underestimates
her power, her hold over the human heart and faculties.
Overcome by vanity,
man grows blind to the obligation he owes,
corrupting his last godly pursuit, mortal
apprenticeship – master and creator.
Such recklessness has usurped nations,
brought households to ruin,
and will surely devastate you.

Heed she who transfixes the tongues of men.
Heed the carnivorous seed.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

low tide

I used the excess latex
and an old canvas to paint
broad strokes of blues and greens
in liquid swirls like waves, waves
washing me back to where I stood
knee-deep scooping handfuls
of sand and shells –

my own imperfect treasures
surrendered by the sea,
small reminders
that things broken
can still be beautiful.

Later, I hung
my work on the wall
next to the family photos, sure
I had somehow managed to capture
something inexplicable, something sacred.

What is it?
It doesn’t look like anything.

Friday, July 12, 2013

la tristesse durera toujours

If Milton was our Lord’s English voice,
were you the Master’s hand, painting Heaven
in a single stroke for the lost to see?
Why then be ill-content, disquieted
by a calling found in a pot of paint,
each sermon preached upon a blank canvas?
Yours was a gift of divinity borne
to a mind steeped in layman chaos, drenched
in linseed oil, crafting landscapes
until, painting self portraits, you captured
that physical witness of mania
lurking deep within. One truncated ear
announced to the world what the mirror
found in you; did your Gauguin see it too?
Asylum unburdened your Night, Vincent,
but dawn found you searching for more until
you put that bullet in your broken chest,
final landscape, stippling drops of red
upon a yellow field of silent wheat.

La Tristesse Durera Toujours - “the sadness will last forever”

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

haiku: fresco

fashioned for us in fresco
God’s almighty hand

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

haiku: cobblestone

cobblestone alleys
ribbon throughout Rothenburg
connecting castles

Monday, July 8, 2013

haiku: Gaelic tongues

o’er the mossy leas
and rugged hills of Galway
Gaelic tongues still sing

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Deep in the forest, a crimson eclipse
flashed in an instant, lit dark eyes ablaze,
igniting desire for cherry-ripe lips,
restricted his breath, arrested his gaze.
Collecting his thoughts, wide-eyed and tongue-curled,
he mapped out his plan, ill deed once forsworn,
to quench and fulfill his frenzy unfurled,
his wanton within, his hunger reborn.
Sensing his presence, the siren in red
quickened her footsteps, tapped toe over toe
down the stone path to the cottage ahead
and arrived on time, her fresh cheeks aglow.

Penniless grandmothers cannot replace
a passion like this, his lupine embrace.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

on patriotism and gratitude

(a letter written to a student, March 27, 2008)

Dear Erica,

Thank you for your letter of explanation regarding your choice to not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. It takes courage to stand, or to sit in your case, for a belief that is rooted in reason and faith. In the scriptures, Joseph neither kneels before the Pharaoh nor prays to the Pharaoh’s gods. If in your spirit, standing equates kneeling, then you are a modern-day Joseph.

Please allow me to share my perspective, not because I hope to dissuade you, but because I believe this will allow us to learn from each other. My reason for asking students to stand is personal.

My grandfather is a WWII veteran and POW. When he was drafted (notice I said “drafted” not “enlisted”), he was at the University of Georgia pursuing a college degree, a degree he was never afforded the opportunity to complete. During his captivity, he marched two thirds of the perimeter of Germany and endured physical abuse from his captives. He drank broth (left over from foods cooked for the Germans) and ate bugs and worms to survive. He was placed on the firing line twice, and it is by Grace that he was not shot either time. The young college student who left for war is not the man who returned. And what little we know of his experiences is recorded in a journal he kept tucked inside the lining of his boot; he has never freely talked about his experiences.

After the war, my grandfather worked several mill and factory jobs and spent the better part of my youth as a security guard for a carpet mill. Every day, he carried a slice of cheese between two slices of bread and a thermos full of coffee for his lunch. He kept a garden in the summer to fill the freezer for the winter. He kept me in new tennis shoes and blue jeans. All he asked in exchange was that I take typing and business classes in high school so that I would have skills to fall back on (his Plan B for my future). He paid for my first car, my class ring, and my college degree (his Plan A). His dream of a college education was fulfilled through me. While I believe God called me to teach, I believe He moved and worked in my life through my grandfather.

Every day that I walk into my classroom, I remember that I am here in part through him. When I stand for the pledge, I stand for him and for the sacrifices he has made for me…and for this country. I ask my students to stand as an act of gratitude and appreciation…if not for the flag and our country, then for people like my grandfather and for their sacrifices, “that [we all] might live a brighter now.”

After the pledge comes the Moment of Silence. When I observe this, I remember my God. I thank Him for calling me to teach His children, for allowing me to serve in this mission field. I am clay and often stumble, but I continue to ask that He might “give me eyes to see, ears to hear, lips to speak, and a heart to feel as He would have me see, hear, speak, and feel.” I ask my students to be quiet, not as a mandate to worship my God, but out of respect for those of us who seek this silence.

In neither of these cases do I ask nor require students to speak with their lips, to place hands over hearts, to pledge allegiance to our flag, or to pray to my God. And in my spirit, standing does not equate kneeling. They are separate acts for separate purposes.

We stand when judges enter the courtroom. We stand when brides walk down the aisle. We stand when pall bearers carry a loved one’s body to its final resting place. At none of these times does man express allegiance. In none of these circumstances is one esteemed higher than one esteems his god or God.

While this sits well in my spirit, Erica, you must follow your own. Honor what yours compels you to do, for our God speaks to and through each of us in different ways and for different means. Please know that though I will continue to ask students to stand for the pledge, I will be speaking to those who have failed to really think beyond, “I don’t feel like it.”

Most Sincerely,

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

daughters of campo santo

Lost are the days when
once we sought
to shrink from our fathers’ shadows,
to welcome the sun.

Too soon, they think of leaving,
worn weary,
to rest in hallowed ground.

And we are left

Sunday, June 30, 2013

upon seeing maynard’s red butte

on the sixth day
God made man in his own image.

man went to work, exacting dominion
over the fishes of the sea
and the birds of the air and the beasts
of the field and the woman of his rib.
but everything with breath
would prove far too much.

on the sixth day
God saw we must soon be loosed
from the Garden of our own foolishness –
to learn lessons in humility
from a land we have yet to tame.

next to this vast expanse of rock and sky
we seem a mere afterthought.