Monthly Archives: November 2016

#230: A Poem of Gratitude

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Happy Thanksgiving, America.

Here’s a skinny but long
list of things
for which I am grateful:
It’s not January.
I could do without
the heavy rain making
a mud bath of the lawn,
but at least, the leaves are
finally out of the yard.
My son is healthy and,
as far as I can tell, happy.
It bears repeating:
It’s not January.
My wife is cancer free.
Our moms and my brother
and sister in-law
will be with us tonight,
and the rest of my siblings
will be with us in spirit,
celebrating in their own homes
with their large families.
Poetry exists, by the way,
and music, and the
gratitude I feel for both
is immeasurable.
I am gainfully employed,
well-housed, well-read and fed.
I want for nothing
and I know these are
privileges that I did little
to earn or deserve
except for some hard
work here and there,
most of which I enjoyed
so that it hardly counts.
My suffering, all of it,
totally explicable,
you know, in that I’ve
never been a victim
of violence, of oppression,
of extreme prejudice,
disaster or of some
inhospitable accident
or disease.
My little suffering:
only the usual loss
that comes with living
and from time to time
being stupid or selfish
and failing. I’m grateful
for all of that, about what
I learned, how I changed,
and how comparatively
easy it was to recover.
When I think of those
who have less and have
suffered more than I
can imagine, for
them, again, I say:
It’s not January.
I am grateful and
hopeful that there
may still be time
to turn this ship around,
if not before 2017,
soon, soon, soon.

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Filed under Poetry, Self Reflection

#229: Sore Loser Angry White Guy

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I am
a sore loser
angry white guy.
I’m sore, yeah,
not because my candidate
lost, but because THIS guy
won. And I’m angry, not
because the guy that won
was not my candidate,
but because THIS particular guy
is an inarticulate, stupid,
immoral, ignorant, sexist,
racist, homophobic, bullying
man-baby.
And never before
in my adult lifetime,
in all the other elections in which
my candidate didn’t win,
could the winning guy
be accurately described this way,
as an inarticulate, stupid,
immoral, ignorant, sexist,
racist, homophobic, bullying
man-baby. Not even George W.
fits the entirety of this description,
before now, likely the worst president
our nation has ever seen.
Yeah, I’m sore and I’m angry
because this guys scares the shit
out of me and I can’t believe we live
under a system in which a guy like this
is a possible president, let alone
the Elect, let alone the real deal
come January 2017, despite the fact
that his opponent won the popular vote
by about 2 million citizens. Apparently,
President of the United States of America
is a job you can do with zero qualification,
because he has zero qualification, unless
being an inarticulate, stupid,
immoral, ignorant, sexist,
racist, homophobic, bullying
man-baby is now the job description
of the leader of the free world.
This is how democracy “works”?
I fear that this is how democracy
eats itself. No, he’s not my president.
Even after he’s officially inaugurated,
anyone of good conscience must be able
to say, no, he’s not my president, again, not
because our candidate lost, but because this guy is,
as I have said, an inarticulate, stupid,
immoral, ignorant, sexist,
racist, homophobic, bullying
man-baby. Sure, call me a sore loser
angry white guy. I’ll own that one
for now, until I can figure out how
to channel this pain and anger into
something that might mitigate or
even possibly help reverse what I can’t help
but feel is my country’s impending doom.

 

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Filed under Poetry, Politics

#228: On the Day After the Election

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Having wept myself to sleep the night before,
I got up and went to work in the school house
where we met in small teams in the library
to plan or do curriculum work or talk about
assessments, where instead I chose to color
with crayons at the table our new librarian
set up for art. It was the only thing I could do.
I colored inside the lines with several different
shades of blue and some pink here and there
while I tried to keep myself together.
Talking to anyone, to any friendly face,
I had to work hard not to break down.

I was thankful when students arrived inside
my room. They gave me a focus, a place to
channel my energies, an opportunity to make
some kind of difference. My 9th graders,
unusually subdued and cooperative, dove with
some enthusiasm into a Sherman Alexie novel,
a novel about race, culture, and class divide,
but a novel, too, about hope. Arnold Spirit Jr.
realizes it feels good to help others, and I could
feel that thought resonating inside the room.
Later, my seniors came in for a study of
A Room of One’s Own, and rather than talk and
have to face the reality of this particular irony
head on, I asked my students to make art,
to talk about what was going on in Virginia
Woolf’s head by drawing it on the page.
Students must have paused for a long time
at the passage about the cat without a tail,
the cat pausing, “as if it too questioned the
universe,” as Woolf realizes that, suddenly,

“Everything was
different”
and
“Nothing was changed”
and yet, “the change was there”
not in substance but in sound.
What did men hum before the election?
What did women hum before the election?
And now what, after?
We carry on. We cling to hope.
We agitate and advocate for what we know is good.
We color, and we do what I found today
to be most healthful, finding comfort in
kindness from others and the kind attention
I could give, a hug I received from my son,
and solace in the words on the page.

 

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Filed under Culture, Education, Poetry, Politics, Teaching, Writing and Reading