Frigid winter waste
silent save the sound of kids
laughing in the snow.
A Haiku (1/19/2017)
Frigid winter waste
Frigid winter waste
silent save the sound of kids
laughing in the snow.
I studied “The Sound of Silence” with my students
on the very first day of my teaching career.
I thought about how I wanted them to break the silence,
and share the “songs” they’ve been writing with the world.
We talked about worshiping the “neon gods” in our lives;
about how we have the power to turn away
and make something of ourselves.
We decided that our expressions may not find themselves
being studied in classrooms or housed in books –
“subway walls” and “tenement halls”
may always be the proper venues for our thoughts –
and yet we are all “prophets,”
whose experiences, ideas, and lives are valuable,
are full of meaning;
We decided we all compose songs, but few of us ever dare
disturb the silence and face our fears of failure.
And I thought about the silence that stifles me sometimes,
the dark, endless silence that’s covered
with those heavy, abstract words
that embody the fears that so often quiet me:
rejection, doubt, fear, insecurity…
I thought about the silence in which I shroud myself,
that sometimes so completely covers me
that wonder if I may have lost all hope
of untangling myself from its clutches.
We thought and talked,
first at a whisper,
unsure if we could speak at all,
then louder and louder –
and with more conviction
as our ideas were praised
and echoed in the wells of silence –
then louder still, and more confidently
until we became a chorus of bright voices
each singing our own melody in unison and
drowning out the sound
I am excited to announce that I began my career as an English Teacher on Monday! I am so excited to me working with the students at Veiwmont High School in Bountiful, Utah. I am teaching 11th grade, 11th grade honors, and creative writing! Jumping into my first year between terms has been challenging so far. I was hired last week, and I set foot in my classroom for the very first time on Monday, so you can imagine how stressed I’ve been, scrambling around trying to get everything ready.
One of my objectives for this first week (besides making it out alive on the other side) was to help my students begin to understand how literature and creative writing can positively affect their lives. As I thought about how to teach this concept, my mind was drawn to the Disturbed cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” There are many possible interpretations of this song, but I believe one of the best is simply that we all have a story to share. To me, this song is about breaking the silence that we’ve become accustomed to. It’s about not being afraid to stand up and speak out about what’s important to us.
I hope that they are beginning to understand, but if not, this idea is so fundamental to who I am that they’ll be getting plenty more of it throughout the remainder of the school year .
This is what I did it all for. This is what is was all about!
I am so excited to be a teacher!
Holding the sheep calms her,
makes her feel safe,
maybe because she thinks
about the sheep instead of herself—
or because it absorbs her little tears—
or maybe just because she believes in it.
Whatever the reason,
holding the sheep is always enough,
which makes me wonder what was happening
last night in her dreams
that made it necessary for the sheep
to hold her instead.
“Fifi” was my daughter’s best attempt to say “sheep” when she was very young and received the stuffed animal from her aunt. Although she’s two now (and can say “sheep” without difficulty), the name has stuck, and the sheep is as much a part of her daily routine as her meals and time on the swing set. She drags it everywhere, and she never sleeps without it. This morning I asked my daughter what she had dreamed about, and she said “I dream Fifi hold me!”
When she’s old enough to understand, I’ll have to thank my her for all the poem fodder.
In trying to find my voice,
I’ve often let others invade me
and govern my every choice,
allowed them to persuade me
to write only in free verse
’cause rhyming’s too “sing-songy”.
They strip all of these things from me
telling me I’ll be different from the rest—
if I hang with them in starbucks
with an unkempt beard and an undercut
wearing Burnie stickers and a hipster vest.
If I’ve taken this too far,
forgive me. I didn’t mean to.
But let’s forget about who we think we are,
and focus instead on what we do.
and it’s nearly October before I come back.
I’ve been gone so long
I don’t even remember how to start a new post.
I hunt a full five minutes for the link,
and by then I’ve nearly talked myself out of it anyway.
The longer it’s been since I’ve done something,
the less confidence I have in my ability to do it.
“It’s been five months since
‘Working at a Cellphone Company’ was published.
Here’s how the post has performed so far…”
a message says,
and I’m not sure whether the site is trying to motivate
or discourage me.
Either way, it’s working, and I’ve found the link.
I place my fingers on the keyboard.
It feels like coming home.
I don’t even hesitate –
I’ve had my fill of that in five months.
There is only one thought in my head.
Hey there! Thanks for reading my latest piece. Who are you, you might be asking? Oh! I’m the regular guy that carries the wannabe poet around inside of him until he bursts out of my chest like something from a science fiction movie. I know your next question: why haven’t we heard from you before? Good question! And… I’m not sure I know the whole answer. I think I know part of it though.
Part of it is organization. I think I felt like this space should be reserved for “polished” creative writing. I don’t know if it was just that or if I wanted to paint a certain picture of myself or what, but I figured I’d try something new and allow myself to be a person instead. Don’t think this is some kind of grand re-awakening or something grandiose like that; I think it’s just me trying to overcome the resistance I’m feeling as I try to get back in to writing creatively on a daily basis. I figure I’m more likely to do that if I don’t have to get in to character (or at least if I can break the third wall in a post-script).
Anyway, I might do more of this, and I might not, but I just wanted to take a minute and talk frankly for a bit about what I was thinking when I when I wrote this piece.
Five months ago I read a book by Stephen King called On Writing. It was awesome, and it gave me some of the tools and confidence I needed to help me get to work on a story I’ve been mulling around for years. I got into the habit of writing about 400 words a day on that story. I was so excited! Things were coming a long great, and the story seemed to be taking on a life of its own. I got so absorbed in it in a few weeks that my poetry fell by the wayside.
I don’t know why, but my story slowed to a stop eventually. I hope to come back to it soon, although I’m not exactly sure what happens next. Anyway, I must have burned myself out with what I got done, because I stopped writing the story and didn’t pick up poetry again.
Then school began, and I started my last semester as a student teacher. All of that inspiring kids to write started working on me again, and in my prep period I found some down time and thought of my old blog. Hopefully I can keep it up for a while this time. Knowing me and my creative spurts, I will slow down again at some point, but in the mean time…
It’s good to be back.
You tell me about everything—
why you’re here and
how your plan started
what was wrong with your phone and how
you dropped it in the lake
climbing out of the canoe
when you were on a fishing trip with your son
who flew in from school in Seattle
(where he’s studying to be an engineer)
to spend the summer at home before he graduates
plus his grandmother’s health is declining,
so you’re glad to have him home—
you’d go on if I let you,
but I don’t.
You’re life may be an open book,
but that doesn’t mean I want to read it.
It was years ago, but I smell you sometimes
usually on another woman,
and everything stops for an instant.
It’s not when you introduced me to Jones Soda
the excited confusion when you told me you were bisexual
or the depression when you friend-zoned me—
I remember those things too, of course,
but not when I smell you.
When I smell you I’m passing a note in shop class
talking to you on the the phone for five hours,
switching out the cordless when the battery ran out
telling you I’d never been kissed
watching Ashlee Simpson try to lip sync on SNL
walking out afterwards in the rain to meet you
on the corner under the lamp-post
holding hands stepping over writhing worms
(out in the rain for the same reasons we were)
cuddling for warmth under a park pavilion
and the electric taste of my first kiss
to the tune of “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers.
If I get Alzheimer’s,
I think I’d like to die
before it goes to far.
I think I’d like to leave my family
knowing who I am
and knowing who they are.
I think I’d like my mind to die with me
Instead of going bit by bit—
a memory here, a loved one there…
Either way, I guess, it’s me that’s dying;
for who am I without experience?
Still, I think I’d like all of me to go at once.
I say “I think” because
I may not want to die.
I’d hate to write my life away and
then retain enough of myself
to want whatever time is left
only to have it taken from me
because of some paper I signed—
or a poem I wrote when I was 25.
Fame may validate,
but it cannot make you great.
There are poems hiding
in the mountains of the soul.
I glimpse pieces of them
furtively, as if I’m speeding by
through a forest of trees.
I’m often too focused on my destination
to make out their finer features,
jotting down snippets and impressions
before moving on,
but I’d like to stop and pull out a sketchbook,
and set up a camera
and capture an entire poem at once.
I’m tempted to turn on my hazards,
and pull off onto the shoulder,
but it’s hard to go poem-hunting
with passers by constantly
going out of their way to ask you about it.
They see you staring intently at nothing
and loudly ask if you’re alright.
They startle it,
and if you can’t hush them,
the poem bounds away before
you’ve even snapped a blurry picture of it.
You’re better off on the scenic byways,
crawling over dirt roads,
or ditching the roads all together
to meander the overgrown paths of life,
stopping to listen as poems crash
and tumble through the underbrush,
anticipating where they’ll feed out or bed down,
hoping to spot one from a distance
to be weighed, considered,
stalked up on with bare feet, quietly
until you can breathe it in,
until you can almost reach out and touch it
before it disappears.