Man in the hat

Honored by the State Poet Laureate...

So, after an interminably long time, I looked in on my poetry Twitter account and learned to my great surprise and honor that my friend and colleague, State Poet Laureate, Jennifer Horne had shared one of my poems on her midweek poetry break at the end of April:

I was honored and deeply humbled by her inclusion of my work. I also learned that one should check their Twitter Feed more often!  

Man in the hat

Peace on the Earth, Good Will to Men, and above all, Merry Christmas!

"There  are many things from which I might have derived good by  which I have  not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew, "Christmas  among the  rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time,  when it has  come round-apart from... the veneration  due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging  to it can be  apart from that-as a good time; a kind, forgiving,  charitable, pleasant  time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar  of the year, when  men and women seem by one consent to open their  shut-up hearts freely,  and to think of people below them as if they  really were  fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of  creatures bound  on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has  never put a  scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has  done me  good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!" 

- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.  Speech by Scrooge's nephew, Fred.

Man in the hat

An Un-Concise Definition of Bullying

Recently the admin of a Facebook group accused me of bullying someone in the group. I responded sneakily to snark. Not the best response, but not bullying either. So I explained the difference:

“You don't need to worry, I won't be back. But you need to know something. Disagreeing, responding to insults, expressing yourself, that's not bullying.

Bullying is being lured into a dark room by your so called friend, only to find that it's full of bigger kids who won't let you leave or turn on the lights... oh their their, you can see them from the streetlight glow through the window, you can feel their hands on you as you try to leave, but you can't.

Bullying is being physically intimidated while being verbally insulted by a guy older and bigger than you to the point where you dread going to Sunday School, or the thirty minutes after before it's time to go home when you just wanna play with your friends.

Bullying is being shoved as you walk down the hall because you're percieved as being weaker... and given that you don't want to fight with ANYBODY, for all practical purposes you are weak.

It's trying to get off the spinning merry go round before the three brothers who have just come to the playground get to you and shove you off so you eat a mouthful of dust before running away.

Bullying is being ostracized and harassed until one day you've had all you can take and all that anger, all that intimidation, all that abuse comes pouring out into the guy who makes an obscene comment about your mother because he thinks you're too weak to do anything about it. And you give him all of it. And you swear on everything you hold dear that you will NEVER take any crap from ANYONE ever again.

THAT is bullying. And now you have a proper definition. “

Man in the hat

14 Years Later...

Happy Birthday, Amy.

You would have been 35 today. I still remember the phone call. I remember watching over you like a Sheep Dog the night leading in to your 21st year. I remember walking you home and pouring you into your parent's house, then later seeing a Banshee on the streets of historic Huntsville as I walked back to my truck at 2 AM. I remember thinking she was just some random crazy woman... even though I'd never encountered such before. Even though there were fewer homeless people in those days.

I remember sleeping... barely.

I remember trying to reach you all day Saturday. Worrying.

I remember quitting the Burning Nun because HE had betrayed you and I could neither respect nor help someone like him.

I remember your finally calling on Sunday and the hours we spent driving around and thinking "She's OK. She's going to be OK."

I remember the missed call from the blocked number later that night. I remember the call coming the next morning from the same blocked number, roughly the same time as yours the day before. The police investigator.
The desperate call to him, hoping that he wouldn't answer and that's why they wanted to talk to me.

I remember HIM telling me you were dead. The world spinning so incredibly fast. Falling to my knees.

I remember knowing that I had failed you for the very last time. That the sheepdog had taken his eyes off the sheep and the wolves got in.

I remember the next two years knowing that I didn't look after you well enough...eventually realizing I could teach you how to defend yourself from a man twice your size, but not from the wolves that stalked and prowled and snarled inside you.

I remember Luke, and Rebecca, and Kat who watched over me, the way I'd failed to do over you. I am forever grateful to them.

I remember you as my best friend... and you are still a better friend than most of my living friends are.
  • Current Music
    Po - Hey Pretty
Man in the hat

My Pandemic: A Musical

So I met a girl before the pandemic. It was great, and then the lockdown came along so it was like this...

And it was great for a while! REALLY great...

and then her ex saw us on Facebook, and said to her:

And she did. And I was like:

But then eventually, I was like:

I spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains when they weren’t crowded with hippies and yuppies who suddenly had no place to go. I got depressed, I started to lose hope. Would it ever get better?

Eventually I started to get a little better. Decided that she was gone for good, and for better. Started meeting people around town, and it was good, but I felt kinda trapped here...

And then, when things were starting to look up, the whole country erupted in riots and anger and B.S. Facebook, which had been my one social outlet turned ugly with a buncha folks “Woke” and a bunch of folks “Woker” and some others “Wokest” and here I was being all insomniac. There was no way to say the right thing without someone jumping on you with both feet, and my take was:

Finally, I’d had enough of EVERYBODY and shut down. All I really wanted was...

I hated my fellow man. Hated social media. Hated hating everything, and I was mad about all of it. How I’d been treated. How I’d been misinterpreted by everybody... and then through a series of unusual events, I started talking to this one, special lady from my not too recent past. She’s been in my head for a while...

I don’t know where it’s gonna go from here, but she’s amazing, and I thought about my ex less and less the closer she drew to me. I can tell you, though:
  • Current Music
    Lotta music, actually.
Man in the hat

Plague Diary: Day 7

Wal-Mart is out of toilet paper. The BIG Wal-Mart I mean. I know this because I wanted to buy some as a housewarming gift for a friend.

Today, she moved into her house. A group of say 15 or so Christians showed up to help our sister move into her new place, post-divorce. We did it out of love and support and a common faith that binds us together, and a gospel that tells us to look out for one another. I know that people who have no belief in God do this same sort of thing, and that they love their friends too, but this was our motivation. We came to help, we did a good thing in a dark time. There were more than 10 folks gathered together, we shook hands, some of hugged, we bonded, laughed, fellowshipped in a manner a bit less traditional but just as heartfelt.

It was a beautiful day and hey, if you're gonna move into a new place, what better time than a pandemic where everyone is off work, bored, and can show up? I love my brothers and sisters and would do just about anything to help them. I'm thankful for the opportunity... even if I DID accidentally drink from someone else's Red Solo Cup.

Oh well.
  • Current Music
    Billy Joel - Movin' Out
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Plague Diary: Day 5

Other than there being fewer crowds... anywhere, and the restaurants being closed, things are pretty normal. OH ... I haven't gone to work, so there's that.

Went to get my taxes done, but my old University had sent my W-2 to the address of my previous college. Mell of a hess. I get to go back tomorrow and get the bad news. Yay.

I've done a video lecture for my current students, which I can already predict who will watch it... all three of them. Still, it was a good video.

Not a lot to report for the end of the world. Who knew it would be so dull?
  • Current Music
    End of the World - R.E.M.
Man in the hat

Plague Diary: Day 4

Something remarkable happened today. Since they've locked down the college and closed... most everything, I took a trip to the wildflower trail with my lady love. It's March so the extraordinary flower show had begun. The Trout Lilies, Trillium, False Garlic, Blood Root, and the largest Spring Beauties that I've ever seen were in bloom, not to mention the stand of Virginia BlueBells that sprout every year were in bloom.

The waterfalls were roaring, and the deeper portions of the creek played host to swimmers, a young couple had their dogs off the leash, getting to be dogs and enjoy the freedom of the woods the way they were meant to.

At the edge of the creek, a group of five Elementary school kids tromped from the wood to the creek to wade, their school year responsibilities, temporarily interrupted. The air is warm, the hills are festooned with flowers, the water is high, and people are happy. Leaving the trail, a young mom and dad, baby swaddled to her chest, stooped to photograph a Trout Lily. As another Mom led her charge of four small kids to the trailhead, stopping at the kiosk to read about the trail.

I know that the news says it's the apocalypse out there, but it's Spring just now, and down here in Alabama, we're all just too full of wonder to pay too much attention.

I know it’s the Apocalypse, but…

just now on the mountain.
wildflowers are blooming,
beside the stream the
Blood Root nods to
the Virginia Bluebells;
dogs off the leash
romp happily,
urging their people
“Hurry up! There’s
so much to see!”
Five school-age children,
walk single file
to wade the creek,
their school year in abeyance
while young parents,
baby in a wrap
stoop to photograph
a Trout Lilly.

Yes, I know it’s the apocalypse,
but you see, it’s Spring.
  • Current Music
    School's Out - Alice Cooper