As the machine keeps going
What is there to look forward to?
The first day of school?

Maybe all of those,
But who really can live
Only looking towards the milestones of life.
They are bumps on life’s continuum
That are nothing more the tally marks
On prison walls.

What then?
Small town identities…
Of what,
For what,
Whosie what.

Schools offer sanctuaries
For souls needing identities.
Far beyond the academics
Are the social structures
Where kids find like minds
Testing the norms of friendships,
Creating the balance between group identities and stereotypes
Battling the war of tolerance and tribal acceptance,
Schools bring disparate people together
Letting them get to know that we are not so different
If only we see acceptance of our differences and
The need to learn how differences encourage growth,
That we are not some Internet logarithm,
Predictable, patterned, and programmable.

Schools are temples for learning.
Learning is necessary for growth.
Growth brings people together.

Small town schools are more than academic factories.
They are places where clubs allow for greater exposure
To stuff that might be more interesting
Than the latest standardized test
Or article proclaiming the rigorous machinations of education.
They are places were extracurricular activities like band and sports
Promote fellowship through accomplishments
Of a different sort than an A+ and GPAs can ever understand.

Schools are not factories or machines.
They are places with a heart,
If only the richness of the non-book stuff
Is viewed with a proper perspective.

Yet no one ever really gets mad at the mushrooms,
They kind of just exist.
There is the steam rising from the blockhouses
Cooking the soil and killing the bacteria
That will cause blotch to ravage the fungus,
There is the steam rising from the soil
That stinks to high heaven,
And there are the trucks that drag mud all over the place,
But the mushrooms are sacred,
They are the life of this little town,
For without the shiitakes, the portobellos, and the other varieties being developed
People would have no reason to be in Taylorville.

Except for the schools,
The venerable Taylor High School with it’s connections to the one-percenters,
The middle school, a palace built in the farthest regions of the district,
And three elementary schools, teaching the same ages,
But very different in their reputations and demographics.
The schools of Taylorville bring everyone together,
For better or worse,
As kids grow up with the same kids
So parents see the same parents
They get to know each other,
Sometimes as friends, other times just through sight recognition,
Their grayness and wrinkles sprouting just as the mushrooms in the hot soil.

“And sink their bones to Davey Jones, hooray!” John Hagen, Anchors Aweigh

Playing the game,
That’s the thing,
Or so philosophers say.

It’s not the winning or the losing
It is the battle, the bruising,
The thrill of figuring out how to compete.

Few understand,
Few care,
As they see the world as wins or losses.

Sports have not cornered this mentality
Politics, dating, test scores, college applications
Each has a stake in the competitive heart

The one that beats with pride when scores are right
And bleeds to death when things don’t work out
That’s just the way things are.

Perhaps it all gets to be too much
When people invest so much in energy in the outcome.
Maybe I’m a loser for thinking as such.

“And sink their bones to Davey Jones, hooray!” John Hagen, Anchors Aweigh

That counting down thing,
Only five seconds in totality,
Sure does a number on the reptilian brain.

Who knew a commitment to calm
Would lay waste to the hardship
Wallowing deep down inside.

A simple trick really,
One full of distraction,
So necessary to letting things go.

Let the stress arrive,
I’ll give it two steps or five seconds
Whichever is faster.

“The elephants are dancing on the graves of squeeling mice.” Cream, Anyone for Tennis

I wake up.
I sit in class.
I take notes.
I finish assignments.
I go home,
Do hours of homework, and
Go to sleep.

Then I wake up a do it again.


How does this stuff matter?

Obviously, it doesn’t
Because we learn the same stuff
Year after year.
After year.
After year.
Maybe that’s why I don’t care.
Maybe that’s why I don’t try.

I get it.

My choice.

It’s just school.

“The best art divides the audience.” Rick Rubin

Moments are made when confidence comes from innocence
Like today before our volleyball game
When the cliche,
“Kids say the darnedest things,”
Was brought to life.

Warm-ups were happening,
Volleyballs whizzed in all directions,
Rap music brought the bass for mind-altering perceptions.
I stood next to one of my players and said,
“First time I’ve heard this song.”
To which she replied, “I’m not for pop culture.”
I asked, “How close to pop culture do you get?”

She was a thoughtful student in class,
She considers strategy on the court,
She gave this question of mine the consideration
She gives every thought requiring a reasoned answer.
As the moment started to lose steam,
She answered,


What a great answer from a teenage kid
Who channels the waters of being a serious student and athlete
Without the slightest of care for how others see her.
She knows little of the social media sisters out west or
Even the current status of prime-time television,
But ask her about a book she is reading, or a voice lesson she has been taught,
Or her proximity to pop culture and you’ll get
The perfect intersection of confidence and innocence.

“Ahhhh, Bach…”

Flags of the World

“The best art divides the audience.” Rick Rubin

The President has weighed in,
Pretty much shirking the bigger picture
Of what the Constitution and United States
Are all about.

He fails to understand those unpopular stances
Help make this grand experiment possible.
He thinks with the brushing of hair,
A little dribble of base language, and
A message totally seeped in propaganda
That free speech will be shut down.

No Mr. President, and with all due respect,
Your free speech is no more important
Than those who feel they are being wronged
By government persecution, by unsteady justice, or
As a result of abstract drawings meant to keep power
In the votes of people enabling the real motivations
Of people to protest.

How about you stick to building coalitions,
Reaching across the aisle to bring Congress together,
Draining the swamp as you promised
Instead of stocking it with the unethical, profit packing visionaries
You brought to your well-funded inauguration party.

Perhaps you could take a moment to understand the grander scale
Of the protests taking place, the voices that are raised in opposition
To inequality, economic injustice, and partisan bickering
That does more to foster the patriotic bloodletting
Than a knee or a t-shirt.
It’s the inaction of your administration and the ambivalent way
Your policies, family, and minions view the majority of the country
That has people kneeling and hoping for a Nixon like ending to this mess.

So please, Sir, do us all a favor,
Put your phone away,
Show whatever non-
Atlantic City,
Trump Air,
Trump University,
USFL business acumen you claimed to have,
Ignore the whims and wishes of your high priest-like donors, and
Do what’s best for our country.

Understanding the depth of protest might be a good place to start.



Photo Credit:

“Comedy is, for the most part, just an obsession with injustice.” Whitney Cummings

Savage is hatred
Nothing funny about it
Except as gallows
Where one can only laugh at
Those thinking with jaded eyes