Friday, April 24, 2015



When did I first hear the first word of poetry?

I can remember sitting in a lap that was bigger then, and there was a man who wrote all the best books about one fish and two fish, Mr. Brown who moos, tweetle-beetle battles, and oh, the places you’ll go.

I can remember third grade, when we had our poetry unit. I wrote limericks, haikus, open form, other things. I can remember sharing my poetry book with my family, and my mom cried when she read what I wrote about my friend who had moved away.

My grandfather is a poet. I’ve read his poems on warm sunny days in a room painted with the brightness of a smile. There was something about that day last summer—and I don’t know if it was the softness of the cotton comforter gluing me to the eons or the fact that I’ve touched the hand that wrote the words, and it’s different.

We study poetry in my Lit class now. There are items like SOAPSTTone and lit devices, meter, sound devices, structure, more. Little pieces that are confusing and intricate but as juicy as worms dug out in the backyard. Maybe not beautiful but still good.

And when did I hear poetry?

It’s one thing to watch Dead Poets Society or Four Weddings and a Funeral and smile and cry because it’s poetry and God it’s good.

But it’s another—entirely another—to stand up to the sun and shout, “THIS IS POETRY!” so that it knows to shine extra-brightly. And when did I first start shouting?

Perhaps I’ll never know.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015




Say it out loud. Listen to the way it rolls off the tongue—lyrical, magical, filled with promises and memories of hot cookies on Tuesday nights.


Whisper it to the wind. Caress the brittle pages of the books Dad used to read when he was a child. Smile and shy from the smell—old, piercing, dusty books. But they’re stories. That’s why it’s beautiful.


Fingernails and paper cuts. Remember the little streaks of blood on all the pages and the stains from tears and chocolate and ink and worse because books aren’t sacred and they long to be free.


The stilted words and the jagged voice that makes you feel like your eyes are going up against a cheese grater. It’s terrifying. Enchanting. Boring. Wondrous. Not so much. That’s the opinion of it all.




Pages and pages and pages and pages of yellow black white red blue and the smell of jasmine leaves and camel sand, distant places and dreams that come from dirty lamps and bottles that tell you what to do. Unfortunate colors, red wings, white wings, the things that make us fly tie us down to the world, but that’s all we have to go off of. So go we shall.

They get married in the end, you know. Or they all die. To be or not to be—it’s always the same question. Whether it’s sharper in the mind to record the flips and flops of literature—just literature. Yellow bellies, blue blood, red coats, white men with black minds and not even God to save them.

Passion, perdition, purgatory, peace.


It’s a trip.

Thursday, April 16, 2015



I was a little nervous when we went down into the cadaver lab. I’ve seen dead people before, of course—I’ve been to funerals, and I’ve seen bodies on TV. It’s just that at funerals they aren’t naked with their parts on the table, and on TV there’s a screen—even so, bodies are also liable to get dismembered or turned into zombies or something horrible like that.

But, as I learned… It was okay. Looking back, I’d actually say visiting a cadaver lab was one of the best field trips I’ve ever gone on. Getting to hold all of the organs and see how organs look in a real human body was kind of amazing. A textbook is a great way to learn, but I’ve got to say… nothing beats holding a human heart in your hands.

That’s not to say that sometimes experiencing the dissection wasn’t a little disgusting sometimes, but I got used to it. I really appreciated that our teacher would always warn us before doing something. She’d say something like, “Okay, now I’m going to turn her leg upside down and inside out,” and that was a good enough cue to prepare me for what came next.

We passed around the brain, a kidney, the heart, lungs, tongue, stomach, bladder, entire arm, of the woman—more, even. I got to touch and examine.

Man, I love to touch and examine. If you have drawers or cabinets, I will open the drawers or cabinets. That’s just a rule.

I got to open the human body. It’s interesting, because we often associate life with goodness, and death with badness—but that isn’t the feeling I got from the cadaver lab. This woman was in her 90’s when she died. It sounded like she had lived a pretty decent life before. She had a family. She had a name. And when her time was done, she gave her body to us to explore.

Against all odds, it turns out death is a beautiful thing as well.

Although, I have to say—during our halftime break, a little melody came over the intercom. Our teacher said they play that every time a baby is born inside the hospital.

Death can be beautiful, but there’s still something to be said about being born, too. Go figure.

Monday, April 6, 2015



I used to believe that people’s favorite colors were those not present in their souls.

I mainly I believed that due to one girl, who I shall call “Pam,” like the cooking spray.

Pam’s favorite color was yellow. My favorite color was (and is) gray. We are still two vastly different people, four years later.

The way Pam lived stunned me—in elementary school, you can pretty much live with any classmates. Sure, they can be annoying, or weird, just a little different, but you’re still children and everyone is essentially a good person. Now, in middle school, I saw that people could be terrible people, and it disgusted me.

I saw that she held grudges. I saw that she used writing as an exercise to write revenge stories, and to unleash violent, degrading emotions on people because she didn’t have the resources or the liberty to do it in real life. She laughed at pain. She crumpled at her own misfortune, oblivious to that of others. I watched her physically abuse her little sister over a TV remote, and since then she’s taken one of the nicest, most amazing humans I know to court with a story I doubt the veracity of—she still wants to hit him with a car.

What a dreadful, dreary place her soul must be, I thought. Filled with hatred and yuckiness and just plain meanness… She must like yellow because there’s no way it lives in her soul.

I, on the other hand, had a mind vibrant with stories. I ignored my own faults, of course. When I compared myself to her, she was focused on the beauty of the dollar store stickers on her pencil box, while I sat and watched the wind ripple through the crisp, long grass below the mountain view. It braided itself in the wind, and I smiled, because how much more beautiful could the earth be?

She was irritated I was not as enthusiastic about the stickers. You should appreciate the little things, she told me. Little did she know.

There was no gray for me. I saw beauty. I accomplished things. My mind was never empty, filled with stories and dreams of volcanoes, cats, dreams, and mountaintops I could touch with my finger. There were lush red ribbons and sparkling blue lakes, matte black helicopters, magical golden sparks.

There was beauty and love and adventure and passion and dreams and there was me. Just me. And I loved it.

There couldn’t be room for any gray in my soul, I thought. Not when I live in such a vibrant mind.

It’s changed. Others have disproved my theory. My love of gray has come from other areas. And I have learned that perhaps I don’t have any yellow in my soul, if I can’t learn to forgive her, either.

Friday, April 3, 2015



Good Friday. Sad day. End game. Everything is gone, the curtain is ripped, the altar is broken, and we are so, so, lost because it is dark and cold and there are blisters from where the shoes rubbed away the skin.

Good Friday. Happy day. A new beginning, opportunities, chances. Compliments because you dressed up today, and despite yourself you enjoy the shoes and feel beautiful. And not just because people keep saying so.

Good Friday. Black day. Death day. It's the day that we mourn for our loss and we leave in silence, because how on earth can there be anything good in the world at a time like this.

Good Friday. Gray day. Fire day. Days of burning passion and happiness because yes there are ashes, but just you wait, because the fire will roar again. Just wait. Just watch.

Good Friday. Last day. Lost day. Everything is burned and empty, and you probably failed that test just now. You don't know what you'll do for the Lit assignment. You might as well give up now. It doesn't matter anymore.

Good Friday. First day. Fast day. A day to wear the dancing shoes and yes, it has been three hours but there's still some cinnamon on your nose from the toast this morning, and it's time to go.

Good Friday.



Shiver with happy, shiver with sad. It's cold and dark and yet the sun is still shining. Maybe it's not fair but it's no reason just to stand there. Something's coming. Something new.

Thursday, April 2, 2015



It’s Maundy Thursday. Well, it is for another hour.

We’ve always gone to Maundy Thursday service, as long as I can remember. I can remember once at my old church there was a night where we set up tables in the sanctuary and we all had our own little last suppers and there were plastic wine glasses I enjoyed the heck out of.

Tonight was good, too. We sang, we listened, and we had communion.

I like communion. I like the idea that we all come together. I like that everyone is welcome at the table. And I like that traditions aren’t always set in stone.

You always hear the words of institution: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when he was betrayed, took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, Take; eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way he also took the cup after the supper, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them saying, Drink of it, all of you. This cup is the New Testament in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

I’ve probably heard that probably about a thousand times since I was born (more or less).

But I never did it in a circle. We never did it all together.

Despite our lack of practice we were all put in a circle around the sanctuary, and tasked with giving each other communion in a big circle. And circles are hard for us, I suppose, so it took a while. But we shared the food, and we sang.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

We prayed together, holding hands in that big circle-y square, booming the Lord’s Prayer while the snow slushed outside. It was the sort of circle that made you think, “This is what home feels like.”

We prayed, we sat, we waited. And then they came to strip the altar.

I never thought about it much before—it’s traditional, they’ve done it at every church I’ve been to. You take down the candles, the cloth, the books, the symbols. They pass everything down from the altar and all that is left is a naked slab of wood and we stare at it.

Except it’s not really the altar being stripped, is it. It’s Him. No clothes, no pride, nothing to hide behind, nothing to protect himself. Naked, alone, betrayed, and abandoned. And I hated looking at that altar—because why would someone submit to that shame? Why would anyone want that kind of sacrifice, when nothing could make it better again?

But in that building, with those people, with the candles and the memories and the certainty that’s never really certain… I also knew exactly why he did it.

He did it for home.

He did it for us.