5000 Words Poetry Lesson, 10-13 Year-Olds

img_1589I nearly jump out of my seat when students come up with bold, fresh images that sound like something out of open mic night. A year ago I decided to teach them simile. “A cat is like a kitten,” someone offered. Now I have them churning out similes like: disappointment tastes like rocks.¬†Fourteen tweens gather weekly in my home for writing/literature class. Today we learned how to write a sensory poem and a cinquain, both of which are non-rhyming, formulaic poems. I had to do one (ok, I just wanted to) as an example.

Joy, a tall cup of Starbucks, creamy brown.

Gurgles, burbles, bubbles, “pssst” on the hot plate.

Seared black and oily, cracked beans, smell like possibility.

Bitter, strong, I purse my lips against the steam.

This cup of American optimism and luxury

Feels extravagant in my hands, in my nose, down my throat.


For those of you who’d like to try a sensory poem, here’s the “recipe.” If you do, post it to the comments! ūüôā

Line 1 – Name an emotion or feeling. Finish the line with a color.

Line 2 – Tell what it sounds like.

Line 3 – Tell what it smells like.

Line 4 – Tell what it tastes like.

Line 5 – Tell what it looks like.

Line 6 – Tell what it feels like.


I also wrote a cinquain. I’ll try to post it¬†and some of my student’s writing in an upcoming post.


              5000 Words Shoes on my Landing


I’ll Vote for Jesus When He Runs for President

Whether you trust in Hillary or trust in Trump, most voters feel we’ve got a bitter pill to swallow on November 8th. I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter what your leanings, you are trusting in one of those two outcomes. But what about third parties? This year more than ever, the idea of a third party seems a palatable medicine.

11-year-old Gabe: “What are you reading?”

Me: “Election stuff.”

Gabe: “I could tell. By the look on your face.”

My face: disgusted

Political discussions “produce the most delightful clashes, the deepest schisms in friends and family, the most hell-like states possible on earth.”¬†Indeed.¬†Four years ago I donned the voice of Screwtape, the sophisticated demon-creation of C.S. Lewis, and wrote that sentiment in¬†a post¬†condemning third-party votes. Back then the mavericks cast their consciences against the dreaded Mitt Romney on the basis of his mormon faith. Mitt Romney, a veritable Mother Teresa in today’s political climate. ¬†Miracle and/or apocalypse aside, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be elected. Polls say Hillary.¬†

What does it look like, a vote of faith? Every vote is a vote of faith in something. The difference is the something. Of course ultimately our trust is in God to take care of our nation. In God we trust.¬†I’m not excising God out of the equation when I say we have but two options. When you have a headache, do you trust God to fix it or do you take a Tylenol? I submit: we have a political migraine, and although I’m ready for God to sweep into the American narrative in a divine coup de gr√Ęce and make America sane again/ kind again/ great again/ mine again– God’s plan may be for me to trudge to the polls and check a box.

Some boxes require more faith than others.

Exhibit: Vermin Supreme.verminHe promises free ponies and harsher tooth brushing laws. And he’ll fund research into time travel, ostensibly to go back in time and “kill baby Hitler with my bare hands.” Who can argue with that platform? If you find it insane Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, consider this:¬†Mr. Supreme finished fourth in the New Hampshire primaries.

Hard as I’ve tried to wrap my conscience around a perfect, third-party candidate like Darrell Castle, I can’t move my (let’s face it, inconsequential little) vote into the realm of the theoretical. I can’t get comfortable putting my faith into that box. Here’s why: We’re all passengers on the bus about to be taken over by one of these two drivers. My moral obligation is to give my vote to the one with the least likelihood of crashing the bus. I could throw up my hands and ask Jesus to take the wheel. How many people who will do that with their vote would do that with their car? On I-71.

Because for me, that’s what it comes down to. My actions at the macro and the micro level must match up. I do take Tylenol when I have a headache, and I don’t think it demonstrates moral depravity or lack of faith. I will vote my conscience, within the unfortunate bounds of our electoral system, choosing the lesser evil, having faith that God is ultimately in control of my life and my country. Every day I drive I-71 downtown, twice. It’s harrowing. Sometimes I’ve prayed that God would keep us safe as we make our way through rush hour. But never have I taken my hands off the wheel and asked Jesus to drive.invisibleman2

Again this election cycle, after many an internal and external debate and prayer, I find myself begging my third-party and stay-at-home friends to cast a vote for your favorite bus driver. Or your least-hated bus driver. And if third-party is where your heart is, then by all means, get involved in the process sooner, when they have a chance of making the primetime debates, of getting their plans and values out to the masses. Make third parties a force with which to be reckoned– next election cycle.

Show me your faith without works and I’ll show you my faith by my works. – James 2:18.¬†

Voting for the lesser evil is not a lesser action than a vote for a pure candidate who will not win.

After I check that box, I’m pretty sure life will go on.





God, Why? Why These Candidates?

Dear God,

I want to be an educated voter. I want my vote to count. Does my vote please You if I decide for either of these wretched scraps of humanity, vomited up by our obviously faulty electoral system? I’m stunned like the rest of normal-America. Sucker punched. God?

Hillary Clinton had an idea. (I mean, she’s got lots of ideas, but this one was good.) “Can’t we just drone this guy?” She said of¬†Assange, the Wikileaks founder who’s supposedly got further dirt on her and is about to share it tomorrow via video because it wasn’t safe for him to do it today from a London balcony. ¬†I doubt there’s anything earth shattering. If this earth aint shattered by a cheating, lying president, why should it crack under the sins of his wife? Besides, what could possibly be dirtier than these, our candidates?


We may never know… Assange may have a sort of accident. With a drone or something. Hillary’s Assange-drone solution is similar to her stance on social issues, so I give her credit for being consistent. Children– the live ones, those who eat, who require education, insurance and all manner of infrastructure– they weigh down an already-extended welfare system. A welfare economy can only survive if lots and lots of babies fetuses clusters of cells are aborted.¬†Affordably. Conveniently.

Not only is it economically solvent to kill unwanted babies, those clumps of cells products can be sold and their price stimulate the economy. That’s a dark genius I never, in my wildest dreams, would have imagined. Then again, I never thought I’d hear a prospective Commander-in-Chief suggest openly, “Can’t we just drone this guy?” At least she’d mete out a quick death. With a drone attack, you don’t even know what hit you. And abortion. Bam. You’re dead. I’ve never been aborted, but Planned Parenthood assures me it’s completely painless for the mother and the child fetus clump of cells. Bam. Dead.

The next president could possibly appoint four supreme court justices. The only way abortion is going anywhere is through the placement of supreme court justices.

And, inconceivable as it may be, the only hope for the unborn may be Donald Trump. God, I pray Trump does what he says he’ll do. If I vote for him, I’ll do it for You. For my conscience I vote for a man who seems to have a very miniscule one, at best. God? Stop me before November if I’m in the wrong.


I have a friend who may do just that: change my mind before November. I’m considering his rhetoric, and it goes like this: In light of the fact that neither candidate is remotely acceptable, the God-honoring response is to choose a candidate who represents our values. A means justifies the end sort of tack. It’s no mistake. I know my Machiavelli. My friend believes these times may call for a stress on process rather than on product, because the product (a moral governing body) has already been lost or is unwinnable. Hmmm… so what I should do with my little vote? As for my friend– he found a write-in option that doesn’t torture his conscience:¬†Darrell Castle.

As to Hillary’s drones, that’s not how we solve problems. Kindergarten ethics, ma’am, we can’t just drone our political enemies or our inconvenient witnesses or even the scads of little breather-eaters who tax the overtaxed voters and constipate Mother Earth. I’m not suggesting we solve our political problems with two well-aimed drones, but that’s only because I don’t have the same mindset as our candidates. I have to admit, it scares me, her cavalier attitude toward life. Everyone talks about Donald Trump’s heavy finger on the nuke button, but neither of them inspire confidence.

God, do you want me to throw away (one could even use Biblical terminology– sacrifice) my vote as an act of faith? It’s no trouble to me, if I know that’s what You want. Many times You’ve worked in situations where the right thing to do was not the sensible thing. Gideon, Joshua, Peter, etc. Is this one of those times? We are blessed with a responsibility. What is the purpose of my vote? To effect my world view upon my world? To protest a broken system? To put as much free stuff in my pocket as possible?

I ask God and I ask you, because, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet. I don’t care what the polls say. No one ever imagined we’d be here. I remember getting laughed out of a room for suggesting Trump could pull off the nomination. That was just over a year ago.



“Naughty” – Cracked Flash Fiction Entry

“Welcome, we’ve been expecting you,” my butler, bored and composed to near unconsciousness, greeted me with half-closed lids.

“Poppycock,” I snapped, and hefted my suitcase into his gnarled hands. With surprising deftness, they received it. He did, however, stumble a few steps backward into the arched portico of my family’s estate.

“The only time you’ve ever expected me was when I passed between Mummy’s thighs.” I brushed past him toward the grand staircase.

“On the contrary,” he said, “I expected they’d send Little Miss to boarding school, especially after the stunt she pulled with Chef. Not a morning passes, but your father doesn’t miss Chef’s sausage cheddar quiche.”

“Yes, well, she deserved it. Now if you don’t mind, I’ll ask you to unpack my things. I’m dying to play with the kittens. Mummy said they hang about the garage?”

“Yes. She has me feed them every day. They’re her favorite toys of late.”

I snorted.

“Little Miss?”

Swatting his question away, I bounced up the wooden stairs. Mummy enchanted them exactly how I demanded. The extra-springy landing popped me all the way to the top step.

“Octavian!” I called down, “fetch me Daddy’s dissection kit. I want to practice. Haruspication was my favorite class, you know.”

“I’m not surprised. Will Little Miss be needing a chicken then?”

“No, I’ll make do.” I doubt he missed the flint in my glance. The threat. Irritation flitted across his angular, bone-colored face. The deep creases bracketing his mouth twitched.

I didn’t care, what could he do to me? I was practically a credentialed witch. One semester to go.

From behind, I heard the distinct flick, felt the air rush. The smack, the sting against my backside.

Our shape-shifting butler retracted his tentacle. “Didn’t expect that, did you?”