{An Age Old Poem}

Belle Pepper the cow grazes this morning,
The push of her neck repetitive and calm.
I don’t think she knows that it is Easter,
But maybe she does.

Maybe this is how she is celebrating.
She eats the food available to her while
The sun lifts itself to our part of the world.

We know that it is Easter, so we sit
On the porch with warm drinks in our hands as
The birds fly by like always, singing.

Yellow and orange light sweeps over the mountains
And the mystery comes with it:
Washing everything,
Pulling back the curtain,
Rolling away the stone.


{A Picture}

In the early days of my Facebook and my life in Nairobi,
I posted a picture with the caption,
“I found my twin in Africa.”

The picture, taken on my electric blue iPod, shows
my torso reflected in the glass
of the bus window.

My hair is long and wavy and frizzy in a way
that I usually disliked.
I’m wearing a grey v-neck shirt that was always too thin,
but I’m smiling like it had been a good morning and
I’m willing to believe that it was.

A few days ago, wet from lake water,
I stand in front of the bathroom mirror with a
smile on my face, my hair now short.

Someone told me once that we wouldn’t recognize
a clone of ourselves walking down the street.
Our minds are so addled and our vision so blurred that
we cannot see
the material characteristics of our own material bodies.

What I’m meaning to say is this:
One day, I want to see my face
the way I see your face.

A painting and a picture,
just as you are.

Your teeth, just as they are.
Your eyelashes, just as they are.
Your cheeks, just as they are.

All of it, just so.

This is Not the End

I told a friend a couple days ago: “There will be somedays you walk out of AP Lang hating the world, the society we live in, and everything to do with it. [You will want to cry – curl up in bed and hope that the next day dawns a more kind, just world.] Other days you will walk out of AP Lang and the world is suddenly so beautiful all you will be able to do is say, “Look at those clouds!!! And that tree!!! I mean, just look at it!!!” All that is good, and necessary,” I told my friend.

I am serious. I walked out of AP Lang a few times crying (and by a few I mean possibly once a week), unable to do anything but quite literally gnash my teeth and head to Physics. Most of the other days, I walk out happier than I walked in. The clouds look new, like God placed them in the sky, right out of her palm. Surely, poetry is the most logical answer. Surely, with literature in my right hand and compassion in my left, I can conquer all the hate.

Alas, literature doesn’t always solve the problem. And compassion is a long, long road to healing.

But literature does succeed in closing the gaps between male and female, Caucasian and African, new and old, big and small, me and you, us and them. Literature builds bridges. It connects us in ways that we never imagined; it makes our brains compatible. Suddenly, once and for all, you are speaking my language – words, sentences, and paragraphs. A salve for the wound, our brains, and dare I say souls, have met in the indents of your paragraphs and the stanzas of your poems. All your thoughts are now made plain to me – how beautiful, I might say, or how convicting. Thank you.

That said, AP Lang has challenged me in countless ways. It has opened my eyes to the hurt around me through reading and writing that I had never found before. It has taught me to write – at least a little better, I hope – to make a difference. It has taught me that sometimes, it has to be more than the thought that counts, my words count too. AP Lang has taught me that there are other successful forms of writing besides the fragments of mine I call poems.

Most of all, AP Lang has taught me that writing is indispensable and important because it intentionally and unintentionally changes lives. Keeping that in mind and heart, we must be careful with our words. We never know where they might lead.


I Just Want to Cry a Little

In Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death, he proposes that all media is a form of entertainment. The sole purpose of television shows is to amuse you and seduce you to come back for more. All news becomes merely interesting, inconsequential with no context, and not worthy of “weeping.”

I have a problem with this ‘not weeping’ thing we have convinced ourselves of. You see, I am fond of crying. I cry a lot; it might excessive sometimes (or most of the time) but crying is just part of me. I think crying is a worthy past time though. I am able to feel the pain going on around me. I cry over it and sometimes I see a little clearer.

There is plenty worth crying over. People die everyday because they do not have water or food. People die in suicide bombings because they think that is how to fix “it.” People die on the other side of guns “to create peace.” Trees die everyday because we have made the air unhealthy for them. Animals die because we cut down trees. These are reasons to cry.

They are not reasons to lose hope; they are certainly reasons to weep and hope to see a little clearer.

Making amusement our form of communication has desensitized us to the pain and the problems that exist for us to change. That is where I think it is, to some extent, ruining society. Our news shows inform us of the tragedy then we move on to…the sports! We are prone, or rather forced, to forget about the tragedy, or tragedies, in the wake of the more fascinating, comfortable creations of a privileged society.

If entertainment becomes our one-and-only, we can liken ourselves to adults who never grew out of their spoon-fed-infant selves: dependent on the powers that be, we have no control over what feeds our mind and soul.

Complicated Restrooms

In North Carolina, bathrooms have gotten a bit…complicated, we might say. A law has recently been passed requiring all restrooms have a gender-specific label (NPR) and also “requires people to use the restroom matching the gender designation on their birth certificate” (Huffington Post). I read a few articles and I am going to summarize the for and against and see if I can get somewhere.

Those arguing for gender-specific bathrooms are convinced of their position mainly by fear – which is regrettable and true. One of the common arguments is that sexual-assault numbers will rise because men and women will be in the same bathrooms at the same time. One such article says,

“As a simple example, ask yourself, if a female student passes out at 3 a.m. in a bathroom stall, would you prefer another female find her, or have it be a coin flip whether the next person coming through that door is a male or female? Personally, I would prefer another female student find her, as opposed to a potentially intoxicated male.” (SoCawlege) (Disclaimer: This is a sketchy website but the example they provide represents much of the fear people feel.)

While I could analyze the shaky assumptions happening here, I can also recognize the possibility of the above situation and the fear that it inspires. Sexual harassment and assault are not things we like – for good reason.

Arguments for gender-neutral washrooms center mostly around the belief that those who don’t feel comfortable using the restroom that matches their birth certificate should still be able to use a restroom. Should an individual feel androgynous or female with male genitalia or vice versa, must they rebuke their gender identity in order to use the washroom?

While both sides can defend their argument amazingly well, we begin to move away from the logistics after a bit. What really begins to matter is one question: is our fear more significant than others’ self-identification?

I would venture to say no, but that is what we are facing. So, sorry – no solutions, only a question. Good luck.


Assigning the Blame

I read Othello for AP Language and these are just a few observations:

  1. I am of the camp – because there are such literary camps that all your English teachers will deny being a part of, while averting their eyes – that feels pity for ‘the bad guy.’ I am that kid who raises one hand slowly as the other hand half covers her eyes to fend off the scowls when she slowly says, “I bet [the evil villainous person] had a rough childhood – surely no one loved him – how else could he be so mean?”
  2. It is possible to feel pity for such a villain, while also wanting – just a little itty bit – to inflict massive damage on him/her.
  3. It is also possible, combined with 1 & 2, to blame someone else besides the aforementioned villain for the impending doom and the overall destruction of the ending.

Therefore, keeping in mind the previous observations, it is with much trepidation that I assign blame. However, in Othello, it is inevitable. Iago, a villain from the get-go, weaves a spidery web — like a well-connected politician, he rises in the ranks of ‘Trusted’ very quickly. He sets his traps carefully, hidden in the dark so the poor creatures below step unknowingly into them. With his advice, they close the trap on themselves – surprised, when the cuffs rattle at their feet. That’s how, in the end, Othello has killed his own wife; Roderigo has been quite literally stabbed in the back; and Emilia has been punished for being kind.

Our instinct is to blame Iago. We must, however, consider the other possibility.

Not to get too up-close-and-personal, we will always, as human beings residing on Earth, face foes. These foes are out there to get you. They go by different names – greed, pride, jealousy. Their one job is to ensnare you. Therefore, when Greed comes knocking on your unlocked door, you must tell him, “No, I do not need that – I do not need you.” When Pride shoves you into a corner and says, “You are better, smarter, cooler, bigger than them,” you must stare back at Pride with humility in your eyes, only to disagree. And as it is applicable in Othello, Jealousy will sneak up to you, kick you to your knees, and say, “O beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” When Jealousy does this, you should not say, “Oh yes, jealousy; I will fix this jealousy by killing people!” No, you calmly look Jealousy in the eye and say, “I will go fix this problem by discovering the truth.”

All personification aside, I do believe that the unhappily-ever-after of Othello is largely on the shoulders of Othello. He falls victim to a falseness that is in his power to fix. However evil the foe is, truth will win out – if you find the truth before you kill someone, that is.

The Day and Age of Chronic Fallacies

In case you live under a rock, you will have noticed that there is some hefty debating going on in the United States. While I am glad I am not on the continent, the news and rumors of Trump, Clinton, Cruz, and others is slightly unsettling. I do not hear much good of it – I only hear the bad news: “They had this argument and Trump insulted some female for having a menstrual cycle. If he keeps this up, we may as well have a third World War.” Consequently, I freak out and bam, the apocalypse. All that to say, we live in an age of political debates gone array and logical fallacies galore (like the ones above). In order to fuel my thoughts, I watched a couple recent debates and I will attempt to communicate my exasperation. Enjoy.

Marco Rubio was asked, “You have said that you do not do personal attacks. However, in past debates, you mocked Trump for…” (a lot of things that aren’t worth typing) “So, what happened?”

His answer was this: “Let me say something, this campaign for the past year, Trump has mocked everybody with personal attacks…” (a list of people Trump has insulted) “so if anyone has ever deserved it, it is Donald Trump, for the way he’s treated people. That said, I would much prefer to have a policy debate.”

Now, it may just be me, but did he answer the question? No. What he really did was retaliate with more criticism. Using the “you too” strategy is appealing, especially in such cases as these. In order to move the blame from yourself, you shift it to another guilty person. In this case, to avoid owning up to his bashing, Rubio instead talks about how Trump has done it and how he deserves it. While initially this works, it doesn’t sound very convincing. If you wanted to sound responsible, you might want to admit your faults or the faults in you argument.

I could give you countless more examples – one of the most common ones I found in this lovely Fox News interview was the skewing of statistics – but just so you know, we may not be getting a very intelligent president this year, but we are getting a president with some sassy teenage boy humor. So.