Monthly Archives: February 2018

A Teacher’s Job Application in Trump’s America

  1. Please list any colleges and graduate schools attended, graduation dates, and degrees earned.
  2. Please list any special certifications you hold and institutions you received them from.
  3. Please describe your teaching experience: grades and subjects.
  4. Where did you attend basic training?
  5. Please list all small arms you are certified on and the dates you were certified. Can you provide evidence of your certification?
  6. Please list any semi-automatic or automatic weapons you are certified on. Can you provide evidence of your certification?
  7. Are you certified for close-quarters combat?
  8. Please describe your combat experience. Include confirmed kills.
  9. Do you have your own sidearm or will you require one to be issued to you? Do you prefer a hip or shoulder holster?
  10. Narrative response: An active shooter has already attacked the front office and is heading down your hallway. You’ve heard multiple shots fired in the next classroom. You see a silhouette through the window of your locked door, but you do not know if it is the shooter or a student from across the hall.  Do you fire your weapon through the window or wait until the person attempts to enter the room?  Explain your answer.
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Work and rest

The day’s labor works
its hollow ache deep
into the arms and legs,
into ligaments and bones as
hands, weary of
clenching tools, feel
the nervous twinge
of spent muscles
threatening to cramp
in protest.

The day, worked together,
yields its product: a porch…
a wall…a barn…a garden…
something broken,
now repaired…something
overgrown, now cleared.
And the workers,
made brothers or
sisters by communion
in exertion, find
commonness with God
in the joyful work of creation
and the peace of rest.

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My Valentine

It is a special kind of hubris
that I could dare to
call you “mine.”
The slightest moment’s reflection
on the word
shakes my soul with
holy fear.
Yet, regretfully, I find
the limitations of
my language
daily cause me to utter
such thoughtless nonsense as:
“My wife…,”
“My bride…,”
“My love…,”
“My Vangie….”
As if something so wild
so beautiful,
so mindful, or
so wise
Could belong to someone
who had no claim to divinity—
a man with
so little that is worthy
of your attention.
One might as well claim to own
a mountain or a river,
an ocean, or a moon.
I suppose my only hope is
that, someday,
it will not be awkward to say
in normal conversation
“the woman I belong to.”
Because, I belong
to you.

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My grandfather’s painting

My grandfather, his beloved
Jean long gone from his arms,
having been stolen slowly,
piece by piece, must have struggled
to learn to grieve, to comprehend
her absence.  I remember his home
ornamented with her pictures,
like demure smiling ghosts
of her youth, shocking in their
disparity to the hollow figure
who had struggled to gasp her
final breaths as she lay in
her frail white gown.  Her bed,
like an awkward stranger
in the downstairs space he
had made up for her,
the last bed she would know, had
remained in that space, quiet
and empty, kept company by
a few of her things, get well cards,
and a miscellany of  sterile plastic
remnants of modernity’s efforts
to lengthen her life.  To move it
must have felt too much like
moving on without her.  How could he
have imagined how to begin?  It may as well
have been made of stone.

I have often wondered what
a strange desperation he
must have endured, that my
grandfather found his expression
in oil and canvas, brush and palette.
I wonder what it was like to first
plunge his brush into the thick paints and
to play with light and color…to wonder
if this is what God feels like.
I wonder how it felt to pour out
his heart as he poured out the
dark sienna and burnt umber from their tubes.
I wonder how many hours he spent
staring into his canvas’ flat surface
listening to the dull scratch of the
palette knife wielded deftly by his hands
as he created trees and streams,
rocks and mountains.

I barely knew him.  But I can still
see him in the brush strokes of
the painting he gave me
when I was young.  To please my
childish infatuation, he had
painted me a roan stallion,
turned in profile behind an aged
wooden fence, held with rusty nails
and set against a clear fall sky,
faintly clouded.

In it, I can see his love
for me, but more for her.
For me, he painted the supple
tones of the stallion’s muscles.
For her, he simply painted,
painting to ease his mind
and his heart of his missing her,
to allow some part of himself
to forget the ache, to place it
somewhere else than in
his mind alone.

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