#411: The Raven

selective focus photograph of black crow

Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

On my desk, perched next to the lamp and beside the personal business cards, a raven sits. It’s not a fancy statue, and it’s not full of elaborate feathering and design. It’s just an all-black raven, that I’m pretty sure Alex bought for me from Target once a long time ago. The fact that it’s not a fancy or incredibly intricate design is part of what makes it special; I like to think the raven is simple and clean, a reminder of my English literature days and my ambitions toward becoming a college professor one day. It reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, of course, but it also reminds me that I can’t give up on who I used to be, or who I want to be today. There is more out there for me to do, and the raven is there as if to say, you better make sure you’re doing everything you can to achieve your dreams.

This might all sound ridiculous, and it probably does, but sometimes small tokens have large meanings, sometimes unintentionally. They just acquire those meanings over time.

Recently, I moved the raven closer to my desk, so it serves as a more obvious reminder to me. That way I don’t forget it as frequently. It’s always there, and I’ll always remember its presence. I like to think that the raven wanted to come closer because it noticed I was losing my way a bit. Alex and I had talked about that a few times, just about how I need to focus more on my professional ambitions and not lose my way on who I want to be, whoever that is. I don’t know what it is currently, but I know that I need to get there sooner or later, whatever it takes.


Can you smell
if your eyes are blurred?

Can you eat
if your nose is stuffed?

Can you hear
if your hands are cold?

Can you feel
if your mouth is closed?

Can you see
if your ears are clogged?

Empathy, for a moment, please

It’s all we need


one… two… three…

Everyone silent

This is a test,

Take your test ticket,
sign in,
wait quietly;
don’t forget
to be quiet,
quiet as a bug,
motionless and easily
squished beneath

“How do Victor’s actions
develop the story’s theme?”

“Which detail from the text
best supports your answer?”

“How does this phrase contribute
to the text in paragraph 45?”

“Which of the following
best describes-”

“-best supports your answer to-”

“-contribute to the meaning of the-”

“-evidence provided most clearly in-”

“-Select THREE answers of-”

“-the central idea-”

“-the central idea-”

“-the central idea-”


What’s out there?
Is there
else around?

What to hope for,
what to dream for,
a mystery to me

Nothing on
the horizon,
the sun is all but

Shambling from
town to town,
a forgetful husk
waits for
Fridays and Saturdays
at the expense of
his Mondays and Tuesdays

When the weekend
is all you have,
you wonder, is there
anything else?

Was there ever
anything else?

I forget.


Being independent means
being able to say
“No more,”
to friends who are toxic,
to family who act numb,
helpless, brainless,
leeches sapping all your
energy and good will,
giving nothing in return

But being independent means
not owing
any more

Being independent means
refusing to visit on holidays,
refusing to acknowledge
until they learn their lesson

Being independent means
living freely
without obligation
to the past
and those who
still live there

It means being able to
decide who belongs in
your life and who doesn’t

It’s not easy saying no,
so why bother
saying anything at all?

What for?

#94: The Poem

fire and ice by robert frost

Photo by Ayat Zaheer on Pexels.com

I want to talk about my style of writing poetry recently, and how it’s developed over time. It’s changed in countless ways in the time since I last wrote a serious poem about life.

When I first started writing poetry, I was a complete failure. Too much dry emotion, too many verbose phrases and cliche idioms used to describe simple things in what seemed like an artsy way. It’s embarrassing to look back on my earlier writing, even some of the writing you could find on this blog if you dig deep enough, knowing that I thought it was worth publishing at some point in my life. I leave it up because it represents a stage of my progression as a writer, not that I am proud of them or anything. I feel that I owe myself to keep those poems up, if anything to show that I’m not this type of writer any more. It helps me draw contrasts between my current writing and previous types.

Nowadays, my writing is a bit different. I take time, I read over my words, I pay attention to line breaks and how the words sound as they are read aloud. I pay attention to syntax and diction and grammar and how they can help us manipulate meaning in creative writing. I care about things I didn’t even know about previously. I try to pay attention to them now, as a way of improving my craft.

At my job, I work as a reading specialist and literacy coach. This allows me to listen in on countless conversations between teachers, students, and the like. I like to transcribe some of them and turn them into poetry, using their words without their names or anything like that attached. I try to keep things anonymous so that they don’t interfere with each other.


Now, you had an assessment
on Friday
and that helped me figure out
that a lot of you
have trouble understanding what
kinetic energy is all about

Science… is about
BIG concepts;
you have to practice, you have
to ask for help
if you’re confused,
you have to do your homework,
you have to study the vocabulary

It’s weird to drop cans of corn
down onto balls of clay, but
the clay being smashed is a
measurement of the object’s
kinetic energy,

We’re talking about
kinetic energy;
the deformation of the clay is
the measurement.

What does this mean exactly?
Danny, put your binder down.
If you’re passing notes,
you’ll be in for recess.

Yet Again

You see,
it isn’t easy
coming back from the
edge and surviving

Living to
tell more tales, to
die another day,
to give it all

Yet again, those
thoughts return
like bees to
their hives,
ears ringing and
eyes bulging

Yet again, like
residual hatred,
like time itself
it can be delayed
but always finds
its way back


School is like jail,
sad and dry and
they don’t hit you
just send you out
just make you
suffer math problems
make you do more
and more work,
at least in jail
they just yell at you,
that’s it,
they can’t hurt me
with words,
they say we learning
but I never learned
a thing here
no projects, no homework
just guards and aliens,
weird people like me
I looked at my skin
and knew I was home
I’ve been here before,
maybe one day
I’ll go back

Not Time

You have 5 minutes
to finish
your CFQR chart

5 minutes to finish the
poster paper project

What happened to
all the time I
gave you last class?
Can I have a
copy, Ms. Stoley?
Not this time,

we don’t have enough
time, not time
Go to your seat

Hmmmph, I didn’t
do anything, what
are you talking about?

What are you saying?
I’m saying, it’s
not time for this,

Not time for this
right now