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I explore the manuscripts
of Emily Dickinson
and think about dashes.

What do they mean?
How important are they?

What about the line breaks?
The smudges on the page?

Where does the poetry end
and negative space begin?

I grew up, in part,
on e.e. cummings,
with his choices
of capitalization and punctuation.

I pause to think about the line break
the blank line
and I think about the syntax
of a mathematician
or computer programmer.

If you miss the semi-colon
the reader may be confused,
but figure it out.

The compiler,
on the other hand
throws an error
but pays no attention
to the spaces or line breaks.
(Depending, of course,
on the language used)

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The Seashell

I hold a seashell in my hand.

I’d picked it up
on a morning walk
beside the breaking surf.

I hold it gently,
looking in wonder and awe
ar the intricate designs
that once protected
a living organism.

I hold a seashell in my hand.

As I walk along
I hold the shell
in my hand
almost forgetting
it’s there
as it fits just right
and is now
the same temperature
as my hand.

I hold a seashell in my hand.

I pause to remember the seashell
to feel its weight
and its place
along with the other shells I hold
as I start my long walk home.

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The Kaleidoscope

With mirrors
and odd shaped pieces
of colored glass,
the world looks magically ordered.

Yet looking the other direction
reveals nothing interesting.

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Simple Math ( for #SaveSweetBriar )

In my good liberal arts education I learned that
the whole is great than
the sum of its parts.

I learned that grain upon grain makes
the impossible heap.

I learned that one and one and fifty
can change the world,
but still can’t find the lyrics.

I learned that to better understand,
a good liberal arts education is needed.

Yet now, the simple bean counters
can’t see the impossible heap,
so they try to close down a college.

Now, politicians argue about taxes
remembering statistics about millions
while missing tragedy of a single child
going hungry.

Today, students at a small liberal arts college
are getting a real education
as they fight not for the grade or degree,
but for something that matters much more.

It’s not just a campus,
or tradition,
or a favorite professor.

It is for something much more important
in this twenty-first century,
something that too many
seem to be forgetting.

It is how we understand life
how we care for one another.
It is the value of a real
liberal arts education.

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