Just the Right Word

I pause
looking out the window
searching for that word
as if it would float by
or the different view
would allow it to re-emerge.

What is that word,
that idea,
of waiting
for a thought to come.

If it were on the internet,
la song streaming,
which then paused,
I’d know what to call it.

But my own thoughts?
I glace over to the rocking chair
with my daughter’s book bag
currently sitting in it.


I glance around the room
at clutter on the piano bench
or the kitchen table.

If I sort through this pile of papers,
or this collection of knick knacks,
will I find the word I am looking for.

As I try to conjure up the word,
I think of a grandfather that had Parkinson’s
or an uncle with Alzheimer’s.

But I’ve always been absent minded,
too easily distracted,
always searching
for just the right

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Which Irish Writer are you?

Okay, friends, help me out here. I’m sure you’ve all seen all those various quizzes out there, Which Arthropod are you? Which Minor Character in an Ayn Rand novel are you? Which slain young black man are you? Such quizzes are normative. They try to fit us into four or five social norms.

Normally, I attempt to resist the normative pressures of these quizzes, posting as a response to What Girl Scout Cookie are you, that I was channeling Rush Limbaugh and got Evil Lesbian Abortion Witchcraft Promiscuity cookies, or when asked what character I am in some show or book, responding with the most interesting yet very obscure character.

As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, we are seeing another stereotype presented, the drunken Irishman. A friend shared a post, Irish American buys all of Walmart’s offensive t-shirts, will return them March 18, about one person challenging this stereotype.

Instead of focusing on the Drunken Irishman, I thought it would be useful to create a quiz, “Which Irish Writer are you?” So far, the only thing I’m come up with is

Would you rather
Wander around Dublin all day?
Wait for someone who never shows up?
Study Irish Fairytales?

When you think about the end, do you :
think about an Irish wake with lots of multilingual puns?
think about an Irish airman?
describe the end of a game in French?

Of course, this focuses on three of the best known Irish Male writers. While it may be useful in reframing the discussion from liquor to literature, it still promotes a narrow view.

So, my question to all of you: If you were creating a “Which Irish Writer are you?” who would you include in the quiz? Are their female writers that should be considered? How about philosophers?

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The beep, beep, beep of the clock radio disrupts my sleep
in the usual way as I start my daily routine.

On my laptop, I read of friends
disrupting their lives
to head to another conference
about disruption.

But the disruptions at the conference
are as likely to be as disruptive as the alarm clock.
They have become just another part
of the fabric of daily life
not really changing anything.

What would be truly disruptive
if not that new business plan
or piece of technology
that in the great scheme of things
really changes nothing?

Perhaps, a poem, a painting
or an unexpected smile.

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Bent Light

The light rays bend
off the thin layer
of hot air
resting on the summer pavement.

I remember seeing these magical puddles
appear and disappear
when looked at from just the right angle
riding in the family car
on the way to the lake.

After the inevitable thunderstorm
other light rays,
sunlight through the end of a shower,
would bend into beauty.

What other illusions
bringing beauty to this world
am I taking for granted
or perhaps not even seeing?

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Sweet Briar

“The only thing wrong with privilege,”
I remember a college professor once saying,
attributing the quote to Virginia Woolf.
“was that not everyone has it.”

I was sitting in an English class
at a small private
liberal arts college
in Ohio.

I had grown up in a college town
not much different than Wooster
so I didn’t even notice
my own privilege.

Instead, I only saw those
with greater privilege than I.

In the news today,
I read about a small private college
in Virginia
that is shutting down.

The plantation,
turned finishing school,
turned liberal arts college,
couldn’t survive
in the twenty-first century.

I imagine the students reading
Virginia Woolf,
longing for five hundred pounds
and a room of their own,
nodding their heads in agreement
with Woolf’s words about privilege.

I imagine the students reading
“Gone with the Wind”
comparing Sweet Briar to Tara
vowing they will never go hungry again.

I imagine the students reading
the Gospel lesson
about the Anointing of Jesus
and nodding in agreement
that it was a very beautiful thing.

I imagine the students reading
John Donne
and knowing that the bell tolls
not just for the closing of Sweet Briar,
but for all of us.

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