Some thoughts about our focus as a society on STEM vs. the humanities:

STEM is important, but it should not be our only focus.
Without the arts, the written word, the humanities, we begin to lose our connection to each other and our world.
Human expression reminds us of who we are and how we are connected. It tells us that we are not alone in our experiences and opens our eyes to new perspectives.
Support the artists, writers, musicians! Support the historians, archaeologists, and architects.
Sciences tells us how we are here, humanities shows us why we should stay.
Math, physics, and computing explain our world, make it more habitable, and helps to save lives.
Music, visual art, and stories explain our experience, make it more valuable, and helps to save souls from withering.

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Excerpt from my fantasy novel in progress

*Author’s Note: This is a short, unedited snippet of what I’ve been working on since November. The story is early stages and this scene occurs about a third of the way through the story. As background, the Qu’ern (coo-URN) are an elite organization filled with the best of the best, tasked with carrying out “the greatest good for the greatest number.” Setting is a Chapterhead’s office.*

Idrick looked at the man sitting across the desk. He had blood caked into his hair and the tiny outside corner of his left eye. Idrick’s eyes traced the dried flow of blood…down the side of his face, along the corner of his jaw, along the thin muscle line on his long neck, under the edge of his shirt making a stain halfway around the collar, under the armor. Two-day, dense stubble covered his face and what hair wasn’t matted looked unkempt; a deep black made lighter by dust. As he spoke, Idrick dragged his attention back to the report he was supposed to be receiving.

“…that was when I judged it necessary to return and report, sir.” He was finishing.

“Thank you, Kodren. You say two got away towards the south? You didn’t say which two. How injured were they exactly?” Idrick asked.

As Kodren explained the situation, Idrick found his mind divided again as he continued to scan his subordinate. Kodren’s lips were cracked from dehydration; his upper lip had a healing split and his eyes showed his exhaustion but his voice and bearing did not betray anything of the sort.

You are my blessing and my curse. Every Chapterhead would kill for such talent to call theirs. Every time I send you on a mission I know you will exceed my rising expectations and every time, I am terrified you won’t return. If you were a Chapterhead or I were a rank and file Qu’ern, I…

“…probably already dead but I can’t be sure. Unfortunately, the reinforcements made it impossible for me to finish the job. Give me a team, sir, and I know I can put this matter to rest. Send me back there, please. I hate leaving it this way.” Kodren was leaning forward urgently as he spoke.

“I will consider that, Qu’ern. I believe that I have an adequate report. Unless there is anything else you can think of that we haven’t covered?” Idrick asked, leaning back in his chair.

“No, sir. But I will give it more thought in my written report and be sure to bring it to your attention if something comes to mind.” Kodren said, standing.

“Get cleaned up, see the healers, eat something, and for gods’ sake sleep. After you complete those missions, THEN you write your report. I’ll see it on my desk by 12 hours from now. Your verbal should be enough for decisions to be made on the matter.” Idrick said.

Kodren saluted. “Yes, sir!”


Kodren turned on his heel and started to stalk from the room when he staggered. Before Idrick had time to think, he was at Kodren’s side just as the Qu’ern’s knees began to buckle.

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To my elders
I wish for you this year
We who lack the same scope
May not see with absolute lines
We don’t realize the way we
Dismiss you as obsolete
Reject your worldviews
Treat you like a burden
I know it’s a lot to ask but
May we learn tolerance
From you

To my juniors
I wish for you this year
We who lack the same energy
May not see with wild colors
We don’t realize the way we
Dismiss you as inexperienced
Reject your new viewpoint
Treat you like a burden
I know it’s a lot to ask but
May we learn tolerance
From you

To my peers
I wish for you this year
We who lack the same achievements
May not see with the same frames
We don’t realize the way we
Dismiss our world as too complex
Treat injustice like a burden
I know it’s a lot to ask but
May we learn tolerance
From each other

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Global Casualty

I am a casualty of the casualties of unintentioned people
I am captive by my plight and sentenced to death by armies of cell-phone having, dog walking, organic chip eating ranks of the intentionally unconfronted
I am consigned to a pit so deep that light is just a dream

They don’t mean to leave me to thirst, starve, freeze, swelter, or contract preventable diseases
They don’t mean to leave me in ignorance, poverty, war, exploitation
They don’t mean to…

And so it is they who pull the trigger
And so it is they who eat my food and throw away the rest, drink my water and pollute what is left
And so it is they who take my labor for nothing, profit from my misery, revel in a world where I don’t exist

All because they don’t mean

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My Friends

Bright colors
But some duller – though handy
Only words
Often helpful – sometimes banal
Orphaned once
Oaken apartments – now their home
Kept dry
Kind use prolongs life – no spills
Straight spines
Skins – some hard, some soft

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Independence Day

I originally posted this early last year but in honor of the yearly celebration of independence as a nation, I thought it appropriate to consider what it means to be free. In order to honor all the sacrifices made by our families and our forefathers, lets remember to keep working to fight for freedom and equality for our fellow human beings however that might take shape.

Sonnet 1

When men began to think of freedom’s call
We searched the world – the land, the sea, the sky
And then we pledged, each one, to give our all
To this, our land, where freedom then must lie
But then discovered new complexities
To free ourselves, from others we must steal
And rights for us means others on their knees
With someone else’s neck beneath our heel
One problem solved but two pop up instead
And one man’s freedom creeps on top of yours
But rule too much and liberty is dead
While corpses pile up on foreign shores
A place of independence – power-blind
Has only ever lived within man’s mind

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Who Said I’m an Expert? – A spoken word poem

*Note: This is a work in progress. It is intended to be listened to and “performed” rather than read silently. Even so, I hope the exploration of the conflict of a young university student studying Bible will offer some food for thought. Enjoy.*

Two years of general courses on this and that plus
Two years of intensive religion
Of The life of Jesus,
Old Testament, New Testament
Daniel, Revelation, Archaeology’s evidence
Exegesis, Ethics
And all I know now is what I don’t.

Generations two levels higher
Asking questions as though I were somehow
More in touch with God
Which shouldn’t be odd since with
All that education I must know
What did God mean when He said
That He created evil and darkness
And yet God is love?
Isn’t he harmless as a dove?
They ask with a touch of reverence
As though I might answer with benevolence
In my position on a suddenly erupted pedestal
Upon which I teeter
Trying not to stammer

And the generation one step up
Over weekend lunch or Sunday brunch
Asks with curiosity and diffidence
How can we come to grips with the place of women
When even the church can’t get it straight
Did God actually mean it or was He just catering
To a faulty and misguided culture?
And my roll sticks in my throat
As I try not to choke on the mental panic
Of the sudden responsibility
I never wanted

And my own generation of peers
Asks with candor and conflict
Torn between What They Know and
The sudden ocean of desperate other choices
How do we relate to our beloved peer who
Is engaged to another young man and still
Agree with the whole abomination issue
Because you are supposed to, aren’t you?

And generations from top to bottom inquire
How do we deal with church members who
Haven’t seen our version of the light?
How can you help me fashion these texts
Into deadly weapons to beat the ever-living
Ignorance out of their saintly minds?
Bless their hearts
Only because we care about
Their spiritual walk of course.
Can you give it to us straight from the source
Language? It sounds better that way
If you can teach us to say
A word or two in Hebrew
Or Greek.
Blessed are the meek.

They don’t understand
How inadequate I feel
How much my own opinion flexes from week to weak
How hard it can be to really interpret
How much context has to do with it
How I have to struggle and grapple with
Emotional responses of my own; how
Sometimes I don’t even want people to
Tie me to religious types because
I feel the pain of injustice in religions name
And my heart bleeds

My silent voice screams in frustration
Yes. God ultimately created the potential for evil
It’s called free choice
And God takes responsibility for everything since
Nothing exists outside Himself
And God made women as the first solution to the first problem
Of loneliness of the first man
And ordination is a new thing
Women can do more than sing
For special music and teach babies
Even in patriarchal Israel God picked some ladies
To be prophets! More like ministers today than the priests were.
The average person isn’t male
Woman is the standard model in the womb
So don’t shove us back into the tomb
Of silence and ignorance

And same-sex issues are still mine-fields
There is no text that yields a solution that
Balms the ache in my heart on their behalf.
The Bible almost never talked about it
Can we just leave it alone?
Love is beautiful no matter the shape
You think your phrases are tolerant
But they can sound an awful lot like hate
And while I can’t fully relate
Loss is loss and pain is pain
And the blood of the murdered bond
Stains your hands

No! I won’t tell you how to hurt other people
With the word of God
It takes more than a word to understand Hebrew or Greek culture
And I will NOT act like a cherry-picking vulture
Cleaning up the out of context biblical waste
Dropped left and right
By the left and the right
Turning pearls into excrement

The little me that lives in my mind
Screams and weeps and huddles next to the rock
That I can barely feel.

I put down my fork
And swallow my dinner roll
I choke out a
Carefully diluted
Slowly explained
Pre-digested spiritual meal.
They nod solemnly
Certain that they’ve got it now
Spiritual ammo reloaded for another scrap
And while they take their intellectual nap
I sit alone in a dark room
Waiting for God to show up so I don’t have to

Despite all the theological theorem
I like Him better than the most
Thoroughly exegeted passage
And when the going gets rough
His arms are the safest place
To protect me from the rest of
His precious people
And my own meager education.


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Procrastination II

Cerebral malaise commences
symptomatic apperception emerges.

Preeminent circumambulating ruminations
displace exigent necessities
quietude metamorphosed linear intervals
wide-eyed possibilities
surrogate normative postulates.

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Procrastination I

If once we put off that which must be done
Then twice putting off becomes easier still.
The reward of leisure, meant to be won,
If indulged in before work, (ubiquitous fact) loses its thrill.

And worse yet we find, a consistent truth,
Play is indulged in first. The task that’s require’d
Is never complete. But folly of youth
Insists on believing, (against all reason) that which is desire’d

Is best when free…

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The green hills let their shawls of mist
hang around their sloping shoulders
and hold wild-berries and roots
in folds of their garments
as they bend down to wash their feet
in the brown river water
scattered in uneven rows along its many forks.

Their warrior husbands standing
shoulder to shoulder in great rows
guard the sunset in granite armor
with the mightiest among them
in helms of shining white.

Their children wade in the ocean
blowing bubbles in hot stone
and building rock castles
that peak out of the water
piling colorful under-water flower beds
in rings around themselves.

All giving shape and strength
to flat and windswept barrens
for smaller creatures
helpless against the unkind jests
of the currents and wind.

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