Poetry and Other Fun Stuff

5 September 2016
Fall semester is when I have the privilege of teaching Creative Writing, and this fall I have a full class of 20 students. To further one element of my teaching philosophy–that I am willing to model for students any writing I’m asking of them–I’m working on some poetry. My first piece, which I’ll post here, is a tribute to my much-loved Captain Basco, who died a year ago on July 31st. That I was able to even begin such a piece probably speaks to the healing that has taken place during the past year, but I’m nowhere near “over it.” If you’ve ever loved an animal, prepare yourself, fair warning.

Captain Basco

It’s alright if you have to go

I said aloud so he would know

while petting his black-grey fur

once glossy as midnight

now dull as dust


We lay on the newly-carpeted floor

his small body stretched on its side

his breathing labored

eyes vacant


Chuck showering, washing off the

nasty business he will take on

because I can’t

awaiting the call of the

Grim Reaper’s scythe,

reprieve from responsibility for

sweet Basco’s life


Did you hear me, I wonder

and kiss his soft muzzle

How serious his pain?

Can I do the right thing?

my heart screams:

I can’t


It’s alright, I repeat

we’ll be okay (so I lied)

another soft touch along

ribs under flesh

gone soft

not taut

not a puppy anymore


Then an arch of the back

a gasp

eyes wide, mouth open

sudden, deliberate motion


Chuck! Chuck!!

one loud, strong, cry from

his small, damaged body

a tongue on the blanket

unnatural, flaccid, pale

no movement

no sound


Urine warms my hand

evidence of the living

vessel that housed his soul



New carpet soiled

with tears and excrement

of canine life expelled

and no recovery

from the unimaginable


of watching Basco die.



Fall 2015
For the first time, I am teaching a creative writing class this semester. It’s a bit of a stretch for me, a teacher of composition and literature (if I count the honors seminar I teach at Helena College). As well as being a stretch, it’s also really a gift. I am able to read and think about writing in a way that I normally don’t or won’t, consigning creative writing to the category of “fun,” which often translates to “superfluous” in my busy life.
Part of my teaching philosophy demands that I “practice what I preach,” and never ask students to do work that I have not or would not do myself. Therefore, I’ve determined to share–at least as much as I’m able–in the writing tasks I’ve assigned to students in the class, and so I will be posting some of my poetry here. I’ll preface this by saying I’ve never claimed to be a poet, but neither have I claimed I was not one. I hope my readers will enjoy what I write, and I eagerly anticipate feedback.

To Chuck

Remembering, I hear the words “I do”

From that one day so many years ago

When I became the other part of you

And burned our love so deep our souls did glow.

And you took me to be your wedded wife

In health, in wealth, it mattered not that day

We couldn’t bear we part within this life

And promised we did mean what we did say.

The trials of life come often it is true

That many times we rail and curse our fate

Yet always I am glad to be with you

For God did grant me thus the perfect mate.

In time I know our love shall yet be more

As now our love is greater than before.

For Mamie
A mother’s grief, God bless you Mamie Till
Your precious boy plucked from your arms by fate
Though murdered by the ignorance of hate
His death could not your mother’s love make still
Retrieved the corpus, mutilated, killed
With tenderness and grace you bore the weight
Should God and all forever know the date
When Satan led those men to Emmett Till.
Then rising up his spirit would not stay
Nor covered up remain the heinous crime
America! Confess! Face your disgrace!
Forget not what has come to pass this day.
Condemned beyond the grave to spend all time
A mother’s son reminds us with his face.

Here’s a ridiculous poem I wrote many years ago. It’s silly, but I kind of like it.

‘Twas some nights before Christmas

and low and behold

I opened the fridge and was smothered

in mold.

I had good intentions to make

something sweet

but mold-covered cookies are

not good to eat.

So off to the bedroom

I flew in a fright

Not knowing what more

I could handle that night.

Then what to my wondering

eyes should appear?

But a drunk in the street

and eight, large Reineer deer.

The drunk how he staggered

his teeth, they were missing.

The Reineer deer charged him

The wind, it was hissing.

When suddenly what should my tired

eyes behold

but the poor drunk was swallowed

by my kitchen mold!

I jumped out my window and

landed so gay

on the back of a Reineer deer

up, up, away!

But up was not up for that

poor Reineer deer

’cause he was smashed flat

by my hefty rear.

Then as they all flew

far out of sight

not even one wished me

good cheer or good night!

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