Tag Archives: children

Morning Dogs: choka

The scrabble of claws
across the linoleum:
waking with the dogs.
At the first hint of morning,
they are ready to go.

Forget your sleeping.
The moment your body stirs,
their insistence starts.
Outside, outside! they clamor,
until you do their bidding.

Resistance is futile:
bedcovers pulled from your eyes,
the morning sun blinds.
You need no alarm clock’s ring
once these furry kids awake.

02 FEB 2017

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The Failure of American Public Schools

The failure of the American public school system is that while we have emphasized the importance of those skills that “get things done” or that provide our children with the technological tool set to “compete” on a global scale, we have neglected to teach them the reasons WHY one should avail themselves of that technology. In addition, by eliminating the arts, we have removed the one source of study that provides insight into how all these technological skills fit together, how they construct a culture, how they inform an intelligent community, how they make life worth living.

When I look back at what I learned from the fine arts in school (back when they were part of the school curriculum), I wonder why they are not mandatory education.

From music (both instrumental and choral), I learned history, foreign language, mathematics, literature, geography, ratios, fractions, timing, physical and mental discipline, team dynamics and collaboration, listening, posture, breathing, improvisation, balance, poise, public speaking, and self-respect.

What I didn’t learn from music, I learned from art: proportions, composition, construction, optics, chemistry, preservation, creative visualization, theme, and color theory.

And what both gave me was a healthy introduction to religion, philosophy, anthropology, marketing, psychology, communications, politics, self-criticism, self-discipline and logic.

Only one or two of those things I learned in P.E. or playing sports. And while math and science as individual subjects may provide greater depth into some specifics, they certainly are pretty dry when you don’t have something meaningful to do with them.

The arts are not an elective.

Not for a culture or society that hopes to survive its technology. Not for a culture that wants to do better than just “survive”.

They are, and should always be, mandatory education.

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On the Next Child Prodigy

I don’t begrudge a twelve year old
their wish to idolize
an artist of their own time-frame
with the same likes and sense of space
that come from being twelve a while.

But for adults to seek the same —
to push aside their own age peers,
in some great quest for “the next big,”
neglect those like themselves

who’ve worked for years
to understand and know their craft
and bring to it a wealth of time —
who treasure the precocious youth

that somehow came forth from the womb
with an “old soul” or some like crap,
who’d rather find a young maybe
than risk an older yes,

who stoop to conquer, so to speak,
their greedy eyes upon the prize
of novelty to hawk their wares,
it seems like pedophilia.

03 AUG 2007

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Daddy’s Little Girl

Sometimes it’s hard to know the right way to begin
Too often words don’t get me past the might have beens
The mistakes I’ve made that haunt me linger on
And it’s hard explaining just where I went wrong

Sometimes this life can be so bittersweet with tears
Too often what’s most precious to us disappears
Each choice we make can break the simplest dreams in two
And make it seem like giving up’s the thing to do

If I could change the past, and somehow make things right,
or make the sun shine through the darkest, deepest night,
turn all your tears to laughter and stop this spinning world
That wouldn’t be enough for daddy’s little girl.

Sometimes I think that you’re too young to understand
The way that life can break the best that’s in a man
Too often when I’ve tried, I’ve failed to live up to
The man I see reflected in your eyes of blue

Sometimes at night I sit and watch you while you sleep
The soft sound of your gentle breathing makes me weep,
Thinking hard on all the things your future needs
And I offer to your dreams this guarantee:

If I could change the past, and somehow make things right,
or make the sun shine through the darkest, deepest night,
turn all your tears to laughter and stop this spinning world
That won’t be enough for daddy’s little girl.

If I could pave your way, and make your future bright,
pull down the stars and let you hold them just one night,
dry all your tears so you could laugh in a new world
That wouldn’t be enough for daddy’s little girl.

There’s nothing I could do in this old crazy world
That would be enough for your daddy’s little girl.

19 DEC 2005

My friend Jeff Rachall was talking the other day about going Christmas shopping with his three-year old daughter, and how she was now at an age where you couldn’t sneak presents for her into the cart without her knowing it. Once they hit three, they become much more aware of somewhat covert actions, and are all questions — “What’s that?” “What’d you just put in the cart?” “Why are you hiding that from me?” and then, of course with curiousity piqued they are difficult to shake off so you can HIDE the things at home. I told Jeff it doesn’t get any better as they get older, because they learn all your hiding places and get MUCH better at wheedling the truth out of you. Anyway, I wrote this song thinking of Jeff singing it to his little girl, and maybe me singing it to mine.

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They grow up fast

They grow up fast; in just a short month’s span
the smallest seed becomes a tall, wild stalk
grown high enough to look down on a man.
But that time does not fly, despite the talk

philosophers will write in dry, thick books.
It crawls, and through its microscopic lens
each moment, its own kernel, often looks
enormous to the untrained eye, and bends

beyond the simple frame that would encage
its constant search to stand free and alone.
The acts of men and gods, played on this stage,
seem little more than dust on ancient bones.

Yet insignificance belies import;
and often what appears not more than sand,
when magnified in life’s uncertain sport
holds more in scope than we can understand.

The weeds that crowd the garden, too, from seeds
the same as precious flowers were conceived.
Who knows what end ideas will breed,
if nurtured like their promise was believed?

14 May 2005

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A Witch’s Daughter

I watch my daughter grow. She finds the patriarchy’s walls,
once comforting and so secure, now quickly closing in;
and the consumer culture, bred in bright and shiny malls,
begins to question her reluctance to wallow in sin.

The icons, once so well preserved, expose their peeling paint,
and what chivalry she sought and took for granted
has now begun its slow campaign to try her as a saint;
rock solid faith by doubt has been supplanted.

She still retains naivete: that goodness will be found
behind even a callous smile, despite a hurtful word;
and yet behind her youth’s bravado, a glimpse of profound
and growing disillusion a keen eye may now observe.

So soon she plans to leave this place of shelter,
not knowing much, if anything, about the world outside.
Like Icarus, despite a father’s warning it will melt her
wings, she thinks it bravery, instead of suicide.

How much the world remains a swirl of danger,
her magazines don’t dare to publicize.
Instead, they speak inanities and fashion,
and only growing old they criticize.

My daughter. What this world of men empowered
will teach her, if she has the strength to learn,
is sadly, you are valued ’til deflowered,
and then, if you’re not careful, you get burned.

But still, to claim your self is worth the struggle;
to know, to dare, and keep a silent tongue.
It must be so, for in this world of Muggles,
what secrets are worth keeping, keep you young.

14 FEB 2005

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Mixed Messages

You’d better not pout, you’d better not cry
You’d better be good — I’m telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good —
so be good, for goodness’ sake.

I just today realized the problem with the commercialization of Christmas. The point of the above song is that IF you’re good, you will be rewarded. Conversely, if you’re BAD, your actions will be noted, and your stocking will be shorted accordingly.

Yet, at the same time, we are admonished to “be good, for goodness’ sake”.

If we apply logic to this, that’s the same as saying “art for art’s sake” — or that art is worth making simply because art is worthwhile.

That means that the song is saying that being good is its own reward. That it is the right thing to do. That’s why one does it.

NOT FOR THE REWARD, or because someone is watching who’ll provide some payoff.

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