poem for a new president

mister president
i wonder 
what kind of childhood
you had to make you so needy 
that when you stand in front of
the stars of fallen men
all you can imagine
is how unjust the media
for implying the crowds
at your inauguration
were so thin.

you sent out
your press secretary
to bark at us
when we can all see it’s
not those white tarps protecting
the grass mister president
that make it seem like no one
showed up to your big day
but the fact that you lie
and behave like an ass

very unpatriotic!


In Response to Wislawa Szymborska's "Possibilities"

I prefer hot drinks.
I prefer pie.
I prefer waking as the sun rises.
I prefer giving people the benefit of the doubt.
I prefer trusting that everything will work out.
I prefer sitting on the floor.
I prefer enjoying rather than criticizing.
I prefer friends.
I prefer kindness.
I prefer writing.
I prefer peace.
I prefer the path of least resistance.
I prefer open.
I prefer essays.
I prefer up and round and dissonant.
I prefer untuned.

I prefer triptychs.
I prefer drums.
I prefer ink.
I prefer in person.
I prefer outside.
I prefer oatmeal raisin.
I prefer mint chip.
I prefer unlined.
I prefer lists.
I prefer fulfillment.
I prefer not knowing.
I prefer the process.
I prefer the spontaneous.
I prefer beginnings that never end,
And endings that start back at the beginning.


Art School Teacher: Preparing for Storytelling at The Draw, Wednesday January 11th, 6:30pm

hope you can join us!

Renaissance High School for the Arts

storytelling students
and adults from their lives
sharing stories about themselves


bucks, bows, birds
balconies, bromances
banjos, bees
and lots of bravery



Remembering those who left us in 2016: Scott Dutton

Scott Dutton at The 602 Club, April 2015, Appleton

The first time I met Scott Dutton, a fellow teacher at Renaissance School for the Arts, I picked him up at his charming brick house, along with his drums.  When the students came to happiness class that afternoon, I told them how excited I was because the drum circle was going to be so fun.  Scott leaned on his drum and growled to the students, “Whenever someone tells me I’m going to have fun, that pretty much guarantees that I won’t.”

Scott was confrontational and challenging.  He loved drama, and I didn’t, adding to his fun.  I was the new writing teacher, hired because he had quit, though not because he didn’t want to teach, but only to prove a point.   

I was struggling, trying to figure out how to critique the students’ writings.  Scott asked me pointedly, “But do you love them?”  And it freaked me out and got into my head, and I ended up not talking to him again for a year. 

Later, when we became friends again, I referred to it, and he said, “You didn’t talk to me for a whole year?” 

“Yes,” I said. 

“Why not?” 

“Because you asked me if I love the students.”  We laughed about that for a long time.

When Scott laughed, which was often, he laughed with his whole soul. 

“I used to be a really big guy,” he once told me, because I only knew him as a stooped ill man, nearly coming to his end one afternoon walking from his car to my house.  He stood in my living room with his arms held open and his chest lifted to the sky.  “This is how I get it going again,” he wheezed about his temperamental heart.

Scott was not afraid of dying.

Nothing meant more to him than his students. 

The craziest conspiracy theory he ever told me was that our DNA is actually the invention of aliens who are breeding us and harvesting our energy.  “You mean, you don’t know that’s true?” he asked, concerned for my mental wellbeing.

He gave me the courage to be a more honest and open teacher.  And for that I will always be grateful. 

Whenever I think of Scott, I feel like celebrating. 


new year's song, traditional Johanastan

happy new year again
we were by here not long ago
one more trip around the sun
our time is almost done
happy new year again my friend


what is a voice in a chorus of artists

what is a voice in a chorus of artists
what is the purpose of a painting
is it possible to understand a work all on its own
is there a separation between my words and yours
how to understand an image you’ve never seen before
when your words inspire me to try to find my own
do you feel proud humble vulnerable
what responsibilities do you bear when you claim to be an artist
when setting sail do you focus on a narrow course
or travel wherever the wind blows
what is your intention when putting pen to paper

what is a voice in a chorus of artists
can i really claim my voice as my own
isn’t it true that if i stay open and attentive to an underlying current
i can become one with the rhythm of an ancient tide
how do you enter the flowing river
do you dip in a toe
do you cling to a root
do you regret never learning to swim
do you let yourself go and hope for the best
do you find fault in what has no right or wrong
it’s not always easy to honor without getting bent out of shape
how true so often what we honor is not the other or the whole
but some warped view of our own egos
is it better to blend in or to stick out in a crowd


Ekphrasis Film Fest 2016!

join director

Len Borruso

Friday, December 30th, 7pm

The 602 Club, Appleton


John Fleckner (Society of American Archivists) as Moondog

and Joanna Dane (A Wisdom of Wombats) as Tranquility


from the director:

The Ekphrasis coterie invites you to our Film Fest. Please join us as we take a look back on the short films we made in 2016, including from the Tranquility Series: “Zeno Effect”, “S P R I N G”, “discovery”, “The Beast” and “Moondog”. We will also screen “Homage à un Rêve”, our tribute to Surrealism. The coterie wishes to thank our collaborators of whom we begged, borrowed and asked permission of after the fact, especially Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana, Matt Turner, Elyse-Krista Mische, Loren Dempster, John Fleckner, Therese Joanis, Luke Jacobs, Andrew Dane, Dane Richeson and Rory Olson. 

Note: Total running time of the Film Fest will be approximately 30 minutes. Movies will be screened on the big screen at The 602 Club on December 30th, 2016 at 7:00 pm. 

Seasons Greetings! 
The Ekphrasis Coterie