Bookmark: The second of Lady Murasaki's six-book masterpiece, The Tale of Genji, the world's first novel, written in 11th century Japan

Prince Genji is finally returning from his long exile on the stormy coast.
How he has missed his Murasaki,
the young beauty he kidnapped when she was still a girl
so he could watch her mature.
Shame on you Prince Genji! 
Exiled as punishment for all those unseemly affairs,
and yet the worst still secret! 
The emperor's wife,
 the heir apparent,
such a striking resemblance to
the handsome Prince Genji.

Has Prince Genji learned his lesson?
He swears no more,
so happy to be returning home to his Murasaki,
so sad to be leaving
the old priest's daughter
in such a fragile state.


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