To String Near Misses (an attempt at poetry)

“…the chances we failed to seize, the moments of happiness we allowed to drift away. Today it seems to me that my whole life was nothing but a string of those small near misses: a race whose result we know beforehand but in which we fail to bet on the winner.” Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

To banish the “near misses”

To be aware of the gifts revealed to us

no matter how tiny

To ignore superfluous detail –

the bullshit and posturing,

the maneuvering and manipulating.

To see what is truly a divine moment

and just “be”

in each breath,

in each heartbeat.

To reach out and embrace everything you already have,

even if it’s not quite what you’ve expected

but better, if perceived through the same eyes,

but a different lens.

To turn the “string of near misses”

into a necklace of precious gems

Moments transformed into memories.

Word Problems poem by Ian Williams

Word Problems poems by Ian Williams

I was really apprehensive about responding to poetry. I don’t read a lot of poetry, I’m not sure why. I guess it’s because  I don’t feel “qualified” to talk about it. That being said, one of my 2021 reading goals is to read more poetry and therefore my first choice this year had been Ian Williams Word Problem Poems.

Williams juxtaposes serious topics such as racial discrimination and mental illness against elementary school math problems and language arts “rules”. This approach leads me, as an educator, to reflect upon what is integral to my teaching;  that I should be spending more time discussing timely and impactful societal issues rather than solving for x or making sure students use proper subject-verb agreement. 

Williams’s poems offer an intimate view into the mind of a black man. Free -verse, creative and experimental, and intimidating (honestly I don’t even know what words to use to describe my response) but tremendously thought-provoking. 

Always one for experimentalism and creativity, I really enjoyed and appreciated deliberate choice in format and typography for each poem. The shapes, in and of themselves, lead to another level of interpretation of the meaning of the poem.

So, if you’re tentative about adding poetry to your reading list “Word Problems” will be an engaging addition.

Reflecting on 2020 and setting goals for 2021

Welcome, 2021!

Last week I reflected on my year of reading. The titles, the genres, the authors. Around March last year, I had to take the reality of my “COVID mindset” and my inability to focus into consideration and set a milestone much lower than I usually do at 50 books. As an English teacher and book blogger, this felt like a failure. This year, however, I am confident I can air higher than 50 soooooo I’m thinking 60?

So, what have I learned about myself as a reader?

  • I read more non-fiction (yay one of the goals I DID meet)
  • General fiction made up the bulk of my titles (mostly mystery and fantasy)
  • I included graphic novels.
  • A handful of audiobooks made my list (mostly non-fiction)


fiction-  Mexican Gothic (review to come) by Silvia Moreno Garcia

non-fiction- The Heart and Other Monsters by Rose Anderson

audible- Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

YA- Legendborn by Tracy Deonon

Graphic novel: Long Way Down based on the novel by Jason Reynolds artist Danica Novgorodoff 

Fantasy: The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo(review to come) 

Reading goals for 2021

  • 60 titles
  • Increase Science fiction and poetry. 

I need your help, my fellow book addicts, please send me titles of your favourite Science fiction reads and poetry books (preferably contemporary!!!

What was your favourite read of 2020? What are your goals for 2021

Happy reading!

“Time Heals What Reason Cannot

Time heals what reason cannot. ~Seneca 

It’s interesting

how much difference a day can make.

I am continually amazed at how,

over the course of a measly twelve hours

a person can go from being mired in the deepest darkest pit of disappointment

to walking on sunshine.

This change cannot merely

be a matter of perspective.

Maybe it’s the alignment of stars?

or a shower of meteors?


the pull of the earths gravity with the passing of night into day?

“Time” has to play a part.

True, the passing of time wrecks havoc


it also creates miracles.

Time is not the erasing of memories,

but the blurring

and sanding

and softening the harshness

some memories can bring.

Patience is the key to living the cliché “this too shall pass”.

Because it does.

In the meantime you just need to remember

to breathe.

And wait with hope.

A Person Upon Which to Perch

Friend (noun) a person upon which to perch

At times
it seems sincerity is difficult to come by
for the most part,

most of us are afraid to be judged for who we are.
So we tweak and change what we say
and what we do
so we will be accepted rather than be alone.

And besides,
we don’t want anyone to know we are crazy. Especially if we’re young. (Thankfully we eventually reach an age where we can wear “crazy” like an accessory)

To have friendships that have withstood the test of time.
where I can “think aloud” and have someone listen.

friends can make sense of my nonsense
if they can’t
gently point me at any over-analyzing
or second-guessing
or insecurity


either give me a hug


kick me in the ass.

It’s a relief to not have to wear a mask
that restrains and suffocates the genuineness of self.

I imagine if no such friends would exist

we’d all be birds
with no place to perch.

Flying around and around
from trying to keep aloft of our truth.

To Frustratingly Flail About With My Words

Some days

I believe I can be as articulate as the greatest of ancient Greek orators.

Sitting, surrounded by youth.

Using extended metaphor to enlighten.

Persuasive and entertaining with my words. Arguing a point that possesses a foregone conclusion just to uproot it 

and shake it free of narrow-mindedness. Then transplant it elsewhere.

Entertaining with anecdotes that seem outrageous yet familiar

to a captive audience.

Making others emotionally invest in the story being told.

Relating to the characters.

Relating to the storyteller.

Relating to me.

But then

there are those who don’t listen 


they, themselves, are the protagonist,

and it is their story being told. 

Because everything that is not about them

bores them. 

And they opt out that story even if it is not theirs 

and could be woven into their existence and used for strength.

Other days 

a big, thick, murky fog

clouds my brain,

and I’m distracted by trivialities or fatigue.

I try to cut through to get to the point that I know exists

just beyond the murkiness. 

Immediate but unreachable.

Like the sun behind the clouds.

And I frustratingly flail about with my words. 

“You know the thingy that what’s his face used for the whachmacallit? You know, the thingamabob?”

Plodding slowly towards a conclusion

that isn’t all that substantial 

let alone scintillating.

And I wonder

how the day determines creativity.

What alignment of stars

or perfect thickness of the ozone layer

 is needed for me to be bright and sharp

and compelling? 

Or if the gods could merely flip a coin,

and decide, 

“today’s the day” 

to make a change. 


“today’s the day” 

to take a nap.

At this moment, 

I write. 

But it’s a tough slog through the haziness 

of a mind that doesn’t cooperate.

So what is there to do 

but to write 

about how difficult it is

to write today. 

Memory as Metaphor

Memory is a funny thing.

It’s like a tiny alligator. Lurking in shallow water leisurely swimming by moving its tail. You wade tentatively in life, feeling warmth and security. Going further out and away. When suddenly it grabs your ankle in its sharp pointy teeth reminding you it’s there. And then leaving little pointed pricks in your skin.
Prickly, pint points of blood. Distracting reminders.

Or it’s like a shroud that falls over you when you’re going about your business, in the middle of routine. And suddenly a smell or a taste or an image will act the trigger release of a safety catch. Letting drop a black and suffocating shroud. That settles on you for an hour, or a day, or sometimes a week.
Until you’re distracted by an occurrence or
a conversation or
a making-of another memory that will not take its place but rather act as a distraction. Strong enough to put shreds in that shroud.

At times it is like a Tuesday bruise on your knee on Thursday. Not as sore and tender to the touch as the day you received it, but now dark and purple and prominent when you lift your pant leg to view it. Only to cover it up again. Then have it glare at you in the face when you’re in the tub, knees popping up through the bubbles reminding you that you fell.
A small injustice or failure.

And every once in awhile it’s like a little spot of sunshine that moves about a room. You have to consciously see it. Move towards it. Plant yourself in it so that you can have it warm you. If even for a little while.
Like a cat.
Until it’s time to move on and out of the sunshine
and back into the momentum of life.
Only to experience new alligators, shrouds, bruises
and blessed patches of sunshine.