Illuminated

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The twilight of my heart
Rebels against
The dying night.
Like the fiery stars
That litter the
Firmament,
Your love burns
With brilliant veracity
Regardless of the sun’s
Vibrant obscurity.

The twinkling of Your
Love is only intensified
Against a blackened
Backdrop – other forces
Beguile my eyes, but the
Ostensible truth is that
Your love is there – inextricably so.
Whether I can feel it or not.
Whether I can see it or not.
Whether I can hear it or not.
I know it is there because you
Are in everything that is beautiful
And holy.

Folded Hands Unfolding Hopes

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Fill me with Your love
That I may see
With Your eyes.
Give me Your hope
That I may salve
Their anguished hearts.
Saturate my thoughts
With sweet mercies anew
Each glittering day
That I might learn to see
The truth behind
My faults and fears.
Move me to compassion!
Please wash me
In Your empathy
That my innocence
May be marred
In purposeful grief
For those in pain.
Cover me in Your grace
That I might walk with
Dignity and poise — dressed
In Your love’s perfected
Adornments — unashamed
And glowing in the majesty
Of Your holiness.

Words Like Daggers

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Sticks and stones
Thrown into hope’s
Dwindling fire —
My broken heart!
Scattered tipis
Of bones and ash
Hurling love’s insult
To my added injury —
The sharpness
Of your envenomed
Affection
And your words —
Like pointed daggers —
Bleed the fire
From my lips
Dripping with sin.
Spread the compost
On piety’s
Dying embers,
And watch it
Blossom into
Violence.

I Am That I Am.

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I am Mara.
I am the bitterness you taste
In each sip of your morning
Coffee.

I am Rahab.
I am the lust burning in your eyes.
I am the harlot of disquieted imaginings.
I give and you take. You give
And I crawl into my dreams.

I am Sarah.
I am unbelief. I am mistrust.
I am the joy leaving your lips
In your sweet, soft laughter.

I am Mary.
I am the sainted wonder
of His fire. I am the bearer
of life and splendor.

I am Martha.
I am the dishrag hanging
From the hooks of your heart.
I clean. I scrub as you keep tracking
Mud into the waxed floors of my mind.

I am beauty —
I am hate —
I am strength —
I am frailty –
I am…
I am Redeemed.

I am more than my name.
I am more than the labels I give myself —
I am more than the stickers and gold stars
Of approval from other broken
Maras, Marys, and Sarahs.
I am who I am because He is
Who He is – the great and mighty
I AM.

Ready? Begin…

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I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

I say this pledge every morning. In unison with my students, we stand with our hands over our hearts in respect and reverence for the things we are to remember. I wonder if they are fully aware of the profundity of this pledge of this allegiance that tethers us together as Americans — as citizens of the great United States. I think not. They are roboting their voices in unison – monotoned, droned, Novocained to the impervious nature of these paramount utterances. By saying these things, does that make you any more or less American if you actually mean it when you say it? Sometimes I try to recite it as if it were the first time or as if my voice wasn’t metallic and inky, but the struggle with that is timing – pacing – uniformity. We MUST stick together or this whole thing falls apart. Is that really true? Who am I to say in earnest or even in true honesty because I, myself, am a fluxing flowing void of psyche and obligation. One MUST say this pledge. One MUST stand with hand over heart and RECITE from memory – from five years of age until you no longer bleed blue. Well, I bleed red, white, and blue; but I don’t like saying the pledge. Does that make me a bad person? No, of course not; but I can’t help thinking that it is a slap in the face to those who have fought for my rights for my un -, sub -, or under-appreciated freedom – it’s nothing to sneeze at, but these poppies keep pollenating my sinuses. God bless you! No, let’s leave Him out of this, shall we? Can we? Is that at all possible? I think not. What if I lived like I truly believed in this pledge? What would my day look like? Would I do things, say things, appreciate things differently? Or would I continue to robot my way through the unsatisfactory endeavor to achieve what Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman couldn’t? That elusive, slippery little lie – the great American Dream of happiness and contentment…I haven’t found it from saying things, from mere recitation. Perhaps, I must put my money where my mouth is…but the casting shadow of Lady Liberty is long and wide in the sunset of my dreams. So, I will continue to perform in the most allegiant of efforts to entertain, sustain, maintain the proclivity and profundity of that Star Spangled Wonder hanging in the corner of my classroom and my heart.

“Speak Again, Bright Angel”

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Guardian of love and light
You fill me with your peace.
Transfusing your soul in mine
I am made complete – I am healed
In the divinity of your love’s brilliant
Prodigiousness – your impassioned words,
Your tender voice, your fervent love,
your intoxicating devotion…You are
Everything — the perfect recognition
Of my soul’s second self – the better
Portion – fill my cup and drink from it
The waters of love’s splendor.
My Angel, my protector, my love –
You have brought me back to life.
Words – in all their healing power –
Could only do so much to resuscitate
My comatose spirit, but you breathed your
Love, your passion, your very being
Into my soul and revived me — You are
Love’s glorious incarnate form!
A new life of ardor, alacrity, and of adoration —
A true and pure divine love
I never thought could exist
Outside of fairytales – but you are
More real than the beating of my own
Heart – for it is the beating of yours.
Bright Angel, you are here, with me
In every word,
In every breath,
In every thought,
Today. Tomorrow. Always. Forever.

Proud Teacher Moment…sort of…

Dear Reader,

cropped-books.jpgToday is the day that I both look forward to and loathe. It is the day the AP scores come out. I try not to get wrapped up in it, but it’s difficult for me. You see, I am a perfectionist. And when I strive for something, I expect results. It worked beautifully in high school and college. I was number one in my class…I wanted it, so I worked for it and voilà! I made it happen. Although it may have come as a surprise to those who knew me in other capacities…Let me explain with a brief (and braggy) anecdote: I remember walking into my high school graduation ceremony with my special sash and medallion that signified my class ranking. I ran into one of my schoolmates (we never had academic classes together, but we were in the same drama production my junior year). Anyway, he greeted me with a hug and then asked me why I was wearing the valedictorian sash and medallion. I thought he was being playful, so without batting a lash, I told him I found it in the quad…but he was serious. I had to set him straight, so I told him that I was, indeed, the valedictorian. And this, dear reader, was his dumbfounded response (pun intended), “but you’re a cheerleader, and you’re blonde, and you’re hot.” I winced (trying to make it as much of a smile as I could because he was, in fact, being sincere…offensive, yes, but obtusely complimentary). That tautly pulled smile (more of a grimace really) was the only retort I could give…tis best not to say things we regret to people who are less than intelligent. All that to say, when I want something — I go after it, and usually I can achieve my goal.

When I became an AP teacher several years ago, I wanted to be the best damn AP English teacher to walk the halls of my school. My first year…well, let’s just say it was cropped-open-book-on-top-of-pile-of-books.jpgnot so great; I went back to the drawing board. I went to summer trainings and revamped my entire curriculum. And in the following years, my students began to pass their AP English tests with flying colors! This year was no different! My entire AP English Literature class passed their test!!!!!! (These are my AP seniors…I love them to pieces and still cry a little when I think about not teaching them anymore…they are all going to amazing colleges, so at least I know they are in good hands).  Now, I’m trying to stay humble about all this, which is pretty easy to do since my AP English Language class did not do so well on their test, but today, I am celebrating my successes and forgetting my failures (don’t worry, I’ll go back to the drawing board and revamp things later this summer for AP lang). I have a colleague (a fellow AP teacher) who wisely told me: “I get too much flack when the students don’t pass, and I get too much credit when they do.” I try to keep that perspective, especially on days like this.

In closing, I will tell you what I told my AP students: “The AP exams are 6103.jpegimportant, sure, but they don’t define who you are. It does not determine how smart you are or how successful you will be in life. Remember you are more than your AP score(s) – that is just a number based on one morning of your life; instead, measure your success in the day in, day out moments life offers you. And never stop reading; never stop learning.”

My Best to You,

Jaime

Just one of the many reasons I love to read…

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This quote resinates with me. I have it proudly posted in my classroom and on one of my Pinterest boards. This is just one of the many reasons I stand by my blog’s title. Reading enables me to connect with humanity and take part in the global conversation of life without leaving the comfort of my cozy couch. I’m reading a new book that I absolutely love (I plan to write about it after I finish it. I was lucky enough to meet the author a few years back). My hope is that you too are reading something that reaches out and takes your hand in an assuring way that says, you truly are not alone.  

My Whisperer

I am enfolding — my infernal evaporation
Into the darkness. This is nothing more than
The declension of a tired spirit: succumbing
To Dante’s path once more. The way is marked
With Virgil’s beguiling light of limited
Human wisdom. The candles dim to flickering
Shadows as I reach for the jar atop the highest shelf
Of my mind. I placed my shattered heart there
In hopes to keep it safe from the darkness –
But these cold, inky thoughts continue to flood in
Through the cracks in the walls and under
The dead-bolted doors of iron and rust.

Then, like a warm summer breeze
That playfully sends my long curled tendrils
To dancing, your whisper lifts me
Out of the sordid pit in which I tried
To find solace. Instead of rebuke and disgust,
Your hand reaches for mine pulling me close to you.
You beckon me to healing as you take
The broken fragments of my heart in your hands
And begin to piece them lovingly together.
Your words become the encasement for my
Reshaped heart until I am all but melting
Into the light of your soothing whisper.

his story — untold

My dad is a strong man,
who doesn’t always know
how to express himself,
but whenever he speaks
of his mother, his dark
green eyes boyishly
twinkle with reverence
and regret.
He loved his mother,
as all good sons do.
There’s so much more
to the story that his eyes
reveal, but he keeps
those words locked up
behind his teeth. One day,
I hope to hear all about it,
but for now I’ll settle
for the parts he’s willing
to share.