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.

My Training

Each Saturday morning
was like the one before —
Get up, eat breakfast,
attend ballet.
Ms. Amy, the perfect ballerina,
taught me the meaning of
anguish and adoration.
She demanded perfection
from her little swans —
but I was just a crow.
Nothing I did was ever
good enough — I was told
that she saw potential
in me and that is why
she pushed me so hard.
Removing my skirt was
my punishment — my back
wasn’t swayed. My hips
were rotated just so —
but that pesky little (ahem)
not so little derriere
caused so much agony for me
at the barre. No skirt, no
dignity. When it was time to
exchange our soft slippers
for our point shoes, Ms. Amy
would watch as we wrapped our
toes with paper towels from
the bathroom — no gel pads
or extra stuffing allowed.
If she was feeling
generous she said
we could use a little
lambswool — but just a
little bit! I remember
inspecting myself
in the mirror — scowling
at my svelte dancer physique
Never good enough — the girl
next to me was always
thinner, more flexible,
more graceful, had a prettier
arch in her foot —
Just like Ms. Amy, I
only saw my flaws, and perhaps
unlike Ms. Amy, I never saw
my potential.

Dandelion Dreams



When I was a little girl, I thought dandelions
were beautiful yellow flowers. I never understood
why my dad would get so angry
every time I made a wish
with those cottony clustered clouds.
Umbrella-ed seeds floating all
around spoke of all the possibilities of who I could be and
what was to come. My wishes rarely came true,
but then the parachutes didn’t
always catch the wind. Stubborn anchored sprouts refused
to move with a puff of my cheek. And I knew
that my dreams were stuck.
Now that I’m older, I know better.
Dandelions and their seedling blossoms,
the ones that line the beds of unkempt gardens,
are just weeds of wistful thinking.


10 Pearls of Wisdom I Learned from My Dad

These are 10 things that my dad said to me that made absolutely no sense when I was a kid, but I now consider them little pearls of wisdom. I find myself handing out these little gems to my daughter and my students more and more. I couldn’t arrange these in a hierarchy; they are in no particular order as I consider them all sage advice on equal ground.

1. Never park in someone’s driveway unless told to do so. I get it now! It is very frustrating to come home and not be able to put the car in the garage because someone has parked in the driveway. I mean, I get irked when my neighbor parks in front of my house. It’s not even my driveway, but I want that space for myself and my guests.

2. Don’t slam the car doors! It jars the windows and is completely unnecessary. Simply close the door gently but firmly. My dad would emphatically tell me this (and by emphatic, I mean in red-faced frustration he’d blurt it out), which is exactly the reaction I have when people slam the door. I have to do the ol’ “3-2-1…1-2-3, what the heck is bothering me?!” Carl Winslow calm down routine. I get it now, dad; it’s super annoying.

3. Don’t slam the doors in the house! (for the same reasons listed above).

4. Turn off all the lights when you leave the room! My dad would add “What is this? The Edison company?!” Now I’m the one walking through the house turning off lights, muttering to myself about the electric bill and saving the planet…

5. You get what you pay for. Somethings are worth the investment. I’ve learned this the hard way; after returning 3 broken blenders, I finally sprung for a nicer one.

6. Hang up your towels in the bathroom! I don’t know why I always had a problem with this, but apparently being careless with towels is genetic because my little girl has the same problem. I’m always finding her bath towels on the floor in her room, in the hallway, and in the bathroom. Early on in my marriage, my husband had to get on me about the towel thing. I guess I was just really focused on getting ready, I would forget to take the two seconds it takes to hang up the dang towel. I’m happy to report that I am now a responsible adult who hangs up her towel after using it (most of the time).

7. My dad always says, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Had I believed this early on, I would not have been suckered by those timeshare presentations and those crazy emails and sweepstake mailers about winning large sums of money or free vacations. Seriously, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Save yourself the trouble; just walk away.

8. Whenever you are a guest at someone’s house always offer to clean up and do the dishes. This has proven to be very helpful at winning over my friends, and when I was younger, it helped me get in the good graces of my friend’s parents. Who doesn’t like a happy helper? I’m helpie helperton!

9. Never let your car get under a 1/4 of tank of gas. First, it’s not good for your car to run on the fumes, and second, this way you will never run out of gas. Sage advice! I don’t always listen to it, but I’m aware of its merit.

10. Life’s short, eat ice cream. A popsicle (or five in my dad’s case) at night will not kill you. It’s the little things that bring joy, so go ahead and indulge a little. (For the record, I always understood this maxim and have lived by its truth since I was a small child). I love my dad and am so thankful for him and all the lessons he taught me! What are some of the things your dad told you?

yesterday was blue, like smoke



Yesterday was blue, like smoke.
We walked through the cloud
Of the unknown, the unseen:
Matters of hope and hopelessness,
Joy and sorrow, laughter and tears;
In order to find our true purpose.
From there, we awoke
To the dawning of the sublime;
Where stars shine like beacons,
Glittering the path where we break the yoke
To our past, to our struggle, to our unending night.
We are beckoned to the blaze, to stoke
The flame of red and orange and blue.
And the smoke fills this place and our lungs
With hope. Now we long for the day
When we will say: Today is this,
And tomorrow will be that.
This is what is true, this is what is spoke.


Background: The line “[y]esterday was blue, like smoke”comes from the absurd yet existential play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. This line is found at the end of Act 2 when Guildenstern and Rosencrantz discuss the change in season from summer to autumn. Rosencrantz remains on the surface with this conversation by only concerning himself with the fears of being cold in the fall and winter; whereas, Guildenstern immediately jumps to a deeper level by discussing the “browness at the edges of the day” and how “[b]rown is creeping up on [them]” as if he is completely aware that they are nearing the finality of their existence in the play (their proverbial winter). Meanwhile in the same scene, Hamlet converses with the soldier from Norway as the three schoolmates make their way to see the King of England with an official letter from the Danish King (which originally calls for the death of Hamlet; however, along their journey, Hamlet rewrites the letter to the King of England, which then calls for the immediate death of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern).

Throughout the play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern vainly attempt to cope with the predetermined fate (via Shakespeare’s Hamlet) of their impending death. To universalize this notion, we can consider ourselves as characters in the play of life, and like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, we are all aware of the inevitability of our own demise. Yet, we soldier on through life and act as if it (death, our necessary end) weren’t completely true or applicable to us. We attempt to find meaning in this beautiful and tragic play of life.