I’ve never used the word “calumny.” To be honest I wasn’t sure what it meant. Thank goodness for Google!

I’m trying now to craft a poem around this word “calumny” that popped into my mind apropos of nothing. Words do that to me sometimes.


Calumny, she said to me, ended my career. I’d arisen from nothing, no pedigree, no expertise,

With tears in my eyes I begged her to explain her downfall. Did calumny cause you

Pain? I asked. Was it akin to a canker sore or a bunion? She laughed ruefully. No, it was much worse.

You see I’d trusted someone and they smeared my name. Made me the fool of their wicked game.

And just like that, my reputation was beyond repair. I didn’t laugh, but still perplexed. Calumny 

Isn’t a physical malady? It sounds like a blow to the gut. Again, she smiled. Close, but no cigar.

Long Night

He stood inside the circle of light, hat in hand, a glorious fedora. 

She stumbled in the dark, caught her heel on a paving stone, stifled a giggle.

Crickets and frogs and hoot owls witnessed their coming together.

He dropped his hat, she kicked off her shoes, their lips met unerringly.

“This feels like a movie,” she whispered.

“You feel like a tree,” he sighed.

“CUT!” Called the director. “For the hundredth time, its dream. ‘You feel like a dream!’ Sheesh, it’s gonna be a long night.”

Cartoonists for the People

Every day I find cartoons that give me a lift in this resistance movement. Good political cartoonists help allay our fears by reminding us that there are some smart, creative people on our side. Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed. Hope you find a new one to make you think and maybe chuckle. 

Probably won’t win a Grammy for his performance on the world stage.

The Highest Bidders

What’s your goal? 

Destroy public education? 

Scrap affordable health care? 

Reduce social security to rubble? 

Make shady deals with Russia? 

Undo decades of Civil Rights advancements?

No problem! It’s easy!

If you’re a wealthy political donor just buy your way into trump’s cabinet. 

A cool million ought to get you just what you want.

Don’t worry ’bout the poor!

No thoughts for the children!

Screw the elderly!

Who needs to vote anyway?

It’s all about the bucks, baby! 

You sure showed us. Indeed, you did. 

And you smiled and smirked all the way.

Swim with Me

Childhood memories of swimming embossed on black and white slides on a Kodak carousel

Projector. Mom posed in sepia tones next to lipsticked friends showing long legs and

Shy facade. Burgeoning freedom from tired stereotypes of the matronly figure.

My beautiful mother, cigarette in hand, defied the trope. Once divorced, then

Tall and curvaceous with a smile for the ages, yet too self-concious to
swim in

Public. Every time I don my lycra swimsuit I see her in my mind. Gorgeous, like me.

The School of Deep Pockets

On Monday a majority of Republican senators voted in favor of confirming Betsy DeVos to the post of Secretary of Education. 

Ms. DeVos has never attended public schools. Her children did not attend public schools. Yet she’s landed a position that will impact public school teachers and students in this nation for decades to come.

In the hearings leading up to her confirmation Ms. DeVos was unable to answer simple questions that every teacher in the country can respond to in a heartbeat. So what makes her qualified to lead the department of education? Silly me! It’s money!
If she were a friend to public schools, perhaps the outrage I feel would be out of place, but DeVos is a proponent of charter schools and vouchers. What are vouchers in this context?

School vouchers, also referred to as opportunity scholarships, are state-funded scholarships that pay for students to attend private school rather than public school. Private schools must meet minimum standards established by legislatures in order to accept voucher recipients.–National Council of State Legislatures

So my tax dollars are going to pay for students to attend private and/or charter schools, also known as “for profit” schools. Wealthy parents who have heretofore paid the cost for pricey private education can now count on me to help subsidize their children’s schooling.

Middle class parents fearing a pending drain on public schools may be inclined to pull their students from public schools and enroll them in charter or private schools taking money away from an already beleaguered system.

Every public school depends on tax dollars. Those tax dollars are allocated on a per student basis. In some states the funding is decent, while in others it is deplorable.
Regardless, our tax dollars are now going to fund private education, and those kids at the bottom rung of society will be the ones who most feel the loss. 

Throughout the history of this nation public schools have been the great equalizer. Are our schools perfect? Not by a long shot. Inner city schools struggle with issues we can’t even imagine, but without public school funding, they are set further adrift, while questionable charter schools receive my tax dollars.

So maybe I’ll get on board with this whole money making scheme. I’ll charter a school and call it The School of Deep Thinking. My students and I will convene at the pool on sunny days and contemplate our toenails at the 10′ marker. 

I might even teach a math lesson or two. Students can estimate how long they’ll hold their breath under water. They’ll learn how to convert meters to feet and back again. And we’ll read whatever novels catch our interest while reclining on beach chairs in the Florida sun. Screw higher order thinking. Send me the vouchers.