Saturday, December 19, 2015

3 for December, 2015


Cut logs from Great Oaks. Dress them with pine, cedar, berries, 
then douse well with ale. Toss the wood 
with best flour ground down on the hand-stones.
Set ablaze the new Yule log with fire from the old one,
tended by women and kept burning the year.
Eat hearty of fresh beef, oat bread, and stirabout.
Every man, every woman, drink your fill of mulled wine.
Young ones link arms, dance and dance more.

Sing and drum in bold spirit on the night of the Solstice,
for we’ll not sing again ‘till the frozen ground gives—
the hungry time comes and some of us will die.
We gather this night under boughs of the Evergreen:
whose stout color lives on through the storms and long cold
through the fearsome dark winter of storms and long cold.


The skirt of her coat swirls
as she twirls on new white skates.

“I’m Princess of the Pond,” she whispers.

Then, a game! Ringolario!
A big boy with red hair grabs her hand. 
He’s not from the neighborhood.
“Hide with me!”

Fast to the place where sticks 
of grass poke through the ice. 
He pulls her down.

“This will feel good,” he says
and he rubs under her coat.
“No,” she thinks, but she freezes.

Anger rushes and whirls until it frees 
her to grapple him. She speeds away
to the log where they keep their shoes.
Her heart pounds, but she doesn’t cry.

That night Elvis Presley is on Ed Sullivan. 
Knees drawn tight to her chest, 
she’s safe in her pink quilted robe,
and her secret is thick in her throat.

The next weekend it snows!
Everyone rushes to Piersall’s hill.
The red-haired boy shows up again.
He taunts a small child— takes his sleigh.

Her fury grows bigger than fear and she pushes his chest, 
punches his stomach and screams,

“Go away! You’re a bad boy! Go away!”

When her brother finds her, the bully is gone. 
Worn through, she sobs into his snowy wool coat.

Snowy Night in Northern New Jersey 

The blizzard’s a lalapalooza, but we’re going anyway— all six of us in the Karmann Ghia. Dad says it will hold the roads better than the Impala and Mom’s not arguing. Ricky even goes along with sitting on Mom’s lap without a fight even though he’s seven. In the back seat, my brother Bobby’s long legs are smooshed up by his chin and I sit between my brothers, half on Peter’s lap. Everyone is dressed up for Christmas Eve dinner at one of those country inn places that are around now. This isn’t like us, you know? We’ve gone to restaurants, of course we have— Chinese place in Wycoff, pizza place in Suffern, like that. Peter told me this Old Country Hearth or whatever it’s called is expensive. I’m wearing my ugly snow boots with my black velvet dress, but I have my heels (still one inch) in a bag on my lap. Dad’s in a great mood. So’s Mom and she looks beautiful, smoothed, young. No one’s been whining or arguing or pestering. We feel like a different family to me tonight. Going for it in a blizzard, going somewhere fancy together. I don’t care about what I get tomorrow— just let’s make it through the rest of the night being nice to each other like this: Dad cracking jokes, Mom laughing, us four kids getting along, the Ghia warming up, the snow falling like crazy.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Steven Wright works as a title, I guess.

"A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking."
Steven Wright, an American comedian, actor, writer, Oscar-winning film producer, said that. He’s brightened up my life for decades now. I think he’s a philosopher, like the late George Carlin. I miss George Carlin. Steven Wright used to show up on TV with new material during the messy 80’s and the shiny 90’s, but I guess he got tired. Jon Stewart, another guy I miss, another brightener, got tired, too, he said. (No, not-in-so-many-words, at least that I know of for sure.) Now he’s helping rescued farm animals with his wife, Tracey, (Tracy?) and I’m happy for them. I saw an interview with Tracey (Tracy?) and someone or other. Can’t remember the details but if you Google Tracey or Tracy Stewart and farm animals you’ll probably find it.

"A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking." Yes. Exactly. Ooooh, I get so tired, weary, and pitiful if I think and think. After I’ve given a good deal of my all, though, I can just reach a conclusion and be done with the thing, like SW says.  Aha! I say. Epiphany. Well, no. Not like that. More like diving into a nearby fact puddle, sloshing around, getting out and dried off, un-refreshed but finished with the whole bit and ready to laugh at cats jumping when cucumbers sneak up on them. (Google cats and cucumbers if I’ve lost you there.)

"A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking,” is a clear definition, but I strove for intellectual integrity for a little while earlier today so, to be fair, I looked up “conclusion” in the Oxford Online Dictionary. There were a mess of definitions on the page but this is the only one I felt like getting into:

“conclusion: “ A judgement or decision reached by reasoning 
and, even though all this was starting to drag for me,  I then looked up what they had to say about 
“reasoning:” The action of thinking about something in a logical, sensible way. Oh, Christ! Now I feel compelled to check OOD for 
“logical:” Characterized by or capable of clear, sound reasoning,” and 
“sensible:” Done or chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit. 

So then, 
“wisdom” The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise, and 
prudenceThe quality of being prudent; cautiousness. Okay. I’m exhausted by now but,  
prudent:” Acting with or showing care and thought for the future, and then, naturally, 
care:” Serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk

All this work for a definition of a word when good old Steven Wright explains what it means so simply and in words I don’t have to think about mush, I mean much.

"A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking,” is the very place for Americans, don’t you think? Well, most Americans. Okay, a lot of Americans.

Like about Syrian refugees, for example.

It’s exhausting to think about Syrian refugees. Hurts the brain. The pictures hurt your eyes and the reports, your ears. Better to just reach a conclusion before your heart gets involved, right? I know. Certain presidential candidates got tired of thinking about this lickety-split. They came to conclusions and tossed them out with stunning speed. President Obama is doing the whole Oxford Online Dictionary thang, though. Poor guy. Who knows when he’ll reach rock hard 24-carat conclusions because he never seems to get tired. He just keeps thinking. Wow.

Monday, October 19, 2015

L'histoire de Baptiste Turcot

Over the spire of Notre Dame du Cap,
the half moon hangs straight up and down.
Baptiste Turcot sings a ballad of love.
His horse picks his way through elm and oak.

He’d dined that night in a Québécois home
met Marie Madeleine Duteau DuTaut.
He’s riding easy, lulled by his hopes,
when he spots glowering golden eyes.

With a snarl the beast leaps to attack.
His horse rears high to escape horror’s bite;
Baptiste quick with his knife spills the blood
of the Devil’s own Wolf, the Loup-garou.

True to French legend, he becomes one too:
A man by day but useless and ill,
a monster at sundown driven to kill.
For one hundred and one demented days,
keep the secret to break the spell
or forever be damned an Unholy Wolf.

Baptiste swears to hide deep in the woods,
survive through the days and nights all alone,
fight his own evil through the dreadful time,
tear only animal flesh, spare human kind.

Late, this same night, in Trois Riviéres
as the half-moon hangs straight up and down
young Marie Madeleine Duteau Dutaut,
slips out to the garden for tender May air.

The rose silk of her gown dances, rustles.
A light wind carries the song she trills
from her father’s house to the dangerous forest
where the new Loup-garou hears her and howls.

With uncanny speed he climbs a great cliff,
spies the glimmer of pearls sewn onto the bodice
of the mademoiselle’s first Parisian gown,
scents lavender soap come by ship from Provence.

During cruel months of spell-bound lust for blood,
Baptiste hides from the hunters he could easily kill,
fights the sickness each day, the Devil each night,
endures, finally triumphs to reclaim his soul.

His first day of freedom in red maple October,
he rides at full gallop to the farm of Dutaut,
speaks to the father of his love for the daughter,
and at Christmas they marry, trembling hand in hand.

Eight of their children survive past five.
The Turcot farm prospers on the Île d'Orléans.
But if he’s alone in the forest, Baptiste will growl,
and he dreams every night he’s the Wolf, Loup-garou.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Valient Nonnie Goes to Quebec City

Café au lait at the Musée des Beaux-Arts

"Breakneck" steps in the old city
Ferry ride on the St. Lawrence

Valiant Nonnie

I do feel valiant. The last time I flew alone was 9 years ago. That was for a court date. I had to show up in Maryland to get divorced. A few years later I flew to Philadelphia with my brother, Peter. On the flight back my retina tore and I was blind in one eye. My vision had started to do bizarre things in the airport, but I didn’t say anything to Peter until we were on the plane because I was being clever about avoiding the possibility of a hospital emergency room visit in Philadelphia. I doubt anyone in the wide world enjoys ERs and I suspect most of us share my dread of them. I figured if it came to that, I could at least do the thing close to home. I won’t digress into the tale of my torn retina, but everything worked out. I see with both of my eyes.

Last May I booked a trip to Quebec City with a travel agent here in Panama City Beach, Florida. I’ve wanted to visit the place for years, and my Philadelphia brother, Robert, said he’d meet me there, so plans were made. He made reservations for us at the Hôtel du Vieux Quebec for five nights in September. Going from my town (it’s not the most comfortable place for an artsy-fartsy aging hippie from New Jersey but I’ve lived here for ten years; made some wonderful friends; share a good house with Peter, 3 cats and a dog; and have recently found my tribe with the local Unitarians) to Quebec City would require a lot of money, 3 planes, and a 12 hour day of travel. Some people travel all the time, some people don’t travel at all, and some people take yearly road trips to poetry festivals, but mostly stay close to home because they have Myasthenia gravis and a wonky heart. I belong to the last group.  So, a big deal, this trip.

I arrived in plenty of time for my 7:15 am flight. There were about 5 people in the whole airport. There was no 7:15 flight to Atlanta (you have to fly through Atlanta to get anywhere else from PCB, pretty much) and hadn’t been for months. Obviously, I didn’t know. Not my fault. Big kerfluffle ensued. I arrived (I’ll skip a lot here) at our hotel in Canada at 2am Saturday morning. My luggage arrived sometime Saturday afternoon. I don’t know when exactly, because I was out with Robert enjoying the hell out of one of the best places I’ve ever been.

I didn’t take many photos because if I’d gotten started with that I would have had to take about a thousand. Every damn corner of the old walled city is photo-worthy, if you ask me. Every building, every view, every little alley curving up or down went straight to my heart. The up and down part? Steep! And here my valiance comes in. For me, Quebec City is built on a series of mountain ranges, not merely seven hills. But I was willing and that made all the difference. Oh, I loved it. Robert did, too. We ate delicious meals; heard a Vivaldi concert; went to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Quebec, where they just happened to be having an exhibition devoted to the influence of Japanese art on the Impressionists; (Monet, Bonnard, Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro, Degas, Mary Cassatt, Matisse, Van Gogh—all those guys) took a ferry; went to the farmer’s market; listened to a guide who knew everything as we walked with a small group around the place; and had earnest, silly, nostalgic, satisfying conversations with each other over our five days. My high school French miraculously reappeared, albeit diminished by time. But I did have some conversations entirely in French. At least, I thought so.

This was more than a vacation for me, though. For two and a half years I’ve been writing poems based on ancestry research that I’ve been able to do with my little Mac. Early on in this work I discovered that my maternal grandfather’s bloodline includes Claude Robillard, an orphan who made the voyage from Paris to New France in 1663. His wife, Marie Grandin, was one of the filles du roi: young women who Louis XIV sent to North America to marry and have families with the male settlers. Seeing Quebec City, respectful as it is of its history, and so beautiful, moved me deeply. And guess what? The hotel we stayed in (excellent, by the way) was on the site of the original hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu, where Marie, Claude, and many of their descendants, my ancestors, died. Spooky, eh?

Ah, well. Well done, Nonnie. Thank you, Robert. I doubt I would have made the trip if you hadn’t been along on it. I came home Wednesday. From the hotel to our house took 14 hours, but I was sitting down throughout the day. I have to use wheelchairs in airports these days. The people who helped me get from plane to plane, go through customs and security— all that—were many and without exception kind, friendly, and efficient. And what they say about Canadians being the nicest people? True, true, absolutely true.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Palms, John Singer Sargant,1917

Notes in August, 2015

I’ve kept a glossy flyer mailed to me by a local mega church for a week or so now. It is an invitation to watch a Hollywood blockbuster each Sunday in August and stay for the pastor’s unpacking of Biblical truths to be found within each movie. The movies aren’t named, but judging by the graphics, my best guess is that they are all apocalyptic. They offer 7 times and 3 locations (two of them public schools,) so everyone should be able to attend if they’ve a mind to. I don’t. My mind is not engaged by this invitation, just puzzled. Churches like this direct mail me occasionally but this is the first movie invitation. I live in the kind of town that warrants the expense of this kind of mailing, I guess. Lots of folks will show up for these screenings and the after-preach. Okay, I’m done with it now. Off of my desk and into the trash for it.

On MSNBC, Alex Wagner, subbing for Chris Hayes, played a political ad featuring Ted Cruz cooking bacon on an AK-47. Apparently his team has linked bacon, Ak-47s, and winning votes. Even with Alex (who’s a favorite of mine) guiding me, I missed the concept. Blew right by me. Ted Cruz looked very happy during his bit and even ate the bacon after it had been cooked up by the heat of the barrel on the gun. I may be using the wrong terms regarding the firearm, but I’m not going to google to check. Bacon is bacon, though, no doubts there.

My county and another nearby have put bumper stickers on their sheriff department’s cruisers  stating “In God We Trust.” The deputies have not as yet given up their guns, though. I write “my county” because I live here. It’s a long story…

Why don’t any of the politicians talk about “securing the borders” in terms of illegal drugs these days? Do we grow heroin and cocaine inside the borders now? No, right? I know we make meth all the hell over the place inside the US border. Cartels and the bankers that are making the big money, those guys, and the way they use the border— that is border corruption that bothers me. I’m more interested in stopping drugs from getting here (it’s not like addicts are happy people) than the refugees who don’t want to die from starvation or murder in El Salvador, Guatamala, and Honduras. I watched the first Republican debate and didn’t hear a word about this. I never hear a word about this on TV. Have we given up trying to stop drug smuggling? There must be a lot of it going on, because there are a lot of people (legally here people) whose lives are all wrapped up in life-destroying drugs and I know they don’t buy them at Walmart. Or, maybe they do. By bringing this up I am not cheering for our system of imprisoning the users and small-time dealers for using and small-time dealing. Hell, if I lived in any number of lousy neighborhoods where there was no work, no chance of getting out, no where to go, I don’t see myself (especially my younger self) sticking to the straight and narrow no matter what.

Speaking of the first Republican debate: there wasn’t much debating, was there? I didn’t watch the earlier one because two in one night was asking too much, but I sat through the second. Got me thinking about bullies. There was more than one on the stage. Big bully and a few mini-bullies. Bully-worshippers must be loving this. They can devote themselves to the loud guy with the comb-over or a selection of guys who claim they have God backing them up and can therefore lie with impunity, carry big clubs and swing them joyfully. Me? I like smart, am not impressed by testosterone or how frequently, worshipfully, a candidate refers to God and this great country of ours, or this could-be-great-again country of ours (code for a white conservative president.) For a long time now, my big idea is that God is a name for something I think of as good-orderly-direction, but I’ve never even considered voting Republican, even during my stints with religion.

It’s mid-August already and my plans about my second book of poetry being finished and ready to submit by now haven’t worked out. However! I have made progress. I may even be finished writing, even be finished revising. If I am, the next step is submitting the thing to publishers. When I think about that too much my soul shrinks, my brain buzzes, I wonder if I have leukemia.
Daunting process—printing the poems and prose poems out, putting them in order, formatting, mailing or emailing the manuscript off to random (I’m not big on researching publishers) and probably badly chosen presses. However! This summer I read and mostly followed Harold Bloom’s new book, The Demon Knows, Literary Greatness and the American Sublime, and I’ve read and re-read King Lear, (it was time.) Oh, and I took an online workshop with the Iowa Writer’s Program, even got a certificate of completion from them. And! I’ve found a local tribe to meet up with—started and kept on going to the Unitarian Universalist services every Sunday (except one, which was about grief and I’m sure it was helpful but I gave it a miss; cowardly, maybe.) This means I have therefore been about 1,000 times more social than I have been for the last several years. Accomplishments. I just haven’t brought myself to the edge of the cliff with my second book. Just haven’t. I will though. I will.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sandra Bland’s Story is a Punch to the Heart   

An hour after sunrise, driving home from a poetry festival, going west on the Florida panhandle section of on U.S. 98 between Perry and Carrabelle, alone in my old Buick, alone on the highway, (two-lanes in that part of the road) alone except for a state police car, or a sheriff’s car, some kind of official vehicle, (I never look carefully when I pass them because they don’t worry me) pulls off the road to my left. I check my speed limit because my old Buick likes to go when the roads are straight and empty like this one. Seems okay to me.

His lights are on behind me. I figure he’s on the way somewhere important so I pull to the right as far as I can so that he can pass me. He doesn’t pass; he pulls up close and then a blue light flashes and the penny drops. He wants me. Me? I pull over and wait for him to come to my window. Roll it down for him. My wonky heart’s thudding. He peers at me then smiles.

I fumble out my license and registration. He smiles some more and says I was doing 67 in a 55. I’ve just seen a sign so I say, surprised, I thought the limit was 65. He says it’s 65 here but it was 55 back there. So I say I’m sorry and wait for the ticket. But he doesn’t give me one. Let’s me off with a warning. I let him drive off first, then continue my trip home. I really want to get home, now.

So I think about this. I drive around with my Obama/Biden bumper sticker still proudly displayed. I have longish darkish hair; it hasn’t gone gray yet, although it should have by now I guess. Who did this officer (of some authority or other) think I was? Did I surprise him? My face has no fierce edges now and indeed it was never one to frighten people. What exactly was I afraid of, anyway? Because he terrified me for those few minutes. He fucking terrified me. My road trip ended a few hours later when I pulled into my driveway in Panama City Beach; safe, sound, white.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Enough, Trump ( 2015 version)

Enough, Trump.

We've had it my dear, with your pink ties, your hairs, 
your swagger, your towers, your money, tempers, walls, bombs,
smarts, snarls, pouts and doubts, bigotty bile, and once again, style.
We just cannot get your tenacious temerity, your specious celebrity. 

Have you read any poets, I wonder?

Some dignity, perhaps? Is it there, under-wraps?
Holy Cannoli! You’re up in the polls. 
It must be your cash, your media smashes, 
the way the daily news blues confuses 
your squawks, smirks, sound bite plashes 
with meaning. And now I’ve spent time of own.

 Would you just go?

Friday, June 19, 2015

June 19, 2015

Bad Air Everywhere

Commonplace madness
spews, froths, invades innocence.
Brush fires smolder in likely places
and unlikely places
smoking, choking, spreading low, evil heat,
tended, sustained, nurtured, by the commonplace mad.
Walk to the corner in bare feet. No don’t.
Take care, take care.

Commonplace explosions
shatter, burn, destroy innocents. 
Furnaces blow in cellars,
churches, on street corners,
eruptions of deadly poison, bursting flame
startling, destroying, convulsing,
neglected or overfilled by the overseeing mad.
Sometimes there are warnings. Often none.

Take care, take care.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Two from my book, "One Day Tells its Tale to Another"

San Felipe de Neri, Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico
After Dinner with Ted at the High Noon Café

Cheese enchiladas and High Noon Margaritas 
and our evening felt good. His arm on my waist,
we strolled around Old Town in the sweet desert cool
of an Albuquerque summer’s Saturday night.
Our knees weak from laughing, eager for each other
we left the bright square, with its crowd of turistas,
and turned the corner to my dark cobbled street.
Footloose, I stumbled in my blue high-heeled sandals.

As Ted caught and kissed me, I glanced past his shoulder 
to see young Emilio standing under his porch light 
in a blood-spattered shirt. 
Against his thigh dangled 
the glint of a knife.
He swayed from cerveza and cried “Mi hermano!” 
I saw his brother, Tomás, collapsed at his feet.
From inside their casa, I heard women shriek.

I’d an impulse to help and moved toward the chaos
but Ted held me back and soon sirens grew loud. 
A sad hour later, we watched from the shadows 
as the police took Emilio and his brother away.
Green chili and tequila tumbled inside me, 
in the sad, sobered quiet of my city’s Old Town.

Spanish Missions

With slow, quiet steps I walk
through the old stucco house. 
Scents of citrus and rose 
curl through windows barred
by carved wooden spindles.

A maiden’s chaste bedroom overlooks 
the Mission of San Juan Bautista. 
A fragile lace cloth, laundered fresh against the dust 
of the Camino Real, drapes a small table 
where the blue-robed Virgin prays, her painted tears 
flow for the crucified Christ hung on the white-washed wall.

In old California, beneath this small window,
did a gallant play his guitar and sing to his love, lying
safe under the counterpane of this high narrow bed? 
In his song did he compare her black hair 
with the night sky and her skin with the moon? 
Did his fingers strum passion and his melodies woo?

Did the heavy boots 
of her father intrude, 
his quick stride loud
on her clean wooden floor? 
Did the youth hold his ground? 

Oh so faint the ghosts of these three 
in the shadowy hacienda I tour. 
It might have been that way. 
I almost know. How can I?    
But I do almost know.

Friday, March 27, 2015

from The Wire: "Mr. P," on his first day in his 7th grade classroom. 
After the abrupt end of my career in dance, after a couple of years listless shuffling what was left of my deck, I went back to school to get a teaching certificate. Eventually I honed in on special education, with a focus on children with learning disabilities and emotional handicaps. Those were the kids that drew me in, their huge need matched my huge need to feel useful. My fifteen and some years of teaching started in Florida and ended abruptly in Maryland. Dunno. Rugs get pulled, eh?

My first teaching job was in a special education center in Florida. I taught emotionally disturbed Kindergartners. The children had already run into big trouble in their pre-schools or regular Kindergarten classes and they were placed with us. The students, roughly evenly black and white, with a few Asians, a few Hispanic, qualified for free breakfast and lunch 98% of the time. Basically, they were all dirt poor.

“My” children were five and six and once they trusted me, they would let me teach them. In most cases, during the years I worked in this center, the children reached the first goal the school established for them: the student will be able to experience their environment with pleasure. When these children came to our center, they weren’t able to do that, and I felt like that was a damn shame. Here’s a poem:

Children, I will teach you.
We will make Green Eggs and Ham,
sing the alphabet in funny voices, celebrate
your good behavior with stickers and playtime,
watch The Red Balloon, dance on Friday afternoons.

Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak, A.A. Milne, Dr. Zeuss,
Ezra Jack Keats, Chinua Achebe, Beatrice Potter,
and their friends will join us and you will sit quietly,
soaking in poetry, pictures, and tales of wise animals, 
foolishness, kindness, impossibilities, and satisfying resolutions. 

My last teaching job was in a large middle school in Prince George’s County, Maryland, in a town half-way between D.C. and Baltimore. The school population was about 60% white and 40% black; the faculty was a fair mix of black and white, men and women; the children came from well-off families, getting by families, homeless families, and no family at all to speak of. When they were poor, more often than not, they came from a poverty of long standing in their family histories.

During my first year at that school I was a “co-teacher,” supposedly working in tandem with regular teachers, supposedly helping the kids with learning disabilities. The special ed students were in large classes meant to be “regular” education, but most of the other students were placed there because they had behavior issues that were deemed “incorrigible,” or were emotionally damaged or learning disabled, but undiagnosed. Chaos reigned. I tried to teach and now and then I felt like I had taught someone something useful, but most nights I left the school feeling utterly frustrated, lost, and depressed.

During my second year at the school, I taught (by myself, which was better) an “intensive” class of 7th and 8th graders language arts and social studies. Once I won the battle with the administration to get my class size in line with special education guidelines, we, the children and I, had a pretty good time and I think they learned. No, I know they did. But I messed it up by needing open-heart surgery in April of that year. I couldn’t return to that job, in fact I never returned to full-time teaching. 

I recently watched TheWire,,
which originally aired from 2002 to 2008. I didn’t watch it then because, because… Wow. The story is about life in Baltimore, Maryland, but it could be about any city in our country that has poor neighborhoods, political corruption, problems in police departments, a shrinking middle class, children and schools in crisis. So, any U.S. city.  I spread the 60 episodes out sensibly over a couple of months, didn’t binge, because I could only take one or two episodes a night and not every night. Some nights I felt weak. Every American should watch The Wire from start to finish, I think. That won’t happen, of course. Some Americans would rather be shot; for others watching The Wire would never occur to them, simply wouldn’t be in their radar; and for many Americans there would be no opportunity and anyway it would be redundant because they are living it, know the scenes all too well. The fourth season brings a group of middler schoolers into the story and I followed them living out their plot lines with recognition, rage, heartbreak, and in one lone case, joy. Okay, I am, “to the depths of my being” one of the tribe who think this series brilliantly written— accurate, perceptive, and brutally honest, but the thing about the series that both broke my heart and cheered me up the most was that in the final season they zoomed in on the children. We all need to zoom in on the children. Until we do that, we will get nowhere. We can have “conversations” (Jeez louise, I’m sick of hearing about conversations) until we exhaust ourselves, but we can also do things differently so that poverty doesn’t beget poverty, and a zip code doesn’t get to say it all about a child’s chance in America. Let’s finally do as much as we can to help every child thrive and see if that doesn’t help all of us. We need to nurture the roots of us. And yes, I’m a Democrat.