The Hole Truth

It may not be on the same level

as Santa. Or Jesus.

but it’s a lie nonetheless that

we tell each other and pretend

to believe.


“Time heals all wounds,” we say

as if we know what we are talking about.

I know for a fact that

cuts, scrapes, incisions and all manner

of wounds to the flesh

will heal over time.


But what of the wounds

of the soul?

Of the heart?

Gaping, horrific, people-shaped holes

that can’t knit themselves shut.


Holes that took part of me with them

like a house that slides from the earth

into a sinkhole, pulling trees and bikes,

cars and swingsets, gone.

The parts of me anchored to you

are torn away.


Time passes

wounds remain.

And now, these empty spaces

echo with the sounds of voices

I must strain to hear.


Absence leaves a hole, yet

my heart is your final resting place.

We should tell each other

The Truth

about loss.


It’s permanent.

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We are Americans

I was there, but I don’t remember.

So I imagine

That, being late November in New York City, it was a cold, grey, windy day.

I imagine

My mother and father; she’s carrying me, a babe in arms, and he’s rounding up my brothers, putting my oldest brother in charge of the younger two, so he could help my mother.

I imagine

They are all happy, excited, afraid, exhausted, relieved, apprehensive, curious. Looking around in wonder and listening to the conversations around them in foreign tongues. Most of the immigrants from our plane were German, like us, but there were some from Poland, some from Czechoslovakia, and Lithuania, and one young family from France.

So I’ve been told.

I imagine

How overwhelming it must have felt to my 28-year-old parents,

as they saw the Statue of Liberty on the island nearby

and the huge American flag

and the mass of people.

I imagine

The sky seemed lower because the buildings were so tall.

And while this was the end of a journey, it was the beginning of our new lives.

And I celebrate the courage and tenacity my parents had; their willingness to sacrifice and do whatever it took to make their dream a reality.

We are Americans.

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A Villanelle for Michael

He was her favorite, by far.
She held him in a special place.
None other ever was on par.

You could say she set the bar
too high to make it a fair race.
He was her favorite, by far.

You might say “Close, but no cigar!”
to those who thought to fill that space.
None other ever was on par.

He wasn’t just a shining star,
wise brown eyes in a happy face.
He was her favorite, by far.

He sang along with his guitar,
he had a special kind of grace.
None other ever was on par.

Happy and sad as memories are,
time cannot this bond erase.
He was her favorite, by far.
None other ever was on par.

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The brilliant sunlight
blankets us in warmth
not summer hot.

Tiny white flowers
like scattered packing peanuts
poke out of the lush green grass
cheerfully insistent on living.

We trail behind
a pair of young girls
who enter the brick building
through perfectly ordinary doors
into the past.

This place is a time machine
and we all remove sunglasses
like synchronized swimmers
in unison.
It is no longer 2010.

We each, suddenly,
weigh more.

The girls bend down,
one after the other,
curtseying? I think,
in front of the display case.

Even after all these years
I can see the robin’s egg blue
of a matched pair of shoes
although they have become separated
from one another, bereft.

Were they her best shoes?
The ones she wore to temple?
Did she feel
grown up
when she wore them?

As the girls walk on
we see the impromptu bouquets
of tiny white flowers left
in front of the display case
with the haunted gray mountain
of 43,000 pairs of shoes.

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New iPhone app – iCitizen #MakeYourVoiceCount

Check out this free iPhone app that lets you keep up with political news you’re interested in; local, state, national. And contact your elected representatives with just a click!

iCitizen app

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Happy Halloween!

Channeling Gemma Teller

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Happy Independence Day, America!

Happy July 4thThinking of my parents today, to whom the United States represented freedom, opportunity and independence after World War II. Post-war Germany didn’t hold the hope and future that they wanted for their family, so they packed everything they owned (one trunk’s worth) and their 4 small children, and flew halfway around the world to make this country their home.

It took 18 months of living in a resettlement camp in West Germany, where they had to go through tons of bureaucratic red tape, exams and shots and several false starts before they found a sponsor in the United States who would take a family with 4 children. Thanks to the World Church Service, we ended up being “adopted” by a Baptist church in Chicago where we all learned to become Americans.

My dad worked two jobs until he could save up enough money to buy a used car and move us into an apartment that fit. My mom learned English so quickly and so well that she lost her German accent, as did my dad. We kept our German traditions, and language, and stayed in touch with our relatives who were still in Germany, but we embraced our American-ness. And, after 10 years as legal aliens, we became proud citizens of the United States.

The 4th of July was always a happy celebration in our home. Because America was independent and free, we could be too.

Thanks Mom and Dad. I’m so grateful for your courage and vision, your hard work and dedication, and your love for us. I’m making sure that your grandchildren and great-grandchildren know of your sacrifices and triumphs so they can appreciate how we all got here.

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Free services may cost too much

Browsers like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Bing and others are free.

Social media apps like Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and others are free.

Or are they?

When you’re not paying for the service, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that these data warehouses (because that’s what they are) have been finding ways to make money with our content. It’s like crack. They can’t get enough of it. They’re addicted and they need more all the time.

And now it looks like they have let the government hook up to their networks and suck up all of our data “in case” they might need it to investigate foreign terrorists. Again, we shouldn’t be surprised. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it.

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The world is a dangerous place to live

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

Albert Einstein
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First they came…

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Martin Niemöller
German anti-Nazi theologian and pastor,
founder of the Confessing Church (Bekennende Kirche)
and a president of the World Council of Churches.
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