Education and Knick-Knacks

This piece is dedicated to a good friend and talented teacher—-Roberta

A complete education teaches critical thinking, non conformity, risk taking and personal accountability. It teaches students to think for themselves and to follow facts not opinions. This requires students to become well rounded in their quest for knowledge and truth. What good is it if a student studies nuclear physics but has no appreciation for the frailties of humanity. What good is it to study philosophy but to not be given the tools to decipher right from wrong. What good it is to study history if you can’t apply it to solving todays social issues. As the saying goes, “Those that fail to learn from history are destine to repeat it”. An education should prepare students to answer the most difficult questions. This includes questions regarding morality, social justice, racism, global warming, political ideals and religion—-to only name a few.

The core purpose of education is not to receive a piece of paper that states a student has completed a series of classes and successfully passed a list of required tests. Education should provide students with the tools and skills to become contributing members of their communities. Compassion and empathy should be a common thread that runs through the curriculum of all subjects and disciplines. This is more true today than ever before.

I’ve dedicated over twenty years of my life to serve as an educator. It’s been an honor to have touched so many lives. I’ve always prided myself in being a motivator and mentor who sought to help each and every one of my students reach their highest potential. I’ll always carry with me the memories of my high achieving students but in some ways, I’ll remember the students who had to struggle and fight to meet their goals even more so. Sometimes what they needed more than anything was for someone to believe in them. That is something not taught in books, but rather given as a gift. These fond memories put a smile on my face. No one can ever take that from me.  

So, I leave here with a cardboard box of mementoes. Some silly knick knacks, a coffee cup and twenty years of student pictures, poems and old flyers advertising plays and concerts. I even have a couple of plaques that recognized me for a job well done. Such a bitter sweet feeling. I’m acutely aware of the sound of my footsteps as they echo down the deserted hall for the finale time. I slowly turn around and whisper, “Farewell old friend”.  

Two Ticks Of A Clock

Between two ticks of a clock

A baby inhales its first breath

Between two ticks of a clock

An old man exhales his last threats

Between two ticks of a clock

Lives may be changed, forever swallowed up

Between two ticks of a clock

Names and days may forever be forgotten 

Between two ticks a clock

Someone falls in love for the first time

Between two ticks of a clock

Someone falls out of love for the last time

Between two ticks of a clock

Entire lives pass by

Between two ticks of a clock

Entire lives slip and lose their grip

Between to ticks of a clock

Everything can change

Between two ticks of a clock

Everything dangles in an abyss 

Between two ticks of a clock

Anything and everything is possible

Between two ticks of a clock

Everything conspires into nothing

Scream-Breathe

There’s no reward for a life well lived

There’s only the conquering of midnight thoughts and defeating those loathed barbed days 

Inhale——-exhale——inhale——exhale——sigh

Time has sun baked our souls and left craters and wrinkles deep in our faces, that mirror like a river refuses to be damned or tamed——-inhale-exhale-sigh

Once young and untested she gave her body to me 

I took it and imagined it would always be this way

But I was wrong, now-a-days the destination is seldom worth the journey—exhale-exhale-sigh

Were we ever that young, that hopeful, so foolish and immortal inhale-exhale-sigh 

Love has a life of it’s own

It lives, it dies

No one knows its life span—exhale-exhale-sigh

It morphs into memories of sun kissed spring days

Time lays in-wait, slipping by, steadily unwinding

Self-doubt is contagious, and it will kill you

Just when you think you have it all figured out

It changes direction—inhale-exhale-sigh

No more listening to boring dweebs yammer on about their views, their values, their beliefs, their god—their rights 

Nobody gives a shit about your petty proclamations, I said nobody, nobody cares asshole!—exhale-inhale—sigh

STOP!  Stop blathering on about your politics, your Jesus, your conspiracy theories and the price of gas and how it was so much better back in the “good ole days”-inhale-exhale-scream!!!!!

Inventing Colors

Art is everywhere, but most only see it when it’s put in a fancy frame, installed in an art show or defined as such by pretentious critics’. I do love art. I love Bukowski and Kerouac….Their pens like divining rods, separating raw sewage from raw beauty.  Some people breakdown playing the piano into a math problem, into intervals and the frequency of notes on a page, but that’s missing the point of playing the piano. Why paint by numbers when there’s so much more waiting outside the lines. Doodle, scribble, close your eyes and let the music flow through you, out of you, into you——like a new color that’s yet to be discovered. 

At The Speed Of Foreverness

In spite of our long days and the swiftness of these passing years 

We’ve reluctantly grown old
Old as in running out of time
The potholed street of aging leads to a cul de sac of convalescence 

Age robs us of youths vanities
It rubs our hair off, dulls our eyesight and deafens our hearing
We slowly cave in on ourselves

We can no longer get by on our sexiness or youthful bravado 
We’re left with a fading wit and the shreds of a once charmed personality

This leaves some bitter, while others are liberated 
There’s nothing more attractive than someone who no longer gives a shit about what others think of them

Shriveled skin, brittle bones, hemorrhoids and varicose veins ain’t so bad

It’s the fading of memories and the onset of feeble mindedness that leaves us befuddled

There’s that moment of confusion when we enter a room and forget what we needed there, or what we were looking for, or even why we came there in the first place???

But, I’ll fight like hell to forever remember your face 

							

The Lost Art Of Letter Writing

Letter writing is a lost art. In the olden days receiving a letter was a momentous occasion. It may be the only link to a loved one who’s now many miles away. It might be a soldier who’s off to war, or a prospector who’s gone out west to a gold rush in search of his fortune, or maybe someone who’d left everything behind to seek freedom and opportunity in the new world, or maybe a letter from mom and dad after they’ve shipped you off to summer camp. To the homesick, a letter is like a life preserver tossed from home. 


Somehow, written words are more intimate and heartfelt than texts, zooms, emails or face-timeing. There’s a formality of ink meeting paper, there’s something unique about thoughts laid out in black and white—–it’s like letting someone peer into the corners of your mind, to hear your voice, the timber, the rhythm and the flow of words being enunciated—-It’s like being given wings when standing on a collapsing bridge.


Written letters are saved in old shoeboxes or under well worn mattresses. It would be a foolish thing to throw away someones words and thoughts. Letters are snapshots of moments in time. They can be pulled out and reread and given life again. It’s like placing the needle of a phonograph on a favorite song. You can pick the letter up and smell its scent, imagining the hand that sealed the envelope. I once had a girlfriend who’d put on lipstick and then leave an imprint of her kiss on the letters she’d send me. She’d spray perfume on the stationary and leave “X’s” and “O’s” next to her name. It was a virtual hug and kiss. 


I’d always carefully put my letters back in their envelopes and then place them in a box I dedicated to these precious communications. Most folks won’t let you into their world the way a letter can. A well written letter requires time and attention to create a composition that expresses what is laying dormant beneath ones tongue.  

We’re all adrift on a vast ocean of loneliness and a letter is like a bright red flair against an ebony sky.  It begs the questions—- Can you see me? Do you hear me?—Please don’t forget me?

Victor S. Uriz II

Things I Wish I’d Said

There are words I wish I’d said. But I always told myself there’d be time for words, 26 letters assembled into some future confession of love.  But tomorrow is never guaranteed——-the future is a theory, an algebra problem where x doesn’t always equal y——a law of physics that can’t explain the speed of loneliness. But it takes courage to say what’s often left out because it’s so much easier to comment on the weather. Why is “I love you” a secret tattoo hidden beneath your long sleeved heart. I tell myself, “Oh it’s obvious, they already know how I feel.” But that’s bullshit I feed myself. Do you ever check to see if your emotional Fitbit has reached your quota of kind words required in a day? Why is it that anger and petty complaints come so much easier than kindness and compassion? These emotions are stuck on mute in a movie with no subtitles. It’s easy to mistake a deep kiss for a vampires siphon, like that feeling you get from someone who’s always taking, but never giving back. But then, without warning, there are those who’s humanity walks me back from the edge. Things I wished I’d said, “Jackie Gleason was right, baby you’re the greatest.” “I’m so fortunate to have you in my life”. “You make me laugh, cause you’re the only other person I know who’s favorite movie is ‘Herold and Maude’”. “Thanks for ‘getting me’.”  “You make ‘goodbye’ the saddest of all words.” “Thank you, thank you, thank you for being you.”

Don’t let anyone tell you that poetry is ‘nice’, because it’s not, it’s a clumsy coping mechanism to escape the chains of depression. It storms the tower and breaches the walls of isolation. It doesn’t make everything okay, but it makes the darkest hours of the soul tolerable. Tolerable?—–Thinking too hard, feeling too deeply, is a road leading to a cliff just beyond the horizon. I put my thumb over your wrist until I feel your pulse match mine, we gradually fall into a comfortable rhythm. The heart is a muscle because it takes so much strength to reach out to another.  Things I wish I’d said, “I choose you.” “If I had to be quarantined for the rest of my life, I’d want to spend it with you.”  “You make me wish I were a piano, cause your touch makes me feel like music.” “You make me believe everything is gonna be okay, one moment at a time”. “You’ve always been there for me and I’ll always be there for you.”  “You stood up for me when the ones who I thought would give a shit just couldn’t be bothered.” “My heart will always be your 7-11, a bit shabby but open day or night for you.”

Love isn’t like a pair of flip flops that claims one size fits all. I’ve tried on the wrong size only to be left with painful blisters. Sometimes love is something you struggle to squeeze into because it no longer fits comfortably.  Sometimes it’s all false bravado and make believe——it takes trust to be allowed inside another’s world——-Be careful who you share you world with, it may leave you with painful blisters and a bad case of athletes foot—-one size doesn’t fit all. I know this because, I have small feet and a big heart. In all this chaos that makes up a life, finding a true friend is a rare and beautiful thing. Things I wish I’d said,“ ”You and I are a good fit”. “I desire you”. “In this world of 7 billion people, I’d always choose you to be my partner”. ”After all the meanness this world can dish out, you somehow make it worthwhile.”.  “When my day has been shitty, you have a way of making me feel better”.  You taste like spicy chili on a snowy January night, you’re my comfort food.” “You smell like a July afternoon at the beach, a blend of Sea and Ski suntan lotion and a salty sea breeze—-you’re the sun on my face”. “I won’t let anyone hurt you.” “You make me laugh in a world constructed of bullshit and lost promises”. 

There are those who will tell you that you have all the time in the world, but that’s a lie. Time is a Salvador Dali clock slowly sliding off the shelf of your life. But we pretend we are immortals, that we can transcend life and death with a foreverness, but forever is like trying to comprehend a blackhole where at its center time stands still. If I could, I’d pull you in beyond the event horizon and give you a forever kiss. And who say’s “Theoretical Physics” can’t be romantic? When I think of these impossible thoughts for too long, I scare myself. My emotions are like the lone hitchhiker on a dark stretch of a deserted highway.  Should I stop and pick this stranger up or just keep moving on? You can never be sure who or what you’re letting in.  It might be a stranded depression, a deserted memory, or an abandoned truth.  Or, perhaps emotions are more like Jenga?  You just never know what will happen by pulling out a single block from the tower of teetering blocks. And, if it all comes down, do I have the time to put it all back together? It takes a lot longer to build something than it is to tear it down. Time is a rogue wave, you never see it coming until its crashed on you and swept you out to sea. Things I wish I’d said, “If you were drowning, I’d dive in and save you.” “I feel better just knowing you are out there”. “Thanks for listening.” “Thanks for making me feel like I belong.”  “Lets you and I take a walk in the woods.” “When I was ready to take the ten count——When everyone was screaming for me to just stay down, you gave me the strength to get back up, you are my second wind.”

Magic

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Soundtrack “Comatose” by Sierra Eagleson.

I have my fathers temper, stirring just below my skin

And then there’s my mothers compassion, lingering in the marrow of my creaking bones

I’ve made my camp in this flag tattered crossfire 

It’s always been a battle of attrition

I’m forever at war with myself

It’s trench warfare, two steps forward

Two steps backwards

Where’s god in this circular calculus

Beware, history is written by the winners

For the rest of us, it’s white flags, white crosses and unmarked graves

On guard!—-Touche! 

I may offer you an olive branch with a hug 

Or perhaps a sucker punch to the nose

I’m a danger to myself and others

A classic case of 51-50, 

I’m the static clinging to the radio station, while you’re straining to hear your favorite song

We don’t get to decide if we are born

Who’s to say when it will all come to an end

That’s fate, destiny, god’s propagative 

But in between birth and death 

There’s much to lose, much to gain

Refusing to choose, is choosing

There in lies the hazards of freewill 

Anything is possible

Nothing is promised 

Surrender to the openness

Do what inspires you

Love’s an imperfect science 

It’s the art of misdirection

Sometimes you pull the rabbit out of the hat

Other times a rat……

Regardless, don’t give up on the magic…….

Abracadabra