What Would Arming Teachers Mean for Education Politics?

February 24, 2018 by

 

President Trump and the NRA want to arm high-school and grade-school teachers. Well, that should make crossing the picket line at the next teachers’ strike a lot more interesting.

Carrying a gun generally makes people feel more confident and assertive. How is that going to play out for school administrators? Teacher passivity has always been the school administration’s ace in the hole. Next time a teachers’ meeting is called to announce layoffs and class size increases, the superintendent may want to send some assistant principal to break the news.

And how about those conservative governors and legislators who slash away at school budgets? Would they like to confront an armed and angry teachery?

Has Trump really thought this through? Maybe arming teachers would do something good for the country. But maybe it’s not the something he has in mind. There’s no way carrying a gun is going to turn teachers into revolutionaries, but it might give them more backbone in confronting local and national politicians.

Hey, Betsy DeVos, a few million teachers would like to speak to you outside.

 

Dad with Other Shop Teachers in Hobart, Indiana

Dad (upper right) with Other Shop Teachers in Hobart, Indiana

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Train Whistles: A Poem Before Change

February 23, 2018 by

 

The vibrations of trains come up the old wood frame
from the tracks a block north
Trains whistle through the window cracks 

Lying under an old blanket
in the unheated upstairs
The dampness rising from the Kansas River
In the garret strangeness of someone else’s house

How did I arrive among these old flood-washed timbers?

 

First published in Tellus as “Before Completion.”

 

Aroostook Highway - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Aroostook Highway – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Second Wife

February 21, 2018 by

 

The bride greets her husband’s children
at their door

The husband hands each child a lily
He hands the bride hard candy
He folds his arms as they exchange
these gifts

The wife will make dinner
while the children play
The children will wash dishes
while the wife sews

 

First published in Mostly Maine.

 

Fenced Yards - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Fenced Yards – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Her Brother’s Debt

February 19, 2018 by

 

Owing his widowed foreman a great debt,
the brother brought his sister overseas.
She came mute, her thoughts folded
     in her bags.
At breakfast she listened like a table
     to their sounds. 

She married with his dishes in the sink. 

She has unleashed the foreman’s toddler
     from the line.
She has taught the foreman’s son to sing,
his oldest daughter to braid her hair,

and the foreman to snore gently
through her dreams.

 

First published in Chants.

 

Dreams - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Dreams – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

2018: Chinese Year of the Yang Earth Dog

February 16, 2018 by

 

Feb. 16, 2018, to Feb. 4, 2019

The Chinese year of the rooster had way too much crowing and strutting. Welcome to the year of intelligence, stability and loyalty. The year of the people-friendly yang earth dog! At least I’m hoping.

Here are several family pictures from shortly before I was born. Shep was my paternal grandfather’s farm dog. I don’t think you can get a better earth dog than one that grows up with the range of animals on a traditional farm. I don’t know where the picture with the two terriers was taken. But if you take any dog hunting, it will love you.

My Sister Rose and Dad with Granddad Smetzer's dog.

My Sister Rose and Dad with Granddad Smetzer’s Shep.

My Sister Rose with Granddad Smetzer and his dog

My Sister Rose with Granddad Smetzer and Shep

 

My Sister Rose with Granddad Smetzer's dog.

My Sister Rose with Granddad Smetzer’s Shep.

 

Hunting Photo: Bernie Smetzer with sister and dogs.

Bernie Smetzer with sister and dogs.

 

 

Breathing: A Poem for Saint Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2018 by

 

An animal sleeps beside me in the dark
Its breathing swells the sheets
It turns and nuzzles the pillow
Then the rhythm resumes
When I take its paw the fingers close
We breathe into the night

 

 First published in Cottonwood (formerly Cottonwood Review).

photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer. Bride & Groom at the Goddard Mansion in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Suddenly They Appeared – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer. Bride & Groom at the Goddard Mansion in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

 

 

Simple Valentines from the 1930s

February 12, 2018 by

As Valentine’s day approaches, I thought I’d share these vintage valentines. My mother, Viola Smetzer, saved them from her school days in the 1930s until her death in 1998. Most of the ones in this post are fairly simple. They are either flat or folded like most cards. I have captured them with a scanner. In a following post I hope to present valentines that open up to three dimensions. Those, of course, require a camera and are trickier to set up.

I find a sweet but rough-hewn innocence in these cards. Although these cards are clearly Americana, it is interesting that many were printed in Germany.

Valentine from Bellamy - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Bellamy

Valentine from Vivian 2 - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Vivian 2

 

Valentine from James - kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from James. The canoe slides forward.

 

Valentine from Lenorah 1 - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Lenorah 1

Valentine from Lenorah 1 inside - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Lenorah 1 inside

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine from Lenorah 1 back - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Lenorah 1 back

 

Valentine from Virginia - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Virginia

 

Valentine from Dorothy 2 - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Dorothy 2

Valentine from Dorothy 2 inside - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Dorothy 2 inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine from Don, Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Don

 

Valentine from Virginia 2 - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Virginia 2

Valentine from Clista - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Clista

 

Valentine from Dorothy, Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Dorothy

 

Valentine from Kathryn - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Kathryn

Valentine from Kathryn inside - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Kathryn inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine from GS, Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from GS

 

 

 

 

Valentine from Berne - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Berne.

Inside of Valentine from Berne - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Inside of Valentine from Berne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine from Vivian - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Vivian

Valentine from Geneva - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Geneva

Valentine from Geneva inside - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Geneva inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine from Herman - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Herman

Valentine from Herman inside - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Herman inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine from Gerald - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Gerald

Valentine from Gerald inside - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Gerald inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine from Gerald back - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from Gerald back

 

 

Valentine, date unknown - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Valentine from a Maternal Great Grandmother, date unknown

 

Valentine, date unknown - 2

Page 2

 

 

 

Valentine 3-4, Kept by Viola Smetzer

Pages 3-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine 5, Kept by Viola Smetzer

Page 5

 

Valentine back - Kept by Viola Smetzer

Back

 

Hungry Love: Passion & Desire at the Chinese Buffet

February 8, 2018 by

 

I watch
you
eating
twice cooked
duck 

Your fingers
buckle
its skin 

Your
tongue
curls
a-
way
the thin,
dark
flesh 

returns
to the pile
on the tray
to kiss
the juices 

giving
each
fragile
bone 

its gentle
final
suck 

My hungry love
  

First published in George & Mertie’s Place.

 

"Stream through an Autumn Woods," photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

“Stream through an Autumn Woods,” photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Shadows: A Poem of Lost Love

February 5, 2018 by

 

Go into the snow
Let the snow drift about your ears
and listen to the stillness at night
Go when the snow is soft and silent
and the stars are behind the clouds
Walk in the silent dark
Feel the cold
the vagueness under foot
the blackness above and beside you
Know you are alone
with my shadow in the dark
as I am alone now
with your shadow
in my heart

 

First published in Kansas Quarterly.

 

Outbuildings of our house in Scarborough - photo by Mike Smetzer

Outbuildings of our house in Scarborough, Maine – photo by Mike Smetzer

Floating Opals: A Poem of Ghosts & Time

February 2, 2018 by

 

Little flames play against the old lady’s neck,
turning before the darkness of her dress,
as she waits in line for his viewing.

She fingers the white ghosts, which rise
in a slow timeless tumbling, swirling
past each other in their crystal sphere.
They fade into translucence, to turn
and reappear in fire or dead white stone.

Iridescent bursts of pinks and greens and blues.
A universe sealed in her miniature globe,
an eternity at the base of her withered neck.

 

First published in Innisfree Poetry Journal.

 

Light Through Window Panes. Photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer. Photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.