On Birds and Words and Metaphors

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Just as I sat down to write this morning — to yet again try to write something meaningful and insightful, that might somehow make a dent in the current wall of confusion — I was startled by a loud “thump” against my window. Continue reading On Birds and Words and Metaphors

“Good Bones” by Maggie Smith


Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine

in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,

a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways

I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least

fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative

estimate, though I keep this from my children.

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.

For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,

sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world

is at least half terrible, and for every kind

stranger, there is one who would break you,

though I keep this from my children. I am trying

to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real shithole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.


Reprinted with gracious permission from the author. Copyright Maggie Smith, all rights reserved.

“Good Bones” first appeared in Waxwing http://waxwingmag.org/items/issue9/28_Smith-Good-Bones.php

There is a beautiful, limited-edition letterpress broadside of the poem available here: https://www.tupelopress.org/product/good-bones-broadside/

Please visit Maggie’s website where you can find more information about her, her poetry, and publications. https://maggiesmithpoet.com

When Being President Was Considered Difficult: How GOP Strategy and Ideology Supplanted Notions of Meritocracy in Respect to the U.S. Presidency

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Not long ago, being president of the United States was considered a particularly difficult job, one requiring keen intelligence, high moral character, and a long record of distinguished public service. Continue reading When Being President Was Considered Difficult: How GOP Strategy and Ideology Supplanted Notions of Meritocracy in Respect to the U.S. Presidency

Blue Funk

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Blue Funk

This election season has gotten me down. This isn’t entirely unusual, in that most election cycles fill me with a certain sense of doom regarding the state of our republic. But this year’s feels different, Continue reading Blue Funk

A Post-Debate Letter to Hillary From an Old Rust Belt Democrat

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Hillary,

‘Solid job on the debate this week. While Trump scored well in a few categories (interrupting, mansplaining, general incoherence, weirdest makeup, coining new words, etc.), you prevailed on most everything else, including, importantly, substance, knowledge, experience, articulateness, aptitude, and temperament.

Still — and I’m simply being honest here — Continue reading A Post-Debate Letter to Hillary From an Old Rust Belt Democrat

Let’s Have a Conversation About Race

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My best friend’s dad growing up was a cop. He was (and is) a good man, who spent his entire life in public service — first as a soldier, then a police officer. His wife was (and is) a saint, who treated me like part of her own family when I was a kid. I owe both of them a lot.  Continue reading Let’s Have a Conversation About Race

A Handshake for the Generations

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What if I told you I met somebody once who personally knew James Polk? Or Dred Scott? Or John Keats? Impossible, right? I mean, it’s 2016. These men were all born in the 1700’s.

And yet . . . Continue reading A Handshake for the Generations

When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways, Part IV – the Finale

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The final chapter in a series in which I explore the spiritual, social, and political ramifications of the evangelical movement of the ’70’s and ’80’s through the lens of my own experiences growing up in a white Protestant church in the rural midwest.

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Most ideological wars have asked young people to do the heavy lifting. There are reasons we send teenagers off to fight our wars, after all, and it isn’t merely that they are the most physically able. It is that they are the most psychologically willing — willing to risk their lives, to conform to a strict ideology, to take risks in order to prove their mettle, make their marks and earn praise for their bravery and sacrifice. In some ways, they are our strongest; in others, our most vulnerable, and easiest to mold into a particular shape. Not to mention, if you really want your ideology to endure through generations, there’s little point in trying to recruit an army of 85-year olds to lead your charge. Pastor X recognized the importance of a strong youth movement, and was particularly engaged with the church’s youth group. It was there, more so than during Sunday morning sermons, that the real evangelical message was being driven home.  Continue reading When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways, Part IV – the Finale

When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became and Full-Fledged Young White Republican, Part III

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Part III of a series in which I explore the spiritual, social, and political ramifications of the evangelical movement of the ’70’s and ’80’s through the lens of my own experiences growing up in a white Protestant church in the rural midwest.

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1980 was a particularly shitty year for me. For starters, my family was going through some tough times. It was around then that my father got laid off from his job, as the factory he worked at in Toledo began its rust-belt slide toward extinction. Money was tight. Stuff happened. There was a tremendous amount of tension. I became so tense, in fact, that I began unknowingly walking through life with my shoulders scrunched up, like something was physically wrong with me. It took a moment of brutal honesty from my younger sister to even make me aware of it, and months of deliberate practice to begin to learn to undo it.  Continue reading When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became and Full-Fledged Young White Republican, Part III

When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became a Full-Fledged Young White Republican, Part II

Part II of a series in which I explore the spiritual, social, and political ramifications of the evangelical movement of the ’70’s and ’80’s through the lens of my own experiences growing up in a white Protestant church in the rural midwest.

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Version 2

I didn’t start to really become interested in the church until around 1979 or ‘80, shortly before it changed pastors for the second time in just a few years. I was too young to know the full story behind the latest change, but it wasn’t hard to imagine that things with the pastor at-the-time may not have been going so swift. Something about him didn’t seem to quite fit. He was a large, disheveled man who sweated profusely and lived in one of the filthiest houses I had ever seen. I knew this because he and his wife had three sons close in age to my siblings and me, and I spent a little time at the parsonage, albeit not much. I think their middle son, who was my age, may have been embarrassed by the home’s condition, so we didn’t go in very often. But when we did, the place was almost indescribably messy, so heaped with clutter it was difficult to even navigate through. There were towers of dirty pots, pans, and dishes stacked on every available surface, with cats teetering atop, licking whatever they could find, which was ample. The house smelled like . . . well, what you might expect under such conditions.  Continue reading When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became a Full-Fledged Young White Republican, Part II