Teachers: Discourage White Letters!


Teachers: I was just reminded of something I recently learned from one of my college freshmen: Students have been (and will continue to do so) writing X amount of nonsense words at the end of an essay, then change the font color to white. This means the word count you see (grade?) will be larger than what they actually constructed.

Of course this is ridiculous, but then again, so is assigning a word-count minimum (in my opinion).

We need to stop the “easy-to-grade/penalize” mentality of counting words, correcting spelling, and writing in missing commas. Instead, work with young people to develop their thoughts in a clear and organized manner.

If you are reading this and you plan to use this in a future paper or assignment, please re-consider.  Your teacher may dock you for not meeting some arbitrary number he/she established, but you can continue in life knowing that not every one of your readers will concern himself/herself with how many words you can write.

When it comes to your words, quality will always outweigh quantity.

Rare Poetry from Yours Truly


I haven’t really tried my hand at poetry for some time–years, probably.  This creative writing class, however, had two poems required this week.

The first set of three-line poems were to follow these “ingredients”:  Line 1–an abstraction, a verb, and a place; Line 2–describes/includes attire; Line 3–summarizes the action of the poem.  Here are the eight I’m submitting:

Entry 2:

Theft haunts this town;

Its invisible cloak creates chaos,

Striking at night.  In seconds.


Honesty corrugates throughout our firm;

We’re suited and booted;

Decked out to defend (y)our rights.


Merit defeats worthlessness

In its superhero Spandex;

All who Do relish in self-satisfaction.


Noise burrows from within a young heart

Churning within a child’s stained sweater;

He’s lost a cherished toy.


Cooperation pulverizes blatant solitude

When, after slicing away the layers and personal space,

We accept each other and grind out a finer product.


Parenting chokes at our younger selves’ souls

From within the churchy clothes we once loathed;

Disciplining the same way as ours did


Integrity lacks among the wavepools

and underneath designer adornments over the thick skin of the upper One Percent;

Wealth attracts people, but rarely friends.


Innocence chases innocence in schoolyards

Filled with bright yellow slickers and hand-me-down jeans;

Boisterous, youthful bodies exhibit the purest of joys, even among the raindrops.

The other assignment called for a twenty-line (minimum) poem that included at least six “merged metaphors”.  The exercise was to put 2 or more cliches together to make these new metaphors.  Here’s my attempt 🙂

Poem:  “


Ever since the morning you left,

I’ve slept like an owl.

These nights, there’s nothing on

And nothing to do

Nothing to smoke or drink.


Leaving, for you, must have been

As easy as taking candy from a horse.

my friends

my family

tell me there will be more pies in the bakery,

But, sugar,

I fall without you as my chief ingredient.


They tell me you’re completely over me

And that I shouldn’t live under this drum anymore


I’m thinner now.

Thin like yesterday, my brothers tell me.


They want me to let sadness’s rain

Make me clean as a rock seconds after the last drop has fallen.


But I want to sink down further

Into the world

With you.

Creative Writing Class – Assignment #1


I’m taking an online creative writing course through Ivy Tech to fulfill a course requirement to keep my teaching license active.  I’m very excited to be a student again!

Our first assignment was to post three short stories that introduce us to the class.  The caveat is that only one of the three may be factual.  Here are my three short stories.  Feel free to guess which one is real!

1.  As a kid, I was not much of a troublemaker.  If anything, I avoided pretty much all conflicts whatsoever.  My first real act of rebellion as a teenager, however, got me in some serious hot water with my mom.  I went to my junior prom with a sophomore girl I had been dating for a few months.  We had an okay time, but the event did not pan out as I had pictured it would.  The time came for us to leave, and I assumed I was just going to take her back to her parents’ house.  She, however, had a different plan.  Evidently, everyone else in the school knew about this enormous party one of the seniors was having out in the country.  She led me to it, which turned out to be quite simple due to the large bonfire that served as both a signal and warming device.  In short, we stayed way too long and I got home at 3:15–over three hours past my curfew.  I didn’t drink at the party, but I was in severe trouble for being out without permission.

2.  I never owned pets as a child; that is, unless you count goldfish (and you shouldn’t, honestly).  When I was in my twenties, however, I got my first dog–unless you don’t count Shih-Tzus as dogs (but you should!).  We named her Kenzie (short for Mrs. Kensington, a character from the Austin Powers movies), and I really became quite fond of her.  One morning, however, an outside observer might have assumed otherwise.  My in-laws at that time had a long driveway, so one chilly Sunday morning, I offered to drive down to get the paper.  My wife had let the dog go outside while I was on my brief excursion.  As I pulled back toward the house, I saw that the dog was yelping and jumping around near the car.  Even though I slowed down, I ended up running over her tail!  We had to have the tail amputated, and I think it’s fair to say I was no longer Kenzie’s favorite parent.

3.  Years ago, roller skating was wildly popular.  Once in a while, our elementary principal–of all people–would organize a Friday evening trip to the old Wigwam on the north side of Terre Haute.  While parents were encouraged to accompany their children, they were not required to do so.  My older brother had found some rather taboo print tee-shirts during a recent vacation with friends, and I took one to wear to that night’s skating night.  I arrived well before the required time and was very excited.  That is, until my principal suggested I take off my jacket.  As I unzipped, I revealed the risque shirt–a cartoon duck with the words SHIT HAPPENS emblazoned above his head.  Needless to say, my mother was called and I was not allowed to attend that night’s skating party.