Why Do You Pray That Way?

I pray with my students at the beginning of every single class. When I worked in public schools, I called it Breathe. Always the same words: Sit up nice and straight and tall, feet flat, rear ends to the backs of your chairs, shoulders back, eyes closed or looking down at your desk. Take a nice deep breath in and out. And another nice deep breath in and out. You are a person of great dignity and worth. The world got better on the day of your birth. There is nobody better than you. And one last deep breath in and…

I’ll Read to You This Saturday

This Saturday November 21st, I will be performing in a Sacramento Voices event  at the Sacramento Poetry Center ( 1719 25th St. at the corner of 25th and R) with Naomi J. Williams and Sandra McPherson. The event begins at 4:30 and goes until 6 p.m. Renowned poet and teacher Phillip Larrea invited me, much to my shock and delight. This is all very exciting to me. I even made an appointment to get my hair fixed that morning. Whatever. Here’s what it is: I’ve been writing for the reading pleasure of about three other people for the past twenty years. My writing…

One to Watch: Gabriel Pulido

Gabriel wasn’t supposed to be in my junior year American Literature class.  He had been in another class for an entire semester, but he heard from my students that I was “hard.”  I gave tons of writing assignments.  My students told him I was nice, but I “did too much.” I made students work. So Gabriel parked himself in front of the counselor’s office until they changed his schedule. Changing the schedule because you might like another teacher better was not allowed. You can’t really run a high school that way. Students can be fickle.   Gabriel wasn’t fickle. He…

Brackish Volume 3

Straight out of Venice, California from Evan Hartzell, we have today a brand new issue of Brackish to love. Help yourself to Brackish Volume 3, and the art and words of Laura Alvarez, Paul O’Connor and more. Brackish Volume 3 is a trip to nature’s cathedral. It’s a moment of meditation. It’s a deep breath for your spirit.  Check it out and be amazed. https://evanhartzell.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/brackish-vol-3.pdf

There Is No Such Thing as Writer’s Block

There is no such thing as writer’s block. You just don’t feel like writing. So don’t write. Why should you? Unless you are a student tasked with completing an assignment for a grade, there is no reason to write. Unless you are a worker who has to communicate to someone in a written fashion at your job, why write? There is no reason to write. Unless there is a man or woman you love so much that your voice quits when you try to explain. Love letters are important. So unless you are a student, a worker, or in love,…

Country

Sometimes I think I’d be good at country living. I could live down the road from the guy with the NOUSREAL sign on his lawn And he’d be afraid of me. I would tell fortunes with a twang and Spread Tarot across the kitchen table and Lie when I saw bad news. I would make my own goddamn strawberry ice cream And go whole days without talking to anybody. Then I doze off on the drive and wake up Passing places called Grants Pass and Talent, Nursing blackberry bramble scratches on my elbows. Maureen O’Leary Wanket is the author of…

Rerun: Army Dreamers

Today, I’m rerunning this blog post from when I taught at Sacramento Charter High School, had advisory sons, and carried an array of concerns for the beloved students there who remain in my heart forever and ever. Army Dreamers (first posted September 12, 2011) Steven, one of my former advisory sons, came by my classroom to visit after school today. He graduated high school four months ago. “I’m thinking of the armed forces,” he said. Steven is an accomplished soccer player and football kicker. He landed some poetic field goals in his football career. I cheered him from the sidelines while he did…

Poem: Past Life

This is my past life This is the time you burned ruined cities in the fire with our daughters This was when the oldest one started drinking coffee This was when the youngest one sang along to everything This was the time when we got parking at the brewery When I saw my friend When our old dream house was overgrown When the sun broke through the fog Our old real house was tiny Our old dreams so simple Just this Just this. Remember that time just now When I ate two s’mores And said I wouldn’t take an organ…

A Great Yes: Heyday Books

On a winter morning in 2007, I kept my eye out for Smilodons, Dire Wolves and Short Faced Bears. I’d been living in the Sacramento Valley for two years. It was where my husband was settled in as a professor at the university, where we’d bought a home, where my children were in school. I was on Highway 80 through a place that during the Ice Age so brimmed with flora and fauna, (including oversized predators) that experts in the history of the land call the ancient valley the Serengeti of North America. The Serengeti of North America boasted marshlands, teeming birds, Elk, vicious predators…