Tag Archives: words

Disrupt and dismantle

Killings motivated by racism at the Kroger where I shopped when I lived in Louisville.

Killings motivated by anti-Semitism at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, where I have never lived but claim as home because it is more recognizable than the nearby small towns where I did live.

Pipe bombs sent to public figures, putting at risk the intended recipients and everyone who came near the packages.

Words do not pull the trigger on guns. Words do not build explosive devices. But words create an atmosphere in which some people think it is somehow acceptable to build and send bombs and shoot guns. When we hear words that express hate or stoke violence, we need to find ways to respond.

Racism. Anti-Semitism. White supremacy. Patriarchy. Homophobia. Ableism. May we find ways to disrupt and dismantle these and all systems that divide us and distort our living.

See you along the Trail.


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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Gun Violence, Louisville, New York

No single poem

No single poem,
says all that needs to be said,
expresses all people feel and know,
encapsulates everyone’s experiences,
yet still we write,
we scribble and type,
smashing letters together and
trusting our inadequate words
in ways we do not understand
nor ever could predict
and somehow lead to other words,
shaped in other poems
that describe other realities.

8 March 2018
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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The power of words

Words matter.

That’s the message of a recent post by my friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim. She reflects on Bill Maher’s observations about Paula Deen. As one who makes his living using words, Maher reportedly said, “It’s just a word, it’s a wrong word, she’s wrong to use it, but do we always have to make people go away?”

Grace joins a number of people, that apparently include Maher’s guest at the time of his statement, who remind us of the power of words.

As children, we grow up with the schoolyard phrase: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words may never hurt me.” Children say this because they know, too well, that words may hurt them.


If we look back in our lives, we will realize that there were certain words that people said to us that have stuck with us for a long time.


In both cases, my agreement arises from practical, personal experience as well as observation and reflection.

Words have power. Power to degrade. Power to inspire. Power to touch and move. Power to abase and wound.

Totalitarian regimes have long recognized the power of words. When the military junta seized power Chile, they arrested, tortured, and killed Victor Jara. His crime? He used the words of his songs to support the government of Salvador Allende.

As Grace writes:

Words influence our thoughts and our ideas. Words shape how we see the world, by causing us to stress certain things and ignore other things.

Once we realize the power of words, we recognize that we can actually start to embrace one another through words.

Our words should be used for moving us and making us into meaningful people who seek to encourage and motivate others. Once we realize the importance and power of our words, we can become more careful with what we say because we know that what we say matters.

Thanks Grace for your reminder about the power of words. May I choose mine carefully, lovingly, and justly.

See you along the Trail.

P.S. In the pile of books I hope to read soon is The Grace of Sophia by Grace Ji-Sun Kim. I look forward to the read.

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Filed under Current Events, Friends


We hear more keenly
the words that cut us
than ever our words that wound.

We see more clearly
the faults of others
than ever we see our own.

We feel more deeply
the hurts we suffer
than ever those we inflict.

We speak more clearly
to hurt, to torment
than ever in odes of praise.

We taste more fully
our petty triumphs
than ever another’s pain.

3 December 2012
SW 2162

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The words still hang unspoken,
yet as silent they remain,
they form anew, regrouping to
press again for enunciation.

He feels, he knows he ought to speak;
he knows, he feels, he does not dare.
Haunting, tempting, the words arise
until he forces his thoughts elsewhere.

3 September 2012

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Filed under Family, Friends, Travel


Letters combine, collide, dance
still fail to make a word.

Do they notice?
Do they feel unfulfilled?

These letters strung together
piling up beside each other

yet creating nothing
providing no meaning?

10 February 2012
Shire near the Hudson

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Like many who have gone before,
and many who will come after,
I seek to weave words into wit,
to elicit joy and laughter.

But when it all is done and said,
my words are mere inanity.
I send them out into the world –
an exercise in vanity.

15 December 2011
SW 313

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Filed under Poem, Travel

Speaking’s practice

Days silently pass:
no words said.
He wonders if
speaking’s practice,
now diminished,
will some day

29 November 2011
DL 1573

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Deep into the night we talked,
expending countless words
yet never able to overcome
the shattering silence
of the words left unsaid.

2 November 2011
DL 2181


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Sticks and stones, but words

Sticks . . .

. . . and stones . . .
. . . but words . . .
Sticks . . . 
. . . and stones . . . 
. . . but words . . .
2 August 2011
SW 646 and Shire West

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