Writers: writing, politics, art… Tuck Magazine mini review

journal      As promised, I will continue to post links to sites I find are good for teachers, writers, poets, and more.

Tuck Magazine
–an online political, human rights and arts magazine, because social justice and the arts are important.

From their site:

“Tuck Magazine is a political, human rights, lit, music and arts journal with a difference: we aim to entertain a wide variety of readers globally.”

Now don’t you want to go there and read?  I feel it’s important to have creativity walk with compassion, which is the “slogan” of this site, after all.  I like what they are publishing.

If you have some sites you consider worth reading and investigating, let me know!

Laura Lee

Creativity and compassion should walk together.

teach                     Creativity and compassion should walk together–what does that even mean? Thank you, students.

I had no business entering teaching later on in life, and certainly had no business teaching where I did for my first full-time teaching job. I’d come out of business, gone to graduate school, and entered teaching in my middle years.

Prepared, but totally UNPREPARED for the great needs of the kids. My kids. Yes, I found teachers tend to refer to our students as OUR KIDS, MY KIDS. We love them.

My kids taught me so much, and among the many lessons learned is that it is better to be compassionate than talented.  Does the world need another poet? Maybe, although I love poetry and would argue how important poetry is to the ever changing world. But does the world need better teachers? Oh, yes. (Poets don’t hate me. I love poetry! We need great poets of social justice and to keep poetry alive!)

I found my talents were challenged daily, hourly, even every minute I taught.  I grew so much as a person in patience, humor, and love.  Yes, love. Can we even use that word?

I found my talent for researching resources and creating lessons to engage even the most reluctant learners were challenged every day.

Some time I will write about what I lost by teaching where I did for so long, but for now I want to acknowledge something that has changed my life for the better:

Kiddos, my Kids, all the students even my college students–you’ve helped me become a better person. I had no idea the heart could grow so much. (Can we say heart?)  I had no idea how much my talents that lay dormant when I worked in business would be needed as a teacher.

I know I am a much better teacher than I am a writer, and I am okay with that.  What I’ve gained through teaching is immeasurable, even shocking.  I had not expected that!  I promise I will continue to improve as a teacher, even in retirement years.

Thank you, students past and present–I so hope you are doing well.  Thank you.

And *this* photo was a writing prompt!

IMG_6070                     I kept this photo for nearly 18 years.  We produced some interesting (erm!) writing from this photo prompt.  I know a few friends and I are clownaphobic, and this really spoke to us. Wish I could find the writing.  I am sure it was BIZARRE.

Try, just try not to think of this photo as the day goes on…the red hands, the red throat… Sinister and humorous at the same time.

Cold Ones Rule/ response to a writing prompt long ago

From the old MSN writing groups, long closed… UFO

More than once we had writing prompts based on photos or images.  One was some type of floating supernatural ball. Wish I could find the image! This one isn’t it…but will do.  From that, I wrote  many versions of this poem:


Earthbound no more
not flying
but landless

cities melted
lights mock
our little kingdoms

domed over, micro-sized
feel your humanity
slipping, slipping….

hang on to your souls
those skittish, slippery
links to warmth

the cold ones rule

(c) L. Lee 2000


I miss the MSN writing groups

coffee and writing

I remember getting up at 3:45 AM to have time to read, write, and post at my favorite MSN writing sites before work.  I wanted to read what my peeers close and far were writing and reading.  It was a great experience for nearly nine years.

And these groups were easy to find.  We could simply go online and have them right there somehow, in our logons to our computers.  Yes, MSN was that mighty.  After the groups closed in 2006?  2007? We did look for comparable sites, but none were as easy to use or provided what we wanted. We tried Proboards and some groups that were plagued by nasty viruses.  We tried Facebook groups, and some of them are good.  Some went to blogs.

But what we didn’t find was a community in the sense of what we did have.  That’s gone. I was able to meet a few of the members of these groups, with some coming as far away as New Zealand and England, and finding one dear talented poet and fellow teacher from Iowa…

More than once we had writing prompts based on photos or images.  One was some type of floating supernatural ball. Wish I could find the image! This one isn’t it…but will do.  From that, I wrote  many versions of this poem:


Earthbound no more
not flying
but landless

cities melted
lights mock
our little kingdoms

domed over, micro-sized
feel your humanity
slipping, slipping….

hang on to your souls
those skittish, slippery
links to warmth

the cold ones rule

(c) L. Lee 2000


They’re back, but it’s still May! (Skeeter struggles)

The SKEETER struggle is real… mosquito  Long sleeves, May evening… four bites… TWO fans blowing to keep them away, neighbor’s smoke from BBQ so heavy I could barely breathe…the Skeeters win the award for tenacity.  THEY LOVE ME!  I’ve tried everything and the only thing that works is a pair of BOOTS, long sleeves, spray, and usually…staying inside.  Okay. Bigger problems in the world, I know this is trivial.  But I’ve been tracking them, and I now know I have January, February, March, April, SOME of May, none of June, none of July, none of August, a bit of September and October, November, December… to be skeeter free.  They got UNDER the long sleeves and long pants–they truly love me.

What is it about me they love so much?

Is this what I had been missing?

So much beauty. Know how you sometimes remember where you were when you see a photo? I remember what I was thinking when I took this photo. I thought, is THIS what I’ve been missing for so long? As a child I was a veteran sky watcher/sunsets/sunrises/clouds already, then I lost it as I became a work, work, work type of person. Is this what I’ve been missing? Just some phone photos.



“Between Sunlight and Skipping” (fiction)

  •                          bike smaller

Between Sunlight and the Skipping

–by Laura Lee

(c) 2013

(Reprinted with permission; a version of this story was published  in 2013 at Staxtes.com) 

Last Sunday evening I decided to take a ride to a park and watch the sunset, but found the sunlight flooding my eyes.  I reached for my sunglasses, remembering how often during the last several years I was one of those people driving at night while wearing sunglasses. I needed to hide my eyes.

“Excuse me!  Lady!” Abdullah said, skipping from the porch to the garage.

Abdullah is a chubby black- haired boy who lives next door, a boy who seems to smile all the time.  I noticed that he had on dark green sweat pants and wondered how he could be skipping in such heat.  His older brother Hassan was still sitting on the stairs next door.

“Excuse me, please.  Can I? Please, can I please borrow your pumpie thingie?”

“My what?” I asked him.

“You know!  I’m six, going on seven, you know!”

“You’re what?”

“He’s SIX going on SEVEN,” his older brother Hassan added, walking over to us.  “You told her last week.”


“I’m six!  Going on seven! I will take good care of the pumpie thingie!”

“Oh! The bike pump?”

“Yes! Can I use it? I will return it, lady!  It is a good pump!  Works good on these tires,” Abdullah said.

As Abdullah tried to pump up his tires, Hassan looked at me and said, “I’m nine, you know that?  Abdullah is my little brother.”

“You told her that!”  Abdullah said, laughing.

“I will help him,” Hassan said.  “I will be ten soon.  Abdullah is the laughing one,” Hassan said.  “He is the baby.  I like to hear him laugh.”

And Abdullah dragged his bike over to show me his flat tires and I didn’t have the heart to tell this small SIX going on SEVEN- year- old boy that he was using a girl’s bike.  It was hot pink and sparkly and had two very white “mountain” tires that were very flat.

“Sure.  You can use it whenever you want.  Just leave the pump by the side of the garage, ok?”

“Oh, no!  Lady, no!  What if a big boy steals it?  I could not face my father.  You wait, ok?  I pump fast and you go then, ok,” Abdullah said.

Hassan did most of the pumping but left a little work for his little brother.  As Abdullah finished pumping up his tires, Hassan looked at me and said, “He is my little brother and I watch him.  We are Muslim you know.”

“You told her that last week,” Abdullah said.

And after that, Abdullah called “Father!” and soon his father came out of the building. The older boy shook his head, grinning.

“My little brother is so happy,” Hassan said, “even my father smiles.”

“Father! This is the teacher lady who lets me use pumpie thingie,” Abdullah said. The father touched Abdullah’s head, running his hand through his son’s thick sweaty hair.

“Lady! This is my father,” Abdullah said, kissing his father’s hands.

“I’m sorry, Miss.  Are you the teacher?”

Yes, I said, not knowing how they knew this.  I am sure I never mentioned this to the boys.

“Excuse me, we have seen you carry many books up and down those stairs many times.  It must be a wonderful thing to be a teacher in this country.  And you teach in the big school at the bottom of the big hill?”

Yes, it was a wonderful job, I told him, and yes, my school was the big high school at the bottom of the hill.

“Excuse me, but I thought so.  I have seen your school uniform shirt with the name of the school, so I think you might be a teacher.  You do not remember me from the store?  By the school?”

Now that he mentioned it, yes, he did look familiar.  Maybe it was from the little store where I bought my morning coffee or my afternoon newspaper, but I wasn’t sure.  I did remember a very small woman, so short she could barely reach the cash register.  I wondered if that was the boys’ mother.  I remembered that she smiled a lot, had very warm but frightened brown eyes, always seemed tired, but did not ever speak to me.  Ever.

“That store is my brother’s.  He came here first and then I help him in the store some days.”

The father seemed to be waiting for something, or someone, and finally said, “You do not have a husband or father I should talk to?”

No, I told him it was all right to talk to me about the bike pump.

“I do not see a husband or your father with you, so forgive me I must talk to you like this.  Do you like to teach?”

I told him that I loved teaching English, and that it was okay to talk to your neighbors here, that Americans are usually very friendly and very casual.

“English!  An important language,” the father said.  “There is so much freedom here.  I think of such things for my sons.  But that is not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Father!” Abdullah said.  “She gave me the pumpie to use.  I did not take it.  I am not a thief!”

“Excuse me, please, but has my son bothered you?”

I assured him that his sons never bothered me, that they were polite and nice young boys.

“That is good,” the father said, “but I will deal with him if he has taken anything of yours.  I wanted to meet you and say I am sorry if my son takes your things.  I tell him he should not bother you.”

I assured him that Abdullah was never a bother.

“I have talked to his mother about this,” the father said, “but I am afraid the boy is becoming rude as he gets older.”

I assured him that Abdullah was never rude.

“He must not yell at you like that,” the father said.  “In public like that to a strange woman he does not know I thought was very rude.  Is that something American? My brother said in America everyone is so loud.  Even in school?”

I laughed, but told the father that yes, it was very American, and I did not think it was rude.  His son was never rude to me.  I told him I knew about these things and he could trust me that Abdullah would not be in trouble at school.  He was a good boy.

With that, the father seemed to relax and then smiled.

“My wife could not talk to you,” the father said, “because she is very afraid about talking because of her English.  I told her a teacher would not mind about the bad English and that she must learn.  It is bad in the store if she does not speak English and that is why we came here, for the freedom and the chances.  And she wanted you to know she does not wish her sons to take your things.”

I told the father that I remembered his wife from the store, I remembered her very well, and she always understood what the customers wanted.

“That is good,” he said, “but she wants you to know we will pay you for anything my son has taken.”

Oh, no, no.  I assured the father that I let the boy use the bike pump, that he could use the pump any time.  I wanted to tell the father that he had no idea how much it meant to me that Abdullah still skips even though he is using a girl’s bike and wearing green sweat pants in summer. I wanted to tell the father that he and his shy wife must be doing something so right with their son that he still skips.

But I did not tell him that.  Between the sunlight and the skipping, I had to put on my sunglasses again.  I handed the bike pump to the father and muttered something about the sun this time of day, they can use the pump any time, I barely ever ride my bike anymore.  I think I said I would talk to his wife more when I went into the store and maybe I could help her with her English and that English was a hard language to learn.

The father might have said something about a blessing, more blessings, but I could not really hear him well since my sunglasses did not cover enough of my face, which had suddenly turned into a stranger’s face with its weeping.  I am sure I walked away from him while he was still speaking, being such a rude American, and I know I should be a better example, but I could not help it.  I could not take the sunlight and Abdullah’s skipping at the same time.

I got into my car, backed out of the garage, and waved weakly to Abdullah and his father, marveling at a boy who skips in joy and does not need sunglasses to protect him from beauty.




Flood season—flood of sunshine

Wish I could find that story or poem I wrote about this season of sunshine. It’s a very special kind of sunshine close to sunset; it  floods the treetops with gold

Ahhh… I remember now I turned it into a short story and it was published in Greece. Yes.

Who hurts self WALKING? Erm…

sad              Well she told me not to and I did it anyway… time to listen to the physical therapist! I will get back to this and improve.  But she TOLD me not to do a timed walk where I would feel pressured to keep up with those could can go longer and faster.  Did I listen? Nope!  Ice and regrets today, but shall persevere. 

Sorry for not listening, Dr. A!  Or… for at least not being able to say–I need to stop.