Freedoms often collide, creating accidental martyrs in modern American

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Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Lanis Rossi, used with permission.

Readers please note: this fictional story includes a description of sexual assault.

The kids were returning to school when we heard the news. The Philadelphia Inquirer called him Socrates of Rittenhouse Square. For us, that front-page story has been our everyday story. Much of what you may have read came from me — and the others who were questioned and interviewed, both by the police and by the media, like the cellist from Curtis and the congregates from the church.

Newspaper articles are tossed as quickly as they are composed, useful, of course, like toilet paper, but I pray this…

Never listen to rock and roll lyrics

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Photo by Trinity Kubassek from Pexels

I did everything to impress women except speaking to them. Between the ages of 3 and 24, I was a disaster with women. Why should such disasters still haunt me now at 51?

There was one girl who lived around the corner. Let’s call her Juliet. I don’t know what it was about her. As an immature, pimply adolescent, I guess it was more about the “Jordache” than her Inner Light.

Her long curly brown reminded me of Yeats’ I am looped in the loops of her hair. But back then, famous Irish poets eluded me. Juliet was at my…

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The Sinking of The Sir Walter Scott represents a way of life that was based on medieval myths. The Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott, was very popular in the South before the Civil War. This image comes from the original drawings from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. Edward Kemble drew 174 illustrations for the celebrated novel, published in the UK in 1884 and then three months after in the US in 1885.

To understand a Southerner’s fondness for monuments and say, the rebel flag, it is essential to understand its culture through its rich literary history. Leafing through such pages will not excuse racism or intolerance or xenophobia, but at least it may help us understand.

Every September in AP Language and Composition, we tackle Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” a scathing satire so essential on race relations that it’s essentially absent in high schools.

One of my questions leads into rather good discussion. What’s the significance of Twain calling the wreck on the Mississippi The Sir Walter Scott? Is…

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That day in early July when I “got the call” in 1999 at Story Book Land. The world was before me, literally and figuratively. My polo shirt, the color of a September sky, mirrors my excited eyes. I’m pointing to a future homework assignment, assignments and assessments that must surpass the heavenly stars.

Are teachers still smiling? Even after five, ten, or twenty years later, do our smiles stretch across the Straits of Gibraltar and the radiant warmth of the Showing results for Mediterranean sun? Does our passion and energy still radiate optimism and hope for our students and our profession?

It’s 2020. Late October.

My smile has faded, like the yellowing leaves of the sweet gum outside the window of my study, but I still want to smile like this photo from 1999.

What can be done?


My wife Mary Jane took this jubilant photo at Storybook Land, just outside of Atlantic…

Zombie Desk

What is fueling our fear?

It Doesn’t Take Commies or an Alien Invasion to Turn us into the Walking Dead

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It’s not really about zombies, or Communists, or space invaders anymore, right? The real scare may be something much harder to see and to fight. Created on CC By NC-ND 4.0.

The study of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the fictional account of the Salem Witch Trials, invariably leads to the discussion of current-day hysteria. In English class, we study the paranoia of the witch scare, when superstitious Puritans believed that to allow a witch to walk amongst them was worse than allowing an Ebola patient loose in society.

An infected Ebola patient could merely kill you. A witch would condemn souls to eternal damnation.

And if Exodus 22:18 states that “Thou shalt not suffer a witch…

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Image by Couleur from Pixabay

A Healthy Diet Should Include a Variety of…

Out of Context

Partial Quotes Can Be Weird, Rude, Crude, and Also Funny

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Image by janeb13 from Pixabay

While discussing ideas for the school newspaper, my staff secretly scribbled partial quotes from my dramatic monologues and anecdotes and lectures. They framed the quotes. From my desk, the quotes have amused and shocked substitutes for over 11 years.

l. “Yes, the rumors are true. I am a jerk.”

2. [On Ed Hardy] “Is that a student?”

3. “If we all wore what? Joe Harding?”

4. “Except we don’t have the keg.”

5. “Stop Medicaid for you, you old fart! And die!”

6. “There’s always something percolating on the dance floor.”

7. “Not to go on YouTube or fantasy ping…

Lines from a honeymoon composed at Tintern

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Tintern Abbey in Wales. Flickr.

I was no longer single.

The hermit, “alone,” no longer sat “by his fire” without a companion, writing page after page of bad poetry and prose in his cave. I now had a wife. No longer did I need to defile any more blank pages with my blank verse. My pen, alas, back then, did only blanks shoot.

Likewise, two hundred years earlier, as a hermit at 23, William Wordsworth visited the ruins of Tintern Abbey. After college and a stay in France, he was directionless. …


Submission is permissable after a panel review

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The clock on the wall showed three minutes after noon.

John Ryan was impatient. He squeaked his freshly unboxed sneakers on the salt and pepper linoleum floor of the waiting room. How in the hell did I develop gallstones? His wife told him: he lost too much weight too fast, but what did she know? He didn’t like doctors, especially egotistical surgeons, and was there anything more egotistical than slicing up guts for a living?

This Dr. Kline was recommended by his awful GP, the doc in the 70s leisure suit, who kept ordering Nexium for his acid reflux, when…

Walter Bowne

Walter Bowne writes humor and some serious stuff on family, education, gardening, literature, and craft beer. His work has appeared in over forty publications.

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