Some days he likes to think.

No, really,

he enjoys it the way other folks

like looking at the sunlight that comes through the leaves.

Trouble is it gets in the way,

that thinking,

of timelines, y’know?,

and of syllabi, too,

not to mention his grade-point,

until the list of F’s and Incompletes is,



or at least it seems that way to the shame inducing critic,


the one who lives inside his heart



he just drops out


and only feels the tiniest twinge of pride when they call him



Last time it happened they were talking “Thou Shouldst”.


“What ‘Thou Shouldsts’ were you born to?

And what ‘Thou Shouldsts’ have you fled?

And what “Thou Shouldsts” are birthing themselves

through what you think is you now?”


That’s what the person in power,

the one at the front of the room,

was asking,

and that’s when our hero went home

or at least he went away.


Sometime later

after the timeline expired and the syllabus had died,

he woke up in the hour before dawn

and wrote this:


“It’s odd how I’ve resisted doing this assignment.

Oh, well.

Here goes: ​


“Thou shouldst

always lie to your enemy—

If you don’t, how the hell can you win?


“Thou shouldst

always vote for yourself, even if the other peep is better suited

and also much more deserving—

I mean if you don’t vote for yourself, who the hell do you think will?


“Thou shouldst

have ambitions beyond the pail and do what you can to fulfill them—Otherwise what are you worth?


“Thou shouldst

do what you’re told, as in ‘love your country or leave it’—

If you don’t, you’re just another traitor who ought to be shot on sight.


“And those,” he wrote,

“are just some of the ones I’ve rejected

or altered

during Time’s too twisted passage.


“Ones I live by? Try these:


“Thou shouldst give credit where credit is due—

I mean there’s always something the other peeps do

as well as or better than you.


“Thou shouldst work your ass off to understand

even if sometimes it hurts like hell

that honesty is not only the best,

but the most healing policy, too.


“Thou shouldst learn to fight like Gandhi—

See the book of a similar name.


“Thou shouldst be kind,



when your trauma kicks in and even then

thou shouldst go back later

to kindly explain what happened.


“Born anew each day

like a baby

that may or may not

live all the way through the night?


“Well, those’d be Values, I guess.

There’s Equity.


And Intersectionality (That’d be connecting the dots).

Honesty (even in the face of danger or, you know, whatever).

Community (with loved ones and other ones, too).

Maybe honest and open Vulnerability

and that certain kindly kind of Kindness

that reaches both in and out

in search of some kind of


ambiguous truth

that can birth both reconciliation

and what Grandpa Ferlinghetti called

‘a new rebirth of wonder’.



of course,

Dancing the Dance is a value,

as is The Kind of Laughter that Heals.”


And that’s when he curled up there in his bed

like an overgrown fetal ball.


He most certainly did.



that’s when he started crying.