I Cry, Sometimes

Sharing a story,

recalling a significant

rite of passage

in my childhood,

Not one I chose

I might be so

reminded.

 

One day,

her glance

a twelve year old mind,

frightened by tragedy,

submission to God’s plan,

a confusion,

yet her eyes,

would tell me a story.

 

I then

and forever

touched

would struggle my means

would understand

only a criticism

I would believe

in my own heart,

only to find,

years upon years,

I would recognize

her heart to be pure

holding firm

a supportive glance

in a time of sadness.

 

Oh, today,

I did cry,

I felt a passion

to share, to allow

a soul

might know

my own choices

in a life

where all of my instincts

tested

at a very young age,

one OI would choose

to live again,

a parallel life perhaps

touched by

happiness.



© Thom Amundsen 2019

We Wonder Love

David

DAVID GRUNDY

Glance close in my eyes

will the love be receptive

is it as real as it feels inside

when upon your eyes

I look to see your truth.

 

If when I let you see me,

might the caution you feel

be my own strength of

wanting a world of respect;

in ignorance we know love.

 

In my eyes, is a forgiveness

for I human, my own insecurities

yet passion has been my hero

my family, my world is a design

beyond His how contains love.

 

Oh to know me smile, to laugh to cry,

sweet sister & brother – no family deny.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

I wrote this piece for this man’s family whom I went to high school with. I knew David to share a cup of coffee with him on occasion at the Croissant Express in Minneapolis back in the eighties. Always pleasant, always engaging, we held a natural affinity to our home town, Wausau, WI. I felt near his final years, I could call David my friend, such a beautiful young man.

My Dear Friend, Our Inspiration

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Coffee with Antonio Elias

Ah summertime. It is true. Many times in our lives, as a teacher, we would like to retreat toward that which would make life easier. Perhaps we choose to fall into a string of Netflix series, or our favorite crime show rather than take care of the busy work of maintaining our home, both the physical and mental. I’m guilty of that as I find myself in mid-summer, recognizing only too soon a school year ahead, whereby my focus will be on new students, new projects, new ideals. I feel fortunate that I have moments of clarity that are provided in my world to allow such priority to return.

Not a day ago, I was imagining the coming year, and felt great trepidation, a sometime normal response from a teacher sitting on their deck on a hot summer day watching the birds. The sun finally dropped, and I moved from the natural habitat of a backyard to my home, and turned on a baseball game, watched a Netflix series, flipped on my favorite crime show. Are you following the pattern? The reality is, I was actively trying to ignore the coming school year, knocking at my door as it does every summer right around the end of July. Today is July 27th, such perfect timing to have a coffee with one of my favorite alumni. That young man on my left is a former student who by his own actions  truly helps me and many of my colleagues recognize exactly why we chose our profession as teachers.

Since graduating high school in 2013, I have been fortunate to enjoy a coffee with Antonio at least once, maybe twice a summer. To give you a little background, this gentlemen was an exceptional student in the classroom, earning a modest scholarship to help solidify the start of his post-secondary education. Once out there, he realized a world existed that he needed to adjust to rather than let it mold him. He made difficult choices, took on wonderful challenges and today finds himself reaping the rewards of genuine effort and perseverance in ideal and dream.

When I first met Antonio he was a student in a writing class I had the honor to teach. We over the course of the semester became friends, he shared pieces of his life that were remarkable to me given the current state of our political demographic. I showed a movie in class once, and he later came up to me afterward, and in his polite demeanor, looked at me with a nervous smile and said, ‘Mr Amundsen, this movie, it is about my life.’ I was stunned. What began from that day was an opportunity.

I am grateful this young man was the product of a burgeoning English Learning program at Shakopee High School, whereby he would touch the lives of many over the years to come. I could not speak upon his merits without lauding such an incredible EL team that guided his education along with many other students under their tutelage the entire way.

Fast forward to today, a young man who has given graduation speeches both in our high school, and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, taken on non-profit projects that have only been met with success to together with a partner starting a challenging Spanish language only podcast that supported honest discussions around social justice and education. Currently he holds a position with the largest school district in Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools,  that continues to support growth and success in measures that are designed to provide educational and societal benefit to student and family alike.

When I first met Antonio, his main goal was to finish his education so that he could provide for his own family. He wanted to be that person to right the wrongs, or simply engage people’s lives in a positive direction. As we drank coffee today, it was evident in his smile and candor that that work in progress continues forward, as does his own idyllic outlook on life. What a delightful annual conversation with an intriguing and optimistic young man. I continue to be grateful to his willingness to share his life choices, and have an ongoing dialogue together around purpose and philosophy.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

photo permission – Antonio Elias

Why Sisters Are Cool

I called my sister today,

before I even uttered a word

she asked me if everything was ok,

then in a gasp I tried to breathe

she said then, what’s wrong?

 

I called my sister today,

before I even uttered a word

I knew I could lose my shit

and she would think it be okay

she waited for me to breathe

I told her I was tired.

 

I called my sister this way

I knew she would hear what I wanted

to say yet her patience is my takeaway

she waited, she smiled, I could feel it,

I could feel her love, it’s just her way.

I took a breath, and our conversation …

 

In the matter of a phone call home

I discovered love is always on display.

Conversations With My Dad

People suggest

we ought not imagine

conversations with

the dead.

 

The afterlife we’re told

often speculation

a creation of our own need

to reconnect.

 

Yet if it weren’t true

they’re listening,

then these tears that

fall would not be real.

 

I have conversations with my dad,

the difficult questions,

the hard to know answers,

I know he’s thinking for me.

 

I suppose what he might say

standing here in the room,

is the same answer he gives me

from faraway where he remains

 

Waiting, hoping, wishing are all

positive realities toward doing.

There In The Deep Wood

There in the deep wood I would watch,

the lights on the house in the distance burn,

the figures inside I knew like my own,

in the damp soil, I would wait in the wood.

wondering if they would ever venture out,

would they wonder where I might next shout.

There in the deep wood I would watch.

 

There in the deep wood I would watch,

the cars travel by all strangers in the hour,

their lives meant for homes beyond my eye,

I would ask about their wonders and wanders

though I would never hear, just keep an eye

on their lives in the brief moments, passers by.

There in the deep wood I would watch.

 

There in the deep wood I would watch,

the stars illuminate a night sky in fall,

I might wonder about the earth in universe

watching all the patterns of the Milky Way,

there were so many, so brilliant their lives

though some I had known, others would fade.

There in the deep wood I would watch.

 

My First Experience With Survival

It was the summer of 72,

just beyond the previous winter,

I would stay home,

amongst my school friends,

chums, the guys I hung with

all school year.

 

Yet I didn’t know them,

because the 12 summers before,

when I began to remember,

around the age of four,

I’d spent elsewhere

in a different world,

a time zone whose style

didn’t match up

with the hometown crowd.

 

It was there I lost him,

imagine the imbalance in my mind,

a good friend

labeled my survivor guilt one time,

and I haven’t been able

to look past that ever since.

She gave a freedom

to realize life has reasons

and they’re not always mine.

 

So it is then that I reflect upon,

when today, I can barely breathe at all.