Author Archives: Poor Scribbler

Decisions, Decisions

It has been a pretty tough few weeks lately. I have a lot going on, and it is taking me a while to adjust to the school year and having two kids. I also have a few extra commitments when it comes to work, and all of this is adding up to a lot less time in the day.

I have been trying to prioritize my activities, and in many cases, I am having to let go of things.

I want to continue spending time every day reading, and I want to spend time with my kids. I want to be really good at my job. I want to write less volume and more quality. I have daily and weekly engagements, such as preparing lessons, grading, laundry, walking dogs, and church activities. Many of these things are non-negotiable.

With all of this being said, I have decided that I must put [Poor Scribbler] on a brief hiatus. It isn’t that I don’t love writing; it’s that managing this site and committing to twice weekly posts has become either a source of stress or a source of neglect in my life, neither of which satisfy me. The way I see it, if I don’t commit to regular posting, or if I tell myself I will post only when I feel like it, I won’t. I feel it is better that, for the time being, I set it aside all together.

I do not intend for this to be a permanent break. The fact that I am writing this will, I hope, serve as a testimony to the fact that I am committed to this blog. I didn’t want to just stop writing and hope nobody noticed.

Perhaps by sometime in October I will be feeling normal again. Perhaps I will have once again found a nice rhythm in my day-to-day pursuits. I hope so.

For now, if you will keep me in your prayers, I would greatly appreciate it. Soon, I hope to meet you here again.

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Of Topogrophy and Meteorology, or, The Ponderer Pondered

I am sitting down now with a cup of hot tea.  This is the first time in nearly a month I have been able to sit and write. It is the first time in nearly a month I have been able to really sit and really think.

A month is a significant period of time.  It is long enough to break bad habits, ruin good ones, or start new ones. I have done all three.

Typing, typing…I am merely typing.  But in it I am transcribing, listing, scribbling, inscribing, denoting, annotating, and meaning. I want to write down all of the things I mean and mean all of the things I write.  I want to write meaningful things.  The surge of connotation is almost too much, and I am at risk of burning myself out, of over-consuming the fuel of thought, of sputtering to a halt in the middle of a desert.

Refocus.

I do not want to drift endlessly in this sea of chaos of mind.  I long for the stillness, for the quiet place, for the darkness and stillness and quiet that is found under stones and beneath tree roots…deeper than the hearts of mountains.

I close my eyes and I pray.

Come find me here.  Grasp my spinning heart, and force it to stand still. Come into the caverns of my soul and open all of my doors, fling them wide; let in sky and clouds and sunlight.  Hold me close to your eye and examine me, deep within the palm of your hand, so close I can feel your breath upon my body as you ponder, ponder, mind of ages.

Stand at the bow of your ship and speak calm into the raging sea of my soul.

Ask me why I am afraid…

I want to tell you.


In the Middle of It

It’s that time of year again when I can tell that fall is quickly approaching, but not yet quite here.

As a teacher, this is an extremely frustrating time.  Things are now in full-swing at school, but I am still getting to know my students.  Labor Day is past, and we are now in the long haul until Thanksgiving. My body and mind have not yet adjusted to a new set of classes, an earlier day and later evening, and the daily routine.

It’s times like these I have to stop, make myself slow down, and remind myself that this is it; this is my life.  I am not waiting for the next thing, such as graduation or finding a job.  I am not anticipating and holding out for the next big phase in life.  I am here. I have a great job, I am married to a fantastic woman, and I have two lovely children.  All that stuff I’ve been working for, all the stuff I went to college to do…I’m doing it.

So, that makes it a little easier to get up in the morning.  If I get to bed a little late, so what? It isn’t going to kill me.  If it happens that I have to wrestle a screaming child into bed tonight, or the dogs destroy some piece of my property, no big deal; I will probably get another shot at a good day tomorrow.

Life goes on, and I am in the middle of it.

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A Family Visit, Great Weather, and Not Much Else

It’s been a busy weekend, and once again I have come to the end of it with little time to write.  Today’s post will be brief, but I will try to share a few thoughts before the end of it.

I have had some family in town, my sister and one of my cousins, and I do not get to see them all that often.  This visit has reconfirmed to me the importance of family.  I have always prioritized my wife and my children, but visits like the one we have had this weekend remind me that I really, really like my “clan,” if you will.  My family has always lived scattered around, and visits are difficult to manage.  Perhaps something needs to shift…

The weather this weekend was lovely, if you didn’t know.  I can’t wait for fall to officially arrive.  I love the sounds of crisp leaves rustling in yards, and the electric scent of autumn air.  Cider, coffee in the evenings, and sweaters are all things I look forward to.

I have some more poetry coming, and I am probably going to be working soon on a second blog, one for my students to publish some writing.  I am also hoping to get to those changes I have been wanting to make to [Poor Scribbler] for a while now, too.

Yep…just a scatter-shot today.  I will be back Thursday.  Blessings.

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To My Daughter, On the Terrible Twos

As it may probably be ascertained by the title of this post, my daughter, Clara, has entered the joyous phase known to many as “the terrible twos.”

It isn’t fun.

This week in particular has been rough. Nothing we say or do makes her happy. If she doesn’t get what she wants, there is no redemption or consolation in anything else Kara and I might offer. It has been very frustrating.

At the end of the day, though, I still love her. At the end of the day, she still makes me fiercely, gloriously proud.

She is the flesh of my flesh, the spirit of my spirit, the first fruit of my marriage. What can she do that would change that?

Then, I am brought back to the idea that everything we experience in life is a microcosm of our Father’s love for us. Knowing how I feel about my daughter at the end of her worst days reassures me that, even at my lowest point, I was still fearfully and wonderfully made by my Father. At the worst of times, He still loves me dearly… so, so dearly.

I wrote this poem about that.

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To My Daughter, On the Terrible Twos

You entered the world,
your cry was luminous,
dissolving the murk of my days.

Your shining eyes,
the lantern of your laughter,
came to guide me in dusks.

When you learned to walk,
your bright hair became a candle
flickering around the halls of our home.

You continue to grow,
the radiance of your will is bright;
even now, in a shimmering tantrum,
your fists and feet send sparks as they strike the ground,
scattering light into every corner of the room.

Michael Hylton, St. Louis, 2011


The Break, the Stone, and the Paper

If you didn’t notice, I took a vacation last week.

I didn’t go anywhere, but I did take a break from the blog. It has been a nutty couple of weeks recently, and I honestly reached a point where I needed to put something on pause. I thought that a respite from the site would be the most appropriate thing.

I learned a couple things from this. The first is, even though I committed personally to posting twice a week every week, no one is holding a gun to my head. Just like anything else, it’s okay to take a break from time to time; it can even be beneficial. I also learned that I truly care about this blog, as not a day went by that I didn’t think about it, want to check on it, want to write something and put it up.

Anyway, I am now back to regularly-scheduled programming. I feel like I am getting caught up again, and I don’t feel as if I would have to take time away from my family in order to write and post things here.

I have a new poem I would like to share with you. I wrote it while I was “away.”

Enjoy, and please share with your family and friends.

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The Stone and the Paper

Cradled in the hum of a warm afternoon,
sunlight bounds silently off the walls;
my son and I rest heavily on the couch.

He breathes deeply and stirs, burying his face in my chest;
licking his lips twice, he settles, grows still again.

He is a small stone and I am a sheet of paper
being held in place
in an airy, open-windowed room.

Michael Hylton, St. Louis, 2011


Gratitude and Planning

It was a pretty standard first day of school.  I met many new students. I felt utterly exhausted at the end of the day.  I am excited about this year, though, because I have a lot of freshmen; they’re my favorite students to teach.  It’s fun to watch them be  excited about starting high school, and they still mostly like their teachers and being in class.  I think it will be a good year.

I am considering some changes to the blog.  Primarily, I have found that I get a better-than-hoped-for response to my posts about my family and my simple thoughts on daily life, which humbles me to no end.  I am contemplating re-drafting my mission statement for the page, and possibly tweaking the appearance and contents as well.  It is also likely that I will be getting my own domain name soon, too.

I have been writing here for a while, and I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read here on the page.  I have been enjoying myself, and posting here has been a fantastic motivator to write more frequently, which has always been a goal of mine.  I really hope that I can continue to improve on what I do here, and that I can continue to post things that people want to read.

Again, thank you, for keeping my family and me in your prayers, for responding so encouragingly to my thoughts, and for being fantastically supportive of this [Poor Scribbler].

Blessings and Grace.