There is seldom a red-carpet celebration when a book of poetry is released, so I will keep this a quiet and humble affair. My newest book of poetry, “Crows & Swallows” is now on iBooks, so fresh you can almost smell the ink. My business model is unchanged: It is a free download:) I’ll reap whatever it is poets reap somewhere down the road. Share if you can…A nice review on the store won’t hurt either…
I wonder if God is testing me, giving
Me some affable warning
Or, perhaps, a more
Stern rebuke, replaying
A foolish mistake,
Rehashing and reminding me
Of a harsher possibility.
It is only a small 10 mm wrench tightening
A loose bolt on the throttle body,
slipping through the same gap
Between the carburetor float
And the cylinder head
And then leaning almost impossibly
Against the same tread
On the rear wheel.
It is enough to give me pause–
Enough to make me rethink,
Reflect and redo…
I am overtaken by
An almost visceral response
And reach for a 3/8ths inch wrench
With a ratcheting head.
It fits snugly and tightens smoothly.
“Damn English,” I mutter
And their stubborn recreation
of our same God.
Writing a Metacognition
Know Thyself… Explore, Assess, Reflect & Rethink
If we don’t learn from what we do, we learn little of real value. If we don’t make the time to explore, reflect and rethink our ways of doing things we will never grow, evolve and reach our greatest potential or tap into the possibilities in our lives. Writing metacognition’s is our way to explore our experiences as students and teachers, and then to honestly assess our strengths and weaknesses, to willfully and wisely reflect on what we did—and did not—do, and to rethink how to move forward in a positive and more enlightened way towards a better and more applicable and capable future.
There are many sides to every experience, so when I ask you to “explore” an experience and write a metacognition, I am not looking for a simple summary of what you did. I expect you to write like you are walking the rocky and jumbled coastline of what you just went through. Recount and relive your experience as a stream of deliberate, dreamlike consciousness. This recounting and reliving can be as scrambled and unkempt as your emotions and memories; there is no “Fitz Rubric” to follow; there are no specific“details” to the assignment—there is only you and your own heart that you can follow with your own iconoclastic bent, will and resolve. You do not have to worry about being understood by your reader. You are only trying to understand and know yourself.
When you assess, there is no way around the need for a bit of cold and reptilian critique. Looking with clear eyes upon yourself is a hell of a hard task, but it is part and parcel of a thinking person’s package. Sure enough, the assignment might be so flawed as to be undoable, but that is, I hope, fairly rare. More likely the great flaw (or the great promise) starts with you, your attitude, and your way of tackling the work. And it ends with you. Pull out a scale and a measuring tape and tally what you produced; weigh it against the scale of time you stole from your life to complete the work, and ask yourself: do you feel like saying, “Check it out,” or do you feel like sighing, “Chuck it out.” To assess is to figure that out.
Once “that” is figured out, your head should kick into full reflection mode. A reflection scours the deeper trenches for whatever insights can be culled from the briny mud of experience. Pull these thoughts and splay them on the deck as they come, for they are all gifts from the sea of the mind, and their true value can be discerned later and kept or cast as wanted or needed. There is no such thing as unwanted catch in a reflection.
If you are unwilling to rethink your actions you are, to use an old adage, condemned to repeat that action. By rethinking approaches you can retool the machine of your being, and in that sense you are continually reborn as a better you. You make sense of yourself and are now clad in a stronger armor with a shield, pike and sword better suited to turn the tide and win the day in any future battle.
Sometimes a metacognition ends up as a disjointed ramble of thoughts and feels (and maybe is) a jumbled expurgation of contradicting thoughts. But that is fine. It is what it is…. Other times, it may flow together so cleanly and fluidly that it comes out as a pure and unified essay that reeks of the nuanced wisdom and strong wine of distilled thought, which is just as fine, yet infinitely more rewarding, more refreshing, and more fit to be shared—if that is the bent of your indefatigable genius.
Do this. Give a damn and figure yourself out.
Be that genius…
Trying to pull a final day
Back into the night, execute
Some stay of time,
Some way to wrap
The fabric of Summer
Around the balky,
frame of Fall, sloughing
My skin, unable to stop
This reptilian ecdysis—
This hideous morphing
My students, tame
As lab mice, won’t understand
My unblinking eyes,
The hissing of my speech,
The expansive hinge of my jaw—
Or my insatiable appetite—
Until I swallow them whole
Into my elongating belly, feasting
On their impeccable,
It has certainly been a long time since wisdom ruled the day. I did get up and run in the rain, and now I am preparing to do some “wrenching” on my motorcycle. I am trying to temper my eagerness to ride with my desire to get everything “right” on the bike–without stretching the bounds of the friendship of the good souls who help and guide me on this quixotic journey of sorts.
Learning to fix motorcycles is a bit like learning music: there is a steady flow of learning curves followed by successes, brief interludes of smug satisfaction, followed by harsh reminders of our inadequacies, and then another learning curve followed by success, more smugness, more inadequacies until, at some point, a compromise is reached; and like Roberto Duran, whispering “no mas…” We grudgingly accept who we are and where we are at, and somewhere in this village of complacency, we feed off the nuggets of wisdom (also known as experience) scattered sparingly around and which sustains us and carries us through the common days of our lives.
My motorcycle, a 1982 Honda “Naked” Goldwing, is beastly and beautiful, but it is still just a thing and not worth throwing good money after bad. The sloth in me would love to bring it down to Duncan or Galen and say, “Have at it. Fix everything that needs fixing. Replace everything that needs replacing. But, leave the polishing to me…” That, however, would be a fool’s errand, and I would be left with an expensive bike that costs way more than it is worth. I am learning this slowly, but I am learning, even as I approach my golden years.
Pieces and parts are pretty cheap, and time, if viewed magnanimously, is infinite. My most valuable resource is friendship and kinship. I seem to always find someone willing to help an old fool with a stubborn problem. Denise often laughs that if I work on the bike long enough in the front driveway, someone will stop by who knows how to fix it. It is an observation that is pretty close to the truth, for I am certainly blessed with a panoply of friends with a myriad mix of skill-sets, attitudes, and inclinations. Luckily, I am a gregarious creature, which is a good thing, for I would be a useless misanthrope, who would more than likely spend my life trying to dig myself out of the holes I’ve fallen in, never seeing the hands reaching down to help me up. In this sense, I am saved by friendships, and I pity the solitary, myopic persons who labor alone–even as I admire and stand in awe of their mechanical skills and problem-solving prowess.
Today, Tom has lent me his shop–a shop full of nifty, rare tools (and a bike lift). Hatrack is coming by to keep me honest, and bless me with his years of mechanical wizardry. Steve, is riding his beloved scooter in today’s driving rain all the way from Boston to ensure that I do things right, not half-ass or halfway. I’ll be there with my new timing belts, carb-syncing tool, and valve adjusters (and links to youtube videos). It is a mix and a recipe for success, so I am sure that today will be a day with a learning curve, successes, and, God Willing, a bit of smug satisfaction.