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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"The Little Boy"
A Story of Childhood Creativity

Twenty years ago, long before digital cameras and Youtube, a friend of mine in Iowa gave me a copy of simple but powerful piece by Helen Buckley called “The Little Boy.”

It had been published in School Arts Magazine in October 1961, the year I entered kindergarten, but that was thirty years before and even while earning my teaching degree, I had never come across the piece until Kirk gave it to me.  A year later, Kirk's wife Joan was taking a college class on teaching methods and asked  if I would help her film a dramatization of Buckley’s simple story. She had no video equipment, no editing equipment, etc. but she was willing to line up the cast of characters if I would help her shoot, edit, and narrate the film. My daughter Emily (age six at the time, now 26) was in the cast, so how could I refuse?

Joan got an “A” on the project, and the professor used the video in that class for many years--not because my video work was particularly good... but because the lesson is something all teachers should be required to learn early in their careers.

A few days ago, I found the old VHS videotape, and I must say the words hit me as hard as the first time I read them. I’m posting it  in hopes of helping teachers remember the essence of childhood, creativity, and the power of a blank slate.

Most of the children in this short film are now grown with children of their own. I hope they remember the time we spent together making this film, and more importantly...I hope they remember the story as they watch the imaginations and creativity of their children blossom naturally...like a flower.

It's on summer days I'm most aware of what children are at risk to lose when life is too structured, too dictated from above (or worse yet, for today's youth...played out on a video screen). Three years ago I wrote the following and posted it here at POI.

There Was A Time

There was a time--
was there a time, O my!--
when days dawned blank
and yawning to the sky
we flung the sheets
and sprung from beds
pulled the blankets "made"
and pushed our waking heads
through wadded shirts
yanked off the night before
did up our trousers
running out the door
and leapt barefoot, impetuous,
from porch shade to the sun
arms outstretched
to wrap around another day begun.
© Copyright ,2008, Tom Kapanka, Patterns of Ink

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Gone Astray

Through woods and weeds and winding roads
we spent the midnight hours
searching all the likely paths
and whistling in the dark
the three familiar chirps
that brought him to our side
for thirteen years.
Called his name but not so loud
the quiet windows heard.
Gravel crunching, tires roll,
flashlights beaming to and fro
as if some prison break occurred.
But in the glair the only signs of life
were the startled glowing eyes
of a cat or coon or ‘possum
traipsing in the night.

By one o'clock, a dreaded thought
broke like an egg in my mind...
For cats and coons and 'possum
too often find their fate
on whining roads by morning light,
and inside dogs who've lost their way
fare even worse it seems.

All this I know too well.
For once before, quite long ago,
I cared... and carried home
a little dog who looked
as if he lie asleep
along the curb,
and such a task can make
a grown man weep
in the corner of a shed
where the shovel leans.

This time, my wife stayed up ‘til four--
calling at the door each time she passed,
and I slept at an open window screen
listening through the night.

At sunrise, I searched again
through woods and weeds--
but especially along the winding roads.

But then at nine from nowhere
he came hobbling to our porch,
eyes begging for an open door,
trembling legs, whimpering sighs,
his white coat--cut and groomed
just five days before--
was muddy and laced in burrs.
Warm soapy water in a tub,
staring eyes, caring hands,
rinsed and patted dry
with whispered soothing scolds
for giving such a fright,
he curled in a blanket on the couch,
and slept from noon to night.


Isaiah 53:6  "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

The first picture I took today. The second is from Christmas 2009 and what I used on the Craigslist "Lost and Found" item I posted before going to bed.

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