Vent Ahead, Read With Caution

Heather Curran, teacher extraordinaire, tells us why she’s not taking a gun to school.

Poetry, journals, vents, and musings of a distracted woman

I went into teaching because I am relatively non-confrontational.  Now, talk to my brother and he’ll tell  you that I started everything when we were children.  That’s probably correct.  I can’t remember.  Doesn’t matter.  I’m not a kid anymore.

I’m an almost 46 year-old woman with two biological children and at least a hundred adopted.  I believe in compassion and goodness.  I believe in random acts of kindness.  I believe in saying my mind when I see something or someone beautiful.  I know that this might be weird.  But if I see a beautiful person, I am going to say something.  We live in a world saturated with unkindess, or at least we could.  But not on my watch.  Not in my corner.

I just finished teaching the Holocaust.  I made a point of talking about people who chose compassion and goodness over atrocity and evil.  My biggest regret right…

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Poem Swallowing Itself


Poem Swallowing Itself

Reading aloud—
people turn their heads
and step back, never

imagining what lies behind,
expecting neither snakes
nor bear traps nor other ambush.

Beginning where one ends, or
continuing a conversation
over decades, the truth

rises then subsides,
like soaring vultures or
cubes in scotch whiskey.

Measuring volume by
glance, the poem shivers,
opens its mouth wide.


“Poem Swallowing Itself” first appeared here in April 2016.

Forced to Eat Soft Food, I Consider Options



Forced to Eat Soft Food, I Consider Options

What good is pizza to one who can’t eat it? I’m thinking of a rolled crust
stuffed with prosciutto and parmesan, with onion strands and whole

basil leaves nestled among them, accompanied by a frothy pale ale,
bitter yet smooth and tuned so finely as to flit comfortably between the

notes of a liquid arpeggio. Or if not pizza, perhaps a red chili of braised
and shredded beef seasoned with ancho and chipotle and a smidgeon

of chocolate and beer, simmered slowly and served on the year’s
coldest day in front of the fireplace. I have so much and am grateful

for so little. My clothes are warm and dry, and the eggs I’ve poached
offer me sustenance and flavor and textures wrought of memories

of childhood and comfort, family and treasured books at hand. Then
I think of water and protectors, of standing rocks and centuries of

abuse and neglect and lies bred to fill coffers, and I wonder if we
could pile stones ten horses high around the cowards who spray,

bludgeon and strip search, who fire water cannons in sub-freezing
temperatures, and throw concussion grenades directly at pacifists, all

for the cause of holy oil. What good is pizza to those who can’t swallow?
I fork a bite of egg to my mouth, and choke, but only for a moment.




Written while recovering from abdominal surgery, this appeared on the blog in December 2016 just a day or two after the first draft spilled out. Unusual for me, to say the least, but it was a topical piece. Let us not forget those who stand for us and others.

What We Say When We Say Nothing



What We Say When We Say Nothing

The rain has died and everything follows:
black, white – the law’s supposition. Their bodies

glisten only in memory. One says look at me from the steel
table as the scale registers the heart’s

weight. Another cries uncertainty in the most certain
of circumstances — laid open, emptied then closed,

the simple mechanics of ritual and form. Throughout my
dreams a line of dark figures shimmer in the cold

corridor, end-to-end, supine and unmoving, assigning
loss. I have fifty-six years and more questions than

answers. The drought testifies to a wrong. A woman
visits her son, a father weeps. Our silence, complicit.

My poem, “What We Say When We Say Nothing,” was published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry  in January 2017. Many thanks to editor Anthony Frame for taking this piece and aligning it with some great poems.

Scarecrow Questions


Scarecrow Questions

Though my tongue withers from disuse and
drought, I taste from across the sea astringent
smoke and the progeny of a hundred bullets
buzzing by like misguided insects through
the theater of the dying, and I question how
pride and greed, hubris and fear, unwind their
cords to detonate these differing yet tangled
lines. How to fathom such depth of mistrust?
The Christian paints her door frames azure, a
Muslim carpets his tile floor, the Jew panels his
walls, yet among each, various segments clash,
and all of their houses implode. I feel nothing,
yet shiver throughout the sun-blazed afternoon.
Then I consider the structure of zero, whether its
body contains or extracts, negates or compromises,
hollows out duplicates within duplicates, exorcising
with a blade so sharp as to peel away memory from
those it crosses without the faintest murmur. Gone.
Erased. Banished to never having been. I neither
breathe nor digest, but I absorb and recall. How do
you so willingly forget history? This post determines
my destination, but not my destiny, not tomorrow’s
promise, nor the returning birds and faith, the long
nights, their stars, their deaths, the following days.


“Scarecrow Questions” first appeared here in February 2016.