I Grew Up Blue

I grew up blue
in a little red state
in a little red town.
I played 
with the red kids.
My blue parents 
didn’t put
red parents down
for believing
Differently.
That was great.
We respected
opinions and choices.
Votes were our voices.
We didn’t see
Color—
red or blue.
Only people,
and what's true—
like a person's heart 
and character.
Maybe—
we can agree—
You do you.
I’ll do me.


I realize that living well is an art which can be developed. Of course, you will need the basic talents to build upon: They are a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings, and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift. That people who may differ from you in political stance, sexual persuasion, and racial inheritance can be founts of fun, and if you are lucky, they can become even convivial comrades.

Maya Angelou

Ode to My Bestie

I love telling people
how I crashed her party
and met her on the day
she turned five.

It was July the Fourteenth,
Nineteen Seventy-Five.
She was blonde haired,
tiny, and hazel eyed—
my new friend, Denise.

In school we shared
home rooms—
First grade
with Mrs. Shaffer,
second grade
with Mrs. Goff
third grade
with Mrs. Lane
and so on
and so forth
through senior year.

Nineteen years

ticked away.
The Class of Eighty-Eight
Reunion. In Oklahoma.

Memorial Day.


We both lived in Texas.
She lived nearby,
this girl I had known
since we were five.
I needed a friend,
and she did, too.
We met for margaritas
and Mexican food.

More years pass.
We ate and drank.
We told each other
secrets, even when
they stank.

Forty five years
from the day we met,
July 14th, 1975,
a day I’ll never forget.

Let Freedom Ring!

It was 1976. The United States bicentennial celebration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. A colossal family road trip, from the Oklahoma panhandle to the East Coast, and an unforgettable history lesson. I was six.

The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing 27 colonial grievances against King George III and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

At the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. with Carl Albert, Speaker of the House, and a friend of my dad from Oklahoma.
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My brother and I in our bicentennial overalls crack me up, D.C.
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The Liberty Bell at Independence Hall, Philadelphia

In the city of brotherly love, the Declaration and U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted at Independence Hall, where the Liberty Bell remains, crack and all. The symbolic inscription reads: “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land unto All the Inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10). All means all.

One of my all-time favorite photos of Dad and Lady Liberty.

We rode the ferry to Ellis Island and ascended the steps within the Statue of Liberty all the way into her crown. The torch was closed, but the harbor remained open, welcoming the world’s homeless, freedom seekers. At the pedestal, there is a bronze plaque inscribed with the Emma Lazarus poem: 

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Picturesque Patriotism at Home

My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!

God Bless America and Happy Fourth of July wherever you are!