Exclamation Point!

A yellow exclamation mark

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Exclamation Point!

I didn’t ask to be like Job,

Whose life took a backward thrust,

Yet here I am with shredded heart,

Arising from the dust,

I’ve lost at love one more time,

But it will not hold me down,

Like a Phoenix I’ll spring into the world,

With a smile instead of a frown,

I’m alone but not alone,

For I believe in a higher power,

Hope is there to guide my way,

Each and every hour,

My arms are bare and empty,

I have no one to hold,

So I choose to embrace the world,

Before my heart turns cold,

This world sparkles despite my pain,

My senses are acutely aware,

I see the beauty in this world,

And feel God’s presence there,

I smile at the turns I’ve made,

And all the times I’ve slipped,

Love will thrive the rest of my way,

It’s still within my grip,

Every day is a bonus day,

Full of meaningful things to do,

Challenges spring up daily at me,

Head on I’ll tackle them anew,

I don’t want to end my life,

With a period at the end of my game,

As a poet I want much more flair,

An exclamation point should mark my name!

Choppin’ Cotton

Choppin’ Cotton


A chance for self-respect comes but a few times during a lifetime and I have to seize those moments and choose the way I want to be. Once that decision is stamped indelibly on my heart, there is no turning back, nor would I ever want to change. Long ago as a teenager I made one of those decisions that shaped my life.

Shivering ever so slightly I slid out of bed and pulled on my faded work jeans. At 4:30 in the morning the irrigated desert land’s air was crisp and cold even in my room. I pulled my arms through the blue cotton shirt which earlier had been lying limply across the foot of the bed. After tightly lacing my cracked black shoes I stuffed my work gloves into my hip pocket and placed the straw hat with the torn brim rakishly on my head. I tied a handkerchief loosely around my neck.

Stumbling into the kitchen I reached into the cabinet and pulled out a bowl. I didn’t have time to make breakfast so my choice was made. Cold cereal in a cold bowl. That’s all I usually had while my parents, brother, and sisters slept. I made my sandwich, two slices of bread with a slice of lunch meat, no mayonnaise, no tomato or lettuce. I dropped the dry sandwich into a brown paper bag. There was no way to keep the sandwich cold without spoiling so I only used the basics.

I went into the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. I was still groggy so I splashed again. I heard a soft knock on the door outside that brought me fully alert. “Dan, are you ready to go? We have to be there before five.” It seemed I had heard those words thousands of times and yet I jumped every time I heard them.

Rushing out I grabbed my lunch bag and my hoe, which I had placed carefully beside the door the night before. The hoe’s blade, which I had honed before going to bed, looked sharp and ready for the weeds. Wordlessly I walked with Bob to his gray dented sedan which was already packed with other workers.

In the morning mists I could see the car, hoes protruding from the windows, and could imagine a Viking ship with oars ready to explore the world. I leaned through a door and looked for a place to squeeze in.

“Well, you took your sweet time, Dan,” a voice called out good naturedly from the back seat. I recognized Jake Smith’s voice and turned to face him.

“You’re just lucky I showed up at all,” I countered. “Otherwise there’d be no one to help you finish your rows.”

We all laughed and continued the banter as I crowded in and we drove away. For a few moments we sat in silence as the car, trailing blue-black clouds of smoke, coughed towards our destination.

Someone finally asked, “Has anyone heard anything about the new boss, Laird?” We all shook our heads except for Bob, Jake’s older brother. “This is only rumor, but I heard that Laird chews nails for breakfast and he bit his dog last Friday.” We all laughed but Jake got serious again. “I’ve heard nothing but bad news from the boys down at the pool hall,” he said. “I’m inclined to take their stories with a grain of salt but I thought you ought to know.”

It was something to think about but as we turned off the pavement onto a dusty road I had already forgotten Laird. The car sputtered to a stop beside a field of cotton and gave two or three last shakes and coughs before dying. “You ought to get that car fixed,” I said to Bob. “It’s about to give up the ghost.”

We grabbed our hoes from the car and stared glumly at the field before us. The cotton was waist high and had been long neglected. There were clumps of Johnson grass, small white morning glories, and patches of Bermuda grass.


While we waited, three other cars pulled up behind us. Two black families and a Mexican family got out. We eyed the other groups cautiously and I wondered whether we could all work together peacefully.

A green and white pickup came racing up the dusty road past the four weather-beaten cars and slid to a halt. Covering my face with my bandana I waited a few seconds for the pickup’s trailing dust cloud to dissipate. Both of the pickup’s doors swung open. A young pimple faced boy crawled out of the passenger side. He slapped on a blue baseball cap over his unruly blond hair. His lean gangly body stretched too long for his jeans and his arms dangled a few inches too far beyond the cuffs of his sleeves. Although we were at first wary, his infectious smile made him an instant hit to our often ill-tempered group.

On both sides of the truck we noticed some fancy lettering. W.C. Laird, Labor Contractor, it proclaimed in bold black letters to the agricultural world. The boss man, Laird himself, worked his heavy body away from the wheel and out the door.

His stogie, a cigar tucked in one corner of his mouth, was moving in circles as he muttered. I could not understand him at first and I noticed the others were also beginning to look puzzled.

His already red face grew redder and I could see his small eyes squinting behind the wire spectacles.

He suddenly barked, “What’s the matter with all of you? Can’t you hear? We’re supposed to start this field at five o’clock and by gum, that’s what we’re gonna do. Now git your asses over to that edge of the field and pick your row. I’ll be along shortly to check your work.”

He removed his glasses, spat on them, and cleaned them slowly with the corner of his shirt. He watched us silently trudging to the corner of the field. He continued to stare until we began working our way down the rows.


The waist high cotton was wet from the morning dew and before we had gone twenty-five yards I was soaked from the waist down and feeling uncomfortable. Swarms of mosquitoes rose before us and began their relentless attacks, searching for exposed skin. I slapped at them occasionally but tried to ignore them, afraid I would be accused of doing more dodging and fighting mosquitoes than hoeing.

Quickly and efficiently I chopped out the Johnson grass and the morning glories with the corners of the hoe. I was not the fastest in the group, nor the slowest as I paced myself to last the morning. By eight the sun was already bearing down and the boss was there, checking each worker’s row in turn.

“I don’t think you’re worth a dollar and a quarter an hour,” Laird said to Preacher, one of the black men who was working close-by. “I think I’ll pay you a dollar an hour.” But Preacher just glared at him and began to work faster. After that I noticed that two women who were with Preacher would occasionally step over and help him catch up.


As the morning progressed all the groups began to work closer together and exchanged stories. Preacher began telling stories from the Bible and about a boss who was evil and went to Hell. Since he was looking at Laird, who was leaning on a hoe talking to a farmer who owned the field, we knew who Preacher meant. The two women would laugh at his stories and I could hear the older woman’s deep laugh boom out and the younger one’s laughter, which was more like the tinkling of bells.

Another man, Sid, was in Preacher’s group. He hung back, trying to be inconspicuous and out of Laird’s sight but he was clearly interested in what was going on. He appeared to be jealous of all the attention Preacher was getting.

“Preacher,” he said. “I’ll tell the boss man just what you’re telling us and he’ll fire you and you won’t find any more jobs.” Sid rolled his eyes and waited for us to laugh but we didn’t. We could see Preacher and the women getting upset.


The Mexican family with their young children continued to work quietly but they stayed away from Preacher and his group. The father had talked to us for awhile and decided he could trust us. He had told us he and his wife were working without permits and did not want any trouble. If they were noticed by anyone they could be shipped back to Mexico. They had to earn money for some of their other relatives who were unable to make a living in Mexico.

All morning long Sid tried out new antics. He seemed to want any kind of attention. As we approached a heavy stand of Johnson grass Sid called out, “Hark, I see a lion in yon jungle. Preacher better use some of his religious medicine to rescue us.”

Preacher kept pretending to ignore him as Sid continued his tirade. Finally Sid realized no one was listening so he stopped talking but I could tell he was still itching to get something started.

By ten the heavy clothes were beginning to stick to our sweaty bodies. Some of my friends had taken off their shirts and tied them around their waists. I had blistered badly the previous time so I kept my shirt on. We stopped for a water break expecting to get cool water. In our experience most bosses put ice in the water to keep it cool. It satisfied our thirst and cooled us at the same time. But this time was different.

I gulped a mouthful and spit it out. “This water is hot enough to boil tea in,” I grumbled. The others thought I was kidding. Each in turn took a mouthful and spit it out.


Laird ambled over. “What’s the matter?” he sneered. “Don’t you like water?” As I tried to find words to adequately express my feelings, I heard the youth who had earlier climbed out of the pickup say, “Dad, this isn’t right. I told you to stop for ice this morning.”

Laird grinned as he chewed on his cigar. “Mind your own business, Steve. If they don’t like the water they don’t have to drink it.”

The sun broiled us slowly as the next hour passed. We began drinking the water out of necessity but warned each other only to sip enough to keep going. No one stayed by the water cooler. Once I saw Laird nudge his son and say, “Without ice the water gets warm and the workers don’t spend nearly as much time talking and standing around. The less time they waste the more money I make.”

As we finished one field we drove to the next field and started again. As the heat increased my head began throbbing and I could hear others complaining about headaches and nausea.

A Mexican girl of slight build and in her early teens said she was sick. She staggered to her car and lay down. Laird didn’t notice she was gone and the rest of us kept quiet about the incident. We didn’t want the girl’s pay docked. We were certain he was paying her less than minimum wage anyway and pocketing the difference. We also thought he might accuse us of slacking or playing sick to keep from working.

Laird blew a little whistle and we stopped for our thirty minute lunch. We hardly had time to eat and stretch our cramped backs before he was shouting, “Get off your lazy butts! It’s time to work again!”

We were soon back in the same routine with Preacher telling stories while all of us continued hacking away. By now I had learned that Paula and Hattie, the two women, and Sid were members of Preacher’s congregation. Together they had driven from a town five miles away when money had become scarce. By banding together, their chances of finding work increased.

Preacher, his leg gimpy from the war, was the shepherd, doing his best to protect the women and keep Sid out of trouble. In turn, they would finish his rows and help him keep up. Sid was always trying to get the attention from anybody who’d listen. I could tell he feared, admired, and hated Preacher, all at the same time.

In early afternoon the two brothers, Bob and Jake, had replaced their shirts because they were already lobster red. Laird’s son, Steve, was talking quietly with a cute Mexican girl of about his own age.

Laird walked over to them and tried to eavesdrop. Steve and Carmen, the Mexican girl, began speaking Spanish. Laird grew red and told Steve to “stay away from that dirty ‘wetback’”. “I don’t want any brown grandchildren,” he jeered disdainfully.

Steve looked up and said with defiance, “Go away and leave me alone. I’ll choose my own friends.” Laird began shouting that he would kick Steve’s rear-end all over the cotton field.

He saw us watching. He stormed away sputtering about Steve being a “snot-nose, smart-mouth kid“. Laird walked over to the water bucket and stared off into the distance. We had the opportunity to work quietly and to discuss the father-son relationship.

Sid, took this opportunity to start some trouble.

“Old preacher man is too old for any night action. I’ll take on either one of you ladies after work.”

Preacher, stung by Sid’s insinuations and feeling protective of the women, headed angrily toward Sid. The two squared off. But with all the dancing, shuffling, huffing and puffing, not a damaging blow was thrown. The excitement attracted Laird, who came over to check out the commotion.

Sid sheepishly explained in detail what had happened while Laird stood there mulling things over. He turned and looked thoughtfully at Paula. The top buttons of her blouse were unfastened and I could see him leering at the fullness of her breasts as she bent to hoe. His audacity surprised me when he walked over as she straightened, daubed at the perspiration that was at the base of her throat with his handkerchief.

“I’ve slept with a lot of women, both white and black. You interest me. I want to see you after work. We’ll drink a few beers and have a little fun. What do you say?”

Paula gasped and stepped back, trying to avoid Laird. “No, no,” she blurted. A hoe was suddenly thrust between Laird and Paula. Preacher stood there, a mixture of hurt and anger in his eyes.

“Go away, old man,” Laird snarled. “If you give me any trouble or if she doesn’t come with me after work then both of you are fired and I’ll see to it that neither of you gets to work for any of these farmers again.”

Paula began crying and Preacher stood there stunned at this new turn of events. Then both of them, without meeting the eyes of anyone, turned and went quietly back to work as if nothing had happened. Laird glared at us and we started hoeing again, trying to look really busy.

He swaggered off in the direction of the pickup and I just leaned on my hoe for awhile and tried to sort things out. It was a real puzzler at first but gradually I realized that Laird would have his way because Paula and Preacher were giving in to his demands. After all, I guess jobs were hard to find if you were black.

We still had a few minutes before quitting time but I was burning up inside, full of anger, and trying to decide what to do. I saw him sitting inside, listening to the radio. I walked over to him and yanked open the door.

“Laird,” I said evenly, “it’s not fair for you to make demands on Paula like that. And then to threaten their jobs if they don’t cooperate.”

Laird turned and slid out of the pickup. He pulled a wet handkerchief from his forehead. “Mind your own business or you won’t have a job either. What I do is between me and whoever and I don‘t see where it concerns you.”

“Laird,” I began again, “you’re a mean and rotten sonofabitch. I don’t want to work for you anymore. I don’t like the way you treat people, especially people of color. I’m going to report you to whatever authorities that’ll listen.”

His eyes were squinting in that pig-like face. “They won’t even listen to you. You’re just a kid. It’s your word against mine. Those people aren‘t as good as us. They’re animals and we’re supposed to control animals. Can‘t you see that?”

I know sometimes I’m hot-headed and unChristian. When Laird started spewing words of prejudice and hatred I just blew up. I swung and connected with his belly, and then another to his chin. He toppled over into the dust. He started to get up but he hesitated and said, “You’re fired. I don’t want you to show up anymore.”

“Laird, I don’t want to work for you anymore. I want my pay and I want it now. I’ll make sure the authorities listen. You‘re not going to get away this easy.”

“I’ve a mind not to pay you at all.” I took a step closer. “O.k. I’ll give you your money but get out of here.” Nervously he wrote off a check and thrust it at me.

I grabbed the check and walked over to the car waving it high in the air. Jake and Bob started walking towards me. Laird yelled, “Get back to work! It’s not quitting time yet! You’ve still got ten minutes.”


They ignored him and listened to my side of the story. They approached Laird and a few seconds later were carrying their checks high in the air. The results were contagious. Our carload, and then the Mexican family, and finally Preacher and everyone but Sid had discussed the situation. As a group we confronted Laird and he reluctantly paid off the rest of the crew. Even Steve demanded his pay.

Laird seized Steve’s shoulders and said, “You’re not getting your money. You’re not going to be with these troublemakers.”

Steve stood there quietly and demanded his money again. “Dad, I’m going to report you because I think you’re a liar and a cheat. I don’t think you should treat people this way any more.”

Laird got nose to nose with Steve and called him every name in the book and a few choice ones I hadn’t heard. Steve turned and walked away. Laird started to follow but I blocked his way. “You’ll leave him alone, too,” I said. “I’m tired of you bullying people. If you take one more step I’ll hit you more than once and I won’t stop until that foul mouth of yours is silent.”

My determination cut Laird short. He rubbed his jaw and stumbled to his feet. We waited while he made out the last check. Before we could go he said, “Look, today I made a few mistakes. Let’s not have hard feelings. I want all of you back here tomorrow, o.k.?”

Paula, Preacher, Carmen, and Steve were standing close together and I’m not sure who spat first and I don’t really care. I remember looking at him, seeing the spittle clinging to his face, then I climbed into our car, Steve somehow in with us.


I still see Carmen sometimes with her family, working in the tomatoes or sugar beets. They avoid working in the cotton fields afraid they’ll run into Laird. Preacher and his group still work the cotton with me, Jake and Bob, and the rest of the gang. Steve has gone off to stay with an uncle in Arizona. I’ve heard Laird and Sid have moved on to better things like pruning grapes in Lodi with Laird still in charge of a crew. I don’t know if Laird’s behaving himself but I kind of hope he’s learned a lesson and I don’t expect him to show up around here again.

As for me, I’ve learned something about myself and human dignity. If you see others get cheated or trampled upon, you too, lose respect for yourself if you let things slide.

Wages are up to a dollar and a half now and I know I’m not as rich as some other people I know. In spite of not having wealth, I know that I can look into a mirror and be proud of what I see. And that, riches can’t buy.






Dan Roberson






Sons of Thunder

The Sons of Thunder


There were early warning signs that violence was on the way.  The two boys were untamed, unfettered, and usually unsupervised.  Their mother had disappeared mysteriously, leaving her husband alone with three children. The father refused any help from the community, insisting that the family would work out their own problems.  Alicia, the beautiful eldest child, reportedly kept the house running smoothly.  She and the boys, James and John, were always clean, fed, and well dressed. Their father, known to drink a bit but not to excess, paid the bills and saved money. Although the father was gone frequently and sometimes for long periods of time there wasn’t anything specifically anyone could point a finger at, yet we all knew there was danger lurking behind the façade.

Alicia never went on dates, although at sixteen she caught the eye of every eligible male in the surrounding areas.  Frankly, they were afraid to ask her out.  Her dad made it a point to seek out prospective suitors and let them know their lives were in danger around his house or around his daughter.  Alicia meekly followed orders, kept the house immaculate, and maintained her straight A average in high school.

John, the middle child, had an explosive temper that occurred with increasing frequency. Often I would confront him in school about some infraction and his face would become contorted with rage.  His voice would shake and obscenities would pour out. Sometimes I asked him to walk around the schoolyard in an effort to cool his anger.  I would watch him pick up a stick, point it at me, and pretend to shoot.  Since I knew he hunted the fields around the school and around my house it was reason for concern.  I knew he would seethe for hours until his anger finally abated.  John was also very intelligent.  He did well in his school subjects and also stayed informed about world politics. He had great plans for his future but I worried about his bouts of anger and how that anger controlled him at times.

John and James were unwelcome in neighboring homes because of their destructive hunting forays and their penchant for breaking things just for fun.  One day they followed their dog down the road and into the driveway of a neighbor’s house.  The dog chased chickens while the boys whooped their support.  Finally the neighbor stepped out of his house.  “You boys go home. I don’t want anything killing my chickens.”  The boys didn’t listen.  Instead they entered the barn and began breaking windows while the dog continued his relentless pursuit of squawking chickens.  The neighbor stepped out of his house onto his front porch, holding a shot-gun.  “Please take your dog home.  He doesn’t belong here. You go home, too!”  “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.” 

The boys left, only to return a short time later with their dad.  He had two six shooters strapped to his sides, gunfighter style.  He confronted the neighbor.  “If you want to have a shoot-out, then let’s get to it.”  The neighbor backed down, uneasy about an altercation with a crazy man.  And so it went, from that moment the community shied away from any arguments with the dad.

The family business was another strange thing that was rarely discussed.  The dad made caskets.  The boys often bragged about their personal coffins, made from the finest materials and ready to be used. “You should see the polished wood and the blue silk.”  “When I die, dad will make mine even better,” the other replied.

James was known for his antics, his infectious smile, and his sudden angelic appearance.  He could be deeply in trouble and yet somehow escape unscathed.  Once, as a fifth grader, he had been caught peeping over a stall in the girl’s bathroom.  He received no punishment because he was so sorry it had ever happened.

One day in spring, after the fire at Christmas had burned the school totally, and we were in school at the church, a strange thing happened.  On this rare day James was sitting quietly in class trying to decipher the big words.  The teacher,  however, could not focus on the lesson.  “I’m sorry,” she said, “but there’s something that really stinks around here.”  She walked from chair to chair but to no avail.  She eventually walked to the closet.  “I think something died in there,” she announced to the class. She flung open the door and peered in, holding her nose.  The children’s coats were hung on pegs, waiting to be picked up.  The teacher went from coat to coat, sniffing and coughing.  She stopped at James’s coat.  “This coat stinks,” she said.  “What is the problem?”  James laughed.  “I slept with my dog in the bed last night,” he proclaimed.  “A skunk had sprayed it.  My dog was still scared so I hugged it all night.”

James was the center of the universe at times.  He could not read any words with more than four letters.  The principal proudly proclaimed he taught James to read.  Later, when James was discovered memorizing the lessons ahead, the principal was deflated and gave up.  He turned the task over to a young teacher who decided James was a worthy project.  For several weeks she toiled and James struggled onward. The reading project seemed a success until one day after school the woman turned her back on James.  He quickly closed the distance between them, reached around and cupped her breasts.  She was horrified and fled to the principal.  “What are you going to do about it?” she demanded angrily.  “You shouldn’t have been alone with him,” the principal snapped.  The conversation was over.  James and the reading lessons were over, but James continued on, oblivious to the fact that anything was wrong. 

In the eighth grade and in high school James proved to be outstanding in sports.  Grades were overlooked as long as James tried.  There were occasions when those in the stands were pleasantly surprised by his adroit moves and quickness.  There were also occasions when those same people were shocked by his ability to get confused.  When he got turned around he might run the wrong way in football or make the winning basket for the wrong team in basketball.  Yes, James was something of an enigma.

We didn’t hear much about Alicia after she graduated from high school.  The boys said she went to college but we didn’t know where.  And John?  He graduated from high school and drifted northward, working one job after another.  Later we heard he had been arrested in Seattle for armed robbery and would be locked away for awhile.  And James?  I had forgotten about James until one night at eleven o’clock I was awakened by the persistent ring of my phone.  I picked it up and was greeted by a familiar voice.  “Mr. Roberson, remember me?  This is James and I just called to thank you for all you did for me.  You didn’t give up and eventually you got me to reading.  I’m now a lumberjack in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  I volunteer at a local elementary school when I can.   I just wanted to thank you but I don’t want to keep you up.  Good-bye!”  And with that James was gone, but definitely not forgotten.  He was one of the more difficult students who had learning disabilities and social problems and somehow had managed to rise out of the murky depths. He had taken the next step and was reaching out to others and giving them a chance to succeed.  His persistence also woke me up.

 Sometimes I forgot that school was more than teaching subject matter.  It was about touching human lives.  I slept easier that night and for many nights to follow because I had made a difference in his life. James didn’t give me a chance to tell him, but he also had made a difference in how I perceived things.  I must have done something right, and to this day I still believe I can touch that invisible spirit, and bring it to a higher level.  Thanks, James, wherever you are, for giving me feedback.


By Dan Roberson  2/26/09


If I ignore the plight of two hundred girls,

Leaving them in the jungle with no hope,

How can I look myself in the eye tonight?

If I see thousands of children starving,

Caught in the throes of war and plight,

How can I sleep tonight?

Their eyes accuse me, each and all,

While I eat until I’m sated,

Extra pounds gained but really hated.

My clothes have shrunk and are very tight,

How can I sleep tonight?

Political refugees, sexual refugees,

Economic refugees, and more,

Let’s squash their hopes and close the door.

Let’s build tall fences to stop those fleeing,

Who cares what terror they are seeing?

But how can I sleep tonight?

Nuclear bombs are at the ready,

Controlled by rulers who are sane and steady,

Powered by testosterone and ready to fight

But who are the ones who will do what’s right?

And how can I sleep tonight?

If I ignore the wounds and endless pain,

Shrugging off man’s inhumanity again,

Will the world survive to see morning’s light?

And how can I sleep tonight?

Love Is the Beginning, and the End (Part One)

Love Is the Beginning, And the End        (Part 0ne)

“Teacher, what is love? Is it a mutual understanding between two lovers? Is it a foolish idea that attempts to explain the crazy things people do when they are smitten with lust? Or is it a physical act?”

The teacher hesitated for a few seconds. He was well aware that the student was trying to lure him into a debate that might be dangerous.  More students entered and slipped quietly into seats. The classroom was packed and students waited for his answer.

He raised his hand and began, “There is no simple answer so I will leave my books and explain love the best way I can.  If you are offended by anything I say, please accept my apology in advance and remember I love you.

Some of what I tell you will be in religious terms.  The rest will be my thoughts and theories based mostly on my life experiences and observations.  Are you ready to listen to my version of love?  There is no reason to take notes.  You will not be tested on my version.

In the beginning there was nothing.   There were no plants, animals, or life. God decided something was missing so Adam was created to interact and worship God. Adam wasn’t hunting or fishing yet and his interactions with God weren’t complex so he didn’t need anything more than simple wiring.  A few wires and an off/on switch and he was good to go.

Adam got bored easily. He needed something to do so he was given the task of naming all the animals.  After a few hours he decided the job was overwhelming.  There were so many animals and they were constantly moving.  He lost count and forgot names several times. He wanted help and complained to God. “I’m just one man. How do you expect me to do this job right? I need a scribe, a herdsman, a gardener, and several other helpers. It’s just too much for me.”

God grew tired of Adam’s complaints and caused him to fall into a deep sleep. While Adam slept God took one of Adam’s ribs and began assembling a newer sleeker version of Adam, a version that was far more complex. There were many more wires, many more hormones, and an updated hormone, estrogen, that enabled this human to care deeply. This human was designed to multitask, communicate more efficiently, endure extreme hardships, assist Adam and take care of him. All was good.

Adam was not pleased at first. He had requested several workers but only received one. “Are you sure about this?” he asked. “This helper is smaller and looks delicate. When I filled out the request forms did I forget to fill in some blanks?”

God smiled. “Adam, you’ll be surprised. I even put in some extra features that you will enjoy. When you get bored this helper will also entertain you.”

Adam still hesitated. “If I don’t like this, this, person….can I call this person woman until we get this worked out?”

God smiled and said it was all good and Adam was content for a while.  Then one day he approached God and said, “Lord, there are still too many things to do. Do you have any more of these helpers?  If one is good, then two or three more will make things even better.”

God smiled because a plan was already in effect. A small helper would be conceived and borne inside an adult’s body for nine months before the helper was ready to face the world.

Adam was pleased at first.  Then he asked, “How long will it take until this helper gets big enough to do his share of work?”

Eve was not pleased. She thought Adam had been slacking since the first day she met him.  Now he was trying to get more helpers.  She took care of him.  Wasn’t she doing a good job?  Adam was asking far too much.  He was being too greedy.  She raised her hand and asked her question. “Lord, It’s about time Adam started doing his share.  He’s big and strong.  Don’t you think he could do more and quit complaining?  He needs to grow up and quit being so helpless.”

She turned to Adam and said, “Honey, I’ll help you as much as I can.”

“Lord, would you explain how this is going to work? How long will Adam have to carry this child before the child is born? Won’t this be too hard on him?”

God smiled. “Eve, you will be the one carrying the child inside your body. Eve, you’ve already been approved for the premium love package. Once that’s updated you’ll have more love to care for any children.”

A hand waved in the back of the class. A young man stood up and said, “Yo, teacher!  That’s very entertaining but what’s this have to do with real love?” Several students applauded and the young man bowed in several directions before he sat down.

The teacher said quickly, “That’s not a good question. That’s an excellent question. Let me tell you what happens next.”

“Eve was given the extra wiring and hormones she needed to love more. When the baby was born she loved him immediately with a fierce protecting love.”

A different student raised a hand. “What about Adam? Didn’t he love the baby, too?”

“Not at first. The baby drew Eve’s attention away from Adam and took most of her time. Adam was jealous for the first time of his life. He pouted and hung out with the smelly sheep, the wooly mammoth, and stayed in the dog house.  Finally he gave up and returned to Eve.”

“Eve, I don’t understand why you prefer the baby over me. You’re my helper, not his.”

While Adam pointed out the reasons why Eve should like him more, Eve waited patiently, cognizant of the fact she liked them both for different reasons. The baby was helpless and needed her.  Adam was helpless only when he got lazy.   He could take care of himself for a little while.

“Teacher, If Adam and Eve both loved each other, wouldn’t their love be the same?”

“Over a period of time that “like” continued to expand. Strong “like” turned into love. As their emotions developed, Adam’s love was limited. His love was connected to only two wires. Eve’s love was more powerful because she had many wires and hormones.  Her love grew stronger and more intense. She gave most of her love to her man. She still had enough to love herself, her children, her extended family, and the friends in her social groups.”

“But teacher,” another student called out. “Adam and Eve were fictional. What about men and women in today’s world? Don’t they share the same household duties?”

The teacher glanced around the room. “In a perfect world that could happen but we don’t live in a perfect world. Do we? When a married couple both work, chores should be evenly distributed.  Instead, they come home and the man says, “It’s been a hard day and I need to get off my feet.” He sits down and turns on the tv.  The woman also worked but she starts making dinner.  Why? Because it’s something she’s programmed to do.  She loves her man and takes care of his needs.”

“That doesn’t sound right,” someone shouted.

The teacher said, “What if the man gets sick?  Who takes care of him?”

A voice from the front row said, “The woman.”

The teacher asked, “If the woman gets sick, who takes care of her?”

The voice from the front row said quietly, “The woman.”

The teacher continued, “If there are children who are sick, who cares for them?”

From the front row, “The woman.”

The teacher asked, “What about extended family or in-laws or neighbors?”

The voice answered. “The woman takes care of them.  But what does this prove?”

The teacher answered, “I think her capacity to love and care for everyone is greater because she has more emotions, or feelings, and she tends to notice the life force which connects us to all living things. If women didn’t have a deep regard for life of all kinds, men would soon destroy the world.

Others have noticed this phenomena.  There’s a book which explains the theory that men are from Mars, the war planet, and women are from Venus, the love planet.”

“But teacher, civilization occurred because of men who conquered and combined small kingdoms. Aren’t the beginnings of each civilization tied to the efforts of ambitious men?”

The teacher replied, “While men rested between wars, women compared and collected ideas from the conquered peoples and taught these new ideas to their friends and families. In my opinion they were picking up the pieces after a war and making things more beautiful and useful. The men shouted and boasted while the women quietly improved their lives. From these quiet times of collecting and disseminating ideas came the humble beginnings of schools and libraries.”

The teacher continued, “In the American west the men came to make their fortunes, some looking for gold and others tried different means. In cattle country men would work long hours, come into a make-shift town looking for trouble. They were tired and hungry, wanting entertainment, and lonely as well as angry. Often they would fight and someone would get killed.  Justice was swift and deadly, by a hangman’s noose or posse. When women began arriving in their bonnets and petticoats men had to come up with new rules to protect their women. That was the beginning of civilization and when babies were born the rules tightened even more. Gradually men became more content with their roles as peaceful men.”

“But teacher, you haven’t really explained this powerful emotion called love. Is love worthwhile, or should couples be selected in some logical way?”

“In much of the world marriages were non-existent because they weren’t necessary.  If a man thought a woman looked good he simply kidnapped her or selected her out of his captives. Or he could trade or barter for her. Her value was in producing strong healthy children. From the pool of royal males an heir to the throne was selected.  Love was rarely part of the process.”

In other parts of the world arranged marriages were thought to be more civilized.  If wealth was distributed to both the man and woman, it seemed prudent to keep the wealth within certain family parameters. Partners in marriage were selected and a marriage arranged years in advance, sometimes before one of the partners was even born.  By controlling the marriage those in charge could consider many aspects but love was not the top priority.”

“When love entered into the equation the rules were different than those we have now. Marriage was for producing heirs. Love was for enjoying being with someone.  Knights would carry a lover’s scarf into battle to win her favor.  Love was lust fulfilled.  Love was a temporary commitment of the heart.”

“Teacher, isn’t love the same today? Don’t we vow our love forever?”

“Society has changed.  Love has become disposable.  We really don’t want to commit our hearts to one lover.  Often it’s, ‘I’ll love you until I see someone I love even more.’ Or it’s, ‘As long as you make me feel good, I’ll love you.’

The teacher continued, “If you marry your best friend, don’t you expect that friendship to last? If you truly accept and love your lover, don’t you expect your love to last?  If love can’t be destroyed, where does it go? Is it driven away because it’s too much work?”

“But teacher,” protested a student several rows back, “maybe love fails because the man has chosen the wrong woman as his partner.”

The teacher sighed and peered up into the growing crowd. It was lunchtime and more students had arrived and were waiting for the teacher to continue his explanations of real love. The teacher asked for a glass of water and a student said, “I’ll be right back.” He returned in a few minutes carrying a cold bottle of water and set it on the podium. “Thanks,” the teacher said before taking a few sips.

“Let me respond to the statement made before my break.  In the first place, I think the woman is more equipped to make selections.  Consider this situation.  A man and a woman are each going out to buy a pair of shoes.  The man goes first because he has things he wants to do around the house. There are twenty stores nearby that sell shoes so he enters the first store he comes to, checks to see if the store offers his kind of shoe in the right size and style. He looks at the shoes. If they match what he’s looking for, he buys the shoes and goes home, happy that he has completed his task. He’s done and he can relax.

The woman has been finishing some last minute chores, freshened up so she can be seen in public, and now she’s ready to go.  She enters the first store, looks around to see if there are any sales in progress, any clearance items, or anything she’s previously overlooked.  If all is in order she proceeds to the shoe department.  She looks through the women’s section and considers the styles, prices, colors, and all the details.  She tries on several shoes of various styles and sizes and wonders why shoes are so much smaller than they used to be.  The saleswoman who assists her never complains because she knows women like to try on and compare many shoes and may return to buy several pairs.

The woman doesn’t buy at this time because she wants to compare the shoes in the other stores.  Before she exits she looks at the men’s shoes, children’s shoes, and even shoes for the baby. All this information is catalogued and stored on a list somewhere in her brain, just in case she needs that information later. She proceeds to the second store and repeats the process, this time comparing prices and quality of all the shoes. The search continues until she has been in all twenty stores. She goes home because she’s not ready to buy yet.

Some women save coupons, sale ads, discounts and find ways to make a purchase at the least expensive price. The important thing is that she makes lists, compares, and selects exactly what she wants.”

“Teacher, you sidetracked us. My statement was about men making the wrong choices of partners.”

“No, I was building the foundation for my rebuttal of your statement.  Instead of men making the choices, I believe it’s the women who choose their marriage partner.”

“That’s ridiculous, teacher! Men make strong decisive decisions and always choose the one they want.”

The students were leaning forward in their seats. They had him. There was no way he could prove women chose their mates.

“Students, you make it sound so easy, but here’s what I think really happens.  A man loves with his eyes. He sees something he wants and he goes and gets it. At this point I agree with you. When he sees a beautiful woman he claims her for his future bride.  But he takes his time because he wants to keep playing the field. He still watches his chosen woman but he’s relaxed.

In the meantime a different woman is making a list.  Remember from the shopping lesson that women make lists. Now she checks her list and each man she’s interested in is compared with what she wants.  Is he a good lover? A good provider? ( because he has a job), will he be a good father?, is he stingy or generous? Her list may be very long or very short, depending on her status at the time. If she decides she wants the man who chose the other woman, she will win.  Women love from the heart and use the list as their fact sheet. A man loves with his eyes and his one condition, that a woman is beautiful, cannot stand the test of time. The woman who loves this man, becomes a fisherman.  She baits her hook and waits, offering invitations to dinner, to parties, to dances. If he takes the bait she offers, he is hers. He continues playing in the stream unaware she is gradually reeling him in.  When she has turned his head he can no longer see the woman he originally chose.  His shallow love, based on loving with his eyes, is focused on the fisherwoman. He forgets his first choice. The fisherwoman wins. If she’s wise she will tell him she’s glad he chose her, but in her heart she knows the truth.”

“Teacher, how did you learn so much?  Your thoughts are not in the books.”

“I’ve loved and lost many times, but always to love again.  When I tried to protect my heart from getting hurt I made several discoveries.  I found that I could block out love and keep my heart safe.  But in doing that, my heart was shriveling up and turning to stone.  It was better to become vulnerable and risk being hurt rather than not love at all.  In essence, trying to love less only made me love more.”

“Teacher, what does a woman mean when she says, “I love you but I don’t “love” you?”

“She’s telling you she likes you as a friend but you don’t excite her.  Love is mutual understanding and commitment.  It means giving and getting.  Love doesn’t always come easy.  Both of you are constantly changing and growing and becoming different people.  If you are alert and keep communicating, the gap between you may not become too great. Problems can be solved.  Sometimes you just have to stretch until you decide you still want to be together.  Love exists and continues when both people are willing to put in the work.

You have to have the mindset that you’re building a house of love.  If honesty, trust, and commitment are the foundation, love can continue building upward. As you work together and strive to keep trust and commitment, there may still be times when love gets stale.

Temptations are all around us. When something sounds too good to be true, it should be viewed as false until it’s proven to be true. It is easy to be blinded by temptations that offer easy solutions.  If you let neglect, loneliness, or ignorance enter your house of love, love gets shoved aside.  Keeping love fresh and alive even during stressful times is always the challenge.  At the beginning of your marriage make a commitment to love each other with all your heart, and then work constantly to keep your love fresh and pure.”

end of part one.

by Dan Roberson


the crickets were forecasting the weather last night,

singing, “No rain in sight! No rain in sight!”

wells are drying up, businesses are shutting down,

soon no one will be living in this deserted town.

today two men were chastised for washing their car,

I’ve got to escape real soon to someplace real far.

my friends are looking at me with evil in their eyes,

my well is working but I’m beginning to tell lies.

if they only knew I took a bath last night,

they’d sputter and yell and say it wasn’t right.

then one and all would leave with a frown,

and sometime in the night my house might burn down.

I’ve got to be careful when crickets sing their song,

anything I say might be construed as wrong.

while we breathe dust hanging heavy in the air,

the crickets are singing, “no rain in sight, beware!

by dan roberson



I believed I grew up in an ugly town,

A small community tucked in a small corner

Of nowhere,

Where smiles stayed hidden

And were rarely found.

The land was hot and dry in summer,

But cold and wet in winter.

Everyone said it was ugly

And I believed it to be the center

Of a cosmic mistake.

Where was the beauty?

The town pulled at me

Tied me down,

Trapped me in webs of misery

And kept me bound.

“Leave it. Leave it,” I was warned.

“There are places to see, places to be,

Stay away from this town where hope cannot see.”

For years I searched for beauty and smiles,

Crossed oceans and mountains and countless miles.

I did not find the city of my dreams.

Happiness did not exist,

All cities were the same.

I returned to my city,

Weary and worn from my search.

I had learned to smile, learned to enjoy,

Learned to change my attitude.

I greeted each person I chanced to meet,

With a smile.

I looked around and found

Changes in my ugly town.

In the summer it was kissed by the sun,

And the cold in winter was also fun.

This was not a town of misery,

But a town of hope for all to see.

Each smile I encountered brightened my way,

And the town grew more beautiful day by day.

My town, a place to live and grow,

An Eden, a garden below.

Beauty is now found inside of me,

And my smiles are there for all to see.

By Dan Roberson


I believed I grew up in an ugly town,

A small community tucked in a small corner

Of nowhere,

Where smiles stayed hidden

And were rarely found.

The land was hot and dry in summer,

But cold and wet in winter.

Everyone said it was ugly

And I believed it to be the center

Of a cosmic mistake.

Where was the beauty?

The town pulled at me

Tied me down,

Trapped me in webs of misery

And kept me bound.

“Leave it. Leave it,” I was warned.

“There are places to see, places to be,

Stay away from this town where hope cannot see.”

For years I searched for beauty and smiles,

Crossed oceans and mountains and countless miles.

I did not find the city of my dreams.

Happiness did not exist,

All cities were the same.

I returned to my city,

Weary and worn from my search.

I had learned to smile, learned to enjoy,

Learned to change my attitude.

I greeted each person I chanced to meet,

With a smile.

I looked around and found

Changes in my ugly town.

In the summer it was kissed by the sun,

And the cold in winter was also fun.

This was not a town of misery,

But a town of hope for all to see.

Each smile I encountered brightened my way,

And the town grew more beautiful day by day.

My town, a place to live and grow,

An Eden, a garden below.

Beauty is now found inside of me,

And my smiles are there for all to see.

By Dan Roberson

Missing Pieces

In a basket on my desk there are twelve coins of various values,

A few handwritten notes jotted down when things began going wrong,

Seven unclaimed keys, one left behind after a few drinks too many,

Three keys meant to open padlocks of long deserted farmhouses,

And two keys from a car missing somewhere on the back roads.

The stately clock in the hall ticks steadily along,

Unaware that the weather has changed and a cold storm approaches.

It’s raining outside and my arms are empty.

But I know my destiny is calling and I must answer,

The rain will turn into snow and cover my tracks.

Tonight she’s with someone and I wait impatiently,

My rage contained and hidden behind a smile and a promise.

I know which farmhouse they’ve been visiting,

And I know by now they have had too much to drink.

The missing car is lost forever, just like my love for her.

If we could have kept our love unblemished,

We could have grown closer instead of apart.

If she had been faithful and remained committed,

Those keys would have rusted away without being used.

It’s snowing now and I know I’ll miss her warm embrace.

The blanket of white is so appealing,

All the ugliness will be covered until spring.

All that I’ll keep are the coins to remember,

Erasing the pain from my broken heart,

Each coin represents a lover. Why did they all go wrong?

By Dan Roberson


She was beautiful and sexy,

A woman every man wanted to see.

A stranger whose appearance

Brought out the very beast in me.

“I want her,’ my heart pleaded,

“She’s everything I’ve dreamed.”

“Calm down,” my brain insisted,

“Maybe she’s not all she seemed.”

Her womanly curves distracted

Every man that night she met.

I switched into my hunting mode,

My one objective was set.

My hungry eyes sought to devour her.

Such a tempting morsel was she,

Yet the competing anxious men

Kept her away and safe from me.

“Never give up,” my heart insisted.

“You’re not doing all you can.”

I knew I wouldn’t tuck my tail.

I was not that kind of man.

Increasingly aware of how time flew,

Growling angrily I continued to prowl,

Thinking, “What more can I do?

I’ve done everything but howl.”

At intermission I took her a drink,

An opportunity I’d waited for all night.

She smiled and asked sweetly,

“Where would you like to bite?”

We danced like two experienced partners.

I did everything I could with flair.

She laughed happily the rest of the night,

And later invited me to her lair.

Our little beasties are beside me.

I watch them in my den.

My woman knows how to please me,

When I smile my wolfish grin.

by Dan Roberson


The music begins and my tension fades.

I relax as we warm up for a strenuous dance routine.

My partner sternly says, “This has to be a good practice.

We are still clumsy and we compete in two weeks.”

Our movements must be fluid and graceful,

Effortless and natural.

Two long steps. Slide. Two quick steps.

Your hands hold me firmly as you guide me.

You lead land I follow.

You step. I step.

My steps at the beginning match yours,

Except that I’m in high heels and going backwards.

No words are necessary.

We communicate by touch and sight.

My confidence in you is well-founded.

Your confidence in me is invigorating.

There is no hesitation as we spin and twirl.

When we make love our movements are smooth and natural,

Following our guidelines for dancing.

There is no rush and my arousal is guiding us.

We move purposely, learning from each other.

My anticipation builds as you touch and caress.

You move and I follow.

The trust you’ve earned lets me relax,

And I celebrate our love with abandon.

As I love, dance, communicate, and celebrate,

My love grows deeper each time.