All posts by Scott

A Simple Manifesto: They Too Are People (Photo Essay by Hannah Stonebraker)

The Leftern Wall

Guest writer and photographer: Hannah Stonebraker 

One must recognize they too are people.

Photography by Hannah Stonebreaker

(This may seem simple. This may seem obvious. I wish, these days, all days, it was.)


They too are people. (Not animals. Not enemies, Not primitives. People.) Whomever you consider your other, whomever you consider to be your intellectual, ideological, religious, territorial enemy – they too are people.


They too have mothers and sons and daughters and wives and friends.


They too love and hate and give and take.


They too believe what they believe for reasons both known and unknown both to themselves and to others.


They too believe things with which I both agree and disagree – intellectually, emotionally, painfully, ideologically.


But hard as it may be – I shall try to listen.


Listen to these reasons, listen to their beliefs, listen to their pain and ideology and fear.

An overwhelming amount of fear.


For what…

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Poem: I Circle Around but the Sky Changes

Spring beautifully represented in poetry.

Josh Stearns

For National Poetry Month in April, Orion Magazine hosted a poetry exchange inspired by a collaboration between poets Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Ross Gay. The theme was “This Growing Season.” Orion put out a call for anyone who was interested and then matched people up randomly.

I was paired with Anastasia Andersen, who teaches poetry at the University of New Mexico (her full bio is below). Here is how she described the challenge we set forth for our poetry exchange:

We chose a writing game based on those of the French Surrealists. We agreed upon number of stanzas (6) and lines per stanza (5).  We also alternated writing stanzas, but only forwarded the final line, which would inform the next stanza. The “missing” lines of the stanzas were revealed after all 6 stanzas had been written.  We also chose a line from a poem by Robert Desnos as a title “I Circle Around but…

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The Phone Call

Powerful and enlightening.

Beth Teliho


I press number three to play the message. His voice jumps through the phone and squeezes my heart so hard I have to sit down. He’s singing to me.

Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Bethie. Happy birthday to you.

I close my eyes and press play again. His voice sounds so pure. So…absolutely him it takes my breath away. I can reach out and touch the memories it’s conjuring. Us climbing trees. Exploring creeks. Getting in trouble for eating all the Debbie Snack Cakes Mom just bought for our school lunches. Dissolving in laughter at his dark wit and ridiculously awful impressions. The time he needed stitches after using the weed eater for the first time. And of course the fights. There’s nothing quite as vicious as a sibling fight.


Happy birthday to you….

Heart Squeeze.

The voice I’m hearing is just him. True him. At the core. Not…

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An open cover letter to that person possibly reading my job application

AMEN! Truth in hiring has been painted over with a bucket of bullshit. I would hire this woman in a heartbeat.

Leftovers from Friday

To whom it may concern,

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter!

I assure you, at least in terms of breaking up the monotony that is hiring a new employee, it’s the best decision you’ve made today.

 I’m sure you’ve received dozens like it, promising exciting job-applicable traits like “Team-Player!” and “Hard-Working” and “Dedicated” and “Passionate!” I’m sure all of them have various examples of such traits like “That one time I saved a several hundred thousand dollar deal from falling through the cracks just because I spell-checked every word in a 200-page memo (showcasing their dedication, attention-to-detail, meticulousness, potential brilliance)” or “That other time I was involved in landing an account that you may know of by the name of HUGE TECH COMPANY (demonstrating their perseverance, persuasion, competitiveness).” I’m sure they are well-spoken individuals, promising longevity, increased revenue, innovative ground-breaking ideas, extensive connections and above all, a personality…

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Ocean City, MD Inlet Pier


“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” ― John O’Donohue,

Time goes by


Since moving back to Maryland i have been spending more time with my parents who are 76 & 78. They have been married for 56 years and are truly each others best friend. My fathers health is failing, he has parkinson’s disease, and the general trappings of old age. I find myself saying goodbye slowly, thanking them for teaching me all the good things in life, forgving them for the mistakes. Let’s face it, no child has ever been born with a how to manual. I can finally see that we are all flawed in our own way, even our parents and accepting that gives me a sense of clarity.

It helps me to let go of the pain from the past and be better for my child and my spouse. However watching my parents grow older and frail i am not going to lie, no matter how i say goodbye the pain one day will be insurmountable. Not just because i will have lost my parents but the best friends i have ever known. Today i am grateful i can call my mom and just laugh with her, ask my dad how to fix something and look forward to the next time we are all together.

The story by Frank Baum, to me, puts into words the process of aging, cycle of life and the importance of friendship.

“W i n t e r”
The leaves were falling from the great oak at the meadow’s edge. They were falling from all the trees. One branch of the oak reached high above the others and stretched far out over the meadow. Two leaves clung to it’s very tip. “It isn’t the way it used to be.” said one leaf to the other. “No,” the other leaf answered. “So many of us have fallen off tonight we’re almost the only ones left on the branch.” “You never know who’s going to go next,” said the first leaf.

“Even when it was warm and the sun shone, a storm or a cloudburst would come sometimes, and many leaves were torn off, though they were still very young. You never know who’s going to go next.” “The sun hardly shines now,” sighed the second leaf,” and when it does, it gives no warmth. We must have warmth again.” “Can it be true,” said the first leaf, “can it really be true, that others come to take our places when we’re gone and after them still others, and more and more?” “It really is true,” whispered the second leaf. “We can’t even begin to imagine it, it’s beyond our powers.” “It makes me very sad,” added the first leaf. They were very silent a while.

Then the first leaf said quietly to itself, “Why must we fall?” The second leaf asked, “What happens to us when we have fallen?” “We sink down .” “What is under us?” The first leaf answered, “I don’t know. Some say one thing, some another, but nobody knows.” The second leaf asked, “Do we feel anything, do we know anything about ourselves when we’re down there?” The first leaf answered, “Who knows? Not one of all those down there has ever come back to tell us about it.” They were silent again.

Then the first leaf said tenderly to the other, “Don’t worry so much about it you’re trembling.” “That’s nothing,” the second leaf answered, I tremble at the least thing now. I don’t feel so sure of my hold as I used to.” “Let’s not talk any more about such things,” said the first leaf. The other replied, “No, we’ll let it be. But-what else shall we talk about?”

It was silent, but went on after a little while, “Which of us will go first?” “There’s still plenty of time to worry about that,” the other leaf said reassuringly. “Lets remember how beautiful it was, how wonderful, when the sun came out and shone so warmly that we thought we’d burst with life. Do you remember? And the morning dew and the mild and splendid nights .?

“Now the nights are dreadful,” the second leaf complained, ” and there is no end to them.” “We shouldn’t complain, ” said the first leaf gently. “We’ve outlived many, many others.” “Have I changed much?” asked the second leaf shyly. “Not in the least,” the first leaf said. “You think so only because I’ve gotton to be so yellow and ugly. But it’s different in your case.” “You’re fooling me,” the second leaf said. “No, really,” the first leaf answered eagerly, “believe me, you’re as lovely as the day you were born. Here and there may be a little yellow spot. But it’s hardly noticeable and makes you only more beautiful, believe me.” “Thanks,” whispered the second leaf, quite untouched. I don’t believe you, not altogether, but I thank you because you’re so kind. You’ve always been so kind to me. I’m just beginning to understand how kind you are.

“Hush,” said the other leaf, and kept silent itself, for it was too troubled to talk any more. Then they were both silent. Hours passed. A moist wind blew, cold and hostile, through the treetops.” “Ah, now,” said the second leaf, “I ” Then it’s voice broke off. It was torn from it’s place and spun down.

Winter had come. Felix Salten