Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet and writer. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, Raven’s Perch, and by Cleveland State University among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals. Her chapbook, Liquid Rubies, was published by Pudding House. The Volume of Our Incongruity was published by Finishing Line Press. Diane’s essay, “I Will Sing for You” was featured at the Cleveland Humanities Fest in 2018. Her novel, The Desire Path can be found on Amazon. She is a graduate of Kent State University and holds an M.Ed from Cleveland State University.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

THINK

Before you speak THINK

T - Is it true?
H - Is it helpful?
I - Is it inspiring?
N - Is it necessary?
K - Is it kind?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Final Flight

When wings expand at last, each of us
will have one singular moment:
airborn, lifting free, voiceless.
We are made for final flight.

In this time between flights,
theirs and ours,
we wait out the unanswered days,
our senses permanently altered,

gliding through dreams and daydreams
tendrils of a spirit entwining us,
yoking us so close
to the line that we cannot cross.

Our hearts float in their own seas,
alone, searching for the voyager
who has crossed the uncrossable line
and left us behind.

Memories relentlessly skimming the edges
of our brains, sheathing themselves in eternity,
while ordinary life goes on
outside our earthly windows.

But someday the veil will be lifted
and we will be invited to the party
in the unknown Kingdom
in joyful reunion with our Maker.

Now we hold each other in broken arms,
we lift each other in hopeful prayers,
until we take our final glorious flight
away from the rabble of this known world.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Carry

lyrics by Tori Amos
from Night of Hunters



Love hold my hand
Help me see you with the dawn
That those who have left
Are not gone

But they carry on
As stars looking down
As nature's sons
And daughters of the heavens

You will not ever be forgotten by me
In the procession of the mighty stars
Your name is sung and tattooed now on my heart
Here I will carry, carry, carry you forever

You have touched my life so that now
Cathedrals of sound are singing
The waves have come to walk with you
To where you will live in the land of you

I will carry you forever

(Thinking of Louie 2/14/84 to 2/23/11)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whitney Houston


The photo is from the video" How Will I Know". One of the cutest videos ever. When my daughter reminded me this week of dancing around the living to Whitney's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) I thought about why we're so sad when some singers leave us. After all, they were just singers and we didn't know them personally, right?

Singers often give us happy memories. We love their songs, we love the way they interpreted them with their singular talents, we love the memories attached to them. The songs remind us of a different time in our lives. That's why.

Yes, celebrities are just people like us, but to me, Whitney, just like Michael Jackson, came to us with God-given talents. They had no choice but to share them with the world. And they did, but they also paid the price of a greedy world. I think being so famous is life-altering. It's not normal. They must feel infallible and untouchable and maybe that's why they leave us too soon. We all know drugs take us away from reality, and the unreal lives they lived as worldwide celebrities is probably too much for human beings to handle. I believe Whitney, like Michael, came to do what they were supposed to do,and it's OK if we miss them.

If you've never seen the videos for "How Will I Know" or "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" find them on You Tube. You'll dance.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Sad, Sad State of Education

Cleveland is one of the poorest, most racially segregated, and lowest-preforming school districts in the nation. According to data in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Cleveland's school population is 85% black and Hispanic, and 100% of its students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Diane Ravitch is a Research Professor of Education at NYU. From 1997-2004 she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board which oversees federal testing programs. In other words, she was all for charter schools, an abundance of testing and the voucher programs. But after all of those years she witnessed the failure of those programs. She noted that there was no evidence that they worked in the past 10 years. The following information is from Diane Ravitch's speech at Cleveland's City Club last week after her investigation of the Cleveland schools:

About 100,000 of the state's 1.8 million students are enrolled in charter schools. The average public school teacher in Cleveland is paid about $66,000, while the average charter school teacher in the city is paid about $33,000. A big cost savings for the city and state.

As in other states, charters in Ohio get no better academic results on average than regular public schools. There are more charters at the bottom of the state's academic rating, but not much difference at the middle or the top. The biggest charter chain in Ohio is White Hat Management, a for-profit corporation run by Akron businessman David Brennen, who has contributed millions of dollars to Republican candidates. According to information complied by NPR in Ohio, "No Ohio White Hat school earned higher than the equivalent of a "C" on the state report card. Most are in academic emergency. In the company's view the state grades are unimportant, all that matters is that parents are making a choice.

The state has pumped more than $1 billion into virtual schools over the past decade with disappointing results. Of 23 e-schools in Ohio only 3 were rated effective by the state, have been called "Vastly under-performing". Children are 10 times more likely to receive an "effective" education in traditional public schools than they are in e-schools. What a surprise! E-schools consist of one person monitoring 50 or more computers for profit. Sponsors of these schools make huge amounts of money, and where there is money there are lobbyists and campaign contributors.

The Voucher system has been in Cleveland since 1995, but students have not performed better on state tests than students in public schools. So why are we continuing this ineffective and expensive program while decimating the public schools that are available to all??

The mayor of Cleveland and the governor of Ohio have decided that the answer lies in firing teachers, closing public schools, expanding the number of vouchers, and possibly expand the voucher program! Vouchers are only for the select few. The ineffective schools are run by wealthy businessmen. Somehow the evidence, the proof, the data means nothing to our elected officials. They are NOT thinking about the children or their futures. They are thinking about how to cut costs. The political allies of these people may profit, but the children will be the losers. Disgraceful. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What Do Our Words Really Mean?

"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government." Thomas Jefferson.

"Only in America can you be pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-unmanned drone bombs, pro-nuclear weapons, pro-guns, pro-torture, pro-land mines AND still call yourself "pro-life"
.
John Fugelsang

What do our words really mean when they can be interpreted in any direction? The Jefferson quote, I imagine, could be used as pro-life (anti-abortion) in a debate today - no destruction of life. But it could also be taken as pro-gay marriage since it promotes the happiness of all citizens and does not suggest that we deny them basic rights. It could also suggest pacifism since lives are always destroyed in a war.

Is the purpose of government to take away choices from its people? Many politicians promote less government interference in our lives, but maybe for them that only applies to taxes. Does it also apply to who can be married? Who can choose to have children or prevent having them? Who gets to serve in the military?

As this election year goes on all I can hear are contradictions.

With all the "Christian" rhetoric flying around - when Jesus said "Love They Neighbor"( over and over again) did he mean only those in your chosen political party?

When He said, "Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1) Did He mean only those who live a life according to your standards?

When Jesus said He had compassion for the thousands who were with Him and had nothing to eat - did he tell them to take a bath and get a job - or did he, out of His compassion, feed them?

We keep hearing this is a Christian nation, but what does that mean if we continue to judge, deny rights and basic human needs to our citizens?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Laura Ingalls Wilder


Today is the birthday of writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, born just north of Pepin, Wisconsin in 1867, author of the wildly popular children's book Little House on the Prairie (1935)and other books about growing up in the Midwest in the 1800's. They are all part of the Little House series, which she began writing in her 60's. THAT gives me hope! Since her death about a hundred different titles have appeared in the Little House series that she created. From her books have come a wonderful television series on NBC (1974-1984) - in my opinion, one of the BEST shows ever on television. Also, a 26 episode animated Japanese cartoon series called "Laura, The Prairie Girl", a couple of made-for-TV movies, an ABC mini-series (2005) and a musical.

All of her books have remained in print continuously since the time they were first published, have been widely translated, and have sold millions of copies. Little House in the Big Woods begins, "Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs."

Those words must have captured me because, although I don't have too many specific memories of elementary school, I clearly remember reading the first book and anxiously anticipating library day so I could check out the next one. I read all of them in succession and loved every one.

The TV series came on when I was almost an adult,so my fondest memories are of watching the shows in syndication years later with my own children. I think my daughter saw all 10 years of the series multiple times. I loved it because each episode taught a wholesome, loving lesson about how to treat each other, knowing wrong from right and the importance of always doing the right thing. I believe the show had a positive impact on my children and for that I honor Laura Ingalls Wilder today.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Reader's Dilemma


I am an avid reader and have always loved books. I love to see my books displayed around my home. Lots of bookshelves. One time a neighbor was at our house and was browsing my bookshelves (where I have them in order - my favorites on the top shelf then moving downward). She noticed that we liked many of the same books and thus was born the neighborhood book club. We've been going strong for 8 years.

But what if all of our books are on a portable device someday?

I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas. Originally I did not want one. I try to stay open to change and technology so I wasn't someone to say that an electronic device to read from is evil. But it wasn't for me. Book lovers love to hold books, love to own books, love to look at their books, lend them to friends and maybe reread their favorites someday. With an electronic device all of those joys are vanished. Our book club may have never come to be if my books had not been regally lined up on their shelves.

For 15 years my husband and I spent many evenings at our local Borders, browsing, reading in a corner, drinking tea and coffee. Browsing leads to finding. You don't have to know what you want - you spy it, you pick it up, you like the cover, the summary sounds interesting and you buy it. (Or maybe write it down and go home and request it from the library.) The point is - how do you browse on Amazon? You go on Amazon when you know what you want.

The Kindle has thousands of free books, thousands of books for less than $3.99, thousands, millions of choices. How would you ever browse through all of that to see something you wanted?

The demise of the big book stores is devastating. My only hope is that small, independent book stores begin to flourish as people miss browsing and discovering an unexpected find, hold it in their hands and take it home.

Best-selling author Jonathan Franzen has spoken of his fear that ebooks will have a detrimental effect on the world - and his belief that serious readers will always prefer print editions.He says a "sense of permanence has always been part of the experience."

How will you hand down your favorite books to your children - by giving them an outdated and obsolete rectangular electronic device? Because surely these reading machines will evolve and change as fast as an iphone.

Now I can get library books on the Kindle. This is something worthwhile. Because library books are borrowed anyway. you don't keep them. But if I ever read a borrowed book that I love so much that belongs on my top shelf, you can bet I will go out and find the print edition so I can keep it, lend it, refer to it, reread it and have it forever.