3 Things Harry Potter Taught Me

When the reader explores the thousands of pages covered in the magical adventures of Harry Potter, she cannot help but to learn something extraordinary, even if she is as reluctant to embrace lessons as Ron Weasley. Here are some things that I have carried with me long after leaving the Great Hall.

1. Creativity can be more powerful than magic.

Even when you’re crushed, cornered, or conquered, creativity can creep in unnoticed and trounce your oppressors. I’m thinking here about Hermione convincing Professor Umbridge to follow her and Harry deep into the Forbidden Forest, where, much to their chagrin, the Centaurs vanquish Umbridge for them. Harry and company were beaten, bested with no chance of recovery, except that Hermione had so much creativity it proved to be even more impactful than a magical wand.

2. Appearance is without value.

Of course, I would like to argue that I long knew this, but do any of us actually internalize it? What I think is unique about the presentation of appearance in HP is this: the ugly and the outcast are not always good and the attractive, alluring characters are not always bad. In fact, they’re not always anything. Hagrid is an honorable outcast, but Wormtail certainly isn’t. Lockhart is captivating, but craven and self-obsessed. Cedric is both handsome and heroic. Appearance, HP seems to say, is happenstance; character is the stuff of consequence.

3. Age?

Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore effortlessly unite to communicate a revolutionary idea: age is an illusion. So, age isn’t an illusion, exactly, but our understanding of age certainly is. We make two mistakes: we think elder people are superior and we think elder people are inferior. Yes, somehow we make both mistakes at once. We think children or young people are inexperienced fools who contribute nothing worthwhile while also considering elders obsolete. (We somehow find a way to devalue every human.) Harry and Dumbledore lay those mistakes bare. Harry and Dumbledore are two of the greatest, most impressive wizards we encounter — one a child and the other supernaturally advanced in years. It is not one’s rotations around the sun that crafts one’s ability, value, experience, or intellect — it is the composition of his soul.

What has Harry Potter taught you?

Composition of Souls


spider’s silk,


and graphene,

it is the composition

of souls

that is the strongest,

most impenetrable


unrivaled in its



in its endurance.


I ricochet


the feelings of


— the shame

of seeing God

yet still

choosing myself —

and the majesty

of there ever

being a moment

during which


was conquered

at all.

How we

are irredeemable

and redeemed,

all at once.

On Spirit

I find it difficult

to write

poems of

spirit and faith —

a challenge

that surprises me,

for there are, truly,

few moments

more poetic

than casting my heart

onto the ground,

crying out to my Creator,

in desperate hope and distress,

for relief from the boulders

that burden me to the earth.

What do you carry in your heart but struggle to write about?

Firestone Friday: Poem XIII

I can tell

by my heartbeat

that there’s

something in you

that makes my body

to slam

against its very walls.


Wordsmith Wednesday: Poem XIII

Thrown by your howling wind

and soaked in your tempest rain,

I reach for you,

wondering how you put

this thunder

in my ears.

Touchstone Tuesday: Poem VIII

A poem is not a poem
if it doesn’t rhyme.
And a song isn’t music
if it’s out of time.
Language isn’t proper
if the grammar falls,
and a piece isn’t literature
until a publisher calls.

But, the listener laughs,
for he knows
that art is actually
full of shadows —
without rhythm
and without form,
art isn’t order
but, instead, a wild storm.
To burden word
with prescriptive rules
and to press down expression
as if a footstool
is to empty art
of its power,
to pluck to death
a vibrant flower.

Strong Language


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Painful Paradox

We’re creatures

so paradoxically made

that we need



and heartbreak

to compel us

into self-discipline,

consequences so

grave and horrifying

that we

almost reach out

to good behavior.

Imagine a beast

so depraved

that it cannot

even act

in its own


What’s Art Good For?

“What will you do 
with your degree?” 
 “Create art.” 
“And what’s art good for?” 
Preventing your lunch break 
from remaining the most interesting 
thought to captivate you today. 

Firestone Friday: Poem XII

I think we’re drawn

into cold, unilluminated humans

because we believe there is

— there has to be —

something greater

unseen beyond

that shadowy veil,





So, our imaginations

run unchained:

the more unyielding

the object of desire,

the more alluring,

the more opulent,

we fashion the world

that must flourish within them.

And we scale the walls,

taking daily pains

to climb a little farther,

until we crest the edge,

only to find a flickering street lamp

suspended above a littered lot,

with Sadism leaned up against a rusted barrel,

taking a long drag of her cigarette

and picking at old scabs.


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