The Fundamentals of Racial Harmony

 With the current racial issues dominating the headlines following George Floyd’s murder and funeral, and now the weekend shooting of Rayshard Brooks, I’m reminded of a scene from my second novel, The Lost Lantern, a book ultimately about racial harmony.

The novel takes place partially in the 1960s, but mostly in mid-1980s Myrtle Beach and Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina. In the scene, William McMillian, a black man, takes his white friend John Gates to a coastal point on government-owned wetlands for an important discussion. William has often come to the spot throughout his life to contemplate issues and consider important decisions. There is a single tree along the shoreline, its branches all growing to the west, the result of a perpetual ocean wind. William has just received the most devastating news of his life, the aftermath of racial injustice.

Here’s the excerpt:

“I’ve done a lot of thinking here, John. I know I’m not a great philosopher, but I’ve had some good moments at this spot. Times when I just had to get away from our neighborhood, or get away from Danny’s (restaurant), from cleanin’ it and keeping the kitchen running right. I’ve been here late at night, with a full moon out there over the water… so beautiful, stars so clear and bright. And all I could think about was how great God is, and how wonderful this world could be.

I’ve thought about those branches. The branches of that tree… as black people. And the wind is white people. Whenever a branch starts to grow into the wind, or fight back, the wind picks up stronger, or shifts, until over time, the branch can’t do nothin’ but turn and join the other branches… defeated. If it doesn’t turn, eventually it’ll break. And it will fall and die.”  – William McMillian, The Lost Lantern.

Lantern ThumbWhen I wrote this I believed that the prevailing racial winds had changed since 1987. And I still do. Opportunity – and oppression – are becoming colorblind. In my opinion there is a small percentage of whites living in the past, unfortunately with the ability and position to exercise incredible ignorance and stupidity. I still believe we live in the greatest country in the world, that we will continue to grow and get through all of this – together. We need faith, hope, kindness, and love. Maybe that’s naïve and not hard-hitting. But it’s fundamental. With fundamentals, you need repetition.

The Lost Lantern and The Long Shadow of Hope are available on or on my author page at:

Thanks for reading, A.S. © 2020




Morning Light, Morning Shadows



As you prepare to wow and beguile,

To impress for success,

To brilliantly provide,

I search,

For words,

For explanation,

For courage,

For Faith,

For strength,

To put in the past events of the present,

To let go of disappointments,

To forgive offenders,

To purge bitterness,

When the morning light

Finds its way

Through the window.





Body And Soul

Remembering that our days are numbered,

That we are but souls in vessels.

That we are failed and flawed,

That we are meager and weak,

That we must fight back to be fit,

That nothing comes easy,

That perfection is abnormal.

Remembering that each day’s a blessing,

That laughter heals,

That giving beats taking,

That words can inspire,

That we must strive for greatness,

That pleasure comes simply,

That love is essential.

Closing the curtain on a life cut short,

A life of recreation and activity,

A life of kindness and giving,

A life of beauty and brilliance,

A life of marriage and motherhood,

A life of loving and being loved,

A life of serving and believing.

Remembering that life is a flight,

To be embraced and well-spent.




Anywhere, U.S.A.

Vorpe Road barn

Author’s note: As told by a friend of a friend to a friend… remembering what a great country we live in. Thanks for reading, A.S.

Times were such for the man and woman that living paycheck to paycheck was becoming an exercise in creativity both in the kitchen and with the checkbook. With payday still three days away he inventoried his cabinets then took his last few dollars in the world and a pocketful of quarters to the market. He came back home and with much love for his family prepared a dozen and a half delicious and filling meatballs with sauce. After the meal that evening, which subtracted only six, a call came from a family friend looking to do a charitable deed for her own immediate family, whose mother was in the hospital. She turned to the man and woman because in the past they had supplied her with restaurant-quality food for her family vacations, for which she paid. The man said that there wasn’t time for that but he’d just made a lovely batch of meatballs and sauce he could part with if that would be satisfactory. He boxed them up in throwaway containers to await the woman’s arrival the next morning. She showed with much cheer and appreciation and in exchange for the meals brought a bag of homemade chocolates. They said their good-byes. The man took his youngest, picked up her classmate, their daily routine, and drove them to school. On his way home he thought, this was certainly not the first time his wife and he had given away their last meal, or their last hundred dollars, to someone in need. She especially was so thoughtful, so giving. Once again home, he went to the kitchen and stared in the cabinets. There was something in the freezer. All would be well. They were so blessed.



Seth with kids 2012 024

I TURN MY back to the mirror, in the room where I work

Turn my thoughts to the past, though I cringe with a smirk

I gather and hunt, in a deepening well

Of pictures and docs, of hellos and farewells.


I’m distracted by two, that relate to one boy,

A poem and obit, though neither bring joy,

Near two months now, and a failing resolve,

That light will be shed, or that truth will evolve.


The details still sketchy, and may always be.

For the death of a man, unable to see,

The path he was led to, had pits on each side,

And though he was driving, he was along for the ride.


So December is here, the month we confirm,

The strength of our faith, we give and we serve,

But there’s a great void, an empty divide,

The greater the love, the more pain inside.


A mother, no son, a sister, no brother,

Nephews and aunts, and uncles and cousins,

The smile of a child, who grew to a man,

A youthful exception, a break from the plan.


The only sound in this house, is the hum of warm air,

We pray we’re protected, from the wolves that we fear,

That safe returns follow, departures-a-must,

That’s all we can hope, from this God that we trust.


© 2015