Dear family 

Tyler Clementi was driven to suicide for being gay. When we excuse hate-driven language and actions, young people die.

Dear family,

I don’t know what to say to you because the things that you say to others and the things you don’t say to me already ring with the sounds hate, discrimination, and everything you taught us not to be. 

I see when you comment on news articles. They trickle through my feed. 

I see your posts to each other. They’re difficult not to read. 

I can see the things you like and the people in your life. 

I can see when you do nothing. 

I can see you. 

I can see. 

Bri Golec was murdered by her father for being Trans.

Your gleeful support of men and platforms which have clearly stated their hatred for Queers, Muslims, Black Americans, women, and the disabled is confusing and upsetting. 

That support echoes: at worst, of the bully-boys on the school yard teasing me to tears; at best, of the silent, sneering children as the others called their jeers. 

Would you see me converted through electroshock therapy? 

Am I to blame, in my queerness, for the nation’s faults? 

Do you believe that our fellow citizens should register based on their religion? 

Or that women are objects for men to taunt and abuse? 

Do you believe that a publicly operating business should be able to turn me away simply for a perception of queerness? 

And for that matter, do you even support my right to marry? 

Do you think I’m evil? 

How do I help you see that there is no difference between some discrimination and totally oppression.

Your behavior, your silence, and your support for these men and platforms leads me believe that the answer to each is yes. 

Yes to torture and to blame. Yes to abuse and to discrimination. Yes to the perception of evil. 

Dear family. I don’t know what to say to you because the things that you say to others and the things you don’t say to me already ring with the sounds hate, discrimination, and everything you taught us not to be. 

Life among giants is always looking up.

Life among giants is always looking up.

My grandmother used to tell me that she was as old as dirt. 

I’d laugh at her and ask, ‘what was the world like without dirt?’

And she’d laugh at me and say:

‘It was full of boulders. See, like those there on the hillsides. But there were only boulders and us old people. No plants. No birds. Nothing but big stones. 

‘We were giants then, too. Bigger than dinosaurs.’

And I’d laugh. 

‘How did the trees grow? And how come your so small now?’

‘Well we had to make the dirt,’ she’d say. And she sigh and look out the car window — this was a road story — and she’d be different for a moment. 

‘We had to work really hard to make dirt. We had to crush the boulders, one at a time. There were no trees so we couldn’t make fires. Or handles for hammers. We only had our giant hands and other stones. 

‘And as we crushed the boulders into dirt, we slowly shrank and became normal sized. 

‘It’s a good thing too,’ she’d smile again. ‘If I had to make any more dirt, I might be only three feet tall!

And we’d laugh together and she’d tell me about the coming of trees and the birds to land upon them and all the other bright and beautiful things of the world. 

Back then, I used to think her story was one of the many myths we told – just another fun and silly story to pass the time. As I grew older, I learned that she had to squeeze her feet into hand-me-down shoes for most of her life. It had a slight deforming effect on her feet, curling her toes unnaturally, even into her sixties. 

But there’s more to the story than play and personal connections. There’s a life-long lesson that was imparted into my consciousness — a lesson on hard work, diminishing energy, and finding your balance. 

In our story there was never fear. There may have been elements of sadness; but part of accepting the joys of life — birds, trees, laughter, stories — is realizing everything can change. 

The challenge, when one feels diminished, is to remember that life among the giants is hard; but the perspective is always looking up. 

Fourteen Curves is acrylic and ink on canvas; 18 x 36. The painting has appeared in various venues throughout Southern California and depicts the traffic of thoughts found commuting under a golden sunrise. 

K Ryan Henisey is an award winning artist, writer, and teacher. For more of his paintings, illustrated children’s poetry, musings, and more visit

100 Monsters but I am not afraid

When I was a little boy, I suffered from nightmares. In my dreams, monsters would often chase me through the night or down seemingly endless corridors. 

I remember waking in the night, afraid and sweaty. Eventually, with a little guidance, I was able to create safe havens in my dreams. First was the hollowed tree (which always led to another world). Later, I was able to control and edit my dreams — a skill anyone can learn. 

100 Monsters is an exploration of fear and a declaration that there is no need to be afraid. This playful poem, fully illustrated with watercolor portraits of mythological monsters, is a delight for the whole family. 

100 Monsters and other sleepy time poems are available for download here

Settle the children with Sleepy Safari

Imagine laying your child down, but rather than ducks or sheep, you have a safari of animals to sing them to sleep.

The happy animals in this book rest under a dreamy blue-vioelt sky filled with smiling stars and would add an elegant touch to any children’s library.

This book is the collected paintings of the Sleepy Safari set to a lyrical ballad that’s perfect for lulling any little one right to sleep. This book is special to me because it’s dedicated to my niece – the first of my family’s next generation. May all the children in our lives have happy dreams.



 Sleepy Safari is written and illustrated by award winning artist, K. Ryan Henisey. All illustrations are watercolor and ink.