Saturday, June 25, 2016

Rocks

I never tire of watching
the ocean wash over rocks
or hearing the sound of water
coming and going as if undecided
I sit and read while this display
rewinds and plays over and over
A lobster boat stops to pull in traps
I share a peanut energy bar, drink water,
check my step counter to report how far
we walked before coming here to the rocks
I know this place, the way the granite slab
tilts forward, the tufts of grass,the indent
where water pools after a rain, cobble rocks,
and the gulls that hope for a handout





Friday, June 24, 2016

Watch Your Step

She remembered the year the when the four friends climbed every day. They chose hikes that lasted for hours and she loved how fast she walked. Clambering over large rocks, racing on trails, wanting to go faster than the times listed as average. She recalled how on hot days the sweat poured down her back. Now she's older and she sometimes needs to sit when a rock has a big drop. She looks at the ground, careful not to trip over a loose rock, or one that sticks out ready to catch a hiking boot. It takes longer to finish a hike and she no longer walks faster than the listed time.

Now she appreciates that she still hikes the trails. Her times are slower and everyone passes her. " Remember," she says, " when we passed other hikers?"



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Arriving in Maine

The ocean welcomes me
So certain of herself,
so full of assonance
and dissonance
She fills me,
I hear her breath
as she spreads  herself over sand
and then retreats, but returns
over and over--

Parsha Beha'alotcha

       Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses
       ..."Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?
       Has he not spoken through us also? And the
       Lord heard it."
                 Numbers 12:1-2
       And the anger of the Lord was kindled against
      them...
      When the cloud went away from over the tent,
      Miriam had become leprous...
                 Numbers 12:9-10


I get it
God doesn't like gossip
God doesn't care for jealousy
Miriam and Aaron prattle
thinking God doesn't hear
or notice how they whisper
I get it
God's displeased
and punishes Miriam
What about Aaron?
I know Aaron's upset,
argues with God,
pleads for Miriam,
but his skin doesn't
whither and whiten
Something's missing
in this telling




Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rt 17 to the Bungalow

Her mother packed too many shoes. Her father packed just what he knew he needed. She packed her coloring book, jacks, kite, and a copy of Nobody's Boy-- a library book. When the taxi picked them up valises were strapped to the top of the cab. Their bags went into an already full trunk. Leaving the Bronx for Route 17 and the Catskills with three people you didn't know meant introductions and different destinations.

Traffic moves in tempo with the sultry temperatures of July. Stop and go  through a landscape that bakes under the weight of cement and bricks. Ancestors of those who baked bricks under a hot Egyptian sun now trek, weighted down with baggage, to the mountains. The stutter of movement, hot air, and proximity of too many people...car sickness. How much longer to the promised land?

Billboards with a picture of a crimson apple  announce how much further to the Red Apple Rest. They began twenty-five miles before the restaurant. It's an oasis after two hours of stop and go and halfway up to hotels and bungalows.

Not quite Eden, but a place to buy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A place to wander in front of candy displays. The taxi driver waits in line to fill up his tank. He's eating a pastrami sandwich.

Her father buys a newspaper. She asks, "Are we almost there?" "Soon," her mother responds.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Bronx

She waits for the pushcart. Today she'll buy a  marshmallow topped with a fig .The peddler will thread both onto a stick and dip the stick into a cauldron of bubbling red jelly. He wil tell her to blow on it because the jelly will burn her lips. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Parsha Naso

The Lord bless you and keep you,
the Lord make his face to shine upon
        you and be gracious to you,
the Lord lift up his countenance upon
       you, and give you peace.
                 The Priestly Benediction
                   Numbers 6:24-26


and the priests blessed the people
and the people rested in the blessing
and the Lord said my peace
surrounds you, enfolds you

and the Lord said
come here and let me
wrap you in my arms
let me hold you
let me tell you a story

and the Lord talked
and you listened
to the words
and peace encircled you

and the Lord reminded you
that His peace can't be
parsed, it just is
and you sing Hallelujah,
Hallelujah
Hallelujah




Saturday, June 18, 2016

Vigil for Those Killed in Orlando

               Addressed to my church


where were you
when you had a chance
to stand together
and mourn the loss of forty-nine

each year you celebrate
 you read words in unison
 welcoming all to your table,
 to your church, as if we
need to hear those words
 again and again

Words need shoes

but where were you
when you had a chance
to stand with other faith
communities to mourn
the loss of forty-nine

I looked around
expecting to see you,
a hand full, some, a few
I saw two

where were you
when seventy gathered
you didn't hear the prayers,
the words, you didn't hear
a gay minister speak of his
experiences as a gay man, you didn't
listen and then pray with a Muslim Cleric,
you didn't hear a minister from your
church offer a prayer, you didn't hear three
parishioners from a  local church
read the names and a few words
about each of the forty-nine killed by hate

You didn't get a chance to turn
and introduce yourself to the people
to your left, to your right, you didn't
hear us all sing Let There Be Peace on Earth

where were you
I am disappointed
I am sad
I am angry

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Past Rubs the Present

It's quiet 
Only my thoughts disturb
a light wind, they catch
the shift of air, they ride 
my garden whirly-gig, spinning
past memories, a melange 
of places and ways to connect
If you wore plaid shirts, if you
wore work boots, if you knew 
the code you found one another
If you went to a tea dance, knew
the music, roamed a Womyn's
bookstore, read a paper the newsstand 
didn't carry, if you listened to womyn
read dyke poetry, you belonged
it's quiet
and I know that there are still dark 
places where being out 
needs a code 



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Forgiveness

Ever wonder why it is that the one who is hurt or maimed by hate is told to forgive, to respond with love? Is it that love preached to those who hate falls on deaf ears? Suppose every faith group that has spewed hateful rhetoric asks for forgiveness.

Tonight I heard a mother who lost a son. She had worried about giving him a church service. "You know some churches don't like gays. My son loved the Lord."


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Metaphor for Politician With Blinders

thick grass hides weeds
or weeds hide in thick grass
or green grass hides weeds
or if you don't look too hard
green is green, grass or weed,
follow this logic and cease
seeking a weed free plot,
accept the inevitable

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Grieve

Let's not gloss over the target of the Orlando attack. Let's not let the LGBTQ massacre get subsumed by our focus on gun control and lone wolf home grown terrorists. Yes, we desperately need to do something about gun control, about the ease of obtaining weapons capable of rapidly killing scores of people. Yes, we need to address why some Americans are attracted to the message of groups like Isis.

But we need to grieve the loss of all the lives lost-- gay and lesbian and transgender individuals. If you have the stomach read some of the rhetoric on social media aimed at the LGBTQ community. One Baptist minister's  sermon from the pulpit was removed from the internet because it was deemed hate speech.

Too many voices demonize the LGBTQ community.

 Last night I listened to the reading of each name and a short two or three sentence blurb about the person whose life was cut short by violence. I cried for the loss, for their terror, for the families who can't put their arms around a child and say I love you. How many of these young people were not out to their family? How many parents will never get the chance to say I love you- the person you are.

Story after story of good friends, of lovers, of soul mates, of two who were to be married, but now will share a funeral. Stop and grieve for each life. Stop and grieve for a country where too many people see LGBTQ lives as less than.

Today I heard someone say, " I am afraid."

Grieve for forty- nine lives-- LGBTQ lives. And let's not forget this community was targeted, picked because of who they were.



Monday, June 13, 2016

Shooting in a Gay Bar, 49 killed, 53 wounded

Read each name
Don't rush
Pray for them
You know them
They are the people
killed by hate,
By words, by looks,
by cruelty,
and now by a gun--
killed by hate
They were loved,
they loved
Now they are gone
Read each name aloud
Pray for an end to hate
Read each name
take your time




Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23.
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20.
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22.
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36.
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22.
Luis S. Vielma, 22.
Kimberly Morris, 37.
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30.
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29.
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32.
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21.
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25.
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35.
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50.
Amanda Alvear, 25.
Martin Benitez Torres, 33.
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37.
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26.
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35.
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25.
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31.
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26.
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25.
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30.
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40.
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32.
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19.
Cory James Connell, 21.
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37.
Luis Daniel Conde, 39.
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33.
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25.
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31.
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25.
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25.
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24.
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27.
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33.
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49.
Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24.
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32.
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28.
Frank Hernandez, 27.
Paul Terrell Henry, 41.
Akyra Monet Murray
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz
Antonio Davon Brown
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Words Are Important

Count each day, forty-nine days of waiting, forty-nine days to prepare for the giving of the tablets, for the giving of the Torah, forty-nine days to wait for the harvesting of wheat, forty-nine days until God revealed Himself and etched the Ten Commandments at Sinai

We don't change the words of the commandments to make them comfortable, easier to do, a smoother fit

We don't eliminate, modify, expunge some words because they chafe

So to...

The Sh'ma is commanded in the Torah and recited twice a day by believers
Six words begin the recitation

Sh'ma Yisra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one

It is said that at the inquisition and in the Nazi gas chambers, those six words were recited  , were heard

We don't alter the words to make them fit the trinity.
One, echad in Hebrew may also imply unity in diversity.  The Tabernacle and all its parts are constructed so that "it shall be (echad), one tabernacle.





Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Trail Climbed Once

We climbed through the mist, past gossamer threads strung across branches, past the wild blueberries clinging to bushes. An early morning rain left the path slippery. The sun soaked up the mist, drawing it out of the lower part of the trail. We began to climb over rocks warmed by the sun. I listened to the sound of my hiking stick reading the granite as the path began to gain height. My breath labored as the trail raced to reach each outcropping, creating a vertical rise. We stopped to drink water and eat some gorp. We climbed for hours before reaching the top. The place where the sky rested on the granite. Climbing down is a return to the reality of everyday.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Roasted Peppers, Onions, and Pineapple --please

Thin crust, well-done,a thin layer of cheese, and onions, green peppers and mushroom toppings. A wood table with six chairs pulled close- the pizza served in the cardboard box. Did we have soft drinks or beers? I can't remember, but I gave the crust a thumbs up. Someone said it was New Jersey pizza, short on cheese. Who were the others? Perhaps only the pizza was important. We drove there after class and before the night settled in and the roads filled up with commuters. New Jersey seemed a continent away from the Bronx. They spoke with a different accent. I carry my accent with me as a place mark.

Twenty-minutes to walk to the pizza place in the center of town. When I didn't want to cook, I took my two children there for dinner. Later on when my meals and the atmosphere in the house made staying at the table uncomfortable, the pizza place provided pizza and a friendly owner who knew everyone's name. Was the crust soft and thick or crisp and thin? What toppings? It didn't matter. Comfortable booths, laughter. Twenty years later the brother and sister went back and the owner recognized them. " This was like home," .

 I recall hot sweet potatoes cooked on a push-cart then removed from the ashes and wrapped in newspaper. After the top was cut off you squeezed the potato and ate the insides. No fork necessary.

I don't recall pizza until college.


Thursday, June 09, 2016

Terrorists

I ask if everyone is fine
after hearing of a shooting,
"one dead, many wounded"--
the newspapers carry a short
version. My questions lost
between the lines where terror
takes to the streets in distant
latitudes and longitudes.
Page piled on page, a stele set in ink
engraved with names I can't pronounce
Tonight there will be other names.
Tonight other families will grieve.


Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Uninvited Guest

Weeds
ignore common decorum,
enter common places  uninvited,
and refuse to accept no as a response

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Parsha Bamidar

          Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the
           wilderness of Sinai, saying: ...You shall
           enroll every male from a month old and upward.
                           Numbers 3:15


I'm there, Lord
didn't you see me
I was cooking up a stew,
taking care of a child
with a runny nose, and
studying the dark sky,
counting the stars. I run
out of numbers. Lord, maybe
you missed me, maybe I'm
bending down, maybe I'm
washing clothes, maybe Lord
we need to talk cause I need
to be counted. I am one
of your congregation.



 


Monday, June 06, 2016

Waiting

I wanted a pizza. Had a yen for pizza. We ordered a small pizza with three toppings from Papa Gino, but didn't feel like picking it up.

"That will be between thirty-five and forty minutes for delivery."

The timing suited us. I cut up fixings for a salad which we ate before the arrival of the pizza.
After fifty minutes I called Papa Gino.

" Our regular delivery guy is sick and this fellow comes from Westboro. He's unfamiliar with the streets here. But he'll be there in seven to ten minutes."

Twenty minutes later the pizza still hadn't been delivered.

We called again.

" I'm really sorry for the delay. I'd deliver the pizza myself, but we're short people. Listen I'll void the charges for the pizza and give you a coupon for a free pizza."

We put two eggs in a pot and will have egg salad. I'm envisioning some poor soul wandering around with four cold pizzas. Three other households are waiting for their delivery. I guess the folks who deliver aren't using any GPS-- maybe homing pigeons.

The porch light is on. I'll turn it off at 9:00pm.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Locusts

Today while reading Revelation: A Search for Faith in a Violent Religious World by Dennis Covington I read the following sentence, "... and the years that the locust ate began." Several chapters later he quotes Joel 2:25-- "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten..."

Once upon a time, I know that's a tired phrase, but it does seem that in some bygone age far away and in a different space, a friend quoted that line. I only knew that the line came from the Hebrew Scriptures. After finding the source I began to seek out locust citations.

God threatens Pharaoh with locusts if he refuses to let --"my people go". Of course Pharaoh refuses and God tells Moses to stretch out his hand over Egypt. By the following morning the land was infested with locusts.

Later on in Leviticus God says that eating locusts is permissible.

Later on in Deuteronomy God warns the people about the consequences of disobedience. The people may bring the seed into the fields, but the locusts will eat most of the seed.

Yet if the locusts abound and famine occurs and people turn toward the Lord with a contrite heart, a heart that God knows, Solomon, in his prayer at the dedication of the Temple, asks God to forgive the person or the community.

Later on in Chronicles 7: 13-14 we hear that if God sends the locusts to devour the land and if " my people...humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

John ate locusts in the wilderness.

In Revelation the locusts appear and torture those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

My friend, a believer in every word in the Bible, felt that she had crossed the line of what God demanded, expected, spelled out implicitly, and because of her sin she had separated herself from God.

Years later she told me that God had restored the years that the locust had eaten.

Do we all have years that the locust ate?



Saturday, June 04, 2016

On Planting a Life

Dig deep
add compost
shade or sun,
feed, water
start again
talk
listen
pluck the weeds
start again
it's a cycle
from seed to growth
the years between
with buds, flowers,
and weeds
as markers
then death
a final return

Friday, June 03, 2016

A Nemisis

It happened when I touched
the screen and my words
vanished, sucked into the void,
an intake of air, vaporized
Thoughts disappeared, whole
paragraphs of intentions washed
away into a vortex, an eddy
of misplaced letters
Now I  involve myself in
the act of reconstruction
and wonder about the import
of what I had written






Thursday, June 02, 2016

Another Era

Soon I'll take out my yellow lined pad and write several hand-written letters. I'll use a fountain pen that doesn't rely on a cartridge. Deep black ink or sepia or dark gray. One pen with a fine point is loaded with sepia-- black, permanent ink is in two other pens.

Writing a letter feels organic. A handwritten letter bears the idiosyncratic markings of the letter writer. One writer tilts her letters, another alternates between printing and cursive-- a hybrid. Touch a word and know that you connected with another person.

Long ago, said the teller of tales, I wrote to more than a dozen people. I kept a running record of  sent and received letters. There were rules to be followed. Despite how much I wanted to respond immediately to some letters, I had to wait a week-- sometimes two weeks.

The comings and goings of each letter were noted as well as a short synopsis of an outgoing letter.

One friend, a reader of Charles Williams, introduced me to the Inklings-- C.S.Lewis, Tolkein, Owen Barfield, and Williams. Despite her encouragement I never finished one of William's books.While another friend shared her love of Herman Melville.That was the year we read four Melville books and discussed them in letters.

One year I followed the travails of a friend who owned a women's bookstore in Ithica.

Letters arrived with coffee stains, water marks, smears from pens.

Spelling mistakes weren't corrected by some robot hidden in my computer. Sentences meandered. Time waited.

A letter is a visit.








Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Metamorphosis

night light disguises forms
into apparitions that wander
until daylight