Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017 in America

      Who can protest and does not, 
        is an accomplice in the act.
       —Talmud

Wail without action,
 empty howls—
self-deception and prattle 
Hand wringing
over a litany of deceptions,
lies and bravado
masquerading as reality
An upside down quagmire
Stand in the marketplace
and roar









Friday, November 03, 2017

A New Reality

     These days I wait for another political morass, another political wasteland, another beyond belief story. I expect that we are getting so accustomed to hang on by your nails diplomacy, the defenestration of common ordinary empathy, and the roll out of prevarication praised to the level of acceptability for some folks— that a compromised reality is the norm.
     We need our ballad makers, our minstrels, our artists, our journalists, our poets —especially our poets— to lead the way. We need anthems, banners, mugs with slogans. 
     Remember Take Back the Night ? 
     I am thankful for the women’s marches, for Emily’s List of female candidates, for strong women who tell stories straight, and for sweatshirts with our new slogans.
    I once owned a sweatshirt with Emma Goldman’s photo larger than life and her words emblazoned across my chest: if I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution.

    Now I wish to replace those words with another set of her words:

      To-day is the parent of to-morrow. The present casts its shadow far into the future.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Someday

I never did buy a real tuxedo—but created one out of black chino pants, a white shirt, short black jacket, a black bow tie— and a red cummerbund. 
There were two styles—one with tapered pants and a frilly shirt and the other a proper tuxedo. I think I’d have looked rather smart in a proper tuxedo.

I never learned how to sew a button hole, hem a skirt, iron a shirt properly, or replace a zipper. My mother owned a sewing machine, but only did hand stitched hems. She taught me how to do a running stitch. Someday I’ll hem a pair of pants.

Someday I’m going to buy a pair of cowgirl boots with snip toes.
Someday I’m going to wear a Bullhide leather cowgirl hat with brass tone studs, conchos and leather lacing.

Someday I’m going to unspool stories.










Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Feast for a Bibliophile

What to read next?
A tome that elevates my mind
A memoir that bares the writer’s soul
Perhaps a mystery, but not a cozy
where decorum holds court,
and not a narrative constructed
out of nightmares 
nor a history of a war 
where historians dissect causes,
and display their historiographic mettle
Or shall I reread the classics
or the latest literary fiction
reviewed in the Sunday Times
Or a volume of poetry
where every word must carry its weight
and endings earned
Or a book shepherding souls
through the shoals of life

















Monday, October 23, 2017

Upon Reading a Long Book


       “No tea cup is big enough 
        nor book long enough 
        for me to be satisfied.”

                ― C.S. Lewis


Some books
let you drop in
eavesdrop
walk the perimeters 
of another place
extend an invitation
to loiter at the edge
to stave off endings
to remain as a guest
as long as you wish
or until the last word


Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Man and His Motorcycle

after finishing his burger and soda he returned to his motorcycle, opened up a rucksack and fished out an undershirt, took off his shirt and stood bare chested in the cool air before putting on his first layer of clothing— fished around in the bag for the next layer, then the next until the rucksack collapsed upon itself with a limp bungee card hanging over the side 
he drew cloths out of the bag, draped them over the bike’s handlebars and selected one cloth, folded it edge to edge
then he polished the bike, attending to the chrome with a special cloth while I ate my burger and watched without turning my head too far so i didn’t take on the mantle of eavesdropper of a man in his fifties with tonsured hair rooting around for pieces of his attire and cleaning cloths—then meticulously polishing his motorcycle

his facial expression remained fixed— an avatar performing a  series of tasks, an imitation of someone who had somewhere to go, his aloneness and loneliness seeped through the open car window 





Saturday, October 14, 2017

Ongunquit Beach

        Poetry is eternal graffiti
       written in the heart of everyone.
              —Lawrence Ferlinghetti


This beach stretches itself
and disappears into a thin line
I walk toward the line and laugh
at the improbability of arriving
I watch waves that started thousands
of miles away fold onto the shore—
and I am replenished








Friday, October 13, 2017

To Read Again

It’s a Mobius
One day you question why Moses
only stood and looked
and never set foot on the land
Then you begin again with the first
words and it’s all new—Bereshit
In the beginning and on until
Devarim and Moses dies
and then you begin again
But always more questions
When Cain told his wife
about killing his brother
the story survived tellings—
one generation to another
Did he also tell her that he
must wander from place to place

Did I ever notice that Lamech’s
wives are named Adah and Zillah
So I begin again

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dates

remember the time you planted
seeds and waited for the first green
or when you tried to count the stars
or wondered about the size of the moon—
now you remember decades,
a file box of memories classified
within categories—some catalogued
according to ordinary chronology
while others remain outside of linear stops—
my family remains oblivious to calendars
selecting and choosing what to recall—
an arbitrary system with holes and patches



Sunday, October 08, 2017

Reality 2017

What is happening to our country? Innocent people traumatized by police at a traffic stop because they are mistaken for Muslims. Black citizens gunned down. Regulations that protect our environment, health, and the earth secretly shredded. Name calling. Reneging on treaties. Refusal to acknowledge science. Low brow, thin skinned, lacking any empathy for others—describes the man leading this country.

I guess big oil and coal interests, big corporations, and CEOs worth millions aren’t satisfied with their lot. They need more— more drilling, less restrictions on dumping wastes, more money.
Can anyone explain to me why so many folks in power want to deprive women of the right to their bodies, keep wages low for the working poor, cut back on programs designed to help, and chip away at the rights of LGBTQ ?

All the while too many people raise their Bible and use it as a crudgle.

They excuse discrimination of particular groups.

We must be reading different versions or different Bibles. Each day I see the book I read twisted, distorted, and ignored. They must use White-Out to obliterate the passages that don’t fit in with their world view.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Change is in the Air

For the past few years I studiously posted a piece every day— some good, some poignant, some weak, and some irrelevant
Now I look back at my stack of poetry and want to take time to edit, to rewrite, to listen for the music or the lack of, or the words that work, and the words that fail to carry their weight
This means I need to put my effort into digging up the best language for my poetry and that means needing time
I’m not closing down my blog, but I am relaxing my self imposed daily posting
I’ll still post — but more like random posting.







Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Loving Words

Fill your lungs with language
Colum McCann


In this era who suffers from appetency for cordwainers
—perhaps this isn’t what is meant by filling your lungs with language
— gulp down words, swallow the nuance of language
—eat a dictionary
—never settle for almost

Monday, October 02, 2017

Another...

Dylan Thomas said that after the first death there is no other. One person shot with a gun is one too many. When will we see change in the way people view their right to bear arms? No one needs an automatic weapon. No police department needs military equipment.

We’re a broken nation. I read that one of the so called evangelical ministers said that God is punishing this country because we’ve turned away from God, we’re irreverent toward Trump, the flag, and the national anthem. This same minister said that 9/11 happened because of lesbians and gays.

This rhetoric is cruel. The God I worship is wringing her hands.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Change

Don’t grouse. Change is inevitable. Find the positive— explore the differences. First, I need to identify holy space. What do I mean when I use the phrase? I’ll start with what I don’t mean.

I do not anticipate thunder and lightning, nor do I envision divine intervention or the angels joining the choir. Nor do I believe that every time I enter or visit a particular place I will be drawn into a holy space.

I am not seeking some sort of high— a spiritual nirvana.

In fact if I scout my memory for those moments that I felt that indeed this is a holy place or a holy space —they are almost all outside. The first was an Easter Sunrise Service at Harper’s Ferry where a group of women sang Amazing Grace with only the breeze as accompaniment. Then after a hike up Old Rag Mountain in Virginia four friends rested on the top and read psalms.

When we were at the Grand Canyon, a National Parks ministry group held an outdoor service at the rim of the canyon. I only passed by the group , but felt the spirit of the moment. And there were times when I felt the presence of the holy in the scenery of the Southwest.

While I worship in a building, sing hymns, take communion, listen to a sermon— what I experienced outside was different. it was palpable.

To wend my way back to the beginning. Today the sanctuary of church was different— the pews were gone, the lights were ratcheted up, and everyone was on the same horizontal level. Perhaps there is a raised platform on order?

Change was the itch that hung around. I’m short and I couldn’t see over or around the folks in front. The lights no longer had that soft enveloping feeling. And by removing some elements of the room the acoustics were different. I found it difficult to hear folks on the other side of the sanctuary.

The people were the same, but—for me— it all felt different. Probably folks who were used to gargoyles felt the same way when churches changed their architecture— probably most of those folks were gone by then so the didn’t have to deal with gargoyless churches.

Now I can see the gray roots, the wrinkles around someone’s eyes. Now I will just add to the words I don’t hear and wonder why people mutter.

Yet, I’m certain that with time I will adjust. Fortunately the bulbs have not been amped up in the parlor. So on days that I think that too much has been altered I can go into the parlor, take a book off the shelf and read something holy.

I’ll adjust and maybe someday I will no longer remember the period of discomfort. And when I want to commune with the holy I can go outside and find a pond or lake or ocean. Or I can examine a leaf or draw a tree or sit on a rock and watch the waves repeat their dance.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Yom Kippur

G’mar Hatimah Tovah

May you be sealed for a good year [in the Book of Life]

Friday, September 29, 2017

Teshuvah

Turn to one another
and see the holy spark 
Turn inward
and seek to repair
seek to return
to the Holy One


Thursday, September 28, 2017

7. Standing Meditation



Shalom

May we greet the stranger
May we feed the hungry
May we clothe the needy
in the shalom of love
May the shalom of the day
surround us
May the shalom of the night
be our lullaby 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

6. Standing Meditation

Hoda’ah
       giving gratitude for the
blessings of our day

today i found mushrooms
half hidden beneath tall grass
today i listened to women
wrestle meaning from a book
today i woke up with the sun
and gave thanks
for the new day


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

5. Standing Meditation


Avodah
      May we pray with joy and love

Imagine the strumming of a guitar,
 the utterances of a flute 
Imagine a nigun, a  song without words
accompanying your prayers
—a song of the soul 

       



Monday, September 25, 2017

4. Standing Meditation



Today is Holy

Sustain us 
and bring peace
to our table 
and to our world

Instead of seeing 
our differences
let us rejoice in our diversity 
for today is holy
Rather than words that divide
let us seek words that are a balm
for today is holy
Rather than hoard our wealth 
let us spread it where needed
for today is holy 

Sustain us 
and bring peace
to our table
 and to our world

Sunday, September 24, 2017

3. Standing Meditation


Kidushat Hashem
The holiness of God’s name


when i stood within the canyon
and read the rocks with the palm of my hand
when i hiked through red and orange sculptures
as the sun gathered itself and appeared as a ball of fire
when i walked around a pond and heard the cry of a loon
when i sat on a flat rock and
let the river run through my fingers
when i glimpsed wilderness
i stood in awe

Saturday, September 23, 2017

2. Standing Meditation

Gevurot
God’s strength: giver of life to everything


even the people who make you uncomfortable
even the wild turkeys that gather on lawns
even the insects that sting
even those people who get under your skin
they all are God’s creatures
even the animals and fish that are extinct
even the sponge and the coral
and the octopus, anteater, and two toed sloth
—all God’s creatures

Friday, September 22, 2017

1. A Standing Meditation



Avot v’imahot
or the connection with our ancestors

years before my grandfather painted apartments in the bronx he served in the russian army a job he left to travel first to ellis island where his name became mangled and he lost the last few letters of his last name and ended up in a tenement building on the lower east side along with other immigrants and there he met his wife who had long red hair

I don’t know how or when they migrated to the bronx with their family of three sons and one daughter or how he became a house painter

his wife, cecila, loved purple and cooked potato pancakes and all my older cousins believed that she made wine in the bathtub but that was never proved and i didn’t care because all i wanted to do was watch her brush her long red hair and twist it into a figure eight held together with a few barrettes and a deft touch

we visited their apartment every other sunday even though my mother thought it too often and i became bored

in the afternoon my grandfather stood facing the direction of jerusalem and davened

my mother's mother, yette, was married to a man who drove a meat truck and was active in the teamsters and because of his union background i learned to never cross a picket line and i never have

he died when I was three and my grandmother came to live with us in a three room rent controlled apartment in the bronx where i never thought we didn't have enough space and my grandmother and i shared the bedroom while my parents slept on a pullout bed in the living room

yette had a beautiful soul and for years attended night school english classes where she learned how to speak "american" and wrote short sentences on scraps of paper which she kept in her pocketbook--i,too,keep scraps of paper with sentences or quotes in my tote bag

she taught me how to play pisha pasha, a card game, and told me to never pass by someone who is homeless and asking for money


I don't know the people who came before my grandparents although i did know that they came from poland and russia and a few from germany

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tashlich

Tashlich
             “He will take us back in love; He will cover up
              our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into
              the depths of the sea.”
                       Micah 7:19

find fast moving water
if that’s not possible any body of water—
and if there are fish in the water
it adds to the symbolism
for just the way fish are caught
we too are tangled up by our misdeeds
cast your sins into the water
and watch the current
take them downstream











Wednesday, September 20, 2017

#BlogElul Day 29: Return

Return

I turn again
and look at what needs
cleaning, shoring up
The past is filled
with potholes and cracks
Streaks mar the mirror
and clarity is distorted
In time I’ll return and untangle
places still knotted and tender