Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Way

And how should a beautiful, ignorant stream of water
know it heads for an early release - out across the desert,
running toward the Gulf, below sea level,
to murmur its lullaby, and see the Imperial Valley
rise out of burning sand with cotton blossoms, wheat,
watermelons, roses, how should it know?”
 —Carl Sandburg

So much we don't know
the why of time
the way a day enters night
then disappears
never to happen again
the way of silence
when it sometimes
fills a space
and makes it holy
the way my breath
catches on rocks
when I climb a mountain
as if it wants to stop
and spread itself
on the wind
the way light filters
out the gray

the way a memory
clings, refuses to
let go, digs
into the marrow
and stays


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Releasing Information Into The Void

While looking through the new books at the library, I happened upon a slim volume with a simple title-- Privacy by Garret Keizer.

I've heard people say, " I'm a private person."  Or " Can't I have any privacy?" In a society where we are surrounded by technology the meaning of private or privacy is forever altered.

As of this moment I've not opened the book because I'd like to wrestle with my own thoughts about privacy.

Google someone's name and find that there are citations allowing you to find out where they live, how old they are, and for a few dollars more other information is available.

You can even find a map leading to the person's house.

I googled my name and was astounded by all the citations—blog posts, pictures, paintings—and I never sign my name to anything. I use a pen name.

I guess the moment you go onto the internet you give up all pretensions of having any privacy—whatever you posted is available. How is it that things are attributed to my name when I don't list my name?

The internet simply releases information into the void and 'tis captured by anyone with a computer. Perhaps it's time to retreat into a notebook and the use of a pen or to acknowledge that too often the private is public.

Now I'll read the book and find out the dire consequences of the abridgment of privacy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Service

tonight I'm listening
to the words, closing
my eyes so I can see
what's going on
waiting for dim lights
and candles lit
and remembering
when someone stood
and whispered Oh Jesus
what they do to you

after the last hymn
we walk out
into the street


Sometimes Jesus
stays behind

Out service ended with the spiritual
"Were You there When They Crucified My Lord"
Amazing how the words release such profound emotion when sung.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord ?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord ?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord ?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Sign of Maturity

I found an article in Prevention magazine titled " ...Ways to Feel Good About Your Neck". That sent me to the mirror to look at my neck—something I don't usually do. Ever notice how many things we take for granted? After staring at my reflection for a few moments, I accepted the fact that one could make a study of necks.

My friend Penny wraps a silk scarf around her neck. I expect it's a fashion statement. Today I noted that another friend who doesn't ever take a leisurely walk, but looks as if she's training for the marathon even when she walks from her car to a store, had a wet neck. Then I spotted a woman, at a table in the coffee shop where I love to read and write, wearing a turtle neck that enveloped her neck.

Another patron, fighting off a cold, wore her cardigan sweater zipped up—covering most of her neck.

I remember the long wool scarfs that came in your school colors. Six feet of heavy wool wrapped around your neck—and what you couldn't wrap hung down your coat.

Chokers for your neck. Tattoos on either side of your neck. Tattoo artists list the neck as one of the most painful places to receive a tattoo.

Massages to smooth away the skin that no longer was drawn tighter than a drumhead-

The neck coils worn by some African and Asian groups don't actually stretch the neck. The weight of the coils crush the collar bone giving the impression of a long neck. " If a woman offended her tribe, her rings were cut off and she would choke to death, unless someone held her head up! "

I didn't read the article, but I advise myself to release any idea of either a tattoo or rings. And if there's a bit of a sag then I'll accept it as a sign of maturity.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Refashioning Reality

I read a blog piece suggesting that writers wear their Observer persona as a way of engaging with the world. The observer interacts, but is alert to the nuances in the conversation and the subtle variations between people-- or potential characters.

When I actively assume the role of Observer the play between people becomes pronounced, even nature startles me. Today I observed a woman walking from her car to the drug store. I was rather close behind her. She never turned around, but within a few minutes she switched her pocketbook from its position by her side to one under her arm.

I slowed my pace as she picked up her pace. When she arrived at the entrance to the shop she turned around and looked at me. My attire-- cords, jacket and a book bag. She smiled. I expect that she had played out a scenario while she walked and then realized the absurdity of the drama.

But the short vignette made me think of how we create stories out of the slimmest of threads. I'm presently reading a bizarre and frightening mystery series and suddenly I'm aware of men wearing black clothes.

My Observer persona collects data which at a later date may be refashioned and released as a story.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just Let Go

Forget all rules, forget all restrictions,
as to taste, as to what ought to be said,
write for the pleasure of it -- whether slowly or fast --
every form of resistance to a complete release should be abandoned.
 —William Carlos Williams

So what shall I write when given so much freedom? Shall I run rampant and let adjectives spin out of control or arcane words flit about on the page? Still I know that after these moments of freedom I'll need to go back and edit, cut out, rephrase, substitute words—delete words, paragraphs, pages.

But writing for pleasure may allow for a playfulness that prances and uncovers possibilities. I'll write about the time I blew a bubble so large that my eyebrows fell under the mantle of a deflated bubble. My mother, armed with a cuticle scissors , snipped away at the entangled gum and hair.

I'll write about my skate key. I wore it around my neck like a religious symbol—my announcement to the world of my belief. I believed that with practice and good posture I could beat Annie skating down the hill—a forbidden route because of the steep incline. By the time I tried Annie moved on to other pursuits.

I'll write about attending the Art Student's League life classes while in middle school and wondering why the women modeled nude and the men modeled with a thong. Of course I rarely looked up at the model so my proportions lacked any accuracy.

Perhaps I'll spin a tale or write a poem or attempt a prose poem even though I'm not certain about the form.

Maybe I'll write automatically —channeling a past writer.

Maybe I'll say to William Carlos Williams —easier said than done.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Supreme Court Hears Arguments

I release you
I release you
I release you
I release you
—Joy Harjo

I release the notion
of convincing everyone
that love is love.

I'll wait and see.
If not right now then soon.
I release my timetable—

Wouldn't it just be something,
like crocuses blooming in winter
to hear those justices
say love is love.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Lone Ranger's Rant

There are people who love committees. It started when they entered school and then served in some capacity. They washed boards, walked notes down to the principal's office, carried the attendance sheets ( before the internet made that a task no longer necessary) to the office.

Later on they yearned to be the class representative and ran their first campaign. Still later they ran for president of the school council—corralled friends into making posters, handed out free lollypops with tags asking for a vote. They learned to run a meeting, set an agenda, take meeting notes. All this —a preparation for more committees, elected or selected.

Nothing makes their hearts beat faster than heading up a large committee or being part of several committees. Seated in a circle, or around a table discussing what should be done or what needs to be started or how to proceed excites the very marrow in their bones.

I am not one of those people. If, by mistake, I am on a committee I tend to doodle or let my mind wander to someplace far away. It's always been this way. I never liked when the leader or head of the group said, "We're going to break up into small groups and discuss..." I know that after the small group discussion the leader can't leave it alone, no.  "Now," they say ,"what did your group say about the  question or the idea or the...?"

Almost as bad are the sheets of paper on easels or posted around a room. These innocuous innocent looking pieces of paper collect the thoughts on the question asked. The leader either writes down answers on the sheet or on a chalk board. Sometimes the group is asked to move around the room and write on the paper.

Either way the responses become a jumping off point for yet another discussion—which as I have explained those born committee junkies love. It's in their blood—in their DNA.

They have a compunction to volunteer for task forces that are generated by the committees. They love to create mini-committees, multiply lists, and utilize technology to keep their collection of agendas and meetings and ideas.

If you, like myself, find committees and task forces onerous you might be dubbed a Lone Ranger. Lone Rangers go about the task without propagating small groups, or paper trails. They tend to work alone or with another person and they eschew chairs in circles. They wear, if not externally—at least internally— a sign that says, Question Authority.

If and when a Lone Ranger ends up on a committee—they look astounded and then they start to think of how to either quietly fade into the background or need to use the bathroom or get a drink when small groups are formed.

They spend some time in a mode of rebellion.Their defiance doesn't lead to outright insurrection, save what they conjure up in the stillness of the ride home after the meeting.

Maybe they are the people who release their revolt by adopting the anonymous line
"A camel is a horse designed/planned by a committee."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Time Loop

Ever notice how people age when you haven't seen them in years? Years that show up as crows's feet and skin that no longer stays taut. Taut meaning tight, taut meaning skin not crosshatched with wrinkles and brown spots. Spots showed up when you looked in the mirror and wanted to view yourself in the daylight. Daylight acts as a revealer, forcing reality. Reality often shows us the world spinning along and time moving too quickly. Quickly the years accumulate and your book of recollections expands like an accordion folder with files for every year. Year after year the calendar turns, rotating faster and faster through the months and memories. Memories of events that are secure in their place, unchangeable, and set firmly in time. Time that occupies a particular space in your life and won't relinquish its stories. Stories, once released tell about your years. Years.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Who is the Woman

a releasing effected by payment
of a ransom, setting free, liberation
deliverance, free, release

preacher looked
at the people
and said raise your hands
and offer praise for this free gift, shake
off your worries, you’re delivered
from sin today
Give praise

shouted out
I wish it
came with a month’s rent,
a pack of cigarettes and a lottery ticket

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No Secrets Released

It's still magic even if
you know how it's done.
—Terry Patchett

As soon as I read the Wall Street Journal article about the Conjuring Arts Research Center I set out to explore their website. I found out that I could become a member even though my feats of prestidigitation are meager and I own nary a book of magic. The membership price did seem rather steep for someone who simply loves libraries.

I could browse their library catalogue and purchase books and some magic cards. A book titled Aunt Mary's Terrible Secret fascinated me. What could that be? How did it happen? When I clicked on for more information it appears that Aunt Mary "had a murky past" which I believe involved some card tricks. The book reveals her trick "in three powerful moves". According to the write-up the maneuvers are within reach of "any performer"—perhaps not within my reach.

Books, posters, and some specialty decks of cards are available to anyone—save for a little more money than the discounted member's rate.

There seemed to be a bit of a fuss over the Erdnase finish on a deck of cards. S.W. Erdnase wrote The Expert at the Card Table . Benjamin Earl, who writes a blog about magic/gambling, wrote that "there are a few passages...that should be permanently engrained on the minds of magicians around the world" Earl references the "economy of moves" and "deportment"—which includes a suppression of emotion. He goes on to say that it is "brilliantly written" and "shrouded in mystery"—and "self-contradictory."

For a mere $5.95 I can purchase a deck of cards—no instructions included!

I did have a foray into magic, but my sleight of hand revealed everything. I borrowed several books from the library on card tricks and coin tricks, but never could attain any proficiency.

Years ago magic stores, like independent book stores, found a place in the city—but today many of those brick-and-mortar shops no longer occupy a real space. Only two magic shops remain in New York City. That's where you can go to look over tricks, displays, memorabilia. Where do you learn magic today? Books, the web?

Of course books, not necessarily magic books, fill us with magic. They release their stories and we enter another realm on a magic carpet.

Now I wonder how they do levitation?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

To Be Released From Ambiguity

Fibonacci Sonnet
The word counts of sentences
and the relative proportions
of the paragraphs are determined
by the sequence of Fibonacci numbers.
In the first paragraph, the sentences
Are of a set length: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55

In the second paragraph, the
first sentence is 34,21,13,8,5,3,2,1,1
--Josip Novakovich

Yes. No. Somewhat ambiguous. Figuring it out. Belief hovers between opposite poles. On one side stand the fundamental adamant believers. In the middle are those who believe but leave room for gray shades. At the opposite pole there are those who decree that there is nothing to believe in save what you do alone. The middle attracts followers because it regards both ends as flamboyant in their proclamations, adhering to a set of rigid ideas that may not fit with the present times, and claims the right path. Yet, who always resides in that gray area and never wanders into either pole when an idea takes root and implores us to consider its tenets, it's dogma as being absolute, craves our full attention and undivided loyalty, asks us to resist even considering the possibility of another opinion, and surrounds us with other enthusiasts?

The gray middle ground may not offer the same camaraderie or assurances of being on the one path, nor does it usually marshal forces and gather all together, embracing and releasing under one banner. Yet one sees a difference between the two poles, a dissimilarity that plays out in the politics of the real world. Fundamentalists, too often, become fanatics and demand others either change or be changed. Some extremist groups can't coexist with multifarious viewpoints. A few shun the outsider. What is belief? Truth? Bias?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Inciting Incident

Henry VIII, Cromwell, Thomas More—three larger than life personages all appear in Hillary Mantel's book Wolf Hall. While I can't imagine wanting to live in England at that time, I can vicariously, and from a time distance of over 484 years, be involved in the machinations of the realm of Henry VIII.

Henry VIII grows tired of his wife Katherine when she bears him no heir , a son, and he wants the marriage annulled. The fact that he and Katherine have a child—albeit a girl—does not prevent him from desiring the marriage to be nullified, repudiated as if it did not exist because he wished to marry Anne Boleyn.

To be released from a marriage in an age when the Pope's authority meant a strict obedience to his Papacy required stealth, cunning and diplomacy.

Thomas More, a strong Catholic, refused to bend to the King's desire to both have the marriage annulled and later on to take an oath making the king and not the Pope head of the English Church. The refusal to take the vow eventually leads to his confinement in the Tower and then to his death.

Cromwell, on the other hand, enabled the marriage to proceed by a variety of nefarious moves—or perhaps shrewd moves.

Knowing some history—we know that Anne—in time, after giving birth to a daughter and several miscarriages, was beheaded in 1536—only three years after her marriage to Henry. Mantle's depiction of Anne portrays her as a unlikeable and conniving woman.

Henry married six times and beyond the scope of this book—however—his wives didn't fare too well. Poor Katherine, or Catherine, of Aragon's marriage was annulled and her freedom was restricted , under watch and guard, at a grim castle. After Anne Boleyn came Jane Seymour who died a few days after childbirth. Another annulment—Anne of Cleves, but at least she did better than Catherine Howard who was beheaded. His last wife—Catherine Parr became a widow.

Cromwell and More, both— enigmatic and fascinating, appear in a number of books and plays. Thomas More,often depicted as a saint while Cromwell is often seen as diabolically shrewd. Recently a few historians have looked at Cromwell in a different light—politically acute, behind the scenes in the rewriting of English policy, and instrumental in the movement of England into modern times.

Hillary Mantel's Cromwell is portrayed in a favorable light—but who knows for certain. That he was disliked by the nobles because of his lowly birth is certain—that he was feared because of his powerful position was also certain.

Every story must have an inciting event which propels the story forward. Is the inciting event Henry VIII's desire to be released from his marriage? Does everything proceed from there?

William Tyndale is in the background with his translation of scriptures into English in 1524 . The Church of England was in a period of turmoil and Tyndale moved to Germany where he continued with his work. Initially Henry VIII opposed the translation and confiscated copies of the Tyndale Bible.

Tyndale was betrayed by a friend, tried, and imprisoned near modern day Brussels. Despite being in prison he tried to continue his work of translation. "On October 6, 1536...he was strangled and then burned at the stake. As he died, Tyndale prayed, Lord, open the king of England's eyes."

In 1539 Henry VIII "sanctioned the printing of an authorized version of an English Bible..." * (

Of course, as Mantel indicates, it was to Henry's advantage to distance the Church of England from the Pope, and to require allegiance to himself as the head of the Church of England.

So indeed—the kindling for all the changes may indeed be the desire to be released from a marriage that didn't provide him with an heir.

I suspect that Hillary will continue the story for it is Cromwell who convinces Henry to marry Anne of Cleves as part of his plan to "assure the support of the German princes against the Holy Roman Empire. The marriage was a disaster and the alliance failed. Henry withdrew his support from Cromwell, who was charged with treason. He was executed at the Tower of London on July 28, 1540." * (BBC History)

Odd how things work out.

Cromwell who worked so hard to find a way to allow Henry VIII the chance to nullify his marriage to Catherine so that he could marry Anne Boleyn and have a legitimate heir, was beheaded four years after Anne Boleyn's similar fate.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Releasing a Metaphor

Combine a video of performance art with a three dimensional piece created during the filming and the result—a fascinating metaphor for an effect that cannot be predicted, or can only be partially foretold.

The artist started with a large eight foot high board with ten long tubes attached. Each tube was cut in half vertically so that the tubes or pipes resembled elongated halves of bamboo—save for the fact that they were at least forty times the size of a bamboo shaft.

A platform ran the width of the twelve foot wide board. The artist, dressed in a flowered dress and short heels with a propensity for clacking, climbed a ladder and deposited a twenty inch high container of white paint in front of the furthermost board. She then turned and descended from the platform and walked across to the other side, picked up another container and repeated the action. She did this ten times.

Her heels click-clacked and she never changed her gait, nor the tilt of her head, nor her expression—which was locked into place.

When all ten tubes had a paint container she climbed onto the platform and walked across. As she passed each container she thrust her heel out and propelled the container with its white paint down the tube.

The slide happened seamlessly—and as the containers slid down the tube the white paint splattered over the tube and onto the black vinyl floor. When the container landed it split apart.

The culmination of the performance—a piece of sculpture that happened by the actions initiated by the artist.

Everything was planned, but the end result could not be controlled. The splatter and the way the containers split apart had an additional variable—chance, an unpredictable phenomenon.

We can only control so much and then there are variables that are beyond our control.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Writer and the Audience

Well, all the plays that I was trying to write
were plays that would grab an audience
by the throat and not release them,
rather than presenting an emotion
which you could observe and walk away from.
—Arthur Miller

That's how I feel as a reader. I don't want to read a book where I'm an onlooker passively turning pages. I want to be so involved that it is as if I was right there within the story—intimately concerned about the happenings.

The good writer draws the audience in—then offers a respite of some distance before drawing them closer. I want an author to hold onto me and make me feel what is happening as if it were happening to me.

Poetry, good poetry, does that in a profound way by eliminating the unnecessary word and distilling everything down to the salient point. A poem often takes my breath away.

And then there's watching a play where the connection between the stage and the audience is so deep that I find myself holding my breath—waiting.

I applaud the writer who has the ability to grab the audience, the reader, the listener, and hold them until the end.

But the end is the beginning—

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Visual Reading Diary

... the Colombian artist José António Suárez Londoño... is involved in a time-based project. For several years he has been systematically producing a drawing a day based on books he is reading... He has so far completed some 5,000 drawings, contained in 65 pocket-size notebooks that he refers to as “yearbooks.”

The New York Times

The press release for his exhibit at the Drawing Center in New York City noted that this project began in 1997. "each notebook drawing is numbered and dated, as are the corresponding texts, and they frequently include additional diaristic notations."

Sometimes he uses the entire page as the impetus for his drawing while at other times only a single word is referenced. All illustrations must "conform" to the size of the notebook.

How can I feel so simpatico with this artist? I often wonder how to both sketch and write and ofttimes the two interests vie with one another for time. This year I've set out to write every day and include the word release ( and the meaning) within each posting.

Reading about his "yearbooks" opens up an entirely new adventure—if you're a vociferous reader why not combine several genres?

I can't wait to think of the next book I read within a visual context—and perhaps do a sketch.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Waiting for the Release

sun pushes
aside winter
until snow and cold
retreat into their hermitage

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Silent Release of Prayer

I recently read a quote that stated that anything someone does with authenticity is a "vehicle for prayer."

I liked the words—but needed to understand authenticity. Does this mean that whatever is done in truth— becomes a vehicle for prayer?

Authenticity also infers that the act is done as a genuine act—one steeped in reality.

The quote then goes on to say that the person may not even realize that their action is that "vehicle for prayer".

A vehicle is a medium that expresses something. Looking at prayer that way does open up a whole different way of viewing prayer.

We are surrounded by silent worshippers.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Space Between Words

The ultimate concern of the artist is not to paint
mountains and clouds and trees but the air between them.
--Wang Wei

People speak of writing in the space between words. A story takes place within that abyss. People speak—note the white interval. That gulf contains an infinite number of possibilities. Who are these people and what are they saying? Where are they and why are they speaking? Then—who listens? Does silence precede their words?

Between words. So much happens after a word is placed into the white space—so much happens when one word collides with another word. Do we really understand the friction or the ease or the possibilities.

Perhaps there are moments between the spoken words—maybe days. A phone call—mulling over the words heard, attempting to understand their import, and then responding.

Once a man tried to speak to someone who simply said, "I have no time now." Did that mean their conversation was delayed? Or perhaps it meant that no time was right? How to wait in that dimension between words?

While he waited he thought of all the conversations punctuated by uncomfortable silences and began to wonder about the largeness of the space between words. The white space in this story expanded—bloated, swollen with swallowed words.

The writer finds the space between words and scratches at the space until a story is released.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Releasing Waste

A small article in the newspaper, but a huge problem. Sick pig parts dumped into a stream near Shanghai possibly contaminated the water supply. "On Monday...officials said that the number of carcasses retrieved had reached 2,813."

Our landfills can contaminate water. Too often garbage is dumped besides rivers and streams--results can be disastrous.

Then there's ocean dumping. According to a report by the scientists at Applied Coastal Oceanography 42 million tons of wet sewage sludge were dumped or released into the ocean between the years 1986 and 1992.

Then there are companies dumping toxic waste into streams.

There are ships sailing to developing countries with cargos of radioactive toxic waste and toxic chemicals. Nigeria recently sent a ship back to England because many of the containers on board had red alert labels.

Red alert.
We 're drowning in waste, in toxic waste released into our streams, our landfills.

What's to be done?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Not Many Words Needed

When Flash Fiction gained popularity, I thought many in our society accustomed to tweets and text messages, lost an appetite for long short stories and devised the short-short flash story.

When reading the introduction to Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction I gained some perspective—short shorts aren't new—even when we think of Six-Word stories. Hemingway wrote a six word story: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

According to the introduction by Tara L.Masih —

"We now have 50-word stories ( dribbles),
55-word stories ( sometimes called nanofiction)...
100-word stories (drabbles)
quick fiction,
fast fiction,
sudden and flash fiction,
postcard fiction,
napkin fiction( from Esquire online)
minute-long stories,
smoke-long stories,
skinny stories,
vest pocket stories,
and pill-size stories ( from the forties)
palm-size stories..."

In this time of Lent, this time of forgiveness and repentance, let me try my hand at short short fiction.

He said you're forgiven. Please come home.

The fatted calf is ready, ratatouille is on the stove.

The bread, sweet with raisins, releases its aroma.

Please sit down and let's break bread.

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.
—Robert Browning

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Hardest Release

Forgiveness is giving up
all hope of a better past

You can't scrub away
what's been
can't launder it like
clothes in a hamper
You can't wring it out
sponge the stains,
bleach the spots
until they loosen up
and fade away

The calendar's set
to keep moving
No repeats allowed,
a day disappears
and leaves an echo--
It's not a rehearsal

Move on

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Waiting for a Release From Winter

Winter grasps with a tenacious grip
unwilling to move on, restive—
still gathering armfuls of snow,
unconvinced of the need
to wrest the soil
from its white covering

the way change tugs and prods—
when to stay put seems easier

Friday, March 08, 2013


They should love New York, know two foreign languages,
practice both regret and remorse, love their own cities,
forgive but not forget, live in at least three countries,
work in a gas station, lift boxes, eat pears, learn a trade,
respect pitch pines, believe in the soul.
— Gerald Stein Stealing History
From an excerpt in the Writer's ChronicleMarch/April 2013

I did love New York City—no, I actually loved the Bronx I remember, where the grocer saved Philadelphia cream cheese boxes for neighborhood kids, where on hot humid nights people sat outside on lawn chairs, where every spring the corner candy store sold Spaldeen rubber balls.

Once I knew enough German to read a Thomas Mann short story—with a dictionary. I tried a number of times to learn Biblical Hebrew and was successful learning letters and simple words. But "when the going got tough" I faltered. All those roots and possible meanings—

Do I love my present town—yes. It's funky, blue collar, diverse and surrounded by affluent towns that enjoy sophistication and trendy stores. I like our diversity—we're an old mill town that's changed from making blankets to a mill filled with small high tech companies. Like other places the economy has played havoc with our downtown area. A number of empty storefronts and half-empty restaurants attest to the effect of less discretional income.

Do I forgive, but not forget? Sometimes I think my memory is too short and I do forgive and forget. Other times I hold tenaciously to old stories even when I have forgiven. Old stories can be held and stroked and taken out and used as excuses. It's hard to release a story that functions as a place-marker.

Live in at least three countries. I've never lived west of Connecticut, although I have traveled as far west as SanFrancisco.

I've never worked in a gas station and if I did I hope no one will ask me anything about cars.

As for lifting boxes I expect that I've lifted some. When I moved from Maryland to Massachusetts I packed one box with rocks. At the time I didn't realize that New England is filled with rocks—ask any gardener.

Now for pears. I adore pears, but find it difficult to determine when a pear has reached a ripe stage. I buy hard hard pears—the ones that are sold —and take them home, place them in a ceramic bowl and squeeze them once a day. I wait patiently for the pear to offer some resistance. Nothing. Then one day, usually at breakfast time, I put my fingers around the pear and hope for a little give. Instead of that perfect feel my fingers almost pierce the overripe fruit. My pear has moved beyond ready to eat to spoiled.

As for learning a trade— When I turned ten I asked for a small kiln, copper backings, and the material needed to create enameled pins. I sold my completed pins to all my aunts , four or five to my mother and the same number to my grandmother. I even sold several to my mother's maj jong ladies. My sales pitch was less successful with the neighbors.

I respect the fact that pitch pines can grow on unfavorable sites.

As for the soul—I do believe that what we do, what we hear, what we say, all become part of our soul.

"What can you really know of other people's souls- of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands."
—C.S. Lewis

As for regret and remorse—which I've held for last. Who can not feel regret for some actions, some paths not pursued and who can not feel remorse for some actions, some paths pursued, some words said.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Yesterday and Tomorrow

100 years ago a group of women marched in Washington, D.C.— for Women's Suffrage. 

March is Women's  History Month— a time to reflect on the past, but also the future. In too many countries women are still second class citizens, barred from a number of independent activities.

Perhaps we need to all step back and look at the accomplishments of women in all fields— We are present and accounted for in every single line of work. And when men held women back or forced them to take lesser roles, or wouldn't let them into their "hallowed" institutions— they formed their own "hallowed" space. 

In 1925 when male explorers wouldn't let female explorers into their society, women formed the Society of Women Explorers. 

And recently the citadel of male golf prowess finally bowed and accepted women as members.

Release a shout for all those women who paved the way and for the women who are fighting for women still imprisoned by bigotry and ignorance. 

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

About Postcards

Forget all rules, forget all restrictions,
as to taste, as to what ought to be said,
write for the pleasure of it -- whether slowly or fast—
every form of resistance to a complete release should be abandoned.
—William Carlos Williams

Ten postcards
sent to ten people I don't know. Each postcard with my own original artwork. And I'll receive ten postcards from ten people I don't know.

Five postcards
sent to five people I don't know. Each postcard with a photo I've taken. And I'll receive five postcards from five people I don't know.

Last year I missed out on the sign-up and missed out on receiving postcards. This year I jumped as soon as the opportunity presented itself. There was a time when sending postcards from wherever you went and receiving them from friends simply happened.

I saved postcards—a large stack with a rubber band reminds me of a time when people wrote rather than texted or emailed or tweeted. Some friends managed to squeeze reams of information into a small space by writing in tiny script and using all available space—save for the address.

A postcard exhibition is currently at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Nostalgia, social history, yearning for a bygone era or curiosity?

An Op Ed piece in today's Globe referred to our society as one that is transitory—quick photos thrown away, texts written and then deleted.

Perhaps we'd do well to slow down....

It's not that I want to turn back the clock, or do away with email ( I can't speak about texting because I don't text and while I dipped my pen into Twitter I found it rather annoying). Who were all those people?

I am not against technology— I love my gadgets, but I miss opening the mailbox and finding that postcards and letters outnumber catalogues, calls for money from places I never heard of, and discount coupons to stores and restaurants I don't frequent. O.K. occasionally I do find useful coupons.

And will any of my emails have a smear of spaghetti sauce from Italy?
Or a stain of espresso from Rome?
Or a black line through a censored word?
Or an autograph from a bull fighter?

But in a few months I will receive fifteen postcards from all over the world—

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

One Way

There can be no peace among nations
without peace among the religions.
—Hans Kung

I read a review of a new memoir by a young woman who had been a member of the unaffiliated Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. They are not affiliated with any Baptist group—in fact they have been denounced as a hate group.

The Westboro Baptist Church spews hate against a fair number of people. Their rhetoric against gay people is despicable and their picketing at funerals defies any sense of decency.

This is a small group that spends its time picketing. They consider themselves Christian, yet there is nothing about the group that appears Christian.

While different religious groups need to find a way to respect one another the problem of different sects within a religion may be more insidious to peace —or at least as dangerous.

Muslim fights against Muslim. The Shiites and the Sunnis have differing beliefs about who should be leading the Islamic community. The result—bitter fighting, wars.

Haredi Jews in Israel, sometimes called “ultra- orthodox”, regulate who can be legally married in a Jewish ceremony in Israel. They don’t recognize Conservative and reform Jews.

The desire to hold onto our particular beliefs often makes us demonize the beliefs of others, or scoff at them, or engage in actual warfare.

Fanatics live in every religion. People who insist that their way is the only way. I recall going to a service years ago and the sermon was —one way, only one way to reach God, one way.

This is my path—but there are many paths. This one fits. Why do so many people need to denigrate the other? Is it insecurity?

I think it’s hard to release the notion of one way.

Monday, March 04, 2013

For a Clay-cold Day

My whole effort is to help you
release the energy called love-intelligence.
If love-intelligence is released, you are released.
--Bhagwani Shree Rajneesh

when the moon slipped
so low it

sent willow branches
rolling like tumbleweeds

how I waited until
the moon'shadow
scooted across the lake

then pocketed the
phantom shape

Sunday, March 03, 2013

A Free Ticket

Following a word
down a city street
stopping to say it
to three ladies
waiting for the bus

You unencumbered
with worries, delivered
from a rent payment
You immune from
what's passing around

Waiting for the man
to stop playing the guitar,
soul music filling
the street, minor keys
taking over
sadness hanging in the air

Play a different scene
loosen up
today the day
I'm handing out words

It's spare
bone knuckle hard
I'm handing out
a ticket says release

Saturday, March 02, 2013


I find myself connected to some book reviewers and the books they recommend—the older books, those books I don't know and authors that are unfamiliar. Several weeks ago I wrote down the name of an author and a book recommended by a reviewer—new to me.

The author—Yehuda Elberg and the book The Empire of Kalman the Cripple. According to the short bio on the book flap Elberg descended from a rabbinical Polish family and was an ordained rabbi. Born in 1912 his twenties coincided with World war II. He actively participated in the Polish resistance throughout the war.

His books were written in Yiddish and Hebrew. The Empire of Kalman the Cripple, originally published in 1983, and translated into English in 1997, takes place in Dombrokva, Poland— a shetyl where Jews lived amidst a strong current of anti-semitism.

Kalman, crippled at a young age—unable to walk, drags himself around. He's astute and grows up to become a superior business man in a society where he's dealing with strong anti-Jewish sentiment. Yet, Kalman through his own machinations learns to deal with the people in charge and soon has a large shop that sells everything.

From there he spreads out—brings electricity to the town, builds a mill, and expands his business operations.

Bullying, unkind comments,and physical torments all leave him with a spitefulness that he inflicts on others. Over the course of years he bruises others with his bullying and malice, but then as he begins to amass more money he starts handing out kindnesses —and he changes.

Although he knows that some of his acts can never be eradicated, nor the harm that he perpetrated be forgotten by one woman.

He is building an empire and surrounding himself with people who see him as a kind man. Before he dies he makes out a will leaving his money to a number of people he's helped. He asks the young man who works for him and is like a son to him to take care of his empire, to keep it growing.

Kalman dies the year before the Nazis come into power—the empire will crumble.

The act that can't be forgotten or erased is a horrible act of rape against a woman he loved and who thwarts his advances.

It is only at the end of his life that Kalman relives the horror of what he did and his impotence in forgiving himself for the rape.

As a protagonist Kalman is a flawed character, molded by his disability, his father leaving when he was crippled,and the intense loneliness of his youth.

One wonders if Kalman, despite the changes, can ever be released from the enormity of what he did to another human being. Perhaps only God can truly forgive Kalman.

Friday, March 01, 2013


Courage is the price that life
exacts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, knows no release
from little things; knows not
the livid loneliness of fear.
-Amelia Earhart

You set to go out walking
ready to travel a path
even when it stutters
and takes you past places
that make you shiver
cause you don't know where
they lead, or how long
until you find a sitting spot

How come you set out
not knowing how the story ends
or what part you play
How come you took a chance
How come you turned
inside out looking
before you set out

You think you'll find
the end to the story
or you think you'll
just keep walking