Friday, July 31, 2015

A Metaphor

He told me that his boss gave him a small tomato plant in a pot. At first the plant remained outside near his backdoor.
When he carried the plant to the front of the building he said,  “It didn’t get enough sun in the back.”
I watched him dig a hole, put in some good soil and lower the tomato plant. He then secured the plant to a cone shaped cage.
Last night he attached a long hose to the outdoor faucet and watered his one plant. It’s been hot here and today when I arrived home I noted that the leaves looked wilted and in need of watering. 
In my mind the young man and the plant are entwined—
Roots and growth—

Thursday, July 30, 2015


walk downtown Maynard and just before you get to the dry cleaners the Assabet River moves beneath a bridge where the vents from the cleaners send smoke puffs over the river unlike the old Camel billboard in Times Square where a two foot pipe hidden behind a man's face sent perfect smoke rings into the night air and when in Harper's Ferry, after you hear about John Brown's raid, walk to the overlook and stare down at the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac where in my tone deaf monotone I sang O Shenandoah, I long to hear you, Away you rolling river but when I find a river with a shallow end and flat rocks perfect for walking or a sitting rock where the river's rush passes through my fingers time holds still and my breath quiets

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No Trash

It's a conundrum. Even with a garbage disposal we amass enough trash to fill up a small trash bag. Each Wednesday we leave the bag behind our Toyota. On a light week we affix the pink sticker-- one dollar. Sometimes we need a larger bag and use a yellow sticker-- two dollars.

We've never gone a week without accumulating trash. I've noted that fewer of our neighbors leave out any garbage. In my condo building of six units our one dollar bag sat alone.

The building across the way had two bags.

No one in our building is on vacation. As I walked around the complex I began counting bags and noted only one building out of fifteen with more than three units with trash bags.

This phenomenon is on the increase. Do people bring their trash to work? Do they distribute each day's trash in different trash bins across town?

I envision a scene where people tiptoe to large trash bins and surreptitiously deposit their plastic bags.

Is it an affront to purchase the sticker? Every other week when recyclable items are placed outside almost everyone participates.

All I can deduce from this behavior is an aversion to pay. We have so little control of what happens to us in the public domain that I expect that taking trash into your own hands feels like a revolutionary act akin to throwing tea overboard.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


the meteorologist offered
his predictions,
tomorrow's weather--
humid,hot,saturated with moisture,
uncomfortable, sticky
and breathless--
take care not to turn snarky

Monday, July 27, 2015

When the Spirit Moves

His language, difficult to understand when he asks for prayers for his mother or tells us again that his birthday is next week.

She sits strapped into a wheelchair so that her spastic movements, a discordant dance, don't toss her onto the floor. Her attendant wipes her mouth when she doesn't swallow.

He lives in a group home and buys a coffee at a corner store.

She is fed communion bread dipped in grape juice.

Sunday he sat in front of me and when the basket passed down the row he turned and noted that she didn't have any money.

He stood up and walked over to her wheelchair and placed a dollar on her tray-- the same tray that held a placemat of words and pictures.

When he sat down he looked around for the usher who when she approached couldn't make out what he was saying-- so he pointed to the wheelchair.

She held tightly to the dollar, but couldn't release. The usher helped her find the basket. She let out a sound that could be translated even though no vowels or consonants were present.

This gift, I thought, is what Jesus meant when he said follow me.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


my car stops,
shudders in a car wash tunnel, 
sprayed, flayed, and blinded with
rubber curtains sliding up my windshield,
then wind blown and  disengaged,
all intimacy severed

Friday, July 24, 2015

Footsteps Essential

I'm infatuated with the way sentences morph into other sentences and take on a life of their own exceeding the original thought. Bosh on run-ons. How do I know where my words are heading until I allow them free rein?

Today I thought about prayer and how I save prayer for the important things of life-- sickness, health, reconciliation, but eschew the day to day happenings. It's not as if God said only talk to me when it's a big item, handle the little things yourself.

Not that you want to sound as if life is made up of petitions with praise thrown in for good measure. Today on the way to another town it began to rain and knowing that our state recently enacted a " headlights on when your wipers are moving law" our headlights were on. When we stopped for frozen yogurt the car motor was off, but the sports talk show accompanied our feasting.

I'm a slow ice cream eater. After finishing the ice cream we attempted to start the car, but were met with a harsh rasping noise. Yes, we forgot to turn off the lights. Out came the books and we opted to read while we gave the car a chance to do the right thing-- turn on.

So there I sat reading and I figured what can we lose so I silently asked for the car to stop this persnickety tantrum and start. It started. Belief is a funny thing. If it hadn't started I wouldn't think that my prayer wasn't answered, I'd just think that it was a reminder of why I should be more mindful of the capacity of a car battery.

Recently I read an article that warns against waiting for the last line before you get at the point of what you want to say-- but I can't help myself. Imagine if we all prayed for gun control, would that motivate more people to put footsteps to their prayers?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Reading in Starbuck's Lot

sitting in the car with iced drinks reading on a hot day may sound odd, but if you park at the end of the Starbucks lot right next to a tree and open all the windows a breeze passes from one side of the car to the other creating a rather tent like feeling, an intimacy between readers even when you're reading different books, even disparate genres, and often conversations arise that bind the two books together melding their differences into philosophical forays which is what happened today when something in one of the books required a check in with Google, that arbiter of lost causes and truth and fact finding, and a response appeared immediately as if Google overheard the question that prompted Google's help and wished to be of prompt service with a list of possible resources, a reservoir of choices to answer a question which brought up a simple question of how all this happens so quickly and what do we know of the politics of this particular sleuth and what do we know of his/her less than stellar proclivities, and then how one always must question authority which immediately made me remember my Question Authority button in a bygone era when wearing the button or owning the t-shirt marked you as a revolutionary—for that moment

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Kite

   never finds a cathedral,
             a wave in a storm,
             a dancer's leap in the air
             quite as high as one has
             been expecting...
                   -- Proust

Feel the string throb
as the kite rises
disturbing a gaggle of geese
cutting through a cloud
chasing the wind
Tethered to a kite reel,
the kite strains to reach higher
stopped by each turn of the winder

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Ever lose something? Of course you have. Ever lose something in your house and know that it must be in clear sight, but you don’t see it? You remember where you were when the “thing” was in clear view, but then you fog out on what happened after a certain moment. This happened this afternoon. The case to my IPhone. No, I don’t mean a case that is semi-permanently attached like an umbilical cord. I mean a zippered case that the IPhone fits into. I know that is a redundant case and most people don’t approach the barista at Starbucks and unzip their flowered case and draw out their IPhone which they turn on and hold up to the ubiquitous machine that reads a bar code, charges their account , and hands out stars which can be accrued and a free drink earned as long as the collection is completed prior to August 4th. It's is that very same flowered case which is now among the missing and possibly lost. Despite years of reading mysteries, especially the closed door variety, I am stymied. Is St Anthony still a viable saint to call on?

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Sound of Fans

A staying heat, the kind that
causes waves across the road
drops in on us like the guest you
knew appeared with a glass of iced
water and the need of a fan.
She reminded me of the breath
held heat in the south where
you fanned yourself like we did
in church Sunday morning.
The preacher talked about Jesus
and I figured the heat didn't
bother Jesus but the preacher only
talked about his stories not how
he'd enjoy the ice cold punch
just waiting until we all got blessed.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Love Letter

What do you do when the baseball club you love is mired in last place? When the universe doesn't give them any lucky breaks? Rant about the poor choices, beat your breast about the chances missed or think that they, like the gyroscope, will not falter or fall until the true end appears.

Praying for them to win every game doesn't seem like an equatable solution. God can't take sides,nor decide if the strike zone expansion strains peripheral vision.

But you can't give up. And you don't just find another team and toss away that pack of love letters. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Riffing on Pies

Rhubarb pies, rhubarb and strawberry pies,
mixed berry pies, apples from the local orchard
 baked in a crust thinner than parchment  paper,
sweetened with honey from local bees, blueberry
 pies from the wild berries I picked and collected
in a metal pail when the bushes stood taller than my
raised arm, higher than the water fountain in the
school yard where the only thing that grew
was grass in the cracks and we rode bikes
round and round in circles until old enough
to cross the street

Native Americans

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
--Chief Seattle

We needed their land
and kept moving them west
beyond the Mississippi River
We called it a land exchange 
and when we needed that land
we moved them again,
forced migration to a barren and arid land

We needed their land when we
found minerals deep in the mountains,
wanted grazing ground for cattle,
needed just that space for laying tracks
We needed their land when we promised
land to whoever wanted a stake out west
They had to move when we moved in

At the Massacre at Sand Creek
Chief Black Kettle waved a white flag,
but they must have changed the color
that day because no one stopped killing

We needed their land

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Early Photographer

the sun dances on leaves turning the woods
into a painted manuscript
of illuminated leaves,
artichoke green, moss green,
harlequin green fill
empty spaces with
a show of

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Story

Is it time to jettison
my old pair of hiking  boots,
the ones I wore the day I slipped
on wet rocks ? My rucksack caught 
on a branch before I slid into 
the waterfall's descent into
a still mirror reflecting the rush
of water over granite 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Passport Not Required

I've never seen  the hollers of West Virginia,
never heard the prairie grass imitate the sea
but I've been on the Staten Island ferry
and walked under the overhead in Manhattan
reading graffiti tags sprayed on wood
I've seen the sun drop into the ocean and
traveled to  places only found
in a cartographer's  sketchbook

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Space and Time

                  The Sabbath is the presence of God
                   in the world, open to the souls of men.
                        -- Abraham Joshua Heshel

 the minister reminded us,
 keeping the Sabbath isn't a suggestion,
a take it or leave it item
God's really set on this road to the sacred,
a blueprint for the day written in invisible ink
ready for you to pen in what holds you in space
so that the scent of Sabbath is elusivel

what wraps around you
demanding time, stifling the fragrance
of Sabbath,  holding the sacred at bay

 I've been thinking about what holds me and takes its toll on my time. Every day I write a blog post, check my emails, do some Google research, and maybe read a few Facebook postings. On the Sabbath I continue this pattern.

So in keeping with a fast from something that consumes me in space, I'll refrain from the internet which includes writing a Sunday post. A day off. After a few weeks I'll examine whether anything is different. Heshel says, " The Sabbath is the day  in which we learn the art of surpassing civilization."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

And the Temperature...

hot weather tends to fray nerves, cause usually mild minded people to push ahead in the Starbuck's line feel that the air conditioning in the grocery store is too frigid or insufficient for real cooling as if their houses are called to the proper temperature, but what is the proper temperature when the outside infringes on the interior as if our inside is impervious to outside influences which we know can't be the case because we are buffeted by external noise, voices of dissension, voices telling us how to respond which brings me back to the hot weather which according to the highs and lows, darks and lights, moving belts of weather, pundits predict with impunity the comfort level for the following day as if anyone really knows what that means the day before the actual day when an individual may remain in a cold tub for the day or escape to the mall where the comfort level has been predetermined and the mall crawlers are impervious to the reality outside the entrance where humidity hangs around waiting for the throngs to emerge into the reality where people move slowly through the drenched air and head to Starbucks to hold up their Smartphones and succumb to an iced drink and the cool air circulating about the baristas who mix the drinks with a flair for ignoring the reality outside  

Friday, July 10, 2015

After Thirty-Two Years

grace happens
and the commonplace upends itself,
new endings basted together with thread
leading back to a time before you knew
how years stretch and become the strata
hardened into inertia
grace intervenes 
and loosens up the tight places

Thursday, July 09, 2015


Two years ago the neighbor who had a figurine of Mary in her front yard moved and Mary moved along with the family. Is that a request of the new family? Maybe their religious beliefs don't include Mary or maybe they think such outward signs are not in keeping with our secular society. That's not me talking, but an article I read about fewer people professing any sort of religious persuasion. Though you wouldn't know it when you listen to the politicians bending themselves in half attempting to lure the religious right.

Even without statues or icons or sanctuaries prayer continues to find followers. Now it isn't a guarantee, a money back return for words expanded without the desired outcome. Pious, or charlatans, both write  books and advise on how to devise the prayer that catches the ear of whoever you're seeking.

Some people pray the same prayer for years-- retreading words, changing the order of words, using a thesaurus to find a word that closes in on specificity like knowing the difference between saying yellow or ochre. It's like finding the right amulet and increasing your chances.

Who hasn't prayed for the mundane? And who hasn't prayed for the ultimate?

My friend prayed for parking spaces and when they didn't materialize she decided that someone else needed the space. Not getting the prayed for result didn't deter her.

God has a different sense of time and timing and sometimes no response is a response that you couldn't hear. I've been discussing the same thing with God for thirty years-- not every day and sometimes not for several months. I revisit my request and wait for some change.

Recently I think I've gotten, not a response, but a nod. Listen, I think, a nod is enough encouragement.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Just the Way it Is

Some questions?
How does the wash multiply the last few days of vacation?
Why is it harder to pack everything on the return trip?
Why is the ride home always more tiring?
Why does life resume its rhythm so quickly?
Why does the news sound the same?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


to the ocean's
sibilant sounds
as water spreads across the beach
before it rolls back into the sea
waves rise above rocks
and then disperse spindrift,
a gift of saltwater fireworks

Monday, July 06, 2015


Nothing , yes, nothing, not even something comes close to savoring a lobster, a large lobster
cooked the way they do Down East served with melted butter and a nutcracker for those unaccustomed to the toil necessary to free the meat and often there's a placemat with detailed instructions on how to go about the task and what to eat beginning with the feelers where sucking the meat out is acceptable and then a decision of whether to eat the tail first or the claws which many people consider sweeter yet each lobster presents its own unique characteristics so a decision must be made for each lobster and you know that by the time you've dug out the meat in the cavity of the body the entire experience comes close to nirvana   

Sunday, July 05, 2015

The Granite Block Waits

              After visiting a gallery 
             in Winter Harbor, ME

A sculptor sees the  soul of a granite
block and imagines what can be
With carbide tipped chisels,
hammers and bushing tools 
it is released

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Once Upon a Time

             Where does a story begin?
             The fiction is that they do, and  end...      
                         --Rebecca Solnit

Ever try to tell a family story and realize what you thought was the beginning was only one strand? 

When I tell you how my mother used paper bags to create dress patterns, I find myself relating my grandmother's story.

My grandmother, like so many other immigrants, worked a sewing machine in a New York City sweatshop.

And to pick up another thread she joined the International World Garments Union. Which brings me to another thread.

My grandfather was one of the early Teamsters and I learned at an young  age to never cross a picket line.

Back to my mother's mother. My grandmother's father was a tailor in Poland. 

So where does it all begin? 

Friday, July 03, 2015

Sitting on the Rocks

I am mesmerized by the ocean and the rocks facing the water.

 I take my chair and  a rucksack packed with a book or two, peanuts, and water.

Sitting, reading and just staring at the push and pull of water is I'm sure the Balm of Gilead.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Eastport, ME

                             Homecoming weekend

to the town
they once called home,
and recall how the sea brings gifts
Now they come back to
the place that 
draws them

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Upon Watching the Fog

blurs lines,
what we know into
something uncommon and abstract 
formless and mute, a
non canonical

Cairns Shaped Like Pagodas

                        After climbing on 
                        Cadillac Mountain 

way to
follow a
mountain to the top
to where the edge stops and the wind
curls around you is
allow cairns,
to lead