Monday, November 30, 2015

Faith Pilgrimage

Four women read what they wrote
four women unwrap the words
that tell part of a journey
Stories pieced together
to form a garment

2nd Day of Advent

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Path Around a Pond

The sun orchestrates
and shadows stretch
Shapeshifters mimicking dried
reeds and  cat tails
cross a path

                First Day of Advent

Saturday, November 28, 2015

It Starts Here

Yesterday a woman told me that she hunts pheasants and wild turkeys. She also makes stained glass plaques. We're all complex. We don't belong in predetermined boxes or catalogued and filed in manila folders.

We don't need to separate people into them and us. I read of increased hate-motivated homicides toward the transgendered community. As that community walks out of the closet more hate crimes are focused their way. Them and us mentality.

Does it make us feel superior when we relegate people into pigeon holes? Why do we assume that one role is superior to another role?

The New York Times listed a number of recent hate crimes. A man in Kansas was sentenced to death for an anti- Semitic rampage that took the lives of three people.

In October a "school attack in Sweden in which two people were killed" was ruled a hate crime. The perpetrator didn't like immigrants.

The list goes on and on and this list is comprised of individuals not of governments. How many people have been killed because we have the truth and you don't. Bang.

How do we stop these assaults? I don't know. But recently I read an article by an African American writer who said we can't say we are slightly biased, barely a racist, uncomfortable with certain fluid gender identifications. If we are a little bit we are part of the problem.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Word of Caution

misconstrued, elaborated upon
thrown away, dissected,
stored in memory, taken out
and dusted, savored like Camembert
or a glass of Chardonnay
Collected by wordsmiths
written to lovers, translated
from language to language
stored in dictionaries,
relegated to archaic
colloquial, academic
street wise, savvy, accented,
Take care with words
they slice, they soothe,
they bruise, they comfort
they hate, they love
Take care of words

Thursday, November 26, 2015

communication 2015

not all StoRies follow predictable narrative lines. ChARActers take on new roles. events refuse to abide by plot lines.  

tonight I Wished people a Happy Thanksgiving by messaging them. they rEsponded. we are united by technOlogy.

Later  there wIll be Instagram photos and hashtags.

thousands Of turkeys will Appear . Next year the
plot may change.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Warning

Vayishlach Haftarah

         As you have done , it shall
        be done to you, your deeds
        shall return on your own head
               Obadiah 1:15

to think that the homeless man
I passed without seeing myself
in his place will cost me
or the times I didn't speak up
when I knew that the words spoken
needed to be honed
or when I rationed love instead
of emptying my pockets, and
turning them inside out

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Metaphor

the cubed tofu
takes on the flavor
of minced garlic and apple slices
add a green vegetable and wait
 for the aroma to wrap around the room

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pushing an Idea

how do you take an idea that's wedged in your head and translate it into prose that lures a reader into the page to walk alongside the author in the discovery of plot until the end is viewed the way an artist seeks the viewer who pushed aside the color and discovers the under painting with its brash lines and     promise

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How Do I Say...

I don't adorn myself with variegated colored sneakers nor do I use typewriter letters to write short poems laid out in intricate patterns on my screen so that they become art objects of few words and great depth nor can I create pithy phrases of deep moral value and unleash them in the world yet I try to loosen up and sit yoga style and meditate on the light in the world which appears to be vanishing before my eyes , the same eyes that acknowledge that I walk behind not alongside those who fashion words and art into intense color combinations that create patterns in the world and leave me wondering how I can reorder my words 

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Refugees

 Orange bands drop
 into blackness and rock
formations alter their shapes
What they knew in the daylight
transforms into an alternate universe
A diaspora of walkers leave
familiar borders for other places. Sometimes
they rub against the fear of the  outlander,
fear of strange voices, unfamilar sounds
They tell stories of why they left,
streets they loved, mountains they knew,
food they cooked and music of their souls
Some listen while others remain bound in fear

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Worldwide Concern

A Worldwide Concern
"Today 2.4 billion people lack access to proper sanitation, with around one billion people …”  without any bathroom facilities. The land or water becomes their toilet. The United Nations declared November 19th as a day to remind ourselves that something we take for granted is unavailable to many people throughout the world.

Many of the same people who lack access to toilets do not have a potable water supply. In 2013 that number was 783 million. Put another way, one in ten people do not have a safe water supply and one in three people “lack access to a toilet”. Or a third of the people of the world lack access to adequate sanitation.

In 2015 the  World Economic Forum said these conditions were the number one global risk.

Poverty takes many guises. This is water poverty.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Will it Be

I love challenges. That is I love certain kinds of challenges. Nothing that will cause physical distress. Well a little push is fine-- like walking up eight long flights of stairs at a quick pace while carrying a tote bag laden with books is fine. And never hold on to the bannister. Maybe a challenge to do it twice in a row.

Eating marathons where contestants stuff oversized hot dogs or pizzas into chomping mouths or swallowing many legged insects or ordering barely deceased fish is not for me.

But if you challenge me to read fifty- two non- fiction books  and each one begins with a different letter of the alphabet or you lure me by suggesting a different Bible reading  plan or hint at my joining the Bible art journaling group where fifty-two prompts take you through the year-- I'm intrigued.

The later challenge requires a special Bible with two inch wide margins and tiny print. Thousands have jumped on the Bible journaling bandwagon and thousands are probably tut- tutting when envisioning well loved passages adorned with watercolor or glitter or stamped motifs. And some folks fill the entire page with color-- transparent hues so that the words may be deciphered.

I have several weeks to decide if I'm up to that challenge. Meanwhile I need to check out several journaling Bibles.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Don't Forget

you can't just keep moving on
without looking back to the place
where one apartment building
stared across at another building
where thin alleyways held cigarette
smoke and graffiti messages
sprayed in balloon letters
where you knew a woman with
numbers tattooed on one arm
where you learned the rules
and heard the whispers

Monday, November 16, 2015

Will This Do?

Parshah Toldo
                    So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women
                    did not please his father Isaac...
                            Genesis 28: 8

So what did he do?
He got himself a wife from Ishmael's
side of the family. The daughter
of Ishmael, Isaac's firstborn.
Who has not tried to figure out
 how to sit at the table?
Who has not chafed when standing
outside, walking a perimeter
where even the words sound muted?
Who has not questioned the past?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Not Now

Yesterday I listened to Luis tell me that God really doesn't want us to eat meat, but gave into our desire. Today I read an essay espousing the benefits of a vegan diet.

I remember when eggs were deemed unfit for our consumption. In order to keep track of what's in and what's out I need an app for my IPhone. Foods can go on and off depending upon the prevailing winds.

Soy was good, then not so good. Chocolate with, at least, 70% cocoa is good. Wheat is unacceptable and fructose is simply bad. Sugar is a demon sucking  your years and mind.

Then some cleaning products corrode your insides while others simply make your eyes water. And don't think of sniffing or licking.

Once  a month I receive a health letter bent on warning me of all the evil lurking ahead. I now walk carefully, as if through a field of glass.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Over 150 Dead

innocent people gunned down
while they eat dinner
listen to a concert
watch a soccer game
they hear
the first sounds
the pop, the shots
 the multiple explosions
 thousands leave a soccer stadium
and sing the French national anthem

Thursday, November 12, 2015

You've Got to be Kidding

Red cups. Just simple red cups. No words. Nothing celebratory. Just a red cup. A chance to add your own words. You don't need a marker. The red cup acts like a metaphor. For some it conjures a decorated tree, for others it means a stop light. Stop. What is it you want to say on this red cup? What words do you want to use to celebrate? Secular. Religious. Your choice. Delightful, isn't it? You supple the message. The slate is clean and waiting.

Those who are chagrined by the lack of a message don't get it. A gift. A chance to think of what you want to say? Why fret over oft used phrases when you can envision your own words?

And for those folks who are ready to abandon the red cup coffee house for a another coffee house with a cup that has a ready minted and printed sentiment -- really?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Lights. Who knew that lighting fixture came in so many styles. Who knew that people spend thousands of dollars for illumination. Who knew that finding the right fixture included a mathematical aspect.

"An overhead fixture should be half the width of your table- to look balanced."

I'm fascinated by all the  facts I don't know and all the experts who so willingly share their knowledge. Someone recently told me that Quartz is better than Granite because you need to seal granite. I've never had either and comfortably existed with Formica.

A recipe I found on the web suggested I only buy organic or eschew the recipe.

My mother had a counter that had no lofty name. She still managed.

Perhaps we all should live in yurts and live by candlelight. Would we be balanced?

A Set of Directions

1. First you wait for the flatbed truck
2. Then you watch them drag your Subaru with its dented fender, wheel bent inwards, and raspy sound onto the bed
3. Drive to the "emporium" of cars and sign a paper, " I promise to pay."
4. Ask the man with a shirt logo advertising the name of the auto body shop if it's bad
5. Won't really know until we pull it apart-- look at what's doing under the car
6. You'll probably have to get four tires. The insurance company only pays for part of one. Your car always has to have four with the same amount of tread or you'll kill your transmission.
7. To the police station to pick up three report forms. The police lady wears s heavy sweater. The station is cold.
8. To the insurance office. The agent gets another agent from Hanover on the line. I tell my story.
9. I write a poem telling my story.
10. I say to the universe--thank you

Monday, November 09, 2015

After An Almost Bad Accident

It only takes a moment
just time enough to inhale
and begin to exhale
for the terrain to shift
when all your notes
for tomorrow scatter
or the ink smudges
and spaces appear between
words, where the sounds
hollow out and sounds mute

Saturday, November 07, 2015

And What Do You Believe?

too many words
erase meaning
too many words
hide feelings
under letters
arranged like
what is said
in silence

Friday, November 06, 2015


                                             Parshah Chayei Sarah

They came to bury their father
Isaac the son of Abraham's wife Sarah
whose breasts no longer held milk
when she birthed her son. And Ishmael
whose mother Hagar stood tall, young,
 and sassy when she birthed Abraham's
older son. One a wife, the other a handmaiden,
domestic help.Two boys separated by tension
and  the fear of infighting for a coveted place
in family history. Yet God made clear
each boy's legacy. Abraham, the father of both,
carried out his  wife's demand.
Isaac stayed, Ishmael  left.
Time shifted like the sand of the desert.
When their father died both sons came
to bury their father, to lay him to rest
in the cave of  Machpelah.
The  past is buried for that time and place.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Spirit Filled

Holy Rollers. Until I lived on Ainsley Road I thought Holy Rollers only lived on some off the dirt road enclave. Not so. Sally lived six houses down and she identified as a proud Ohioan and a Holy Roller.

"I believe," she said when her son took a tumble off his bike and sported a gash three inches long, " that prayer heals." Anyone else on the street might try ointment and a gauze pad first and then the emergency room, but not Sally.

" I'm not one of those who won't go to the Doctor if I see my prayer stays static, but I'd wonder what offense I'd committed that my prayer didn't go anywhere but in front of my mouth."

John's gash healed. Maybe it only looked deep and water, soap, and a clean covering worked wonders.

"Ever speak in tongues? " she asked. I said that I never even heard anyone speak in tongues. That was enough to launch Sally. " It's a sacred language," she said.

" Close your eyes like you're in church and listen."

After three or four minutes Sally began, at first quiet like and then she picked up steam. Her voice trembled, then righted itself, and the sounds flowed out until they formed an unfamiliar language. I just let myself listen.

When she came around to her usual self she said, " I feel all tingly and washed with God's love. She spread that love like the widow of Zarephath.

One day Sally showed up at my house with a small pamphlet, the size of one of the tracts she left everywhere she went. "This", she said," is an instruction booklet on how to speak in tongues."

"It's not my thing," I said.

" Give it a try. You don't need to go public.Just you and God."

Sally placed a peach cobbler tart  alongside the booklet and left empty handed.

When only crumbs remained, I picked up the booklet.

Ask God for the gift and then sit on a comfortable chair and begin to chant nonsense syllables. Keep at it until your words become a strange language that you and God share.

Because I was curious I sat on my rocker and asked God for understanding of ways that seemed strange to me and began to utter a series of nonsense sounds. They never formed into words, but I didn't expect any words.

Sally assured me that I just needed to stick with it and we prayed together-- not for speaking in tongues, but for a neighbor. Sally did end up speaking in tongues and I just allowed her words to surround us even though I couldn't translate them I knew they were filled with the Spirit.

I never tried again. Wasn't my thing, but whenever I heard Sally pray I felt her holiness just spread out like a shawl.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


Outside rock crushers pulverize unearthed table size rocks. The noise pretends quiet, but insists on entering-- unbidden. Then it ceases as noise and melds into the other sounds-- a crane moving backwards, and the hum of a draconian looking machine climbing a hill of crushed rock.

I long for the ocean, for the wind on the top of a mountain, for the sound of my breath when hiking, for the quiet of the kiva at Chaco Canyon.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Apartment Living

Anyone who grew up as an apartment dweller knew that aromas are part of apartment living. Whatever was cooked wafted into the hallway, up or down the stairs, and remained until it faded into the walls.

My grandmother made gefilte fish, which in Yiddish means "stuffed fish". At one time, poor  Jewish women skinned the cheapest fish--with great care--and then ground up the flesh. They added onions, eggs, and bread to the ground fish. I guess this fluffed up the innards.

In America no one bothered with stuffing this mixture back into a skin that probably didn't come right off the fish. Instead, the women rolled the mixture into balls or patties and then steamed or boiled the lot of them. This wasn't a quick process-- gefilte fish patties cooked for two hours and the resulting jellylike stock was always served with the fish. The stock quivered on the plate.

 Recipes traveled with immigrants from the Shtetls of Eastern Europe through Ellis Island to New York City. By 1960 most gefilte fish was commercially prepared. Glass jars of patties shoulder to shoulder surrounded by the gelatinous broth saved time.

My grandmother treasured her family recipe. Since she lived with us she cooked gefilte fish in our kitchen.

Once a month the smell of the fish boiling away in a large aluminum pot  took over the apartment building. It  overpowered Mrs. Lorenzo's meat lasagna, ran slipshod over the sweet smell of fresh bread in 3C, and condemned all other aromas into oblivion.

I steeled myself for the onslaught of the gefilte fish's all pervasive odor.

I begged my mother to forbid the cooking of gefilte fish.

I petitioned my mother for money to purchase glass jars of gefilte fish.

Sometime during my freshman year in high school my grandmother Yette tasted gefilte fish from a jar and declared it "almost as good" as homemade-- and  decided to lend her exceptional talent to making gallons of chicken soup.


Monday, November 02, 2015

God Interprets

She walks down  the church aisle,
a congregant ready to receive communion,
an organ plays for the procession
and the congregation  sings
She moves her head from side to side
Her hands wave in the air--
parting the sea or gathering sheaves of grain.
She sings the entire time, her voice
floating  above the other voices,
a lilting voice, yet plaintive
She plunges both hands into
a field of words and strings together
syllables to fit the melody
I try and hear her lines,
some words have no meaning,
yet when she sings the words fall into place