Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

roll on
days disappear
into a used calendar
with crossed out dates
and future plans
until the white page
of a new year appears
a myriad of possibilities
until you pen in the
first event and the next

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Purchase

unpacking boxes and falling
into the past, a time line
made of books bought
in an old second hand
store from a woman
who grew up in China,
the daughter of missionaries,
a book purchased in a
house converted into a
bookstore where each room
held a different genre
until a browser left a medieval
history book leaning against
The Complete Stories
Of Flannery O'Connor
which now occupies the
first shelf of my bookcase

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

So Soon

it snowed today then it turned to sleet and then it turned to ice welcome to winter forget the sixty degrees of last week warmth is now in your memory fall in love with the cold

Monday, December 28, 2015

Not Yet

Moving isn't for sissies
Moving is for those who  slim
down their belongings
asking questions of each item
" How long since we two
talked?" "I can't believe how
old you look." "Is it time to part
company or can I find some
nook, some spot, on top of,
behind, under, where you
can remain for more years?"

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Parsha Vayechi

 "...blessing each one of them with a
suitable blessing."
      Genesis 49:28

bless me
bless me with words
honed just for me
bless me
with what fits
lay your hand
upon me
and let me feel your breath
whisper the words
you set out for me
bless me
open my eyes

Friday, December 25, 2015

One More Thing

dear God, first thank you for giving me a reason to celebrate your son's birthday,
we didn't have too much of a party because we're moving and you probably know
the weather was all wrong-- at least around here we expect cold and possibly
some snow but not like last year when we set a record for snowiest winter since
they kept records which goes back a long time

we did go out to breakfast with friends which is our fifth year or sixth year depending on who you speak to and we sat for almost three hours eating and talking which was quite celebratory I know some folks would be disappointed with the distance between families but unless you want to fly all over the world you need to content yourself with technology to bring you all into the same virtual vicinity where you can't touch but I'm certain that soon it will be possible to pass through the atmosphere and visit via an avatar

now i don't want to take up too much time but again a thanks for putting Great Meadows close to where we live because in the afternoon we took a walk around the pond and most folks we met looked as if they enjoyed the sights and some folks wrote sightings  on the chalk board at the entrance to the pond-- Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, and someone hoped they saw Felix and wrote -- and if I miss you, I'll miss you --which is a nice thing to read if you miss someone

now that i've brought you up to date on how we spent the day and how i really appreciate all you do i do have some favors which i know comes at a busy time of year so if i can keep your ear for a few more minutes just let me list them knowing some are big and some small and nagging

i'm worried about the refugees and all the places in the world where fighting happens seven days a week and how about all the extremist running around scaring people so those are big things and i could mention many more but you've probably got a list that you read and shake your head, may be even shed a tear or two but then there are small matters of interest to me

tonight before i go to sleep and after i watch the news which really isn't news but a litany of tragic local situations, i'll silently tell you the small issues

thanks for listening

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Things Not Seen

What's the blue sticker
jutting out of the grass
or the orange pole in
the corner of the lot?
Did I hear a hissing?
Does the overhang
hang far enough? Why
didn't they remove the
stickers that warn you
that open windows can
be dangerous for small
children? We don't
have small children.
I never remove the tags 
on mattresses and always
read the warnings on
plastic bags. For now
I'll leave the writings
as a reminder of the
danger of ordinary things.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Abide by the Rules

notify the post office
or your mail will end up as slush
notify the credit card company
or they'll cut you off
the motor vehicle folks
will think you're suspect
tell the banks or they'll
hold your money
don't forget to call your
insurance company or they'll
forget you when your house
gets drenched by ice dams
when you get a prescription
your insurer won't know you
if they think you're living off the grid
email friends and people who
send you those family letters
at Christmas or you'll never know
that Christie plays the oboe in the
elementary school band and that
Sarah just learned how to somersault
remember to send a forwarding
address for all your magazines or
some postal character will be
reading about how boas
recognize you as their provider
you can't erase your location
all you can do is change your address


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Life of an Instagram Follower

I confess to being an Instagram busy body, but I don't follow just anyone. I follow family. How else would I know what's going on with my peripatetic family-- save they travel by all manner of vehicles. At the moment most of them are in New Zealand, but when Christmas break ends they will spread out-Israel, London, South Carolina, Michigan and Colorado.

I've followed them on a diving expedition in some far off place. Last year I wandered around an ashram with Peggy. When Jori puts up photos of her culinary magic I instantly become hungry. Everything looks delectable and typical of a dish served in a high end restaurant. She cooks for pleasure and creativity. When she puts up photos of Ryan I am pleased that they are together--

When Phuntsho adds a photo of teens at school she mentions sledding at 6:00am before classes begin-- I wonder how she is acclimating to the weather in Colorado-- quite a difference from Israel. When Elijah posts a photo of his part in the school musical I play a clip of him singing a Beatle's song. When David posts a photo of Noah playing Division 1 soccer I recall how Noah loved Tae Kwon Do and the grace he brought to the movements. I've streamed some of his games. When Zara posts photos of their dog I am reminded of how they all love large dogs. When Samantha posts photos of Michigan football, I am reminded of a library book I donated to the school library when she was born. When David posts photos of working out and writes of training for the Kona triathlon, I recall how he and his friend rode bicycles to Cape Cod with a youth hostel group.

Their lives are spread out in small bites. David writes small poems calling for racial justice and a world rotating around love. The words remind me of the 60s. He posts photos of his tattoos, many of them done in Samoa. Until I saw his Instagram photos I didn't realize how much of his body was tattooed. His body is a canvas. I want to say, " Didn't it hurt."

This is a different world.
Instant messaging.
Millions of photos.
Thousands of internet friends.
And family followers.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Waiting for Snow

winter gives permission
to burrow, to start a long
book and spend hours
adrift in someone else's
story, to find hidden
crevasses of your
imagination, to find
yourself dreaming
back to a time when
winter meant leggings
and scarfs, woolen hats,
and high boots, when
winter meant waiting

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Waiting during Advent

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Metaphor

when the body
of a hand thrown
clay vessel
is a bit off
just a tad lopsided
off kilter,
perfection is over-rated
and bad for your health

Friday, December 18, 2015

Joseph's Counsel

Parsha Vayigash

                      Then he sent his brothers on their way,
                      and as they were leaving he said to them,
                      "Do not quarrel along the way."
                                   Genesis 45: 24

Do not fall out along the way,
don't fret, don't be angry
don't be consumed by the past
don't quarrel and confront one another.
don't blame the other
don't wring your hands
or say I was the least guilty
The past is opening
a path to the present

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Just suppose I jettisoned
all abstractions for a day
and relied on particulars,
You  could touch my stories,
feel their edges and their pockets
enter into a touchstone for
each abstraction

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Apartment Living

For the past three months I have walked the halls of our apartment building and climbed the four flights of stairs to our apartment. Over and over. My hall promenades take place in the evening. The long halls and long flights of stairs give me a good workout. I admit that when people see me striding down the hallway and going up and down the stairs they may wonder why I haven't taken advantage of the treadmills in the exercise room. But they don't ask.

Apartment dwellers know that when you live in close proximity to your neighbor you need to practice the art of boundary keeping. Because I also know that art, I don't ask the folks with their large dogs how the dogs do cooped up all day. When I walk by some apartments I hear the dogs barking-- either a plaintive whimper or a protective growl. Asking is tantamount to being intrusive.

Growing up in an apartment building in the Bronx I learned the subtleties of living in an apartment. Walk softly if you have a neighbor below your apartment or deal with the complaints flung your way. When my grandmother Yette  reached a point of frustration with an upstairs neighbor who moved furniture every evening, she grabbed hold of a broom and used the handle to deliver her own thumping on our ceiling. The upstairs neighbor, a thin and nervous looking woman, couldn't tolerate the banging and ceased her reorganization of furniture for a week. Then began again. And my grandmother repeated her banging. It was like a weekly  duet. Everyone knew their part.

Knowing the rules I walk quietly down the halls and tread softly on the stairs. And if I meet someone  and if they have a dog I say something nice about the dog. I don't ask how that huge lab likes being inside all day. I am aware of the rules.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A History

Do Not
Forget to
Remember the thin raffia twisted and glued
around Coke bottles to create candle holders
or the collages made from magazine pictures
or single letters cut out to spell words
That was the hardest part,
finding letters that formed
the words we wanted

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Birds are Flying South

It's moving towards winter
trees dress down to bones
Wind slips under doors or taps
on a window seeking entrance.
We watch daylight's early
exit and settle in.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Waiting during Advent.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

After Listening to the Politicians

Let's not
flirt with extremes
Let's seesaw
between possibilities
Let's question our questions
Demand answers of our answers


Friday, December 11, 2015

Just Before Winter Arrives

I look backwards
to find a way forwards 
past the brittle tree limbs
beyond the frayed cat tails
Clusters of last summer's 
flowers adorn a pond
Geese gather together
and leave this dormant place

in medias res

Thursday, December 10, 2015

To Forget

    Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharoah
 " I remember my faults today."
                         Genesis 41:9

The cupbearer forgot that Joseph teased meaning from his dream, forgot that Joseph asked him to remember him with kindness, to put in a good word with Pharaoh so that he might leave the prison, yet when the cupbearer left prison he forgot Joseph, forgot Joseph's kindness, his skill at  interpreting dreams, and the cupbearer never looked back until he couldn't move forward without telling of Joseph's skill

The Cupbearer

I looked at my reflection
in calm waters
and threw a flat rock
to disturb the still portrait,
to look at the places
that didn't conform
and wept

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

A Twice Told Tale

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
-Anaïs Nin

I notice how the same story changes every time we retell the event. Where we stand at any particular time colors how we see the past. Writing brings the past into the present and the present colors the past.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


I listened to experts talk of mass murder. How many dead before we call it a mass murder? Does it really matter? To quote Dylan Thomas : After the first death, there is no other.

Experts speak of mass murderers and serial killers. Serial killers need three victims over a period of about a month and then they enter a "cooling off" period. Each crime is a separate event. Wait. The FBI changed their definition. Now two victims are all that is necessary and the cooling off period is also not a criteria. Not everyone agrees.

The intellectual exercise goes on and on. When do we call it terrorism? When is it a killing spree fueled by unhappiness or a grudge? When is it domestic violence?

When do we say that some killings are fueled by hate language and the demonizing of groups?
When do we look at the expanded understanding of the Second Amendment?

When do we stop attempting definitions and sit down and really talk about guns? Until then : "after the first death, there is no other."

10th Day of Advent

Monday, December 07, 2015


isn't something
you buy
or redeem with coupons
faith isn't
sold on holidays
or hawked on a street corner
builds slow, bubbles
on a back burner
needs pepper and salt
needs yeast
faith needs to expand
then folded over
and rolled out again

   9th day of Advent 

Sunday, December 06, 2015


8th Day of Advent

Saturday, December 05, 2015

On Deciding How to Proceed

If and then, If I do this then, If I don't do this then what, I like black and white answers to simple questions, but complex questions require shades of gray which stand between white and move to deep black so that I can't be certain what to do when it comes to replying to a question which may be something that is time bound and requires an answer which can't be gray even though gray allows for uncertainty and movement between the different shades without settling down so when I am in a quandary or facing a decision without the help of tarot cards or a magic ball which advertises itself as having the ability to answer questions yes or no when that exactitude is required as in should I do this or should I beg off I sit in the middle undecided with no assurance that one decision is superior to the other as if the world is spinning and I can hold on to the edge of the globe or float in space waiting for an answer which won't come because the universe tells me that I must weigh the pos and cons and then take a plunge which isn't what Gideon did when he wanted a sign from God and then when he received an answer he challenged God again thinking that two answers are better than one and when both answers agreed he proceeded-- now if that worked back then why not now so with that in mind I am spraying my philodendron with water and if the leaves are still wet in the morning then the answer is yes, but I expect I may then have to argue about that not being the best outcome and if the leaves are dry I imagine arguing that outcome is expected, so how was it a fair test

7 th  Day of Advent

Friday, December 04, 2015

lIfe doesn't hand OuT rOad mAps

                TheRe are  hAirpin tUrns
  WHiTe oUts, bLind sPots
BliNding lights

                  YOu got to KEep waLking
              PAss Go

I KNew SomEone aFflicted wIth eRased
Places wHere she OnCe thOught sHe
knEw wHAt weNt in tHat pLaCe

ONLy sHe foUnd hErSelf in an ArroYo
WiTh wAter raging, dragGing heR aLong

       I shouTed
            KEep walKing
The Lord gOnna keeP you drY
                The LOrd gOnna wAlk with You
                                You goNna wAlk riGht thRough that wAter

MIght not SeeM liKe it
JUsT hold oUt your hAnd

LOrd goNna holD yOur hand

6th Day of Advent

Thursday, December 03, 2015


Parshah Vayeshev

              ...the chief cupbearer did not
                 remember Joseph, but forgot him.
                         Genesis 40:23

forgetting comes naturally,
why look over your shoulder
at the hardscrabble land
when a road that sashays
across your landscape
draws you into a new scenario
you didn't mean to forget
but remembering is hard work
hard as a Gordian knot

5th Day of Advent

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Another Mass Killing

Another shooting.
Another senseless act.
Another grieving family.
Another grieving friend.
Tomorrow: we learn
the names of victims.
We  know what to do.
Flowers, ribbons, candles,
novena cards, and photos
appear on the sidewalk.

Next week we'll watch funerals
on television and listen
to people of the cloth.'
We're no longer innocent.
We no longer think we're safe.
Pray for those killed.
Pray for those maimed.
Pray for the families left
with missing pieces.
Pray for us.

4th Day of Advent

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Repast

My plate is full
to overflowing
with color and shape
A tine marked cucumber rests
beside sliced carrots
Tomato wedges surround
a quiona salad
Soy and sesame marinated tofu
contrasts with a deep red fruit
whose name I can't recall
Unnamed it loses its story

3rd Day of Advent