Thursday, March 31, 2016

Her Walk

She walks with a measured gait
in a coat she wears like a burden. A
purse the size of a satchel hangs
from one hand. Her eyes stare straight
ahead. They look past storefronts. 
Her expression never changes. I say hello
and in a few seconds she remembers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I painted a series of the Hebrew letter Aleph,
the first letter of the alphabet,  a silent letter  
not given to a  sibilant or staccato sound, 
quiet and contemplative. They say that the sound 
of Aleph is the sound of God breathing,
the in out of the universe. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Shopping for a Shed

We went shopping for a shed and found just the right salesman. Every time we appeared to be veering toward a particular shed he smiled and said, "You know Plastic gets mold." 
 "How about Power washing?" 
" It's thin vinyl and if the kid up the street used his father's power washer and put the wrong nozzle on--a hole in the vinyl is a possibility ."
"And, " he added, " unless the place you put the shed is absolutely flat the pieces fight each other. They want to pull apart."
" And you have to put it together. It comes in a number of pieces."
He took us to a place where they store some of the sheds. Pointing skyward he remarked, "Those two boxes, each weighing three hundred pounds, are delivered to your house and left curbside which usually means in your driveway. " 
I envisioned the boxes boxing in our car.
Then we looked at a more costly shed that was delivered and put together by the experts who worked for the company.
"These sheds," he intoned, " need to be painted every two years or your warranty is voided. And the company doesn't get a permit for the shed. If you live in a town that requires a permit and you don't get one then someday the town inspector is driving around and spots the shed. He says I didn't give permission for that shed and you have to take it down. "
"And another thing you need to get the snow off the roof."
"Think about all those things. Don't make a rash decision."
We thanked him for his help and went to take a look at standing lamps. Halfway to that aisle he came over-- half running. 
"I went to the company website to see how long it would take to put together the shed. There's a fifty-six page book of instructions with English, Spanish and French on the same page. They also suggest two people are needed. "
Again we thanked him. By the time we walked to our car we had decided that we really didn't need a shed. Additional hooks on the garage walls could easily hold rakes and shovels. And I thought we could reorganize the shelves... And who wanted a lawn mower when you could hire someone to now the lawn. 

I'm glad we didn't ask him about a grill.

Monday, March 28, 2016

ABC and on...

It's time to settle down and find out why only one light in the overhead light in one room goes on quickly. The second light gropes for light until it finally--sometimes twenty minutes later- goes on.

And that's the way with finishing things that you started with good intentions and then became sluggish and never finished.

Several months ago I decided to set up some perimeters to one of my reading pursuits. I'd forage for a book on the library shelves and select it after reading the first paragraph. The author was someone I'd never read and my selections started with an author whose last name began with A. 

Ten years ago I played the same game, but then I only chose mysteries.

Life got in the way this time  and I found myself mired in books written by authors who refused to follow my order. 

My decision to write a poem about forgiveness each day of Lent ran out of steam. It isn't as if there weren't anymore people to forgive, but I knew a stretch when I made a note to forgive Attila the Hun.

I have thirty-six more gesture drawings to finish by Friday to fulfill an assignment for an online art class. 

And I read about people counting the Omer. I know nothing about the Omer save that observant Jews count the days from Passover to the day that God gave the Torah to the people. That's forty days of reflections. 

So many possibilities-- but now about the light.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Easter and Parsha Tzav

what better word than hallelujah sung with gusto what better day than one that begins with a celebration what better way to be part of community than talking in the church parlor about which delectable sweet sugary confection to eat what better way to celebrate than eating a falafel pita overstuffed with vegetables and saying hello to someone you knew only slightly who stops at your table and agrees that these falafels are the best in Boston what better way to enjoy the art in a store than by talking to a stranger about the hamsa she is looking at and knowing that is the one you want and then being delighted that she loves the piece and buys it what better way to enjoy dessert than by stopping for an ice cream what better way to delight in your day than painting an aleph as the first in a series of three for an art course what better way to end the day by reading the parsha Tzav and knowing that Ha Shem was commanding that a perpetual fire was to be on the altar what better way to take the fire as a metaphor for keeping the flame, the ardor for God in our hearts day and night what better way to remember to give thanks for the blessing of the day

what better day than that it was shared with someone you love

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day 46. Lent

I believe...

Can we touch our beliefs to test elasticity
or do our beliefs move in and out
of reality, sharpened each time
we test them out, use words to describe,
speak of faith as the cornerstone--
yet wary of rigidity 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Day 45 Lent

Good Friday

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Day 44 Lent

Remembering Another Maundy Thursday

Fifty years ago, five decades, that's half a century ago
on a Maundy Thursday I sat in a church parlor
answering questions about belief, about doctrine
A woman stood and signed the same questions
for a young woman who couldn't hear
She responded with her fingers and hands
I heard my heart beat and tasted the dryness
We read our testimony in the sanctuary
She read first--We didn't need the translation,
her fingers and face told the story of her faith
Two pews filled with friends and family
witnessed her baptisim
I read next and spoke about my journey to this place,
one  friend acted as my witness,
the one who was more than a friend, who encouraged me
who prayed with me, who walked with me on this path
After the baptism the minister said
 he felt the Holy Spirit's presence-- another witness

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 43 Lent

An Enigma

       Time is just God's way of making sure
       that everything doesn't happen at once.
            --George Carlin

time, that enigmatic place we live,
slips back into other tenses--
unfold the past ,hold it to the light,
it lacks marrow, is transparent
can't be held or touched
only recalled

time, shows up, enters uninvited,
reminds me that the present
becomes past the moment it happens

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day 42. Lent

Brussels: Another Terrorist Attack

what can any of us say
when another blast
takes lives, splinters
families, sends spasms
of fear throughout the
world, we repeat the
same words of sorrow,
we pray for those wounded,
we pray for the families
of those lost in this
senseless terror
we pray for a world
that isn't burying innocence
that isn't stirring up division
we pray that we may understand
what is incomprehensible
we pray for what we don't understand
we pray that we may find footing
that is tethered to God's love

Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 41. Lent

Not Now

snow in the morning
melting in the afternoon
spring stands ready to take
center stage, to strut her stuff,
to call a halt to this foolishness

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Day 40. Lent

The High Priest

and tomorrow
Yeshua offers kapparah ,
atonement for our sins
Just ask
He is without blemish

Parsha Vayiqra


The Lord told Moses
to tell the people to
bring the choicest,
nothing with a blemish
for a sacrifice--
an atonement
for breaking God's
even though the sin
was unintentional--
how easy to slide
how easy to turn,to veer
without intention

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Day 39 Lent

A Hymn

Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord:
his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall
come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain
unto the earth.

-- Hosea 6:3


once i sat on a hilltop with a friend--
we watched the clouds approach
dark with the fullness of rain
and still we remained until rain
enveloped us and our clothes grew
heavy, my face washed in rainwater,
my hair matted down, and still we sat
that summer day until the rain stopped--
we knew we had been blessed


each dewdrop, every rivulet
fed by the rain, one blade of grass
watered by a drizzle, a path
muddied by a constant downpour--
new buds fondled by a light rain
and my pole and line readied
to catch bass and perch
in a pond nourished by rain--
all reminders of  grace


we hiked to a waterfall
past anemones in a field
past loosestrife fringes
over boulders, on dirt paths,
and it began to rain
we approached the falls--
squeezed into a space
between two boulders
and listened to the sounds
of rain and watched raindrops
dance and become one
with the rushing water
and remembered the psalm

Friday, March 18, 2016

Day 38. Lent

 Please Come In

remember, I'd say. no that's not a way to begin a conversation with someone you haven't seen in years. hello, you look great. banal beginning. try to be normal. but what is normal. is there a how to book on how to reconnect with someone after years apart. perhaps there's a dummy book out, one that maps out scenarios. come in. welcome. do you want tea or coffee, maybe a glass of water. so what have you been doing these past three decades. are there topics we should discuss. are there subjects best left unsaid. yes, I do look older, but not as old as some. should I say you look older--too. do you remember hiking up lookout mountain in North Carolina. no. perhaps you recall climbing at Cumberland Falls. no. Gambrel State Park. no. you were young. no, i don't recall that, nor that, nor that. yes, we remember differently. do you enjoy reading. what books. sorry I never heard of that book. i remember how good you were with puzzles. you don't like puzzles anymore. i see. tell me about yourself.

let's start over. may I introduce myself. please forgive my manners.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Day 37. Lent

Abraham was Gracious

some folks leave the door open
"for heavens sake leave those shoes on"
some folks break bread with everyone
"stay for dinner"
some folks live the gospel
they don't worry if they'll have enough

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Day 36 Lent.

A Last Spring

Tomorrow I'll pick up stray branches
left by winds that shook the tree
next door. I'll note that this tree
is ungainly, old, and listing to one side 
like a ship caught unawares by winds
until she's swamped and takes on water

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 35 Lent

Forgotten Pleasures

An all day rain
ran with the river current
A green lawn chair follows--
half submerged, but still afloat
as a reminder of past summers

Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 34 Lent

It's been a long time since I sat at the local coffee place and typed on my iPad. Places change. People change. Places disappear. People move on.

When I first moved to this small town the local coffee shop, Paul's Bakery, catered to old timers. Many were the descendants of Finnish immigrants who settled here decades ago. They spoke about a baseball league that included an all Finnish team and an avowed socialist team, " actually they were communists who followed Lenin, or maybe they followed Trotsky." The ninety year old town historian and his friends enjoyed morning coffee and a sweet most weekends and several week days. I met and interviewed a man who once played the trombone with the Army marching band, " and don't forget to mention that I worked in the mill when they made wool blankets for the soldiers."

Next door to Paul's bakery was Fay's, also owned by the same family, a small sit down breakfast and lunch place. Weekend mornings the line went out the door. I loved the pancakes.

Downtown included a music store, a jewelry store, and a women's clothing store. They disappeared and a bagel store appeared-- and only lasted a few years. Over the years I've watched several used clothes and furniture stores come and go, barber shops change hands and then disappear, a store devoted to a green philosophy opened with fanfare and then closed because going green often means more costly items. Most places I rarely miss, but there were several that disappeared because life moved on on their relevancy  in different times changed.

I loved going into the new and used CD store. Sometimes I found just the music CD I wanted -- one no longer being cut. The owner played music all day long. I often heard one of my favorite folk singers serenading the street. When it became evident that anyone could download just the songs they desired instead of purchasing CDs the number of buyers decreased. A local video store, once a crowded emporium of folks shopping around for just the right movie, ceased to be a force. The owner retired and sold his stock.

Someone who thought that people would flock to his store to eat the five varieties of hot dogs he featured every day-- found out that what you ate at the ballpark or grilled for July 4th might not be your meal several days a week. The same was true for the candy store that featured costly truffles and hand dipped strawberries. An ice cream shop also had a short life. The proprietor never took into her consideration the large ice cream institution one mile away, where cars parked in a maze like abandon on a parking lot that looked more like a grid of deep gorges than a lot for cars.

One place in town has been the same since the 1945-- it's a bar and it's been in the same family for all these years. I expect that they replaced the pool table. They also serve food.

Whenever I go down to Cambridge I spend a few moments wishing that all the bookstores reappeared-- new and used. But, at least, the poetry bookstore, first opened in 1927, still holds tight to its small footprint. There are some things that shouldn't change.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day 33. Lent


I attended a meeting this morning and heard a committee of five, or was it six, report their progress on a plan to restructure a space and redo an entrance. The entrance they described was spacious, accessible, elegant. It was the Cadillac version and it came with a high price tag. They spoke of raising money. Most people in the audience thought the plan looked fine-- better than fine. It is an entrance that speaks its mind, makes a good appearance, shows itself as distinguished and well appointed. I thought of the expenditure and wished that there was option one and option two and three.

It's intriguing how things come together and illuminate thoughts. Two hours after the meeting I walked into a Cambridge bookstore, contemplated buying one of the delectable scones sold at their cafe-- but held off. Both inside the bookstore and at sidewalk tables and benches crowds of people took advantage of the warm weather. Outside laptop computers, books, newspapers, cups of coffee or tea, and food covered the tables. The people seated on benches balanced books and drinks--with a practiced air.

On the way back to my car I watched a man bend down and dig a partially smoked cigarette out of a crack in the sidewalk. He wiped the dirt off the cigarette and placed it in the pocket of his  coat.

And then the disconnect-- an expensive entrance and a cigarette on the street.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Parsha Pequdei

Building the Tabernacle

Moses did just as God commended
The dwelling went up just as God visualized
What job would be mine? I can't do a running
stitch or hem straight. I never learned how
to spin or dye yarn. I can't engrave or work
with gold filigree. I can't set stones. My
weaving is either too tight or too loose. I'm
not sure about ephods and I never twisted
linen. I am the one who stands in awe.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Day 31 Lent

I inhale the sun allowing warmth to
spread over my skin, digging beneath
an outer layer a blessing radiates
I wear a garland of rays
A birch tree's white bark stands
in stark contrast to an emerging green
Everything shimmers beneath this glare
The sun forgives the shadows

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Day 30--Lent

Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all.
-- G.K.

That's the rub, that's the part that chafes, how do you forgive the horrific, or evil, how do you move beyond, how do you see within each individual the thread of humanity, how do you let go of your hate or revenge, how do you remember, but not fall into a whirlpool of revenge or lack of forgiveness...that's the rub

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Day 29. Lent

Turning and Returning

The sun warmed my bones
shaking loose the rhythm of winter
a day out of order, a day that brings
a bit of summer, a day that urges spring
Soon the dark colors of winter 
will give way to a spring flamboyancy
The heron will return to his place
and hold court while standing in one spot
It is the time of returning

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Day 28. Lent

     Forgiveness says you are given 
     another chance to make a new beginning.
        -/Desmond Tutu

begin and begin again
 start a new line
tear it out and begin again
the story doesn't alter
it just stops, sputters,
and begins again
as if the place where 
anything was a possibility 
never happened, a hiatus 
where a new beginning 
might take root
but didn't

Monday, March 07, 2016

Day 27. Lent

Forgive, Forgiveness

Some words are too big
for dictionary definitions
They strain at boundaries
and bulge when constrained
They hide behind synonyms
They act as burrs, catchweeds,
goose grass, cleavers--
and refuse to let go until you
wrestle a meaning that fits
 your shape , your story

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Day 26. Lent

     And I will restore to you the years 
the locust hath eaten...
                   --Joel 2:25 KJV

Now I can't do that,
but God's ready
just waiting for a word,
maybe a bended knee,
and the hum of talk
Can't get back days,
can't change time,
but there's a way to
to kindle an opening
to sow seeds
God's waiting to hear our words
to fill us with blessings

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Day 25. Lent

It's Your Choice

go tell your story
every detail
get it all out--
you been carrying
that story a long time
took it with you
wherever you went--
threadbare, but kicking,
rehashed so often
it became  a canker sore that
you pick just to feel the pain

Friday, March 04, 2016

Parshat Vayak'hel

Here's the Blueprint

       ...let whoever is of a generous heart
          bring the Lord's offering: gold, silver,
          and bronze, blue, purple, and crimson yarns...
          spices for the anointing oil,..
          and onyx stones and gems...
                      -- Exodus 35:5-9

God said, Bezalel, build me
 a tabernacle-- a place for me to live
 Bezalel, son of Hur, of the tribe
of Judah followed directions,
each curtain, every upright frame,
the ark of acacia wood-- all
measured to the given cubits
All gone now, buried under rubble
God still needs a place to stay
if you want you can open the door

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Day 23--Lent

i'm talking to you and me

listen up
just drop that
you're carrying
too heavy a burden
that grudge you wear
like a shawl, pulled tight
stifles you, drags you down
until it's a chain wearing you out
don't spend all that time polishing
up each link, just take it off and
shake the kinks out from your
shoulders, inhale fresh air
and forgive the other
maybe right now
someone is

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Day 22. --Lent

Just Mouth the Words

who will I forgive today perhaps the sixth grade french teacher who made me stand up and keep pronouncing the french vowel sounds over and over and no matter how many times she corrected me I didn't hear the difference between her pronunciation and mine but the music teacher at p.s. 70 knew immediately when she auditioned the entire fifth grade class that I, along with a number of my classmates, were unable to correctly sing the national anthem and we were deemed tone deaf and assigned to two rows in the back of the auditorium and told that we were not to sing but to lip synch the words although I doubt if the term lip synch was correct so I spent years never singing so that my voice was audible and I really wanted to sing the folk songs the music teacher introduced so I sang them at home where no one asked me to sing silently

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Day 21. Lent

But repentance – turning 
and returning to God,
 going beyond the mind that we have –
 is the path that leads to transformation.       
--Marcus Borg


spin around 
find your way
push aside the brambles
keep walking, turn toward light
turn, turn, turn until you close the gap