Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Parsha Ekev

        Deuteronomy 10:16

The chosen people
a word turned into a thorn
or a burden, or a reminder
to know choice
to choose to follow God's words
to let down the barriers to love
and walk in the ways of God

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Reading the Ocean

water reaches
the edge
with stones 
and stories

Monday, August 29, 2016

Observations at a Lobster Pound

When eating lobster
conversation becomes minimal
Diners concentrate
on breaking the hard shell,
sucking the meat out of walking legs,
squeezing a thin strip out of each fin
Life becomes one question--
what to save for last,
the body or one claw
Only then does talk resume--
slowing down the inevitable end

Sunday, August 28, 2016

On the Way to Maine

I guided my car as close as possible to the toll booth. Even with that I hung half out of the car to reach an attendant. This morning when I stretched my body across the abyss that separated us she said, " Your toll was paid by the nice woman in the car in front of you."  We both smiled and I said, " Use my money to pay the toll for the car behind me."

At the next toll booth the cost was $3.00. Again I coasted my car as close to the booth as possible and held out  three dollars. "Your toll," said the attendant, " was paid by a nice woman." My grin spread from ear to ear. " This is the second time today, " I said, " let's pass it back to the person behind me."

Unexpected. A delightful surprise. And twice in one day.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Packing for a Vacation

pare down
do you really need that
don't think of what ifs
you know you dress down
will you read all those books
wear every shirt, coordinate outfits
how many lenses do you need
will you really do any sketches
pare down
imagine a small duffle bag
visualize one drawer
take out half of what you packed
and then pare down

Thursday, August 25, 2016


In Las Vegas, the driest city in the United States, 339 days a year are without rain or snow. Now that's arid. Our drought pales in comparison.

Three of my Facebook friends take pride in their water barrels. Perhaps I should look into getting a water barrel, but then I worry about standing water. Don't the mosquitos enjoy breeding in standing water? Would a rain barrel's water supply be deemed standing water?

783 million people do not have access to clean, safe water. Several billion people do not have adequate sanitation. This is a Global problem. People, especially children, die because of unsafe water and poor sanitation.

Perhaps our drought will bring us face to face with the enormity of the problem.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


What did I learn today?

A 95 year old woman began painting flowers and said painting opened up a whole new world.
A 91 year old woman climbed to Camp Muir on Mt Rainier --unassisted. She did  need crampons.

Now what incredible, novel, unusual task-- have I completed this week or this past month?

Makes you wonder? Are my sights set high enough?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Parsha Va'etchanan

You will find Him if you search for Him 
with all your heart and spirit
     Deuteronomy 4:29

Finding God isn't a passive
laid back way, listen--
look for Him where people gather,
where people hunger, where
beds are scarce, lend a hand 
Move out of your comfort zone
God's waiting 

Monday, August 22, 2016

When Why Isn't Important

          Attention without feeling, I began to learn,
          is only a report. An openness--an empathy--
          was necessary if the attention was to matter.
                  Mary Oliver

She walks around town wearing heavy hiking boots, an Extreme Condition sun hat that covers her neck, and hiking shorts. A  heavy backpack completes her outfit. At one time I wondered if all this walking was in preparation for a serious trek, but now I think she dons the attire without a long term goal. Yet, her expression belies that.

This is a meaningful walk. I may not be privy to why the attire or the meaning behind the four season trek on the sidewalks of town. Is it relevant for me to pigeon hole this walker into a category? To question the why?  It's a day on the cusp of Autumn and walking at a good clip is a way to welcome each day.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Early Morning Walk

twenty birds, perhaps a few more or less, flew from a rooftop to the canopy of a maple tree and back again--others might identify flight pattern, silhouette, even their posture, but i only saw their busy flutter, the way they followed one another, a choreographed dance from one locale to another--a performance enacted over and over for my pleasure

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Story Ready to be Written

       We don't choose our stories.
       Our stories choose us...
              --Honor Moore

Hold on to that story
as if it is a talisman--
not telling it, or writing it
Each sentence linked
to the next, every syllable
 a string in a story that stretches
 from place to place carrying
  a seed waiting for its chance

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Bucket List

Recently a friend mentioned that she was able to cross something off her bucket list. Now I've never created a bucket list, but perhaps I need to do so. There must be rules, things that should and should not be added. Why put something on that has no chance?  Then again, why aim so low. With this in mind-- the golden mean. I need to create a list.

Writing a book-- not a cozy
Writing ten aphorisms
Putting together a poetry book

Actually forget that list and just add one item-- writing one dynamic sentence.
Forget that item.

Pizza from the Lombardi Pizzeria-- considered to be the best pizza in the country
Real New York Egg Cream
A bag of hot chestnuts
A bag of penny candy I select
A seat in the fifth row at the Met
Hiking the Appalachian Trail--
In lieu of the above reading about hiking the Appalachian Trail

Put back the item about putting together a poetry book, sending it out, and having a publisher accept it-- ( not self-publishing)

Put back the item about writing a book, but make it short stories

Forget all the items on a bucket list. It's not my gig.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


It's too late to start training for an Olympic berth in 2020. And I'm not certain about my sport.I swim-- but only sidestroke. That's not accurate. I can " free style" swim, but don't like to take breaths because I might swallow water. Diving is out of the question- I hold my nose closed with two fingers lest I inhale water. The picture is not regal.

Running? I did jog-- not fast, just a relaxed pace and I often stopped to take photos. How can you pass up a face in a tree or a large bird eyeing a hummingbird feeder?

Beach volleyball? I'm too short and I don't like sand between my toes.

What I do best is follow and root. I stood with the gymnasts on the balance beam, tumbled on the floor exercises, learned the lingo. Found myself saying, " She didn't  stick it." -- or perfect landing.

I watch the Olympics in awe.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Directions to a Writer

Clarity means just what it says
Don't muddy it up with too many syllables
Remember to use just enough words 
Not too many or too few
Bury the unnecessary nouns, chastise 
the adjectives, and extoll the verbs 
Hide the adverbs, cut down the gerunds 
Finger figurative language with delicacy
Leave them with exquisite images, 
aphorisms and pithy lines
committed to memory 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

While Seated at A Curbside Table

An old man removed a wheel chair 
from his car, added a head rest
from the back seat and then 
putting his hands under his wife's
armpits carefully took her out of
the front seat and placed her in the chair 
The old man draped a flowered
cloth over her lap, buckled her into 
the seat, removed two foot rests
from the car and added them to the chair
His wife's arms were frozen in space,
awkward and disconnected
She stared at nothing, mute and locked 
in a world she never selected.
He looked down at her and gently 
stroked her hair before pushing the chair.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fraught With Anxiety

Will the pitching hold up
How about their bats
Their bull pen has holes
Suppose someone is injured
And if they make it to the playoffs
will they advance beyond the first round
Why does the manager make some
pitching decisions-- they appear erratic,
not thought out, seat of his pants changes
This is a tough stretch for a fan
Just a few losses and we could be looking
at an early dismissal,
a season that ends with a fizzle,
 a slippery slope into oblivion
Oh I must not think these thoughts
lest they become a self fulfilling prophecy

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Parsha Devarim

Live the Story

      Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22

 Moses recites forty years
 of wandering to a new generation
It's not their experience--it's second hand
but words bring it to life
Moses lists the grumblings in the desert,
doubts, the desire to return to Egypt,
their lack of faith in God's promises
Listen to the story
embrace the story
as if you left that narrow place

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Importance of a Single Day

tomorrow comes with promises of more heat, higher humidity,and dew points dubbed insufferable , but for some it's not just another day, a day to get beyond, for some it's one less day in a small number of days left   for some the day isn't ordinary   the day contains multitudes

Friday, August 12, 2016

"Mario und der Zauberer" 1930

Thomas Mann died on August 12, 1955.

She read "Mario and the Magician" in a college German class--along with the English version. Languages weren't her forte.

But now the political climate, the insidious lies told, the permission issued to those at his political rallies to descend into violent chants bring to mind "Mario and the Magician."  Cavaliers Cipolla, a magician, expertly manipulates his audience in the manner of a fascist demagogue.

He capitalizes on the  bigotry of his audience and exploits it for his own purposes-- a cautionary tale for our times.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Let the Stack Grow

        The bibliophile is, after all,
         like a sultan or khan
         who has countless wives already
         but another two or three
         are always irresistible.
                 Jacques Bonnet

My book bag bulges
with yet another book
I can't resist the short
synopsis on the inside flap
or a comely cover
How can I leave the next
in a series, the first in a new
series, the debut novel of
someone who reviewers dub
as a writer worthy of my attention
I can't walk past the selection
of non-fiction without selecting
something edifying or spiritual,
or even a book detailing how
to keep everything neat.
I love to sit in front of my pile--
yet there's another  book
I just read about...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Beginning of Storytelling

the past embeds itself
in the present,
a spectator, the keeper
of the family album
where i find my grandmother
as a young woman and my
mother holding me up for a photo--
we lived on Featherbed Lane,
a landscape of buildings
Featherbed Lane remains a photo
where my mother pushed a carriage--
my father told me four stories of how
the lane got its name--
each story a possibility
Featherbed Lane became a bedtime
story, a magic incantation, a place
to learn the power of naming

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

We Need All the Letters

Why did it bother me when I was reading an essay by Ursula Le Guin in her book, The Wave of the Mind, and she quoted Audre Lorde, but she spelled Lorde's name without the final "e". Twice.

Yes, I know that is minor. But Lorde was such a powerful black woman who loved language and the strength of words. She introduced herself as a, "black, lesbian,mother, warrior, poet".  She spoke and wrote as a professor, as a black woman, as a lesbian, as a feminist. She reminded us that it wasn't that we needed more power, it was that we didn't use the power we had.

She held up mirrors. Asked us to confront our own bias, our own deep seated prejudices. She was radical, blatant, fierce, and honest. She didn't bend when people were uncomfortable with her views. Audre Lorde's "I" couldn't be bullied or shouted down. Her strength was palpable. Her poetry, essays, and conversations all honed in on confronting injustice head on.

Her poem "Power" was written after the acquittal of a police officer accused of killing an unarmed ten year old boy. That poem was written in the late '70s.

It is time for me to re-read her poetry. The missing "e" stands for her insistence on equality.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Miles and Miles

She remembers the birthday she received a Schwin bike and a box of Double Bubble gum--each piece wrapped in a comic strip. Decades later she recalls her father rolling the bike into the dining room of their three room apartment. She recalls pedaling the bike in the school yard and around the block--ringing the bell, alerting pedestrians, imaging herself pedaling to where the roads end and sand begins.

Why doesn't she recall the bike's color?  Was it red? Perhaps blue?

 Later on she'd own other bikes with thinner tires, ten speeds, and odometers to measure real distance traveled. Bikes that weighed less and had canvas packs and water bottles. She never reached the sand and lost interest. No bike ever compared to that first bike with its built in kick stand.

It meant independence-- even though for years she couldn't cross the street. But what was the color?

The Double Bubble lasted for months.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

To and Fro

Return to the beginning
Look for the pattern
The spiral that defines
the I that is me

Saturday, August 06, 2016

A Little Rain After a Dry Spell

Sweet rain,
the taste of marigolds
and grasses spreading
across swaths of land
I listen to leaves inhaling
the colors of spreading rain
as a dark eyed junco preens
at his reflection in a puddle

Friday, August 05, 2016

A Different Genre

Is it possible? Can we inhabit simultaneous worlds? Yes, I'm reading a sci-fi book. One world construct is of what is and the other worlds are what might have been if when presented with an option you decided on a different path. A rather intriguing what if conundrum.

How many twists and turns, how many dead ends.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

What is the Context?

only half a message
coded, not the whole
story, leaving the
listener to figure out
what is omitted
a cryptographer
of the ordinary

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Parsha Mattot/Massei

       Numbers  30:2-36-13

They stop forty-two times
in the wilderness
How many times did they listen
How many times did they rest
in the promise, how many times
did they bicker and argue
How many times did they
want to return to the familiar
I,too, journey
with stops along the way
Paths meander,
 burrs attach to my socks
brambles scratch my arms
the sun warms my bones,
the ocean sings
and grace appears unannounced

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

A Summer Read

I am delighted with my stash of books-- moving from one to another. Seeping myself in two quasi spiritual memoirs-- one untangling the grammar of Hebrew over the family dinner table, the other a theological journey of a noted Christian writer. 

A quirky fiction book, a philosophical foray into Numbers, a book about learning the art of organization and I am pleased. Pleased to jump about, dipping into so many words.

How do you tell your own story? Perhaps my star is hitched to a cosy mystery rather than a more sublime tale. 

Monday, August 01, 2016

A Carthartic Experience

go into the wilderness
to scrub out the troubled places,
to keep talking until the scales
disappear and the conversation
continues on the back porch