Friday, September 30, 2016

Parsha Ki Tavo

        ...serve the Lord your God joyfully
        and with gladness of heart for the
        abundance of everything
                        Deuteronomy 28: 47

just because we follow
isn't enough, a grumble, a sigh,
a shuffle as we keep the commandments
isn't enough, God  wants more
God desires high stepping,
God desires a heart filled with hallelujahs,
God desires dancing

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Too Late

Oversleep and you miss the start of a day, turn away and forfeit watching the sun set, take a step in the wrong direction and continue until a dead end, forgot to answer a call and the phone number has changed, meant to write a thank you note, heard of someone who needed help and waited too long to help    didn't write a letter
sometimes it’s just too late
too late   time has run out

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In Common Time

grace whispers, calls out
to those who hear
and those who glimpse
the spirit, who feel swathed
in God's embrace

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

After the Debate

How did we get here? This abyss? How do some of our citizens ignore lies, accept uncivil behavior, bigotry, and sarcastic demeaning language? I am saddened, frustrated, and impotent. How do we convince people to listen and think of consequences?

Beware of quicksand. Take a wrong step and the result is disastrous.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Hymn

I walked in silence
around the pond,
 picked up rocks
and built a totem

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Reckless Bet

Normally I abstain from betting, but occasionally I can’t refrain from the possibility of winning. I never bet on anything that may mean the loss of money—in part because I’m not a good loser if it means parting with my money.

Although, I did go to the racetrack twice with my mother. We threw caution to the wind and each put twenty dollars into an envelope, enough to bet on all the races. Reckless was not a word I’d apply to either of us – instead apply the words cautious, restrained, hesitant, and deliberate.

We rarely bet a horse to win, instead chose place or show. Low risk bets. Winning twenty cents was fine. We chose our horses by consulting a racing sheet, but the horse’s name weighed heavily in the final decision. I looked upon the loss of all or most of the twenty dollars as the cost of several hours of entertainment.

Tonight, immersed in several projects, we both lost a sense of the time. Then a voice said, “Want to bet on the time? Whoever gets closer to the real time is the winner. Whoever loses collects the garbage.” Tomorrow is both garbage and trash day.

Because I lose sense of how long I’ve been at something and often am stunned by how much time has elapsed, the sensible response was no, I don’t want to bet.

Because I thought only of winning, of not disturbing myself, I chose to bet.

Because I did not know when I last looked at the time, because we ate a late lunch or early dinner, I floundered and took a stab in the dark, a spin of the wheel, and hoped for a miracle.

Neither Las Vegas or the deity of gamblers rewarded my gambling acumen. I lost by fifty-eight minutes.

I am, if not a good loser, at least someone who pays off debts. Dutifully I emptied each trash container and added the contents to a larger bag. Up went the garage door and out I went with an overstuffed bag—with its sticker. Then I repeated the journey with a large bin filled with glass bottles and plastic containers. ( We are drowning in plastic.)

Back and forth—bags of paper for recycling, checking to see the neighbor’s  bins, and finally inside. Debt paid.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Talking to God

         God is feeding me and I am praying
         for an appetite.
                    Flannery O'Connor

I read your words
listen to what you say
but I don't understand
that I need to ask
for an open space,
a place for you to enter,
to offer me Living water--
to feed me, to scrub
away the calluses
and the undergrowth
before I hear your voice

Thursday, September 22, 2016


What's not to like--
a football game,
a baseball game
on the same night
And if they both win
sublime perfection--
Even without chips,
dips, a green pepper,
onion and pineapple pizza,
and only a peanut bar
for a snack--this is heavenly

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Parsha Ki Tetzei

The Rabbis See a Connection: Teshuvah

      You shall not watch your neighbor's ox
      or sheep straying away and ignore them;
      you shall take them back to the owner. shall do the same with anything
      else that your neighbor loses and you find
                      Deuteronomy 22:1, 4

if you find something
seek the owner
and return what's not yours
if you need to say you're sorry
to someone, if you need to
ask for forgiveness, if you
took what wasn't yours--
then return the relationship
from a rocky shoal to a smooth
place, give back what was taken--
search for the one you discounted,
the one you gossiped about, seek
out the person you ignored, the person
you defamed, or the person you ignored--
return what was taken

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

To Eat or Not to Eat

Perhaps it’s age, or maybe the heat this summer. I’m including today as late summer since the temperature was eighty and the dew point up near seventy. I
know the purists argue that one can’t call late September summer, but it makes me feel as if I am personally holding off the specter of winter.

I can’t be the only one who has lost interest in cooking, although I haven’t lost interest in eating exotic dishes. I think that after cooking a certain number of meals it’s time to time to explore the dishes wrapped in cute containers.

Now I’m not ready to throw away my pots and pans, refuse to read new recipes, eat all my meals out, but I will every once in awhile rant about cooking.

And when you spend time cooking something really good – what happens? It’s quickly finished and you’re back to square one. Maybe the answer may be to photograph your meal, sketch it, write a poem of adoration.

Then again there’s something nice about the aroma of a meal cooking. Isn’t all of life filled with dualities?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Clean off Your Rhetoric

It's that time of year. The time when the weather pundits begin to predict the winter's precipitation. Will it be like last year, scant, or like the year we were buried in snow and ice dams were the topic of conversation? That year people spoke about leaks and waiting for people to clean off their roof.

That year folks spoke of ice the thickness of arctic ice, of icicles with the girth of a grown man's waist. Buried cars, bushes buried for months, parking spaces at a premium...
The Farmers Almanac predicted a mild winter with a blizzard in February.

 It's beginning...

Sunday, September 18, 2016


words create ambiguity
require explanations,definitions
and abrogation


Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Aleph

if you find a quiet knoll,
a meadow filled with wild flowers
sitting rocks and the sibilant sound
of water singing an ancient melody,
if you hear voices sing hymns
and words bearing praise
on uplifted hands,
if you rest your eyes on another's eyes
listen to the silent voices,
then you will hear prayer
on the earth's breath

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Gardener

Today is National Avocado Day. I gave up trying to grow an avocado tree fifteen years ago. According to a friend --all one had to do was identify the bottom of the pit (seed), pierce the skin with four toothpicks, and submerge the bottom in a jar of water. The toothpicks rest on the rim of the jar and prevent the top of the avocado from becoming water logged. Then change the water every day to prevent any fungus or mold.

" Use a clear glass so you can see the roots grow."

More directions followed, but my roots never appeared. Maybe I submerged the wrong end in the water, maybe I had a dud pit. My taproot never appeared, leaves never grew, I never reached the point of potting my tree in soil and watching it gain stature.

Maybe I'll try bulbs this year. There is one problem-- you need to know which end faces up.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Happy Birthday

what do you like
do you prefer the beach
or maybe a lake
do you climb mountains,cycle,
or are you a runner
do you have a favorite color,
a movie, a song, perhaps a poem
i like mixed berry scones, frozen
yogurt, and fresh corn picked that day,
lobsters straight from the ocean,
apples from orchards nearby,
i still write every day-- but no longer
on a typewriter with a rotating ball

imagine me sitting at my desk
facing the window, i'm in the room
i called the Virginia Wolff room,
i'm writing a birthday poem
to go with a gift i knew you wanted
i no longer know you, but still
wish you a happy birthday
i celebrated with a scone
and dinner out
i hope you celebrated with friends,
laughter, and many wishes
happy birthday
i love you

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Let’s talk about the drought
Let’s talk about the floods
Let’s talk about climate change
Let’s talk about clean water
Let’s talk about pollution
Enough trash talk

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Parsha Shoftim

Words to Leaders

"Tzedek, tzedek Tirdof"
Justice, justice shall you pursue
Deuteronomy 16:20

and don't forget to be humble
don't be corrupt
leaders need to long after justice
pursue it even if it's elusive
whatever you do don't take bribes,
or have your ego caressed
Know the world of ideas,
gain perspective, listen without
interrupting, be willing to change
Remember that you are engaged
in an act of service

Monday, September 12, 2016

Arthur Shines

while waiting for a long line
of cars to continue a crawl
to a stop light where i'd
wait for a light i spent my
time looking around-- beyond
the narrow confines of car tops
to a panorama of life in this era

an american flag painted on a
large wood panal next to an oversized
sign the size of an eighteen wheeler
and painted on a wide black strip in
well designed cursive: Arthur Murray
and in smaller letters two words I can't read
but figure it says dance studio
and right beneath this - although a bit
of separation- a black sign with white
lettering drawing me like the lighthouse
beacon painted on the left--directly under
Arthur's name, and on the right in large
print the words: Light of Life-- and skip
to the next line to read Church--
and all the while a round yellow sign
rotates with one word visible--Shack

and if you keep your eye moving
to the right a bus inches along,
but no need to hurry because the
front sign reads Not In Service

Sunday, September 11, 2016


          Water flows over these hands
          May I use them skillfully
          as I construct and shape this day
                    Thich Nhat Hahn

I stand at the bathroom sink
and let water run through my fingers,
hold my palms together
and watch while the water fills
and overflows my cupped hands
I taste the water before my day begins,
before my day is shaped

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Baseball Fan

This is nail biting season when all the teams are scrunched up, when every game has meaning, when I take over the manager's role, when I deplore every decision that doesn't work out, when I yell at an unresponsive television, Why did you do that. ?

This is the season I dream of the post season, realize that they won an important game when I wore my red striped shirt and when they lost to a division rival  I drank  a glass of seltzer while listening to the game .

I ponder important questions: will the karma change if I wash the red striped shirt?

I don't take chances. The shirt will not be washed-- just aired out.

I resort to crossing my fingers.

Thursday, September 08, 2016


it is late
too late to begin another book
too early to check tomorrow's weather
it is late
too late to eat something heavy
but too early to forego any snacks
It is late
later than I think
since tomorrow comes too soon

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


Coming home from a ten day vacation means reading through my  mail--accumulated at the post office. When I picked up our mail I stashed it in a large cotton grocery bag usually reserved for food. The post office no longer supplies a rubber band to hold the mail together or a plastic bag.

At home we divided the mail into stacks-- mine, yours, and the ubiquitous junk mail. Why does the Boston Globe keep sending me letters to renew my subscription? After I received the fifth letter I began to count-- today I received the thirty-first letter. Don't they know I have a digital subscription? We parted company when their delivery prices went up and the newspaper never arrived until I had finished breakfast-- and sometimes it didn't arrive.

AARP believes that if they keep bombarding me with life insurance I'll bite the bullet and purchase a plan. I received three applications-- no physical necessary.

Then there are the books filled with coupons-- if I spend thirty dollars I'll receive a free dessert. If I plan to put siding on my house I can get a discount and pool cleaning prices are slashed in September. The only pool I've ever owned required an air pump.

After sifting through the pile I was left with a thin pile of envelopes-- no personal letters. Only a few people send letters.

Yes, I did purchase a subscription to the Times Literary Supplement. Twelve dollars was a bargain.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

A State of Grace

A heavy fog settled over rocks
and erased the clear lines of fir trees
The ocean rankled by a storm
 pitted waves swollen with energy
against granite sea sculptures--
White foam spread out on the shoreline
and inched its way over rounded cobblestones
We sat on low chairs and watched in awe

Monday, September 05, 2016

Parsha Re' eh

        ...thou shall open thine hand
         wide unto thy brother, to thy
         poor, and to the needy, in thy land.
                 Deuteronomy 16:11

that means a wage that puts food
on the table, a place to live that's
clean and warm and safe
that means a bed and food for those
who have nothing but a cardboard sign
and help for those who can work
and a place for those who can't work,
who lost their way and sleep on city
streets and carry all they own in bags,
that means having medical care
and a mouthful of teeth instead of gaps
that means providing training and education
that means warm coats and decent food
that means looking at the haves and asking
hard questions about how much is too much
that means looking to your right, to your left,
in front, behind you, and knowing that
we're all brothers and sisters
and the Lord is saying stand up for family

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Listen With Your Heart

Listening is hard,
I want to interrupt
to change the words
alter the outcome
Just listening without
trying to make it better
just listening to the words
and the life behind the words
is hard, hard as tempered glass
Listening is hard, loose words are easy

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Dinner in the Sunlight

The angle changed
and a shaft of sunlight
caught the edge of glass
splintering it into bright shards
I lost boundaries and drifted into
a maze of burning stars

Friday, September 02, 2016

Sketching an Ocean View

This view I'm trying to capture
in pen and ink eludes me, just
when my line mimics the ocean's
Jeté entrelacé it falters
Perhaps it's best this way-- 
I watch the water enter this space
 and retreat-- a seductive dance
and I am captivated

Thursday, September 01, 2016


stare at the ocean and
let the sound smooth
the rough places, watch
the repetition of waves
cover and then disrobe
rocks, and if you move
close enough
catch droplets--
taste salt