Wednesday, January 31, 2018

By Hand

    who of a certain age has not delighted in reading  the correspondence between well known artists or writers, historical figures or  lovers—handwritten words describe their  thoughts,  hopes, disillusionments 
   it takes time to write a letter and time to read a letter, think about what  to write in response
   i sit beside the letter writer—it is an intimate relationship 
   today I read through a packet of postcards sent to me years ago, the words sent to me years ago— the year my son traveled around the world, a friend who spent  three years in england, friends who traveled for business, a friend who owned a book store
   so I decided to sign up for the february letter writing challenge—some letters will go to friends and some to people we once called pen-pals
   all letters or postcards will be hand written, mailed, or hand delivered
   a letter a day for thirty days— exciting and a chance to open a few letters

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Open Opus

Open your heart
Open up your store of gifts 
Open open open
Be open
Let the words pour out
Create a collage of sound
welcoming everyone
Create a buffet of food
open for whoever hungers
Let the water flow 
from your reservoirs 
Open those storehouses
and invite everyone to enter
and find what they need
Open up
and you will fill up

Monday, January 29, 2018

Open For a Challenge

Eureka. I’ve just discovered  InCoWriMo,  better known as International Correspondence Writing Month— inspired by NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. About ten years ago I took part in NaNoWriMo. The goal— to write a 50,000 page novel during the month of November. Not only are there thousands and thousands of eager participants from every section of the globe, but each area in this country has a cheer leader who encourages, cajoles, and finds locations where you can meet and write. ( if you so desire) I was in the West of Boston group—sometimes the group met at Starbucks and other times at a local library. I chose to write at home— tapping out my allotted word count for that day while munching on some comfort snack.
     At the end of February you submit your mss and word count. If you have attained the lofty goal of 50,000 words a certificate of completion is yours. I did frame, but not hang, my certificate. I expect that most of the novels were as ragged as mine. 
     After you revise your mss there’s a chance to submit it again and one novel is selected for publication. 

     The requirements of InCoWriMo : write a letter or postcard every day during the month of February ( It is a short month.) The letters must be mailed  or hand delivered. Participants may request pen-pals for the month— or longer. 

     The question: To take part or Not to take part. I’m always open for a challenge and I do own some wonderful fountain pens.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

After Seeing a Film About Churchill

           An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, 
           hoping it will eat him last.
        —Winston Churchill 

Looking at past history
through the lens of the present
knowing how the events played out
Judging the participants
based on the chronicle we now know
is the job of historians
and those who stare into the future
hoping to make the right moves
and not tilt the future into
a catastrophe or open up
fissures that widen into crevices 
that swallow up countries

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Open Script

Loose script
Bubble letters
Spinning words
across concrete,
under bridges—
splashed in your face
Politics  in bold fluorescent 
Free wheeling language
out of a spray can
thrown in gaudy colors
in your face, outside boxes 
pushing boundaries
not hemmed in by frames
or clean walls in galleries
saying aloud words heard 
in subways, street corners,
poetry slams—words
formed within sounds
and rhymes and impolite
digressions, honed in internal
dialogues, response to the spin
of newspapers, talking heads—
Tags of artists in fat lines
on dilapidated buildings
worn out places
and walls and alleys 
set aside for graffiti—
Don’t mistake urban wall murals
with graffiti 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Rejoice in the Now

            ...I rejoice having to construct
           something upon which to rejoice

remember those crossroads
remember how you wondered 
which way to go and fretted
about your choice
remember how you started
and stopped and asked
yourself so many questions
you sometimes walked backwards
to where the road forked— 
with too much passed time
those crossroads close,
hidden beneath dense undergrowth
 an open path isn’t visible—
this is the gift earned over time
or the burden 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

After a Visit to the Library

    it’s an enigma, a choice as ponderous as the lion or the tiger— which book to read, where shall i invest my time, what pages will engage my mind and heart, and suppose I select the wrong book, a book that need to be returned in fourteen days , new books with long lines of people pacing and waiting for their chance 
    both are lofty excursions, both have bibical moorings, both dip their ink in ancient questions and ask for patience as they plumb the depths of human life and faith
    shall i read both at the same time and allow characters to shape shift, leave their page to take up residence in another story

   that’s an open question with no definitive answer, no response to my quandary 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Be Open

                               I’m bilingual in faith
                                      —Mary Doria Russell

Select fragments 
that speak to you
Cast aside dogma
that  is too snug
and words that 
scratch and sting
Take a portion of this and
a morsel of that
Shuffle and interweave
Savor the mixture

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

An Open Letter

This was written thirty-five years ago—a few months short of our first anniversary.  I copied it over on our marriage announcement in 2004 when gay marriage became possible in Massachusetts. Now for our thirty-fifth anniversary I am once again printing this poem. 

Of a Little Thing

                                 Wherever you go, I shall go
                                 Wherever you live, I shall live
                                 Your people will be my people
                                  And your God will be my God
                                         Ruth 1:16

We sit at the kitchen table
I with my feet on the chair
You with a napkin full of peanuts
Juice glasses filled with spring water
grow tepid while we talk
“How was your day.?”
And you tell me the latest crisis
while peanut shells pile higher

“How was your day?”
I tell you how cold it was on bus duty
and my plans to keep warm
We plan an ideal outfit:
sheep lined earmuffs,
goose down from neck to ankles,
battery operated socks.
I pour more spring water,
take out a half-done Sunday crossword,
move my chair so we both can see

The erasable pen is easier
than the ink scrawl over ink
I go too fast you say
You sometimes guess, I say
I love you, I say

I know, you say

Monday, January 22, 2018

Shutdown Averted—Government Open

   it is over the haggling has ceased for the moment while each side believes the other side bears responsibility for causing harm for this is the way it is for now and has been for much of history and yet on some occasions someone steps out of the world mold and decrees otherwise
   and so it remains for now 
   someday indeed the lion and the lamb will sit on the same blanket

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sing Hallelujah

           Help me to open my lips
           that I may sing your praise.
                    — Rachel Barenblatt

when the warmth of today’s sun
and the promise of spring
in the midst of winter’s time
spread across my landscape
I gave thanks for the day
                           For the poor will never cease from the land ; 
                          therefore I command you, saying, ‘ You shall
                          open your hand wide to your brother, to your
                           poor and your needy, in your land.’
                                 NKJV 15: 11

   It’s not a plea to open your hand
it’s a command
   And it isn’t a half hearted,
 almost closed
No, splay your fingers
   spread them wide enough
to hold bread, to hold communion
squeezed from fruit in your cut glass bowl
And don’t forget  the first sown wheat
ground into flour, transformed 
into loaves of bread
Spread those hands wide enough to hold
sweet milk, cheese, and chickens
cooked on a spit revolving like the world
This is a command

Saturday, January 20, 2018

How to Begin

                         I thought mostly about myself,
                         and my story, and the need for
                         a story in general...
                               —Meir Shalev

a  story meanders, takes unexpected
shortcuts, stops, and then moves on—
along the way some events leave 
indelible marks, shifts and gorges,
secrets bury themselves until
a knotted string with a buried piece
of a story calls out, seeks a space
that’s open and wide enough to
begin to tell the story that remained
buried under years 
it requires both will and a root
head shovel to dig down and draw out
those buried shards of memory 


Friday, January 19, 2018

Welcome Back

This is a celebratory note
because my local coffee shop is open
after weeks being shuttered
with only a note to say sorry
for the inconvenience
Inconvenient for the elderly man who
walks the half mile for his coffee and paper 
or for the woman who reads her historical novel
along with  toast layered with peanut butter
She comes back for lunch before heading
to the library and working on a jigsaw puzzle
So this is a celebratory note
Now is time to return for a bagel and smoked lox 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

After Hearing a Lie

Distortions, lies, half truths—
bending words to mean
something they aren’t 
Hiding behind someone else
to tell a story slant 
To omit parts of what was said
To add details 
To create chaos
To play with words as if they 
are pliable, wet clay ready
to be stretched into any form
is to create a shuttered world
devoid of a place to open dialogue

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I Am Those Words

I am not an open book
spilling the personal out
in conversations nor am I 
shrouded in mystery
I am in my written words
I am found in quotations—
“ the personal is political”

Yes, I’ll carry that banner

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

An Open Table

If I sit on the rocking chair
lean to one side and tilt my head
I see four scratches 
in the wood floor—
not deep enough to drag
my fingernail through and feel a ridge
but seen in a slant of light—
a reminder of the evening
we needed fifteen place settings
for a family dinner
That night I spoke with one
who had shut off family years ago
and three I only knew by given names
When I sit in the rocking chair
and catch those scratches in the light
I hear their voices 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Love is in the Struggle

                   God wrestling is part struggle
                    and part embrace.
                            —Naomi M. Hyman

It’s that way with families
sometimes you just need to argue
about who left the light on all night
or who left an empty milk container
in the refrigerator or who didn’t fill
the car with gas when you needed
 to get out at the crack of light
or who is the family favorite
or the black sheep 
or who is more attentive—
more responsible 
And then you laugh 
Plan next year’s family events
Share stories
But sometimes things break apart
and the stories clash—
remembered events differ 
and words are left unsaid
and what was open closes
Open close
Open close
Back and forth
a kaleidoscope
of changing pieces and scenes
The rift may hover—
 struggle, embrace
struggle, embrace
Or we may settle 
on one side
of that equation