Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Taste of Poetry

     Tomorrow — a confluence of events. Easter Sunday and the beginning of poetry month. Perhaps that sounds like an unlikely  pairing, but both are joyous, filled with hope and expectations. The day promises to be sunny. Our tulips have pushed their way through the winter ground, our snow has melted, and spring anxiously awaits backstage to dance. 
     Thousands of gardeners read seed catalogues and garden shops begin to open. 
     And thousands of poets welcome this celebration of poets and poetry. 
     And for the fifth year I’ll take part in the month long poetry challenge— a prompt a day. 

Psalm 96:1-2 “Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.”

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Confluence

Because deciding between a Good Friday service
and a first night Seder was too hard 
I went out for dinner with friends
Because I recall my grandparent’s Seder 
and the Manischwitz stained Haggadahs, 
pouring a drop of wine for each plague,
where all the children asked the Four Questions,
and my cousin Bobby who died too early
always found the matzah
I missed the celebration and the story
Because I agreed to host a small Seder 
the second night  I would celebrate
Easter Sunday at church
Because I remember a sunrise service
in West Virginia with a mountain background
Because I still hear the voices echoing
around and over mountain peaks
I will celebrate this Sunday
and cook someone’s mother’s brisket
for our small Seder Saturday 
We will read a shortened Haggadah 
and think of ourselves as being there 
It is our story to tell and retell,
to ask what narrow place we need
to move through this year
We will eat Matzah with horseradish
and drink sparkling white grape juice
We will recite the plagues of today
Then on Sunday I will add 
another celebration and remember how
Jesus once celebrated the story
of the Exodus from Egypt 

Thursday, March 29, 2018


I’m impatient while waiting
for letters to arrive from strangers
Didn’t I take part in the letter writing month
I wrote to twelve people I never met
Selecting each one— geography,
hobbies, outrageous ideas—
I never traveled to South Dakota,
only put two feet in Montana,
thought that Western Australia sounded
remote, thought that a woman who
chose seventy new things to do 
to celebrate her 70th year 
was close to my inner self, although
my selections would be tamer
I travel down the Amazon on an adventure 
bound in a book, or run a marathon
in relentless heat while wearing sneakers
and drinking a banana - strawberry smoothie
I wait to hear from the woman who
puts up jam and I never grew a grape
but I can tell her how I walk past a sign
telling of the first planting of Concord Grapes
And to the woman who leads a Bible study
I will tell her about Bible journaling
and the study I’m taking and how
the leader parses words bleaching meaning
And to the woman who takes photographs 
of the canyons in the Southwest I will tell her
how when I hiked that orange and red landscape
I swallowed the colors and carry them within
Each day I open the mailbox and hope that
someone sent a return letter 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


when you approach a crossroad
look both ways, spread it out
and smooth down the edges
careful not to disturb crisscross lines—
when you look back will you wonder
about those lines and possibilities
later on more lines, more open paths
and each time another place
to set your feet and keep moving
don’t stop— what’s behind 
stands as nostalgia or memory

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Uncertain

You never know what
hides beneath a rock
or what’s beyond a bend
in the road or when you
wanted the moment before
when a decision was possible
You never know what misplaced
word sets off a torrent of  events
into a spiral that tilts your life
when you open your window
You never know with certainty
 what is outside 

Monday, March 26, 2018

An Open Moment

Cherita sits in her motorized wheelchair, an attendant at her side. Her limbs contorted and only guttural sounds for speech. When we sing she often makes a deep throated sound that is unlike any speech sound. Sunday BrIan walked down the aisle to his preferred seat. Brian who is shorter than my five feet, whose speech is hard to understand, who is limited in his understanding and who says the same thing every week when he speaks about his concerns and his thanks—stopped in front of her chair. They know each other from the Sunday Fellowship group— a gathering of individuals with developmental delays. 

Brian brushed his hand gently over Cherita’s hair and kissed her on the forehead. A gentle kiss, a soft touch. He smiled and continued to his seat. 

Other people often hold her hand when they walk past her wheelchair, but the tenderness of Brian’s kiss was a witness to this season.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

And Then I Said...

    We encounter each other in words...
          —Elizabeth Alexander

syllables shouted in syncopated beats
short words answering  questions
words — elongated snakes across a page
sirens with high pitched voices
words —like kettle drums 
the gossip of words
we open ourselves in words
we hide words, retrieve them, taste them
let them be,  exchange them with others
twist them into knots
wear them as ornaments or amulets
savor their delicacy in love

Saturday, March 24, 2018


today thousands, hundreds of thousands, marched, walked, rode, to take a stand
today our young people stood up and marched, walked, rode, to say no more
when did our schools become places that no longer felt safe.
i read of a middle school student who wrote his last will while his school was on lockdown
when did that become something we no longer reacted to with shock
why do we read about schools being places where students die
why do we hear of too many young people killed in our urban cities
why do we allow guns that are war weapons
why do we permit almost anyone to own a gun
how can we tolerate yet another prayer instead of action
how can we bow another head when someone is digging another grave
what are people who say they believe the bible reading
when will our politicians stop being puppets 
Young people led the way this day
Will we follow
Will we be open to their message

Friday, March 23, 2018

Those Old Hymns

give me those old time hymns
the kind that makes you move
raise your arms, stomp your feet
and listen to the preacher
who looks down at his open bible
and knows he’s there to save souls—
back in the day i heard the word 
of a radio preacher who sold
prayer rugs, small pieces of cloth,
relics he prayed over 
always wanted to buy one
but bought a recorder instead
and tried to learn to play
old time hymns 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Of Language

if i went back in time
beyond my generation
and the one before my
grandparents stepped
on ellis island to the 
old country with different
languages and a clock set
hours earlier i’d look for
the town they called home
and walk through the streets
past open markets
along the pathways to learn
the  past that remains 
within my bones when I
use my finger to trace
the  shapes of countries 
where my ancestors
lived in shetels
and spoke yiddish 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

To Open Your Heart

     A book must be the axe 
     for the frozen sea inside us.
     —Frank Kafka

the author creates a world, 
peoples it, writes in conflicts,
sets up scenerios, clothes them— 
this fictive character who only 
exists on paper permits you
to grieve, to finger loss, to cry,
to ask forgiveness for what
you discover between the 
covers of a book 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


I listened to a teacher
 weave scripture, building
 bridges between stories
 Meanings embedded in 
Hebrew, lost in English
until unpacked — old stories
seen through new lenses
Am I too old to learn
 the shape of the aleph,
the sounds of letters, the grammar
of an old language, the roots
within the words
Am I too old to decipher 
this vocabulary


Monday, March 19, 2018

Savor the Now

we just have moments
 each moment adds
itself to the last moment
until a memory is cast—
take care and savor 
what is present
rather than looking
ahead and tripping over now—
open up to hear the sound
of silence, the nuances of silence
open up to hear the wind song
learn how a breeze sings
or how  zephyr wind whispers—
by tomorrow today’s moments
can’t be replayed if you 
ran ahead

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Memorial Service

this weather turns against itself
thinking that spring denies its place
it returns to winter’s cold
but the sun knows better, changes
slant and pushes through  
opens to solace and warmth—
so too at yesterday’s service
for a young man whose life ended
too soon and too tragically
people spoke of his goodness,
of conversations, of his love 
for his daughter, of cooking pizza
from scratch with neighborhood children—
as each one spoke 
light was added to the darkness 

Saturday, March 17, 2018


to create unity out of our uniqueness is the rub
to meld diversity into the one without losing anyone
not to bend each person into one mold
to bond together with common needs
and watch each other’s back is at stake 
to learn how twelve separate tribes
become one unity, one hebrew people—
one rabbi suggests that when they
built the tabernacle, the tent of meeting
each individual gave a piece, one gave 
cloth, one thread, one his strength, another
her gold, her metal work, embroidery
one knew how to dye cloth, another how to weave
it was, the rabbi said, that work blended them
Into a nation, into a people
God gave instructions—
to open hearts
and all the people did the work 
and twelve tribes became one 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Be Ooen to Redemption

kindness extends beyond
a word, a gesture, a look—
it repairs the world

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sleep Directions

On a night when sleep
eludes you and you
hold one position hoping
that when sleep returns
you’re ready—when 
you have completed
counting sheep, imploring
Hypnos to intervene, tried
deep breathing, and arrive 
in the morning convinced
you waited all night
and sleep passed you by
it is time to try other means
Don’t eat hand dipped chocolates,
jelly donuts, licorice laces, raw apples,
cannolis, pizza topped with sausage
and pepperoni, avoid champagne,
hard liquor, mixed drinks, church punch,
Ice cream, yogurt, butterscotch toppings,
avoid snacks and comfort foods
Avoid ooen newspapers
Watch cooking shows
Do not watch any national news
It’s been know to cause heartburn 
And Sleep Deprivation

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lines to Remember

    Circular. Often events follow a path, circuitous perhaps, and then come back to their beginning root. To begin—I listened to an interview with the poet and prose writer David Whyte.        Because he was interesting I went to the library and borrowed two of his books— the only two that were immediately available—neither one a poetry book.
    Within the first ten pages of one book Whyte quotes Peter Levi. Years ago I bought one of Levi’s books because a friend suggested his poetry. Levi was a Jesuit priest, an archeologist, a poet, a reviewer, a translator, a writer of prose, and eventually an ex- priest. 
    I no longer have the book and haven’t read his poems in years, but there’s an attraction because there was a connection to a complicated friendship. 
    When I read his lines about a winter morning I return to many winter mornings.
     I return to other places and earlier days. As a child I climbed a snow mound and thought myself intrepid. As a young mother I sat with a child on a sled and sped down a hill between two houses. As a young woman discovering who she was I walked with another in the falling snow and spoke of discovering the world anew. As a woman who loved being with women I camped out in a cabin, walked in the new snow, and spoke about being open.
    Just reading Peter Levi’s name and then these lines...I return to a maple table in a kitchen and three women sharing poems. I return to one woman singing poetry. I return to the first time I hear Peter Levi’s name.
 On winter days when the late-rising sun
   eases the grass under the painful walls,
 I feel it down to the roots of my bones:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Nor’easter Opens Up

The universe is showing off
twisting and turning
in her white tutu
She performs a plié,
leaving footprints 
on foot deep snow—
Then the wind careens, keens
 and rearranges drifts 
into mounds and hoodoos
Steps lose their contour 
Trees wear white garments
Fir trees shimmy from under
a  snow poncho
Each snowflake unique
in its long journey here

Monday, March 12, 2018

I Believe

Take two divergent points
and merge, finding one tucked
inside the other as if one birthed
the other and in the overlap
what is discordant finds peace
That which appears incompatible
when viewed through another
lens shapes into a stepping-stone,
a place to walk toward the other
Let us meet in that convergence
where an assemblage of faiths
open up to one another
and hear the other

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Idle Thoughts

     My team lost by two points. My diet seems doomed by snacks—chocolate candies in particular. Another significant snow storm heads this way possibly bringing twelve or more inches of snow. Scones were sold out— even the ones I wouldn’t buy. The library consortium doesn’t carry the book I’m seeking. Why didn’t Lot’s wife keep her eyes straight ahead?
     Why is it so hard to take advantage of open openings? The word or phrase that begins a conversation needs a responding word, a touch needs a reply. 
     Questions don’t always have answers, but it’s necessary to keep asking. Why didn’t my team score that last Hail Mary basket? Why didn’t I buy those chocolate covered pieces of ginger? Why didn’t I go earlier to purchase a scone? Why don’t I take out a different book? Why don’t I write a midrash to answer the question about Lot’s wife? 

     Why don’t we recognize the open opening as grace? Pass it up, turn it down, refuse to see it— and the lack of sight  may haunt you.