Saturday, June 30, 2018

Citing the Bible

       The tent of our forefather Abraham
       had four doors, so anyone could enter;
       no matter where he came from.
                  —Rhoda Lerman

In Genesis 18, we find Abraham sitting in front of his tent, which  tradition tells us was open on all sides so  that he could welcome strangers coming from any direction.
      — Howard Schwartz

today we held signs, listened to speakers, marched, applauded those who urged us to implore our government to unite children separated from their parents at the border

in a small town a crowd gathered around a bandstand and listened
some sat on the grass, most stood, and a few brought lawn chairs
handmade signs
a few flags
some buttons
a psychologist spoke about separation anxiety facing those children

a little girl with a floppy pink hat sat on the grass playing with a toy —unaware that there were people all over this country gathered, unaware of why they held handmade signs or listened to speakers

then the little girl with the floppy pink hat stood up, turned around and for a fleeting moment didn’t spot her mother

the speaker continued speaking, but over her voice we heard a small child’s voice— mommy, mommy, mommy—

Friday, June 29, 2018

Standing at Schoodic Point

ocean waves gather
open up
and then retreat and begin again

I listen to the ocean’s
crescendo, sweep
of melody
a hymn in unison
to Creation

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Rainy Day Has It’s Own Tempo

a rainy day requires planning, creativity,  rain gear, and a willingness to go with the proverbial flow which is what we did today— starting with gearing up with umbrellas, hiking boots, rain coats and a quasi plan which was open to alterations on the fly

we walked when the rain was merely a drizzle
stopped in a tea shop and bought some tea

to say that a good part of the day involved eating and purchasing is not an understatement, but how could we consider a trip to acadia without a pita filled with endamame , garbanzo beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, carrots, avocados, swiss cheese for lunch and an afternoon mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt

eat-a—pita  is located thirty minutes away and we drove there in a decent but not pelting rain

walking from the car to our pita meant drowning in a deluge that left puddles inches deep and ten year old raincoats unable to ward off the raindrops

my socks dried in the car
dorothy’s raincoat was declared a disaster

we discovered a store with a small cache of books that rivaled any selection seen in larger stores
 each book was intriguing, well written—and became an addition to a list of want to reads
according to the owner she alone selected each book which elicited a list of unasked questions:
 did she read all these books
did she refer to reviews for some selections
did she have a list of criteria for her selection
the owner did not appear as someone who would welcome intrusive questions about her book reading habits so i merely noted that her selections were wonderful and she politely said “thank you”

 it was a store that catered to quirky likes
whimsical art postcards
small ceramic vases with no particular purpose save aesthetic delight
notebooks for people who love good paper

we found a spot facing the ocean and read while surrounded by maine’s ethereal mist
when it stopped raining long enough to walk we walked

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

An Open Shell Remains

To eat a lobster
small feelers, claws, body, and tail—
is pure ecstasy

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Walk Around Jordan Pond

Birch trees hanging over the water
Trees felled by beavers
Beaver teeth markings
A band of green water
Darker water beyond the green
Pond water flowing around rocks
Clear water flowing over rocks
A place to sit and eat a bar
Shadows across the path
Sun spots flashing on the open water
Unidentified Bird sounds
Paths leading up mountains
Four miles

Monday, June 25, 2018

Open a Book

Years ago Cambridge sported a number of bookstores, but over the years the numbers dwindled. I remember used bookstores selling books and old postcards, foreign language bookstores, and one bookstore that sold beautiful art and photography books.

I recall an old house converted into a bookstore in Wellesley. In Sudbury a woman who grew up in China—the daughter of missionaries—converted the downstairs of her house into a bookstore. If you purchased a book she noted the date, book name, your name, and cost in a large ledger. Her cash register was a tin box and the license on her car said: BOOKS  I. I don’t recall her name, but I know she introduced me to  Peter Elbow’s writing theories.

Today we drove down to one of my favorite bookstores—Bluehills Bookstore. It , too, is located in a renovated house. The owner has one of the best non-fiction sections. Because the space is limited each book carries its own weight.

I always purchase a book and write down a list of must reads.

Here’s my list:

Feel Free  by Zadie Smith

Black ink  edited by Stephanie Stokes Oliver

What are You Doing Here by Marilynne Robinson

A History of  the World in 6 Glasses  by Tom Standage


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Open Waters

I sit on the rocks
and watch the ocean wander
toward the shoreline

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Steamed into Perfection

A lobster is a work of art, multifaceted, talented, and tasty. As soon as I crack open the shell and glimpse the meat —I know that I am about to partake in the most delectable culinary delight.

Friday, June 22, 2018

We All Stand Under the Same Umbrella

I hold words in my palm,
place them down—
Grass beneath my feet, wind
at my back, gusts and breezes
A rain water shower,   oceans, rivers,
 streams, puddles—
Naming cloud shapes, vines and weeds,
wild flowers, mountain tops,
mesas and rolling hills
Spirit filled, an open book
An invitation to stand in awe

Thursday, June 21, 2018


I love vacations, abhor all the getting ready beforehand. Each summer I promise to cut down my must bring list and each time I pack —-all my good intentions disappear beneath that If. If it’s cold or too hot. If it rains and rains and I left my rain pants home. If. If.If.

How many polo shirts— long sleeve, short sleeve, sweatshirt, jacket— lightweight or heavy.

Camera. How many lenses, tripod, filters? Sketch book, water color pencils, small water color tin, water brush, ink pens, eraser. Small container for water.

Books. Kindle. iPad, iPhone, extra glasses, on and on.

Not too many books, but enough. Mystery or serious?

And lest I forget all the chargers. Ah— I recall when I brought a pencil, pen, journal — all cordless.

One new item. I purchased a car seat so that I can see over the steering wheel.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Stand Up and Be Counted

Until we all stand in solidarity with the oppressed we lose our humanity, an open and just homeland, and our walk with God

Some people in this country have sold their souls for a pittance— and follow a demagogue who beguiles them with tawdry tricks and blatant lies

Meanwhile protections are being dismantled, the rich line their pockets, racism is alive and well, and recently we have a policy that is blatantly cruel toward families who are seeking asylum in this country

No one with a modicum of decency can condone a policy that separates children from their parents. We’ve done this before.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

An Open Engagement

The past is over
Only the replay remains
as a reminder

Monday, June 18, 2018


 I spotted the Slurpee advertisement at  7-Eleven and catapulted back to the early 70s. Summer time in Maryland — high humidity and torrid temperatures and blue slurpees. Sugar sweet frozen ice in a cup— collectible cups.

My last Slurpee was bought on the way to Hope college in Michigan. We— my next door neighbor found a three day poetry workshop and it didn’t take any convincing for me to sign on.

It probably seemed odd for two women to drive so far for a three day workshop that only met for two hours each day. But we knew the instructor who had been a neighbor for several years.

What did I learn those three days? Good diction is only one part of a poem. You need to lay bare the emotional truth. No one teaches you how to mine that truth, how to stay open and receptive.

In three days I learned that my poetry stopped before moving to the edge, that a blue Slurpee turns to liquid in a hot non-air conditioned car, and that Lake Michigan looks like the ocean.

I never had another Slurpee. I rewrote a number of poems and discovered that seeking the emotional truth in a poem can be both exhilarating and a bit akin to walking on a tightrope.

I spent two afternoons by myself — walking on the beach, sketching,  writing, and wondering about the poems we choose to write and the ones we choose not to write.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Psalm 119

             The world is created by the letters
              and answered  by the sounds.
                           — Rabbi Fetner
                Epigram in God’s Ear by Rhoda Lerman


        It began with a breath,
words to create—
a yin and yang,
hot and cold,
hard and soft,
 then opposites
reconciled with words,
edges filed until smooth


        Up ahead a door, a gate—
open and enter,
 ride the merry-go-round,
grasp the brass ring,
connect to the universe,
to creation


      Struggle with  possibilities,
depths and heights
Your soul uncovers
the good in creation
even if you stumble


     Seek the spark hidden
buried beneath rubble
contained in a cupped hand—
waiting for your spirit


     Dive into  water
let the flow
meld into your heart
It is the spark within your body,
a symbol from creation,
 a mark—a tattoo


     Use your eyes to see clearly,
speak of what you see,
use words with care
life resides
within each syllable
Be a lover whose words
caress the beloved


      Unwrap the ordinary
to find the kernel,
to seek holiness,
to flow with the spirit,
transformed and new,
to unearth the tree of life


    It begins with bereishit,
in the beginning
The final letter a tav,
a symbol of completion—
the last letter of the alphabet

Yet begin again from the first word—
an invitation
to stand again at Sinai

Saturday, June 16, 2018

An Open Explanation

If you attend too many art openings on the same day 
if you eat too many squares of cheese and too many chips
if you drink a glass of wine that is less than stellar 
if you share a vegetable and shrimp quesadilla
then it is possible that you may confuse

what is art and what is simply artful

Friday, June 15, 2018

Home Grown Tyrant

No more lies
no more fibs
no more prevarication
no more pointing a finger
at someone else
wear the hat
of who you are
be open
and accept the title

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Be Part of the Revolt

Don’t let age slow you down
You still got fire and your words
 burn hot spots and pivot heads
This is no time to sit down and say
let those who can hoist weights
and run round and round
carry the placards, stand in front
of storefronts, yell and carry on
demanding change—This is everyone’s
battle. If your stomach churns and bile
rumbles then you need to add your words,
stand your stance and take your place
If we don’t take part, if we don’t join
then all that marching, all those songs,
everything we stood for turns to stone—
a shabby reminder of long gone protests
and dreams of a just place to live
where people had each other’s backs,
where people weren’t squeezed by big business,
where you told your truth loud and clear
where you called a lie a lie
where the color of your skin
or how you worshipped didn’t matter
Join the swell— we still have voices,
still have pens— and we know history,
we know how dark it can get
Be the candle, strike a match
Be open to a revolution

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Tottering Between Cliffs

when i read a mystery the outside world retreats and my mind enters another dimension where clues and shifty alibis take precedent over real life dramas swirling around outside

when i read poetry metaphors become arabian carpets and transform and open the mundane into revelance

when i read non-fiction, facts envelope me, my shawl of stories, my sense of the universe

when i read the newspapers i fall down a rabbit hole even as i attempt to grasp some shaft of light

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Disconnect

open the good book
and read about how we are
to treat the stranger


look at the pictures
of children  torn away from
their parents and cry

Monday, June 11, 2018

Emotional Truths

it’s inevitable — things disappear, sometimes replaced but often either allowed to decay or altered so that whatever was there originally morphs into something different —until the old is eradicated

last year the tree in front of our house refused to grow leaves, the bark hung off the trunk and a slight kick left gaping holes indicating a dead tree—a tree that might topple under the assault of a good wind and send its long legged limbs across the road or onto a roof— with that in mind the town concluding that waiting for buds was fruitless and they sent a squad of  people to take down the dead tree

all that is left is a short stump which might be good for use as a sitting stool save for the fact that it is at an angle leaving the individual in a precarious position and asking over and over whether there is a possibility of falling off one’s perch

there’s an old building in town that was a furniture store for almost one hundred years but they closed before reaching that milestone which , in my judgement, is unfortunate because had they made it i expect the town might have come up with a celebration or at least a story in the local paper

stores replace one another, often at a fast clip— a leather shop that specialized in hand made leather belts became a printing store with a consignment shop and that became an upscale coffee shop run by a husband and wife who eventually split, but not before selling gallons and gallons of homemade gazpacho every summer

 consignment shops come and go as do stores selling used furniture and antiques of dubious vintage

the store that advertised a chance to take part in a coven retrofitted itself and became a store that sells harry potter wands —the proprietor offers to open your eyes to magic

i heard a writer say that the poet strives to find the emotional truth of the poem

this isn’t a poem not even a prose poem but if it is to be worthy it too must ramble toward some emotional conclusion

here goes—everything that disappears leaves an indelible shadow in someone’s memory

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Gay Pride Day

We wore colored beads
and T-shirts with slogans
We bought buttons
and waved pride flags
We marched and chanted
and took photos of drag queens
and waved to the crowds
We listened to speeches
and bought cold drinks,
signed petitions
and looked for friends

Now we wonder where
to park the car
and if it will be too hot
or if it will rain
We’ve traded the parade
for a party where the hostess
grills steak tips and we eat
salads, deviled eggs, and dips
Where we wait for desert
and drink our wine
and share conversation
about summer vacations
We still wear the rainbow  beads

Friday, June 08, 2018

And Black Shiny Shoes

It’s never to late to own
a black tuxedo
Someday I’ll own one
with all the accouterments
I’ll  ride in a Hansom Cab
though Central Park—
throw open the door
and shout—
Come see my black tuxedo

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Back Then

My hair is too flimsy, too flyaway
to get one of those butch haircuts—
tight to your head and shaved real close
When my hair was full I told the hairdresser,
to cut my hair short and when she finished
 I said, “Can you make it shorter.”
The remedial reading teacher thought
I was brave— I can almost see your scalp—
I pushed the  boundaries ,tiptoeing
up against the way things were done
I was open to suggestions

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Bibical Admonition

blatant lies pander
to those who refuse to see
beyond us and them

they close down, refuse
to open up and listen
to the words that heal

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Open Love

we celebrate
low key
no glitter unless
you count reflections
in a rain puddle 
yet the sun shines
even when running
through raindrops
    we celebrate 
with a falafel pita—
a smear of hummus,
vegetables and tahini
         wrapped in tin foil
 settled into a basket
              we drive to a bookstore
 wander the shelves
 books we didn’t know
         we wanted to read
until thumbing through 
and hearing the cadence
   of a writer
         it rains when we leave 
   washing away yellow pollen
        we take a slow way
home to our local ice cream stand—
         over a two flavor frozen yogurt
     we reflect on the years


Monday, June 04, 2018

Stepping Backwards

     Am I Surprised? Am I shocked when the Supreme Court sided with the baker?
    Today a baker stands behind his religious beliefs as a perfectly acceptable reason to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple. A florist awaits his turn to recline in the arms of religion as a basis for refusing to supply flowers for a gay wedding.
     Many years ago I moved from Maryland to the Boston area. When looking for a place to live I mentioned a number of towns to the real estate agent. When I named one particular place he said, “You can’t buy anything in that town. They don’t sell to Jews or blacks.” Of course. It didn’t come as a shock.
     Saturday I attended a graduation party for a young man who recently graduated high school. Not unusual for this time of year. His foster parents are lesbians. He’s a different race than his two foster moms. Guests at the party included straight neighbors, transgendered married people, gay and lesbian couples— some married, some partners. Several babies, one pregnant lesbian. Someone’s mother and sister.The food platters resembled — food platters.
      No one asked —who was going to be eating all that food. No one said I can’t arrange a platter of cold cuts, tubs of potato salad, a plate of cut veggies because I don’t approve of you two being foster parents.
     I don’t understand. But I know that once a crack opens for discrimination some folks will attempt to push that crack until its open so wide that it will be hard to turn back.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

An Open Interpretation

We transform objects
by our desires and our needs
into amulets

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Starting a Diet

I open my notebook
Write down the date,
add a goal and then another
until wishes and possibilities meld
into an amorphous conundrum
of words and realities
Just start by taking small bites
Savor the simple pleasure
of a strawberry, of a naked salad
of a glass of cold water

Friday, June 01, 2018

Open to Interpretation

Two voles chased each other around a tree.
Perhaps they were small mice or even moles.
This distinction between rodents is difficult.