Sunday, September 30, 2018

To Begin Again

        “The final letter of the Torah is lamed,
         and the first is bet. Together, they form 
         the Hebrew word lev—heart.”

 After the final word,
 the last letter,
we turn
to the first word—
and begin with creation
Familiar words
veer into uncharted places 
A different slant,
life intrudes
meanings change,
another perspective— 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Words to the One Nominated

Just because you teethed 
on a silver spoon
Attended prestigious schools
Lived in a neighborhood
with covenants of exclusion
No blacks, no Jews
belonged to your clubs
Just because you thought
it is your right to claim
the prize doesn’t mean
it belongs to you. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Day After

Perhaps it’s a family feud
Perhaps listening is possible 
Perhaps lies will shrivel up
and the story will be told
Perhaps elitism will shrivel up
and lies will be uncovered
Perhaps blue suited white men
with preconceived ideas
will learn to bend

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Because I made a mistake and arrived at the dentist—for a crown—an hour early, I spent the time in my car ( at the library) listening to the senate committee hearings. Three women had accused the nominee for the Supreme Court of sexual inappropriate behavior. So there I sat in my car riveted to the testimony of one of the women. To really listen and hear the anguish thirty years later —as if it happened only yesterday —underscored how this type of trauma remains etched into survivors. 

By the afternoon the accused, the nominee for our Supreme Court, took his seat and presented his version, his denial of attending the specific party, his denial of ever being involved in any sexually inappropriate behavior. He was angry, cried, made himself out to be the victim, and blamed everything on the other political party — the “left”. It was, according to him, a ploy, a plot, to discredit him employed by the other side. I hoped that those senators who are on the fence will think carefully before committing their vote to this man. 

Our country is so divided, so crass at this moment in history. There are those who believe that they have the right to impose their religious views on the country. Those views disrupt the lives of others, cause emotional harm, remove protections for some citizens. Because some people are so focused on abortion they are willing to accept any behavior, any deceit, lies, lying to chip away at the right for a woman to choose. They turn their backs on sexual accusations if the person accused is in a position to further their agenda.That agenda includes erasing any equality for gays and lesbians, transgendered and non binary Americans. 

Faust is alive and well. Too many Americans have bedded down with the devil. 

I still hope that there are senators out there who listened, really listened yesterday. If they even have a single doubt about the veracity of the nominee’s words, if they even had a single moment when they believed the testimony of the accuser then don’t vote to put this man on the Supreme Court. 

More is at stake here then a life time job on the highest court of our country. This may be one of the most significant votes— 

This is not the time to be partisan, not the time to worry about yourself. This is the time to put the brakes on the slide this country has taken into narrowness, mean spiritedness, and cruelty. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Book Discussion

What does it mean?
 Is that a metaphor?
Do we suspend disbelief? 
How about the ending— 
did it work?
 Did the author earn the ending? 
Dig deep.
The author does not
tell you where they
started out, their home.
The geography
of place
does not need a name.
I am from six trees
surrounded by cement,
from fire escapes
and subway cars
where the smell of sweat
can’t be hidden on hot days
I am from knowing how
to fold the newspaper
from a butcher shop
with sawdust on the floor
I am from the candy store
that sold the Yiddish paper
and a grandmother who cut
out stories and saved them
in a box in her closet
I am from three rooms
and windows with chains
I am from study hard
and read books
from different shelves 
in the library.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Creation

Only ask questions
that move beyond an answer
that requires no thought

Monday, September 24, 2018

Walking Around Walden Pond

Today I met a heron high stepping along the water’s edge. We stared at one another—across a distance of four feet. Fortunately I had left my IPhone in the car. Usually, I took the phone with me on Monday mornings when I walked with the meditation group— but not today.

Instead of staring at a screen, I looked at the heron. Is it my imagination or did the heron also engage me. We both appeared to check each other out. I observed her leg movements and she watched me almost stumble over a root. Her posture, when erect, was far straighter. I slumped a bit with the cold. 

We didn’t share any words, but I believe she probably understood that my walk around the pond was both meditative and done in silence. 

She was all grace. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Coming Soon

Our driveway received a second coat of a black thick tar-like substance that promises to keep away cracks, fissures, blemishes — when winter snow and winter’s salt do their job. The weeds are dying. The flowers, what is left, sag— but the lavender keeps sending out purple shoots. They refuse to believe the reports that we are moving away from summer.

I wonder how many more games of golf before we quit and say it is too cold. One year friends played until the first snow. Is this the year we play into November? I doubt it, but you never know.

I’m accumulating my winter list of books, of art classes, of new recipes. Yes, I collect recipes — but they often don’t reach the stove.

Then there are the daydreams of autumn— some plausible and others in the realm of fiction. But one can always inhabit fiction.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Love Affair

This afternoon I walked around town and snapped some photos . We are not a buttoned up, uptight community. Pride flags hang from a number of houses, signs urging people to support transgendered rights share space with evergreens in front yards.

Our restaurants are diverse like the population— Mexican, Indian, Korean, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese— yes there’s also a pub serving up burgers and beer. 

In the middle of town what was once a hardware store underwent a total facelift and is now a warm inviting community dining space. A weekly dinner and fresh produce and groceries are available for those who are in need. Revolving art displays from the artists who have studios in a space once a school— but now studios for artists add warmth to the room. 

There’s a store where you can wash your dog or leave that to one of the store owners. And there are three consignment shops— one high end, one selling everything from old golf clubs with wood heads to clothes from previous eras, and one store that caters to the unusual.

Not only is there a place you can ride a stationary bike at 2:00 am, but there’s also a fairly large studio where you can learn everything from karate to tai chi— and a recent store offering salt therapy opened during the summer. And we’re talking about a downtown that is really only three blocks. 

Add the requisite nail salon, hair dresser, barber shop, paper store, insurance agency, dentist, massage therapist, yoga teacher and recent upscale food speciality shop to the list. Then there’s our own dollar store, a music store, and a store where you can play games, buy comics, and hang out with people who enjoy fantasy games. 

Best of all we have a small movie theater. Because a particular man of means grew up here and remembered the theater of his youth he bought the theater when it was falling apart. The seats had wires protruding and parts of the ceiling were prone to leaks.

He brought it back to its original look— redid everything and reopened. We get first run movies, art movies, art and independent movies and even have a once a month movie night when  classic movies are shown. And the price is right.

Then we have some quirky stores. I did take several photos of rather bizarre dolls placed as if seated on wood chairs. They were on display outside a store that simply is called Collectables. One creation in particular caught my attention— a three foot doll worthy of a horror movie. 

She offerered a gap toothed smile to anyone stopping to say helllo.

And if you walk a bit further out if the main drag there are two stone lions. 

Friday, September 21, 2018


Quite by accident I happened upon a video of an artist explaining how to create a “ messy journal”. Sixteen minutes later I found myself totally enamored with the process. Of course the first video only showed how to remove all the innards of a book and cover the inside of the hard cover with cotton material. The next video will continue the process— hopefully showcasing the outside cover. 

Not having any hard cover books that I wanted to gut I went to the library where I purchased a one dollar hard covered book. As soon as I purchase some wide masking tape I will proceed to remove the printed pages— the signatures. 

How many books find too few readers and languish on shelves or in stores? How many books see their prices slashed? 

Can I say I am repurposing the book? Suppose I read the words I sever from the spine, underline some thoughts, and save some pages.

 Years ago a short story of mine was published in a literary journal. Two readers sent me letters about how connected they felt to the story. I kept the letters and now wonder how many people—or if any— kept that issue of the journal. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Reflections of the Past Week

 Getting to where we need to go often means 
 finding a new language for where we’ve already been.
    —- Belden C. Lane  Backpacking With the Saints

it’s not like forgetting or painting everything over with new paint nor placing a shroud over those parts best left alone nor is it ignoring past footfalls or walking away and not looking over your shoulder but it means a fresh lexicon created out of a acceptance of cracks, fissures, erasures, broken places, and knowing that some plans were scrapped and others never reached beyond might have been

it’s recognizing that might have been doesn’t have footprints and behind you can see many prints, some deep and some shallow—tentative like the time you thought a graduate degree in ancient history sounded perfect and then the idea of learning ancient languages just froze the idea into a mirage

keep walking because right ahead is a new landscape which simply asks you for a new set of words to tell your story without frills or apologies or omissions so that you enter this wild terrain and embrace the edges and center with abandonment

but the price of entering is looking into the mirror and hearing your story without buts and ifs and knowing that we all need to place the past at the gate, rectify what needs rectifying and then move on

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Rave Review

I know the statistics, studied in college when English majors read the male canon of writers for class, and had friends who could only get their stories published in “women’s magazines”. We worshipped Virginia Wolff and longed for a “room of our own”—that room where you could hole up and write. Certainly there were exceptions— but they were often referred to as women writers writing stories for women with women protagonists. A less than category.

A recent movie , The Wife, is a must see if you ever wanted to write, if you read books by women, if you wonder why — even in 2018— books written by women don’t garner as many reviews in prestigious magazines like The New York Review of Books.

The movie is a must see for every women. Well written, beautifully acted —and it makes you want to read every forgotten women writer whose books languish on some shelf.

Even if you never yearned to write —-always read women authors and know that in recent years women have  more than held their own in every category of our own National Book Awards—-this is not the case internationally.

The Wife deserved wide distribution and estactic reviews. The distribution is moderate and the reviews laud the acting rather than the story. A typical review for a movie deemed to cater to women.

The Nobel Prize for literature is more than a prize in The Wife .   
It take on the garments of a character within the movie.


“The Nobel Prize for literature, set up in 1901, which encompasses all languages, has been awarded to women just 14 times, the first of them being Swedish author Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf in 1909. American novelist Toni Morrison became the first (and so far only) black female laureate in 1993.

The Prix Goncourt, France’s top literary prize, established two years after the Nobel, has been awarded to men 89% of the time, and didn’t have its first female winner until 1944: Elsa Triolet’s Le Premier Accroc Coûte Deux Cents Francs (A Fine of Two Hundred Francs). This is surprising, given that French writers dominate literature prizes internationally—they have won the most literature Nobels, for instance. Earlier this month, Leïla Slimani, a French-Moroccan writer, became only the 12th woman to win the award for her bestselling novel Chanson Douce…” .
        —-Quartz  “ Women are horribly under-represented in the world’s top literary awards”
                          By Aamma Mohsin

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

“Shema koleinu” – listen to our voices!

plaintive notes
and we stand here
in awe
open to your gaze
while we look within
Shema koleinu” – listen to our voices! 

Monday, September 17, 2018


We played eighteen holes of golf aware of rain tomorrow. How many more days can we play? How many more days will I wear shorts? As autumn approaches I need to move into acceptance. I note that I say as the season approaches when we are in the midst of autumn. 

But as long as I can’t see my breath I’ll simply believe that the season has stalled. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018


        Language leaks.
             —Sam Cha

words spill over—
meanings alter
with each telling—
you thought
what you said
was clear
only to discover
that clarity
is dependent
upon the listener—
so many definitions
so many possibilities
words can’t be contained

Saturday, September 15, 2018


autumn rushing to push aside the summer our local ice cream spot closed until next April when they’ll open with the usual flavors and a parking lot that holds onto its cracks and potholes as if they were marks of well earned age having seen over one hundred summers although I expect that the first lot was different but there still aren’t any neat lines of demarcation and folks park cars in patterns of their own choosing often making it a bit challenging to find a way out without avoiding another car or road depression but this adds to the charm as does the two for one which they offer the last four days they are open which is determined and adhered to even when summer elbows autumn out of the way and says not so soon

Friday, September 14, 2018

To Live

I heard someone say— “Return to the land of your soul”—and stopped what I was doing. It’s catchy. I want to unspool the meaning. This is the week of return. The week to take stock—not for your whole life, but for the last year.

The time to decipher what has happened in the previous months. And how to proceed. Religious Jews say that on Yom Kippur you confront your own death and your next year is sealed. Some will live and some will die, but you still pray for a good year. 

We never do know the future so the future is now. This minute is the future. It contains everything —it is a multitude. How do I want to live this now? 

Thursday, September 13, 2018


          If the only prayer
      you say in your entire life
          is “Thank You”,
          that would suffice.
     —-     Meister Elkhart


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Metaphor for the Times

Today the rain and dank weather works as a reminder of change. The hot and humid summer will give way to autumn and that will usher in winter—a long period of cold and hope for spring. It is all so ordered—yet into this order a spate of hot days in autumn or unseasonable weather in summer or winter. Then each season brings along its own unpredictable patterns. We know when hurricane season occurs and which months will produce the most tornados or the greatest snowfall. We have expectations of the norm , but occasionally events occur outside these norms. These events beyond the norms act as metaphors for life.

Today I listened to an interview with Lyndsey Stonebridge who spoke about Hannah Arendt for these times. It has been decades since I read The Origin of Totalitarianism, but as Lyndsey spoke I realized that the book was relevant for our time. What makes a people prime for moving from one place to a more authoritarian place in the world? One answer that Arendt explored was loneliness—people feel as outsiders, without a voice, alone. 

There’s a recently published book that pulls together many of Arendt’s essays. She has become a writer for our time. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

To Buy or Not to Buy

I know it is fall when I begin to look at updated IPads. But I always stop my search when I worry that the new system is around the corner. If I purchase now will I miss the most important update. This type of thinking does save me money.

But my IPad has developed  a hiccup—every so often it freezes. Just stays in one place and refuses to budge. The only thing I can do is shut everything down and then open it up. This doesn’t happen when I am writing—it happens on social media or when I try and go from one site to another site in the pursuit of some arcane bit of information—or common information.

When I attempt to find out what is in the pipeline at Apple I am directed to rumor mills that often contradict one another. So I’ll wait —perhaps the penultimate IPad is right around the corner. I do have a wish list. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Looking Ahead

On this new year-5779
Then there are the intangible items: Prayers and blessings, finding language that soothes rather than language that contains words that are like sandpaper. 

Our words create worlds of understanding or misunderstanding, barriers or paths, trust or distrust. May I always be mindful.

So in the coming year my plate is full, the table is filled with possibilities...

Sunday, September 09, 2018

#BlogElul 2018 Day 29 Return

On Rosh Hashanah Eve

In my mind’s eye
I return to a place 
where the wind
catches  hold of my words,
juggles the order 
until the words—
softened and smooth
only speak of love

Saturday, September 08, 2018

#BlogElul 2018 Day 28 Intend

I start out with the best intentions — almost grandiose— that book I’ve been wanting to write, sketch a day, catch up on letters, confine myself to ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes at night to quickly peruse my email...a new recipe every week, frozen yogurt twice a month, an invigorating walk every day and on and on....

Perhaps this year I can hone down the list to those things I really intend to do and not indulge in massive amounts of erasures during the year. 

I intend to ...ah, but to dream of castles.

Friday, September 07, 2018

#BlogElul 2018 Day 27 Give


You gotta decide
whether to give
what you can’t see
a chance to work
in your life
or whether you’ll
say no thank you
and turn away,
and keep walking

Thursday, September 06, 2018

#BlogElul 2018. Day 26 Create

Between Beginnings and Endings

We create each day
within the hours and minutes
allotted to us

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

#BlogElul 2018 Day 25 Bless

           Apprehend God in all things
                  for God is in all things.
           Every creature is a word of God.
                       —— Meister  Eckhart

Offer blessings
for the wind that blows
and bends each blade of grass—
for the sand that sings
beneath bare feet—
for flowers and weeds,
for the swamp that seethes
and conceals, for humming birds
and passion red blooms
Bless each named creature 
even those whose names 
are strange and alien
Bless the mountains
you’ll never climb
and the path you walk 
Bless the people you meet—
strangers and family alike
Bless the food on your table
Bless those who sit at your table
and those who eat alone 
Sprinkle blessings 
throughout the day
At night give thanks
for the gift of words
to offer praise and blessing

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

#BlogElul 2018 Day 24 Change

When I read the word change I read it backwards and forwards. You can retell a story—alter the ending or replay the story —as is— without any changes. 

But you are different, older, and the story can’t be subsumed into the you of today.

Read it forwards, edit the story that is presently being written— this is the time to change, to tweak..

Monday, September 03, 2018

#BlogElul 2018 Day 23 Hope

Words carry weight. They enter into the world and settle in the hearer’s thoughts. They are not benign. They carry ideas and emotions, kindness and aloofness. They tear apart or put back together. Once words leave they can’t be stuffed back in, they can’t be whitewashed or dismissed as errors. 
Words offer peace and love. They bind up wounds, offer apologies.
Prayers are the words of praise. Hymns to celebrate.
I hope my words will be a balm and not a sword.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

#BlogElul 2018 Day 22 Begin

To Begin This Way

So many facets to explore
to mine the way it began
Who knew that God used
imperfect clay to sculpt
Did I envision a zigzag pattern
Start and go, circle, stop,
meander, scan ahead—
or did I imagine a linear path
with clear margins and limits
 How was I to know when I
said I believe as my body 
flexed and responded 
that I set in motion
a pilgrimage to understand
and follow the God who
accepted the declaration
of one who took a halting step

Saturday, September 01, 2018

#BlogElul 2018. Day 21 End

End is another word with so many possibilities. The end of the line can be literal or it represents          the place you arrive when you’ve run out of options.

When you reach the end of a book it may be satisfying or feel like a deeply flawed place.

In a few weeks I’ll read the last chapter in Deuteronomy and then start over in Genesis. The end often leads to a new beginning. A chance to begin again. 

The seeds of tomorrow are found in endings. 

I think about the day— its beginning and the way it ends. I ask myself how I did. 

Some events in life simply end— there are no embers. No way to stir them to life. 

And there are some seeming ends that you don’t accept. There’s always prayer— that gift to us.