Friday, October 15, 2021

Shmatta Business

The story began

yours, mine,

one day

and will end

one day

like a book it's said,

but that cliché

never worked for me,

because the story

is not just ours,

it begins before the beginning

and ends after the ending,

you read it one way

and I read it the opposite way

like a Jew does,

right to left, 

back to front,

and I wear mine

like a hand-me-down dress

old-style 

and inside out.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

"America is a country of children... For years I have searched for a basis of ethics and gave up hope. Suddenly it became clear to me. The basis of ethics is man’s right to play the games of his choice. I will not trample on your toys and you will not trample on mine; I won’t spit on your idol and you will not spit on mine.... a sort of a universal Coney Island where everyone would play according to his or her desire."

from Shosha by I.B. Singer

Monday, October 4, 2021

Deer Crossing


Out in the woods

of early October,

a sharp wind shearing

pine, birch, oak

and poplar

of their leafy fur,

the damp earth 

carpeted in oranges,

yellows and reds

crunching under boot.

The trail beneath is obscured,

but the view through

the surrounding forest

is clear as daylight.


Careful not to trip 

on sleek roots,

slip on mossy stone,

we walk side by side

as we have for years,

your head is bowed,

my hand cups your elbow.

I am saying to you,

'if we had faith

this is how we would pray'.


And then sudden 

as lightning flash,

movement up ahead - so fast, 

at first I think of mountain bikers,

tearing through the trees 

on two wheels, 

fearless and wild

as a wolf pack,

then quickly doubt myself,

no, it can't be -

the impression fades

as if entirely imagined.


We walk on and we talk, 

about our kids,

our parents, the future,

the past,

watch each step,

my doubts decomposing

amid the smell of rotting soil;


then unexpected

confirmation of a kind, three

in the distance, moving

but this time distinct.

Two adults and their offspring,

the upturned tail 

of the smallest signalling

like a white flag.

We stop dead.

Try not to make a sound.

We want to freeze time,

take in this sublime 

moment. 

But it's useless, 

we are heard

and they are gone


gone 

into the remaining weeks  

of hunting season.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Device

When it

prompts

don't fall

for it, 

don't respond.

It's not really

interested 

in anything

you think,

or have to say.

Every time

you answer

it feeds  

and grows 

like a digital 

tapeworm -

an algorithmic 

parasite

that bores

holes

in your soul.

Ignore it

and it dies.

There's a child

in your room

and a dog.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

 The difference between eccentricity and genius is time.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Dream

In the dream

the train we are on slows

to approach the station.

We hear the rhythmic 

clacking of tracks 

underneath our feet

like a faltering pulse.

We are together in the railcar

you, me, our children, 

our family 

and small circle of closest friends,

everyone we know and love.

The air is thick

with inevitability.

We don’t speak.

Wheels grind, the railcar jolts

to a shrieking halt. 

Doors slide open,

I exit onto the platform,

without a word, alone.

It is white, antiseptic.

I face the doors of the railcar,

watch as they seal,

glimpse you through the window.

It’s as if you haven’t noticed 

that I’m gone. You’re mind 

is on your destination.

The train starts to slide

away.

I don’t react.

I don’t know where I am 

but it doesn’t matter. 

It’s enough for me

to know that you are safe.

The Machine

 “The Machine still linked them. Under the seas, beneath the roots of the mountains, run the wires through which they saw and heard, the enormous eyes and ears that were their heritage, and the hum of many workings clothed their thoughts in one garment of subservience”

from The Machine Stopped (1909) by E.M. Forster