When Cronus Ruled the Earth

March 11, 2011

I bounced the boys on my knees
and spun a story from the seeds of my sour grapes
sharing with them the news of my disappointing life.

“When Cronus ruled the Earth”, I said,
“the Seas sang and the Mountains danced
and Cronus fretted over the Music of the Cosmos.

“He foresaw his immortality ending
he saw that he would be overturned
by the ones who called him Father.

“He worried about Delphi’s warning
and he never let his children live another day
swalling his progeny like an unpalatable meal.

“The aftertaste burned his throat
Stinging reminders of his half-baked plan
as the worry (and his children) gnawed at him from the inside.

“But Gaia galled him and Rhea lured Cronus into swalling the stone,
a menagery of misery to replace Zeus in his digestive tract
swapping one troubling mouthful for another

“And Cronus was deceived, believing his son was deceased.
While Zeus, under Adamanthea’s spell, lived in suspension,
halfway between childhood and eternity.

“But finally the day of confrontation arrived,
and Zeus slipped his father a strong dose of Ipecac
spiking his wine with a more potent brew.

“And Cronus regurgitated his five other offspring.
He looked at Zeus in shock, realizing the Oracle’s
will had won out, and that chasing fate was foolish.”

“But, my children,” I continued, “I have learned my lesson.
Your father won’t make Cronus’ mistakes.  Instead
of swallowing the echos of my disappointment

“I’ll bury them.  I’ll accept that you three will someday
soon rise above your father who raised you,
becoming the gods that you were meant to be.”

The room grew quiet, as my sons digested the lesson
of Cronus.  Their thoughtful stares lasted as long as
it took for the sounding of the dinner bell, and

All was forgotten as they headed for the Halls of Paradise,
a meal of ambrosia and nectar awaiting them
as I, the once powerful God of this realm, settled down for my nap.


Constructed by my younger daughter and me, this story started with a much darker ending in mind…  She has been reading a lot of Greek myths recently (anyone else seen Percy Jackson?) and the story was heavily influenced by what she’s been learning.



March 20, 2008


Love without love is a clouded glass
is a childhood dream, is an adult fear.
Love without love is a pleasurable state
without the problems and pain of love.

Life without life is depressing and cold
violent and sad, brought on by lonliness.
Life without life is a troublesome trap
never escaping, just going in circles.

Hate without hate is an envious state
is a lover’s thorn, is a broken date
is an evil state. Hate without hate
is a motive to kill when love is at stake.

Death without death is a obsession with grief
is a sad response to a lost dear one.
Death without death is pain enough.
Let go of the grief, you’ve suffered enough.


The original poem had one more stanza which I’ll reproduce below, but now (20 something years later) I think it makes it a little too obvious.

So the last stanza is:

Love without love is sex.
Life without life is depression.
Hate without hate is jealousy.
Death without death is mourning.

So, your thoughts? I think leaving out the last stanza is fine, but are the points obvious above without it? Curious to know what you think…



March 13, 2008


The doctor confirmed what I already knew,
that the fuzziness creeping in around the edges of my vision
wasn’t some imagined darkened curtain
but more a milking of the lens.

Adding haze to my specificity,
the green twinge of memory sending back
imagined reflections of different choices
a doubling of vision.

Two doors stand before me,
two paths, two roads, are they behind me or ahead?
I made these choices long ago
or did they make me?

Passageways I long abandoned
images of shadows of an imagined future
nestling with the dying embers of youthful spirit
long since burned through.

The light reflected and refracted
into a white-hot laser. I recoil
from the heat and searing images
of swirling doubt in hopes of seeing clearly.


Spring Training

February 18, 2008

School’s ceasing; start screaming!
Vacation vision, I’m day-dreaming…

Go and get my golden glove,
Ball will be batted to the big sky above.

Catcher’s cares are carried away,
Home-run, my hero, will save the play.

Pit-pat on the pitching mound
Rain on the rooftop! Dreams are drowned.

  • a poem by my daughter, Rachel (11 years old)
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    For Hollis

    November 7, 2007


    In this day and age when 90 is the new 70,
    When science makes Sophia Petrillo seem the new Shirley Temple
    Why did we have to lose you so soon, Hollis?

    You were the quintessential gentle giant,
    An acrobat the size of an NBA star,
    The sprite in the body of an Ent

    You were a bundle of contradictions
    A rapier wit masked by an unassuming manner,
    Diet coke and a chocolate chip cookie.

    You wondered aloud to me, saying that
    You knew you would never find a soulmate
    Someone to spend your life with,

    You, Hollis, who had so many friends
    People who loved you and knew you well
    Unlike most of us, you didn’t have acquaintances

    You only had friends. Perhaps you didn’t know
    How much we cared for you. Perhaps
    We didn’t take the time out of the day to mention

    How your devil-may-care attitude and your
    Essential Blanche-ness brightened up our day,
    Turning the humdrum into pure magic.

    In some sad way, your early departure seems
    Strangely appropriate. You were too rare
    For this world, too wondrous for our mundaneness.


    A Song, A Psalm of David

    July 18, 2007

    Mizmor L’David
    A Song, A Psalm of David

    Memories of  a Visit to Jerusalem, Friday, June 29, 2007

    If I wept when I first laid my eyes upon You
    were they tears of sorrow or joy
    or both, commingled in a prayer of gratitude
    as I glimpsed Your shining walls and towers
    Your rolling hills blinking clean and white
    with Jerusalem stone, bathed in sunlight?

    I first saw Your red-shingled roofs
    and minarets, steeples, spires from
    the overlook, perceived from a distance
    that Your patchwork of pieces was inseparable,
    each as much a part of the whole as each,
    intertwined, not in quarters or halves.

    As I ascended to Your holy mountain
    I paused, rested in the city of David,
    walked in her passageways, deep within
    her bowels where ancient workers, hearing the
    thunder of oncoming armies bent to hear the
    whispers of the chiseling hammers, carving pairs

    meeting in the heart of stone, creating arteries
    to ensure that Your lifeblood would continue to run.
    I stopped to look upon the mountain of olives
    where, amid the sleeping graves of countless others
    a new addition, interred, carefully so as to preserve
    what came before, mouners suspended over history.

    And finally I climbed Your holy shoulders
    stood standing before the remnants of Your majesty
    so powerful in their ruined state, yet complete
    in my soul.  Laying on my daily reminder to speak
    of You, I contemplate Your work, and I am reminded
    that Kol Hanishamah, all creatures of the world

    Sing Your Glory!


    Sing a Song on Alien Soil

    November 25, 2006

    Lyrics:  Daniel Barkowitz
    Music:  Noah Aronson
    Based on:  Psalm 137:4

    The plane touches down on an ancient runway.
    My heart skips a beat as the wheels slow down.
    I stand, now silent, on my people’s highway
    as the dust of the past makes a whispering sound.

    Eich nashir et shir Adonai
    Al adamah neichar
    How can we sing to You on this alien soil?

    This land, our land, is a land so foreign.
    In all of my years, I had never arrived
    at a place where the hopes of my people were born,
    in a place where they fought, where they struggled, survived.

    I’ve heard the stories of their endless toil,
    I’ve learned the facts, and their history’s known.
    I sing a song on this alien soil
    but my heart and my soul never felt more at home.



    Leafy treetops

    November 14, 2006

    Stooped gentlemen bow,
    Their gnarled knees bend and creak
    Birds nest in their crowns.


    Ringing of the Bards XVI – Serial Poetry

    October 9, 2006

    It’s time, once again, for the Ringing of the Bards. Last time, you may remember, we were left wondering if anyone would ever find Terry’s missing submission. Billy was left, at the end of last week’s episode, hanging from a virtual cliff, wondering if he would ever be rescued.

    Well, in good serial form, we return now to this week’s episode, only to find that the cliff was only 5 feet high, and Terry’s submission was never lost anyway (all of that in the first two paragraphs)! But back to the action!

    Serial stories and episodic fiction is the hallmark of great storytelling (I am rereading Oliver Twist now, where every chapter leaves you hanging for more), and poetry is no exception. Where this works best, you rush from poem to poem, waiting to see where the theme or story takes you. Bill Piety mines this feeling of movement in his latest poem from his “?” series entitled “?, no. 5” (I also recommend his lost series, found on the same pages!):

    there is a man, sitting on my kitchen floor, tucked into a
    corner, tossing flour up on the air, making words that float
    and make a chatter that i can not understand, and his face

    is hidden by this ghostey clamor, so i can not judge his eyes,
    or have his lips been kissing mother, has he brought some
    solace to her days, for he must know she’s buried deep in


    Episodic stories can also be revealed as a story gets told and retold, each time adding new details and new twists (see the many versions of Cinderella as an example). MadKane gives us a modern (do I dare?) fairy (I dared) tale in her poetry series on the continually unfolding Mark Foley scandal. The latest of these is entitled “Dirty Denny” (the entire series can be found here):

    There once was a House Speaker Denny,
    With character not worth a penny.
    He failed to shield teens
    From a boy-obsessed fiend.
    Family values? He doesn’t have any.

    While we are on the subject of family values, Jo Janoski does an excellent job of dissecting the intertwined values of love and hate in her submission for the ringing, entitled “Serial Heart” (the poem is written in a series of stanzas with 3-5-7-9-7-5-3 syllables):

    Your utterances
    pepper my soul with contempt.
    Pitchfork devil dancing in my heart.
    Silence! I demand you go!
    Leave me gentle peace.
    You rile me.

    I was riled a bit by finding Terry’s submission right where Billy left it, under my pile of superhero comic books, themselves serial entertainment. In Terry’s submission, Human Cardinal, which is (he says) part of a larger series, we meet one of these characters:

    Human Cardinal
    Spreading out his bright red wings
    Defending pure peace

    Hero of us all
    Fighting those evil creatures
    From deep outer space

    Blue Tornado Boy
    His faithful sidekick nephew
    Speeding at his side

    Champion of Earth
    Coming out of the future
    Human Cardinal

    Sometimes the true “Superheroes” are just simply you and I, travellers together down the same road, a paradigm which Abhay explores in his series, “You and I” (part I can be found here, and part II here):

    What stays with me
    Is me
    You came and went away
    What stayed with me
    Is me

    From serial to circuitry is not a far leap, and Bob (the not-so Average Poet) offers us an insight into the world of circuitry theology in his stirring “Cyberphim“:

    Metallic wings calmly poised
    head bowed in contemplation
    my circuits tingle pleasantly
    with the flow of information
    ascended high above the rung
    of my virtual incarnation
    dutifully I kneel and pray
    Man can grasp salvation.

    The serial nature of life is always on display at HouseMouse, as is salvation. Shirley writes, in “Born Again“:

    It seems like the first things we learn in life are also the first things we forget. Like how to use the big potty and tie our shoes. We forget what a fork is for and are just as content to eat with a knife or our fingers. We experiment by putting our food in our milk to see if it will float. We have to be told when it’s time get up, time to eat, time to go to bed and must be reminded every day to be careful. Our bodies revert to the fetal position and we babble rather than make conversation. Our hand is constantly reaching out for another to hold and we doubt our ability to move on our own without training wheels.

    The more I see of death and its process, the more I see the beginning of life. It’s like watching a plant wither and break down putting all of its energy into producing a seed that will live again only through its own death. It gives me cause to wonder…

    Well. while I certainly don’t know the answers to the ponderous questions you all have raised, nor can I predict what the serial nature of the Ringing will bring in the coming weeks (especially as we have no host for the coming week), I do know what kind of food to put in your milk to see if it floats. As my entry to the Ringing, I offer “Breakfast Food“:

    Your lucky charms entice me –
    Too, your dulcet, “Cheerios“,
    when your sugar smacks surprise me
    you should hear my honey nut “ohs”.

    Evidently, I wasn’t the only one thinking about breakfast foods this week. While my mind was on cereal, Billy’s was on “Cold Pizza for Two“:

    Wake up in the morning
    the light hurts my head,
    stumble to the kitchen
    for my daily bread.
    The cupboard is empty,
    the cabinets are too,
    but in my ‘frigerator
    cold pizza for two.

    Until we meet again my friends, have a slice for me!!


    Breakfast Food

    October 9, 2006

    Your lucky charms entice me –
    Too, your dulcet, “Cheerios“,
    when your sugar smacks surprise me
    you should hear my honey nut “ohs”.

    It’s my total admiration
    for what I call your “Special K
    they’re the smart start celebration
    to my life most every day.

    No trix, I mean your kisses
    with my morning Frosted Flakes,
    They’re my all bran plan delicious,
    I’m the fruity loop your love makes!