Archive for the ‘Loss’ Category


The Interim Moment

July 12, 2005

In light of what has been going on in London, Netanya, Baghdad:


1:59, a Tuesday afternoon,
or 3:32, an early Monday morning,
it doesn’t matter when,
since it’s coming, now or then.

Just before –
(A deep blue sky seeing
people going off
to work with their children
by their sides walking them
to school after waking up
that morning eating
breakfast getting dressed washing
up although maybe not in
that order)
– Peace.

Just ahead –
(Cities in rubble and people
die in fireballs and Ground
Zero areas will never
live again since the
world now is dead because
of man’s stupidity)
– Destruction.

Now is the Interim Moment,
is it too late to change the world?


Like Algae on the Water

June 13, 2005


I feel a certain tugging ’round my feet,
And tiny rivulets of water lead
Me to the place where land and water meet,
And there I see those who on water feed.

I feel a stronger pulling toward the land
As though these creatures pull me with a string
And, yet, I feel my death is close at hand
Since what I see so close — no earthly thing.

Like algae on the water, I am taken
In, and travel deeply down a gaping hole
And now within this body I am shaken
‘Bout, and ne’er to live again as one made whole.

For I am like an algae in the sea,
Like bodies, all these things envelop me.


The Quick and the Dead

June 11, 2005


We are the quick and the dead,
the leeched and the bled.
Until, on that day,
HE’ll take us away.

HE is alive and well and living in San Francisco

We are the old and the weak,
the strong and the meek,
wasting away
until Judgment Day

“Thank you.”  “You’re welcome.”
”Thank you for saying ‘You’re welcome!’”
”You’re welcome for saying ‘You’re welcome!’”

We are rude and polite.
We are black, we are white,
We are red, yellow, brown
Awaiting the sound.

“Oops,” said the flea, “there’s a horsey on me.”

We are the quick and the dead.
By HIM we are led
through the end of all days
by forgotten ways.

For thine is the freedom, and the flower, and the story,
for ever and ever.

A bit of whimsy, playing on the idea of the “quick” and the dead.  I never understood the juxtaposition of those thoughts — what’s fast about the dead?  Kind of a “Lord’s Prayer” after the fact.


Dirty Pipes or The First Plague (revised)

February 11, 2005

I turn the tap on my faucet and the
Water runs russet.
What turns the water red?
What sediment of ages past flows in my pipes and into my body
Turning what was a fountain of life into a repository of death?

Was this what the Egyptians saw with the coming of the first plague
Life-giving water turning to blood
Mother of rivers brought to her knees,
Raw, bitter, bringer of death
To her children?

What did the Egyptians do for water during those terrible days
Did they consume the red liquid
Taking into their own bodies the pestilence and disease
Or did they run parched and dirty
Through the streets of the great city?

Did they marvel at the Awesome Power that brought the first
Menstruation of their Mother
And what of the Jews
Beneficiaries of this first great tragedy,
How did they satisfy their thirst?

But back in my kitchen I look to much more mundane realities
I call the plumber and make an appointment
Ensuring that he Roto-Rooters my drains,
Snaking through my pipes
Removing any doubt about their cleanliness.

And I am free to wash away the blood that runs through my reality
Chalk it up to past experience,
Forget about the lesson I unwittingly learned
That behind every bringer of life
Lies the potential for death.

This is the 2nd try at a poem that I posted in its first form here. Today, I am heading over (at 12:00 noon) for the weekly MIT writers (students, faculty, staff) who offer critique to each other on their writing. Each week a different person brings something to share, and we offer our insights. A great group which meets in the Writing Center in Stata on Fridays during the year.

This version of the poem is slightly changed due to some feedback I have received from last week’s session (during which we began to consider the piece) and some feedback from the Critical Poets online forum (another great resource for poets) where I had the piece reviewed under the category of “Poems for Critique and Revision”.

If you want to add your two cents, please feel free. I will be posting my final(ish) version sometime next week.


Steady Procession of Mourners

January 13, 2005


In they come, out they go,
Steady procession of mourners,
Wandering to and fro,
Steady procession of mourners.

Here they come, here I go,
Steady procession of mourners,
Into rooms where nothing shows,
Steady procession of mourners.

Has someone just hired them?
Steady procession of mourners.
To moan and cry and chant “Amen?”
Steady procession of mourners.

Yet all of them seem to know,
Steady procession of mourners,
About his love, about his soul.
Steady procession of mourners.

And, yes, they show their love for him,
Steady procession of mourners,
So I will stay and listen in,
Steady procession of mourners.

At the center of the storm,               Where it’s nice and safe and warm.
                  In my close confined cocoon,             In the center of the room, 
           While the maelstrom passes by,    Where they cannot hear me cry,
I will stop and breathe and rest,         As I watch them pound their breast.

In they come, out they go,
Steady procession of mourners,
Wandering to and fro,
Steady procession of mourners.


“Seven at the Golden Shovel” or My Father Died and the World Passed Away

January 11, 2005


Seven at the Golden Shovel,
Digging all the day,
Hoping with a Heavenly Hit,
To break their chains of clay.

Six at the Endless Table.
Feeding on “swich licour.”
Endless dining and reclining,
Heaven loses its lusty allure.

Five in the Incense Inferno,
Burned with sweet-smelling soot,
Chained to the Wall of Agony,
Bound, both by hand and by foot.

Four of the Angelic Altos,
Singing of “Gloria Deus.”
Ranting and chanting their praises
All to the Almighty Zeus

Three on the Plain of Nirvana,
Experiencing Passionless Peace.
Seeing their Buddha by Bodhi,
Knowing the wonders won’t cease.

Two hide in the fields of Elysia,
One is named Adam, one Eve.
Knowing too much about clothing
Now for Gehenna they leave.

One on each throne of Eternity
Are they that far apart?
He and She both fear each other,
Both of Them act as a part of . . .

Zero, the infinite in us.
Who controls all that we feel?
Defining what’s good and what’s evil
We extol _____ at the keel.

Another of the poems written after my father’s death.  An attempt at an understanding of the various forms the afterlife could take, and a real questioning of who is in charge. The title comes from Gwendolyn Brooks poem “We Real Cool”.


The Teachable Moment

January 10, 2005

Dedicated to the memory of Robin Bookston


As a teacher, I always look for the teachable moment.
But where is the teachable moment in this?
What lesson can my students gain from this tragedy:
Love will conquer all?
Ask for help and you can receive it?
I will always be ready to hear your call?
Suicide doesn’t solve anything?
Obviously these are lessons that come too late;
These are lessons I never taught and you never learned.

Together we studied the Holocaust, Anne Frank,
Images of Jews in movies and television,
Jewish law.

But did we ever study each other?
Did I ever tell you what special qualities I saw in you?
Your beauty?  Your radiance?  Your inner peace?

I remember in your Senior year in High School how you came to me at dinner one night,
So confident and self-assured,
And presented me with a package –
“Something small,” you said,
“I saw it in a second-hand store and thought of you.”
Imagine my surprise and how deeply you touched me.
A gift that was more than the Mickey Mouse tie I wear today to your funeral.

I remember your sense of social action and social justice.
Working together in a Public School in Dorchester,
Or a housing project in Roxbury,
Painting, sweeping, stirring others with your commitment to Tikkun Olam.

I remember your courage,
Speaking to teenagers about your sexual orientation.
Unafraid to share your struggle in hopes that others wouldn’t have to struggle.

You were a leader,
A role model,
A good person,
A mensch.

My heart, my mind, my body
Scream “Why?”

But there is no answer – no one answers.
No one can answer.

And all I am left with is another teachable moment.

What do I do with it now?
What lesson can I teach?
What lesson were you trying to teach us?

This week I started teaching this year’s students:
Eager, bright, committed, ready to learn.
Last May I said goodbye to some of last year’s students:
Headed off to college and ready to tackle the world.

Am I too late?
Did I miss the opportunity again?
Did I miss the teachable moment?

I hope not…