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AS SPIRITUAL AS I GET

CRACKED IN HALF

AT THE NARROWScropped-night-with-moon1.jpg
TEMPLE ATHENA
GOD WILLING
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
IN GLAD COMPANY
A TALE OF TWO DAVIDS
BIRTH SONG
PRIMAL SCREAM
CHINESE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
THE ALMIGHTY

 

Cracked in Half

AS SPIRITUAL AS I GET

I am nutty, meaty
split in two
half hard hat shell
half kernel of truth

split down a middle
only I can see
wishing nuts wouldn’t fall apart
so easily

wanting to repair the seam
wishing for a cleaner being
begging for a softer shell
finding love the truth to tell

prepared to join together the whole
full attachment, that’s the goal
no more half that, half this
soul unites in coupled bliss

 

Temple Athena

AS SPIRITUAL AS I GET

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Time change
Athens to Rome
Is it one hour, or two?
Ten thousand hours
Or rocket time
How many minutes to wisdom
Eons to Mount Olympus
Seconds of knowing.

Dry olives, thirsty cypress
Hard rock staging cuts into the hillside
Steep incline steps
White dirt dust howls at the Parthenon
Twenty five hundred years of time
And grit is still grit
Parched throats are nothing new.

Wind of the ancients blows today
Acropolis sand, carved from the rock
Gift of the gods
Limestone harvest, marble dust
Wind
Sand
Time
An immortal Greek chorus
Choked with fossil specks of ancient seas
Hair tangled with abrasive sand
Tiny follicle columns eroding
Goddess-sized pillars alike
Losing definition
Fading beauty
(Too much time is not good for stone statues or shiny hair.
Even the gods understand that.)

And flat sandal feet
Slapping the goddess ground
Slap slap leather feet
Finding purchase on the slippery rock
So worn, so weary
This sandstone perch
Higher than the city
Lower than Olympus
Cast in crippled revery.

Temple Athena
Where time is uncertain
Holding secrets of the ages
How many hours till one grows wise?
Is it an hour, or two?
Confused time
Airport time
Bewildered rock
Timeless hill
Forgotten goddess blowing away
Sad beauty
In a minute or two, featureless
Time change, and gone.

 

God Willing

AS SPIRITUAL AS I GET

God willing, Nannie would say
I won’t be here next year
God willing, He’ll take me
I’ll rest
You young people can carry on

Make your messes
Find your faults
Scream
Cry
Shout

Or better yet
Don’t talk at all
Kill each other with silence

I’ve had enough, Nannie would say
God willing, take me now
I’ve seen the so called Promised Land
It’s not for me
You young people can have it

Scramble over each other
Dash for freedom
Run
Flee
Trample

Even better
Block all passages
Let no one through

Slavery
Escape
Wandering
Promise

Fight for a new land
Fight to stay alive
Fight to find happiness
Fight
Fight
Fight

God willing, Nannie would say
By tomorrow I’ll be gone

 

 

The Elephant in the Room

AS SPIRITUAL AS I GET

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It’s Hanukkah, the time of year when Christmas is all around us. Some may say relentlessly so. Decorations and lights, music, shopping opportunities are everywhere. They prompt me to think a bit more than usual about being Jewish and what that means. For better or worse, I’ve never “looked Jewish,” and many people are surprised to find that I am. I don’t talk about religion much, and I don’t practice the faith outwardly. I tried the Unitarian Universalist church for a long time, but it didn’t take, not in any deeply connecting way (not their fault – I felt like a traitor to my people, a nice Jewish girl going to church on Sundays. What was I thinking?) Living in an area with a heavy Roman Catholic presence and a tradition of Yankee Protestantism, I simply don’t fit in and never have. At least that’s how I feel. I don’t fit in. Never have. Unlikely that I ever will.

In an excerpt from my novel set in 1968, PERSEPHONE IN HELL, Sammy is Glory’s older brother. He’s had a thing for Denise throughout high school and makes no secret of it. Denise is pretty but dull and unaccomplished. She looks good in tight sweaters; that’s the attraction.

“Everyone knew how much Sammy liked Denise, even though he was going off to college in only a few months and Denise would be left working at the dry cleaner in town.

Denise wasn’t so sure about who she liked, especially as she was an inch or two taller than Sammy. She had wanted a taller beau. But her mother said Sammy was a good catch. A college man, destined for success. Didn’t the paper say he’d graduated number three out of the whole class? A brilliant boy, an Ivy Leaguer, maybe law school after that. Good enough by far for her under achieving daughter.

Then Denise told her mother the truth, that Sammy is Jewish.

“He doesn’t look Jewish,” her mother had replied. “He looked perfectly normal, handsome even, in his tux on prom night. And he was so polite. You must have heard wrong, Denise. You must be mistaken.”

Denise told her mother there was no mistake – Sammy is Jewish. You don’t have a name like Samuel when you’re Christian, she’d said. That’s a Jewish name. And she’d driven by his house last winter and had seen blue candles in the window, but no Christmas tree, no wreath on the door. She’d thought that was oddly strange, but then heard that Jews don’t celebrate Christmas. She didn’t know what Jews do celebrate, but it is some weird thing involving blue lights. They don’t believe in Jesus, Denise had said.

Denise’s mother didn’t know how Denise knew such things, but she was shocked by the report. She instantly reconsidered her daughter’s future. What had been a clear, smart scenario dissolved into a murky, uncertain view. And she wasn’t about to incur the wrath of Father O’Brien. God forbid her daughter date a Jew.”

Now, times have changed…they’ve changed….times have changed….haven’t they?

Best regards to everyone of every religion, race, nationality, gender, age, weight, height, and sexual preference. It is the content of one’s character that matters. And have a very happy holiday season. If it bothers you that I’m using the word ‘holiday’ instead of ‘Christmas’, well, I mean it with all good will and no, I don’t plan to change the way I wish you well.

In Glad Company

AS SPIRITUAL AS I GET

Dedicated to a friend in recovery…

 

In glad company

Where you go, I go
North, south, my map follows you
East, if you desire
West, most eagerly
Up to the heights of joy
And down
Forth, back in time
Side to slippery side
To heaven’s peak, to hellish despair
Through sharp ice
And mellow rain
In sickness
In madness
In addiction
In recovery

Where you go, there will I go
In loving tribute
In misery and hateful expression
In fear
In terror
In peace and calm
In abundance, in poverty
In shame
In beauty
In anguish

Wherever you live, I too shall live
Your existence is mine, and mine yours
In humility
In humble gratitude
In glad company

Where you go, so shall I go.

A Tale of Two Davids

AS SPIRITUAL AS I GET

I’d heard all about the statue of David, of course. The magnificence of the carving, the perfection of form. Its compelling presence. Michelangelo’s greatest work, perhaps. Florentine, uniquely Italian, yet universal. A statement of the human condition.

When I saw David this summer in person, right up close, I fell in love. It was the same with Van Gogh’s paintings in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. I never knew how much I admired and cared for Van Gogh’s work until I saw them for myself some seven years ago. One can read and study and memorize every detail of a photograph of an art work, but seeing it for real is a whole different experience.

The same is true about violence and death. One can read about it in the newspaper or watch the nightly TV newscast, and feel almost nothing. Over and over, we hear about war and battles, bombs and sniper attacks, until it seems we become immune to their true horrors. The biblical David was famous for his victory over Goliath. He epitomizes the intelligence of the Hebrew people. Yet he killed. Perhaps too much time has gone by for us to feel the violence of his act.

When my brother David committed suicide some 25 years ago, the anguish of it was too much to bear. All I could feel was anger. I held back love, compassion, pity. I froze out understanding. I couldn’t allow acceptance or any contemplation of the human condition that my brother’s act of self-inflicted violence might have represented.

But when I saw the David of Michelangelo, in the company of my sister who endured the same anguish and agony as I had 25 years ago, my heart began to open. In the presence of the master sculpture, I let compassion in. I tried to understand, and in doing so, began to heal. I waited too many years. I should have visited him long ago.

 

A Tale of Two Davids

After 25 years
I’m finally ready to talk about David

There are two Davids
One cast in stone
In the Accademia museum in Italy
The other cast into the ground in a coffin

David the rock carved of solid marble,
Form of a god
David the weak
Composed of decomposing human flesh,
Probably all bones by now

One symbolizes heroism
The other was cowardly
One slew the giant
The other slew himself

One had the intelligence
To outwit an enemy many times his size
The other had intelligence too
But couldn’t find his own strengths

Rock David is perfect
Cut from the stone by a master
Flesh David is perfect too
Perfect in his anger against himself

David the Florentine statue
Admired for courage and artistry
The world will remember
David my brother
Reviled for his inhuman loveless act
We try to forget

David born of the Hebrews and Michelangelo
Lives in beloved eternity
David born of the Hebrews Joyce and Herb
Died in despair and disgrace

A tale of two Davids