23 November 2010

What Next

I curl into the darkness
listening for the sound past your voice.

My face and the pillowcase in a
gravitational relationship,
phone balanced on my head where
I can pretend it isn't.
Suspending reality so
if I reach out next to me,
I'll find warmth.
And you.

Watching the night loiter
between us and the ceiling.
Even your silences have a way with words.

I hear the touch of our slow dancing fingers
on this midnight road trip of no
certain destination,
each in the double role of driver and passenger,
neither likely to be the first to ask,
Are we there, yet?
We are off the map.

This night different from all other nights,
a glimpse of a well-lit thoroughfare, and
I am overwhelmingly aware I'd so rather be going
with you
than know.

Those words don't come with sound.

Instead, I imagine our fingers stilled, intertwined,
and just breathe

It's good to hear you catches me with
an unfamiliar drumming.

My pause before Goodnight is a prayer of gratitude.
It is good. All of it.

I turn my hand in yours and we drift
in cheshire darkness.

We Knew Each Other Once

Until today

I’ve never worn a costume

on Yom Kippur.

In white,

like the debauched bride

most are

on their wedding days,

who blush when

great aunts speak of babies

as though they don’t already have


Sitting in my car

south and east

of the temple

small ‘t’

drinking the soy latte in a paper cup I

bought this morning after I

foundation-covered the zits that

stood out more on my face after I

straightened the hair I’d just

blown dry after I

washed it in the first

shower I’ve


on Yom Kippur

in at least 18 years.

I didn’t blush then, either.

My first time.

Too young to vote,

I drove myself innocently to a shul on

Rosh HaShanah.

Reveled in the letters I couldn’t read,

picked up melodies like memories.

I can still hear the sound of

that shofar,

picture the face of

the man

who blew it.

I didn’t wear white for Yom Kippur that year.

I didn’t know my soul would be wrapped in white

at my death.

I did teach myself about fasting from






‘marital relations’

which at sevemteen I rightly assumed meant sex,

married or not,

as two or as one,


I fasted.

Kol Nidre means

all vows, but

You void them before we make them,

Who are You letting off easy?

This year, I pass.

Really, I don’t mind skipping my turn.

No making, no keeping.

Whether you keep Yours depends greatly on



a drenched sun keeps rising over Pakistan

and setting over Haitians the earth hasn’t entirely swallowed whole.

The sky rains freshwater into dusty refugee camp buckets,

and the wind blows cool through hair matted to the

charred heads of burned down villages.

But the righteous never go hungry.

Those were Your words.

I’m giving them back to You.

Hineini, Adonai,

in my canvas shoes

and my white


sitting in my car drinking coffee.

I make feline eye contact before I turn my face from You.

Late for breakfast,



as I watch you with my peripheral vision,

my cup pauses in its path.

You had words enough to


the entire Torah.

Why do You have no words for me.

You named us lovers, and

bid we sing of each other,

to each other,

in a garden.

Partners in Creation,

Apparently nothing but scripted adolescent proclamations on the

thrust of a high school stage.

This act is improve.

Adonai, s’fatai Tiftach,

To whom do You pray

when Your lips are stiff,


and the words You want to speak cannot get past them?

It’s hard to believe, but

I’m still making space for You,

under the chuppah.

Gripping a limb of a cypress tree

in each hand,

You could show up bride or groom.

In Your absence I’ve played both parts,

and You being either would find me relieved.

Behind lidded eyes I,

sip my coffee.

It’s just me in here,

under an open sky,

wrapped in something dark, because,

I can remember Your breath

on my face, and I’m

not ashamed for people to know

we knew each other


23 September 2009

Avinu Malkeinu

Avinu Malkeinu

You hold hope 

before me like

a kiddush cup

brimming with promises like

our lips

on days

like these days 

when we say

Hashiveinu, Adonai 

and we will return

chadesh yamenu

as in days of old

back when our hearts were 

too big to be broken, and

our spines were too strong

for fear.

Nothing is the same now 

that promises have been broken

Nothing is the same now 

that mistakes have been made


is the same 


That man over there has a shofar in his hand 

as though it is time to move on, 

as though we know where we are going,

as though someone 


asked for directions, but


am still


You say I stood at Sinai, but

I don’t remember the sound of the shofar

I don’t remember the thunder 

or the lightening

I can’t even remember

the sound 

of Your 



wracked with guilt, and

muted slander

drenched in my deceit,

corrupt and abominable and


made in Your image.

You know I love You back.

Avinu Malkeinu,

all I want,

chadesh aleinu,

all I ever 


shanah tovah,

is to know 

I am 


Avinu Malkeinu,

I put

My life in 

Your hands

because you put all Your hope

in mine

malei yadeinu,

it seems the least,

the very least,

I can do.

Sipped through chapped lips

I can feel the vine 

in my throat as

I beg you 

not to be 


Avinu Malkeinu,

all I have left

sh’ma koleinu

is silence.

06 August 2009

Break of Night

Two sides. 

Every leaf,

sun in shadow,

green on green,

the half-light end of day 

drips to darkness.

Heavy-wet and reluctant,

water under a paddle,

resistant to what inevitably comes

silent and stealthy,

a full-on cacophony,

hard put to 

let go.

Almost the New Moon and I Am Not Pregnant

the night is darker by the day, and the

multiplying stars the consolation prize for the

stiffness in my back, the tightness in my legs,

my old scars.

unrecognized like Cuba,

reminding me of what I’ve known all along.

Homeland Security should hire the Title9 Frog Bra to work in Gitmo.

under pressure my breasts tell everything.

I am eating historical romance like Chex Mix, 

digging for chocolate; ignoring the pretzels.

Nonsensical sexual physics is of no consequence.

A little bit Moulan Rouge -funny.

Now that I mention it, 

I am wanting a chocolatier truffle that tastes like a kaleidoscope;

still I know months like these I take the flat-orange flavored Kit Kat I can get.

The near-week of hog wild thundering goddamnitalltohellIknowwhatIwant 

screaming from every cell has been reckless.

It slams into my gut

and turns me into wreckage and once I am weakened

hormonal abandonment taking unlatched-metal-barn-door-in-a-windstorm 

swings at me.

I wake up leaking blood.

headed quickly toward empty.

a warning light comes on

but pages of bastard children

sired on willing women

by randy men are impotent after all.

L’Chaim. Zochrenu.

I set aside my romance novels

and bad chocolate

and lie here bleeding.

Devil's Lake

jagged cliff gripping to air 

over the dry riverbed

a beginning

made for water

not by it.

mother wisdom

voicing truth

in clouds 

licking their

right names into the rock.

the eye of the needle

an opening in the doorposts

back embracing the cool of rock

feet flat against the blackberry cliff.

the dizzying whir of height and air

whispered memory of the security

of a perch between

a rock

and a

hard place.

the white of the sky is nothing but clouds and turkey vultures

voicing their dominion

or at least reminding us that they are the hosts

and we the visitors, but

we are not here to know the sky.

some say the devil is in these cliffs, 

afraid of being known, 

persuading it is better you go back to

the needling whir of cars and computers, but 

we are not here to know the devil.

my fingers lick the crevice of the cliff

with the wisdom of whirls and ridges,

seeking truth in rock

face pressed against the clammy stone.

I breathe the scent of time like

a mother’s skin

a cloud of memory and 

the intimacy of one murmuring voice

no more still than the trickle of water dancing down the cracks

beckoning to be known. 

03 February 2009

You Offered the Wind

for Geoff

You offered to give me the wind,
as though you could,
and as though I might accept it.
I wanted to hold my arms out to you
and welcome you in
but I didn’t.
It was blowing too hard
and the clouds were too heavy
and the air smelled of nothing more than cold, salty nights.
You stood there
looking at me
knowing you were only half invited
I looked back
knowing I wasn’t inviting you at all.
You walked away from my walls,
I stood on the other side of my screen door
neither of us even said good-night.
I cried for hours
and then suddenly realized
the clouds had not meant rain
the air was just air
and what you offered
wasn’t the wind.

Trees Full of Leaves That Were Stars

First written 3 March 1997, New Draft 2 February 2009

I had taken you outside so it would be dark;
there is more space in darkness,
and more intimacy.
I would be better able to listen,
actually hear your thoughts and feelings,
having already thoroughly felt and expressed my own.
Even for me, sometimes there is nothing more to say.

I was attending your words,
none of which surprised me.
Truth be told, your face said it all from the first.
Thankful for the darkness, thinking to myself how much I
like who you are, even in this,
I stopped hearing your words and focused instead on your breaths
between them.

My careful attention was split by the distraction of March air,
and the tangle of branches and new leaves,
that had caught onto a host of stars,
with no thought of letting go.