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.

The Rain

The rain beat herself against the ground in a useless, senseless
Already saturated, he rejected her,
and she stood in silent, agitated pools
for someone malicious
or playful
to step on her.

She was surprised how close she could get,
lying there she could feel the cool of the earth melting into her body
and yet her self-offering was as good as ignored.

She had not known what would be too much,
had not sensed when she had gone too far,
and now it was too late.

In time, the sun would warm her body,
and she would collect herself together again,
and disappear,

It wouldn’t last long.
In her own reflections she could already see the storm clouds
beginning to form.


You’ll never guess what they’ve dug up
out of the ground that has lain beneath their feet
all of these centuries;
What held its breath, waiting for them to pass over it
with their tools of discovery,
of destruction.

Hidden, underneath loose clumps of soil,
covered by grass that held its ground with the seasons
of rain,
of drought,
a face looked up,
the weight of the land on his cheekbones
instead of his shoulders.

The restful pressure lessened each day;
First by shovelful, and eventually by the lightness of
brush on bone.
The sigh was unmistakable,
‘they’ve found me’.

Each piece of him was lifted, numbered, bagged.
His winter-leaf-thin scull shivered in their fingers.
His tooth-roots rattled in their sockets.
The empty holes gave way no expression, so
the visitors imagined his face smiling from the creases of his eyes
to the muscles in his jaw.
They imagined a face contorted in the pain
of the gunshot wound in his leg.
They imagines his eyes closed, resting, peaceful.

‘You’ll never guess!’ the people exclaim.
‘Come see what they’ve dug up!’
‘He’s on display, you know!’
‘Only $5 to see a dead man!’

In the background you can hear park rangers on their lawnmowers.
Through the windows you can see them spraying the life down fro the trees.
You look at the man in the glass case,
and all you see are bones four hundred years tired of it all.

You’ll never guess what they’ve dug up.
It is a man from the Jamestown Fort.


No. 2

Crumbling rust flakes off with
Dust and cobwebs.
Rippled glass and
the haze of stale smoke
clouds the inside
of the glass orb.
No wick to hold a flame,
no oil to burn,
it sits handle down
needing to be cleaned, but
not asking for it.
Usable, but
not in use

Hibernating during the cold months.

If I cleaned the rusty metal,
wiped the cobwebs from the
cap to the oil well,
polished the glass until a flame could
be seen,
if I added a wick to the orb,
flame to the wick
oil to the well,
and turned the cap until it was
If I put the handle up
in anticipation,

Spring would come.

Grinnell Oak Tree

It wasn’t an owl I heard this time
just the wind
winding its hollow way
stirring up a lonely moan as it passed.

The moonlight cascade
held in the chill
preserved the stillness
of the snow suffocated ground
not interrupting.

The clear night hung stars on the branches
of the trunk I leaned against for comfort
from the silence.

I stood my ground,
and poured my warm, moist breath
into the wintery air.

Country Roads

for Christina 1996

It is vivid in my mind
that day.
We set out together
with little to say.
It was almost Thanksgiving,
or the day had just past –
doesn’t matter.
You and I walked down that road
to the end of worlds.
It wasn’t raining.
Not raindrops;
Not balloons.
The sky was bright.
You didn’t cry.
I didn’t know what to say,
or how to touch you,
or if I should.
I just waited.
As we walked back,
we sang about being taken home by a country road.
It meant something different to me than it did to you,
That sort of going home didn’t make sense to me then,
doesn’t now.
Even still,
as we walked,
I believed you,
with all my heart.


in mind of a painting of poppies

Behind the walls of proper black dresses
With minimal lace or adornment
They stand in the shadows
Near the windows.
Past the windows, out on the field
The tomato splotches of color
Lean in the wind
Ruffle the petals
Stretch their stems.
Corsets made from the skeletons of sea monsters
Hold rigid the human stems
Plucked from the valley
Before they blossomed.
Flowers picked by
Fragile, milky hands,
By bodies bent stiffly downward to reach them,
And then wrapped in green waxed paper to look

Neatly clipped flowers in tight lipped vases
Do not grow so well.

Autumn Leaves in November

Perched on my knees deep
in Blackeyed Susans
hair dances on sun brushed shoulders
I close my eyes in the
Yellow of the world and
wait to capture the wings of secrets.

There are only murmurs of the wind
and faint whispers of leaves
as soft and elusive as Baby’s Breath,
in a place that does not want to be

A stream trips over fallen stars, and
water drops taste like April air.
I almost do not see the road until -
running -
Artemis flies past me on it,
She once turned to beckon me.
No longer.

The voices are autumn leaves in November, and
I have forgotten how to listen.



The dew drops still smell of lilies.

Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens

Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens
- as he might have written in the fall of 1682 after learning of the death of the latter

My Dear Laurens,
I wrote once,
back in the year 1779,
that “though I am cold in my professions,
I am warm in my friendships,”
I wished that it might be in my power,
by my devoted actions rather than words,
to convince you that I loved you.
I thought I hardly knew the value you had
taught my heart to set upon you before you left for the war.
In truth, I did not know it until the event of this greater leaving.
Indeed, my friend, it was not well done.
You know of my strong desire to
Preserve myself
free from any, particular,
to keep my happiness independent of the caprice of others.
My friend, you should not have taken advantage of my
and steal into my affections without my consent.
But, as you did, and so thoroughly,
and as we are generally indulgent with those we love,
I did not scruple to pardon you then,
nor do I intend to do so now.
Did my last letter reach you too late?You might have found it amusing.
- my resentment of your marriage –
The Great Alexander Hamilton,
acting the part of a jealous lover
in the face of an unkind god.
There is one comfort I suppose:
At least you and I can both rest knowing
the history books shall likely never mention it.

A Reading Kaddish Reading

When the sky turns that color
you just know it never was before,
and then throws streaks of light toward the universe,
before it fades into dark promises;

When the air is whisper-silent,
before the birds, after the stars,
and clouds begin to give way to faint, lemon light,
chilly even in summer;

When children are running and dancing
through sprinklers,
and squealing at the grass between their toes,
or giggling at water splashing their tummies;

When during the hakafah a baby holds out her arms,
cannot reach,
and so instead blows kisses at the Torah,
even though no one near her is paying attention;

When you are standing in a minyan,
surrounded by Jews and Tradition,
and the cacophony of voices that wrap around you like a tallis
is somber and strange;

When you remember not to forget me,
say it with some joy, some wonder, some awe,
and heartfelt gratitude.
You are praying on my behalf, in appreciation of my life;

And I for one, am glad I was here.

A Message

Our self worth,
Like a lost bargain,
Easily made and
easily broken.
Are we to become creations so
that not only is the making a lie,
but we ourselves,
even We
aren’t true?

You must wonder with me
After awhile,
how we get back outside
back in the sunlight and the
to deal with the painful truth that
it’s practically a miracle that there is
of anyone

I don’t know to whom you are
or what is your profit.
All I know is I want you to
selling my name.
I am afraid it is me,
who is seller and
hiding behind a back numbed by
I administered myself for no gain,
at all.

And you ask me what I think
about being softer and smaller,
if I care
that my lips aren’t plump enough,
my eyes not wide enough,
my nose not petite enough,
my chin not tight enough,
my brows not plucked enough.
You want to know if I’ve “got milk”?
I want to know if you can still make it.

Reaching for time is all I know
and the light
behind the window
is growing dim
with age and

The arrival of a plan is
past due
and it is we,
not you
or I
who were to be midwives to this delivery
after all.

Our expectation was no
there is no fooling ourselves or
excusing ourselves from the
I will not rely on those who require
the commitment of others.
The worst kind of thieves,
believing themselves to be
the best kind
of women.

A Little Corner

It’s not very elegant, for a garden,
no loud, fragrant blossoms
Interrupt the quiet.
It looks like chamomile flowers
smell - still and silent as the moon in its pause
before the Journey back.
Minty green tiles cool
tired feet.
Creamy benches and tree pots
sigh and dream of summer afternoons.
Dewey walls massage forehead muscles.
Eyes drip closed,
lips curve,
and my mind softly whispers thoughts to itself.

10 January 2009

Not a Poem

Comments, thoughts, and constructive criticism are very much welcome (and may inspire a new draft or a new poem!).

Some have commented that my writing seems intensely personal - and it is in many ways. However, writing for me is also about relationships. It is about the relationships within what I write, and also between myself and those who read what I write.

If you have something you want to say, and it's thoughtful or constructive, please do!

05 January 2009

We Will Keep Planting Trees

If stands
bearing the weight of the world alone
until you
but who am I,
crouching here near the ground
and then
an expectation
what right does this have
to expect anything of me
why would I
happen to have
like an accident
I chose this planting
selected this spade, wore gardening gloves,
and picked up
a sapling
deceptively fragile
resilient as a secret
in your hand
the saplings in my hand
are of no concern to you.
when they tell you
why would I believe them?
they are not here planting saplings,
they are lazy, lack faith,
and are not to be trusted.
the messiah
what is he besides late?
has arrived
there is nothing the messiah would be
more concerned with than
I am with the saplings.
had the messiah arrived,
he would be here with me.
first finish planting
but I will never finish planting.
there are always more saplings.
I will go out and greet no one.
If the messiah ever does arrive,
we will know because he will be kneeling beside us.
We will keep planting trees.