He was in the passenger seat while she drove,
Struggling from his lack of control but
Respecting her command.
Wasn’t love the surrender of control?
Wasn’t power measured in degrees of control?
Did we not pray to God because we hoped
God was driving while we rested?
Before the Fall, before the Tree and the Apple,
Did we worry about our fate?
Does knowledge create an irreconcilable need to
Drive and the fear this responsibility brings?
He pinned his lover’s hands in a loose grip behind her
Head in mock bondage
As they rose and fell in a dance in tune with the ebb and flow of all eternity,
Her excitement heightened by her surrender and his
Not by power but the assurance that none was required.
Can we lose control to God knowing he has made
A similar silent pledge
Of his love?
Hidden in a galaxy of
I am waiting to be googled.
What is the algorithm,
and who does the search?
Query over sixty, shy but thoughtful,
Crisis survivor not embittered?
Once hit like a lost
Street in an unknown town on
Google Earth, I will
Speed to the seeker in a
Micro-second of digital frenzy.
Frenzied energy sparks am I,
Laced with meta tags to
Send out there with hope,
Praying for distinction from
Track ripped from Treblinka balances
The mystical box car from Poland;
Once a 15 ton transport to Genocide,
Now restored to play another role.
Not 100 or more crushed lives
A trip, but two million a year–
Travel sucked through a black hole
Of grief and screams with just a few steps,
To be warned by souls still stirring
That humanity’s train wrecks
Are not stalled cars on the freeway,
Slowing a trip to the bye and bye,
But massive strokes; conscience coronaries
That could cause our final solution.
And to Jews who enjoyed Bar Mitzvah
Sans tattoo number on arm,
Do not forget the Railcar Moment.
The next may not be a day
At the museum.
Waves and Light
My eyes stare to a meditation.
Light impulses bend to photoreceptors
(Some glaucoma-broken) dancing to nerve cells,
Electrical impulses splashed on the wall of my brain.
You as Pointillism a la Seurat-a-dot,
Neo-impressionistic blips blended by my heart
To an image of you that is only mine.
Your lips move now, pushing waves of sound,
Vibrating pulses to my auditory nerve.
Waves also mine now, transformed by
My brain to my song of you.
(Digital sound dots forming waves
From data points of memory)
My brain, creating a reality from waves and light
Unique to me.
My body unlocked by invisible keys
To rock in ecstasy to your vibrating
And so they all quibbled about God.
Did he create it all and then go somewhere for lunch?
Could he multitask a billion prayers per second?
Was his a virgin birth?
Are we on the ins or outs?
Does he like blue or red states?
Rosey or Trump?
If we go to heaven
What’s for dinner?
Is it Kosher?
Is the Earth God’s favorite planet,
Or a piece of lint on his eyelash?
Is he angry with me for writing this?
Will our DNA code run on a
If we don’t have a paschal lamb, can we
Still eat matzo?
Do we need to know God
To know wonder and
Lover or Fighter
Carotid artery swollen with a torrent of
Blood aimed at feral neurotransmitters,
All at ready in primitive anger
To strike with the strength and speed
Another vein engorged on ready,
Another time, the same red river racing
To dance love with strength
Both fueled by the heart.
One course leading to
Chaos, the other to
A lover or fighter?
Always our choice.
Black eye served with ice cubes,
Or a good sweat and a cigarette?
He spoke of LDL and HDL
And 5mg Simvastatin
From a smiling youthful face
That peeked from a well-secured yarmulke.
Science coexisting with Religion,
The Decalogue, and Grey’s Anatomy.
On this doctor’s head
The skull cap as a
Symbol of submission
To a higher authority
And a reminder that
The best medicine
Is only temporal.
Insures Eternal Reward.
For a guy that only
Wanted a guiltless
Sans sermon and
Science to chase
Away the party
I stuffed my issues under my pillow
For review in a black and white
Dream show, while in blazing sunlight
I toiled at yours.
Distractions of Bach partitas kept
My demons at bay;
Their shouts muted in organ aural waves.
Yet for yours there was focus
Solutions (mine for you
Not yours for you) dancing
With octave changes
And plucked strings.
And there was that mirror
Reflecting an image unknown
That man who one day
I would meet.
Who would catch my eye
And hold me with his love
And answers, assure me
In silence that it was
I used to fly through trees on New Balance,
Meditating on the approaching leaves.
I used to cut the waves in Speedo briefs,
Two breaths per fifty meters.
I used to multitask with the best
Dual processor 365 challenges per year.
I used to dance romantic,
Matching thumping baselines
With pelvic pulses.
I retrace old proving grounds to
Study a different perspective
For clues of all that was missed,
Smelling scented oxygen
Served up by rain drenched forests,
Watching rain drops on silent
Ocean rip currents, solving nothing.
Swaying slowly now to loving
To soaring violins whose
Beat is far more
Patience and Healing
For some I fear God’s light is bent
And misses its target,
Either diffused or gobbled
By a black hole
In the DNA soup;
Torn and splayed by
An invisible engine of pain
Or diverted by unknown endless
The stuff of what
Once was the
(Is it their fault some souls
Can’t feel the warmth,
Can’t be healed by
Those magical rays that
Bring growth and succor
To the rest of us?)
God’s healing light will
Catch up and repair
In the next crashing
Swell of the
The repair and healing
Is a God microsecond
We need not pray for it,
Or repent to deserve it.
There are no sins that
Only the need
In the quantum world
There is no physical reality
Without an observer.
Photons collapse to particle waves
Only when witnessed.
Physical reality is created
By our observation of it.
In the spiritual world
God also needs to be witnessed
To exist. But those eyes
Must be through a collective
Consciousness and faith
Of souls infused with Love,
Ready to send and receive
Are we Ready?
Jaundiced eyes followed the
Crackling cocaine smoke spiral that twisted
Into murky lungs on its way to a
Cirrhosis liver bursting blood with
Portal hypertension and
Toward still another
His Al-Anon “Courage to Change”
Goes unread while her bi-polar
Riddle torments his logic.
She lies there now with swollen
Waist and ankles, still judge and
Jury to his faults she claims
Caused her behavior, while he
Addresses those that
Disallowed her rescue.
Her iPod sings old notes no longer
Tweaking a 60’s awakening;
Instead instilling an ever deeper
Sadness to failure.
Hers now so obvious
But his no less contorting.
A corruption of reason
Stirs guilt where there should be
Restrained anger grows,
Clogs where a gathering
Flood needs to discharge.
The divorce decree lies
In its printed ink home,
Talking only of electronic
Deductions from a registry,
While his soul carefully enters
Into its billion synapse database
Thirteen years of memories and
Watch the screen
One More Meeting
It was held in the Bethesda Church
next to the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach,
land of the geriatric monetarily endowed
and after the serenity prayer and the part he liked best
about the “wisdom to know the difference”
and after they read the Al-Anon Twelve Steps and the code of conduct rules or whatever,
there was the part where they picked a topic, which was “motive”
(and of course that was what he was wondering about)
when the lady next to him with the bad hair dye and tee shirt the size of his two-year-old granddaughter reminded him of real pain when she talked about her pregnant daughter who was on the streets
with no support that she was aware of and
how “she knew this was supposed to be only about her and not her daughter”
but how could she just let this go and then,
someone else spoke (who I guess did not hear her or understand her pain) because
she launched into an endless monologue about her new number one priority which was herself
and her “motives” about sustaining her new love affair with herself while he heard
“yadda yadda yadda”
and addressed the nature of his own motives
until he decided that as he stood in line and held the hand of this suffering woman
and searched his memory for the words to the Lord’s Prayer
that he would keep all of this confidential and
try at least one more meeting
to get it.
Queen of the non–sequitur,
Matzo–ball maker with Italian wedding soup,
New Yorker in black with Jersey accents.
Skinny legs and all.
A girl “such as yourself,”
Charlie Chaplin sans moustache,
A nose with a dot,
Thirty–one without a clue of all you are, of all you’ll be.
Cigarette toking, acrylic fingers dialing,
Recipe exploring, soap watching,
Hunting for answers that don’t matter
To questions that do.
One-of-a-kind won’t find models.
You’re one singular beautiful piece of
They said he was bipolar but
He was just ecstatic and baleful in
The same day.
That kid, they observed, obviously had OCD.
How many Barbie’s did she need at once?
Clearly a cyclothymic disorder if
She’s hypomanticly gushing with
And a downer for more than a day is a
Behaviors as varied as
With a “normal”
Script of senseless
Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy
It took God’s picture floating
one million miles from Earth,
Digital measuring in the second language point,
sending density data to
Behold a flat universe, 13.7 billion years old:
A giant infinitely expanding
Everything we know;
Everything we are;
Everything we measure:
All the Energy and atoms
4 percent of the whole
dark matter (23 percent)
and dark energy (73 percent).
We are the skim on top of the
Three quarters of everything may be
hoping to blow the rest up.
No wonder everything feels like it’s
going to hell.
I’m sure God is sorry he exploded
so long ago. All the King’s soldiers
can’t put Humpty Dumpy
back together again.
Maybe if we all hug
we can generate
a giant piece of energy
Her grandchildren and great grandchildren
Called her “meme.”
Dawkins called a meme “a unit of
A small band-aid covered the skin message
That a deep swimming cancer dragon had
Made it to the surface.
He buttoned her blouse after the
And studied her clear blue green
Ponds, birthday cake skin,
And “I Love Lucy” smile.
She spoke to the nightstand picture:
“See you soon Bobby,” and
Although he knew her assurance was
Not misplaced, he wondered at
Her calm and his fear that he
Would not be the same
If not a cultural transmission,
Absent her constant model of style and grace,
Could he achieve the
Peace and strength her
Life represented and transpose his
Children and himself
By her training to a higher
She was Frank Sinatra and
Big Band, Lucy and TV dinners,
Country club dances, golf dates,
And mahjong, but also a gold standard
Of loving wife and mother.
And she was still alive;
What more could she
Tell him? Quick now,
What more should he
A Hug and a Reunion
First, drops of tears on a dry sponge,
Then light rays through cracks in his solitary confinement
Thaw drowned swimmer to cough
His first resuscitated breath
And reboot his hibernated engine,
While the merry-go-round resumes its kaleidoscope of sounds and lights
Featuring Barbara and a Bach fugue.
A spark from a simple hug
Reconnects to the life force,
Singing validation to all travelers
And succor from loneliness.
Simultaneously a shared set (1962-2006)
Reunion hug morphs from a
Sea of faces-abstract-symbol-life-marker to
A close-up of individuals and friends
With life songs to share and sing
And a Cliff Notes summary:
“We Cannot Nurture and Survive Alone.”
SO HUG THIS:
Turn off the tube.
Power off Gates and Mac.
Google the sound of Life as it
Pulses in waves and cycles
Falsely labeled “Hope” and “Despair”
Because as the young dude offers:
“It’s all good.”
The harmonica was diatonic,
Major tuned, not chromatic;
Playing notes key of C
Mostly blues, varied rhythms
Locked in C.
You can alter the tune,
Change the emphasis,
Blow harder; but
Sometimes you need to
Change the key.
Half Moon Bay
Half the moon light
Spooned the Bay,
While the remaining
Stood in line
To filter the
California watercolor with
Changed hues for
A different offering in
The pageant observer that Sunday,
A derailed traveler, found himself
Studying nature’s transitions from
The master and praying for
It was like a vocalized pause.
You know: ah… um… well…
His visit to Starbucks
Where the addicts assembled to avoid
Pressing reality engagements
Of their day.
I’ll have a grande coffee latte,
Toffee nut, organic milk,
NutraSweet, room please as he
Dumped the change, tipping here
Whereas he would
The coffee cooled quickly,
As did his interest in it.
It was a stall,
A destination point when he had none.
Socialization Cliff Notes style;
Conformity without apology;
Yuppie reverie while the world
Later, coming to his senses,
It was two glazed and a
Small black at the Dunkin.
Me vs. Toyota
It was the left side rear bumper
That was wounded in the course of duty
from my negligent carelessness in the
awkward parallel parking dance.
If it were my own infirmity, I’d let
the ass fester or tape it with my
frayed ace bandage athletic remnant;
or test the major-med deductible and
then likely dismiss the more formal opinion of
the credentialed expert who observes that
the ass is indeed within his sight.
But the Toyota deserves to stylishly back-a-new,
Drop its drawers and receive reconstituted plastic underwear
Pre-painted to match its silver suit.
After all, what a great reputation for
While I am only
The truck devoured the highway,
Coextending with its large side mirrors
Hero, astride the Harley,
Reflecting his loose skin
Flapping in tune with the Stones tee shirt
Sans sleeves; hat-less helme-tless
Four days before Valentine’s Day and
62 years after his Mom’s second son’s birth.
This Hopper-Fonda wannabe,
Acting the actor from resurrected memories of
Cool and what probably never was
And would certainly never be again,
If only for a Sunday.
Turning his wrist slightly
To juice an engine that could still respond
(Much more effectively than his own).
Contemplating the old Valentines but
Focusing on the now reality.
Marilyn Monroe was actually quite short
With a broad ass
(He’d never look at her twice).
Bardot with her animal rights bullshit
Had no time for sex unless the lover
Shouted “Shut up!”
But Hero had a new Valentine cooking,
Emerged from a crucible of experience,
Missed cues, and wisdom;
Cooled on a plate of wiser choices.
A love based on morphing images
That responds to body and mind changes
And evolving seasons of grace and beauty.
That sees a constant stream
Of “right” in all the mutations.
This love feels comfort in
Waves of emotional whisper,
Never too loud or too soft.
Seeing always a light when all energy
Has been depleted.
This love is a grown-up thing
Based in reality,
This love he had for
Flamingo Joe’s Auto Spa details my car.
They play with the interior and
Buff up the exterior.
They talk dirty about nozzles and jelly.
They’re buffing and shining;
And if that don’t get you off;
They promote Poly-Armoral.
These days I’m so horny
Most anything talks of
Fourteen minutes into the Precor elliptical routine,
Stored salt oozed from strained muscles
While racing arrondi.
Thoughts driven to the subconscious,
A mind going nowhere while a body raced
Out of control.
Sixteen more minutes iPod unassisted,
Addressing the limits of his machine,
Counting down to a 300 caloric purge.
And then the mirror broke the spell,
Reflecting the tired ancient warrior
Spinning in place, going nowhere,
Unable to wage war on anyone
San Francisco Museum
The soaring truncated steel cylinder
Borne of the mind of Maria Botta
Captured God’s light for the
Did the child in primitive reverence
Bow to the guarded idol of
Creativity, watched by a modern
Madonna and child; or
Merely, with innocent curiosity,
Marvel at the view beneath the
Gathering his thoughts while the Muzak played,
On hold he was;
Watching age spots spread on his mother’s arms,
On hold he was;
Counting reunion days until he sees his imprisoned son,
On hold he was;
Smelling ammonia grab his alcoholics wife’s life,
On hold he was;
Waiting for his business ship to come in;
On hold he was;
Waiting for a grandchild’s voice to sing his name again;
On hold he was;
“I’ll ring you through now,” she says.
Was it with a leer?
“I’m not on hold now?” he says
Because on hold he was.
“No you’re not!
Now try to remember why you called, good looking.”
The flat screen TV covered all he could see,
A million lines of resolution in mock 3-D;
Dazzling colors and hues almost real, yet
Distorted enough to create wonder.
Sounds in Dolby decibels treat his
Ears to a thrilling orgasm,
Again tweaking consciousness.
Were the sounds human?
Was he awake?
And then she materialized from the glow,
Plastic weapon shimmering to a battery growl,
Legs spread, head thrown back, eye lids flickering,
He grabbed the image but the ghost offered no
Confused but resourceful he grabbed the
And replayed her stroke with
The light rays did not focus precisely on the retina
So he needed a new bending;
A new reciprocal of the focal length would do it,
So the phoropter said.
“Bump the right up two diopters for
Clarity.” Try the
The neurotransmitters weren’t sparking properly
Through the gunk, he feared,
So he poured on the acetylcholine
To help the nerve cells deliver their
Try the antioxidant
His ears rejected the static radio noise
So he juiced up the CD player with Ludwig Van:
Violin Concerto in D.
Soaring vibrating strings smooth out
Digital steps into a smooth
Repeat the Rondo.
He received each
For the subtle adjustments
That make life
Black and white flickering TV light bathed the room;
Gisele MacKenzie on Your Hit Parade.
Towhead sits at Meme’s feet
On a break from loneliness;
Grandma’s feet corn-ensconced from shoes too small;
False teeth rest next to horn rim glasses;
Graceful hands massage a small boy’s shoulders;
Friday night 1952.
“What happens when you die?” he asks.
“Where do you go?”
“It’s my secret,” she says.
“This much I’ll tell:
When I die, every time you think of me,
No matter where you are or where I am,
I’ll hear a magic bell ring,
Sixty-three years old now,
Suffering societal disconnect;
He is asking:
Where am I?
How did I get here?
When did I get old?
What happened to Roy Rogers?
He had this dream:
There was this Broadway show,
Except not Broadway and
Maybe not a show.
But they all had to go:
A “must see.”
They all went together.
But when they got there,
John was pretty sure
He had the most experience at
This kind of thing so
He’d go on ahead and get
They’d catch up to him
“Not to Worry.”
John is smiling and
His bell is ringing
Next to saved seats.
there was a mountain.
Two skiers began the descent.
One skied with style and grace,
soon finding the bottom.
Anyone watching (and no one existed to)
would have been awed with the grace of it all.
The second, limbs in confusion, heart beating with excitement,
fear…eventually found the end of the decline.
Anyone watching (remember no one existed to) would have been struck with the awkwardness of it all.
Should we decide which skied better? Or which had more fun?
What does it mean to be good at something?
Only God knows,
A billion chattering neurons
Stoked with hot apple pie
Chilled with iced vanilla cream;
Grandpa with a
Little child asking
For “Just one more
Certified letter from IRS
Next to stuffed ashtray
A Hunched Wal-Mart clerk
For Super Savers.
Your smile before
I even speak.
Or Fred Astaire
Creating a new
Me retelling my
Story of myself,
The next defining
It said I was sabotaged,
“Doing no wrong.”
With weak boundaries,
But I thought:
“Have Gun Will Travel”?;
Until I admitted
Play me E1, 41 cycles per second, pizzicato;
I need to be slapped and plucked to respond.
Forget the bow, keep it simple.
I’ll be the roar of the waves.
After a while you’ll forget I’m here.
Who listens to their heartbeat?
Do you feel the earth spin?
Can you get that beat?
You be the melody, I’ll chug to it.
I tried the other registers,
Doing all those rises and falls.
So many keys and colors.
Being on top, now the bottom.
The smell of crushed leaves,
A thermal jacket and sweats;
No more Hermosa Beach,
I’ll walk the Lighthouse.
Do you take Bach,
Or Bach lite?
Gould or Loussier?
It doesn’t matter
To the accompanist.
The waves and the beach were at war,
The wind watching in anticipation,
For she was there uninvited
Running naked and fearless on the sand:
A rude uninvited party guest.
He watched and then screamed:
“What do you think you’re doing?”
The wind echoed: “Get out of here!”
Laughing, she dived headlong
Into the massive wave
that swallowed her
Like an angered great white
As it spit her to the surface
To be readied for the final
Massive salty bite.
The Onlooker locked her eyes
And her wink.
Just some notes
It was a paper box that could have held a new router or portable clock radio. There was a wall of these boxes all the same size, as if one size fits all: a sumo wrestler or ballerina. On the cover of his box was an envelope addressed to the Memorial Company (Levitt-Weinstein) and the Certificate of Cremation for Tamma, done up like a prize. Inside the envelope another card Permit No. 422 signed by the Crematory.
He didn’t want to open the box and didn’t want to deal with the contents until he had thought it through, but then it was Tamma and he could imagine her saying: “What the hell is your problem?…Do this now! I’m not staying on the floor in your shitty filthy car. Put me in the ocean.”
So he thought about where. Was there a boardwalk so the ashes wouldn’t blow back on the beach? Did it matter? Were there rules about this stuff? Should he wait until it was dark? Say a special prayer?
He ended up on the beach in Delray by a restaurant called Luna Rosa because she loved to go there and they had spent most of their Florida time in Delray. It was raining now and so he just grabbed the box and dashed to the water and sat down on the sand and opened the box. He pulled out the clear, heavy plastic bag and dropped it in the sand between his legs.
The stuff inside (Tamma stuff) looked just like the sand but not as fine. It didn’t look like ashes.
And then there was this plastic brad holding the bag together that clearly required a tool to safely remove. He could imagine a frustrated mourner just heaving the bag directly in the water or tearing the bag and having the ashes blow everywhere. So he worked the tab up the bag using his fingers like a needlenose pliers and somehow got it off.
He put his hand in the bag and let the ashes fall through his fingers. Inside the bag was a metal coin stamped ABCO Crematory 30336. With the bag open he walked into the ocean up to about his waist. He forgot that his wallet was still in his jeans. He let the ashes fall into a kind of milky cover, like creamer in your coffee.
He was alone with her.
She was not drunk.
No rabbi, no body in a box, no family.
Only one mourner.