Sunday, September 14, 2008

Emerald Forest

At dawn, I slip into the emerald forest,
wind sings, leaves rustle,
birds dart from branch to branch.

Blue lagoon, alligators swimming,
cranes bathing, dragonflies undulating
upon the face of the water.

In the emerald forest,
I lay down my heavy burden, I
notice what appears, what surfaces.

Where the sun is in the sky, how
tiny flowers pirouette in the breeze,
I lay down my heavy burden
and let the heart dance.

Be the Bee

My Guru spoke saying,

Be the bee
and fly to the flower within.
drink, drink, drink her nectar
until you are satisfied.

Be grateful
for even a teeny tiny flower,
even a teeny tiny flower
has much nectar.

The flower offers her gift
especially for you,
her nectar of peace, joy,

Everything is easy
once you understand,
this life is easy
once you understand.

Remember this existence,
not the things that you do,
but this breath
for it is your blessing.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tal, My Tal

Yehuda Halevi, the Andalucian wrote,
"My heart is in the east, and
I am at the edge of the west."

Visting from New York, I take an elevator
to the Tel Aviv Carlton's rooftop spa and
behold a city dressed in white, the sea,
her sequined scarf. I imagine how long ago...

I could as easily have stayed here, carved
out a life, had a child named Tal, like
the Tal from El Al, red head, tough and sweet.

I see her blushingly beautiful, Tal, my Tal,
early morning dew on bougainvillea. I hear
her calling me, whispering my name.

I turn and see an Ethiopian girl, thin as a stick,
jumping in and out of the water, yelling "Emma,
count for me, see how long I stay under."

I see a blond of four, born in Frankfort, having a
tea party with herself, tiny cup, tiny pitcher,
visiting grandpa.

A couple from Paris lotioning a baby,
placing him in inflated tub, pushing
him along with help of sky and sun.

All of us, like Yehuda,
part here, part there, glimpsing
past, present, and what may still
be ours to have.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Madrid Metro

A slice of the old world before Isabella,
before three ships, before the Inquisition,
downcast eyes, stoic faces, haunted El Grecos.

Three men from Tangiers, a woman in silk,
a guitarist who knew Segovia,
a flamenco dancer, a chubby girl,
with her grandfather, men in jeans, wide belts.

A slice of the old world before Isabella,
before three ships, before the Inquisition,
downcast eyes, stoic faces, haunted El Grecos.


Refuges seeking asylum, we came
to the light of her southern hemisphere
seeking what all seekers seek, a sliver
of joy in an oft desolate orb, and

She welcomed us graciously, spaciously,
how the cuckabera laughed at dawn, how
magpies hip hopped o're the natty grass,
how wallabies stared at us, then leapt to
thickets where frogs croaked a steady tune.

She accepted us graciously, spaciously,
with breeze, fragrance, warmth, with
her southern light, with her promise of
stillness, with her unbridled beauty.

A Running Stream

God gives and God takes away,
and dust returns to dust, but
the words of my Guru linger

like a running stream.
surging and resurging,
turning and returning,

bounding and rebounding,
tuning and retuning.
like a running stream,

tuning and retuning
the taut strings of my heart.
like a running stream

murmuring, whispering,
singing to me, as my
days, hours, moments stream by.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Inspired by Primo Levy

Why is this night different from all other nights?
Because on this night, mountains skip like rams,
Rivers reverse their course, time flows backwards.

We’re kids out past dusk, long after we’d promised to be home,
Stars zigzag across the sky like marbles,
Jugglers toss tangerines, eggplants dance in the streets.

Giant sequoias uproot themselves,
Trudge across the Tundra to Vladivostock,
Those murdered in mass graves assemble themselves,
The sun cries tears of gold, the moon tears of diamonds.

All who mourn are gladdened, all who hunger come to feast,
Elijah descends from his fiery chariot and sips of our wine,
Pharaoh’s heart is softened, and for moments,
All is possible, nothing impossible, we rejoice.

Until The Kiss

Always three princes,
and he - the jolliest prince in the world,
not the handsomest, nor most valiant,
but the jolliest, and she - sleeping beauty.

I hadn’t the heart to awaken her,
she looked so peaceful lying there. After
our massage, we primped - two sisters, with combs,
oils, lavender mist, standing before a mirror.

“I could have slept for a hundred years,” she'd said.
She had a knack for plunging into cold water.
We’d lunched in the enchanted forest on
a bed of pine needles, where she’d yawned

lazily, almost falling asleep once more.
She'd taken the bumpy road to love, the
sand in your eyes, Lawrence of Arabia,
bumpy road to love. But one fine day, he appeared

exactly on cue - the jolliest prince.
He hadn’t the heart to awaken her,
she looked so peaceful lying there. But then,
without further ado, he leaned over 

and kissed her lips. She smiled, stretched her long arms
and awakened. In truth, he was  jolly,
not the handsomest, nor most valiant.
And thus it was, that she awakened.

Russian River

A Russian River, maybe the Volga, frothy waves,
Overhead three ravens cross the winter sky, then
swoop down on an ice glazed branch. Three princes:
two Muslim, one a Jew, while earth’s red shadow
eclipses a satin moon.

At his place, we trudge up fifteen steps, freshly shoveled,
A lit candelabra welcomes us. Inside guests gather,
I greet paintings remembered on other walls,
carpets remembered on other planks, a piano,
hauled from home to home. Glass of Russian River
in hand, I propose a toast.

A gaggle of students huddle on a leather couch,
one I’d splurged for years ago, quacking, quacking,
flipping cards across a cedar chest, when into the room,
swoop three princes: two Muslim, one a Jew, while earth’s
red shadow eclipses a satin moon.

Three princes: one Pakistani, one Afghani, one Iranian,
"These three always hang together,"  he tells me. I greet 
an Indian woman with diamond studs, a young man 
with one leg only, a guy half Chinese - half American, 
Daniel, son of Holocaust survivors, his wife Tova, 
their son Levi, of ten months.

We’re here to celebrate Andy's birthday 
come round like a full moon. Against all odds, 
he’s alive. The piano has traveled, so have I.  
I raise my Russian River to the heart - by far 
the most ancient traveler --- I am enraptured 
by the moon come round in all her beauty
for yet one more birthday in late February.

Swept Out To Sea

Waves rage about me in an impetuous sea,
tormenting tides, swirling currents,
In despair, I call out, but no one hears.

I am swept out to sea, I scan the vista
for even a piece of drift wood, then
remember this breath.

This breath, my anchor in an impetuous sea.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Under the Banyan

Magic, flow, flow, flow
gratitude, gratitude
grace and ease
beauty and light
bangles and curry
gardenias, roses, trust
Stillness - peace

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Last Days of Summer

These, the last days of summer, deliriously mournful,
cool breeze of September making herself known,
clouds puffing to dusty rose, cicadas in the eve,
Ishmael from off the watery seas, returning to port.

Whales, dolphins wending their way back, wanderers,
travelers, Osysseus himself, the rootless,
the homeless, the squirrel preparing his way,
These, the last days of summer, almost over-ripe,
when earth tilts and signals a return.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Clouds of Compassion

Nomadic clouds against a silken sky,
advancing caravan, white, luminous.

Advancing stealthfully, yearningly,
white coarse sails, mother's milk,

Clouds of compassion.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Clouds of Compassion

Fleeing, Jonah boards a ship in Jaffa,
He says nothing to the mariners,
peers up at huge clouds, clouds of compassion,
whiter than milk, advancing like a caravan.

When the sky darkens and hail pelts the ship,
Jonah admits his guilt. Mariners try
to save him, but in the end, they too
cede to the inevitable. Only

after tossing him overboard, does the
storm abate.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Fledgling

Like a newly hatched bird, I crane my neck,
open my beak to life. Quiveringly wet,
I await sun, breeze, and touch of love.

My first nest is a tangle of branches,
bits of fabric, silk, burlap, my mother
father, brothers, sister, all of us hidden
in the boughs of a linden tree.

Quiveringly I say, "Please love me."
Do they hearken? There are times
when I am rejected, unseen, but grub
is provided. I do not go hungry.

Time passes. I quiver with awe, with
delight. Trees are awash in color. I
sing my warbled song to the night.
Will they still hear me calling?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ever, If At All

Can one return, ever, if at all to
a corner, a tree where he swore his love,
to the house of a scavenged photo, to
a beach where beauty danced with light.

Where joy, radiant as the sun pierced a heart,
to a certain corner in Jerusalem?
Rambling down Ramban, swishing along Ussishkin,
then Bezalel, artist of the ark,

King George, Ben Yehuda, a breezy April
day before Pesach. Forty years have slipped by.
Yellow and purple cascading over
Jerusalem stone, plaques announcing streets 

in three tongues: Hebrew with the kindness of vowels, 
Arabic's prancing script, English clear as night,
All three heralding my wayward approach.

In the distance, I see my corner, the
book store, the falafal stand with its wrinkled
man stuffing falafal into pita, 
adding salad, pouring tahini, my

shops laden with shoes, purses, dresses,  
bibles, menorahs, mezuzahs. Tilting
my head, squinting, my heart dancing to a
lost tune, pinching myself, I have returned.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Last Night in Tel Aviv

Last night in Tel Aviv, a seaside cafe
eating humus, Greek salad, burning red
peppers, drinking Gamla chardonnay,
crescent moon, shiny black olive sky,

and one lone star beneath her.
You, lone star, you sink into waves,
you, passion fruit moon, you vanish
as though by sleight of hand.

Last night in Tel Aviv, at water's edge,
a father trudges along, son slung over
shoulders like a sack of rice and later,
two horses pass before me and the sky.

Last night in Tel Aviv, could be
Casablanca of '44, no piano,
no song, yet sure wish I could play it again.
And when, if ever, will I return?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Rummaging through sweaters on a sale table
in Birmingham, England, that frothy cauldron
of Brits, Moslems, Jamaicans, Indians
I beheld her.

Rummaging through sweaters of lime, red, blue,
I beheld her - gorgeous, as you might imagine,
Gold hooped earrings, kohl lined eyes, there she was --
Sita -- holding a sweater at arm's length.

Even then, I held no doubt as to the whys
and wherefores of her abduction, nor doubted
I, the surety of her rescue by brave
Rama and Hanuman, his monkey friend.

Sita smiled, her eyes jumped out at me, her
golden earrings shimmered, we exchanged a
few words, small talk -- women in search of a
bargain in the right size and color.

Rainy day in Birmingham, mid July,
and I'm certain as breath coursing through me,
that she was Sita, abducted by Ravan,
restored by Rama and Hanuman, his monkey friend.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Pink Prelude

As prelude to his visit, we
planted red and pink begonias,
poured Murphy’s Oil in water. 
On step stool, sponge in hand, we scrubbed 
lintel, door, and wood, rooting out
webs, dirt, grime. We windexed, swept
the path, hosed chairs, gathered debris.

Then he arrived and spoke. Some said,
“Sublime.” Some said, “Nectar.”
To myself, I said, “I shall never
be the same.” Touched by his love, I
never was.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Penny Candy

Many moons since penny candy, 
licorice sticks in red, black, brown,
eyeing and pointing, and old Eddie
filling the bag piece by piece with

jawbreakers, tootsie rolls, peanut
butter cups, dots on white paper,
licorice shaped like a record that
unwound in your mouth, kool-aid

inside a paper straw, you tore off
the top and poured the kool-aid
down your throat undiluted, many
moons, many undiluted moons ago.

Squirrel Hill

Grew up in Squirrel Hill, no joke, squirrels  
scrambling up oaks and maples, digging and 
hiding, scurrying, waving their glorious tails, 
flying from branch to branch.

As kids, we tried to capture them, but to no avail,
they eluded us; free agents, beyond our grasp. 
Once we saw a squirrel unearth an acorn.  Swear 
it was a golden acorn.

I raced after my squirrel, watching his every swerve.
from the high branches, heard him singing,
only it was more than a song.  Swear 
I heard him chanting God’s name.

Forget Me Nots

Forget me not
When I am old and brittle
When my back is humped
Like a whale's
When my teeth are broken.
Forget me not, for
I am genuine
I am authentic
I'm the Real McCoy
Forget me not.