Archive | Poetry

When Love Was Rampant . . .


When Love Was Rampant. . .


The bones creek
and there is lack of motion
because like the deep freeze
enveloping the lakes,
the skeleton is immobile.

The comforter wraps
around bony knees
and hugs my chest
while eucalyptus bathes
what is left of my senses.

The scent is clearly
reminiscent of a world
where row upon row of bushes
yielded itself to memory
where love held sway.

And children ran
on green grasses and
waters filled lakes
with clarity and sky was void
of black plumes.

Our motives were obvious
and good and love was rampant
in abundance.
All this too was a dream dreamed
by a need shouted in a whisper.

It was lived in and children
prospered and grew into adults
whose dreams
fathered other dreams. . .

When did they become a nightmare?


art by claudia hallissey


A sorrow hushed. . . the holocaust. . .



A sorrow hushed. . . the holocaust. . .

My ears cleaved to the door frame
of the dining room. Her whisper was hoarse,
were there many?
Lots, he said, lots, as he held the letter
that told him what they saw.  Speaking
in broken English, he continued.
They pushed for space, women and children
and their men. They wanted to see.
My people saw he said.

Their words burned my brain
as I strained to listen, afraid I wouldn’t
catch a sorrow hushed.  It didn’t last long
he said, because they fell.  Matko Bosko she said.
Remember our history he said.
As if that could explain what I heard.

And I knew the god they called
upon to save them from whatever they feared.
He whispered again, somehow trying to
make this horrid time an all right matter.
My people saw them, he kept saying.

And I loved those parents who made things
seem right yet what my heart knew was evil
and my head fought them and argued
till I would vomit.  We would go
into holy week and pray just as
my cousins across the waters who saw
what was done went back to their tables
and supped as if nothing had happened.

These were friends and relatives
whose prayers were different and
they said that made them different than us.
And the us that I was born into made me
ashamed and sick to my stomach and I kneeled
in front of the toilet and emptied my shame
washed with the tears of I am so sorry
and threw up all of my ten years

and so went my trust.


(Much of what was happening at that time was what I overheard to be Poland’s part in the holocaust.  Relatives wrote what was happening there.  Being an ailing child at home led me to listen carefully to everything.   The whispered conversations were fewer and not fully understood until as an adult I happened upon Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong. The impact on me was visceral.  The memories connected with family at that time rushed to surface.  These events were deep in the knowledgeable ten year old I was who was frightened and ashamed.  How does one live with shame?  )



An Evergreen For Your Heart. . .

(I falter dreadfully.  There was more violence in a school this week.  I say that I will make another ocean with tears that do not stop.  I cannot write nor put up a heart with a rip up the middle again. Cannot sew it up again. Then I read that someone pulled up a bygone post and needed the words and I hear my Teacher say would you deny another day to one who needs the words that have been given to you?  When I needed just one more day I was given the words.  Can I do less?  They were remembered and are needed again.  My readers oftentimes write my essays by their need. Today I wish to plant an Evergreen in your heart.) 

(Posted Oct 2, 2015)  We are told that hearing you will hear and not understand and seeing you will see and not perceive.  Simple words meaning simple things?  But of course you see and of course you hear unless physical impairments prevent us.  But it is even more than that.  In the process there are the cries in crisis and there are the tears that are not seen.

The father asked his son at breakfast,  ‘are you not speaking?’  And  the son answered ‘I  spoke yesterday.’  They were across the table from each other but worlds apart.  The father was asking why are you silent.  And the son was already mentally in school and  gave his oral report yesterday.

The daughter was hurting and gathered courage to tell her emotionally distant mother why she ached inside only to find later her brother coming  into the house mimicking her talk with her mother, laughing.  The daughter shared her heart and her mother not knowing the place her daughter was speaking from, dismissed it as a nothing.

Neither parent heard nor saw what the child’s body language, words or eyes were conveying.  The Master said, ‘hearing you shall hear and not understand and seeing you shall see and not perceive.’  How much are we missing?  We should at least be wondering.  What is more to hear than what we hear or see what we see?   When the process begins, the pain will be poignant but welcome it.  It will mean that you and your god are in conference.

Times Such As These. . .

I lock up the room
and pocket the last remnants
of words laying about unattended.

Fearful that pieces of my heart
may be found
scattered among them.
And why not?

Times such as these
leave us with little salve
to heal the open wounds
which once were hearts.

For whom do we weep?
The children whose siblings
will no longer come to the table
to convey with no doubt
the events which took their innocence?

Or the parents
whose hearts were transplanted
when word came
that these unspent stars
were already breathing the rarified air
as heaven’s most blessed?

Look at us here.
Pleading that our children
will be safe as they try to understand
what we in our dotage
have not learned.
To resort to arms

means death in any country.                                                    


To The Old Country. . . immigrant I am. . .


Immigrant  . . .

I watched as you worked
a mind through endless turmoil,
sifting and sorting truth and fantasy
and arriving. . .

You opened eyes and unblinkingly stated,
‘you have always known, haven’t you?
How did you do it?’

I knew I could not take
even a moment of self revelation away,
answered, ‘in my way.  I loved and
raised babies and painted
roses on their cheeks and
planted evergreens in their hearts.’

And in a way I had not known,
closed a part of memory so I could do it
all for real, so I would use the same rules
you did and everyone else.

But you did not play by the rules.
They were changed so quickly for you
that you could not switch tracks.

So now I write why.
I compose odes and melodies
and tie my feeling in knots
and look for entry into a world
I know by heart.

It is one I never left, even to come here.
I carried it around like a money belt
all the days of my life.
And I know now that when I go

it will be to the old country.


I Wish It For You. . .

There comes that time when night falls unto itself and one says I call it a day.  It is time for the night air to wrap us in its ambience and for us to taste of its elixir.  It is when memories are called upon that feed the soul when lives were their richest in love and deeds and hearts fit the space designed for it.  This is private time for the divine within and the who I am.  Specifics are not necessary but the feel and fit are.  I wish it for you.



Inhale Deeply. . .

Inhale deeply the night so that
you will remember
the freshness that comes
with the beckoning dark. . .

And the stars
leading you to a place
of warm retreat. . .

Melancholy soul,
even the heavens
pale beneath your fatigue.

Breathe deeply
and consider my love.
It comes from a world
we hold in our hearts.

Begone, into the night where the heart rests.


The Mortgaged Soul. . .

Taking Time. . .

You say that it takes all your time to do what it is you do.  And you are the only person who can speak from that point of knowledge knowing what is required.  But we were all born doing reference work in the Talmud which teaches that the purpose of life is to learn.  And we must.  And we do, though not all at the same rate. 

In this life much is expected of us we think.  And with so many distractions, it takes longer and longer to maintain a just quality of life.  We know we cannot unbid what we have committed ourselves to.  Therefore it behooves all to choose with some knowledge what becomes our priorities. 

The privacy of minutes becomes non negotiable, except where life is in danger.  In this world where cultures are changing, it is imperative that talks ensure the fair exchange of work and accountability.  Otherwise we run the risk of bankrupt lives and mortgaged souls.  And we are an aging populace whose futures already are written on the walls.

Mortgaged. . .

Our hands brush the sleeves
of our long coats harnessing
our bodies’ warmth. . .

And meet and twine fingers
giving strength long lost
to the business of living.

The busyness of lives
succumbing to the details
of days usurping minutes
not claimed , hungry
for times floating loose.

Wise is the one hugging
closely as breath to breathe
what surrounds
the body as private.

Mine! the toddler shouts,
as he grasps what is his
loudly with force
to claim ownership.

Mine, man whispers as he
clings to the privacy of minutes
not already claimed by
the interminable needs
of the innocent.

The mortgaged soul has
to replenish his own needs
before offering more

from the well running dry.


primitive art by Veronica


The Road To Damascus. . . .

Just One Time. . . .

All it takes is one cosmic experience and your life is changed forever.  Just one and either you will run down the street in your altogether and the men in white coats will take you away or it will alter your life  so that even you won’t recognize the words as coming from you.  Let alone the rest of your circle.  Because you will walk with one foot unalterably planted in another world and your perception of this life will take on proportions never thought possible.  And you will speak  hesitantly but you will work with an attitude that tells everyone that you know how important it is to do what is right. Never will there be half way measures again taken and never will it be done catch as catch can because ‘it don’t make no matter.’  Because you know it does and if this beloved classroom is to continue as it must,  you know now that what you do matters a lot.  We will from this day be held accountable.

The cosmic experience will differ with  each person.  And it will happen,  it will.  Sometimes it is just a glimpse that has you gasping and turning white, or a voice from a somewhere you recognize and have loved,  or a thought inserted that stops your heart momentarily.  Any number of  things not pertinent to the moment but meaningful.  And meant for you.  For you.  It will be a beginning and you will be on an inner journey that will take a lifetime.  You will be on your own road to Damascus. . . my heart goes with you. . . .

The Road To Damascus. . .

And Paul,
on the road to Damascus,
unaware of forces pulling
at his thought
was none the less surprised.

In the privacy of mind,
how could an invasion
of thought not his own
be in conference?

So it is,
in the wars of the visible
and invisible worlds,
the supremacy for power
does not stop.

Our worlds! Claim the gods. . .
My world!  Claims the pilgrim.
One in partnership
till man tasted the lust for power.

Lest we lose this,
the best of all classrooms,
brotherhood is still the dream
and our hearts still too unripe
to embrace its benevolence.

But its power
of magnetism still attracts
what prompted this dream
that catapulted us

to give search to the meaning to the why of us.



art by
Claudia Hallissey


The Light In Our Hearts. . .

We carry the Light in our hearts
and it reflects in your eyes.

You carry the heat of its flame
and we both are warmed.

Silvery, silvery night,
piercing as the child’s cry
cuts sharply into complacency,
peace-ing the soul;
unerringly slipped
into a world of nights
to make a difference.

The Light and Flame linger.

Do you see what we see?


(The candle was another effort in the late ‘70s when I started the Christmas cards when our David was diagnosed with cancer.  They were still done with materials at hand and what I was limited with time and funds.  What was in abundance was emotion.  It was a time of upset but life does in its minute ways to compensate.  As I made these in the late hours of the night much was igniting my inner life.  In ways I can hardly believe, I was a mystic still in those days of hectic secular life with its complex issues to deal with.  In retrospect,  I lived it all and did everything I saw to do but in innocence did not know what I was truly doing.   Uppermost was the intent to create memories that would sustain in spite of circumstances.  This was a need as I saw it.)





What The World Needs. . . .

The Tender Embrace. . .


We all speak from memory.  Whether it is ours or not, it makes little difference.  For within us it is so that the one time speaks for all time.  And everything else is a variation on a theme.  I could not know how deep the emotion which evoked the tears.  Enough said that at one time in a history it happened and given a glimpse this photo brought forth another ocean.

The words were a Given.  From this point in time, the meaning is such that it brings hope.  For what I don’t really know but that they make a difference is one.  It is a Christmas gift to all with what the heart of Jon Katz caught with his camera.  Eloquent.

We Need Not Speak. . .

We need not speak.
Centuries ago we passed
from realms noted for words.

We now simply look
toward the Other and know
by obvious signs what the Other seeks.

It is a far cry
from the world of words where
the simple I  love you spoke
what reams of paper
could not properly say.

It was a love letter that united
planets of thought
that we searched.
I will miss these words

spoken from lips pressed
to my ear only to have
the world know
by the tender embrace                                                                                                                        

that the words were meant only for my heart.



And Gather Moonbeams. . .

We Dance. . .

We dance then
through the night sky
and gather moonbeams
for our baskets. . .

We strew them
onto the paths of the children
who will pick them up
and throw them
with joy to the night sky.

They will be stars again
to be gathered by a one
who recognizes stars
as beams of light. . .

The light is a reflection of you.
The love spewing forth as largess
from the largest cup
is what you have to give.

And the supply is neverending. . .



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