Monday, December 03, 2007

Footsy Roll

Twist and shout:
aaaaaaaaaaFoot twists and nerve shouts.

Rock and roll:
aaaaaaaaaaBody rocks and ankle rolls.

Lightning bolt shoots up leg like fish shoot down stream
(Or Doc Holliday shoots up saloon and disappointment shoots down dream)
And body crumbles to hardwood like week-old corn muffin crumbles to paper bag.

Lie in a heap but tell the truth one at a time.
That's just the way this world twists and turns:
For every bona-fide smile you give, a thousand painted ones you get.

If nothing else, one thing isn't for sure:
Pain isn't exclusive to clichés – it resides also where there's no pleasure.

I'm stuck in bed and my foot is an ouch potato.

Instead of a
They gave me a

All is swell
aaaaaaaaaaMy foot has an inflated ego
And, like an exaggeration, my ankle is blown way out of proportion.

Now I'm hip-hoppin', flip-floppin'
Tip-toppin' and be-boppin'

Infraction 'n' fracture
Enraptured 'n' rapture
Passion 'n' pasture

(Just a chip off the old bone)

I went to the x-ray place and I was seated: he told me my foot was
Thirty-six degrees Fahrenheit in Central Park and my ankle was expecting precipitation.
He gave me an umbrella and said to wear gloves and a scarf and boots.
I wondered why my insurance didn't cover the visit and why he
Kept on pointing to a color-schemed map with clouds and numbers on it
And anyway it looked nothing like a foot. I asked him if I needed a cast.
He said, "Don't you mean a forecast?" And that's when I knew he wasn't
A radiologist but a meteorologist.

Well, it could have been a zoologist.

I always thought an ex-ray was a sunbeam that fell out of favor
But then I see an X-ray is a photo worth a thousand bones.

So maybe beauty is skin deep after all.

(I once knew a guy who was a real bonehead:
He was so vain he would airbrush his own X-rays –
I think I last saw him chilling at the boneyard.)

I turned to the medicine man,
"So tell me, good doctor, is it fract or friction?"
He replied with an impish limp.

Does one cast a mold or mold a cast?
And anyway, do non-conformists walk around in molded casts?

My foot felt like it was at an Off-Off- (way-off) Broadway play with a weak cast

Also, I always thought a hairline fracture was a split forehead.
While lying in bed, you learn new things every day.
(Anyway, if a plane lands awkwardly do they call it an airline fracture?)

Br eak

I learned of tibias and fibulas
And I'm not tibbing or fibbing

(I think he who names bones also names medicines)

Some say it was a twist of foot but I know it was a twist of fate:
Only fate can take an innocent ankle and turn it, twist it –

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaInto poetry.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Letter (or two) to Bat Ayin

O, my daughter, speak to me, unto me
Tell me of all the things you wish to say,
Of the dreams you dream and the hopes
You hope as you lie under the starry blanket
Of heaven and as you walk the tall grasses
Of earth, your arm outstretched caressing,
Feeling life organic. Please, let your grapevines
Down and shake your leaves loose, let your
Fig-tears fall and your date-smiles laugh
Please, I want you to know me, I want to
Know you. I climb your hills and bathe
In your springs, I embrace your soil and
Kiss your stones, I hold your hand and
Walk with your every high and low, I
Look into your face, shining, glowing
The sun your lamp, revealing you, healing
You, feeling you as you grow and blossom,
Flourishing in dire conditions or even
Unconditionally, just doing what you do
Best, life, taking nothing and making something
(Some might even say you are the daughter,
The child, of nothing, of infinity endless)
You, my lovely, take a stony, stony silence
Hill and make it a vineyard; you, my heart,
Take an arid desert and make it a paradise;
You, my soul, take a forgotten promise
And make it a promised land, a home for
Peace and reality, a present and future
Perfect like your sunsets, yet never fading,
The colors not frozen but neither burning,
Just feeling, knowing, being…

You are the pupil of the eye –
I wish to be the pupil of you:
Suckling, licking every fruit you teach,
Clinging, hugging every root you inspire,
Wanting, needing every seed you plant,
Every sweat you drip, every work you
Labor, everything you do and everyone
You touch. Down in the valley and up
On the peaks I call to you, yearn to you
For when you will be the everyday norm
Not the exotic exception. I need you to
Call back, say hello to me, speak to me, tell
Me of all the things you wish to say
Of the dreams you dream and the hopes
You hope as you lie under the starry blanket
Of heaven and as you walk the tall grasses
Of earth, your arm outstretched caressing,
Feeling life organic

I think you already have:
wwwwwwwThe root
wwwwwwwAnd fruit

O, my daughter, when will we
Acknowledge the pupil of our
Eye and see that you are really
The daughter of us all?

Monday, July 09, 2007


It calls, does the wild (and not only from London) –
But it gets my voicemail and leaves no message after the beep
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzNor a messenger
– What the beep?

Strong vocal cords has the wild; bar chords stronger yet –
Still I cannot hear its message.

(For some odd or G-d reason I think it’s more
A problem with my ears than its tongue.)

It grows on you, does the wild, and you can only hope to

zzzzzzzzzGrow on it.

Like a dizzy spinster it is ungroomed: hair
Tangled; cheeks
Naked; paintless
Lips; lipless

Unlike an elevator filled with great-aunts and queen-wannabes
Pampered in Hegai’s spa, no fumes or perfumes emanate from
Its being – only the smell of nature unsprayed, untouched by art

Official substance.

It’s a wildflower and a wild guess:
A wildflower because nothing can stop its growth;
A wild guess because no one can predict its path.

You are afraid of its potential: you want to flip the letter,
The Double-You –
But were you really born to be in sipid, in control,
To live in postproduction?

Don’t walk down its path –
zzzzzzzzzzzThere isn’t any!
But run along its every curve, over untrimmed edges and
Tall borders, ivy crawling inhibitive, inhibition crawling away.
Bust through convention centers and concession
Stands. Cross-don’t-cross? I’m never cross and crosses

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzAre for roads

Life is wild: a wild look in its eyes, a wild beard on its face –

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzDo you want to tame it or live it?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Reach In To Get Out

Young blood, some younger than others of course, boils by the fireside. Sitting on rocks, rocking on energy, energized beyond recognition, we sit encircled not in warmth – but the warmth is encircled in us. Fires are unique in that way: they are nothing yet everything; you cannot touch only feel them.

The guitars strum in awkward rhythms; awkward is the title of tonight’s show. People come just because, I cannot say because of what, and hang around for a while. Some are wanted, either for their looks, or their wit, or their relationships, mostly for their relationships. Wanted by others, not by me. I like people for their existence, not their qualities. These may have existence, but they hide behind their qualities, like most, and are therefore unreadable.

It crackles and dances, does the fire, and sparks shoot upward, trying to reach the star-studded heaven above, trying like a young child for his mothers breast. But, as I watch, all the sparks fade away a mere few feet into their flight. You would think that they would learn their lesson, but, no, they still reach, still yearn, still burn for the beautiful beyond.

We sit, trying to emulate the sparks, the fire: we try to shake and dance, we try to leap off our crackling limbs, off our earthen flesh, off our boiling blood; but, the more we reach, the further away we seem to be.

We all reach differently: some reach through the pipe, some through the bottle; some reach through their hearts, some through others’ minds; some reach with their outstretched arms, some with narrow-minded thoughts; some reach by singing out of tune, some by reciting poetry; some reach by falling back, some by falling forward; some just by falling; some reach by blowing smoke rings, some by blowing minds (and some by blowing other things); some reach out, some in; but only those that don’t reach seem to be getting anywhere.

I guess we truly are like the flame – we must reach for heaven, lest we become comfortable; but the only way for us to really burn is by dancing on earth.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Doing and Hearing

I try so hard, to slip my mind;
My mind tries so hard, to slip away.
Indeed, it is a slippery slope on which I think
And an empty glass slipper in a half-full glass of hope –

I try not to mind but I cannot so I do
Mind you
You mind?

We will do…

I’m in love
And when you’re in love you do things without thinking

I used to think a lot and in a lot I used to think:
I used to think about consequences and inconsequences
(I hated being inconsequence, consequently having no sequence)
I would think about stances, circumstances and happenstances
About what-will-bees and be-what-it-maze

I used to think and to think I used –

It’s confusing, I know (or not), so I just do

mmmmmmmmmI guess I’m do
mmmmmmmmmAnd I’m paying my dos
mmmmmmmmm(Though it’s more than just dues and don’ts
mmmmmmmmmBut I never knew that until I did
And never did that until did)

And we will hear…

I’m still in love
And when you’re still in love you better hear what’s being said
(Even if you do)
Lest all you hear is your own cry

I hear and I try to understand and when I do
I question
And I try to understand
And when I do
(Because I do do)
I question
And I try to understand…

I wonder where I would be if I didn’t say
We will do and we will hear
Or if I said it in a different order

I probably wouldn’t be
(Never mind doing or hearing):

If I tried to understand everything I did before I did it
The only two things I would do is regret and self-pity
And that I’d do to perfection.

If I only did without hearing and understanding
I’d be doing and sending that other poem I rote

If I only heard and understood without doing,
Well, then, these words might be heard and understood
But they sure as ink wouldn’t be written

Per the theme – this poem was definitely done before being heard

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmOr understood.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


(this is a weekly column we are working on @ The Algemeiner Journal in our ongoing effort to enhance it. What do you think of this as a weekly feature?)


Believe it or not, faith is in the air (and the news). In Israel, from Olmert to Herzl, the people have lost faith in their leaders. In Politics, from Obama to Ahmadinejad, faith is suddenly omnipresent. In Environment, from Global Warming to coral reefs, faith is all that seems to be left. In Science, from apes to new planets, faith is dissected. In Economics, from Wolfowitz to Wal-Mart, in G-d they trust. And in The Middle East, well, faith has always been their excuse.


The Israeli leader-ship is sinking fast. Following the Winograd commission’s criticism of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s handling of last summer’s war on Hezbollah, the call for the prime minister’s resignation rings from the Golan Heights down to the Negev. The only question is: What took so long?

Cabinet minister Eitan Cabel of the Labor Party resigned from the Cabinet and called for Olmert to follow suit, to “bear responsibility” for his actions.

Olmert, who even before the release of the report had a below 3% approval rate (which, in a country the size of Israel, is about three falafel-stand owners and an Egged bus driver), said he will not quit and his spokeswoman said, “He thinks that through his actions, [public] support will come.”

For some odd reason – perhaps because of the 119 soldiers and 39 civilians killed from his previous actions – it is highly unlikely.

But, don’t worry – the Israeli leadership is not alone in its demise. The Socialist dream may be dying as well. In what Time magazine called “The End of a Zionist Idyll,” the oldest kibbutz in Israel, Degnia, has given up its socialist ideals and gone private.

“Many Israelis see us as yet another broken symbol,” said the kibbutz manager.

And, with Olmert breaking other ones, maybe it’s time for Israel to find better symbols.


Jumping one leader-ship for another: To be politically correct, G-d votes neither Democrat nor Republican; yet, that doesn’t stop Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama from voting for G-d. In a front-page story, the NY Times followed Senator Obama’s journey “from skepticism to belief,” how the stepson of “a nominal Muslim who hung prayer beads over his bed but enjoyed bacon, which Islam forbids,” adopted the Christian faith.

To be politically incorrect, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad marked the 27th anniversary of the failed U.S. operation to rescue 53 American hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by saying, “Heavenly aides supported the Iranian nation and clobbered the enemy in the desert.”

You think Ahmadinejad enjoys bacon too?


From fried, unhealthy (and non-kosher) foods, to fried, unhealthy (though kosher) planets, UN scientists claim nuclear power can save the world. And all this time we thought Iran wanted to destroy it.

More than 2,000 scientists have contributed to this report given by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the syllables themselves could corrode any ozone layer – the third of such a report given this year.

Meanwhile, as this Planet Earth is melting away, another has floated to the surface.


In real-life, ET fashion, scientists have discovered a warm and rocky “second Earth” circling a star, which they believe dramatically boosts the prospects that we are not alone.

Yet, while they make progress in regard to life on other planets, they can barely figure out life on this one:

In their undying quest to find the origins of everything (wonder where the origins of that comes from?), scientists have sought clues in the gestures of chimpanzees to hint at the origins of language.

Is it possible that the origins of language are found – dare it be said – in a being higher than a baboon?


From one deity to the next: The Almighty Dollar is in play – and for very high-stakes. Wal-Mart, the mega-retailer, is being charged by the Human Rights Watch with using illegal means to prevent its workers from forming unions, while Google Inc., the mega-parent of the popular video-sharing site YouTube, filed a response to Viacom Inc.’s lawsuit that claimed YouTube was willfully infringing copyrights of Viacom Inc.’s materials.

It seems, “In G-d We Trust” has its limits. Maybe Paul D. Wolfowitz, in response to the World Bank’s inquiry into his securing a $193,590 job for a close female friend, put it best: it would be “unjust and frankly hypocritical” of the board to find guilt of ethical collapse.

After all, how can one find someone guilty of ethical collapse when there is no ethical standard to begin with?

The Middle East:

Talk about ethical standards: A suicide bomber blew himself up in middle of an Iraqi funeral, killing 32 people; a gunman killed 14 travelers on an Iraqi highway; Hamas threatened more violence if its “demands” were not met; and Iran continues its march to world domination. Is it any wonder then that, while the EU and UN sat down for tea with Hamas and the gang, terrorist attacks shot-up (and blew-up) more than 25% over the past year?

With Turkey and the Middle East at large going through a religious-or-secular identity crisis, where faith threatens humanity and humanity “sacrifices” itself over the blood of innocent children – but, of course, all in the name of Allah – who will stand up as a courageous voice in this sandy realm of terror and human indignity? Israel?

Maybe if its leader-ship could right itself.

If that doesn’t put things in perspective maybe next week will.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why The Pain?

I walk in the forest. I come upon a brook. The brook is so silent and still. I look into the brook. The brook looks into me – it is like a polished looking glass. As I stare into it, captivated by its simplicity, I begin drifting to a place I’ve only dreamt about before, a place that knows no evil and feels no pain…

The sun never sets. The sky never grays. The grass never yellows. The tree never dies. The leaf never crumbles. The flower never wilts.

The man does not hate. The woman does not cry. The child does not hurt. The family does not starve.

The mind does not forget. The heart does not deceive. The lip does not frown. The hand does not slap. The face does not cringe.

The canvas does not discolor. The music does not stop. The words do not fade. The poem does not end.

There is no war. There is no loss. There is no regret. There is no enemy. There is no divide. There is no failure. There is no pain.

But then, as I drift deeper and deeper, I begin to see more and more, and I begin to understand…

The sun never sets…because it has never risen. The sky never grays…because it has never been blue. The grass never yellows…because it has never been green. The tree never dies…because it has never lived. The flower never wilts…because it has never bloomed.

The man does not hate…but neither does he love. The woman does not cry…but neither does she laugh. The child does not hurt…but neither does he feel. The family does not starve…but neither does it eat.

The mind does not forget…but neither does it remember. The heart does not deceive…but neither is it faithful. The lip does not frown…but neither does it smile. The hand does not slap…but neither does it caress. The face does not cringe…but neither does it glow.

The canvas does not discolor…because it’s painted in black and white. The music does not stop…because the song has never been composed. The words do not fade…because the letters have never been written. The poem does not end…because the poet does not begin.

There is no war…but neither is there peace. There is no loss…but neither is there gain. There is no regret…but neither is there pride. There is no enemy… but neither is there a friend. There is no divide…but neither is there individuality. There is no failure…but neither is there hope. There is no pain…but neither is there pleasure.

Now, slowly, slowly I begin to float back to the surface. And, as I walk away from the brook, I no longer question all the pain in life but am thankful for all its pleasures.

Monday, April 16, 2007

You Being You

Over the years and under the bridges waters flow like some people’s tears. It is a story known by many but a message experienced by few. So rare is its child that even the parent is unaware of its birth. Such is the case in most cases: life’s story tumbles on while its characters – we, the human body – remain ignorant to its unfolding.

When one arises and proclaims a lesson or two, a truth or three, to be gleaned from the seemingly drunken ramblings of a sober poet, he is called – by the crowd and the loud – a lunatic. When one stands up and tries to make a difference in an indifferent world, he is branded – by the masses and the asses – a homeless outcast. But, just because someone doesn’t feel comfortable in a home with a leak, it doesn’t make him homeless; and, just because someone doesn’t feel fine by bending to the status quo, that doesn’t make him an outcast.

And if it does, then so be it: I’d rather be a homeless outcast trying to make a difference than a homebody incast trying to live up to standards created by standard people.

They say that after we graduate from this world to the World of Truth, where one does not need HD to see things clearly and definitively, they will not ask us, “Why weren’t you this and why weren’t you that?” they will ask you, “Why weren’t you you?”

It is an unbelievable blessing – and, therefore, responsibility – to know that you can be you, to know that no one else can be you and no one else can do what you do. It is such a blessing that most people choose to shun it like the plague. It is damn scary, knowing you can change the face of existence. If you acknowledge the power and you don’t do anything about it, you are a failure; but, if you just choose to ignore it and make believe it doesn’t exist, you are off the hook. “Hey,” you can say, “I don’t believe I can change the world so I’m free of any yoke and responsibility.” Of course it’s denial, but denial feels so good.

So, what’s it going to be, a house with a leak but at least a house or a dream for a perfect home, where we may have to knock down a few strong walls but only to build stronger bridges?

What’s it going to be, easy-as-pie denial or tough-as-nails growth?

It’s you being you so you decide.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Purple Haze

Have you ever heard a wine connoisseur describe a wine? It sounds as if he is describing a human being – full-bodied, rich color tones, strong bone structure, sweet disposition – some of my best friends aren’t that characteristic! And if that is not enough to deflate an amateur drinker’s self-confidence, just watch the way a wine expert drinks the stuff – he caresses it like a long lost child, he stares at it like a smitten sixteen year old, he sniffs it like a firehouse dog, and he gargles it like a mouthwash. I don’t mean to belittle wine and its sommeliers, but what is going on here?

Wine represents the hidden dimension, the part of us that can work for hundreds of years just to produce a mere few ounces of pleasure. It is called Life. The soil, the vine, the cultivation, the grape, the squeeze, the process – all culminating in a perfect wine, a perfect universe.

My tongue is still purple from all the Passover wine, the four cups of freedom, so what better time to write of wine than now?

Drink responsibly.

Red flow, sparkling
Dark pools of purple
Ink, writing sacred
Words on



Hear the news on the

Walk through the vineyard
It looks like a graveyard
But it’s really a backyard
With three feet of lanyard
And the passion of a spanyard

I wish you could look through the
Into the burgundy depths –
wineAnd know my wine
winAnd not my whining.

This vintage is G-dly
If it weren’t such a pun
I’d call it:
The Grape of Divine

(We all want taste but we
Don’t want to wait for maturation)

It is dry but wet
Enough to whet my palette.
Semidry humor and semisweet

You can smell the bouquet
As you stick your curious snout
In other people’s business
(Which is fine if you don’t

Grapes of Wrath:

Trying to flag down a yellow cabernet
Don’t say I don’t pinot!
Muscat got your tongue?
David killing Goliath with a
Riesling shot.
The highest of the high
The merlowest of the merlot
Don’t chardonnay say
Lest it be champagneful.
My grape juices are flowing
Barreling through the casket
Out of the spout, unto your lips.

The silence is worse than the grape.

Time to climb out of the wine
winewinewinewineAnd into the message
winewinewinewinewinewineIn the bottle.

The sunlight hurts my eyes
I am beginning to feel heavy
And my head is starting to spin.
I guess I better put a
Cork in it.
Now unwined.

(Need a designated driver –
But the road I travel can only be
Driven by me
Such is the life.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sanitizing the Insanity of Pesach

The brooms have come out of the closet, sweeping the crumbs off their feet. The mops have come out of retirement, mopping the brows of the hardwood floors in a swooshing rhythm. The dusters have been dusted off and are scattering the little feathery minutiae that congregate in corners and atop cabinets. Cleaning agents (don’t you just love that term, “cleaning agents,” sounds like little suds in dark suits and darker glasses, chasing grimy filth around in their government-issue, tinted-window sedans) have soaped and shampooed any surface that is, well, surfaced. And every book (which in a good Jewish home is more than the goyishe coffee table number and essential cookbooks) has been aired and its pages flipped. Such is the life in the Jewish home during the hectic pre-Pesach weeks – every nook, cranny and crevice is squeakily cleaned, hygienically sanitized and flawlessly spic-and-spanned.

Ironically, it seems, the holiday of freedom has imprisoned us in the Siberian gulag of chores; the time of exodus has shackled us to the tough bristles of the broom; the hour of redemption has exiled us to the dominion of domestic servitude. What is going on here – are we free to do as we please or has our exodus only been a transfer from the cell of Egyptian bondage to the pits of solitary confinement?

Ever since I was a child when, from Purim on, I was not allowed to bring food or drink into my room lest a rebellious crumb escape the plate’s status quo and defile my chometz-free bedroom, I’ve wondered about the whole Pesach cleaning thing – is it really necessary to blowtorch pots, silver-foil faucets and plastic-cover countertops?

(I’m sorry to burden you with this pun, but the whole Pesach cleaning experience seems to be wishy-washy. Ouch!)

As the human race would have it, there are those that would rather go with the faucet flow and not ask these dirty questions. And there are others that would go as far as calling these questions apikorses, bordering on the heretical (if not the hysterical). But, as I’ve been taught and as the holiday of Pesach demonstrates, we are nothing without our questions and if one were to deny a question – that would be heretical; it would mean that we believe the Torah was not intelligent enough to answer legitimate questions. (What would the Babylonian Talmud be without questions? Unanswerable if not unfathomable.)

If the perennial Bubby was around at the moment, she’d probably say to my questions, “Nu, megst fregen,” nu, so you’re allowed to ask, which, in my vast experience with such shrewd shrug-offs, would be a clear sign that there was no answer on the horizon (though, in all honesty, the fact that I’m allowed to ask may be the greatest answer of all). I guess her thinking would be, “Just because Judaism begets questions doesn’t mean grandmothers beget answers!” True, o wizened one, but where does that leave me?

Thankfully, in not only advocating (and supplying) questions but answers as well, Judaism and its blueprint, the Torah, has opened my eyes, pockets and cupboards to the deeper cleaning of Pesach: the brushes and soaps that reach beneath the polished surface and into the raw self.

The physical Pesach cleaning process, where we rid our homes, possessions and environments of any chometz, is but a reflection of the spiritual Pesach cleaning process, where we rid our personal selves – mind, body and soul – of any chometz.

What is physical chometz? Chometz (rhymes with summits) is any grain product – like bread, cake, pasta or pizza crust; be it wholegrain, multigrain, half-grain or even migraine – that has had the chance to ferment and rise.

Spiritual chometz is no different: it is the inflated self, the bacterial part of us that has had a chance to ferment way out of character and rise way out of proportion. Anything within ourselves that considers itself an identity all its own and has an ego that rises like warm yeast, is a piece of chometz. Like the physical chometz, the spiritual chometz tastes very good, is very fattening, and gets real moldy and real stale really fast.

If we want true freedom we have to throw away that yeasty garbage, we have to washout our dirty laundry, we have to clean up our micro-mess. Scrubbing our indecencies and selfishness away allows for our true beings to shine forth. Sweeping our minds of any crumbs left from our inflated – and, therefore, crumbling – egos allows us to uncover who we really are – people of the free, cut clean from any Egypt or confine, running unhindered and unrestrained (not to mention unsoiled) to the Promised Land.

So, before you throw in the towel, stop moping and start mopping – after all, if one was to clean not only the bottom of the shelf but also the bottom of the self, one would have to turn up the heat to a whole new level – to “self-clean” perhaps?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bittul - A Prelude To Tomorrow’s Post

I recently came across this and in one line it really captures what Bittul is all about. Most people misinterpret it or don't interpret it altogether. I think tomorrow I'm going to post more on this. (Hey, if one doesn't have Bittul at least they can write about it.)

“Ultimate Bittul is not only searching for the vices in yourself but also for the virtues in another” – The Rebbe (Printed in Lekkutei Sichos vol. 17, p. 7.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Writ & Read

Writ sits in solitude, fingers tap-dancing a rhythm out of key: Letters sprinkling like chocolate on vanilla; Words embracing like Adam and Eve; Sentences fastening like speeding locomotive cars; Paragraphs supporting like old-age-home banisters.

Writ writes himself – that is, Writ writes himself into the pages. Writ never writes fiction – there is no such thing as fiction: if someone says there is, then that someone is a fictionist. Many writers hide behind their words – after all, it never feels good to be naked in a clothing store – Writ, however, words his way out of hiding: letters are the fingers with which he unbuttons his shirt; words, the hands with which he undresses his soul.

Read stands in company, fingers dog-earing pages yellowed: (Paper)back hunched like Quasimodo; Spine tingled like A. Christy mystery; Preface blushing like the cheek of Cosette; Epilogue experienced like Jean Valjean.

Read reads others – that is, Read reads what others have written. Read never reads non-fiction – after all, for non-fiction Read has but to look out the window. It is fiction, that thing only found in endings fair and tales fairy, what Read so desperately craves.

Who are you, Writ or Read?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Purim 2007

“Whoever reads the Megila retrospectively – out of order; back to front – has not fulfilled the mitzvah.”
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz– Talmud, Megila, beg. Ch. II.

“Whoever reads the Megila retrospectively – as if it was just a story of the past; irrelevant to the present – has not fulfilled the mitzvah.”
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz– The Baal Shem Tov

“…The king made a feast for all those…(Esther, 1:5)”

We lie here in exile, fat and growing fatter, content to go through the routines of life, satisfied with the status quo of existence. And why not, when we are invited to feast off all the world’s pleasures?

And what a feast it is: impure-silver contentment interwoven with purple-silk temptation; gold goblets brimming with self-righteousness washing down pompousness stuffed full with vanity; onyx encrusted limitations draped over platinum plated coarseness.

Life is beautiful – well, at least our monies can buy beautiful things – and we are free – free to enslave ourselves.

We are drunk on our own insecurities, but who cares so long as we are in denial. We are broken-up inside, but who cares so long as we smile on the outside. We have been exiled for a while now, but with such exile who needs redemption.

It seems the physical feast has become our spiritual famine. Why do we not realize that when we feast off the world we are also allowing the world to feast off us?

“…But Mordechai did not bow…(3:2)”

And yet, even as the rest of the world bows to the idol, there is a part of us that remains upright and true, never exchanging a few moments of bliss for an eternity of pain.

It is not easy, standing up for your values in a room where everything is valueless. It is most difficult, keeping your identity when surrounded by people who’d rather bend to peer-pressure. It is the greatest of challenges, holding your head up high when the majority bows theirs so low.

It makes people envious, sure, when they see someone who stands for what s/he believes – and that envy, instead of using it as inspiration to change themselves, causes them to get angry and enraged at the situation.

“…To destroy, kill and decimate…(3:13)”

Good and Evil (or whatever term you wish to use to word the positives and negatives in life) cannot coexist – where Good flourishes Evil falters, where Evil flourishes Good falters. Subsequently, when they meet at the inevitable crossroad called Life, a battle ensues, with Good trying to best Evil and Evil trying to best (worst?) Good.

When Evil sees Good faltering, when he sees it feasting off things physical instead of sustaining from things spiritual, Evil tries to come in for the kill. Evil tries to hang Good from a gallows made of a million broken promises.

“…On that night, the king could not sleep…(6:1)”

But Good doesn’t play by the same rules as Evil; Evil’s power is limited to this world alone, but Good’s power reaches far beyond to a place that transcends evil. Evil cannot take a warm smile and make it a cold smirk, but Good can take a cold smirk and make it a warm smile.

And so it is at night, in the darkest hour, when the miracle begins, when a dire situation turns for the better.

“…And everything was turned upside-down, inside-out…(9:1)”

What seemed to be terrible yesterday is wonderful today. He who wanted us to bow to him now bows to us. The Evil that wanted to smite us is now being smitten. And the world is a better place.

But how can there be such a drastic change, from yesterday to today, so drastic that those who were our enemies are now our friends, so drastic that those who wished for us to swing form the gallows now swing themselves?

It is because everything is turned upside-down, inside-out. Yesterday we saw things at face-value; today we see things at soul-value. Yesterday we looked at things for their physical price; today we see things for their spiritual worth. Yesterday we were feasting in the palaces of kings; today we feast in the palace of the King of kings – and no feast was ever more satisfying.

“…For the Jews there was light and joy, gladness and honor…(8:16)”

Last years Purim piece: Faced By...

Sneak peek: In honor of Purim, this weeks Weekly Poetry will address "Masks." If you've recently been born or have just learned to read, you can subscribe to the Weekly Poetry by emailing me, sub. "Subscribe."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Why Joy? Joy Because!

The saddest thing is a sad child. Children are supposed to be happy, unadulterated joy. If a child is sad, if a child has been hurt, if a child has been scarred, it is the saddest, most hurtful, most scarring thing. It is innocence defiled.

We are born pure. Over the years, as childhood turns to adulthood, we become contaminated. Layer after layer of things insignificant pile atop the forgotten child, turning him into an adult. Maturity is really nothing more than a big cloak shrouding our innate purity. Growth, as defined by the world, is just forgetting one’s natural state.

Because a child is pure, a child is joyous. Of course there will be the inevitable tear when the child doesn’t get the candy or toy, but that is not true sadness; that is momentary dissatisfaction. Give it a minute or two and the child will go back to its natural state – Joy.

The same goes for adult happiness. Just like child sadness is momentary, so is adult happiness momentary: merely a fleeting satisfaction. Adult happiness, be it bought with dollars or gained with favors, is a temporary happiness, as substantial as the dollar or favor that birthed it.

There is a reason people need possessions, need extravagant things. People need belongings because they need to belong. There is a void here that has to be filled. And this void is no insignificant void. It is the greatest of voids. A void created by the lack of Self. So, what can replace Self? Nothing. But we try. We try with things physical and we try with things mystical; we try with things cynical and we try with things sexual; we try with things whimsical and we try with things hysterical. But, no matter how many possessions we possess, no matter how hard we try, the void always remains. True, we may forget the void for a while, even for a mean while, but it is always there, begging to be filled and fulfilled.

But how?

There are those times when the unadulterated purity shines through all the layers, when the child peeks through the curtains with his irresistible smile. We all have such moments in life, when we are not happy because we have this or don’t have that, but we are joyous just because, just because we are.

True Joy is not something unnatural and acquired (or even required, squired, esquired, enquired, or quagmired). Real Joy just is. A child isn’t happy because something has made him happy; a child is happy because he is. The adult – who is really just a huge plastic mask – also has this happiness within him, but, because of all the distortions, it isn’t as spontaneous or evident. Still, there are nevertheless those triggers that ignite something that has always been there, just waiting, impatiently, for these moments of truth.

Joy is going back to where we once were. Joy is recognizing that we are here not because we have possessions or because someone tells us we are important; Joy is knowing we are here because we are who we are, indispensable in the greater scheme of things, irreplaceable by something or someone else. Joy is smiling at the fact that there is no void, because no matter how many masks, no matter how much makeup or how many false personifications created, there is me, me how G-d made me, me who is needed, needed not only by people but by the creator of people; needed not only by our networks but also by reality.

Joy isn’t found somewhere. Joy is realizing that something was never lost. And that something is Self.

Adar and Purim, the most joyous of times, not because we have something this month or this holiday that we haven’t had before; it is the most joyous because we realize something we’ve always had –

A Why and a Because.

(This weeks Weekly Poetry email covered the Joy topic. If you would like to subscribe to the weekly email, let me know at, sub. “Subscribe.”)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What is Joy?

I would like your insights...

I will post a piece on this later tonight.