Friday, June 23, 2006


Imagine this, beautiful dreamer –
Smiles painted on coffee creamer,
Flowers colored in children’s crayon,
Fists clenched in a misdemeanor,
Tears trailing down synthetic rayon.

Imagine that, feral cupid –
Smart answers to questions stupid,
Morals cemented in elastic,
Hallucinating until it’s lucid,
Genius but not very scholastic.

Imagine this, stunning utopian –
Candy-apples shellacked in opium,
Ice cream trucks playing rock n’ roll,
Pancakes fried in crude petroleum,
Cheerios floating in a toilet bowl.

Imagine that, glorious princess –
Fecal malodorous they call incense,
Golden bricks cinderblock plated,
All five giving into the sixth-sense,
Teenagers some wish were sedated.

Imagine this, and imagine that –
It’s easy to pull a rabbit from your hat.
Miners digging cranium in exploration,
It don’t have to be perfect, tit-for-tat,
Cause it’s just a pigment of your imagination.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Sub-title

Amidst the chaotic Sub-world, some orderly Sub-stance

Two globes green stand on either side of the staircase – sentinels guarding a shrine. They barely blink as we pass through their uncrossed swords. Muted do the blaring horns wax and eclipsed does the glaring moon wane. Smells of spring foliage meeting summer night give way to the dusk muskiness of non-perfumed foundations.

Talk to a human with a robotic voice through perPlexiglas. Swipe two dollars for a plastic card and then swipe plastic card for a chance to turn (in) style. Cross (or, uncross) the steel elbows and find yourself on the other side of the border.

On the bench with uncomfortable hand-rests, wood polished by a million derrières, sits an older woman dangling her cane near a child dangling her legs. Looking at the map partially painted in spray, a fanny-packed couple in matching khaki shorts points their fingers to the tune of tourism. Leaning nonchalantly with a beaming smile on a smiling beam, a young man in flat-billed baseball cap nods to the hip-hop beat I-Tuned from his I-Pod. People stream in clogs (clog in streams?), heels, sneakers, loafers, boots, sandals, moccasins, flip-flops, and even platforms – yes, this platform is a platform of diversity.

Earth rumbling a quake no Richter can scale – an express expressing her desire to pass us locals by.

Light piercing the end of the tunnel, moves not at the speed of light. It crawls ever so slowly, seemingly at a snail’s pace. Finally it is illuminated that this is not the long overdo “light at the end of the tunnel”, but only a tumbling subway train – a tumbling train of thought perhaps.

Riders snap to attention as the doors snap open. Some get off; most get on. “Stand clear of the closing doors please.”

A seat is harder to come by than one in the Israeli Knesset (or, to be sure, one to the Beatle Comeback Tour). Standing room only, and, therefore, no room for error. With the subway’s jerk, the jerk behind me bangs into my hip. “I’m sorry”, he does not say. “No problem”, I do not reply. Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to New York.

“Next stop, Bowling Green,” the computer-generated voice alertly says. The real-life conductor, not to be outdone, crackles inarticulately: “This is the ‘baseball special’, so Bowling Green is the last stop. To go to Brooklyn wait for the next number 4 train. We would like to apologize for any inconvenience, but don’t think it is necessary.”

Prior to the infamous announcement – must have been somewhere between Union Square and Brooklyn Bridge – seats were vacated and we moved right in. A man walks into our car and, with oratory skills known only to the desperate, tells us about the fire in his house and his starving three-month old and nine-year old. Do we have clothing, food, even a penny to help him? Anything, he begs. The faces around the car, no two the same, have all gone unnatural – some have gone unnaturally indifferent, some have gone unnaturally sympathetic, but no face remained as it was. Two people give something; most think him an addict. (Does an addict not need help?) Moral decisions abound.

Alas, Bowling Green has arrived. Doors snap open and that inarticulate voice of crackle ushers us out into a tunnel of darkness. Amidst the throng of “baseball special” derelicts awaiting their ticket to Brooklyn, I see two older Chassidim, one in a navy-blue baseball cap with an interlocking NY on the front, the other clutching an ultra-religious-family-size bag of peanuts, their Tzitzus and white flowing beards swinging in the underground breeze. And as I watch these two 50-something-year-olds, probably using “America’s pastime” to better understand a deep mystical concept, I know that the circus in New York’s underground is well worth another act.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Writing Nothing, Reading Everything

There Really Is Much Ado About Nothing

It is an art to write about nothing; it is a much greater art to write about nothing so that your readers think it is everything. Many have perfected the art of writing nothing; but few have perfected the art of making that nothing seem like everything.

(At the incalculable risk of boring the hell out of each other, we will not use our valuable ink and invaluable time to actually write about something – unless, of course, it is in the context of nothing.)

Nothing is more exciting than something: something demands something in return – a thought, an emotion, at least a reaction – nothing, however, demands absolutely nothing – not even a shrug. You shrug? Well, that was superfluous.

If a writer writes about nothing, and a reader nevertheless takes his precious time to read that nothing, does that make the writer great or does that make the writer disappointing? Artistically – things-are-beautiful-because-that’s-who-I am – speaking: the writer is great; I care not if something or nothing was conveyed, all I care about is the beauty of the conveying. Practically – things-are-beautiful-if-they-make-a-difference – speaking: the writer is a disappointment; I care not for the means of expression, I care only for the message expressed.

Of course the psychology student would argue: “It is an impossibility for the writer to write about nothing: every nuance, meaningful or seemingly meaningless, is something and not nothing.” Of course the Talmudic student would argue with that. However, we do not discuss here whether one can or cannot write about nothing; we merely discuss whether a brilliant writer consists of his message or of his method.

But that too was not what we originally setout to accomplish: all we ever wanted was to simply write about nothing. But, as nothing cannot be bottled, we are having a terribly difficult time trying to stay focused:

If one were writing about something, say food, it would be most exhausting (or, at the very least, most unpalatable) for the writer to flow into plumbing – lest the writing become clogged and, therefore, the reading flooded. But, for the collective we, the collective we who write about nothing, it is most impossible (or, at the very least, a nonentity) to remain at simply nothing without branching off into nothing at all – lest nothing be limited to nothing.

So here we go, writing about nothing, from one nothing to another… with nothing holding us back.

The beauty of writing nothing is that we can conclude with nothing (if we began with nothing why should we not conclude with nothing as well?). The ugliness of writing nothing is that there is no structure – nothing, absolutely nothing, has a structure problem like nothing.

The title of this no-thing, “Writing Nothing”, implies that this writer writes nothing. However, the words following the title and subtitle, “It is an art to write about nothing”, seem to suggest that this writer does not write nothing, but rather, about nothing. What is the difference, you ask? Take poetry: one can write poetry – from haikus to ballads to limericks – and one can write about poetry – analyze, study, dissect the poetry another, (or, for the self-conscious (defacing?), oneself) has penned.

So, does this writer write nothing or does this writer write about nothing? I, the leader of the collective we, think this writer writes neither nothing, nor about nothing – rather, this writer writes nothing about nothing.

Why, then, is there so much ado about nothing – if indeed it is nothing, should it not be treated as such?

The answer lies not in the writer of nothing, for he writes what he breathes – if he breathes life, he writes life; if he breathes hot air, he writes hot air; if he breathes nothing, he writes nothing – only, the answer lies in the reader – as long as the reader reads everything, the writer will continue to write nothing.

After all, the costumer is always right.