Sunday, December 31, 2006


Move in a crooked rhythm
Dance on a tiled ceiling
Chained in an iron prism
Bow to a statue kneeling

Sell your soul to the devil
Buy your body from the lord
Don’t give me no medal
I just want the tip of your sword

Kiss your lips to my cheek
Bite the tongue of your people
Only the deaf hear you speak
Swinging from a church steeple

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Light Reading

I watch the flames as they dance and burn. I lean ever closer, trying to hear the story they tell. I look at the colors moving in rhythm; the red waltzes with the blue, the white tangos with the yellow. The glittering lights reflect off my transfixed eyes and as I stare into their dazzling faces I can feel myself being pulled into their warm embrace. It’s as if I no longer watch the flames but they watch me; it’s as if I no longer listen to their story but they listen to mine – and, as the space between the flames and myself begins to blur, I am transported to a place far away, far away within me: I have become part of the story…

…Winds howl in the frostbitten night. The slivery moon, waning with yet another month, looks like an icicle in the blackness above. Through my visible breath I see the tail of a shooting star frozen in mid-flight.

I stand there shivering, rubbing my numb hands together in an attempt at creating some semblance of feeling. I am bundled in many layers, covered in many coats, but no material can thaw this bone-chill, no fur can melt this iced heart.

All the homes, once places of light and warmth, have been destroyed: rubble and debris line the cobblestone streets. I can feel its murky stale breath on the back of my neck; an ominous gray cloud brushing against my consciousness. My trembling lips, bruise-purple from the cold, try to speak words, but all that comes out is a steely whimper.

I look to the holy Temple, for the luminance that once radiated the entire world, for the warmth that once blanketed the entire earth; but all I see is a hard darkness: I see people worshiping a thousand idols, their G-d long forgotten; I see bodies sculpted by Achilles, souls long ignored; I see minds shaped by Aristotle, hearts long resigned.

I crawl on all fours, sifting through the rubble, looking for a drop of the purity that once was. I look for hours, for days, but all I find is hopelessness. All has been defiled; all has been soiled. The darkness is too deep; the depths are too dark. It seems once we’ve become guilty we can never retrieve our innocence. It seems once we are lost we can never again be found.

And then, as my numb fingers begin to fall limp, as my frozen eyelashes begin to close, as my trembling lips begin to lie down, I see it. Beneath the countless layers of filth, under the heaping piles of stone-cold idols, underneath the filmy mounds of soot and dust, I can see hope. With the last of my energy, my hand reaches for that little spark buried way down below. And, as my tingling fingers caress that last drop of purity, I know that darkness doesn’t stand a chance…

… I blink and the flames come back into focus. And, as the flames continue to speak, I realize the story still dances on. The search for light in darkness, the search for truth in falseness, the search for purity in defilation, the search for warmth in coldness, happens every day.

Chanukah, the Festival of Lights: no matter how dark things may seem, no matter how bleak a situation may be, there is always that drop of oil that can never be contaminated, that drop of oil that always floats to the top.

I am watching the candles; the candles are watching me. I listen to their story; they listen to mine. Their warmth is my warmth; their light is my light; their story is my story – it is the story of light.


Here's a post from a while back: Shadow. Enjoy!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Easy Reading, Hard Writing

The writer sits in solitude, wording his thoughts with the ink of his pen (or, in this electronic era of ours, the keys of his computer). With every letter scribbled (or typed) a piece of the writer remains on the lined paper (or streaked screen). The naked words leave him most vulnerable to the reader’s discretion (or indiscretion); and though he tells himself it doesn’t matter, he yearns for the reader’s approval nonetheless.

It is fascinating the evolution of a literary piece – how white purity of thought becomes black drops of ink, how black drops of ink become letters, how letters become words, words become sentences, sentences paragraphs, paragraphs chapters, chapters books, books libraries. Like the growth and maturation of a fine wine is the growth and maturation of a fine writ – just the right balance of density and subtlety, the perfect harmony of simplicity and complexity and, if you’re really lucky, the everlasting memory of a delightful finish.

The 19th century American novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne (who would turn scarlet whenever he wrote a letter), worked hard on the easily read aphorism, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” And though one could say he lived in The House of the Seven Fables, nevertheless, I think the adage of his remains truer than Twice-Told Tales.

The writer’s sweat and blood (or, for the pedestrian, quill and ink) let the reader enjoy an easy read without so much as turning a page. The countless discards are never discussed, the sleepless nights are never mentioned, the hours of brain racking are never published; all the reader knows (and needs to know) is the finished product and its synthetic rhythm.

In today’s colorful e-world (blue-teeth byte on infrareds), the antithesis reigns supreme (hi-tech capability, low-key ability; surf in broadband, think in narrow-mind) – and not only in the rhetorical: on one hand it is much easier to write, on the other hand it is much harder to read.

Ten years ago, except for professional journalists and published authors, it was very difficult for a regular Joe sitting on his potato farm in Nowhere, Idaho, to communicate his thoughts and feelings to a regular Punjab sitting in the lotus position in Somewhere, Katmandu. But, today, in a Googlized world where Myspace is your space and Youtube is my tube, communication of one’s self is pretty much limitless – a long, bleach-haired surfer (that is, the modern surfer, surfing the web, not the ocean; riding the keyboard, not the surfboard) could stumble upon (like I’m sure many of you have) pretty much anything.

And, as any surfer will attest, every wave has an upside and a downside: the upside, like many upsides, is obvious – the power to reach 6 billion people with the click of a button. The downside, like many downsides, is not so obvious until the wave has begun its descent – because it is very easy to write and communicate, it is also very difficult to read and understand. Since life in the blogging world is so simple (even the regular Joe and Punjab can proclaim themselves literary geniuses with a message of heavenly proportions) it begets absolutely no effort from its constituents, and because no effort is begotten, no effort is made, and because no effort is made, the writing comes easy, and because the writing comes easy, the reading becomes hard.

Still no matter how easy or difficult, the writer sits in solitude, wording his thoughts with the ink of his pen (or, in this electronic era of ours, the keys of his computer) – and all he can hope for is that some of them make sense.

With every letter scribbled (or typed) a piece of the writer remains on the lined paper (or streaked screen) – and all he can pray for is that just one of those letters remains in the reader's heart.

The naked words leave him most vulnerable to the reader’s discretion (or indiscretion) – and all he can ask for is honesty.

And though he tells himself it doesn’t matter, he yearns for the reader’s approval nonetheless – and all he can say is thank you.