Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My 75th birthday

Three quarters of a century
Seven and one half decades
Nine hundred months
Thirty nine hundred weeks
Twenty seven thousand,three hundred and seventy five days-
six hundred and thirty seven thousand hours
thirty eight  million two hundred and twenty two thousand  minutes
two billion two hundred and ninety three million and two hundred thousand-seconds

If   physicist I would measure  nanos
If  physician, heartbeats,
If philosopher,  infinity
but merely a child of the universe
my only gradient is gratitude

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ode to the “I” phone

They walk down the street,
Heads lowered to the ground,
As if not a soul is 
Anywhere around

Cars may pass, 
people walking by,
On concrete or on grass,
world has shrunk -what remains is the “I”.

 No, the world 's an oyster,
 press a button and see,
a private space-my cloister,
Whatever I want I can be.

I can text, talk and skype,
any place any hour ,
whether to praise or to gripe,
its within everyone's power

no longer apart,
or terribly bored,
now instantly smart
entertained as a lord.

A mirror to look at 
and  indulgently preen,
the world’s again  flat,
its all on a screen.

Ere the I phone,
not  long ago
Feeling so alone
Without a place to go

But now, beyond space and time,
a gentle tap,
on the lap,
no need Mt. Everest to climb

The world at finger's tip
Like God feel divine
From app to app we flip,
our shrine , a click on line.

Life  is now a great joy,
so eat , drink and be merry,
As long as your toy
is a Noika or Blackberry.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I want to go home-A mother's plea

Her new home-
she's come a long way, baby
Laura Ashley-
goyish, but gorgeous,
delicate, refined
the smell of  “Waspy” freshness
in every corner-
“It's very clean” she mutters, an accent 
 of some far away spot
far away from the shimmering shores of the Hudson river
and so long ago, before her world died,
when she could boast  of a father
with  modern machines who
could crush kernels into
and recite the  mantra of
lines of gentile farmers waiting for
the miracle of a wealthy Jew-

“I want to go home” she declared, eyes blankly looking ahead 
at some dim memory of 75 years ago-
“and where is home” she is asked, fear in the daughter's voice,
lest she reply
“the Queens!”
“Sosnovitch” came the barely audible 
a tiny shtetl
 of carefree days,
not a Jew in sight today, unless 
you dig a bit underground.

Another home, another grey haired lady 
lost in the emptiness of time
upon hearing her plea-”I want to go home!”
a social worker asks, pity and professionalism mingled in a desperate mind,
 “Where is home?
And she answers with a certainty born of confusion

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hands-in memory of Betty Lederman, 1917-2015

Kneeling, not in church
but by mother’s bedside
not standing, superior, dominant,
not even equal in line of vision
but humbled in devotion 
to her source of life;
her cold, red hands 
caress the stretched out skin
of blue veined hands,
almost bloodless with age 
and severe anemia
“Azoi kalt!” she exclaims
eyes widening with surprise and concern
the supplicant still kneeling, rubs the skeletal bones 
of her personal supernal Imah,
and coldness thaws, redness turns pink
and the warmth of a mother’s heart 

flows beyond blood’s coagulation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Modeh Ani-Thank You

Modeh ani,
Good morning God,
My thanks to Thee,
For the usual and the odd

I open my eyes,
Wriggle my toes,
What a surprise 
 and know what nobody knows

I can bend my knees
And do as I please
Jump out of my bed,
Or roll off instead

Hear my heart beating,
Either fast or slow
Up and down belly breathing
Like putting on a show

On a wintry morn
Shivering and cold
I snuggle  reborn
A life to unfold

My heels on the rug
Soft and sure
Toasty and snug
I feel so secure

Sounds all around me
Silence and snores
A morning melody
The opening of doors

Through the clear window
I am able to see
Lights coming on below
And   rising sun’s   mystery

My  nose  can smell
The toasting of bread
My ears can tell
Of a family  being fed

A mother’s smile,
A father’s hug,
Lying back a little while,
Relishing life’s tender tug 

my eyes still shut
 I open my heart,
getting out of the rut
A new day to start

 Im alive, with no effort
And nothing  must I do,
For Your gift and support
I sincerely thank You.

A WInter's Snow

On a rocking chair,
By a winter’s window,
From prayer book I stare
At the glistening snow.

The white beyond price
Disappears in the speck
Of a droplet  of ice
On the edge  of the deck

As if in trance,
All the colors in the sky,
A moment of chance
Nature’s miracle I espy.

Like a neon sign
Flashing off and on,
My heart could only pine 
For the rain after dawn

Not to advertise,
A car or  boat,
Nature’s wonder  to promote.
And open heart’s eyes.

Many minutes  go by
And all I could do
Was to fix my eye
On  God’s  tiny clue.

Green and red ,
Like traffic lights above,
Gentle guidance ahead,
Flickerings of love.

It’s Shabbes and  quietly I sit,
Looking in  the book and looking out,
To catch God’s presence if only a bit,
Within my soul a silent shout.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Minyan

Driving through shadows,
The world asleep,
Some trudging to the  toilet,
Splashing  stored up urges
Into unknown paths of darkness

Flickering  amber
Dancing along charcoal coated streets
In the distance a red thread cuts 
Across the sky, a reminder of sun yet to rise.

I head toward the harsh light
Piercing the blackness around it
Blinking I step into a space awash with 
The white  glare of fluorescence ,
A blank page inscribed 
With black circles of leather straps
And black  boxes, holding tiny gems
Of holy letters.

Some stand, waiting silently,
Some sit, waiting with eyes shut
Relishing traces of tucked in warmth
Some peer at prayers, preparing,
Lips limbered up for the race to God.

Silence is broken-“I have Kaddish to say 
For my father”- almost tearfully,
Pleadingly, “will there be a minyan?”  
Amidst the chorus of assurances 
Footsteps are heard , the arrival of the morning messiah.

Chanting begins and curls along
The  white walls of  this miniature sanctuary,
A tiny chapel to fit the smallness  of the crowd
Its crannies cramped with the drone of ancient words
Words centuries old.
Some sway, some simply sit,
Frozen in a far away stare into
A distant past-
Some sing, 
Bringing a lilt to morning’s awakening.
One is wordless, his prayer-
 His presence, passing along alms plate,
And when aging , shaky hands, barely able to hold  hymnal
Are summoned to raise the weight of Torah scroll
He praises with powerful arms lifted on high-
And all can see the black on white, like waves of the sea
Flowing over beds of dry land, watering thirsty mouths
Parched  by time’s irreversible passage.

Yisgadal v’yiskadash-
Sons praise God, purging guilt
Preserving  memory
Sustaining the soul somewhere
Widows weep, sitting patiently,
Wondering what to do,
Now standing , the center of attention,
Whispering  sounds of loss and loneliness,
Letters mispronounced, love grammatically correct.

I step into the sunshine of a new day
And above, draping the world in hope
Is a canopy of blue, unfolding, outstretching, from 
The  single  thread of  a humble  prayer shawl.