vendredi, janvier 20, 2012

The hypnotist

Black and white

Her chosen colors

Declarative sentences

Sole grammar of her days

She offers lotus blossoms

Where once he craved philosophy

Carries him away on drifts of incensed smoke

As though he could purge memories

Sweep chalkboard clean

No messy corners, lines or hopes for something deeper.

In her eyes, he sees himself

Reflected, refracted

She demands nothing

Except that he remain

Loyally swaddled

In the imagined security

Of those who do not aspire

To the profound life.

He stares

Afraid, should he turn away, and circle

He will see nothing

But his own enchanted face

Look back at him.

jeudi, janvier 19, 2012

Wouldn't it be funny, says my son

We're on the train, heading through Philly, on our way to a chess tournament.

Can there are anything more peaceful and, frankly, nerdy, than a chess tournament?


So the kid looks out at the Market Street bridge, over which people are walking -- minding their own business.

"Wouldn't it be funny if the bridge blew up?" says Mr. C.

Possibly he doesn't see the body parts everywhere, and all the blood. Maybe he doesn't hear the spectral ambulances.

Maybe he just thinks that blowing things up is a lot of fun.

He is not a violent person, my son. In fact, he's the youngest member of a group of earnest Amnesty International members who meet at Wegman's the first Wednesday of each month..

I drive him there, eating dinner as he talks about human rights abuses and prisoners of conscience.

Yet he is an expert on many of our most terrible recent wars. He can quote military strategy at the drop of a hat.

One of his favorite sayings is one attributed to General Patton: "The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his."

How can such an irenic young man be so bloodthirsty?

Is it nature? Nurture?

A boy being a boy?

Perhaps it's just testosterone.

Now we've got a routine going.

He says: "Wouldn't it be fun?"...

And I finish the sentence with something like "if the lampost outside blew up"?

At which point the kid says, admonishingly:

"Mom, don't be so violent."

mercredi, janvier 18, 2012

One weekend with you -- and what happened afterwards.

Life in a temperate clime had caused her to adjust her expectations.

She did not burn. But neither did she shiver.

A denizen of a state where the weather is both more seductive and dangerous, he was more volatile.

It gave him an energy, a pulse, a passion and drive that radiated through the cold letters on the screen, and made them glitter.

In response, she glimmered back.

Like the lighting in the night sky, energy crackled between them.

The times when it grounded, sending branches crashing to the rich, loamy earth, were part of the atmospherics that drew them together.

Distance. Money. Children -- the realities of every day life. Anything further was impossible.

Surely, though, two such oddly kindred spirits, met happenstance, could allow themselves one night?

She prides herself on her reason, stability, common sense.

She'd never done anything remotely like this. But she'd never come to know anybody remotely like him.

They had so much to teach each other.

And if lessons are learned in a weekend seminar, who is to say that they aren't worth remembering?

Afterwards, they told each other, that among the travails, and joy, and missed opportunities, and nightmares that sometimes haunt the middle-aged, they would continue to be friends.

Friends first.

Friends in good times and challenging ones.

And so they are.

Only sometimes, when she is alone, she looks at herself in the bathroom mirror.

And smiles, remembering when she was less than sensible.


Fact? Or fiction? Only two of us know -- and we aren't telling.

mardi, janvier 17, 2012

The gash

She does not see me bleed

The red pour warm inside

Leave invisible tracks across my pale flesh

The heart inside quails

As though I had been struck

And struck again.

She does not watch as I cry out

Helpless again

Hours months years piled up

Stone upon slippery stone

A friend advises

A father chastises

When I express the words that sometimes accompany

The agony of sinking.

But she does not look

Intent on spinning the careless web

Of her future

Like droplets of water

Thrown up from the ocean

Against a darkening sky

lundi, janvier 16, 2012

Safe Harbor

Staring out the window

A suburban train

Every turn of the wheel one more circle


Wishing away the years spent bootless, I long.

Your arms, a familiar spectre

Not knowing you

Still I watch

Couples weave through

Routines, gavottes, ordinary time

How sanctified they

Not knowing.

Ah, but I know

Because beyond those shelters

Lie the exotic climes

In which so many hopeful sailors do

Find themselves.


Lose themselves

Shipwrecked in siren lands

Wanting wine for a thirst that

Might have once been quenched with water.

And I, listening so often

Have fancied myself more than a chronicler,

A fellow adventuress, lover, friend.

Chimerical, indeed.

My place is here among those who pattern their days.

Like a child lost in maze of misty rooms

I cry out for that which I see,

Regret the time I spent adrift in exotic shoals nearby

When what I really want is love in four/four time.

More extraordinary than it looks to those limbo lovers,

Whirling again and again around void of unfulfilled longing.

Away now the candles, incense, promise of stories untold

Not your daughter, coach, your mistress I

I wait impatiently for the stop that speaks of home

Of light, and of comfort for a child inconstant.

Forgive myself for chasing sparks when hearthlight rises tranquil.

A steady flame does not entice

But neither does it singe.

Tim and Tom and Eli: Does CHARACTER matter?

Some of you quietly loved Tim Tebow and his very open displays of faith.

Some of you, on the other hand, were hoping he'd crash, burn and be as publicly humiliated

I, on the other hand, became progressively more uneasy with the tenor of the conversation -- which used a young man who happens to be an evangelical Christian as surrogate in a sometimes tense conversation about faith in the public square.

And what a crazy venue in which to have this conversation --in one of the temples of American civil religion.

Those of you who know me well know that I'm not a huge fan of the game of football.

A lot of my ambivalence about the game is because I don't understand it (as I say in my profile).

And though I'm beginning to become a bit less dumb (yeah, that's about right) about what's going on, it still often seems to me that the strategy is for grown up men to run up and down the field and crash into each other....causing as much bodily harm as possible.

When you have a game that's based on 300-pound guys tackling each other, people are going to be hurt. No matter whether you call it a tackle, or an interception, or a sack.

Football is a brutal game, no way around it.

Let's reframe the conversation.

Let's ask about character.

Tebow has gotten his moment in the sun, with his every decision analyzed endlessly. He sounds like a genuine and honest guy.

Brady has had a child out of wedlock, but unless you count having premarital sex against him, there's not a lot of scandal around him. The taping scandal of a few years ago wasn't Brady's idea.

I'm from New Yawk -- so of course, I'm biased. That aside, Manning and his storied brother and dad are dedicated to acts of charity, and generally seem to avoid the celebrity limelight.

Are they all good sports? I'm old-fashioned enough to believe that a quarterback ought to inspire the team.

What do I know? That bar has been lowered so much that anyone who doesn't end up in jail could be considered a saint.

And we also seem to worship the glamour boys, without admitting that the running backs and the wide receivers and special teams are crucial. Eli was brilliant last night, but he could not have done it without his brothers.

Look at college football and see the damage our hero worship has done...

Look at Penn State.

And that's probably what bothers me the most -- when we make a god of a violent game, and turn our eyes away from the collateral damage.

Like our children.

So can we get over expecting God to step in to help a particular team?

I suspect He's got bigger things on His mind.

Even (sigh) when the Giants are playing.