Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Stop look listen

An upbeat inspirational poem. Not my usual style of writing.

Stop for a moment of reflection.

Stand in the sunlight,

Walk in the rain,

Let the wind blow through your hair.

Watch the sunset color the sky.

Turn off the lights and look at the stars and moon.

Wake before sunrise to watch the morning colors in the sky.




  to your heart.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Rosh Hashana 2022

Long piece. I posted the first paragraph on Facebook. But I couldn't stop thinking about it all day. I finally sat in my car and typed the long verse part on my phone.

Today I went to the morning Rosh Hashana service, a celebration of the new year, the beginning of the ten days of awe leading up to Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. On Rosh Hashana we ask for forgiveness from people we have wronged. The prayers, readings, and poems talk about peace, inner reflection, the beauty of the world around us. We say a prayer for our country. We wish each other a happy, healthy, sweet year and nosh on apples and honey, sweet round Challah, and maybe honey cake.
And yet, I left services sad. Sad and reflective about the world we live in. The world that causes this small synagogue in Arizona to ask members and guests to RSVP for High Holiday services in advance, for security reasons. Police officers at the entrance, not there to guide traffic or assist with parking, they are there to provide security. This isn't new. I experienced it in Boulder fifteen to twenty years ago when I brought my children to Yom Kippur services. A police presence at our place of worship on the holiest days of the year. My children questioned it then. I question it now. What is wrong with our country that certain religious institutions have to provide security at their services to protect their parishioners while they pray?


I should be feeling full

Instead I feel empty.

The rest of the story…

During the service I glanced to my left,

at the entrance door which was slightly ajar.

For some reason that got me thinking about

What I would do

if a shooter walked through the door.

I assumed the two police officers were still out front

but wasn’t sure that would matter.

My mind wandered to the realm of

What should I do if.

The entrance door was directly to my left.

Between me and the door was the L shaped check in area.

Checkin was at the short table to the left of the entrance.

The prayer books and miscellaneous small items were on the long table

the table between me and the door.

What would I do if.

The prayer books aren’t thick but the covers were.

I could throw mine at the shooter

and grab books from the table to throw.

Maybe that would give the police time to enter

or someone to rush him from the side.

Wait a minute.

Why am I thinking about this on New Years,

While listening to the cantorial soloist.

occasional harmonies by the Rabbi,

waiting for the Torah reading,

looking forward to hearing the Shofar.

This isn’t how it should be.

I’ve never thought about this before

I always felt safe.

And if I was worried when I entered the building,

the worry quickly passed.

So, why now?

I know my little bit of worry and sordid planning

is probably

a daily occurrence

for teachers, people of color,

and a growing list of targets.

And what do we do about it?

Some of us vent on social media,

Some swear to be more vigilant.

Some ignore it.


How can we continue to ignore

the actions of a few

How can we continue to ignore

groups and people that want to destroy the sanctity of

places of worship and schools?

People say,

That’s just the way it is.

Get used to it.

Get over it.



Live with it.


Why should so many of us have to live in fear

because of bullies and cowards,

who carry guns into our most sacred places

Who sit in power,

   cozying up to anyone

   who will get them money and votes.



Religious pawns

Violence and threats

Where are the Ten Commandments?

Where are the religious tenets,

   we followed before mega churches and millionaire preachers

   became part of the political landscape?

Thou shall love thy neighbor.

My religion didn't teach me to hate 

  based upon color, sex, religion.

My family and schools didn't teach me that either.

We prayed for our country and its leaders today.

We worshiped G-d.

We stood, we sat, we sang, we read, we listened.

And some of us thought

about how nice it used to be

to worship in peace.



Sunday, September 25, 2022

Be Brave!

 I attended a few Slant Poet Festival workshops presented by the Emily Dickinson Museum. This poem popped out of my head during today's session about exclamation points. 

Be Brave 


Be brave!

Call yourself a writer.

Call yourself a poet.

Call yourself a songwriter.

Call yourself a singer.

Call yourself a musician.

Others may call you

Lady, woman, girl,

Mother, daughter, wife.

Occupation, hobby, station in life,

So many labels,

So many terms,

To describe you?

To define you?

To pigeonhole you?

Call yourself what you want to.

Celebrate, validate, affirm


If you write, you are a writer,

If you play music, you are a musician,

If you make art, you're an artist,

If you create, you're a creator,

If you do something important to you,

Acknowledge yourself.

Be brave!

Call yourself what you want to,

She, her, he, him, they, them,

And be wary of those

  who need to put you in a box they construct.

Be brave!



Monday, September 19, 2022

Go West, Young Man

I think this one is almost finished. Next step is to play it at an open mic and see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Chester in Accounting edited 9.14.2022

I tried my hand at flash fiction last year. A few friends provided writing prompts for me. The prompt for this one was the title, Chester in Accounting. I decided to read it at a prose open mic, so I opened it up and did some editing today.

Chester in accounting was having a bad day. As much as he hated to say it, the sum of the parts was not what he wanted it to be. He was a numbers guy and the numbers weren’t working right now. He was also a statistics guy and the probability was not in his favor. He rarely, if ever, thought of his life in accounting or mathematical terms, but today was turning out to be an exception. 

The company was reorganizing, which meant he was being reorganized and downsized out of a job. They could only keep a finite number of accountants and he didn’t make the cut. Otis (what kind of name is that!) in the next cubicle when they used to actually work in the office, made the cut. But not Chester. Otis texted Chester at around 8 am to say he’d heard a rumor and to wish Chester well. 

Yesterday, Chester had a check-in meeting with his boss scheduled for late afternoon. Nothing unusual about that. They checked in once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. And then his boss cancelled the meeting and rescheduled it for first thing in the morning, today. Nothing unusual about that either. The only unusual thing was that text from Otis the idiot, which Chester hadn’t responded to.

Chester jumped on the morning call - they were still working remotely even though many businesses were back to in person as the pandemic got under control - at 8:55 am, five minutes early. The first thing he noticed was the witch from HR was on. His boss showed up right at 9, after five awkward minutes which involved a little small talk and a lot of stomach churning for Chester. “Damn," he though, "Otis was right! Who does that guy know?”

Willow the witch - yes the HR person really was named Willow even though there was nothing about her that reminded Chester of the weeping willow tree he had in his back yard as a kid. Man, he loved to climb that tree as high as he could go. The upper limbs would bend as the wind blew and Chester loved the feeling of swaying just him and the tree dancing in the wind. Willow greeted Chester’s boss and Chester’s boss said hello and suggested they get started as Chester said hello. She talked about the reorg (Chester pretended he was surprised), shifting priorities, combining departments, the need to delete redundant and unnecessary positions. “Which was he”, Chester wondered, “redundant or unnecessary, or both? Could this get any more painful? He was in accounting. He knew the drill."


Willow took over and talked about a severance package with salary and health insurance going through the end of the month, it was only the third so that was good news. Chester half listened to Willow. He was thinking, maybe he had time to squeeze in the dentist and a couple of other appointments if they got a cancellation. He should try to get his meds refilled before the end of the month too. Would his doctor call in the prescriptions if he didn’t need them yet? It was worth a try. He needed his meds. He also needed to research a damn COBRA, apply for unemployment, and start thinking about what he wanted to do.

Willow moved on to discussing the paperwork. They could email him the severance forms this afternoon and mail him copies of the signed paperwork. What email address should they send everything to? “We’ll also email the links for unemployment and COBRA,” she added.

As Willow finished talking, his boss sipped her coffee (a paper Starbucks cup so probably a drink he wouldn’t be able to afford, not that he ever drank that overpriced stuff) and she she spoke again. Exactly what he expected her to say. They’re sorry to lose him. He was a good employee. He was a valued member of the team. These things happen. You know corporate. Sometimes things are out of our hands. He wished she would just tell the truth. She had to let two people go and he was one of them. Sorry but not sorry. Good luck. And, of course,  she delivered the final kicker, she’d be happy to provide a strong reference letter. He thought, “No, I don’t want your letter, I want my job here, even though you’re a lousy boss. I was going to retire within the next five years. Maybe less than five if the market does well.” He heard her say something about “accounting won’t be the same without you, Chester.” “Well, duh, he thought, that’s because I won’t be there so you’ll have to rely on Otis the idiot or whoever you have do my job. There’s no way he can figure out some of this stuff without cheat sheets. I have some, but they’re on my personal external drive because I’ve been working from home. And no I’m not going to mention my external drive because it’s mine. They can have their laptop back. That thing sucked anyway, which is why I needed the external drive. Boss lady and Otis and my co-workers who will miss me have no idea how slow and crappy that laptop is, but they’ll soon find out. Maybe. Everyone will be back in the office within two months.

Willow the HR witch took over again. “We need to arrange for you to return your laptop. Maybe you can drop it off and pick up signed copies of the paperwork tomorrow, Wednesday morning?”

Chester finally spoke. “Oh, yeah, right, it’s Tuesday morning, I guess I can read your email and e-sign everything tonight. Or better yet, why can’t you just print it and I’ll sign it when I come in?”

“Oh, we wouldn’t want to take that much of your time. You can leave the laptop with security and they can walk you to your office if you need to get anything personal that you left there when we shut down for the pandemic. No need to stop by HR.”

“Wow,” Chester thought, “the proverbial foot kicking you out the door. They don’t want me anywhere near them. Maybe they think that besides being redundant and unnecessary, I’m contagious.”

“I really don’t mind coming in to sign the forms. That way, if I have a question, well, you know.”

Willow cleared her throat. His boss cleared her throat. Chester thought they were trying to look at each other and decide who should speak.

His boss decided to put on her manager hat and speak up. “Well, actually Chester, as much as we’d like to see you, today is our last day and we won’t be here tomorrow. Middle management and HR took a hit too.”

And with that, Chester from Accounting finally smiled. “Sorry to hear that.” And thought to himself, “best balance sheet ever.” He loved it when things added up just right. No need for notes. Just a clean balance sheet where the final numbers matched. That was Chester’s happy place. He truly loved it when the numbers told the story and he didn’t need to explain a thing. It might be his last day but it was also his best day. As he said, “Ok, bye then, I’ll watch for that email,” he thought, “Chester in Accounting wishing you well (not) and signing off. Maybe this day isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” 


Monday, September 12, 2022

Driving West

Long draft alert! More editing is needed, including chopping, consolidating, and working on the verse order.

Driving west on I-40

A long way from Arkansas

He never thought this beat up jeep

Could get him this far.

He's not chasing gold,

Not chasing a girl,

Just putting some distance 

Between his new and old worlds

He just passed Black Creek

For a minute it feels like home

He's six thousand feet high

And two days on the road alone

Deer signs and 18 wheelers

A bridge over a wash

He just keeps driving west

No destination so he can't get lost

He sees signs for Indian ruins,

Clean restrooms and fry bread,

Purple Heart Trail and Fentanyl kills

Put images in his head.

So much untamed land

Must be ranches not farms

He imagines horses and riders

Buffalo and six shooters.

The New Mexico rain

Wasn't as bad as he thought it would be

No worse than the hurricanes

And rains in Arkansas and Tennessee.

Exit signs for towns and roads

With names foreign to him

A few look familiar,

Forgettable and boring.

Sagebrush and power lines

They say it's the land of the Navajo 

No big city for miles

Getting close to Arizona

Maybe he'll stand on the corner

Be a regular tourist 

Check out Jack rabbit road

Souvenirs and local beer.

Not sure where he'll stay

He'll know when he gets there

Not sure how this started

Just knows he's headed west.

Go west young man

Feels good to be driving west

A long way from Arkansas

He never thought this beat up jeep

Could get him this far.

He's not chasing gold,

Not chasing a girl,

Just putting some distance 

Between his new and old worlds

Go west young man.

It's their anniversary

Based on my parents

It's their anniversary

But she's not there

He eats his lunch

Looking at her chair

It's only a few years she's been gone

Compared to when they were together

it feels like 

time has slowed down.

It's their anniversary

The kids call to check in

They task how he's doing 

Talk about weather and things

He's not doing much

Each call is short

He says the rain has stopped

It's their anniversary 

This would have been 72 years

The fourth one without her

It's gotten a little easier

He can't remember a lot of things

But he remembers her voice

How she could stop time for him

With her smile.

It's their anniversary 

The album is in a drawer

But he doesn''t need photos

To picture the day

The blessings and vows

Stepping on the glass

Her hair, her dress,

Their first dance

It's their anniversary

Her cane sits near door

He used it for a while

He doesn't use it anymore

Like her he moved on 

to needing a walker

Next step is a wheelchair

And then he'll find her.

It's their anniversary

But she's not there