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March 2020
Tea & Surviving

"Tea & Surviving" – 3/27/20

When I picture us there, finishing
Each other's sentences
Flushed with satisfaction from
Yoga's hard won glow
I see us as if from overhead
As though my memory is a GoPro
I am attached to the ceiling and I
Witness us laughing, confiding, understanding

As only great friends do
I remember the day we met
There was nothing obvious about us
Separately that would seem to have cued

Our friendships' swift evolution
From admiring each other's graceful form
In a class geared not toward achievement
But toward individual and collective healing

We went for juice next door and before
We knew it we were "yoga besties"
You are a scientist and I am a musician
You love music and I'm charmed by intelligence

You are down-to-earth but discerning
You are accountable and evolved
I'm an empowered boss but goddess knows
I am always and forever learning

When I think of us standing in line
At any one of our favorite neighborhood haunts
I imagine you looking up at the menu
A woman who quickly knows what she wants

I have more trouble making decisions
I worry more about what may be "in it"
Sugar causes fear, carbs cause trepidation
You make healthy choices but know how to let go

You love beer, maybe a little to much you've said
You lost a friend to alcoholism, you wondered
What if anything you could have done or seen
I listened, consoling you but mostly just listening

We have confided a lot since that first time
You sat next to me on your yoga mat
That class was on the Upper West Side
When you're a cancer surviver traveling is nothing

We have both been so used to taking the subway
Uptown and downtown and everywhere required
For protocols advised, interventions prescribed
But yoga was elective, extra credit, all our own

I am proud of our friendship and I want you to know
I am proud of how we are surviving this now
Not as cancer patients or within respective
(and sometimes taut) relationships

But because I know you are being careful
I know you are being smart and that
For you, surviving had already become
A beautiful, admirable, impressive fine art

I have looked up to you all this time
Despite being significantly your "elder"
And looked forward each week (or as often
as we could) to our confiding's splendor

Anxiety

"Anxiety" – 3/23/20

I just had an incredible nightmare
Chaos akin to Kristallnacht
My parents calling for me as sounds of
Broken glass ensued
Them screaming as looters came
To take whatever it was they'd ascertained
Was there what's to stop overactive minds
From imagining these things
Subconsciously while the sun
Hides and shadows pervade?
At the end of this dream it appeared
I was driving the highway split
And of course I was caught on the side
That was left hanging, dangling

I really thought I was ok today
I managed to laugh with a friend
We exercised 10 feet apart and
Planned our foci for the week to come
But fear as I have learned can be
More powerful than the "invisible enemy"
And sleep now stolen from me
By my own apocalyptic thoughts
The cure-all for what we cannot control
Anxiety was my closest companion
When I was faced with cancer's uncertainty
I will not succumb again so I
Wash my face to shake fear's fecund
Stealth and say to the face in the mirror
I'm free I'm free I'm calm breath is wealth

Ethical Culture

"Ethical Culture" - 3/20/20

Imagine freedom
A little girl of 10 or 11
Wondering if one day
She would look up at the sky
Finally understanding why
People look up at the sky
So often

We were taught that Heaven
Was an unintellectual pursuit
Faith was frivolous compared
To dialogue between Rabbinical
Figures or and whether or not
The argument focused on G-d
The value

To my family was clearly
Derived from the practice of
Debate, of learning for the sake
Of expanding one's brain
In effect, the sky was not to
Marvel at, nor the stars
Or even

The idea of love
(Brittle agnosticism
Bending for idealism)
Nonetheless seemed
Spiritual to me as the sound
Of sawtooth waves crashing
Soul's battered shore

But still, I wept
For what is left to wonder
If the sky's only for thunder,
Rain, clouds and shame
Pollution's inevitable imprint
Blighting collective
Silence

"Silence is golden"
Has always been how the
Saying goes what kind of
Shanda grew to ascribe
Solitude to alchemy so far
I feel only a Jewess' mistep
Into idolatry

Worshiping this screen now
I long for your face its
Fine lines inhabit anticipation
Days both fast and slow
Breath both deep and shallow
So what is it to be?
Slowly

We wait, wait, wait while
Quickly drawing conclusions
It might have otherwise taken
Years to promulgate
Connection's conviction
Takes hold of weather
Raining small

Pleasures as guiltily
As I used to feel as a child
Dismissing my innate sense
Of ancient Chokhmah
The sky is not just
Above us it is also
Around us, marrying

Each new day
To every moment
We've strayed from
Glimmers of hope
Clouds' enemies
Sadducees
Obsolete

No-Makeup Selfie

No-Makeup Selfie - 3/16/20

Today I didn't get dressed 'til 2.
I never put my makeup on
I did not leave this little room
(Even though I thoroughly intended to)

I can see how with the wrong set of genes
A certain kind of person would linger in melancholy
But for me the act of resisting my own mirror image
Was somewhat therapeutic and a good deal overdue

I always want to find the lesson in every challenge
Or as my mother puts it, "savior in every savage"
When I looked out the window today
I saw a little girl swinging near a treehouse

The sun shone brilliantly I thought if I opened
The window and shouted no doubt she could hear me
Still I stayed cloistered like doubt in the guise of
Leadership arranging for the future in spurts of presence

Now the night is dark and I missed an opportunity
To shout from the window but I will not despair
As my throat is clear my legs are strong my hope
Appears like blush on cheeks plagued too long

With the absence of air sans barrier in fact
It could be argued I have forgotten what
I really look like and just as it occurs to me
That drama/drag is my skin's safety you call

Or did I call you what does it matter the proof
Is in the history we are making and will remember
The proof is in the destiny we are not taking for
Granted wishes are like nature's makeup softening

Our skin forcing us to seek within giving
Generously I look now, in the lamplight at who
I have become knowing that each day I shun
My own persona I have more room to understand

Yours and in this knowing is compassionate recourse
So while we may not touch for days or even months
I will put on my 'face' tomorrow and imagine
That it is the hand of another's reaching out

From across this chasm, I in your makeup artist's
Chair, you mysteriously discovering me there
Looking at me like I've never been seen before
Telling me you want less and less

Of what I used think was more

Edification
"Edification" - 3/18/20
 
When I was having my cancer treatment
My integrative doctor advised me wisely to write
In a journal. "Write, then meditate, then pray"
She would say, noting that it should be done
In that order, the goal being to purge, in effect,
The toxic urgency of worry-blame-confusion-stress
Before reflecting or being in the moment
 
I would sit, every couple months, in her spartan office
She was always so positive, smiley, comforting
Her specialty, acupuncture (but I never had her for mine)
She would say, in her calmly measured voice
That water was so important, and sunlight as well
In spite of everyone's fear of UV rays she noted how
Pale I was and sent me downstairs for testing sure enough
 
My vitamin D levels were low. Yes, she always came back
To prayer but not in an overly religious way, just matter
Of fact as though she assumed, me being an artist, I knew
What she meant (that writing and meditating naturally lead
To the phenomenon of giving something up to a higher
Power, in gratitude, grievance, or vicissitudes
I wonder, tonight about this doctor always so quick to offer
 
Her latest insights on immunity: mushrooms, herbs, reiki
She represented the moderate end of the scale of my "hippie"
Tendencies to my conservative family but because she was
Sanctioned by the sovereignty of Western Medicine even
Though her advice was steeped in Chinese tradition they
Encouraged me to keep these appointments usually but not
 
Always the same day of Magnetic Resonance perhaps a way
Of ascribing my body some subtle control amidst the chaos
These past 23 months since my diagnosis I have dedicatedly
Honed my ability to weather internal storms of doubt, sadness
Confusion and overwhelm by countering these reactions with
Yoga, health-food, long walks and performing, music being
The most healing of all modalities as always, but even more so
 
Now I think of this doctor, in her small, spare room pardoning
Herself from our appointment mere hours before, traditionally,
I would receive my "results"; she'd say "I'll be right back,
I have to go next door to remove some acupuncture needles
From a patient..." as though this was the most normal thing on
Earth I would pull out my phone or ipad, answer an email
Or two and then she would return, a look of genuine concern
 
Pulling me back to the present, demonstrating with crystalline
Certainty a reality where professionalism, positive energy and
Insight could intersect with fear and uncertainty and like a
Damn of faith keep despair at bay the key I always took away
From these "integrative" appointments was that I would never
Get there, I would always need encouragement, could always
Improve my ability to forgive the past, let pain go, embrace
 
Hope and holier with healing, face the future steadfastly
Lighter from leaving regret behind, lighter with clearing
The smoke from my eyes, lighter with knowing the things
I can't change, lighter with lifting the veil from my face
So the stranger's reflection becomes something pure
Not a means to attract criticism's azure seduction the fire
Of consumption's failure to cure what's required for rapture
No-Makeup Selfie

"No-Makeup Selfie" - 3/16/20

Today I didn't get dressed 'til 2.
I never put my makeup on
I did not leave this little room
(Even though I thoroughly intended to)

I can see how with the wrong set of genes
A certain kind of person would linger in melancholy
But for me the act of resisting my own mirror image
Was somewhat therapeutic and a good deal overdue

I always want to find the lesson in every challenge
Or as my mother puts it, "savior in every savage"
When I looked out the window today
I saw a little girl swinging near a treehouse

The sun shone brilliantly I thought if I opened
The window and shouted no doubt she could hear me
Still I stayed cloistered like doubt in the guise of
Leadership arranging for the future in spurts of presence

Now the night is dark and I missed an opportunity
To shout from the window but I will not despair
As my throat is clear my legs are strong my hope
Appears like blush on cheeks plagued too long

With the absence of air sans barrier in fact
It could be argued I have forgotten what
I really look like and just as it occurs to me
That drama/drag is my skin's safety you call

Or did I call you what does it matter the proof
Is in the history we are making and will remember
The proof is in the destiny we are not taking for
Granted wishes are like nature's makeup softening

Our skin forcing us to seek within giving
Generously I look now, in the lamplight at who
I have become knowing that each day I shun
My own persona I have more room to understand

Yours and in this knowing is compassionate recourse
So while we may not touch for days or even months
I will put on my 'face' tomorrow and imagine
That it is the hand of another's reaching out

From across this chasm, I in your makeup artist's
Chair, you mysteriously discovering me there
Looking at me like I've never been seen before
Telling me you want less and less

Of what I used think was more

Differential

"Differential" - 3/14/20

Now is a familiar time
To anyone who has ever dealt
With life and death
Crisis mode reveals parts
Of your self you didn't know
Existed like Heaven to the agnostic
Or idealism to the caustic
Or manna in the desert
Hope comes out at night
After the most exhausted
Daylight rests her weary limbs
For she has as many arms
As G-d has eyes and in them
We feel comfort, levity, solace

Surprise is an element
We loathe-love like workaholism
It is revered and judged
Feared and dismissed
Desired and confessed away
By stiff drinks and self-delusions
Yoga-mats and vitamin C infusions
What are the answers to questions
To which we aren't entirely privy
Journalists, doctors have the edge
But they also have our pity
Knowing too much can sometimes
Mean losing so much protect
Your spirit like the butterfly
It is with presence of soul

Now is a familiar time
To anyone who has ever felt
Abandoned by breath
Centerfold stealing thief
Upsetting every shelf overthrowing
Twisted vines of outdated poison
Pariah planted weathered
Faith comes out at dawn
After the most refracted
Starlight tests impatient lids
For lips make sounds even silently
As far-reaching sighs penetrate
Privately we revert to childlike
Promise to be relevant
We slow-dance toward nihilism

Despair's venom pessimism
Exhalation dispossessing
Connection 'blessed day' intrusion
What is a trigger what's entertaining
To watch to whither or weather bravely
Satirists, songwriters make a pledge
But they also need to study
Growing in the clutches of rhyme's
Pat symmetry choosing to elect
The attitude du jour is it a good cry
Or a an absence of ego: listening ear