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April 2020
Crumbs

"Crumbs” – 4/28/20

there is poetry in crumbs around the places
where I have been attempting to forge
some semblance of home
 
and there is resonance around the hum
of the mini-fridge whether or not it succeeds
at keeping my fragile berries cold enough

there is soulful humor in the way
my renter's poster - strategically hung -
reflects in its glass like a mirror promoting
 
the U.S. Department of the Interior
the National Parks Service in muted greens
browns and blacks the graphics resembling
 
an abstract, post-modern cactus around which
the eye gazing closer can decipher faces
of foxes, wings of butterflies, polka-dotted birds
 
when I first found this haven of escape from horror
I was relieved beyond measure to be avoiding
risk and in so doing granted myself the time-space
 
to contemplate the longevity of discord's
cacophonous silence rampaging spirituality
with the intensity of a first kiss, unwanted or chosen
 
there is always something about the first in anything
whether it be trauma or salvation that throws
the earth off her axis and I am no different

from the earth I spring every morning wishing
hoping imagining discovering climbing out
of these reeds like a grasshopper impatiently
 
making my way back from the ledge
of eventually toward the castle wall watching
current events flash before my eyes
 
as though the strobe of hopelessness' seduction
could one day help us pave our way back
to normalcy, let alone paradise oh sweetheart
 
let me leave this evidence of what I have spilled
recklessly on the floor just a little longer
for where there are messes there is potential
 
to try harder to be better at keeping house
but to keep (be)coming clean now
has become such an act of aggression
 
against memory the times when simply vacuuming
my own bright blue shag carpet barefoot unguarded
in anticipation of company was a glimpse of heaven

Anamnesis
"Anamnesis" – 4/18/20
 
I have often found myself at the center
Of well-meaning, entirely on-point parody
Around the topic of guilt. I have of course poked fun
Of this most abundant age old tradition the likes
Of which very few others have rivaled
 
Jewish parents make us feel guilty that they do and do and do
But does anyone appreciate? Would it kill us not to turn
Everything into an argument that's going to exacerbate ulcers
Ignite a heart attack, a stroke or worse? What worse would
Constitute we have no idea but the words "or worse" become
 
Barometers of a cultural point of reference so common
The actual substance of the phenomenon falls by the wayside
Of making fun generally speaking that's a healthy diversion
Mrs. Maisel, Woody Allen, The Nanny, Tracy Ullman, Fiddler
Archetypes so familiar they make us laugh and guilt becomes
 
Something we can cathart away together since we all felt it
Every time we were dismissive or didn't call or forgot to thank
Or G-d forbid, actually neglected to do that thing we were
Supposed to do that was so important we could practically
Hear the wailing a siren of complaining before the task was

Even assigned whining and kvetching have become
Synonymous with the cliché of guilt but sometimes it comes
Quietly without the comic relief of a mother or a bubbe or
Anything other than the reality that we are not the other and
May never be as put-upon as anybody else the distance
 
We're now encouraged to create does not negate the intrinsic
Nature of a deprecating self someone asked me tonight
If I felt I had changed since all of this happened or rather,
Since a couple years ago was I a different person now
The guilt I felt in suggesting "no" felt Herculean on my shoulder
 
What about those I knew a year ago, or two, who did not
Survive what about the women who did not make it out alive
Cancer spurs a kind of desperation to want to let go of
Everything non-essential and that even includes guilt
Meta as it is, I wonder if the way I've changed the most since
 
Then has been my willingness to submit to the randomness
Of suffering my willingness to concede that in spite of it
Being out of my control it was not at my hand and that meant
I was not responsible even if I empathized sometimes to levels
Detrimental to my health good intentions can't heal everyone
 
So my parents have put it to me, sometimes rather harshly,
As though my orientation to people has been like childrens'
To puppies I was always the one reprimanded for adopting
Lost souls, people and causes without thinking them through
Properly and it's true I haven't necessarily but faith comes
 
In so many forms and while I may feel guilty sometimes
For having survived more than one kind of crisis over these
Last Ulyssean years, I can't take on the guilt I feel right now
For not being where I "belong" because where I am is out of
Harm and while I know this is clear it is also tragic
 
I wonder: what is the definition of tzedukah, to you? Is it
Helping a stranger get back onto his or her feet, or is it
Nursing loved-ones to health so hope can make ends meet?
Is it adopting strays or staying entirely out of the way
Of those who may be better off fending for themselves?
 
The definition of personality is something I don't consider
Often but tonight when I read about zoom funerals
And psychopathic hate-mongers in one information breath
When I contemplate living for the moment pitted against
Death's ephemeral essence the presence of guilt resurges
 
Being semi-healthy and substantially out of harms way
Breaks me down to a blithering, invertebrate, uncontrollable
Display of acquiescence all I learned about what I can't fix
And who I cannot please and those I cannot rescue at the
Expense of my own health goes out the window you ask me
 
How I have changed and in a nutshell I would say
That I am less focused on a past I can't rewrite than
A future I can refract and while history can educate
My cells to avert certain representations of hell
Never again will I allow it to become the premise for
 
Decision-making vs. instinct which has my immanent respect
So while I may be mostly the same, my reverence for
That which one cannot name is far greater and logic
I have learned can be the most powerful gas-lighter
What one does or does not deserve is not as crucial
 
To me now as whether the opportunity can arise to be heard
So on this Shabbat night I give thanks for the freedom to
Hear my own thoughts without being told they are not
Valid for whatever convoluted reason and I would say in
Hindsight were you to ask me again how most I have changed
I am less apt to look for anyone to save, or to suffer shame
Lamentation
"Lamentation" – 4/18/20
 
It used to be when someone suffered a loss
It was literally, "a loss"
Perhaps a loved-one passed of a terminal illness
Or a tragic accident took its toll
A child left without a parent
Wounded soldiers letting limbs go
 
The human mind seems to have been built
For certain limitations of resilience
Bearing uncertainty and pain
A crucifix of time's relative insanity
Expecting the best and delivering
Test after test often to those
With life-learning disabilities
 
What now, when unlimited loss is a beginning
When power is entirely internal
When we no longer have the approbation of future's
Certainty to guide us through
Labyrinths of the cruelest temporary
Almost-bound books sitting in storage basements
 
The human soul seems to have been made
As an antidote to imitation's pestilence
Growing involuntarily with each sustained
Experience a shining beam of serenity
Reflecting the earth's inimitable
Glow G-d's show of audacity
Love slow-burning with possibility, elegiacally
Rhythms

"Rhythms" – 4/14/20

Almost without fail this day every week
They called me from The Opera looking for support
I don't know too much about the art form truthfully
Beyond my general musicality I considered myself
Somewhat of a philistine having only ever been
Three times in my life and bought a ticket merely once

It became something of a satire on tour
When would the opera call me and in spite
Of assuring them if I chose to attend again in
The future I would do so in real time and would be
Passing for now on a membership even though
I very much enjoyed Madame Butterfly

I can honestly say I miss that call I miss presumption
I miss the assumption that because as they may have
Sleuthed on occasion I've also attended Broadway
Or the ballet or taken in an exhibit at the odd museum
MOMA, The Whitney, The Met, etc. the premise was
I'd be a supporter of any and all artistic endeavors

I also miss the call because even once I marked
The number as spam in my contacts on my cell
It was something both annoying and predictable
I contemplate in my isolation how with rare exception
I seem to be the one making all the calls to myself now
Everyone is so hunkered down it almost feels like

A betrayal of self to reach out I think many people are
Actually reaching out less now because they feel so
Self-protective maybe it's because deliverance's
Instacarte's so backed up folks are starting to worry
They may genuinely not have enough self-rationing
Energy might be the only way to extend our stores of

What we have gathered today I called my banker with
A quick question about Venmo and after the requisite
But altogether heartfelt chitchat about how our
Respective days were going she was so utterly helpful
It was not only the way she seemed to have literally all
The time in the world for small talk but the way we

Ended up oversharing it was downright inappropriate
Some might even say desperate by the end of the
Exchange I felt assured and had also laughed she had
Too unspoken moments of gratitude between the
Required beats of professional obligation mean
Something new a DJ on the BBC just interviewed me

We talked about the homeless, ongoing MPress
Projects and the challenges of her getting groceries
Delivered chasms bridged as easily by my plug-in
And play USB mic as polished recordings to which I've
Dedicated the better part of my life cancer came up of
Course 'cause the music came from that enormously

Challenging period its been a very long, short day or
Maybe more of a short long year already people are
Talking about 18 months like it's the minimum and I'm
Starting inevitably to miss my home not the physical
Space or even my stuff but the knowledge I'm safe
That only once one is safe, does art's elixir intoxicate

Trying

“Trying” – 4/07/2020


I have always had an aversion to watching whatever show
Everyone is talking about relentlessly or to people telling me
Exactly what new trend I should jump on in whatever realm
It literally made me itch when I sensed pretension’s thumb wrestling
My knowledge of current pop culture with anything but an
Awareness that none of it actually means much to me existentially
Dust on windowsills flies on windowpanes rain racing down gutters

Tonight I’m cauterized watching trash TV tried to be productive did my
Questionable best to create to rededicate to anything apart from
Eating everything within 600 square feet but effort is an artform
I am slowly forgetting how to channel into anything other than
Dissolution dedication is something I funnel mostly into cleaning
Poorly I lie in bed my limbs sore from moving so little I remember
These feelings well I recovered from them not too long ago doubt
Belittles hope enthusiastically decisions become haunted mansions

Posterity pressures shamelessly do more than you’ve already done
Delirious, dauntless presence luxuriates in infuriating infernal abandon
Yesterday’s privileged innocence hid time bombs of insurrection
From smooth hands newness emerged monsoons misdirecting skin’s
Intelligence vs. irreverence effort balances on the edge of a sneeze
Windows up visors down we can desperately resist the doing now but
Oh tomorrow’s ego will get you stupendously episodic this show of dao

Lifeline

"Lifeline" – 4/07/2020
(for John Prine)

I just found myself saying to someone I love:
"Life has never been fair, but the illusion of
Fairness was at least more convincing"

When you can point to a person though
Whose ability to paint souls with brushes
Of specificity so unyielding that we weep just

Remembering the way they impacted the canvas
Reality's depiction entering our bloodstream
Collectively sounding five-alarm fires of humanity

Then you have lived a radically meaningful life
You have done what you were born to do empirically
Refining each chapter of revelation's unremitting hue

With craft as much as a constant waking-to wherein
Beads of sweat become shimmering evidence
Of life's bold, gritty, unbecoming gruesomeness

Beauty from sorrow melody from disparity
Who else imbued tragedy with so much generosity
Thrusting truth down from pure imagination's insensitivity

To new depths of grace beneath rhapsodic indignity
Legendary in spite of being brilliantly unassuming
Masterfully underscoring injustice's unrelenting enmity