Roots in Ritual

Every Friday night at Shabbat services

I thank God for the freedom to practice

Judaism after myriad attempts to stop us.

True faith cannot be thwarted by hate.

In the Fold (a Viator)

In the fold

of summertime

leaves crimson and gold

fall from their prime.


Time moves fast

in the fold,

with ages past

and stories told.


Winter’s cold

finds warming grace

in the fold

of arms embrace.


Smell leaves burning

as we grow old,

twisting and turning

in the fold.

Walking Asleep

Images shift behind my eyes, in front of my eyes,

between the layers of color in my irises.

In a bad dream, a dual reality – a moving duality reality

that recalls splashes of indistinct color on canvas.

As a kaleidoscope shuffles it rearranges my vision

to dislocate and displace, to displace and dislocate.

My chaotic gaze is a disorganized daze…

addled, bewildered, long periods of blackout.

No memories, only to be told the next day when awake

that you acted out your dreams. Again. I left all in disarray,

a scrambled mess of a trail in my wake. Again.

New people hate me. New people show me compassion.

I take responsibility for whatever horrors I committed

in my sleep. Again. I apologize for whatever, even if

I remember nothing. I know. I have been here before.

I will be here again. My recurring nightmare.

Images shift behind my eyes like a kaleidoscope…

My Wife is a Great Cook!

Divorce can be ridiculous.

My mother is a terrific cook, as was her mother

before her, as they both taught my brother and me.

My father’s mother could not cook to save a dog’s life.

In leaving my mom, my dad knew what he was he was losing.

To that end, he had his lawyer add a stipulation into the divorce

agreement: He requested half of my mom’s recipes!

He made this request in writing.


This request quickly became a family joke.

How on earth was he entitled to even one of her recipes?

Between gales of laughter, Mom would ask, “Which half

of my recipes should I give him? He didn’t specify.

Does he want the ingredients or the directions?

Or does he want me to rip them all in half? If I do that,

does he want all the right side halves because I’m a lefty?”

The jokes were relentless.


Dad would feed the comedy with his own actions.

Unable to get Mom to cooperate with his recipe request,

the only time he had to copy recipes was when he stayed

with us when Mom was out of town. He would sit hunched

over Mom’s recipe books and boxes while sitting on the high

bar stools with the uncomfortable bars in the back of the seat.


Dad didn’t know the names of the recipes, so his list featured

items like “Mom’s chocolate pie,” “Grandma’s Meatloaf,” and

“easy chicken and rice.” These recipes would not be easy to find

by description within Mom’s labyrinthine recipe organizing system.

No one offered to help him. If we had cell phones at the time,

I am certain we would have taken and posted pictures of him

sitting on a bar stool in a sea of recipes.


We know my grandmother was laughing with us.









Sisters Beside Us

From birth we age

in labored groan –

from youth to sage,

from babe to crone.


Sisters beside us,

women are never alone,

from ashes to ashes,

to dust and bone.

Picture of Their First Day of Preschool

Blonde ringlets frame her heart-shaped face,

shining hair pulled off her face with a pink bow.

Her bright blue eyes are filled with laughter,

big smile swelling her cheeks.


His blonde hair cut close with a fringe

above his proud blue eyes. He is bent slightly

at the knee to reach her little shoulders and

wrap his arm around them in loving protection.


The preschoolers barely outsize their backpacks

on this first day of school. They are overjoyed

to carry their awkward bundles filled with

new school supplies.


They are ready to learn, to play, to make

new friends. They are ready to take their first

steps out of babyhood, their first steps

out into the world.


Letting them go tugs at my heartstrings

like an instrument out of tune. I want to freeze

this moment, this image in time,


Little Closet on the Spectrum

“Gender is a spectrum,” they explained to me.

My brain clicked sideways.

“Like autism?,” I asked.

“Something like that,” they nodded.

My brain spun, then stewed, then spewed.

“I’m not sure that means what you think it means.”

They raised their eyebrows in questioning doubt.

“How would you know? Are you queer?

Or are you on the autism spectrum?”

“Yes,” I said, smiling. “Both!”

Their laughter echoed across the room.

“You’ve been wearing a mask in the closet?

How does that work?”

My own laughter bubbled over as I admitted,

“Apparently, it doesn’t!”

When our giggles unwound, they asked me,

“As long as you’re coming out of the closet,

could you grab my coat? I’d hate to go back

in there since I’m already out.”

“Sure!” I agreed, walking towards the closet.

Looking at them over my shoulder I said,

“I’m guessing you don’t want to borrow my mask?”

Laughter escaped us once more,

filling the room with a spectrum of joy.



The caterpillar is one of the most ordinary creatures.

Strange-looking and smelly, the caterpillar eats,

walks, makes frass and molts.

Repeat! Repeat!


until it begins the laborious process

of shedding its final skin, as its body breaks

down within, attached only by the heart.

Quietly! Quietly!


The odd gem that is the chrysalis hangs hidden

from danger as the caterpillar inside transforms

around its heart into a butterfly.



Bar Mitzvah Wine

The thirteen-year-old boy

would become a Bar Mitzvah in the morning.

At Shabbat services on the Friday evening before,

he read his Torah portion in well-practiced Hebrew.


The congregation waited patiently – knowingly –

to laugh after the Kaddish, as they anticipated the

soon-to-be-man would, per usual, gag and make faces

after tasting the wine. It was tradition!


The young man took his first sip of wine… then he

tilted back his head and raised the Kiddush Cup higher

and higher until he drank the entire cupful of wine!


“He’s ready for college!” his Rabbi chuckled,

the congregation letting loose their own stifled laughter.

The Rabbi took the empty chalice from the man’s hand

and set it on the nearby table with the Shabbat candles.


“Let’s put this over here by the challah…

and the breathalyzer!

Mazel Tov! Shabbat Shalom!”

Life in Flight

Two butterflies, together in flight –

Are they male?

Are they patrolling for females

for mating?

Are they female?

Are they mothers carrying eggs

to deposit on the right plants?

Is it a male and a female

in the mating dance of life?

Mother Nature

will answer my questions in time.