November 2020
"Surrealist" – 11/27/20
You are never going to have enough time
To lament how much time you don't have

Whether you're a Dali clock melting in the heat
Of factious future's anticipation-gaze
Or a chunk of Dead Sea salt grifted by
Visitor # almost-infinity's desperation raze

The architecture of self dictates ingratitude
Like a sleepless under-compensated assistant
At odds, often, with our collective better nature
Laughter is the ultimate leveler. If we cannot embrace
Absurdity's inauspicious irreverence with the same zeal
Stress assumes at the fork of our expense's road
Turning adeptly into the slippery, black-iced curve
Life lessons become prisons instead of revelations
Choices become riddles only fate's cruel dictums can resolve
Instead of model-volcanoes quelled by levity's felicitous dissolve
Close Caller
“Close Caller” – 11/18/20
Just had a good friend call me out on some shit
Had the choice to get defensive or listen and understand
I chose to hear each word through her ears, letting truth land
I felt sad, sorry and grateful at the same time
Sad for the pain I had caused, sorry for the disconnect
Grateful for the opportunity to reflect, and to put disappointment behind
Especially in these times I know the urge well
To sever, to disengage, to avoid, to quell
I am proud of us for muddling through boundaries
Merely 2 years ago I never knew were a 'thing'
I also know myself enough to know when I have failed
Thank you, mishpuchah, for not giving up on me
And for sounding the knell of respect's breaking heart
Soon enough to right our ship, weakened but not
Irrevocably from too many seasons' isolation grip
"Selma" – 11/14/20
There are some names that sound like heroines, inherently,
To a small child (even before she's had the history lessons):
Miriam, Esther, Joan of Arc, Harriet, Eleanor
Women whose archetypes a young girl learns are
What she should, in some way strive for
Osmosis is a real thing and from my youngest rememberings
"Selma, Selma, Selma..." - the sounds from my mother's lips
Every time that phone rang and her friend and mentor in all
Things that perceivably, mattered; the woman who, seeing a need
Filled it with laughter, hospitality, compassion
Somewhere along the way in our early years this woman of
Regal stature, class and confidence took it upon herself to "adopt"
2 girls as her granddaughters; it was a mitzvah as natural-seeming
As summer weather but looking back I can't imagine anyone
Better to set an example of balance, empathy, humor, tzedukah
My mom had a lot of friends, most of whom I met here or there
In passing or at synagogue but Selma was family seemingly
Instantly suddenly the most sophisticated thing to which I aspired
Was to be invited to Selma's for a play-date. She treated us like
Children, yes – in the sense that her warmth, curiosity and
Openness was unconditional as any ideal grandparent would be
But she also respected us as individuals: asking questions,
Listening thoughtfully, rarely advising versus assuring us we were
On the right path already whether or not you were her blood-relative
If you were adopted by Selma you were extended mishpuchah
Where the only boundary was the expectation to be happy
She wanted you to feel joyful and the moment you rang the doorbell
You anticipated her high-cheekboned smile coming to the door
Her voice warm with pleasure and approval and the spoiling began
Her blessings were abundant but not nearly as memorable

As her willingness to share them and share she did
Many hours of the week my impression of Grandma Selma
Crystallized overhearing my mother on the phone and their
Shared values that came to manifest in Selma always doing
Her best to lead by example, by generosity, via intelligence
And strength but her greatest strength as far as I could see
Whether on-site as her fortunate guest or from a closer distance
Was her heart with every word she spoke her beautiful, empathetic
Heart sang praises and rejected pettiness and chose to look for
The good in everyone even when others might rush to judge

What made her a heroine to a child was the same thing that made
Her one to adults and as far as I could see in our community
Selma was a word synonymous with soulful beauty. A curator
Of love I also would see her magnetism to all the children in temple
As I'd return, year after year, and our visits become more seldom

But even at a break-the-fast or the rare marking of a special
Birthday it occurred to me on more than one occasion that
Selma was my heroine of dao: to live in a way that treats others
Well is to live in a way that shows how to uplift is to pray
And so as I learn of your immediate family's loss today and turn
Inevitably to my youth's impression of your prowess - as a
Mother, a wife, a grandmother, a friend, a leader, a cheerleader -
I realize that you were the first mature woman I met from whom
I felt, viscerally, that I could do no wrong. You had that gift: of
Righteousness through acceptance, of seeing and relishing
Human kindness not as as something to which to aspire
But as a daily practice through which to acquire all the necessary
Skills to live in "rachmanus", a smile ear-to-ear unmatched
A table of beautiful rituals generously laid out for all those you loved
To come, to eat, to listen, to share, to borrow your clothes and
To never need to give them back because while you admired
Beautiful things you preferred beautiful thoughts and
They flowed effortlessly from you and will continue, always,
To hang like ivy around your family, suspended, beshert
White Flag
White Flag" – 11/11/20

Today, I went to a funeral
Today, I went for a walk
Today, I told you I loved you
Today, I failed nonetheless

Today, I felt hopeful briefly
Today, my guard fell way down
Today, I let go forbearance
Today, I fell to the ground

Today, I felt tears' hot imprint
Today, my cheeks burned with loss
Today, I tried to be honest
Today taught me what truth costs

Today, I wished things were different
Today, I knew there was hope
Today, I wrestled the distance
Today was taut as a rope
Today, you asked me for questions
Today, pushed me to the ledge
Today, was less than forgiving
Today, was earth to a dredge

Tonight, I wait for tomorrow
Tonight, my mirror is veiled
Tonight, I rise above sorrow
To wit, endurance derailed
"Unseasonable" – 11/11/20
Ever since my surgery
I "suffer" hot flashes
When I get especially stressed
I am my own self-contained
Tropical vacation; I try to look
At it as an ever-unexpected bonus
I notice also that the 20 some odd
Supplements a day I take for
This and that, as recommended,
Become akin to a traffic jam
As unsexy as taking out the garbage
(Unless you're Debbie Gibson
Instagramming it all in sequins & heels)
The ones for bone-loss, the ones
For free-radicals, the ones for immunity
And so on and so forth they stare at me
Guiltily, metaphors for the license I let expire
Years ago for the publishing deal
I should have signed for the wherewithal
I never had to auto-refine the certain "no"
I am a work in progress like everyone
Why is it I elicit the impression that
My lack of routine, focus, confidence
Is a sign of someone who doesn't
Strive to be someone she is not yet?
I have always had a hard time with unbridled
Compliments they loom like kites
Caught in trees, ephemeral, and largely
Out of reach and yet in my more down
Phases, moon-like I yearn for the grounded
Assurance of a confidante's praises
Covid-19 came in like a bull and there is
No chance, it would seem, it will go out
The least bit like a lamb half-dozen friends now
I've buried but what I will say to you, my heart, is that
Candles are metaphors for what can, barring wind,
Be lit again and so I fan myself
From G-d's unseasonal sense of humor
And try to remember what it's like
To not be so damn humorless
And take my pills and stretch my limbs
And do jumping-jacks in my luckiest dress