Poetry & Prose 2019

Looking for the Way

I am sitting on the wharf, contemplating the river under the wintry sky, when a voice says, “How are you doing?” 

Looking up, I see a tall rangy bearded man in a floppy black coat looking down at me with an unshaven grin, which might be a leer. 

I shrink back a little - but what might he do? Grab me? I don’t think so, he doesn’t seem dangerous. 

“I’m fine, thank you,” I say, smiling at him. 

Gratified, he asks, “You’re not cold?” 

“No,” I say, “I’m just fine.” 

Then, “How do I look?” he asks, and steps back so I can take all of him in. He’s tall, about 45, dark complected, with a buzz cut and black eyes, and besides the floppy black coat, he sports black pants and purple sneakers, the laces long lost. The clothes are old, but not ragged or dirty, and his smile is eager. 

“I guess you look fine!” I say. 

As if that was what he wanted to hear, he offers me a black rubber gloved hand, which I shake. 

“I’m Brandon,” he says. 

“I’m Trudi,” I say. 

He looks like he would like something more. Probably a girlfriend, but that can’t be it, I’m decades too old. I imagine he is just lonely, and I wish I knew how to offer my friendship without risking contamination by the knife-edge existence he leads. But I am chicken, and the best I can do is what I’ve done, to smile at him and exchange a few friendly words. 

He understands. Taking his leave, he turns away, waving goodbye as he walks off down the wharf. 

I look after him, glad to have spoken with him, but bemused, not sure what I would do if I were a wiser and more courageous person. 

A moment later, an Asian family comes by, father, mother, and child, and they smile at me and nod, as if I have done something good, something they would do if they could.

I watch them walk on down the wharf, then I stand up and follow, back toward the riverside park and the streets of the city. I hope I will see Brandon again somewhere, sometime, and I hope that then I will know how to do what I really need and want to do: how to treat him as someone who, deep inside, is just like me.

Sipping Tea

Sipping my tea in this little café, the ripples of sound flowing through me, the people all around me, the warmth of the fire on my face, a soft wellbeing fills me – for no reason at all, nothing remarkable has happened, I have not won the lotto. I am simply here, alive in my warm body, among other human beings I have never met, but those whose glance I meet smile at me. The music ends, but its aura lingers… and the wellbeing I feel lingers like a gentle foundation. Music transforms the air it passes through, turns my being sunny, rosy, sweet, meaningful, profound. Deep as water, as night, as the sea, as the sky. It’s all just love.

A Lesson on Entropy

A long time ago, when our kids were young and my sister Robin traveled with our family to Buenos Aires, we spent a night at a decrepit hotel where the air conditioner leaked all over my daughter’s bed, drenching it so that she couldn’t possibly sleep in it. When we complained to the manager, he could only giggle and explain that there was no solution. 

But as we stood contemplating the disaster, my sister started to laugh. “Oh my God,” she spluttered, “No wonder! Look at the brand name!” 

We looked. 

“Huh - what’s ‘entropy’?” asked one of the kids.

“It’s the tendency of everything in the universe to fall apart!” said Robin.

It couldn’t have been more perfect, and we laughed and laughed, the meaning of the word imprinted on us forever more. 

To preserve that moment in amber, and to give the story a happy spin, I wrote this poem:

A Fable about Failure, Understanding, and Letting Go

Silo says

it is important to understand

what you think and what you say,

because thoughts

produce and attract 


He says 

power and light 

live in the depths.

To understand

means to go deep down,

to penetrate

beneath the surface

and see

how everything 

is connected.

Not knowing this

a man who wanted money 

and prestige

fell in love with an idea.

He launched a company

and gave it a name

in the language of success. 

He did not understand the name

but he was besotted 

like a mother who names her child


without understanding that it means


The company made many things

all glitzy with shine and promise

and the people bought them


until they discovered 

that everything the company made

always fell apart.

The man could not understand it

until a friend 

whispered in his ear

the meaning of the impressive name

which was “entropy.” 

Then the man

who deep down was humble 


and threw away all his ideas

and began to rebuild his life.


Early morning brainstorm from a proud graduate of the American Public School System

This morning I woke at 5:30 - just enough sleep, with the help of a pill that will add just one more tad to the likelihood that i will lose my mind. But it’s worth it. Since the holidays began, my whole body has been going thru loop de loops of weird phenomena and fake illnesses I won’t embarrass myself by describing, my tinitus has been yelling like an irate chorus of tiny bees, and now my sleep has been getting out of whack. 

I put it all down to stress; a number of my dear ones are going through difficulties, and although I dip into the cesspool of the news as little as possible, I can’t shut out the reality that utter insanity, cruelty and stupidity pretty much rule the world. 

Dwelling on all this as I lay there in the dark this morning, I had a random thought. Since i was in semi-sleep, my logic may have been just a bit flawed, but it convinced me completely at the time.

What if I got ten people together and we each gave each other a penny, I mused? Each of us would spend 10 cents, and each of us would get back a dollar. Hmmm. And if we were 100 people? Then we’d each spend $10 and get back $1000. And if we were 1000 people, we’d each spend $100 and get back $10,000. If we were 10,000, every single one of us would become a millionaire for an investment of a mere $100. 

I checked and rechecked my math, and it seemed to be flawless. So I had to take it to the ultimate, ridiculous, but rather fascinating extreme. 

If we started small, and kept up this process, eventually everybody in the world would be wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. And when the day came that every one of the eight billion of us had $80 million dollars sitting around, we could all gave a penny to every other person alive. Then the wealth of each one of us, all by her/him/theirself, would be $6.4e17 in scientific notation, a number too immense to fit on any calculator screen. And then what? Money, the Almighty God of our time, would become utterly meaningless.

Seeing in One and All the Same: The Demon


I had thought 

that I was done:

that I had filled myself

with my own just quota 

of compassion

and was

at peace with all things

on this fair earth


Then, as I lounged one night

at ease

in my inmost chamber

a Demon slipped in

on the dark wind

and reared up 


in foul mockery

at my fool’s dream



I screamed at him

you cannot be! 

What you are is Inhuman

Immoral and Wrong!

Satan, get thee gone!

But he was with me

and wretched 

I curled inward

crying out for help

into the bleak dawn


Late in the day

I awoke

still in agony

the Beast within me

leering and jabbing 

while I gasped for air

and I despaired

of ever being free


But at last 

as I sat exhausted

with no way out

a touch came on my shoulder

and a voice

inhuman with kindness

softly said:

This is your own violence 

toward your very Self

Let it go


And I saw that it was I 

who was filling myself with fear

and in the calm new light

my voice came clear

and I called out 

to the Lord of the Blessed Void

and of All Sweet Multiplicity

and begged for the only thing

I need:


To be filled 

so full

with Compassion 

for All Things, barring None,

that there will be no room 

inside me

not a modicum

for violence

for judgment

or for fear


And then my demon kindly turned,

removed its mask

and gently took my hand.

Their Mercury Retrograde

Suddenly, long after I believed I had released them from my grasp, my tame adult children leapt out of hiding, roaring like a tornado through my tidy life, upsetting the crockery

One, unmasking himself, nearly gave me a heart attack as I watched him launch himself into the Void, tender, valiant and hard as steel, soaring away into perilous galaxies where no mere man has gone before 

Another, in a wild freedom dance, flung Revelation all over my lovely period furniture, burning holes in the upholstery and liberating me from all the false hopes I had so proudly hung along the walls. Then they disappeared into the forest to learn from the wild animals.

And I all withered in a corner had to be reborn, a naked babe, and grow up all over again

Now at last the Change is over, like a natural disaster that lays bare the raw earth, opening its beating heart of diamonds and rubies and molten gold

Now at last, I get to loll in bed in the late morning, catching my breath and wondering what to do with this new, unruly treasure…

A Way


Here is one way 

of the many true ways

to lose sadness 

and find some peace:

Take yourself on a walk 

in the open air

and call down for company

a luminous sphere

that you bring inside

to settle

like a light

in your heart

Then let it expand

all around you

most softly

growing past body

and thought

and deed

and everything else

you might have been

until you are happy

floating at ease 

suspended in quiet,

in the home of kindness,

and patience and wonder, 

sweetness and trust 

and true dreams.

Then filled up with wellbeing 

take yourself homeward

to your friends 

and your dearest loves

and give them this gift:

Tell them what wonders

have found you this day

through the grace

of quiet release.

Animal Behavior

i sit on a cold rock by the river

under the empty gray sky

and suddenly up above me

crows are pouring in from some endless source

in the east

and disappearing behind me

and the air is still

until three geese splurge in in from the south

with irate and outlandish honks

that bring squadrons in over my head from the west, feet splayed 

broad bottoms veering and adjusting

for the perfect river landing

while more swarm in from the northeast

splashing down

until everyone is present and accounted for At the proper moment

they greet one another

hi, how ya doin?

then they turn away


some to look for snails in the mucky river bottom

others to stand in the shallows

staring straight ahead

listening for the next 

emergency call

i walk home 

and up above in the naked treetops 

the crows

are holding on for dear life

awaiting the next signal

from the beyond

Antidote for Darkness - a poem and a story for the new year:

Song of Light

- For Selma Baraz and her son James

who brought light into the darkness

by reminding me that I am truly blessed

Blessed is the Light

Flower of life

that opens my heart with joy

from deep within

Generous is the Light 

that does not scorn the shadows

though they scuttle before it

like discombobulated dreams

Friendly is the Light, and tranquil,

holding me like a child 

and filling my soul with peace

Do not ask me to explain

Words are themselves

made of Light

and so cannot define their substance

but can only sing.

The story:

Not long ago, when I was sunk in suffering over something beyond my control, I remembered James Baraz’s 91-year-old mother Selma.

In the you tube video "Confessions of a Jewish Mother," she tells how her Buddhist son ruined her life. He got so sick of her complaints that he asked her to do something new. Every time she complained, she should just add these words: “but I am blessed.” 

She complied, and to her horror – “It kills me to say this,” she lamented - she got happier.

Floundering in my doldrums, I thought maybe that's a good antidote. Negativity is really just complaining internally, so I'll just try repeating those words to myself whenever I have a negative thought…

I tried it, and she was right. It works! The problems were still there, of course, but those words let the light in, and the darkness is never quite so dark after that.



when I awake

all is well

no rush to do

or think for feel

anything at all

It is enough

to simply dwell 

in the soft 

and endless beat 

of life within

and among us all.

This gentle radiance

pleases me

I know not why

But it is

as if some Friend

close by

were guiding me

with light touch

and shy regard

to find myself 

alive and safe within -

not only inside me

but also inside you,

guiding you too

to find yourself

held deep

and safe and warm

in me.

Everything is sacred


everything I touch

is sacred:

the smile 

that wakes me,

the rain 

spattering my window,

the rags of clouds 

scuffing the hills,

the workers moving like bees 

in their hive across the way

and the noise

of their machines,

the space inside me

that welcomes 


and all the world

that fills it.


In the center

of the boundless expanse

the form is conceived

a bud unfolds 

swelling into fullness

around the embryo

comes the fullness of joy

and the emptiness of sorrow

and how sorrow deepens joy

like the night deepens day

awakening lifts us

out of sleep

and sleep gentles


and all things

height and depth

warmth and cold

have their place together

and apart

in grace

in perfect quiet

we contemplate from within

from the point

at the apex

of the mountain

the center of the sun

the depths of the sea




sacred geometry

Nothing in the way 

Every day when I wash my face

I erase more of what used to be me

Now, where there used to be eyebrows,

there are smudges

and where my jaw was 

random folds 

muddle the shape of my bones

And yet

I remember when my mother 

her mind half lost

in the dustbin of her years

looked at me 

as she pretended to help with the dishes

How she looked 

with such blinding clarity

because there was nothing left

to mask the volcanic joy

that flew

from her eyes

And I knew

that all is not

as it seems.

Paradise everywhere

They say

anywhere can be paradise

if you open your eyes

So I do my best 

to feel the human 

in everyone

not only those I love

but also 

in my enemies

too much

like me

I try to wrap my arms


around every horror

I cannot change

from the 

the nameless child

starving and vacant-eyed

in some

distant place

to the grandiloquence

of the doltish 

puppet king

And I affirm 

the hopeful truth

so contrary

to public opinion

that we are all doing

what we need to do  

and learning 

what we need to learn

so we’ll be ready

for the end of everything 

when it opens

like a dark flower

before us

This way

I aspire

to love the world

like a child

instead of judging it

like an adult

because it’s love

and nothing more

that opens the door

to seeing 



What Some Call “Prayer”

Here in these mere three


it’s hard to see 

the whole

of our totality

but I find

that things get 

just a little clearer

when I do 

what some call

to “pray”

I don’t mean 


or a petition

addressed to someone

out there 


I mean an inward reaching

sweet and deep

a resting there

in the heart of things

an asking

and a letting be

You know what I mean

we all pray

every day

in our own way

even if it’s only a deep



for something

we cannot name

Everything we do

can be a prayer

We can pray

in gratitude and in agony,

in confusion and in clarity,

in rage,

in fear,

in wonder and delight

and in despair

We can pray happily

when we are sad 

and without guilt

when we are guilty

So let us pray 

because the world needs us to

and let us say:

May my wellbeing be

the wellbeing

of all humanity

and of all 

and everything

on this whirling dervish earth

and in the infinite 

unfurling worlds

May my wellbeing 

be yours

yours mine

ours theirs

may we come together 

past need for belief

in the full and simple knowing

that way down deep

we ourselves

are all there is

and are everything 

we need.

A sunny day on the river

At ease I rest on the dock 

that floats on this wide river

and feel the deep masses of water

moving imperceptibly under me 

sun and wind fill all the air 

with light

and clouds and sky dance upside down

in a melody of blue and white

light licks the gliding water

with its silken kiss

the breeze pets it backward

and it shivers

over the bridges 

upstream and downstream

toy cars trickle and wink like beads 

in the river’s hands

on the distant shore tiny people

glow in phosphorescent vests

that glitter yellow-green

as they dock their tiny boat

nearby three fat geese slide into home

and the water sprays and splashes

to their wild 

apocalyptic cries

a brown man in a blue boat

glides silently by me

lifting and dipping his yellow oars

in the shimmering water

I sit and watch the world 

turning and turning

in the kaleidoscope of time

that hangs suspended in a bell of silence

I sit still and fill

my bottomless soul 

content with 

my solitary self

the light

has no need for company

being full and bright 

and happy all by itself

observing and being here

walking through the world

while the world walks through me

I am nothing

if not well pleased.


Sitting -

Just sitting 

In the embrace

Of these trees

Who live 

In my back yard 

Or better said

In whose Peace

I am privileged 

To dwell 

I am held

So perfectly

At one 

With outside

And in

That I am loath

To move

To get on with


With the habit-flow

Of time and tasks,


And discontent.


In this cathedral

Outside of time

The perfect enchantment

Of trees

And birds


And the cool touch

Of morning

Have ended

My life.

Time for a break

Because I like to feel 

the motion of my limbs

and the air and sunlight on my skin

and because you have to exercise

if you want to stay alive

I go walking 

through the soft new snow

in the bright cold air

by the river.

I walk fast 

all the way to the third bridge

and back again

But long before I reach my starting place

my body whispers, 

“How about a break?”

What?! I remonstrate,

This is exercise,

and I trudge on

But then, passing a bench that’s not too wet, 

I ask myself

Wait – why not stop?

After all, there’s a first time for everything 

And my self answers

Yes, why not stop?

So, feeling wonderfully rebellious

I sink down 

and just sit

and rest

And suddenly

the whole world blooms alive 

and there’s no dividing line

between me

and everything

I think of Eckhart Tolle

sitting full of bliss 

on park benches for two whole years

Well, I’m not Eckhart, but I do feel


sitting here

Why haven’t I done this before?

Is this why other people sit on benches 

staring into space?

My body purrs with peacefulness

and I just sit

and watch the river shine and wrinkle 

between two trees

that are content to just stand

and frame the river across the lawn

where a few geese are content

to just peruse the writings in the grass

I just sit

and people pass 

each one taking some of me along 

and leaving some of themselves behind 

The sun glances down at me 

through broken clouds

The world buzzes and hums with life

and I just sit

held safe in the hollow of time

like sunlight

in the hand of God. 

Water Mystery

How can this sheer

shining flatness


Too fragile seeming 

to exist

not even

of an atom’s thickness

does it consist

yet its trembling fiction

holds the whole

divine geometry

of sky and sun

boats and wharf

arching bridges

and shifting clouds,

and hides below it

a whole distinct reality

of wet volumes moving

a changing


liquid history

as fickle and unlikely

as this fragile

point of view

that I call “me.”

Where death does not exist

o tiny self


do your homework,

master the only skill 

there is:


to stay present

right now

right here

without giving in

to gleaming hopes 

and dire fears,


when you inevitably 

do get lost,

learn to find your way back

to this warm country

where death

does not exist

Where my Beloved Is

When I go inside me

You are there 

ready to welcome and warm me

comfort and bless me

Vast and humble

all-named and nameless


you are my friend

who is closer to me

than my own breath

When I am lost

you show me the way

and when I am confused

you show me the pattern

of my footprints in the dust

You are not other than I

no wall or space divides us

and yet You are infinitely more

than this small being 

who takes shelter 

in Your Presence 

Whenever and wherever I seek you

inside me, in the center of my heart 

or outside

in the flowering tree

of the world,

always and everywhere

you are there

waiting for me




don’t worry

Old age brings

a spaciousness

that I would not trade

for all the prudent fears,

clever arguments

sleek physiques

and glittering futures

that used to fill

my life so full

I couldn’t see 

the view