Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the Season-2011

Tis the Season-2011

If a door can open
Then one day it will open
If a door can close
Then one day it will close
All that matters
All that will ever matter
Is on what side of the door will you stand
If a tear stained body
Can not rise to its feet
Then will you stand for them?
Its all that matters
Its all that will ever matter

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Valley of the Blue Moon

I had such a nice day with my expanding family. How ironic that I should be shrinking when my family is growing with son-in-laws and babies. My Buddhist friend, who was one of six friends in our Green Acre class last weekend who knew very little about the Baha'i Faith, described his personal meditation of seeing his breathing. This poem could be from that conversation or perhaps my favorite movie from the James Hilton novel, "Lost Horizon". In the movie, the main character, played by Ronald Coleman, is brought to a garden paradise at the top of the world. Himalayan peaks sheltered the Valley of the Blue Moon from the harsh elements. Every now and then when nobody is around I pop in the dvd and imagine I have stumbled through a narrow opening where time is dramatically slowed-where a person can live several days in that moment between inhale and exhale.

The Valley of the Blue Moon

A tidal wave moment of neither breathing in or breathing out.
I enter a valley of stillness that weary travelers stumble upon.
To rest, to heal, to become whole.
To dream of words and colors.
Warming my hands by the fire of timelessness
I stand high on a narrow path
Drawn by the sight and sound of chanting candles lit with grief
Weaving their way through the darkness of the Valley of the Blue Moon below
A familiar voice, my voice,
Tells me
I cannot stay here.
I exhale.
The tide rushes in.
The ball I have thrown high in the air
Has fallen to the earth
And so must I.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

new poem

Brief Visit

My heart aches sitting in this green wicker chair.
Watching the beauty of the world pass by.
Beauty that visits, but doesn't stay.
"I made an agreement at the moment of creation:
One life, one lifetime.
Do you remember?" He reminds me.
One day another will sit in this chair.
Feel the warmth of the morning sun on cold memories.
See you spring to life again.
If only for a moment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

old photos

Karen tore up the house looking for her passport in preparation for her trip to Ethiopia in a few weeks. Thank God she found her passbook because a major clean up took place unearthing and returning to earth various strange discoveries. One of the treasures were photos of my grandmother and Laurel when she was one year old. Ma must have been close to a hundred years. I'm still amazed that a women who gave birth to eight children and ate awful food. I mean awful food! Donuts and half cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast. Beer with her supper. A shot of whiskey if she had company. And here I am eating like Ghandi with an upset stomach. So much for justice.
That's not what I started out to write. I looked at the photos and saw such love in her face for my one year old daughter. Laurel, of course, doesn't remember, but I had forgotten that look also--mores the pity. I remember the quirky, funny stories like how, if she had something on her mind, she would walk to our house next door, pass through Dr. Mary's waiting room and walk right in to ask her daughter a question. Some poor soul would be lying on the table half naked and Ma would ask every time, "Mary, you got customer?" Kind of obvious I would think. My mother would turn bright red. "Ma!, how many times do I have to tell you? They're patients! Not customers! Just what do you think I'm doing in here? Imagine the poor unfortunate lying there knowing my mother is going to take all her anger out on their naked butt when Ma finally leaves. Ma's burning question might be that she wants some milk from the store or where are we going for Xmas two months from now. Stories like this come back to me, but its that look when Laurel visited her at the nursing home that I hope Ill always remember.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A visit with Ray today

A Visit with Ray

Me, In my green wicker chair
Ray, I can't stay
Me, You never do
Ray, I'm sorry
Me, No need, my friend
Ray, You always understand
Me, Where have you been this time?
Ray, so far now, so very far from here
Me, Like a memory?
Ray, A warm memory
Me, Are you going back?
Ray, No, I can't go home again
Me, Neither can I

Friday, August 12, 2011

Maine morning

I have discovered mornings. I remember a notorious night owl saying years ago that he was 30 years old before he found out that there was a six 0'clock in the morning. I have been in the FA program for 13 months (weigh-in day is tomorrow) which is when I discovered six a.m. because I was asked, with all the shock of a cold shower, that I was expected to call in my food for the day to my sponsor and then, with all the shock of an arctic shower, that I was expected to actually eat what I had written down. Strange words like integrity and honesty were used--still covered in permafrost. It's summer and the frozen mist disguised as excess adipose tissue has melted away. Now, I am eager to do all sorts of things if I am not called into work. Yesterday, after my food call, I continued working on a project in front of the open garage. I have been refinishing rock maple wooden chairs that I had bought along with a round matching table years ago for my mother's house-then my brother's house. I sit in half in the shade of the garage stripping the old finish away, then putting on a new finish. This is a perfectly awful, messy undertaking that leaves a disgusting mess of paper towels and crusty steel wool on the garage floor. For some reason it calms my restless soul. Maybe it is the sight of Karen's flower garden or the coolness of a Maine morning or the salty aroma of the nearby tidal river or maybe for a few hours I have become part of nature--let in the back door because I have finally engaged in the messy process of renewal, rebirth--just like my reborn table and chairs I have left behind the detritus of life on the floor next to the bathroom scale. All a 175 pounds of it and counting. Now I will change into some grungy clothes and work on the last chair. Look at the flowers smell the river, feel the cool air and listen to Dar Williams sing, "The beauty of the rain is how it falls, how it falls..."--off me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Rainy Day

I found this poem written a while back. I know it is about my late brother, but I share it because the sentiments could be universal.

A Rainy Day
Since I was a kid
He told me
With a big smile
He could fix them
Rainy days, that is
I believed him
I believed the smile
I can't remember the year
Maybe the year the smile went away
Then he looked at me
Like I was expected to fix
The rainy days, that is
But I couldn't fix them either
I kept my smile--his smile
It was all that I had left.

Friday, July 22, 2011

all about boo boos

I went shopping this Friday morning with Laurel, Violet and Samaya. As is our custom, I buckle Samaya into the grocery basket and Laurel takes Violet who looks very chunky happy Italian(that sounds like a new Ben& Jerry's flavor). I bask in all the oohs and aahs end exclamations "she is so adorable!" I acknowledge the strong resemblance explaining my noble African ancestors were captured by those troublesome Romans centuries ago. They were seduced by promises of pepperoni pizza for lunch everyday. Anyway, let me corral my wandering mind back to the supermarket before my friends wonder what this has to do with boo boos. We laze down the aisles with Samaya asking for cheese sticks and Mommy--at two years old, cheese sticks could be the favorite sometimes. My hands were steering the cart when suddenly Samaya leaned over and kissed the back of my hand. I was stunned and moved. Laurel explained that she was kissing the boo boo on the back of my hand to make it better. I thought of all the people down through the years who have kissed the unseen boo boos and made them better and I was filled with gratitude.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Xmas present

My grandmother lived with me for years in a three story house, but because of language and the fact that she lived in a different century, we often communicated from different worlds. One December I was struggling with what to buy her for Xmas. She had little and was content with less then little. She wore the same clothes, worked in her garden and walked to mass on Sundays. She was low maintenance until she was in her eighties--but that is another story. I went into a gift store on main street in Beacon and said no,no,no to myself until I spotted a small statue of a women that in the dim light of her eyes might pass for Mary, the mother of Jesus. I gave it to her before Xmas and she politely thanked me. Weeks later she came to me with a question that had been on her mind. "Why you give me a statue of some guy named "Art'"?
That threw me. Now we live not on just different worlds, now we live in separate universes. I shook my head and told her I didn't know what she meant. She turned the statue over and showed me a sticker that said "Art". It was useless to try and explain that it was a category put on by the gift store, but I tried anyway. She walked away puzzled by her unusual grandchild.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Old friends are like long arcing comets. We came in contact decades ago and then went our separate ways. One night we looked straight up to we see an object trailing memories silently moving toward where we stand. All a mystery. Sentences carried on like one of us just left the room and then came back. The voices ask one question. "Are you still there?' Then they explain the curvature of space that accounts for their return after such a long absence and the gravity that drew them back to same corner of the universe. Separation will happen again. Comets move on, but the friendship remains for all time.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I woke up early on Saturday morning caught up in the minutia of wedding details. My age old worries surfaced that something would go wrong. The rented tent by the ocean would be carried out to sea by a gust of wind with the bride and groom hanging on for dear life while trying to say their wedding vows. Or the the caterer would forget my special meal and I would gain back 160 pounds in one day setting a universe record topping some poor slob on Jupiter whose daughter was marrying an octopus like fellow. All of these thoughts were coming and going while I should have been thinking about what to say at the wedding. I calmed down and meditated after saying some prayers and clearing my mind. A writers mind can be crowded place where fanciful ideas wait none too patiently in line to be considered. In the quiet I heard the words "two sisters'. I remembered a poem written years ago and I read it at Julia and Sina's wedding.

Two Sisters

Two sisters snacking on strawberry twisters
Dreaming of future misters
Two sisters playing on the sandy shore
Dreaming about the land of more
Two sisters sailing far away
Dreaming about their wedding day
Two sisters praying in the Holy Shrine
And me dreaming of when they were wholly mine

Friday, June 24, 2011

More New England jokes

I believe these classics were told to me by old friend Steve Thompson. I connected two jokes into one narrative. They show the unique view of life on old planet New England.

A traveling salesman was enjoying a drive through the Vermont countryside on a sunny but brisk cold fall morning when he stopped to admire a postcard view of an apple orchard. He spotted a farmer gathering apples from a tree and felt compelled to ask the man why he was also carrying a pig under one arm. First, he quietly observed the farmer picking apples and putting them in a bushel basket. Then to his surprise, he would take a break and let the pig eat some apples right off a low hanging limb. The big city time conscious salesman just had to ask, "Why don't you let the pig roam around and eat the drops on the ground?"
The man- of- few- words farmer replied, "Pig don't like drops" without altering his routine.
The frustrated salesman answered, "But look at all the time being wasted!"
The farmer turned to the salesman and replied--mildly annoyed that he had to explain something so obvious, "Mister, what's time to a pig?"
In my fantasy world the salesman shakes his head and asks if he could use a bathroom. The farmer takes a break because he also needs one also. They walk over to a two- seater outhouse and proceed to do their business. The farmer finishes first but when he stands up a quarter falls from the pocket of his bib overalls right into the hole. The farmer looks for a minute at his lost coin and then, much to the amazement of the salesman, takes out his wallet, crumples up a ten dollar bill and lets it drop into the hole. The salesman couldn't contain his shock. "Why in the world would you do something like that?"
The farmer quietly replied, "You don't think I'm going to put my hand down that hole for a quarter, do you?"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New England Jokes

I was recording last night with Larry. He wanted a sound check so I began telling him my favorite New England. They are about the fabled distorted view of life that results from having your brain frozen in the brutal winters and the shock of brief thawing period.

Two friends--Jim and Ollie were true Mainers. Men of few words do their penurious nature. Neither one had family or friends left in their declining years. Even between themselves they weren't that social, except for some fishing trips on the ocean--and fishing meant fishing, not talking about fishing. One day the end came for Ollie and Jim wondered what he should do. He went to the newspaper office and was directed to the obituary editor. "I want to put something in the paper about the passing of friend Ollie."
Pen in hand, the editor asked what he wanted to say. After some thought Jim said, "Put in 'Ollie died'"
The puzzled editor just looked at Jim. "That's all. There is a five word minimum. It's going to cost you the same amount of money for two words or five words."
Jim scratched his head searching for inspiration. " Add 'car for sale'"
I need to go to work. Will tell you some more tomorrow. I figure I have told you more than enough sad stories.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

old towns in New England

I was traveling through Dover, New Hampshire a few days ago trying to connect with an old friend visiting the area. Sometimes I forget how old the earth is--especially New England earth. A lot of towns like Dover, Exeter, and Portsmouth are graciously borrowed (I would like to think) from their namesakes England. I work in Exeter on the weekends and Phillips Exeter Academy had banners up proclaiming their 231 st graduating class. The son of Abraham Lincoln went to this school and George Washington stayed in one of the old houses. Down the street is a Dunkin Donuts.I can imagine Lincoln's son and George Washington musing about life over a cup of coffee. That's my wonderful problem--imagining a whole bunch of absurd meetings and wild tales. Almost every day a story idea presents itself and finite fingers can't keep up the pace like traveling through Dover. Meandering down Main St. trying to locate where my friend was staying I glanced right for an instant and saw a building aching to tell me its story. I thought about this building over the weekend. It was a well preserved three story brick building with black shutters around white trimmed windows. Over time some of the white painted windows had bled down on the brick leaving faded pale streaks. The process has been going on for decades maybe a hundred years. I want to go back and lean against the bricks and gently suggest that enough tears have fallen. The drying sun is shining, I would whisper. Let it dry your tears. Love to all my brick building friends out there.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

nest , not quite empty

A few days ago my youngest daughter at a moment when the eye of the marriage hurricane was directly overhead and we could hear ourselves think said,"Dad, can you be the master of ceremonies and make a speech at my wedding?" It brought back memories but everything brings back memories these days. When my oldest daughter was planning her wedding in Israel, I did not--could not contemplate flying half way around the planet. I would have had to ask the airline to build a plane around my 420lb. body and switching my shoes for tires. There probably is a surcharge for that. I thought of the letter that I wrote for the occasion and actually heard Karen read in front of hundreds of people. It was rolled up and placed in an Ethiopian prayer cylinder because my son-in-law is from Ethiopia. Here is what I wrote for their wedding.

A Letter To My Children

This scroll wound up tightly, unfolds its mysterious secrets just like your marriage will reveal its hidden treasures which are given to you both by the Hidden Treasure, Baha'u'llah. He is the first among your wedding guests to arrive and His gift was given to both of you long before your entrance into this world. The mingling of the graceful nobility of Sisay with the dancing compassionate mind of Laurel form overlapping hearts. Pay close attention to this shared area. It is a new land formed like a volcanic island in the middle of the ocean. Don't be afraid of the volcano. From time to time it will erupt with fury, with raging heated winds and a deafening sound. Know that the embers will cool. The hazy mist will dissipate. The roar will fade away leaving only the sound of gentile waves caressing a lush green Island. It is on this island that you, Sisay, and you, Laurel will live forever.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More "Ma"

I would come home from work and Ma would make me coffee in an old mug. The best I can say about her coffee or her cooking was that it was hot and had the right color(most of the time). I enjoyed her comforting presence and her one dimensional view of life. Life was simple to he and black and white. If you were family you were loved, and there was no need to say the words. That would be redundant and a foolish waste of energy. Just as there was no reason to comment when the sun rose at dawn--only an idiot would make note of it or someone who wrote poetry(a fine example of splitting hairs). Sitting in our living room we had wonderful conversations about everything that was important in her world like being a Catholic. She knew I was not a Catholic and that was a great concern. To her I was Jewish because I wore a hat and I was not Catholic. In Old World Poland around the turn of the century there were Jews and Catholics. Therefore, if I was not a Catholic, I was a Jew. One day we had this conversation about God. I said nobody knows what God looks like. She looked at me like I was the town dunce(still loved though because I was her grandson). She sadly shook her head and opened her Polish Bible and found the page that showed a beautiful picture of God. He must have gone to the barber for that painting because His long white hair had every strand in place. I thought He had aged well, probably the result of clean living. Anyway, case closed, on to the next theological connumdrum Ma had educated once more. I like to think that when she went to heaven , a merciful God appeared to her just as He looked in her bible so she would not have any trouble recognizing Him. They would have long talks about what to do about her grandson.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


With thanks to my daughter Laurel for arranging this one.


My memories are filled with larger than death giants
striding across my small world
They give fear
never take it away
away--to yesterday or
tomorrow where it lives and
grows by itself
always alone
towering above the dead and dying
Come here while you still can
to this second
Feel its heartbeat
Hear its rhythmic sound
where the Presence lives
where you live
where life is


Not sure I have this one quite right.

Museum Peace

In the distance I saw an ancient unlined face of a woman
I walked the polished stone floor in her direction
Her velvet arms prevented me from drawing closer
She did not care for sunlight or the touch of the living
Preferring the company of the beautiful helplessness of armless Greek gods
I came too late
Perhaps by a minute
Or a thousand years
She had made her decision
No more asking a question
No more listening for an answer
Her eyes were closed forever
Her expression forever formed
She had traveled inward
At peace with her own mystery
Leaving behind a marble message
"Let the caller and the called disappear, be lost in the Call"*


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wedding suit suits me fine

Talk about packing a lot into a day! I might have broken presumed immutable laws of physics regarding time. Up at five a.m. to prepare my breakfast and lunch. On the road at six with one of the managers from work to go to Manchester to attend the N.H. state traumatic brain injury conference. We set up a booth promoting our health care agency, the radio show and suicide prevention film. Heard Gov. Lynch speak to open the huge gathering of professionals and a fabulous keynote speaker, Tricia Allen, who has written several books about surviving a tbi, breast cancer, her husband's affair and subsequent divorce--which reminds me to give my daughters my "men are swine" speech again. She had the booth selling books next to ours and we really connected. She was warm and funny and had a real spiritual presence about her. In a poor choice of words I said, "You should be bitter" She laughed and I did too. Humans must have an inner gyroscope that brings us back to balance, but sadly we often we can't find it within--blinded by rage that causes us to focus on the windmills we insist on tilting at while wearing our warrior uniforms. I invited her on the radio show and bought one of her books. "Gifts From the Broken Jar". The title is based on an eastern fable that I was familiar with. I also connected to a producer from NH public television who was anxious to get his hands on a copy of our suicide prevention film--luckily I had a few with me. I met so many people, I lost count and almost consciousness(the dangers of mathematics). At the end of the long day I arrived with just enough time to have dinner, shower, and put on my wedding suit which is the only suit I own. Karen kept it all these decades proving she is an eternal optimist(not to be confused with an eternal optometrist). I gave my short speech looking like a thousand pennies(15 lbs. less and I would have been able to comfortably button my jacket) at the retirement festivities for Jim Sacco in front of a couple of hundred people. It was a great night filled with well deserved tributes. Home, exhausted and fell into bed. I know I could never have physically gotten through a day like that at 420 pounds and lived to tell about it. and I would not have been able to wear my wedding suit. I suppose I could have rolled it up in a ball and wore it has a hat, but the audience would not have been able to concentrate on my speech.

Friday, May 6, 2011


A few days ago I showed our film on suicide prevention at our monthly staff meeting--a presentation made possible by the urging of the owner of our agency. It can be a raucous bunch these fellow workers and friends of mine and I didn't know what to expect. Certainly not glued to their seats in respectful attention listening to real people and their families talking about living on the edge of a bridge staring at the gravitational force of water down below. I was proud of my often unpredictable radio show co-host--a client who would not normally be present at a staff meeting. I asked him to say a few words at the end. He talked about the suicide of his mother a few years ago and how she was once young, beautiful and healthy before illness drove her over the edge. Not hard to believe after we saw her picture at the end of the film in the dedication section. There were lots of red faces and a man my age spoke privately to me about his father's suicide when he was twenty. We looked at each other and knew that his father's death and my brother's suicide really happened five minutes ago. The passage of time--just another of life's illusions

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


There came a time when my grandmother began showing signs of age. A great shock to me. I thought she was immortal. It was agreed that I would buy her three story house and move in so that I could keep an eye on her. It was a reversal of position that happens so often in families. Ma, as everyone called her including my brother and I, cared for us when were young and my mother was working at the old National Biscuit factory down by the Hudson River. This is before my mother moved us to Iowa and went to Palmer School of Chiropractic. We would sit in the dark and listen to radio shows like "The Lone Ranger"-ah, to possess the deep sonorous tones of this champion of justice. Ma would knit without comment while we imagined the destination of whistling arrows and galloping horses. The juxtaposition of Old World Poland and the Old West is something young boys were blind and deaf too. Ma was Ma. Ma had always been Ma--a certain vague age between sixty and eternity frozen in my memory forever. Our years together before I married Karen was not the challenge everyone thought. The only challenge was watching her breakfast on powdered donuts and half cooked bacon and eggs--now wonder I thought she was immortal. One time we were sitting in the living room having a typical philosophical conversation. I should say that she had little sense of humor. I now know that, like other luxuries, humor could not be afforded in the Great Depression of the 1930's. Ma was waxing nostalgic about being the last one standing. All her Polish lady friends that would gather at her place on Friday after work were all gone. I said in my best pseudo scientific voice, "Ma, most people die in their seventies and you are now in your eighties. If you were going to die, it would have happened years ago. You are going to live forever." Her look was one of sadness for her not quite right grandson but other then a slow shake of the head there were no disparaging remarks. After all I was family, her grandson to be loved wordlessly, even if I was not quite right in the head.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The babysitter by Peter Tomanio

There is a theory in business that one rises to the level of their incompetence. I believe it is called the "Peter Principle". I'm sure if you are an executive in a corporation and your name is Peter that can be disquieting. My mind is wandering to St. Peter, a father in name only and Pete Petterson who was Secretary of the Treasury a few administrations ago. A Secretary of the Treasury in name only considering the state of bankruptcy of the nation. Anyway, I digress (that could be my epitaph). Yesterday I watched Samaya, the Princess of all Toddlers, and was given clear guidance from my daughter to color with her at the table and read some book about a chicken. Daughter left with Violet and I sat down to color. I proceeded to color within the lines setting a good example-my old schooling came in handy (finally). I looked at Samaya and she had colored her tongue green. I was going to give her a lecture about what part of coloring between the lines don't you understand, but she just said "all done". I imagine Picasso said something like that when he drew breasts on a fire hydrant. Panic set in. I imagined Samaya going to the senior prom with green lips and tongue. I could hear myself advising "Just tell everyone it's an environmental statement." I was so relieved that it washed off and we went on to the book about the chicken which I did not understand. I told that story last night at my food meeting--not the part about Picasso and the fire hydrant--not with a room full of women. Makes me think about maturity and the lack of it in the world. I know I have contributed my share, but the Princess of all Toddlers is going to have a brighter life teaching at some great university and she wont be self conscious at all about her green tongue.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


This feels like an anniversary poem. Although that is not how it began--much like relationships I suppose.
The Nature of Light
I wash my face with it
Cup it like water in my hands
Stars and worlds slip through my fingers
No way to hold them
But the stories linger
Of birth and death
Of heaven and hell
What do I remember?
Just you
Walking into a room long ago
And staying
It is the nature of light

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A good day

I have been feeling a lot more energetic lately. Blame it on the bosanova, springtime or huge weight loss. I have been working a little more and yesterday was my attempt to squeeze extra hours into a 24 hour day. After work I went with Karen to a staff meeting barely time enough to make my supper which I took with me. All they serve is pizza and soda which what got me into this mess in the first place. I moderated a part of the meeting involving staff and higher ups asking everyone to talk about their successes and challenges in working with individuals with severe disabilities. It works out well and people get a chance to vent or give advice to each other. The owner of the company came in and talked about our film on suicide prevention and asked that it be used in training of his work force. I can't tell you how happy I was when he said that. He called it a powerful film. Next month everyone will see it at the staff meeting. At the the end of the meeting a fellow worker said how wonderful I looked now after losing so much weight. Then they all applauded and I smiled. I thanked my friends and said that I have been waiting 63 years for someone to say I looked good.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


On a poem jag lately. It will pass like a head cold in summer. I hope it isn't contagious. Zhao Chang was a 12th century Chinese artist. It might change, but at least the word "jasmine"will let me alone now
The sound, color, the aroma
All step softly on Zhao Chang's white silk branch
As he guides you to a land only read about
Until now
Say the word
Let the color live in your eyes
Breathe deep the scent
Time, having no choice,
Lies down on spring fields
Waiting for you

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dr. Mary's Memorial memory

There so many friends of my mothers out there all over the country who couldn't be at her memorial at Green Acre in Eliot. This bit of a memory is for them. The room was full. People came forward to share memories. I wanted to take my turn, but it seemed too soon. I did write a poem, not a very good one I should say. There was a million words in the air. I hastily grabbed a handful. I wasn't feeling grief--felt more like applauding a long distance runner who had crossed the finish line having won the race convincingly. What she couldn't accomplish, she left to others she had inspired. They became doctors, humanitarians, teachers, mothers and fathers who don't turn away when they see a tear in an eye. And they became sons.
My contribution was read by my daughter.

Indian Sunset

I was hoping
I think you were too
If there was an Indian summer left in you
A reward for fixing broken bodies and shattered spirits
A last season on the porch
Of swaying and being swayed
By the colorful sleep of the twilight sky
"See this sunset," you'd say,
"Abdu'l-Baha loved the sunsets at Green Acre
Can't you picture Him walking on stairs of light
To the other world?"
And there you go
A dying sun burning brightest at the end
All the eyes of the universe giving reverence to this moment
Your moment
To be seen
And heard
And remembered

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

something wet with birth moisture

Tonight while watching a phenomenal movie, "Temple Grandin", do yourself a favor and rent it. I wrote this while watching. Don't know what the connection is. It might change.

The wishful thinking of gravity
Always trying to go home
When home has moved
Leaving no forwarding address
Here and there
Beginning and end
Moved by the faintest breeze of gravity

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dr. Mary Rides Again

I thought of another improbable Dr. Mary story which makes me think are their any probable Dr. Mary stories? On our living room wall is a water ladle used to scoop water for drinking purposes-what? you mean you don't have a ladle hanging from your living room wall?
Anyway, the story as I remember it. My mother had an unusual patient(The usual patients went to other doctors) named Alvin. He was quite old--I'm guessing somewhere in his eighties. He knocked on her door one day and introduced himself saying that for the longest time his car would slow down almost to a stop when he drove by her house which was right next to Green Acre Baha'i School, a conference center that is more than a hundred years old. For my friends who are not Baha'is, this inn on a hill overlooking the Piscataqua river in Eliot, Me. was a gathering place for transcendentalists, poets, artists, writers such as John Greenleaf Whittier, who gave it the name of Green Acre. It is also the acknowledge birthplace of yoga in the United States and is revered by Hindus because Swami Vivakandanda came here around the turn of the century. There are photographs with him surrounded by his folowers. Hindu groups conference here and show up enexpectedly just to walk the grounds. It has since became a Baha'i Con. Center because its founder, Sarah Farmer, became a Baha'i. Abdu'l-Baha, the son of the founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah, came to the United States after being set free when the Ottoman empire collapsed in 1908. He had been a prisoner since the age of nine--a total of 55 years. A promise to his father was the impetus behind his year long journey that took him to Europe and then 239 days in the U.S.
So much for the history lesson. You will be emailed a pop quiz later.
Back to Alvin who proceeds to tell my mother the strange tale of his car that clearly wanted to make a visit. Alvin told my mother that he was a water boy at the time of Abdu'l-Baha and the early days of Green Acre when the flat fields of Green Acre would be filled in the summertime with tents of thirsty visitors. Alvin and other boys would take water from a well on what later would become my mother's property and bring it to to the people. My mother found this story of the car and Alvin's childhood at Green Acre entirely normal(I'm smiling as I write this) Alvin became a patient of my mother which Alvin found to be a completely normal turn of events. The story gets even stranger because when Alvin was on the adjusting table he would go into a trance and channel a long dead doctor who would instruct my mother in what was explained to her as techniques to facilitate lymphatic drainage. My mother became even more renown and never stopped in her desire to be a better healer. The only part of her life that stayed the same was her voluminous dresses, her love of ginger snaps with Tetley tea served in her "Mary" cup. That explains why I have a water ladle on our living room wall. Everything else I can't explain.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

could be a poem

I was watching Carole King and James Taylor on a PBS look back in time right before bedtime and this knocked on my door and I let it in. Might need some work and, if thats the case, it should go out and find a job because I'm going to sleep.


Liver spots on the sun
Time is running out
Grey smoke curls hanging loosely from the sky
Shedding wonder on my thinning hair
Wonder, as in it was here once
So many things were here once
And I didn't think to say goodbye

Monday, March 14, 2011

film premier

Last Wed. was the premier of "Just One More Day" at the Kremple's Center-a non-profit brain injury foundation located in Portsmouth, N.H. It was a homecoming of sorts with all the trepidation associated with returning home after a long absence with the added anxiety of not knowing how our film would be received. For years I would bring various clients there three days a week and became good friends with many of the members and staff. I couldn't believe that someone was actually pay me for doing this work. Jackie Mike was still there happily spinning around in her wheelchair full of life-takes more than a bullet to the head from a drunken boyfriend to slow that lady down or take away her love of life. I looked at old friends and remembered their stories. I had hugged them them, held them, felt their warm tears on my shoulder, learned from them and now I wondered what they would think of the film I produced. Because their opinion was the only opinion that mattered--nine months work on the line and I would know the verdict in 66 minutes. We gathered in the movie room--members, staff, University of New Hampshire interns who do a semester there s part of their education and then there was Gus, the filmmaker,his girlfriend and his father. I sat way in the back with my therapist friend who was the main interviewer on the film. The lights dimmed. The documentary opens with three young TBI victims telling their stories of suicide attempts filmed live during an hour long broadcast of "Don't Dis My Ability". It is interspersed with subsequent footage of two of the young men and their mothers. Those two segments were designed to show the effect of suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts on family members. I remembered trembling all over when we filmed these segments. We sandwiched these segments around a funny and touching segment of a young lady and man who are as close as two people can be. Her brain injury, the result of being run over by a drunk driver, took away her ability to speak clearly. She uses an electronic communicator. Her story of two devastating brain injuries is simply incredible. The last segment features our radio engineer who is about my age. We wanted to show that people of all ages can fall into the dark pit of suicide. He is a survivor of spinal cancer. I am most affected by this segment and get emotional every time I see it. The audience laughed and cried and cheered at the end. I put my arms around a young lady afterward who could not stop crying. After lunch we all gathered back in the movie room with a question and answer period that included the participants of the film and the filmmaker. I looked over from my chair in the front of the room at a lady I knew for years. Her caregiver had her arm around her shoulder, As long as a I have known her, she has never been able express a moment of emotion. She would be led here and there and would sit impassively like someone who had escaped from the wax museum. Silent tears were running down her cheeks. The members and staff began opening up about what they called a taboo subject and I knew we had done our job. The film ends with each participants dedication. Mine included an old photo of my brother and I standing in front of the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, Ill. I had dedicated my contribution to my brother who took his life several years ago. Contact me if you would like to purchase a copy of the film.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"puny form"

Tuesday was an incredibly full day--stretch marks appeared on the mystical vessels that contain time. Our guest on the radio show was a thirteen year old girl who loves to write. She gets straight A's in school and loves math and sees the right answers in different colors in her mind. No, I don't understand it. She is in a wheelchair, fed with a g tube, extremely sensitive to heat and cold. Her hand movements drift in the air struggling to find the right letters on her electronic communicator. If you passed her by, you would notice her beautiful face and light brown hair, but you could easily pass her by and think nothing was behind that charming smile. She took my hand and held onto it for minutes and then she took hold of my heart forever. I love good writing and her poems were spectacular. Her grandmother said that she does not see the world like anyone she has ever met or likely will meet again. I agreed--like holding a snow flake in the cold sunshine seeing its uniqueness. She even wrote a song about her grandmother that her music teacher put to music and sings. We all thought during the show that it was the equal to the best love songs we have ever heard. I adored the language of her poetry--full of life spoken by a lifeless male robot trapped in a little black container. But she was not trapped. Her spirit eye traveled through forests and oceans--raindrops had faces that burst with happiness. I would not know that if she had not told me, made me feel the joy of the tiny explosion on my face.
This morning has left me with a lingering reflection of her eyes on my soul allowing me to finally understand what Baha'u'llah meant when He said,"Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form when within thee the universe is folded." Seven Valleys, p.33
Everyone, I mean everyone has some unique contribution--an atom that seeks to be folded into the universe. You have it--believe it--find it and when you do you will have found your true self.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

quiet time

In my new life I have time for a half hour of quiet time of deep breathing. I keep a pad and try to write down priorities of the day-- both mundane and spiritual. This came to me-maybe our approaching 30th anniversary--I don't know.

A few seconds to inhale
A lifetime to exhale
And in between
A moment

Gotta run or at least wobble over to Laurels and occupy Samaya.-have a luminous day my friends.

Friday, February 18, 2011

writer's retreat

Between my granddaughter's busy social life of libraries and music class, I attended a writer's retreat at Green Acre with some old and new friends yesterday. Last night I shared an old poem that came to mind because of a discussion about love. I was asked to post it on my blog. I actually don't like a lot of poetry--usually it's over my head. If one comes to me I need to get it out of my head or it rattles around destroying brain cells. Put it on paper, store it on the computer--just as long as it takes the first bus out of town and goes.
Something like what Oscar Wilde said on his deathbed after staring at the garish wallpaper, "Either it goes or I do".


If you journey far into the abstract wilderness
If you are a "wanderer in the wilderness of love"
Remember to tear off little pieces of your dreams
And let them float to the earth
Otherwise you may never find your way home
What is it about love
That pushes you away
And pulls you toward it
With equal intensity
Love causes the sea to rush in
But the sea is the source of tears
Love dances with the moon
But the moon is the birthplace of sorrows
One day the sea will find its calm
One day the moon will lie down on a bed of stars
One day love will find its home

We also heard some Rumi poems. This is my tribute to Rumi

No Rumi at the Inn

Seek refuge within the mountain fortress of oneness during times of praise
Seek refuge within the valley fortress of singleness during times of condemnation
Ah! But what happens when we find ourselves lost in the desert of apathy
Where looks and words whirl furiously before dying at our feet
Seek here amidst the blowing, blinding sands a Rumi home
Safe from the two great tests.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

some weekend

Most days are a combination of ups and downs so that I walk upright neither weighed down stooped over or levitating a foot off the ground. This weekend was a little unreal because the good news came in a rapid succession. First, and foremost was the birth of Violet Olivia and the good health of of mother and daughter. Second my monthly weigh-in revealed I lost 11 pounds and for the first time in twenty years my weight fell below 300lb.-296.6 to be exact. I was informed that our film on suicide prevention, "Just One More Day" will be shown at a leading Brain Injury Foundation program on March 9. The whole day will focus on the film and their will be no other program. It will be shown in the morning to the members, families, staff, University of New Hampshire interns who spend a semester helping run programs and I don't know who else. The first step in the process of this film used in schools and the training of health professionals. The same weekend I made arrangements with a new gorgeous restaurant to use our world proverb place mats and also sell our world proverb book. This is a test run to prepare us to approach major restaurant chains. Imagine kids and parents everywhere learning that the whole world has wisdom, not just Americans while eating a sandwich. Still a long shot, but who knows. Our radio show is very popular and we are being urged to go weekly and longer(the spirit is willing, but not the flesh. I know I will have bad days as well as good days in the future and some kind of balance will emerge and I will have days when I will walk with a stoop. But I will have my memories intact of floating with my head in the clouds for a couple of days.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

radio show

I might not be tough enough for this show. Last Tuesday's guests were promoting the documentary, "Lost in Laconia". Lost is the word for those children who lived on the back ward of Laconia State Hospital. A more fitting name would be Laconia Children's Warehouse. The film maker was accompanied by an elderly woman whose gray hair and weathered face concealed an always young mother forever fixed in time and space-a moment when her newborn was judged too imperfect for the world of the perfect. At the age of five they could not care for Janet anymore. Seizures and a litany of physical and mental issues and the urging of experts resulted in her being placed in Laconia. I felt heartsick asking her questions. "Did she know you and your husband?" Could she smile". "Could she stand at all?". She was quiet--a remembered photo hung on some inner wall. " "My husband loved her", she spoke. "She would crawl over to his easy chair at night and pull herself to her feet wordlessly holding out her cheek to be kissed." There is more, lots more, too much more.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

hope this helps

Many friends have asked me privately to give the details of the program I'm in. There are two ways to answer that question. The simple answer begins and ends with the food for those who woul like to lose some unwanted pounds. I include the basic plan for men. Women eat about 20% less. I know it is unfair. Women also lose weight at a slower rate and experience having another human being emerge from them. Makes me wonder if souls are given a gender choice in a meeting with God. If you faint at the birth video then you are born male. You are born as a macho male if you faint at the verbal explanation. Sorry, I digress (good tombstone inscription for me).
Male Food plan:
Breakfast: 8 oz. of plain yogurt, 6 oz. of blueberries, strawberries, or 1 banana, 1 apple, 1 pear and 1 oz of oat bran (add a little water and microwave for 2 minutes). I sweeten my yogurt with a pinch of stevia powder. I keep a large bag of frozen blue berries and sometimes strawberries in the freezer.

Lunch and dinner are the same. Wait four hours between meals.
6 oz. of protein including soy
8 oz of salad with a dressing of a olive oil and vin.
6 oz of cooked (usually steamed) vegetables except peas or corn because they have too much sugar content.

We eschew (the opposite of chew) all flour and sugar products. and do not eat between meals. For twenty dollars a tiny metric scale from Walmart is used to weigh and measure your food. Your next day menu is written down the night before. I do not think inordinately about food and my body only sends me legitimately hunger signals primarily at noon and dinner time.

Flour and sugar products are the physical root cause of weight gain.

This will work if you just need to lose a few pounds. I, and many other unfortunates like me are food addicts and are addicted to flour and sugar. Our inner voice always says "more" and seldom says "enough". My program is Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. We follow the same regimen that alcohol, drug, and nicotine addicts follow. I go to three support meetings a week where we share our experiences and gain strength form one another. Many food addicts have also been addicted to alcohol and drugs and never really dealt with the underlying reasons why they sought refuge in a material substance rather than a spiritual refuge. To be in this program you must acknowledge that we are spiritual beings who must have the assistance of a Higher Power to control the addiction. It is definitely a "we' program and not an "I" program. We also call 3 people in the program and receive calls from others only using first names. I have made many friends and have watch people lose weight and fear by the ton. I have come to believe molecules of fat and fear are bonded together. This is important. The full program is for those individuals who know that this is a life and death issue. The demands of the program are too great for the average person. Hope this helps.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I think this is a word. I hate to think I'm looking for something that doesn't exist. A simply incredible radio show yesterday. Two ladies that run bipolar support groups-real survivors akin to someone who has fought a long war and come back from the front to talk to civilians safe in their homes and far from the battlefield. One has a basket full of exotic mental ills that have led to gruesome suicide attempts. Gruesome, as in drinking draino and liquid plummer. When I asked her why she was still alive she pointed to the sky and beyond, She pointed to the presence of God in her life-an intervention that came with a price of earn this reprieve. That is why, she explained she devotes her life to support groups trying to help fellow sufferers. "My heart is so filled with love for everyone" they both said and I felt it hitting me like waves on sand. I thought of the film on suicide prevention that we now arranging for public viewing. I know this film will help save lives and I want to thank all my friends who have supported the show and the film and kept us on the air. Back to the two women and commonality. Both women said that they would not be around on this planet without their families. Kim's husband was told by everyone during the darkest days of suicide attempts, ranting, raving, verbal abuse and all around bizarre behavior that he should run like hell and take the kids with him. She said "why did you stick by me?" to her husband. His answer was " I stood before God and promised that I would stand by you in good times and bad and in sickness or health and I meant it" I saw before bravery and honor not only in these two women, but in their husbands and children--thus the commonality. The great simple message of our film is that those who have survived the dark night of the soul had lighted lanterns in the form of people who loved them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

getting there

A day I would always look forward to with dread is now a happy occasion. Four times a year I would check in with my primary where he he would lift me up and put me on a glass slide and wonder what his microscope would reveal. All in my head of course. A four hundred pound body has an equally large head filled with illusions. I now have gone from not being able to sleep without sleep apnea equipment to not being able to sleep with it. Now it sits gathering dust by my bed. High blood pressure has given way to low blood pressure and the gradually withdrawal of blood pressure medication. My feet are barely swollen and my knees don't scream at me when I walk. Another ten months and I will be 200 lbs-half my old weight. I have completed half the journey. I once wrote a book called "The Unexpected Day" and that is how I look at the future now. Six months ago all my days were expected as my world got smaller as I got bigger--less and less things I could do, but observe a set- in- stone decline of expected days. No new mystery or surprise-at least a good surprise.
I recounted a fable at a meeting the other day once told by Abdu'l-Baha. A servant was working in an orchard for a wealthy and powerful landowner. The landowner rode by on his horse surveying his vast lands. Despite the difference in their social positions the two men were life long close friends. The landowner stopped and smiled at his hardworking servant who was sweating in the afternoon sun. He picked an apple off the tree and implored the servant to take a rest and take a bite of the apple . The servant's face beamed with pleasure and declared the apple was sweetness itself. The land owner then took a bite out of the same apple and spit it out and said, "My friend, this apple is unpleasantly bitter. Why did you tell me that this apple is sweet?
The servant replied, "All my life our friendship has given me nothing but sweetness. How good I ever mention one fleeting moment of unpleasantness."
I told the group that I have been given a great gift. I know I will have days when events cause me sadness, but those moments pale in comparison to the magnitude of the gift and the majesty of the Giver of gifts and are not worth mentioning.