Round Trip

My first piece of published creative nonfiction is at Six Hens!

“It’s 1976. I am thirteen, a Jew, and by that I mean a traitor of the Motherland. We are ejected from our home; the Iron Curtain slams shut behind us. In that moment, the possibility of a return to Odessa, to my deep ancestral roots, doesn’t exist. Over time, that closed door becomes such a habit that, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it doesn’t occur to me to visit. And then a business trip to Istanbul, a relative stone’s throw away from Odessa, in June of 2011, brings the possibility. Coincidentally, it was almost exactly a year after my father’s death.” – See more at: http://sixhens.com/issues/3/round_trip.php#sthash.DTpqmvDP.dpuf

United States out of Control

Can we even articulate what it is we disagree about? If I asked you whether you were for or against scores of innocents dying, what would you say? If you said “for,” the answer would be clear. But my guess is that you would say, “of course, against, what are you crazy”? So on that we agree. What if I asked you whether you were for or against women having autonomy over their persons? What would you say? If you said against, the discussion would be closed. Chances are you would say “for.” So we agree on that too.

We share these fundamental values. It’s the details that get us, the devil that is always playing with us, waltzing us into that uncharted territory of high emotion.

What if we truly spoke to each other as if we believed, as if we were interested? What if we filed away our handy-dandy answers and really listened? I know, I am a funny person to preach this, but I have been watching our discourse spiral into the psychotic over the last thirty years (thank you, Karl Rove), and it doesn’t make any sense to me any more. I need a reboot, for us to just shut up and listen. And see each other.

The tail has been wagging the dog — politicians, corporations, media, all rousing the susceptible masses to turn against each other, to reap profits from dissent. This is a dangerous game, a locomotive barreling toward an abyss. It is already out of control — didn’t the Republican Party think it could control its members? Look what happened with the Tea Party. There is no control. At this point it’s chaos. The only reason this continues is that the oligarchs are still able to monetize acrimony. They think they are pulling the strings, and once their assets (and asses) are on the line, they can make it stop. They can’t. Only enlightened courageous leadership can, if anything. Where is that enlightened courageous leader?

I don’t blame anyone for not stepping up. Who wants to get burned by a bunch of torches on one side and speared by a bunch of pitchforks on the other? Maybe Jesus was willing, but a leader like that comes once every, what, few millennia? We made the mess, and we either need to clean it up or continue to watch this catastrophe unfold toward its inevitable end. Maybe the second coming is just a person stepping up, any person who can.

When all was birth

And so it goes the world
Descends into the void again
With ancient echoes of a mother’s
Empty arms embracing darkness
Dead eyes and bodies and the blood
Beats out its hungry rhythm

In streets monosyllabic borders
Spring like concentric rings of thorns
An endless maze of nos swells
Like the aftermath in their imaginations

Beware there is no hate but fear
That tongues its serpentine ascent
A curtained missile launched to rob
The blind their dreams of being dreamt

The silent prophets of the subway trains
Their mothers’ eyes are in my skull and yours
The nerves that tether us to everything we are
There is no them or us or pain or lust
There’s only water and the sky just as it was
When all was birth and birth and birth

Durable goods

What durable goods do I possess? I don’t own an MRI machine, so I cannot see into minds. I do have a couch, a stove, a coffee maker, a ukulele. But are they my goods? And are they durable? And are they good?

What are my durable goods? Are perseverance, loyalty, stubbornness goods? They are certainly durable, but are they goods? My clothes are older than my teenaged children; I drive my cars into the ground. And what about people? I keep them, perhaps past their sell-by dates. Is that a durable good?

And what are durable bads? My loyalty, perseverance, stubbornness, they are as much durable bads as goods. Or is durable indifference really the mirror of goods? What are my durable indifferences? No, it’s easier to think in goods and bads; indifferences are elusive, they are not something I want to admit.

And what about love? Is that a durable good? Insofar as it is a transaction, it is a good. But durable? Only up to a point, and sometimes quite slippery, not durable, but to be endured.

What’s next

On the eve of illegitimacy
How can I condone this destruction
Yet how can I stop it?
The laws, godlike, are here to hold
Replicas of devoured extinction
Heat seeps into the crevices we create
Slips into my irises burning like a
Forest fire consuming that which is ready
Making fertility possible for what’s next

The call of stone

I am an insider on the inside. I know all the nooks and crannies of this fortress. There is a moat around it, and watch out if you get stuck there – fearsome creatures will eat you down to your bones. There is a portcullis that is controlled by an exquisitely sensitive ego, eager to press the button. Here I am, in my finest linens, and all it takes is a soft alarm. The gate slams down and I am safely trapped inside. And all else is out there – foreign, alien, unfamiliar, treacherous. I can sit in my fortress for weeks, months, years, and you cannot get me. This is my legacy, my dowery, my box full of snakes. I bring it wherever I go. Some people think it is lonely here. But was Rapunzel lonely before she knew love? Mine is the fallacy of coastal living, a Ring of Fire, a Cascadian Ridge fifty years too late for a melt-down. All is quiet here, but I am not prepared or preparing. My fortress sits untethered to its foundation. After the shake-up, it will still sit here, but the foundation will drift away into the ocean. The only thing to do is to get some leather stirrups, a saddle and a crop and to ride off into romantic distance, the ultimate in living cross-sectionally. We are all simple slices of geological space-time, and our bidirectional blindness is a survival instinct. Behold the fortress as it heeds the call of stone.