Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sweet Potato and Cream Cheese Pie

Sweet Potato and Cream Cheese Pie

The most amazing light orange,
just off peach,
but proclaiming itself
by the light swirl
because after all...cream cheese.

Sweet potato eases in
like a fine morning
and even though it's supposed
to be winter,
it plays the pie
like a hint of summer
and spice,

Dream of something
almost flies down
teaches your stomach
how to say yes
in southern

even though you live
near New York.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

As a Duck

As a Duck

As a duck,
I would have
several ducklings
and explain to them
that they should stay
under my wings
or next to me
because, I would say,
you never know
when some bully
will decide to
create a signature dish
with orange sauce
or infused seitan.

I would explain
to my duck husband
that it would please me
no end
if he would sing me
to sleep
in several duck languages.

I would then dream
of ponds forming
after rain
and running
hourly with new
under our curled toes.

And, to celebrate
my ducklings' new knowledge
our season of blessed flight,
 we would all
summer back
to the same place
each early, safe blue

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Moon, The Goat, The Peacock

The Moon, The Goat, The Peacock (Inspired by the works of Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

The moon, the goat,
the peacock
they hover over sky
as thick as land
and land as unsure
as sky.

Like us Jews,
they dance on
the edge of acceptable,
then fall off.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Northeastern Chanukah

Northeastern Chanukah

Old fast day repurposed
into eight days
and potato pancakes
for the oil that burned
as a miracle

is remade through adult eyes:
eight-branched menorah
as a light 
through winter darkness,
Jewish contribution
to one big winter festival
with Kwanzaa and Yule and
Christmas sparkling
on their own.

"Don't let the light go out,"
the song goes.
All the lights
all over the place
and people rush about
city streets,
pretending to shop
but actually breathing
in charged air
and the fun seeing others
as ridiculously wrought
as they are
and perhaps sometimes 

even happy.

*Syrian Greek mercenaries were called in to relieve tensions between secular and religious Jews. Something went wrong, and they started to kill all of the Jews. The religious Maccabees rallied Jews who agreed to fight under their banner, and reluctantly, secular Jews, as well. They did defeat the Syrian Greek mercenary army. However, the Maccabees then became tyrants when they ruled.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dyckman-200th St.

Dyckman-200th St. ("I'm Sorry" in Spanish)

Up the long flight
and out to the circle
of a park.
On the other side,
are small stores
and a great Dominican
As you head to the ATM,
only 99 cents,
courtesy of the Actors' Union
local, two tall young men
spot and greet you: " La blanca
"Muchas gracias," you yell back,
and they laugh
fit to bust a gut.
Since they've greeted you before,
it sounds as if they've noticed
and would like to talk,
but you head away
because you don't know
enough Spanish.


Lo siento.

In your gut, you like them
and the sound of words
that you are still afraid
to use.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The First Flash

The First Flash (Seeing the Lights of New York from the Bus Trip Home)

Lights rear up
like but so much better
than a dancing horse
or a carousel
or even the lights
of a Christmas tree

1 million Christmas trees
but the ecstasy
inheres in the moment:
You live in light
and all the lights
that crash up
floating above
what humans never
realized they were

City makes music
of these lights,
which you can hear
if they let you breathe
after the first
flash glance
the first clash
of senses
with awe and
unbearable shine.

They grab you.
Then vanish.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

To Dance With Henry

To Dance With Henry (To the Memory of Henry Braun, 1930-2014)

The same ground -
born in upstate New York,
Brandeis for undergrad,
BU for grad, Temple to teach,
both of us ABD.
at twenty four years' distance
that you broke down
with blue glints of laughter.

You knew all my favorite profs
and the ones I would have liked
to know.

You organized teach ins.
They spoke.
You read poems
that danced, then damned
the time and its war machines
in gentle anger so deep
that hate itself must have bled
on hearing.

Much later,
you made time for my questions
even those that caught you up
in spirals of ifs and mights
and rendered you late.

Your poems pressed each word
into flowers of the angriest colors,
which flowered into change
catching several fires
that woke us like war flares
into remembering.

I realized way too late
that your workshop
would have opened me
without tearing.

One day I will go to Maine,
stretch out to your essence
that dances the grave,
another amused smile,
wry gentle beauty
that catches itself just short
of anger.

Will you greet me?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On the Edge

A butterfly
is a meeting
of worlds:
cocoon, then
lit frenzy in flight.

A flight
is a meeting
of worlds:
sky which is,
ground which was,
new ground in landing.

A landing
is a meeting
of worlds:
place one doesn't
place one sees
in the present,
place one will know.

is a meeting
of worlds:
that which one hears,
that which one will hear,
and that which
one cannot hear
but senses
on the edge of

Another Kind of Truth

Another Kind of Truth

When you read a good novel,
truth grabs you and leads you
to reflect on the nature
of stars, thoughts, worlds,
evil, happiness, ephemera.

Truth snakes in and out
of the story that could be
and is
in the dimension
of possibility.

And one day
it just might unleash
the probable.

Monday, November 9, 2015



If we returned
to the part of France
from which Monet painted,
would the light blend
and reblend
sweeping us
into a whole
greater than its dots?

Or would the sky
and return us to our time -
as we spilled out
guileless, bland, refurbished
as an old hard drive?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Festival of the Clitoris (Or, When I See a Clitoris Fly)

Festival of the Clitoris

Can you imagine?
We could have...
clitoris cupcakes.
Clitoris-happy underpants.
Songs of the clitoris.
Clitoris poems.
Clitoris stories.
Clitoris paintings.
Little cuddly clitorises
to sleep with.
One of those see through
showing all of its
rarely discussed parts.

Fantastic clitoral oils
to zing you from
sleepy to charged
in ten seconds.

And let us not forget
clitoral videos
showing how to
and where to
and when to..

with clitoris-shaped

Apply for open carry

And the climax...
a talking clitoris cake
which gets excited
when you smear it
with chocolate.

and I!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fibonacci Rose

Fibonacci Rose

Your mind fills in
the petals
as the lines turn
and although
there is only one
dark space above
not the inbetweens
of dark petals
the line that turns
on red
spirals so tightly
that it spawns
new lines
in some pathway
of mind
so fast
that they breathe
much quicker
than the petals
you see outside
of mind


Tuesday, October 27, 2015



It was Monday
but felt like Sunday
slow air stood
heavy over yards
not moving
leaves bright
under clouds
stuck dry to
no green grass

soundless people
not in cars
swung into mowers
then vanished

clouds thick
over each other
created then scattered
over what felt rain
but wasn't

and in the sky
no planes
although there must
have been flights


Saturday, October 24, 2015

A bit of advice

A bit of advice

It is not true
that men say
"I love you"
only when they
want sex.

They also want
their egos kissed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

To The Daddy Generation

To The Daddy Generation

Honoring Vice Pres Mondale,
with Pres. Carter to speak.
Mondale is my mom's age,
Carter, my dad's.

My uncle and aunt
are 88 or so.
My dad will be 90.

I look at the good wrinkles
soft white hair
bald or balding heads
their well-intentioned
liver marked
poll watching hands

and think how hard they fought
for that abstract, equality,
in World War 2
and after,

or thought they did

only to face the trashing
of hopes
in the 2010's
as the guns ran wild

and the cold and hot anger
from uncivil  way right
congealed all around
the remnants
of middle class
moderate reason

Once upon a time
the Dads worked hard
;and thought it would be enough

It wasn't


Friday, October 16, 2015

A Goodbye So Quiet

A Goodbye So Quiet

Would it have helped
after 14 years

if I;d framed things
in the elaborate politeness
your language demands..

if I'd fought
in the mock-anger
you once explained..

if my impatient American self
had cooked
with masalas
and chick peas...

blended gourds
and ground beef
pre-soaked pulses...

with gentle
sour and spice

if I'd learned
to move in yoga-rich

a piquant and yet still

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

To New York Rats

To New York Rats

One dragged a pizza slice
down subway stairs.

Another fought with
and killed a pigeon.

And believe it or not,
these were not
particularly muscled
or strong rats.

They were your pretty average,
garden variety (and yes,
New York has gardens

So the question is:
what is inspiring them?

Water? Air? Genes?
Police? Rat rallies?
Are they organizing?
"All rats for one
and one rat for all?"
"Rats to the barricades"?

Or are they reading up
and acting on
some inner rat core
"There comes a time
to every rat.."

Or is it the prospect
of autumn in New York
that powers their breathing
city rat selves?
"I love fall - more food
hanging around, and the
air sings of cool rat happy

Some blogs, perhaps,
interviews with
New York ratdom?
"Hey, it's great
to hang out in
New York subways
and in the shadow
of department stores?"

Perhaps the thought
of the Mets as a wildcard team,
and all the peanuts
they could swipe
from the stadium?

In any case, New York rats,
you're making yourselves
and city ratdom
known and feared
and clicked.

Hits in the millions.

So - a rat anthem?

Are you just proud
of making your
ratty furry peeps
household images?

The Mets. Jets.


Monday, October 12, 2015

No Just No

No Just No

Suburbs and I
don't mix.
Houses sort of apart
and streets sort of quiet
and alarms out of nowhere
with lawn mowers groaning
just when you figure
that at least you can
play in the yard
and see birds.

And when you see a neighbor
and she sees you,
there's this distaste
because you're too close
and yet too far apart
and there's no context
for hello
and a smile
just scares her
into the latest mode
of suburban

And her body language
contorts into
some odd Philadelphian version of
not ready

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Roberts Station when we walked

Roberts Station when we walked

When we walked up to
or near
Roberts station,
it was only a sign
and a small shelter

and you only
had to cross one road
to be there

We walked near there
in spring
to spot cocoons
and we lagged there
in autumn
because of all the small
unnamed trees
turning red
on the sides
of the tracks

Now it has two roads
and islands
on either side
and a bypass -
parking lots
and nothing at all
growing near the tracks

on the sidewalks
are huge trees

and four cafes
within five blocks
all over over priced

instead of the small pizza
a block away

and no one walks
near the tracks

I have no idea
of what happened
to the small trees

Nothing scraggles
or slips around

It is not allowed.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Friends in Poems

Friends in Poems Friends move, change, destroy create, cry, laugh, get angry, get sad, exult. All the words they speak or write move in and out of lives like unpredictable weather, blurring then coming around in twisted or waving spirals which mean nothing unless you were there at the places where lives touched then flew wide to balloon like storms or the perfectly unsettling glory of just after sunset

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Argument with the Muse

Argument with the Muse I kept telling the title to say or write "Journey," but it kept coming up "Daughter." Then, amazingly or not so amazingly, it explained that there was an entire story before the story and that it wanted to talk about "daughter." I thanked it, gave it some hot chocolate, and said, "Okay." "You talked the talk. Now walk the walk - my fingers across the keyboard according to your most comprehensive wisdom." It said, "Another day, dear," slurped the rest of the hot chocolate, burped, and went silent. Fine, I thought. See if I let you play with the words of another title. Just..see.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015



I still see them
in their chairs
on the sidewalk
No one minds.
In casual summer clothes,
they unfurl
the state of the city,
the country, the planet
but always return
to the Bronx.

Mrs. Resnick's son
moved to Florida.
Something with medical law.
The Anastasios' daughter
went, of all places,
to Utah.
"Is that still in the USA?"
one of the ladies jokes.

The Zoo now costs
ten dollars.
Once it was free.
Most of them
save with care.
There's a bargain
at Olinsky's:
chicken for 70 cents
a pound.

The massive stonework
near the building
somehow protects them,
even though
they're outside it.
Down through years,
their New York voices
rise in a circle
of raucous, happy sound.

Like a talisman
wrought from words,
not Commandments,
they keep me
even now
from a void
worse than harm.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Magic Tiger

Magic Tiger

So you go back
for six months.
We talk
on the phone
or online.
You become
a voice,
an sms.
As we talk,
I envision
your eyes
glinting, jumping,
even changing color
as they will.
Grey to hazel
to golden brown
to almost-blue.

Each city
shadows you
into other worlds:
Lahore, Karachi,
You become
cities, cultures,
languages, houses.

You acquire
and reacquire
accents, gestures,
songs, curses,
movie names.

Perhaps one day
I too will journey
once more
to acquire
to learn

to unbecome
and become

Saturday, August 15, 2015



Felt gently, squeezed partially,
the peach pretends
But its flesh
leans into hard
when cut.

Even sea gulls
give it a miss.

They prefer
salty fries.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Train For Us

A Train For Us

First three notes
of "There's a Place for Us"
from West Side Story
shriek from the 2 train
when it pulls out
of each station.

I wouldn't swear
for certain
that Leonard Bernstein knew.

But hell,
he rode the subway enough.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Frannie's Bed and Breakfast on Muliner

Frannie's Bed and Breakfast on Muliner

I'd serve bagels with lox, cream cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers
and slices of onion (someone else would peel the onion).
Sour pickles.
Whitefish, herring.
Cheese danish, breakfast buns.
Fresh squeezed orange juice.
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate.
New York Times in print
to spread over the table
in sections.

Then I'd take guests
to sit on the Parkway.
Later, we'd take the train
all the way to Queens
and then the 44 bus back
so they could sparkle
into rivers of light
over the Whitestone.

To bed,
removing cabbage rose
cotton spreads
on white cotton sheets.
 Parkway traffic
would splay shadow monsters
on the walls
until 2 AM.

Good night.
Sleep very tight.
No bedbugs.
Open window.
Wind from the trees.

A short flight back.
No seat belts.
Just mind-years.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

To The Dear One Who Came With Me To Pelham Parkway

To The Dear One Who Came With Me To Pelham Parkway

On the same bench
 my mom, grandmother
and great-grandmother
sat, 70 years ago.
(My grandfather didn't have time.)
Old, blessed men
and young ones
played chess
on the same stone
inlaid sets.
The stone benches still
sparkled their metal bits
in the sun.
"This is nice," you said.
"Yes," I agreed.

The train screeched
into the el station
as it had for ninety years.

My mind fashioned
such welcome ghosts
to beckon
before those who sat now
in their place.

I was a fool
for leaving
for staying

and I hated
what was
and was not
so much the same.

Thank you
for being with me

Friday, August 7, 2015

City Island

City Island

Johnny's versus Tony's.
Both hug the end
of the Island.
We go to Johnny's.
We eat our fried sole,
some of the fries,
most of the coleslaw.
Then we take the leftover
french fries
and put them on the ground.
That's all.
Within three seconds
they're gone.
The gulls strut about,
their gullets full.
They stay near the spot
in case the miracle repeats.

We watch them
for a few,
then head out.

The Sound flows
in us,
for the rest
of the day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

City Quiet

City Quiet

To my mom, in memory

Your favorite summer sound
was that of the cicadas
and locusts
skricking at night.
Coming home from a dance
or party
you'd stop and listen.

On the Parkway
late pairs of lovers
sat on the far benches
happily alone.

The 2 train lurched
to a stop
with its trademark

All around,
city quiet,
not silence,
but many sounds
that should not have been
but somehow
ended up
emitting harmony.

Monday, August 3, 2015


Like those who adored
designer clothes
which flashed
but never really worked,
I assumed, pushed explosive
energy into the wrong


Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Names

The Names

Mr. Palmer,
Cecil was not food.
He was friendly
and nodded to people.
You left his cubs
I believe that the earth
is not pleased with you.

The ancestors
of lions
are roaring inside your pillow,
and the night has released
their names.

It would be best
if you crawled outside
your insulated lie/life
and listened.

Thursday, July 30, 2015



Like Persephone,
you leave for six months.
I mourn, then resign myself.
But then, when I have grown
expert at pinching in
my diet of the soul,
and manage to navigate
my day without tears,
you plan your return.

must have steeled herself
to endure,
hoping that being with Hades
for the half year
left her daughter
with light enough

to greet the sun
without burning
each time
the underworld
released her
and spring warmed
her mother's heart through
from six months
of frost

only to go dormant
when her daughter
left again
and again
and made winter
of her soul

until another spring

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yes, I Know You Like to Fly (To Someone Flying Tomorrow)

Yes, I Know You Like to Fly (To Someone Flying Tomorrow)

You should have been an eagle.
When you wing,
your body floats.
Feelings pull free.
Thoughts balance,
flirt with limbo.

Not-so-inner space man
flashes the stars.
storms the clouds.
menaces the sun,
dances on rain.

Fine.Take the sky,
Ride the air,
Own the heavens.
But please touch down

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Neighborhood Concert (Simon and Garfunkel Reunion Concert in Central Park, 1981)

A Neighborhood Concert (Simon and Garfunkel Reunion Concert in Central Park, 1981)

We all cheered
when Paul Simon said it
because we knew
the neighborhood stretched
from Central Park
a fine and fancy ramble
to the East Side
to the West Side
to Brooklyn
to the Bronx
to Queens
even to Staten Island.

The neighborhood concert
included sellers of loose joints
lovers and haters
of Ed Koch,
lovers of madness,
lovers of wild.
As we all walked off
to look for America,
we found it again.

And lost it
in the wars.

But looking at the troubled water
and the bridge over it,
we sailed on somehow
easing our minds

when we just couldn't


Friday, July 24, 2015

Humam Chickem

Humam Chickem

Simce a comgresspersom outlawed
the letter "n,"
we are forced to sigmal our
choice of Humam chickem.
Just thimk: humam (people) chickems
rum away.
Humam take out chickems
get soy sauce.
Humam (people) thighs, hopefully,
do mot.

This is also a commemt
om capitalism
and our society
slidimg head first
imto third worldism.

Home rum!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015



Now people use smartphones,
but remember
when GPS Mary ruled
and told you quite
how to proceed.
but when you struck out
on your own,
labeled you an insufferable
goose egg
in one syllable:  “Recalculating.”
You could hear her sighing
for the woe of the world
and her erring GPS children.
A world in that term:
reworked treaties,
revisited stratagems,
reappraised networks.
The road not taken, Mary,
and against your advice,
but mostly
because we dreaded
making that unwieldy left turn
with the vengeance of dozens
bearing down on us
as we slipped just past
the warning
of flashing red.

Split second decision, Mary.
Like an owl deciding
to flag a mouse
and swooping down
to carry it off.

Please forgive us, Mary.
We knew just what we did.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Marblehead Calling

Marblehead Calling

I'd stare out to sea,
not like the wives
of  captains
loving dead husbands,
but instead
asking that it not change.
I'd take my daily constitutional,
rounding the fort
and the walkway,
sitting on the benches
with other tough old farts.


Then dinner at my favorite
small restaurant,
slightly darkened,
quite cool.
with a finger plate of cheese
and fruits
for dessert.
Ice cream later,
with judicious chocolates.

Then home, James,
although there would be
no James
because I like to walk.
I would nod to the stars,
approving their sky walk
and their appearing in place
for the season.

A longer nod
to the moon.

At home again,
with tea
and a biscuit or two.
Writing for time,
then reading
to calm me.

Last look at the sea.

Last listen to waves.

Turn out the light.

Sleep without dreams.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Anabatic (The Fart)

Anabatic  (The Fart)

I come with the dust
and I leave with the wind.
Who said I didn't have
a poetic soul?
If you hadn't eaten something
extremely delectable
I would still be inside you,
gearing for a rush.
Don't sniff
or pretend disgust.
There is nothing as fulfilling
as expelling me -
that intake, outgo,
exquisite relief.

And don't worry.
I know sarcasm.
I am down with nose
I even sympathize
with parental

After all,
I am a million mile
aromatic, anabatic.

I am a mature fart.

Thursday, July 16, 2015



Bess Myerson,
former Miss America,
once flirted with you.
I grant that I was more
amused than angry.
And why should she not?
You charmed even
insomniac owls,
soothing them
with your well modulated
and your choice lectures
on gangsters.
You sat and smoked
like a 40's movie star,
giving great play
to the abrupt removal
of the cigarette
from your lips
and puffing almost
as if you had an ax
to grind
with the cigarette paper.

Now you are married
and your house
has been museumed
by your artistically expert
who showed me the jewelry
you'd bought her
when I came to visit.

Her cat hung out
in the kitchen
and nosed for treats.
I liked her cat.
She did not like me.
As we left,
she said, "Have a great trip,

Bess Myerson,even,
was more polite
in the midst
of trying to nab you.

I hear you do not smoke
these days -
spot on your lung.

A pity.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Thunder and Lightning - Or, Pizza and Tamarind

  • Thunder and Lightning - Or, Pizza and Tamarind

In Sri Lanka
the thunder and lightning
were unexpected guests
in my sleep. 
When I looked out
from the balcony
I saw only moonlight
off the Indian Ocean.
In the dream that followed,
I ordered pizza, plain,
but for some reason
it shimmered
like the most pleasant 
of ghosts
-or like still undwarfed Pluto,
which I couldn't possibly see-
in the moonlight,
perhaps because
an owl rose
from the garden
and alerted
an actual mongoose
with whom I had words.

The following night,
the biryani I ordered
for dinner
housed just a tinge
of tamarind
in the masala,
sweet as rhyme,
sour as envy.

I am ashamed 
to admit
that I gobbled it
and then turned,
stomach still craving,
to lanced pineapple
for dessert.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer Night Music

Summer Night Music

The music is different
on summer nights;
it makes you want.
You don't even know
the shapes want will
and the music could even
be coming from your own
from a  device you've known
all your years
and yet you'll feel
there's something
want is inspiring
that you would scream
or fly up
or unbecome
to capture
and yet you don't know
you cannot know
and you will never know
just what it is,
cannot name one syllable
of it
or the time it encases
which is just as well
because by now the music
has stopped teasing
and become pretty well timeless
and unshaped

and the night to which it belongs,
a hazy summer night
has uncurled
into smells of far off thunder
and something you hardly
as day.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Goodbye to Dr. Class (Omar Sharif: 1932-2015)

Goodbye to Dr. Class (Omar Sharif:  1932-2015)

For most of us,
it was Dr. Zhivago.
For me, Nicky Arnstein.
He'd show up,
or have some side deal going
but all through it,
stay as debonair
as an unrented tux.
The real NA was
of course
nowhere near
as insouciant
or dashing
and gave
the real Fanny Brice
tons more heartache.

But, Omar,
your trace of accent,
flashing dark eyes
and constant warmth
amid controlled cool
nailed me
the first time I saw you.

And to find out
that you loved for life
a French Jewish lady
thrilled vicariously.

As Fanny Brice
said in Funny Girl -
class. Pure class.

And it really had
nothing to do
with those 7 toothbrushes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Jazz Girl - For Belinda

Jazz Girl -  For Belinda

Flapper girl
Belinda belts
her dress
at the hips,
her hair in a turban,
her cigarette holder
poised between
her forefinger
and her third.
"Darling," she intones,
"coffee or tea?"
(Of course coffee
is the last thing
you'll find in the cup.)
As she dances
her arms swing up,
her legs open and close,
her eyes swirl around
 her mouth,
lipsticked bright bright red,
remains tight, cynical,
the pose of the year.

Jazz girl, they say.
She does not care
how many
She's had the ones
she wanted
with her eyes.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Just Out Of Reach

Just Out Of Reach

Our entire school
fell in love.
Grade 5 were the Jets.
The leader of the Grade 6 Sharks
had dark hair
and piercing dark eyes.
I sang the movie songs
to him but really only
to myself in the mirror
without breathing
lest my parents
hear and ask
why my mouth
kept twisting.

Not possible,
for smart girl,
special gifted class,
to talk to the hood.

In college,
the movie still
in my head,
I danced it
on the bar table
for him
wherever he was.

Then I heard Robert
ended up in prison.

I knew I would
never find out,
but kept hoping -
as I took English 279,
The Brontes,
and wrote about Heathcliff,
of whom my professor deeply
disapproved -

that he'd escaped.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Skunk Juice - A July 4th Poem

Skunk Juice - A July 4th Poem

The skunk
must have hidden
at least a mile down,
but you can smell
the spray
as if it were next door.
It spilled into the air
last night.
I thought it would be
gone today,
but the humidity,
the heavy breath
of a rain sky
kept it close to the ground.

Now booming.
earth echoes
and colors
drench a sky
without stars.

If the skunk travels late,
it may rest
in the last parcel
of unbuilt land -
scared, hiding,
skunk juice bursting
in thick South Jersey air
now giving proof
that we hear only firecrackers,
not gunshots.

But banners that yet wave
set churches aflame.

Not the skunk's fault.

The dawn brings no light.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Duck Visit

Duck Visit

If you live near a pond
or if the rain drifts
and makes the ground
wet but not muddy,
they may fly in
thinking that the land
feels as right as the
river or creek
not far away
but somehow 
firmer or cooler
and pleasing
to set a foot on
and survey 
trees, sky
and other water.

They won't stay long.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Seducer

The Seducer

Nice man
with a grad degree.
He snows,
not with leather
and a motorcycle,
but with slow
words chosen
with the crisp
of an archer:
"Thank you,
my lady" in
three languages,
or eloquent discourse
on the subject
of the day
and subtly framed
about hers.

And a smile
that begins
and crinkles
somewhere east
of a promise
just dawning
in his mind's eye.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Matter of Time - For Bree Newsome

First anger,
then determination.
On her way up,
she thought
of lynchings, whippings,
No time to fear.

Taken into custody,
she said, "This flag stays down."

It's back up now,
but not for long.

What kind of day
feeds not remembering?
What length of time
can anoint
old hate?

Old time feeds wishes,
but the wishes are only
that old houses replay.

They lost a war
and that war stays lost.

This flag stays down.
It's only a matter of time.

Friday, June 26, 2015



Amid flowers,
tropical fruits and spices.
and the meanest flan
you've ever tasted,
of  young years
in bars.
Taking care
of moms
who couldn't care
for them.

Standing about five feet
and plump,
they make home
of their apartment
and the one double bed.

They've been working for the city,
extra jobbing at the call center,
writing theses
for time out of mind.

I won't give names,
but if you go to Madison,
you may meet them.
Tell them I said hello.

Hug them for me.
Tell them I miss them
and that I never stopped
I would dance
at their wedding.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kaddish for a Robin

Kaddish for a Robin

It must have fallen
from the tallest tree
in the yard
during the storm.
Wind, rain and lightning
must have intervened
as it toppled,
never knowing what hit.

Its robin companions,
must have known
soon after the storm left.
Leaves surround it
on all sides
as fallen twigs and branches
spread nearby.

Quiet now,
the sky gleams
with blue
and white clouds
that fly over the yard
in the shapes
of animals and large birds.

Sun leaves shadows
of white dust and pollen
near the window.

Sometimes a bird
flies near.

It may slip
through currents
of disturbed air
if it is lucky
and does not point down.

Life in death and death in life,

Earth folds us to her spine
and we learn to fly up.

Monday, June 22, 2015

After All This Time

After All This Time

When I swam without clothes
it was as if my body knew
for the first time
what it was to have water
as a friend
not through yards of wettable
yarn or fibers
but as air
took sun
and created light
through flow.

Three men,
one looking like a sheriff,
rode up
to the hill on the other side
of the reservoir.
I was out of the water
and looked back
as they stared.
After a few minutes
they rode away.
It was as if
drops from water
and sun
clothed me
in enough fire
to repulse
their avidity.
The reservoir
saw us
two more times
that summer.
During the last time,
someone I knew from camp
swam up
and greeted me
by my back.
I explained to my bf
how we all changed
in the bunks
and knew each others' backs.
He laughed and said,
"After all this time?"

I laughed,
feeling my body
greet his
and the cold white wine
he'd hidden.

"Yes," I said,
loving the sun
and the icy water
that we would leave
way too soon.
"After all this time."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Writing Name

Writing Name

Frannie Zellman

Frannie, so much more friendly.

Zellman, more Jewish.

The "real" last name,
clipped at Ellis Island,
is stern and ungiving.

Better "Frannie"
as friendly,
"Zellman" as your friendly
salt person.

"Frannie" is outspoken,
a "mentsh," emotes.

"Zellman" argues,
defends, rejoices,

As "Frannie Zellman,"
I smile easily.
I friend. I hug.

As "Frannie," I become.
Evolve. Rethink.

Being "Frannie":
more than fun.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

People from the Future

People from the Future

Yo, people from the Future:
If you're around,
please help.
Disable all weapons,
the way they did
in that Star Trek II episode.
Dart them out of hands;
freeze time.
Stop cars.
Suspend planes.
Tell us
you won't stand
for violence,
gratuitous or other.
Gentle people.
Disable hate.
Dispense spores
of peace.

Dizzy us like Spock
when he laughs
at his other busy self.

Could you also
hurry those long trains
that run faster than jets?
Much safer, much cleaner
and you actually see outside,
into the bargain.

And finally, FP,
if it wouldn't be too much trouble,
please tell the nut fringe
that their prayer words sicken far more
than their visions of  apocalypse?

Thank you.

Sincerely, Frannie

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Goodbye to the Fly (Apologies to Fly #2)

Goodbye to the Fly (Apologies to Fly #2)

Oh, fly.
I won't ask why
The root beer float captured
your eye.
And thinking it looked
most delicious
You dove, settled in
but found it inauspicious.
By the time I made my way
over to where you lay,
no longer jumping,
you'd signed out of the fray.
Not wishing to augment
my root beer float with filament,
I poured it down the drain,
a necessary dumping.

Oh, fly.

My apologies.
But at least
your descendants
may have learned
that if a surface
does not seem firm,
it will not support the pendant.
I am sorry that your mistake
resulted in an ending
that we were not intending.
But for your children's sake
Your life stopped, opaqued -
I hope they will appreciate
Your last fly testament.

If there is a lesson
to be gathered
from this tableau,
it is: Rather
pick flylike at toast
than at a root beer float.

Marie Antoinette hung
after having sung
croissants' virtues
to those she thought
talked more than they ought.
She found out, but did not rue
upon leaving,
that the late 18th century detested
her thieving.

Au revoir,
my insect sharer.
No more grieving.
May your next life
come fairer
and without strife.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Sixty One

Sixty One

Time to stop learning
new things.
I don't mean
the occasional squirt
of interest,
the factoid,
the unruly but laughworthy
I mean languages, ologies,
If I haven't grasped by now
whatever it is,
it is not likely to seize
my tired brain
and catapult it
to revelation.
Much more pleasurable
or at least contenting
to walk in familiar tracks,
gaze on routes I've walked,
lap from bowls I've kept.
Newness is oldness.
Excitement is boredom.
Ecstasy is a letdown.
Let the earthshakers
rile the planet,
claim its agonies,
right its difficulties.
I will go to my couch,
think of sunsets,
and ply cocoa
with a dedicated eye
and mouth.
Firstness, I sniff
in your general direction.
Ease, I embrace you.

Au revoir. Au lit.
A la paix.

Good night.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

From Pelham Parkway Esplanade

From Pelham Parkway Esplanade

I sit on a bench
on the esplanade.
It's summer,
and the drowsy life
of green too green
and dried grass
fans out.
All the times
I spent here
slide in order,
like a powerpoint.
and even before,
as if  I'd been hypnotized
like Bridey Murphy:
Mom sitting with friends,
flirting outrageously.
Mom here with beaux
(I love that old-fashioned syllable.)
Great grandma with friends.
Grandma and grandpa
with neighbors.
Then it's the dawn
of my time,
and I'm in a carriage.
I'm older, being hit
by a neighbor's boy.
Older yet,
in patent leather.
Then it's onto Son of Sam
and quiet as my dear friend
guides us away
in case horror obtrudes.

And now.
after they've all gone,
I'm the last one
in the bus.
I flow back.
Like Edelweis,
the benches are glad
to see me.

And even missing
all the people
in my photo album
doesn't hurt
quite as much.

Monday, June 8, 2015

My Tablet and I

My Tablet and I

Tap. Tap.
Oh. Wrong letter.
Tap again.
Next letter. Oh.
No, my password
is not ALIAS.
 Next letter.
What do you mean,
"name and password
do not match?"
I do not know how to cap :(
Oh, it's the arrow?
Broken arrow..arrowroot..
arrow to my heart..
But now all the letters are caps.
Oh, it just looks that way?
Yes, I see they are all dots now.
This is my password.
If you don't take it,
I will throw you
across the room.
You took it..
Deities and forces
be praised.
No, I don't want you
to tell me
apps I might like.
You have no clue.
Oh, what the hell
is yahoo doing here instead?
How do I get out of it?
I click this...okay..
Youtube. Now please
take Youtube. are my lists.

Next to fight with...



Try for cats.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Another Deer

Another Deer

At first I thought
she might be hurt
because of the way
she hugged the corner.
But she straightened up
and picked her way
through the tree roots
and scattered leaves
and petals, only to stand,
as the late spring breeze
fluttered around her,
like an unsure visitor.
When we looked at her
she looked back,
her eyes unblinking,
without fear,
perhaps because
she was too young
to know humans.
We took her photo
in the poor light
through the patio door,
showing her shape
but not her post-fawn

But when we opened
the door,
she knew enough
to straighten her haunches
and run.

The rest of the day
it seemed somehow as if
the small mammals
and birds
knew she had passed:
a brightness
from the rain sky,
a quiet grown
from her path
through roots
springing from soil,
the midday hush
of  sleeping things

and in the later afternoon,
 the rustle of grown trees
without wind.

Friday, June 5, 2015


Like others
in the photo,
he seems  
to play baseball,
His stomach, 
bigger than many,
sticks further out.
How angry the posts!
I ask: Is he a good player?
No one answers.
I remember 
many good fat 
my slim grandpa
stood up
in his seat
to cheer them.

Does the law
now disallow

Does hate
now mandate
in its claws?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Thoughts on Fresh Fish

Thoughts on Fresh Fish

"Fish, a great food
for the thrifty family."

At the top,
a family blurb,
with dad in suit,
mom in dress with heels,
brother held by dad's hand,
sister by mom's,
dog over all,
to the left.

The fish
smiles saucily,
its midsection
tail suspended.

six fish siblings

How to cook
such fresh sea folk?

Then again,
in the 1950's,
all food danced.

It was a TV thing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

Humid Blessing

Humid Blessing

Air to water,
rain as sky,
thunder for sound.
Night  thickens
like confusion,
but without mystery.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Buddha and the Cat

The cat looked at Buddha
and said, "You are like me.
I like quiet things.
Do you eat meat?"

Buddha said, "You are like me.
I am a quiet thing.
Once I ate meat,
but now I sit without eating."

The cat said, "Do you get hungry?"
Buddha said, "Not now.
Once I wanted. I pined.
Now I just am."

The cat said, "I like mice
and small birds.
My owner feeds me
a mix of meats."

Buddha said, "What do you wish?"
The cat said, "To play
in the woods and fight
with other cats,"

Buddha said, "If you could play
without fighting?"
The cat said, "I would get bored.
Catness demands fighting."

Buddha said, "Being does not
demand fighting.
One day you will see."

The cat said, "I like watching birds.
When I see them, I chirp.
But they don't believe me."

Buddha said, "You are not
a bird thing. They know."

The cat said, "I will go now
and scare up some small things.
I may eat them. Or not."

Buddha said, "I am a small thing
and a big thing.  Like the world."

The cat said, "The world
is not enough unless it holds
tasty creatures
I can sink my teeth into."

Buddha said, "The world
holds so many creatures
that you cannot imagine."

The cat said, "I don't
want to imagine them.
I just want to eat them
and drink water."

Buddha said, "One day
you may see that life
is more than eating and water."

The cat said, "As a cat,
I am happy with chasing,
eating and water."

Buddha said, "Happy
does not last."

The cat said, "One happy
does not last. The next happy
does not last. But if you
keep finding small happies,
they happy into each other."

Buddha said, "I must
contemplate this."

The cat said, "Happy trails,
sitting one," and left.

A dog came to Buddha
and said, "Ruff."
Buddha said, "The cat is over there."
The dog said, "He wants to fight,
And I just want to play."

Buddha said, "Good luck,"
and sat silent once more.

The dog ran off.

Buddha thought, "At least
 the cat wanted to talk."
He went back
to being a quiet thing.
The dog barked
and the cat hissed.

Buddha thought,
"The world is like a dog,
always wanting.
The world is like a cat,
always fighting.
If it stops wanting and  fighting,
then it will be a quiet thing,
like me.
I will like that.
A quiet world."

He yawned.
The day grew quiet.
The world grew quiet.
There was no more wanting
or fighting.

There was only being.

Buddha sat.
He was.

Things were.

The world was.
Quietness was.

All became
and became,
then was.

And then

Tuesday, May 26, 2015



do not try 
to sell me pills
for a condition
I don't even know.

do not usurp
my well being
to package
and then
offer back
and deductabled.

do not 
that growing older
a condition
to be bartered
for smiles so sweet
they stink
of acidulosis.

do not 
label yourselves
the cure
when you 
have become 
the illness.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The 10 Commandments and Shavuos

The 10 Commandments and Shavuos
(According to Mel Brooks,
15, but one tablet broke.)

The great granddaughter
of the Muscover Rebbe
could tell you
what the holiday Shavuos meant
and why
she didn't believe in it.
"God wrote and spoke
Hebrew?"she said.
"Or any other languages?"

I would add
that belief systems
adduced a god-voice
when they wanted
to own power
and point up truths:
outpourings of culture,
campfire legends.

My grandma would grimace,
then turn cheese blintzes
in the pan.
"This is my truth," she would say.
"We eat dairy on Shavuos."
The blintzes were crisp outside,
melting inside.
In my grandma's kitchen
was the land of milk and honey.

This was my truth.

I wanted no other.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Proud Roads

Proud Roads

I would have liked
to live your life
of the past 25 years -
seeking, being
in the Goddess.

You wouldn't have wished mine -
looking in byways
for words,
of bodies.

When our paths diverged,
we argued.
Yet I see now
that they were set
before us,
more than marble,
different lights.

You stand proud before me
in your purple robes,
seeing many worlds.
I sit near you,
breaking up one
and writing it whole again.

When I see you,
I honor the priestess.
When you see me,
do you honor
the word?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quiet Poem (After Life)

Quiet Poem (After Life)

The house still rings
with silence.

I talk to myself much more
I repeat the names
of household things
and forget
where I put clothes.
When the wind comes,
it knows sound
better than I do.

When I walk outside,
birds squeal their alarm.

If I relearn a social self
it will be
beyond the bounds
of what talk
is supposed to ease.

Monday, May 11, 2015

No Warning To Her Flight

No Warning To Her Flight

How much fun,
to introduce
two of us
with the same name.

We stayed friends
for five years,
then lost touch,
went separate ways.

Found out recently
that we both wrote
science fiction,
albeit different kinds.
How cool is that?

You'd play
"April, Come She Will."

September, I remember..
You showed me where Paul Simon lived -
about a mile from us.
You didn't like Phil Ochs' voice.

You wore your acne
like a badge of honor.

You never liked
the way I dressed
or my taste in boys.

You won the Spanish medal
and the Girls' League Award
and went on to a girls' college.
I danced on the roof
of a science building
in the rain.

When streams were ripe
and swelled with rain,
your companion of many years
died in 2005.

No google entries for you after,
but you're still listed
in San Francisco.

If I knocked on your door,
would you invite me in?
Would you nod me out?

"August, die she must.
The autumn winds
blow chilly and cold."

I never did thank you
for "The Trees They Do Grow High."

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Blessing for My Departed Mom on Mother's Day

A Blessing for My Departed Mom on Mother's Day

Frannie Zellman

Come sit with us, mom.
I made noodle kugel.
Couldn't make it before
because I'd start to cry.
See, the noodles, sour cream,
eggs and raisins
browned in just the right ratio,
and the top is crunchy.
You can have the inside part,
though; it's easier
on your teeth.
I'll warm the chicken
and the sweet and sour stewed

We cleared the seats.
Take the one near the back.
You don't have to get up.
I'll bring you your tea.
The picture of the tiger cub
is back on the wall now.
Dad found the source
of the leak
and fixed it.
Yes, it's pretty quiet
but I will visit
your voice
and play it back.
We will set a special cup
for you
as if you were Elijah,
and I will
open the door.

Join us
in a hush
and shiver of air
just the other side
that settles
like the finest sun dust
on the walls.

Flow into all
the small lines
of the tablecloth
and the not as clean floor
and find us happy
in secret

not knowing why.

Friday, May 1, 2015

To My Mother on Beltane and May Day

To My Mother on Beltane and May Day

Your tree
blossoms late.
Always worries me,
but the buds
are finally leafing.

I remember
how you argued
with dad
and my brother
that it was a tree,
not a weed,
and how,
come the next spring,
it agreed with you
and put forth
long leaves
and curls of white flowers.

I remember
how birds
used to chupper
when you came outside
as if to greet
a family member.

When you could still sit,
when it was still warm,
you'd sit back
and close your eyes
and we'd pluck
in memory
every place you'd sat
that pleased by sounds
or smells
or seeing.

Death leaves
a hole
in soul or essence
or overbeing
that scabs over with time
but remains
when the winds blow
from a certain place
or when someone
or something
and the named one
hangs there
like a hint of her scent
or a blessing
in ghost numbers.

But outside
in early spring
the world,
like the scab,
bleeds beings
and drips flowers
into bloom
and small stupid things
that beckon
in their unthought play.

Your fire
surely transcends
something as menial
and undefined
as Death.
even though
the scab
burns a thousand times
for each time it bleeds.

Missing you
at this time
would be like missing spring
and having to name
a new and unwieldy season.

Not a pagan,
but I still cheer Beltane.
And May Day,
that of the workers on fire
and the pole of the dance.

You are here
with both
and yet you fly
above either.
here in the green
of first things
and the sky
over all at last.

How it finds you,
how I see and feel you
becomes nought
as you continue,
like the late blooming,
to be.

in all beliefs
promise reunion.

I will take hope
and pretend to fly
toward you
if the day approves.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Keeper of the Trees

Keeper of the Trees

For Andreas

This one always blooms
A little late. Its seedpods
Expand and white flowers
Spread from its leaves.
My mother kept it
From being cut down.

Andreas, with that
Wonderful warlock name,
Smoked magic when much younger,
And joined with trees.

I wish he were here
To coax my darling.
He would put his arms
Around the trunk
And feel.

I, so left brain verbal,
Would ask when it had
Its temperature taken.

But then I might ask
If it was smitten
With another tree
That no longer stood.

Andreas said
That the tree in his yard
Was cut down
By new people.

He never forgave them.
I have not forgiven
My mom for dying.

I cannot coax a tree
To live.

Andreas says
The magic returns at times
Then vanishes.

If I vanished,
Would the magic
Spell the tree to living?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015



(Incorporating images from books/fiction into what actually appears or occurs)

Through the window
of the bus
slithered Haddonfield Creek
brown and marshy
and on its way
to no good end

Could not stop thinking
of the Withywindle*

*J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring

Sunday, April 5, 2015



A short part
of a personal speech
or spoken response
which, when played back,
the viewpoint
of an entire group
or body of people.

"I am my people's keeper."

"A nation is only as free
as its prisons."

"The azaleas bloom early"
is not an oridyct,
but an ecodyct.

Somewhere in the early spring sky,
the two meet
and a tree
hugs itself.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring Holiday

Spring Holiday

Lying in the grass
(not "laying")
and looking up
as the clouds float by
asking them 
nothing in particular
because they're not likely
to attempt to answer

but how nice
if cloud language
came with verbs 
of lazy and something
that loved 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Schrodinger's Cat

Schrodinger's Cat

Half the cat is a cat...

Half the cat is a sister

to infinity

Half the cat flies
on another timeline

Half the cat
meows in a completely
different language

Half the cat
shakes hands
with an advanced
and thoroughly comprehending

Half the cat
discusses the politics
of the day

Half the cat
is and is and is not
then is more

Half the cat
redefines becoming

Half the cat



Monday, March 30, 2015

Want (a fan poem)

We  encounter characters
we want to live in
want to go to bed with
want to stay in mind with
want to repeat and repeat in
want to lodge in and over
someplace far from bodies
and yet deeper
than any body dreams

Don't let go,
we say.
We can leap
into  book
and become,
for you,


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Under Water - for Charlie

Under Water

for Charlie

A drop
Hydrogen oxygenized
If you do an MRI
you have a city,
parts and particles
become plantlike
and animalcules
and ribbons fluttering
in water's version
of a breeze

Suddenly you know
that if you did an MRI
of the world
it would come out
much the same.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Air 1 and 2

Air 1 and 2

Frannie Zellman


So they voted
to charge people
for air.

But not just one charge,
and not just one kind
of air.

There would be
your somewhat clean air,
the kind you let
into your bathroom
because most people
don't spend more time
there than they can help
(with some exceptions).
Then there would be
your pretty clean air,
the kind you would want
in somewhat traveled areas,
like the stairs, the vestibule,
the outside steps.

And then there would be
your premium air,
breathed in the dining room,
the kitchen and the bedrooms.

The fourth kind
was spoken only in hushed tones,
as if to confer holiness
on its very being:
the party air, the business air,
piped in and filtered
within an inch of its literal life:
gatherings of the sedately moneyed
most illustrious citizens only
to merit

There was, however, one more kind,
 researched by one group,
not placed before
any  committees.
The few who heard
 jumped on waiting lines.
All they would say if asked
was that it would make those
you knew very very well
want to know you even better.

"Friendly air," was
what they called it online.



"Some people can't
afford to pay for air,"
a congressperson said.

"Too bad,"
the Majority Leader said.

"They should have thought
of that
when they were buying food."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Girl on Fire

I post this every year during the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire commemoration. I wrote it in 2012.
Girl on Fire
Frannie Zellman
In remembrance of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, in Manhattan, Lower East Side -March 25,
The last thing I thought before I jumped
was not that the doors were locked
or that I would die
if I missed the net
and my body splattered
but of the new theater
they were building on Second Avenue
and that spring was coming.
King Lear lost his daughters.
The factory owners lost us.
They pretended in court
that the doors were locked
to prevent theft.
My fiancé put three rocks
on my gravestone
and sobbed.
Fire fought fire –
We were on fire, they said,
in 1909,
when we walked out
and even thugs sent by the bosses
could not quench the fight in us
as our eyes mocked them.
Two years later
after smoke curled
and flames crackled through the doors
and singed our clothes
and hands and faces
and some of us jumped,
100,000 people marched.
One hundred years later
little ones
around the world
chained to their work
as smoke rises
cannot jump.
Their owners do not bother
to lock the doors.
Yet somehow somewhere
a girl takes flight
at those who own the world ,
soars above them
and with eyes on fire
dares the owned souls of the world

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Slowly a Warning

Slowly a Warning

When the weather people
Keep changing the forecast
From hour to hour
And still miss
When cops stun
A murderer
And shoot
An unarmed child
When the post office
Says it’s been delivered
But it hasn’t
When someone
On the education committee
Doesn’t know
About rising water levels
When the doctor
Won’t treat
What you have
But something he can medicate
When the streets
Are silent
Because people fear guns
When kids
Are not allowed to
walk seven blocks
by themselves

Friday, March 20, 2015

No warning

No warning

Not with storm troopers,
but with a blockade
manned by paramilitary
or imitation police
who stop people
without rhyme
without reason
without warning

with a lynching
in a state they said
was embracing tolerance

with mandatory
voter id
for people
who never broke a law
in their lives

with a new law:
can refuse to serve
those they don't like
because you know -
who knows how
to sniff out gay people?

with police
walking around
looking for reasons
to yell
fire new weapons

or no reasons

and then

with no warning