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.