Archive for the ‘my stuff’ Category

Stop Thanking God

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

I was just reading too many posts on Facebook about this or that survivor. One was of this wonderful woman who had a mastectomy, survived cancer, and is now pregnant. The caption said, God is Good!

And I am not a disbeliever. I don’t fight the notion of a god, though I don’t believe in any supernatural beings, gods included. I have no problem with the idea that there might be, and that that God or those gods might be beyond our comprehension, working in ways beyond our scope of understanding. But everything right here, right now, that I know of, I know of outside of God. I can explain gravity and the moon and the tides and the coloring in my love’s hazel eyes. I don’t need a god for that, and I most certainly don’t need a god to tell me what is right or wrong.

So I have nothing against the idea that God is Good. I take no issue with the possibility that there are aliens from far away planets currently on their way for some chips and a Yankees’ game, either. If those green big-eyed folk are friendly and meaningfully address issues of social inequality and environmental impact, then I’d be fine calling them good, too.

But I’m imagining the doctor who diagnosed the cancer, the anesthesiologist who brought the woman to within an inch of her life and then brought her back, the nurses, and finally the surgeon who cut out a deadly and thoughtless disease – and even if they were all deeply religious, I just don’t see why we’re thanking God first.

When I get good service at dinner, I don’t tip God.

The thing is, I believe that we are given what we have. Not by gods, but by society. Schools, roads, clean air, security, fire protection – I could not have been educated without these things. And I openly accept that when I do good deeds – like founding a school or raising my kids – I am really extending all the good that has been done for me.

But I could have been a banker. I’m Ivy-League, quick with numbers, a quick study, and well-connected. I could have joined the training program at an investment bank, I could have been an analyst or a software developer at a brokerage house. The money would have been better, the work easier, and the life far more luxurious than the one I ended up with. I didn’t end up with it, though. I chose it. And yes, my parents and my dogs and the butterfly in China also played a part in those choices, but I had final say. I could have lived a life devoted entirely to myself or money or any other thing. But I chose to do a bit more for the world.

So did those doctors and nurses.

So no, don’t thank God. Maybe gods and aliens are good, most likely one is a Bronze-aged fairy tale written by some Palestinians a few thousand years ago and the other are probably just like us only greener – but it doesn’t matter. We little specs of carbon and hope down here, we have to choose to be good, and we deserve just a bit of credit.

A Poem for Jen

Monday, February 14th, 2011


I think of the buildings
Men (mostly men) built,
After we invented elevators
Sometimes, when I think of you.

I think of the farms that disappeared
North of the city,
After they built the raised rail
And we could get there.

After the fifties, I’ve heard,
People started to dream
In black and white,
But now we dream in Hi-Def.

I figure the skyscraper
Has no idea what the world was
Before what it needed to exist

I know the 4 train northbound
Rattling on its tracks,
Doesn’t think of the soft patter
Of hooves on grass.

I read somewhere
That we never could have
Dreamed in black and white
Before Daguerre showed us.

I can’t remember, my love,
My world,
Before you made it
What it always was.

Sometimes Quiet

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Sometimes quiet wins
The battle for your thoughts.
And the bills are paid,
The dog is walked,
The grandmother called.
Everything could be worse.

Sometimes you push open the doors of the casino
With all the noise and the lights behind you
And the old ladies, crouched over the levers.
You’re ahead, even if by only a few bucks.
As your skin greets the cool of the evening,
The stars loiter above.

I run my fingers through my hair.
Still there.
Listen to the books sleeping,
Watch the cars on the highway below,
And don’t wonder for a moment
What it would be like to fall.

Tomorrow will bring bad news,
Or an ache never thought of,
A bill you couldn’t expect.
The rough world will always
Inhale deeply and cry out to you.
Though maybe not this time.

Everything in its Place – Draft

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Everything in its place,
Or maybe the trash
Where it will be drained
Maybe tragically
Of purpose.
The plaything of rats
And millennia of decay.

Hundreds of wingnuts
(and myriad bolts which seem inexplicably to not fit them)
Padocks forever clenched,
Combinations maybe written on a notepaper
In a distant school
in a far away grade
By children who are ours only in that they once were.

And brads – we keep brads
Not having the kind of art hung with much more
This might have held a terrible print
Or a framed work of art
By a fifth-grader who now is learning to drive.
It doesn’t have the paint or the canvas
Only the plaster from which
It was ripped.

The batteries and the extra screwdrivers
Are easy to sort out.
The tape seems to have ensnared
Hundreds of tiny screws and paperclips
The dirt of the garage floor.
And maybe the glitter from that
Halloween when she was a princess
Or an 80s glam rocker.

How do we sort that out?

Do we keep the extra bulbs for the Christmas light string
(have we ever replaced a bulb?
Or do we just plan to,
Standing in the aisle,
Buying new sets, three-for-two)
And if we don’t – keep them – do we lose the
Tree and gifts and the pleasure we shared
Watching the kids
Open gifts we couldn’t afford,
Whose spare parts litter the floor in front of us.

It all fades away and someday,
You shudder to think,
Is gone. And your child or a stranger will
Sweep the concrete, throw away the extra blades
And the vast supply of cheap pens
Into reinforced, black 30-gallon trash bags.
Along with empty film canisters which
Held what you or at least your grandparents
Thought were memories.

But we are memories.
And the garage needs to be sorted.

The Frenzy Begins

Friday, March 19th, 2010

The saddest part is that though I initiated this blog almost entirely to get myself writing, now is the first time I’m actually going to commit to it. Perhaps it’s the long and deep scars from from red marks on my papers in high school, but more likely, pure, unadulterated laziness. If you’re game, sign up! Buddy jareda.

Poetry Open Thread

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Past and Future

I love that moment when
She realizes and I realize
We each realize the other has wanted to
(Maybe since dinner
Or third period
Or she first saw my profile pic
Or I first saw her across the party)

The first time was in the back-yard
Of a senior center.
The grounds and we were
In formal Spring dress.
Our instruments and our parents and our friends
Probably existed without us
In the glowing distance.
And we rested against, behind a tree,
Less and less able to focus
On talk of friends or Dvorak,
And who would be first chair next Fall.

We are not young for
Fifteen, Twenty, Thirty, Fifty Years.
We are young for about
Five minutes altogether.

We are young for the first times,
The three seconds in which
Her eyes first say yes,
Or our baby first coughs
Or our mom becomes
(it takes just a few seconds)
Feeble in front of us.
The rest of life is just somewhere in the middle,
Like the train-stops between
Here and Home.

In the gym, I watched her
She might have been
Seventy, Eighty, Ninety.
Taking off her coat took with shaking hands.
Eighty-six seconds.
When her pale quivering legs
Hit the treadmill at
Two-point-two, two-point-three,
We all  watched
In polite horror.

We are so lucky, so cursed.