Skin Tone

The poem was titled Miscegenation.
Webster called it the mixing of the
races. There is no mixing of the races —
just mixing of ETHNICITIES. When are
we going to stop this unscientific/emotional/
biased/bigoted/prejudiced approach to
unmindful segregation/ separation/making
distinctions based on nothing other than
skin tone? I have watched how black women
have come into their own, into their beautiful
skin tone. I have envied black men for how
beautiful they are in their shaved heads. Let’s
mix it all up. I love mocha. Let’s affirm all
ethnic colors while getting a little closer to
Jesus’ color, to the beautiful skin tone of

Erehwon is Nowhere Spelled Backwards*

Nowhere is now here.
Everywhere is ever-(y/w)-here.
You/we here — now.

*Erehwon was a Midwest outdoor equipment shop I
used to visit in Chicago. Their motto was Erehwon
is Nowhere Spelled Backwards
. I thought that was
pretty clever. I still have a poster from their store
of a mountain lion crossing an arch in what is probably
Arches National Park. The business is now called Uncle
Dan’s. A line from a Richard Rohr meditation triggered
my thinking and reminded me of the name Erehwon, which
easily could become a religious metaphor — another name
for God? The poem started out as a haiku and then got
a little wordier.

Of Fingers and Wounds

The rabbi got shot in the index fingers
in the terror attack. A brave woman step-
ped in-between the rabbi and the gun-
man and took a bullet for her spiritual
guide. She died. She is a hero. A friend
called her a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman
of Valor. The rabbi ran and gathered all the
little kids together in a safe place. He’s a
hero, too. According to his testimony, he
didn’t even realize his fingers had been
injured when he gathered the kids. Adrena-
line will do that. He felt bad that his little
granddaughter had to see him bleeding and
screaming. Strange, the things you think of
later. The rabbi must feel very lucky to be
alive. I wonder if he will suffer survivor’s
guilt. Also, losing fingers can’t be an easy
thing to deal with on down the line. I knew
a man who lost just one finger in a work
accident. That missing finger bothered him
for the rest of his life. He would rub the
place where the finger used to be. The rabbi
was shot in both index fingers. I guess he’s
feeling pretty fortunate. Still, losing fingers
can’t be very easy. I wonder when the
adrenaline wore off and the pain set in.
Such courage. I can’t even imagine. I can’t
even imagine losing one finger let alone two.
What will the rabbi think of when the wounds
to his hands have healed? Will he rub the
places where his fingers were and if so, what
other wounds will he ponder and massage?

Can You Hear?

Trump has done it.
Are you proud of yourself, Donald?
Trump has given permission.
Are you proud of yourself, Donnie?
Trump has embraced the ugly.
Are you proud of yourself, little Don-Don?
Trump has encouraged violence.
Are you proud of yourself, baby boy?
Trump has welcomed evil.
Can you hear me from the womb, unnamed one?
Trump has unleashed the Devil.
Can you hear me, gleam in your bigoted father’s eye?
Might it have been better for everyone, if you
hadn’t done the deed and sown the seed, Fred?
Can you hear me?

At A Meeting

They laugh now, derisively,
sneeringly, among them-
selves and because every-
thing is seen, they are seen.
They don’t look happy,
just smug, out doing one
another with vitriol toward
those not welcome — masking
ignorant fear. KIP, Knowledge
is Power, not over others as
they would have it, but self.
One day, it is said, they in
the clique will see and their
tears of laughter will turn
in knowledge to tears of
sorrow and regret and then
they will see the warm, wel-
coming smile of eternity and
it will be the face of the

I Visited Him Once

When I was sixteen and came
home from school I usually
found my father sitting in the
living room smoking. Then
one day I walked into the
living room and he was on
the sofa. He wasn’t asleep.
He sat up and said, “I need
to have you drive me to the
hospital. I think I’m having
a heart attack.” He was.
He stayed in the hospital
for over a week. I remember
visiting him once during that
time. He lived another year
never fully recovering and
then one day he died — gone.
I feel bad to this day that I
didn’t visit him more often
when he was in the hospital.
He would have liked that.
If it had been reversed,
he would have visited
me often, but that is
what fathers do — that
and forgive their un-
thoughtful children.

The Bread of Life

My grandmother made the
best, wholesome, homemade
bread ever. But my mother,
never baked a loaf in her
life. She bought store-bought
and I loved it almost as much
as my grandmother’s whole-
some homemade, warm and
wonderful with melted butter.
It was like a foreign object —
spongy, soft, with many tiny
holes, like something I had
never seen before but came to
love. When I squeezed it, I
now compare it to something
I have seen on TV — bears
squeezing toilet tissue.
As I squeezed the bread, I’m
sure I heard it breathe inside
its cellophane packaging. I
would grab a slice, tear off
the soft, brown (dare I call
it?) crust, gobble it up
and squeeze the slice into
a ball of dense, doughy
wonder and pop it into my
mouth, then chew and chew
and chew and swallow really
hard and run to the sink
for a drink.

Ongoing Work Just When You Thought You Had It Licked

The therapist said, “I want you to
envision her as she was. Give me
a physical description.” “Little,
shriveled, pinched.” “And why
does she hold such power over
you?” “Lack of acceptance, lack
of affirmation, lack of demonstrable
love.” “She’s gone.” “Well, not really.”
“She’s occupying way too much of
your space.” And they went on with
it. And now he has to remind himself
that she isn’t his wife when his wife
says something that triggers the
negativity. “Yes,” he thinks his
therapist would have said, “Remind
yourself. You don’t want anymore mis-
placed aggression in your life. Besides,
your wife is a beautiful, affirming
person who just happens to be human.
And furthermore, it isn’t any good for
your blood pressure.” And with that
memory, he let out a deep sigh.

Running Out of Gas

The all-electric, sleek, luxury sedan
sped silently through the empty
streets of the city at night while
the man, watching the advertise-
ment, only heard sounds of the city
as the car tore around corners
and through straightaways. The man
wondered if the TV addicted president
has seen the ad and, if so,  wondered
if the president saw the ad as a meta-
phor for his presidency — luxurious,
smooth, sleek, the only show in town.
If so, thought the man, the president
once again would  be delusional. Rather,
a lumbering, gas-guzzling, air-pollut-
ing, noise-polluting behemoth that
stalls out before reaching its destin-
ation or is stopped short by law en-
forcement officers would be more to
the point, and while that, of course,
would be a commercial never made,
it is an actual made for TV reality
show running out of gas, ratings and
due to be cancelled.