Tuesday, December 29, 2009

seven fish

A Christmas Eve spread:
Seven fish augmented by
Alsatian Riesling


Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Thanksgiving Consideration

Most years, our family embraces an unoriginal tradition of going around the table over Thanksgiving dinner and allowing each person to publicly announce what he or she is grateful for. I don’t like this tradition very much. Fortunately, we had an atypically small crew this year and focused on various conversations (can Paris be done for two people under $300/day?) and sundry episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm instead.

While looking forward to December and ultimately 2010, I had a moment of crisis over this long weekend. I found myself stuck on what my goals ought to be. I remain unconvinced that the lone pursuit of any particular career path, romantic path, or personal trajectory will lead to satisfaction.

Then I felt better as I considered that the path to fulfillment is all about setting and achieving mini-goals. In the past few months, I’ve amplified these mini-goals and set myself on a course that’s sure to take me upstream towards new and exciting moments. That’s what I’m grateful for.


Sunday, October 18, 2009


Leverett Circle:
Red light. Snowflakes lit pink, and
Ben Folds' Lullabye.


Thursday, September 17, 2009


Diggity's bathtime
He's finally in the tub
Now the fun begins


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Airplanes flying into Boston’s Logan Airport typically glide over the ocean and strike the runway so suddenly that I’m somewhat surprised when I’m sitting in one and it successfully averts a water landing. Today was atypical: my 747 re-oriented towards the northeast and deftly swooped in over land. I was sitting towards the front, by the window in 15A, where I saw Boston with a fresh, new perspective. This was the culmination of several experiences revealing longstanding yet subtle aspects of Boston life to me over the past month. In particular, I’ve realized how important it is to ignore hypothetical situations and focus on my existence in the present. I plan to dwell on those aspects I can influence at the expense of everything else. I’ll never presuppose a water landing.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

At some God-awful late hour

At some God-awful late hour of evening (or maybe an early
     hour of morning)
I’m glancing down
an ooey gooey mess containing: cheese, milk (why the skim
     crap? it tastes like water) also I Can’t Believe It’s Not
     Butter spread
not solid liquid in-between it seeps rapidly approaching
     boundaries of the linoleum floor
the brand new brown carpet in the parlor finally replaced that
     God-awful shag rug
besides brown is a much more natural color for a tiny 1
     bedroom house than hippie green
shag rug and the parlor was a damn jungle does skim milk
     stain a brown carpet? well
Money is hard to come by so
I ain’t paying the carpet-man to replace a stained brown carpet

What does it matter...

Ascending the stair ascending
I am a mortal I can’t withstand overpowering fatigue languor
     sleep sleep
the bedroom on the left no that’s the bathroom keep going
Moments become millenia but the end is in sight
and a warm bed marks end of the trek
it is so warm and soft
a nice bed is the best medicine
Does medicine actually make your body all better? or is it all
     in the mind
maybe the doctors are lying all conspiring against us ignorant
     folk perhaps
that God-awful Benadryl cherry-flavored cough syrup just
     makes us forget that our minds tell our bodies to get better
maybe the doctors are right and medicine makes us healthy is
     it healthy to go on a diet? what’s with
herbal stuff ya know Ginseng Belloa or Balboa or whatever it
     is/St John’s Wort/and all those teas they have (why don’t
     they make coffees?)
and fat or carbohydrates protein Adkins’ Diet—all protein
     how can that be good for you? nothing wrong with fat fat
and skim milk yuk skim milk is yukky tastes like water I’m
     gonna buy whole milk next time with the cream and the
     chunks the worst for your “health” hell it’s the best there is
I need to buy milk after all I hear
skim milk on the linoleum floor creeping
creeping slithering groping its way toward my new 1 bedroom
     house short brown carpet that
I just paid for

That feeling when you are lying in the sun next to the pool
and you are so content to just lie there until that huge
     annoying twerp
jumps in and gets you all wet well
that terrible feeling is toppled sixfold as I roll out of the bed


I stand get my bearings
why do I stand? I dunno I walk walk out the door and trudge
across the floor to the room on my right no
that’s the bathroom the kitchen is in sight
Descending the stair descending
my feet wallow in the vast ooey gooey mess of fats and butter
probably tastes yummy (so very hungry I am—how can
     anyone stay on a diet?)
but now my feet are cold so I look
no socks in the refrigerator

I am really tired
on the brink of collapse
into this yummy pile of products from the udder of a Holstein
why are speckled cows called Holsteins? I’ll add it to the list
     after all my mom is a librarian
It must be some God-awful late hour of evening (or maybe an
     early hour of morning)
I’m glancing down

This work was inspired by June Jordan’s “Free Flight.”

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ahead in time and elsewhere

Who unearthed primal gratitude for my indifference
But entombed my warmth in dreadful silence?
Each occurrence infected a larger part of me
Until I became a gangrenous husk. Only
The remnants of youth and middle years, and emptiness
Remained. I dispelled the notion of “present”
And embraced worldly redemption--
Ahead in time and elsewhere.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

don't cry

don’t cry harshly,
but a soft tear or two. discover,
wiping salt on the back of your hand
and swallowing, how
your mind undulates
as moments coalesce. listen:
another cries with you
(in silence).


Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Summer solstice marks
the brightest week of the year,
but here it just rains.


Monday, June 8, 2009

invaluable friends

invaluable friends:
each day becomes

Each day begins and I have no clue how it will play out. Today was horrendous and I was dreading every minute of it. But then I heard from TW, KE, JD, BZ, KP, LM, SY, and VY, across several media, all unsolicited, and in the span of a few hours. You turned my day around; thanks for being there for me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kayli (A Poem)

Melding into waves of contentment and unsurpassable pleasure,
          love creeps upon one when least expected
As if the Gods personally crafted her with their own hands,
          and took extra care to insure radiant beauty and infinite grace
The kit comes complete with the enviable qualities that one usually finds
          in the other man’s wife!
But for now the burden is his,
          indefinite gratitude until the time when love ceases to exist
That’s too far in the future to think about now,
          instead he shall enjoy the fresh smell of spring omnipresent about him
Never forget the staleness of loneliness on hot summer nights,
          and never again forget to appreciate the many affable splendors of life!

I wrote this poem ten years ago. I had a short-lived crush; not only has she never read this poem, I didn’t even spell her name correctly. Frankly, someone challenged me to write a happy poem after a string of darker poems. I’m happy most of the time, but in times of sadness or frustration, I find words more easily. This poem is loose in form (note the one oddly-placed rhyme) and the sentiment is exaggerated, yet I’m still a sucker for the last two lines.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wet Spaniel

Copley Square fountain
a spaniel shakes his wet fur
the soaked woman smirks


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MD Unwinding

It’s party time; down Route 100 East
We roll until we find the haven’s door,
Prepare ourselves an alcoholic feast
And argue over who’ll sleep on the floor.
Friends of friends amass upon the scene.
I slip the tumult, close the screen behind
And contemplate the Chesapeake. Serene
In starlight, it implores me to unwind...
Atop a nearby pier, a silhouette
Suggests a woman in like-minded state;
I join her for a conversation. (Let
Impending dawn and rumination wait!)
     We share a while, alone, among the boats
     And laugh in learning neither of us floats.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Comfort Food

She’s comfort food: mashed potatoes and gravy.
The menu changes infrequently, I consider
All that starch, becoming fat.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

An Unremarkable Evening

The last time I made love, the chilly night
Enshrouded me in garbled secrets that
I never shall discern. And so, the trite
Old ritual morphed into idle chat.
“I had a splendid time tonight,” she said,
Then grimaced at the shadows on the wall.
“Yes, it was nice,” I blandly claimed. Instead
Of cuddling me, she curled into a ball.
My saviour was the queasy yellow moon--
That phosphorescent beacon of the skies.
I sensed that other wand’ring souls had hewn
Its crags, with longing gazes from their eyes.
     Inferring kindred spirits in my boat,
     I drifted, calmly, on a peaceful note.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Sliding Phones

I’m two different people at the same time. I spent almost a year living in Eastern Europe. When I moved back to the US, I made seven round trips in a 3-month period between the two locations. When the airplane touched down, I would put my clunky smartphone away and take out my dinky flipphone (or vice-versa).

Each phone features a roster of local phone numbers and saved text messages from that locale. I customarily call M-- and S-- (or J-- and G--) and find out what’s happening on the ground that night. It’s been four months since I last touched down but I find I still belong in both places. I live in two different universes: two different sets of friends, histories, conversation topics, shared experiences, and goals. But I'm the same guy.


Monday, April 20, 2009

a quiet death

a quiet death, a momentary lapse
of reason, slurred cognition, vision blurred,
the fearful soundless waves, the mental traps
relinquished, love now vacant, life absurd.
     a broken shovel pounding, blazing stove
     for charring hopes and melting timeless dreams,
     forgotten, acquiescence now inferred.
     a creature of the dirt, a plundered trove,
     a catastrophic ripping at the seams
     of microscopic dignity, deterred.

or on a freezing star, intrepid soul,
with fervour, condescending all the while,
still glowering at mem’ries, filthy pile
of hate unfurling, rage beyond control.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Let Love Go Free

“If you love something, let it go free. If it doesn't come back, you never had it. If it comes back, love it forever.” - Douglas Horton (an ecumenical preacher)

This is probably one of the most overquoted (and misquoted) aphorisms of all time and I’ve always hated it. I always dismissed it as comfort fodder for those who loved and lost (and wished they never loved at all).

On the other hand, maybe there is a greater truth here. Perhaps the purest way to measure love’s strength is by suffering its absence. The outcome is uncertain. But then there’s no resentment--no regrets.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shadow the Hedgehog

my friend on the couch
playing Shadow the Hedgehog
an evening wasted?


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Life with No Vision

I looked up from the television to my phone and back again, and then I looked over my shoulder. I closed my eyes and I could still see it: a blurred patch, 1-inch square, in my vision. It was disconcerting that I couldn’t focus on an object directly in front of me. I panicked. I used eyedrops and walked in circles. Next, I went onto the computer to look up the symptoms but found that it was difficult to read because of the fuzziness and I had to skim via my peripheral vision. The spot grew until it was double, triple, quadruple the size.

Slowly, the undulating colors flowed outward and my primary field of vision was restored. I could read the text but the monitor frame was fuzzy. I closed both eyes and my brain perceived a crescent shape of color on the left side. It kept flowing outward until I saw the distorted colors and shapes in my peripheral vision (which gave me a throbbing headache). I couldn't escape by closing my eyes nor concentrate on anything else until this passed from my system.

This happened yesterday afternoon and the entire incident lasted about twenty minutes. It was one of the most frightening moments in my life for two reasons: vision’s relative importance and the feeling of utter helplessness. I was alone and my phone is not tactile so I imagined the steps as I lose my vision completely and bang on a random neighbor’s door to call for an ambulance; then the void of living the next sixty years without enjoyment of all the visual pleasures I currently take for granted. I would rank eyesight among the most satisfying of those marvelous miracles I enjoy on a daily basis.

Today is Easter Sunday and I just witnessed a particularly scenic orange sunset from my balcony. I spent the day considering all that I have to be thankful for and will continue to be mindful of in the future; in addition, I’ll probably schedule an appointment with an eye doctor.


Friday, April 10, 2009

N. on a rainy eve

ah to be staring out at the moonswept pavement as
time slowly unfolds around me into soft cushy layers
and each passing moment leaves behind millions more
which for all i can tell seem to never run out

i cant stop my mind from creeping eerily towards
some unknown destinations places people like
what im gonna wear tomorrow and who im gonna see
and whos life could i change with a wave of the hand

the rain pitter patters too and i think about numbers
i contemplate god and friends and beef stew and love
yes love it is riveting and confusing and wonderful
all at once and seems to come from nowhere

certainly love is a coveted thing i know so i hold fast
and never relinquish it but i also have learned that
it floods you slowly and swamps you and you cant
wriggle free no matter how hard you force it

now ive been forewarned that love takes awhile so my
mind falls back towards what im gonna wear tomorrow
what classes i have and finally i resort back to the time
which im sure i will never run out of

It’s drizzling outside. After a spontaneous and satisfying evening, I’m content to sit in my comfy (if empty) apartment and savour the moment. There’s a flickering tinge of nostalgia and I feel older. I reread and relish the second stanza.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sometimes, There's No Right Solution

A riddle I am never meant to solve
Perplexes me tonight. This paradox
Involves a foolish man with strong resolve,
And woman locked within a cosy box.
Dozens of keys are in the man’s possession.
He tries with passion; not a key will fit
The tricky lock. The woman staves depression
Off and fiddles with the catch a bit.
The time goes by. He finds a key that seems
To work, yet swallows this and then his pride.
But equally as strange, she always dreams
To leave, undoes the catch, yet stays inside.
     I’m stumped by this, but other puzzles yearn
     For solvers such as me to take a turn.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Friendship Love

She is my lover, and yet, I’m her friend.
Or, could it be the other way around?
This modicum of happiness I’ve found
Is laced with regret. No, I don’t pretend
To understand nor offer hand to lend.
Pensive, prostrate, I strain to hear the sound
Of sweet relief. It’s muffled underground,
Perhaps? To dig a hole, I’ll not intend.

But still a question lingers in my mind:
Could clarity make all of this as clear
As night from day or ice from roaring fire?
I quiver; sometimes friendships are the kind
That fade, yet others lead to strong desire...
So maybe it’s the title alone I fear.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Good Days and Bad Days

I have good days and bad days. Like most people, I have some moments where I feel on top of the world and other moments where I feel the world is ending. There doesn’t seem to be any discernible pattern. Oftentimes, I wake up feeling great and leave work feeling upset for no reason. Other times, I have a difficult time getting out of bed yet wind up feeling like the luckiest guy on earth. The only constant when it comes to my feelings is that they are transitory. Neither end of the emotional spectrum reigns supreme. Today started out just fine, but by mid-day I felt downright rotten, and later I felt splendid. I’ve trained myself that the bad times are temporary and I shouldn’t dwell on them. I’ve learned to savour the good times. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to laugh, cry, and smile about tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

End of the World Sonnet

The still blue Earth falls through a universe of black
All of the life which traversed it now fails to breathe
The apparent loneliness in the world makes me grieve
And I remain alone in oblivion as the Earth glides off track
Soaring into an elongated path which approaches the Sun
The barren surface heats up to the millionth degree
So I hopelessly plunge through the depths of the sea
But its sanctity is shattered--the heat has won
Approaching tranquility between death and life
I see an ardent Goddess before me
She beckons to me--drawing me near
Despite Earthly death I’ll take Her as wife
We’ll remain together for eternity
And forevermore I’ll have nothing to fear

When I was in high school, a close friend drowned under hazy circumstances off the shore of Sand Hill Cove. It was a long time before I returned to the beach. Eventually, I ventured to the perennially empty Ninigret Beach with my family; it was a brisk, windy day. I watched the seagulls and sandpipers and penned this poem.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

a colourful beginning

nighttime black surrenders to the dawn
orange curtains creep across the sky
silver dreamy steamy mist announces
yellow rays cascading from above

losing the ashen veneer of their slumber
lemon-eyed children run out to the yard
all around olivine grass trodden harshly
leaves rusty brown patches that never regrow

under crimson covers
flutter of lavender lovers
intense hot pink kiss
to feel steely blue bliss

umber earth is everywhere alive
all the violet wildflowers smile
every emerald tree now standing guard
brings solemn peace upon this vivid rainbow


Friday, March 27, 2009


In that moment
          of togetherness

I realized
          how truly alone
I was.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Whisked Away

Today’s the day you’re whisk’d away to Rome
A caravan to Marrakesh for you
A chateau in Geneva for your home
And rented rooms in Monte Carlo too
This afternoon in Paris fine red wine
Then walk along the Auckland ocean pier
In Budapest by evening time you dine
Then taste another city far from here
A world expanding fast cannot stay cold
This science puts a smile upon your face
Go on and in your heart forever hold
Some warmth for this dilapidated place
     If constant pain and anger make you numb
     Escape and see the best is yet to come


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Turkey Leg

A couple of years ago I attended the Topsfield Fair with two of my best friends. It was very crowded and we waited in a long line to park and get through the front gate. The fair seemed enormous; farm animals, vegetable exhibits, rides, ripoff games, kiosks, an ice sculpture, and even a miniature museum dotted the landscape. As is typical with rural fairs, there were a large number of food stations serving the same overpriced food.

We saw a man walk past who was chomping on an enormous slow-roasted turkey leg. I didn’t think much of it, but one of my friends started salivating. We looked around for the source of this delicious turkey leg but all we saw were hordes of teenagers who seemingly had nothing better to do. My other friend was excited to go on the Ferris wheel so I shrugged my shoulders and lined up with her.

We didn’t see our first friend for the next two hours. He was on a hunt for his delicious turkey leg and we weren’t going to stop him. We thought he was nuts. Every second kiosk was selling chicken tenders, doughboys or processed french fries. While scouring the fairground for his culinary delight, we figured he was missing out on everything else. He didn’t play many of the games and I’m not sure if he made it on any of the rides.

When we finally found him just before closing time, he was chowing down on a turkey leg of his own. I still have no idea where he found it. We berated him for ditching us and told him about what he missed, but I don’t think it really mattered. I saw the look on his face when he cradled his prize and took the next juicy bite. He fulfilled his quest and had the best time of us all that night.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

man in the park

the man in the park
a discarded cigarette
his latest asset


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tossed Opportunity

A golden opportunity he tossed
When forward-looking hindsight mark’d the day
Then realized affection had its cost
And “no love lost” he found a subtle way.
Since countless iterations in his mind
Betrayed excuses beyond his control
His patience waned and willpower declined--
Humdrum glum-filled gloom became his goal.
‘Twas then the hour of reckoning ensued:
He hid behind a wall of self-deceit
Deprived himself of bev’rages and food
And floundered in a puddle of defeat.
     Yet one small comfort he allowed himself
     Was stretching for a memory on the shelf.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


He thinks about the sands, the skies, and space.
She wonders what is playing on TV.
He dreams of someday living by the sea.
She loves the city for its rapid pace.
He calmly stares into that pretty face.
She looks askance and steps away from He.
He sighs...and feels empty being free.
She cries...and picks dead flowers from the vase.

A day goes by...a week...a month...a year...
A stronger Man now waits beside the train.
A wiser Lady charges through the crowd.
The Man ascends the platform that is near.
The Lady screams out madly to explain.
But I can’t hear what happens. It’s too loud.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hands and Gloves


Her hands are soft and swollen like a peach--
The juicy kind you won’t find every day.
For everything she needs within her reach
They serve her well; and yet to my dismay
They wield an enchantment over me--
The scary kind that makes my heart beat fast.
But I’m beyond her reach. They cannot be
Responsible for every spell they’ve cast
And so she gently postpones their demands
And hesitates until a later date.
There’s tenderness and mercy in these hands--
The loving kind that might be worth the wait.
     For now they hide in gloves of winter style--
     The woolen kind that spring will render futile.


her rosy scarred hands
clutch the steering wheel
tap keys at the piano
write clap type and
accomplish mundane tasks

they wield an enchantment over me--
     the kind she never asked for
     the kind she doesn’t want
     the kind she won’t throw away
so she puts on gloves for now


Thursday, March 5, 2009

empty room

corner sits candlelightthoughts
friends lost friends waiting;
shallow moments final fickle
quietfrantic soulfragment murmurs

circularpath treads reverberation
burdensome twilight conscience trickle
dusty nostalgia paramount reality.
tranquil quarkyear overwhelms

heartrhythm sobs oblivion
scattered boxes glooming crush
nightdream veils misty utopia...
tonedeaf superpatience teeters


Monday, March 2, 2009

Blizzard of '78

I shoveled snow all day long
for a five-dollar bill
and a wrinkled one, at that

I suppose I was to learn something
about work ethic, or
how charity is supposed to feel good

Instead, I walked home with a handful of blisters
a red windburned face, and
a mild case of frostbite

Some of us can relate.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Feeling Fortunate

Life is a strange conglomeration of planned and unplanned events. Today began unfolding itself in quite an ordinary fashion: I checked both the fun and boring parts off the list. I was driving back to my apartment feeling relaxed and found my street blocked off, and then another street, and then another... I glanced nervously around and gunned it the wrong way down a one-way street so I could return my car to its proper parking space. I paused. I took an extra moment because it felt good to be someplace that felt like home. Then I raced up to my unit and out onto its freezing cold balcony. There, I watched the fire department extinguish a smoky blaze across the street.

Most of the time I feel fortunate. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by life’s complications and it troubles me for a short time; I may seek reassurance in these fleeting moments. There is less uncertainty about my good fortune now that I can look out my window to see the charred remains of another home. If you’re reading this, I hope you realize that you are fortunate too.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Every Morning I Awaken

It’s every morning I awaken cold
A curtain crack first sunray tiptoes in
Deceptive light no warmth just my chagrin
As winter bitter numbness seizes hold
A sacrificial slaughter masked by gold
Of chilling daylight now to freeze my skin
Arrested breath a spectre trapped within
Assaults my spirit stirring fears untold

My courage dwindles knowing this defeat
Of soul is dangling o’er me as a string
That I must sever soon to feel well
My heart will surely welcome home the heat
That coming spring and newfound love may bring
To this lethargic logy prostrate shell


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Most Fragile Thing

“Between us and heaven or hell there is only life half-way, the most fragile thing in the world.”

This is a breathtaking reflection on how delicate life truly is. Whether there is a heaven, a hell, or just the empty vacuum of space, it stands to reason that my life is a brittle, insignificant speck somewhere in its midst. At any moment, this life could splinter into a million undetectable, unrecognizable pieces. That’s how I feel when I consider religion, cosmology, and even human history. Each exerts its influence, pushes, squeezes, and squashes me; so far, I remain intact.

I borrowed this quote from Blaise Pascal’s Pensées. Pascal was a brilliant mathematician and physicist who became deeply religious late in life and abandoned most of his scientific research. I think he was most famous for “Pascal’s Wager” in which he argues that it’s irrational to bet against his faith since it promises an infinite reward (salvation) in exchange for risking something finite (life). In probably theory, the expected return of such a wager is also infinite which is a fancy way of saying that the risk is nil. (An aside: I took a seminar called “Thinking about Infinity” in which I refuted this argument in an essay. In essence, I claimed that life was not finite but infinitesimal and therefore the expected return of this wager is ambiguous and can be anything between zero and infinity.)


Monday, February 23, 2009

Hollywood endings

Hollywood endings
always take place
in one zip code


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ashumet Pond

The water glistens, summer sun imbued
In zigzags on the surface of our pond:
Ashumet. Two wood ducks commence a feud
For one small crumb; I’ve learnt that they are fond
Of toes and if you look away they’ll peck
At them. Below us, sand that’s coarse and thick
Is lad’n with rounded rocks. Half-dazed, I check
Around; I lazily reach and grab a stick
And toss it. J--, with tail wagging, could
Retrieve it... Down the dock and off the end,
J-- swims out to a soggy piece of wood.
Wrong piece! An earnest try from man’s best friend.
     Dusk comes. The sun, quite humble in defeat,
     Implores us both to go inside and eat.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Time's Deception

time suddenly stops
everything freezes over
a gigantic snow globe
          encapsulates the whole world
tiny flakes begin to fall slowly,
          and then rapidly
                    and then cease
harmony and symmetry
stillness prevails
where are we..
          glazed over by a fine layer of snow ?
          buried in an avalanche..


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


as i sit motionlessly
my mind teeters nervously while
Patience silently wraps her soft arm around me and
obstructs my perception so
i blindly wonder what lies just beyond her perhaps
Happiness with her enticing gaze and
toothy smile or
Despair with her forlorn droopy eyes or maybe
Frustration with her furrowed brow or even
Contentment with her narrow grin and
absent stare and
then i realize it must be Time
gently yet firmly queuing all of the others


Monday, February 16, 2009

Birthday wishes

I don't want much, but
for my birthday:
a time machine, an ice cream cake and a kiss.
But a time machine is of fiction,
an ice cream cake melts and
a kiss is fleeting.
Tomorrow comes, I've already forgotten.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day
flowers and chocolates
mark the fortunate


Life is a Journey

There’s an interesting poem by Rabbi Alvin Fine that describes life: “Birth is a beginning / And death a destination / But life is a journey ... We see that victory lies not / At some high point along the way / But in having made the journey / Stage by stage / A sacred pilgrimage ...”

Even though I’m not a particularly religious person, this is a powerful and overwhelming concept. I saw this in a prayer book when I was a small child and it stuck with me. I’ve tried to live by it. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m in a rut and the next high place is so remote that I can’t possibly bear waiting. So I try to emphasize the importance of appreciating the present for all that it offers. I feel I’m succeeding in becoming more patient--at least most of the time.

As I meet others on their respective journeys who find themselves in similar ruts, I hope that I help them to emerge. I pray that, rather than just being a step along the way, I succeed in accompanying them to their high points.


Thursday, February 12, 2009


Perpetual loop
          without an end
Echoes resound
          one finds no friend
Falling rapidly
          the sounds deafen, and then
Senses dulled, it starts again

I'll post old poems as I come across them. I wrote this one over ten years ago when I was barely a teenager; it's among the oldest poems I've saved and it's one of my favourites.

quick! say something random

a friend says:
“quick! say something random”
i respond, “gummi worms”
he pauses and
bursts into laughter
“you had me there”


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

soft hug

a soft hug--
worldly troubles melt
while time stands still



buttercream cupcake
sweet and sugary taste
of spring approaching



less expensive
once cooked


Monday, February 9, 2009

Girl at the party

I meet a girl at the party.
She looks into my eyes and
I gaze at my watch. Then
she glances nervously at the clock.
We go our separate ways.
A time passes.
I see the girl and
she smiles. So I ask her:
“Is it good for you?”
And she nods and looks into my eyes.
A time passes.
I wake up, I rub my eyes.


Relative versus Absolute

Recently, a friend of mine tells me I’m a good piano player. Has she heard a concert pianist? What about Elton John? Or Liberace? Someone else tells me her life is complicated and I see that she worries. What about children in developing countries who don’t have enough to eat? Is ‘complicated’ bad? Another person vents because he cannot decide which woman he likes. Is this some terrible curse? Does he expect sympathy?

We perceive our world within its relative context. I don’t know the greatest piano player, the poorest child, or the most-loved individual in the world. I haven’t met the happiest person and I don’t know whose heart was broken in the most malicious way. Frankly, I don’t care.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

the fork

ambling along a winding dirt trail
i come to a fork, with two distinct branches
my hands clasp together, the humid air’s stale
i check both directions to ponder my chances

the left branch is rocky and treacherous too
i fear i might slip and fall almost a mile
the trail has briars, the handgrips are few
and it spirals around on itself for a while
the sun seems to beat with a hundred degrees
and show off its brawn with a blinding white stare
the snickering footpath is deaf to my pleas
while hedges and ledges scream: “traveler beware!”
the journey’s exciting and leaves me some hope
that success-–though uncertain-–will help me to cope

the right branch is lazy with nothing to hide
it flows and meanders through meadows and farms
the trail-–while ragged-–is level and wide
and relentlessly coaxes me into its arms
the cloudy grey skies emit boredom and sighs
a tired old wind holds perpetual reign
far in the distance a lone drifter cries
as the biting cold steadily drives him insane
this other path’s dull but much safer for sure
i know i’ll survive and my strength will endure

having assessed both the paths that i’m facing
(which brings me happiness? which brings me sorrow?)
my arms fall akimbo and mind ceases racing
i sit at the fork and i wait for tomorrow


Saturday, February 7, 2009

First Poem

I never received a poem, at least
not something special for me.
So I sit and I tap and I pretend
to do work. I wonder,
and I think. And I tap, and I pretend
and all the while my pulse thumps:
thump, thump, thump,
and I think some more.

I jotted this down for a friend who had never received a poem. Curious, I asked other friends and they had no recollection of receiving poetry either. You give me substance to write about and therefore these poems are yours to share.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Nervous to Blog

Taking the first step is usually the toughest part of finishing something.

I think of all the deadlines I’ve had in my life: lab reports in high school, term papers in college, and PowerPoint presentations at work. I procrastinate like everyone else. I will never wait until the night before and pop caffeine pills. I do, however, wait until the ninth or tenth hour. Given six weeks to finish an assignment, I will proceed as follows:
* Days 1-37: wait
* Day 38: compose outline
* Day 39: compose rough draft (typically the longest night)
* Day 40: compose near-final draft
* Day 41: sleep on it (surprisingly important!)
* Day 42: change a few words around and submit

I feel miserable until I start the process but I still wait. Perhaps I’m lazy. More likely, it’s difficult for me to start something because I feel like it will set the tone for everything that follows. And I don’t want to make a mistake in the early stages. So I wait until an idea strikes me in some random flash of brilliance--and when that doesn’t happen--I wait until the deadline approaches.

The irony is that my finished product is usually quite far from where I started. I could have saved myself days of misery if I had only known better.



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