We sat in the cramped kitchen huddled around the stove the open oven door spreading a faint warmth that barely slid through the winter chill. The bare bulb in the ceiling strained and flickered fighting to hold as the generators were shut down, and darkness enveloped our small world. The sky was lit by the flares and the odor of exploding shells seeped through the towel sealed windows covered in the tattered bedsheets too thin to afford warmth. Ibrahim had been gone two weeks sneaking out of the city to join his brothers in Gorazde or Tuzla, or wherever it was that they were struggling to save what little was left. We huddled under the small table and dreamed of the taste of fresh bread, or even pork. In the morning he would run among the craters in the streets in search of the convoy and the handouts, which we would raven as the sun set over our war torn hell.
First published in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. XXX, No. 1 & 2, 2006
You came into my life last week, your name forever locked away inside her mind. My life, she felt, would never be the same and therefore left all thought of you behind. You loved her, I suppose, that summer night then left her, bearing me, until she turned me over for adoption, that she might forget the love that you so quickly spurned. A Jew, she said, but would say little more a father, Portuguese, is all I know, who cast his seed, then left and closed the door and me, the son, he never would see grow. You left her life long before I was born, the father I won’t know but only mourn.
First published in Minison Project, Sonnet Collection Series, Vol. 2, Sept. 2021
As you sit in your suburban homes, by the pools at your country clubs, in your vacation resort villas, try for the sake of the patriarchs and matriarchs of our faith, to remember that we were the poor, we were the huddled masses, we yearned to breathe free, we the tempest tossed.
Remember the tenements of the Lower East Side, the sweat shops, the struggle, remember all of this, remember where we came from, from the sthetl, from the pogrom, from poverty, recall we were the wretched refuse for whom a door was opened.
Remember all of this now, as you so willingly wish to slam the door to those whose only wish is to follow in our now dusty footsteps.
Do those, who imagine themselves leaders, or smarter and better than the rest of us, and who deny science, (no, the amassing of money is not a law of physics) plan to take up swimming?
Or will they wait until the bears are at their door, their white coats grayed by the last belches of soggy coal, and then bemoan the fact that their yachts have floated off on the rising seas that now lap at their once beach view feet.
It’s no matter to most of the people of the world who starved to death or died of disease years ago.
He sits, suited in black, with 88 keys at his command, and we fall silent. He opens the lock of joy, the lock of sadness, the lock of elation, the lock of tears, the lock of laughter, the lock of darkness, the lock of light, the lock of surprise, the lock of compassion, the lock of love, and we peer through each door, unable to enter fully unable to turn away. As we walk out, we know we have tasted Buddha’s promise truth and we go off in search of the 63,999 remaining Dharma doors.
It begins lowly quietly, then grows builds until, all players together, it hits a point where you hope it is a crescendo, but it still grows ever louder and you retreat from the club, half-finished glass of wine on the table, knowing that when you reach the back door your evening is over.