CORNFLOWER

This morning, as I do most mornings,
I took my paints and painted the sky blue.
Today for some reason, I opted for Cornflower,
it seemed to fit my mood and the neighbors cat,
after considering it for a few moments
seemed to agree with my choice, though she
suggested tomorrow might be better served
by either Carolina Blue or Iceberg, but
if I don’t sleep all that well tonight,
I suspect I will just go with Cool Gray.
The Cardinal says anything darker than
Dark Pastel blues is unacceptable since
it takes away from his beauty, but that vanity
aside, it takes too long to sweep aside
the clouds to do the second coat
the brighter blues all demand.

THIS IS HOW WE MOURN

This is how we mourn:
we don’t berate the clouds for gathering,
nor begrudge the rain’s ultimate descent.
Our tears fall to the earth as well,
and there are moments when we need the gray,
moments when the sun would
be an unwelcomed interloper.
This is how we mourn:
we wipe the walls clean of history,
we whitewash them for they, too,
must be a tachrichim* and when done
we add the names, each lettered carefully,
this a plaster scroll
of those we dare not forget
requiring the perfection
they were denied.
This is how we mourn:
by walking out into the sunfilled sky,
having given them the grave
once denied them
freshly dug into
our souls and memory.


*tachrichim is the traditional white linen Jewish burial shroud.

Written following a visit to the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, where  the 80,000 names of Czech and Moravian Jews who perished under the Nazis were hand-written on the walls of the synagogue.

EVENTIDE

The sky is the leaden gray
that denies the sun
and threatens the moon’s arrival.
It presses down on the roofs
of the tallest buildings,
wraps them in a depression
those on the street below feel
without need of looking up.
This is a teasing sky,
a drop here, there, until
we know we are on the razor’s edge of rain.
The sky laughs at us
as it retreats into the night.

OSAKA MORNING

The rain trickles slowly
down the deep green and gray
roof tiles, drips slowly
from the tangle of wires
and antennae, onto
the narrow streets and alleys
where bicycles lean
against doorways, barely
avoided by cars passing quickly.
The sky is the gray
of countless ships
in the nearby harbor,
a monochromatic world
broken only by bank signs,
the paper lanterns waving
outside the restaurant
and an endless procession
of Suntory and Coke
vending machines –
perpetual sentinels,
dispassionate observers.
Businessmen, struggling to maintain
balance, juggle briefcases
and umbrellas as they weave
their bikes through
the undulating flow of pedestrians,
the din of traffic
broken by the giggles
of school girls
walking hand in hand.
It is a gray morning
in Osaka, but in Shitennō-ji
the Buddha does not notice,|
does not care, just smiles.