September 11, 2019

Is It Peaceful?


Something’s missing from my beach today.

The salt still tempts my nostrils, yes. Same as yesterday. The sand still stays my feet in coarse irritation.

The waves perform their tragedy, singing their dying arias, giving rise to great crescendos, only to succumb to the seashore forever. The tragedy played yesterday, it doesn’t stop today. Repeat and coda, on and on.

The seabirds run their usual races, taunting the lurking waves in their dash for beached plankton. The sailboats still sail. The joggers still jog. The trash still collects. The smokestacks still spew their poison to the heavens.

The heavens, its the heavens. So resplendent today, much more than usual. So gleaming and free and expansive. Undisturbed. The clouds seem lighter, more airy, with room to grow, no ceiling to reach. The birds unfettered, more space to roam, no limits, no obstacles. 

The planes. Where are they? What’s my beach — the closest to the airport — without the constant clamor of the world coming and going?

Is it peaceful?

The skies are calm. The bellows of engines silent. Conversations, usually interrupted every minute for a take off, every other for a landing, flow without pause, save for consternation, save for pondering.

The sky is wholly the birds and the clouds and the blue. But is it peaceful?

Replacing the planes is something else entirely. Something bigger. Something far more destructive. Something more potentially hazardous. Hate.

Hate is in the air. More natural than a bird, more common than a cloud, more human than an airplane.

But today, it’s darker than ever. Millions are crying out. Millions have been violated. Millions feel the hate. Instead of just harboring safely in our darkest bowels, it’s bubbling like a cauldron in our guts. 

We are hot inside. We are raging. Hate is in the air, as thick as the knee-deep soot and ashes and blood which cover lower Manhattan.

So now what? We boil? Yes. We rage? We must. We call for blood? We react. Our nature tells us to do so. 

Is our nature correct? It must be, no? It’s natural. All that's natural is good. All that's natural is essential. All that's natural will come forth. It’s nature. It takes its course.

But isn't it also our nature to love? To feel from the heart? My heart tells me to mourn. To weep. To reach out to my parents, my friends, my fellow man, to let them know of my love.

My gut screams for hate. And I do. For retribution. For the demise of those who endanger me. For blood. My gut is thirsty for it.

But my head is not so easily swayed. My head is smart. Calculating. My head can’t figure it out, not with precision, not like my gut and my heart. Not with such resolve. With my head, I weigh it all out. I am angry, yes. I am scared. I know my fears, though never quite laid to rest, will subside if those threatening, those terrorizing, and those fueling my fears are done away with. I know they must be stopped.

I also know, in most likelihood, the only way to remove that threat is through more violence. Blood for blood. Blood for security. Blood for well being. My mind knows that’s illogical.

How can more blood make me happy? How can more violence make me settled? How can more hate make me love again? It can’t.

So I am at an impasse. In blood for blood, there can be no solace. In love for blood, there can be no safety. In hate for hate, there can be no love.

The world is different today. I am not naive. I know the world I lived in yesterday was one based on ideals. I know the world I live in today will test those values. But can it be a world without love?

Not today. 

Today has turned to eve, the eve has brought the night, and still my roof stands. My friends are somehow accounted for. My goals remain the same. My prayers last night seemed different, but I only wished more saved. I prayed for one solitary man, who accepted other’s differences. I prayed for love to reign on high, while none bent to their knees.

But I know prayers are the ideal. I know that heaven’s not of this earth. That flags, if they must fly, will often fly half mast. 

The world is a circle first, there is no top or bottom. The gold of day, brings the black of night, and round and round it goes. Man is evil. Man is good. Man is man, and can be nothing else. Fragile to the wind, he is. Fragile to the waves. Fragile to himself. 

Perhaps in fragility, there lies the strength. Perhaps in knowing it all could pass, lies the freedom to live without. To let the winds that whip those flags shake our very foundation, take hold our mighty wings, and guide us back to our place in the clouds.

(Editors note: This piece was written Sept. 12, 2001, edited Sept. 11, 2019.) 

September 9, 2019

Flamingos & Palm Trees


I've had a thing for flamingos and palm trees since well before the two beach icons teamed up as thememates for my Bar Mitzvah, back in the late '80s. But they became a far more important part of my truth after Mom went all out bringing this blossoming Jew man's Miami Vice inspired dreams to life on the "Mony Mony" fueled dance floor of Bobby McGee's — my favorite restaurant at the time, due in equal parts to the perfectly pink prime rib and the fact that the waiters dressed up in costume. (Trust me when I tell you there's absolutely nothing like having a side of beef brought to you by Rocky himself!)

The cardboard flamingos and palm trees that turned Bobby McGee's into a pastelled wonderland would go on to serve as my own room's decorations well past the sordid event of becoming a man — though the decor was demonstrably lessened when I accidentally knocked a basketball into the neon-pink "Adam" sign that my mom had made to really put a stamp on the party. Now, looking back, I not only realize that "Don't play ball in the house" is a viable rule, but also that seeing my name in light shattered into a million pieces may have had an enduring, self-sabotaging effect. 

But I still love flamingos and palm trees.

August 20, 2019

A Boy and His Dog and Simon & Garfunkel and Extreme


Once upon a time there was a boy who sang as if God we're his ventriloquist.

But along the open road, the boy lost his heavenly voice, he couldn't even be sure where. 

One day, the boy found a dog who barked like a hurricane, like the Scorpions kind of hurricane. The rocking kind.

So the boy took the dog in. Unfortunately, the boy was homeless. 

The boy and the dog hit the street, the only home that would have them. But it bonded them tighter than any roof could, and they made themselves a home without walls. 

Though both had been self-described lone wolves before, now, neither could see the logic in that. They were a pack now, forever.

Though the boy's divine voice still escaped him, he felt the air in his lungs getting stronger with each pack-spent day. Until one day, out of the heavenly blue, it was as if God, the puppet master of fate, reached out once again and put his hand up the boy's butt. And the spirit so powerfully moved the boy, he became compelled to sing gleefully to the wind. 

Upon hearing his master's soulful song, the dog joined in too, with a sublime ear for harmony, and just the slightest hint of a German accent.

The dog and the boy came together, and their voices took flight. By listening to each other, as pack members, they easily became one harmonious whole. They started a duet, loosely influenced by Simon & Garfunkel and Extreme. 

Like heaven and hell never parted, together, the boy and the dog created harmony so expansive it floated upon the wind of change, and the wings of angels, for all the world to hear.    

August 12, 2019

Serial Monogamy



Monogamy worked for Sue and Lee,
They didn't promise it would always be,
But with weather being so darn cold lately,
It just made sense to snuggle, freely or not. 


August 6, 2019

Kong


Once upon a time, 
There was a gorilla named Kong,
As big, 
And strong,
And long,
As the lingering note of a well struck gong.

Still, Kong was forced to leave his home,
By the rarest royal of all, man.
Bound, literally, for a new land,
Pushed until they forced his hand,
To make him something far more grand...

A king.

July 25, 2019

Jean-Luc Giraffe



Jean-Luc Giraffe made a helluva gaffe, 
Way back when, 
When he wrecked his whole life.

Why couldn't he have just been happy for Geoffrey?
Why couldn't he have just shaken his brother's hoof,
Said, "Nice job! 
Way to make kids happy!"

He was the alpha. 
The pride of the family.
But it didn't matter.

Did it really matter now?

A giraffe has to save his own neck.
But whoa to be part of the tower,
Basking in the cool shade of Acacia,
The irreplaceable warmth of family.

March 27, 2019

Take Solace, Take Flight



What a heavy weight
this world might seem
if seen from down below
where loud obnoxious air depletes
the sublime brevity of breath.

Are you loved?
Are you hungry?
Are you home?

A weight impossible to haul.

Let it go
unbound it so.

Unfettered by such chains
let thine load be laughed
upon from on high.
A knowing wink
may meet your eye,
take solace
take flight!

March 25, 2019

The View


Hope is born of what may never exist,
Deluding till the end.
Why bother with the way things are,
When you can make believe belief?

Not a crack above of rolling thunder,
No need for the shelter of truth,
Clouds may part before or after,
May as well enjoy the view.