Monday, December 21, 2009

Down...and out

22nd Kislev (7th night of Chanukah) / 17th December

Breaking News. My roof top “garden” ( at least in aspiration, really a collection of pots and tins) has been ordered to come down, because the managing agents have said it is in violation of the insurance. In rule-bound Australia these things matter infinitely more than a few straggly and symbolic vegetables, so they must be brought down. But depite the temporary setback all is not lost because the veggies are going to go...out. A temporary home will be by the washing lines down stairs (until someone complain about that.) Thereafter we’ll see.

Let human ingenuity triumph over human pettiness, and individual “choice” over the nanny state. The images below, from a bathroom in the municipal information centre in Paramatta, are further (very mild) evidence of nannystatehood-dom in whose thrall dear Australia lies.

Yishtabach Shemah - may Her Nameless Name be Praised

I've always been a sucker for miracle stories, for tzaddikim and gurus, be they Nisarghadattha Maharaj or Kabir or Ramana or the Baal Shem Tov or Rav Kook or Reb Aryeh Levine or Amaji (had to get a female one in there) so here's a beautiful miracle story:


It's been almost a year since St.-Sgt. Dvir Emanuelof became the first casualty of Operation Cast Lead, losing his life to Hamas mortar fire just as he entered Gaza early in the offensive. But sitting with his mother, Dalia, in her living room last week, I was struck not by loss, but by life. And not by grief, but by fervent belief. And by a more recent story about Dvir that simply needs to be told, especially now at Chanukah, our season of miracles.

This past summer, Dalia and some friends planned to go to Chutzot Hayotzer, the artists' colony constructed each summer outside Jerusalem's Old City walls. But Dalia's young daughter objected; she wanted to go a week later, so she could hear Meir Banai (an Israeli musician) in concert.

Dalia consented. And so, a week later, she found herself in the bleachers, waiting with her daughter for the performance to begin. Suddenly, Dalia felt someone touch her shoulder. When she turned around, she saw a little boy, handsome, with blond hair and blue eyes. A kindergarten teacher by profession, Dalia was immediately drawn to the boy, and as they began to speak, she asked him if he'd like to sit next to her.

By now, though, the boy's father had seen what was unfolding, and called over to him, "Eshel, why don't you come back and sit next to me and Dvir?" Stunned, Dalia turned around and saw the father holding a baby. "What did you say his name is?" she asked the father.

"Dvir," responded Benny.

"How old is he?" Dalia asked.

"Six months," was the reply.

"Forgive my asking," she continued, "was he born after Cast Lead, or before?"


Whereupon Dalia continued, "Please forgive my pressing, but can I ask why you named him Dvir?"

"Because," Benny explained to her, "the first soldier killed in Cast Lead was named Dvir. His story touched us, and we decided to name our son after him."

Almost unable to speak, Dalia paused, and said, "I'm that Dvir's mother."

Shiri, the baby's mother, had overheard the conversation, and wasn't certain that she believed her ears. "That can't be."

"It's true."

"What's your last name?"


"Where do you live?"

"Givat Ze'ev."

"It is you," Shiri said. "We meant to invite you to the brit, but we couldn't."

"It doesn't matter," Dalia assured her - "You see, I came anyway."

And then, Dalia told me, Shiri said something to her that she'll never forget - "Dvir is sending you a hug, through us."

At that point in our conversation, Shiri told me her story. She'd been pregnant, she said, in her 33rd or 34th week, and during an ultrasound test, a potentially serious problem with the baby was discovered. After consultations with medical experts, she was told that there was nothing to do. The baby would have to be born, and then the doctors would see what they could do. A day or two later, she was at home, alone, anxious and worried. She lit Hanukka candles, and turned on the news. The story was about Dvir Emanuelof, the first soldier killed in the operation. She saw, she said, the extraordinarily handsome young man, with his now famous smile, and she felt as though she were looking at an angel.

A short while later, Benny came home, and Shiri said to him, "Come sit next to me." When he'd seated himself down next to her, Shiri said to Benny, "A soldier was killed today."

"I heard," he said. "What do you say we name our baby after him?" Shiri asked.

"Okay," was Benny's reply.

They told no one about the name, and had planned to call Dalia once the baby was born, to invite her to the brit. But when Dvir was born, Shiri and Benny were busy with medical appointments, and it wasn't even clear when they would be able to have the brit. By the time the doctor gave them the okay to have the brit, it was no longer respectful to invite Dalia on such short notice, Shiri told me. So they didn't call her. Not then, and not the day after. Life took its course and they told no one about the origin of Dvir's name, for they hadn't yet asked Dalia's permission.

So no one knew, until that moment when a little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy - whom Dalia now calls "the messenger" - decided to tap Dalia on the shoulder. "Someone's looking out for us up there," Shiri said quietly, wiping a tear from her eye, "and this no doubt brings Him joy."

IT WAS now quiet in Dalia's living room, the three of us pondering this extraordinary sequence of events, wondering what to make of it. I was struck by the extraordinary bond between these two women, one religious and one traditional but not religious in the classic sense, one who's now lost a husband and a son and one who's busy raising two sons.

Unconnected in any way just a year ago, their lives are now inextricably interwoven. And I said to them both, almost whispering, "This is an Israeli story, par excellence."

As if they'd rehearsed the response, they responded in virtual unison, "No, it's a Jewish story."

They're right, of course. It is the quintessential Jewish story. It is a story of unspoken and inexplicable bonds. It is a story of shared destinies.

And as is true of this little country we call home, it's often impossible to know which part of the story is the real miracle, and which is the doing of extraordinary people. In the end, though, that doesn't really matter. When I light Chanukah candles this year, I'm going to be thinking of Dalia. Of Shiri. Of Dvir. And of Dvir.

I'm going to think of their sacrifice. Of their persistent belief. Of their extraordinary decency and goodness.

And as I move that shamash from one candle to the next, I will know that Shiri was right. These are not easy times. These are days when we really could use a miracle or two. So perhaps it really is no accident that now, when we need it most, Dvir is sending us all a hug from heaven above.

The writer is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. He is the author, most recently, of Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End (Wiley, 2009). He blogs at

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Being the Other

How about an inter faith, inter group, inter difference programme where instead of just exchanging platitudes - as happens at many of these well meaning groups - about each other's perspectives, people spend an intense week in an unfamiliar environment actually practising being the other? George Soros, get your teeth into this one please. Here's how it might work. let's say we had a Jewish Moslem camp. Each child is assigned a trained child-facilitator of the other faith. The job of the faciltator is to guide a Moslem child through a week of being Jewish. Activities are structured so that the Moslem child does Jewish ceremonies, experiences anti-Semitism, etc. The Jewish Children spend a week being Moslem. They pray or eat as Moslems do, expereince the streotyping Moslems encounter, and literally walk a mile in the shoes of the other.

This sensitization process could also b used across other divides, such as abled/disabled, although there it would be challenging to make it a two-way, mutual process, as how does a legless person walk a mile as an able bodoed persaon? And how can a blind person experience the inability to see of the seeing?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How many chickens does it take to have a child?

To every birth its blood
wrote Mongane Wally Serote
and he didn't mean it in this way
but during his or her life
every child who is not raised a vegetarian
will be the direct or indirect cause of the unnatural life, and possibly untimely death
of tens of thousand of chickens, and thousands of sheep, cattle and possibly pigs.
Is it a good exchange?

Check out: eating animals/

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Australian National Pastime No 7.

This game is very popular in Northern NSW and rural Queensland. Teams of three compete against each other. One person in the team is the spotter, the second is the shooter, and the third is the catcher. The shooter is given a small bow and a set or arrows. A big elastic band with a hook is attached to the rear of the arrow, close to the notch. The front of the arrows has a soft miniature boxing glove attached to it. The game is played at night. The team goes out into the bush and uses torches to locate possums hiding in the treetops. If a possum is shouted the spotter shouts “mark” and then the shooter hooks the elastic band onto the bowstring, ready to shoot. The spotter now offers the possum a pair of protective eye goggles ( Bungaroo bylaws, 1897) which the possum is free to accept or reject. The shooter then shoots the arrow with the aim of the boxing glove knocking the possum out of the tree. The catcher must catch the possum before it hits the ground. If the possum is caught it is considered “local”...if the possum smashes into the ground the team loses five points.


I dreamt (he said) of a little girl who lived – more or less – alone in a big house with many rooms. Outside, in the garden, was a pond with at least a 1000 fish, and the little girl knew every fish by name and when she would call to a particular fish it would swim to her hand and eat the breadcrumbs that nestled there. If she got very bored she sewed liitle winter coats for the small fish, and big winter coats for the large fish. And if she was feeling particularly lonely she would scoop out one of the bigger fishes, put it in a little push cart, and go for a walk around the block with it. Afterwards she would give it mouth to mouth resuscitation, her little red lips on its sandpapery brown clown lips, and then put it back in the pond, where it usually revived. And this is all I remember of my dream, he said.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sof Onat Hatapuzim - End of the Orange Season II

Today was the last day of my two year stint as a teacher, and the question I was most urgently trying to answer throught the various leave takings, gift givings, tidying ups was (and is) "did I make a difference?" In other words I was trying to assuage / silence / distance the belief that I must have had running for millenia: "I'm completely irrelevant, at best slightly annoying, at worst excess baggage."

So I eagerly looked for thank you cards, gifts from students etc. any evidence which would indicate I was anything other than a completely forgettable impersonator, a hollow man (and even the man epithet may be too substantial), a boring nonenity who had passed his sell by date and to whom the kids were mildly indifferent as long as I did not bother them. Such evidence was - of course? - sparse...I won't publicly humiliate myself by reducing it to numbers, but lets say that from students these internal court exhibits for the defence did not exceed the digits on a lemur's fore -paw. And there we must let the matter rest, with a sigh of pseudo resignation and a certain heavyness but also with a wonderful sense of liberation: perhaps other contexts will play to my strengths more, although at age 45 I have not yet found out what those contexts might be.

On the other hand there is ample evidence that I did make some kind of impact on a few students and a few staff members ( that word, gotta be careful with it...) And what does it mean in my inner language to make an impact? Translated it means there were moments of authenticity, moments where "they" (the bestowers of relevance/irrelevance, as I have set it up) got to see that I too can flow, or be a conduit to the flow, that I too burn with an energy and passion here and there, and a certainty and a purpose and a freedom....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Cruellest Season

For many Australians now is the Cruel season, when the disassociation, projection and splitting which underlies secular Christendom is amplified. Now is the season for the increased industrialised slaughter of factory farmed animals, the manic consumption of material goods that will be discarded soon in the "new year", the loneliness that comes along with the pretend togetherness of family and friends where people play out their respective roles instead of really encountering each other simply as being, the imbibing of vast quantities of alcohol, and the consequent increased road accidents, domestic violence and general despair

Now is the time of endless vacuous adverts, of sickening platitudes, of forced and false gaiety, of do it by numbers joy, of made to order seasonal films full of fake cheer and maudlin synthetic emotion pumped out by film makers. Now is the season of omnipresent piped Christmas carols in shopping centres which seem to begin earlier and earlier each year ( can we organise a guerrilla raid so that centre management plays some Hanukah songs, or some songs connected to Diwali?). Now is the indignity of Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cashiers at Coles (who are presumably mostly Moslem and Hindu) being forced to wear ridiculous Merry Christmas tshirts and wish all their customers “Merry Christmas”, irrespective of their or the customer’s cultural orientation.

Now is the time of pseudo altruism, where people give things and money because its a way of avoiding giving of themselves. Now is a time of overwhelming cultural coercion, where no matter what faith or creed or culture you belong to, it is assumed that you are in some way a willing participant in the general madness and mayhem - which indeed you are ( a participant, if not willing), as it inescapably in your face unless you stay indoors, and do not turn on the radio or tv or glance out of your window.

A cruel season indeed.

See also australia-christmas-time

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The best sex I never had

I attended this workshop (I'm the married man...that bit was picked up, although my South Africaness was not) and its a nuanced and honest refelction of why tantra is a useful adjunct to liberation...if Hamas and Gush Emunim leaders and conspiracy theorists and Christian and Hindu and Islamic and Jewish fundamentalists and addicts of every sort (workaholics, alcoholics, gamblers, hunters, websurfers, porn consumers, shopaholics) were all exposed to tantra when they were tadpoles, perhaps things might look very different..anyway it was very sweet.

See also (if you can find it) watching-my-self.html

This makes a lot of sense to me

Katie's take on the Moslem/Jewish Israeli/Palestinian conflict makes a great deal of sense to me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The golden lottery ticket

Onece there was a boy who dreamed big. He decided he would win a million dollars! So he saved all his pocket money and after 6 months he had enough to buy a big lottery ticket which had fifty numbers on it. The ticket was printed on special cream coloured paper, with swirling gold letters and a gold border. He put it up on the wall and stared at it every day. He wrote down exactly what he would do with the million dollars - buy himself roller blades and a new gaming console and (because he was a caring boy) he'd buy his mom a new car, to replace her broken old car, and he'd give 5% to an animal charity, and another 5% to a charity in Israel, that helped new immigrants from Ethiopia and Russia to settle in, and some would go for a holiday for his mom and his grandpa and his sister - their dad didn't live with them anymore. TO BE CONTINUED...
When he eventually wins the lottery he's so in love with the ticket he can't let go of it, and chooses to keep the ticket rather than the 100 000 dollars it wins him.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Yerakot Hafakot - the Tantra of earthworms

Yerakot hafakot = vegetable productions, the name of my new fictitious organisation. However, I did receive my real worm farm this morning, courtesy of the Compost Evolution, of which I am now officially part of. See if you too wish to be part of this simple way of creating a more pleasant, more balanced, more well environment.

Above are some pictures of the worm farm which is compact, made from recycled plastic, and odourles. Below are some pics of the veggies I am growing in tin cans on my balcony and on the formerly sterile roof of the apartment block we rent a flat in.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ben shel Bronte (A son of Bronte)

I met a muso on Bronte Beach...and he played a happy song. Check it out

Want more....visit his website.

As an aside, if I were to have a website, and could come up with nothing other than my-name-dot-something (and its amazing how many writers, photographers, landscape designers, visual artists, sculptors and musicians don't seem to be able to come up with web site names any more lateral than their own monicers) than at least I would make it .org ( short for orgasm, organism, organic, organ, original, and so forth) rather than the terribly dull com (short for commerce, common, comfortably numb and so forth.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Cosmic Surfer

This is just a place holder. the post - im yirtzeh haShem - will come later. In the meantime refer, and defer to, Eckhart Tolle's latest book - A New Earth - which, despite its rather Christian orientation, is full of the most radiant truth. Click on the pics to see larger versions, which allow you to make out the lightening or its afterglow. The three pics immediately below are a sequence.

The cosmic surfer is a chasid on a skateboard.

A Torah Observant Scoundrel

This is just a place holder. the post - im yirtzeh haShem - will come later. In the meantime refer to the commentary of the Ramban on parshat kedoshim. See also an earlier post Using Judaism as a support for unconscious living

Monday, November 9, 2009

A song of praise to the giver of days

All photographs on this blog by Immanuel the son of Shmuel and Freidel on his trusty Nokia cell phone, unless otherwise credited.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Clarity is Power

Here are some different understandings of power

Power is commitment
Power is presence - the degree to which you are present in any given situation
Power is clarity - how clear you are about what it is you are wanting, and your purpose, and your "okness" in wanting what you want
Power is persistence and resilience...which really flow from your purpose, sense of mission etc etc

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why we moved to Oz

We emigrated to Australia because, fundamentally, we are self concerned people, intent on protecting our narrow interests and preserving our comfort and convenience levels ( some might say with a fair degree of accuracy we are fundamentally selfish), and we wanted to be in a country where the majority shares these values of selfishness and narrow self interest, and prioritise the welfare of their narrowly defined 'own' while being innured to the suffering of the 'not ours/not us.')

We feel right at home here, where an "I'm all right Jack, I'm sitting on my piece of the pie" or "I'll be all right Jack, as soon as I've got/ regained my piece of the pie" attitude prevails.
[So main stream Australians will coo over puppies but not blink an eyelid at the industrialised cruelties of their farm industries, or of their so-called sports. (For example about 18 000 "failed" racehorses are slaughtered each year, often because they are raced before they become skeletally mature at four years old, and suffer serious injury.)

And they will defend their right to a fair go wherever obvious self interest is involved, but not be too concerened about refugeees drowning in Australia's territorial waters or exploited immigrant workers.]

Of course, to be fair, the self-concern here also creates a certain resourcedness - so there is a much broader middle class here than in countries like South Africa, where there is lip service to the notion of altruism and social justice, but the same values as Australia are the real ones, and because they function covertly as opposed to their more explicit legitimisation here in Oz, they leave many many people - the majority - outside the circle of priviledge. Whereas here the circle of priviledge is much bigger, and many more people have handled in an ongoing way, both their primary needs (shelter, food, transport) and - to some degree - their secondary ones - meaningful work (self esteem and productivity), recreation etc etc.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why the UN condemms Israel

Without wishing to further promote a Jewish narrative of victimology, it is also impossible to ignore the UNs obsessive focus on Israel while much qualitatively and quantitatively bigger serial "human rights" abusers are ignored. Here's one possible explanation, kindly supplied to me by master storyteller Donna Jacobs Sife

The Leopard's Revenge

A leopard was watching his cubs playing, but after a while he felt tired. "I'm going to rest a bit," he told them. "Be sure you stay here by my side. Don't wander away, it is dangerous out there in the open." The cubs stayed near their father for a while, but then they slowly moved a bit away from him. One lively cub forgot his father's warning entirely, and ran out to explore the strange country by himself. Along came a herd of elephants, moving slowly and silently through the countryside, and one of them inadvertently stepped on the leopard cub and killed him, and passed on without even knowing what he had done. A jackal saw the accident, and ran to tell the leopard the sad news. "Wake up, wake up, your son is dead." He led the father to his son's body. The leopard cried out in grief and anger:"Who killed my son? He will suffer for it! I will have his skin! Revenge! I will drink his blood! Tell ne, who did this?" "It was the elephants. Your son was playing in the undergrowth, and the elephants passed by and trampled him without noticing what they had done." The leopard was silent for a long time. Then he jumped up and cried out, "The elephants! The elephants? Nonsense! Why would the elephants kill my son? You are mistaken! It was not the elephants -- I see it now, it was the goats. The wicked goats have killed my son, and I will have my revenge on the whole tribe of them!" And the grieving father called together all his family, and they went down to the meadows and fell uponn the goats, and killed the whole herd of them, crying, "Revenge! Revenge!"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Poems for the path

See also Poems 2010 and Malice Aforethought

The rioteous off all nations
sat round the table
Rav Kook was there, and the Baal Shem Tov too
St Francis of Assisi, and St Kabir
and I think that was Rumi seated next to you
Jane Goodall was there, a gorilla near at hand
Raoul Wallenbach and Ramana Maharshi
cut up vegetables in the kitchen
while Zinoviev poured tea from the Samovar
bekavod, said St Francis, you make the blessing
we’d be delighted to hear the holy tongue
he held open the door of the limousine, helped the old man in
made sure his coat tails wouldn’t get caught in the door
Joan of Arc and
Mandela and Buber and Bhudda strolled the lawns
Ghandhi and Harriet Tubman and Hanna Senesh were there
studying talmud and the Bhagahivad Githa
while the chasidim did Yoga and the sufis's chanted Om
Walt Whitman knelt to pray, Ginsberg and Blake whirled
like Dervishes, Mansur Al Hallaj and Ibn Bachiya stroll like brothers with
Hillel and Nisarghadattha discusssed the "I AM', Mother Meera listend quietly, Biko wrote whatever he liked

Ode to acknowledgement

acknowledgement how I crave you
more than breasts and bums
more than convenience and gadgets
more than la la land holidays
to be heard
to be seen
to evoke appreciative nods and smiles
to be applauded
to be told you make a difference
how my being thrills to even the dust of this
how I have dusted my goods
in the storefront of Immanuel
and primped and preened
and tried to seduce you
to acknowledge me
without prompting

what does it mean to be acknowledged?
to be held in an embrace
of good will
which celebrates you

who doesn't want to be acknowledged?


The sun is hot

the sky is blue

people lie on the beach

without a care

& they and the chickens

in the slaughter house


free me, free me,

free me



said my father:

“alway's they’ll always persecute the Jews.

so don’t invest in property.

or a fancy college degree

just look after your body

because that they can never take away from you.”


I look forward to the day
when the society
for the propogation of Immanuel
will voluntarily dissolve

I have a great desire to do my duty
despite having no idea what it is

Even if a million people agree with you
it doesn't make you right

Habits are stronger than mountains
habits can grind down planets
habits write novels
habits can overcome deserts and pain
habits can grind you down and
make you whole again

G?d grant me the insight
to see through dramas
especially my own


I'm so used to always doing a lot
but letting go
requires so little
its the hardest thing
I've never done


When I've enjoyed myself
or swam in the river of love
my mind asks to have the experience once again
as if I'd already left it behind
at which point
I have

Becoming You

As you age
and your body shrinks
there is less to stop
your beauty shining through
til in the end
all I see is You

It cannot be bought
it cannot be sold
cannot be bribed
can't be controlled


Perhaps G-d has watched me many times

like a scientist in a laboratory
watching a baffled rat
in an impossible maze
which has no solution;
or a pig or baboon scratching a wound
not of its on making
and that will not go away
as I have struggled to balance
energies, itches, hot flushes in the head
unfathomable yearnings for connection
and oblivion and to be held

with love or curiosity or benign indifference


uncertainty is my friend
self doubt my brother
longing is my sister
acceptance is my mother


Rust how wonderful you are
rust and decay
as you slowly oxidise
our vanities away


If I am the gardener of a garden
where suffering appears afresh with the morning dew
then as a compassionate gardener
tell me what should I do

should I practice self-enquiry
to see if I am the source of this flaw
or should I rush about with a scythe
til I can weed no more?


I found a sick pigeon
and gave it some water
when I returned
it had gone

(but its body was still there)


Bracha gathers round me
like clouds around the parched land

Sevavuni ananay beracha
kemo ananim sviv adama charuchat shemesh

The part contains the whole
the part contains the whole
hey ho the dairy O the part contains the whole

My heart is like
an overripe tomato
bursting with sorrow
and sweet mercy
bending my body-plant
to the ground
where it rots
and gives life
in equal measure

How many times
have I misdescribed something
convinced my assumptions were true?


This day
quarells and bills
and leaves dancing in the wind

Sometimes I want to explode on a bus
not like a suicide bomber
but from love
even the coughing spluttering man
pushing his trolley and cursing the passers by
is caught up in the blast and blown
to kingdom come



For the mistake of not acknowledging others
for the mistake of not acknowledging myself
for the mistake of self condemnation
for the mistake of rigidity and fear of loss
for the mistake of counting my mistakes

Bar Mitzvah

they call it a rite of passage
but from where to where
and is it to become more righteous
or more riotous
or both
hard to get it right
(especially if you try to hard)
the son of commandments
on a mission from G-d
to laugh without reservation
sing without hesitation
serve without calculation
be without justification


Don't worry
you will not forget
and if you forget
it will not matter
and if it matters
life will remind you


The Swiss Hotel, Bondi Beach

People Crowds Noise Alcohol

large screens: horses egged on with whips

glassy suffering men and women tottering, trying to feel and


"Music": duf duf duf

fried dead animal

chew. poo. chew.poo.

forget forget

out near Tamarama

dolphins cavorting in the waves


Some people make bombs
and some people make books
that explode in the heart

In meditation
we chant
"I am existence-consciousness - bliss"
but someone has unconsciously
left the aircon on full blast
so I am chanting and shocheling
backwards and forwards
faster and faster
to try and keep the body
we have disavowed
as "not mine and not me"


Doctors against illness
dentists against tooth decay
cuckoos against nest squatting
journalists against bad news
lions against carnivorism
psychologists and psychiatrists against mental illness
poets for egolessness


When I was 19 or so
I sat in a yeshiva in Yerushalayim
at the time of the third meal
when the day was darkening
with another hundred young men
and together we sang:
mizmor ledavid Adon-i Roh'ee
"The lord is my shepard, I shall not want"
and yedid beloved nefesh of my soul
A hundred voices in a darkening room
becoming the song as we sang it over
and over and over again
'til each note, each bend
hung before us in the air
but now the thread
of dusky blue purple
that held us together
no longer binds me
shed like an outgrown skin
and I have ripened into something else
but the song remains
and eternal



I came naked into this world
this world came naked into me
and I dressed it in parents and a home and family
and I dressed myself in schools and fights and memories
the first punch in the mouth, the first ejaculation
nights spent longing for the visitation of a dream woman
the surge of kindness and desire to heal the other
the unboundaried altruism of the adolescent
the terror of the deep
in an Apartheid era Soweto roadblock
the longing for form and strength
the assumption I was without these
the flight to Israel
becoming religious, all these I wrapped myself in,
like a Talit at dawn
cast out from the light the moment “I” was born
saying the Shema as I went off to the army
hoping it would make a man out of me
looking for solid ground to stand on
(if I was nothing how come I was always trying to make that nothing safe??)
loosing myself in books great and small, in depressions and elations,
like a plane flying into cloud and emerging on the other side
until the experience of getting lost loses its siren song
and I will not want to go anywhere or give my attention to anything
other than a path to becoming invulnerable
so threatened am I
by what seems outside me

the books I wrote for money or fame
(not to clarify the movement of myself to myself)
a thin amour to make me less vulnerable
and reduce the suffering of mindless heartless work

Why would you lie

Why would you lie to me
Ramana Maharshi?
with your doe like eyes
and your teapot in hand
why would you lie to me
with your piercing eyes
and your flailing tongue
I am that
and that I am

I laugh you

I laugh you
I larf you
I laf you
I lav you
love you

I laugh you

I luf you
I larf you
I laf you
I lav you
luv you
larph you
laugh you

I thought my fear of the sea
was just between it and me
but I am the sea
and I am not me
and the fear is the fear
of being free

Tefilat haDerech

oh Lord, keep me black
and fill my holes
with tar
make me run to interesting places
and don’t let them build
a highway to replace me

Footnote: Tefilat HaDerech is a Hebrew prayer for travellers, to be said when embarking upon a journey. Tefilat HaDerech means “prayer for the way”, but also literally translates as “Prayer of the road”

Sometimes when people feel naked
they wrap themselves in a story:
"this G-d led us out of Egypt
that one died for us
I'm not enough
there's too much of me
I don't belong
I'm bound
I'm free"


Boy and a puppy in a box
what looks out from between their eyes
at the dead photographer's lens?
what looks out from between my eyes
and leaps towards them
in a million unconquerable blessings?
puppy dog and puppy boy
(bewildered as I am)
your forms are just the echo
of the song that set you singing
tho you may grow bigger
and not understand why you hurt
and hurt
your suffering has an end
but not this
and when everything has gone
still it will offer
its sweet embrace

Tikun Chatzot (geulah ze'irah)

Once in Jerusalem
very late
I took the No. 9 bus home
and on the way
at a flashing light
saw a road gang
fixing a pot hole
that meant at least as much
as the beyt hamikdash.


Tikun (fixing) chatzot (midnight) is a custom whereby devout traditional Jews rise at midnight to recite prayers, mourn the loss of the temple in Jerusalem, and pray for its restoration.
Beyt haMikdash - the temple that stood in Jerusalem. Beyt (house) Mikdash (that is holy,that is consecrated)


A Yom Kippur Prayer

Avinu shebashamayim
Our father in heaven
help us to feel parented
so that we can parent ourselves
help us forgive our earthly parents
so that we stop blaming them for what we have decided not to be
avinu malkeynu
if my father is a king
then I am nobly born
a prince
for whom all things are possible

see more poems I can never get enough of and why would you lie to me and fragments

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Its not game

Kangaroos are an iconic and much loved symbol of Australia.
Admired for their unique appearance and fascinating behaviour, they are a lure for tourists from across the globe who delight at seeing the kangaroo hop across the outback or gaze calmly at passersby from under the shade of a eucalypt.

However, a lucrative multi-million dollar meat and skin industry, the perception that kangaroos are a ‘renewable resource’ and the labelling of these native animals as a ‘pest’ has resulted in the largest massacre of land-based wildlife on the planet.[1] During the ten year period from 1997 to 2007, over 33 million kangaroos and wallabies were lawfully killed for commercial purposes in Australia. The quota for 2008 was set at approximately 3.6 million and for 2009 it is almost 4 million. These figures do not include quotas for non-commercial purposes including pest control programs and recreational hunting.[2]

This slaughter causes tremendous suffering to kangaroos and may threaten the long term survival of a number of Australia’s large mammals that have spent more than a million years adapting to the rugged Australian environment.[3]

Kangaroos are social animals who live in large groups called mobs. There are in total 45 species of kangaroos and wallabies.[4] Mothers and joeys (young kangaroos) form close bonds and communicate with each other using unique calls.[5]

According to one source, joeys are “extremely playful. When they exit the pouch they will hop in circuits around their mother or dash off and back at full speed. En route they may bat at shrubs and trees and return to their stoic mother and give her a clip on the ears.” Older male kangaroos engage in boxing matches and cooperate to exercise fighting skills.[6]

Kangaroos can also form close relationships with humans. For example, a Victorian farmer claims that a kangaroo saved his life by ‘barking like a dog’ and alerting his wife when he was knocked unconscious by a falling tree branch.[7] In another story, a kangaroo became so attached to her human companions that she would sit on the couch watching TV and stand at the breakfast table expecting a bowl of cereal.[8]

Cruel treatment

The Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare concluded in its 1988 report into the commercial and non-commercial killing of kangaroos that, “To some extent, cruelty to kangaroos has become institutionalised through the system of kangaroo management.”[9]

Because kangaroos are shot in the wild and at night, when they are most active, the cruelty associated with the slaughter of kangaroos is largely hidden from the public eye. Some of the major issues of cruelty include:

Non-fatal injuries

While shooters are required by the relevant Codes of Practice[10] to aim to shoot a kangaroo in the brain and therefore achieve an instantaneous death,[11] many and variable factors affect the ability of a shooter to achieve this including: impaired vision due to darkness and distance, changeable weather conditions, the fact that a kangaroo’s head is a very small target, unexpected movements of kangaroos who are ‘jumpy’ from continually being shot at and the skill and experience of the individual shooter.[12]

Non-fatal body shots are an unavoidable part of the industry and cause horrific and painful injuries. The Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare concluded in 1988 that, “Even the best marksman cannot maintain a perfect record of clean kills. There will always be some kangaroos which suffer wounds from ill-placed shots.”[13] It is estimated that each year 100,000 kangaroos shot for commercial purposes are not shot in the head. It is not known how many kangaroos shot for non-commercial purposes suffer a similarly inhumane death.[14] The RSPCA Australia reviewed the Code of Practice in 2002 and recommended that it include a condition to stop the shooting of females who are carrying pouch young.[15] This it believes is the only way to stop the potential of cruelty to the pouch young.[16] This recommendation was not taken up in the 2008 revision of the Code of Practice.[17]

A vivid picture of the types of injuries that occur is painted by the words of a former commercial kangaroo shooter: “The mouth of a kangaroo can be blown off and the kangaroo can escape to die of shock and starvation. Forearms can be blown off, as can ears, eyes and noses. Stomachs can be hit expelling the contents with the kangaroo still alive. Backbones can be pulverized to an unrecognizable state etc. Hind legs can be shattered with the kangaroo desperately trying to get away on the other or without the use of either. To deny that this goes on is just an exercise in attempting to fool the public.”[18]

And the call it a "game"...

Information taken from the

Riddle me riddle me ree

Answer: a large fan base

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vidui (confession) and other poems

See also shirim-ve-tehillim - poems and psalms and poems 2009 and poems for the path

kesheani beafasut shel haaynut
uvaynut shel ha'afasut
yesh harbei harbei
hod ve hadar

This day
quarells and bills
and leaves dancing in the wind


For the mistake of not acknowledging others
for the mistake of not acknowledging myself
for the mistake of self condemnation
for the mistake of rigidity and fear of loss
for the mistake of counting my mistakes

For the sin of asking Jackson to climb up a tree and cut down a branch that I was afraid to – teyn li lichroa al chof slichato

I avoided (I can’t say refused – that hasn’t been my way) to take prayers at school kedei lo lehatot rabim...and because I had made up that the entire context and experience was synthetic.


The Swiss Hotel, Bondi Beach

large screens:horses egged on with whips
glassy suffering men and women tottering, trying to feel and forget
"Music": duf duf duf
fried dead animal
chew. poo. chew.poo.
forget forget

out near Tamarama
some dolphins cavorting in the waves

Riddle me riddle me ree

I am too hands on to be a theoretician
and too dreamy to be a technician
what am I? (see Emanuel 2009 diary for rest of poem)

A footnote to Yehuda Amichai's Open, Closed, Open

A part

the more internet the more disconnection
the more knowledge the more self deception
the more talking and listening the more flow
and endless space with "I don't know"

A woman in pink leggings
and a denim mini skirt worn very low down
walked past me
and then I glimpsed she had heavy low slung titties
O where are you going with your low slung heavy mothers
or to work?
or to the arms of your lover?
O Lord do not waste
the breasts of life

The Garden of Eden
is completely silent
and full of song

many times I have wanted to worship
at the temple of a woman's body
but drawing close
discovered it was alive
and retreated in fear


Who will you make the other today?
Why has Isaac only got pictures of beautiful people-less landscapes on his website. Why not of massgraves, landfill sites, abbatoirs, traffic the beloved not also these?


Meal in One Potato Salad

Dill (Shamir)
Israeli pickled cucumbers
S & W real Whole Egg mayonaise (they claim its made from eggs produced from cage free hens)
Boiled eggs (use same as above)
8 boiled potatoes
garlic salt

Quick Moose

1/2 cup soya milk
put 12 blocks dark chocolate broken up into soya milk
microwave on 50% for aproximately 2 minutes, or until chocolate is soft enough to mix with soya milk to form a viscous liquod

Monday, October 12, 2009

Misleading advertising? You decide

Misleading advertising?? The ad has been run every week for last 6 weeks on the back page of My Career, a supplement of the Sydney Morning Herald. This particular add appeared on September 12-13 2009.

The on the picture to enlarge, if you can't read it. The article appeared in the SMH on Wednesday, September 16 2009, but the company hasn't stopped running the ad. The course, by the way, costs some 1 400 dollars, more than my Uni fees for the entire year...and I suspect the course lasts a few days.

Connecting Green with G-d

A coalition of faith based organisations that raise awareness amongst their respective congregants and adherents about the joy and balance in thinking sustainably.

This world is as spiritual as any other, and G-d can even be found in a McDonalds or KFC slaughterhouse

Sunday, October 11, 2009

List of environmentally friendly and humane products

SAFE toilet tissue - besides being made from recycled paper, it comes in recyclable paper packaging, rather than the ubiquitous plastic.

Bickford's iced tea cordials - because the come in glass bottles

S & W real Whole Egg mayonaise (they claim its made from eggs produced from cage free hens)

Manning Valley Free Range Eggs - again haven't checked it out but all the prose on the box says its good - and there is a photograph of pleasant green pastures with chickens roaming about would people be so dastardly as to lie?

Farmers Union Greek Style Natural Yoghurt - because it has no bovine gelatine in it

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Comic Material - short skits

See also 9 ideas and Premises and more-potentially-comic-material

Call centre skit #3

A man is eating a  hurried breakfast at a small breakfast table. he rises, kisses his wife on the cheek when she enters, what's on your agenda? I'm going to phone the callcentre and get the account sorted out....
she dials, gets the irritating optus music that they haven't changed for years and years, interrupted regularly by messages such as "the call centre is experiencing usually high volumes, we appreciate your patience and will be with you as soon as possible" she puts it on speaker and does the dishes, she hangs up the washing, sits down with coffee and does some stuff on her computer,
cmon she says, I need to go out
she does an exercise routine / stretches / runs on a treadmill/
mows the lawn...looks atthe clock it says noon, she has to go out.
reluctantly she hangs up, heads out to the car, sitting in the car, hesitates , then dials a no.on mobile and gets the same music through the blue tooth. She drops off a parcel, meets with a business associate, explains she's een holding for hours so would friend mind if she just leaves phone on, does some shopping, goes to the post office, picks up kids, gets home. its no 3pm. walks the dog, come s home agin it s 4pm she reluctantly ends the call. Brings in the washing , makes supper, dials the number again, supervises some homework, husband comes home, mends a button, asks her husband to be on phone duty while she showers,gets out of the shower, yawns, watches the news, they get into bed, husband falls asleep, the phone is still playing its music, she falls asleep with light still on, the phone falls from her hand to the floor.
 "hello, this is raphael, how may I be of excellent service to you today"

Call centre skit #2

A man is bought into an investigation / torture room by two burly guards. He is handcuffed and has a sack on his head. They roughly hurl him to the floor, and exit, slamming the door. He lies there groaning. We cut to

Two agents are discussing what to do with the victim:
should we give him the water treatment?
Nah, he's too tough for that
Should we give him the shock therapy....
might work, but we'v been told by the boys upstairs not to leave any marks...
so then its the...?
I'm afraid so...poor bastard

CUT back to

one of the agents enters the torture room. he removs the hood,almost gently, and the hancuffs.
Right then, you're free to go.
The man struggles up heads for the door.
There's just one small thing before you leave us. We need you to change this phone for us. Its the wrong model. We ordered a Galaxy 8000 and they sent us a Galaxy 800. Here's the toll free number. Good luck.

he leaves: the man dials, gets an indian accent, they ask security questions, he gets put on hold piped music, stage lights on him go own but piped music plays in background albeit softer, we cut to numerous other skits, we return to him, he's till on hold, clearly much time has passed (for eg. he has a beard), he's still holding, someone answers with a phillipino accent, they ask him the same security questions, what was your first school? what was the name of the street of your first house? he has to spell out the answers, they spell it wrong...  its like starting from the beginning, once he's explaind they tell him thy'll just put him on hold, new terribly irritating pipd music that just goes on and on...he's slumped in, plase, don't put me on hold, please stay with me

the two agen/scientists observe him through a key hole, detached, dispassionately

poor bastard, he'll crack soon etc etc

car skit, man return to partking bay at 1h55 in a 2hr bay, ranger is there with a stopwatch waiting,
"beat you to it mate"
but his car won't start.
the ranger wants to fine him
you can see the bloody car won't start
The bay in front of him becomes available
Help me push her then
the two men push the car into the next bay
I got lucky that time eh?

Not only can I not pull the rabit out of the hat, I've mislaid the rabit

Women comes into vet:
he's listless, been depressed, doesn't take any joy in anything anymore, just lies around the house hardly moving, not eating, hardly drinks, he's half blind and arthritic...
Vet: well it sounds like the end of the road, (filling up a syringe) do you want to be in the room when...
she: no if its all the same to you I'd rather not..
he: I understand...Johannes could you please..
. the women exits
the door opens, Johannes wheels in an old guy slumped in his wheelchair.

anyways little old lady, little old man, and little old dog limp their way into vet. The old couple hold hands - lots of cutaways of beautiful old, gnarled athritic hands. Sometimes one had goes down to pat the little dog - a daschund say, in a little winter coat - whose leg trembles uncontrollably. (Perhaps this parallels a tremor in the old man's leg)

eventually they get to see the vet. The old lady does the speaking. he's gone off his food. He can hardly walk. athritis everywhere. the termor's getting worse. We've both discusssed it and we think its best. With each point she makes we cut from her to her husband, who nods in agreement. Are you sure, the vet says. We're sure, she answers. Again the old man nods his assent. With a long sigh/groan he sits himself down. Rests his chin on his walking stick or walker - head to heavy to carry. There are tears in his eyes. there are tears in her eyes. the dogs eyes are also rheumy.

Should I piut him on the table so that you can say goodbye more easily, asks the vet. The couple nod. The vet scoops the daschund up and gently places him on the table. The old man struggles up again, holds onto the metal table for support, bends down to kiss the dog. The vet tells them he'll be back in a moment. The couple look long and deep into each other's eyes. the vet wheels a drip (iv) in on a long metal stand. We cut to their hands which are tightly squuzing each other. then they gently soften and release each other.

I'm sorry says the old lady, I can't. I'll wait outside. You're sure it'll be painless?
Just like falling asleep says the vet
he'll be fine.
She looks at the old man and the dog.
Thank you for everything, she says, and slowly shuffles out the door. We leave with her, as the vet fills a syringe with pentobarbital. The door closes on the old man, now sitting again, and the little dog, as the vet wheels the iv stand between the two.

the old woman stands in the waiting area, staring blankly at bags of dogfood and a wall chart about intestinal parasites. The minute hand of the clock on the wall shifts. the owner of a cat in a crate soothes the cat. The surgery door opens and the vet emerges.
He went peacefully, says the vet, do you want to see him one more time?
The old lady shakes her head. I think we'll just go home....I need to lie down.
Of course says the vet. Will you two get home ok?
The old lad y nods.
All right says the vet.
He goes back into the surgery and after a moment re emerges with the daschund on its lead. the final shot is of the old women and daschund tottering along the pavement (sidewalk) together, making their way home.


the dialogue between vet and old lady could set it up as darkly humerous, depending on the ailmenst she lists for eg "he's incontinent. he's half deaf. he farts all the time. hardly functions.bangs into things. his teeth are rotten and his breath is foul...

also the reveal could be handled differently for eg, she goes back into the surgery where both the old man and dog are motionless, the old man slumped over his walker, the dog motionless on the metal table. we could pan from one to the other, and back again...both seem lifeless, cutaway to the vet's comforting hand on her arm, "i can arrange the burial" says the vet, she nods, o/s we hear a snore, pan back to the dog whose chest rises a millimetre.... then cut to her and dog heading home

I often joke to Viv, when my body is feeling decrepit, that she should take me to the vet and have me put down....this is a kind of extension of that. Anyway it makes me smile...a somewhat grim and self deprecating smile, but also a recognition that man and beast share the same fate....and on that  note I recommend a very poignant story of Herman Charles Bosman's called Unto Dust

When I drive I scan the road repeatedly
for cyclists
people turning right from the wrong lane
attractive women with large breasts

When all seems dark and grey
there's always coffee
Black screen, sound of bubbling water

VO: what guy doesn't dream of his own harem. Of being the only man, surrounded by lucscious women all ready to serve and do his bidding
slit on screen, bits of bodies, giggles, splashing he lies there, its too good to be true, CU as he slowly rubs his eyes, keep the fantrasy going for a while longer, and then ...
Huge sheilas, boiled red sheilas, meaty 110 kilo sheilas, freckled obese sheilas, train mechanic sheilas on steroids, have occupied the Jacuzzi and someone is going to suffer

Rabbi tries to get his English speaking congregants to do a call and response prayer with him:
"Please repeat each line after me."
He starts off with relatively simple lines, but eventually the words get more unintelligible, alien to the English ear, and unpronouncable. He looks at them
Come on people - you can do better than that (perhaps there is a faint hint of antagonism between rabbi and his congregation)
eventually it ends in a chaotic shambles, with loyal congregants doing their best to chime in the odd syllable whenever they can....
Version 2:
The rabbi is actually giving them a bunch of insults in Hebrew, for example
"you're all a bunch of pompous dickheads"
"if I didn't need the salary I would be out of here like a shot" etc etc

The congregants revenge:
The rabbi has to read out all the names of the deceased before mourner's kaddish. He is given a list of increasingly complicated and unpronouncable names, for example:

HERSZ Simon- Bratherswaite Sendrover
etc etc etc.

Do a short film on the absurdities of suburban congregational life.

Song for call centres" "It'll be just like starting over"

Each person you speak to seems to work desperately alone, or for a different company - as if each company employee exists in a separate universe. Good stand up material. See also

Short story: "panic attacks are a pain in the bumb."

Poster of women in dress shop holding up mirror for female customer so she can examine her posterior: "Prepare to meet thy end"