Monday, February 22, 2010

Parenting notebook: pick your own rubbish

I'm struggling with my 10 year old son...he doesn't want to learn the things that I want to teach him. Certainly not exactly at the tiime that I think he should want to. And the more I press, the more he stonewalls me. And the more stonewalled I am, the more helpless and frustrated I feel, and so I retreat and cut off from him. Of course this is no help to him whatsoever - its become about me, instead of about helping him, and as I recognise my own unresolved inadequacies (or stories about my inadequacies, old often repeated stories) coming to the fore, the internal going gets heavy and despairing....this is the beauty of can run but you can't hide, and they're never going to do the work for you, or handle the stuff you've never handled yourself. Thank heavens that you can't fool G?d.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fingers pointing at the moon

I love seeing the parallels in Saint Kabir and Reb Aryeh Levine have the same stories attributed to them, how Yehuda Amichai almost got to what Eckhart Tolle says straight out, how Byron Katie speaks from the same space as Sri Nisarghadattha Maharaj, how Walt Whitman and possibly Blake were non dualists...


Markowitz was a short film made by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (South Africa's equivalent of ABC) in 1999. Sechaba Morojele directed the film, and yours truly wrote the script.

Here are some stills from it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010










Saturday, February 13, 2010

Poems 2010

See also...fragments and poems 2009 and poems 2008 and poems for the path and malice aforethought and damm-straight

dogs create invisible fences out of scent
don't cross that rabbit proof fence buddy
we do it with tensed shoulders or inverted gaze
lest you discover what I'm afraid you'll see


people throw out a fishing line
to try and connect to something else
maybe they bring it home and eat it
to take it in
for them it is a life line
it seems one part must die for another part to live
in endless succession
therefore do not be sad
O heart
the fire burns , the screen is not singed
the sea is salty, the screen does not rust
the lights comes up
everyone goes home
the projectionist leaves
the seats turn to dust
the cinema is empty
with no fire
or water
or screen

I love & respect
you for your large breasts
but don’t get me wrong
its not just your nurturing chest
I value your entire personage
your mouth and hands
your legs and bum
and all that lies therein

I wanted to go to a poet’s party
at Friends in Hand Hotel
and be a poet for a while
but my son wanted me to spend time with him
and be a father for a while
and I had a strong sense
if I went off to be a poet
I’d regret not being there for my son
and if I went off to be a father
I’d regret not being there for myself
I'm a father every day
but a poet only a few times a year)
so which path to take?
I took the paths of the botanical gardens
walking them with my son
and together we found the poetry
of surrendering to what is


(how I longed to be released for a while)
from my role as husband and father,
tho I am a man
of gardens more than pubs)


At the school soiree
the hearts of the parents soft and open as the sky
small people holding small violins
play their small notes
while dreams to big for the chests that contain them
rise like celebratory balloons
what can keep that small eternal flame in sight
as we close the car door and had back into he traffic?
A youth
on the rocks
between Tamarama
and the sky

a slight figure
in a wet suit
with pink feet
doing a dance
imaginary electric guitar
arms gyrating
to the crashing of the waves
he hurls himself
into the deep channel
between two massive rocks
clambers up the slippery rock
his pink feet unaware of the sharp shells and
slippery slime
begins his dance again
people high up on the headland stare
some laugh
as if he were a performing seal
“he must be stoned” says one
“maybe he’s autistic” says another
the youth lies down on the lip of one rock
his feet dangling into the channel
allows a huge wave to wash over him
what will be his next move?
like me
he has extraordinarily good luck
as he dances his way
into my heart
The day you or I left
it was raining softly
I took someone’s 10 speed racing bike
into the drive
past the parked yellow datsun
past the side section of the garden
where red and starry eyed we smoked dagga
and had conversations with each other and the goldfish
you were there, and P, all enveloped
in the soft mist of inevitability
could it ever have been any other way?
Johannesburg, South Africa, 1981
everyone remembers a time and place
all different in their specificity, all the same in the receding hairline of inaccessible memory
it was the beginning of our decade of youthful struggle as we shot out of our second womb, Joburg's Jewish Northern suburbs
I was off to Israel
you around the Garden Route before 1st year BA with Dani and Simon Nkoli soon to be a treason trialist,
then the state of emergency and WITS project com and defiance, demonstrations, detention, gender-role confusion and your emerging vehicle of psychology
that would transport you across the next three decades
and P staying to UNISA or off to a yeshiva in the Gush
with questioning and torturous secretive creation and Betzalel and first gulf war, waiting for the missiles on an empty Jerusalem street with no gas mask
for me religion and secularism and trying to become an Israeli and trying to become a man in the idf
and the never ending search for guides and gurus strung together on a thread of repressed longing
as I tried to find an outline to hold my watery being
the rain drops fell on me with a soft and sweet finality
something was dying, something struggling to be born
we already held our lives pregnant in us
Joburg and Jerusalem
Cape Town and Berlin and Sydney
degrees and cul de sacs
joinings and partings
children and funerals, fleeting pain and fleeting pleasures
and a deep abiding throbbing joy beneath the
IV treatments and uncertainty and therapy and root canal and prosperity and going away to come back
on the divine hamster wheel
how inscrutably mysterious that I could not see forward
what was coming down the track
but can look backward to see it was already there
like the mighty oak in the acorn on the mighty oak in the acorn
that hangs on the universe and contains it
dagga - marijuana
yeshiva – theological seminary where Talmud is studied
Betzalel – Fine Arts Academy in Jerusalem
WITS – University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
projects com – projects committee – organised anti-apartheid demonstration during the 80s
UNISA – University of South Africa
Gush – Gush Etzion – a kibbutz that was established in 1935, its inhabitants massacred by the Arab Legion and Arab irregulars in 1948. New Israeli villages were established in the area after 1967

Guy and his dad went to play cricket
in the park just up the hill /road,
dad bowled two balls when from nowhere
a sheepdog snatched up the ball!

it ran off so fast, with that shiny new ball
and the owner ran after it too
an icy wind sprang up, they stood there waiting
as owners and dogs chased each other

the dog owner sheepishly brought back the ball
and dad bowled another few balls at Guy
I don't want to play, i want to go home
everything's ruined, howled Guy with the wind

that's not the way, when things don't
go your way, dad begain to explain,
but Guy wasn't listening there were
feelings inside, that he really just couldn't contain

"Its the worst day of my life" said Guy
I was so proud of that ball
I've never had such a new thing
dogs are the worst
nothing's going right at all"

the ball was much the same
(perhaps a small mark or two)
but Guy was broken, things would never be the same
he came home: shuttup he screamd at his brother
and tears gathered again in his eyes

Money laundering as applied to miners/big mining company executives /purveyors of bottld water/ a rogues gallery of the captains of industry

I warned you
but you didn't listen
I told you about global warming
and bottled plastic water
and cancer causing additives
and strange new viruses
from factory farms
but you just sailed blithly on
I warned you about the 4X4s
and your insatiable appetite for destraction
with your purse skein nets
and your take away food
and your baubles and trinkets
that ate up the world
but you wou;dn't listen so now
we must all pay the price
I warned you
to stop having babies
and the collapse of biodiversity
but you traded G-d's genius in
for a wide screen tv
and a bun with sesame seeds and potassium sorbate

Finding my voice
They said once you find your voice you’ll be ok
and its fine to imitate and anyway
even your imitations are original
because everyone has been set ringing
with their own song
but years and years of trying to figure out what other people want to hear
and give them that
can make it really hard to hear
like a woman who weights 350kg
and has no idea if she’s hungry or not
and can’t taste anything she eats
or if she's unhappy
or perfectly fine.

nothing will change
and everything will change
and the law of unintended consequences
will conquer all

This morning I had a telephonic conversation
with a rotund sex worker
who is doing her masters
in public health
and as she described her body
I stroked mine
then we parted amicably
with a promise from me
to make an appointment
I never kept

apologies for the way things are
a pity on her and on me


The twin tablets of the law:
the chromosone pairs that dictate
how the body will
bud, blossom and wilt

Elegy for doomed chicken
Randwick Sunday Morning
earnest Chinese Christians
discussing salvation
over bibles and boxes
of factory farmed chicken
What anthem for debeaked chooks?
only the plastic burp
of the ketchup bottle
The sun is hot
the sky is blue
people on the beach
without a care, they
and the chickens
in the slaughter house
free me, free me,
free me


I Am not my Story
The first betrayal was when I left formlessness
to enter the womb
and the second betrayal was when I left South Africa for Israel
and the third betrayal was when I left yeshiva for the army
and the fourth betrayal was when I left Israel and returned to South Africa
and the fifth betrayal was when I left South Africa to become an Australian citizen
and now I have betrayed my stories
one too many times
too believe any of them
Today we are all charedim
going to jail so our children won't share
the same classroom
as the despised "frankim"

Today we are all charedim
protecting dead bones
by breaking living ones
of Jews who don't agree with us

Today we are all charedim
burning down bus stops
so the old folk forced to now wait in the rain
won't have their eyes scorched
by scantily clad adverts

Today we are all charedim
victims of our own
"special case" drama
justifying the means
with the end

Today we are all Hamas
today we are all homophobes
today we all shout "slaughter the Jews"
today we are progressive
suicide bombers
today we stand as one man
over many woman
today we all chant slogans
today we all persecute the Bahai
today we all have more children than we can afford to
and make our poverty someone else's problem
today we are all Hamas
today we all blame Israel
today we all celebrate
rockets and mortars falling on frightened children in Sderot
today we say enough!
why must Hamas make do with makeshift weapons?
remove the blockade
so that they can use blow up Israelis
with big missiles stamped "made in Iran"
today we are all Hamas
today we throw our political opponents of roofs
and strap explosives to donkeys
today we kidnap soldiers
and don't allow the red cross to see them for four years
or until we return their decomposing remains in a coffin
today we promise
to cleanse Palestine
of Jews and Jew lovers ( a few Christians may stay
as long as they see things our way)
for today we are all Hamas

Why I don't live anywhere

the internal combustion heart

Freeing G-d from religion is a noble task

I can do without the traffic jams
I can do without the reality shows
I can do without the carcinogens and trans fatty acids
I can do without the commodification of water and education
I can do without the manufactured to demand over produced music
I can do without cyber bullying and alco pops
I can do without infomercials and teleevangelists
I can do without prozac, designer drugs and chemical hapiness
I can do without factory farms and toxic sludge
I can do without growth hormones and military experiments on baboons
I can do without oil coated seabirds and child obesity
"the end of civilization as we know it..."


90% of "the news" is voyeurism
and shopping malls are the abbatoirs of squandered resources
it can't go on like this
and it won't
now what must I let go of
to be with things the way they are?

When you watch a man drowning
you ask yourself
"why doesn't he swim"

When you watch a man drowning
you ask yourself
"why don't I jump in"

as he sinks beneath the waves
is finally lost
and you go home

Wake up wake up
from your cities of excess
wake up wake up
from what you should have done
wake up wake up
from this dream of wealth
wake up wake up
from your judgements and assumptions
wake up wake up
with some mental floss
wake up wake up
with a belly laugh


I have looked for G-d
in land fill sites
and desecrated graveyards
in baby seal clubbings
and amputee's limbs
I have looked for G-d
in acts of courage
sacrifice, service
in moments of truth
when I stopped hiding
and shared the cobwebbed secrets of my heart
in body parts
on a Tel Aviv street

Tantra tankas

A family of five
while rock fishing drowned
those with fins and scales extended condolences
but amongst themselves
expressed relief

I'd never met, seen or even heard of
the 200 species the headline says are disappearing
but now that I know about them
I'm terribly worried
about the loss


In Gan Eden the tzaddikim
in their groovy beards
are rocking the kasbah
and when the young wives throw their sheitels through hoops
no one cares a flying fuck
chasidim surf
between the planets on skateboards,
peyyos streaming like comets
everything comes easily
and happens by itself
no one strives to fix the parts
because the whole is so self evident
even the leviatan need no longer fear
the mighty appetite of the righteous,
or Japanese and Norwegian whaling ships
because the ohr ayn sof, the light of Yah
gives food and energy
freely and forever


"Judaism teaches
"Islam preaches
"Christianity teaches...
these words the clear slime trail
of demagogues at work
clerics who speak with forked tongue
Judaism says whatever you want it to
and there are as many Christianities as Christians
some honest, some unconscious
the same is true of all collectives
in all times
so when I speak
I speak for my

I want to be a minor
major poet
or a major
minor poet
(not sharp or flat but true)
and never have to work again


Bothered somewhat that whatever I write
the opposite's equally true
(and this I somehow hold as my sin)
I have perjured myself
before I begin

Looking for a job
sending off CVs into the void
'thanks very much we'll keep you on file'
dividing the day to keep myself busy
a walk to the post box
another inconclusive meeting
structure, the device
to stave off terror

Rushing to the toilet
Jesus hold on
guts turning don't let it out
since earliest bodyhood
trained to clutch, tense, avoid the shame
of public excretion
hobble into a cubicle
long explosive defecation of relief
my dignity intact
my humaness hidden

"If you don't get that hole seen to the tooth may rot
if you don't get that rot seen to you may get an abscess in your gum
if you don't get that gum seen to you may loose your mouth
if you loose your mouth you won't be able to eat
If you can't eat you may eventually loose your body
If you loose your body you won't be able to a have sex
or drink a cappuccino
or take out life insurance
or avoid going to dangerous places
or get some kind of degenerative disease
so should you worry about that filling"

In spring a young man's thoughts turn to sex
(and in summer


A Buddhist
who wishes to fish
must do so secretly
the way the minister of the environment
must go off to a brothel
making sure they are not seen
so that they will not give license
to the practice

My dad who always refused to use a calculator
preferring to exercise his brain
now has Alzheimers

I forgive myself
for doing the best I can

Cast out from the dark womb of sleep
people seek nurturance in coffee


"Australia is the greatest country in the world
and Australian Moslems are the best baby killing terrorists in the world
and Australian Jews are the best money-grabbing Heeb kikes in the world
and Australian abos are the best wogs in the world
and Australian prejudice is the best prejudice in the world"

What about resentment
what about blame
what part of G?d are these?
What about landfill
what about Rwanda
what part of G?d are these
what about pigs in sowing crates
in toxic factory farms
what about vandalised Jewish gravestones
and shops
what part of G?d are these
what about dog fighting
what about child slaves
what part of G?d are these?


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"


a week into my wife's trip
its like I never got married
never had children
and I quickly become deranged by something -
let us call it loneliness, disconnection
the building is even more unusually quiet
than usual
a carpeted and well maintained mausoleum
am I the only one alive?
the cockroaches in the kitchen
the earthworms on the balcony
and our spinifex mice in the basement
are still there when I visit them
so there is some sort of object permanence
but I crave human company
anything that has a body, and can speak
to try and penetrate the desperate silence
I feebly leave messages, send sms's
write emails
the messages go unresponded to,
the emails vanish into the cyber-ether
again the heavy silence returns
they're shooting a movie in the park downstairs
I chat with the producer to show I'm in the know
I could always bandy terms around
but really I've nothing to say to anyone
everyone else is as dull as me, usually duller
programmed robots swapping programmed thoughts
I can tell what they're going to say before they've said it
(only my response to some women still dances and flickers,
perhaps that will be the last to go)
I turn down awkward deathly barren dinner invites
knowing from experience loneliness in a crowd is much worse
but then am left alone
with my own heard- 'em-a-1000 times thoughts
I look at pornography
like a fish struggling on a hook
watch tv and stuff my face
go for a swim in the ocean but it is not the cold water that leaves me numb
I smile at a plain woman on the beach
soon I may forget how to speak altogether
I drive around Sydney for hours looking for an earthly connection
but cannot bring myself to pay for it, convinced even in the acting out
my Beloved will still elude me
'til the body is weary, the petrol tank empty
and some kind of acceptance of my fate arises
if I cannot connect with anything else
I will connect with my self, perhaps even with my
and let me hear somebody say:

Because we don't allow ecstasy
we have alcohol
because we don't allow sensuality
we have pornography
because we don't allow laughter for no reason
we have aggression and fermented rage

because we don't allow dizziness and not knowing
we have brittleness and paralysis


When you feel a life
tugging at the end of your fishing rod
it and you are connected
is it a life line
but for who?

shabat shalom, shavua shalom
shabbos goy, shabbos Jew
if there is One
then there can't be two

On Pesach we drink lemon lime and bitters
because that's what they served
in the fleshpots of Egypt


12th Nissan

I am standing in King's Cross
surrounded by pubs & clubs
food scraps and chatter
when I look up and see
the moon
is almost full. I'll be leaving Egypt



32 poems for Porat's heart

When Porat said
"I need 32 poems on the heart"
my heart sank

pig heart valve
big heart valve
cow heart valve
now heart valve

avodah shebalev

why is it called a purple heart when the owner's bled red?

poem by Yehuda Amichai which I have paraphrased into my own version:

inside my heart is a museum
and inside that museum is a synagogue from my youth which no longer exists
and inside that synagogue is me
and inside me is a heart


Riddle me riddle me what am I?

music helps it soar
addiction makes it sore
some folk wear it on their sleeve
others wait for their guests to leave
before they'll whoop or quietly grieve

in spring it sees the lambs
in winter the abbatoir
in winter it sees the dormant seed
in spring those born to suffer

when I say you stole it
I mean I'm using you
to avoid mine

I've been terribly afraid
that mine is a coward's


so G?d hardened his heart
with cholesterol, desire
and fear

oh my traiterouso i have one
always ready to take offence
but less concerned about giving it


"A new heart also will I give you,
and a new spirit will I put within you,
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
and I will give you an heart of flesh."—Ezekiel 36:26.

But the peach refused saying:
taking my stony one
is like giving me a vasectomy

But the peach refused saying:
take away my currant (sic!) one
and you take away my children

a new heart!
but you can't, not like tires
even if the old one's well worn


do people who wear it on their sleeve
find it gets worn
like a tire?
and do people who keep it on the inside
like an inner tube
save it from thorns and broken glass?


"from now on
I will not have one"
lasted for about ten minutes

Shifchi kemayim libeych
nochach penei Hashem

pour out your heart
like water
in the presence
of the outer innerness
of the ineffable unknowable

the ineffable unknowable
is apparently heartless
because it does not care to preserve
what we are not

the heart is a stone
the heart is water
the heart is air
the heart is fire

Riddle me riddle me what am I no 2

I can be on fire
I can be stone
I can be air
I can be water

Home is where I am
(Home is where the heart is)


You can pour me like water
I can lust for your daughter
or grieve for the slaughter

open closed open
contraction expansion contraction
a non-percussive beat

his heart sank
and was never seen again

the first time I saw you
was on the ultrasound
and the last time was when
they put you in the ground

why you
why not the kidneys
or the spleen
why not the testicles
or the brain
how did you get
this sorrowful joy

No 26

and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
and I will give you an heart of flesh."—Ezekiel 36:26.

No 27

But the peach refused saying:
"Thanks very much but I'm happy with what I've got"

Pros and Cons

one made of earth grows mushrooms and mould
one made of fire burns out and grows cold
one made of flesh can be easily bentOne made of stone is still and contentone made of words will not beat in the chest
one made of thoughts will never know rest
don't leave it to roam, or it may not come home
but don't hug it too tight, or it may just take flight

why is it most commonly compared
to a fist?

No 28
a heart of flesh is permeable and elastic
and has greater longevity than one made of plastic
but a plastic one is light, clean and dry
even if it won't biodegrade when you die

No 29
a heart of flesh is permeable and elastic
and has greater longevity than one made of plastic
but plastic increases shelf life, is clean and dry
and is not harmed by moisture, for eg when you cry

yeranenu le El Chai

"my heart and flesh
will sing to the living G?d"

so G?d hardened it
with desire, fear
and cholesterol


one of flesh is permeable and elastic
and has greater longevity than one made of plastic
but plastic's convenient, keeps things clean and dry
????? ( see email)


ashes to ashes
dust to dust
heart to heart
metal to rust

heart to heart
metal to rust
ashes to ashes
dust to dust

twenty years ago we lay heart to heart
but that was then, and now we're apart

as heartless as a newsreader's smile

heart to heart
rubber to street
rust to metal
maggots to meat

The Haj of the monarch butterfly
is also an affair of the heart


earthworms have seven hearts
to help them be long

they call me a mexican beaded lizard
i wrestle for hours and hours
i don't know why
(just as jacob did not know why he wrestled with His Self and called it G?d)
if i win
i mate before i die

the worst advice I ever heard:
velo taturu acharei levaveichem

one made of earth grows mushrooms and mould
one made of fire burns out and grows cold
one made of flesh can become bent
but one made of stone is still and content

one made of air can be filled with despair
one made of rope may provide some false hope
one made of water will lead us to slaughter
but one made of striated muscle fibre will thrive

so the abbatoir worker said "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll cut your heart out"
the one little piggy whose heart was made of ham didn't know what to do, and indeed , she lost her heart
the second little piggy, whose heart was made of clay, begged for mercy; if there is any compassion in your heart do not kill me, but the blockman took the heart and made a cooking pot from the cla
the third little piggy had a heart made of reinforced lightweight carbon fibre that was bolted to the floor of her abdominal cavity, and she was allowed to keep it

if you eat the heart of a lion it will give you courage
if you eat the heart of a kangeroo it will give you boxing ability
if you eat the heart of a cockroach it will give you implacability
if you eat an artichoke heart it will give you pleasure
if you eat the heart of an elephant it will improve your memory
if you eat the heart of a sloth you will feel more relaxed
if you eat the heart of a portugues man of war you will feel buoyant
if you eat the heart of a mouse you will feel small
if you eat the heart of a pig it will give you compassion
if you eat the heart of a h
uman it will give you dhirrea

A Skype Poem by CP and IS
CP:my late dad used to say one doesn't have to be a rat in the race
IS: he was right, zichrono livracha - may his memory bring blessing
CP: sigh...
CP: going to bed
IS: yes
CP: being thursday night
IS: leyl menucha - a restful night
CP: good to connect
IS: look after yourselves and well done
CP:likewise good work surviving - no small feat
IS: What's wrong with my feet? Too small for you?
CP: (dance)
IS: Hey??

CP: just the rythm
IS: Love
CP: [beating heart icon]
IS: yebo

The librarian
whose eggs sandwich was eaten
has resigned

(a poem by Vivien Suttner)

The friends of Palestine
are outraged by the abuse of Palestinian rights
but don't care as much about the rights of Darfurians
or the Congolese
or child slaves in Saudi Arabia
or the traffic in women and children
and even less about the Tibetans
or Bahai in Iran
or the Tribals in India
because none of these causes
allow you to take
a dig at the Jews.


I am walking with my son
to the heads of Sydney harbour
on shabat, shabbos, the sabbath, saturday
and I am trying to teach him
mizmor ledavid
a song of David
Ad-nai Ro'ee
the Lord is my shepard
so I sing him the words in Hebrew
not in the bastard English
which turns Tehillim
and the sweet singer of Israel
into an Anglo- Saxon colony
as we walk amongst coastal scrub
and wild grass
binot deshe
in green vistas
The Source will let me rest
al mei menuchot yenahaleyni
on still waters It will lead me
my son does not much understand
the unfamiliar syllables
but dutifully chimes in where he can
and together we scatter the alephs and tafs to the clear twilight air
in the land of the Garrigal people
and those who came after.

Always I am looking for acceptance
so my identities
and the layers of my being
like the layers of these cliffs
can be exposed to sea and sky
without being hidden or devalued
if I am to be at home
surely I must be as I am
more than the Bangladeshi or Thai cashiers at Coles
forced into Father Christmas hats and T Shirts
and wishing me merry christmas
as if neither they or I
had a past or tradition worth honouring
just because we have come to Australia
the new kids on the block
silenced perhaps
by the lurking fear of being different, disadvantaged
in an assertive and complacent majority culture
which can cope with difference in restaurants
but not in its heart

so if my home is to be a bayit...
For a few seconds I swell up with purpose
an emissary
of something ancient and new
sowing the resurrected syllables

of the Hebrew language
amongst these cliffs and waves
so that now their story too
will be part of this landscape
so that now my story too
can be
part of this landscape


For a few seconds I swell up with purpose
I am an emissary
of something ancient and new
sowing the resurrected syllables

of the Hebrew language
amongst these cliffs and waves
(like a hippo marking its territory)
so that now their story
and mine
which are inextricably mixed
will be part of this landscape
Tehillim = the Hebrew name of the
"Book of Psalms"



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

Thoughts are like plants
they all have seeds
and bear fruit of one sort or another
this shouldn't be happening
its not fair
I've got no backbone
I was born to loose
have sad heavy fruit
victim powerless fruit
This is happening
what is this
now and now and now

Even a poet
a narcissistic starved of self esteem fragile attention seeking
who is supposedly above all these
has to be very strategic
about how to get their pearls of wisdom noticed
man their poetic stall
amongst all the others
and be calculating and business like
about their wordy merchandise
work the networks
while pretending
they're above all these

If only we had soft cities
the street's lined with women's breasts
buildings looking at us with the reassuring gaze of fatherly men
and a fruit tree or park bench never far away

when I judge you as harsh or unkind
I am being harsh and unkind
when I judge you as petty and mean
I am being petty and mean
when I can't get what I want from you
its because I'm not wanting what I get
from me

If you are a paedophile
or have been labelled one
your parts out of alignment
and stunted
not having successfully buried or channeled
what the others have
then when they catch you
or caption you
they will grind you
smash you bash you
rape you
knock your teeth out
pursue you
(wife beaters, murderes, drug dealers, pimps, dishonest in business, tax evader everyday criminals...)
all holier than you
from place to place
drive you out
suffering pursuing suffering
in a senseless circle
the victimiser becomes the victim
and nothing is healed


Betwen the ages of 13 and 24
it seemed a woman's body was impossibly distant
mysterious and fascinating
infinitely richer and more alive
than the plains of my own sterile humdrum being
even though a few short years before
I had spent my first 18 months on my mother's breast
but now { insert lines from "what little boys are made from"]
had made me a stranger
looking at a lit window
from the lonely dark
hoping to catch a glimpse
of pink and red
hills and vallies

now I look back on that brief interlude
with the blunted greyness of experience and knowledge
having mislaid the capacity to feel that longing and wonder
and wonder: how could those bodies have seemed so foreign
when from them and to them I shot like an arrow

Poem Cycle: Collages

Call centre
Self-esteem (see fragments)


In the name of
ordinary working Australians I ask the honorable member
to take his head out of his but
and show some balls

The post-facto blame game

You should have
You must
You didn't
You need to
its your fault

Fuck Valentine's Day

From the rehabilitation clinics, from the abbatoirs and tortured factory farms, from the land fill and plastic bottle swill in the Pacific, from the prisons and psychiatric wards, from the people hooked on anti-depressants, from the youngsters drinking because no-one ever showed them a way to bliss, from the reality of the myth, from the cancer wards and saline soil, from the divorce courts and brothels, from the juvenile courts and rotten old-age homes, from the murky casinos where children in pyjamas wait in child care for the parents to tear themselves away from the slot machines, from the opiates of sport and shopping and television and online porn, from the sex tourists pillaging the children of developing countries, from workaholics and issues management spin doctors, from the paranoid fear and hate filled conspiracy theorists, from the denial and disintegration, suppression, repression projection and splitting which lies at the heart of Western fibiliesation I say fuck the coloured baubles and trinkets of valentines day and fathers day and mothers day, where brave new world citizen robots dutifully consume.... a part of you may want to stay uncomfortably numb, but another part of you must want something that cannot be commodified...come away from the market place, from the collective pretense, turn and look for something real....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just a little green...

Sustainability – in its broadest sense – is about our desire to feel at ease and balanced in our lives – in our work and play (for the many of us who have rigid divisions between these), in our families and other relationships.

Work and relationships and lives that are unsustainable are work and careers and lives that we hate and resent and that we are afraid to be ourselves in; relationships that are unsustainable are relationships based on manipulation and unexamined erroneous assumptions. Our relationship with our environment is just one small part of the broader desire for sustainability, where we take and give in ways that promote balance, not disharmony and dis-intergration.

I am interested in both the psychology and poetry of sustainability By psychology I mean the wants and needs that underlie patterns of consumption, and the way these impact on both local and global resources. In both developing and post industrial societies people are continually encouraged to consume as a way of redressing an implied lack, deficiency or incompleteness. Until an internal psychological state where people are reasonably content with what they have is achieved, where they feel resourced, we are likely to continue devouring resources at an unsustainable rate.

"Lay me down in green pastures, lead me by peaceful waters" (Tehillim - Psalm 23)
Diamond Bay, Sydney on a rainy day

The psychology of sustainability also means the architecture of choice and the bearing this concept has on our internal and external environment. How can people’s very real, but often limited, desire to make a difference be best supported, by presenting them with easily accessible options which allow them to do this? Under what circumstances will people choose a long term benefit over a short term one? At present, making sustainable choices often means greater initial expenditure than the non-sustainable choices.
Indeed it is one of the great contradictions of sustainability that in order to lead a simpler and more environmentally friendly lifestyle, a lot of money is required. Why, therefore, would people who are stretched financially and emotionally choose the former? Let tomorrow take care of itself, they say, and with great justification. This dynamic has to be considered when planning for sustainability.

In terms of the kind of "spiritual" work which underlies some environmental concern (I place "spiritual" in inverted commas because the word is much used and abused but rarely has any definable content, except by negation - as the domain of non-material things and activity) here are some interesting websites. The people they feature invite us to pick up and take responsibility for our psychic rubbish as a precursor to handling the physical variety. Watching skilled practitioners like Gangaji and Byron Katie helping people clean up their mental rubbish is - for me - a liberatory and beautiful way of spending my time.

I believe that most issues will not be resolved or released if they are only looked at - or addressed - symptomatically. Everything causes everything. And it always starts at home, with ourselves. For we have met the enemy, and he is, indeed us....and that enemy is potentially our biggest ally.

Connecting "Green" with "G?d" ( in keeping with each individual's evolving conception of that also much used and abused term) is , for me, another important piece of the puzzle. Of course the domain of "spirituality" is even more prone to commodification than the domain of the work- a-day world, and charlatans and hollow idols abound. Its up to each person to retain a healthy degree of skepticism and autonomy while investigating which of those who claim to be enlightened teachers seem to have integrity. For help with making up your mind re various "self-help" practitioners, check out the blog of Gurubuster

The poetry, for me, lies in an ongoing discussion with myself and others around how living a more balanced lifestyle can help us satisfy some of our deepest aspirations.

I’m interested in systemic solutions rather than ad hoc ones that address symptoms in isolation while ignoring the fundamental malaise. Haranguing individual consumers, for example, about not taking plastic bags at the till may be less effective than lobbying the boards of Coles and Woolworths not to offer them. (Why can't entrepreneurs also be visionaries?), or then lobbying state governments to make plastic bags illegal.

And finally I'm interested in solutions which take into account the management of our internal resources as much as our external ones, because I believe this is where true abundance, and the reduction of suffering, lies.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shock and Horror

Arround the age of 35 I discovered I'm actually expected to earn a living, and that people require money to live...I've been in shock ever since.

Buy Free Range/Organic Products

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bemikreh (Hebrew = coincidence) spelt backwards is Hashem Rakam (Hebrew= G-d has woven..."

My English name is Richard...I ditched it for my Hebrew name, Immanuel, around age 18 when I was in yeshiva (literally " sitting", roughly equivalent to a theological seminary) in Yerushalayim, Israel.

In Apartheid South Africa, where I grew up, official government forms always asked you for your "Christian name" (i.e. you first name.) In about 1992, a year after I returned to South Africa, as the apartheid era was drawing to a close, I inherited some guns from my grandfather, and applied for a gun license. When filling in the forms, I crossed out "Christian name" and wrote "Jewish Name: Immanuel" - despite my atavistic fear of officialdom and the conviction it is always wanting to turn me into mattress stuffing, lampshades and soap.

I remember the Afrikaans police woman looking at me suspiciously after that, but at least I'd registered my protest at the assumption that everyone in South Africa was "Christian" ....when I left SA in 2008, my cousin Ian and I made the guns unusable and handed them in at the police station - the policeman again looked at me suspiciously - why had I destroyed two quaint weapons - a second world war vintage Mauser pistol I supect my Uncle Sid brought back from North Africa where he fought, and a Baby Browning.22 - when the police might have resold these to somebody, rather than destroying them as they're supposed to do (South Africa is awash with illegal guns) ....but unwittingly when I immigrated to Australia I did bring in a single 5.56 Galil bullet from the Israeli army and some old.22 rifle cartridges from a winchester semi-automatic rifle my grandpa had and which I got rid of as soon as I could in 1992...they sit in a safe in my flat until I can decide what to do with them... so those came through with our container undetected, and they could just as well have been grenades - everything is permeable - and indeed we must rely on The Merciful One to protect our soft shelled bodies until it is no longer necessary.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Body as a finger pointing at the moon

When I sit on my knees (Japanese Zen style), I am very lopsided, with my one shoulder and side lower than the other (which one is it?) perhaps because my hamstrings on my right thigh seem to be tighter than on my left. If the body is an artefact with my beliefs stamped all over it, what does this say about the ongoing stories in my head. That I have let the aspect of water overpower the aspect of solidity, leaving me with neither justice or mercy? "Vehamemevin yavin."

The scourge of plastic bags - open letter to the editor of the Wentworth Courier

Every week I read your environmental /living consciously section “one degree of change” and often find much to inspire and encourage. Your recent editorial, for example, celebrated "eco-warriors who get things done". Commendable.

I was wondering if you would be willing to turn that same focus onto reviewing the environmental impact of your publication. The CAB figures for Southern Courier are approximately 50 000, and for Wentworth the same. Wherever I go in the Eastern suburbs, I see many many copies of both the Southern and Wentworth Couriers unopened on apartment letterboxes, in the entrances to businesses, at news agents. What happens to all of these unopened and unread copies???. Is not the printing and hopefully recycling of these unread, superfluous copies wasteful??. There are anything between a dozen and three dozen copies left unopened on my street most weeks – when I checked this Sunday there were 13 I could easily see, left lying untouched on apartment mailboxes. Multiply that by thousands of streets in Sydney alone and the numbers become very large indeed.

Of even more concern than the mounds of paper consumed by these magazines is the plastic packaging your publications are delivered in. Please correct me if my arithmetic is flawed or my data inaccurate, but - based on your CAB figures - each week the two above mentioned publications are distributed with 100 000 plastic sheaths. If your magazines come out 48 or so times a year that’s 4.8 million plastic sheaths a year. If you add all the Cumberland/Courier titles in NSW (approximately 24) and all the Leader titles distributed in Victoria (approximately 30) we’re probably close to 100 million bits of plastic a year. What do your readers do with this plastic? Does most of it end up in landfill or in the ocean? And what happens to it there? And what happens to all the plastic covering the unread magazines each week? Perhaps some of it contributes to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, estimated to cover an area twice the size of France, 3 million tons of plastic waste up to 10 metres deep in the area of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Or perhaps this plastic forms some of the litter that UNEP estimates kills 100 000 marine animals and a million seabirds each year.

This is where there might be some be very creative and ‘out of the box’ (or out-of-the bag ) solutions from readers. How can you distribute and place your local publications in ways that do not necessitate the plastic mountain your delivering readers to advertisers is creating?

My not-very-thoroughly-thought-through suggestions to get the ball rolling are:

a) have your distributors place the magazine in places where they are protected from rain.

b) Have only the top one, in batches of say ten, get a plastic wrapping, and it can protect those underneath it from rain....

c) Use a biodegradable plastic or degradable plastic. (Not sure what the difference is but our family drives a Honda Jazz and the Honda magazine gets delivered in a plastic wrap which is labelled “Envirocare – EPI 100% degradable wrap”) I also recently came across a company called BioPak - who offer completely biodegradable plastic packaging material.

Of course other readers may come up with common sense, environmentally friendly suggestions which you and fellow staff can push for within News Limited, and thus answer your own call for Eco-warriors who get things done.

Other posts about sustainability on this blog:

worm farms

G-d is green