Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Robbing Jihadists of their Agency, denying them their shadow

Theories of causation and causality are everywhere, and no model of the universe is complex enough to describe ever fluid and ever changing reality. Most things have multiple causes, and its very hard to untangle them, as everything is causing and being caused simultaneously. The many attempts to link expressions of a carefully nurtured Islamic resentment* to Western violence in Islamic countries (for eg. the coalition's invasion of Iraq) may be part of the picture, but at the heart of this linkage is the "principle of false causation" - the false assumption that anyone can create hatred or love in the heart of another human being. Eleanor Roosevelt said it this way: "no one can humiliate you without your permission."

Large swathers of the Islamic world are characterised by a collective sense of inferiority re "the West", and a sense of resentment which is rarely challenged or called into question. Like "the West", the "Islamic world" is not so keen on owning its own shadow, its murderous underbelly, its aggression, its self justification. It prefers to see the evil in some other, rather than emenating from its own lack of integration and inherent contradictions.

While I personally lean towards the understanding that ultimately there is only One doer, and human beings do not have agency, in the maya of this world if we attribute agency to some human beings we "must" attribute agency to all of them. So paternalistic reverse prejudice attempts to deny the terrorists agency and explain that their resentment was 'caused" by some actor who does have agency - "the naughty West" - are discrimatory, infantilising, and do not allow people to take ownership of how they are thinking, and what they are creating or destroying. (You do acknowledge that "the system" seems to have a life of its own which makes us all victims of the momentum of the way things are).

Faisal al Mutar says it better - and more humerously - below:"

* Examples: Palestinians running over 75 year old school principles, or detonating bombs packed with nails and bolts in packed eateries in Israel, or Islamic supremacists mowing down randomly selected people in Kenya or Nigeria or Iraq or Paris or Lebanon. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


To what extent does a culture sanctify resentment? Much of the Islamic world, and particularly the Arab and Iranian Islamic world, revolves around an unstated sense of inferiority re 'the West." It is this sense of inferiority which fuels the resentment which manifests as acts of terror all over the world.

This ugly, aggressive sense of agrievement - of disowned psychic stuff - is palpable: just take a walk through the Arab section of the Old City of Jerusalem, with young men standing around in patriarchal clumps cursing passers by under their breath in Arabic, or making predatory comments about tourist women whom they consider "fair game"

Of course Moslems do not have a monopoly on terror...young white males - domestic terrorists like Timothy McVie - have killed more people in Australia and the US than Islamists, and we Jews are pretty good at resentment too...I don't think we have fully owned our own emotional pain and stuckness since the Holocaust, which can be seen manifesting in our knee-jerk reactions to even friendly and constructive criticism, or in the murder of Yitzchak Rabin z"l, or in the most uncivil discourse in Israel between different world views.

However re a collective sense of inferiority which permeates large swathes of the Islamic one is responsible for this except, perhaps, Moslems themselves, for believing untrue thoughts. They are as inescapably worthy as anyone else, but often don't seem to believe this. Eleanor Roosevelt observed " no one can humiliate you without your permission." I belive that Islamists characteristic inability to laugh at themselves or be self-reflective in any way and the "respect us or we'll kill you" approach stems from this internal suspicion that somehow they are not respected, and perhaps are not even worthy of respect? And hence the elaborate acting out - "take us seriously or else." (and this is just as true of Jewish, Hindu, Christian or Bhuddist fundamentalists, but they are perhaps - hopefully - a little more marginalised in their broader faith communities),

Certainly we Jews also struggle with a collective sense of inferiority - not surprising given our history and our focus on the'pain body" - the persecutions culminating in the Shoah, and the stuff that is often projected onto us. That's maybe why so many Jews name drop famous assert that we too are valuable, worthwhile, strong, contribute and have our part to play. Its a way of resisting the strong (often unconscious) thrust to devalue us which seems to be so often present in the majority cultures that surround us. Whether this tactic - of claiming our Mark Spitz's and Nobel Prize winners - really stops the gnawing self doubt is anoither question. What do you think?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Reporting on Terror in Australia and Israel

I don't look at "the news" too much on television, but when my baser instincts seduce me and I do watch, I often get left feeling hurt, baffled and powerless by the way the terrorism against Israelis is covered. Air time is invariably given to Palestinians about their losses, even when those losses are a Palestinian who has blown him/herself up while trying to murder Israelis, or a Palestinian who has been shot after a 'successful" or unsuccessful knifing attack. The faces of israeli victims are rarely shown. Thir families and friends are rarely interviewed. Ordinary Israelis talking about the fear and trauma generated by tha attacks are not featured. Its not that I'd like ONLY Israeli points of view to be featured (and there are many) but that they ALSO be featured, alongside Palestinian ones. 

Last night, (15/102015) for example, on ABC the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), the focus was on Palestinian losses, and all the interviews were with Palestinians. There were no pictures of any of the Israeli victims, or any video of the stabbings, shootings and car rammings. There was some footage of MDA (Israeli Ambulances) and of Israeli soldiers. There was an English soundbite from an Israeli woman - a member of shalom achshav (Peace Now) saying that the security measures Israel has put in place amount to "collective punishment". This is in keeping with the general approach that the only Israeli voices featured are ones that reinforce the narrative of Palestinian victimhood and non-accountability.

BY CONTRAST, in the same newsbulletin there was long coverage of a terrorist shooting in Sydney which occurred two weeks ago. Then a 15 year old schoolboy "inspired" by Islamist thinking, shot a Chinese police accountant before being gunned down himself. Predictably the coverage focuses on the victim, on his funeral which will be with full police honours at one of Sydney's largest cathedrals. There is no attempt to humanise the perpetrator. His accomplices, who were arrested yesterday, are not interviewed. their grievances against The West or against Australia are not lovingly dwelt upon. The loss of the assailant's life is not mentiond before the loss of his victim's life, i.e the headlines do not read "15 year old boy gunned down by Australian police." But when the BBC reported on the stabbing of two men in Jerusalems old city, it reported the death of the Palestinian attackers first, and then as an afterthought, without causally linking the two, that two Israelis had been murdered.

And by the way, is not the stabbings of random Israelis a form of collective punishment? Are not the pronouncements about keeping "Jews with their dirty feet" away from the El Aksa mosque a form of Islamic supremacist apartheid? I hope those who care about either Israelis or Palestinians, or both (rather than those who care about conflict) will expose themselves to multiple and varied news sources in order to get a more 3 dimensional piture of what is going on.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Languaging and conflict

This piece could have had a longer heading: languaging and the role it plays in creating and maintaining inner and outer conflict.

For sure our language does not just reflect our reality -it also creates it.

We build our case for or against with the language we use. By relanguaging we release our own blockages.

Words that evoke the passions,desire for revenge etc etc

Words that evoke guilt / anger

Words that evoke illness

Words that evoke dysfunction

Words that evoke the sympathy/ saving reflex


post personal "therapy"

what is shame?

What do each of these three sentences focus on?

He was murdered
he was killed
he died

defending something doesn't mean you are for it

Two observations:

1) Verbal violence may be a substitute for physical violence, but often it is the precursor of it.

2) First comes the narrative then the selection of "facts":
Thus it is with everything from domestic violence to popular "causes"


Out of words like "occupation" "settlers" "ethnic cleansing" "apartheid" "racist" "murderers" etc
the passions are ignited
self avoidance sanctioned
a fashion forged
a mob coalesced
a noose knotted ...

labels for things I am saying "no" to:

right wing

A discourse analysis of the language employed by SBC and ABC in their coverage of the "Israel-Palestine" conflict.

The war on drugs
or on child pornography or domestic violence
is all very well
but what about the war on disconnection,
the war on poor parenting,
the war on meaningless,
the war on inauthenticity and the commodification of relationships
the war on isolation
the war on the vanished past and the imaginary future?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A middle way?

I am uncomfortable with arid secularism and life as production and consumption, but while the intensity and longing for the infinite which characterises the best of fundamentalism is attractive, its brittle and genrally ruthless exclusion of otherness and "deviance" is a price I am unwilling to pay. I long for a synthesis somwhere in the middle - a secularized tolerant spirituality, which acknowleges the divine hand in the affairs of men and women, and a spiritualised and arrational secularism which does not commodify Life and its bountiful gifts. Perhaps one of the closest aproximations I've encountered of this synthesis has been the More To Life programme.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I think this is true

My current theological understandings:

a) G-d cannot be bargained with or manipulated in any way
b) G-d cares nothing for the survival of the individual/personal body-mind
c) The personal body-mind and its story does not continue in any way after death, just as it has no ultimate existence after birth
d) b and c are not bad news because what we are ultimately is not the personal body-mind
e) Ultimate freedom - as in liberation from all that binds - is never of the person but FROM the notion of being a person
f) holding onto resentment increases suffering
g) forgiveness reduces suffering
h) exercise is generally good for "you"
i) contentment breeds more contentment
j) gratitude is easier to be with than feeling hard done by
k) it helps to be true to what you are wanting now in any given moment
l) the seeing is the doing
m) the linked notions of human agency and culpability are useful fictions, but upon investigation are revealed as false
n) pain and pleasue become each other in endless succession. Abiding joy and peace lie beyond.

(With thanks to Mooji, Nisargadhatta Maharaj, Krishnamurti, Byron Katie and all beacons of non-dualism)

Groupism vs 'racism'

Our languaging - both externally and internally - makes all the difference in the world. As I suggested in the 1997 book I edited "Cutting Through the Mountain" the misuse, abuse, and overuse of the word 'racism' has become uncreasingly unhelpful because
a) it paradoxically reinforces the highly dubious notion of race
b) it does not accurately describe the many varieties of prejudice which may be along faith, cultural,ethnic, class, age, gender, ability or sexual orientation lines, but is often used as a stand in for some of these.

I suggested then, and I suggest again now, that the word 'groupism' explains more of the dynamic where people have a strong need to group other people into a collective (of which the grouper may themselves be a part) and then ascribe all 'members' of this supposed 'collective' with a series of either positive or negative attributes...a process which anhilates the uniqueness and unrepeatability of each individual.
We can recognise this need without seing it as intrinsically good or bad, everything depends on the heart's intention and the context...but not to recognise it, to pretend it can be banished is not to acknowledge what William Faulkner called "the human heart in conflict with itself." When we own this tendency inside ourslves we make a little space to also own that, beyond the very 'real" cultural/national/ethnic/class/gender/faith conditioning and historical experiences which imprint us with a set of habitual predispositions and responses, is something in us and others which is untouched by this cultural conditioning and is reachable across any apparent divide, if Grace grants us the time and space and support to make real contact with ourselves and the "other"

Monday, May 4, 2015

Everything is connected

There seems to have been a spate of horrific domestic violence murders across Australia recently (or is it just that there is more reportage of them?) Many well intentioned organisations exist to raise awareness about this blight, but I have my doubts as to whether single issue campaigns which address the symptom rather than the patient as a whole are all that effective. I'd welcome your responses to the following:

In a culture which brutalizes both boys and girls in all kinds of subtle and overt ways as they are growing up, which socializes them into conformity and a pack mentality through uniforms and sport and carrot and stick 'discipline', a culture which sanctions the everyday barbarisms of factory farming and horse racing, a culture in which the use of alcohol to numb out is ubiquitous, and no advert of people enjoying themslves is without the obligatory glass of wine, a culture where we teach children not to lie but the bombard them every waking minute with misleading and manipulative advertising, a culture of tokenism, empty slogans, commodified relatiionships and pseudo online communities which cannot meet people's deepest aspirations for community, connection and authenticity how can we expect lost souls not to develop a range of maladaptive coping behaviours which harm themselves and harm others? (pause for breath....)

I am not proposing a retreat to religious fundamentalism, because fundamentalist societies put people in a one-size-fits-all box and ruthlessly punish 'deviance', but nor am I ignoring the fact that the kind of sterile secularism of predominantly post-Christian and post-Industrial consumer oriented societies (such as Australia) does not provide pathways to bliss or communities of acknowledgement where people feel seen, held, acknowledged and valued.

Domestic violence is a kind of addiction, and the cure for any addiction is joy...not fun, or pleasure, but the kind of joy that comes from a profound and rooted sense of gratitude and well-being. I think any single issue campaign which does not search out the roots of the malady will not make much headway, at best preaching to the converted and not reaching the places where attitudes are really formed...boys on a bus joking about homos, what children witness as routine behind closed doors, the way an uncle speaks to his wife at a family gathering etc. It seems to me facilitating pathways to joy and authentic inter-personal connections will effortlessly reduce all kinds of addiction....but this trend is in direct conflict with our daily encounters with call centers, compliance regulations, newspeak, "news" we don't need to know, and the mantra of dismissal: "have a good day".

While the impulse to attack a problem is very strong, if we take a step back how successful have single isue campaigns been,when the conttext itself is not challenged? What impact has white-ribbon made, for example? And how can we measure this impact? People, expressing their need to suppress their own sense of powerlessness in the face of horrific domestic violence murders, say things like 'well,we have to do something.' But is ill considered, blind-to-its-own-underbelly action really helpful? it may make us feel more empowered for a while, but better to attend to the foundations first before building the castle in the air.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Poems 2015

(What do you do)
when a famous person
whose fame, having reached the tipping point
has begun perpetuating itself
as a house hold reference point
uses their fame
their access to platforms
their brand
when someone is seeking an example:mother theresa
the dalai lama 
to make a group wrong
to judge harshly
rather than understand
to fling adjectives and opinions around
that are designed to inflame the passions
when they ask you to sell your family
betray your history
turn your back on that which formed you
ask you to sacrifice
that which they will not
to earn their praise and acceptance

when a person
lauded for their moral leadership
selectively witholds their empathy
and seems to see only bad in you
and only good in your enemies
cruel and implacable as they are
hardening entrenched positions
fuelling old hurts

does their moral stature slip a little


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

Feeding the fire

feeding the fire
are words like "betrayal" "abused" "murdered"
"rejected" "abandoned"
water and balm are words like

Driven mad
perhaps by lies
or meaninglessness
and the mirage of connection
another child-man
takes out his toy pistol
and sprays his fellow citizens
with real bullets

At the funeral
we clutch onto
our prayer books and umbrellas
as if they were life itself

I passed
like a black horse in the night
lines of causality
shimmering in the air
perhaps not

when the mind
grows desperate
for something
or sweet
see how long
it can chew on
I don't know 

The Torah as Tao

The Torah is compard to water
which always flows
to the lowest point
from the highest point
and is best carried
in an empty vessell

like tatters in the wind
something feels so fragile
is it my words?

In the morning
when I open the gate
the hens
hungry to eat
rush out
over my foot
each one
as light
as a


The magical moment when it is seen that your chains are your wings

If everything you touch turns to sand how come you still have fingers?

at a particular
time and place
the mind and breath slow
to an easy pace
and the SatGuru
from the ground of space


There is plenty to do in the future
there was plenty that could have been done in the past
there is nothing to do
right now

Lean into the wind
don't stand by the door

Its 7 o Clock and here is the news

Its 7 o Clock and here is the news

Paw paw trees prefer mildly acidic(?) soil
your liver knows exactly what to do
a snail got away, one did not
the funeral will be held by ants
people got tangled up in thought
weeds and clouds
escaped unnoticed
toenails grew quietly in the night
Someone forgave herself 
Someone else put a chocolate under your pillow
the note read: "there is food in the fridge, I love you"
doctors sewed up
the hole in the heart
photographs of faces
shortly after death
reveale its not so bad


Ella went to the beach
paddled in the water
and leapt and danced in the sand
the wind came up
clouds gathered
she came home
and pranced around the yard
mouth open to catch the raindrops
when the thunder roared
she grew loud as well
frenetically running
through the house
much later
she fell asleep on the bed
and twitched and shuddered
in her sleep
I can only imagine
what dogs dream about

I value myself because I know how to receive as well as take
I am excessive in nothing including righteousness
I still recall how to be playful and imagine will do so til the moment the body drops
I practice reading the letters G-d writes me and letting go daily
I'm a sensual sensuous being who experiences the full gamut of human emotions
I folow my bliss and do not choke it with seemingly pragmatic considerations
I surge towards balance in all things
I am mindful that my heaviness does not betray my lightness
I take nothing for granted
I long for the redemption and liberation from the sadness of ephemerality of much name and form


Rabeynu shel olam
Hidden One of the world
in places that have never seen
an observant Jew walking with their lulav and etrog in hand
let there be many observant Jews
in places where there are only observant Jews let there be
free thinking Jews
Jewish heretics,
Jews who hang glide and eat sushi on Yom Kippur
Jewish plumbers and civil engineers
tradesman, fisherfolk, basketball players and
Professors of Japanese art
and best of all
let it not be an either or


a memory-picture:
my dad is working with a jigsaw
it has a strong die cast iron head
and a round blue motor housing
it lives in a red rectangular

metal box, the kind you don't see
any more
with yellow blades for wood
and blue blades for metal
we're building something together
probably a model railway layout
and at some point he lets me
have a go with the saw.

now rub out 
the backyard 
long gone
rub out
the model railway
rub out
the saw and its blue and yellow blades
rub out the metal box
rub out the South Africa of 1975

long gone
rub out my dad
interred in West Park cemetry

rub out eleven year old me
never to return

what remains of 
that then in this now?
that is not a thing

if you like
you can call it


Sydney is different today
even though most of the people here
neither know nor care
that Yom Kippur is approaching
the roads are emptier
the streets are quiter
the buildings more thoughtful
and pensive
a solemn joy
wells up from the manholes
the notion that there could ever be
such a thing as a mistake is revealed in its
hilarious absurdity
an August breeze blows
swaying trees and rearranging plastic bags and tired thoughts
sweeping away past and future
and these words


The heart’s slight sleight of hand
how it opens and shuts
without hardly moving, how
cattle lowing in a truck
become good economic data
how one person sees a terrified child
the other a future terrorist
one a grieving family
the other their familiar kept safe.

I have watched the bbc for years
cherry picking “the news” re Israel
you know when someone is out to get you
and you can do no right in their eyes
and you know how it is with groups
how its comfortable to say the things
that seem to make you acceptable
this is how it works in newsrooms and bars
where journalists hang out
they report for each other

The truth eludes
but these are some snapshots of me
trying to catch it by its disappearing tail
as it exits frame right
like a mythical good-luck dragon

Hanevicha shel Balak hakelev hameshotet


(repeat as many times as needed)

my heart is a very private thing
not like a bird on a bower I sing
but like a cricket in long grass
who halts his song when strangers pass


One 51 year old body, +/- 400 000kms
a drawer of socks
a bag of midnight regrets
one lawn complete with ants and dog droppings
a mortgage
some children
one wife

From my father, may peace be upon him:
a shellac 78rpm “Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Chili Peppers
and a 2-8-0 Rivarossi model steam locomotive

a swimming pool filled with gratitude.

one female dog
three female spinnifex hopping mice
some middle aged unrequited longings
a slowly stiffening routine
sixty white Lexipro next to the bed
because of the fear at dawn
an empty mezuza case
filled with the vastness of G-d

and whenever Life calls it to melt or enlarge
a heart quickly moved in its ribbed garage

Researchers have found
that water is wet
that sadness makes the bones heavy
that the mouth hole is connected to the arse hole
that a positive correlation between the proboscis and the sense of smell 

is possible and probable 
we now know that what we call meat is actually the striated muscle of ungulates
and that eating small amounts of chocolate will not significantly decrease your life span, unless done while laughing and snorkelling at the same time 
and this vast new wealth of knowledge is being prodded and poked by expert committees and working sub groups and advisory panels even as we speak
bringing us much closer to finding cures
for an ever expanding array of ailments that no one had heard of
50 years ago

When I thought I was an urn
I worried about the other urns
When I thought I was a wave
I worried about the sea
When I thought I was no thing
then no thing worried me

A good husband who can find him
for his price is above shares in banks or mining houses
he takes out the garbage, he loads the dishwasher
he cuts his toe nails, he puts down the seat
trims his nasal hairs, fixes more than he breaks
he unblocks the sink, does maths with the children,
he takes them to sport, and cooks up a storm
he leads the dog to green pastures and rinses her bowl
folds up the linen and puts it away
he handles his needs without bothering his wife
who contentedly snores at his side
his shoe cupboard declares his fancy footwork all his days
and in the evening obituaries quietly sing his praise


sometimes I let 
the Dog choose the path
The Spring is in Her
so let Spring find the way
Autumn will decide 
some other day.

Oh ego
mean and bitter
summitless hill
and yet I insist
on climbing you still

In stillness and darkness
in the mushroom shed of the mind
new poems sprout


It felt
like there was a war going on
I ducked my head low
to avoid the shouts, whistles
bombs and bullets
there was a bang and blinding flash
and then I could not see
I crawled on my belly
crawled and crawled
my eyes tightly shut
til I seemed to enter
some kind of tunnel
I crawled on further
til the explosions and shouting
were only a vague rumble in the distance
then I lay there in the quiet.
panting, not moving,
my fingers stroking the earth beneath them
so glad to be
after what seemed like ages, when my breathing had
stilled, I raised my head, it bumped
against something.
I tried to move my foot but it
struck some sort of barrier
I tried the other leg -
something held it fast
I dared to open my eyes a little
gradually my sight returned
and I was able to glance around.
I was in a suburban house
in a Sydney suburb
with a mortgage disappearing into the future
and a sell by date
stamped on my forehead
receding into the past.


My mother laid me at the foot of the fence
on my back, quiet and wrinkled,
and as if in a well, I gazed from below
'til she fled as one flees from a blow
and I gazed up at her, as from if in a well
and the moon like a candle raised high.

But that very same night
at the appointd hour
I returned to my mother's house
like a ball rolling back
to one who kicked it away
I return to her house
like a ball rolling back
caressing her neck
with hands of shade

Before the Almighty,
from her throat she tore me
as if I were some kind of leech
but when night came down
I returned as before
and this has become our pact:
as before, at night-fall, I return
and she bows to my whip lash 

The doors of her dream are wide open to me
and no one is there but I
for the love of our souls is still taught
like a bow, from the day I was born
because the love of our souls remains taught
and can never be given or taken away

Thus 'til the end, God has not moved me
from my mother’s groaning heart
and I - who was severed without being weaned
will not be parted or moved
and I - who was severed without being weaned
enter her house and lock the gate

She aged in my jail and grew barren and shrank
and her face grew folds like my own
then I dressed her in white with my tiny hands
like a mother dresses her babe
then I dressed her in white with my tiny hands
and carried her off without saying to where

I placed her at the foot of the fence.
gazing quietly on her back
and she looked at me, laughing, as from if in a well
and we knew our battle was done
and she laughing, looked up
as from if in a well
and the moon like a candle raised high

Natan Alterman ( 1910-1970)
Translated by Immanuel Suttner
Natan Alterman was one of Israel's greatest modernist poets, and renowned for his metrical virtuosity. The above translation is of one of his poems that is very difficult to translate and yet preserve the original prosody and rhyme scheme: Note the poem is written in atbash format - that is the first verse (verse "aleph") parallels the last verse (verse "taf"), the second verse (verse "bet") parallels the penultimate verse ( verse "shin") and so on....with the middle verse acting as a bridge between the two parallel sections. Here is the first verse transliterated so that the English reader can get a sense of the original:

Hanichatni imi leraglay hagadayr
kmut panim veshokayt, al hagav
va’abit ba milmatah, kemo min habe’ayr
ad noosah kehanas min hakerav
va’abit bah milmatah, kemo min habe’ayr
veyarrayach alaynu huram kemo nayr


I never did anything good or bad
it was the desire for applause
that made me swell
and the fear of ending
that made me shrink
hoping death would not find
my hiding place

it was the cells, the moon
the stars, the knife,
the wind, the tides, the rain
I watched them roar and flicker
convinced that it was me


Swing low, sweet chariot

When I died
I found myself
in a sort of no man's land
brown and bare,
festooned with litter,
dried human turds
and rusty razor wire.

In the distance
the gates of heaven
so near and yet so far.
Too tired and heavy to move I lay
looking up at the darkening sky
when like the door of a nagmash
the gates fell down
and out poured the righteous
of every faith and time.
They unfurled a stretcher
and gently lifted me up

no one gets left behind
* Kafhakelah – Hebrew – in betwixt and in between, neither here nor there, in Kabbalah a soul that wonders between olamhazeh and olamhabah
* APC - armoured personnel carrier

We stopped after dark at a red traffic light
the most beautiful red I had ever seen
Such love I felt, I could have lingered forever
and was utterly bereft when it winked and turned green


The night sky
is a big black plastic
garbage bag
into which some yawning
galactic worker
at the end of their shift
(having spotted it on the floor)
has carelessly chucked the earth

and in the places
where a child
of the universe
has punched holes
with an interstellar
bic pen
little stabs of light
seep in

on one side
a large gash
perhaps from overuse
they tape up the hole but
each month
it slowly falls apart
revealing seas
and a kindly face
and in the morning a different worker
blinking and rubbing her eyes
rolls up the bag
and stuffs it behind the sun

ready for the night shift
to use again

Very occasionally
when hunger overwhelms shame
I duck out of the rest of my life
into a faded stale smelling
temple of forgetfulness
to find some relief
before going back
to the ones I love

Once two women
offered their bodies
for a certain amount
(plus 10% on amex)
one was from Thailand, the other from Taiwan
the Thai ineffectually rubbed my feet
but I felt too sorry for her to murmur anything but
how wonderful it was
the Taiwanese woman was more effective
her English better, her act generally slicker
when I turned over from stomach to back she took charge
I discovered a strange bony protrusion just above her coccyx
she said other clients had also commented upon it
and stopped for a moment to examine herself
and felt the area above the buttocks
of the Thai woman to compare,
then continued on me, wanting it over with,
but I asked her to wait a while longer
now sorry I'd paid the Thai to come along as she was
really rather absent as was I
popping in and out of an irksome disembodiedness,
as my body responded in its habitual arc

the Taiwanese whispered expletives in my ear and
I was like a faithful actor
determined to support us to play our roles
but also wanting my money's worth,
these moments of hoped-for bliss being rare.
I asked the Siamese to hold me from behind
so that I and the other woman could be more together
(you see how men really are monagamous)  
and they held me, and I held her,
and she whispered crude words perhaps some clients had liked
and I said I don't want fuck I want love
which is true

When I was done
and our humanity rushed back in
I thanked them and bowed,
bhuddha on the massage table
too vigilant not to blow the whistle
on my mr sensitive
but the melancholy I felt
was genuine enough
for them
and me
and all creation
so far away from home


There is a place 
called Lake Sadness
I do not visit often
and so it comes

to visit me


my heart is a very private thing
not like a bird on a bower I sing
but like a cricket in long grass
who halts his song when strangers pass

Lake Sadness:
I dive into its silky depths
roll down my windows
to let the inky darkness in
I sink down and down and down
until it is so everywhere
It might as well be Joy

if you can hop and skip associatively
then my friend, you are living poetry


The night sky
is a big black plastic garbage bag
into which some yawning galactic worker
having spotted it on the floor at the end of their shift
has carelesly chucked
the earth

and in the places
where a child of the universe
has punched holes
with an interstellar
bic pen
little stabs of light
seep in

on the other side
perhaps from overuse,
is a large gash some call the moon
they tape up the hole but each month
it slowly falls apart

and in the morning a different worker
blinking and rubbing her eyes
rolls up the bag
stuffs it behind the sun

ready for the night shift
to use again

Please G-d
allow me to take out the rubbish
to go to the toilet unaided
to feed the animals
to sweep the path
to wash the dishes
to sort out my daughter's uniform
to make a meal
to walk to where people gather
to plant spring flowers
to hang up loads of washing
if You will grant me this
I faithfully promise 
to rejoice in every moment

there is sight
here is seeing
there is doing
here is being

Zoreach kochav meyal
zoreyach kochav bifnim
lo nanuach velo nishkot
ad she yitmazgu
panim el panim

mishnayos for the poor
kabbalah for the rich
if you aint got much money
life is a bitch
once I had opinions
once I knew whats right
now I don't get involved
in anyones fight
give me bread so I may turn
with every fibre of my being
to look beyond what comes and goes
and waken from the dream

Shabbat is the sun
around which the days of the week orbit
and in stillness and the blinding light
all doing is born


Re agriculture and human hubris:
G-d produces
people manipulate

even the story
that I seek refuge
from the here and now
in abstractions
is just an idea

I like to hang out every now and then
with words

I suppose (somewhat reluctantly)
that if pleasure and pleasantness do not take you there
then pain will
Ray Perkel Depend on it. Therefore, you're safe.


"If there is no flour, there is no poetry
and if there is no poetry, there is no flour"
Pirkei Immanuel 

·  Ray Perkel May you be blessed with flour and poetry in abundance all your days.

Immanuel Suttner amayn amayn, kayn yehee ratzon

Don't worry
if you don't say it
someone else will

Dont wait...have your future right now!


SOD ( "secret")

As far as the ear can hear
as far as the eye can see
objects: hand, bird; litter; sensations: pleasure; pain
and every single one
a signpost back to me



After the “dehhhh”
the silence
that was there before bereishit

bereishit – the beginning, the beginning of creation

I have this degenerative disease
that is very slowly
robbing me of my mobility
so that by the time I am dead
I will not be able to walk


I am at a party
with Ramana and Osho, Kabir and Rumi
the Baal Shem Tov and Dod Zvi
St Francis, Katie Byron, Rav Kook,
and Gangaji

we link hands, dance the hora
left righ-yet
left riot
faster we spin ‘til
our feet leave the floor
Osho’s beard flies
like a comet on the wind
Rumi is like
a sweet breeze at my side
Nisarghadattha tells me
it’ll be ok
the fruit will ripen
any day

on the edges the waiters
gaze wistfully
then fall into the dance
of eternity
Verbringen – Yiddish/German – to spend time in each other’s company
dod = uncle or cousin (Hebrew)

Jewishness as a wound
Jewishness as a vocation
Jewishness as a blemish
Jewishness as over compensation

Jewishness as a fashion statement
Jewishness as a  trumpet
Jewishness as a non-event
Jewishness as a status symbol
Jewishness as a quiet unassuming presence
Jewishness as a bridge or a fence

Jewishness as a non-event
Jewishness as a bridge or a fence
Jewishness as status symbol
Jewishness as  a quiet presence


I have tinnitus of the legs