Nose Blind

Science tells us that we go nose blind

In as little as

Two breaths.

The dirty laundry, the cat’s box,

Disappear in the blink of an eye,

But so do your husband’s cologne and

Your baby’s fresh clean smell.

Pleasant or putrid, your nose makes

No distinction—

Until the scent is mixed with fear,

Then the nose knows,

Knows there is something there

Threatening your safety

And it warns you of impending danger.

Here’s the caveat no one mentions:

The fear need not be rational

To trigger the olfactories.

And so, throughout history

The marginalized, the demonized,

The Other

Have had aspersions cast on them of being

Dirty , unclean, smelly.

Jews, Blacks, gays, Hispanics,

The Irish, the Germans, the Italians, the Japanese

And more, new groups added all the time,

Muslims, Middle Easterners

Koreans, Chinese


It is time for our world

To embrace the other and

Banish the fear,

Before the irrational fear of the Other

Triggers  a response

Which fractures all our senses.

It is time

To go nose blind.


Let Me Hear You…

For the past 10 days,  I have been trying to write a poem. Yet my thoughts are in turmoil.  As I arrange the words on the page,  they riot and refuse to arrange themselves into verse. Much like what is going on in our nation. Many refuse to accept the election results; many others refuse to accept their disavowal.

I’ve said here before that we writers must speak up. We must hold firm to our beliefs. I still affirm this to be true. What I am having difficulty with is crafting a piece that is neither banal pablum nor condemning invective. The former barely nourishes and most lose taste for in early years; the latter is the method of transmission that so truly turns me off that I cannot employ it myself. Speak to me with intelligence, acknowledging my intelligence at the same time. Let us communicate. I have been so repelled by the current mode of shouting one’s ideas louder than one’s opponent rather than engaging in meaningful debate, that I cannot resort to it myself.

And so, my poem languishes.

I fear that we, Americans, have become incapable of meaningful discussion with those who hold opinions contrary to our own. We think we can. But I do not think we do. Rather, we say our piece, and in many cases shout our piece, and then stop. We may let the other talk, but we do not listen. We do not consider. We do not exchange ideas and learn from one another. Instead, we simply reaffirm our opinion more loudly.

In truth, we must learn to listen to one another instead of merely listening for the lull into which we can insert our own “truths.” Both sides must do this: our own as well as the opposition.

Do I dream? Perhaps. Yes. But we dreamers must continue to dream this wonderful world, this marvelous nation into the even more incredible reality it can be.

Red sky

Red skies bring delight or warning 

So the old sailor’s ditty says, 

But to we land lubbers, what portents wait

In the crimson and vermillion hues 

Of a majestically painted sky?

Does the heart  warm at the prospect

Of love on the horizon,  or bleed 

From love’s wounds? Perhaps,  just,

Perhaps, the long path 

The light takes to our eyes in the evening

Is  just a hint of all the beauty we

Cannot see 

And of the light that connects us all

From coast to coast,

Person to person,

Life to life.