Family Relations


Looking back from this not so distant future,
The bed and its occupants glow –
All anger and distrust and hurt gone –
for now, this period of time;
gentle voices, soft laughter and tears mingle freely.
washing away old animosities at this time of parting.

In the face of the task –
to ease this frail, overused body
to relinquish its claim on the radiant soul within
all else fades

Caught up in the normalcy of daily living,
time rushes past and we fail to hear
the heart’s true message from one to another.

It is only in this parting, so full of pain and sorrow,
that such pettiness can be lifted.
His life was dedicated to healing hearts –
and in his final hours, he defies expectations,
and created a surcease of souls’ angst
intertwining embittered hearts and bringing peace.


When as little children,
we received those admonitions,
shaming reproaches, spankings,
picking our own switches for crimes committed
do our unborn young
still recessed in inner cavities
flinch from that wounding?
At which point is the DNA encoded,
decreeing that one child be victim
to another’s aggressor?
Such fools are we to believe
our actions are harmless
when our unborn
carry our legacies
before they are even conceived!

Battle of the Bulge and 9/11

Winter During the Battle of the Bulge (1944-1945)

,This poem was written by Frank Whitmarsh. It, and the one following seemed particularly appropriate to today.

After a day’s combat
I still see these scattered bodies in the snow
Lifeless wax statues
Newly cast Venus de Milos
Expressions frozen for eternity
With their nascent moments of fear and panic
Or maybe love
All to be stored in Death’s locker room
Like unaccompanied baggage.
Could these be models for
Some future Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Paris
To be gawked at by the hordes
Of indifferent tourists?

March 15, 2015
Inspired by my experience during the Battle of the Bulge in
the Ardennes – Winter 1944-1945

Reflections on Where I was on 9/11

9/11 was one of those cataclysmic moments when
time seemed to stand on is head. In years to come,
we would ask each other where were you on 9/11 – or as
an earlier generation might ask – where were you on
12/7/41 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and
WWII was about to begin for the U.S.

As for myself on 9/11, I was leisurely walking down
the streets of Paris when I heard the news on television.
We raced to the television on time to see the second
tower collapsing with our first thoughts naturally being
the safety of our loved ones.

Who, why, where, when became our collective
stunned amazement.

One of the things that struck me was the outpouring
of affection that the French had for the Americans. We
were all together and the spirit of Lafayette prevailed.

Frank Whitmarsh

As for me, living in Connecticut, with young children, I saw the entire
horrific nightmare again and again and again.  My family and friends
would point out details the others might not have seen.  There was a
shock that rippled through the entire country.  No one really felt safe.
We, in our insular, isolated country found out yet again how easy it
really was to touch us.  The fervor of patriotism stirred and all I could
do was feel grateful my children were too young to engage in the
battles about to ensue.  I wanted to volunteer, to give my best, but
respiratory issues kept me away from Ground Zero. And increasingly we are finding the enemy is within – we need look no further than out our doors.
God must be shedding huge tears watching the nightmare below.
I honor those that lost their lives that fateful day. And tremble for
the days to come.


A friend once said
he is a creature of raw abandon,
exuding sexual pheromones
like an animal marking his territory,
making her want to grab him by the hair,
pull him into an alley
and do it to him, raw and hard.

I laughed but lacked understanding,
refined tastes had I
no primitive animal
was going to pound his way into me.
Give me the esoteric, the spiritual,
the “nice” guys who grovel,
always asking first before taking,
like children before the candy jar.

He offered soft whispers of desire,
I turned him down,
politely saying I was not
of that mind.
A massage said he,
to soothe raw nerves, undo your knots,

Well . . . . . . . . .
undid the knots did he,
one moment coolly professional,
the next changing in rhythm,
leaning over to kiss sacred places
others usually need to be led to,
in raw flesh games.
and offered a slave bracelet,
made himself – a beautiful, expensive trinket,
no matter, I’ll just make more.

My knots untied, no said I –
offer again when it is not payment
for services rendered,
in dark rooms, atop tables, in primeval
urgings and lustful moans.
And dressing before it might begin again,
I scurried to my car, breathed a sigh of relief
as I drove away,
his guitar serenading
the roar of my engine.

Confusion and Hope

I , watch their faces, see their broken bodies, hear the rambling
of their minds . . . Terrified as I am of developing dementia I see
the souls of these people still shining – maybe only a flutter or ,
or occasional blink. Its still there until the end.

When my father died, he had lost that light long before.  A
singer at heart, he would spend his days rolling out one song
after another.  Slowly the number of songs shrank.  Then the
words . . . until all that was left was a wavering hum. It was a
sorrow more than any other. For all his flaws and mistakes,
and the many goodness’ he gave, loosing the voice of his
wisdom, his ability to listen, really listen . . . and his gentle
spirit – his fathering and ability to be a good husband, left huge
holes in my life.

I had dementia myself for a year due to medication conflicts.  It
scared the hell out of me and my children. I still have cognitive
conflicts due to brain trauma. I’ve made it clear I want to die if it
increases.  I do not want to be a burden to my family and need my

Yet some of these people are funny, many are so full of knowledge
if you can just tap into it. They have their personalities and some led
amazing and powerful lives. They are caring in the midst of their own

There’s Carol – trying to clean dishes and tables even though she
has a broken arm and hip. She wanders the hallways, notes when
others need help or are lonely. And she follows the aides and nurses
around like a lost puppy, babbling away.

But Rose is also here. Horribly confused, miserable, tears dripping
down her face as she cries for help to go to the bathroom 10 or more
nightly while I drag myself out of bed to press her call button and try to
calm her down. She doesn’t know herself anymore, how she appears
to others, what her life is like. Others near her are pushes to the edge.

I’ve know people who were the Director of the Board of the Metropolitan
Opera House, the couple who originated Pocket Parks in New York and
throughout cities in the US. I’ve taken care of the female Trailblazer on
Wall Street who is now deeply damaged by Alzheimer’s, the Corporate
President of highly successful businesses.  There are authors, including
one who has written over 30 books as a Professor of History. I know an
opera singer who doesn’t talk anymore. Its crushing.

Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease. For a long time, they know they are
loosing the best of themselves and are scared, paranoid.  They reach
a point where they may get aggressive. They will look in the mirror and
not know who that person is.  And in the end, it can reach a point when
there is no motion no recognition of others much less themselves.

Passover Week – Who would I be?

When he rode the donkey into Jerusalem that fateful week,
would I have been one of the palm wavers,
dancing before him, singing psalms of his glory,

Or would I have been the cynical one,
or one too reserved to let loose my inner craving for him
and to bless him for all he had done.

Would I be a pot stirrer, easily swayed by Pilate’s men
to decry him, to rabble the crowds against him.
to cheer as he was whipped and beaten.

Was it foretold I would be Judas, his betrayer?
Would I run and hide as Peter, denying my intimacy to him?
Or refuse to watch as he was tried for crimes unknown.

Would I have been Simon the Cyrene, the man who picked up his cross,
shouldering a burden he was too weak to do all by himself.
Or perhaps faithful Mary Magdalene,  following his footsteps to Golgotha

After the betraying, violence, cruelty I participated in,
would I then grow quiet and cry watching him move in such pain.
Or have cheered for Barabbas, the murderer, to be released rather than the King?

I want to say “Of course I would be faithful!
But as human nature would have it,  I could have been the good Jew
that jeered and plotted and planned, scared of new thoughts and feelings.

Could I have opened my mind enough to accept the New Path,
and act against traditions millennia old, that my ancestors revered?
Could I have the strength of purpose to preach, to spread this new religion?

Or would I have done nothing, nothing at all . . .

I never knew her

I never had the chance to know her,
to feel her, to drink in the essence that was hers alone
I was too young and her song had been stilled
long before I became aware.

Yet my uncle cried when, as a young woman,
he saw my long tresses tied in a braid –
“Your hair is hers – you look so much like her.”
and gently held my hand as his eyes missed in memory.

Still later it seemed I was too often told how I carried
her essence within me, her ways were my own
and I trembled . . . .for the hand that stilled her breath
was her husband’s and well I knew the bite a lover can make.

And within my core, the spinning of my soul,
my hand reached through those hazy, mist years
to join with hers, to listen to the message she needed to pass down,
and in the softest of whispers she murmured . . .

“Leave him my dear – learned from my shattered skull
for even unbroken it was no more than  tattered pieces.”
the words needing voice feathered away in fear.
“hear from my ear, ripped from my head.”

“Speak words of freedom with the teeth knocked from my mouth,
Yes, you may be as I once was, yet you are more;
the power I denied myself is the legacy I pass to you,
so no child of ours will go homeless, unloved, misunderstood –
no child of ours will be stooped with premature age.

“My daughter, on my whispered words of freedom, fly!”

was that


Broken crystal shattered across the floor
prisms of light blinking out – forever gone.
as darkness slips over the furniture,
refracted glitter –
so lie the pieces of my heart.

As a child, night terrors were sent scurrying
by the broad sweep of my father’s arms –
bringing back the crystal sheen of safety and warmth,
his finger gently wiping away tear’s glistening on my cheeks,
letting me know there was one person in that terrifying world
who could send monsters scurrying away from beneath the bed.

Here, an orphan of middle-age extraction,
with no Daddy to wipe my tears
I stand helpless, my fumbling fingers quivering
as I stumble upon shards of glass
raggedly thrusting into my darkness
as I look for answers to age-old questions.

Not able to strike a flint
to illuminate the deep chasm of midnight’s void,
or encourage the wisp of a kerosene flame
to thrust back the clammy darkness
of a cavern’s awesome void,
that echoes in the
space of my childhood heart.

I lost the flare –
I can move through the motions well enough,
but, my feet torn jagged
from slivers unseen in the dark,
my child staring with eyes that can’t see –
sharp edges, piercing through the deep,
to stab the tender spaces of my soul.


Thomas Merton

Thoughts in Solitude

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain
Where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
Actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
Does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that
I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that
Desire. And I know, if I do this, You will lead me by the
Right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I
Will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the
Shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and
You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude

This is one of my favorite prayers.  It has always brought me comfort in times of need.

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