Pavlov’s Dogs

lemur face

On a recent trip to Madagascar in search of wildlife in its natural habitat, we visited the magnificent Andasibe National Park, where a dozen species of lemur monkeys found nowhere else in the world make their home in the forest canopy. Viewing sifaka (“dancing lemurs”) normally seen only in captivity cavorting in the wild, leaping from branch to branch with an athleticism and grace touched by Terpsichore, moved us deeply. We felt reconnected to everything that modern life inexorably cleaves away. The best part was that our education and amusement didn’t come at the expense of another living creature’s freedom. We observed the lemurs — and the chameleons and birds and tree frogs — on their turf, on their terms. We were respectful guests.

One afternoon, however, we were mislead into visiting what had been billed as a conservatorship, a rehabilitation facility for lemurs. The place was called Lemur Island, . . . → Read More: Pavlov’s Dogs

Poem: Changeable

cute chamelon

Chameleons are cute

what with their changing colors and all that

adorableness ready-made for advertising campaigns

but when hunting they are less charming

more like their brutish brethren that merely slither

unblinking and expressionless

the toughest poker pedant to take

an oath

Hippocratic or otherwise

you would not find the same cute chameleon quite so cute

in a marketing cute kind of way

if you saw the lizard with a beetle in its mouth

not yet dead but vaguely aware that the insistent crushing pressure upon its abdomen

means among other less important things that this is the end

and please let it come soon and let the pain

this pain

this excruciating pain of jaws pinching into my middle

my guts and viscera starting to ooze

let it end

the three arms that aren’t trapped I flail about

summoning and being forsaken

in . . . → Read More: Poem: Changeable

Poem: Minor Miracles

it's all miraculous

Looking at the sun and hearing the yellowrumped warblers

I realized conclusively today that all of this

Everything is a miracle

All this Life

Please begin enumerating counting to 300 billion and perhaps

When you reach the end of your Time here

On yes this miracle of the galaxy

You will know the truth like birds know the tops of trees

And all the fighting and hurting over nothing made to seem like everything

Will cease and then disappear

When all of us minor miracles that comprise the larger miracle

Realize conclusively that we are One and

What we are is miraculous

Poem: Tubular Tubers

failed magician

Tubular tubers must propagate rumors

of doves in distress emitting foul humors.

Now what would inspire this rank impropriety,

this cunning indictment besmirching society?


A rift is the answer, a chasm, a cleft,

a cleaving, a shearing, a conscience bereft

of feeling and thoughts of the popular kind,

the ones that come straight out of sapien’s mind.


Potatoes and ginger can’t talk to the birds

despite the conspiracies you might have heard

spread yonder and far by agents of gloom

whose trickiest trick is to make you assume

that magic exists and compassion reigns.

All that we’re asking is please use your brains,

the ones that God gave you to figure stuff out,

to fill in the blanks and erase all the doubt.


See what you must and say what you claim,

then slowly repent and demonstrate shame

. . . → Read More: Poem: Tubular Tubers

Poem: An Especially Eventful Tuesday

my housecleaner

Tuesdays around here are Terrific Tuesdays! And not

because of Tacos or Two-fers

or the hair harvested like sod from Hasidic volunteers (Jew fur).

No, Tuesdays are terrific around here, at my place and

at the neighbors’. Tuesdays are

when our domestic servants, our help, our remunerated slaves, our euphemism of choice –

we get our houses cleaned by people who don’t live

in houses as nice as these houses.

“Housecleaners.” That’s another one for the list.

Tuesdays are always when the wealthy white people who live

on my street come home from law offices and violin lessons and a panoply of splendid pursuits

to a domicile that looks as though no one lives

there, like it has been unoccupied all day, which

maybe that’s true, depending on how you define “a person that counts as much as everyone else.”

Marvelous Tuesdays! Cleanest moments . . . → Read More: Poem: An Especially Eventful Tuesday

We’re Not Qualified

earth sun

Look, we’re not qualified to discuss the scientific data on the sun. We don’t have that kind of education. That’s for specialists to debate among themselves. All we know is that there’s a strong case for the sun being the “center” of our galaxy and an equally strong case for us, Earth, being the “center” of the galaxy. Obviously, it’s all very complicated. Rushing to final judgment on this issue would be a mistake.

And why does it even have to be an issue? Can’t we all just agree to disagree? Respect everyone’s point of view, even if it’s not outlined in the Bible?

It’s not like we’re claiming the sun isn’t the center of our galaxy. We’re just saying there’s some very strong data out there that makes you wonder…and isn’t skepticism one of the lynchpins of scientific inquiry?

Also – and you’ve got to be . . . → Read More: We’re Not Qualified

We’re No (April) Fools

We're No Fools

In the spirit of light-hearted playfulness of April Fools Day, the Los Angeles Times tried to pull one over on their (dwindling) readership. But the cleverest among us realized their ruse, and instead of feeling perplexed and outraged we enjoyed a hearty chuckle. All in good fun!

The April 1, 2014 edition’s lead editorial, on page A10, was headlined “Climate change here and now.” The sub-head said: “Crop yields are down, deaths from heat are up. A U.N. panel’s report should be a call to action.” The editorial encapsulated the report’s most alarming warnings – impending disruption of the world’s food supply; dying oceans; droughts – and concluded that, in a rational world, the report would be more than enough to propel world leaders into action.

The final sentence: “We [should] discuss how quickly we can reduce [climate change’s] severity by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and which . . . → Read More: We’re No (April) Fools



The intent of the documentary “Samsara” is to “illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of the nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.” Birth, life death: and repeat. The director and cinematographer Ron Fricke, working in ravishing 70mm film, guides us through the journey with no words, no dialogue, no voiceover, only exquisite music and imagery of heartbreaking beauty and transcendence. But “Samsara” is not merely a collection of pretty pictures. Fricke successfully manages to explore profound ideas solely through imagery. The film contains visual puns and several strongly sequenced “narrative” threads, particularly our human connection to other animal species. The result is one of the most transcendent works of art we’ve ever experienced.

Poem: Thank You to the Birds


Perched on a wire, a feathered ornament prettifying

the blight of power lines

graphing the sky with staves

and you’re the notes.

La-la-la…and a little higher


Yah, hah, how you make me la-la-la,

How you make me laugh

With something like childlike, childish, altogether foolish

Joy joy. Oh, joy. That kind.

Thank you, I’ll say it directly. Thank you! I say thank you, plainly.

In a language that every living thing can understand,

and maybe the dead ones, too. The universal being universal.

Thank you, birds. For everything, the parts you can’t understand and the parts I don’t understand and

The parts that everyone understands.

Thank you for all that. And thank you for the smaller mercies, the ones I’m certain

You haven’t planned, unless, in fact, it’s true

that in your avian breast is where

God dwells.


Thank you, God. I’m . . . → Read More: Poem: Thank You to the Birds

Poem: Poet Philosopher


Let this be my manifesto

to be tacked upon cathedrals and posted on digital walls

where everyone in the world goes to look

at what isn’t happening to them. It has thusly been decreed

that He is I and I is He – another way to say

that I is We, and He and You and all that ever was.

It’s all in here.


The decision has been made – by who or whom or what, no one can say.

Royalty or slave, predator or prey, your divine purpose

is to be of service to God, God being Nature and living creatures and

everything that’s here and everything that isn’t.

Your brothers and sisters, the ones who aren’t born yet, the ones whose shells

you might one lifetime inhabit – everyone is qualified, despite what merchants in the religion trade

claim. . . . → Read More: Poem: Poet Philosopher

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