Saturday, September 30, 2023

Last Ride on the Merry-Go-Round

MY MOTHER IRENE KETOVER 7/23/31-11/9/19  (eulogy 11/14/19)

My mother was a realist undoubtedly a force of nature – the perfect 
counterbalance to the dreaminess of my father – between them they balanced my world.  My mother was the center of any gathering and frankly it seems ridiculous surreal downright silly that she is not here nodding her head as I speak. – Then again who amongst us knows for sure. She was certainly the loudest, clearest voice against any injustice personal, political or even in the case of her pond - duck related ..  Others have paid fitting tribute to her sass her strength her joy - her fierce loyalty to family, to the values which she felt in her unshakable moral core was the right thing -  All such tributes are absolutely true .. I stand by them as well .. and yet as children from time immemorial we all see different aspects of our parents.  I wrote something for my mother’s 85th birthday,  a sense of my mother who always had me feeling protective of this woman most viewed correctly as a warrior. I know she wouldn’t mind my sharing this personal take on my teenage mom, as I always thought of her, since she surprised me by reading it at her 85th party – and so with her tacit approval and just a few edits here goes… 

WITH A SMILE   … My teenage warrior mom
I watched as you proudly stood my stiff starched dresses to stand like soldiers in the kitchen - 
and you smiled
I felt your long fingers fumble through my hair twisting white clean strips of rags into wet curls as I stood watching out the window and you smiled
You smiled on your hands and knees scrubbing a floor, tush waggling long toes bare behind you, singing Que Sera Sera
You smiled patting endless perfect balls of chopped meat into magic fricasse
On Friday nights, dishtowel on your head, you struck a match with a shaky finger and lit candles, I watched your arms circling the flame three times, covering hands over your eyes, whispering something I knew had something to do with all of us, and then flung the towel onto the counter, called out Gut Shabbas, with what else – a smile.   
You smiled wiping out kumitz - cleaning heavy cut crystal dishes –until they shone with rainbow prisms, cooking, setting table with good silver, serving, clearing, washing, drying – still you smiled
You smiled singing Frank, and Nat, with my father, sang in your uniquely uniform continuously consistently off key fashion, 
you smiled as we rode off to where I do not recall - standing with me wind whipping your hair in the front car of a swaying wicker-seated-porcelain-railed train - the chain in front of us swinging against the blackness of the rushing tunnels  
You smiled bathing that new beloved-by-you baby brother splashing in a white vinyl bathinette as I stood and watched your face flush with a new softness 
You smiled swinging hands on the way to the park as we pushed that huge carriage - cold steel under my outstretched clinging hand walking in dappled sunlight singing A Tisket a Tasket,   
You smiled at walks end as we slid onto high stools to eat whipped potatoes, a stick pretzel, a chocolate malted – 
the baby asleep outside in his carriage- perfect 
Even if one that time, just that one time, we did forget the baby,
All the way home after running back and retrieving him you panting out of breath and deliriously relieved, smiled –
You smiled, needles flashing and clicking knitting long into the night 
and early at morning breakfast – your hair delightfully mussed, cigarette dangling from your lip you smiled.
Oh yes, you smiled, that mega watted klieg lit smile  
at your parents and inlaws and friends and passerbys and later you smiled at customers and employees that became so much more to you -
One and all individually and collectively they loved that signature smile 
Of course you smiled at my father in a way that set a template that made every Russian romance novel, every love poem, every lusted look and giggled pushaway known and familiar to me when I later met them – 
You smiled as I watched, lucky spectator with the best seat in the house – in the center of the love story that rose to the moon and stars and beyond
I inhaled the love and lust and passionate possibility of you - the dances you danced together, the secret looks, the arms around each other close, the whirl and whisper, the giggle and sighs the very magic of this love of you -

I too enjoyed all those smiles 
But there was more, seen in stolen moments when a slipped glimpse caught the shimmer of your bright tears 
those times in the quiet of a still afternoon 
those times in the dark of night when on bare feet I was drawn to the golden light of you sitting there in a cool room as you let your knitting drop into your lap and just for a moment let silent tears fall onto a doll’s dress or a sweater for the baby, – as I watched quietly and tiptoed back to bed-  
those times of quiet hidden tears, that I came to know –
the shimmering beauty of your courage – confronting and besting that Fellow, Death that, silent, shunned, and hidden boarder who lived with us. 
I remember and acknowledge and celebrate along with all the dazzle of your dancing smile- 
I came to know early on, consecrated in one precious singular sacred moment so very long ago when I approached you, and reached out and dared to touch a single tear easing its way toward your mouth – 
When that little girl me intoned "Don't cry Mommy" I came to know – 
the nature of my teenage mommy - 
the true majestic nature of those smiles 
that manifesting mystic magic, born and borne as a shining talisman protecting us all.
So long ago, in that cool darkened living room, the click of knitting needles, quieted , stroking the soft wool in your lap, the wetness of that brave secreted tear on my finger, you, my teen warrior woman, the powerful mother I adored, was revealed in all your vulnerable shuttered glory.
Then, now and forever as years float, tumble tossed through life and death  – I feel that smile, that chosen strength scored, seared, branded in my soul, side by side with my protectiveness of that secret girl under the smile, my love sealed forever and a day, for the who you were and the majesty of the who you chose to be, then, now and forever ...
And now the ride you both spoke about on the merry-go-round has stilled – the calliope quieted and yet I still feel the whirl, the wonder, the whisper and wallop of the girl who for a few short days lay with me alone in a quiet hospital room in a foreign state and chose to hold me close before going out to face the world with a smile 
The mold is now broken – 
The lessons remain –
The meaning of the song and the flash of your actual Smile 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Take this?


Take this? 

Take this fear 

From me this

nausea, these 

icy fingertips


Take this worry 

of glaciers melting

swollen belly children

staring do-nothingers

rising tides and lowered



Take this disgust 

from me at lies 

bold-faced, insidious

divisive, insulting 


Take this insecurity 

from me as offspring

grown- withdraw and

bare teeth and in

difference incomprehensible


Take this soul-chilled

storehouse of historical 

horror – 

bodies floating 

from falling buildings 

children torn in

school houses

prayful people 

slaughtered shoppers, 

party goers, 

sleepers in their beds

drivers in their cars

walkers in the streets

toddlers drowned at 

shoreline – migrants

housed in cages –

children ripped from 

mothers – on and on 

barbed wire and 

crematorium smoke

waft from past into

pollution's noxious present

slavery, butchery, forests decimated,

a lone child’s cry growing faint under rock

on and on and on - we all know 

Take the spittle of hatred, the vicious glint of  eyes

the indifference of one another, the righteous

unrighteousness, the replacement of facts, with opinion

the instability, the cracks widening, the smashed sanctuaries



Take the knowing that I am more old than young

and growing older still on the known path to the unknown

working at the glorious,  inglorious oxymoron of

trying to find peace of mind … 


Take …..


Return each and every -

Take nothing.

Leave all mentioned

and all implied 

For in the convergence 

is the essence of caring

and I shall  not cede 

I shall not ever cede

to care  


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Ahhh... how's the weather?

Ahhh... how's the weather? 

Ah to recall those days 

When the most benign

Conversation began with

How’s the weather?

We whirl hands over

Our heads or eyes or

ears – now in a maelstrom

We modern day manifested

naked dinosaurs walking

through forests of fire

and melting icebergs

humming, screaming, 

sciencing, silencing,

or simply writing a poem

to pass the time in these

days of destruction… 


Wednesday, September 6, 2023


Hi  all at  What's Going On?

First of all .. a public hurrah.. congratulations, welcome and delighted to participate in the launch of this much-needed site... For the last few years I have been wandering around in my mind ... wondering in polite language WTF is going on... and so to find fabulous familiar voices raised and opening doors to connect is a breath of fresh air.  Time marches on and I'm part of the parade - have continued writing and have my small as I like it private practice to keep me connected outside my own tumultuous head.  Enough of the prologue.  

I hope that I am not beginning by breaking any rules - but as said I have had this question whirling for years now... I wanted to share my poem Gobsmacked with you all... (which is how I was feeling a few years ago and I've just continued to be smacked in the years up to the present!) 

Hugs and looking forward to reading and commenting ! .. and now here is my launch poem... 



When day might turn to night and night might turn to day

And people stop talking to you and why they won’t say

When the icecaps are melting and some say nothing is wrong

And the bees they are leaving and the frogs stop their song

When politics turn misanthropic, a mass mad mobby joke

And those who should speak forget how they once spoke

When you wake in the morning with a shudder and chill

And the future seems dark and dim and filled with ill will

When shots ring in classrooms and children fall dead

And elders are quiet while youngsters spill wisdom instead

When day might turn to night and night might turn to day

And you speak, think and write and don’t know what to say

When your heart pounds bloody and fingers turn icy and cold

And you try to be fierce, strong, stand up and be ever so bold

When the world starts to shrink and toddlers die at the shore

When war weapons murder innocents not less but still more 

When eyes look for footing and guidance in hurricane gales 

And find instead tossed bombastic operatic paper-towel tales

When it seems like you’re standing in a snow globe of frizz

And the very air that you breathe is thrumming with fizz

When sense flies out of touch and nothing seems real

And divisions are toxic and conversations surreal 

When all that you knew seems now up for debate 

And too much around you spews spilled out with hate

When you want to get going but can’t get to the gate

When day might turn to night and night might turn to day

As global shards of pain sidewise whirl destruction’s disarray

When oceans rise and mountains fall

And injustice and wrongs far too many to articulate them all  

When you see time running out, hopefulness each day attacked  

Then my friend, then you know, you are being ....


*title poem for a chapbook published out of frustration in 2019 -

I thought it was particularly appropriate for this wonderful kick off of 

What's Going On?