Saturday, January 20, 2007


There are hands around me.
They keep watch and wave when there is danger.

They gesture with broken metal wristbands
and ringed fingers,

hands whose fingernails are edged
with night and creased with years,

who have shaped dreams
when dreams had ruptured wings.

These are hands who have been teachers.
So when I speak, when I ask

why G-d has sent the Jews to wander
once again in the desert,

as bombs blow up restaurants in Tel Aviv
as bombs destroy mosques on the West Bank

without a bird to nest
in the cracks of the Wailing Wall,

a pale beak tangled in barbed wire
still estranged from its own song,

as I stretch out my hand to an invisible hand
and squeeze hard.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Hands Around the Lake

Today we held hands
around Lake Merritt
it was more like hands around
the sound truck
while seagulls and pigeons
flapped a 500-wing salute
and no one saw the geese turd
in the grass it was that special
with Congressman now he's our Mayor
Dellums sure looks like Frederick Douglass
and Congresswoman Barbara Lee,
the only one
who had courage
to stand up in those days
when it was seating room only
for Republicans in the House.

There were striped-glove hands,
and leather-covered hands, and bare hands.

There were raising in the air
"Stop the Violence hands."

There were big hands.
There were little hands.

There was a mike in somebody's hand.
They were our hands.

Did people hear the drums around Lake Merritt
all the way back to Washington D?

I hope so.
Because we have a dream

it hasn't been asleep
it was drugged by power.

It's been in the courts
but not in the newspapers for years.

No one knew peace and justice
had camped out beneath the freeway
waiting for change.

We got up early today.
We got up early to join hands.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

object, event and action

With a strap of his back pack,
a man sitting on BART flagellates his arm
until it dissolves into square pixels
large enough to be his father

Friday, January 05, 2007

How I Came to Write "The CellPhone Poems"-- Particularly for KPFA Listeners

You can order your CD of “The CellPhone Poems” by sending $10.00 to Lenore Weiss / 645F Canyon Oaks Drive / Oakland, CA. 94605. She will be sure to respond.

My CD of the CellPhone Poems grew from a spec of annoyance within my consciousness, which started anywhere from five to 10 years ago. This was the time that cellphones were making a transition from the occasional specialty item carried by the rich to the ubiquitous item it has become today, a rite of passage into adulthood for the young. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Picture me commuting back home to Oakland from my job located in one of the Embarcadero Office buildings. As a young mother, I bounced between BART and AC Transit buses trying to cut the commute time down to a bare minimum. You know the drill: it’s 5 o’clock, you’ve worked all day, you’re tired, and you have to pick up the kids from childcare and go home and cook dinner-- as if public transportation weren’t enough of a challenge with its ongoing delays, crowds, purchase of tickets, and the occasional fight breaking out in an adjoining seat. Cellphones began to add yet another level of stress. Who the bling bling needed them?

Well, it seemed like a lot of people did. Everywhere I went, people had them. It was bad enough that my own day had been stressful, but suddenly I had to listen to someone else’s problems. Then there were calls to a girlfriend, or to the ticket agent for an upcoming concert, restaurant reservations, and all the business that decent people, I thought, should keep to themselves. Suddenly, the whole world was spilling out in places that had been normally reserved for relative quiet, reading a newspaper or a library book during commute time. It got worse. There were updates about a cancer diagnosis, a mental breakdown, and lovers splitting up with each other in real time while one of them waited in line at the bank.

For a long time, I attempted to turn a deaf ear. Of course, it was hopeless. Part of this had to do with my coming to terms with my new role. Now I was invited to serve as a witness to people’s lives, to take sides with feuding lovers, or to approve about food choices made in the supermarket aisle.

Somewhere in the quiet of my own home, I had an ah-ha (!) moment. I realized that I was living in a new age whereby the definitions between public and private space had dramatically shifted, and the previous boundaries regarding what was allowed in those spaces, no longer held sway. Thus, was born the CellPhone Poems. I approached a composer friend of mine, Paul Kirk, to work with me on the project.

After completing that work, I now realize that the world has been thrust into our laps in a way that it never was before. I feel that we have a decision to make regarding how we handle that responsibility. Do we resist listening, or do we choose to participate?

Currently, I have been invited by Destiny Arts Center in Oakland, a school that teaches young people hip-hop dancing, martial arts, and leadership skills, to work with a group of young people to develop their own cellphone poems. And so it continues…

You can order your CD of “The CellPhone Poems” by sending $10.00 to Lenore Weiss / 645F Canyon Oaks Drive / Oakland, CA. 94605. She will be sure to respond.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Poem at Half-Time

Near the trailer park and graveyard markers
blaring above each alabaster stone
across the street from Albertson's
with cars carrying the day's appointment of diapers,

milk, and nonfilter cigarettes,
I'd said my good-byes, stopped at a red light
before getting on Hwy. 101 to Oakland,
and there they were

people in black robes, hands
with square fingernails edged in night
and for two straight seconds I didn't understand
how they'd escaped

into my living daylight
dancing around the parking lot,
nodding as though they were bobble heads
who'd grabbed the word Yes by the throat.