Mankind's Ugliness

A New York Times Reporter interviews a Lesbian Rabbi

The interview is interrupted by a
hate...abuse..crank call from some
Hassidim youths
The rabbi responds
and finally hangs up.

The reporter, perhaps more shaken than the rabbi,
"How can you stand it?"

The rabbi, a young women in her 30s, looks
at the ceiling, then back at the reporter

"When I was a a little girl,
and people made fun of me,
hurt me
I was Jewish,

my parents told me:
'Never let yourself be defined
by your enemies,
by those that revile you'....

So I don't"

Through the years of
difference, of dissonance
of being at odds with
/I/ define myself.

...and I remember my mother,
the most gutsy, vital person in my life.
/She/ was dealt a losing hand by polio,
almost complete paralysis.
But she bluffed with those cards
for years of life filled with
love and growth and participation.

You have to agree to fold your hand

Torture I

the very thought of torture

ritual disemboweling

How could anyone sane?

The ticking bomb!
they say,
There are situations
where civilized restraints
must go out the window,
this is a new kind of war!


Tell me, would it help
to find the ticking bomb
to rape their children,
to smash their elders
into bloody rags,
to turn their guts
into garters?

Oh assuredly.
and then we find
their horror
staring back at us
in the mirror.

Or worse
we don't.
Like good Germans
going to work
at Auschwitz.

Torture II

Revulsion revisited..

I was talking to Sue in bed about it.

The previous poem stopped
half way through

What it didn't say
is that,
in the space between my ears,
the revulsion
has two parts.

The revulsion itself

and  the dirty nasty
second part:
that many, if not all
of us,
myself included,
have a dark space in our

where there is an ugly attraction
to hurt
to victimize
to destroy,
to be powerful

The very thought of torture
is hideous

but what is worse
is that hidden ugly part
that would,
oh so righteously,
smite the sinner
punish the wicked

Once allowed,
even mentioned,
there's a stain
in the soul,
individual and collective.

An addiction initiated
that opens the door
and calls for more.

Here kid, here's some heroin.

It is a hideous thing
that George and Dick
started selling
on our street.

Nothing, nothing
light and soap
bleach and scrubbing
will even alleviate it.

And nothing can
the awful truth:

America is not
really all that
from Germany

Mary Sarton nailed it:
"One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being."

If God is benevolent, then how....?

Over the years
I have come to this mind:

If God is a benevolent deity,
than the world must be
an educational institution
for morally and spiritually
challenged and undeveloped.

Populated by bad actors,
the simple,
fools and the damaged.

Life after life,
we grope our way
towards graduation...

Each of us
with a special learning plan,
teaching each other