Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Epiphany On A Sunny Summer Afternnoon

Epiphany on a Sunny Summer Afternoon
Jack Henry Markowitz

The hand painted sign read
Farm Fresh Ripe Tomatoes
Just ahead
Less than one mile
Sufficient warning
For any motorist on the hunt
For farm fresh fruit and vegetables
Visa and MasterCard gladly accepted

Armed with sufficient warning
I pulled the car into the parking lot
An easy walk to the entrance of the tent
That housed the bounty of all
That the road side farm stand had to offer

I set off in search of farm fresh blueberries
And perhaps some ears of sweet corn
When I passed
An older man
Which is to say
A man much older than I

He was seated
On a white wicker chair
His seersucker suit and straw hat
Only partially shaded from the sun
Playing with his little grand child
And her little dog Scotty
While mother shopped
For farm fresh ripe tomatoes
For only the very best would do
For her precious family

As I passed from sunlight into shade
I smiled and said hello
To the smiling man with the sparkling eyes
Who tipped his hat to show
That he had the softest of snow white hair
Looking to me like a Semitic version
Of an older Robert Frost
He smiled back and waved
The back of his hand
Dappled with liver spots
Medals of Honor
For a lifetime well lived

And then I thought
What if?
What if all had not gone
According to plan?
What if he’d been assassinated
Somewhere along the way
By the army of enemies
That he’d no doubt made
While clawing his way to the top
Of his erstwhile profession?

Watch your back
Cover your behind
Never falter
Never stumble
And above all else
Never make a mistake
Or else you will pay

Pay with your heart
And your soul
With the loss of your job
Of position
Of income
Of status
Of pension
Of family
Of Home

Pay with the loss of a softer
And more dignified place in old age
In post modern industrial society
When you are no longer able
To be either modern
Or especially social
Taken aback
I again looked to see
If the older man
Was still there
Seated in his white wicker chair
Playing with his golden haired grand child
And her little dog Scotty
While mother shopped for farm fresh ripe tomatoes
For only the very best would do for her family

He stared back at me
Curious, puzzled
Returning my unblinking gaze
Was I all right
He may have been thinking
Would I be okay?
Or would I falter and stumble
And make a mistake
Along the way?

Don’t worry he seemed to say
As you can see
Here we blessed be
You and me and our little golden haired girl
And her little dog Scotty
While mother shops for farm fresh ripe tomatoes
At a roadside farm stand
Sometime in the future
Half way between
Yesterday and tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Jack Henry Markowitz (c) 2010

(Homage to Garcia Lorca
Translated from the original Spanish)

Ever since the day that you left me
I have lived in the mouth of the wolf
Lost in the forest of midnight darkness
My heart in shreds

Like the lone wolf in the forest
I cry to the moon
In a show of my grief
For all the other forest creatures to see

Some take pity and join in the mournful singing
While others take my measure and continue stalking
What they see as easy prey
Easy prey

And if the morrow should reveal
My blood soaked carcass
My spilled blood crimson
In the winter snow

Can you yet show me
Some gesture of kindness
And bury my pitiful remains
And cover my naked and broken bones?

For this last gift
I would be forever grateful
Though I cannot promise
To rest in peace

For my soul remains a prisoner
Jailed in the mouth of the wolf
En la boca del lobo
Una alma sin pais

You Ought To Be In Pictures

I have read and heard that some societies do not take pictures of friends and relatives for fear of somehow stealing their immortal souls. This is not the case with picture happy Americans who are always snapping pictures of this or that by virtually every means available in today's high tech society. I do believe that the act of taking pictures/photos can be very powerful means of freezing a moment in time in ways that are stunning and captivating. Taking photos may in fact be the only means of stopping time as we humans experience time in all of its fleeting reality.

We are creatures of time, more so than any other animal on this planet. We measure time constantly. The inexorable tick tock of the clock clicks off the moments of our lives with irresistible force. This inability to stop the flow of time scares us; we fear the grain by grain sifting of sand through hour glass of our lives, knowing (as no other animal does) that our time is limited and that no matter how good we are, or how pretty we are, or how many good deeds we may or may not do, the drip, drip of the sands of time cannot be stopped; and when the sand grains run out, so do we, our lives are at an end. No amount of bargaining, of praying, or cajoling can alter this fact. And this knowledge of the ultimate finitude of our lives both motivates our actions (or lack thereof) and fills us with a terrible dread that we will not have accomplished all that we desire in this life; that we will not have lived our lives to the fullest; In fact, many of us do realize that we are not living our lives to the fullest potential.

We too often become "couch potatoes", endlessly flipping the remote control in search of entertainment to help fill the empty hours of our lives. We are aware that there are perhaps more fulfilling ways to spend our time, yet inertia, or lethargy or illness may keep up on the couch instead of pursuing a more active and engaged life style. Someone once said that Life is not a spectator sport, but how many of us are the doers and how many of us are content to just watch? I plead guilty to this pattern of behavior. I would hate to calculate the number of hours I have wasted semi-awake, just clicking the remote or surfing the internet.

There is no easy solution to this wasting of time. We chastise our children for the very slothful postures and procrastinating that we ourselves are also just as guilty of doing. It is very hard to break the sloth cycle, especially in bad weather (hot or cold) when staying immobile under the AC or in front of the fireplace gives us the perfect excuse. The physical and mental consequences of this lackadayzicle life style is all to plain. We pay for our inactivity with weight gain, flabby bodies and flabby muscles. We can't sleep, or enjoy the activities that once brought us pleasure. Obesity is epidemic, along with Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, leading to heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

The Jewish New Year is just around the corner. This is as good a time as any to make new resolutions to become more physically active and more conscious of how many calories we consume. I was once a two pack a day cigarette smoker. It took years of trying to finally break the cigarette habit, but I did manage to succeed eventually. I know I can also increase my activity level and cut back on calories once I put my mind to it. And therein lies the rub. Mind over matter.

I am overweight (I hate the word obese, but if the shoe fits) and I have Type 2 Diabetes (the two are related I am often told). Fine, so be it. I have resolved to make a change (hopefully for the better). I know my friends wish me well in this endeavor. I appreciate expressions of support.

As Dylan Thomas once wrote, Time holds me green and dying, though I sing in my chains like the sea! Every journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. My journey begins today. Wish me luck!