Summer Poetry Special

At Any Given Hour
Inspired by Cesaria Evora

At any given hour men are arguing about the path of a ball.
In, out, goal no goal, each has his opinion.

One says “Let’s get back to work”

At any given hour women are talking about their bodies.
Blood, no blood, sick not sick, each has her own opinion.

One says “It is what it is – it will be what it will be”

And soon it is evening.
They come together over food.
Some talk and some are silent.
A few are laughing.

A man beats his wife because of money.
A man sings a lullaby to a crying baby while his wife sleeps.
Across town a woman slaps a child because of lying.
A woman changes the bandages from her husband’s surgery saying ‘Poor thing.’

A few are laughing to themselves.

Water flows down drains, carrying with it secrets, clues, revelations, remnants.
Something creaks, something crashes, but mostly there is the hum of machines and silence.

The great rush of lovers is felt tonight, the wind roaming the streets to give flight to their hair, the young people are behind bushes in the parks, jeans muddied, locked in every embrace imaginable.

The aide from the hospital lifts the spoon to her lips and she tastes.

Yes. Mint chocolate chip.

Big Love
a new interpretation of Ahavah Rabah

With a huge, whopping, jumbo, king size hunk-a -hunk-a- burning love you have loved us,
Forgiveness a wide-load, florescent orange flags hanging off the sides of a truckload of mercy.

Our Big Daddy, rolling, the Royal Crown, the one who the
great, great, great, thousand times great grandmamma trusted, the teacher of the path, practicing random acts of kindness, a roadmap, guidance.

You gave birth to -
Lord have mercy,
Mercy, Mercy me,
I’m sorry baby,
Please, Please, Don’t Go -

A special delivery to our hearts
To understand and to listen and to learn
To go the extra mile,
To lovingly fulfill the long haul of commitment.

Keep our eyes on the road,
Our hearts stuck on you,
All huddled up together,
Trembling, shivering, safe in your warm embrace.

It says it right here: In God We Trust,
Dancing and laughing
With each passing moment, salvation.

Bring us on home
From the North, South, East and West,
Lead us on home.

And we will say, sing, shout, whisper, in the holiest of tongues, a holy people unto thee: thank you.

Blessed are you, who teaches us to love.
-Daniel S. Brenner


Report from Jerusalem

Here I am, wearing my Solomon Schechter T-shirt, standing at the remnant of an outer wall to an ancient place of animal sacrifice. In this photo I am thinking about the contemporary sites of priestly meals: Joy Grill, Olive, Pasha, kukureeku, Doron Falafel, Shnitzi, Take Me Home. O Jerusalem eatires, if I forget ye may my tonugue cleave to the roof of my mouth.

My summer was an intense one – first I spent three weeks working with the young participants of the Face to Face/ Faith to Faith program (I even did the ropes course and zip line some 70 feet above ground.) Then I was off to the Holy Land for a study leave and presentation at the Inter-religious Coordinating Council of Israel. Emek Refaiim Street, where the Inter-religious Coordinating Council’s offices are located is still recovering from the grizzly suicide bombing that left seven dead and fifty wounded at Café Hillel. Yet while every restaurant and café now has a security fence around it and a guard at the entrance, the street is bustling with life. While I was in Jerusalem I had the great pleasure to spend time with one of my inter-religious colleagues in the U.S. – Rev. Paul Rauschenbusch from Princeton University - who is working on promoting inter-religious councils on college campuses. I also met with Palestinian educators, filmmakers, rabbis, and countless others who are working on multifaith projects.