Tough Break


Welcome back to Poetry Monday. As we scurry about preparing for the Christmas holiday (unlike any we had before), here is an opportunity to pause, take a deep breath, and relax for a moment. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

tough break

a brief reunion with her,

a respite from the road.

it was in Nice.

we had a weekend.

impurities evaporated by long separation

and crucible time running down

we dissolved and consumed each other,

nothing to slow the reaction-

convulsion heat

and then she was gone-

I fast fading

white to orange to red to black,

the cooling cracking splitting

shattering my hard won unity.

I picked up the pieces,

got to work.

p. ferenczi

Posted in America, Dating, Happiness, Love, Poetry, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings, Travel | Tagged | 3 Comments

Love’s Sacrifice


Approaching the Christmas holidays, I was looking to post an inspirational story, when I came across this one on a site, wealthygorilla.com It’s a different take on the classic O’Henry short story, and one which made me think repeatedly about the decision of sacrificing for love. I’d be interested in your reaction.

There was a blind girl who hated herself purely for the fact she was blind. The only person she didn’t hate was her loving boyfriend, as he was always there for her. She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry him.

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her – now she could see everything, including her boyfriend. Her boyfriend asked her, “now that you can see the world, will you marry me?”

The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend was blind too, and refused to marry him. Her boyfriend walked away in tears, and later wrote a letter to her saying:

“Just take care of my eyes dear.”

Posted in America, Beauty, friendship, Honor, Lies, Marriage, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings | 8 Comments

The Intellect Holds Forth


Welcome back to Poetry Monday. I’m sure you all know at least one person who delights in playing games of one-upmanship, who always ask questions of their diminishing number of friends with hopes they will not have the answer. If you know someone like that, this poem is for you.

the intellect holds forth

being a snob is fun and easy

when you figure you’ve got it figured.

once you’ve staked your enlightened aerie,

alone, distant, a guru wizard,

then clearly you’ll be looking downward

since that’s where the masses struggle for breath,

taking their pleasure as just reward

though from up high it looks like death.

no worries about missing the worthy few;

surely they’ll be elevated too.

floating over the crowd, they’ll be obvious-

and anyway, they’ll be looking for you.

p. ferenczi

Posted in America, Humor, Poetry, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A is for Anxiety, B is for Boredom…


A is for Anxiety, B is for Boredom…

Are there any of us in 2020 who are not dealing with these emotions?  One of my benefits of the lock-down is the increased time I’ve had to read. Despite having over 300 channels on our TV, I find difficulty in discovering a program I want to watch. The movies that are showing are either ones I have already seen, or ones that for very good reasons, I’ve given a pass. We don’t subscribe to Hulu, Netflix, or any of the other rapidly multiplying streams of “prime entertainment.” In fact, the only reason we have Dish is that my wife is a huge tennis fan, and the regular channels don’t always carry the matches. The point is that I have not only had a chance to catch up on the backlog of books I have piled up for eventual reading, but also had the opportunity to read more magazine articles, both professional as well as literary.

The December issue of the Atlantic monthly has a piece by Graeme Wood called “The Historian Who Sees the Future.” It’s a story about Peter Turchin, one of the world experts on pine beetles, who in recent years turned his mathematical analytic models of the ecology of beetles to the study of human history. For those of you who are sci-fi fans and read Asimov’s Foundation series, he is not unlike Hari Seldon, who was able to foretell the rise and fall of empires through a scientific analysis of mankind’s history. It’s a fascinating article, bolstered by the not insignificant report Turchin made ten years ago, predicting a social cataclysm in 2020, very much like the one we are currently experiencing. According to his analysis, which has subsequently been shared by other quantitative scientists (though by no means the majority) this period of social upheaval we are currently experiencing will likely continue for at least five more years.

The ideas laid out in the article are a bit lengthy for me to try to summarize, but his main thesis is that we are producing too many elitists vying for a position in the ruling class in which there are too few job for elitists. This results in the ones who haven’t secured real power turning on the ones who do, and bolstering their position by recruiting the common man as their allies. Trumpism is a counter-elite movement, and is filled with people who couldn’t gain power in prior establishment governments. Turchin sees the demise of our system when the inability of the elites to pacify the unhappy common man with handouts and freebies becomes widespred. Then the elites have no option but to police dissent and oppress people. In his view, when the state exhausts all short solutions, then coherent civilization collapses and disintegrates.

Having finished the article, my anxiety level is higher, but I’m definitely not bored. I sincerely hope that Turchin turns out to be more a Nostradamus than a Hari Seldon, but I’m finding it difficult to dismiss his ideas out of hand. I would be interested to see what any of you think.

Posted in America, Covid-19, Death and Dying, Health and wellness, News and politics, Politics, Revolution, Science, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The First Step


It’s Monday, and what better way to start the week than with a poem! In the midst of a general lock-down, we can only dream of starting another travel adventure. Like all adventures, it begins with the first step, the title of today’s Poem of the Week. Enjoy, be well, stay safe.

the first step

on the rim of this bowl

standing with toes out over the edge.

the opposite side winks across the distance of three months.

one step will begin the plunge.

two points and a trajectory-

what lies between?

probably:

opportunity, hunks of clay waiting to be molded.

adversity, to be stumbled on like a landmine.

            (but let us hope not an actual landmine)

adventure like a hot wire of chance charged with the current of risk,

or: the balancing of opportunity and adversity.

the only certain is the unknown:

a forest of moments

yet seed in the fertile future

waiting for the days and nights

to be born.

p. ferenczi

Posted in America, Poetry, Thoughts & Musings, Travel | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Don’t Call Me A Hero!


There recently appeared an article by Dike Drummond, M.D. in Medscape Magazine, in which he objected to the current vogue of calling doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals “heroes” and “saints”. Any profession in which the practitioner places his or her life in jeopardy, be it police, firefighter, soldier, certainly has a “heroic” aspect to it. But it’s also what each of us sign on for when we decide to take the job.

During this still growing pandemic, the news outlets make abundantly clear the horrendous stress, exhaustion, and attendant burnout faced by those on the front-lines of this ongoing battle against a disease that kills and cripples with almost impunity. The statistics showing the mounting toll of those infected as well as those who continue to die in record numbers is difficult to ignore, despite the naysayers claiming this is overblown. Refrigerator trucks piled with the dead overwhelming the spaces in our mortuaries are difficult to ignore.

So what’s wrong with placing our healthcare workers on a pedestal, and idolizing them as heroes, or even saints? The problem is that we on the vanguard of this struggle are just people, trying to do our jobs the best we can despite difficult circumstances. We can’t possibly live up to all the heroic standards that are projected upon us. We have not been given superhuman powers. We do become exhausted, and we do fail, despite all our best efforts. And if we start to believe some of the idolatry heaped upon us, it only magnifies the horrendous guilt we feel every time one of our patients dies, every time our depleted tank of compassion fails to meet the current needs of those demanding our efforts. We can’t give what we don’t have, but we can die trying to live up to standards thrust upon us that are impossible to meet.

If we don’t allow ourselves and our colleagues to rest, to recharge, to nourish our bodies as well as our souls, we end up among the fallen, next to the victims. The fight with this disease is not a sprint; it’s a marathon for which we have to maintain reserves. When we are at work, there is no question – we must use all our knowledge and energy and compassion to aid those in our charge. However, when we leave the hospital, we have to take care of ourselves, our children, our families, and each other. We are not gods, we are not superheroes, and we must never allow that impossible mantle to fall on our shoulders. What rests there is heavy enough of a burden already.

Posted in America, Covid-19, Health and wellness, Medicine, Mental Health, News and politics, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged | 1 Comment

In Passing


Welcome back to Poetry Monday. Since we all seemed to have survived the excesses of the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s continue with our current theme of travel. One of its joys is the chance meeting with a stranger, and the free interplay of ideas and stories produced in these encounters, no doubt aided by the anonymity of our traveling identities.

in passing

in Venice I met a Jordanian.

easy friendliness, not an eager dog,

but someone who can take it or leave it.

we clipped through the preliminary questions

and took seats on the patio to begin talking.

his stories made the space between us a window,

threw it open on days and nights in other lands.

in the morning, he was moving south, I north.

I didn’t see him again.

but he stayed with me a while,

a scent of possibility in the air.

p. ferenczi

Posted in America, friendship, Poetry, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings, Travel | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving


In 1789, George Washington was the first president to proclaim a Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 26, as a day of celebration for the US Constitution. In the 1800’s, Sarah Josepha Hale, an editorialist, began a campaign to have several US Presidents declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. Her pleas fell on deaf ears until 1863, when, at her urging, Lincoln declared the day a national holiday at about the same time as he gave his now immortal Gettysburg Address. However, it wasn’t until FDR’s declaration in 1941 that Thanksgiving became an official national holiday celebrated each subsequent year on the fourth Thursday of November.

As we approach this Thursday, we face a holiday unlike any other we previously celebrated. Most have abandoned travel plans; communal dinners have been canceled or significantly downsized, and in this heart piercing year, too many members of families are being mourned. In her book “We Gather Together” author Denise Kiernan reminds us that thankfulness is a state of mind as nourishing as any feast, and grace isn’t something we say but bestow. For a long time, many psychologists and neuroscientists have given evidence that “gratitude practice” is good for the body and the soul, and as I wrote in a prior essay, it is one of the four essential pillars to happiness.

For the first time in forty years, I will not be sharing Thanksgiving with our two closest friends, breaking our annual tradition of spending the holiday with this couple and their families, as they have spent their Christmas holidays with ours. Intellectually, I understand the rational reasons we have reached this divide, but the emotional aftershocks are something that I’m still struggling to resolve. Somehow, knowing that I’m not alone in this predicament doesn’t make the conflict any less. I can only focus on my good fortune to have remained healthy despite the risks posed by my hospital job, and to give repeated thanks to have my wife here by my side to reflect our mutual gratitude for the gift of our lives together. My son and his family across the ocean will share the joys of this day in their own little bubble, as all of us, separated as we are in space, come together at least virtually  and in emotion to say, “Thank you.”

Posted in America, Family, Food, friendship, History, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged | 6 Comments

The Comfort of Water


This Monday starts the beginning of a short work week for most of us, but not so short that we can forego the comfort of the Poem of the Week. Here it is, transporting us to the Algarve, and another chance to take you far away from the humdrum of your daily schedule. Be well, stay safe!

the comfort of water

in Portugal, near Sagres,

the earth pokes a naked finger

of stone into the Atlantic,

a natural pier two hundred feet

above the gnashing surf.

patient fishermen drop their lines

two hundred feet into the surging water

and wait for dinner to make its fatal error.

I am told a few fisherman disappear yearly.

I scramble across moonscape rock

to the end of the land.

far below, the sea strains

against the stone walls

like a besieging army.

my passport and papers are in my pocket.

no one knows my name for five hundred miles.

the sea spreads arms of spray, beseeching.

the salt breath whispers –

come to me,

I am also patient and hungry.

p. ferenczi

Posted in Loneliness, Poetry, Thoughts & Musings, Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Need a Smile?


If you are like me, you’re likely tired by now of the profusion of bad news flooding our lives, ranging from tragic to infuriating, from sad to incomprehensible. Here then, is a moment to stop, relax, and hopefully, move on with a smile. Be well!

Bought vs Homemade

Six year old Annie returns home from school and says she had herfirst family planning lesson at school.Her mother, very interested, asks; “How did it go?””I nearly died of shame!” she answers.”Sam from over the road, says that the stork brings babies.Sally next door said you can buy babies at the orphanage.Pete in my class says you can buy babies at the hospital.”Her mother answers laughingly, “But that’s no reason to be ashamed.”

“No, but I can’t tell them that we were so poor that you and daddy had to make me yourselves!”

Posted in America, Family, Humor, News and politics, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged | 1 Comment