something transmitted by or acquired
from a predecessor.
Hmmm . . . never gave inheritance much thought.
Here goes . . .
My mom, an Austrian-Polish Jew,
My dad, Afro-American, Choctaw, Cherokee
I see me as me, a sub-category
of the above, but not primarily any one of them.
Others want to pigeonhole me, generally into Black.
How stupid is that?
Fall between or outside the two parameters and oops!
“Not going there. That’s too complicated to tackle.”
America, North, came up with the simplest solution.
The ‘one drop of Black blood’ law may not exist in law
but definitely still exists in principle. Just look around.
Back to Trust (or the lack of it).
I may have arrived here with trust issues.
Maybe got them from dad,
back in the housing projects,
from the mom I never knew,
until when I returned from Vietnam.
Had very few or no trust issues with Reggie
and Kaia, my two canine companions,
for more than twenty years.
With people? Hmmm . . .
Dad wore glasses in later years.
Mom? I have no idea if she did or didn’t.
I got my first pair of glasses when I was 14.
Before then, life was one big blurry world.
Before then, I gained insight without sight.
I could feel what another, the sea, the sky,
the rain and trees were really saying.
I felt the truth of it all.
I see we all want the same
but we don’t know/see we are the same
and until we do with one voice,
warring thoughts and actions will persist.
They saved my ass when I was a kid
and to this day.
That ironing cord whistles out loud.
I hear it and smile back at Him.
Blood, mine, wets the sheet and curtains.
Me and my friends are riding on the Coney Island Cyclone
feeling no pain. His arm finally gives out.
I’m still smiling. He leaves and slams the door behind Him.
The open welts are beginning to sting.
Jake says, ‘We won again’. Others speak out.
We applaud and high five each other.
[An indelible impression]
I am driving a cab south on the Westside HWY.
My Checker cab is slammed in the rear.
I jump the divider
winding up in the northbound lanes,
perpendicular to the oncoming traffic.
I look through the front passenger window.
Four headlights are bearing down.
I think, ‘I’m going to die.’
A female voice casually says, ‘Fred, you can’t die’.
I don’t believe her.
Next thing, firemen are prying my door open.
The passenger seat has curled over my head.
I am crying uncontrollably.
A fireman shouts, ‘He’s in shock’.
I wasn’t in shock.
I had not believed her voice.
I could write volumes about voices, but won’t.
Where did the voices come from? Dad, Ma
further back? Don’t know.
I do know, I still listen.
My mom hand painted porcelain lamps in NYC
in the 30’s or 40’s. Don’t know when for sure.
She sent a letter to me in Vietnam
revealing her father owned a shoe factory and
her grandmother had art hanging in the Viennese
Jewish museum. My mom wound up in Boston.
Her entire family wound up in Auschwitz.
All her other children, my half siblings are creatives.
So I give her lineage primary credit for my creativity.
There’s the garden, collages, chocolate truffles, written and performed words, wood carvings, concrete sculptures and stuff I have long since forgotten about.
The combo of all cultures
have served me well.
My feet have led me to
Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism,
the Native American Red Road
Satsang and meditation
Hatha Yoga and contemplation
friends, teachers and angels
right here right now.
This place where we live, America, North,
is a bigger than life community experience.
It’s the only place on this planet
where there are so many human cultural differences,
either here by choice, by force or by circumstance.
After about 500 plus or minus years, it appears
successive generations are coming closer to being
here now. Present beyond knowing.
The questions are . . .
Which end of the see-saw weighs the most?
The worldly woe end or the present presence end?
Where do you sit?
Right here. Right now.
Dad said, ‘You always have to be better than them,
if you want to succeed in this world’.
Both my parents and their predecessors have had to have courage to survive. Think about this.
Afro-Americans are the only Americans that have to prefix their American with a continent.
The American Indian is named after a geographical error.
Jews have suffered persecution through the ages.
All three bloodlines have endured devastating genocides.
Our American history books only discuss the one
that didn’t occur between these shores.
Why do you think that is?
Strength of conviction,
Courage to speak out,
Knowing the ripe time,
all go hand in hand.
We all have fears, so I will give all my heritages the credit
for passing it on to me. Of course the degree of fear
I have is my own choosing.
Fear! That’s a big one and a constant companion.
It’s both valuable and destructive.
There are feared and fear-full voices.
a feared voice
I was in Athens, a few days before the new year.
Was looking for a vegetarian restaurant
I’d heard about.
Was approached by a middle-aged Greek man.
Hi. Are you Canadian?
No, I’m an American.
I love Americans. I worked on the pipeline with Canadians and Americans. Made a lot of money and just opened a bar.
Come have a drink. It’s on me. I am Jess.
No thanks. I am looking for this restaurant. (Forgot the name)
Oh, that is just three blocks ahead and to the left.
I love Americans. Just have one drink.
No thank you. I don’t drink.
Then have an orange Juice. It’s on me.
OK, just one.
I follow him through close streets to a small building,
and up the stairs, through beaded curtains,
into a small dimly lit room. A bar is to the left.
Two women stand behind it. Three barstools in front.
Jess says, ‘Take a seat. Get an orange juice.
He says something to the women in Greek.
Jess continues to a table in the back.
It’s lit up by a red overhead light.
There are two other men and a woman
sitting there, talking in whispers.
I sit at the bar.
Would you like a glass of champagne?
No thanks. Jess is paying for a glass of orange juice.
Will you buy us drinks?
No. Just the one juice for me.
I am beginning to feel uneasy.
The woman pours the drink into a glass
below the counter
and hands it to me.
Will you buy us drinks?
I said no.
I raise the glass to my lips, set it down and say,
Thanks Jess, I’m leaving.
I stand to leave. A squat, wide, bouncer type appears in the doorway, blocking my exit. You have to pay for the drinks.
I turn to the bar and a voice that even scares me says
‘I told you I wasn’t buying any drinks, didn’t I?’
Both women say, ‘Yes you did’.
The bouncer steps aside. Get out of here.
I stumble down the stairs, feeling intoxicated, and on the way back to my hotel step into one of the open gutters. That voice came out of nowhere and saved me
from ‘who knows what’.
Three days later I was on a flight to Bombay, India.
a fear-full voice
Kaia and I returned home after a 3 week stay with C.
I had rented a car for the trip and left my personal car keys on the kitchen counter. I entered the house. The car keys were not where I had left them.
Someone has been in here and may have hidden tiny cameras around, so don’t act suspicious.
Act normal. Breathe. Look around again.
No, they are not here.
Just be casual, go out to the deck and call C.
I call C.
‘We just got back and my car keys are not where I left them.
Someone has been in here.’
OK Fred, just chill. Think back, then look in places you may have hidden them.
A few minutes later, ‘Phew! Found them. Just remembered I hid them in the freezer before I left. All is well again.’
Yeah, that fear full voice. Thank God for friends.
From the looks of it, fear plays a major role in my life.
Love is not always pretty.
Dad shared love the best he knew how.
His love helped me to step back
and observe what was occurring
without being attached to it.
His love helped me to return from Vietnam
unscathed, or so I thought, until years later.
Love is the core kernel of existence.
Look around. Love is the essence of all life,
of breathe or call it what you will.
Folks ask, ‘What about murderers, rapists,
the bad deeds we do to each other?’
I say, ‘We have always planted ‘them and us’
seeds. There is Bambi and forest fires.
Nature doesn’t distinguish between the two.
The mental landscapes of duality, of them and us,
of you and me, reveal an increasingly destructive
If we humans are here or not, nature is nature.
Love. Let’s get back to love and inheritance.
Love is the air we breathe.
Love is the circle of what we call life and death,
within, without and all about.
Love is presence.
Can’t say who, what, where from.
Can say each breathe is love. Without it,
who would be here in this present moment?
That is all I have got to say about inheritance.
A poem? Don’t know. Don’t care.
It’s what bubbled up! So there!