A sudden burst of productivity.
During this week, amid a delightful crush of workaday (whatever that means) appointments, presentations and travel, I have also written: a play, a sermon, a poem.
The play is called List of 10.
It's about a man (Andy) who lives with a list of the women he would call if his wife were gone.
It's not the normal tale of popular culture. Andy is not a philanderer. But he wrestles ethically with mortality, imagination, and honest urges. (Poor bastard.)
I've sent the play to a few folks who might give me some feedback. I'll edit it once and then I will invite you to a public reading.
The sermon is for Temple Israel tonight.
Unlike the play and the poem, which arrived spontaneously, the sermon was scheduled. It had to be written — a promise to a rabbi.
Every year at this time, when the rabbis are polishing their sermons for the High Holy Days, I offer to fill in — so they can focus on preparing for the HHD. The congregational turnout is predicted to be light tonight, especially because I've been promoted as the speaker.
the current draft, subject to revision before (and during) the presentation at services tonight.
I probably shouldn't release this until after services. Too late now. (I avoid backspacing.) So please don't show it to any Jews until tomorrow.
Oh, and feel free to come to Temple Israel tonight. The live version is different. It includes a nervous man. Erev Shabbat, 6:30 p.m.
The poem was a lark.
I had the thought a day or so ago. Something about how a shirt tells the story — a shirt tale! — of the day just lived.
Then, yesterday, I was enjoying a Vistage meeting in Cincinnati. I had gone to experience how the Vistage master Al Stuempel chairs a meeting. Toward the end of the meeting, I did the unforgivable: I zoned out and wrote the poem. At lunch afterward, I read it to the members of the group and they smiled with encouragement, tinged with baffled wonderment.
Here it is. I hope you like it. (Warning: it doesn't rhyme.)
Reading Between The Cuffs
(On A Shirt, At The Hamper)
These two red dots on the front placket remind me
of the flip of his fettucini at Giuseppe's.
At first I was embarrassed for him
— but now I know that the sauce will not stain,
and his encouragement and trust are indelible,
never to be washed from my gratitude.
This wrinkle — these wrinkles —
wouldn't smooth out all day,
announcing that I am a self-dressed man,
even if I am not self-made.
At the hidden armholes, parts are still damp,
beneath the arms (the pits),
fully moistened during the heat of the drive home.
The edge of the cuffs are worn, a little frayed,
proving that I am experienced,
that I am not new to the world.
Good news! The breast pocket is clean,
— redemption! — a sign that I am aware,
because it survived another day without an open pen,
without blue ink bleeding across my chest,
without someone saying to me, "Oh, that poor man."
And this splash of coffee reminds me,
my beloved, of that moment at breakfast,
as you launched my day
— and my mouthful of coffee —
when you made me laugh, upon first sip.
Why the sudden burst?
I think it has a lot to do with two unexpected influences during the past couple weeks: a piercing performance of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and my return to Transcendental Meditation.
More on those later, I suppose.
I wish you a sudden burst.