Cello Player

                                                          CELLO PLAYER

A diffuse glow appears on the orchestra pit.

The music begins softly;  a faint, lilting melody rises…

Light slowly illuminates a tall girl playing the cello.


She plays the cello in total harmony.

Her body rhythm flows smoothly through brown hair and slim arms,

blending beautifully with the cello and escaping through the strings.


While she plays, my heart swings along her bow.

Sighing, the strings gently free the melody.


Hearing notes dance and leap,

tonal patterns bursting into stars,

her brown eyes ignite the music into a cosmic cry…


The chords slowly drift into empty space.

Her cello idles lazily at her shoulder.

She reduces the room to stillness.


So, too, I am reminded of my own rhythm.

In time, my strings will grow slack.

And I, too, must approach silence.




Crystal Spirit




Blue eyes hide a myriad of worlds.                                                                                                                                                                  Indian artifacts flow from nimble hands.                                                                                                                                                     Proud spirits of ancient chiefs keep watch.

She is a lady:  tall, noble, elegant.                                                                                                                                                                 She loves words, the magic of their sounds.                                                                                                                                             Colors are her joy:  red, blue, green…

A crystal of light shimmers                                                                                                                                                                         and traverses space on a cloud of thought.



A Digression: The Dark Side Of My Childhood, Part 1.


Oh, it is dark in the schoolyard!

The walls are stained with young blood.

How many innocent souls enter here

only to end up writhing in pain.

For this institution chokes its victims,

and leaves them as broken toys.

This was one of my earliest poems(The earliest poem was a love poem to a girl in the 5th grade.) and expresses my feelings toward incarcerated education.  The story probably began long ago when the Los Angeles Board of Education had to come up with a plan to keep thousands of children occupied and entertained for six hours, five days a week.  It seemed like an impossible task.  But after countless meetings, suddenly Dr. Doctor stood up, and shouted:  “I have it!  We’ll create teachers!”  And so it was.  At first, teachers were scattered sparsely across the LA basin.  But hormonal impulses took over, and soon teachers were begetting other teachers, who beget others.  For, as Leonard Bernstein pointed out in his Mass, “God said that sex should repulse, unless it leads to results.  And so we crowd the world full of consenting adults.”  Eventually, there were enough teachers to take care of the thousands of children and schools were created to take care of both teachers and children with police guarding the gates to prevent possible escapes.

Don’t feed the birds, feed your own little selves!”

The schools were run on the Soviet plan;  strong centralization with a small group at the top making decisions for all, virtually no freedom in expressing ideas that weren’t sanctioned from above.  However, the Board did keep its promise; the teachers were entertaining, although not a lot of fun.  My 6th grade teacher was a true servant of the system.  He even taught us The Communist Manifesto.  This man wore thick, dark glasses and we assumed he had problems with his vision.  That this wasn’t the case, was proven many years later when he was arrested for making pornographic films of children.  My 2nd grade teacher was a heavy, strong, obese woman, who shook you if you misbehaved.  She would shake a child so hard that her cheeks would turn red and she would end up gasping for breath.  The only reason we could think of for her unduly exertions was she suspected a child might have money in his/her pockets.  But the California Gold Rush ended at her door.  Her career came to an abrupt end when she locked a child in a closet and forgot about it.  My 3rd grade teacher used to rap a child’s knuckles with a thimble or ruler, cawing:  “Take your medicine!  Take your medicine!”  She was a wiry old lady with crow’s eyes and a suspicious disposition.  When she went to the great beyond the following year, not one child shed one tear.

Remembering Sarah Seff Rolfe

“It is so easy to forget that the essential you… might be lost, and that the you might forget to remember from whom or what it came.” –Ronald Rolfe, geneticist.

These lines were written during aphasia when Ronald was dying from a brain tumor


It was my pleasure to have met Mrs. Rolfe at a time when my ideas were just beginning to develop.  When I was a child of six, I used to come over to her home to play piano and spoke of my conceptions of music.  She then moved away and I never thought I would see her.  However, during a troubled period in my life in my late teens, she returned to the very same house she had lived in earlier!  I met her at a march of candles for Soviet Jews and discussed some of the novels I had been reading.  I was most gratified to have found an informed literary companion.

Sarah Seff Rolfe or Rose Rolfe(her preferred name) became my poetry mentor and good friend.  She had come from Minnesota, where she had studied with Robert Penwarren.  She had a long correspondence with Jewish theologian, Martin Buber, and adapted his Hasidic Sayings in her collection, Songs of Legacy.  In North Hollywood, California, she took active part in poetry readings and took classes in Everywoman’s Village.  However, she did not publish a book of poetry(Terebinth Press) until one year before her death in 1984.  She titled her book, Heart And Mouth Are One.  The book was encouraged by her teacher, Carol Lem.

Mrs. Rolfe inspired me with a sense of the mystical and profound elements in nature.  She was a master at revealing human nature in its contemplative, reflective, troubled moods.  Her poems are quite musical.  In fact, some of her longer pieces resemble musical compositions;  starting with a melody, developing it through skillful rhythmic and word changes, transitioning into new harmonies, but still staying with the one original pattern.

I can still hear her musical voice, absorbing every nuance of every syllable.  Her voice was very similar to Barbara Luddy’s “Lady” in the Disney film Lady and the Tramp.  

She often invited fellow poets over for an evening of poetry and and analysis.  She was patient and kind with my early endeavors and always supportive and encouraging.  To remember her, I am including Blue Pawn, one of the best poems that she wrote.

 Blue Pawn


Very old, the dealer said, Navajo.

Small white prayer-beads near the clasp…

Touching the unpolished, turquoise stones,

I find underground springs,

Ghosts of my Hebrew ancestors

in fringed prayer-shawls

sway at my shoulders–quiver.

But something else here… evokes

the craftsman who shaped the necklace.

Crouched under canvas eaves, he plies

his art, sun-baked hands holy with care.

His axe rings.. where thick blue veins

of turquoise… tear from the matrix.

And what has the blue necklace to say

of such distant visions?

Pawned and redeemed at trading posts…

caught in a chain of sorrows and celebrations

and coming here to my alien hand,

my Native questions?



My pulse holds tembrilsJewish theology, Native Americans

where the Hebrew God of Place and the

Indian Gods of many Weathers–touch.

Though sea and sky belie their blue,

I say what I see–say sapphire, cerulean,

lapis lazuli–circle of faiths.

Their laughter carves the iron wind

where turquoise winks in the rock

and earth’s blue bead, quarried in space,

trembles in the rite of stars… plays.

And I Wish…

And I wish when I die,

I could strip to my soul,

and dive once more

into the ol’ swimmin’ hole.

(Reworking of lines by James Whitcomb Riley.)sc00019e90