Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Feet

Given all of the hoopla about "Happy Feet," mostly silly, anti-gay rants from the wingnuts, but also some commentary on the environmentalism of the movie, I felt it was appropriate to speak briefly on the subject.

I took my three neices to see "Happy Feet" on Christmas Eve. To be honest, I wanted to see it perhaps more than they did. It looked wonderful. Sadly, I left disappointed.

First, the graphics were superb. The animals all seemed so real at times, especially the orca. Also, the generic story for the kids was at times cute and fun. Plus some of the characters were wholly lovable, particularly the little "latino" penguins.

However, the movie brought much in the way of darkness, and for children, at times, it was a bit too intense. There are two particularly scary scenes, one involving the orca and the other a sea leopard.

Also, the idea of the penguin going into a stupor of depression near the end, where he sees images of his family disappear, and then throws a fish at a wall where they stood, as if he had lost his mind, was a too much for a cartoon.

The idea that this movie is promoting a gay agenda is silly. Cartoon movies have often put forth the concept of accepting those who are not the same as everyone else. If it was homosexuality in this one, or just someone who had a different take on living life, so be it. There was nothing threatening, and it was lost on the kids anyway. I think anti-gay rhetoric is simply homophobic, stupidity at its lowest. Maybe some of you wingnuts can just come out of the closet already and get over it!

I heard someone say that this movie could have been written by Al Gore. I agree. The environmental message, while I concur with it 100%, was, again, a bit over the top for a kids flick and just plain too much for me, given the arena. Cartoon movies should teach with some measure of subtlety. "Happy Feet" was completely in your face. When going to see a cartoon, you want something a bit lighter.

In conclusion, "Happy Feet" has its cute moments and is not a bad movie. The anti-gay nonsense is exactly that. However, "Happy Feet" gets carried away, and for that, had me less than thrilled when leaving the theater.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Poem Three Thousand

Three Thousand
(Dedicated to George W. Bush)

The cause was a lie.
Three thousand dead.
As loved ones will cry.
Three thousand dead.
Qaeda connected?
Three thousand dead.
Fear resurrected.
Three thousand dead.
Mission diverted.
Three thousand dead.
Purpose perverted.
Three thousand dead.
Threats were illusion.
Three thousand dead.
Three thousand dead.
Terror’s now breeding.
Three thousand dead.
Absence of leading.
Three thousand dead.
A country on fire.
Three thousand dead.
Behold, a quagmire!
Three thousand dead.
Damage unending.
Three thousand dead.
Numbers ascending ...

Thousands more dead?

Copyright SGW 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Damien Rice

I love music on so many levels. It inspires me, soothes me, breaths life into my poetry, and is a peaceful place to exist within. I am listening to Damien Rice's latest CD, "9," which just arrived on my doorstep, and, oh man, is it good! His previous effort, "O," is arguably the best album ever made for my money, but this one is amazing, too. Rice is unique, diverse and filled with so much depth.

I do not feel worthy of reviewing Damien Rice's work. All I can tell you is this: Buy "O" and "9." You can't love music and not have these two albums.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Poem: Fear or Pleasure

Fear or Pleasure

Standing in the water
Violently beating surf
Fighting it -
Left with weighted pockets of sand.

Standing in the water
Passionately striking surf
Flowing with it -
Left with cleansed ocean senses.

Copyright SGW 1998

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Poem: Pointless Pretending

Pointless Pretending

Flowing of words needs releasing
Static of life is increasing
Silent, the pen sounds a warning
Night won’t relent to the morning
Wasteland of empty expression
Mind sinks to numbing depression
Body and soul torn asunder
Empty, the heart’s lost its wonder
Poet can’t speak through the shouting
Once there was hope, now there’s doubting
Love is no longer existing
Achings and pains are persisting
Story of sadness unending
Search for a pointless pretending.

Copyright SGW 2006

Monday, November 6, 2006

Melody Gardot: Worrisome Heart

Curl up on the couch (in my case, with the cat), light some candles and hit the play button - Melody Gardot might have a "Worrisome Heart," but she talks about it with a voice that combines uncommon depth with gentle, soothing textures. Gardot's is a blues/jazz sound that is smooth and yet also raw and impassioned.

The layers of Gardot's songs are blended together within an at times playful, tenderness, and at other moments a sultry, slow and seductive undercurrent. Joined by superb musicians, which includes Gardot's own guitar playing and some down right fine piano (particularly on "Quiet Fire"), Gardot puts forth an effort that will take you to a dark, musty bar somewhere buried away inside the places where the heart resides. She sneaks up on the listener in many cases, with a finger snapping beat. However, at other times, such as on "Wicked Ride," Gardot tugs at the deepest elements of the soul.

In reading the liner notes of "Worrisome Heart," or on her website, Gardot mentions a terrible accident she suffered involving her and a jeep. She has obviously been through a tremendous challenge that only serves to enhance what she has accomplished here. "Some Lessons" touches upon the experience, but in a way that is inspiring and promising. One cannot help but to admire Melody Gardot for her strength.

Nothing I can say will do Melody Gardot true justice as an artistic talent. The only thing I can recommend if you want to connect with an amazingly gifted singer/songwriter of the blues/jazz genre is to buy "Worrisome Heart." Do it now! Melody needs a pair of pants (read her myspace site).

Poem: Gone


The long goodbyes will never end
A breaking heart that cannot mend
The strongest will does break and bend

The empty soul has simply died
So starved for love that’s been denied
Discovered truth had also lied

The dreams once sure have washed away
Replaced by thoughts of yesterday
A bed’s gone cold where once we’d lay

Copyright SGW 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Poem: Cry Tears

Cry Tears

I cry tears
Drops of joy loving you
Cleansing streams down my cheek

I cry tears
Not sad ones today
Awash, my tears swim
Gliding along contours of a face
With an ear to ear grin

I cry tears
Whether real or imagined
The heart of a streaming river
Beautifully woven into a tender path

I cry tears
And they are warm
They are sweet
I cry tears that speak ... I love you, I love you, I love you ...

Copyright SGW 2005

Monday, October 9, 2006


Anyone who reads this site knows about My Cancer Story. One of the things that has come along with my post-cancer experience is the need for keeping on top of my health. I see my oncologist every year for a Chest X-Ray and blood work, go every three years for a CT-Scan, get a physical every year and a half that includes a PSA, and I get a colonoscopy every three years or so.

A lot of people are afraid of colonoscopies, or they simply figure they are an unnecessary hassle. What they are, are potential life savers that will either provide for a clean bill of health or find problems before they become far more dire. Any procedure has a risk attached to it, and a colonoscopy is no different. However, if you are in your forties or have a family history that suggests an earlier need, a colonoscopy is a wise choice.

They are not too bad either. The day before prep is pretty shitty (pun intended), but beyond that, you get an IV, go to sleep, wake up a little bit later and go home with a bit of bloated gas.

I urge people who should be scheduling colonoscopies to do so, and soon. To ignore something does not mean it is not there.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Poem: Write A Poem

Write A Poem

Could write a poem
Reeking of frustration
Showing itself in resignation
A sense of pervasive despair
And anger would flash
Reckless wrath in all directions

Could write a poem
Dripping in sadness
Melancholic suffering formed
Revealing uncontrolled impatience
Shadows of time's eclipse
An "alone" unmasking oldness

Could write a poem
Where destiny intersects
Cursed to failure
A hopeless unhappiness
Given to an enduring beat
Rhythmically repeating "Not for you, not for you"

Could write a poem
Yes, I could write a poem

Copyright SGW 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Being a patriot

"We used to look at environmentalism as a hobby for the high-minded. But conserving energy and living a "green" lifestyle is actually the most patriotic thing you can do today. It fights global warming, protects nature, shrinks our dependence on foreign oil and makes America a model others want to follow. Green is the new red, white and blue."

- Thomas Friedman

I came across this and I find it to cut right through to a definite truth. I am not saying any person can be perfect in their environmentalism. I am not myself by a long shot. A lot of the paths are too expensive for the average person at this time. Also, society can make things close to impossible sometimes.

That said, don't come singing to me about patriotism if you make no effort at all to conserve, protect and nurture our natural resources. Driving inefficient vehicles, promoting over-development, tossing cigarette butts on the sidewalk, not trying to recycle in even the smallest way, or not showing a genuine respect for life that is truly alive (that means forests, rivers, wildlife, etc...,) are all threats to the long-term health of this country (not to mention the planet). No terrorist can ever do as much damage to our way of life as we do each day ourselves by not being red, white, blue ... and green.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Poem: The Rain

The Rain

I am the rain
I love the rain

With soaking touch
I am the rain
Of sweeping reach
I love the rain
Through quenching breath
I am the rain
By puddles formed
I love the rain
To flowing streams
I am the rain
From beating drops
I love the rain
In rhythmic strokes
I am the rain
This rainy day

I love the rain
I am the rain

Wind blown trees
Broken branches
Luminous puddles form
Rain beats down with endless vigor
Grayed skies show no sign of relenting

The rain ... the rain ... the rain

Cold skirmishes with alerted hairs on exposed arms
Drops trickle down a smooth cheek

I am the rain

Copyright SGW 2006

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Poem: Muffler

In a meditation circle, one person mentioned how her muffler had fallen off her car. She was very self-conscious driving, for fear she would disturb others along the road. This evolved into a discussion on how we muffle ourselves as people. Oh sure, no one wants to hear the noisy car on the local roadways, but wouldn't it be great if we did not feel the need to stifle who we are as people so often in our daily lives?

This is what the poem below is about. There are times to be discreet and "muffled," but they should be so much less frequent then they seem to be.


The muffler fell off my metaphorical car
And I am free to be
Be me
Whatever that may infer

No longer stifled by conventional device

I will be the poet
Dance along the yellow dividing line on Main Street
Seek a meditative awareness
Walk through a sprinkler's mist
Admire a pretty image

My muffler fell off ... Hooray!
Watch me laughing

Copyright SGW 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Poem: We Are The Enemy

We Are The Enemy

Our righteousness shattered
The cause torn a’shred
Values once noble
Long gone and dead

Led by the mindless
War crimes the call
The hand of the sword
Is grasping our fall

What do we win
If the cost is the soul
Freedoms have vanished
Down a bottomless hole

A beacon of virtue
Now symbols to hate
Of cowboys and cowards
How sad is our fate

Won’t learn the lessons
Mindlessly act
Extremism’s flourish;
To ignore every fact

Adrift with no compass
Awash in the crime
We are the enemy
The past was our time

Copyright SGW 2006

Wingnuts will say, "See another liberal who loves every country but his own. Another liberal who would weaken America." That would be a typical response based on the fearmongering tendencies of the right and the insecurity they consistently show when anyone questions the idiocy of the Bush Administration's foreign policies and domestic tearing apart of our constitutional rights.

Sorry, wingnuts, but this poem is not about hating America. It is how our rudderless leadership in Washington has squandered our world position, weakened our security, caused terrorism to spread to places it had not previously existed, had a hand in countless and unnecessary death and destruction, violated the U.S. Constitution over and over again, narrowed our freedoms, and ... taken the United States of America and made it much less than the idealistic and exalted place I believe it once was and wish it to be again.

This is not a poem that hates America. It is a piece that despises those who have disgraced this country and made it something less. "We Are The Enemy" is a statement about George Bush and his Administration.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Sam Phillips - I Need Love

This song has been around for awhile, but I felt like putting it up today.

I Need Love

I left my conscience like a crying child
Locked the doors behind me put the pain on file
Broken like a window I see my blindness now

I need love
Not some sentimental prison
I need God
Not the political church
I need fire
To melt the frozen sea inside me
I need love

Driving into town tired and depressed
Like a flare the streetlight bursts an S.O.S.
Peace comes to my rescue I don't know what it means

I need love
Not some sentimental prison
I need God
Not the political church
I need fire
To melt the frozen sea inside me
I need love

Sam Phillips 1994

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Khalid Hosseini – The Kite Runner

I have never been to Afghanistan; most Americans can say that. Few of us knew much about it before the U.S. military strikes on the Taliban following September 11. Even now, what we know is based on the news reports we see on television.

Still, what do we really know? It is in this lack of familiarity with Afghanistan that Khaled Hosseini brings us his superbly written bestseller, “The Kite Runner.” The storyteller in Hosseini’s tale is Amir, who as a young and privileged Pashtun in Kabul in the early 1970’s, lives a sheltered life, unaware of the struggles surrounding him, nor of the turbulence about to overtake Afghanistan. Through is uneasy relationship with his father and a conflicted friendship with a Hazara servant’s son, Hassan, the story unfolds as a series of choices that shape the lives of the main characters of the book.

As Amir and his father eventually escape their crumbling country, first for Pakistan and later America, we get tastes of the chaos that gripped Afghanistan in the 80’s and 90’s. The shadow of the Taliban’s oppressive rule takes form, but it is a distant one to the Americanized and contented Amir; contented, except for the secret he left behind with his Afghani childhood. Confronted with the past, Amir returns to Afghanistan, and only now do we get to see the true and agonizing pictures of Afghanistan under the twisted and sickening Taliban rule. Also revealed is Amir's opportunity to atone for the past that had seemingly slipped away from him.

“The Kite Runner” should be required reading for Americans who too often assume knowledge of that which they do not know. It is eye-opening in its poignancy and rawness. Hosseini provides us with the horrors of life we cannot comprehend, but he also shows us the genuine humanness of a people through many touching and genuine moments.

“The Kite Runner” is both a tragedy and a story of redemptive love, and it is told in a style that holds the reader firmly in its grip. It is a book that will matter long after it slips from the bestseller lists, remaining a worthy read for years to come. However, the time to read it is now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Red Molly: "Never Been to Vegas"

Finally, all is right in the world (ok, not really, but allow me my hyperbole)! Red Molly has released a full length, mostly live CD. The Appalachia-based sound the trio brings to bare is no longer limited to a 4-song EP, as we now have fourteen gems to soothe us on their newly released “Never Been to Vegas.”

Reviewing individual songs or dissecting “Vegas” is not my goal. All that must be said now is that Red Molly provides a vibrancy and life to songs that has never been more clear than on this CD. Their harmonies are divinely imparted and the musical accompaniments serve as vital enhancements to each song. You even get a bit of the girl’s friendly banter.

Buy “Never Been to Vegas” now on CDBaby. Until you do so, your music collection is incomplete.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Dance of the Spirit

The dance was beauty, pure and simple. It took the resistance within me and spoke to it; telling the inner struggle it was time for silence and a place of safety and warmth.

And so the sweetness of the dance took hold of my spirit.

Meeting head to head or as a triumvirate of twisting and flying masses or in the gentle trust of passivity, the waves of cleansing love touched me.

A sprinkling of the waters was felt in earnest and lingered long after. Then, again, in a circle, more healing water was brought forth. And I was offered it to bathe in to soothe my skin.

It was God who spoke to me and said, "My child, you are blessed and good and will be given the best that life can provide. Be patient and know Me as your protecting voice for I truly love you."

I am here. I am in truth and openness. I am strong enough to dance and sing and find stillness. Through the pain, that will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Poem: Dreams


Long last found, her gentle touch
A body warm to hold
Kisses melting upon my lips
Her beauty I behold.

That soothing voice that fills my ears
A laughter tender so
Every moment within her midst
Is all I need to know.

She lies beside me and speaks my name
I love her quiet sigh
Her passion rises in basking glow
My love I can’t deny.

With morning comes new realizations
Another evening’s past it seems
This loving time I held to firmly
Was just another of my dreams.

Now each night I cling with need
My lover I hope I find
As eyes grow heavy and thoughts grow dim
I seek her in my mind.

Copyright SGW 1999

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Poem: Atlantic


She is tender
Tingling of toes
Whisper in an ear
With cooled, soothing touch
Blessed of uncontained love

She is peaceful
Gifts of giving
Quiet in a breath
With soft, knowing charm
Comfort of Earth’s heaven

She is a late afternoon beside the Atlantic

Copyright SGW 2006

Monday, June 12, 2006

Poem: Love of Life

Love of Life

Life is too short
I want to live
Really live
With heart
The love of God,
Good friends and family.

Life is so wonderful
I am going to live
Really live
With love
The compassion of spirit,
Charitable giving and heart.

Copyright SGW 1999

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Indigo Girls - "The Wood Song"

My regulars know I like to post lyrics from time to time of songs that genuinely speak to me. I have been a fan of Indigo Girls since the late 80's. Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are both writers who display amazing depth, dimension and to-the-heart reflection.

During some pretty dark moments in my life a long time ago, the music of Indigo Girls helped pull me through. I had the good fortune of meeting Amy Ray and thanking her for the influence she brings to my poetry and my soul. Both Ray and Saliers appear on my thank you page in my self-published 1996 poetry book, "Just On My Mind."

Anyway, I have been going through an Indigo Girls retrospective for a few days now, and one song that does not get a great deal of consideration, even within their fan base, but is a particular favorite of mine, is "The Wood Song." For me, this song sums up what makes life worth living in many ways. Our days on this planet are not easy, but if they were, would they be as joyously felt in good moments?

Here's some lyrics from a duo who I love dearly for their musical gifts.

The Wood Song

The thin horizon of a plan is almost clear
My friends and I have had a tough time
Bruising our brains hard up against change
All the old dogs and the magician
Now I see were in the boat in two by twos
Only the heart that we have for a tool we could use
And the very close quarters are hard to get used to
Love weighs the hull down with its weight
But the wood is tired and the wood is old
And well make it fine if the weather holds
But if the weather holds well have missed the point
Thats where I need to go

No way construction of this tricky plan
Was built by other than a greater hand
With a love that passes all out understanding
Watching closely over the journey
Yeah but what it takes to cross the great divide
Seems more than all the courage I can muster up inside
Although we get to have some answers when we reach the other side
The prize is always worth the rocky ride
But the wood is tired and the wood is old
And well make it fine if the weather holds
But if the weather holds well have missed the point
Thats where I need to go

Sometimes I ask to sneak a closer look
Skip to the final chapter of the book
And then maybe steer us clear from some of the pain it took
To get us where we are this far yeah
But the question drowns in its futility
And even I have got to laugh at me
No one gets to miss the storm of what will be
Just holding on for the ride
The wood is tired and the wood is old
Well make it fine if the weather holds
But if the weather holds well have missed the point
Thats where I need to go

Words by Emily Sailers of Indigo Girls

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Please, AARP, leave me alone for a few more years!

For the past two years, the AARP has sent me temporary membership cards, imploring me to join now. Today, I made it to the next level; a plastic membership card.

I am 42 years old.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Poem: Battles


The battle rages fiercely.
Defeat is countlessly imminent;
Yet there is fight,
A search for a plan of defense.
Setbacks build layers of despair
Buried under ever-mounting obstacles.

Each scar or cut grows,
Within the mind moreso than about.
Fear overwhelms where strength once blossomed,
Yet forward visions yield wants;
Dreams of better days bring life.

Another day passes with tears and belief;
Mixed incongruities of the battle.
The soul is the stake to claim.
Each next moment is an unending answer;
To quit or battle on.

Copyright SGW 1999

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Poem: I'm An Accountant

Yes, I am an accountant, but this poem is not auto-biographical. It is based on outside auditors who came in to the office I worked in at the time. It is meant less to be mean, and more to have some fun with the stereotypes.

Oh, and I should mention that this poem has gotten me job offers.

Don't kill me; at 25 I did not like classical music, but do now. Plus there's nothing wrong with McNeill-Lehrer. Youth!

I’m an Accountant

Hey look at the dork
In the suit and the tie,
With the black rimmed glasses.
Who is that guy?

He’s got pens in his shirt pocket;
Hair cut short and so neat;
Always clean shaven;
Black shoes on his feet.

I’m an accountant.
Watch out for me.
I’m an accountant.
Don’t you wish you could be ...
An accountant
With my six-column pad.
An accountant
With my shirt colored plaid.

He stays late every evening,
But so loves to work.
Ask him to party,
He thinks you’re a jerk.

He says, “How can you go out,
With a job still undone?
Who needs a social life?
Accounting’s such fun.”

I’m an accountant.
Watch out for me.
I’m an accountant.
Don’t you wish you could be ...
An accountant
With my six-column pad.
An accountant
With my shirt colored plaid.

The last time he dated
The girl fell asleep.
Fun’s watching McNeill-Lehrer;
He thinks it’s so deep.

Doesn’t own cable television.
He thinks it’s a bore.
And he won’t listen to rock.
He likes classical more.

I’m an accountant.
Watch out for me.
I’m an accountant.
Don’t you wish you could be ...
An accountant
With my six-column pad.
An accountant
With my shirt colored plaid.

So look at him walking;
Clumsy and slow.
He’s a drip top to bottom;
From head down to toe.

I’m an accountant.
Watch out for me
I’m an accountant.
Don’t you wish you could be ...
An accountant
With my six-column pad.
An accountant
With my shirt colored plaid.

Copyright SGW 1989

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The West Wing

Cynics would call it fantasy and liberal hogwash. I would say it is what we are, yes ARE, capable of. President Bartlett had flaws, as did the people who worked under him on NBC's "The West Wing." The show had failings, too; namely most of the last 2 1/2 years until its revitalization over the past month or so. But "The West Wing" was still a great show and a reminder to us all.

Ultimately, President Bartlett represented our better selves. His administration was America as Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and others imagined it - striving to do what was best, basically noble intentioned and a home for freedom and justice.

Call me hokey and remind me that it was only television. Maybe. But in the face of the worst of what we can be governing us today in the real world, a seven year glimpse of the best of who might be was a place I will always want to look in upon.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Poem: River


River flows gently with quiet resolve
Life's many hardships in time may dissolve
Softly the tides of the water bring ease
Silently drifting 'neath firm-standing trees
Washed in the current that cleanses the skin
Spirit finds healing without and within
Calming sensations surrounded in bliss
Safety and comfort of God's loving kiss
Unwittingly restful, pains wash away
Here, in the river, where hearts hope to stay

Copyright SGW 2006

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Juanita Yoder - Artist extraordinaire

I recently attended Juanita Yoder's Art Open House and I must rave about her work one more time. The woman has a gift that is beyond words I am capable of expressing.

If you belong to a church that is looking into seriously enhancing their place of worship with art that can truly touch the spirit, please check out her "Public and Liturgical Installations" page. In particular, look at the "Stations of the Cross" project she recently completed for a church in Arizona. Juanita creates based on the architectural structure, the nature of the space and what she comes away with from meeting with the people of that church.

Mother's Day is around the corner, too. While you cannot see scarves and other clothing on her website, they are beautiful. Trust me. Her silk creations are stunning to the eye.

Check Juanita Yoder's work out for yourself. If you live near Princeton, go into Princeton Cathedral and view the six pieces hanging there. If you live near Lambertville, NJ, go to Greene and Greene and see her paintings and scarves. Ok, that's enough of that.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Honey On My Grave - Abbie Gardner

Abbie Gardner has released a collection of songs on "Honey On My Grave" that puts on full display a degree of complexity and range of musical influence that is rarely equaled. Gardner, also a member of the Appalachia-based group Red Molly, blends together multiple genres throughout the CD, and it is that mixture of styles that becomes her greatest strength. "Honey" finds a voice in pop, blues, Appalachia, torch songs, bluegrass, and folk. It is impossible not to be excited as each new track approaches, wondering what Gardner will do next.

Some songs will sound familar to everyone, such as "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Hit the Road Jack," the former sensually alluring and the latter done with a poignant simplicity and fortitude. Gardner's vocal range comes forth on "Ain't Misbehavin," but also on songs such as "Honey On My Grave," and "Breath Again" in unique and interesting ways. All her efforts provide the listener with a sense of passion, intensity, heartfelt emotion, and a bit of the rascality so evident in Gardner's live shows.

The playfulness that comes out in those live shows is most clearly revealed in Gardner's fan favorites "Caffeine" and "Ohio." You don't get any of Gardner's jokes on this CD(come on Abbie, tell us the one about the antenna wedding!), but her clever charms are wide open for viewing on these songs. What makes "Ohio" particularly fun is in the knowing that it was inspired by the first word Gardner came upon while watching TV - a song was born from a seeming nowhere.

Abbie Gardner is an accomplished musician as well, and her trademark dobro can be found throughout the various tracks of "Honey On My Grave." However, Gardner has also surrounded herself with an array of skilled artisans that are up to the task of keeping pace with her. Matt Munisteri, guitar, Peter Carr, banjo, Benny Rietveld, bass, and fellow Red Mollyer, Laurie MacAllister, background vocals, shine in support. Pat Wictor joins in on a duet to end the CD,"You Got To Move," that is a wonderful closing number to a great eleven songs.

Abbie Gardner is an incredible talent, vocally, instrumentally, as a songwriter, and through her presence. "Honey On My Grave" is a testament to all of those marks of skill that she possesses. I have my copy. Why don't you have yours?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Poem: Legacy


President Bush a leader only in name
Through stolen elections and manipulative game
Not up to the challenge and of limited mind
Comes off as stubborn, tone deaf and blind
He can't see his failings and will not shift direction
It's a misguided voter who still shows him affection

History will scribe him as the greatest of liars
He led us to war with illicit conspires
The "nukular" threat was completely a fiction
Fed by the money of an oil addiction
No link to bin Laden or the pain of September
A foe was created time revealed a pretender
Meanwhile, distracted from the real war unfinished
Our focus removed, though the threat's not diminished
Al Qaeda rebuilds in the Afghani wild
While Georgie gives slogans and a stupefied smile

Domestically speaking he's short-shrifted protection
Securing the homeland no concern post-election
Plants stand unguarded and ports are a sieve
Katrina revealed slight attention he'd give

He's stirred up religion as a means of dividing
Compassion he preaches, yet there's none he's providing
Portraying devoutness in his heart for a God
But it's 'nary much more than a Rove-made facade
Programs for needy he has slashed to the core
While the wealthy got tax cuts and he'd gladly give more
Decisions are made currying big business favor
When it comes to his cronies he will surely not waver

As the Leaker in Chief he defined his real making
If you're looking for values he sincerely is faking
The legacy forms as a man of small measure
Where heroes might lead he prefers time for leisure

He'll talk like a cowboy and pretend to be strong
His hollow bravado yields decisions all wrong
A compass-less captain on a ship undirected
He hides in the White House unaware or affected
Void of a conscience o'er the damage he's wrought
That's all there can be of a presidency bought

A verdict forthcoming is a must, I beseech
This time there is reason and a need to impeach
No sexual contrivance, but a betrayal of nation
Institutions longstanding he has brought desecration

I'd go on ad nauseam, but the image is clear
With George Bush in power there is too much to fear

Copyright SGW 2006

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Poem: My Father's Son

My Father's Son

I am my father's son
Loving openly
With displays of affection

Bringing a voice to the cause
Desirous of healing all wounds

Yet playful
And curious
And filled with a million words

I am my father's son

Copyright SGW 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tina Vero: Award winning musician

Tina Vero has been garnering attention of late for a four song CD release. One song, “Nowhere,” was runner up in the AAA/Alternative Category of the International Acoustic Music Awards. No arguments with that, as the songs on this CD are all gems. It would seem that the worst criticism that can be leveled upon Vero’s effort is that there are only four songs to enjoy, when one craves so much more.

With guitar playing hinting of Ani Difranco, and a soft, yet powerful voice reminiscent of Dar Williams and Jonatha Brooke, Tina Vero weaves stories of vivid imagery and complex musical arrangement. Together, these tools provide Vero with an ability to bring about a discussion of life’s experiences in a way that is uniquely her own, yet familiar, too.

The previously mentioned “Nowhere” has brought Vero acclaim and it is the portrayal of a person’s conflicted emotions of regret and longing that make this song stand out. Vero writes of love beyond grasp and a loss of control as life marches on. However, she does so with a free-flowing sound that points to moving forward whether we want to or not.

The CD opens with “Angel Chasing” and its haunting guitar and vocal arrangements. This song speaks with a combination of innocence and subtle frustration. The struggle that is life is depicted with a searching and uncertain touch, but it is within this lack of clarity that Vero finds a voice so true to life.

“Memory of Me” picks up this inner conflict in the form of the proverbial loving passing in the night. We make mistakes, choose the wrong paths and are unsure if what is right is within our capacities decide upon. Vero does not provide easy answers, but instead shares the turmoil of emotions with a pinpoint accuracy.

The final song on the CD, “Try,” begins as a placid piece, only to give rise to a forcefulness that we are unaware of until it is fully engaged. Speaking again of the past, Vero reveals discord, this time in whether to recapture something lost, move on or learn from the experience.

Tina Vero’s intricate writing style could easily overwhelm her musicianship and voice were she not equally adept in these two forums. Her guitar playing can be soft and tender or driven and fierce. She has the skill to meet any challenge instrumentally.

Vocally, Vero is an angel. Yet, once more, she is hardly one-dimensional. Her sweet voice ranges from the soothing to the fiery. She is at once reflective and then intensely strong. In listening to Vero, one cannot help but gain a sense of her passion for living and her search for something more.

Tina Vero is a singer-songwriter who will stir up the pot and, with an unusual rawness and integrity, will provide a portrait of human frailty. She displays life within the context of emotional fluctuation. Could anything be more honest? If you wish to be challenged to think beyond boundaries, you will find a friend in Vero. You will also be granted the chance to hear a beautiful voice and inspiring tone.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Eggs and Equinox

On Monday, at 1:26 EST, my officemates and I shared the Vernal Equinox together by attempting to get an egg to stand. I had brought the egg in and had given it pep talks on the drive to work.

We gathered around the egg and made repeated efforts to get it to stand. According to myth, it should do so.

It did not. Perhaps the egg experienced performance anxiety. Maybe it cracked under pressure. Heh ... heh ... heh. All I know for sure is that the egg did not stand.

The egg came back home with me after work. Today it is on the menu.

Addendum: The egg tasted good.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Poem: Fuller View

Fuller View

I've taken to pen with disturbance of mind
My left-leaning brethren all too often seem blind
We rightly condemn all the fools we've "elected"
And also appointments that they've wrongly selected

Liberals blast Israel for oppressive enactions
But if we take time we'd notice our misguided reactions
It's not that it's wrong finding Israel in error
Yet look at surroundings and see a life full of terror
While Palestinians suffer in unsavory position
It's in Arabic countries of their gravest condition

And I don't wish to make any blanket declarings
Still the need for some fairness is a call for comparing
When the Towers were falling many found cause for singing
At the feet of dead soldiers, cheers to Allah they're bringing
Mohammad's portrayal revealed justified fury
Yet the Jew as the devil is a daily-shown story
If American forces so much as walk in a shrine
Desecration is hollered as an unholy sign
Temples once built as a haven for psalms
Destroyed by the evil of sectarian bombs

The point I am making is our shadows are dark
Answers are fleeting, seeming vague more than stark
Hatred is hatred by degree and relation
Until all is accounted then none find salvation
Excuses disable any chance for redemption
Whether Jew, Muslim, Christian, no one gets an exemption
Joy over suffering or a glee in one pain
Regardless of source, it leaves an unrighteous stain
When respectful, compassion for all sides can be nourished
Only then will we find that God's loving has flourished
None get a pass until all live in peace
And all live in peace when the hate comes to cease

Copyright SGW 2006

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jason McElwain - A Beautiful Story

I feel bad for Jason McElwain, in that the honor of meeting the President of the United States, left him with meeting George Bush. However, if you want to watch the amazing video of this incredible young man, go here. If you don't cry, you are not alive.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

The Vintage Man - Hafiz

The Vintage Man

Between a good artist
And a great one


The novice
Will often lay down his tool
Or brush

Then pick up an invisible club
On the mind's table

And helplessly smash the easels and Jade.

Whereas the vintage man
No longer hurts himself or anyone

And keeps on


From "The Gift" - Poems by Hafiz

Friday, March 3, 2006

Silk Painting - "River"

My favorite silk-screen painting from the artist, Juanita Yoder. I look at it and feel the water flowing.

See my poem: River.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Poem: Now This is Writer's Block

Now This is Writer's Block

Copyright SGW 1999

Monday, February 20, 2006

Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

I am not yet finished reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," but the book does a stellar job of portraying a large part of what made Lincoln one of our greatest Presidents; the strength of character to seek out dissenting opinions and differing views, and the willingness to adjust his thinking when he was wrong or something did not work. The book is teeming with examples and serves as a dramatic contrast to a failing presidency that can only be characterized by its circle of like-minded voices and "yes men" who, especially the top dog, cannot admit error in any case and is wholly unwilling to change course.

One quote in the book, attributed to Fred Seward, the son of Secretary of State William Seward, sums up Lincoln's greatness and Bush's complete lack thereof. It reads: "Presidents and Kings are not apt to see flaws in their own arguments, but fortunately for the Union, it had a president (Lincoln), at this critical juncture, who combined logical intellect with unselfish heart."

Woe are we for our national lack of a Lincoln to steer at the helm of our current crises at home and abroad.

I highly recommend reading "Team of Rivals" if you are into U.S. history and the Civil War. It is a well written and detailed account of Lincoln and the other men who helped save this nation.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Poem: Little Boy

Little Boy

The little boy in me
Keeps me real.
The little boy in me
Helps me feel.

The little boy in me
Holds an impish smile.
The little boy in me
Has a playful style.

The little boy in me
Treasures ice cream so.
The little boy in me
Is always on the go.

The little boy in me
Hides my mother’s bags.
The little boy in me
Every cookie grabs.

The little boy in me
Excites in each new passion.
The little boy in me
Brings a sure compassion.

The little boy in me
Can fill a heart with joy.
The little boy in me
Will stay forever boy.

Copyright SGW 1998

Footnote: I worked in the town next to where my mom and her husband used to live. On Friday mornings, they would pack suitcases and leave them in the hallway by the door. When they would come home that day after work, they would load up the car and head to their country house in the Poconos for the weekend. I would sneak over at lunchtime and take the suitcases and hide them throughout the house.

"Every cookie grabs?!" Don't leave out chocolate cake either!

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Lauren Hart: 5 Lifetimes

Lauren Hart has a flaw: She is not a Rangers fan. Boo!! However, musically she is right on the money. The voice of the Philadelphia Flyers has recently released her third CD, "5 Lifetimes," and, with it, Hart has again let fly with the beautiful soul and gifted musicianship that makes her so special.

"5 Lifetimes" will have an air of familiarity to old fans of Lauren Hart. "What If Lonely" is reminiscent of her own "World Away" from her second CD, "Girl Keeps On." It is a reminder of the outsider and lonely call for love and warmth that Hart often speaks of. "Words Like Water," too, reminds me of "One Last Time" from "Painted Bride;"my favorite Hart song, in its message. However, in this case, perhaps the lesson has been learned and simply needs to be laid out to be understood.

For all the comforts of the sounds Hart's fans will recognize there is also much newness to the music on "5 Lifetimes." This is where the album finds its truest strength. "I Might Be" holds an air of sullenness, yet is also tender and hopeful. "Nothing But Happiness" puts on display Hart's pure power of voice and message.

"Watch That Girl" and "Queen Of The Scene" reveal Hart's own empowering, growing comfort in her own skin and hopefulness that she has begun to find her own space. While she is also self-evaluating, "It's when you think you can't move, that's when you need to be quick," she reminds herself, too, "No one is the boss of me." The listener is convinced that Hart has burst free of much of what had contained her in life and music, and she is ready to say, "World, here I am, hear me!"

Perhaps my favorite track is "Five." Midway through the CD, it shifts the emphasis of the songs to the hopeful and strengthened place Hart wants to let us know she is finding. "Five" is love told in a gentle voice, but with the sureness of patience that knows what it wants and will get it; "Five years or five days. Five lifetimes, I'd wait for you."

One interesting theme of the CD, that is partially revealed and in part subtle, comes about in different ways. Hart covers Paul McCartney's 1980 hit, "Coming Up" in a funkafied version that best captures the essence of her live shows. She adds soul to the song and has clearly made it her own. Whether intentional or not, there seems to be some Beatles referencing going on, too, as lines mention "Here comes the sun" and "Ticket to ride." Hmm.

All in all, anyone who listens to Lauren Hart, walks away moved and inspired, and "5 Lifetimes" is a worthy contributor to Hart's message. While she is a huge favorite in the Philly area, as the city seems to have embraced her as sister and daughter and friend, her's is a voice, spirit and sound for anyone who needs good music. "5 Lifetimes" is a welcome addition to my collection. It should be to yours.

Oh, and Lauren: LET'S GO RANGERS!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Poem: State Of The Union

State of the Union

State of the Union is completely a mess
President Chen ... um Bush ... should be forced to confess
Talks of Iraq, as successful, he's thinking
Can't help but wonder what exactly he's drinking
Troop strength is slipping, while insurgency lingers
Osama bin Laden has escaped through our fingers
Threatens Iran, but it's empty and hollow
Imperialistic designs, now the world will not follow
Ahmadinejad is crazy; he's a threat to this nation
But so are police states and their secret creation
Wiretaps, surveillance, the Constitution dismissed
Declare people traitors who attempt to resist
Meanwhile the country is awash in division
When a leader won't lead us, there's no hope to envision
Sacrifice New Orleans through negligent planning
While flames of corruption he is willingly fanning
Our resources, play things, he will sell with no thought
When it comes to the planet he is paid for and bought
And so on and so on, it's a litany of failing
No matter the lies he insists on detailing
The State of the Union has been sullied and tainted
Least with his daddy, the worst was he fainted

Copyright SGW 2006

Friday, January 27, 2006

Poem: Closer Look

Closer Look

Fear as to what we’re becoming
Led to a mindless, down-dumbing

Discarding all thoughtful observing
Think the world’s a birthright deserving

Devoid of a reasoned abstraction
Simplified speech as distraction

Falsely the prophets beseeching
Blindness and hatred they’re teaching

Fool on the hill masks all failings
Slogans for lies are his wailings

Divines himself holy crusader
Serves in the role of invader

Legions of minions conspiring
Stealing their power untiring

Virtues are pliant and twisted
More righteous thought is resisted

The nation they’re shaping is broken
When will the masses be woken?

Copyright SGW 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Poem: Life Of A Leaf

Life of a Leaf

Conceived within spring’s nurturing warmth
Full of life
Proudly adorned
Held high in the sky.

Standing strong through summer’s unfailing heat
In rain
Thunder and lightning
With each hazy morn
Remaining intact
Stemmed to hold ground against the wind ...
Secured to one spot
A limiting view.


Into the breeze
Given flight
Over rivers
Through meadows
Past houses, cars and barking dogs
Without any control
Gaining insights into the world around.

At rest.

Fall’s approaching touch
Days grow shorter
Nights colder
The bright color of youth
Now aged and dulled
Not so proud
No longer high above the earth.

Left without the soft texture once owned
Slightly brittle
Best moments having passed
Fleeting time
Winding down.

One final joy
Children smiling
In and out
Happy to be a part of their game
The life of a leaf.

Copyright SGW 1997

Friday, January 6, 2006

Mao Tse Tung

Having just finished a biography of Mao Tse Tung, I am left with one thought: What a horrid creature he was. When a life overlaps the lives of Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot, to name but a few, and they look angelic by comparison, what does that say about the level of evil that was Mao?

The number of dead Chinese during his reign of terror was massive. Those who were forced into the most severe conditions of torture, poverty and hunger by his hand were even greater. His policies were devoid of reason, solely followed for his own purposes of decadence, pleasure and the pursuit of world domination. Mao had absolutely no redeeming qualities and little in the way of ability. He was an opportunist who was so ruthless that he gained an upper hand on others simply by being relentlessly evil.

The crimes committed by Mao Tse Tung are almost beyond belief. The story of his life is essentially the saga of the destruction of a people by a man who might be the worst this world has ever known.

Monday, January 2, 2006

Movie: Munich

Writer's Note: I was born and raised Jewish. I developed individually to be so pro-Israel, that as a young person, I would have defended Israel before the United States in a military action as I saw the cause as being more dire, necessary and noble. I still see things that way in many respects. For the most part, I currently take an overwhelmingly pro-Israel position on the Middle East conflict.

Steven Spielberg has spun another well told tale for us, and this one, "Munich," is the story of the Black September terrorist murders of 11 Israeli olympians at the 1972 games. "Munich" is a possible re-telling of the story of the Israeli response to these murders and the affects on those assigned to fight the battle and on the world at large.

Feeling rage and helplessness as the Israelis are taken and butchered, one cannot help but find resolve to act much as the government of Israel did at the time; by striking back. A show of force appeared necessary to let the world know that Jews would no longer take death lying down and would fight back in the face of worldwide indifference. Palestinian terrorism had opened a wound and Israel was certain to exact an eye for an eye.

But "Munich" is much more complicated than the initial emotions of that time and it is here that Spielberg deserves the most credit. Avner, played by Eric Bana, is the Mossad agent assigned to hunt and kill those behind the Munich massacre and he is Spielberg's conduit for the inner turmoil that is put on display by these actions.

Avner feels a sense of duty and loyalty to Israel, and so he takes on this task. He also has a responsibility to protect his family. But does he? He begins to wonder as the cycle of violence grows and the events he is participating in spin out of control. Also, he begins to question whether the violence can ever end.

Spielberg seems to use this movie as a device to explore our present battle against terrorism. Do we become the enemy who we see as evil, immoral and cruel by slipping down to their levels in fighting back? Does Israel do so in 1972? Do we against al Qaeda today? Is fighting back required to avoid extinction or does it only assure mindless escalation?

Spielberg is also willing to show us the Arab perspective of wanting a home and how determined those without one are to obtain such a place. No one is innocent in this drama and no one is wholly guilty either.

"Munich" is gruesome at times and also tears at our inner fibers as we feel disgusted and shame for our own hate and anger at the same time that we scream out for vengeance and justice. What we are left with, much as Avner is, are scars that never heal.

Spielberg leaves us with more questions then answers as "Munich" ends. However, he closes with a climactic camera shot that has us begging for a way out before we no longer can find it.