The Garden of Paranoia

March 5, 2013  :: 0 comments

It returned every night for months and frightened the middle-aged reporter, aspiring novelist blessed and cursed with an uncanny imagination. The haunting dream swept across his unconscious psyche and implanted the eerie seeds of terror in his battered flesh, the pounding and thumping of his heart, the crushing blows of death, profuse sweating mixed with the stench of a thunderous …


December 8, 2012  :: 0 comments

Little separates us from death, I learned on that mournful summer day of unbearable loss. With an oxygen tank by her side, in my parents’ bedroom, she passed to the other side 47-years ago in a nanosecond, a vanishing demarcation point of no return. Just seconds before her real passage, she suddenly was unconscious, then abruptly awake again, crying out, “I thought I was dying.” And then she left us forever, her enchanting, luminous face and glittering gold eyes lifeless.

At the funeral home, Father forced me to kiss Mother’s corpse. “Kiss her goodbye,” he commanded with the absolute authority of a king or a 3-star general. Still in shock, a young man and orphan, I bent down over the wooden coffin and kissed her cold forehead. She wasn’t there nor was I.

What I kissed was not Mother. Her spirit-her contagious, joyous, divine soul-had already left the shell I gazed at. And what I touched and tasted was not Mother but the chilling abyss of nothingness to which we all return. Yet clinging to that dark, barren memory, I often return to that soulless wasteland on a summer night, when even a cool breeze launches me into a chilling and desperately lonely place where I search for Mother once again.


featured in the poetry forum December 8, 2012  :: 0 comments

The little man, shriveled up and still,
lay in the wooden coffin, his gold
tooth glittering in the vast silence.

Once a furious sphere of dark energy
that whirled and swirled around me,
and inside my head, forever inside,
he was Father, a wolf that devoured
my spirit, my unforgiving cannibalistic
Father whom I loved and loathed.

He lay in the wooden coffin, his dark
brown eyes vacant and far away. I
bent over the coffin and whispered,
“Fire and ice, ice and fire.”

Inside my brain, a boiling, seething
heat overflowed, a waterfall of fire
cascading down and flooding my
psyche. Yet a cold chill replaced
the heat.

I can’t recall how long my emotions
were wrapped in ice. I took a deep
breath that spanned decades of despair,
exhaled my rage, and spoke through
the eerie silence to his empty dark
brown eyes.

I whispered, “Father, I forgive you!”

editors note:

Best to send our anger through the dead-flesh door than to let it rot on the life-side. Forgive! – mh


featured in the poetry forum August 13, 2012  :: 0 comments

Riding the Q train to Brooklyn, returning to my roots,
I look out the window; a glorious sun paints the sky

turquoise, and the sea a glittering mirror of blended
blues and greens and majestic gold.

And I listen to the susurrations of the sea in my
dreamscape as the Q hisses and growls, bellows

and shrieks; the antediluvian train rushes forth
and stops suddenly as it struggles to cross the
Manhattan Bridge.

The Q’s on fire beneath the August sun. It chugs
along the seething tracks to a primeval Brooklyn,

as pristine as the whooper swan sailing above
Iceland and across the globe;

Cygnus cygnus soars high in the heavens and
across Space and Time,

vanishing in a snow-covered memory.

Riding the Q train to Old Brooklyn, I long to go
home; I want to disappear in the deep snow of

my youth; it’s winter there for the boy I used to
be. Mother sits with him and feeds him grand

I crave Old Brooklyn where Mother died too
soon. Her ghost sits with the apparition of
the boy-poet.

I long to return. But I can’t. Or can I? The Q
is about to enter DeKalb Avenue, the first
station in Brooklyn.

I close my eyes and fall asleep. I dream about
the whooper swan. We vanish together.

editors note:

Riding an old train with new perspective; memories forever hung in now. – mh


April 14, 2012  :: 0 comments

A dark container and a human garbage bin, I breathe foul air,
inhale toxic dreamscapes, and listen to sin, the eerie
darkness of
my patients.

Many are crippled by fear, victims of trauma they witnessed,
or discovered, or experienced, life-threatening
happenings of the past; or perhaps,
they continue to be

It’s the unholy stuff of film noir and in the boroughs of New
York City, the quotidian terrorism of the ghetto.
So what can victims do?

They come to me, the Brooklyn shrink, and slowly, shed
their nightmares. They can’t bear their dirty
secrets of rape, incest, and suicide.

They furiously exhale their psychological and physiological
poisons and breathe seething toxins of
murder and domestic violence
into my psyche and

and leave a gaping hole in my quintessence. When I inhale
their horrific tales, I feel sick, desperately ill.
Yet at the end of the day, I will
exorcise these poisons-
demons of my patients’
minds and bodies.

I must cleanse my being, for tomorrow, I will breathe the
darkness again; tomorrow, I will courageously
face the monstrous abyss of Hell
again and again.

I’m the Brooklyn shrink. Each day, I risk my life.
A fearless warrior and peacemaker,
I travel through many
wastelands on the
road to

Such is the way of a shrink and healer.
It is the journey I have


featured in the poetry forum April 14, 2012  :: 0 comments

Like a rat in a maze, an unwilling subject in a sinister experiment,
exposed and disposable,
I wander through
the bleak, barren
streets of

What’s my sin? Old and obsolete, someone pressed the delete key
and transmogrified me into an invisible man,
a grotesque, ghostly pariah,
broke, unemployed,
and forgotten.

No one can see me now. How did this happen? Even Kafka was kinder,
his Metamorphosis of Gregor Samsa not as Machiavellian,
not as heinous or brutally evil as invisibility,
darkened by the pitch-black, piteous
streets of Brooklyn, the
labyrinthine wasteland
I travel through.

What will I do? I can’t find the exit. I’m Brooklyn’s invisible man.
But my brothers and sisters meander across the U.S.A.;
every lost day they inhale and exhale the
murderous miasma that’s spreading
to every town and city.

Beware! Invisibility will swallow your faces too, leaving no traces of
human life. Look closely. Yes, the epidemic’s coming your way
with fringe benefits-despair, hopelessness, and desperation.
Look closely at our beautiful nation and its people.

I’m the disheveled old man you can’t see. I’ve got a long gray beard
and wild hair. If you could see me, you’d shout: “Hello, Einstein!”
I wear torn jeans and tattered sneakers and a
George Carlin T-shirt. It says:
Too Much Stuff!
I carry an old Barnes & Noble green bag. It contains all my possessions-
4 books by Dostoevsky, Hesse, Vonnegut, and the divine author
of the Bible.

I’ve got enough except for food, water, and shelter. Homeless and invisible,
exposed and disposable, broke, unemployed, and forgotten,
I wander through the bleak,
barren streets of

What’s my sin? Does anyone out there know? Goodbye. Why?
An alien presses the delete key
and that’s the
end of

editors note:

There are more of these folk wandering every city. See them or see through them, avoid mirrors. – mh


featured in the poetry forum January 28, 2012  :: 0 comments

The view from above the cityscape is vast. It moves
and feeds my spirit. Yet my hazel eyes look south
and touch the elongated Void, an unbearable emptiness
mixed with metallic dust and human debris, rushing

toward my private mansion like never-ending waves of
desert dunes; and soon my house and I will be buried


So I look north, away from Yesterday’s wasteland and
the eerie, ineffable images imprinted in my psyche;

I look away. Yet still, I see swirling particles, once
human, sailing through the toxic air, plummeting to

earth. I can’t bear to see such evil.

I saunter off on the High Line, a defunct railroad
structure resurrected as a celestial park above the

streets of Manhattan.

My journey begins after sunrise on a sultry August
morning. I stroll across a walkway surrounded by


From time to time, I stop and reflect. The freight
trains used to run here decades ago. Now, a

glorious landscape of greenery replaces the
antediluvian rail line.
Lost in reverie, I walk for hours and swallow


the divine dreamscape. Half-a-day seems

like a lambent flame brushing across my face
before vanishing.

I drink effervescence. Time no longer exists.
And yet, after meandering through the

labyrinth of my mind and across walkways
and promenades, I turn around and head


I stop at the Chelsea Market Passage and sit
at a table. It’s almost sunset.

My eyes drift toward the Hudson River.
I wait.

I anticipate a glorious sunset. Yet
surreptitiously, I gaze at the

Manhattan skyline.

I see what isn’t there. The emptiness
eats my spirit.

The view is vast and devastating.
Each time I look back,

I die again.

editors note:

The view is amazing from up there, but the air is thin. It’s hard to know if what we discern is true vision or oxygen deprivation. – mh


featured in the poetry forum November 26, 2011  :: 0 comments

Don’t call this the end, my friend. It’s just a fork in the road.
I trudge to the left, into the unknown, inhaling faith, tasting
Fate on my parched lips. I enter a desert of unbearable
heat and sin.

I accept the natural flow of events and the inevitable passage
of time. But on this lonely road, I trudge through a
pitch-black darkness. All that is familiar is behind
me. Alone, I move ahead into the secret caverns of
my mind and spirit. In search of my higher self
and Hashem, my G-d, I travel across my private

My psychological-spiritual quest is mirrored by my
painful journey in the real world of human flesh and
ineffable sin.

I am a Jew. I accept G-d’s Will. Yet I believe it is G-d’s
intention that I protest against the evil of the world. I am
a Jew and an agent of ethical change. And when I see
injustice, I must speak out against it. I must fight for
the good. I believe this is Hashem’s command.

Now, I see another fork in the road. I turn left. And I travel
simultaneously across two realms-moving deeper into the
holy core of my being and outwardly, on the path of
social action in the real world. In the distance,
perhaps, is the Promised Land.

editors note:

Don’t have to carry a card, lift a label or stifle a stamp to speak out. So many forks require decision and forward movement, no matter the outcome – just keep speaking up to be heard in this darkness. We’re all believers, called what you will. – mh


August 12, 2011  :: 0 comments

How many times did I vanish? Well, of course, you wouldn’t
know. Even I can’t recall each time. But in the past decade, I
disappeared at least 3 times. And I wonder-did anyone notice
my absence? I wonder.

For almost a year, I hung out at the Willburg Café on Grand
Street in Williamsburg. I ate grilled chicken and wrote, tried
to keep my arteries unclogged and my brain overflowing
with ideas. Didn’t say much, I just watched my
unconscious let loose and guide me.

It’s August with its dog day afternoons. The sprawling sun’s
oppressive and sweat cascades down my forehead and cheeks.
One sultry afternoon last week, I said goodbye to the café.
Didn’t tell anyone. I ate my healthy meal and scribbled
a few lines. Then I sauntered off.

Now, you can find me some days at Joe Junior’s on 3rd Ave,
Manhattan. I’m the fellow with the long gray beard, gray
hair, and hazel eyes. Just look for me, if you wish,
before I vanish again. But you know, the modern
philosopher-the man in the street, often cites an
old cliché:

Life goes on. Yeah. That’s true, especially after I’m dead.
A new crop of young folks will appear. And other
baby boomers will pass away. Yeah. But you
know that’s a bitch. I mean, the earth will
keep spinning and the youth of tomorrow
will make love and children will be born.

But will anyone remember I once existed?
Will you?


featured in the poetry forum August 12, 2011  :: 0 comments

At dawn, I speak to the whooper swan in my garden. Upstairs, my landlord is still asleep.
Below, in my basement apartment, a little home, my home and refuge from the world
of people, I see a glimmer of light. It is time. I throw on an old pair of jeans, sneakers,
a yellow T-shirt, and my mask, an antidote for the human sickness of hatred spreading
across the globe.

Leaving my subterranean haven, I climb the stairs and open the door to the universe
beyond. A gold sun is rising. I smell the sweet earth and my flaming red roses around
the bend. I trudge toward my garden, which is not really mine. Still, it belongs to me. I
nurture it. The old lady who owns it allows me to feed it love with my poetic words and
whispered songs and soulful hands.

I reach my private Heaven and see the familiar whooper swan, an angel in my garden.
“Hello,” I whisper to the majestic white bird with black and yellow bill. The mammoth
creature smiles at me. I move closer and hide within its eight-foot wingspan, my small,
skeletal body hunched over, almost reaching the earth.

“My old olive-colored flesh is tired.” The white angel hugs me with its massive wings,
longer than the little garden I care for. “When will you take me away? I need to fly with
you and soar to the Heavens.”

Now, I listen to the fierce flutter of wings, and a vast sadness consumes my soul. “Don’t
leave!” I shriek silently. But the whooper swan runs away, across the barren street as it
ferociously beats its mammoth wings and sails high toward a gold sun.

Perhaps tomorrow, it will return to my garden. I will speak once more to the whooper
swan and it will serenade me. And together, we will fly away, vanishing from the earth,
in search of a celestial home.