I talk you talk we'll talk


October 2018

In Aslan’s Country

In Aslan’s Country



I don’t understand

I guess I don’t need to—

Not for mourning

Not for counting

Not for asking


A new plane crashes into the ocean

No survivors


One missed the flight for traffic

Or other ordinary reason

I imagine there are some who made it

And were considering their luck


Half a world away

Right now feels like home


Not an issue

Except that God is watching from

A breaking place


C L Couch


Turning Time

Turning Time


It’s late in October, isn’t it

The season soon enough will be half over

No other season calls to itself so much

In northern parts at least, everything to say

We’re done for now

Cover us and let us rest

Autumnal residents

October people


C L Couch



Vincent van Gogh – Les Alyscamps: Falling Autumn Leaves 1888

Public Domain






It happened in my one-time town

It could happen anywhere

We’ve known that for a while, now

We like the violence we have in

The arenas

Until we have to pay


A prayer service

Affirming spiritual courage


A coward’s assurance of easy

Semitic targets

Let’s go to church and kill

Brings his guns


What is the time

What will we do


The news mentions “a search for answers”

But the answers are all over, everywhere


There’s no mystery here beyond the numinous

The life of faith that the synagogue enjoys

The people there

Their guests

And anything by way of intercession

For the rest of us



That eleven people died

We have to say so far

Worshipers and officers who are wounded

And more

In need of mortal healing

And more

The killer still alive


Pray for forgiveness sometime

Not today

Sorry I don’t have a bigger feeling

Not today


C L Couch

Where a 3,000-year-old tradition meets a 5-year-old’s curiosity.

Tree of Life or L’Simcha Congregation is a traditional, progressive, and egalitarian congregation based in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

We offer a warm and welcoming environment where even the oldest Jewish traditions become relevant to the way our members live today. From engaging services, social events, family-friendly activities, and learning opportunities to support in times of illness or sorrow, we match the old with the new to deliver conservative Jewish tradition that’s accessible, warm, and progressive.

If you haven’t visited us yet, we welcome the chance to introduce you to our community!


Unrelative Truthing

Unrelative Truthing


Even in dim pre-dawn light

On a Sunday morning,

The colors are clear

Finally, it’s fall

The leaves are turning into glory

And should one think there is a subtext

About the beauty of all races

Well, that’s not really there

But, now I think of it,

Why not

There is beauty in all races

No need to place that truth under

Something else


Now, fall’s late arrival

Something of a pattern

Might also beg

The warming of the planet

Let’s go with that one, too

It’s not progress to have that understanding

(though another kind of progress is the cost)

It’s the kind of sense

The ancients have employed


Coffee’s ready

Time to get it

I am thankful

I hope your day is good

And for your neighbor


C L Couch



West Virginia Fall Colors







A depiction of a death

So that insurance might be sold

That’s all right: I appreciate


Investment in exigency

But in the advertisement,

A door is shut with the grey world outside

The small things of home within

As if the employment of the product will

Close off death itself

For a time, at least

What are we protecting, then?

I hope it’s home

And not mortality


We can’t keep it out

It dwells inside

In every room


I don’t recommend the dance of death

A final scene of The Seventh Seal

We don’t have to step out with it

Or nurture it within

But it is reality

(you know)

And isn’t it a wonder

That, if we relent a little,

Death will not have to break through the door

Or turn over everything that’s good



It will happen nonetheless

And regardless

Our rituals might help

And family life

Give it some time, if there’s time

Comfort each other

Talk about good times

But not cowering on the other sides of walls

Walls at best

Are not for that


Not for shouting down an enemy

On the other side

Do good fences make good neighbors?

When privacy is called for, without doubt

But not for death

Death is not unusual

It does not have to separate

It can bring us over barriers

Home in better ways


C L Couch



Paul VanDerWerf

Stone Fence

Taken in Harpswell, Maine.




(Homer, Aeschylus)



Leader of the Greek forces

That went to war against Troy

He won a victory

He sacrificed his daughter for safe passage

From a god

And brought a prophet back to Greece

As a trophy and a mistress

The antique word and calling, concubine


His wife would dominate the next act

In a drama of her own

In which he would finally become the victim

The real accomplishment he’d earned


C L Couch



By Travelling Runes –, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The Mykonos vase (750 to 650 BC), with one of the earliest known renditions of the Trojan Horse. (Note the depiction of the faces of hidden warriors shown on the horse’s side.)





A mélange of media


Painting leaps out of sculpture

Plaster writhes from metal into stone,

Lurks in upper corners

I don’t know how much we make of this

(the making and interpreting)

These days,

Though steampunk runs some tries at this,

I think

(and really well)


I remember pictures from a textbook

I doubt I’ll get to Spain to see

Just past the golden age

But I appreciate the media

Mixing up to make a life

Yours, mine, and ours

McLuhan notwithstanding,

We are the message

We go through the doors

Then rise

And all the art we’ve made


C L Couch








(Chapter 10, Actions of the Apostles)


The sheet unfolded

Peter saw so many things

And was told they are all


Enjoy it, Peter

This is the bounty of the Earth

Fertile plains surrounded by

Its hills and all its oceans


Kosher is important

It’s devout and, frankly, safer

But how could there be

A kosher forest?  Or a kosher

Ocean or a sky?


All that is created and blessed

Is in the litany of Genesis

And that is good

Darkness and light

Water and land

Animals and our charge

To care for it all


Everything that bore the movement

Of God’s spirit and carries

The imprint, still

Having been made

Against the loneliness

Of God


Peter’s solitude is challenged

The exclusion of society

The orthodoxy of an elite

Must open the door

Rend the curtain

Opens its doorway

Baring the inside

Of robes and crowns


Relent, ye wealthy of the Earth

You are not Solomon

Who knows whose obedience

He owes

And a better nature

Demanded in a daily life

Turning over all the neighbor’s need

Like finding small, hard, and fibrous plants

To harvest from dark soil


Peter is enlightened;

Through the story,

Now are we


C L Couch


Ghost Walk

Ghost Walk


The past haunts it,

Doesn’t it

It walks with us at night

Well past the witching hour

Sometimes I am awake

On my side

Fearing that my heart might sometime explode

Figuratively but

A crisis with literally arrhythmic parts

It can be a problem

How do I stay awake

(too easily)

And how might I fall asleep again

(that’s hard)


There is an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show

When, for fear of something, Laura doesn’t want to

Sleep, and so she flips up

All the switches in her house

Plays music and the television

And gets the neighbor to stay up

With her

And there are other alterations


And, you know, I’m sure

There is some resolution

(it’s a half-hour show),

Though I have no idea what that was


But the black-and-white imaging is invoked

When I can’t sleep or think about

The lack of sleep

In the middle of a night and wish for rest


C L Couch



CC0 Public Domain


Blog at

Up ↑