I talk you talk we'll talk




(x = space)





I don’t know what

To say about the women

Who have died

Who were murdered

Or left

To die another way,

Another kind

Of murder



In war or other


Starved, thirsted


Or abandoned out

Of existence


We can do this

We can do this to each other

Men can do this

To women


C L Couch



[Image by] Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China – Winged Victory of Samothrace, Marble, c. 190 BC, CC0,


Degrees of Incarceration

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Degrees of Incarceration


I don’t know what to say today

To students, peers, siblings, or anyone

I keep thinking about

The Pennsylvania woman on spring break

In Florida, who was raped and left

For dead

And who died

Whose credit cards were stolen,

The proceeds to sponsoring more partying

By her rapists, now incarcerated


I keep thinking about the images

I’ve seen of spring-break partyers in Florida

At night and looking young and fit,

Drinking from cups on lawns and in driveways,

No doubt parking lots as well

And in many, many rooms

And there is not a mask in sight

And there is no safe distance in between

For any reason


I keep thinking about the places where

People are fighting, virus (also) notwithstanding

Syria and Yemen


Hong Kong where leaders and speakers

Are arrested

And all the acts of violence in my land

The land about which Woody Guthrie wrote

And sang

Irving Berlin and Kate Smith, too (respectively)


There is too much to think about

But no sedative or anesthetic for me,


I have to deal with side effects from

What I take each day


I ramble but around a theme

And I’m revising, too:

What do we think about what threatens to

Close us off from normalcies

And niceties?

It’s all right, you know

(I know)

There is no Sunday best required

For thinking spiritual thoughts

Or wondering how the Spirit as we know

That Spirit might be enlisted

Might be involved, anyway


If not our neighbors or our friends

Though maybe our neighbors and our friends

And family people

Encouraging our say

As we encourage saying

For all the times I want

To shut up, and that is right

For all the times there is something pressing

And I

And we

Should release it


And, yes, I wonder if poems

Should have messages and morals, but then I think

I’d have to say that poems aren’t for less


Maybe poems are

Things we have to say

That can’t be said better in

Any other way


C L Couch




Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash






It’s why I sat outside

Her house sometimes

But nothing like a season

Of murder

That’s a different kind

Of demon’s work

That I don’t understand

Don’t want to understand,

Thank God


C L Couch



CALIFORNIA SHOOTING LEAVES 3 DEAD A man who had just been fired from a Northern California Ford dealership fatally shot two employees and then killed himself Tuesday evening, police and witnesses said. [AP]

TRAGIC PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS MIGRANTS’ STRUGGLES In an image published in Mexican newspaper La Jornada, a man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande. Her arm was draped around his neck, suggesting she clung to him in her final moments. The heartbreaking photo’s spread had the potential to refocus attention on the plight of migrants and Trump’s border policies. [AP]

(Huffington Post)


Great Blessing of Waters by Boris Kustodiev, Public Domain,


Burkina Faso, West Africa

Burkina Faso, West Africa


Six were killed there

It should have been a weekend

Free for church

We want to think of Sundays that way


We should learn in school

About the capital

Exports, imports

The crops

The official languages spoken there


There should be geography of land

Not forensics after


Sometime some of us might want to go there

Twenty million of us want to live there now


C L Couch



By darrylkeith, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Dust storm @ Inata Gold Mine


A Thousand Stories’ Ending

A Thousand Stories’ Ending



How awful is it

That in counting human tragedy

There never is an ending

Twelve more die in California

By someone who had the privilege

Of guns


What was the motive

What cares

The family of the cop

The officer is lost

It’s almost absurdly dangerous work

With the luxury of weapons

So profuse


Twelve stories finished


How many more will radiate out


To make a nautilus

A spire

Changing more and changing more


Over time

Making a circle of

Finality, regret


We despair

Over the Philippines

And Indonesia


South Sudan



And in many parts of the USA


Time will tell us nothing

The victims’ lives are done

There is nothing more


C L Couch




The gunman, a US Marines veteran, arrived at the bar on Wednesday night with a pistol, officials said. He shot an unarmed security guard outside the bar, then went in and continued shooting, injuring other security workers, employees and patrons, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said. Ian David Long, killed 12 people before apparently taking his own life.

. . .

The casualties included a veteran sheriff’s deputy who was nearby talking to his wife on the phone when the call came over the radio for an active shooter.

“(The deputy said), ‘Hey, I have to handle a call. I love you, I’ll talk to you later,’ ” the sheriff said.

Sgt. Ron Helus rushed into the bar as gunshots continued; he was killed.


Los Angeles Times






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!


Flesh and Blood

Flesh and Blood


I tried to tally death a couple

Of weeks ago

Starting with two explosions in Kabul

The second device murdering those who

Had responded, rushing, to the first

Since then, schools have been the setting of

Murders, too

Workplaces, neighborhoods

Nature has taken part in many

Though we kill well enough on our own


The count of death is maybe not so

Useful beyond actuarial

The flesh becomes abstract

The quality in tears evaporates

The blood is in another room, not

The one in which we’re arguing

Funding and our rights to shoot each other

When and where we like


Control and majesty of black metal move

Us more than someone else’s

Daughter or son


This is not about an issue

It’s about a loss that’s real

Stolen like bounty in the night

Hell’s gone a-hunting

So ephemeral a trophy,

The soul


If this is an issue for you

Then vote for something

And in the mean time wait

Until changed forever

And on occasion wonder why

Steel propulsions have to mean

So much


C L Couch



Index of /teaching/g/circles


Fourteen Dead (it happened yesterday evening, my time)

Fourteen Dead

(it happened yesterday evening, my time)

“Fourteen dead in San Bernardino.
What is this inhuman trend?”
From my journal last night,
wondering what is going on.

Serial killers (I say serial means
mass murder, whether happening
once or over time)—they enter a
community center “with long
guns.” (This from the news.)

They shoot and kill.
Maybe they are killed or
captured afterward. The
investigation goes on.

We once feared a hand upon
an efficient surface, fingers ready
to press a button, sending atomic
missiles into space to fall back
to earth again in a foe’s land.
We still fear this.

We fear that killing from
afar lacks the moral intimacy
in killings of the past. We
worry about drones this
way. And we still have
more personal ways to kill.

Does a gun make the murder
seem distant, too? Pull a
shiny trigger, bullet travels
through a silvery barrel, the
target is hit. No personal contact
yet. Like the launch, is this
too easy, too?

If never done before, maybe
so. Or maybe when one
kills, there is no person there.
Only an objective.

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