Dollar Snow-Cone

The August summer heat would not relent as she defiantly arched her elderly frame to rise from the cracking concrete stoop in this ignored part of the city.

I walked up the block with a crumpled dollar bill for the ice – without the syrup.  Sweat scattered from my hairline.  My face and neck burned scarlet.

The makeshift plastic table was wobbly-arranged for quick sales anticipated from the two buses of people who visited for a mere afternoon, scheduled in to clean up the neighborhood through a service agency.  All in the name of peace and solidarity.

A battered aluminum urn, dented from years of use, held ice that would shave pieces into a forbidden Styrofoam cup – a cheap fix.  A neat row of glass bottles with plastic pumps each waited with their blaring color of sugar syrup attentively for its snow-cone debut – chartreuse mint, tangerine orange, bright violet grape – nothing known to Nature.  My only wish was the frosty shavings to melt my dusty, gritty throat.

She rose from the stoop as I smiled deeply breathing in front of a torn plastic umbrella, offering some shade.  Her cocoa-colored skin clenched hard onto muscles whose strength was all but gone from years of sacrifice.  Her knotted, ebony hands buckled from years of toil…fields, factories, mills?  I couldn’t imagine.  This heat would not stop her today.  Nope.  No way.

“Just ice please.”  I handed her the dollar bill.

She pulled the black plastic lever to shave the ice into slivers of cool relief.   Gently she extended her arm giving me a cup filled with ice shavings and started to count out change – one worn quarter, one dime and three nickels.  Her hand trembled as she counted and then my eyes rested on her wedding ring encircling the on her left hand.

The simple band was of thin gold, but the worn beveled edges reflected the mysteries of a previous life filled with more joy than today brought.   The pattern of the bevel was exactly the same as the wedding ring belonging to my grandfather which I wore in the middle of my right hand.  I had asked for it and wore it every day without fail since his death.   Nonu’s hands were the worker’s hands of a turn-of-the-century Italian immigrant – massive, skilled and unfaltering.  They could crush rock, melt brass or graft five different apples on to one tree for autumn pies Noni would make each year.

I reached for her left hand with my right so she would see my ring as I touched hers.    She slowly lifted her eyes to meet mine.  Her heavy blink under sagging eyelids gave way to a weakened smile as time and space held us united in some unexpected enigma made for this day.

“No change”, I said, “and God bless.”

boards baltimore


Sharing the bounty


From Woodstock to Wall Street, what would it take for all those who “have” to take a moment and share their blessings with those who struggle? It can and does happen every day. “Look up to the sky and “see”…”choose to see, choose to share, choose to give and find how life is transformed.

The Night of the Mantis

2014 sept miguel n laundry room 009

as summer ends and autumn begins, the prayer of the Night Mantis soars to heaven that it may be heard even amid the destruction.

clean rinse

clean rinse

clarity and purpose flow through the first determined spring rain that slides away the residue of a tired winter. a promise exists in each ripple of water that helps me to believe in and work for the common good. and … Continue reading

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weighing in

From decisions gone awry that powerful men make each and every day,
the children are left to pay. Listening to the news, we never fully understand
how each day unfolds or stagnates for those who seem to be powerless
throughout parts of the world unable to find respite. Do we care to find the
truth or continue on paths that seal the status quo? Listen to children speak. &

a new kind of birthday

a new kind of birthday

“Did you like your birthday gift,” she asked. Nothing had arrived, but she insisted it had been delivered. She repeated the address and although there was a minor error, it didn’t seem to be enough to confuse even a novice … Continue reading

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decorate for the holidays – advent

decorate for the holidays – advent

advent means waiting. we seem to do much of this action in our lives. but while we ‘wait’, we should not be idle. gives women opportunity worldwide to create beauty, get paid a fair wage and brighten lives – … Continue reading

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North Philly RaP at Penn

a nervous laugh, a fleeting gaze, a life survived from a self-woven maze,
he moves along with eyes that dart from side to side, discover, start
to reciprocate a smile or cast a glance, foresee a hit, pickpocket’s chance
at grabbing, taking something not owned, but sought or used or maybe loaned.
a tender heart, hardened by time, now softened more by prose and rhyme.
he smiles at me, laughs just a bit, exchanging carefree words we sit.
drops of sweat evaporated, dissolving memories of being hated
for the essence of what we are from those whose power leaves more than scars
upon the souls of he who tries to live his life, ignoring lies.
so as this sun sets on the New York sky, his playful smile at this goodbye
is the start of a friendship borne, of one life survived, strong but worn.
what i can give to you and me are friendship, love and purity.
for reasons unknown, we have met, our lives enriched without regret.

blwh hands