Unspoken Word
March 30, 2024

I am sitting here,
both empty and full,
at home in the space
between in breath and out --
a place with no name
and no need for one.

Dream though it is,
what I feel in this moment
is more real
than anything or anyone
I know,
a bubbling up from within,
an arrival,
a coming home.

Here in this field of pure delight
every river that has ever
found its way to the sea
into the secret chamber of my heart.

Time stops.
Space, too.

Silent and content,
I am a child
just before learning to speak,
stunned, present,
moved only
by a still forming
impulse to praise.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)
February 27, 2024
There's a Poem Here Somewhere

When I was barely 22,
a bearded graduate student
at an Ivy League college in New England,

I met with my poetry advisor,
one fine autumn day,
both of us wishing we were somewhere else,

perhaps a small fishing village in Portugal
or a smoky jazz club in New York.
I showed him my poem,

a one-pager on onion skin paper
and waited for his dim murmur of praise.

"There's a poem in here, somewhere," he said,
not quite shaking his head, but wanting to.

"No," I replied, "this IS the poem,"
but he, having long ago
lost interest in his wife, persisted.

Now it is 55 years later
and I finally understand what he meant.
Yes, for sure,

there is a poem in here somewhere,
a poem within a poem
and another within that

until the only thing thatremains
is my impulse to write
and the sound of a bird

outside my window,
or is it the creaking of my chair
as I stand to exit the room?

Unspoken Word

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)
February 13, 2024
The Mirror

There are times late at night
when I want someone
to look into the mirror of who I am
and see themselves clearly.

I'm not exactly sure why this is so,
other than the feeling
of two people realizing
there are actually
only one of us here.

Whatever happens after that
is gravy.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)
February 03, 2024

I live next to the post office
in a one-bedroom apartment
just three blocks from where Mike Tyson
trained to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

If I turn right and walk all the way to the end of the street,
I arrive at my favorite cafe
where I drink coffee, eat chocolate and laugh.
If I turn left, I end up at the river.
There I sit on a park bench and do nothing.
Children and dogs walk by,
ducks quack,
and the ripples of the river,
ever so slightly,
rise and fall.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)
January 27, 2024
This Thirst

Some spoken word by yours truly

375980339_10159547334076629_1744232663367085780_n 2.jpeg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)
January 24, 2024

I have a geranium,
or maybe it has me,
sitting there as it does
at the far end of my kitchen table
like a Buddha,
its tight buds
just beginning to open,
completely indifferent
to whether or not
anyone else is in the room.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:58 PM | Comments (0)
January 21, 2024
Two Kinds of Poetry

There are some poems
that are nothing more than thoughts,
the kind of packaging you might
find around your house
after a quick visit to the mall
where lots things you didn't really need
you bought.

Then there are poems that sanctify
the celebration of pure feeling,
what lovers experience
on a lazy day
after a long, slow embrace
when they find themselves
and dancing on the ceiling.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
January 20, 2024

I feel a poem coming on,
not like a cold,
more like a warm,
an unexpected visit from an old friend
whose name I do not know
but can always tell when she is drawing nigh --
there's a kind of perfume in the air,
a scent,
a sensing like a dog,
that his Master has turned for home.
Not having a tail, I'm not really sure
what it is I wag,
but there is definitely something
moving inside me.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)
January 10, 2024
Here's the Problem with Reading Rumi

Here's the problem with reading Rumi:
There's a very good chance you will never come back,
which might, of course, be fine for you, oh seeker of light,
but what about the person you are most committed to
here on planet earth? Won't they feel abandoned,
you having disappeared without a trace
your body now a shadow,
your heart having exploded into a thousand pieces,
each one a seed to populate another world?
What about THAT person, the one you
share your hopes and dreams with,
the one who holds you late at night?
If this, perchance, is what concerns you, my friend,
simply tell your partner this:
My darling, I would love you like my own self if I knew who I was,
I would sing to you each day,
which is why I read Rumi, the pied piper of my soul,
and why I breathe.
You and I are more than a couple, my dear,
we are couplets in a greater poem,
each one a moving line with its own rhythm and internal rhyme,
expressions of the ancient quest for love
now made greater by each other,
why I come home to you at night,
why you come home to me,
and time stops,
why I must forgive myself daily for forgetting
just how utterly divine you are, sweet bee to the honey of my life,
the endless sky I soar deeper into,
stretching my wings beyond what I think is possible,
and it's all Rumi's fault.
Blame him!
I had nothing to do with it.

Excerpted from Unspoken Word

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)
December 20, 2023
There Is a Poem Within This Poem

There is a poem within this poem,
what lovers have no need to say to each other,
late at night, ecstatic, in each other's arms.
I offer this poem to you, my friend,
perfume from the secret chamber of my heart.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:20 AM | Comments (0)
October 28, 2023

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN... THE ONE TO WHOM ALL PEOPLE PRAY... the nameless one... the unspoken one... the source... the silence between breaths, the hub of the wheel... and every single spoke... and eventually what some people refer to as death.

I give thanks. I take shelter in you whose center is everywhere, circumference nowhere. I bow in the wind of your passing, sing from the center of your song, find my way back to your heart which is no different than mine, we being one and the same, made of the same stuff.

I sing your praises every time I breathe and even when I don't, stunned by the beauty of it all, great tears and laughter welling up from within, my home, my manger, the pearl inside the oyster of this world.

Here for such a short time, wandering in a field of wildflowers and delight, I am humbled once again by yet another chance to dance footless and free beyond the trance I lovingly call my life. Soul mate to myself, bum in a roadside temple, vagrant, fool, stunned by the kind words of strangers, I return to the moment -- THIS ONE -- in full glory.

Such a gift this life is1 Such a grace! And all we have to do is receive it, heart open, arms outstretched, the bow of this moment only needing to be be tugged a little bit until the whole thing opens up -- all of it, every moment Christmas morning, every day our birth.

Call it whatever you want or never speak again -- it really doesn't matter. In the end (or is it the beginning?) there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to get, nothing to lose.

Such is the great game of life. We seek and we search, but there is really no need. All of this coming and going, all of this hunting and pecking, all this drama of becoming enlightened or clear or high or better than we already are is really just the fun house mirror of our lives.

Everything we search for we already have. Everything we think we need was already given to us a long, long time ago.

Dudes and dudinas: This! Is! It! Right here. Right now.

The pilgrimage is much shorter than we think, the path only the one from head to heart, where we are touched, clutching nothing, when blood becomes ink and we discover there is nothing left to say, but say it anyway.

Why not? Why not make a joyful noise? Why not sing, praise, dance, write, serve, heal, pause, move, give someone our coat or our hand, laugh, cry, praise, bow, fly.

We are all here for such a short while. Let's do it with love.


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)
October 19, 2023
What Is Your Responsbility?

A few days ago, Rabbi Zoe B. Zak from Temple Israel of Catskill invited me to write something about peace and then read it, last night, at an interfaith service she was organizing at the temple in response to the awful situation in the Middle East.

Zoe's invitation got me thinking and feeling in some deep ways -- not only about the conflict in Israel and Palestine, but about conflict in general -- how our beautiful planet is all too often a planet of war, duality, and aggression. What follows is what I wrote and what I read to the interfaith gathering at the temple last night.

"I am not here tonight to talk about Israeli/Palestinian politics. Nor am I here to point fingers, judge or philosophize about who's right and who's wrong in the Middle East. I will leave that to the pundits, politicians and spin doctors.

I am here to talk about something else -- a timeless reality that resides in the hearts of every one of us here in this room tonight and the billions of others who are not -- the place where true and lasting peace resides -- what all religions, scriptures and spiritual paths espouse -- something that is often easier to talk about than experience.

In the world, as we know it, the world of countries and borders, peace is something that is legislated far more often than it is lived.

This approach takes the form of cease fires and truces -- paperwork, not inner work.

And while I understand that all of these endeavors have their time and place, real peace is something far beyond that.

Historians tell us that there has only been a total of 200 years when there hasn't been at least one war going on somewhere in the world. That computes to just 8 percent of life on planet earth when there hasn't been a war going on.

There have been more than 14,500 wars since the beginning of recorded history. In the 20th century alone, 260 million people have died in wars and other conflicts.

What is happening these days in Israel and Gaza -- and let us not forget Russia and Ukraine -- is just the latest expression of this madness.
What is going on, my friends? What is going on? And what, if anything, can we do about it?

As you well know, there are no easy answers. Mankind has yet to figure this out.

The battle, if we can call it that, wages not only on the battlefield, but also in our cities, schools, streets, government, psyches, and our own homes.

Did you know that 50% of all marriages in the US end in divorce?

At the wedding, husbands and wives pledge their undying love to each other -- but are all too often unable to live up to that pledge. None of us are without conflict in our lives. It comes with the territory of being human.

When I was 30, searching for peace, I took a vow of renunciation and lived for five years in an ashram as a modern-day monk. I meditated daily, read many holy books, and tried my best to live the Golden Rule. Later in life, over the course of four years, I worked in an Islamic school -- the only Jew among 1,000 Muslims.

That all sounds good, I know, but I've also been divorced twice and have experienced the discomfort of conflict in my own home.

It is easy to talk about the problem of conflict. What's not easy to talk about is the solution -- how we, as human beings, regardless of our apparent differences can come together in peace and be able to see the Divine in each other instead of our apparent differences.

Where does this effort begin? Inside of each and every one of us.
Peace begins in the human heart, not in a court of law. Peace begins within, not in Congress, Parliament or the battlefield.

This is why Temple Israel of Catskill exists. This is why churches exist and mosques and monasteries. This is why religions exist and scriptures, rabbis, priests, sages, saints, Masters and anyone else who has ever attempted to live a life of the spirit.

If you want a flower to grow, you will need to water the root, not the leaves. What is that root for you?

Yes, we can send money, aid and diplomats to the Middle East. And yes, we can send our thoughts and prayers. But what we can't send is the awakened heart.

We can be compassionate, but we can't export compassion.

We can wish people well, but we cannot make them well.

This can only come from within -- the recognition that we are all one people, regardless of the color of our skin, language, religion, customs, politics, perceptions, or our favorite name for God.

The universe, say the astrophysicists, is 47 billion light years wide.
In the observable universe, there are an estimated 100 billion to 200 billion galaxies. Each of these contain anywhere from a few billion to trillions of stars, and many of these stars have planetary systems.

Here we are on one of these planets -- the one between Mars (the planet of war) and Venus (the planet of love), and what do we spend our time doing? Judging. Blaming. Demonizing. Fighting. Killing. Weeping and wailing.

This is not what life is for, my friends. This is not what life is for.

We are here for something else. We are here to wake up. We are here to love. We are here to realize the magnificence of life in ourselves and each other.

Before I conclude, I would like to ask you a question -- one I first heard from a wise woman at a gathering much like this one soon after 9-11 more than two decades ago.

"What is your responsibility?"

What can YOU do within your sphere of influence to help make this a planet of love, not war?

You don't need to be a world leader to bring about this peace. You don't need to be a rabbi, priest or imam. You only need to be a human being. And you are!

Start where you live! In your own home. In your neighborhood. In your town. Begin by finding peace within yourself. Make amends with yourself. End the war with yourself. And, from there, spread peace wherever you go.

Hug someone! Make them tea! Take a breath. Savor it. Listen more deeply than you usually do. Assume the best in others. Be kind. And above all... do whatever it takes to be at peace with yourself, starting now -- at THIS very moment."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:12 AM | Comments (0)
October 16, 2023
What Do You Follow?

You can follow the rules, you can follow a trail,
you can follow what's cool, a text or email,
you can follow your dreams, you can follow your gut,
you can follow a meme, you can follow a rut,
you can follow a trend, you can follow your bliss,
you can follow a man, you can follow a kiss,
you can follow the scent, you can follow the path,
you can follow what's meant, you can follow the math,
you can follow the money, you can follow the crowd,
you can follow your honey, you can follow out loud,
you can follow your heart or the yellow brick road,
you can follow your art, or someone's morse code,
you can follow your muse, a recipe too,
you can follow the news, and the latest who's who,
you can follow a leader, you can follow a script,
you can follow palm readers or the Dow when it dips,
you can follow the signs or the realm after death,
you can follow what rhymes or... follow your breath.

Unspoken Word

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)
October 08, 2023
Here's the Thing About Reading Hafiz

Here's the thing about reading Hafiz:
I can be completely up to my neck
with the unglamorous mud of life,
lonely, sad, and dreading whatever comes next,
when an unexpected three-word phrase from him
or just a single word,
playfully placed,
turns the ground beneath my feet
into the promised land, each step an arrival.

No longer tourist here,
I am now drinking deep with the man
in the backroom of a tavern far off the beaten path.

We toast the moment and a few things
that will never make it into this poem.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)
This Thirst

Excerpted from "Unspoken Word: Love Longing & Letting Go"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)
September 27, 2023
There Is a Contest I Want to Enter

There is a contest I want to enter,
but I'm not sure what it's for.

Something in me wants to win something,
walk down the aisle when my name is called,
mount the stage and, almost speechless,
accept the golden trophy from the famous presenter,
approach the microphone and
in a courageous attempt to speak before tears take over,
feel a few words rising
like bubbles from a perfectly chilled bottle of champagne
that, somehow, find their way to my voice, making
beautiful popping sounds which everyone
completely understands before the need to clap or laugh or cry,
sitting there as they are,
Buddhas of the Great Beyond,
poised on the brink of infinity,
their endless silence the perfect applause.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)
September 19, 2023
Three Lines, But Not a Haiku

There is something
that is nothing
and that is everything to me.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)
September 18, 2023

Today, just before lunch,
the last few breezes of summer
finding their way through
my half-opened kitchen window,
I got down on my hands and knees.

It had been a long time
since I had been down on my hands and knees.

Lower than bowing it was, the position I now found myself in,
me joining forces with a floor that had seen much better days,
spotted as it was with the late night Jackson Pollack dinners
of a single white male having cooked for himself
(if you can call it that) against all odds,
specks of marinara sauce,
pesto on the loose,
and soup hieroglyphics.

On my hands and knees I scrubbed
and scrubbed again,
glad to have more sponges than I needed,
yellow ones,
green ones,
blue ones,
having newly recognized that each tile of my kitchen floor,
the one I had rented two years ago,
along with the rest of my living space,
was now beginning to sparkle, fit for a King,
the increasingly divine mosaic of my blessed life.

Not excerpted from this book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)
September 16, 2023
In Praise of New Beginnings on Rosh Hashanah

What can be said on this most blessed day that
you don't already know deep within your soul?
What song or psalm can be sung whose words have not already
washed over you many times before,
soothing you, renewing you, refining you once again?

This is the glory of Rosh Hashanah, my friends,
the time of new beginnings, the time of reflection,
the time to slow down from the 9-5 and enter into the timeless,
the sacred space within each and every one of us
the holy realm that is already pure and perfect
just the way it is --
not because of what we have done or what we have forgotten to do,
not because we stumble and fall, human beings that we are,
but because the essence of who we are was made
in the image of God, home base in a child's game of tag,
Free Parking in Monopoly,
the warm spot on the pillow of our lives where we long
to lay our heads and let go to the beauty of simply being alive,
resting in the arms of our Divine Beloved,
our souls awakened, our eyes opened
and, even more than that, our hearts.

Yes, it is Rosh Hashanah we are here to celebrate tonight,
the time and space of new beginnings,
one more chance to pause and look within to the core of our being,
to consider, reflect and introspect
so we might make amends, forgive, be forgiven
and open more fully to a power none of us will ever comprehend.

Rosh Hashanah, ahh... Rosh Hashanah,
a High Holy Day celebrated by our parents, and their parents,
and their parent's parents in a succession of
who knows how many generations going back to the beginning
of all that is holy and divine.

"Shana Tovah" we say to each other this evening,
in Hebrew it means a "Good Year."

And that is God's wish for us and our wish for each other,
and let us not forget... our wish for ourselves.

Yes, ourselves -- the ones who pray, the ones who make amends,
those who are willingly accountable for what has preceded
this precise moment in time,
opening once again like a flower to the full glory of love.

May today be a new beginning for you and
everyone you pray next to tonight,
may the roses of our souls be pruned just enough in prayer
to quicken our sacred blooming for the coming year.

And should we forget, as human beings are wont to do,
may we remember in our very next breath
just how fortunate we are to be alive, to breathe, to be grateful
and have yet another chance to embrace
the joyful journey of the life we are, daily, being given
as if for the first time.

Read for the first time at Temple Israel of Catskill: 9/15/23

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:01 AM | Comments (0)
September 05, 2023
I Live Next to the Post Office

I live next to the post office
in a one-bedroom apartment
just three blocks from where Mike Tyson
trained to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

If I turn right and walk all the way to the end of the street,
I arrive at my favorite cafe
where I drink coffee, eat chocolate and laugh.
If I turn left, I end up at the river.
There I sit on a park bench and do nothing.
Children walk by and some dogs,
ducks quack,
and the ripples of the river, ever so slightly,
rise and fall.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)
Want more? Read our Archives:
March 2024, February 2024, January 2024, December 2023, October 2023, September 2023, August 2023, July 2023, June 2023, April 2023, March 2023, February 2023, December 2022, November 2022, October 2022, September 2022, August 2022, June 2022, May 2022, March 2022, February 2022, January 2022, December 2021, November 2021, October 2021, September 2021, August 2021, July 2021, June 2021, May 2021, April 2021, February 2021, January 2021, December 2020, November 2020, October 2020, September 2020, August 2020, July 2020, June 2020, May 2020, April 2020, March 2020, February 2020, January 2020, December 2019, November 2019, October 2019, August 2019, July 2019, June 2019, May 2019, April 2019, March 2019, February 2019, January 2019, December 2018, November 2018, October 2018, September 2018, August 2018, July 2018, June 2018, May 2018, April 2018, March 2018, February 2018, January 2018, December 2017, November 2017, October 2017, September 2017, August 2017, July 2017, June 2017, May 2017, April 2017, March 2017, February 2017, December 2016, October 2016, September 2016, August 2016, April 2016,
“I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry.”
— John Cage

Welcome to my new blog — brief ruminations on what it is that moves me (and maybe YOU, too). If any of my poems inspire you, please forward them to friends. Good muse travels fast. Or could, with your help.

About me.
Contact me.

My Books

© Mitch Ditkoff