I’m the last person to write about the quality of anyone’s poetry, though I did go through my e.e. cummings, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Hughes, Bukowski, and Emily Dickinson phase many, many years ago. Still, every once in a while a poem, or even a snippet of one whacks me upside the head.

That’s what happened the other night.  Went to see Superior Donuts at the Lyric Stage Company in Boston. (http://www.lyricstage.com/)  In the front of the playbill, the poet Countee Cullen was quoted:

So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,

And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.

At first I naturally applied the words to the play’s action and meaning.  The bottled-up pain each of the characters carried–the bottled-up hurt, desperation and hidden hopes each of us carry.

Then I flashed on a recent post (three before this one called WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME–01/23/2012) where I wrote about my concern for the Third World and the tragedies people living there face every day of their lives.  Do they harbor “seeds?”  Do they dream of a time with a better life?  A time with more?  Then I looked up Countee Cullen’s life and decided that Third Worlders must.  Cullen obviously had a different kind of struggle, a Black man born in 1903, abandoned by his mother, orphaned at nine when his grandmother died, became a recognized poet whose work lives on to this day.  That could not have occurred without the man clinging to his ‘agonizing seeds.’

Many of us Progressives who have more than either Cullen or people in the Third World, still live with hearts that bleed plenty–for ourselves and our times.

Many of my friends believe that we as a nation have no place to slide except down.  They see our economy as buttressed by smoke and mirrors, the hopes we held in the 60s shattered, the dystopian violence depicted in movies and television either a reflection of what is or a harbinger of what’s to come.  That sooner rather than later the ‘haves’ will have completely, swallowing those that don’t–even the middle class.

I understand their thinking.  It’s the part of my heart that “bleeds.”  But I prefer tending to my “agonizing seeds.”

I believe our world can and will become a better place for those with less.  It’s happened before.  The Great Depression were cataclysmic years where most people had little in which to hope.  Yet here we are, economically and even culturally better off.  True, the basic power paradigm of the country remained the same, still I doubt you’d find too many people who preferred living in the 1930s than the late 40s, early 50s.

It might be more difficult now to tend our “agonizing seeds.”  We are no longer isolated from the rest of the world, in fact, so closely intertwined with other nations that a troubled European economy has the potential to tsunami us.  And even with these interlocks we continue to consistently ignore or abuse countries that have the greatest needs.

Only, what if we turned the preceding paragraph on its head?  What if we take the word ‘difficult’ and replace it with ‘possible?’

Yes, it’s a gargantuan task.  Progressives live in a society that still rejects evolution, censors textbooks, continues its institutional racism (despite a Black president), and shovels money to the rich and powerful at a ferocious rate of speed.

But has there been a better time to realign the paradigm?   Certainly the Internet brings the people of the world together–not simply governments.  Just look at its effect upon the course of the Arab Spring or The Occupy Movement.  Change is in the air.  The only question is what kind of change will it be–floating with Greenpeace boats or…

And when Progressives put our voices together and no longer allow minor ideological differences to keep us apart, to speak to those who, up until now, we have ignored, this country will change for the better.  And progressive change here means change throughout the world.

So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,

And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.

We need not simply “tend to our agonizing seeds.”  It’s time to plant.  We need not “hide the heart that bleeds,” but show it to everyone we can.  Each of us to do and say who we are, what we believe in.

It’s too late in the day to suffer in silence.

Cory Booker: Enthusiasm doesn’t come by chance, it is generated by choice.



If I had imagined that “A Tough Write,” the last four posts chronicling my relationship with my dad, was going to be cathartic, I was wrong.  I do feel good about my honesty and my ability to get it down on ‘paper’, but I don’t feel much different than I did before I wrote the series.  Presumably I’m learning a lesson that many people already know—time helps more than venting, however well written and honest that venting is.

Maybe it’s that I don’t feel as “light and airy” as I had hoped.  Maybe it’s that I feel drained.  Maybe it’s the countdown to Jewish Christmas (Chinese and a movie).  But it’s one of those weeks where, as my friend Bruce Turkel put it, “I got nothin’.” (see: http://turkeltalks.com/index.php/2011/10/16/i-got-nothin/)

Rather than make something out of that nothin’, which Bruce already did so well, I’ve decided to let the week’s thoughts, ideas, insights, lack of insights, wishes, and experiences lope onto the page.  Or at least some of them.  I may be honest, but I do have some limits. (Where are they?  Where are they?)

In no particular order:


NCIS, which has one of the highest television viewerships is my “comfort food.”  And like mac and cheese or take-out pizza, familiarity is probably more important than quality, especially when you’ve had a bad day. Nothing on NCIS makes you jump out of your skin and the relationships between the characters never surprise—that’s sort of the point.  Despite the above, Mark Harmon, in his role as Gibbs, has serious ‘duende.` ((P)RAISING THE DEAD): http://www.zacharykleinonline.com/1/archives/07-2011/1.html).

If you do want to jump out of your skin, Homeland, Showtimes’ series based on Gideon Raff’s Israeli Hatufim or Prisoners of War, makes that happen.  Claire Danes, as Carrie Mathison, is terrific as a manic on a mission to prevent a major terrorist attack.  Her intense mishagas is wonderfully offset by Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), Carrie’s calm, soulful, mentor who mostly believes her hunches, but spends as much time trying to keep Carrie’s head together as hunting down any potential attack.  Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody (whose acting is also marvelous) is an American Marine held captive by Al-Qaeda for eight years, originally the object of Carrie’s suspicion but becomes…well, I’ll let you discover what happens.

If you have Showtime and On Demand, I suggest you start from the beginning.  The show is that good.

Another pleasure on the television front is Starz’s Boss, which chronicles Mayor Tom Kane of Chicago (Kelsey Grammer, cast against the grain).  Although the series takes place in the present, it’s really about how the first Mayor Daley ran his town.  I think the series is worth watching, but I’m biased since I Iived in Chicago during three or four years of Daley’s term.  Again, if you do have On Demand and Starz, I’d suggest watching the show from the beginning.

(If folk have different recommendations, please let me know in the ‘comment’ section.  I’m always ready to hear about something decent on the tube.  Grateful too.)

Books I’d like to read:

Coming through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

House of War by James Carroll

Time Bites by Doris Lessing

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

On the recommendation front:  But Beautiful (A Book About Jazz) by Geoff Dyer.  Truly fabulous as he riffs about jazz greats, writing those riffs in the style of each particular musician he profiles.  A stunning book for anyone who loves jazz.

Movies I want to see:

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocal.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  (LeCarre’s second best book next to The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.)

Dangerous Method (Viggo as Freud?  He’s been great as everyone else).

My Week with Marilyn.

Documentaries I want to see:

Page One: Inside The New York Times.


Eames: The Architect & The Painter.

The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975.

 Art I want to see:

Degas Nudes at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Play I’d like to see:


But mostly I want to finish the work of getting my Matt Jacob Mystery Series prepared for download.  It’s been a hell of a lot more effort than I imagined and I’ve yet to even figure out how to cut through the noise of the Internet where the books will live.  How to get the Matt Jacob series a following despite the overwhelming infoload of virtual reality? Of course, if anyone not on my mailing list wants to be, please let me know at zacharykleinonline@gmail.com.

I want finish because I’m chomping at the bit to write new ones.

So I plan to take the next two weeks off of my Monday posts.  I won’t finish my project, but it will give me an opportunity to do some catching up.  It will also allow me to recharge my Monday post batteries.  A Tough Write was tougher than I realized

I hope you all will return when I do.  Have a great, safe holiday; then let’s meet up again online Monday, January 9, 2012.

Feliz Navidad

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods. – Einstein