Sunday, June 30, 2019

Poem: "My Head Tilts and I Fade into No"

My head tilts and I fade into no
And the heat of the day is gone 
And the runners move 
Closer to their goals 
And I feel I've been put on. 
Still​,​ I want to write 
A thing that I 
​P​ass down​ one day​ like faith 
​A thing that I can enter in 
The annals of this race. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Poem: "The Garden Path"

I'm so mad at you
You led me down the garden path
With clementines and bedroom eyes
Now you've gotta walk it back
Because lies are not my soup djour
And  kindergarten was before
The stakes are higher when you grow
Let's be real, you know I know
So if you want, I'll let you go
After all
You know I know. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Poem: "No One Ever Took Your Side"

No one ever took your side, 
So you couldn't take mine. 
Though at the time 
I searched my mind
For reasons why
You failed me
(Thought you were blind)
Now I know you couldn't help. 
Now I know, 
Left by yourself, 
No one to help and no lifeline 
Was how you lived your life, survived. 
No one ever took your side. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Poem: "Happy"

I should be happy . . . and I am . . . 
I should be happy.
And I’m sad.

I should be happy, though
I have
Fought for pretty hard
Being happy
I have fought
Smoothing out the scars. 

I’m happy and I should be
And I know it, clap my hands.
Turn myself around and laugh
Turn around and dance.  

"Kasimir Tidies Up"

I love how paradoxical learning a language is. What I mean is, one might think that to learn a language one would need all kinds of fancy books. I don't think so. Whenever I want to improve my German vocabulary, actually, I pick up a German-language childrens book. Below are some words that I wanted to learn, or at least had to look up, when I recently read "Kasimir Räumt Auf," or "Kasimir Tidies Up." Enjoy.

Stach, spike; Besen, broom; im Nu, in a flash; stöhnen, groaned; ächzte, groaned; du hörst schlimm an, you sound bad; brummte, growled; einschlafen, to fall asleep; im einzigen Schrank, in the only cupboard; mürrisch, grumpy; seufzen, sigh; Kaminsims, mantle; stürzte hinunter, fell down; knipste, snapped (a photo); stellte, placed; fuhr vor, pulled up; Glücksklee, four-leafed clover; schnaubte, sniffed; steckte, stuck; verschwand, disappeared; besorgte sich, arranged for, Pinsel, brush; Walzen, paint roller; runzelte, wrinkles; Diele, foyer; quetschte sich, squeezed by; scheußlich, atrocious; trugen, carried; fort, gone; gerecht, fair; fädeln, to thread; Schnur, string; wickelte, wrapped; Plätzchen, cookies. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Poem: "Perhaps"

I search my heart and should feel calm
But don't, instead I don't.
Don't know what pill would help me, nope
Don't have the antidote. 
Perhaps if I do this, then that
Then that, a little this
Then cross it off my list, "To Do"
I'm fond of making lists. 
Perhaps, perhaps, a kiss on lips
Perhaps a hurried fuck. 
Don't know what pill would help me, nope
I guess I'm out of luck. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Poem: "A Friend Named Bear"

I used to have a friend named Bear.
We made him cross a bridge.
But one thing that he never knew:
I never crossed that bridge. 
Bear said that we were crazy. 
He said there’s no way that
If he crossed the bridge he would
Ever cross it back.

Oh, Bear, oh Bear,
I never crossed that bridge.
I’m sorry that we acted like,
Well, I guess, like kids. 
Bear, I know that you are brave and were,
You crossed that bridge that day. 
And I respect you for it, dude,
Just thought it time I'd say.

Poem: "I Haven't Been Masking"

I’ve haven’t been masking 
My distaste for you.
Sorry, dude. 
I haven’t been faking
My disdain, it’s true
I liked you at one point, back when
But now I’m someone new. 
I haven’t been masking
My disdain for you. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Poem: "Wild"

The other day I saw the notebook pictured above in a store. It inspired me, so I bought it. It inspired me so much, in fact, that today I wrote a poem based on the cover. Enjoy.

I'm a wild soul
Watch as I unfold
Won't slow my rhyme
And won't slow my roll. 

A wild soul, I am, I said
Won't take a no, won't go to bed. 

A wild man, where wild lies
A fiery heart
With fiery eyes
A fiery way to make you change
And imprint on your brain my name. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

My First German Poem

Wow, so today I was actually able to write a poem in German.

Now, sound is always a very important part of the poems I write. I'm very sensitive to how the words actually sound when lined up next to each other.

I mention that because I really like the sound of this poem. To hear how the piece sounds in German, go here. Enjoy.

Unterirdisch, stürmisch, traurig, 
Unglaublich, furchtbar, schlecht...
Hat nicht zu tun --
Gar nicht --
Mit Menschenrecht.
Unnötig, doch es gibt,
Unfassbar, doch es war.
Abgesehen von was wirklich ist.
Abgesehen von der Wahr. 

Here is the poem translated word for word: 

Blasphemous, stormy, sad
Unbelievable, terrible, bad
Has nothing to do 
With human rights. 
Not necessary, but it exists
Astounding, but it was
Irrespective of what really is
Irrespective of the true.

Poem: "No Limitless Life"

Sometimes I write poems as warnings to myself, or rather to remind myself of some point I want to keep in mind. Here is one such poem. Enjoy.

No limitless life.
Put some boundaries on that thing. 
Put a cap on that which you can do
Too much of a good thing
Becomes a bad thing swift.
A no-limit life ain’t right.
Some boundaries do the trick. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Poem: "They Always Clung to Tradition"

Obviously, I write poems. But this poem sort of wrote me, if that makes sense. Enjoy.

They always clung to tradition
As if that would carry them home
They always clung to tradition
A garden gnome.
Sitting around when someone dies
Covered mirrors, red, wet eyes
Clinging to tradition each
Clinging to what’s out of reach
A sob breaks out among the pack
Clinging to what won’t come back
Wearing black or wearing white
Fast in morning, feast at night
Clinging to tradition all
A little bread, a little salt
A garden gnome, a rock, some dust
Ash to ashes, dust to dust. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Poem: "I Saw a Beggar Woman"

I saw a beggar woman
Counting on her hands.
Sitting there with her cup
Counting on her hands.
Counting crows or counting sheep, 
Counting till the day
Her tour of duty ends and then 
She'll be on her way 
To lands of castles, rich and dark, 
Where pine trees and the meadow lark
Add a sense of meaning to 
A life of something far and few,
A life that's simple, where one can
Count necessities on one hand. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Poem: "People Who Want to Share Their Soul with You"

People who want to share their soul with you
It’s kind of hard. 
People who want to share their whole with you
Glass jars. 
People who want to share with you
That which God bestowed 
Mean no harm but just don't know 
How hard they sometimes are. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019


I swear, sometimes life just humbles you in moments you least expect it.

The other day, in one of my classes, I had two new students. I was able to tell that one of the students was not a native German, but I didn't think anything of it. I thought his ethnicity might be Turkish  because German has a strong minority of Turkish people.

Anyway, I had asked the students to write a small essay for me. I had just spent the entire last class talking and truth be told, really wanted to rest my voice for a bit. I told the students to write a small essay about the following topic: “We all sometimes have to make difficult decisions in our lives. What was one difficult decision you had to make? Please explain what the decision was, what you decided for, why and what the effects of that decision were.”

After assigning the task, I went and got myself a cup of coffee. It was only later, when I was marking the essays, that I found out that the new student who looked like he was from Turkey actually was from Syria. And not only that, he was a refugee who had escaped that war-torn land and made it to Europe in the most difficult kind of way, by crossing the Mediterranean. I was immediately humbled by his story, which I have reproduced below. Enjoy.
The most difficult decision in my life was my journey to Germany. I was in Turkey and I had a little budget to start a life there but I decided to leave Turkey and go to Europe, exactly like  a lot of Syrian refugees who wanted to start a good life and get better chances in their own life. It was very hard to take the risk and travel illegally across the sea with the death boats, risking my life leaving my friends and family and all the people that I have known to go to live in a foreign country with a new culture, new language and start from zero or maybe even less than zero. For me it was “to be or not to be.” I wanted to make my future with my own hands and build it as I want. I didn’t know how hard it would be. I went through very bad moments. Luckily, I have made it all the time. A lot of bad memories and lot of good things I have learned. The life is experiments and I want to try everything I want.

Saturday, June 15, 2019


Think of all the moments that we record with a camera or video camera, never to do anything with those pictures or videos again. Here is simply a moment I didn't want to lose, but one I knew I would if I didn't post the video of it here. Enjoy.

Learning German

I must admit, learning another language is really hard. Sometimes, I have to come up with creative ways to remember things that should be pretty easy. For example, there's this one phrase in German that I had wanted to learn: "in alter frische." The English equivalent of "in alter frische" is "with bells on." So just as how we would say, "I'll be there tomorrow with bells on" to show that we will arrive the next day with energy and a good attitude, we would say in German, "Ich komme morgen in alter frische."

But I had been having a seriously difficult time remembering exactly how the phrase was said, particularly which letters ended which words, so I made a little mnemonic device: "in alter frische," "re."

So the mnemonic sentence would be: "This message is re the phrase "in alter frische."

Boom, solved.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Poem: "You May Thank Me; That Was You"

You may thank me; that was you. 
You may not know it now.
You can thank me; it was you.
So what’s before you now
Reflects the light you give, you make
Life a bit more bright.
You may thank me but it’s you and I'm
Glad your in my life. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Poem: "Equanimity"

equanimity: mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

I had a dream about a great white shark,
But I wasn't afraid
And I faced the beast with equanimity.

I knew the thing could go two ways,
Which was OK for me; 
I faced the beast with what I had,

I saw it from straight on and then
It passed me on my side;
It saw me, smelled me, felt me and
Decided to go by.

I’d like to think that it was God
Who from its jaws kept me.
But I can’t help think that it was just
My equanimity. 

Friday, June 07, 2019

Ex-Girlfriends, Instagram and Numbers

One thing that has always fascinated me is trying to quantify the intangible.

What the heck am I talking about?

Well, we know how to quantify the tangible. For example, if you have two apples and I give you three more, you now have five apples.

But how do we quantify the intangible? If I help you move house, for example, how much do you owe me in return for the favor? Do you owe me a favor that requires equal effort? Do you owe me anything at all?

It's hard to quantify the intangible.

But recently, I was actually able to quantify the intangible, and I want to share the whole fascinating experience with you.

But first you need some backstory.

In January, my girlfriend and I broke up. I didn't want the breakup, but she did. While dating, though, both of us had Instagram accounts, and we would "like" each others' photos often. After the breakup, I was pretty certain that she was still checking out my Instagram account. Although I hadn't thought that her ability to still view my account altered my behavior on the platform, I was certainly aware that she was still probably viewing my pics.

Now skip ahead to about three weeks ago when I decided to my block my ex-girlfriend on Instagram. I figured, Why should she be able to look right into my life whenever she wanted?

And so, a small, new chapter in my life opened: the one in which my ex was no longer able to see into my world via the pictures I was taking.

After this online blocking, I still continued to take pictures for Instagram. I love the platform, so, understandably, I carried on with the habit.

But then something started to happen. 

With my ex now blocked, I started to get the feeling I was taking fewer pictures.

After getting this feeling a couple of times, I thought to myself, "Am I taking fewer pictures now that I know she can't see the account?" I thought the answer might be yes.

And now here's where the whole quantifying thing comes in.

Because Instagram stamps each picture posted with the date of the posting, I was able to see exactly how many pictures I had taken in the 28 days since having blocked my ex. I was then able to compare that number with the number of pics I had taken in the 28-day period before I blocked her, the 28-day period before that, and the one before that one, too, going all the way back to around the time of the breakup.

And the results were shocking.

In the 28 days after May 6, the date I blocked my ex, I posted 59 photos to Instagram. In sharp contrast, during the 28-day period before that, a time during which my ex could still view my account, I posted 136 pictures. During the 28-period before that one -- again, we're still broken up but she can see my account -- I posted 111 pictures. In the 28 days before that, I posted 80 pictures, and in the 28 days before that, 106.

So, when I knew my ex could still see my Instagram account, I was averaging 108 pictures per 28 days. Over the 28 days during which I knew she couldn't see my account, I posted only 59 pics. That's a nearly 60% decrease in the number of pictures posted!

So why am I telling you all this? Because it absolutely fascinates me to be able to quantify something that is not easily quantifiable.


What exactly is that thing that is not easily quantifiable? What exactly are we talking about?

Well, what hadn't been quantifiable was how much I was actually taking pictures for her. Although I thought that I was just taking pictures for me, a huge part of my motivation for posting all those pics, apparently, was her and the knowledge that she was probably looking at my account from time to time. 

So there you go -- a very personal blog post, but a very interesting one nonetheless. If anything, I think the takeaway messages is, when it comes to social media, we should really think about the reasons why we use these platforms.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Poem: "You Feel It Alright"

You feel it alright come on, I'm ready
You feel it alright come on
Unsteady I have been but am
Ready to take on
Your chaos now 
You feel it too
I knew you would, you have 
Spent it in the woods, under 
Suds of bubble baths.

You feel it now, I knew you would
Keen and sharp and hard
You feel it now 
Come on, come on
Don't leave me seeing stars.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Poem: "I've Seen You on This Line Before"

I've seen you on this line before
I've seen you on this line 
Before I've seen you on this line
I've seen you on this line. 
Eyes closed and the sunshine on 
Your eyes as you sit there 
Lighting up your face and your 
Strawberry blond hair. 
I've seen you on this line, the line 
You need cause duty calls 
Cause money doesn't grow on trees 
Like apples in the fall.
I've seen you on this line, your line 
Before I tell you this 
Before you kiss a frog and you 
Turn it to a prince 
Hold the line, please hold the line 
First see what fate has planned 
Then open up your eyes and be 
The woman to my man. 

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Boere trial

Here's a story I worked on in 2009 while on assignment for Deutsche Welle, a German news agency. It's about the opening trial of a former SS man charged with killing three Dutch civilians during WWII. The trial took place in Aachen State Court. 

By Chad Smith and Maya Schikora

AACHEN, Germany — The opening trial of admitted Nazi hit man Heinrich Boere was abruptly adjourned today after Boere’s defense persuaded the judge that the state prosecutor might be too emotionally involved in his efforts to convict the 88-year-old former SS man. 
Boere is charged with killing three Dutch civilians during WWII while he was a member of an SS unit tasked with crushing the resistance in Holland. Boere confessed to his crimes while in Allied custody after the war but escaped to Germany just before a Dutch court could try him.  The court eventually convicted him in his absence. 
Years of legal wrangling between Germany and the Netherlands resulted in Boere’s living his life a free man in Germany. Ulrich Maass, the lead prosecutor in the case, recently reopened Boere’s file in a last ditch effort to make Boere pay for his crimes. 
But today in state court, Gordon Christiansen, Boere’s public defender, said that since Maass reopened the file, in 2008, the prosecutor gave almost a dozen interviews to the media in which the he seemed to have an axe to grind. 
German law mandates that prosecutors should strive to be objective. 
The judge ruled today that until Maass gives a clear response to the defense's accusations, the case cannot move forward. Maass didn’t have an official response ready but said he’d have one on Monday when the case resumes. 
Even though today’s events look like a one-up for the defense, having Boere in court at all represents a victory for the prosecution. In 1983, a German court ruled that Boere couldn’t be forced to serve his Dutch sentence (life in prison) because he wasn’t able to provide a defense in the 1949 trial that convicted him.
In 2008, several German courts ruled that Boere couldn’t stand trial in Germany for the three killings because of his old age. But Maass, a prosecutor who specializes in National Socialist crimes, appealed those rulings and won. 
Boere, who is half Dutch, half German, was 18 when he joined the Waffen SS — the elite military arm of Hitler's murderous SS organization — in 1940, just months after Holland fell to the German blitzkrieg. He served on the Eastern Front for two years then returned to Holland and joined the 15-man SS hit squad in 1942
The hit squad  code named “Silbertanne, or “Silver Pine,” was composed of mostly Dutch volunteers tasked with killing Dutch resistance fighters or anyone thought sheltering them  even if that meant murdering their own countrymen. The mission was responsible for 54 murders in the Netherlands during WWII, the prosecution has said
Maarten Bicknese, the grandson of one of Boere’s victims, Fritz Bicknese, spoke to Deutsche Welle this week and said that he was happy Boere would finally stand trial after living free for so many years.
“He was at home and he lived a good life, and now, finally, he will come before a judge. For my family, this is a good thing.” 
If on Monday the judge believes that Maass is not objective enough, one of Maass’ colleagues, another prosecutor, will take over the case, which is expected to last two months. But Maass may want to do whatever he can to stay in charge, as his key witness — an accomplice in one of the 1944 murders — is scheduled to testify that morning.   

Poem: "I Wish"

I wish I knew what you thought about.
I wish I knew more.
I wish I had the key
To your door.
I wish I knew the way
Your path led
Instead of playing guessing games
Standing on my head.
I wish I could employ a phrase
Or navigate your maze
Or travel with you when you go
To that secret place.
I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish
I wish upon a star
I wish upon a wishing well
I wish upon a charm.
I wish upon a talisman
A stone, a bone, a ring. 
I wish I could know more and know
A bit of what you think.