Amaryllis is a quarterly newsletter about the comings and goings of the Penn South community and the Chelsea area, written by Jane Hogg for the last twenty years. If you really want to know what goes on around here, Amaryllis is the place to go.
Residents at Penn South come from eclectic backgrounds and have an amazing array of talents—one of the being poetry. That's why Penn South Social Services created the Poetry Corner, to help inspire everyone who lives in our community.
Submit your poetry to Gary Schoichet to be included in the Poetry Corner.
Submit your poetry to Gary Schoichet to be included in the Poetry Corner.
Rejoice in a
Lisa Ruimy Holzkenner
Chelsea, NY—August, 2021
Upon a mid-spring afternoon, my heart and mind restless,
the blue sky lures me to the Hudson River Park by Chelsea Piers.
In this oasis, alone, wandering with the whirling cosmos and its mysterious forces of life,
I am filled with a sense of awe; nature has again prevailed.
My heart beats in gratitude for the gift of wonderous beauty the earth gives
to all living things to share in spring and on each day of the year.
Ah yes, spring is a season when the world transforms itself once again and
life is reaffirmed by the rebirth of hope and love.
And yes, as the veil of our turbulent times is lifted, let’s rejoice for the gift of being alive.
Energized by hope for our future, we will greet the promise of the new dawn
casting its flaming light, awakening our hearts and souls,
recognizing our sisters and brothers, healing ourselves and each other
as we go forth to heal our earth, the only home we have, ours to protect and cherish.
Here at the Hudson River Park, everywhere I turn,
nature and the human world are blended in harmony,
a spiritual moment, calming and uplifting.
The trees, ancient and wise, once again wearing their green attire,
gifts of the earth balancing amid their hopeful new blooms,
a variety of wild berries, nuts, and fruit, the bounty and beauty of spring,
affirming that all shall be well in the fulfillment of the scheme of time
to nourish humankind and all living things as they learn to coexist.
On the lush verdant grass, a variety of plants and mingled wilderness of flowers.
Arrays of varied tulips of all hues in full bloom, waltzing with the wind of spring.
Sweet fragrance lavishing the air, inviting honey bees to feast on the hoarded nectar and pollinate. A squirrel with its bushy flicking tail, sitting and spinning nuts in its paws like a potter at his wheel. A radiant gold butterfly lights upon my arm, a symbol of the transformation of that which is yet to come, then swiftly flies way, kissing the petals of flowers, reminding us not to forget what freedom is like.
All bestow their beauty and smiles upon us, beckoning a brighter tomorrow.
This spring, as we are reckoning with the trauma of the Covid 19 pandemic,
and coming to terms with the sad milestone that came upon us,
I am reminded of how each of us collectively was affected by a deadly pathogen that transcends borders, race, religion, creed, age, gender and socio-economic status,
ravaging human lives across the globe, touching everything but hope.
Yes, we went through metamorphosis, and after a prolonged state of
loneliness, grief and fears, we learned amid the direst circumstances
our capacity for resilience, and the power of love, faith, and hope was our companion.
And yes, in collective moments of solidarity, across our land,
from our balconies, together we cheered, “we will overcome,”
and when our minds and hearts and the wisdom of our souls
became one, in the end together, we survived. Free at last, ready to reclaim our spirits.
For inherent within humankind has always been the immortal wish to survive the calamity of time, to create everlasting meaning and purpose in our lives and a sense of belonging with each other.
Yes, as we start to connect with ourselves and the world in which we live,
with the depth of our compassion, through acts of loving kindness, generosity,
empathic words, making each other feel that we are not alone,
coming together we will work through the grief that is within, as we to comfort and console each other, share our feelings and experiences, mourning the losses of our loved ones, helping each other heal.
Leaving our collective days and nights of anxiety and fears, behind,
once again, the promise of noble purpose on earth is renewed
and nature finds its way back into the gardens and the streets.
People of rainbow colors in all its diversity are beacons of a joyous new beginning,
with gratitude savoring the beauty of spring.
Ah, yes, an endearing and peaceful scene of babies in their strollers, infinitely soft and pure.
Children, emblem of hope, with no masks, roaming free at last,
frolicking with friends, building happy memories, their voices the sweetest of all music,
radiating with the hope of a new season, a brighter future waiting to be claimed.
Yes, here in this beautiful garden by the Hudson River,
lovers meet, where so many promises are made, where poetry, music, and love lie ahead.
Strolling in this oasis, I find a lucid state of tranquility.
Within me an appreciation for such a place, a much-needed refuge
from the long and hard ethereal hours of mandated self-isolation, obeyed with grace,
and from what my eyes see and my heart feels, the pain of the tragic suffering
of humankind affected by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Suddenly, birds of all feathers soaring and darting as if they are overjoyed to see human faces once again, in unison singing a sonnet, an ode to the global covid-19 vaccine
for reducing human mortality and for gracing us with life,
creatures of delight, they sing an ethereal tune not in any language or words,
like an aria never sung, just surmised.
The nimble musicians of the air ushering my spirit,
in silence softly I sing “Bravo, Bravo, peace upon you my feathered friends.”
The ebbing waves weave across the Hudson River.
Leaning over the rail, I watch the Canada geese, now floating, now flying,
the cyclical rhythm of each wave reminiscent of the ebb and flow of the tidal waves of human lives.
Out of the rushing water leaps a briny aroma of a primordial scent,
familiar and strange, of time to come and what has passed.
I wonder, if the rhapsody of waves had lyrics, what words would they sing of the untold?
Yes, with courage kindled out of our turmoil, and ocean of tears,
together we shall face the challenges and opportunities that bound to be thought.
My crying eyes beg, let our suffering be a catalyst for change, and with an abiding moral vision,
let us make new choices that defy any form of hate and
heal the wounds we have inflicted on our own kin, on fellow species and on the earth,
as we learn lessons of humility and develop new understanding of what it is
to feel like one human family, one human race, living under one sky that covers us all.
I pray for a beacon of light to guide us toward a new height of awareness,
realizing that in the circle of life, humankind and all living things are interconnected,
just like the river and the sea are one and never-ending, forming the harmonious whole.
And yes, when the inner self and the outer world come together,
we will learn to honor our differences and celebrate what we have in common-our humanity.
Ah, yes, imagine, just as the grass welcomes the dew and rain,
once again, we will welcome gathering with families, friends and community.
With the bliss of joyous hearts, we will take off our masks, and with wide-open arms,
embrace and kiss those we love and cherish: Our children, grandchildren, family and friends.
Together we will begin to heal, sharing our tears and laughter and telling our collective stories
that will serve as a testimony to what our generation has endured during covid-19.
Like generations before us, let the present generation teach future generations the lessons of
their resilience, in having fought corona virous and survived.
Yes, for our own sake and for the sake of the countless generations to come after you and me,
with a collective vision let us dare to dream, channel our ideals of building a more human and peaceful world. One day, I hope, and may it be soon, that humankind with all its amassed knowledge actualize its potential for discovering how to prevent the devastating effects of pandemics and nevermore know the disastrous evil of war.
Committed to uphold our dream, with love, much resolve and faith in ourselves and in each other, with a new rhythm of life, intertwined hands, let us dance and sing
as we rejoice in the promise of a new beginning.
In Search of Meaning Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic
Lisa Ruimy Holzkenner
Chelsea, NY—July, 2020
Ah, strange, strange, strange are these days.
Yes, in perpetual anxiety, I am sequestered behind my locked door
for this unforeseen foe of a merciless disease subjecting humanity
to immeasurable tragedies of loss, pain and grief.
Like shadows, fears accompanying me everywhere into my waking and sleeping hours, depriving me from restorative sleep, dreaming, tapping into the unconscious, putting things into perspective, and making peace between
the inner self and the outer world.
And despite the world’s brightest scientific minds and their herculean efforts to find a remedial vaccine, the deadly disease remains wrapped in mystery.
And yes, bereft I fear how this trauma will affect our children across their lifespans.
With no ostensible clear end in sight I wonder what next, when and where.
I must admit that I am moderately in a melancholic state.
For I can’t fathom a world without human face-to-face interaction,
looking into each other’s eyes and reaching out with an empathic touch.
Recollection meets memories of sweet hours kissing and hugging my children, and grandkids, and dear ones; sharing a homemade meal, savoring the moment with my family and friends. Yes, I am already nostalgic for the world I knew before.
Yes, another day of isolation is here. I look through my window,
I see a surreal world, a scene that looks at once like itself and alien.
The sounds and the sights of a city with a perpetual rhythmic life
suddenly drowned into a strange lingering silence.
Springtime has passed away without our cherishing the new blossom and
celebrating the freedom of our humanity.
As I lift my head to the blue sky, a gift in solace - birds that I love gliding in the blue sky singing in a different language, "shelter –in- place, shelter –in- place.”
I turn on the TV for the latest news--
a strange and painful scene, watching the procession of motorcars transporting those thousands of blessed souls who lost their lives to the lethal disease, mourned without a moment of silence, eulogy or prayer. My heart fills with grief
I bow my head and with mournful tears recite a prayer~
May those innocent souls find peace in the journey across the heavens.
I close my eyes and contemplate the capricious fate that determines our destiny in the universe and my own mortality. No, I am not afraid of death, but the thought that I may cease to be without seeing my loved ones before my last breath saddens me. When my visit on this earth ends, I will extend my wings and fly off toward eternity.
Until then, with a stubborn optimism I will rejoice in living a life for its own sake as long as I can keep seeking meaningful ways to stay connected with those I love and we maintain faith in one another even though we are not in the same physical place.
Yes, I woke up this morning with a purpose—a to-do list:
Baking and sharing with my friends and neighbors their favored treat
Staying in contact with family and friends on the phone with words of love and hope
Reconnecting with people I have not spoken with for a while,
Reading books I would otherwise never read again,
Writing down what comes to mind, and letting the unconscious work through its prose and rhymes until ready to breathe a life of its own.
I was reflecting whether, amidst this existential crisis, nature is giving us signs, wanting us to slow down for soul searching that will spur a meaningful adaptation.
As we revisit our priorities and values to make a distinction between the vital and the futile, the trivial and the important, a chance to reconnect with some essential truths we have forgotten: that in the cycle of life across time and space our collective destiny binds us all together—humankind with all creatures on earth.
Yes, nature wanting us to be awakened to how much we have in common as sisters and brothers, all yearning to lives a life worth living, lives filled with the joy of love and friendship, as we find the balance between our compassion and kindness
for others and for ourselves.
And yes, within us is the wealth of amassed wisdom to embrace a vision of living in harmony with the natural world, a balance that will determine our hope for survival as a human species on our planet earth, for only in this way will we build a new world.
Ah! Humanity, we are an adaptable species with invincible strength.
Despite our ongoing suffering and grief, with a willing spirit we will get through this together and when the cycle of healing begins, we will find a way
to go on building lives of meaning and hope in the future and in humanity.
For the human spirit of beauty and love was, is, and always will be there.
And yes, our common force to survive and thrive once again calling for our reawakening, and once more the spring of our lives will rise as it rose before.
Yes, with each breath’s infinite blessing, collectively we say yes to our precious life, a gift that we must earn and cherish, and to the opportunity to pray more than we ever did before for the healing of our children, the healing of each other and the earth,
as we all partake in spreading peace and celebrating the glory of human diversity
under one sky that covers us all.
I dream of the bliss to come, to be free and with ecstasy again to embrace and kiss our children and grandchildren and those we love. May in the end we find that we have become the people we were called to be, kind to one another and
may it stay that way.
I Will Cling While I May to the Joy of Years Left to Live
Lisa Ruimy Holzkenner
Chelsea, NY—January, 2020
I was once a young woman, it seems not long ago. I have been in my mid-life journey for a while. Each season of my life had its different hue,
some shining moons and some dark nights.
The forces of destiny have taken me by the hand
through territories unknown, justifying life’s purpose.
Each stage required a new understanding of myself and
the world with all its mystery, adversity, and beauty.
One season following the other, I grew slowly as a ripening fruit on a tree.
All the seasons made me who I am, independent woman,
mindful of the pain, grateful and humbled by the beauty of being alive.
One season following the other, none of the seasons can stay,
but when the twilight years of my life arrived, it came like a winter storm breaking through my locked metal door.
It is true the mirror reflects the path of ages on my face.
When I saw my first gray hair, I smiled,
my grandfather of noble soul came to mind.
Once I was nimble like a fawn, climbing mountains to watch birds.
Today both my knees ache with arthritis and will not climb the stairs.
My memory at times takes a sabbatical; it troubles me, for I do not want it to go. But memories distill what matters most, my friends and the love of my family- my precious children and grandchildren who are and always will be my soul, pride and joy. I am grateful for the blessing of life’s offerings.
Often I think there is more to me than the decline of the physical.
I lived all these years and I have something to show for it, a badge of triumphant survival. As I approached the ethos of old age I learned being old is a hard-won and rewarding life achievement, that there are myriad advantages to getting old: The world of material possession, vanity, pride and greed recedes.
Compassion, spiritual and inner peace are more cherished
Illuminated by old age, my soul aches, for the very existence of all life on earth is on the brink of extinction. The image of such ramification blurs my eyes with tears. Yet, I hope that humanity, in due course, will prevail to remedy the consequences by finding a new path toward ecological consciousness,
for the health of the earth is the hope of the world. I hope that there is still time to change our fate. These are only some rewards of old age.
As long as I keep being useful, crafting meaning from the remnants of time,
I will cling as I may to the joy of years left to live.